Something was not right in the evening atmosphere of the camp. The warrior had not determined what might be causing this feeling of uneasiness, but a lack of obvious causes didn’t mean he was wrong to feel it. He had learned long ago to trust his instincts. In his line of work, one did not live long without those.
Bending. Breaking. Crumpling. One who trusts his instincts acts quickly and decisively to prevent tragedy.
Suddenly there came the sound of hurried footsteps from outside the tent. Again, the warrior could not have proven that that sound meant something was wrong— he just knew. He knew they were running to him. Grimacing, he drew himself up from the bed he had been sitting on and rose to his full height to greet the visitor.
The Jungle Tribe Agori that rushed through the flap stopped immediately. Her helmet was of the sort that did not cover the face, and so the warrior could see that her eyes were wide with shock. She had been expecting to meet a Toa— the Spherus Magna natives had gotten used to those, similar to Glatorian as they were— or another being of a naturally heroic appearance. She had not been expecting a nine-foot-tall, heavily armored enforcer with horns.
Trinuma allowed the Agori a moment to take in the sight before he spoke. “Is something the matter?”
She nodded repeatedly, still not taking her eyes off of his horns. “Another— another attack. It’s coming through Sandray Canyon. The Toa— they said I should come get you— but if you don’t want to be bothered, I could go find—?”
Of course. Another attack. Trinuma had suspected as much. It would be a Visorak, or a Nui-Jaga, or any number of other creatures from the Matoran Universe that the Glatorian were not familiar with and therefore not well able to fight. With the mixed Agori-Matoran society still in the early stages of its development, all of their cities and villages were vulnerable to random forays by the wildlife of both worlds into the civilized areas that they had not yet learned to avoid. That was as true for this settlement near the ruins of old Tajun as it was for anywhere else.
Folding. Rupturing. Splitting. Nowhere is safe. A warrior never lets his guard down, never ignores a potential danger.
The small group of Toa here had developed a regular schedule for determining which of their members would be responsible for dealing with each Rahi attack. “Pest control”, they called it. After all, a single Visorak was no challenge for an experienced Toa. The task was more of a chore than a real fight, and over time it had spread to include the other warriors of various races living here. Last month, a Steltian elite had frightened away a curious Stone Ape. Last week, a Toa of Lightning turned back a hungry Muaka. Today, apparently, was Trinuma’s turn.
He held up his hand, cutting the Agori off. “No, it’s fine. I’ll take care of it.”
She nodded again, slowly this time, and stepped aside as he made for the door.
Right before he exited, Trinuma turned back, almost having forgotten to ask the most important question. “What is it this time? Another Visorak?”
The Agori’s eyes, he now saw, were not simply wide with awe at his size. They were filled with fear. “No,” she whispered. “A Rahkshi.”
Of course it was a Rahkshi.
Trinuma suspected it wasn’t a coincidence that he had been “randomly” picked for guard duty at the same time one of the most powerful non-sentient beings of the Matoran Universe threatened the village. Courageous as they were, Toa still would not relish the idea of facing off against one of the “sons of Makuta”. It made sense to choose a more skilled warrior like himself. The average Toa couldn’t tell a gray-armored Limited Invulnerability Rahkshi from its silver-hued Chain Lightning brethren. Such was not the case for a being who had spent hours on end in the once-grand libraries of Daxia.
And he did appreciate the chance to sharpen his skills. Though Trinuma was more of a covert operative than the sort of bold fighter that Axonn or Tobduk was, Helryx demanded, wisely, that all of her agents maintain their combat skills in every arena. She was missing, for now, but a being of Helryx’s power did not stay hidden for long. She would soon be back, Trinuma was sure, with more missions for him and the other Order agents.
Slashing. Exuding. Dancing. Combat can take many forms, both excessively orchestrated and mercilessly quick.
The Rahkshi was indeed exiting Sandray Canyon, its current course putting it on a direct collision with New Tajun. Trinuma watched its approach from a distance, keeping himself carefully concealed behind an outcropping of rock. Where once this area had been just another stretch of the endless desert, now soft grass covered the outskirts of the village, and a few small trees provided plenty of shade— in other words, plenty of hiding places.
Lurking. Emerging. Striking. Even when you do not know of the enemy, the enemy may know of you.
The Solis Magna sun had set just a few minutes ago, but even in the starlight he could easily see that the beast was black-armored, adorned with the same nightmarish features as all the different breeds of Rahkshi: a wickedly curved spine, slitted eyes, and a double-pronged staff. Black armor meant its power was Hunger.
Trinuma smiled. This would be easy. A Vorahk had to be in physical contact with its victim in order to drain their strength using its Staff of Absorption. He would simply prevent the Rahkshi from getting that close.
Two minutes later, it was well within firing range. The moment had come. Leaping out of his hiding place, the red-and-blue-armored warrior landed on one knee and bent over, aiming his two back-mounted Nynrah Ghost Blasters at the startled Rahkshi and firing off one of the missiles. When it hit, it would take over control of the Rahkshi’s entire mechanical body, leaving the Kraata inside helpless to resist.
It had almost reached its target when the Rahkshi lifted its staff and aimed one end at the incoming missile. Waves of energy blasted out, slamming head-on into the projectile and diverting it nearly 90 degrees to the right, where it slammed harmlessly into an organic tree. The Rahkshi screeched in triumph, opening its black faceplate briefly to reveal its Kraata.
Trinuma froze, suddenly horrified. The Kraata was bright orange, not the dark grey typical of a Vorahk. He looked around at the hands, the spine, the staff, realizing that he had been a massive fool— he should have checked, should have been less foolish, because a foolish warrior is a dead warrior—
The hands and feet were gold, not black. The spines were curved, not rigidly segmented. The staff ended in large hooks, not in round claws. *
No. Not that. Anything but that horrible, awful breed.
The Rahkshi closed its faceplate and raised its staff again. Acting purely on instinct, Trinuma performed a backflip to dodge the second attack, narrowly avoiding being hit by the waves of—
Botar buckled under the strain of Makuta Icarax’s magnetic attack. His massive limbs, which had borne many a prisoner, were twisted and mangled beyond repair. His infamously fearsome visage, which had frightened his captives out of any thoughts of resisting, was now a drooping mockery of the terror it had once inspired.
Trinuma watched in horror, unable to break free of the stasis field the Makuta had trapped him in. He knew Icarax was taking his time. Once he had finished savoring Botar’s death, Trinuma would be next on the chopping block. Everything, the entire mission, was a disaster. Their cargo, a ■■■■■■■■ of weapons, would never reach Brutaka’s team.
He should have checked. He should have been less foolish, because a foolish warrior is a dead warrior.
They had thought they were alone, but the enemy knew of them— he was lurking, biding his time, and then he was emerging and striking.
Combat with some Makuta would have been excessively orchestrated and drawn-out. Icarax was not like other Makuta. He slashed at both of them with his Rotating Shadow Blades, exuding the raw power that was the birthright of a Makuta, twirling around in battle like a dancer.
They had let their guard down. They had ignored a potential danger, and now Botar’s chest was folding in on itself, was rupturing, was splitting down the middle—and then it was bending and breaking and Botar was crumpling.
With the last of his strength, the great enforcer of the Order of Mata Nui hurled his axe-like weapon. It hit its mark, shattering Trinuma’s stasis field before Icarax had time to react.
Unable to move his massive jaw in the patterns necessary to produce speech, Botar could only lift his eyes to meet Trinuma’s. As his friend died, Trinuma felt he knew what his last words would have been, had he been able to speak them.
What is the law? The law is the will of Mata Nui.
Trinuma gathered up the weapons and pushed his kinetic emitter devices to maximum thrust, flying as fast as possible away from the scene where Botar had given his life to further the mission of the Great Spirit’s will. **
Shelter. Safety. Back behind the rock. Quickly. Go, go, move, you idiot, go!
Trinuma could barely come to terms with the situation. Magnetism. Of all the possible types of Rahkshi, it had to be this specter of my past.
Was it still coming? He chanced a glance up over the top of the rock, using his arm-mounted shield as protection— then immediately lowered both his head and his arm as the third blast of magnetic power flew through the air where they had been seconds before.
This was not a winnable situation. He simply was not capable of defeating an opponent wielding this power, not after Botar had fallen, had failed, had—
No, he reminded himself. Botar did not fail. He ensured that his death would mean something, that it would allow others to continue the fight. He died so that Miserix could be freed, so that the war could be won, so that the Great Spirit could be awakened, so that this world could be reformed.
He died so that I could live.
And I did not make it this far to be struck down by a mindless servant of his murderer.
The Rahkshi was just about to make an attempt to charge around the rock when the second Nynrah Ghost Blaster fired. Clearly, the prey couldn’t see very well from its hiding place; the missile went wild and missed the Rahkshi entirely, hitting the ground a few bio beyond where it stood.
The Rahkshi glanced down at the impact site before returning its gaze to the prey’s hideout. The prey’s shield was again visible over the top of the rock. Wasting no time, the Rahkshi triggered its power and launched a beam straight at the shield. This time, the prey wasn’t able to lower it back down fast enough. The shield warped inward where the magnetic beam struck, finally cracking down the middle and breaking in half before it fell out of site.
The Rahkshi didn’t recall seeing any other weapons carried by the prey, only its propulsion device. It was now defenseless. Letting out another screech of its Kraata, the Rahkshi darted around the left side of the rock, swinging its staff around to face—
The two halves of the broken shield resting atop an empty patch of grass, the prey nowhere in sight.
A voice spoke from behind the Rahkshi. “No, I’m not a teleporter. But when you work with someone whose job is to arrest and transport prisoners… you learn a few things about distractions and the element of surprise.”
The Rahkshi immediately turned back around to find the prey’s kinetic emitter right in front of its faceplate.
The resulting blast obliterated the Kraata and the Rahkshi’s entire spine.
Stepping across the now-useless suit of armor, Trinuma took in the sight of his ruined shield. Then he smiled beneath his mask. “I hope you’re happy, Botar. I’m going to have to replace that now.” ***
Looking up towards the stars, not knowing why he continued to talk but feeling compelled to do so anyway, Trinuma added, “And… you have my thanks. For everything you did. We wouldn’t be here without you.”
Above him, the Red Star twinkled in the night.
*The appearance of the Rahkshi of Magnetism is based on jimmybob83’s MOC collection Rahkshi: The 42.
** I always felt that Botar’s death was cheap. We were told about it through one sentence in a story about a completely different set of characters, we weren’t shown the actual fight, and he was immediately replaced by an identical character from his same species. This is my attempt to rectify that.
*** This entire story started because I bought the 3 sets needed to build Trinuma and the Onua set had the wrong color shield. So I wanted to write a story where Trinuma breaks his shield. No, seriously. I did end up buying the right color, in the end, which is why he says he’s going to replace it.