A trio of blades raked against her shoulder, scraping against the armor, one of them finding a chink in the armor and scratching the tissue below… a foot slammed into her knee, nearly breaking it, followed by a powerful blow to the head that sent her reeling… and to complete the torment, a miniature rocket exploded against her chest, knocking the breath from her lungs, sending her to the ground.
Hydraxon laughed. “This is pathetic,” he said. “You want to be the leader of this Order? Show me you deserve it.”
Helryx struggled for breath as she tried to stand up. Hydraxon never held back, never pulled his punches. She respected that about him, but right now, she also really hated him for it.
She muttered under her ragged breath as she watched him stand there so confidently, as if he could do this all day. Taunting her, as if he didn’t respect her, didn’t respect what she was trying to do.
He’s trying to get under your skin, some part of her logic thought. Make you angry, so you make mistakes.
Well, guess what? her emotional center replied. It’s working.
Gathering her strength, she fired a blast of water at Hydraxon. The warrior dodged with ease, but that was only a diversion; Helryx was on him from the other side, swinging her mace at his exposed midsection. Her weapon swung straight, accurate… until a splash of her own water to her face blinded her for a crucial moment. Her wounded knee twisted, her aim thrown off, her balance lost. Her mace still struck Hydraxon, but it was merely a glancing blow to his back, nowhere near enough to hurt the likes of him.
“Oh please,” he whined. “You telegraphed that so badly, a blind bat would’ve seen it coming.”
Helryx didn’t back down. She swung her mace in a downward blow toward his head. He dodged with ease, but she had anticipated that, and her mace connected with his wrist blades, the spikes on her weapon hooking onto the curved blades. Then, she leapt into the air, turning for a powerful kick to the warrior’s chest. This was her strongest technique, and should leave even Hydraxon badly hurt.
Before her leg could connect with his chest, however, his other arm swept out, pushing the leg up and to the side. With nothing to hit, her leg overextended, her knee protesting in intense pain, and she collapsed again.
“Never use a spinning attack like that as your first attack, or even your second,” Hydraxon chided, as if he were speaking to a newbie Toa. “It’s bad for your opponent if you hit them with it, but bad for you if you miss. Especially–”
She abruptly shot to her feet, hoping to catch him off guard while he was talking. Of course, it didn’t work; Hydraxon always paid full attention to his opponent. He pulled back to dodge her attack, then retaliated with a punch to the gut that left her in a heap on the floor.
“How long can you keep this up?” Hydraxon asked. “You’ve been broken, beaten, and can barely move properly. How long will you continue to fight a battle you cannot win?”
Helryx waited a long moment, catching her breath, calming her nerves, before getting back to her feet and staring at the warrior fiercely. “As long as I have to.”
“Nice attitude,” Hydraxon conceded. “But big words and tough looks don’t win fights. Knowledge does, and sometimes, that’s knowing when to–”
Enough of his lecturing! She came in for another attack, then abruptly bent her legs and leapt over him. At least, she tried to leap over him, but her knee was having none of it, and she crashed into the floor beside him.
“Wow,” Hydraxon said. “At this rate, you’ll defeat yourself.”
Helryx still pushed to her feet. “A leader never gives up.”
Hydraxon laughed loudly. “Is that what you think?” He lashed out with a kick. Helryx tried to dodge, but she wasn’t quite fast enough, and the blow struck her side, knocking her to the floor again.
“A good leader knows when to give up,” Hydraxon said. “When to admit defeat. Pushing on in a hopeless battle only makes the situation worse–” Helryx struggled to her feet, only to recieve a kick in the head and fall back down, “and sometimes, gets you or your companions killed.”
Helryx gasped for breath. “Are you… saying… you know… more… than me… how to… be a leader?”
“I know how to be a better warrior,” Hydraxon replied.
“I… can’t beat you,” Helryx said. “You win. You can be the leader of the Order.”
To her surprise, Hydraxon dropped his weapons and knelt in front of her. “What–?”
“That is what I was waiting for,” Hydraxon said. “For you to admit defeat. To realize you can’t defeat me, as a warrior.” He raised his head. “You’re right, I might know better what makes a good leader. But I’m no leader. I’m a warrior. You’re a leader, and if you’ll allow me, I can help you become a good one.”
Hydraxon stood, then stuck out his hand, helping Helryx to her feet. “Consider this your first lesson.”
The mighty brute known as Axonn was easily one of the most powerful people she had ever met. She’d known that for a long time, but now she got to experience it firsthand, as his massive fist slammed into her body, sending her flying across the room, slamming into the opposite wall hard enough to leave a crater, and then falling to the floor.
This was Axonn’s version of saying hello.
“Helryx!” the mighty brute bellowed. “When Hydraxon told me you were the leader of the Order, I was sure he was messing with me. You never could take a hit.”
Helryx got to her feet. Her limbs ached in pain, her amor mangled and twisted. “Your hits… are not normal hits, Axonn,” she said. “And there’s more to being a leader… than strength.”
“True, true,” Axonn agreed, helping her to her feet. As he did so, his power flowed into her, easing some of the damage he’d done. “It’s good to see you again.”
“You too,” Helryx agreed. “Although, I didn’t miss being thrown across the room.”
Axonn laughed jovially. “Oh, c’mon, your line of work, you probably get hit like that once a week.” It was true, she’d been through a lot of tough fights, though she’d encountered few single blows as strong as the one Axonn had given. She was a warrior, and sometimes being a warrior meant having your Brakas kicked.
Axonn’s power helped mend her tissue, but the damage to the armor would have to be repaired by hand. Even the best forger could never straighten it back out perfectly. She could, of course, get new armor, but she liked her armor; the damage was a memento of all the battles she’d faced over the decades. Every dent, every scrape, carried with it the memory of the pain she’d gone through to earn it. All the fights she’d won… and the ones she lost.
Plus, it kinda looked cool.
“What do you fear?”
Helryx clashed her mace against the blades of the demented blue creature known as Zarnak. “Certainly not you.”
Zarnak laughed and pulled back a bit. Helryx pressed the advantage, knocking aside his swords with her shield. She swung her mace at his head, but he was gone before it struck, then suddenly coming at her back. She barely managed to pull her shield up in time.
“You can’t catch me,” Zarnak said. “You might as well try to catch a dream… or a nightmare. Just give up already.”
The words she’d once spoken to Hydraxon came automatically to her lips. “A leader never gives up.”
“I see,” Zarnak replied, and Helryx realized the mistake she’d just made.
Abruptly, she collapsed, her strength faded. Her armor twisted and bent, parts of it falling off. She gasped for breath, unable to stand. She dropped her weapons, unable to lift even her own arms.
“So, you fear not being able to defeat your foes, hmm?” Zarnak muttered.
This was Zarnak’s power: he brought fears to life. He was partially right about hers. Helryx’s fear was no longer being able to fight for good, being forced to give up fighting forever. As long as there were people who needed her, she needed to be there for them. But suddenly, she heard Hydraxon’s voice: “How long can you continue to fight?” Her water powers faded, then dissapeared. Her connection to her mask failed as well; she could no longer use mask powers.
Then, suddenly, it ended with a blast of energy. Helryx’s strength was restored, her power back. She got to her feet, seeing Zarnak lying on the floor, unconscious. Then she turned around to see Axonn, his axe in hand, still smoking from the blast of energy he’d used to fell Zarnak.
“I wonder if our little friend here fears the Pit?” Axonn said.
Helryx nodded, grateful for her partner’s rescue. Had he not come when he did, Zarnak’s power would’ve started to have permanent effects.
“If he doesn’t, he will soon,” she said.
“Hydraxon’s going to love this one. It’s a shame his powers won’t work in the Pit. I’d like to know what Hydraxon fears.”
Helryx chuckled. “I’m not sure Hydraxon has any fears.”
“Maybe,” Axonn agreed. “But I would’ve said the same about you.”
Helryx crawled through a dark, small tunnel. Behind her, the Rahi known as Keetongu followed, the tunnel barely accommodating the big creature’s size. Behind them followed several strange, twisted creatures, the likes of which Helryx had never seen. The tunnel went on and on and on, until Helryx wondered if it would ever end.
But finally, end it did, opening to a large cavern. The cavern was dominated by a single, silver lake. The lake of Energized Protodermis, the one she’d been seeking. The power of this substance had been used by the Brotherhood of Makuta to make their armies, and it had to be stopped.
But something wasn’t quite right: there was no one here. The strange creatures that had been following her were gone, as was Keetongu. Cautiously, she approached the pool, and looked down… then backed up in horror, upon seeing her reflection.
Then, slowly, her reflection began to rise from the pool. But it wasn’t the Helryx she thought she was. This version was extremely thin, looking like it could be snapped like a twig. The armor was spotty at best, the limbs bent at weird angles. Her mace and shield were a pale reflection of the ones she carried, and the mangled Helryx could barely support even them.
“Look what you’ve done to yourself,” the reflection moaned.
Helryx glanced down at her own body, but instead of seeing the battered-but-tough warrior she knew, she saw that she was a frail and bent as her reflection.
“All those battles… all the pain, the damage…” the reflection moaned. “When does it end?” The twisted Helryx started to crawl toward her, unable to walk, to even stand, its limbs flapping uselessly against the floor.
“When will it EEEEEEEENNNNNDDDD…”
She awoke abruptly and sat up.
Darkness surrounded her, but she knew where she was: the Core Processor, the brain of the Matoran Universe. By instinct, she glanced down at herself, seeing her powerful form. It was only a dream.
Was it a dream sent by Makuta Teridax, the monster who held her captive? He probably had that power. He had all the power in the world now, literally: he was the Matoran Universe, and the Universe was him. Facing this reality, Helryx couldn’t help but feel that all the battles she’d fought up until that point, everything she’d been through, had been for nought. She’d fought to keep the Universe together, only to have the worst monster in the world take control of it.
But perhaps he hadn’t sent that dream. She’d been feeling tired for some time now, tired of the fighting, the pain. She knew she’d long since achieved her destiny, and could become a Turaga if she so chose, but she chose to keep going. Disturbingly frail, that’s how Takanuva had described her. Was he right? Was she past her prime, past her ability to fight? If she kept going on, would she end up like her reflection, too weak to do anything?
“How long will you continue to fight?”
No. She couldn’t stop fighting, not while a madman controlled the Universe, and planned to conquer more with his new power.
Maybe it was time to end everything. End all of the fighting, for good. Teridax had to be stopped, and if that meant destroying the universe… perhaps that would be better.
She could do it. She was in the brain of the Universe. If she struck now, with all her power, she might be able to kill Teridax, or weaken him enough that others could finish the job.
She closed her eyes. One last blow, to end the fighting forever. She would never have to fight again, nor would anyone else in this world, so that the inhabitants of countless other worlds could be free. She began to gather her power…
First of all, this story is inspired by this moc. It is not meant to ridicule the moc; rather, I wanted to do something to sort of honor the moc, give it a place in the story.
Secondly, Zarnak is based on one of the winners of the Prisoners of the Pit Challenge, featured here. The name Zarnak is not officially canon, and the fear creation powers are purely my idea.~W12~