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Legend of Fatum
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Legend of Fatum is a story serial detailing the adventures of a group of Rahkshi.

Story[]

*UPDATED TO FF VERSION*[]

There is a time, a time where Biomechanics walked the worlds. A time filled with times. This is the time of the Legends of Fatum...

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Prologue: After Effects

The war against the Toa had been a quick one, and in the place of the fallen warrior heroes, the Makuta rose. Fenris looked down from atop his mighty throne in the mountains. The five current ruling Makuta had divided the land amongst themselves years ago while the other poor fools were either killed or subjected to the will of the rulers.

Fenris could close his eyes and remember the wails and pleading of the doomed. Many of the once-victorious Makuta had fallen the same way as the Toa, quickly and by surprise. It was all in foolishness.

When they first struck, they had been powerful— over a hundred Makuta had swarmed into the land with their shadows and Rahkshi. Now due to their own selfishness, they were but a dozen, little more than a handful.

Fenris planned to change all that.

He strode inside the deep caverns that spread within his mountain domain; he had chosen this place as his fortress because of those same mountains. Within the natural-borne protection from prying eyes, he could continue his work in peace.

He quickly entered into a large chamber filled with enormous vats of protodermis, greeted by a short wailing chorus of kraata. Fenris strode up to one and picked it up. It squirmed until he stroked it gently, calming it. He reached back down and watched as it slid down his arm to rejoin its brothers and sisters.

Among the other Makuta, Fenris was an oddity; while most used their Rahkshi to carry out deeds and tasks like slaves, Fenris named his and treated them like individuals. The other Makuta had yet to find out about it though; if they did they would surely kill him. For both his own safety and that of his Rahkshi, it remained a closely-guarded secret.

Fenris had a dream— one where the Makuta could redeem themselves from their fall. And if that could not be done, he planned on helping those who had suffered alongside them, the Rahkshi. Even if he did not live to see his dream fulfilled, he would do his best to ensure its possibility.

He went up to a large vat near the back that held not protodermis, but a Toa, one out of the few handfuls that had survived the war. The Toa was long dead, but his essence had been preserved with the utmost care. Now, at last, it would serve its purpose.

He carefully extracted some of the purest parts of the essence and injected it into five different Kraata. They squirmed and withered at first, but soon began to calm. He gently stroked each one before inserting them into their own vats of protodermis.

The kraata squirmed and curled up. A change was underway.

His work done for now, Fenris left. Only the future held what he needed and he had a lot to prepare for.

Scenario I: Dark Tides

Years later…

Green fluid echoed around him, bubbling as he floated in solitude. On one side, a hatch opened, and he came spilling out, landing on the ground on all fours. He stood and shuddered, green fluid dripping down his armor and onto the floor.

The place was dark, but he liked that. It gave him power, soothed him, brought him to an awareness of his strength. It flowed through him, echoed silently in him, and made him think. He looked about and saw other chambers like the one he had just been expelled from. Within them were various objects that appeared to be in different stages of either evolution or decay.

Soon, a voice, a cold, dark, soothing voice, flowed through his mind, sending chills of strength down his spine.

Rahkshi of mine, you have a marvelous purpose ahead of you, and with me you will do my will. I have made you unlike the rest. You feel it now, a powerful force flows through you, enlightening you, giving you powerful strength and thought. In time you shall be one of the greatest. As of now, I name you Karazin.

Karazin felt the presence leave, but an echo of it remained in with him, directing him where to go. He began to tread his way across the stone floor. Numerous tubes hung above him filled with green fluid. Ahead he spotted two beings; the echo whispered to him that they were like him, Rahkshi, but they were not to be bothered right now. He strode on without another glance. He left the cavern filled with tubes and liquid, and entered into a hallway filled with adjoining caverns like the one he just left.

The echo led him past all of these and bade him to stride down to the very end of the long tunnel. He treaded along the smooth floor, blissfully sucking up the darkness. Soon, the tunnel opened up to a large cavern, currently empty. The echo told him this was where the Rahkshi would meet together. Till then, the echo said, he was to leave through a smaller hallway on the side.

The hallway was lighter than the others, but where Karazin walked, the light never seemed to truly shine, the presence of darkness stuck by him. Soon the hallway ended, and he stood outside of the caverns and the underground.

Above him, the sky was dark, and dark shapes floated in the horizon. The echo revealed that a great light had once shown up there, but it had been blotted out by fools who believed they could control all.

It also revealed that Karazin's destination lay elsewhere, further down the mountainside.

Taking this into account, Karazin strode down the mountainside, spotting other Rahkshi but paying them little attention: his mind was on the echo and voice. Questions came through him, such as who is this being to command me? Why do I have to bother with his 'will'? Such thoughts nearly made him stop and ponder them, but the echo urged him forward.

Finally, he came to a stop. The echo continued to urge him onward, but he turned to the side and strode on a different direction. Soon the echo stopped, and he was free to his own thoughts. No sooner had this happened did three other Rahkshi appear, surrounding him with the high ground.

Two of them were green and held staffs of some sort; the other was red with no apparent weapon.

The echo returned. Stop, you are needed elsewhere.

Karazin said nothing and stood his ground, settling into a defensive stance like he had done so every day for years. He decided to tempt this echo. See what would happen if he disregarded that compelling voice.

He rushed at the two greens that quickly brought their staffs to bear when they saw him running toward them. Karazin ducked under the first swing and jumped back from the second Rahkshi's attack. Surprise showed on their faces for a brief moment, but began to twist into snarls as they charged him again, staffs raised high.

This time, the first brought his forward and thrust it in a quick jab. Karazin sidestepped and grabbed the staff, tearing it out of the Rahkshi's hands. Acting quickly, he swung it around and blocked the second from smacking him in the head.

Now he was on the attack.

Karazin twirled the staff in front of him and jabbed it forward, striking the first green on the torso. The Rahkshi hissed in pain as a blast of electricity burst out of the staff, dropping him to his knees. The second jumped back and pointed its staff straight at Karazin. He could feel the power growing in it and leaped forward just in time to dodge over the beam of energy that shot forth.

He landed right next to the startled Rahkshi and without a second's hesitation swung the staff heavily at his foe's back, landing the hit with a sickening crunch and sending the Rahkshi straight down, staff clattering to the ground as he screeched out in pain.

The second Rahkshi was back on his feet and sent a high kick at Karazin that skimmed against his side. Karazin twirled the staff down low and knocked the Rahkshi off his feet. The Rahkshi quickly recovered and flipped backwards, aiming down at Karazin and fired a spray of acidic liquid. Karazin leapt out of the way of the acid and watched as the Rahkshi kept his distance.

He looked over and saw that the third Rahkshi, the red one, had stood back the whole time. She was speaking under her breath. He was about to taunt her when he realized too late that she had been not been speaking, but chanting.

In the back of his mind, the echo returned, chiding him. The echo was also angry with him for having killed. Again, it told Karazin that he should stop now.

Disregarding it momentarily, Karazin watched as tons of rock flew down the mountain, some were boulders of the largest size. There were too many for him to dodge or destroy so he did the only rational thing. He flew.

It is an interesting sensation to see boulders wiz below you while floating suspended in the air. But Karazin had other things to think of, such as the Rahkshi who had started the avalanche and the green survivor. He landed next to her and pointed his staff directly at her, ignoring the basic instinct to attack and finish her off.

"Tell me," he asked, "why did the voice send you?

She looked up at him. "Because you are being insolent." she said boldly. "Have you not met the lord yet?"

Karazin shook his head. "No."

She grinned. "Then you do not know yet just how lucky you are."

"Lucky?" Karazin asked.

The other green Rahkshi landed just off to the side of the two watching Karazin wearily. The red Rahkshi continued.

"The Makuta, the beings who created us and rule the world, many of our kind are treated as the lowest of the low, but not ours. He gave you a name, correct?"

"Karazin." he replied without moving the staff away.

"Then you are already better than nearly all the Rahkshi in existence. Any other Makuta would have you obliterated for such an act of defiance. In fact, most Rahkshi wouldn't have even been able to do so, but our lord has given you meaning."

"Then why did he try and have me killed?"

The red shook her head. "Not killed, chastened. Though we are allowed our own freedom, our lord still demands certain things of us. And you have something that only a small handful of Rahkshi posses."

"And what might that be?"

She looked behind him. "Why don't you ask him yourself?"

Karazin twirled around and saw the most incredible-looking being he had seen. It could be none other than the voice that had first called to him, he knew this. The being was tall, at least twice the height of any Rahkshi, and wore dark green armor and carried a tall staff.

This being looked down at Karazin with deep orange eyes. Karazin nearly dropped his staff when the being started to talk. His voice was like thunder and it shook the ground beneath their feet.

"Karazin, there is a grand purpose for you. You have successfully proven yourself to be a powerful warrior. However, it was in defiance and you will pay for it. Now, I believe there is something you would like to ask me."

Karazin finished recoiling from his shock and began to speak. "There is indeed. First off, what is my purpose?"

"You will learn in due time. You have something unlike any others."

"And about that, what did the red mean when she said I have something only a few possess?"

"In time, I will tell you all." Karazin was growing annoyed at hearing that. "But for now, you are just what they would call 'a hatchling'. You need to be taught, and Fallon has volunteered herself to do such."

Karazin looked behind to see Fallon give him a grin. He turned back to face the Makuta before him.

"What is you purpose for me?" he tried once more.

There was a brief moment of silence. "You will know. You will know."

Karazin gave him a scathing look. "That's helpful."

More silence. "Fallon, I leave him to you."

There was a burst of shadows and the Makuta sank and disappeared. In the silence that succeeded it, Fallon came up to Karazin.

"Are you ready to begin your training oh-young-one?" she asked almost mockingly.

Karazin turned to face her. "Yes, I— ouch!"

Karazin twirled around to glare at the smirking green.

"The name's Respine," the green said. "And that was for smashing me with the staff."

Karazin glared at Respine, and Respine burst out with a laugh. Fallon cut in before Karazin could decide to lunge out.

"Come, Karazin, you have some learning to do, and a certain Rahkshi has some Matoran he forgot to round back up." she added with a quick glance at Respine, who gave one last chuckle and leapt down the mountainside.

Fallon led the way down the mountainside, and Karazin pondered. Just what was his purpose? Why was he here?

Whatever the reason was, he felt he was destined for more than the lord knew. Someday, he would become the best. {C ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()''''''

Dark Tides chapter ii

Fallon led Karazin further down the mountain to a large plateau with several different buildings there. Small beings hustled about while a group of Rahkshi looked over them, he was later told they were Matoran, beings whose only use was to build. A use the Makuta had put to work.

There was several large rings Dotting the edges of the cliff, some Rahkshi were sparing within it; they wielded weapons varying from simple staffs to powerful looking weapons that fired pure energy. Fallon explained that some were weapons taken from Toa, beings that once ruled this land while watching over the Matoran, while the rest were crafted here.

Fallon led him to one of the buildings closest to the ring. Inside were more of the Matoran working with forges and furnaces to craft weapons and armor. They were watched over by a scarred black and gold Rahkshi holding a large chain in one hand. At his side along the wall rested a tall spear.

Fallon came before the over watching Rahkshi. "My companion and I are in need of some staffs, he has just hatched and I have been set to train him."

The Rahkshi gave a silent nod and pointed at two Matoran who quickly came forward with two staffs. They were grey but dark enough to almost be black. Fallon took them both and strode back outside with Karazin following after her.

Fallon entered the ring where two Rahkshi were currently sparring, one white and the other blue and white. One fought with twin blades as white as its armor and the other with a sword and shield. Fallon glanced in their direction then tossed a staff to Karazin who caught it easily.

She looked from the fighters to Karazin. "Keep your concentration, don't let the other fight distract you."

Karazin began to scoff at that, she was the one who kept glanc—

His thought was cut short by a quick twirl from Fallon; the end of her staff caught under his and knocked it into the air. She twirled it again and smacked him on the side.

"I said, keep your concentration."

Karazin scowled and retrieved his staff. He settled down into a defensive pose, well he hoped it was at least. This time when Fallon sprang forward he was prepared. His staff clashed against hers. They both pulled back then sprung again, and again, and again. The fight became a dance; whipping forward then pulling away to whip forward again.

But Karazin found himself taking steps back. It started off as one, then two. Soon he found himself seven steps back from where he began and the number was rising. He spared a glance behind him, which cost him another step, if this rate kept up he would wind up with his back against a wall.

The sun was to Karazin's back, but even with the slight advantage of the sun Fallon continued her now relentless attack. At this point it was all Karazin could do to keep her strikes from hitting him.

There was a glint in Fallon's eye and Karazin felt a shiver of primal fear run through him. That was all it took and Karazin was weaponless and hurtling through the air. He passed into the shadow of the rock face and something twitched inside of him. Instead of landing hard on the ground he twisted and landed on his feet, one hand extended on the ground to keep his balance.

Karazin looked up and began to stand. Fallon had already leapt into the air and was swinging her staff forward for a final blow. Time moved slow for Karazin as he reached forward and snapped the staff. Fallon's eyes widened and Karazin socked her in the gut. Hard.

Fallon landed with a hard smack. The other two fighters had stopped their fight to watch what was happening. But Karazin took no notice. He raced forward and grabbed his fallen staff; intending to land a powerful blow.

But as soon as he neared Fallon he felt his strength ebb away, time caught back up and Fallon had stood back up, fire in her eyes. She raised her hand and Karazin slammed into the ground, paralyzed by her glare.

"Never, never before have I seen such strength from a hatchling, even from a Rahkshi more skilled then you." She lowered her hand. "There truly is something different about you."

Karazin stood; using his staff to help himself up. "But what happened to it? It suddenly disappeared."

Fallon looked him over then behind him, understanding came to her eyes. "I see… You're natural element is Darkness, one can tell that by your color configuration. So when you entered the shadow of that rock face your power rocketed. But as soon as you left it, you're strength left you."

Karazin thought on that. "So as long as I stick to the shadows I'll be fine?"

Fallon shook her head. "Not necessarily, your power is untamed, if left so it could destroy your very being."

"So that's why we train? To, 'master' myself?"

"Correct. But it goes further than that. What would happen if you find yourself without access to your abilities? You need a strong body honed to fighting to survive in this world."

"I see, so what is your ability?"

Fallon gave him a grin that sent chills down his back. "Fear."

Annoyed with her smug look Karazin taunted her. "Fear, eh? That's one thing I see you're still working on."

Fallon glared at him. "Now, there are two types of powers, are natural power, and latent power."

Karazin thought back to his first fight with her. "Such as when you unleashed those boulders?"

Fallon nodded. "You catch on quick, for a hatchling, yes that is one example. But one's latent power does not just express itself like the natural kind, it must be coaxed out. It is a power that comes with time.

"In the past Rahkshi had little time to learn their latent power, but time favors us now. Come, we shall continue your training."

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Fenris watched the training of his latest Rahkshi; he was a feisty one that did not seem to take easily to orders. But his current attentions now lay elsewhere. Time was short, and there was work to be done.

He entered the vat chamber and strode to the one at the very end of the room. In it floated the remains of a Toa. Unlike the Toa he had captured long ago, this one had been arrayed in gold and white armor. A Toa of Light, the last of its kind, and merely a shriveled husk now. The long gone hero would serve as a final key to unlocking the full potential of the Rahkshi.

Fenris frowned. If only his brothers had listened to reason, he might now have had to go so far. But his race had been left with no choice. They would merely live on in the Rahkshi.

He extracted the last of the Toa's essence and strode to another vat, a single Kraata lay there in, calm with the presence of its lord there. Fenris took the Kraata out and it with the Toa essence. The Kraata screeched and whined, a pale glow shone from within it. The Kraata almost escaped his grasp but Fenris held firm.

He dumped the Kraata back into its tank and pulled a lever. Liquid Protodermis filled the vat quickly. An unnatural glow shone from within. Fenris walked away, if all else failed his final experiment would see to the rest.

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"In the ancient days Rahkshi could only control their power through their staffs, for millennia Rahkshi used them to amplify and control their power. Now, we can control it with our minds."

Karazin listened raptly. If ever he was to discover his true purpose he must first master the basics.

"You have not yet reached the level of control to channel it so simply, we shall start with staffs again." Fallon took another staff from a waiting Matoran, the other snapped in half from Karazin' burst of power.

She twirled around; holding the staff in both hands. She pointed at a pillar of rocks, the staff began to glow and the rocks lifted off the ground.

"Think of the rocks as yourself, the staff is your power. With it you can become strong, slip—"

The staff rippled and the rocks shattered.

"And it will destroy you."

Fallon pointed to the sparring Rahkshi. "As you can see, a staff is not the only weapon a Rahkshi can use to channel their power. Any weapon has the potential to do so."

Karazin nodded. He was tired by the words but noted the lesson as necessary.

"I feel I learn quicker by doing rather than hearing. Can we get on with it?"

Fallon shot him a glare. "Know your place hatchling, but you are correct, it's time to see if you have actually heard anything I said. Now, swords and other weapons have a tendency to be more complicated at first, for now you will learn with the staff."

Karazin flexed his arms, time to get to business. He raised his staff in front of him lengthwise. "Like this?"

Fallon nodded. "Now, think of your energy flowing into the staff, like water filling a tube, or going down a guided pathway.

Karazin closed his eyes and concentrated. In his mind he thought of both methods, he imagined the energy flowing down and in, he imagined the exit, a large reservoir were the energy gathered. Unbeknownst to his closed eyes, his staff was shaking. A red and black aura started from the staff and began to surround him.

Suddenly he opened his eyes and the built up energy unleashed itself, the dark blast sailed past the buildings and away from the mountain, landing somewhere off in the distance.

The staff was torn away from him and his connection shattered. He shook his head; the outpouring of energy had been so immense…

"You IDIOT! Do you know what could have happened! You could have very well killed yourself and taken a square kilo with you!" Fallon was livid and screeching at him.

"No thought to what could have happened! I have half a mind to—"

"Shut UP!"

Fallon's mouth froze in shock; apparently no one had ever used that tone of voice with her.

Karazin glared at her and stepped forward. "What's it to you anyways whether I die or not? So shut up and let's continue on."

The ring was silent. Fallon simply stared at him. She stepped forward, her face frozen. Their faces were right in front of each others.

"Mark my words; if you ever use that tone of voice with me again I will kill you." She hissed at him.

Fallon stepped back, if looks could kill Karazin would be a smoking crater. "You want to continue on? Very well, next step,"

She swung her staff into a training dummy on the sidelines. It pierced through and began to glow. After a few seconds of this the dummy shattered with bits of metal and stuffing fluttering to the ground.

Fallon turned back to Karazin, her voice was still icy. "Destroy the dummy. Stab your staff into it and focus your power, much like you did last time, only this time keep it contained. When you have a good buildup, release it, this time use less energy."

Karazin stepped up to the next training dummy. It looked quite pathetic really. He stabbed his staff at his target, straight in the center, he closed his eyes again and pictured his energy flowing down the staff, he thought of it forming together for a second then released it.

The dummy twitched, and then collapsed in a heap. Karazin frowned, what had he done wrong? He prodded the cloth and found it to be just that, cloth. Somehow the entire inside had simply disappeared.

Fallon strode forward and scowled. "You did well, too well, though quite efficient. You've impressed me."

She grabbed a sword from the pile of weapons. "Normally I'd wait to move on to the sword, but you're mastering these lessons fairly quickly." She pointed to the pile. "Grab a sword."

He did so.

"Now, swords are harder to use than staffs, which are naturally made to control and direct ones power, the blade and tip of a sword is normally thin, leading the energy to multiple angles at once. So it will be good practice for you. Master the ability to naturally control your powers and your battle skills will increase tenfold.

She looked straight at him, eyes burning into his. "Fail and you will die." She waved her sword toward the rock face. "Concentrate your energy and then release it safely."

Karazin raised the sword, spots of light glanced off of it from the blotted sky and into his eye. He closed his eyes like usual and concentrated. Fallon was right, it was more difficult, but he pressed on. He was concentrating on focusing the energy when he felt it slip, suddenly pools of energy were forming all around, he couldn't control them he—

Karazin was slammed into the ground. He heard two sharp snickts and opened his eyes to find twin blades forming an x above him, above the swords stood the white Rahkshi from earlier.

"This is the one you were asked to train? I can see where your favor with the Makuta has gotten you."

Fallon hissed somewhere on Karazin's right. "He's just a hatchling Ira."

Ira gave a cold smile. "Temper temper."

"You don't want to see me in a temper…"

"Next time I won't save the foolish trainee from his mistakes."

"There won't be a next time."

Ira and Fallon glared at each other. Ira reached down and yanked out her swords. "So you say." Without another words she left.

Karazin stood and saw Fallon fuming. "What just happened?" He asked.

Fallon turned to glare at him. "You did not properly contain your power. It nearly escaped and killed you."

"I guessed as much, but what about the white?"

Fallon turned away. "It is nothing."

Karazin huffed. "Is it now?"

"Now is not the time to dwell on the past, we must continue your training."

"Right…"

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Time passed quickly as Karazin trained under Fallon. A month under Fallon's careful gaze and Karazin quickly rose in his mastery of weapons and powers. Never before had Fallon met a learner as fast as he.

But time like this was not to last. For Fenris's fellow Makuta had at long last caught wind of his experiments. It was only a matter of time now before he was found out…

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"FENRIS I KNOW YOU ARE IN HERE!"

The omnipotent sounding voice boomed across the vat filled chamber. A tall warrior Makuta strode in, his black armor sleek and his mighty weapon tall. He was Pohjack the powerful warrior who had laid the Toa Fortress to waste and left a pile of bodies in his wake, Toa and allies alike.

Fenris sighed to himself. The others had sent the best choice for the job at hand; it seemed they suspected him at last.

Pohjack strode straight to the end of the chamber, massive battle hammer resting on his shoulder. With a single swing he had torn the Toa Fortress gate off. Now he eyed the last vat warily. He looked about and called out again. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE BROTHER!"

Inside the vat laid the remains of a Toa. When no answer came Pohjack raised his hammer and slammed it down. The vat shattered, the ground shook at the blow, glass soared and liquid preservatives spilled. The remains of the last Toa were destroyed.

Pohjack slammed his hammer around and into the ground. "YOU REALIZE YOU WILL BE KILLED FOR THIS TREACHERY!"

He swung his hammer again, shattering more liquid filled vats. "YOU" smash "WILL" swing "FACE" smash "THE" swing "CONSEQU—" smash! Pohjack stumbled back; Fenris stood before him, holding his own weapon, a flail.

The spiked metal bar swung from a long pole, its owner stood defiantly in front of Pohjack. Something no one did and lived. For long.

Pohjack grinned.

"Ah, I see you decided to face me like a warrior, now DIE!"

Pohjack charged and swung his mighty hammer; Fenris moved to the left and flung the flail at Pohjack. But he was ready this time. Pohjack ducked under the blow and kicked, planting his foot squarely in Fenris' chest. The Makuta was knocked back, destroying more vats.

Pohjack rushed forward and swung his hammer, Fenris used his flail to move the blow to the left, shattering the wall behind them. Both Makuta punched with their free hand, each one striking the other. Pohjack recovered the quickest.

He grasped Fenris' head and slammed him into the ground. Fenris rolled to the side and narrowly avoided Pohjack's hammer. As he stood he swung his flail, knocking Pohjack's legs out from under him. The Makuta roared and fell back heavily on the stone floor.

Fenris swung his hand forward and fired a blast of acid. Pohjack back flipped onto his feet, avoiding the dangerous force, and raced forward. His hammer collided with Fenris' flail; Pohjack grinned and jerked the flail out of Fenris' hand. He then raced forward in the opening, hammer raised high. He swung once, twice, each swing colliding heavily with his opponent.

Fenris landed on all fours and took the front of the hammer to the face; he was momentarily airborne and collapsed in a heap amongst more shattered vats. Pohjack laughed mercilessly. "COME NOW BROTHER? WHERE IS YOUR SUPPOSED STRENGTH?"

Pohjack lifted Fenris' limp body off the floor and grinned. "Look at you, but a shadow of your former self." In a lightning flash he let go off Fenris and slammed his fist forward, puncturing armor.

Fenris collided with more vats and landed like a rag doll. Pohjack stood above him, hammer raised high. No more playing around. "TAKE YOUR LAST BREATH."

Pohjack swung downward but abruptly stopped. Something was not right. He looked down at his chest. There was a hole there, his essence was escaping! He gasped and stumbled back a few steps before turning around. He heard a chuckle from behind him.

"You've softened, didn't think to check your back."

The last thing Pohjack saw was a brilliant flash of white. Then all faded to oblivion.


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Dark Tides chapter iii

Fenris stumbled out of the vat chamber. His clash with Pohjack had taken a hard toll on his body, more than he had expected. No matter, his experiments were done, time for the world to get a taste of what was coming.

He limped down the hallway. So his brothers wanted him gone did they? Thought he had gone too far? Well they started this; they were the ones who had 'gone too far'. Now they would all pay the ultimate price.

He stopped and leaned against the wall. If he hadn't completed his final test all would have been for naught, he would be dead and his Rahkshi scattered without his final command. He shuddered, Pohjack had truly been a powerful opponent, but brains beat brawn nearly every time.

He finally made his way to the throne room and collapsed in his tall throne. It was carved from the mountain itself and was hard as stone, but luxury was the furthest thing from his mind right now. It was time to summon his children.

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Karazin froze mid swing; he had been sparring with one of the other Rahkshi when he had heard it. It wasn't just him, it was all the Rahkshi. They all heard it, the call. Their master was summoning them.

Activity all around stopped, their master was calling. They would return the call.

It had been a month since Karazin had first heard the voice, the call, he had denied it. Could he do so again? The feeling of rebelliousness stirred within him. He was meant for more than a warrior at beck and call. He would strike out on his own, soon, for now he would simply play the part.

He spotted Fallon walking with Ira and Corta. Corta wore white and blue armor; symbolizing his power of electricity, he carried a sword and shield. Though Karazin had not taken him on directly, he had seen Corta use both weapons with precision and skill.

The Rahkshi entered the cave, Karazin felt power flowing into him from the shadows. He always enjoyed coming here, mostly for the power the shadows and darkness gave him. In due time he would leave this place, in due time…

The Rahkshi massed in the throne room, their lord and master sat on his throne, Karazin sensed something amiss from him, something different about him was in the air. Then he saw it. The great master was injured. Though he tried to hide it Karazin could tell. He wasn't sure how but he could.

The Rahkshi were all gathered now; faithful, trembling and humble slaves before their master. Karazin too was trembling, but for another reason. The sight of it all sickened him, he didn't care if the being had made him, he wanted no part of him.

Then, at long last, their lord spoke.

"Prepare yourselves, one and all; the time of reckoning is at hand." A pause "But a few moments ago I was attacked by a fellow Makuta." Rahkshi hissed "But I have come out the victor. Retribution will be swift against us though nothing wrong has been done." Another pause, it seemed to Karazin like he was struggling to merely speak.

"They will be here soon, I can feel it, and a final battle will be fought. Prepare yourselves."

Then silence. The Rahkshi stood were they were for a moment, and then they were all off. Their master had been clear. Battle was coming, and they needed to prepare.

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Karazin sat lazily on the edge of the cliff looking down. Now would be the perfect time to leave, but he couldn't give up the chance to test his skills in real combat. He, along with Fallon, Corta and three other Rahkshi, were taking a high post, they were to protect the entrance to the throne room from this cliff. It was the closest way to reach their master and it would not do to let enemies enter.

Karazin held a spear in his hand. It was the first weapon he had used and he grown quite comfortable with it. Even Fallon was surprised at his quick skill. Fallon herself carried a sword, though she was better off with the mystic ability she refused to expound upon.

As Karazin thought there raised a powerful gust of wind. He quickly stood up and looked out. They had come.

Thousands of Rahkshi had arrived at the base of the mountain, and they were here with one purpose, to destroy it. Karazin felt the primal kind of feelings, fear, excitement, hunger; he was looking forward to this.

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Fenris could feel the presence of his brothers. They had arrived, and they meant battle. A presence touched his mind, he knew who it was.

"Why do you bother, you know I will not surrender."

"Curtsey mostly, the others insisted on reason first."

"Reason? Tell that to Pohjack, he understood."

"Brother I have been trying to understand for a long time, and yet I still do not."

Fenris growled. "It matters not anymore. Battle will come and it may as well come today.

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Karazin stood next to Fallon and Corta. No more time for words, only action. The battle was here. It was time to fight. Below the cliff Rahkshi battled Rahkshi; though the defenders fought with all their might they still failed. They were moving back.

A hundred Rahkshi against a force twenty times its size, the battle was over before it started. And Karazin suspected their 'master' knew that too. Speaking of which, where was the master when his servants needed him most? Inside his keep waiting for death to find him most likely.

Karazin considered running, but if he ran now he would face the fury of both sides, better one than two, no he would have to wait to find the perfect opening to escape. And if he stayed here he had a better chance of surviving to find that escape.

Then they came. Over a dozen Rahkshi of various colors flew over ht battlefield. The battlers on the ground were too busy to notice, besides, they was a job others to deal with. A job Corta was taking care of.

Corta brought forth his shield and aimed it at the invaders. He placed a bolt on it from a pouch on his back and launched it. Apparently his shield doubled as a crossbow.

The bolt hit the front most of the flyers, as it struck lances of blazing blue electricity blasted forth from the bolt. The other Rahkshi swerved to avoid the chaotic mess that was once their comrade and continued their flight.

Two of them aimed spears at the cliff and fired blasts of molten energy. One of the defenders, a blue and black Rahkshi of Stasis, raised his hands and caught the blasts in the air with a stasis field. He lowered his hands and the energy collapsed to the ground far below.

The attackers reached the cliff side and began the assault in earnest.

Karazin found himself against one of the Rahkshi of plasma; the Rahkshi landed swinging his spear at Karazin. Karazin blocked the blow with his staff, the other Rahkshi stabbed forward. Karazin maneuvered his staff with a twirl and knocked the attack to the side. He flipped it and ended with the end of the staff pointing at the plasma user's head. Karazin grinned.

A blast of shadow engulfed the Rahkshi and it stepped back shrieking, dropping its spear. Unable to see where it was going, the Rahkshi stumbled off the edge of the cliff. Karazin picked up its spear and tossed it at one of the two Rahkshi sparing with Corta. The Rahkshi's back arched as the spear embedded itself in its spine. Corta took the advantage and sliced it in half.

To the right Fallon was engaging with two Rahkshi as well. They had her on the retreat, wielding large swords and using them in perfect tandem. Karazin raced forward with his staff in front of him like a spear. Fallon saw him coming and kept her attackers distracted while Karazin came in from behind.

The first one never saw it coming. Karazin swung his staff into his side, slamming him into his companion. The two collapsed to the ground and Karazin stabbed his staff into the ground. Tendrils of darkness rose up underneath the fallen Rahkshi and bound them tight. Fallon strode up and stabbed them with her sword, ending them permanently.

Karazin studied the battle so far. Two of his comrades had fallen along with six of the attackers, bringing the battle at four to eight, not in their favor. He was not surprised to see Corta was among the survivors, few among the warriors could best him in combat.

The two sides glared at each other. Each served their master and was willing to die for him. Well, most of them. Karazin didn't plan on sticking around for that.

The two sides charged, two of the attackers taking on one of the defenders.

Karazin found himself up against a blue-green Rahkshi and a black-brown one. Karazin quickly thought back to his studies, teleportation and quick-healing, this would not be an easy battle.

The teleporter appeared behind Karazin brandishing twin daggers while from the front the healer charged in recklessly with an axe. Karazin spun his staff around and blocked the two strikes from the teleporter then strafed to the side to avoid the axe wielder.

Karazin spun around and narrowly blocked an attack from the axe wielder. Without regard to how open he was, the Rahkshi continued pummeling Karazin with attacks. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted the teleporter disappear. Karazin blocked another blow then grabbed the axe wielder and spun him around, switching places with him.

His plan worked. The axe wielder took the twin daggers to the back and Karazin slammed his staff against his chest, unleashing a blast of shadows into both of them. The shadows strangled the two and the teleporter used his ability to get out of it. The quick healer however collapsed, the blows coming too fast for his healing powers.

The teleporter growled and lunged forward, daggers flashing. Karazin stabbed his staff into the ground just as the teleporter disappeared again. Karazin twirled around to find the teleporter trapped in tendrils of shadow. Oh how he loved it when a trap worked. Karazin yanked one of the daggers from the Rahkshi and plunged it into the Rahkshi's head, ending the struggle.

Corta had just finished off his own opponents and Fallon was in battle with only one. Karazin turned and saw a blue and silver colored Rahkshi of Gravity sprinting toward him. Dead Rahkshi essence was splattered across his extra large sword.

The two Rahkshi clashed. Karazin's staff was knocked back attempting to parry the sword, the gravity Rahkshi twisted his sword as if it only weighed a feather and sliced at Karazin again. This time he had to leap back to avoid being cleaved in two. Right before he landed he felt the air around him grow heavy, Karazin grimaced and slammed into the ground with the force of gravity.

He looked up and saw the Rahkshi's giant sword swinging down. There was a flash and the sword landed to Karazin's right. Corta had come just in time. Corta rushed forward and began a flurry of blows that sent the gravity Rahkshi back. Released from the weight, Karazin stood up and rushed around the battlers to catch the other from behind.

Karazin put one foot back and leaned, he aimed his staff and fired a blast of shadows. The gravity Rahkshi was struck from behind and fell to his knees. Corta swung his blade and decapitated the Rahkshi.

Karazin took one last glance around. The invading Rahkshi here had been defeated. He, Corta and Fallon looked over the edge of the cliff.

If only they could say the battle had gone as well down there. The few defenders left were in retreat into the mountain. Rahkshi were pouring forward, killing all Rahkshi and Matoran too slow. Karazin knew he had to convince the others to leave, to stay would be folly.

"It appears as if the master has been put in quite the tight spot."

Fallon and Corta stayed silent. Karazin looked over at them.

"Now is the time, we can leave, get out of here!" He pressed.

Fallon glared. "Silence! If the master dies we lose our will!"

"Will we?"

"Of course we will!" Fallon sputtered.

Here came Karazin's trump card. "Then, pray tell, explain me?"

Fallon fell silent.

"Personally I think it's all lies to keep us tied to him."

Fallon's eyes glared daggers. "You would dare—"

"Yes, I would dare to speak against the 'master'. Personally I'm surprised something like this hasn't happened long ago."

To Karazin's glee, Corta spoke up. "I know what you mean, why do we follow him anyways? I personally do not wish to die today."

Fallon stepped back in shock, stunned by the both of them. "You – you – traitors!"

Corta shot right back. "Traitor to a traitor? Why else would we be assaulted?"

Fallon began to tremble. "You – I – how could you two! Rahkshi do not start thinking on their own, we are not meant to—"

"To what?" Karazin interrupted. "WE are living proof that all of that is wrong."

Fallon pointed her sword straight at him. "I should kill you for all this talk." She hissed.

Karazin stepped forward. "Go ahead and try it, I know you can't. Although your power is Fear, I can sense it in you now." Another step. "I can see it in your eyes." He stepped past the sword. "Hear it in your breath." He went up to Fallon face to face. "And you know it." He said in a whisper.

There was a muffled explosion. All the Rahkshi froze, they all felt it. The master was dead.

Fallon trembled and sank to her knees. "Finish it, finish me it is done."

Karazin shook his head. "No. I'll leave that to fate. You've taught me how to fight and I owe you. I will let you live."

He turned to Corta. "Will you accompany me comrade?"

Corta soberly looked down at Fallon who kept her face turned to the ground then looked up at Karazin. "Yes, I shall accompany you."

Karazin grinned. "Good, it's time we left this place at long last."

Together Karazin and Corta left. Leaving behind slavery, with freedom on the horizon…

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Failure

Failure to one's sole purpose was a harsh blow. Fallon felt that bitterly.

Traitor

She had let her master die and betrayed her own conscience. Rahkshi were not supposed to feel emotions, but inside she felt a gut-wrenching pain that made her gasp.

Freedom

In the end it was a curse. She could no longer feel her master's will and she felt alone, forgotten. No purpose, no need for, she was the cast away project that lay unfinished on the floor.

"No more tears."

Fallon looked up at the voice. In front of her stood a green Rahkshi and he seemed to be smiling.

"I know Rahkshi can't shed tears, but the feel I get from you seems to certainly portray that."

Fallon could hardly speak. Was someone here to help her?

"I am the final legacy of Fenris, your master, who is dead." He paused to let the words sink in. "I've decided to bring you with me."

He reached down and offered her his hand, his face still appeared to be smiling. Fallon took his hand and he pulled her up to her feet. Again he seemed to hold that strange smile.

"Good, your emotions are calming. Let's go and find a better place for us to rest."

Taking her hand the Rahkshi led Red away. Before leaving Red looked over her shoulder to see what had happened to the battling Rahkshi.

All that was left was piles of corpses. Not a single Rahkshi stirred out there. Fallon turned back to look at her new companion. The smile had faded, replaced with a new look.

The look of a maniac after a slaughter. {C ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()

Dark Tides chapter iv

Two lone Rahkshi were walking across the desert between mountains. Behind them lay their home, their cage; the one ahead symbolized freedom and change. None of this meant anything to Jerkat who cared little for such things; the bigger distance between him and symbols the better for both.

Jerkat turned to face his fellow Skadaki. He grinned and jerked his thumb back at the traveling Rahkshi.

"See those birds?"

The other Skadaki nodded dumbly. One shook his head.

Jerkat sighed. One of the other Skadaki clunked the shaker on the head.

"First rule." Jerkat held up two fingers. He had never learned to really count. "Everyone agrees with me." He turned and whispered to his second in command. "Is he the new guy?"

The Skadaki, Kortack, nodded. "Yeah, Leomo, joined, uh, hmm…" Kortack was worse at counting then Jerkat.

Leomo spoke up. "Two nights, six hours and forty-two minutes ago."

The Skadaki thieves stared at their comrade. Jerkat spoke first.

"What did you call me?"

Leomo looked confused. "Nothing sir."

Jerkat grew angry. "That's nothing sir sir to you! Anyways, everyone one knows that the Rahkshi stole Toa weapons. So those two Rahkshi are our key to unlocking the vault to the ultimate treasure! We'll kill them, steal their weapons, and then use them to unlock the vault in this here book!"

"Sir, that's a map."

Jerkat glared at Leomo. "STOP CALLING ME NAMES!"

"Well well well, what have we here?"

Jerkat froze in shock then turned around slowly, behind him stood two Rahkshi. Jerkat quickly got hold of himself.

"Hey! What are you doing here? We are supposed to be ambushing you!"

The Rahkshi stared at him. One said to the other. "Can a being really be this dumb?"

The other sighed. "Sadly yes."

Jerkat stomped his foot. "Hey! I don't like being un-included in conversations!"

The Rahkshi stared again then raised their weapons and slowly began to advance.

"Hey! Stop! Wha— what are you doing? Help, help, help!"

The complaints came to an abrupt halt. The two Rahkshi looked at the now leaderless Skadaki.

"Are you going to let us pass? Or do you want to end up like him?"

One Skadaki started to raise his hand before it was slapped away by Leomo.

"You may pass, Rahkshi, take the map and leave."

In silence the Rahkshi took the map and left the Skadaki.

One of them looked at Leomo. "Soooooo, who is new leader?"

Leomo gave him a scathing look. "Obviously I am."

The Skadaki's eyes widened. "What? But I didn't vote for you!"

Leomo just shook his head.

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"Are all beings truly that idiotic?" Karazin asked.

Corta sighed. "No, we just got unlucky."

Karazin thought about it. "Or very lucky." He added looking at the map they had taken. "A vault only a Toa tool can open…"

The two had been traveling together for a total of five days now, after leaving the mountain and evading a few patrolling Rahkshi, they had reached the desert. Now they altered their course to head for another nearby mountain, the mountain described on the map.

Corta was dubious. "Can we really trust it?"

Karazin shrugged. "May as well, what else should we do? Who knows, what's in the vault may help us."

"True."

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"This is it."

The two Rahkshi stood before a large boulder. It had taken them some days to find it, but the rest of the journey had been uneventful.

Karazin came forward and noticed a slot in the center of the boulder.

"Corta, I think you need to put your sword in there."

Corta stepped forward and raised his blade. It had been taken from a powerful Toa in the final siege of the Toa Temple. He slid it into the slot. As soon as he did the boulder began to shake and move sideways. Corta retracted his sword and watched as the boulder opened revealing a tunnel leading deep into the heart of the mountain.

The two entered the cave on their guard; unsure of what kind of traps protected the cave from intruders such as themselves. They had gone some distance when they reached the first barrier. It was a wall of Light.

"Clever, a Light barrier, beings like us and Makuta cannot pass through it." Corta noted.

Karazin grinned. "Without Darkness, there can be no Light."

He raised his staff and began to absorb the shadows around them. Soon the Light barrier vanished. Karazin quickly let out the shadows again before the area warped.

"But without either, little can exist." Corta said glancing at Karazin.

They continued on unharmed by the Light.

The passageway was long. Many different tunnels branched off in different directions, but Karazin had a natural feel for where they should go. Using it as a guide, he let them pass the remaining traps in the adjutant passage ways.

The tunnels were covered in strange murals; Karazin supposed they referred to ancient legends and such. The tunnels were well built; the creation of it must have taken a few Toa of Earth.

Corta looked uncomfortable being underground, after all his power was Electricity, and lightning type abilities didn't work their best underground. Karazin on the other hand relished the near darkness of the passageways.

The traps avoided, they reached the caves final destination. It was a large chamber with natural crystals glowing in the ceiling and walls. In the center of the room; chained on a pedestal, lay their prize, a Staff of Shadows.

Karazin wasn't sure how he knew what it was but he just knew. He could feel it calling to him. Amazed at him easy it had been, Karazin stepped into the chamber.

All at once the ground began to shake and rumble. Karazin at first feared an avalanche was occurring, but he could tell the source came from elsewhere. Someone was using the power of Earth. It made sense now, the elaborate tunnels and murals. The guardian of the weapon must still be here to do his duty, to protect the staff.

They faced a Toa of Earth.

The ground in front of them split as the Guardian arose. He stepped out of the ground with one foot forward. His armor was black, deep black, and his weapon was incredibly unique; it had a long shaft like a spear, then on the top it held three elongated drills. One swing of that looked like it could cut an opponent to ribbons.

The Guardian shook himself to be rid of the dirt. He stared at the two Rahkshi from behind his mask and pointed his weapon at them. Karazin noted the ease with which he wielded it.

"Villainous scum, you should have turned back long before this point, now that I have been awakened, you will fall."

The words said, the Toa charged.

Karazin ducked under the first powerful swing and Corta leaped back nimbly. The Guardian raised his hand in a sharp upward motion, causing a cascade of rocks to fling themselves up underneath Karazin. Karazin jumped back and threw his staff in front of him and held it forward with both hands against the Toa's second swing. Karazin pushed off to avoid being smashed against the wall. The Guardian took another swing but the blow was knocked to the side by a bolt from Corta. Wasting no time, the Guardian swung around and kicked Karazin hard. He crashed into the wall.

Corta charged; firing from his crossbow as he ran. The Guardian caught some of the bolts that neared him with his weapon's saw blades; grinding the bolts to pieces. Corta raised his hand and concentrated. Blue sparks flashed on the fallen bolts and Corta aimed his hand at the surprised Guardian. A powerful surge of lighting struck the Toa from all sides. The Toa grunted, fell to his knees, and then collapsed entirely.

Karazin strode forward, amazed that the Toa of Earth was taken down by the power of electricity. He turned to congratulate his companion but found himself being lifted into the air.

The Guardian still lived. And he was fast.

Karazin struggled, but the Guardian held a firm grip on. Corta raced forward but a wall of earth arose and cut him off.

Karazin was close enough to the staff that he could feel its presence. As he watched, tendrils of Shadow twirled around the staff. Karazin reached out for it and the tendrils of Shadow from the staff came forward and coiled around his hand.

Power, so much power, he could feel it course into him from the staff. He could feel all the shadows in the room, every iota of darkness. He let the power surge and the chains holding the staff down snapped. The Guardian turned to see what had made the sound and in his distraction, Karazin attacked.

He surrounded himself in Darkness and slipped out of the Guardian's grasp. When the Guardian turned back Karazin already had hold of the staff. The Guardian roared and raced forward with his mighty drill, aimed to crushed the Rahkshi.

Karazin twirled the staff in an arc and a cascade of Shadow began to coil around the Guardian, immobilizing him. The Guardian snarled.

"You foolish spawn; this staff was left here for a purpose! You think that you can control it? Let me tell you, the staff has a will of its own and it will corrupt and destroy all it touches! Return the staff before it is too late!"

Karazin sneered. "A weapon with a will of its own? Hah! Toa taboo to keep you from using it I say. No, I won't return this weapon, that's for sure. But let me ask you something Toa. When was the last time you heard from the outside world? I have a feeling it's been a long time."

The Guardian glared, startled, how had the Rahkshi known?

"Let me tell you why. Thirty years ago the Toa as a collective were destroyed. Those who survived either went rogue or fled. You and your task are no longer sanctioned.

"No – you lie! The Toa could not, are not gone!"

Karazin smirked. "Your feelings betray you. The Toa have fallen, and you have realized it."

There was a crash as the wall of earth fell away, Corta having at last breached it. He was surprised to find Karazin still living and the Toa apparently pacified.

The Guardian stood in silence. After a few moments he spoke in a quiet voice. "Even if what you say is true, I shall uphold my oath to the bitter end." The ground began to quake. "I shall keep the staff here with my dying breath, and no mere Rahkshi can begin to stand against me!"

Karazin's eyes widened as the ground began to quake even harder, dirt from the ceiling began to spill down. So he ran, Corta hot on his tail. Behind them they could here rocks and dirt shifting, the Toa planned to stop them from leaving even if it cost him his own life.

The two ran hard; ahead they could see the opening beginning to collapse. Right as it did Karazin aimed the staff and blasted the opening back open. A Cascade of rubble burst out with the Rahkshi as they leaped out of the cave.

Karazin laughed in delight. Against the odds they had stolen a weapon of such power he couldn't even begin to comprehend! Limits appeared to dissolve with the staff in his hand, impossible paths opened up.

Karazin sneered at his next thought. Only the Toa would leave such a thing unused, oh how fortunate they were to have found it!

Corta interrupted Karazin's thought process. "You should have killed him while you had the chance!"

Karazin shook his head. "His death would have triggered an event more catastrophic."

Corta peered at Karazin skeptically. "How do you know that?"

Karazin paused. How did he know that? He looked at the staff he held in his hand, could it have come from it?"

"I'm… not sure."

Corta looked at the staff and had different thoughts from Karazin. For reasons he couldn't explain, the staff frightened him, and that was not natural for Rahkshi. Corta began to wonder what he had just gotten himself into.

Karazin began to stride off, Corta watched for a moment, a powerful dark aura hung about Karazin.

It was emanating from the staff.

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"Tell me. How did Fenris die?"

Fallon looked to Lucis, the Rahkshi that had taken her with him after their master's death. The two had been traveling together for a good while now, but Lucis seemed to be following signs that Fallon couldn't see. He followed a path that only he saw. She wondered where it led.

Lucis looked up at the stars. "He was slain by his own weapon."

"So you saw the finishing blow?" Fallon wondered who, or what, could have possibly slain such a powerful being.

Lucis continued his star gaze, his eyes darting from star to star. "Yes. I was there." He then closed his eyes and dropped his head.

"Who did it?"

Lucis stayed silent and kept his eyes shut.

"I must know!"

Lucis looked straight at her, thoughtful, "Do you really need to?"

"Yes."

He looked straight at her. "I did."

The words shook Fallon's world. She had first thought that it had only been Karazin who had such desires of rebellion, he being what she thought to be a defect in the system. But Lucis? True, she had only known him for a week but...the Rahkshi who had fixed her when she had broken down and had helped her avoid madness?

"Why? Why did you do it?" she asked, feeling betrayed all over again.

"Such was I created."

Fallon looked at him incredulously. "What are you talking about?"

"Fenris created me as the ultimate Rahkshi, the one who would ensure his research to completion, and the one to rid his failures - you are one, as is Karazin and Corta. But his greatest failure was himself."

Fallon sat down, barely able to comprehend this.

Lucis continued. "It started years ago when he discovered that not just Makuta essence could be used to create Rahkshi, but Toa essence as well. He started simply; he selected three Rahkshi as a test and infused Toa essence along with Makuta. You were one of these, the first of the batches."

A memory came into Red's mind; one of her very first, when she had first came into being. Alongside her had been two other Rahkshi, Ira and Respine. They had both been at the battle; it was possible they were both dead by now, but then again...

Lucis looked at her hard, his eyes probing. "There were two others, and you know who they are."

Fallon stood and hissed, "Yes, but I will not tell you where they are just so you can—"

Lucis held up his hand. "My plan is not to kill them, far from it, my plan is to recruit them."

"Recruit?" She asked, startled by the word.

"Yes. As you know, Rahkshi stop following a Makuta's will after its death and become wild. We have become wild, but are kept sane by the Toa essence inside us. The other Makuta will try to find us and destroy us because we are a threat to their very existence. We'll need numbers in order to survive. Those like us will flock at a better chance of survival."

She hated him. Yet she trusted him. She decided she would follow him, for now at least.

Lucis looked at her, his almost-smile appeared. "I take it then that you'll help me?"

Fallon looked straight at him, causing his almost-smile to momentarily slip. "Yes, I will help you." But I will not forgive you for killing Fenris, she thought.

Lucis beamed. "Good. Now that we have some trust between us, I say we start looking."

Fallon followed him as they brought their walk to a flight.

Just you wait…

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The pain was incredible.

It burned and shouted with the fury of a thousand flames, it roared and whirled with the power of a Muaka, it dripped and spread like the deadliest poison. It never stopped. Pain was something Rahkshi did not feel after having mastered the art of suppressing it. But he felt it now; the pain numbed his senses and fogged his mind.

Respine remembered. He remembered who had done this to him; his mind tensed as two images came before him, Fallon and Karazin. They had done this, they had betrayed him, and they were why he no longer heard the Master's voice.

No, that was not right someone, something, had they placed these here?

No, the Rahkshi were to pay.

He tried to rise, but found himself restrained.

"Careful now, don't want you to reopen those wounds. It has been very difficult keeping you alive." A cold voice like steel had risen beside him. "It has been awhile since I worked on a Rahkshi but I expect there to be no difficulties." The voice spoke as if to another.

Expect no difficulties? Who did this voice think he was? Rahkshi suffered no difficulties, only disturbances that were quickly taken care of. He tried opening his eyes but found them too groggy. The pain had settled but was still a persistent throb.

"The right leg from the knee down is lost; we'll have to replace it completely. His right hand was also crushed; I've got a good 'idea' for a replacement. His neck was also shattered but we've kept him alive thus far so I expect little difficulties."

"Very well," said a dark cold voice, "Make the replacements. What do you plan to do with this here?"

"A scanner, my lord; we'll hook it up to him through implants."

Implants? Replacements? What did these fiends plan to do? There was no way he'd let them do this…

"Sir, I'm detecting high cranial activity in the Rahkshi." Came a soft voice.

"Well take care of it."

"Right awa- agh!"

Respine had managed to slip his left hand out of the restraints, squeezing tightly on the being in front of him. But then there was a sharp prickling sensation on his back, then his strength ebbed and his hand fell.

The pain left and the darkness came.

"Is he alive?" The dark cold voice asked. "Your life depends on it, you know."

"Yes, my lord, I used a simple sedative to keep him down. If you wish, we can begin to hook up the implants immediately."

"Very well, you may begin. Inform me when it is finished."

"Yes, my lord."


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"But I know the Makuta is here now, in these burnt trees, and in the dead soil. All of these things were destroyed by the Makuta, but he never left them. That is how he becomes strong. That is what the Makuta does. He destroys things."

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Chapter five: Plague of Fear

It was quiet in the village, a simple place on the border of the desert home to both Matoran and Rahaga. A group of Rahaga guarded its borders atop the tall city walls giving those inside the illusion of protection. Most of the residents were resting, preparing for another day of survival against the odds.

The Rahaga were an interesting race, they had the body of a well built Matoran but the face not unlike a Rahkshi's. An adult Rahaga at full height stood as tall as a Skadaki, while the children could be as short as Matoran. Their exact origins were unknown; the original Rahaga were said to have been freaks of nature, mutants that later regained their forms.

But fate had a funny way of doing things.

The Rahaga that existed today came in around ten thousand years ago. They dominantly worked side by side with the Matoran, but while the Matoran were more prone to building and such, the Rahaga were prone to the art of war. Rahaga were trained at a young age to become fighters, many had found jobs watching over caravans while they made dangerous treks when Toa could not. In times of peace, they could be found tilling fields - they had taken strongly to agriculture after having wandered for millennia.

Time had changed yet again, with the Toa gone, basic society shattered. Matoran were constantly rounded up to work for the Makuta, various races that had been little bother now preyed constantly on the few remaining Rahaga and Matoran towns. But a few always kept hope on the horizon, a change for the better.

Karazin sniffed the cool night air. Tonight there would be a change, for better or worse. He listened to the silence of the village, the peace would be disturbed. And all because of what he was about to do.

A gasp broke the silence but was quickly quieted. Several Rahaga rushed to their fellow guard too late; he was dead. The rest kept down their panic and began searching for the intruder. They set off in groups of two and began moving throughout the village.

Karazin could have laughed at their idiocy, by splitting he could take them out far more stealthily. One group peeled off their tight search pattern to look down a corridor. Karazin gazed after them hungrily.

Their corpses were grieved over in the morning.

Another group searched the roofs; their broken bodies were found strewn among some crates. Two by two, they were picked off until the last guard found he faced a face not unlike his own, the face of a Rahkshi. The guard stumbled back in surprise and felt cold metal slide in behind him. He gurgled twice and fell, silent.

In a short period of time the village had been cleared of its defense. Karazin stalked forward like a ghost, or a demon of the night. Karazin thought back on what had led him here, he had heard of a dark powerful ability the staff possessed, and he had to try it out. What he would perform would truly make him a demon.

Karazin came upon one of the smaller of the houses; what he needed would be here. He crept in and came up to the sleeping Rahaga. The Rahaga awoke, saw the dreaded Rahkshi and before he could utter a single sound was smothered in darkness. Silently Karazin took the Rahaga and left as quietly as he had come.

Keeping watch, Corta watched as Karazin snuck back out. He had to admit that he was impressed, with his powers of Darkness; Karazin had made short work of getting in and out. But Corta still couldn't shake off the thought that something was not right.

Karazin plopped the Rahaga down and grinned. "Well, that was simple enough."

Corta said nothing; for there was nothing that needed to be said.

Karazin looked down at the sleeping Rahaga. "Well, it's time to begin the test."

He raised the staff and a tendril of darkness slithered out from the staff to the Rahaga who had awoken, the Rahaga stared up in pure fear. The tendril connected and the Rahaga body tensed and lifted into the air as more tendrils attached themselves. The Rahaga's mouth opened in a soundless scream then collapsed to the ground, limp. The tendrils completely engulfed it now; a dark pulse began, beating within the enclosed shadows.

The shadows dropped and revealed the horrific change that had come over the Rahaga through the dark energy. What had once been a humble Rahaga now was a trembling pure black Rahkshi.

Needless to say Corta was stunned and horrified by the atrocity.

Karazin however, was excited. He stepped forward. "Can you understand me?" he asked.

The newborn Rahkshi looked up, its face hollow and eyes empty.

Karazin again asked. "Do you understand me?"

The Rahkshi stood, the aura that hung about it making Corta shudder. What in the world had Karazin, no, the staff; just created?

The Rahkshi looked at the staff and all at once its eyes brightened into a deep red. It lunged at the staff but Karazin twirled away. He fired a ray of shadows but the blast absorbed straight into the Rahkshi and only seemed to egg him further. The Rahkshi was now scrambling and foaming at the mouth to reach the staff, in a blink of an eye it leaped upon Karazin and grappled with him for the staff.

The quiet night was pierced by a terrible shriek. The Rahkshi jerked back as a white blade protruded from its torso, shrieking all the way. Corta shoved his sword in further and flung the abomination off of Karazin. The Rahkshi lay withering on the ground, leaking a black substance. Corta finished it with a quick jab from his dagger.

Controlling his now harsh breath Corta turned to glare at Karazin. "Don't ever try that again."

Karazin slowly stood up. "The Rahaga didn't have enough willpower; that is why he attacked me."

"Do you really think that just because they're smarter they'll withstand it?" Corta pointed at the staff. "That thing is behind it all!"

Karazin glared at him. "What's gotten into you? You believe that a staff is causing troubles? Please, besides, we fought a Toa to get this, I'm not just going to leave and forget about it."

Corta turned away. "Just be careful, I don't like it!"

The two took off to the road alongside the forest, unaware of the presence watching them from the trees.

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Several days had passed since he had reawakened. Most of the pain had left, replaced by cold unfeeling. Respine twitched his replacement for a hand; a large gripper/claw sat there where his palm had once been, its sliver surface sleek and polished, strong enough to tear through a tree trunk if he wanted and sharp enough to cut through a blade.

His leg had also been replaced, now slightly shorter which forcing him to slightly hunch when he walked, but it did its job well enough. Beside his head stuck out an odd tube-like attachment: a scanner that took in and stored information then relayed it back to him. Through it he had been able to track down one of those who had ruined him, Karazin.

A hunter must be unfeeling; Respine reminded himself, much like his own body. He held up his gripper and gave it a spin by quickly rotating it; he couldn't wait to see it slowly squeeze the life out of those who betrayed him, just like those who had thought they could control him by reviving him. He had quickly shown them what happens when you try to cage a Rahkshi.

When he had awoken for a second time the beings there had tried to calm him, but his rage festered and he slaughtered the group there and escaped. He had then returned to his mountain home and had coldly looked at his master's dead body. It was there that he took it upon himself to track down the traitors.

He closed his eyes and checked his scanner. The targets were close now, very close. The other, Corta, would have to be stunned quickly as he was the more experienced. All of his muscles tensed as he ordered them to steady.

The moment right before the final hunt, he mused, a chilling moment...

He held his breath for a few precious seconds then leapt down from his perch in front of Corta. He raised his gripper and slammed it across his face, stunning the Rahkshi and causing him to collapse to the ground.

One down, one to go...

He turned his attention to the wide-eyed Karazin and quickly leapt across the short distance between them while swinging his gripper in front of him. Several inches away, he was stopped by a mass of Shadows. He leaped back and barely avoided being smothered.

His scanner did a quick check for him. One down for at least several more minutes, one with Shadow powers. Estimation of success...87%

He grinned; this would be easy. He ran forward then flipped over the wall of Shadows sent at him, swinging his gripper, but found it blocked by another mass of Shadows. He pulled back his gripper, rolled to the side, and back-flipped to safety. He ran forward again, and this time sliced through the wall of Shadows; grinning with success as his gripper smashed the other Rahkshi into a tree. Respine watched in slight disappointment as dark tendrils extended from the tree, having cushioned the blow.

Respine leapt forward and landed right in front of Karazin. The shocked Rahkshi attempted to cover himself with more shadows but Respine leapt over them and knocked Karazin to the ground with his foot. He placed his foot on the struggling Rahkshi's head and raised his gripper.

And now… the kill

Respine blinked as a powerful surge of shadows shot into him. Now he was the one struggling. Karazin stood and raised his hand and slowly began to close it, crushing his foe.

Respine tried not to panic, the scanner quickly calculated out another set of odds. One down, nearly revived, one with immense Shadow abilities, now trapped and constricted. Estimation of success...36%. Suggestion: flee if possible.

He snarled. The gripper wasn't the only weapon at his disposal; his natural abilities would serve well here. He concentrated and seeped poison deep into the ground, he spread it through the dirt toward his enemy.

The constricting mass of Shadows fell away as his Karazin noticed the poison and had to move away. Respine swept his hand over his gripper; charging it with his deadly poison, deciding it would be best to end it quickly. His scanner automatically fed him with the odds but he ignored it, he would be the victor here.

He charged forward but Karazin blocked his attack with a staff, they fell into a pattern of battle where neither side could seem to get the advantage. Then Respine back-flipped and raised his other arm. As he did so, the ground around Karazin turned green with poison. Karazin looked on in astonishment, then scowled and pointed his staff straight at his deadly opponent. Eagerly, a dark tendril of shadow flung itself at Respine and latched on. Respine fell trembling to the ground, his hand on his head.

"Wha-what are you doing to me?"

Karazin loomed up above him. "Changing you, if your will is strong enough, you'll live. If not..." More tendrils of Darkness connected.

Respine screamed out in pain, he couldn't take it! "Blast you! Curse you! I'll see you in-"

The Shadows completely engulfed him cutting off any further screams. Then Corta arose at last and ran forward.

"You fool! What do you think you're doing!"

Karazin looked calmly at his companion. "Making an ally."

Corta looked at the withering mass. "Don't you remember what happened last time you used it?"

"Yes, but that was on a weak Rahaga. This is a Rahkshi. I have a feeling this will turn out well."

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Pain was not new to him. He had already felt the physical pain of near-death and the torturous pain of losing the Master and nearly his will.

But this pain made the previous kind more like mere pin pricks.

It gushed over him, physically and emotionally draining him; it flooded his mind and insides, scorching him - pain seemed to be the new meaning of his life. A voice like the Master's came into his head, promising infinite power, Shadows and Darkness would be his to command, and all the pain would leave. All he had to do was take the staff…

Respine growled at himself. He would not become the vessel of any being, not if he had anything to say about it!

That was when a ray of hope shown through; a focus so strong that it burst past the pain, the shadows, and reached his aching mind. Floundering in his pain, he grasped it. Its power strengthened him, gave him courage. He felt what no Rahkshi had ever felt before, a glimpse of love. Other sensations came over him; pride, duty, and a sense of unity with himself. The darkness left him along with the pain, but as it left so did the rest, pride, duty, unity, it all disappeared. Yet he knew they remained, somewhere deep inside, waiting...

He arose. Karazin stood before him, gloatingly.

"There, I told you he would survive." he said to Corta, he then turned looked straight at the trembling Respine. "Tell me, who do you serve?"

Respine gasped a few times before finding his strength again. "I serve but myself."

Karazin looked at him startled. Corta raised his sword. "Do you still wish to battle us?"

Respine thought about it, he didn't want to anymore. "No, not any more. All those feelings are gone now." He wasn't sure if he was pleased or devastated.

"Tell me," Karazin said carefully. "Would you be willing to travel with us?" Better with us then on the loose…

He considered it thoughtfully. "Yes. That would suit my purposes for now." Until I find a better one that is...

Corta lowered his sword, but just enough to show he was still on guard.

"Well then," said Karazin, "Let us not tarry any longer. The world calls."

Karazin turned and continued down the path, Corta glanced back at Respine then followed. Respine looked at the trees for a few moments then turned away and joined his new companions. He did not know what had happened to him, but his life had been changed.

For better or worse was the question.

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Fallon looked around at the fallen mountain base. Rahkshi bodies still littered the mountainside accompanied by the occasional Matoran laborer.

"Never thought I'd have to come here again." she muttered under her breath.

Under instinct she had led her fellow Rahkshi, Lucis, to where they hoped to find other survivors. Now she wondered if she had been right to follow those instincts. While Lucis volunteered to search the caves, Fallon checked the mountainside for any signs of survivors and escapees. Fallon circled the mountain from the air, having spotted a few tracks that led only to more corpses. This time, though, she found what she had been looking for.

Two dead Rahkshi each with two deep sword marks lying across the spine lay still and crumpled before her. If she was correct, those sword marks belonged to Ira. A Rahkshi quite like herself, she had learned, created using both Makuta and Toa essence. She wondered what possibilities lay hidden by her dual creation and what other powers she possessed.

Fallon knelt close to the ground and closed her eyes, concentrating on bringing out her second vision. When she opened them, she discovered tracks leading away from the scene and into a deep forest below the mountain, and then turned around to go seek out Lucis. She found him waiting perched on a rock behind her.

"I take it you found something?" he asked.

Fallon scowled at him. "What are you doing here?"

He grinned. "I had a hunch."

"You mean you didn't find anything in the caves."

He shrugged. "The thought may have come across my mind."

Exasperated, Fallon turned around and waved him forward. Lucis followed her down to the corpses.

"So your friend enjoys the blade, I see. Two very clean cuts."

"She is a master of the twin blade form. I can think of only two who have bested her in combat with the sword."

"And are you sure those are her tracks?"

"Her aura hangs about it, just barely, but enough for me to tell she was once here."

"So you had a hunch."

"The thought may have come across my mind."

Lucis grinned. "Ah! So you can jest!"

Fallon ignored him and began following the tracks, they were faded, but with help from the lingering auras she could follow it. Lucis suddenly leaped into the air and zoomed down the mountainside to the edge of the forest. Curious, Fallon followed. He stopped right at the forests' edge and began examining a nearby tree.

"I guessed our friend came down this way, the way you were headed. Here, look at the tree limbs. Some have been broken as if someone was moving rather quickly."

Fallon concentrated on the nearby auras; there were several, but one was unmistakably from Ira.

"She was followed, though whether by friend or foe I am not sure."

"Well, the friends of our friend are our friends, right?"

Fallon just stared. "What?"

"Maybe I got the timing wrong..."

Fallon shook her head. "In any case, I suggest we go in."

Lucis leaped forward. "Right behind you!" And ran off into the forest.

Fallon stared as he raced ahead. This Rahkshi made no sense.

They set off into the forest following the path of disturbed nature. It was oddly quiet for a forest. Granted, they were both Rahkshi, and most Rahi normally steered clear of them, but there should be some kind of creature moving, at least. Suddenly there was rustling to the side; Fallon looked over and watched as a tight cluster of trees wavered into a Muaka like a mirage. Fallon uttered a curse. Illusion and Rahi Control, it seems. A fitting match...

Lucis was fast to respond to the new threat with speed only a Rahkshi knew; he pulled his staff out and quickly leapt the short distance between himself and the Rahi. Without pause he jabbed his staff into the Muaka three times before the Muaka slammed itself into a tree in an attempt to get him off. Still clinging on, Lucis pulled himself up onto the Muaka and stabbed right into the back. Furious, the Muaka rolled over; however, Lucis had anticipated this and jumped off to face the great cat.

The Muaka roared and clawed at him, but Lucis skillfully dodged the attacks. Frustrated, it snapped its head forward, forcing him to move to the side but suddenly he found the Muaka behind him, head still flinging forward. He prepared to leap away but found it frozen in place, the head mere inches away.

Fallon smirked; she still had it. Her aura of Fear had momentarily stopped it.

Lucis quickly took advantage and stabbed his poisonous staff deep into the Muaka's throat. The Muaka roared, raised its head, and collapsed.

Lucis dislodged his staff and glanced around. A magenta colored Rahkshi stood just a little outside the clearing. It raised its arms and pointed at Lucis. A swarm of Nui-Rama then appeared from deeper within the forest and swooped down at him. He prepared to fire a volley of poison but hesitated as one of the Nui-Rama suddenly collapsed to the ground, twitching. Soon another fell, and was shortly followed by another, soon only three remained out of the fifteen, and he merely watched as they were quickly defeated. A Rahkshi, Ira, stood amongst the twitching Nui-Rama, her twin blades slick with their blood.

"Looked like you and your friend needed some help, Fallon."

Fallon was both pleased and annoyed at the arrival and aid. "We could have handled it. Are those Rahkshi the ones you've been fleeing from?"

"Yes, their illusionist has been fairly troublesome."

As she spoke, roughly two-thirds of the Nui-Rama disappeared.

"They tire us with fake battles, and we only defeat ourselves in the long run."

Lucis stepped up. "You speak as if there are others, how long have you been evading them?"

Ira looked at Lucis wearily. "Ever since the end of the battle, it has been a tireless hunt between us. There were two others with me, but they are no more now, while I've been able to kill only one of them."

"So, then we are all that's left of the clan, I suppose." Lucis paused. "Tell me, how did you fare after the Master was killed?"

Ira stared off. "It was...confusing. The battle was still raging around us when we lost his connection. We were in an orderly defense on the west side of the mountain, but when he died, everything fell into chaos." She shook her head. "Next thing I knew, I was leading some of the survivors down the mountainside to this forest. Only two others were able to escape with me into the forest."

Lucis nodded in sympathy. "What say you to joining with us? There is strength in numbers, together we can take care of the hunters after you and now probably us."

"I..." She hesitated for a moment. "...yes, I will join with you."

Lucis grinned. "Good, well then, I'd say we've got quite a hunt ahead of us eh?"

Ira wiped her blades off on a nearby dead Muaka corpse. "Yes, let us hunt."


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Chapter six: Plague of Fear II

Fallon, Lucis, and Ira traveled for two days with only a few signs of their quarry. On the second night, they found a dead Kirikori Nui: a large locust-like Rahi that traveled in swarms.

Ira muttered under her breath. "These things are partly responsible for the great loss of vegetation around here. Seeing this bodes ill news."

The forest was silent as they hunted their prey. Not just because of us, Fallon pondered, but also because of our prey. But who really is the hunter and the hunted here?

Soon they found the trail, it occasionally skirted along the side of the forest where streaks of harsh light shone forebodingly from the barren land beyond. After the third day the trail left the forest completely; leading to a long broken up road and disappearing.

"They must have flown." Lucis analyzed. "I'm not sure how to go on from this point."

Fallon looked up, wondering if there were any lingering aura's, and saw a dark cloud swiftly moving across the sky. Her eyes widened at the sight. It was a giant swarm of Kirikori Nui. Normally, she and a dozen other Rahkshi would easily take care of the threat. But her group currently numbered only three and this swarm was larger than any she had ever seen.

Lucis gave a low hiss as he too saw the cloud. He seemed to have an odd number of strange habits such as that. "Now that is a swarm."

Ira gave him a scathing look. "Truly?" She asked sarcastically.

Lucis nodded. "Yup, there's only one thing to do in this kind of situation."

They fled.

Lucis took the lead; running away from the dark cloud and leaping into flight, Ira and Fallon quickly followed suit. The swarm flew forward, heading straight for the forest where they swooped down and began their work. A loud ringing noise trilled painfully through the air and mixed with the cries of forest denizens. The trio of Rahkshi watched from a large nearby hill, amazed at the amount of destruction caused.

"If we had stayed there a little bit longer, we would have been destroyed." Lucis said soberly.

"Pity you escaped, now your deaths will only have to be more painful."

The trio of Rahkshi spun around to face two other Rahkshi gleaming down on them, one Tan-Blue and the other Magenta. The prey and the predators.

"You've kept us on the run for quite awhile, so now we shall end it." Magenta said with a gleam in her eye.

She leaped forward twirling her staff in the air; Lucis leapt forward and halted the advance. The two began in a flurry of blows nearly too fast for the normal eye to see. Ira leapt past the two of them to take on the Tan-Blue but was stopped by a Kirikori Nui flying to the side of her, slamming and grabbing her with its powerful legs from the side. Ira grunted and began slicing at the Rahi. The creature avoided the first few strikes and blocked the next one but was unable to stop the second sword; which tore through its exoskeleton and into its softer, fleshier, parts.

Magenta flinched when this happened, her control and tie over the Rahi lost. Lucis took the opportunity to disarm her while Fallon came up from behind, her own sword pointed straight at the other's spine. Then everything went wrong.

There was a piercing trill, Fallon twirled around on the spot to catch Tan-Blue's eyes wide open and glowing. Magenta gave a laugh and faded, Lucis and Ira also faded away looking at Fallon with shock and surprise. Soon all that was left was utter darkness and glowing eyes. Trying not to despair, Fallon raced forward in an endless passage of darkness; those cursed eyes watching her while she sought a way out…

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Shiron paced the halls tensely. This was her first time in the great halls of the almighty Lord of Makuta, Bendak. When the great doors opened, she would be let in to meet him in person at last. One of her dozen Rahkshi, a Rahkshi of Adaptation whom she had name Fidelis, watched her as she paced. It had been her very first Rahkshi, and he knew when she was troubled, and he also knew why. She was after all, a low-rank Makuta with only a dozen Rahkshi under her command and two small villages to rule over.

To most other Makuta, she would hardly even be worth recognizing. But Shiron had tried her best, sending her Rahkshi out in the hope that they could make the change that would show her true worth.

And it had finally paid off. After a few more moments of nervous waiting, the great double doors opened. Shiron straightened her Tryna Great Mask of Reanimation and strode inside alone, her loyal Rahkshi awaiting her return.

Her first reaction was sheer awe at the room before her. What had once been the home of hundreds of Toa had been converted to a dark dwelling for the Makuta. The work had only been recently finished. A band of Skakdi had been using it previously as a hideout until the Makuta set their eyes upon it again. The grime and muck had been cleansed and the structure rebuilt to suit the Makuta's needs. The room before her was epic in size and décor.

Her second impression was of Bendak himself. An incredible being, Bendak was taller and stronger than any other Makuta (But, Shiron thought to herself, not as clever as Fenris had been). He wore the Kraahkan, the symbol of his leadership. His armor was blood red crimson with black highlights, almost a stark contrast to her own dark blue coloration.

He sat atop a large throne at the far end of the giant room. It was just them, alone. Shiron pushed back her fear and brought her mind to the subject before her. She strode forward and bowed before her lord.

When he spoke, it was like a nobleman, cool and airy. "Shiron, ruler over the far north colonies, I bid you welcome to my fair hall."

"The pleasure is mine, My Lord." She said, rising.

"I'm sure it is, but now onto business. You have reported that you captured one of Fenris' Rahkshi, a Turahk, to be precise. Where did you find it?"

"Searching a forest with a Lerahk. My Rahkshi had been tracking a Kurahk when the other two appeared."

She had no idea why he wanted to find Fenris' Rahkshi; they seemed to be of little consequence with their master gone. But she would use this opportunity in any way she could.

Bendak studied his tall ornate staff thoughtfully. Though Shiron knew it was anything but ornate, it was one of the last legendary Staffs of Shadows. "Have you told anyone else about this?"

Keeping stoic, Shiron replied honestly, "No, My Lord."

He almost looked relieved. "I want you and your Rahkshi to try and find them again. I would do this myself, but I have more taxing duties to perform."

She bowed. "As you will, My Lord, it shall be done."

"Good, I hope I can count on you. I want you to report back to me when you have the other Rahkshi."

Shiron bowed one last time, turned and left the room. She considered the task given to her. All she had to do was find some Rahkshi, but just what made these Rahkshi so important? She planned on finding out. She turned to Fidelis, who was still loyally awaiting her. He bowed.

"What is thy bidding, Mistress?" he asked.

Shiron waved him forward. "Lord Bendak wishes us to find the rest of Fenris' Rahkshi."

The Rahkshi looked into his mistress's face. "But you plan otherwise?" he asked.

Shiron smiled. "As always, you predict me to a point. I want to know why he has taken such an interest in keeping all this so hushed up."

"Then we best get working."

"Yes, we shall regroup at the village and plan what to do from there. Perhaps Fenris' Turahk could give us some answers."

The Rahkshi bowed his head. "As you wish."

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Corta couldn't shake his feeling of dread. Ever since he had started traveling with Karazin, it had been there and had grown especially once they found the Staff of Shadows. He now constantly wondered why he still followed him; perhaps it was a sense of duty to keep Karazin safe? Or was it simply because he had nowhere else to go? In either case, he still followed, and his dread still increased.

He looked on at the pathway ahead of them. "I have a bad feeling about this."

Karazin looked onward. "I sense nothing. Are you sure you are feeling what you think?"

Corta shook his head. "It's not that, something just feels...wrong."

Karazin cocked his head to the side. "Explain."

Respine, who had been keeping close to the back of the two and keeping low, now looked up to listen to the conversation.

Corta decided to finally address his concerns. "I don't know, ever since we found that staff the feeling has increased."

Karazin rolled his eyes. "Come now, we've been over this."

Silent most of their journey, Respine finally spoke. "He may be correct: when you attacked me with the staff I felt a powerful presence coming from it, telling me it could give great power if I gave myself to it. I refused."

Karazin looked surprised. "You mean to say the staff has talked to you?"

Respine had a faraway look. "Yes, even now a small part of it still calls out to me."

Karazin looked at the staff, as if he might either thrust it away or clutch it closer. His eyes widened. "I…you're right, there is something there."

Corta leapt at the opportunity. "Then let us be rid of it!"

Karazin slowly began to lower the staff. Suddenly his eyes widened and he leapt back as a powerful blast of energy soared past him. Corta and Respine sprung into action with weapons at the ready.

Respine's scanner beeped and he relayed the info. "Twelve Rahkshi, they've surrounded us, there is also…" His insides went into turmoil. "Oh no…"

A large crack split the air as the three looked up to see a Makuta bear down on them. Its wings extended as dark and craggily as the armor it bore. The sky had darkened and blue flashes of lightning streaked the air. It perched at a distance and raised a hand. Out of the shadows the nine Rahkshi appeared.

The trio stood in a triangle back to back, weapons at the ready. It was a four to one ratio, not counting the Makuta. Cold rain had just begun to fall when the Makuta silently gave the order to attack over the howls of the wind.

The Rahkshi fought like the maelstrom about them. It was not easy fighting four to one. Blessedly though; the Makuta seemed content to let his sons do the fighting.

Karazin considered using the staff's powers, but decided against it until he could better affirm what it was doing to him...if it was indeed doing anything at all, period. Instead he ducked under the first strike from a sword and twisted the foes arm, knocking the sword out, catching it, and stabbing it into the Rahkshi.

Corta used his sword and shield in a magnificent display of fighting, he blocked and parried and countered like the battle was a dance. He truly was a master of battle; few had been able to best him in previous times, but he feared the battle today would be his last.

Respine made use of his speed and powerful gripper to crush weapons and the occasional foe. It was after each had been able to slay an opponent that the lightning began to flash. Swords flashed whenever the lightning flared, the harsh gasp of life's last breath continued to drive the battle to a fever pitch. The cold rain continued to engulf the fallen and the to-fall. And the battle wore on.

Respine had always felt himself apart from the rest, ever since that day… Even now, he felt something inside him stirring, the feeling of revenge before his rebirth and how it consumed and almost destroyed him. But he had been saved. Now the feelings from his rebirth came upon him again; hope, courage, a sense of duty and purpose. As these feelings bubbled up he felt a power he had never felt before rise from within. His body attempted to contain it at first with a little success, but then in one stunning moment, it burst.

A blaze of energy that seemed to light up the whole valley blasted outward from Respine. The Rahkshi that had been fighting him withered under the force and collapsed.

The Makuta that had been standing so regally before the battle gore stepped back and watched in horror as the Rahkshi displayed power he had only seen in a Toa. Respine turned to the Makuta and fixed his eyes upon him, a gaze that spoke of true powerful

He strode forward; small sparks of energy flitting about him while the air vibrated with his newfound power. The Makuta trembled for a moment in indecision then leapt forward with a mighty war cry, swinging a ball and chain.

Respine met his bellow with one of his own and raced forward. The two met in combat, great heavy ball being knocked aside by large metallic claw. The Makuta stepped back and swung downward; his opponent nimbly dodged and sliced the chain to pieces, the ball crashing into the ground.

The Makuta took yet another step back, then, using his dark power, unleashed his Shadow Arm. Full of confidence, it quickly drained from him as a large metallic claw slid through the back of his armor, breaching into the precious substance that made him. The Makuta coughed a few times, eyes wide in shock as green ichor dripped from under his mask. He tried to turn around but sank to the ground unmoving.

The mysterious aura around Respine fell away. His companions looked on in uneasiness, unsure of what had just happened. Respine turned toward them, a new light in his eyes. He looked down at him palms, raised his head and laughed.

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He was my master and my servant.

I have held both Light and Dark and chosen neither.

Who am I?

You are becoming.

Becoming what?

Becoming what you need to be.

I gasped and sat up. The Rahkshi! The village!

They matter not anymore.

Do they?

I grasped my head. What was going on? It hurt so much…

Pain will help us.

Pain will make us weak.

It was unbearable, the two voices, in my head. I screamed hard and felt myself rent in two. I gasped and gurgled; every part of my being was shifting, and then came the pain. IT HURT.

Then everything went black. And white.

Who are we?

We are no longer one.

I looked up, at myself, but it wasn't me. I wasn't a Rahkshi. I looked down at my hands and body. Rahkshi's. I screamed.

I looked down pitifully. To have once shared my life with a part so weak…

Wait, no, who was I? Was I the powerful dark figure or was I the withering silver mass?

I walked away from my fallen self and took on a new identity to distinguish myself from my weaker part. From now on I would be known as Adnihilo. I gazed upon my weaker self. She too would need a name, so I may as well choose it myself. Corruo would be her name.

I looked up at Adnihilo, the being of power above me that was once me. I still had trouble wrapping my head around that. Half of her was simple, a regular Rahkshi, but the other… A twisted wing sprouted from her back to the right, her whole right side was covered in demonic dark armor, her hand ended in a dark claw and for all purposes she was all that was once evil in me. I stood up.

I sneered. Such a pathetic looking warrior Corruo was now. Though silver armor graced her she seemed uneasy on her feet. I on the other hand, I felt perfect. I could feel the shadows roaming about me, ready and at my beck and call. I looked upon my other self. She would simply hold me back now, my imperfect self. I raised my hand and a long thin black blade appeared. Why let such space be wasted? I charged.

Adnihilo charged with her weapon. I raised my hands futilely to block it, I had no weapon. I closed my eyes and heard metal clash with metal and my hand push back a little. I opened my eyes. The attack had been stopped by a weapon in my own hand. It was an axe; it had a completely curved blade and was silver like my armor. I stepped back and kept the weapon up in a defensive position.

I frowned. It seemed Corruo would struggle harder then I had thought. I decided I would waste no more time here, other things beckoned now. I flexed my wrist and the weapon disappeared. I turned my back to Corruo and walked away.

"Wait!"

Instead of turning back I twisted my wing about me and let the darkness take me. I would trust the shadows to take me where I wished.

I watched as Adnihilo disappeared, my dark self manifest had tried to kill me, and why could I not remember anything of my past self? When I thought back all I found was pain. The earliest thing I could recall was a deep hunger and then cold metal sliding into my back. I looked about me. I wasn't even sure where I was.

I realized but two things. One, that if Adnihilo was left to her biddings, she would unleash a plague of fear that would ravage the land. And two; I have to stop her. {C ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()

Chapter seven: Plague of Fear III

It was quiet and dark in the room; a few things adorned it. A single chair with a Rahkshi strapped into it with various tubes snaking off into machines being manned by Matoran. A single Rahkshi in tan and blue armor stood by the chair as the Matoran worked at their dreadful tasks on the machines. The door to the room opened and let in a small amount of light from the corridor, then strode in a graceful Makuta, hungry for results.

The Rahkshi bowed. "Lady Shiron. You have returned."

"Yes, the hunt for the rest of Fenris' spawn goes poorly, have you received any news on the whereabouts of the others from this one yet?"

The Rahkshi shook its head. "I regret to inform you in the negative, there is nothing here for us to learn about that. But, I have made some interesting discoveries regarding her origins…"

Shiron's eyes glinted; there were two things she needed. The Rahkshi for Bendak captured, and to know why he wanted them. "Go on." She said.

The Rahkshi walked up to one of the machines and pointed to a screen. Shiron joined him and peered at it.

"Here is what Rahkshi essence looks like; it includes traces of Makuta in it." He fiddled with a few buttons. "This is what our prisoner's shows."

Shiron raised her brows. There was the Rahkshi with Makuta essence alright, but there was something more… "What is that?" She asked.

"We have thus far been unable to determine what it is. Given more time I'm sure we can figure it out."

Shiron sighed inwardly. So close, and yet so far… "Very well, inform me the moment you learn more."

The Rahkshi bowed as Shiron left. "As you wish."

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They were so close! Shiron paced in her small throne room in thought. What would it take to learn just what Fenris had been doing? She had sent her Rahkshi to investigate his lab only to find all there decimated. Another dead end. But this, this was something.

She trembled; Fenris surly must have been planning something big, big enough to call in the wrath of his brothers and sisters. If they knew what she was doing… She shook her head. No, she would remain cool, no one would suspect her, and if they did, she could tell them she was on Bendak's orders and pray they seek after her no further,

There was a sudden shift in the balance of the room. Shiron instantly twisted toward the source, materializing her bow and bringing it to the ready as she did. To her surprise she saw a simple Rahkshi; it looked like it hiding half in the shadows. Something seemed off about it…

"Who is your master?" Shiron asked; bowstring now pulled back.

There was a red glint in the Rahkshi's eyes. "I serve no master but myself."

Shiron felt herself turn cold. How had a wild Rahkshi reached her? They were wild and destructive! There was no way any kind of Rahkshi should have been able to enter undetected!

Seemingly sensing her thoughts, the Rahkshi continued. "Because I never was under the servitude of a master like the rest I am better. I am Adnihilo." She stepped forward. "And I believe we can help each other."

Shiron had to work hard to maintain her own composure, the sight was utterly diabolic! The Rahkshi had a wing and twisted dark armor like a demon from the worst of nightmares. Shadows seemed to seep off her. There was a hint of fear emanating off, not from the Rahkshi, but because of the Rahkshi.

Shiron soon found her voice again. "And just how do you think you can help me Rahkshi?"

The Rahkshi frowned. "I would prefer if you would call me Adnihilo, I am not like your pathetic spawn, I am my own being with a name of my own."

"Fine, Adnihilo, explain."

"I know the location of some you are seeking, Fenris' spawn; they are a Rahkshi of Lightning and a Rahkshi of Shadow. Both could easily take down your own Rahkshi."

"And how do you know where they are? And how do I know that they actually exist?" Shiron asked skeptically. She was annoyed, more Rahkshi she would have to deal with?

"Let's just say that there is a link between the Shadow Rahkshi and myself, one that draws me toward him."

"Fine, but how did you know to find me?"

Adnihilo's eyes glowed red. "Instinct."

Shiron felt shivers. The Rahkshi made her feel things she didn't want to feel, but she sensed it spoke the truth; she would have to trust its words. She lowered the bow. "Very well, how can we overpower them if you say they can defeat my own Rahkshi?"

Adnihilo gave her a twisted grin. "Let's just say I have an ace in the hole against them, send me with your Rahkshi and I'll ensure their defeat." She leaned forward. "Unless capture is what you seek…"

Shiron narrowed her eyes at the veiled remark. "Fidelis!"

Shiron's trusted Rahkshi entered the room. "Yes Lady Shiron?"

Shiron glanced at him then at Adnihilo. "This Rahkshi here will be your guide to finding some of our targets, gather a group and follow her."

A frown. "I have a name." But Adnihilo went with Fidelis without further complaint.

Shiron watched the departing Rahkshi and wondered what she had really gotten herself into…

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Fidelis looked over the five other gathered Rahkshi and then to Adnihilo who stood on his left. "The plan is simple for adaption, depending on their numbers we'll split into the needed groups. Do as I say and I'll make sure the plan will Adapt." He turned to Adnihilo who looked bored. "What direction do we take?"

She gave them a scathing look. She raised her claw hand and a circle of shadows spread over them all. Some of the other Rahkshi hissed and Fidelis drew his sword. Then the darkness dissipated and they stood amongst the mountains.

Adnihilo looked amusingly at their expressions of shock. "We head east for a few yards."

Adnihilo started walking in the direction while Fidelis and the others stared. But Fidelis would always Adapt.

"Come on." And he led the way on.

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Lucis slammed his fist into the dirt. "BLAST!"

Ira watched impassionedly, but inside was a little surprised at his outburst. Why was Lucis acting so… emotional? It had been a day since the disappearance of Fallon and the other Rahkshi. She and Lucis had tried in vain to discover where they had gone. It was as if they had simply vanished.

Lucis remained on his knees with his fist in the dirt. "I can't believe I let this happen!" He said bitterly.

Ira had enough of it. "Got a hold of yourself Lucis!" She snapped.

Lucis turned his head to glare at her. "You don't get it do you? I've been charged to protect you!" He stood up. "ALL of you! It's my purpose right now. You are the keys and I am the key guard."

Ira remained silent. She had no idea what Lucis was babbling about, and she cared little about it; all she cared about was survival. And to survive she needed strong companions, and Lucis did not appear strong right now.

Lucis rambled on. But Ira paid him no attention; something had pricked her senses…

"Lucis, be silent, if you can."

Lucis was about to speak in protest but saw the serious look on her face and tuned his own senses to listen. There. There was the sound of a being nearby, a Rahkshi.

Ira and Lucis readied their swords and peered over the hill. There was the source. It was a Rahkshi adorned in blue and silver armor, the marks of a controller of Gravity. The Rahkshi carried a silver axe it its hands but let it drag in the dirt. It seemed tired.

"Ira, let's go down."

Ira stared at him and whispered back. "Are you insane? The last thing we want to do is be spotted!"

Lucis kept looking down. "But look at it, I think it needs help; our help."

"Lucis…" Ira began to warn but Lucis had already leaped down. Sighing; Ira followed him. Hoping he hadn't landed them to something terrible.

Lucis landed and the Rahkshi looked up in alarm, raising the axe in a defensive position. Ira raised her blades and the two stared off.

Lucis kept his sword lowered. "Hello sister, it appears you are in desolate need of aid."

The Rahkshi kept weary eyes on them both, unmoving.

Lucis stepped forward. "I wish only to help you." He lowered his sword to the ground and placed it there. He took another step. "I am Lucis."

The Rahkshi tiredly lowered her axe till it simply hung in her hand. "I am Corruo; do you know where Adnihilo is?"

Ira frowned. Such a foreboding name, not a Rahkshi she had heard of. Lucis gave Ira a glance then shook his head. "No I'm afraid we don't, who is that?"

Corruo trembled once and fell to her knees. Lucis rushed forward and extended his arms but Corruo raised a hand and pushed herself up to one knee. "I can sense her… I have to find her, stop her before…"

Then she collapsed into Lucis' waiting arms. Lucis exchanged a glance with Ira. Both of them had no clue what they had come across…

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Respine felt giddy, the surge of power, and one completely different from what it should be, made him feel happy. His companions looked on him worriedly, as if he was another threat about to spring against them. But Respine wasn't going to do that, they were his comrades, and he would protect them just like any good…

Respine paused, just like any good what? He was Rahkshi! Rahkshi knew no emotions, no fear, no pain… And yet… Everything was so different now; it was like he was undergoing an evolution, an evolution that would change the fate of Fatum and perhaps more…

"Respine, you, you killed them all."

Repine turned to face his comrades; Karazin had spoken in awe and just a little fear. The sun was now shining as Respine's burst of power had removed the cloud cover.

"Don't worry; I'm not going to turn on you, brother." Respine assured.

"Yes, but, you killed a Makuta! Something that should be impossible for us!"

Respine looked down at his palms. "Yes," he murmured. "I did." He looked up. "I think we can do it."

Corta stepped into the conversation. "Do what?"

Respine looked up. "I think we can do it, bring down the Makuta."

Corta looked at him skeptically and Karazin laughed.

"Bring down the Makuta? Are you mad?"

Respine fixed his gaze on Karazin. "No, I'm not; I know you once thought it could be done, well let me tell you, it can be done. Think about it, we possess some kind of power, unknown to us mostly, but it's there. With that power we can take down the last nine Makuta lords."

The other two were silent now, letting the words sink in.

Respine continued on. "All we have to do awaken your hidden powers like mine did and we can do it!"

Corta shook his head. "Taking down a Makuta is one thing, but think of all the Rahkshi that are unleashed upon their death! Can we hope to take down a rampaging horde of that size? And if we kill one surly the others will catch on. Three Rahkshi against a dozen Makuta does not sound good to me.

"Rahkshi go wild at their master's death true, but so do their loyalties, they'll tear each other apart and the few strong enough to stick together and survive will be crushed by us or others

Karazin nodded. "Fine, so it is possible to take down the Makuta. But how do we unlock this 'hidden power'."

Respine shrugged. "That is one thing I'm not sure about, mine came into force when I needed it the most."

Corta felt like sighing. "Then we still have a problem."

The trio went silent. What would they do now? Should they embark on this possibly suicidal quest? Could they take down the other Makuta? Karazin felt something stir inside him, words, a conversation he once had…

"There is indeed. First off, what is my purpose?"

"You will learn in due time. You have something unlike any others."

"And about that, what did the red mean when she said I have something only a few possess?"

"In time, I will tell you all."

But he never did. He had died and left his Rahkshi in the dark, could there really be something they had that could grant them special powers? Respine thought so.

Karazin started a set of words, some he himself had said, and they were the clue! what did the red mean… She knew something! And he had left her in the dust.

He looked at the others, excitement beginning to course through him. "I know who we need to see."

The other two looked at him curiously.

"The first day of my existence I was told by two different people that I had powers that only a few possessed, Fallon and our old Master. The Master is dead but Fallon may not be."

Respine's eyes glowed but Corta was skeptic. "We left her behind a long time ago; there is a very good chance she died with the rest."

"True, but I have a feeling of it otherwise, she lives."

"Yes she does," came a new voice "but not for long."

The Rahkshi spun around at those words. There on a boulder stood the most horrific Rahkshi they had seen. On her left side she seemed like any other Rahkshi, but the right… It was pure demonic.

At their surprised expressions she gave them a mocking frown. "Come now, it hasn't been that long since you made me and my pathetic sister into whom we are." She looked hungrily at the staff Karazin still held. "I'd like to give you a taste of some of the power you've granted me."

She started to lurch forward but a hand grasped her shoulder. Another Rahkshi, one colored in the black and purple armor of Adaption.

"Adnihilo, calm yourself, we do this together, as planned." As he spoke five other Rahkshi came into view, Rahkshi of Dodge, Stasis Field, Slow, Insect Control and Laser Vision.

Adnihilo growled and pushed the hand off her. "Don't you dare touch me Fidelis."

He kept his sharp gaze on her. "Stick to the plan."

Adnihilo gave him a twisted grin. "Oh I will…"

She fixed her gaze on Karazin and abruptly sank into the shadows, reappearing behind him. Karazin's eyes narrowed as he twisted around with his blade but found Respine's gripper already there, the wielder glaring at Adnihilo who glared right back.

Karazin stepped back as the two Rahkshi pushed forward, gripper claw against blade.

Fidelis almost sighed. He was a Rahkshi of Adaption and had learned many things over his period of existence; one easily could say he was one of the more skilled of Rahkshi. He was annoyed Adnihilo had changed the plans, but he would Adapt as usual. "Rahkshi, attack!"

He pulled out his own simple sword and joined the others as they rushed forward. There was but one thing that bugged him. The Makuta corpse lying to the side… He pushed it out of his mind, there was no way a Rahkshi could slay a Makuta. Right?

He and the others like they had in many battles previously set to work. A burst of laser beams sent Corta into the pathway of Fidelis' attack and he only barely brought his shield around to block the sword, he swung around with his own sword to cleave him but was Slowed. Fidelis stabbed Corta in the leg then aimed for the back. They weren't supposed to kill, just incapacitate…

Corta clenched his mouth as he was stabbed in the leg. These Rahkshi knew what they were doing, and the one called Fidelis was certainly a skilled warrior indeed. He charged his powers and created a small shield of electricity before Fidelis could strike again. He felt a bit of pleasure as the Rahkshi jolted back.

Fidelis clashed his sword against Corta's and Corta pushed back with his shield. And moved in for a kill, but a burst of laser forced him back. As the Rahkshi moved closer, Corta brought up his shield to keep the laser at bay. As soon as it stopped he used his shield's crossbow bolts and fired them. Fidelis used his sword to knock away the Slowed down bolts.

Corta charged his lightning and blasted it; the blast traveled along the bolts and struck the Rahkshi of Laser Vision. Corta rushed forward to finish him but Fidelis once again got in his way.

Karazin struck again at the Rahkshi in front of him, but he merely Dodged the attack and twisted around with his javelin, striking forward. Karazin struck the shaft into the ground and sent a tendril of shadows up it. The Rahkshi leapt away and Karazin had to turn around and block another blow from another Rahkshi, the one of Stasis Field.

Karazin ducked under the next attack and struck forward with his sword, he was merely inches away from a hit when his attack was stopped. He growled. Bloody Stasis! There was a shaking from under him and he leapt back as a Nui-Jaga burst out, then another and another. Karazin was surrounded.

The three scorpions let loose their cry, it sounded like breaking glass. They all struck forward, one after the other. Karazin used his power of Shadows to sink through the shadows and out of the trap. He appeared behind the Rahkshi of Stasis and stabbed it hard in the back. The Rahkshi shrieked and fell limp. Karazin pulled his sword out and leapt forward over the stinger of an approaching Nui-Jaga.

He stabbed his sword into the back of the Nui-Jaga and ran, his cut ending at the tail; he yanked out his sword and then sliced the tail off. The Nui-Jaga uttered a cry and began to curl up and shake in its death throes. Karazin landed on the ground and was forced to block a string of attacks from the two other Rahkshi against him. Karazin glared and fired a blast of Shadow, tripping up the Rahkshi of Insect Control, the other merely Dodging as before.

Respine blocked another blow from Adnihilo, the Rahkshi was strong! She snarled and stabbed forward, unleashing a wave of Shadow tendrils. Respine leapt up and to the side and found they were following him. He landed and looked up as they soared downwards at him. At the last second he back flipped out of the way and the Shadows slammed harmlessly into the ground.

He looked for Adnihilo but couldn't find her. His scanner told him what had happened as he heard a dark chortle from Adnihilo behind him, sword arcing. Respine twisted and narrowly avoided losing his upper body. As the attack went wide, Respine stabbed forward with his gripper, opening it and clenching Adnihilo around the torso. He growled; he would crush this dark creature. He began to increase the pressure rapidly and Adnihilo only escaped death by moving through the Shadows.

She glared at him and he her. Neither could seem to get the upper hand. Adnihilo glanced towards the others, she turned back to face Respine and grinned. Respine ran at her too late. She disappeared. He looked over at Karazin who was still trying to hit the Dodging Rahkshi.

"Karazin! Look out!"

Karazin looked at Respine in confusion. He was the one attacking. Then he too realized too late. Karazin twisted around and was knocked aside by Adnihilo. She held the Staff of Shadows triumphantly in her hand.

"Now," She grinned. "Now you will see my power!"

A hundred tendrils of Dark energy blasted out from the staff to the Rahkshi. Karazin watched as the Rahkshi who had evaded every attack so far was smothered in Shadows. The two remaining Nui-Jaga shrieked in pain as they were devoured by the dark powers. And Adnihilo laughed.

Corta disengaged from his fierce battle and watched as the storm of Shadow and Darkness approached. He heard Fidelis utter a curse. The two veterans of battle stood side by side as they watched the other Rahkshi were torn apart by the shower of darkness. They gave each other a look then raised their swords. Everything had changed now.

Respine watched in shock. So this was Shadow at its strongest. Thus far he was untouched, mostly because they hadn't quite reached him yet. He looked but couldn't find Karazin; he was probably stuck in the whirlwind of Shadows, they unable to kill him but he unable to escape. To the side he saw Corta and the other Rahkshi, Fidelis, charge through the Shadows, attempting to stop the welder. He knew he should do the same, but something stopped him. He looked at Corta, and realized that this was it, it was time for Corta to shine.

Corta sliced at another Shadow as it neared him, and grimaced at the pain in his leg making the going tough. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Fidelis darting and slicing. He looked up at Adnihilo who was now giving them an amused look. Corta fired a bolt of Lightning at her but a wall of Shadows absorbed the blast.

Then Corta and Fidelis were surrounded, they stood in the center of a cyclone of Shadow, and that center was growing smaller. It was then that Corta felt something well up inside him, an energy that chilled him. On instinct he stabbed his sword forward. The cyclone shook and Corta continued channeling his power. Then a large tendril of Shadow leapt at him. Corta couldn't evade it or dodge it! This was the end—

There was an explosion and Corta watched as the remains of Fidelis fell against him. The Rahkshi had sacrificed himself! Corta refocused his energy and a beam of power burst out, lurching at Adnihilo. The cyclone of Shadow collapsed. And so did Corta. His energy was all but spent…

Adnihilo had vanished, using her powers to disappear before the blast arrived. Respine stepped forward. Karazin was looking about bewildered, unsure what had quite happened, but Respine knew. Corta had found his hidden strength, and that made two of them. But what Respine now wondered was what would happen next. Where had Adnihilo gone? And when would she return…

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Adnihilo stood atop a cliff. So the Rahkshi had powers that could match her own… No matter, she had the staff. She looked upon it, it was trying so desperately hard to control her, make her its own. Adnihilo gripped it hard. It held no sway over her; she was beyond its call. She gripped it until it shattered.

There was a groan as the Shadows fluttered about. Adnihilo stretched forth her hand and let the Shadows absorb into her being. She gave an involuntary shudder; the power was now hers to fully command. And command it she would.

She looked hungrily to the horizon. It was time to truly test her powers. The time of her rise was finally at hand…


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Chapter eight: Plague of Fear IV

Fallon opened her eyes and her vision flew as something hard smacked across her head. She spat out the green liquid forming in her mouth.

A cold twisted voice was heard nearby; she could imagine the smirk that was surely there. "You have proved to be quite resistant to our mind techniques, despite the fact you were captured so easily."

It was true. Someone, or something, had been trying to pry into her mind and she had been resisting it every step of the way. She regained her vision and looked up at the Rahkshi glaring down in tan-blue armor; a Rahkshi of Illusion, the one who had captured her. Fallon struggled against her bonds but they were too tightly wrought.

Another blow, Fallon's head whipped back and then her body collapsed limply in the chair. "There is no use in struggling. Even if you did break the bonds, you could never escape."

Fallon looked up despite her injuries and spat at the Rahkshi. Another blow rewarded her. More green liquid spilt from her mouth.

"Rahkshi are mostly immune to pain, but you…" A punch to the stomach, "We have found that you are different. Half-breed Toa scum."

Fallon felt her insides freeze. How did they…

"It's obvious to me now that since you no longer know where your allies are, and that we know what you are, that you are no longer needed."

There was a click and Fallon's bonds released. Before she could do anything she was lifted up by the throat and slammed into the wall. Her vision began to blur. Her hands reached up to stop the choking but they were pinned to the wall by the other hand.

The voice was now a dark hiss. "I would so very much like to kill you, and I may yet..."

"Urgent news!"

Fallon's tormentor turned to the doorway. "What?" He snapped.

"The other Rahkshi, Fidelis and the others, the report just came in that they're dead. Shiron wants us to gather."

Fallon's tormentor remained silent.

"Do you know what that means? There are now only five of us! Just a measly five! When you compare that to—"

"Silence! Do you think any of that matters? Lady Shiron will take care of it, I care nothing." He turned back to Fallon. "So your brothers are stronger than we thought, well, since they're not here…"

Fallon's darkening vision blasted red and a sharp pain pierced Fallon's torso. She gasped, she had just been stabbed! The knife twisted and Fallon did her best to keep from screeching at the pain.

"…I'll just take it out on you. Don't worry, I won't kill you now, Lady Shiron may have some use for you yet."

Fallon was slammed back into her seat, her bounds quickly locking back into place.

"The poison on the knife will keep you in a near death state. When I come back and give you antidote, you'll wish you never had received it."

The room was silent again. And Fallon's eyes drooped shut.

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Lucis and Ira walked with their new companion Corruo. She always seemed sad, when Lucis asked, she told them she was fine then looked on at the horizon.

Ira asked about where she had come from. Corruo would shrug and say 'I don't know.' Apparently she knew nothing aside from Adnihilo and that she was a natural fighter. And of Adnihilo she could only say 'She and I were once one. And she must be destroyed.' If there ever was a being with single minded determination, it was Corruo.

So Lucis and Ira followed Corruo who seemed to be ever drawn to her counterpart much like Kraata are drawn to Makuta. Lucis carried a secret hope she would lead them to the others, those like himself, Ira and Fallon, Rahkshi with the power of Toa.

They travelled northward till they reached a valley between mountains; down there lay a city, Makuta controlled. It was there that Corruo found Adnihilo's presence the sharpest.

"We have to get down there. See that building."

Corruo pointed toward the far end of the city to what Lucis was undoubtedly sure the residing Makuta's lair.

"That's where the trail leads."

Ira scanned over the city. "We can't just fight our way through; Rahkshi will be watching over, I suggest we move around the mountain ridge till we're in better range of the building."

Lucis nodded. "Agreed. Hey, do you think that maybe Fallon could be in there?"

Ira said nothing.

Lucis sighed. "Too much to ask I suppose. Let's go."

Silently, like birds of prey, the Rahkshi made their way around the mountain side. A light layer of frozen dew clung to the ground and sparse grass. Deciding to avoid leaving tracks, Ira suggested they make use of their flight abilities. Keeping low, they quickly zoomed over the ground till they at last reached their point of destination.

Ira peered down from behind their ridge. "We're in the clear. I don't see a single Rahkshi, or watch of any kind for that matter. For a Makuta lair this place is fairly undefended."

Lucis took a look as well. "Strange… Well, I'm not going to let that bother me, let's go!"

"Lucis—" Ira sighed. What was the point of bothering when it was Lucis?

Ira and Corruo followed Lucis down the soft slope to the wall of the lair. Lucis waved them over to the wall where he stood; he had his palm placed against it.

"There, I used my ability to weaken the wall, Ira, if you mind."

Ira stepped forward and sliced her swords first vertically then horizontally. She kicked the area in the middle and the wall fell away. She rushed inside expecting something, anything, to be lurking in the dark corridor they had just infiltrated.

Nothing.

The others came in behind her, weapons at the ready. Corruo stepped forward and pointed down to their left. "That way."

The trio rushed down the hall and came across no one. Corruo pointed them down several more corridors before they stopped. They had reached the main hall. And it was not empty.

Five Rahkshi and a Makuta filled it, Lucis felt heat rise in him as he recognized the Rahkshi of Illusion. He turned to Ira to tell her but she put up a finger to his lips to silence him and nodded. She understood.

The trio fell back from the doorway. Corruo sighed. "She's not here; she was before, but now..."

"But someone else is; one of our comrades." Lucis was trying hard not to shout for joy.

"They may have killed her or taken her someplace else." Ira pointed out.

Lucis closed his eyes. "No, she's alive, I can feel it."

Ira looked at him skeptically and Corruo had returned to her faraway look.

"Come on, let's take a look." Lucis said.

"The only thing you'll be looking at is the sharp end of our blades."

The trio turned around. They had been spotted. Behind the Rahkshi stood the Makuta in dark blue armor and wearing a Tryna.

One of the Rahkshi spoke up. "Looks like revenge has come at last."

The Rahkshi attacked. In the corridor only two could attack head on at once which was something Lucis and Ira made full advantage of. Using their swords they darted and weaved, counterattacking and attacking. That was until the wall to their left burst open and the Makuta came forward from it, red eyes glowing and bow taking aim.

Ira used the small opportunity to slide under the sword of her attacker and cleave him in two. The Rahkshi fell to the ground in three pieces. She then brought her swords twirling in front of her as the Makuta fired a stream of arrows at her. Lucis kept her other side safe with his sword against another's.

Now Corruo decided to attack. She had no idea what she was doing, going off of pure instinct. She raised her axe and before the Makuta noticed her she smote the bow in two. The Makuta blinked then looked up at her new attacker. From her side she pulled out a silvery sword and countered the next blow.

Using her powerful strength she pushed Corruo back into the wall and stabbed forward. Corruo blinked as the sword pierced her. She coughed and looked down at the sword then up at the ceiling and unsure why, she cried out. "WHY DID YOU ABANDON ME?"

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Corta groaned. Something was not right. He was not right. There had been a flash, a flash that seemed to have happened lifetimes ago and for only a second. He recalled Respine's words. Think about it, we possess some kind of power, unknown to us mostly, but it's there. Had that happened to him? Had he finally awakened that hidden reserve of eluded strength?

After what seemed like another eternity, his eyes opened. Karazin and Respine were nearby, talking he assumed. They both looked up as Corta rose. Respine came over and clasped him on the back and lent a hand to help him up.

"You've been out for two days." Respine said. "Tell me brother, how do you feel?"

"I-I don't know." It was true, Corta was still not quite sure how he felt.

Respine nodded. "Don't worry, I felt the same way, I had no idea what was happened to me. In time it will fade, and oh how marvelous it shall be for you!"

Karazin stood back. He was now the odd one out, the idiotic powerless fool. The staff was gone; he had been unable to do anything against Adnihilo, and now his comrades had tapped into a power stronger than any he had seen.

He felt anger. He was the one who was supposed to be chosen, was he not? When and where had things gone so wrong? He was the one who had started this after all! Wasn't he?

But now… Now he had nothing.

But then there was something. A pull, something was calling out to him silently. He closed his eyes and extended his mind, wondering what it could be. Cautiously he mentally grasped the link."WHY DID YOU ABANDONE ME?"

The force of the mental wave sent Karazin crashing to the ground shaking. He reached up to his mouth, and pulled back his hand. There was green on it. What had just happened? He felt weak, as if a part of his energy had suddenly cut itself off from him. And that voice, why was it so familiar?

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There was a dark gleam in Corruo's eyes. She grasped the sword in her torso with both hands and glared at the Makuta. There was a burst of energy that surged up the sword. Before the Makuta could cry out, it reached her, shattering her palm, her arm, her side.

The Makuta wailed and sank to her knees, a gaping hole in her right side. Everything she had, everything she had hoped for, everything she had dreamed of, now it was—

There was a flash and the Makuta exploded, what small pieces remained scattered through the air. Lucis, Ira and the other Rahkshi looked on in stunned amazement. Then the Rahkshi sank to their hands and knees and wailed. Their beloved master was gone. And now it was replaced with…

The Rahkshi began to snarl. They went into a frenzy; tearing apart whatever was closest to them. In their blind furry they cut each other down, one rushed at Lucis and Ira who cut him down in tandem as he ran. Then it was suddenly, chillingly, over.

Lucis and Ira looked at their now extremely weary comrade. Lucis pulled out the sword from her and Ira looked at the Makuta corpse. Lucis tried several times to say something but his mind was blank. Ira broke the silence.

"Lucis, go find Fallon, I'll see to Corruo."

Lucis nodded and rushed down the corridor, suddenly eager but still worried for Corruo and a little mystified by the event. Ira sat down beside Corruo and placed her hands upon the wound.

"There are things, things beyond what normal Rahkshi can do. Fallon and I discovered some of those." She paused. "Someday we may explain it, but for now, heal."

There was a green glow around her palms and Corruo's wound sealed. Corruo looked up at Ira gratefully.

"Thank you." She hesitated. "Do, do you know if there is a Rahkshi out there, a Rahkshi of Darkness?"

Ira nodded. "There is, Lucis and Fallon understand more about that then I do though. Why?"

Corruo looked down. "I-, I felt something, I felt him, I called out to him and received the power I needed. Is this kind of connection strange?"

Ira frowned. "I have never heard of such kind of a connection before."

"I think," Corruo looked up. "I think he can help me defeat Adnihilo."

Ira rested a hand on her shoulder. "Then we shall find him."

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Lucis raced down the corridor. He would find her and save her! He stopped at a door; instinct drove him to stop there. He raced his sword and cut it down. The feint light from the corridor streamed into the pitch black room. And there she was, strapped into a chair. Fallon.

Lucis raced forward and carefully cut her bindings with his sword. He lifted her up into his arms. Her life force was small. Too small. Green essence was scattered around the room dominantly by the chair, it was from a Rahkshi. Lucis felt anger rush through him. He would not let Fallon fall from him!

He placed her limp body on the floor and placed his palms above her. He took a moment to focus. She had been poisoned; one would think that would be no problem for a Rahkshi like Lucis, but Lucis was not like other Rahkshi. He would have to cleanse Fallon another way.

A piercing light shot from his palms and swept over Fallon. The light pierced through and began to do its job to remove the darkness coursing through her. Lucis had to be careful, too intense and it would destroy Fallon, he had to use just enough to cleanse her. His spine bristled, he had never used his actual power before, and his body was now trying to shed his outer skin layer. The layer used to protect his true identity.

Lucis shut his eyes and concentrated harder. It took a few more agonizing seconds but at last it was done. Fallon opened her eyes.

"Who—are you?"

Lucis was startled and surprised. But then he looked down at himself. Parts of his green armor had peeled away to reveal the gold beneath it. He cursed inside his head. So much for keeping his true identity secret, he would have to regenerate it before returning to Ira and Corruo.

"It's me, Lucis." He said. "Ira and I came for you."

Fallon closed her eyes. "Ah, I see…"

Lucis sighed. She was safe for now. Her body would need to regenerate lost energy from both the poisoning and the cleansing. He gently picked her up in his arms and walked out.

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"Karazin? Are you alright."

Karazin nodded and stood up wearily. He felt so much weaker. He stumbled over to a rock face, letting the darkness in the shadows restore him. "I'll be fine." He said quietly.

Corta and Respine shared a look but Karazin ignored them. Someone, something, had called out to him and taken some of his strength. There was no way Karazin would let this go unanswered.

He looked up at the other two. "We need to head north."

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Adnihilo looked down upon the city atop the mountain. This would be her testing ground, the place where she would unfold her newfound power to the world. She grinned. It was all about to begin in the worst way possible for everyone.

A single Rahkshi stood atop the cliff below her. She swooped down upon him and gripped his face before he even noticed her. Hungrily she squeezed and sank her mind into his, devouring it. Learning all she wanted to, she squeezed harder and the Rahkshi's head exploded to a pulp. She watched as he tumbled down the mountainside to the city and let the shadows cleanse her of the splattered essence. Perhaps he would land on a wandering Matoran.

So the city was overlooked by one 'Caeium', ruler of the sky. Well, not for long. He had spawned plenty of Rahkshi, both as an army and protectors of his cities. Adnihilo was lucky, the army was home today.

There was the sound of an alarm from the city. Someone must have noticed the body. As Adnihilo watched, a dozen Rahkshi soared up from to her perch. Adnihilo let them come. They landed behind her weapons at the ready. Adnihilo sensed little fear in them; they were mindless slaves after all. They did as they were told.

Adnihilo let her newfound dark powers seep over her as the Rahkshi raced forward. She raised her thin blade and rushed forward, too fast for the others. One swipe of her blade and one died. She stabbed, she cut, and she ran. She reached the opposite side of her opponents and time caught up. The Rahkshi burst, collapsed, and in general, died.

She turned her gaze hungrily toward the city. Now that she knew her physical strength, it was time to go to the next step. She went into flight and soared into the city, right in the middle of what looked like the market place. Matoran and Rahaga traded with one another and Rahkshi stood by. At first no one noticed her. But they all did when she struck.

Waves of shadows erupted from her in spirals. All life that they touched were devoured and joined with hers. And her power increased. A single Rahkshi, a Rahkshi of Darkness, managed to struggle forward. She looked at him pitifully, he was outmatched and outclassed. In a flash she was upon him, she leapt into the air and called out her sword, bringing it down through his spine and torso. She landed in front of him and brought the sword down cleaving the front of him in two.

There were more sounds of alarm and Rahkshi by the dozens raced forward. Somewhere in the chaos a fire had started and was ravaging the nearby stands and buildings. Adnihilo turned around and swiped at the air with her sword. A wave of shadows burst out and sucked the life away from the closest Rahkshi, adding their power to her own. Chuckling at the futility of their efforts she screamed and unleashed a shockwave that crushed the area around her.

Adnihilo stood in the center of the cleared land and watched as she was surrounded by Rahkshi on all hands. But the sky was what she was looking at. The great Makuta lord Caeium had arrived. He glared and scowled down at her. Adnihilo was sure he was not happy at having lost so many to one Rahkshi. But she was more than a Rahkshi now.

With a bellow Caeium rushed at her with his mighty sword. Adnihilo kept her own weapon pointed at the ground. When Caeium was about to strike she blocked the blow with a flip of her sword. The mighty Makuta tried to come forward with all his might on the sword to no avail. Adnihilo gave him a grin then raised her other hand, palm open, to the sky. Hundreds of tendrils of shadows flung out from her palm and struck like leeches onto the Rahkshi.

The Rahkshi flailed and screeched as their essence was sucked out. Many collapsed, mere husks, others resisted and screamed till there they burst back in a shower of essence, utterly wasted. Adnihilo looked into Caeium's red and furious eyes. He wanted to make her pay dearly, but he just didn't quite have the strength.

As more Rahkshi collapsed, Adnihilo pushed back more against Caeium. Caeium sweat and blanched as he realized he was going to lose. In a last desperate bid he leapt back and fired his Shadow Hand. Adnihilo lowered her sword and faced the attack head on. She raised her own hand and grasped the Shadow. Caeium's eyes widened. Adnihilo gripped the arm and slowly began to pull Caeium closer.

Caeium struggled hard and suddenly found he was winning! He was drawing in Adnihilo, faster and faster! He would… He cried out at the sharp pain on his side. His wing! She had cut off his wing!

He twirled around and swung downward but Adnihilo dodged the simple attack and stabbed forward. Caeium grunted at the light attack and swung his sword again. Again Adnihilo dodged and stabbed. As his attacks kept missing and he kept on getting pricked Caeium's vision turned red with his fury.

Then he had her! She was open! He swung hard, knowing there was no way he could miss. Instead of the feel of his blade running through Rahkshi he felt cold twisted metal running through his head. Then he felt no more.

The great Makuta that once claimed to be ruler of the sky collapsed to the ground to go sailing no more. Adnihilo stood over to the body and removed the head from her sword. She tossed it at the body and looked up as a large smoldering tower collapsed on it. Flames leaped over the dead body of the Makuta and a great screeching rent the air. The Rahkshi's master was dead.

Adnihilo turned her back to the blaze and watched as the city sank into utter chaos. She smiled to herself, she had found her purpose. She would be a plague on this land; she would strike and harbinger fear and terror wherever she went. She would rend this world in two as she had been rent in creation.

She would watch this world burn. ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()

Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.

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Chapter nine: Liberation I

The sky was light blue and the air was a cold crisp. Karazin enjoyed the cold; it reminded him of the cool of the shadows. Respine on the other hand was annoyed that the cold started to stiffen up his remade joints much to the others amusement. And with the quick coming winter, it made the cold air even more so.

Karazin had led them through the mountain's pass northward. He didn't quite understand it all but he knew they needed to go this way. When Corta and Respine would talk about strategy and how they would take down the Makuta Karazin turned a deaf ear. He had far more pressing matters at hand; the fact that someone had tapped into his energy and taken it.

Karazin would not let the call go unanswered.

He shivered inwardly every time he thought back on those words. "WHY DID YOU ABANDON ME?" They were so accusing, so despairing, and they had been said to him. But why? What had he done?

Now more than ever Karazin felt like the odd-man out. His companions had awakened powers beyond his comprehension; the ability to kill Makuta. It reminded Karazin back when he was in servitude, he had the will to do it but not the strength, how he had longed for it; still longed for it. Then he found the staff, the Staff of Shadows. It had empowered him beyond his wildest dreams! But it turned out to be using him as much as Fenris had been. Now his will was shot.

Karazin ground his teeth. That blasted Rahkshi! She had come in with powers of Darkness beyond his own! If it had not been for Respine and Corta he would be dead. And they… Karazin looked back at them. They were so far beyond him now…

Karazin shook his head. He had a mission, a task, and he was merely distracting himself. As soon as he cleared his mind he stopped. He had sensed something nearby. Rahkshi….

His companions also had halted. They exchanged a glance then took refuge behind a nearby stream of boulders along the path. The Rahkshi were close, traveling down the path they had just been on toward them. Karazin gripped his sword. They would surely be noticed, if they had not already, they would have to take them by ambush. They waited till the Rahkshi had nearly reached them and leapt out.

Karazin roared and swung his sword high. His clashed with a Turahk, a Rahkshi coated in red— Karazin froze.

"Karazin?"

In shock he stepped back staring into the others eyes. "Fallon?"

Karazin noticed that the fighting from the others too had frozen. They were all shocked at the appearance of the others.

Karazin peered at Fallon, his eyes going over every detail. "We left you for dead."

Her eyes hardened and she strode past the little space that separated them. There was a sharp smack that ringed out. Then Fallon turned and walked away.

Karazin just stood shocked. He had just been slapped! It definitely was Fallon. There was a chuckle to his side. It came from a green-armored Rahkshi who had clashed blades briefly with Corta. Fallon shot him a glance and he fell silent.

Karazin took a look at Fallon's other companions, he recognized Ira, and then there was the green armored one, but the last made him stop. Outwardly she looked like a troubled Rahkshi in silver and blue armor. But Karazin could feel something there, something that affected him deeply. And he had no idea what it was.

The green Rahkshi cleared his throat. "I believe all three of you know Fallon and Ira, I am Lucis, and the other is Corruo."

Corruo… The name struck Karazin the same way her appearance had. There was just something about her and he didn't know what it was. Could she be it? Could she be the object that had guided him here? It wasn't a stretch, but he would have to find out.

Corta took the job of introduction. "It's good to see you again Fallon and Ira. And a pleasure to meet you Lucis and Corruo. I am Corta, and my companions are Respine and—"

"Karazin"

Everyone gave startled looks at Corruo. But none were more surprised than Karazin.

"I've met you before." she said.

Karazin got over his surprise and spoke. "Forgive me but I do not seem to recall you, where did we meet?"

Corruo's eyes went frosty, much like the snow now fluttering down. "You kidnapped me from my village, it's mostly a blur but I remember you. You took me, than you created my me and my sister." She said bitterly.

Now the shocked gazes went from Corruo to Karazin who stood there stunned. Corruo was the young Rahaga he had taken and changed with the Staff of Shadows! He stumbled back a step. How could this be? Corta had killed it— or had he? The Rahkshi had lay bleeding black ooze before and after Corta had stabbed it.

Karazin took a glance at Corta. He shared Karazin's surprise and shock at the revelation. He looked back to Corruo, instead of the bitterness she had let out in her voice, her face held sorrow. As if she was the one sorry for what had happened. Karazin's mistake had come back to haunt him.

At last he found words. "I-I had no idea what I had caused when I did it. I thought, you had died."

Corruo shook her head. "My sister and I are very much alive."

"'Sister', who is your sister?"

Corruo's eyes seemed to penetrate deep into his soul. "She calls herself Adnihilo."

The revelations came faster and harder. Adnihilo, the one who had taken the Staff of Shadows and nearly killed them all, and he had created her. Karazin almost sagged to the ground. All that trouble, he had caused to himself? And all because of one foolish mistake. It was a hard thing to comprehend.

Respine cursed. "And now she has the Staff of Shadows, a weapon she could use for unimaginable power and purposes. My scanner tried to gauge the extent of the possibilities and nearly fried itself."

Corta nodded. "I have faced against her powers and they are strong ones. But we have discovered a hidden strength of our own when we were at our weakest. Powers that allowed us to do things beyond the impossible. Respine has survived a complete mental takeover and killed a Makuta, I have pierced through an onslaught of Shadows and shattered them."

Lucis perked up at this. "You have discovered it then? Your Toa potential?"

Karazin's brow furrowed. "Toa potential?"

Lucis continued. "Us six were created with more than just Makuta essence and protodermis. Fenris joined Kraata with Toa essence, creating what we are now." He nodded to Corta and Respine. "These two have found their hidden powers." He looked to Fallon and Ira. "And they have found a small part of it." He came forward and placed a hand Karazin's shoulder. "You will find your strength brother."

Karazin shrugged off the hand. "I never doubted it."

Lucis looked at him for a few more seconds then turned back toward the others. "I'm sure we've all got a lot of catching up to do, I suggest we make camp just off the path for the night. Strong Rahi prowl these parts I hear.

Everyone agreed. For tonight they would rest and catch up.

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There was fire, lots of it. She laughed; this was the way all things would be. Nothing would survive, all would be rent.

Corruo shook her head. Adnihilo continued darting into her thoughts, at first it was little, feelings mostly, now she saw images and heard sound. And none of it was pleasant. She knew that if she did nothing then Adnihilo would win. The world would be rent and utterly wasted.

She would never, could never, allow that to happen.

Corruo spared another glance at Karazin. In many ways he was her father, he had created both her and Adnihilo, but he had abandoned them, rejected them, and now he knew not what to do. Corruo felt no anger like she was sure Adnihilo might feel. No, she felt pity, pity that he had brought so much pain upon himself and others.

Someone sat down beside her. Ira.

"So Karazin is your creator."

Corruo nodded. "It's strange to think isn't it, that a Rahkshi created a Rahkshi, but it happened, Adnihilo and I are Rahkshi, yet we are different from you and the others in a few ways."

"And we too are different; we are not even full Rahkshi, Toa essence courses through us. Lucis and Respine claim that we 'feel' things more acutely."

Corruo placed a hand on Ira's knee. "I know of what you speak, I was once Rahaga, I still feel those feelings, but not as often."

Ira looked away. "I wish things were different, feelings get in the way."

"Do they?"

"Yes, I've just started experiencing them fully, as Rahkshi you learn to blot them out, to become one with your Master." She paused. "You know what I think really makes the Rahkshi wild? With the master gone so is the restraint; strong emotions like rage and anger are strongest so they dictate control.

"It's funny," Ira continued. "Many Rahkshi use the power of emotions against others, and when we ourselves experience the emotions, they kill us. It would seem that emotions are quite the powerful tool."

"Emotions are more than just tools though. They tie us to our soul." Corruo pointed out.

"Souls?" Ira laughed coldly. "Rahkshi have no souls, we are bound to our lord from creation."

"I would beg to differ, the very fact that you feel shows that you have a soul. However corrupted it may become, it still resides within us."

Ira remained silent. Then she stood up. "I'm going to have to think more about this. Alone. Thank you for talking Corruo." Without another word she left.

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Respine glanced from Corta and Lucis to Ira. She was talking with Corruo now. He wondered what they were talking about. Then he wondered why he kept glancing at her every five bloody minutes. Ever since they had crossed weapons today, he couldn't seem to stop sneaking in a glance. What was the matter with him?

"-would you like to elaborate on it Respine? Respine? Respine!"

Respine blinked off his thoughts. "Yes Corta?"

Corta gave Respine a good look. "Are you feeling alright Respine?"

Respine waved his hand. "I'm fine; I was just lost in my thoughts…"

Corta nodded. "I was just telling Lucis about how you defeated the Makuta and figured you would have more to say on it."

"Ah, yes."

Respine told Lucis about the event in his life, how it changed his thoughts, how it changed his very being. But he felt distracted, there, lingering in the corner of his eye… He shook his head. What was wrong with him? These blasted 'feelings', he couldn't shake them!

Lucis gave Respine a cool smile. "Come Corta, I think Respine could use some time alone to his thoughts."

Respine gave Lucis a surprised look, Lucis returned it with a wink and moved off. Now left alone, Respine glanced over to Ira and Corruo and to his surprise saw Corruo sitting alone. He cast his gaze around but didn't see her. He stopped himself. What did he care? What was going on with him?

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Karazin sulked by himself a little away from the group. Everything was off. The trouble with Adnihilo and Corruo was his entire fault, caused by a single mistake that brought a chain of anguish upon him. He had ignored the Toa's warning and brought despair upon himself and others. Now… now he didn't know what to think.

He was powerless compared to the others, he was a quick fighter, but so were the others. He had strong abilities, but so did the others. And they had more than that. Corta and Respine had awakened their potential and Karazin guessed the others had as well by Lucis' words. Corruo and Respine had taken down Makuta. Karazin had created a mistake.

He stood. Wallowing in self pity was unlike him! If he didn't like how things were he would change them! Being with the others had made him weak in some ways; it was time he turned his life around. He would leave them and seek out his own path. It was who he was. It was his way.

He would take care of his loose ends.

"You can't leave."

"Go away Corruo."

She stepped forward from behind him. "No, you and I are bound. If you are to leave, I will follow you. It was I that you were drawn toward. Now we are bound to follow Adnihilo, it is my purpose, and I have part of you in me."

"That doesn't mean it's my purpose, to go after Adnihilo would be suicide, much like the others idea to go after Makuta."

"But you once believed it could be done."

He had. But he was changed.

"I don't think you've changed that much. Let me come with you. If Adnihilo is left alone, she may be able to draw on your powers too."

Now she was reading his mind. Stubborn little— "So you were the one… Alright, you can follow. But we leave now." Karazin consented.

Corruo nodded. "Good, then let us go."

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Lucis sighed as he watched the two forms disappear. It couldn't be helped; he had known Karazin would leave. His only regret was that he couldn't go with him and help him find his way; for he had the majority to protect. He heard Fallon come up behind him.

"Lucis? What's wrong?"

He turned around and gave her a smile. "Why nothing's wrong, have you heard the plan?"

Fallon nodded. "I have, Respine and Corta really believe it can be done."

"Well, it always was our destiny I suppose, Fenris first dreamed the Makuta could be redeemed, but it was not to be. So he decided to make them atone for those who struggled by their sides, us; the Rahkshi. It's ironic though, by killing the Makuta we destroy the Rahkshi. Sometimes I wonder what Fenris really planned."

"And what about you?"

"What about me?" Lucis asked, guessing she meant something different from the last subject.

Fallon paused. "When you rescued me, you looked… different."

Lucis stared at the sky. "I suppose it was only a matter of time." He said quietly.

Fallon was confused. "Only a matter of time till what?"

"Till you learned about my origins, I'm not just a Rahkshi made from the essence of any Toa; I was made from the essence of a Toa of Light. Under this green armor is a shining gold."

"Why hide it though?"

Lucis chuckled. "If the Makuta knew what I was they would stop at nothing to see me destroyed. One almost did see me, right before I killed him on Fenris' orders."

Fallon looked at him surprised. "You've killed Makuta?"

"Well, he didn't really count, all I did was blast him with Light from behind. Fenris was much the same."

They stood in silence till Lucis laughed. Fallon frowned. "What are you laughing about?"

"Oh, I just thought about Respine, it's so funny, he's totally smitten by Ira but doesn't understand it, and I don't blame him, Rahkshi aren't meant to have feelings like that."

"I don't understand."

Lucis looked at Fallon. "One day perhaps you will."

An awkward silence came up, it was interrupted by Ira.

"Karazin and Corruo, they're gone!"

Lucis nodded. "Yes, I saw them leave."

Ira frowned. "Why didn't you stop them?"

"It was not my place, Karazin needs to do this."

"To do what? We are the most wanted in all Fatum, and you let them go alone?"

"Karazin has doubts he needs to put to rest. Don't worry, I'm betting on his return. In the meantime, we need to prepare ourselves, Corta and Respine are correct. The best course of action for us is to take down the Makuta."

Fallon joined in. "Lucis is right; Karazin and Corruo will be able to handle themselves. We have to worry about the Makuta; all they want is us dead."

"Fine, we'll do this plan. If the Makuta want us, they'll get us."

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Karazin looked around the scorched cavern. This was the place where he had been born, where he had come into existence. Now there was nothing but broken glass, twisted metal and debris. There was even a hole in the ceiling where a blast had penetrated allowing sunlight to fill in.

He didn't know why he had come here. Maybe he felt like he needed a fresh start, but there was nothing here for him. Nothing.

Frustrated he took flight. He went up the hole in the ceiling and stood at the top of the mountain. All that had once been here had burned. Nothing but scattered remnants remained. And he was one.

Corruo joined him. "Karazin—"

"Don't say it; I know where your sister is. And this place isn't it." Karazin had decided on his new goal for sure. Adnihilo was now the source of his greatest failure, he would end it. If Corruo shared the same goal so be it. As long as she didn't slow him down. Besides, better to keep her close, he didn't want her siphoning his power from a distance.

Corruo shook her head. "That wasn't what I was going to say."

Karazin turned around exasperated. "Well then say it and be done."

"What made you do it? What made you leave?"

Karazin closed his eyes. It had happened what seemed lifetimes ago.

"I felt as if there was a missing justice. Rahkshi, forced into eternal servitude to their creators, I wanted freedom, and I wanted power. In the end I learned you can't have both." He turned to Corruo and shook his head. Sentiments were really not his type. "The others will handle the Makuta, they're planned it. But I know that Adnihilo must die." He looked back at the setting sun. "Maybe then I can find the peace I lost."

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Adnihilo breathed in the ashes. She had spent the last few days wrecking villages and towns at her leisure, letting the Makuta gather their forces. She wanted a challenge, she wanted more than a Makuta and his Rahkshi, she wanted them all.

A firm breeze from the sea blew across the desolated village, scattering ash and sparks. Adnihilo knew that Junon was nearby.

Junon, the military city by the sea. It once served as a simple fishing district, but when Skadaki invaded from the islands it quickly became a military necessity of control. Ever since then it had remained a stronghold of military might. It was the Makuta's greatest capture. It was their second largest city, the first was a large city built along the Great River, but it didn't come close to the military might of Junon. It was here at Junon that the Makuta had gathered their armies; it was here Adnihilo would battle for supremacy.

Only one thing troubled her. The Rahkshi. Those Rahkshi she had tried and failed to kill. But no matter, she had ascended beyond her previous strength; she would squash them like the worms they were.

She gazed down the bluff, she thirsted and she hungered, she lusted and she loved the joy that destruction brought. The world could be hers to command, but she rejected the idea. Everything would come to an end eventually, why not do it yourself? She had the power; she had it all; she didn't need the world, the people, not even the cosmos. She was above them; she would rend this place in two.

And nothing would stop her till she stood at the top and the world burned at her feet.



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Chapter ten: Liberation II

Narshe lay against the side of a mountain, its mines extended far back into the rock and ground, some passageways long forgotten, some collapsed, and some held secrets deeper then the mines themselves.

But the mines were not on Corta's mind, no, they were on the much less thought upon sewers.

"We'll infiltrate here and come out here." He said pointing on a map he had 'liberated' from Skadaki. "The Makuta should be close by."

Narshe was their first target. They knew that a Makuta was currently dwelling here. They would enter through the sewers and come up in the building the Makuta made their residence when ever visiting. It was once a warehouse for storing larger findings and the larger machines for mining. But mining was at a record low in Narshe; the Matoran who once worked there had been conscripted for other uses once the more useful metals had been excavated.

The trip through the sewers was unpleasant. The smell and grime of the place was everywhere, once they stopped at a corner as they had seen a dark figure moving in the darkness. Some kind of mutated creature Respine guessed mutated by the sludge left to rot.

In any case they made it through fairly uneventfully.

Ira used her twin blades to break the seal to the surface and the Rahkshi quickly exited into the warehouse. Huge machinery was scattered about left to rust with their previous use no longer needed.

It was then they found something quite wrong. They were right about the Makuta being here, just wrong about the number.

"We've been expecting you Rahkshi. Bahamut has a mind for foretelling what is to occur."

The Rahkshi faced not one Makuta, but three.

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Karazin and Corruo had silently traversed the desert. They had left the mountains and entered the scorching heat of the sand and quickly passed through that too. Now they passed by sparse vegetation coupled with the sand by the sea. Adnihilo had led them here.

They rose up over the nearby dunes and stopped to watch. The army of the Makuta was in chaos. And it was all because of one Rahkshi.

Adnihilo

The force of Rahkshi and scattered Exo-Toa were falling at every which way it appeared. They had left the city of Junon to assist in taking down the rogue Rahkshi only to now be falling back to the safety of the walls and the guards there. Karazin imagined that the Makuta were even now wondering just what was going on and scrambling to find a way to kill the Rahkshi before it wreaked complete devastation to their army.

Corruo was silent. Karazin realized then that there was no way they could take on Adnihilo now and win. He hated it. But he had a plan. He still hated it.

"Corruo, I need you to do something for me."

Corruo looked at Karazin and narrowed her eyes. "Karazin…"

"Hear me out." Karazin thought he was being so pathetic. "We can't beat her, not yet, not alone, but I can stall her." He turned to look her in the eyes, letting the truth of his words sink in. "Get the others. Hopefully they will have done something useful by then and will be ready to work on something much bigger."

Corruo turned her back to the battle. "Fine, but don't do anything stupid."

She ran off. Karazin watched her go then turned back and waited for the battle to end. Why now did he have to get such a sense for right and wrong?

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The Rahkshi were stunned. Three Makuta? Did they dare stand a chance against such odds? But they had little choice. The Makuta had been ready, they wanted to fight; they would get to fight.

The Makuta who had spoken earlier spoke again. "You would dare think you could take us on? Us? Bahamut, Shiva, and Ifrit? The three of legend?" His red eyes glowed. "You stand no chance."

Fallon joined with Lucis in blocking a blow from Ifrit, his talking done and his attacking begun. He wore bright orange armor with hints of red and wielded a large axe. He wore Pakari; mask of Strength. Ifrit grinned. At last, a challenge of some kind.

Respine and Ira rushed at the one in dark grey armor; the one called Bahamut, he wielded a spear and wore Suletu; mask of Telepathy. He stood tall and appeared to be the 'leader hiding in the shadows' type.

The last of the three was taken on by Corta. Shiva was the only female in the midst and wore light blue armor. She carried twin blades and wore Shelek; Mask of Silence. Not once did she betray and of her emotions. Corta returned the favor.

Respine and Ira began their attack in tandem, using their speed to quickly black and counterattack. Bahamut however calmly deflected their blows then in one quick move he knocked them both back with his spear. Respine and Ira were lucky enough to block the brunt of the attack with their weapons.

Bahamut raised his hand and fired a blast of pure energy. Respine and Ira leapt to the sides apart from each other and the blast exploded into the machine behind them; showering metal and gears upon the Rahkshi.

Respine looked up from his roll and raised his gripper to narrowly block Bahamut's next attack. He clashed with the Makuta for a moment then pushed back as Ira came down in a jump from behind with her swords raised high. In a lightning fast maneuver Bahamut raised one hand at Ira before she reached him and fired almost point blank a burst of energy.

With no way to evade the attack or even fully comprehend it; Ira was blasted away. Rage began to fuel into Respine. The corners of his vision flashed red and he raced forward at the Makuta, grabbing one of Ira's knocked out swords on his way. With the sword he swung forward and caught the spear. He reached out with his gripped and crushed the spear out of his way. He jabbed forward with the sword and felt it kicked out of his grip. A hand was placed atop his head and Respine looked up to see the Makuta's red eyes glowing.

Then everything went black.

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Fallon staggered as she blocked the Makuta's blow on her sword. Lucis leapt over her to strike with his own blade. The Makuta pulled back his axe and blocked Lucis' attack. Ifrit grinned beneath his mask. He hoped these Rahkshi would give him at least a half-way decent fight. He pushed back against Lucis and rushed forward, swinging his axe downward to cleave Lucis in two.

Quickly Lucis used his sword to block the blow and push himself to the side. He landed as the Makuta's axe lifted up from the ground, jagged cracks jutting out from where it had landed. Fallon raced forward to cut at the Makuta but the axe was already in place. She rolled to the side to evade the first swing and leapt back to avoid the second.

There was a gleam in Lucis' eye as he leapt forward, Ifrit raised his axe to block the attack and there was a sudden burst of light. Ifrit pulled his arm back to block the light and felt something metallic slide into his torso. There was a tingling sensation and he watched as a burst of light jutted from the sword now imbedded in him.

Lucis gleamed. They had done it! One Makuta down…

Lucis slammed into a pile of crates and fell to the ground. He looked up. Ifrit had taken the sword out and flung it aside and he was laughing!

"Do you really think a bit of Light is going to kill me? You are quite mistaken."

Ifrit raised his hands and channeled a cyclone of fire outward toward Lucis to prove his point. Lucis stood up and glared at the incoming blaze.

"LUCIS!" Fallon cried out, fearing his imminent death.

Lucis gave her a grin then the fire swept over him. Then there was nothing but charred remains.

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Corta blocked on sword with his shield and the other with his own sword. Shiva twisted away and then stabbed forward again. Again Corta reacted and blocked. This time he knocked the swords down and struck forward with his own. But Shiva was ready.

In a quick move she dropped her sword and punched Corta in the face. Corta sprawled backward and only narrowly brought his shield up to block another attack, his sword having dropped. Corta grimaced. The fight was not going too well for him. The Makuta were skilled at what they did, and it was only a matter of time it seemed…

Corta leapt back and changed his shield to its crossbow form. He fired bolt after bolt but they were knocked aside easily by the twin blades. The bolts sank into the ground and the nearby machinery. Shiva stood untouched.

Corta grinned to himself. He raised his arm and channeled his power of Electricity and drew on the latent power inside the machinery. The effect was almost instantaneous. Powerful bolts of jagged lightning blasted into the Makuta. The Makuta's arms flung out to the side and her head looked upward. Then the blast ended and the Makuta collapsed to the ground.

Corta came forward and picked up his fallen sword. He raised it and prepared to end the Makuta when he found himself quickly freezing over. His eyes narrowed, he had fallen into the Makuta's trap! He started to generate an electric field but the Makuta had risen. And she was not happy.

She raised her hand as her eyes glowed red. Then Corta heard nothing. His sense of hearing had been completely crippled; he was unable to cry out for help. The Makuta glared down at him as his sense of panic and the numbing sensation of the ice overrode him.

It was then that he felt a burst of fire wash over from nearby. It was at this moment he refocused his energies and broke free of the ice. He staggered to the ground and then rose up with his sword in attack. The Makuta blocked the blows and shoved him back over the wet ground. The slickness of it nearly caused Corta to collapse, but he held firm. He raised his sword and channeled the power of Electricity. He would end this in one last strike.

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It was not the first time his mind had been invaded. But this time was the most painful of all. The last time it had been to override him and take control, to use him as a tool. But this was an entirely different invasion.

This time the presence was leeching into him, using his own thoughts against him, brining up painful memories, changing him…

Respine howled in agony. But it was a delightful yell, change was good, change would make him better…

Respine growled. No, he would not accept this, he could not…

And then he had a thought, just a little harmless one. What if I'm right?

What if this change really was for the better? Part of him wanted to reject it with every fiber of his being; the other was ready and willing. Neither could choose.

Just let it go…

Yes, that sounded good, just let everything go…

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Fallon look on in shock at the ashes. Lucis, her savior, her friend, was… gone. She fell to her knees and stared at the ground. It was over then, without their guiding light, what was left?

Fallon blinked. Something was happening in the corner of her eye, a light. She looked up and gasped. A Rahkshi stood in the ashes glowing brightly, golden armor gleamed as it shed out layer of light after light. Lucis?

The Rahkshi turned its head toward her and grinned as only someone could. It was Lucis!

Ifrit stared in open jawed amazement. A Rahkshi… of Light? It was impossible! Light and Shadow could never possibly coexist as one! And yet here it was, a being born of Shadow wielding the power of Light. Contradictions seemed to dissipate with its very existence.

Ifrit shook himself out of his stupor. He had a job to do, and no contradiction would stop him! With a mighty bellow he raced forward with his axe, intending to cleave the Rahkshi apart.

Lucis looked up calmly at the raging Makuta, as the axe reached down to strike he materialized a sword of pure light and smote the axe with it. The axe fractured, then shattered into pieces. The Makuta stared dumbly. Then Lucis charged forward and stabbed right through the Makuta with his sword.

A hole opened up in the Makuta and he blanched. This, this was not how it would end! He could not die now! Struggling, he turned around and attempted to fire off another round of fire, but he was unable to raise his arm, his body would no longer respond. The Rahkshi of Light stared at him and pointed at him. Ifrit snarled then a wave of light so powerful it blinded him raced through him. And Ifrit was no more.

Fallon stared in amazement. It was over, the Makuta had been killed, and Lucis… She looked for him and saw him collapsed on the ground, green already starting to cover the gold. She raced over to him and knelt by his head.

"Lucis?"

Lucis smiled up at her. "It would seem I can only use it in short bursts…"

Then he closed his eyes.

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In an instant everything had changed. Ira looked wearily at the both Bahamut and Respine. She had been blasted away by the Makuta and the injuries were still sharp to her. But something was wrong with Respine. He lay on the ground panting heavily; the Makuta towering over him. Then Respine looked up and his eyes locked with Ira's.

They were red.

With a howl Respine raced forward at Ira. Ira leapt out of the way of the wild attack and Respine quickly adjusted and attacked again. As Ira evaded or blocked his attacks she noticed that they were getting crisper, sharper, Respine was going to best her if it went on like this.

She spared a glance at Bahamut; he seemed content to watch the two battle one another. How like Makuta she thought. It was in that moment that Ira felt her legs kicked out from under her. Ira's eyes widened and she spat out green liquid as Respine's closed gripper sliced into her torso.

Ira closed her eyes from the pain and realized that this was probably the end. But she could not let this happen! She opened her eyes and time froze. Every detail was there for her to analyze, in a burst of strength she gripped Respine's weapon and pried it away from her body.

Time began to speed up. She watched as Respine coldly calculated what had happened. Ira grasped one of her swords and with what time she had left she flung it at the Makuta, then with the other she raced at him.

Bahamut saw what was happening with barely enough time to comprehend. He was able to evade the sword but a white blur was upon him. There was a crack and he watched as his mask fell in two separate parts. There was a gasp. Respine had caught up with Ira. His gripper latched into her spine.

Ira looked into Respine's eyes and saw the madness disappear to be replaced with confusion. Then her eyes closed and she saw only blackness…

Respine looked on unable to process it; his scanner fed him the data. Ira had been terminated; by him. Respine looked at the green seeping down the gripper and pulled back. Ira's limp body collapsed to the ground.

Respine's mind fractured. All his feelings sealed off; the hunter inside was turned on. He couldn't understand this, he didn't need to, his unfeeling mind and body told him this but his spirit was in denial. He looked up at the Makuta and knew what he had to do. He grasped a nearby mining laser drill in his spare hand. Two weapons would be better for this.

His opponent looked down upon him and readied his spear. But he had no idea what he was truly about to face.

Respine raced forward, all killer intent. He took aim with the laser drill and fired. The hot energy burst forward in a straight precise line, the Makuta moved out of the way and it pierced through the scaffolding behind him. Respine struck forward with his gripper and caught the spear in it. He raised the drill, channeled his latent power, and fired.

The laser burst through the Makuta's armor and past him. Angered, Bahamut raised his hand and punched Respine away. Respine landed on his feet and looked at something behind the Makuta. The Makuta turned his head and watched as the heavy machinery held in place earlier, now cut by the laser, began to collapse atop him.

Bahamut attempted to avoid it but it was too late. It collapsed atop and crushed him. He grimaced and looked up at the laser drill as it spun up. Respine looked at him unfeelingly. Another target terminated. The laser fired.

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Corta charged with his sword. Shiva was ready to meet him. They clashed and Corta let loose all his energy into his sword. Shiva's eyes lit up. Lines of electricity leaped over her. Corta pressed harder, he needed to end this, he had to...

Then the Light came. A wave of Light so strong it knocked the two fighters to the ground. Corta grimaced as he felt pain shoot up his leg. He had landed on a sharp part of the broken machinery and it had pierced his left leg.

He stood up; grimacing all the more. Shiva was laying down shaking her head, but she too began to rise. One of her swords had been knocked away but she still held the other tightly. Corta found that his shield had also been lost, so it would be sword to sword then.

The two struggled forward despite their injuries and clashed swords again. They glared into each other's eyes and charged forward. Corta could feel his strength waning, but he had to keep pressing…

But the Makuta's strength was more. Corta was pushed to the ground and his sword was knocked loose. Shiva stood over him triumphantly. She raised her sword and Corta felt that surge of power he had felt long before. The same surge of instinct when he fought Adnihilo.

Shiva stabbed forward with her sword and in the blink of an eye Corta stopped it with his hands, the tip plunging an inch to the side of his head. Letting his power focus, he channeled a burst of lightning through the sword. The Makuta's eyes widened and she shrieked.

He tackled the Makuta to the ground, no mean feat, and did his best to pin her. With one hand he grasped one of his bolts. Shiva was just starting to come back around when Corta plunged the bolt into her throat. She gasped. Her vision started flashing then it was gone.

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"Now THAT; is the kind of being worthy enough to fight me."

Fallon froze. That voice… A shadow rose over Lucis' prone form. Fallon looked up. It was Ifrit. His armor was torn and he had a few leaking wounds. His axe was gone, but now he held a sword; fire was searing up and down it and his armor. He looked like a demon from the blazes rumored below. And he was still alive.

"I thought I was a goner, for a moment, and only that." Ifrit raised his sword over Lucis. "Now to end it."

Fallon grasped Lucis and leapt back. Ifrit's sword cut into the ground. Ifrit raised his hungry red eyes at her.

"So, you've still got some fight left eh? Good. That'll make things interesting…"

He raced forward and Fallon was only barley able to parry the blow. Ifrit howled and pointed his sword straight at her. A cyclone of fire blasted and Fallon rolled to the side. Then the cyclone started twisting toward her. Fallon turned to face the onslaught of heat too late. She was caught.

The heat was nigh unbearable. It was scorching her armor, burning her, roasting her, alive. Wild eyed, Fallon felt a wellspring of energy build up inside of her. Then suddenly she was standing tall in the midst of the inferno. Flames licked at her feet and body but they dealt no harm. She raised her palm at the source of the scorching fire and turned them back on it.

As the rain of fire turned back onto its source, Ifrit crouched down to the ground and using his mask he lifted a chunk of the ground up as a shield from the flames. Ifrit grunted as the fire pushed hard against it, but soon it stopped. He swung and released the ground he was holding letting it fly off. Under the debris a red blur shot out. And for the second time that day Ifrit felt the pain of a sword stabbing into his gut.

Ifrit stumbled back and clenched his jaw. With a grunt he placed his palms on the hilt of the sword and tore it out. More of his precious ichor spilt out from the wound. His eyes located the tall and cool standing Rahkshi. With a roar he rushed forward, intending to crush it once and for all.

Fallon raised her palm and Ifrit found himself unable to move forward. Wide eyed he struggled in vain. Fallon took up her sword again and strode forward.

Ifrit spat out a glob of ichor. "You can't stop us, you think this means anything? The Makuta will have their revenge! This I sw—"

Ifrit gagged as the blade plunged into his throat, cutting off any further words. Fallon leaned in close.

"I'll be counting on it."

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It was nearing an end now thought Karazin. The Makuta's forces had retreated inside but 0that did little to stop or even slow Adnihilo. In a show of strength she tore the gate apart and then had her shadows flood through the city. Yes it would all be over very soon now.

Too soon.

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Bendak roared in frustration. The report had just come in; four Makuta and their armies were being besieged at Junon, by a single Rahkshi! And it wasn't just that, previously he had received word that Shiron had been killed by Rahkshi as well, the same ones she had been hunting! And to make matters worse, Bahamut had just sent him a mental note of his death; apparently he too had suffered problems with the Rahkshi.

This had gone too far. He would go to where Bahamut's message had last originated and destroy those pathetic Rahkshi. There was a reason he was the Makuta lord. And he was about to remind everyone why. {C ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()

Chapter eleven: Liberation III

Respine looked down on Ira's broken body, even now her very presence threatened to unleash the floodgates of his locked emotions. His scanner had lied. She lived. But barely.

His scanner continued its feed. The other battles had come to a halt. Victory to the Rahkshi. They had done it; they had taken on Makuta and won. The impossible had become possible. But what had he lost?

For a third time his ideals and thoughts had been shifted by a mind invader. Before he had been so ignorant, immature even, now he was more. He now wished but to remain in silence, talking seemed to be a bother, emotions were a hindrance, yet they remained with him to an extent. He would be cautious, and alley today could be an enemy tomorrow. Everything was different.

But his feelings toward Ira were not. They were simply repressed. And he hoped they would stay that way.

Corta made his way over to the pair. He had retrieved his weapons and did his best to clean them. The battle had taken quite a toll on him as well. He was exhausted and every step sent pain up his left leg where he had landed on a sharp piece of machinery. His armor was covered in several patches of green essence, most not his own.

They were victorious but not unscarred.

Corta looked at Ira then to Respine. "Does she live?"

Respine took a moment to answer. "…Yes."

Corta almost sighed with relief. So they were fine. "Do you know where Fallon and Lucis are?"

"Right here."

From behind Corta, Fallon was coming forward half carrying a semi-conscious Lucis mumbling something about 'Avoiding Po-Wahi water'.

"So it's over then." Corta said.

Fallon nodded. "It is."

Respine's scanner delivered the after affects to him. The Rahkshi in Narshe were going wild, it was their luck that none had been stationed nearby. Respine figured he could take on any straggling Rahkshi and maybe Corta, but Ira and Lucis were in no condition to fight.

It was a few minutes later when the scanner really started going haywire. Another force was approaching. A Makuta, and a strong one at that. Respine looked at his companions; there was no way they could fight it here and now.

"We need to go. Now."

The others looked at him oddly. Respine wanted to curse; did he really have to spell it out for them?

"A Makuta is on its way. Stronger than the last ones, we need to leave, now."

Respine grabbed Ira and flung her over his shoulder and led the way to the sewers where they had entered. He didn't check to see if the others were following but he knew that they were. Respine's scanner gave them forty seconds till escape impossible with a percent of ninety-three to escape.

They entered the sewers and quickly made their way out. There was a roar from behind them. The Makuta must have discovered the remains. It was only a matter of time before he found out where they had gone. Which was why Respine pushed them to get out as soon as possible, a single blast from the Makuta at the sewers and they would be trapped.

At last Respine led them out of the sewers and the sewage area and into the hills. The group stopped to rest for a moment. Respine and Fallon sat their burdens down then took a look at the city with Corta. From the city were the cries of Rahkshi and flames and explosions decorated the buildings. The warehouse they had previously been was a smoldering ruin.

Against the odds they were alive.

But not for long, thought Respine bitterly as his scanner blipped a reading. The Makuta had caught them.

He glanced at Corta and nodded. "Fallon," he said. "Stay here with Lucis and Ira."

Fallon started to protest then stopped and just looked away. Together Respine and Corta strode out into the field.

Soon a large shadow crested over them. A Makuta in blood red armor with black highlights landed softly on the ground. Red eyes glared down at them from behind a Kanohi Kraahkan, the symbol of the Leader of the Makuta. He was taller than the ones they had fought. He carried a spear in his hand and carried a sword on his back.

He was Bendak.

"So you're the ones who've been causing my Empire such trouble." Bendak stood his ground in front of the Rahkshi. "You all look quite pathetic really. Probably not even a challenge. Well this eases my case then."

Bendak rushed forward with his spear. Respine caught it with his gripper and Bendak merely smirked. He jerked the spear up then slammed Respine into the ground. Corta rushed forward then with his sword. Bendak took a step back as the sword missed then kicked out. Corta landed with a dull thump twenty feet away.

From the ground Respine fired his drill at Bendak's head. Bendak jerked his head back as the laser passed by harmlessly. He pulled his spear back and out of Respine's grip. Respine scrambled to his feet and leapt back to avoid being impaled. As he leapt back he felt the unmistakable feel of Shadow creeping up behind him. He cursed. He had fallen right into a trap!

Suddenly the Shadows vanished and Respine collapsed to the ground. Fallon was standing behind him palms raised at Bendak. She had redirected the attack. The Shadows harmlessly absorbed back into Bendak as he raced forward with his spear.

Respine fired with his drill but Bendak merely sidestepped it and jabbed with his spear and quickly pulled back. Respine grimaced as it pulled out of his replaced limb. Sparks shot out of it and loose wires hung down. Well this was certainly an annoyance Respine growled to himself.

Bendak raised the spear over his head and brought it down. There was a CLANG as the spear's course was deflected into the ground a foot away from Respine's prone body. There were a few more clangs as two bolts shot into Bendak's armor. There was a sharp whine and the area around Bendak lit up with electricity.

Respine grimaced and stood. He only had one chance at this. A gauge on his scanner spiked as Bendak howled. Respine cursed and charged his drill. After only several seconds the electricity dispersed. Either Bendak had countered it or Corta had run out of strength.

A red line shot from Respine's weapon and struck through Bendak. Respine cursed, Bendak had evaded a more lethal blow at the last second. If he had only had a little more time…

Bendak turned his attention back to Respine and once again raised his spear. He lunged forward and Respine rolled to the side. Bendak saw this coming and adjusted. There was a tense moment, and then Respine watched as his right arm was severed through.

Respine clenched his mouth shut. There was no way he'd show signs of weakness, not now… He wondered if his powers would show themselves but they didn't. He decided that whatever Bahamut had done to his mind had done more to him then he had guessed.

Bendak stood nearby; dark eyes gleaming down. His opponent was down for the count. There was a cry and Bendak turned around only to see a white blur slam into his chest. Twin swords rent down his armor. Bendak stumbled back. He was lucky they hadn't gone too deep…

Respine looked on in shock as Ira glared at Bendak. Respine could tell she was exhausted from their fight earlier. In fact he was surprised she was awake at all. She had been so weak earlier, and her stance now showed it. It looked as if she was only barely standing.

Bendak saw the same thing Respine did. An adversary already defeated. He strode forward not even really on his guard as he expected to encounter no more resistance. Ira looked on wearily, knees buckling not from fear but weakness. In a flash Bendak stabbed forward with his spear.

Respine wanted to cry out but found he was unable. He could only watch. So he watched in amazement as in one swift move Ira sliced Bendak's spear in two. Bendak was amazed too, how could a Rahkshi near death perform the improbable?

Respine watched as a change overcame Ira. Her joints seemed to loosen, her stance became prouder. Something had happened and Respine could guess what. Ira's powers were showing forth.

Bendak scowled and reached back and drew his sword. It was black with red lines that appeared to be pulsing up and down it. He raised it in a mock salute and charged forward.

The next minute was filled with clangs as Ira and Bendak thrust and parried. Neither could gain the upper hand. Respine sagged on the ground; his drill had used the last of its energy and could no longer function as he wished. His leg was trashed and his gripper arm was gone. There was little at this point he could do.

He had his elemental powers though. The thought came as a surprise to him; his skill with weaponry had made his need for his elemental power negligible. But with nothing left to him, it was all he had left. He looked down at his drill. He could charge it with his poison powers and then…

Respine scowled. And then what? Rush the Makuta and stab it? He could barely move. He looked at Ira. She was beginning to slow down, her energy sapping with every blow. It was as if… his scanner confirmed his guess. The sword was leaching the energy from her with every clash.

It was then that he realized what to do. Ira was beginning to fall back as Respine charged his drill once more. He waited till the battle neared him and he tossed his drill. In one smooth move Ira clashed with one sword then stabbed the other blade into Bendak's arm. She brought her arm back, grasped the drill with her free hand and plunged it into his chest.

Bendak stumbled back and quickly tore out both the sword and the drill. But the damage was done. The drill had pierced too close to his essence, the poison had reached it. Now there was only one thing left to be done. All the energy he had stored in his blade would serve its purpose at last.

He took it in a double-underhand grip and raised it over his head. Ira stared in confusion, her eyes widened as she realized what he planned. But it was too late. Bendak stabbed himself with the sword. The red lines started pulsing even faster as it sucked him dry. He would die, but so would they.

Bendak sank to his knees then fell back. The sword started to glow and pulse at an alarming rate. Ira raced for Respine, to try and get him to safety, but it was too late. The sword exploded.

But right before it exploded Respine caught a flash of silver. The explosion burst up toward the sky. Standing between the self-destructive sword and the blasting explosion was Corruo. And she was channeling the energy up and away.

Ira standing over him worriedly was the last thing he saw before his vision blurred and sank into darkness…

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Karazin stood amongst the corpses outside of Junon. Across from him shrouded in a cloak of shadows was his adversary. One he could not defeat only stall. He wondered if the single act of taking the staff, which seemed to have been lifetimes ago, had brought him to this point. If he had chosen perhaps not to, he would be staring death in the face.

But he had little choice. Adnihilo had to be stopped now, he could run and live another day but she would only come after him. As the only other born user of Shadow he was a threat. She would only have grown stronger and simply done as she pleased with him.

And Karazin figured if he was to die he would at least chose when and where. Screw fate, he was here because he wanted to be.

Adnihilo tilted her head, seemingly trying to make sense of the situation. But she didn't care. He was just another obstacle to be quickly overcome.

"So," she sneered and said somewhat coyly. "My creator has graced me with his presence."

Karazin twitched but said nothing.

Adnihilo gave him a mock hurt look. "But he does not grace me with his voice, how… TWISTED!"

With the last word she unleashed a volley of dark impulses. Karazin let them harmlessly sink into him, quickly turning them into more inert energy. With the small boost of energy he empowered his speed and charged forward.

Adnihilo leered and summoned her sword. She clashed with Karazin's blade who grunted and used his momentum to flip over her and strike at her back. His blade sliced the air as Adnihilo sank into the shadows out of harm's way. Karazin aimed his sword at her and unleashed a quick burst of Shadow.

Adnihilo flicked it aside harmlessly. In the haze of his last attack Karazin sprung and began a relentless flurry with his sword. Adnihilo clashed against each one, the battle seemed to begin to bore her and she wore it on her face.

Karazin's only hope was that he could delay her long enough for backup. It had taken half a day before all of Junon's forces and inhabitants had been slaughtered including three Makuta. Karazin had been waiting for her outside the gate. She had seemed surprised to see him there but then had turned coy, mocking him. Karazin wanted to fight, he would get it.

Karazin hoped the others did well against the Makuta. One; that would mean that the number of Makuta would be down significantly, asides from the one in Narshe and the Lord there had been two others. Two; Corruo would be able to enlist their aid.

It was as they fought that they abruptly stopped. Something was off, different in the world, and they both felt it. The balance of power had shifted. Adnihilo screeched in delight while Karazin looked on warily.

"It's over! The last of the Makuta are dead!" She turned her gaze to him. "That simply leaves you and the others…"

Karazin spat on the ground. "As if we'd go down as easily, who do you think took down those Makuta?" He was stalling for time, with the added bonus that he enjoyed goading her.

Adnihilo let her expression falter for just a moment. "They will be taken care of shortly."

"And what about the remaining Toa? They've killed countless Rahkshi in the past."

Adnihilo laughed at this one. "The Toa? Those that are left are mere shadows of what they were; nothing more. Even if there were Toa to fight surely they'd I'd devour them as easily as the rest." She gazed hungrily at him. "And you, my dear creator, you are looking quite delicious…"

"Now that's just—"

Karazin's words were cut off as Adnihilo appeared in front of him and started choking him. Karazin gripped her arm and started to hiss, tendrils of shadows leaked their across. The two locked into a contest of wills with the shadow. Both started to strain, but Karazin was failing fast, he just didn't have the strength to keep it up…

Adnihilo gave a low growl and the shadow dissipated. Karazin's vision started to blur as Adnihilo choked out his shadow energy, absorbing it into herself. In a moment of strange thought he had a realization. Adnihilo didn't have the staff, but she had found a way to absorb shadows so naturally…

In a last feeble effort he send his awareness into her body, searching for… there! The last remnants of the Staff of Shadow. Alone its will was too weak, but if he…

Suddenly the world faded. Adnihilo had done it, the last of Karazin's strength was fading fast. Soon all the powers of shadow left would be hers to command. And nothing would stop her…

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Corruo cried out as Karazin's limp body collapsed to the ground. She had finally arrived with help, too late.

Once she had reached the others she found them at the end of the battle. As the Makuta attempted to wipe them all out she had intervened, using her newfound abilities to channel and redirect the energy before it killed them all. Then she had gathered them all and traveled here, though only Fallon and Ira were in fighting condition, they couldn't just leave the others behind.

Corruo had feared the wounded would slow them down, and it seemed she had been right. Now Karazin was gone and Adnihilo's power had skyrocketed again. They were the last hope.

Adnihilo's dark eyes found her sister's. "So you have at last returned, but you are too late; my power has past yours, what there was to begin with."

Corruo ignored her and raised her axe. Fallon and Ira took up wing positions to her sides. Adnihilo laughed at the sight.

"Come on ladies, let's end this."

The Rahkshi charged. Adnihilo teleported through the shadows and attacked with her blade. It took up most of their concentration just to defend themselves. Adnihilo leered and a dark aura flashed. A dark current echoed out from her and knocked the combatants over.

It was then that a ray of light burst through Adnihilo's chest. She shrieked and disappeared into the shadows. Fallon traced the light back to a wavering Lucis. He fell to one knee.

"Gah, still not enough strength…"

Fallon hurried to his side and stopped short as Adnihilo rose up in front of her. With a quick backhand she sent Fallon to the ground. She raised her sword and froze. Her expression began to twitch; she raised her hands to her face.

"No… your will is nothing…" she moaned.

Suddenly a second voice came from her mouth, a more familiar one… "I can't hold her for long… whatever you do, do it quick!"

Lucis grimaced from where he was. "Karazin's given us one last chance! Everyone, combine your elemental strength, we'll seal her!"

He raised his arm and fired a beam of light. From behind him a bolt of electricity and a cloud of poison joined it. Fallon and Ira sent their respective powers as well. Only Corruo was left. She looked at Karazin's collapsed body, then at the moaning Adnihilo. She raised her axe and with a ferocious cry slammed it into her sister with all her strength and power.

The shrieking abruptly stopped. Corruo pulled back and a wave of energy began to fold over Adnihilo, enveloping her. It quickly solidified, and then, it was over. {C ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()

Epilogue

Lucis watched from his perch over the field outside Junon. It had been three years since the final epic battle took place. The bodies have been removed but the scars of the land remain. In time they will fade. One thing however would remain. The sealed body of Adnihilo. And there it would rest, forever, none but the six who sealed it could break it. And so it would remain a final testament to the horror of times past.

After recovering from various injuries the Rahkshi had taken different paths. Respine simply vanished, seeking to learn about those who had altered his body. His memory of their location had been cleverly altered to wipe itself. So he simply left.

Ira joined him in the disappearing act. Lucis was unsure what she was doing or planned to do, but he had a feeling it had to do with Respine.

Corta and Fallon decided to stick with Lucis in restoring order over the Matoran. They served not as the Makuta did, dictators, but as directors and guardians, helping protect those who could not for themselves while they rebuilt over the scarred land. Corta branched out far and wide while Fallon stayed closer to Lucis.

A short while ago Lucis had a vision of sorts. He saw two forces converging on him. One filled with Light and the other Darkness. He was unsure what the future would hold for them all, but he will do his best to always be there to lead on to whatever end.

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The body stiffened back up. It had been three years since it had moved. Previously it had been lying in a field amongst other bodies. Then it had been taken to a cave where they even more were deposited. Slowly now the body stood up amongst the piles; parts of armor slid off as it rose. Its red eyes glowed in the darkness. It looked about and slowly began to stumble for the entrance. Rays of light bounced off its dark armored body. Soon it left the enclosure and stood in the sunlight. They had thought they could stop it, but they were wrong, oh so wrong…

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"This is it huh, doesn't look too much different from my land; albeit greener."

"It actually looks better then when I left it; it used to be just a barren wasteland here. Wouldn't you agree?"

"…"

"Is he always like this?"

"Sadly."

"Well compared to my place, this still looks like a barren wasteland."

"That's because your place was a jungle!"

"…Your point?"

"…Come, we have work to do here."

"Ah the silent one speaks!"

"Oh shut up Vidan."

"Oh shut up Kador."

Jaller sighed. When he and Shadow had left this land he had thought it beyond hope. But then he had the vision, the one that brought him back here, to carve the way for those to come. He had seen many strange and extraordinary things while he had been gone, and now at last he was back.

He was home.

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