Bionicle Eternal (Story) - Act 3: Eternity

The beginning of the end…

…Or is it?

###Aftermath

“So what about your family? They must be proud, right?”
“Hardly. Namiken–he’s my father–publicly disowned me after the war started. We haven’t exchanged a single word since then. Honestly, Sukiru is the closest thing I have to family, and even then only because he feels obligated to.”
“Don’t be silly, you have me too.”
“You’re right. Thank you… Kerila.”

The sky was pure grey, the sun held hostage in a cage of roiling storm clouds. The wind whipped and howled around the Toa of Fire, mingling with his ragged sobs as he laboriously stumbled forward. Before him was the small plateau where he and Kerila had met so many times. Where they had promised to end the war and bring peace to everyone. They’d been so close. Peace was finally within their grasp, and then–
Flames billowed outward as he stared straight up and screamed, long and hard.
The oathlocks that he’d taken. A visible symbol of his faithfulness and devotion to his country, one of the few things he could still take pride in as a Tay–
His remaining oathlock rattled against its broken brothers in the wind, a dissonance to match his continued scream. All his rage, his pain, and despair poured from him and into the sky.
Melody’s face as the light left her eyes. “It’s okay, Mom, I’ll be perfectly safe. The Light Knight uses his magic to make sure that no one ever gets hurt.”
He fell to his knees, utterly empty. The wild winds took his cry and swallowed it in the storm, pulling the air from his lungs as it did.
“Kneel before me, idealist.”
“Finally, I’ve found you.” A clawed fist flew into his side, lifting the Toa into the air before slamming him against the ground. “It’s time to put your troublemaking to an end.”
The Light Knight struggled to open his eyes, darkness fraying the edge of his vision. “Who–” The words died in his throat as he recognized Icarax.
“I would so much enjoy killing you right now. And what harm would it do? If not that, I could just rip off your arms, or–”
“Icarax. Control yourself.” A new figure approached, hidden by a billowing cloak. “We need only cause him to sleep, nothing more.”
“Vamprah, you’re no fun.” Icarax whined, cracking his knuckles. “But I’ll take what I can get.” The last thing the Toa saw was a clawed fist flying towards his face–


Katta whistled to herself as she worked, dusting off the shelves of her brother’s general store. She reached for the top shelf, but couldn’t quite reach it, even on tiptoes.
“Hey, think you could give me a hand here?” She called to the hulking figure in the corner, the only other one in the store with her. It gave no response. “Oh come on, Yeela! You realize the council has condemned you as a traitor, right? Frind is risking his life letting you stay here, the least you could do is help with the chores.”
Silence. Yeela didn’t move. Katta sighed and turned back to her work, stopping when she saw what was happening. Every dust mote in the entire room rose up, gathering into a ball, and rolled out the door into the outside. “Not exactly what I meant, but hey, it works.” Katta said, sitting down and taking a breath. “And thank you, by the way.”
“Where is Frind?” Yeela asked, grumbling.
“He’s been under the weather lately. That, combined with his second child almost ready to be born, I offered to help run the shop for him.”
“Frind is a father?” Yeela asked, voice tinged with emotion.
Katta glared at her. “You’d know these things if you hadn’t shut everyone out and locked yourself away in that smithy. Life didn’t stop just because you–” She stopped herself just in time. “Well anyway, yes he’s a father. You should visit sometime.”
Yeela didn’t answer, and so with a heavy sigh Katta got up and returned to her work.


The sun shone down on the Spine, giving the mountains a warm glow. There was a single cloud in the sky, and a gentle breeze completed the image of a perfect day.
Friana flew through the air with her glider, searching the ground below, as she had been for hours, days. She came down and landed in front of the Diamond Knight.
“No luck. Again.” She reported, shoulders slumped. “I just can’t find him anywhere. It’s like Grillon’s just… vanished. Didn’t see any sign of the Gwasdyn or Poisoners either.”
“What about Vineon?” Maerkon asked, drawing a map of the island in the dirt with his axe.
“Pfft. I didn’t see that coward anywhere, I’m sad to say.”
Maerkon looked up from his map. “Now now, he wasn’t the only one that left us.”
Friana recoiled just a tiny bit. “Grillon wouldn’t be hiding! I’m sure something awful has happened to him, otherwise he’d be here with us.”
“I agree. I didn’t mean him.”
“I–I mean, it–” Friana faltered. “Yeah yeah, I know. But at least Yeela had the decency to tell us upfront she was quitting the fight, instead of running away in the middle of the night.”
Maerkon looked he wanted to say something, but wisely changed the subject. “Listen, right now it’s been a week since we were… scattered. We have to assume that the entire island has fallen under Clove’s thrall, which is why every nation has declared us traitors. However, it can’t be a complete hold yet, or the massacre would be happening right this second. So that means we have a chance to act if we do it now.”
“What are you suggesting?” Friana asked, sitting down and looking at his map.
“Both of us were considered heroes by our own nations, so we have a good chance of overcoming the poisons that cloud everyone’s mind. We split up, you going to Leto while I return to Galis. We’ll try our hardest to spread the truth and find some way to snap them out of it. Then on the day of, we’ll try to intercept the other nations, slow them down or stop them from reaching the battlefield.”
“That’s it?”
“It’s not a perfect plan, but with only two of us, our options are rather limited. It’s the only way forward I see.”
“But even with the help of our people, we could only really stop two of the other nations. That means two nations would still–”
“You think I don’t know that?” Maerkon snapped. “I’m sorry Friana, but I’ve looked at it from every angle and we just can’t be everywhere at once. Hopefully this will be enough to stop a starfall, but if not, then at the very least…”
“We’ll still have saved our people.” Friana finished for him, sitting down. “You’re right Maerkon, I’m sorry. I guess we just aren’t Grillon.”
“Indeed. He wouldn’t have given up on any of them. But he failed, and now he’s disappeared. And now it’s just us two left to pick up the pieces.” He sat down beside her, head in his hands. Friana smiled and lightly punched his shoulder.
“Y’know, you’re a pretty blynydd Toa. Even for everything we’ve done to each other over the course of this war, I’m glad we’re on the same side for this last fight.”
The Toa of Water smiled weakly. “Thanks, Friana. I’m glad as well. And when it comes to blynydd, I think you have us all beat.”
“Well yeah, of course! That’s what I’m here for, twe-hwyn. Now come on, we have a world to save.

Bustling in the camp. Everyone is disturbed and frightened, running round and gathering everything up. We’re gearing up for something big. What’s happening? What’s happening? Hatred… hatred fills the air. Air… is there something in the air? It feels hard to breathe. I wonder–
“Hey Leif, get up!” The Galin barked, startling the matoran from his revery.
“Of course General Saburo, coming right away!” He picked himself up and ran from the tent, his one eye glowing red. “I was daydreaming, sorry.”
“Well start getting ready. In two weeks we march, to end the war for good.”

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###Unforgivable
Kerila looked out from the roof of an observatory, looking at the sky without seeing it. Her thoughts were all a-whirl, twisting and changing until she herself was lost in the tide of relief and regret, sorrow and satisfaction. After all, she’d completed her mission. There was no more need to fight. She was free. And yet…
“Why was I born?”
She could still remember her father’s face when she first asked the question.
“You will help fix this broken world, and bring peace and prosperity to all,” he had said. It had the sound of something to be rehearsed, designed to make her pleased and happy with herself so she wouldn’t ask more questions.
“But who is All?”
“Excuse me?”
“Who is All? I’ve never met him. Is he nice? Will he be glad?”
“Kerila, all isn’t just one person. It’s everyone. Every single matoran, from Kothe to Borrara!”
“But… but I don’t know everyone! How will they know me?”
“They don’t need to know you. They will just know that Kerila saved them." He had said that, and he’d looked at her as if that should’ve been enough.
“Oh, father. Why couldn’t you see that I didn’t want to save the world? I wanted… I wanted a friend to make saving it worth it.”
‘Why don’t we make a telescope?’
Kerila froze.
‘You know, we’re almost a telescope ourselves.’
“Stop!” She yelled, clutching at the side of her head. “It was never real! I knew I’d have to betray him from the beginning. I’m not regretting this now!” She said, shouting at the sky.
‘I like the sound of that. More than a team, a family!’
Kerila stumbled back as if she’d been punched. “No, not anymore. Besides, even if I did regret it…”
“Mirror Knight!” Kerila whirled around, startled. A Kona stood was sticking his head out of the door.
“What is it?”
“The council has asked for your presence.”
What now?
Kerila took a deep breath, rapidly composing herself. “Of course, I’m coming.”
She went through the door and climbed down to the ground floor. Her path took her out onto the snowy streets, trailing behind the messenger. Kerila took a deep breath, feeling the familiar burn of the frigid air washing through her lungs. These were the streets she’d walked through as a girl, looking for people to play with as she hid from the Gwasdyn-- No. Sons of the Eternal. There was the watchmaker’s shop, where the kindly old man would let her watch while he worked. Over there was the tailor, who’d been so excited to create even a simple cloak for a Toa. Kerila stepped into the council building, making her way through crowds of Kona in their whispered conversations. As she pushed through, a particular line caught her attention.
“Did you hear about the new prisoner? I hear it’s a Toa…”
A Toa? They’ve caught one of the Keata?
For a single second, she wanted to run all the way to the dungeons and–no. I can’t let them see me again. Even if I regret how it all turned out… what I’ve done is unforgivable.

The wind whistled through the desert, keeping the sky clear of any small cloud. Friana flew close to the ground, keeping an eye out for any that might spot her. Where is everyone? Tamu’s caravan should be here this time of year. She’d been searching for the better part of the day without seeing anything, not even the markers normally left behind when trouble forced the caravans off-course. There was only one place left to look, and if they weren’t there… “Ah!” Friana landed and quickly spread the glider wings to use as camouflage as she spotted a Leta walking across the sands. Wait, is that… “Briata!” She called out, jumping up and running for her. “Oh chare, I was so worried that you’d been hurt, you have no idea–Hey!” Friana twisted to the side, barely avoiding the dagger in Briata’s hand.
“You… bradker.” Briata said in a monotone voice, eyes glazed over. Friana flinched.
“Briata, what are you talking about? Who said I was bradker?” The word for the worst kind of criminals: those who have struck against their own family. How could she think–?
“Briata, this isn’t you. Come on, you know better than anyone I’m no bradk- BRIATA!” The Gale Knight stumbled backwards as Briata clumsily attacked again. Briata tripped, nearly falling to the ground, but continued forward, insistent on stabbing her sister. As Friana darted around her, Briata’s limbs shook with exhaustion, and there was an unfocused look in her eyes common among those who wandered the desert alone, without food or water. One that Friana herself had worn on occasion.
“Oh, chera ifanca… what happened to you?” The young Leta’s only response was a growl. Friana grimaced. “Sorry about this.” With that she called up a gust of wind, knocking the sun dazed matoran off her feet and quickly took the dagger from her.
“Bradker! Brahn-- Gorchmynnodd Brahn eich marwolaeth!” She shouted, her words slurred and twisted to the point where it was barely Leto, but Friana could still pick out the intent.
“Brahn? Pops ordered me killed? Ffrytha?” She shook her head, not wanting to believe it. Curse you, Clove. So this is the game you want to play? I hope you’re not a sore loser.
“Here, drink this,” the Toa said softly, opening her flask and forcing a few drops of water down the struggling matoran’s throat. “What have I told you about drinking enough, eh? Twe-chare, you’d always follow me and Yeela, but you’d never think to make sure you were safe. I’ve lost count of the times I had to yell at you for getting into danger because of it.” Briata slowly stopped struggling as Friana sat beside her, still speaking, occasionally making sure she got more water.
“It was never because I was angry, you know. I was just scared that one day I’d slip up and you’d get hurt, that’s all. And now look at you, a virtual slave of the sick golgwyn that’s responsible for the war to begin with, and I’ve failed to protect you. Some sister, huh? But I’m trying to make it right, okay Briata? I’ll fix my mistakes, believe me. Will you forgive your twe-chare just this once? Come on Briata, please say you will!” Friana’s voice cracked as she choked on her words, unable to say another word. Briata’s eyes closed, and it looked like she’d lost consciousness. The day wore on as Briata lay there, Friana not moving from her side. Finally, when nearly an hour had passed and Friana had almost given up, Briata stirred and stretched, yawning.
“Fri, is that you? You missed the Festival.”

It was a quiet morning. Birds chirped in the trees, the wind was still, and the early morning fog hadn’t been quite burned away. Tro leaned back in his chair, on the border between sleeping and waking. The other sentry was in a similar situation.
“Urgh, this is the most boring outpost to keep watch over,” Tro said aloud. “We all know that the Tay need us, they would never dare betray Borrara. So why bother, huh?”
His partner shrugged.
“I dunno, Tro.” Tro asked this every time they got this post, so he’d given up trying to think of reasonable answers.
“We could be somewhere useful right now, maybe even on the front lines, but no, we get this dumb outpost job-- what was that?”
The outpost, set in a tree, trembled slightly. Then again, harder this time. Tro looked around nervously.
“Should we report this to Clove?”
“Oh, for the last time! Not everything immediately gets reported–” A massive thorn erupted from the floor, impaling the unlucky Borran. Tro screamed, stumbling backwards, as vines wrapped around the entire outpost and and squeezed, reducing it to splinters. Stars swam through his sight as Tro hit the ground hard, the wind knocked from his lungs. Then he saw the source of the attack, and he tried in vain to squeeze another scream from his empty lungs.
“As a matter of fact, there’s actually a message I need you to send Clove for me.” Vineon grinned, eyes sparking with malice. “Tell him, that if he knows what’s good for him, he’ll give up on all his schemes, turn tail, and run, because I’m going to knock his empire down, one tree at a time.”

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###Stormclouds
The dark room spun before his eyes, blurring in and out of focus like a bad camera. Grillon, was that his name? He was so numb he could hardly remember, gave out a hoarse groan as the thing, Dyn, was it?, impaled him and sapped the energy from him for the… he’d lost count.
His body burned and ached all over, but it was merely background noise now, insignificant in the chaos of his thoughts.
A cacophony of discordant echoing voices - shouts, screams, laughter - filled his ears, which finally calmed as his vision started to come into focus once more to reveal his father: Namiken.
“How dare you! You would dishonor not only your family, but the entire Tayru nation!”
“If we don’t stop the war, there won’t be anyone left to be honored! Why can’t you understand that?”
“You are a disgrace! Get out of my house!”
Grillon blinked away the dream, feeling the small pricks of pain that meant they were torturing him again, trying to make him reveal what his friends were planning that had sent him into the Spine.
“Hah, as if. Planning something? That coward was just running away again.” Strange… there was no way Namiken could be here, and yet this voice echoed through Grillon’s head. “He’s never been a hero, not once. Just a boy who didn’t have the heart to fight and kill, so he fled into his books and medicines. Even when turned into a Toa, all he could bring himself to do was run.”
Run.
Run.
Runrunrunrunrunrun-
“AAAAAAAH!” Grillon screamed out as a blade plunged into his arm, before slowly sinking back into the mist of pain. Before his sight was completely veiled, he thought he saw a familiar white figure hiding in the shadows… but no.
It couldn’t be.

The sun was high in the sky by the time Briata really awoke. She had stirred many times during the night, even seemed aware of her surroundings once or twice. But she hadn’t said anything since the night before.
“Fri?” The Toa was quick to crouch next to her sister, who was uncurling herself in the shadow of a stone. “Fri, where are we?” She struggled to push herself upright, and Friana helped her prop herself up against the rock.
“Do you remember anything?” Friana asked quietly. “Anything from the past few days?” Briata’s eyes narrowed under her mask.
“Well, I remember a weird dream. Stuff about Pops sending me off to find you, and then I think I was fighting you, and then I think I woke up and you were there-” She stopped abruptly, and Friana could see her little sister putting the pieces together. “That wasn’t a dream, was it?” she whispered hoarsely. In lieu of answering, the Toa presented her sister with a canteen of water. Briata took it, but didn’t drink. “Friana?” The Toa took a deep breath. There was no avoiding this.
“No. You… you tried to attack me last night.” Friana couldn’t meet her sister’s eyes. It didn’t stop her from hearing the gasp her news received. From feeling her own guilt at letting this happen. “It wasn’t your fault! You weren’t yourself. There’s something going on, Briata. Something behind the war, something bigger than it.” She paused, struggling to find the words. Friana could see her sister out of the corner of her eye, finally drinking the water, her gaze unwavering. “It’s, there’s… I, I need you to tell me what you remember, Bri. From your dream. It’s really important.” The sisters finally met each other’s eyes. Briata looked back at the sand, thinking.
“Well, like I said, I remember fighting you. It… it was really important. Brahn told me to.” Friana nodded encouragingly as her sister trailed off.
“Go on,” she said simply. Whatever her sister remembered, it wouldn’t do to distract her from it.
“It… it seemed so important at the time. I know that. But I can’t remember why. I, well, I think the fact that he told me to was enough for me. But I know he said something else. I… I think I remember telling you.” Briata’s eyes searched Friana’s imploringly. “Do you remember? Because if I said it, then you would know, right?”
“You… you called me bradker.” Briata’s face exploded in shock.
“But Fri! That can’t be! There’s no way that’s true! It… it isn’t true, is it?” Briata looked desperate, needing to know that she had been wrong. Friana shook her head, and her sister’s relief could almost be felt in the hot desert air. “Well surely I would’ve known that. Pops, too.”
“There’s something big going on,” Friana repeated, not wanting to believe the picture Briata was already starting to paint. “It’s why I need you to remember. I need you to tell me anything else you can think of. Do you know who gave Pops the idea that I was bradker? Did you see him talking to the Pan, maybe?” Briata’s face fell immediately.
“The Pan… he passed, Friana. While you were gone.” Friana hung her head in silent mourning. His death was not unexpected, though she wouldn’t doubt for a second that Clove or the Gwasdyn had something to do with it.
“So Pops…?” Friana began, seeing where this was going.
“He stepped in,” Briata confirmed solemnly. “He… there was a speech. Something about moving on in the Pan’s honor. He… he had everyone whipped into a frenzy, as if the rest of the island was somehow responsible.” Friana grimaced. She had hoped her father would somehow be clever enough to break through Clove’s poison. Hard to be sharp of wit with a poisoned mind, she supposed.
“He… he has everyone preparing for war.” Briata continued. “Not just the soldiers, everyone. I… I think I remember seeing Mom getting ready as I was leaving.” Friana’s blood ran cold. Pops, her little sister… now her mother too? She was going to have a long conversation with that sadistic mass of cellulose sometime soon. But first it was time for a chat with dear old dad.

“Frind?” Yeela breathed, scarcely daring to speak.
“Yeela, it is you!” Frind jumped up from where he’d been sitting, and running forward to welcome her into his house. Yeela had to duck her head to fit inside, as it was notably smaller and more cramped than the forge.
“Good to see you Frind, it’s been too long.” Yeela said, smiling as she took a seat cross legged on the floor.
Frind’s response was cut off as a small child poked her head out from another room.
“Who’s here, Papa?”
“You can come on out Mera, this is Yeela, an old friend of mine.” Yeela smiled warmly as the child cautiously moved into the main room, noting that she couldn’t be older than four.
Katta was right, I have been avoiding them for far too long.
“You’re name’s Mera? It’s very pretty.” Mera beamed happily at the compliment.
“It’s short for EMERALD,” she proudly proclaimed, pointing to a streak of green running through her shoulder armor (Yeela decided not to point out that it was jade, not emerald.)
“Well that’s wonderful.” Out of the corner of her eye, Yeela saw Frind looking at Mera sadly. “What is it, Frind?” Yeela asked, gently shooing Mera away.
“Hm? Oh, it’s nothing. A shame you can’t meet my wife Yana, you’d definitely like her, but she’s at the barracks today.”
“She’s in the army?”
“Yeela, everyone’s in the army now. Everyone above the age of thirteen is officially conscripted. Apparently there’s a big offensive coming soon.”
“I-I see. I think… I think I need to go.” Yeela got up and walked out the door, heading back towards the shop. Katta glared at her as she approached.
“So, you heard about the conscription?”
“Yeah.”
“Are you going to do something about it?”
“What’s the point?”
“Are you kidding me? You’re the Toa of Earth, the Puppet Sword Knight! You could totally do something!”
“You overestimate us Toa.”
Finally, Katta snapped, screaming at Yeela, “What is wrong with you Yeela!? After everything! Frind: your friend, a husband, a father - you’re just going to leave him to die?! How dare you be so selfish, how dare you hide away and go into some kind of rage over your family, and then just leave my brother to die! What happened to you Yeela? Where’s that burning fury everyone on the frontlines feared you for? I’d take even that over this! When did you become such a coward!?”
“WHEN I HAD NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE!” Yeela shouted back, cutting Katta off completely, “…I just… after nothing but hate and vengeance for five years, I-I was given this… spark of hope, I guess. I could move on from what I’d been, I could be better, I could… rise above just getting revenge by doing worse to the enemy, and stop anyone from going through what I did - ever again. But then it was just snatched away, in an instant… and now I just… I can’t do it anymore…”
“W-what?”
“You heard me. Don’t you get it? My flame is out. It’s over. Maybe you should try and solve your own problems for once–”
A heavy metal bucket hit her in the side of the head. “Ow!” She snarled at Katta. “What the he-”
“How dare you!” Katta fumed, spitting out every word. “You think, after all you’ve done, you can just quit? You’re the Toa, destiny’s chosen hero! And destiny didn’t choose you to go sulk in this shop. So life snatched away your ‘spark of hope’? Then be the Toa of Earth you were supposed to be, and snatch it back!”

###Pivot
Kerila sat in her room, staring listlessly at the wall. She did that a lot these days. The halls were quiet, as the other Kona had been gathered to the barracks in preparation for when the last day came. The coming battle would be death on a scale as yet unheard of, and all of Kothe could be wiped out. Kerila shrugged at the thought. Kinda funny, really. Father wanted me to save everyone, but he never gave me reason to care for a single person. Of course, that had been a lie anyway. All she’d done was ensure the death of everyone, and she wasn’t even sure why.
“I wonder if you knew that, Father?” Kerila wondered aloud. “Did you really want this, or were you fooled along with everyone else? Was this secret plan really worth enough to kill All? I guess so, if it was worth sacrificing me.”
I wonder how things would’ve been if Father was more like Maerkon, or if I’d had a sister like Friana. Except… I had that. We really were a family of sorts, for a little while. I wonder how they’re doing now…
“I know exactly how one of them’s doing. And I can’t do anything about it.”
Well, I could…
“NO!” Kerila shouted. “It’s too late for the both of us. The die’s been cast, and I can’t just turn back now. I’ll only ever be an enemy to him now.”
And you’ll just let that stop you? I thought you cared about them.
“Of course, but-”
Do you abandon family just because they’re mad at you?
“How would I know?” Kerila muttered bitterly.
Maerkon wouldn’t.
“…”
Friana wouldn’t.
“I…I mean…”
Grillon wouldn’t.

Maerkon couldn’t help but be proud of his people. He was proud of them most of the time, of course - the Galin were a people worth being proud of - but sometimes they really showed it. Like right now, for instance; they knew full well that he was the Diamond Knight and there was no way they could even touch him with normal weapons, but they were still going to give it a shot. And wouldn’t you know it, they aren’t doing so bad. He thought ruefully to himself as he caught another screaming Galin soldier and tossed him away. It was just a mile left before he entered the capital of Galis, but the entire army was in his way. Sword strikes rained down from all sides, testing his shield, but it remained solid. With a grunt of effort, he took a step forward, pushing soldiers out of the way.
“This would be a lot easier if I was using my axe. Just putting it out there.” He said, knowing it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
“The Toa is threatening us! Redouble your efforts, men!” One of the commanders shrieked.
Oh for goodness’ sake. Maerkon reached out and grabbed the offending officer, lifting him to eye level. “Skjarl, if I meant to harm anyone, don’t you think I’d have done it by now? I’m on your side here.” The Galin drew a dagger and drove it into Maerkon’s eye–tried to, anyway. It slid off his barrier along with the others, and Maerkon couldn’t help but laugh.
“That was good, just how I taught you! If I’d been an actual enemy, you’d have got me right then.” Shaking his head, he dropped him and continued pushing forward. It felt like hours before he finally made it through the gates. Of course, then the townspeople came out to greet him as well, throwing rocks and detritus at him. By now Maerkon was panting with the effort of keeping his armor up, and merely shook his head. Just a little farther, just a little farther… Finally, he saw his goal: the memorial statue. With one last rush, he brushed aside those in front of him and took hold of the statue. Panting a bit, he turned to face his attackers. Hundreds of Galin, soldier and civilian, stretching out as far as the eye could see. Perfect.
“PEOPLE OF GALIS!” He thundered. Silence fell like a shroud, smothering all noise as the attack temporarily halted. He had a brief window of opportunity, he just had to make the most of it. “People of Galis, I come here today, not as Maerkon, Toa of Water, and not as Maerkon, former commander of the Galin army. I come here as a fellow Galin, one who was born and raised on the coast, less than a mile from where we stand here. Who trained and fought and bled alongside you in battle, who celebrated victories with you, and mourned the same friends as you. My father, and my father’s father have their names on this very statue.” He paused, letting his words sink in.
“Surely you must realize that I love this nation, and would give my life for it. If nothing else, remember all the times I nearly have.” The people muttered to each other, considering his words. Maerkon sensed he was starting to win them over. Or he hoped he was, at least. “If I thought this war was just and right, and would be good for us, I’d resume command of the army here and now. But we’ve been manipulated by forces from behind the shadows, doing their dirty work for them. We owe it to the fallen warriors who preserved our nation in the past to stand strong now and show them what Valor really means!” There were a few isolated cheers, but the majority of the crowd still seemed uncertain. Time to put all my cards on the table.
Taking a deep breath, he let the barrier drop. As the entire city watched him with bated breath, he set his axe down and kicked it away. Then he dropped to one knee, facing the crowd. “I know what I ask seems impossible, maybe even treasonous. And so, I put myself at your mercy. If there’s anyone, anyone at all, who thinks I’ve been half-hearted in my service, or thinks that I’d try to trick you, then step forward and end my life right here and now.” For a second, absolute silence. Then another. Then, a matoran stepped forward, walking up to him. Maerkon recognized him as Skjarl, the one who’d tried to stab him earlier. He drew his knife… and dropped it on the ground.
“You’ve never led us wrong before, and you’ve saved my life more than once. If you said our enemy was the legions of Karzahni himself, I’d march right down with you.”
One by one, and then in groups, more and more matoran stepped forward and dropped their weapons by his side. Maerkon got to his feet, eyes just a little misted. “My friends, you do me great honor. I will endeavor to be worthy of it.”

Huddled in a nervous murmuring herd, the inhabitants of Flormortem looked around them in distress. There was no way to escape, nowhere to run (for those that could); every opening was covered by a towering wall of thick, impenetrable vines.
There had been rumors, whisperings among those that spoke of what their “great Toa” had been doing over the past few weeks - none of them were good. Outposts destroyed, sentries slaughtered, and sometimes a solitary survivor to flee in terror back to the capital. Not that they were usually the type to care of these matters, but the Toa of the Green was hitting fairly close to home, and some had started to get anxious.
It appeared that their fears had been realized.
From the darkness - barely any light reaching here from the twisted, oppressive trees - stepped a hulking, powerful figure. The panic in the crowd began to grow, desperately trying to get away from their attacker.
Those that had still kept their heads in the midst of the chaos felt foolish to have played into his hands so easily. He’d started from the outermost edges, drawing those on the outskirts further in, and slowly wound his way around and around, planting those seeds of fear in already uneasy minds to box them in and make them even easier to slay.
The giant shadow stepped closer and closer, red eyes burning like a roaring fire. Weak slivers of light cast onto his dark form, revealing the deep green of the trees among which he was born; shrieks of alarm erupted from the tangled throng.
He simply stood, waiting for the crowd to calm somewhat. The noise faded to an apprehensive silence, as they watched, waited, and silently begged not to be killed.
He cleared his throat.
“I know that probably wasn’t an ideal way to gather you all in one place, but I didn’t really have many other options with this little time. Uhh, sorry about that.”
The matoran gaped at him, hardly believing their ears. A few awkward coughs could be heard near the back.
“Anyway, you’re probably already aware that I’ve been hitting different Poisoner targets for a little while now, and it’s because Clove is planning something big: as in whole island level big. He’s gotten this gas into the air that’s managed to bend most of the island to his will, and he’s going to use that to march every army in Inoria to one spot and make them fight to the death.”
“Why should we care!” A surprisingly brave Borran called from the crowd.
“BECAUSE I’VE GOT YOU ALL TRAPPED AND I CAN KILL YOU WITH A SNAP OF MY FINGERS!” He snarled, causing the panic to return, “SHUT UP!”
Silence.
Vineon pinched the bridge of his mask and sighed, “Look, I know none of you have any reason to trust me, or to believe me, or even like me, but if you don’t help me, thousands of people are going to die. I’ve never considered myself very sympathetic, but even I think that’s too far. Can you seriously tell me you can just sit by and do nothing? I’m going to handpick a team of volunteers to come with me to try and at least stop the Poisoner march from getting there, and I’m not gonna lie: some of you will absolutely definitely die, but it’ll be with the knowledge that you helped save countless lives - because I know for a fact that if I’m doing this that the other goody-two-shoes Toa are gonna try something like this too.” He paused dramatically, leaving his words to sink in a moment, “So, who’s ready to save the island?”

As Grillon stirred from another sleeping nightmare to his waking one, he looked blearily around him for the source of the disturbance of his poor imitation of rest. For once it hadn’t been searing hot agony.
There was a stiff ache in his bones, and the kind of dull, muted pain that came from a lot of experience. His throat was raw, and hopelessly dry. He felt like a corpse, if not for the fact that he was still alive, much to his dismay.
As his vision began to cloud over and flirt with drowsiness once more, the lazy, resigned doze was thoroughly shaken from his body as the source of his wakefulness stabbed through his vision with a great blast of ice. The white shape that he’d written off as just some random Kona became far more distinct with recognition, and his stomach tightened with anger and confusion.
What is she doing here?

The bars shattered with little force, and Kerila stepped into the cell, brimming with confliction and regret. She was almost tempted to turn back and try to correct the uncorrectable move that she’d just taken when she saw the look of dull fury on his face. But no, he wouldn’t abandon her if the situation was somehow reversed.
She had to stop herself from blurting out a stupid and pointless “I’m sorry”. They were far, far past “sorry”.
“I’m here to free you.” She said instead, as if to prove it to herself as much as to inform him. He gave a hoarse grunt of protest.
By the stars, he’s so weak…
Pushing that thought aside, she moved in to freeze and shatter his bonds, and quickly had to grab him to keep him from falling to the ground in a heap.
“Can you walk?” She asked, mentally slapping herself an instant later.
Another grunt, along the lines of “not really”. How else could she have honestly expected him to answer?
So she supported him as they half walked, half shuffled, across the room.
“I-I’m going to get you out of here, you’re safe now.” She managed, as they started to head unsteadily up the stairs, as they passed the frozen or incapacitated guards, as they made the bid for freedom.
As I try to redeem myself.
But the question still gnawed at the back of her mind: could she?

###Reap the Whirlwind
Brahn didn’t need a spyglass to see the sandstorm. The mass of swirling dust was massive, a muddled shadow that blocked out the pre-dawn light to the east of Le-Kreeft. Given recent events, he had little doubt as to what, or rather who, was causing it.
“There she is,” Allya announced from behind him. “Friana.” An involuntary scowl crossed Brahn’s face. The Demon Gale Knight, Toa of Air and bradker of the Leta people… and his daughter. He could only guess why she had returned to the hub of the desert. The sandstorm she was bringing made it a well-educated guess, at the very least.
“Bowen!” the general barked. “Send word to prepare the war column at once. It’s time to make the first move.”

Dawn brought only darkness to Le-Kreeft. Heavy clouds blocked out the sun as the sandstorm raged. Friana hung in the air above the desert oasis, untouched in the eye of the storm. The ground was only a dark smudge below her, all detail lost in the whirling dusty haze. The swirl of sand had been inspired by their expedition into Borrara: the Leta army couldn’t hit her if they couldn’t see her. That was the thought, anyway.
Of course, it limited her as well. She could see about as well as they could, which took away the advantage her bow should have provided. That wasn’t even considering the strain using her element like this caused. The Toa of Air was left with her daggers, her wits, and a ticking clock, her stamina draining away like the sand in an hourglass. Of all the scrapes she’d been in, this might actually take the cake. She’d have to repay Clove for the trouble the next time she saw him, but first came her own people.
Steeling herself, Friana tucked in her legs and dove for the desert below. Sand and wind whipped by her mask, allowing the beginning of the war caravan to come into focus. She leaned back, her outstretched feet driving into the first wagon with a dull whump. The canvas held, and the wagon fell onto its side. Voices cried out from within, but she was already gone, rolling off into the sand. One dagger found its way to her hand, and she darted back towards the column.
A shape loomed out of the cloud of dust. Friana’s knee rose, and the matoran dropped onto the desert floor. Sorry, friend. Now she could make out the rest of the column. She dashed past the fallen matoran and sprinted for the nearest wagon. A quick slash cut the transport from the medsall pulling it, and then she was gone again, enveloped by the sand. An arrow from a quick-witted archer tried to follow her, but fell short.
At this point, the column was stuck. They dared not venture off the path for fear of their own traps, and her handiwork had prevented them from moving forward. A gust of wind caught her glider and carried her up and forward, towards her true destination. She landed atop the gate to Le-Kreeft then dropped down, catching a pair of matoran by surprise. They both fell within seconds, lying unconscious in the open doorway. The sound of armor hitting stone drew the attention of all those nearby.
“I’m back!” she called cheerfully, breaking the spell of shocked silence. Soldiers rushed to draw their weapons and bring them to bear against their Toa. The one that drew her attention, however, was the one that ran. He wasn’t a coward; no, he was a messenger, reporting the events dutifully to his Pan. She just had to follow him to her father.
The Demon Gale Knight earned her name, spinning through the Leta army like a whirlwind. No blade could seem to meet her, yet many matoran would wake up with headaches from her blows. The line of brave Leta was no match for her, stalling her for only a minute before she broke free. The messenger was still in sight, scurrying up the ladder to a makeshift wooden platform. She bounded across the cavern, an arrow skimming her shoulder as she ran. With one last leap she arrived on top of the platform, towering over the matoran trying to announce her arrival. Various generals and soldiers stood around the platform, but she only cared for one of them.
“Hello Pops. Long time no see.” Before she could finish speaking, three different bows found themselves aimed at her. Brahn turned slowly to face her, Allya by his side. Everything about him seemed strangely normal. Was it possible that this was all a mistake? Had Brahn managed to resist Clove after all?
Bradker,” the Pan spat coldly. “I was waiting for you to show up.” The words hit Friana like a slap to the mask. “I hope you know that all of your efforts are useless. Another column left from the south entrance.” That settled it; her father would never broadcast a bluff so clearly. He had fallen under Clove’s sway after all.
“Oh, I’m not worried about that,” she said. “How’s Briata?” The Pan paused.
“I’m going to need you to stand down, now,” he growled. “Your crusade ends here.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Pops.” Friana shrugged, and her father responded with a growl. He drew a knife, and Friana raised her own. His knife found a different target, however; Allya.
“I know you don’t care about your own safety,” he snarled, his blade held to his wife’s neck, “but what about your mother? You wouldn’t put her in harm’s way, would you?” He pressed the knife into her neck, drawing a thin line of blood and a shocked gasp from the others assembled. Friana had all the information she needed.
She flicked her knife, pulling the air from her father’s lungs. It rushed out in a ragged gasp, and Brahn collapsed in a tangle of limbs, dragging his wife down with him. Friana fell to her knees, her stamina spent. The others looked between the two of them in confusion.
“It… Brahn’s water was poisoned,” Friana gasped. “He was sick. I… I think he’s better now.” At the very least he was out of the way until he could recover properly. She dragged herself to her parents’ sides. Her father was breathing regularly now, and thankfully unconscious. Her mother, too, had been knocked out from the fall.
“…and you, Toa?” A soldier finally asked. “Are you bradker?”
“Forget about that!” another scoffed. “Are you alright?”
“I’ll be fine,” Friana said, waving him off. “I need one thing- no, two things. One, does anyone know what happened at the south gate?” She had sent Briata to the south to forestall any soldiers that tried to leave that way. The sandstorm had made the east and south entrances the most likely ways for soldiers to leave the city, and she couldn’t cover both herself. Briata had volunteered herself to trap the south entrance so that Friana could focus on getting inside as quickly as possible.
“General!” a matoran called up from below. “The south column has stalled! They ran into traps along the road.” And it seemed as if her sister had succeeded. The general looked to her for direction.
“And that’s the second thing: the armies are staying here. Bring them all back inside. I just need a group of our best trappers ready to move as soon as possible.”
“Ready to go… where, exactly?” a soldier asked.
“The Spine. It’s time to prepare for the fight of our lives.”

Grillon wasn’t sure how long they’d been here now. The days and nights had blurred into one neverending instant of pain, anger and shame. In a lot of ways, it wasn’t so different from when he’d been trapped in that dungeon. At the very least he wasn’t being tortured now.
Kerila returned, hovering over him nervously like she had been since they’d gotten here. She’d done the best she could to bandage him up, and Grillon had to admit that it wasn’t so bad - given the circumstances.
Their progress had been painfully slow during the escape: he could barely even stand on his own, and they’d passed several members of the Gwasdyn, Sons of the Eternal - whatever they were called, in the process. They were all frozen or knocked out cold. Eventually, they managed to reach one of the entrances to that dreadful place, and escape.
From there, in the freezing cold, Kerila had managed to drag them into a secluded cave a fair bit away, and laid him down with what little supplies she had.
All she could do now was keep him rested, keep him fed, keep him watered, because he couldn’t go anywhere like this. It made him feel just as powerless as he’d felt before, as powerless as when he’d learned the truth.
When Kerila had betrayed them.
His closest friend had turned out to be his worst adversary, in the end. Funny how these things worked out.
“Grillon…” She began, voice trembling.
“What?” He snapped.
“I… I know this’ll just sound pathetic, a-and stupid, after what I did, but… I-I’m sorry.”
Was she serious? After destroying everything he thought they’d built together, after revealing that their entire friendship was a lie manufactured by some invisible force to get close to him and the other Toa, the best she could manage was sorry?
This clearly translated into his glare, as Kerila looked away in shame.
“I… wish things could’ve been different…“ She trailed off.
Grillon snorted, “Oh, thanks, glad to know you wish you could’ve not been a traitor.”
“It’s not that simple!” She stressed, “I had this task forced on me since I was a little girl, i-it was practically all I ever knew - not everything I told you was a lie!” Grillon stayed silent, a little taken aback.
“The Dyn- or, I guess… well we called them the Heralds, b-but, I’m rambling, they knew that a united team of Toa could stop them, so they discovered the name of one of the future Toa from the stars so they could stop that from ever becoming a reality. That person was me. I’d had my destiny decided for me before I was able to walk. They cut me off from the rest of the world for years to train me to be something I’d never wanted to be, to do something I’d never asked to do! At first I tried to escape it, but… it was useless. No matter what else happened, Grillon, I-I… want you to know that you were my friend, a-and I wish I could’ve been a better one.”
“But you weren’t. And now you never will be.” He said finally, each syllable compounded with measured anger and disgust. He stared at Kerila with cold, bitter eyes, practically spitting the words at her. “I will never forgive you.”
Kerila stared at him, shocked, and opened her mouth to reply for a moment. The moment passed, and she turned away, defeated. Grillon dropped his gaze to the floor, letting the sour taste of anger flood his mind like an overpowering mist. My “friend” - who does she think she’s fooling? As if now, of all times, an apology could fix what was broken-
The Toa of Fire paused a moment.
All of a sudden, Grillon’s thoughts traveled back, back to that first day when they’d gathered the Keata in one place. Back to when he was that bright-eyed idealist, that fool. When he thought he could make a difference. When he thought he could save the island from itself.
“-this war has taken things from all of us: family, friends, freedom. But just pointing blame at the enemy who did it and then committing an equally unspeakable act in response is only going to drive us further apart…”
He shook his head at how stupid it all sounded, how little it mattered in reality.
“Break the cycle…
But it couldn’t be broken. He’d tried, and he’d failed. They’d lost. It was over.
“Come on Grillon, at least give him a chance–”
“Namiken burned that bridge long ago! You of all people should know that.”
“Hate him all you like, but he is your father…”
But had he? Could he really tell others to forgive their foes - people who had murdered their friends or family, if he couldn’t even forgive his own father?
But…
No. He knew what he had to do now. Even if it would be hard, maybe even impossible, by the stars he would try.
He had taken an oath to stop at nothing until he had saved this island. And that was an oath he did not plan to break.
“Kerila! Wait…”
She turned back to him, posture sagged, eyes brimming with sorrow. His stomach knotted. This was his doing. In his hatred he’d brought her to this low. He felt like filth.
“Forget what I said. I… I forgive you.”

###To End A War
In all his years of exploring, the great Shu-Tural had never encountered anything quite like this. He’d seen mere hatred and prejudice before, but no… this was something else. Something new. He could feel it in the air. Since the war had begun, quite a few avenues for exciting excursions had been terminated, of course, but Shu hadn’t been deterred. He’d never let something as trivial as that stop him before.
But now, no matter where he went, any nation’s civilization other than Kothe’s would aggressively eject or even attack him, labelling him as (among other things he dared not repeat) a Kona spy. Sure, some extremely paranoid outliers may have done this in the past, but most quite rationally realized that the energetic, eccentric explorer meant them no harm at all.
So what happened?
Shu wasn’t sure. But now what looked like the entirety of Onura, Tayru, and Galis were gathering in one spot, and his curiosity overcame his pacifism. Every fiber of his being was telling him that something important was happening, and that he had to be here and witness it.
And so, the great Shu-Tural watched, and waited.

It was common military knowledge that fighting a war on two fronts was far from ideal. Suicidal, even. Maerkon had seen firsthand exactly why this was the case, flanking enemies or even coordinating with the Kona army to outwit and outmatch his opponents. All this left him quite confused as to why he had chosen to do such a thing on purpose.
His signature armor protected him from yet another wave of Tay projectiles, scattering the arrows among his own forces. Galis shieldmen proudly flanked him, pushing the Tay skirmishers back. He swung his own axe, scattering the line before him. They’d be back; he had Clove to thank for that. Just as promised, the enemy forces seemed determined to throw their lives away. Friana’s traps had managed to spread the Tay army out, meaning the battle was only getting bigger from here. It didn’t help that he couldn’t kill the matoran, a detail that the Galin army had been oddly compliant with… Maerkon swung again, noticing a mask he had knocked down at least three times previously. His army would have been decimated if not for a slow and steady retreat.
“Maerkon!” he could hear a matoran call from behind him; Saburo, he believed. “Sir, the Onu are attacking!” The Toa let out a half-growled curse and one last swing of his axe before extracting himself from the line.
“Saburo, hold the line!” he roared, trading positions with the faithful commander. “Rear line, to me! Push back!” The battle lines were already forming, pockets of off-sides soldiers becoming encircled and slaughtered. He watched, his expression grim as a haze of blue and purple elemental energy rose above the fighting.
“Don’t kill them!” he called in vain. His axe finally joined the fray, sweeping aside a group of Onu soldiers. This battle was madness. He could only brace himself for the approach of the other two armies.

On Borrara’s border with the Spine, just within the safety of the trees, the Poisoners gathered their forces together in preparation to march into battle and clean up the enemy armies clashing on the Spine - once they’d worn each-other down for them, as per Clove’s orders. Everyone had arrived, on schedule. Perfect. They would be ready mobilize soon.
Clonk!
The soldier grunted in surprise, looking around her to see where whatever hit her came from… or where it landed - she looked down. A nut? Huh. Didn’t know there were any of those growing around here, or this big… Wait a second.
Suddenly a hail of these odd projectiles started raining down upon them, angered clamouring erupting from their ranks as they attempted to shelter themselves from them with their arms or their shield (if they had one). Those on the outskirts started to break rank to get out of the worst of it, others pushing and shoving to do the same. Regardless, most eyes travelled upwards as they did what they could to ward away the painful and distracting barrage, scanning the canopy for the culprits.
They seemed to be coming from everywhere at once, darting from branch to branch, the Borran army barely able to think over the sound and sensation of being pummelled with these crude missiles - seemingly by their own kind: fellow Borran.
“BACK AWAY!” A warrior yells, advancing towards one of the trees housing their tormentors, shoving others out of his way as he made his path, his comrades quick to heed his words. He looked very heavily modified, with some kind of significant ability - it would do best to stand back and let him do his work.
He thrust his palms into the bark, rot and decay slowly spreading through the tree as he sucked away its life-force. The wood started to creak and groan under the strain of holding itself up, the modded Borran taking even more hits as their treebound ambushers desperately tried to stop him. Those in the tree scrambled to escape, but before anyone knew it the great thing was crashing down, taking most of its passengers screaming to their deaths in a burst of green light. In an instant, they’d lost the upper hand.
Vineon’s strike team started to panic, turning tail or redoubling their efforts, even as their bane made his way to the next tree…

Karz, Karz, Karz! No!
As Vineon swung his way through the canopy towards the growing carnage of felled trees and flashes of green, his mind continued to go into overdrive, every worst scenario flashing through his head.
Not like this! I won’t let you die like this, Karz it!
He had been keeping a safe distance, so as not to give away their plan too early, but it instead might have spelled their doom.
I know I shouldn’t have dragged them into this! It was my fight, not theirs! You stupid Karzing idiot Vineon! You wanted to be the great friggin’ hero, didn’t you!? Give them all a big speech and inspire people completely uninvolved into dying for the “greater good” or some stupid sentimental crap like that, and now they’re gonna-
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
From his vantage point Vineon could see it in all its terrible detail: an utter disaster, all his men dead or fleeing - all because he hadn’t been there when they needed him.
The Poisoners looked up in alarm to his piercing outburst, panic rising now among them, too.
“THAT’S RIGHT! YOU SHOULD BE KARZING SCARED! YOU JUST KILLED MY SQUAD, AND NOW I WILL KILL. YOU. ALL!” He bellowed, leaping down from his tree, crashing down to the ground, newly-grown vines and other vegetation breaking his fall. He would be on them in an instant. They wouldn’t even be able to run in time.
“YOU’VE TAKEN EVERYTHING FROM ME YOU KARZING SCUM, AND NOW I’M GONNA TAKE IT ALL FROM YOU TOO, DO YOU HEAR ME!? YOU BETTER HAVE MADE YOUR PEACE, YOU HEARTLESS PIECES OF FILTH, BECAUSE THEY WON’T FIND ENOUGH LEFT TO KARZING BURY!” He howled, the very forest itself coming down upon them, the bodies of the trees themselves smashing down and crushing some flat, branches clawing further forward and mauling those that couldn’t be reached by that alone. Barbed vines and roots burst out of the ground too, tearing those unlucky enough to shreds. The slaughter however was near-obscured by the practical cloud of green elemental energy, and while their blood-curdling screams of agony echoed for miles around them, somehow the din of pain and fear was still overwhelmed by Vineon’s own roars of anger, grief and regret.

Four Kona fell to Yeela’s blades before the army managed to react. The serrated daggers returned to her with a flick of her wrist, followed by trails of ichor and elemental energy. She paused, letting them scamper about in an attempt to find some sort of formation. It would be easier to kill them this way, sure, but she supposed that was the point. It wasn’t like it would save them anyway.
She lashed out again, a serrated sword spinning towards one flank while she sent a pair of maces flying into the other. The remaining members of the line tried to charge her, and were met with a storm of jagged daggers. One more enterprising Kona raised his spear, throwing it full on at the Toa’s mask. Her hammer split the offending weapon with a satisfying crack, and she turned to level a cool eye on the Kona in question. The matoran stumbled, turning to run back toward his comrades-
And running face-first into one of her flying maces, the weapon sending the soldier pinwheeling through the air. An axe passed him going the other way, slashing clean through another Kona’s arm before vanishing from sight.
“Stand fast!” one of the other Kona screamed (judging from the distance and shrillness, one of the commander-types). “Form up and prepare for another assault! The Knight cannot defeat all the might of Kona singlehandedly!” A few of the matoran cheered raggedly, but most remained silent, weapons leveled at Yeela as the two sides faced each-other down. A terrible calm reigned over the battlefield, the Toa of Earth’s green eyes staring unyieldingly into the shaking, unsteady yellow eyes of the many Kona soldiers. She folded her hands, daggers and maces floating in a lazy arc around the Toa.
“You know,” Yeela began, talking slowly, “I’m not supposed to let you pass, obviously. Something about saving you ungrateful wretches from each other and your collective stupidity.” She took a step forward, her weapons beginning to spiral outward. “You might have already guessed it, but I’m not exactly inclined to do that. I’m a bit less inclined to save you…”
Yeela bared her teeth in a smile, a cold and empty one. “…and a bit more inclined to save the other armies the trouble of finishing you off. You’ve earned this. More than any of them.”
The Kona ranks began to weaken, some of the soldiers at the outermost edges pulling back as the front-runners stalled in their tracks. The shrill-voiced commander piped up again, yelling something about “advance for the glory of the Kona, strike down the enemy”. No one moved, the commander’s shrieks going unnoticed and unheard.
For a moment, Yeela thought they had listened. Maybe they would pull back, run off back to whatever miserable hole they called home. Save her the energy of ridding the island of these vile, abhorrent, irredeemable creature-
Her thoughts splintered, as the sound of more weapons whistling through the air reached her ears. Yeela crossed her arms (more a reflexive gesture than anything else), the daggers and maces whipping to and fro with wicked force. A volley of five spears, aimed for her head, crashed against her “puppet” weapons, falling to literal pieces from the assault. The Earth Toa looked down at the ruins of the weapons, noticing from the corner of her eye the two different groups of Kona, running to the left and right of the clearing and making to circle around her. Whether it was to run past, and set up to fight the other armies, or to try some ludicrous attack from behind, it mattered little.
Yeela felt her control of the situation slipping away, like water down a drain, as her teeth began to grind against each other. Her hands clenched into iron fists, her entire body beginning to slightly shake now.
The ground shook too, her power seeping into the earth itself as the Kona ranks and their ambush teams began to back away once again, fear shining in their eyes. The Toa of Earth raised her hands, the maces and daggers beginning to spin once again, small cracks starting to open in the ground around her.
“You never understood when to leave well enough alone, did you now? Kona vermin,” Yeela spat, her vision swimming as her anger grew yet more overwhelming. “You never could run away from a fight.”
“Good.”
The ground shook yet more, as Yeela raised her hands, her weapons spinning orbs of death circling her. The Kona before her shivered, bracing for a charge even as the ones to either side ran at her. The Toa bared her teeth, and smiled yet again.
“Because now, I won’t either.”

As the two Toa overlooked the seemingly inconspicuous cave-entrance, Grillon found himself doubting his decision. Could he really trust her? Or was this just some kind of trap? He quickly ripped his mind away from those thoughts.
What could she hope to gain from that? What would be the point? Why help me escape just to get me captured again? And besides… she’s my friend… right?
No. He couldn’t doubt Kerila now. Where they were going, they needed to have absolute trust in each-other: the heart of the operations of the Sons of the Eternal - the main base of the Heralds, hidden away in one of the many caves littering the Spine. From what Kerila understood, the Heralds were working on something, some kind of device that required the energy of a starfall to activate. It was too late for them to really do anything about the battle on the Spine, but if they could sabotage the device or destroy it somehow…
That was the idea anyway. They didn’t even have any guarantee that it was here, but it was their main base, and the only one to Kerila’s knowledge that she hadn’t seen inside. It was hardly ideal, but it was likely their best option. Of course, being their main base, and being the possible location of the Heralds’ whole objective, it would undoubtedly be heavily guarded.
“I’m ready when you are.” She whispered to him, “We don’t have all day, though.”
Grillon was not exactly in fighting condition, but he’d be sent to Karzahni before he let her do this alone. Grillon gave a curt nod, “Let’s go.”
And with that, they entered the cave, cautiously. Nobody so far of course. They travelled a small ways down until they reached a fairly bare and somewhat flat, though normal-looking, wall. Kerila started tapping around the wall for the trigger of the secret door, and within a few moments the door silently slid open, revealing the true entrance to the base.
The passageway was large, large enough to admit the massive frame of the Dyn, at least. It was also far more clearly cut, perfectly geometric, and lit periodically - clinically - with lightstones, in a way that minimised their usage to provide the minimum required light to see. It was somehow more unnerving to Grillon than the sinister decorum of the last evil organization’s base that they’d snuck through.
“I’ll scout up ahead and let you know if and when we’re clear.” Kerila murmured to him. Grillon only gave another nod in reply, and she darted down the passage.
After a tense minute, she returned with the all clear, and the pair descended into the dimly-lit corridor.

One of the few holding their own well against Vineon’s assault was the modded Borran who started this in the first place, able to avoid the falling of the trees in time and ward off other attacks quite well with his power, the plants withering away and dying before they could do anything. Vineon growls in frustration, concentrating his attacks upon him in the midst of the other carnage and chaos being caused around him practically subconsciously now. Stubbornly, the brave Bo-matoran warrior continued to defend himself from Vineon’s onslaught of vines, roots and other vegetation bearing sharp pointy things.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a bolt of lightning lanced horizontally across the battlefield and fried the matoran, screaming and thrashing for a moment before dropping to the ground, armour still crackling softly from the charge as a small flash of green light erupted from his corpse. Vineon turned towards the direction of the attack - it couldn’t have been anything other than an attack - and saw that the culprit stood there was a newcomer. His armour was a muted scheme of silvers, coppers, tans and browns - decidedly steampunk in style, with small sparks of energy crackling over his form.
After getting over his initial surprise, he growled over to him: “Excuse me, Zaptastic, I’m trying to murder people here! Can you buzz off somewhere else?”
“What, you think I’m going to listen to you?” The strange, large newcomer spat, “I already have to listen to Antroz, and Icarax, and Vamprah… ‘Chirox do this! Chirox do that! Chirox, do something with your worthless life!’” And with that, fired two more lightning bolts towards the Ironwood Knight.

###Heralds of the Eternal
At this point, Maerkon wasn’t sure how his day could get worse. The Galis army, proud and unyielding, remained between the Onu and the Tay. It was a necessity; the only way to prevent the two from slaughtering each other in whatever delusion Clove had left them in. It couldn’t keep them from slaughtering his own people, though. Despite the efforts of himself, Friana, and generals like Saburo, the battlefield was lit with flashes of blue as Galin warriors were killed all around him.
Even now he bolstered the remains of a brave platoon of warriors, doing their best to do something they had never been trained for: to fight, to take scratches and fatal blows alike, and not to fell a single enemy in return. They weren’t perfect, but he was proud of what little they had managed as of yet. He swiped his axe, and with it came a crashing wave of water, sweeping the current wave of Onu attackers away. The matoran by his side couldn’t help but deflate under the reprieve, taking what respite and rest they could. The Toa could see their resignation. Hope was fleeting on days like today. He gripped his axe a little tighter, preparing for the siege to continue.
The next wave of attackers hesitated, driven back by something new: a shadow from above. He couldn’t blame them, knowing what that shadow signalled. Friana landed next to him with a squelch of muddy ground. She staggered, leaning against the elder Toa for support. She was still worn out from saving her own people, and he couldn’t help but admire how she remained on the battlefield even after his false assurances that she wouldn’t be necessary.
“Bad news,” she finally managed to gasp. “The rest of the Tay broke through. Sorry, I… I could barely beat them here.”
“It’s alright,” Maerkon assured, her, brandishing his axe threateningly at the encroaching Onu. “Just stay out of the sky from now on. You’re too tired.” His words had an immediate effect as she tried to stand on her own, forcing a sense of renewed vigor into her actions.
“Don’t worry sehnwyn, I’m fine, jus’ needed a mom-”
“Friana, I don’t want to see you falling out of the sky. Stay down.” Her displeasure was evident, but she made no further argument.
“One more thing,” she said, drawing a dagger and turning to face the Onu. “The Tay were bringing something with them.” That made Maerkon pause.
“Define ‘something,’ Friana.”
“If I didn’t know better, it seemed like they were escorting a prisoner. Don’t know why they’d take a prisoner, though.” Maerkon had a few ideas, and none of them were good.
“Friana, help them hold the line,” the elder Toa ordered, backing away from the approaching Onu. He had a feeling today was about to get a whole lot worse. He turned and rushed back to the opposite line, head spinning faster than a top in a vain attempt to devise a strategy to counter what was about to happen. It was still blank when he reached to opposing line and watched his fear come to life.
“Vhisola,” he whispered. The Turaga had remained locked in her office, obstinate to Maerkon’s attempts to sway her. He had ignored his stubborn leader at the time, figuring that even if she was still within Clove’s sway, there was nothing she could do until the situation blew over. He hadn’t counted on the Tay coming for her - no, there was no way for them to have known. Did Clove organize this? Or was it someone else? Vhisola began to speak, and she had no answers for him.
“People of Galis!” she cried. “I am a prisoner of the Tay! They snuck behind your back and kidnapped me!” Maerkon could hear shocked reactions around him - gasps of shock, derisive jeers, angry war calls. “And now they have you pinned, caught between them and the Onu!” The Galis cried their assent over the battle. “Are you going to let your friends, your family, die?” A ragged ‘No!’ tore free from throats all across the battle line.
“Then fight! For your freedom, for your survival, fight back! Fight and kill!” A collective war cry rose from the Galis army as they tore into their opponents with new abandon. Flashes of elemental energy ripped across the field like a thunderstorm as the fighting reached a fever pitch, a ferocity that appalled their hapless Toa.
“No!” he cried. “People of Galis, today you fight…” the words died alone in his throat, ignored by the people around him. He spun about, watching Vhisola’s new orders spread across the army. Soon enough it was everywhere, flashes of blue mingling with red and purple alike. Clove and whatever sick, twisted people he was helping had gotten their wish.

Vineon dove out of the path of the lightning, narrowly missing the deadly bolts and leaving singed earth where he had stood moments before. He hit the ground, hard, rolling back to his feet clumsily and glaring up at his new challenger.
“So that’s how we’re gonna play it, huh?” he growled, “In that case you can eat it, Sparky!” His fist slammed into the ground, his influence stretching into the forest around him. A nearby tree whipped about, trunk creaking as it bent to pulverize the enemy. The Herald turned on the spot and another lightning bolt lanced out, slicing through air and tree in quick succession, leaving the poor plant in two smoldering halves. The remains of the tree crashed to either side of him, the ground trembling from the impact. The Dyn remained between them, unharmed.
Chirox shrugged, returning his attention to his original task: slaughtering what remained of the Bo-matoran forces.
“Don’t turn your back on me!” Vineon snarled, clenching his fist into the dirt and summoning barbed roots from the ground. They clawed their way out of the dirt and ensnared the apathetic Herald, thorns harder than iron ripping gashes in his armor. The matoran were barely a passing thought to Vineon now. All that mattered was Chirox.
“Oh enough already,” Chirox drawled, punctuating his words with a surge of electrical power. The roots ensnaring him burned under the onslaught, reduced to mere ashes. “I have a job to do, okay? So do me a favor and die already.” A storm of bolts lanced out from his fingers before he even finished talking, and the Ironwood Knight grappled his way up to the treetops once more to avoid them.
Before Vineon could make any use of his high ground, lightning struck the very tree his was crouched in, sending him tumbling and swearing back down to the forest floor to meet the Herald’s fist. Thunder rumbled as more and more storm clouds started to gather around the battlefield.
“You moron, do you even know how lightning works? It takes easiest route to the ground it can, so sitting in a tree like that is just gonna make you easier to hit. I guess I should thank you though, you’re making this even easier than I thought it would be.”
Chirox smirked down at his victim, sprawled on the ground as he was, the Herald’s power building until it crackled between his fingers - enough power to fry even a Toa. Vineon didn’t quite feel like getting electrocuted today, however, and he swept his legs in a heavy arc across the ground, snatching his attacker’s feet from under him. As Chirox went down on his side like a sack of bricks, Vineon was scrambling back to his feet. All around, lightning was striking down, Borran warriors screaming in anguish as they were enveloped in searing hot lightning and reduced to ash and a flash of green.
The remainder of the Poisoner forces were running in any direction they could to get away, and Vineon couldn’t have that. As Chirox was getting up, Vineon threw up his arms: a tough cage of bark erupting from the ground to surround and cover the biggest gathering of them left. But even that wasn’t enough: he now had to divide some of his attention to keep reinforcing it from both the Poisoners’ attempts to break out with their weapons, and Chirox’s attempts to break in with his lightning.
Vineon’s eyes narrowed, meeting with those of the Herald’s as he advanced towards him, some kind of power welling up within him. Suddenly, Chirox’s slightly smug expression snapped into one of shock as he tensed, unable to move. The lightning immediately halted.
What the Karz?
The moment that Vineon broke eye contact, Chirox was moving again, roaring as his fist sailed through the air towards him. Power coursed through his arm and erupted forth into a giant burst of electrical power - a fair bit harder to dodge. The Ironwood Knight swore loudly, crossing his arms and making true to his title: iron-hard bark spreading across his forearms with a light creaking and groaning. The blast connected with a burning hiss, shoving him back from the force, his heels digging tracks into the ground.
When the smoke cleared, Vineon’s makeshift shield had been scorched, and practically had a hole punched through. It wouldn’t take another hit. Vineon snarled in annoyance and tossed it aside, the storm of targeted lightning already returning to pummel the cage. His eyes met with the Dyn’s again, reaching out with this strange new power and causing the Herald to freeze in the middle of getting up. The Toa of the Green raced up to him, making sure not to break eye contact this time. He grabbed the enemy by the throat, hoisting him into the air before smashing him back down into the ground again. Chirox couldn’t even struggle, only choke.
But just before Vineon could stab him through the throat with a barb of ironwood, the power disappeared without warning. Chirox’s arms clamped around the one Vineon was using to choke him out.
Oh crap.
Volts of energy lanced through his body as he roared in pain, collapsing to the ground. He just lay there, twitching on the floor. The Dyn stood over him, and on him, his foot digging into his side.
“Just give up already, it’s not worth it.” He shrugs as he shocks him again, Vineon howling and writhing in pain, “I’ve almost broken through that sad excuse for shelter, so I’ll kill them all soon anyway. Then the starfall will hit and it’ll all be too late. So why even go through the trouble of fighting?”
“Because… I’m… not… gonna… let you… Karzing… WIN!” Vineon growled, grabbing hold of Chirox’s leg and digging ironwood barbs into it, making him cry out in pain and rip it away from his grip, ichor bleeding from the wounds as he staggered back. He then burst out laughing: honest, side-splitting laughter. He kept laughing, even in spite of Vineon’s baleful glare as the Toa staggered back to his feet.
“Ahhh, man, you’re a stubborn one, huh?” He sighs, starting to recover, “I think I might’ve been wrong about you; this might be fun after all!”

Yeela breathed heavily, her control over one of the maces slacking as it fell to the ground. In front of her, the remaining Kona troops fell back for what felt like the thirteenth time. The squadmen to either side of her had both fallen already, bashed to bits or dashed against the ground. She growled, raising both hands into the air and preparing to force another rush of elemental energy through the ground. “You… never… ever learn… do you?” She began to move her hands downward, power primed to throw the very landscape the matoran stood on into chaos-
-when suddenly, a rush of white light flooded into the air. Yeela froze, staring at the ranks with no small amount of surprise. Who in the-
A metal disc, with wickedly serrated edges careened madly through the Kona army, spinning as it severed matoran in half, cut them down, or sent them flying (most often in severed halves) across the battlefield. The disc flew with cruel purpose, slicing through ever more matoran even as the remainders broke ranks, trying to flee somewhere, anywhere away from the mad Toa and the flying disc.
The Toa in question roared, slamming her hands into the ground and releasing the pent-up elemental power she’d been holding within. It raced through the ground below, pillars of earth rising up and trapping the disc mid-flight, even as it raced toward another group of fleeing Kona. Yeela looked up, an emotion halfway between relief and displeasure at having saved the hated matoran running through her. A moment later, a sound reached her, clear and audible even over the screams of the still-living wounded, or the fleeing of the remaining warriors.
The sound of slow, sarcastic applause.
Her teeth ground together as the Toa of Earth turned backward, eyes drawn up to the sky. Atop a small island of earth, a rusted, metal-gray and black hued figure looked down toward her, red eyes gleaming with amusement. Icarax had foregone the spiked armor this time, it seemed. He continued clapping slowly, grinning widely out of his rusted and old mask. “Ah, the Puppet Sword Knight. The mad one. It is a true displeasure to make your acquaintance for a second time.”
Yeela spat onto the ground, gathering more power as she glowered at Icarax with scorn matching his own. “The rusted idiot. The feeling is mutual, I assure you. What in Karzahni are you doing here?”
Icarax shrugged, his patronizing smirk never leaving his face. “Why, I was just taking a stroll through the glories of nature around me, when I saw you here. I thought I would be a good neighbor and relieve you of the burdensome task of slaughtering all these matoran.” His smile grew yet wider and more patronizing, as he laid a hand across his heart. “I can’t let you have all the fun, after all.”
Yeela looked at him a moment, and then slammed her hands together, exerting control over the mass of earth he stood on. For one singular, glorious moment she watched his horrible annoying smile cease, replaced by an expression of genuine shock as the Herald fell to the ice far below. He crashed down into it, vanishing in a small explosion of ice and rock. Yeela blinked, breathing lightly and straightened somewhat.
Well. That was easy-
Another explosion shook the landscape, notably larger than the last. Icarax emerged from the rubble, a single hand raised and pointed in her direction. “Toa, I would tell you to move out of the way so I can commence my chore, but given I hate you, I would rather you stay.” He bared his teeth, hand clenching into a fist. “After all, if enough matoran give us what we need-”
“-how much power would a Toa grant us?”
Yeela felt her armor begin to constrict, slowly crushing her windpipe and lifting upward as if by its own will. She gagged once, and then coughed, rabidly pawing at the rogue armor strangling her. All the while, Icarax laughed, his terrible eyes staring down the Toa’s own as he watched her writhe. “I am of the Eternal, fool. I am not some mere Elemental to be cast aside, nor some useless matoran to manhandle and slaughter at your leisure! I am Icarax, and my goal shall not be denied. Not by you, not by anyone!”
He laughed cruelly, the noise sounding increasingly faint to Yeela’s hearing. She gagged again, forcing her hands to either side of her body and closing her eyes. She couldn’t break his grip, not now… but she had a different idea. The Toa focused all her strength through her hands, toward the ground below, willing it to rise to her aid, to crush this hateful monster attacking her. And rise it did, great pillars of earth tearing the frigid landscape asunder as they surged toward Icarax. The rust-hued warrior released his gravitic chokehold on Yeela, throwing up a shield of raw power that pulverized the offending pillars. Yeela dropped to the ground, coughing and sucking in air greedily, as she bent her neck armor back into its original shape. Her head snapped upward a moment later, just in time to recognize Icarax moving toward her, leg swinging in a wide kick.
A moment later, the blow made impact, and the Toa of Earth flew backward like a ragdoll. She flew for what felt like a mile, smashing through a screaming crowd of the few remaining Kona soldiers on the field (attempting feebly to run from the battle consuming their kin) and rolling to a stop several meters away. New and unique forms of pain worked their way through the Toa’s body, as she slowly rolled over and tried to rise, agony shooting through her limbs like fire.
And then, all of the sudden, the pain was gone. In its stead, Yeela began to feel… strength. An alien and new strength, slowly creeping through her veins and replacing the pain that had flooded them before. Despite her injuries, and the remaining pain, the Toa smiled slightly, laughing once. Icarax, now close enough to almost touch her, frowned to himself. “What do you have to be so happy about,” he muttered as he reached for the Toa’s neck. “You’re about to die quite horribly after all-”
Yeela reached out, hands seizing Icarax’s arm and stopping him mid-grasp. He frowned, pausing for a moment as if taken off-guard by this turn of events. And in the next movement Yeela was up, yanking down on his arm even as she drove her shoulder into his face at full force. The Herald let out a muffled “oof”, stumbling but seeming otherwise unaffected. The Toa grinned, raising a fist and striking him across the face, feeling more power shoot through her fingers as she did so. Icarax threw up his hands, another gravitic shield sending the Toa flying over into another patch of ground a yard away. This time she laughed as she flew, smashing into the ground and rising a moment later, energy encompassing her like a blissful, glorious haze.
“What’s the matter now, Icarax? Ancient, unstoppable warrior? Hiding behind shields? What, are you scared I’ll hurt you?”
The Herald roared in anger, charging this time at full speed, his power forming shield upon shield around his body as he got closer. “I’ll tear you to pieces, Toa! I’ll slaughter the remaining Kona with your vacant armor, and make you a real Puppet Knight!”
Yeela’s teeth bared in another grin, another insatiable urge to laugh running through her. She jumped into the air, with not even a thought for the gravity shields piling up around the Herald, for the ground she could have twisted around him again. She jumped, and with all the power of her element and her new strength flowing through her, she dived toward Icarax, fists aimed for his rusted, rotten face.

Maerkon had never seen so much death. Even battles against Yeela, a force of nature infamous for her bloodlust, had left more alive than remained today. He couldn’t help but step over the bodies of fallen matoran as he pushed his way through the Tay line. It sickened him to turn his back on his comrades like this, but there was nothing he could do for them. Not while he was standing by their side.
Instead he plunged into the enemy lines, shrugging off the Tay around him with his signature veil of water. Vhisola was the only way out of this he could see. He had to find her, find the people that had brought her here. He had to make sure whatever they had planned did not come to pass. Even if he lost the battle, he had to win this war.
Finally he broke through the enemy masses and saw Vhisola. It was hard to miss her, seeing how she hung, her feet level with most matoran’s masks, impaled upon a crystalline blade. The light left her eyes even as a flash of blue energy left her body, which in and of itself flopped to the ground mask-first. Maerkon found himself face-to-face with a crude wooden mask perched over a billowing cloak, one skeletal arm still held aloft with that same crystalline blade. The massive stature left him with zero doubts as to what he was facing.
In that moment, the Toa’s mind filled with static. His Turaga lay dead before him, his people threw themselves to their deaths all around him, a new enemy stared him down with cold, emotionless eyes, and-
Something clicked. Maerkon fell to his knees, suddenly overwhelmed. Is this some trick of the Dyn?
Dyn!? Where?
Wha-
Who are you people? What’s going o-
Maerko-
Wh-
“QUIET!” Maerkon roared aloud, earning a baleful glare from his opponent. One at a time. Friana?
Sehnwyn?
Saburo?
General, what in Karzahni is happening?
And… who are you?
Good question.
We can discuss that later. I need you all to come to me.
And where are you? He was pretty sure that was Friana.
Past the Tay line. The Dyn stepped silently over Vhisola’s body, ichor-stained blade still raised. Maerkon returned to his feet, raising his axe to a battle stance.
Ooooh, there you are.
Yeah, that armor is really sparkly.
Well, make it quick. I’m going to need all the help I can get.

Grillon couldn’t help but feel that he had fallen into a dream. He had travelled through Onu tunnels, and seen the work of Tay craftsmen so absorbed in their work they could only be described as perfectionists. No amount of skill, of attention to detail and expertise, could match what he was seeing.
The hallways he and Kerila walked were geometric; eerily so. The lines were too straight, the angles too perfect. There wasn’t a blemish of any sort that he could see, not even seams to denote the bricks that must have made up the walls.
He shuddered a little and followed on. Kerila had been able to quite easily get them around the guard patrols - she knew the Sons well - and they were venturing into the deeper reaches of the base now. As Kerila scoped out around the next corner, she gasped in surprise.
“What is it?” He asked in a hushed tone.
“Just look.” And so he did.
The already large corridor opened up into an even more vast expanse, well-lit like the rest of the place, but that wasn’t even the most important part. This expanse housed an ancient ruin: a whole city, it looked like - or what remained, at least. Some amount of the great structures still stood somewhat, but most of it had seemingly tumbled into disrepair. Architecture the likes of which Grillon had never seen before stretched out as far as the eye could reach, and it was honestly awe-inspiring.
“This has been hidden away in the caverns of the Spine all this time?” Grillon murmured in astonishment.
“I guess so… But no time to stare, we need to keep moving.“
“R-right.”
And with that, the pair crept into the ancient city. It was silent, aside from themselves. There was something melancholic about the pure beauty of what remained - clearly an astonishing people used to live here - and what had become of it.
So many questions burned in his mind: how old was this place? Who used to live here? Were they from before the Awakening? What was it doing here, in the middle of a clearly unnatural tunnel complex? And… what happened here?
On further inspection as they darted from crumbled building to barely-standing pillar, it didn’t seem like mere age was the only factor: this city had been destroyed somehow. Though if that were the case, there didn’t seem to be any corpses…
Grillon’s train of thought was suddenly broken by the sound of movement nearby: heavy, but measured and even footfalls that indicated someone large in stature, probably a Dyn.
Crap.
This was very bad. Very, very bad. Their previous encounters with the Heralds didn’t bode well for their chances against one on their own, and Kerila was plainly aware of this.
“Please wait here, I’ll be back soon.” She whispered, darting away to scout out the threat before Grillon had the chance to reply. So he watched, and waited, becoming intensely aware of the loudness of his breathing as the giant figure strode through the ruins around him. Time dragged to a crawl, as panic started to well in his gut.
Where is she?
That Dyn seemed to be getting closer… Had she just run off to backstab him again? Had she told the Herald where he was hiding?
No, she couldn’t… she wouldn’t… I need to trust her, I have to, no time for doubt.
But how did he know, honestly? He never could’ve even imagined that she would’ve betrayed them before, even if the warning signs were there in hindsight, so was the idea of her doing it again really that much of a stretch? Really?
But still… I… It wouldn’t even make sense…
And it hadn’t made sense before, either. Why would she help form the team she intended to betray?
She’s my friend, she wouldn’t do that!
But she’d lied before, hadn’t she? That would hardly be much on top of everything else. Who would want to be friends with some useless dreamer anyway?
… I… I have to get out of here. I have to leave. I can’t let them capture me again, I can’t - I won’t let them!
Grillon’s breathing was coming in short panicked gasps, his hands shaking. He started to rush back the way he came through the ruined city, stumbling in his hurry. He tried to tap into his powers as he ran to get out as fast as possible, but… nothing. The flame fizzled out before he could make use of its light.
Where is it?! Crap, it must’ve been what that other Dyn did to me… No, no no no! I’m not going back!
He stumbled again, and fell to the floor in a heap with a clang. The sound seemed to reverberate endlessly back and forth across the ruin, far too loud to his ears. Grillon cringed on the ground, both in pain and fear. Those dreaded footsteps started to head towards him.
Oh crap, oh crap, OH CRAP, NO!
He scrambled back to his feet, desperately trying to get away, but instead ran headlong into a sudden wall, falling back to the ground.
“What’s this? Ah, our missing Toa… what great timing you have, Grillon.” The giant chuckled, looming over the Toa in question.
“GRILLON!” Kerila screamed, running in their direction, thrusting her palms towards the Dyn and launching a wave of ice at Grillon’s attacker. Before the wall of freezing could reach him, the Herald simply melted it away with a wave of his hand. Kerila gasped, faltering, screaming again as the ground sprang up around her in the form of crude fingers, enclosing her completely, firmly. Her desperate struggles were no use.
“Stupid girl, what did you really hope to achieve there, hm?” He sighs, shaking his head, planting his foot on the sprawled Fire Toa to keep him down. He didn’t move.
She just… tried to save me… she… I… oh no… by Artakha, I…
Grillon’s own paranoia and distrust in his friend had shattered their chances, utterly. He tried to speak, but no words came. He tried to scream, but could barely make a sound.
What have I done?
“I suppose now we know where your true loyalties lie, hm?” He sneered at Kerila, his voice carrying the sophisticated tongue and measured weight of true intelligence, “How quaint… But, on the other hand, you did already go through with deceiving and ruining your so-called “friends”, did you not? A traitor twofold.” He chuckled dryly, nothing humorous about it. He turned a little to face her properly, foot firmly pressed against Grillon still, Kerila glaring back.
A powerfully built figure, clad in armour of deep red and black, Antroz was easily the most imposing of the four Heralds. Fitting, given that he was their leader.
Antroz, always a displeasure.” Kerila snarled. He laughed, pitilessly, clenching his fist to constrict the cage even more tightly around her, causing her to cry out in pain, “I wouldn’t forget my manners if I were you, traitor. Your life is, after all, quite literally in my hands. So what was this ingenious plan of yours, then, hm? Infiltrate the most well-protected headquarters in our entire organisation, and attempt to destroy what we have been building here for centuries?”
“Pretty much.”
He smirked a little at that, “Where has this bold streak been all this time? I remember when you were like a whimpering little pet: head down, yes sir, no sir, quiet and timid and obedient to a fault. Your new friends appear to be a bad influence.”
“Get to the point.” She snapped.
“As you wish.” He shrugged nonchalantly, a slightly smug look on his face, “You wretched Toa have been a thorn in my side nearly since the beginning: the Toa Stones a constant reminder of my greatest oversight. But no matter, I would simply plan around it: have you destroy yourselves. And it worked almost flawlessly. Look at you all now: divided, desperate and weak. Easily crushed by any one of the other Heralds. Even now, my brothers are on the battlefield, assuring that the starfall comes to fruition. But worry not: I will not kill your friends. Yet. For you see, I want you to know that you have failed utterly, that I have succeeded, and that I shall destroy all that you hold dear to ensure the rebirth of my master. When the Eternal has risen and all is lost: then, and only then, will I grant you the mercy of death. Is this petty? Absolutely. Do I care? Absolutely not."

###Starfall
In hindsight, tackling a multilayered shield of gravitic energy probably wasn’t the best of ideas. Actually, forming ground-based constructs to assault Icarax’s position would have been better, especially considering his seeming weakness toward that venue of attack. It would have been far more useful.
All these thoughts occurred in varying sequence to Yeela, followed by long and elaborate strings of curses toward Icarax, his parentage, and everyone he had ever interacted with. She blinked once, wiping at her mask with a weary, heavy-feeling arm, looking up at where he last had been.
Icarax was about five yards away, staring at her with a faintly amused expression. For a moment, Yeela wondered how he’d moved so far in such a short amount of time. Then her eyes noticed the large gash in the ground, starting a few meters away from him and trailing all the way back to-
-oh. That’s why she was here. The aforementioned multilayered shield of gravitic energy must have kicked her all the way here. The Toa blinked, coughed, and slowly got up, stretching. She could hear her bones straining, a few of them feeling a bit loose, as if they’d been broken during her fall. But she still felt no pain, only power, coursing through her and helping her rise even from this. The Toa stretched, yawning loudly as she faced her enemy once again. “Amazing. You still can’t do anything but hide behind shields. I marvel at your ability to run from your problems, oh supreme warrior.” Yeela grinned widely, mockingly, at Icarax, putting her hands on her hips in an effort to appear even more condescending and irritating toward him.
Icarax roared in response, running at her full tilt. He drew back a fist, punching forward toward the Puppet Sword Knight in an attack oddly reminiscent of the one she’d used against him a few minutes before. She smiled, moved forward-
-and took the blow, both hearing and feeling the cracking of armor and bone. Icarax frowned and looked at her oddly, blinking again. “What? What madness is this, I have the power to crack you in two with minimal effort, so why are you standing there and taking it-”
Yeela moved then, her own fist slamming into the bottom of the Herald’s masked jaw, sending him pinwheeling backwards in the most satisfying punch the Toa remembered throwing in a long time. She felt the muscles in her hand scream in pain at the blow, and then felt the new flood of energy replace it a moment later. She smiled, and yelled at the top of her lungs in Icarax’s general direction. “I’ll stand here and take a thousand of your blows! I will not fall today, and you and your noxious band of ancients will not bring down the starfall! Whatever it is, whatever your grand, psychopathic plan was, it ends here!
Yeela stretched out her arms, summoning her remaining puppet weapons and throwing them at Icarax, manipulating the ground even as she did so. The ancient bellowed in enraged, increasingly-spastic fury, batting away the weapons as he began to charge once again toward the Toa, jumping into the air and letting his gravity powers enshield and propel him toward her. Yeela focused, sending a series of earthen pillars out of the ground to impede his progress, even as she began to slope the ground behind her, slowly dropping her position until a small earthen ramp jutted out from behind her location. A moment later she went flat, falling ■■■■■■■■■■■■■ against the ground as Icarax’s screaming form jetted through the pillars, crashing into the ramp. She flipped over onto her back, watching as her supercharged foe skidded through the ground at top speed, yelling colorful curses as he carved a line across the battlefield.
Yeela smirked, rising to her feet and cracking her knuckles (not noticing the few fingers on her left hand that were now hanging from odd angles and not moving), surveying her immediate surroundings. He is still slightly stronger, with his gravity powers, but he’s uncreative.
Her sight strayed over where Icarax had finally stopped (slowly rising while still loudly cursing at her), finally stopping a few yards away. Another group of Kona was there, the survivors of the previous squad that had been trying to flee a few minutes ago. One of them, seeing her, yelled and threw his spear, the weapon striking Yeela’s thigh and falling into the ground a few inches away. The Toa looked down, wiping at the spot where the spear had cut away some of her more damaged armor and struck underneath, before turning to look at the matoran. The offending Kona turned, running in the opposite direction with his three remaining teammates. But Yeela’s mind had been made up.
You tried to kill me, now of all times? Fine then, vermin. You can kill someone else for me.
She raised a hand, summoning her elemental powers, letting the new power her mask had given flow through her. The earth beneath the Kona deformed, wrapping around their feet as it elevated into a massive tower. Yeela turned her head, looking at Icarax (who by now had recovered and was stumbling toward her with a murderous glare).
“You want to kill these Kona so bad? Here-”
“-let’s see how much is left of both of you after this!” She clapped her hands together, the giant tower raising and swiveling to fall directly toward Icarax. At this angle the matoran would be driven face first into his armor, crushed for sure, and the Herald in question would be felled, buried beneath enough earth to hold him for at least a few minutes. The Toa grinned ferally, watching as Icarax recoiled momentarily and began frantically blasting the massive tower with his powers. The matoran on the top wailed pitifully, the construct fell, and-
-and all of a sudden, a blinding pain replaced the newfound power in Yeela’s body. She felt every cracked bone, every torn muscle, every armor plate bent and turned to pierce at her body. The Toa pawed at her mask and chest, trying to push out some of the inturned plates while gasping at the newfound pain. All at once like this, without even her rage to sustain her, was too much. Far too much.
The power, she thought dimly. Where…where did it go-?
She saw very vaguely out of the corner of her eye, that the tower had fallen to the side. Icarax was approaching again, the Kona having survived and began running away from the battlefield once again. The Toa continued writhing, managing only to stand before another gravity-blast struck her, lifting her bodily into the air before tossing her against the ground like a ragdoll. More pain. It was truly paralyzing now, constricting her so much even breathing was grievous.
Icarax stood a few feet away, arms folded and looking down at her oddly. “You know, we’re not so different, you and I. Your powers are not as destructive as mine, true, but.” He held out a finger, pointing at her as the Toa looked at him blearily. “But you are not like the other Toa. Not a fool idealist like Grillon, or an obedient puppet like Kerila. You are a warrior, and for that, I suppose I can respect you. Perhaps if we weren’t on different sides, we could have been colleagues. Allies.” He looked like he was about to say something else (and also seemed to be becoming eerily….calm), when Yeela spoke, voice low and failing to relay the scorn the conscious parts of her brain were processing. “Save… your breath, if you… even breathe. We’re nothing… alike. I lost… everything, because of your war… because of what people like Clove, and you, did. You kill people who did nothing… because of your plan.”
Yeela felt tears of anger and pain begin to pool rebelliously at the corners of her vision, as she shifted upward slightly. “I… kill, yes… I destroy… but so we can… be done with this war you… engineered. The only thing… Icarax, we share… is hatred. At least… we’re together… in that…”
She forced her mouth to open slightly, in a weak, derisive smile. “…you…self-important…Ce…” Icarax’s eyes seemed to fall, and he let out a final roar, another blast of gravity striking Yeela with unstoppable force. The Toa shrieked once as a veritable supernova of pain flooded her mind and body-
-and then, mercifully, both failed her, and all collapsed into darkness.

Rocketing through the air with a grunt of surprise, Vineon barrelled headlong through the weaker, snapping branches in a wide arc of pain, and was jammed into the solid body of the tree with a significantly less surprised grunt. His Toa energy was ebbing away from overuse, and he struggled to free himself from the tree, his mask buried in the splintered bark. White-hot pain jolted through his body and pierced his skull as lightning struck him once more, bellowing and writhing in agony.
“The more you screw around, the harder this’ll be for you, seriously.” Chirox observed apathetically, his hand still smoking from the discharge, “Your stubbornness was kinda funny at first, but now it’s just sad. Just give up, little Toa - you’re way out of your depth here.”
With a roar of anger, Vineon ripped himself from the tree, leaping down at his prey. The vine whipped out to a stable branch and wound tightly around it, swinging him into a devastating kick. Vineon audibly crashed into the Herald with both feet like a giant pendulum, sending him careening into a tree of his own and blowing it to splinters. Vineon himself touched down and skidded to a stop soon after.
He struggled to stay on his feet, his vision starting to cloud over.
Karz, I have to end this, and soon.
“DIE!” Vineon barked, throwing down his arms with all his might, smashing down another tree onto his opponent, practically exploding on impact. Wood and branch and splinter were scattered in every direction, sharper chunks stabbing into the ground and other nearby plants, but when the dust settled…
Nothing.
Enveloping Chirox’s body was a small sphere of pure sparking energy, assumedly disintegrating anything that made contact. It buzzed softly, like it was trying to irritate him. His vision was blurred - Vineon couldn’t tell if it was rage or tiredness - and he charged, seeing red. The defensive sphere was starting to come down.
Vineon’s movement was fatigued, practically fueled solely by unfiltered fury, but it was fast.
“GO STRAIGHT TO KARZAHNI YOU CHEATING SACK OF CRAP!” He roared, his fist raised above his head and armed with ironwood barbs as he pounded towards the Herald. Chirox simply smirked, slamming his palms down onto the ground. Vineon never would’ve been fast enough to react, and especially not now.
His body jolted violently as the electricity raced through the forest floor and found a home within himself, crying out in agony.
“I really wish I hadn’t had to take it this far!” Chirox stated in a louder - albeit bored - tone, to be heard over Vineon’s thrashing display. The forest itself started to shudder and writhe with him, creaking and groaning, as he reached out, trying to find some way - any way - to escape from the floor. A branch just managed to snap him up, tossing him treebound with a solid thwack!
He tumbled through the air, completely disoriented for several moments and barely able to see as the corners of his vision started to darken. But even so, Vineon managed to twist around in the air and grapple out to anchor himself to a new branch, thudding into it bodily. He gripped onto it like his life depended on it - which funnily enough: it did - and gulped in greedy lungfuls of air. Every drawing of breath was knives in his chest, but he couldn’t give up. He had to fight, he had to win, for the sake of everyone on this star-forsaken island. And his pride, of course.
Electricity continued to throb through the ground like a deadly heartbeat, Chirox staring up at him in the center of it, arms crossed.
“And now it’s a waiting game, Toa. As soon as you screw up or tire out: you fall, and I win. Give up now and it’ll be a lot less of a pain - literally.”
Bite me, Sparky.” He snarled in response.
Chirox shrugs, having not cared particularly either way, “Your funeral.”
As much as Vineon loathed to admit it, ‘Sparky’ had a pretty good point. If Vineon touched the ground, it was game over. He could barely stand as it was, and he was practically tapped on Toa power, most of it spent as he tried to keep the Poisoners within their cage. He had one shot at this - it was all or nothing.
Vineon got to his knees on the branch, barely, starting to grow out more ironwood from his palms. A giant spiked club, that would do it. He grinned with malice.
I am gonna smash your skull like a Karzing egg.
He leapt in the general direction of his target, bellowing in rage… but in his sluggish half-unconscious brain he hadn’t accounted for the fact that he was jumping directly into any sharpshots that Chirox could fire at him. Vineon never even reached him, the Herald shooting him square in the chest. He was kicked back like a ragdoll, sent plummeting down to hard earth with roars of futile fury. He was out like a light the moment he touched down.
He wished.

Maerkon and his enemy circled each other slowly, their battle ignored by the Tay around them. The Toa’s axe leaned to one side, and the Herald’s blades shifted in response. The Knight feinted low, then twirled his weapon into a vicious downward arc. The axe head only cut the Herald’s ragged cloak, the nimble opponent darting out of the way before rushing into range. His crystalline blades clashed against the handle of Maerkon’s axe, scrabbling uselessly against his veil of water. The Toa threw the cloaked being away with a mighty heave, sending him tumbling into the mud. He rolled neatly back to his feet, coming to a stop crouched right on top of Vhisola’s corpse.
“Get off of her,” Maerkon rumbled. The Herald’s wooden mask tilted to the side, one weapon tracing where the matoran’s limp arm lay on the ground.
“Get off,” the Toa repeated. “Have some respect for the dead.” The figure’s cloaked shoulders seemed to hunch in a small shrug before the Herald uncoiled, springing into the air. Maerkon brought his axe up to defend, but the Herald wasn’t aiming for him. He curled in a neat backflip, hand reaching down to snatch the mask of a Tay behind him. The poor matoran’s head whipped about with a snap, dragging the matoran’s body to the ground alongside the cloaked Herald, who landed with his free blade implanted in the Tay’s gut. The crystal glowed a bright red, the pulse of light and energy travelling down the blade and disappearing beneath his cloak.
The Herald raised its wooden mask, piercing eyes staring right at Maerkon. In a sudden flurry of motion it was gone, cloak streaming behind him as he carved a path through the Tay army. In a moment Maerkon was in pursuit, finding no resistance from the scattered and confused soldiers. The Herald’s blades seemed to be painted a constant crimson as they sliced and stabbed their way through the crowd of matoran, uncaring to the presence of weapons or armor.
He’s headed your way! Maerkon barked into the mental link.
We can see that, believe it or not.
Can it, Leif. What are our orders, general?
Friana, take your bow and get somewhere high.
On it!
Saburo, Leif, try and get clear of the battlefield. The enemy’s weapons slice through armor like it isn’t there. Your job is just to survive.
Fine by me. It didn’t seem Saburo had anything to add.
Friana, let me know when you get a shot.
Right!
Maerkon brought his own weapon forward, sliding to a stop as he began to concentrate. Water began to stream from all over his body, coalescing into a swirling ball and leaving only a thin sheen to coat himself. With a swipe he sent the water forth, the jet shooting out over the battlefield with the rage of the stormy ocean. It homed in on the fleeing Dyn, scattering Tay soldiers before smashing into its cloaked target. The being flew as if launched from a canon, meeting the land once more amid the Galin army.
Now that’s how you fight!
Thanks, kid. Friana, how’s it coming?
Just… about… there…
Saburo, Leif?
I’m clear, but I lost Saburo.
Maerkon charged into the Galin army, searching for his opponent and his friend. He didn’t have to look hard to find a clearing in the crowd, the soldiers having the sense to avoid the cloaked skeleton that had crashed into them. One matoran remained, standing alone while the others ran. The Herald began to rise, a skeletal form emerging from the ruins of the cloak, and Maerkon’s blood ran cold.
This is your shot, guys. Saburo glanced over her shoulder and nodded to Maerkon.
Friana!
Got him!
The Herald lunged for Saburo, energy stolen from the Tay coursing throughout his frame. Maerkon charged at the same time, gathering the last of his water around his ankles. He bounded across the battlefield, twin blasts of water firing from beneath his feet. He flew across the battlefield even as the Herald became peppered with a storm of arrows, Friana firing with such speed that the Dyn couldn’t help but stagger under the onslaught. Saburo ducked under the flying Toa as Maerkon landed, bodily bowling the skeleton to the ground. His axe fell, one final swing implanting it in the Herald’s chest.
Maerkon was met immediately by a swirl of elemental energy. The stream of colors flew by him, red slowly melding into a rainbow representing all of Inoria. The Diamond Knight couldn’t help but lean back, protecting his mask with one armored gauntlet.
What the-
Leif didn’t finish the thought. He didn’t need to. The others could see the sky for themselves. The stars, the glowing vibrant constellations that lit their night, had become visible. They outshone the sun, even, until the sky was a pulsating mess of colors. The fighting all around them stopped. Some matoran screamed in terror, others stared at it without a word, without a sound. Maerkon could only imagine one word to describe this.

Chirox paused on his journey, taking the opportunity to dump the unconscious Vineon onto the ground. Carrying him was such a pain. The sky above him came alight, the trees around him vibrated as the island itself began to tremble. The Herald stared at the sky, taking a moment to do nothing. With a victory like this, he had earned a break. He couldn’t help but sigh as the full implication settled upon him. Antroz would want the Toa to be present for their triumph. As bothersome as it was to hurry, dealing with an angry Antroz was even more of a chore. The Herald scooped up his Toa prisoner and resumed his journey. It was time to see what tomorrow would bring.

Icarax’s shout echoed for miles, the exclamation marking victory to the hills around him. Every battle he fought had lead to this. If only he had been there to witness the battle in full; if it weren’t for this wimp of a Toa, he could have waded into the conflict, ripped the radiance from the matoran himself. His battle with the earthen warrior had been some consolation, at the very least. It had brought him oh so close to finally finding an equal. Never mind that; victory was at hand. He continued to float along, Yeela in tow. Now was the time to claim his prize.

Shu-Tural had been surprised many times over the past few days. Nothing, however, could compare to what he was now witnessing. The sky pulsed with eerie beauty, blobs of color wreathing about and folding in on themselves, like dyes scattered in the sea. Below him the island trembled and shook, an effect he could see from the top of the Spine to the shores of the wooded vale the Galisian people called home. Beyond that shore the water frothed and roiled. What was happening on Inoria was only the beginning. Something out there was rising.

Vamprah lay on his back, the Toa’s axe still embedded in his chest. He could only watch as the last of his life energy ebbed away, swirling out into the cosmos. That was alright. It was a part of the plan. The energy in his body was a store he had built up over the course of a millennium. As the Toa had opposed their plans, tried to stop the death of thousands, Vamprah had found a different way to unbalance the elements: himself. The last thing his dying eyes saw was the fruit of his efforts, the starfall. Just as planned.

“Starfall.” Maerkon couldn’t help but say the word out loud. He didn’t know what else to do. Some of the matoran were even leaving the battlefield, now, seeking protection anywhere they could find it. Saburo stood by his side, staring unflinchingly at the sky above. It seemed to be boiling now, swirling and bubbling in a way that reminded him of water. The intensity rose, the radiance overhead contorting into peaks and valleys. The highest peaks began to break free, abandoned by the energy around them before another peak assimilated them into the mix. Then one shot free of the mass, a glowing bubble of energy shining as it fell to the world below.
With that the last of the matoran scattered, fleeing off into the woods, leaving only the dead and dying. So many bodies… Maerkon finally broke free of his reverie, pulling his axe from the Herald’s chest.
Leif, Saburo, find shelter.
Absolutely not, general. We’re with you until Karzahni freezes over.
Maerkon turned, placing a hand on Saburo’s shoulder. The being we just killed is what Friana calls a “Dyn”. It’s Leto for ‘person’. We have fought one other like him, and there’s bound to be more of them. If I get my way, we’re going to be picking a fight with all of them. Saburo narrowed her eyes, but nodded. So go. Stay safe. Try and rally the army, if you can.
Saburo turned and ran, joined with Leif at the edge of the clearing. Friana joined him instead, her eyes on the sky above. More radiance was falling now; multicolored blobs showering the island like rain. Maerkon closed his eyes, focusing on the mental link. He didn’t know why it had started, but he hoped he could control it. Do something with it, at the very least.
He felt a sudden release; the opposite of when the telepathy had begun.
Well, it’s nice to have some quiet.
Friana?
Yup.
Leif, Saburo?
He got no response. Step one accomplished. Now he just needed to talk to the other Toa-
The link sparked in response, making him wince.
Hello?
Still here.
…what?
This is Maerkon.
And Fri.
Oh, I’m hallucinating.
No, you’re not. It’s… I’m not sure what it is. Grillon, are you okay? What happened to you?
…A lot of things. I’m in the Herald’s headquarters with Kerila right now. We got caught.
Kerila? The name instantly tightened a knot in the stomachs of both the other Toa.
Yeah… It’s complicated, but she isn’t-
Nevermind, no time, sorry. Just tell me where you are…

Deep in the heart of their lair, the remaining Heralds were carrying out the final preparations to activate the device, and awaken their master. Set around them, in a defeated semi-circle, were the Toa Keata themselves. Once Vineon and Yeela had come to, and had verified that they were in fact not dead, they had quickly gotten quite angry at their situation. Their legs were bound to the floor, and their hands bound behind them by the meticulous work of Antroz and his matter-shaping ability in such a way that they were forced to kneel before their captors. A shameful position, and a position to which Yeela for one would gladly take the alternative of death. The throbbing, full-body pain of so many broken bones and other serious injuries were no help in that regard.
Worse still, she had to be sat next to that filthy, traitorous Kona wretch that had ultimately gotten them stuck in this situation in the first place. Yeela had snarled at her at first and struggled with her binds, before Grillon had managed to point out to her that Kerila had tried to help, and was now bound just like the rest of them. She was with them. She was trying to help, now. Yeela had begrudgingly fallen silent after that.
She glared up at Chirox and Icarax, the two that had been left behind while Antroz attended to… something. She wasn’t sure what, but he had said something about a disturbance…
Her questions were answered not a moment later as the limp forms of Maerkon and Friana were tossed down and bound in the same way beside them, Antroz striding up to join his brothers once again in their task.
“Oh, great, you too?” Vineon groaned, looking defeatedly over at them. Maerkon hung his head in shamed silence. Friana simply gave a weary chuckle, taking in the others around her.
“Yeahhh… this wasn’t exactly how I imagined a reunion working out-”
“Quiet, you weaklings!” Icarax snapped.
“Let ‘em chatter, who cares?” Chirox drawled, “Not like they can stop u-”
In a split second Chirox could feel Icarax’s claws closed around his throat, “It is a matter of respect, brother. Not that you would care for something so complicated, you insubordinate-
“Enough! Both of you!” Antroz commanded, shoving them apart with a forced wall that had melted up from the floor, and yet was solid, “Our triumph is at hand! Put these petty squabbles aside at least until then.”
“O-of course, Antroz, my apologies…” Icarax grovelled, his head bowed in obedience, while Chirox snorted and gave an apathetic “Whatever”.
“Now, you two can manage the rest on your own. I have other things to focus my attention on, namely you, Toa.” He grinned cruelly, turning to them.
“And what do you want?” Grillon spat. Antroz chuckled mirthlessly at that.
“So now you remember that you have a spine, hm? What unfortunate timing for you. Regardless: welcome, all of you, to Mangaia. It is our home, or closest to it, for we awoke here, as did your ancestors across this island. So many questions…“ He paused, brooding deeply for a moment before picking back up again, “But one thing was known to us all: the need, and purpose of the device you see before you.” He paused again for dramatic effect, sweeping an arm towards the machine even as Icarax and Chirox fiddled with some final settings, a low hum starting to emanate deep in its core.
“With the power of radiance, the source of your elemental abilities, this machine will reactivate and rejuvenate our creator: the Eternal. But, early in our story, there was a… miscalculation.”
“And why should we give a crap about your life story, you golgwyn son of a ce!?” Yeela growled raggedly, not caring for his lengthy monologue. She was quickly cut off by the sensation of being choked by the earth itself, Antroz’s fist squeezing tightly. When he spoke, it was with cold, quiet fury.
“If any of you insolent, meddling, insufferable nuisances interrupt me a second time, I shall paint the walls with the offender’s entrails. Am I clear?” He was answered only by silence. “Good.”
He easily slipped back into his previous tone, continuing from where he had been interrupted, “When we awoke beside this device, we were not the only bodies lain there. However, we were indeed the only living ones. In spite of this, these remains did seem to be of use, as they were brimming with radiance. With my abilities, it appeared but a simple task to alter their form into the perfect power source. Alas, it was not to be. Instead, what I created…” He knelt down, scooping up a handful of rock, before getting back to his feet, “Were these.”
In his open palm sat unmistakable representations of the Toa Stones, as the six had seen them almost a year ago when they became Toa. The silence from them was somehow even more overpowering now, the team gaping in disbelief. Behind him, the humming of the machine grew ever louder, starting to glow and throb with life.
“Yes, you poor, poor fools.” He smirked victoriously, “The Stones were not some act of providence and good, this was not destiny. You were a mistake, an error that I have weaved into my plans since. An error that I have loathed since. And so I have destroyed you all meticulously and deliberately: your bodies and your spirit, your families, your people - all those you care about and hold dear, and know that if I have missed anyone: they shall be seen to yet. I knew even before the Astrologers revealed it to be true, that you all would someday try to stand in the way of my goal, my dream. And so there was the first of the lives I planned to destroy: Kerila.” He pointed to her with a mirthless laugh, the noise of the machine boring into their ears, “Our little traitor - you had no life. Lonely and pitiful, I made sure of that. Made sure that others around you only ever saw you as the tool, the means to an end that you were. The one who would help create this team, this false flicker of hope in the yawning abyss of despair, and then stamp it out and scatter its ashes to the winds. I may not have accounted for your rebellious streak, but it mattered little in the end. I defeated you all, in this game. This game where only I had the pieces, and knew the rules. All of you were just so predictable, falling into step after step of the inevitable climb to failure. And utter revenge tastes just as sweet as I had fantasised. Yes, you do well to kneel: the device is almost ready, the Eternal is almost upon us. Four of you in this room have had your people slaughtered to reach this point: Tayru, Onura, Galis, Kothe. You should be honored. For, well, soon you shall be dead.”

###Destiny
As the wave of speechlessness rolled over the bound Toa, Maerkon looked to the machine, horror slowly growing in his heart as the terrible sound grew louder and louder. He lowered his gaze, turning his eyes from it, as a single prevailing thought ran through his head over and over again; We have to stop this.
He frowned to himself, another idea running through his head. Maerkon’s eyes widened incrementally, as he stared at the ground, not daring to look up. Grillon, the Toa thought, projecting his mind toward his comrade’s own. Grillon, can you hear me?
A moment later he winced, his friend’s head snapping up and looking around the room rapidly as if searching for the source of the voice. The Toa’s mouth even opened, as if to call out “Who’s there?” but Maerkon thought quickly. No brother. Don’t react, don’t let them see you and give us away. It’s me, it’s Maerkon.
Oh. This again. Grillon quickly slumped back down, to look defeated, Have a plan?
Maybe. I’m going to link us up with the others now, just brace yourself. This is going to be… interesting.
Antroz, for his part, still stood over them smugly. He was enjoying this.
Maerkon was once again greeted with the strange sensation of his mind filling with too many voices at once.
I’m gonna kill that son of a-
Wait what? Who-
What?
Uh oh-
Everyone! One at a time, please. Maerkon grimaced, I know most of you are probably confused, and honestly so am I, but just… please, try to not talk over each-other, it’s giving me a headache.
Raincoat?
Yes, Vineon, it’s me. Maerkon had to suppress a light chuckle there at the nickname.
So did we all get powers, or what?
Powers? What? When did this happen?
Well of course you didn’t get any, you didn’t do anything!
Yeela, back off.
Fine.
Grillon’s gotten a lot more guts lately, huh?
Uhhh… I can still hear you Maerkon.
Oh, right. My thoughts aren’t private anymore, apologies.
Can we get to the point already?
Maerkon has a plan. There was silence, expectation heavy in the air. Right?
I’ll be honest with you, we don’t have much to work with here. I’ve been running this through my head, seeing if I can’t find some way out, some way to even the odds. But with the hand we’ve been dealt… I’m sorry. Maerkon couldn’t help but sag a bit lower in defeat.
Don’t be. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Vineon, can you grow anything down here?
Let’s see: can Vineon grow a plant in an underground cave with no light, no soil, and no water? Hmmmmmmm…
I’d assume he’s expecting a yes or no answer.
I can grow something from me, depending. What did you have in mind, Fire-spitter?
Remember the battle near the Spine, against Friana and Yeela? Where you rescued me?
Gee, that narrows it down…
You fed me a… Volo fruit, was it?
Oh, yeah, that. That’s probably doable. I’ll need a distraction, though.
Got it. Kerila raised her mask defiantly to face Antroz.
“All this talk of how powerful you are, and you still couldn’t prevent our existence.” The Herald’s eyes snapped to Kerila, narrowed and brimming with fury. “Your servants would whisper about how powerful you were, but you weren’t strong enough to destroy the Stones, were you?” Antroz snarled, and tendrils of stone reached up to ensnare Kerila. A flowered vine had begun to grow from Vineon’s back as she talked. “You couldn’t, could you?” A smirk worked its way onto Kerila’s face. “All of that power, and you couldn’t help but create your own worst enemies.” The stone began to move, squeezing Kerila until her armor began to creak. A volo fruit dropped to the floor and rolled, but Antroz was oblivious. Grillon strained down over the fruit and buried his mask into it, devouring it in two bites.
“You can’t control us,” Kerila continued, squeezing the words out on fading breath. “No matter how hard you try.” Grillon closed his eyes and focused, drawing on his renewed element. It was a simple matter to extract the light from the fire, leaving the heat to be used later.
“You thought you could break us, that you could forge me into a tool, a weapon for your plans.” Grillon channelled the light into his hands, travelling into his restraints, then the floor, then arriving at Yeela. It began to renew her even as another volo fruit filled her with strength.
“You failed.” Kerila spat, punctuated by the resonating crack of her armor breaking. “You can’t control me, you can’t control us, you can’t control anythi-
Enough,” Antroz hissed, and in a moment he was crouched down in front of her, his hand gripping the back of her head. “I’ve tolerated your insolence thus far, but there comes a time where I must curb your tongue, and teach you to learn your place, you insufferable child.”
“I guess it’ll have to wait,” Kerila wheezed. Antroz turned to find Yeela standing, her former bonds floating around her. The Toa extended her arms and they flew, reshaping into stone knives as they hurtled towards him. The Herald stood with a flick of his wrist, and the makeshift projectiles scattered into a fine powder. Yeela stomped, bellowing a war cry that drew the attention of the other Heralds. Kerila’s prison fell away before surging up to strike at the Herald. Antroz snapped, and the attack was gone, stone turned to a mere cloud of smoke. Yeela raise her arm to strike again, but didn’t get the chance. It wasn’t a counterattack from Antroz that stopped her. No, it was laughter.
He was beside himself, the cruel sound echoing throughout the cavern, and even drowning out the ever-growing rumble of the device. Yeela clenched her fists tightly.
“You really are stubborn, aren’t you?” He smirked, looking around at the Toa, free once more. Battered and bruised, indeed, but still standing. Just. Icarax started to advance, a hunger in his eyes, but Antroz barred his path with another melding wall.
“Icarax, not yet.” He warned, like he was scolding a pet, “Where’s the fun in beating you down again with such ease, hm? Look at you all, you can barely hold yourselves together! Tell you what: as I’m feeling generous today, I’m going to give you one final chance.” Even before he finished speaking, the ground between them was shifting, changing, coiling and spiralling upwards. Stone turned to bark, and roots, and branches. Leaves blossomed forth, and so did the fruit: ripe and full and filling every branch, “Besides, would it really be a true victory if I never got to fight you all at your peak? I think not. Eat up, replenish your strength, before I change my mind.”
The Toa hardly needed much encouragement, rushing forward to devour the energy-rich volo fruit.
“Antroz, what are you doing!?” Icarax roared.
“Worry not, Icarax.” He cut in cleanly, “Even at their best they cannot defeat us, and even if they were able, they still wouldn’t be in time to destroy the machine. Everything is under control. Besides, I’m sure you would agree that one final, definitive battle would do us good?”
Icarax grins cruelly, nodding, “Well, when you put it like that…” He cracked his knuckles, an eager grin splitting his mask.
Chirox simply rolled his eyes, a noncommittal shrug accompanying his battle stance. “Let’s just get this over with.”
Light emanated from the Toa’s side as Grillon helped restore the other’s bodies to their peak. Yeela especially had taken quite the beating, and she couldn’t help but stretch as the Light Knight did his work.
“Thaaaat’s better.” She smirked.
“Ah yes, and before I forget…” Antroz added, something seemingly melting out of the floor, “Your weapons.”
Sure enough - Maerkon’s axe, Yeela’s armory and Friana’s bow, arrows, and assorted knives lay before him. The three cautiously paced over and picked them up, eyeing Antroz suspiciously. He chuckled a little as they returned back to their group, never taking their eyes off the Heralds.
“What, you think I would strike you down unarmed? I have no need for such tricks. Even at your strongest you’re no match for me.”
“You know, you said that before,” Grillon quipped, “Which makes me wonder why you stayed holed up in this cave. I think someone feels the need to prove something.”
“And you think that someone is me?” Antroz replied evenly. “As I recall, only one of us was rejected by his people and betrayed by his only friends.” He smirked as Grillon fumed silently. “Oh? Still a touchy subject? How it must hurt to be such a failure.
“You’re about to find out,” Grillon snarled.
“Perhaps. But now is not the time for words: now is the time to fight. And you can be assured that we shall not hold back.”
Go! Grillon shouted through the link, and he was already moving, a mere blur as his power carried him across the room before the others could process the thought. He didn’t stop as Antroz raised a barrier to impede his path, bounding up and over in a soaring leap at Icarax. The Herald’s power tugged at him, forcing him to roll in a premature landing. The Fire Toa struggled forward, all but crawling as gravity increased tenfold. Icarax raised a hand to strike the Toa, but recoiled in surprise as a beam of light flashed in his eyes. Grillon glanced over his shoulder to see Kerila, a tiny lens of ice redirecting the meager light of the room into Icarax’s face. Friana followed up with a flurry of arrows at the Herald’s chest, and Grillon was free to add his flaming fist to the assault. He leaped back before Icarax could retaliate, razor-edged shield slicing the ground where he had once stood.
Various thoughts filled the mental link, fragments of ideas mingling with raw emotion in a rushed flurry. It seemed effective enough, however; Maerkon and Yeela pummeled Antroz in tandem, even as Kerila turned her attention to help Vineon fend off Chirox’s electricity. It was with a burst of panic and a thought that wasn’t quite his name that Friana warned him of the next attack, and that Grillon ducked inside Icarax’s blow, driving another flaming fist into the Herald’s chest. The great being only grinned, crushing Grillon in a bear hug before flinging him across the room. He would have crashed into Yeela if it weren’t for Vineon’s quick thinking, who snagged the flying Toa with a vine and sent him hurtling for Chirox instead. Grillon fell feet-first, his improvised kick caught on the lazy Herald’s gauntlet. The Light Knight rebounded, narrowly missing a blast of lightning and landing next to Vineon.
Grillon dashed in once more, his power carrying him safely past the Herald’s electric bursts as he slid right through Chirox’s leg. The being stumbled, falling right into Vineon’s volley of thorns. Electricity surged around the Herald with an apathetic sigh, and both Toa were forced to keep their distance. Vineon fell back another step, a wayward crevice created by Antroz separating him from the battle and leaving Grillon alone with Chirox. The Herald advanced, his armor sparking ominously as he cornered the lone Toa. A mental image of a flying boulder caused Grillon to duck, and the chunk of stone hurtled right over his head and square into Chirox’s mask. The Herald stumbled back, and Grillon brought one foot crashing into his knee, sending him to the ground.
He left Yeela to finish up the fallen Herald, dashing to join the other Toa. Antroz and Icarax had joined forces now, fighting back to back amidst the flurry of elemental attacks. Antroz turned a blast of water to acid, whirling away and leaving Icarax to redirect the attack at Vineon. The Ironwood Knight barely managed to dodge in time, leaving a smoking pit where he had once stood. Grillon rushed past his teammate, charging full speed at Antroz. The Herald merely had to point in his direction and the floor beneath him turned to sand, sending him slipping and almost falling on his mask.
A small whirlwind surrounded him, the sand whipping into the air with it. Grillon rose, torching the sand and transforming it into a storm of glass that Friana sent hurtling towards the twin Heralds. Icarax cast the shards aside with his shield, scowling at Grillon briefly before turning to swipe at an advancing Maerkon. The Toa of Fire gathered the rest of the heat in his hands and fired, blasting away a defensive wall Antroz had erected to ward off Vineon. He backed off as Yeela’s weapons joined the fray, a glance finding Chirox bound quite nicely in a stone prison.
Kerila appeared at Grillon’s side, and she did not need to even think to communicate her plan. The Light Knight’s gauntlets glowed with power, and Kerila’s ice lens refined it into a devastating blast. Antroz tapped Icarax’s shield, transforming it into a mirror as the two traded places. Icarax blocked the blast easily, sending it in a blazing arc through the other Toa before Kerila or Grillon could correct their mistake. Antroz, meanwhile, took the time to focus, pulling wickedly pointed stalactites out of the ceiling with a slow sweep of his arms. Icarax’s fist rose and fell, tearing at the ceiling with a wave of gravitic force. The deadly points of stone fell free easily, falling nearly sideways to come crashing down around the stunned Toa. The room quaked and rumbled, and even Grillon and Kerila were caught in the maelstrom of rock.
When the dust and noise cleared, the Toa lay defeated amid the rubble.
Coughing lightly, Antroz stepped over a few of the Toa as he approached the machine, brushing aside Grillon’s feeble attempt to grab his heel. He turned to Chirox’s predicament, motioning for the stone cage to melt away. Icarax laughed mirthlessly as Chirox shook himself off in annoyance, “Having trouble with the prey, weakling?”
“Buzz off, Icarax.” He snapped back, before slipping back into his lazy slouch and strolling over as Antroz gestured for the pair to follow. “See? What did I tell you, Icarax? Even if they had beaten us…”
He paused, to look down contemptuously at the fallen Toa. “They would never have stopped us before-”
The sound of the machine suddenly came to a crescendo, a horrid aura of light streaming out from it. The Heralds staggered back, as if overcome by the sudden light, and a few of the Toa turned to face it, squinting their eyes in the cutting beams. The light grew brighter, and brighter still, and then-
-in the midst of the light, there stood a figure, clad in ancient, almost alien-looking armor, their head craning upward as they looked around the interior of the temple. The figure turned their gaze down, two iridescent eyes staring almost tiredly out at the assembly before it.
Slowly, Antroz lowered himself to a knee, staring at the figure with glassy, unfocused eyes. Behind him, Chirox followed suit, and after a moment, Icarax as well.
The Toa that remained conscious strained to move, Yeela managing to flip over and stare at the machine, with Maerkon closing his eyes and instead trying to focus his thoughts.
Does… does anyone see? What is-what is the machine doing-
Maerkon heard no reply, and actually prepared to ask again before another thought cut through. Echoed through his Toa brethren, echoed out loud by the Heralds’ wonder-struck voices, echoed as if by the very walls of the temple themselves.
A single sentence, holding all the weight of the world in it.

The Eternal has risen.

(Continued, due to exceeding the character limit with this chapter) :stuck_out_tongue:

Grillon looked up, barely able to focus enough to open his eyes against the harsh light that streamed out of the machine and bathed the rubble-filled chamber. He coughed, rolling over onto his back and using a spare chunk of debris to raise his tired body into a position where he could see what was going on. The machine was still humming loudly, light pouring out of it, silhouetting a being even greater than the Heralds. Grillon couldn’t help but feel that the titan looked a bit… lost.
The Light Knight forced himself to rise a few inches more, leveraging his weight against another piece of rubble. The Eternal walked again amongst the living, three of the Heralds still stood alive and well, the Toa were scattered amid the rubble. He could only imagine the horror the matoran above must be feeling, and the fate they may soon suffer: to be used and slain and whatever else by the Eternal and his minions.
We failed, he thought for the four-hundredth time now, slowly rising a bit more and then slackening his grip and flopping down onto the stones. We’ve failed, it’s over. This is it.
Grillon. Please.
The Toa frowned. Maerkon? So they were still linked after all… funnily enough, the thought was oddly comforting. That even here, in the midst of the end, he wasn’t alone. He didn’t have to die alone.
Grillon. Stop. Seriously, as the master of wallowing in anguish and misery, even I think you’re being annoying.
Despite himself, Grillon laughed, a smile creeping across his face as he lay against the ground.
To be honest, I think we all have some experience there, Raincoat. Especially Scraps over here.
Hey!
He has a point y’know. Friana grinned cheekily.
One of these days I’m just gonna bury you or something, you know that? A general chuckle rippled through the group at the pair of them.
Honestly, out of all the ways I thought this whole thing could’ve gone, this definitely wasn’t the worst. At least we’re together, at least I… tried, to make it up to you guys.
You have a point there, Kerila. Grillon smiled, The family’s back together, one last time.
Meanwhile, the Heralds slowly rose to their feet, oblivious to the Toa they had vanquished. The three moved forward, approaching the Eternal with almost childlike awe. Chirox’s eyes were wide and alert, completely unlike how he’d looked before, Icarax had a look on his face that wasn’t simple malice or anger, and Antroz looked almost elated. Grillon continued watching as the lead Herald approached the Eternal, hands held by his sides as if entreating them. “Eternal! We, the Heralds you bore into this world, have returned you to it! We waited eons for this time, plotted for many years, but finally, our efforts have been fruitful, and you live again-”
The Eternal cut him off, an oddly irritated-sounding voice echoing around the large space. “I see my chambers are not as I left them.” Antroz paused.
“We found them in ruin, my lord. I apologize for the changes, though I assure you this space is as effective as ever. Ideal for whatever you may need, be it conquering or simply recovering from your current state.”
“Conquering?” the titan scoffed. “There is nothing left to conquer; not once one has bent nature itself to his will.” Icarax crossed his arms and let out a huff of disapproval, and Chirox shifted his balance uncomfortably. Antroz, to his credit, showed no visible reaction.
“As you wish, my lord.” The Eternal frowned at that.
“Do you not remember my name?” he snapped. “You must be defective.”
“Oh, sorry you never introduced yourself,” Chirox retorted. “Whose fault is that, then?” The Eternal’s frown deepened.
“My name is Ameliux. You were supposed to remember that, I think: I put it into your memories when I first made you. It seems you truly are defective; I’m lucky you even managed to revive me. It really is a shame; you were useful tools once, but time seems to have depreciated that. I suppose all that’s left is to dispose of you.”
What?” Chirox cried. “You, you…” he sputtered, seemingly unable to finish the thought. “What are we to you?” he finally managed.
“I’m sorry, did I not make that clear?” The Eternal hissed in annoyance. “You’re failures. Informative failures, admittedly, but failures nonetheless. I’m simply lucky that you could be repurposed to revive me after that unfortunate incident. It appears that was your final use.”
The Heralds stood in shocked silence.
Icarax was the first to break from the spell. He charged forward with a warcry, his shield raised to land a devastating blow, and he was soon followed by a bolt of lightning from Chirox. The Eternal caught Icarax at arm’s length, grabbing the Herald by his mask and bringing him around to intercept the lightning bolt. His fist then closed around the struggling Herald’s head, and a moment later he cast aside the smoking corpse.
Chirox continued on, flinging another pair of bolts at the titan. The Eternal raised a hand, and the electricity changed course, circling to a stop around his hand. The lightning danced around his arm, following as he moved his gauntlet this way and that, his eyes sparkling in a dark sort of wonder. The titan turned his gaze back toward Chirox, and a moment later a plume of electricity bounded back from his arm, striking the Herald and sending him pinwheeling into a wall. Antroz remained still through all of this, only moving his eyes to watch the fate of his former allies. The Herald turned back to look at the Eternal, an odd sort of primness coming over him as he did so.
“Most interesting,” the titan muttered as he approached. “I must admit, for failures you have proved far more versatile than I anticipated. Perhaps once I recover the rest of my faculties and establish a proper workspace here I shall build more like you in the future. Now, do you have any objections before you meet your fate?”
Antroz bowed his mask. “No. All is how it is meant to be.” The Eternal peered at him, eyes betraying the faintest hint of an emotion besides scorn or irritation. It lingered for a moment. And then, in the next, his hand reached out, a beam of brilliantly colored light striking Antroz in the chest. The Herald did not cry out, did not resist, but merely stood. He stood, even as the light faded and his body darkened. As the life itself seeped out of his form, and through the air into Ameliux’s outstretched hand. And then, finally, Antroz fell, body lightly clanging as he collapsed against the temple floor.
The titan looked down at his fallen creation, raising a hand as if to shield himself from the corpse. “Death, meant to be? Mania. Madness.” His eyes sparked, the same odd emotion dancing in them as he straightened. “I have transcended death. I returned from it, from the void the other Toa conspired to send me to. I returned,”
The two pale eyes turned downward now, surveying the fallen Keata with a quiet resentment that dwarfed Icarax’s greatest of rages. “Toa. I see they survived into this time as well. What a great pity.”
Grillon blinked faintly, as the massive figure sighed. “I would not otherwise waste my time with you. But the last of your accursed kind caused me much grief.” The monster raised a hand, gleaming energy dancing in it as he pointed a finger at the Keata. “And I will not suffer that again. Not from any of you, at least.”
The Eternal’s finger-tip glowed brightly, an orb of barely-contained power forming on it. “I suppose this is goodbye,” he said in a rigid, flat tone. “We’ve hardly met, but I assure you, that won’t matter. After I am finished with this world I will be sure to erase all of you from its history.” A moment later the orb glowed yet brighter, barely affixed to the titan’s finger anymore.
The Toa of Fire looked on, set his teeth, and slowly, painfully, rose to his feet. Pain blurred his vision and weakened his legs, but the Toa rose all the same. He stood, and the Eternal’s cold, alien mask twisted into a grimace. “Well, if you wish to die standing, I won’t begrudge you. It matters little to me.” Grillon breathed heavily, raising a hand into the air.
“The Toa stopped you before. At the risk of sounding repetitive-”
“-we’ll stop you…again.”
Grillon turned his head slightly. Maerkon stood, leaning on his axe and staring at the Eternal with a steely gaze. He raised his axe, gripping it in both hands as he took a stand beside Grillon. Ameliux’s frown deepened, the odd emotion coming back to his eyes for a moment before being replaced with frustrated anger.
“Then perish in unison, with all your fine words. You’ll find death rather cold, Toa. Cold enough to end your petulance and defiance.” Ameliux’s finger snapped back toward his hand, the orb of power flying forth toward the two. Grillon’s eyes widened, as he half-turned to shove Maerkon out of the way and dive himself. But he never got that far.
Instead, he found himself flying headlong across the room, Vineon’s ragged form propelling him. The two slammed into the far wall of the room, even as a similar tan-hued blur shoved Maerkon out of the way, and the silhouettes of Yeela and Kerila jumped out of the blast radius. The sphere of power detonated at the space the Toa had been at a moment before, dissipating harmlessly into the empty air.
Grillon groaned, rubbing at his head as he scrambled to his feet. Beside him, Vineon stood already, fists cocked and a crazed grin across his face. “NICE SHOT THERE, SPAWN OF KARZAHNI, BUT YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO TRY BETTER THAN THAT IF YOU WANNA TAKE US DOWN! YOU BETTER BE READY FOR THE FIGHT OF YOUR “LIFE”, YOU SICK PIECE OF CRAP, CAUSE WE’RE TOA-KARZING-KEATA!
“Fools to the end, like your forgotten counterparts,” The Eternal growled, his voice cold “You fell to my artificial servants, and I am greater than all of them - practically a god compared to you. You all, stop me?”
His face split, with a slight grin as he raised his hand again. “Madness.” Another orb of power gathered in his hand, glowing brightly as he cocked his arm back. The Toa of Fire tensed, trying to calculate whether he or any of the others could try and pull something before he fired again.
A scream of anger, by now quite familiar to Grillon, cut through his mental calculations, as an orange blur slammed into Ameliux with answering force. The titan grunted, skidding a foot or so before digging his heels into the temple ground and pushing back. Yeela swung a fist at his armored chest once, twice, three times, before he finally got off a burst of fire, sending her tumbling backward. The Toa of Earth scrambled upright again, spitting in the direction of the Eternal as she began gathering small orbs of earth-materials and what remained of her puppet weapons into the air. “Practically a god, are you then? Well you feel pretty mortal to me. That’s alright though-”
Yeela laughed, the sound halfway between a cackle and a hacking cough. “-it’ll be my first time killing a god.” Ameliux matched her laughter with his own, an eerie and unsettling sound.
“I’m afraid that dream will have to die with you. You cannot kill me, for I am Eternal.” He raised one hand, and streams of purple energy lanced into the room beyond. All at once it was changing, the very stone they stood on contorting in a maddened frenzy. A spine of jagged rock shot between Vineon and Grillon, threatening to eviscerate them both as they leaped out of the way.
Grillon lost track of the other Toa after that, aside from general feelings of panic and peril shared through the mental link. He backpedaled as the wall in front of him came crashing down like a wave, only to be stopped by another at his back. He dove to the side, narrowly avoiding being crushed between the moving stone. It was then that he realized he could see the spikes forming behind him, even as the wall in front of him was reduced to gravel and came raining down on his mask. In fact, it seemed like he could see everything around him, a full, uninterrupted arc. He didn’t have time to ponder this new development and pushed forward, his light bringing him clear of the gravel while his heat reduced it to slag. He bounded over a sudden pitfall, bouncing off the wall seconds before it became rough and jagged.
He was able to perch for a moment atop a heap of stone, and see the predicaments of the others through his own eyes. They each danced and dodged their way through a seemingly organic flow of stone, and it seemed that even Yeela’s makeshift weapons had turned against her. In another moment Grillon was on the move, abandoning his perch as it tried to consume him like some sort of giant fish. He saw the energy streaming from Ameliux’s hands change, purple mixing with blue. Grillon barely had time to gulp before the sound of rushing water filled the room. The rocks shifted, channelling the water and sending it gushing at the Toa.
Grillon vaporized it with a blast of steam, only to have his breath taken away as more water followed behind. He was swept along in the current, rushing water smashing him against jagged outcroppings of rock in an unending corkscrew. Every time he managed to get his head above water he was dragged down again, the air sucked from his lungs almost as soon as he could greedily suck it in. It wasn’t long before his vision began to darken, his lungs screaming in desperate need for air.
An arm grabbed his shoulder and heaved him free of the water, and he flopped like a ragdoll onto someone’s shoulder. It was Yeela, and she bounded away with strength greater than he had ever seen, able to stay one step ahead of the water. Grillon managed a hoarse “thank you”, though he doubted she heard it over the crash of water and stone. The Puppet Sword Knight bounded over some more masses of writhing ground, stopping for a spare second to dump Grillon unceremoniously onto a spare unmoving rock.
He watched as the Toa of Earth bounded full-force toward Ameliux. But the titan was ready, raising a barrier of molten rock as she approached. The Toa barreled through it, losing her momentum but stubbornly forging forward still. With a contemptuous smile that could put Antroz to shame, he lashed out with a hand, striking Yeela across the chest and sending her stumbling back. He raised his other hand, a concentrated jet of water and ice blasting the stunned Toa backward and across the room. She collided with yet another animated mass of stone, and Grillon couldn’t help but wince at the resulting sound. He has a hold of the situation now, we can’t go in effectively without him using his powers against us…
Oh really? Great deduction there, Fire-spitter. Truth be told, Grillon had mostly forgotten the others could hear his thoughts. The next moment he was on the move, sprinting to pick up Yeela and carry her free of a geyser of scalding water. She struggled free of his grip almost immediately, though nodded in grudging thanks.
We need some way to get around that, Grillon continued, fleeing a sudden miniature avalanche and vaulting over a crevasse that appeared in his way.
Keep it up like this and we’ll be out of here in no time. Maybe next you could, I dunno, tell me something I don’t know!
Vineon, hush.
What about that machine he came from? Friana interjected as she narrowly avoided a pit of magma.
What about it?
I think he might be drawing energy from that.
You think? Oh great, now we’re pinning our survival on a maybe.
I would explain it, if we had more time…
And time is a luxury we don’t have, Grillon finished, scaling a stone wall to try and get a higher vantage point. We’ll go for it. Kerila, wanna try another laser?
Let’s hope it doesn’t shoot back this time.
Maerkon and I can smash that little son of a ce while you-
No Yeela, they’ll need you to keep the area around them stable. Vineon, you’re with me.
If you say so, Raincoat.
Grillon scrambled his way above the mess of elements, and there he could see Maerkon and Vineon, dodging fire and redirecting water as they made for Ameliux. Kerila managed to scrabble up beside him, and the ground steadied as Yeela joined them. Kerila caught a wayward blast of ice and began shaping it into a lens even as Maerkon and Vineon came face to face with Ameliux, trying desperately to hold their own as the titan turned their own attacks against them.
Alright Friana, where are we aiming?
There! To Grillon’s surprise it was not Friana that responded, but Kerila.
Uh… Sure enough, Grillon could see exactly what she was talking about, an exposed pipe he had been oblivious to moments before. …How did you find that?
It just happened, okay? We’re talking with our brains, I can see weak points, we’ll discuss this later.
Right. Yeela was at war with the very floor they stood on, while Friana joined the struggle against Ameliux, very possibly saving Maerkon and Vineon’s lives. Grillon channelled his power, and Kerila fine-tuned the aim of her lens. The chaos around him seemed very quiet as Grillon fired.
The laser flew true, searing through the air on direct course for Ameliux’s machine. That was the last thing that went as planned. Vines sprang from the ground, shattering Kerila’s lens and sending the trio off-balance. Even as Grillon fought to remain free of the murderous flora, he saw a wall of rock rise around his target, sealing it off from the laser and the rest of the room. Meanwhile, he could feel the panic in the other Toa’s minds as they were scattered about like leaves by a mighty blast of wind. Grillon clenched his fists, scouring himself of vines with a wave of heat and flame. The fire continued, however, spreading and growing greedily in search of the other Toa. He cried out with outstretched hands, absorbing all of the fire within himself. Buzzing with the sudden rush of energy, he turned his attention to the wall. His only hope was to blow it to smithereens so that he could access the machine beyond.
But something else happened. His mind locked onto the exposed component once more, with an intensity that was more than just memory. Then the component burst into flame, his flame, channelling his power much the same as his own hand. It didn’t matter that the machine wasn’t flammable; Grillon unleashed his power inside it with such scorching intensity that it couldn’t do anything but melt. He could feel the fire working its way through the apparatus, heat turning complex systems into tangled lumps of scrap. The cacophony of water and fire and shifting rock settled to a still silence.
The silence was broken by a hollow shriek of terror. Grillon slowly crossed the room, Kerila and Yeela following him. The shrieking continued, right up until the Fire Toa came face to face with Ameliux. The titan seemed colorless, his eyes blinking on and off as energy slowly seeped from his form.
“What is happening?” Ameliux hissed. “What did you do to me?
“You’re dying,” Grillon whispered, and Ameliux’s eyes were filled with a terror so intense that the Toa couldn’t help but feel a moment of pity. Then he remembered the island above. He remembered leading soldiers to their deaths, time and time again. He remembered the faces of families waiting desperately to see if their loved ones would come home. He remembered Melody, poor, innocent Melody, and holding her as she bled to death for no reason at all. Other memories filled the mental link: of Icarax cutting a bloody swath through the Kona army, of Chirox frying his supposed allies, of Tay and Galin soldiers tearing each other apart as a Herald rampaged through their ranks. He remembered, and the pity faded.
Ameliux had earned his fate.
The titan looked down at his hands, at the Radiance streaming out of them and pooling over the ground. His eyes flickered once, twice. The Eternal turned his head up to look at the Toa, the terror turning to despair, and then that despair turning to cold, pointless rage. He held up his hands, pointing them up at the Toa. For a single, horrible moment, all the dying energies of the titan flooded into two massive spheres of light. “Then I won’t die……alone,” the creature rasped, voice already fallen to a soft whisper, rather than a proud growl.
Grillon heard his brethren screaming at each other to move, and moved himself, summoning all his speed and all his strength into a last blow aimed at Ameliux’s chest. At the start of the battle, it would have done little, perhaps scratch or dent the monster’s heavy armor, or incite a sarcastic laugh out of him.
But now, with the machine gone and his life draining out of his body, the almighty Eternal had little strength of his own. Grillon’s fist collided with the armor with a crack, and Ameliux’s aim went wild. The spheres erupted into twin beams of radiant light as the arms flew, slashing through the walls of the temple as if they were nothing. The Toa dived back, as Ameliux fell, a huge mass of cave and temple alike collapsing down on him and the machine. There was a terrific crash, and the whole building rocked.
And all was still.
The Toa of Fire slowly got up, looking back at where their foe had stood a moment ago. He lay now, half-buried amidst a pile of ruins, the machine’s uppermost parts barely sticking out of it. The radiant, cold eyes were black, dead of light and devoid of life.
Around him, Grillon could see the other Keata rising slowly, staring at their fallen enemy with expressions of bewilderment, elation, and exhausted satisfaction.
“It’s over,” he breathed, barely believing the worlds as he spoke them.
“We’ve won.

###Epilogue
The great Shu-Tural had spent little time at the site of the battlefield in the aftermath, instead electing to inspect the bizarre happenings in the heavens themselves - most prudently exactly what was falling from the sky. He’d travelled a short way to the nearest one, being shunted out of the way by a handful of fleeing soldiers in the process. After giving their turned and rapidly retreating backs a good old-fashioned fist shaking, Shu turned his attention to the fallen object itself.
It was a substance unlike anything he had ever encountered: liquid and solid, glowing, pulsing, almost alive, and radiating energy to the point where it warmly toasted the air surrounding it (as well as any bugs that unfortunately chose to get too close). It was a shifting mass of color, constantly flowing and mixing and changing, making new colors - colors he didn’t even know existed before. Faced with this unusual turn, Shu did what any half-decent explorer would do, and prodded it enthusiastically with a stick.
The radiant blob, for its part, let the stick sink into its form, and further, and further, Shu finally letting go as the expertly chosen instrument of discovery was set alight with multicolored flame, before disappearing into the depths of the unknown mass. Sufficiently satisfied, Shu made a mental note not to touch these, ever, and continued bravely onwards to the next objective: the strange new mass that seemed to surround the island now.
The trek would’ve taken about a day and a half without stops, but as he was passing through the unmarked (but tried and true) path across the Western Desert, he met up with the caravan of clan Ahri that had been heading out from Le-Kreeft, and decided to spend a few days with them to catch up with some old friends. They spoke of rumors in regards to what had happened in the depths of the Spine itself after the battle, what Friana had said after she’d returned, and the one she had brought with her: the Ice Toa, oddly enough.
Shu could imagine just from what he saw that at least half the island had been slaughtered that day, and nobody even really knew why. Something about a plot to make the stars fall. Even so, things seemed to have been shaken up. Most of the Turaga appeared to have been killed, so no doubt new leaders were already being elected, and there were whisperings of civil unrest in the Northern Drift.
But all too soon, of course, Shu had to continue on his way. He said his farewells, and was off once more.
It was a fair few hours before he reached the coast, though it could hardly be called that anymore: far below, he could see land, stretching out beyond the horizon, like a sea all on its own. He dropped his pack in his shock, his mouth in a wide “O” as he looked out over the glorious expanse: luscious greenery, deep woods, distant mountains capped with ice, and possibly even signs of civilisation.
This was the single most important discovery of his entire career. He trembled with excitement. He took a heavy breath.
“Today, our intrepid explorer shall set out on a brand new expedition, his greatest and most important yet: to explore the new continent!” He announced to anyone who cared to hear it.
The group he spotted skulking down the mountainside apparently didn’t, quickening their pace a little. They didn’t seem like they wanted to be seen.
“Hmm… most odd. Oh well, Shu shall not be fazed by such trivialities, for now is the time of discovery!” And with that, he slung his pack back over his shoulder, and began a jolly whistling stroll down the mountain.