It was a cold and watery sun that rose the following morning, shining across a frozen beach. The beach was a narrow strip of sand, really, right at the base of a steep and dizzyingly tall cliff, and encircled by jagged ridges of stone and ice that stretched out a ways into the ocean, covered in slowly-melting snow only a short distance above the gentle waves. Loose chunks of ice occasionally fell from the mountain to splash into the water or land on the cold sand, but otherwise all was still. A line of crabs marched out of the seafoam with an almost pompous air about them, before gradually splitting up to comb the beach.
Of course, many of them had instantly noticed one last, wholly new feature to the beach, and a few of them were brave enough to move closer. Massive in comparison to the crustaceans scuttling about in its shadow, the smooth cylinder lay on its side. It was covered in barnacles, seaweed, and the other assorted dregs of the sea, but some spots had been scraped clear by its recent passage into the cove, and they gleamed a bright, almost pearlescent silver. It seemed entirely seamless, too, and aside from some juvenile crabs that climbed atop the monolith, the crowd soon lost interest.
That interest was rapidly regained when a loud clank came from the bowels of the cylinder. The crabs quickly scuttled to a safer distance, and watched the object intently. After several long moments, another clank came, followed by a low hum that gradually raised in pitch. Snaps, booms, and the hiss of hydraulics sounded in quick succession, while the hum raised to a screaming whine – the crabs huddled down in sudden fright.
The rounded front end shot off suddenly, propelling itself forward until it smashed into the cliffside, and left a shallow divot in the sand. Steam wafted from the cylinder, and moving to get a better angle, the crabs found that the interior was hollow – and unnaturally dark in this light.
As one, they decided they'd seen enough, and within moments the beach was vacant once more, though marked by dozens of tracks leading back into the ocean. As the last shell vanished beneath the waves, a groan came from the cylinder, and something dragged itself out of the depths. The figure was weak and pathetic, crawling on hands and knees – or knee, for one leg was missing. Dropping down onto the sand, it curled in on itself, shying away from even the lightest of contact, senses screaming after its recent awakening.
The being's vision swung in and out of focus as its mind struggled and swum drunkenly, vague thoughts and notions coming and going without rhyme or reason. Answers in the fortress... frozen lightning... massive stalactites... calamity... It closed its eyes, and after several long moments, everything settled.
The being pushed itself back onto its knee, and peered back into the cylinder. Reaching in with one arm, it pulled out a long, narrow form armored in grey – perhaps it was gruesome, but it was the missing leg. Acting more off instinct than logic, the being brought the unbound limb around to the proper socket. Muscles and other unidentifiable organic bits twitched and moved of their own accord, wrapping about the appropriate counterparts, and began dragging the broken joint together. With a firm snap that echoed against the surrounding cliffs, the being was whole once more.
Except it was not. It could feel that there was something missing; its limbs still felt like lead and it still could not bear to look upward from the sand; the mere act of standing up turned into a titanic struggle. But stand it did, and haltingly, it stumbled forward.
Then it found the mask.
A rounded form interrupted on one side by a blocky attachment with a trio of lenses, the mask was a bright white that gleamed in the pale yellow sun. On the top, two curved vents; below that the mask sunk in a bit, with a narrowed eye slit on one side; on the bottom was a mouthpiece of some sort, shaped so as to suggest a perpetual gruff frown. The being turned the mask over, hesitated, then brought it to its face.
Instantly, small clamps hidden along the back edge latched into matching sockets along the side of the being's head, keeping the mask firmly in place. The being felt power, such power rush throughout them, filling the gaps they had not even realized were there. Their limbs seemed so much lighter, so much faster, so much stronger, and their muddled thoughts resolved into clarity.
I am Kopaka.
Kopaka stood, straight and proud, as he surveyed the cove. His memories were still little more than little flashes, images – and frightening ones all – but the simple act of wearing the mask and recalling his name was enough, for the moment.
I have slept for so long, he mused, and my dreams have been dark ones. Glancing down at himself, he found that his grey and dull armor had turned white, shining just as bright in the sun as the mask had, despite the scratches, dents, and other signs of wear and tear that pockmarked its surface. His form was tall and spindly, a strange mixture of muscles and mechanics visible in the few gaps between plating; even his formidable mind struggled to comprehend the complex systems within. Focusing instead on the broader image, he noticed that his arms were asymmetrical – his left arm was slightly shorter, with a hand, while the longer right arm ended in some strange clamping mechanism around an empty circular socket. Embedded in the center of his chest was a black glassy half-sphere, which opened up every few seconds to release a stream of burning air that shimmered and turned to steam against the chilly air.
But now I am awakened. Looking about, he found two more objects he'd missed at first glance lying nearby. The first was a sword; despite its considerable weight, he picked it up with ease – almost like it was meant for him. Two blades jutted forth from a single beautifully patterned rainguard, spaced apart but bound together by small strips of metal. It lacked a crossguard or a pommel, and he noticed a set of grooves at the top of the hilt that corresponded to his clamp-hand. Putting two and two together, he found the sword fit perfectly – the clamp kept it from slipping out of his grasp, and yet was articulated enough that he could swing it about in dizzying spirals with ease.
Now the scattered elements of my being are rejoined. The other object was more difficult to identify at first, consisting of a circular metal grid with a handle at the center. Picking it up with his free hand, he found that it was just slightly wider than his shoulder width; if it weren't for the gaps, he felt that it would make a passable shield. Still, he felt that it was important in some way, and so he kept a tight grip.
Now I am whole. At one end of the beach, almost hidden between some large boulders, was a path that led inland. With a sudden sense of purpose, he strode forth into the deep shadows of the cliff, ready as he would ever be. Determination filled him, vague words from his forgotten past whispering to him in the faint crackling of the ice.
And the darkness cannot stand before me.