Dune: Toa

Varian stumbled, grasping for a handhold. In front of her, a laughing figure raised a ridiculously oversized gun that glowed with an unhealthy light.
“You fools,” the figure said. “You thought that the makers of Mata Nui were on your side! Now suffer the pain of disillusionment!”
He raised the gun, targeting the wall behind the Toa. As a blaze of energy enveloped her, Varian heard the cackling laughter of Velika. It was a stupid way to die, she thought. Never before had a Toa died fighting a manic Matoran. Now this was her fate, her… destiny?

“This is Draco 12! We lost sight of ‘‘em in the sandstorm!”
Sand struck the ornithopter at high speed, creating a sound like glass shards.
“Do you mean that they are actually dead?” said a voice through the radio.
“Of course they’re dead. The young fool thought that a sandstorm was a great place to hide. Well, if the fall doesn’t get him, the desert will.”
The aircraft turned, heading back towards its base. The pilot didn’t see the bright flash in the dunes below.

“Urk!”
A green figure crawled from the sand. His armor was scarred from the blinding wind, and his mask was worn with age.
“Trust that ever-crazy boulder-head to send us back outside,” Nidhiki muttered.
He turned to look at the dune to his right, and nearly jumped with surprise. A machine of some sort was sticking out of the side. It was damaged, but it appeared to be working. A slight movement caught his eyes. Quickly, he activated his Volitak, fading from sight. Two figures emerged, one smaller than the other. They were wearing somewhat formal outfits, like the Vortixx of Xia wore when at their workplaces. They removed some packages from the machine, then headed into the desert. Nidhiki considered what to do. He could wait, and see if others appeared, or follow the two beings. He decided on the latter. Two organic beings would be no match for a Toa, he thought.

If anyone is wondering, yes, this is a Dune and Bionicle crossover. For context, Velika has invaded the Red Star, and the revived Toa were defending it. Velika shot them with the Void Cannon, a weapon that creates a dimensional portal on shooting a target. The target is then sent to a point in dimensional space set by the user. Feedback will be appreciated!

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Ooh the premise is quite intriguing. I’ll be interested if you make more

“It is well known that Duke Leto’s son had impressive tactical skills, due to his training with the warriors gathered by his father and the skills his mother, the Lady Jessica, taught him. But it is a fact that they were improved by the entrance of another in his training, one who would transcend the knowledge of physical combat.” - Princess Irulan, in “The Legend of Muad’Dib”

Chapter 1

The two figures made their way through the desert. It was obvious to Nidhiki that they were not natives. The taller one was following the motions of the smaller, and was clearly wary of any movement in the landscape. From the few words spoken by them, Nidhiki found that the smaller one was named Paul, and the taller one was his mother. This, strangely, made sense to him. It reminded him of the legends of various types of sentient Rahi, like Keetongu, beings that could reproduce without machinery. It explained their similarities, like the way their hands were shaped, and the way they walked.

The Toa felt that he should speak to them, but he knew that green guy with a scythe would not make a good impression on anyone. It was now late afternoon, and they had come near to an outcrop of reddish sandstone. There was sparse vegetation, mostly creosote bushes and scrub. Nidhiki sighed. The desert was desolate, and he was beginning to feel that being yelled at or blasted with something would be preferable to the endless walking. Then he saw a motion on the cliff. He stared at the spot. After a few minutes, he saw someone in khaki and brown clothing on the cliff, holding what appeared to be a weapon. Scanning the rest of the rocks, he saw more of them. Seeing the two beings walking forward as before, he deactivated his Volitak.
“Stop! It’s a trap!” he shouted.
Immediately, there was a volley of metallic twangs. Nidhiki stumbled as projectiles struck him from all angles. He felt glad that he was metal. One of the hooded figures ran forwards.
“Hold your fire!”
The rest drew back, their hands dropping to what Nidhiki assumed to be sheaths for more weapons.
“What are you? Some Harkonnen spy? A foul Sardaukar?”
Nidhiki shrugged.
“What are those? Who are you? I don’t know where I am in this hot-sand desert.”
The figure flung back his hood. He was the same kind of being as the two Nidhiki had followed.
“I am a human, a member of the Fremen. You, I don’t know what you are. As for these,” he pointed at Paul and Jessica, “they are trespassers, and must be dealt with.”
“So,” Nidhiki said, “you are like the ever-cursed Makuta, one who desires merely to kill the defenseless?”
Just then, there was a cry from another Fremen. He had been struck in the chest by Paul, and was clutching his injured ribs. The young human was gone, vanished among the creosote bushes.
“What sorcery is this?” their leader asked, ignoring the cries of Jessica for her son to escape.
“It’s simple,” Nidhiki said. “He was waiting for a chance to get away. You had your guard down. He took the chance.”
“What should we do with this one?” said one of the Fremen. He was answered by a burst of some harsh language from Jessica. Nidhiki stared, confused by the sudden change in their leader’s expression.
“Release them!”
The Fremen leader walked over to the group.
“I didn’t realize that we had such auspicious guests,” he said. “A member of your House is safe with us. Your friend Gurney has told us of your escape. We know where you and your, ah, robot, can hide.”
Nidhiki frowned.
“It’s Toa,” he said, “not robot. I’m alive like you, and would like to get this straight. These Harkonnens are the bad guys, and you Fremen the resistance? This lady and her son escaped from them into the desert, and you were contacted about it?”
“You are going to get quite an explanation when you meet Gurney,” Jessica said. “I don’t know where you came from, but I see you were trying to keep us alive. So, at least you’ll get an explanation from us once we reach our destination.”

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ooh cool

Soon, their politics will get much more complicated…

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“The ones who trusted in their own power have died by it.” - supposedly said by Stilgar in response to the death of the Harkonnen leaders on Arrakis.

Chapter 2

The hand spun the globe slowly, as though contemplating its carved surface. It was the hand of someone rich, and overweight. Glittering with rings, it turned the sphere as though it was a large spider scuttling across the ground. The hand belonged to Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, the current owner of the planet Arrakis, often called Dune by the ignorant and foolish. He turned to face the man standing nearby.
“Read me that message again, Piter. I have never heard such garbage from my nephew before.”
Piter read the message:
“The garrison is under attack. Some fanatical native managed to assemble a suit of armor and get into the weapons locker. I am leaving for the base at our city. I will punish this insolence with the utmost severity.”
The writing ended there.
“What does he mean?” asked Piter. “This message makes no sense. The Atreides had none of the legendary Stark armors, and the planet lacks the resources to build one. Even if it had them, and they built one, the troops would have killed the wearer. This must be a trick of some sort…”
It would be a few days until the news reached the Baron’s ears of the defeat of his nephew.

A figure in blue armor crawled from a pile of wreckage. She rubbed her head, feeling as though she had been smashed multiple times with a mace.
“Hey! Who goes there?”
She turned. A man in desert camouflage stood
behind her, carrying a blaster.
“What the heck are you?” he said.
The Toa replied by launching him into the distance with a blast of water.
She knelt and picked up the trooper’s pack. He was a pilot, and he had had a small tablet with him. She typed in a search. Minutes later, she stood up.
“It’s time that this backwater spice store has a competent ruler. It’s time to rebuild my Empire.”
She turned towards the wall of cliffs in the distance, sword in hand.
“The Harkonnen menace must be removed,” she said, and headed into the dunes.

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Tuyet??

Yes. Who needs a baron when you can make a second empire?

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A cold planet, Winter is well known for its numerous scientific advances, including the development of electric vehicles capable of operating in extreme cold. - “A Brief Atlas of the Known Worlds of the Landsraad”

Chapter Three

It was a cold, dark night. In the streets of Karheide, rain fell, covering the cobblestones with ice and snow. Few looked up as a truck rolled past, carrying two cryogenic tanks. It was a common sight, as the city was home to many research laboratories, including, it was rumored, the one that had created hyperdrives as they commonly exist.

Only the drivers of the truck knew the true contents of the tanks: two strange beings found by the Karheide military. They had been found in a state of stasis, and had been quickly dispatched to the labs, to be investigated by the Head of Robotics, Emran. She was a famous scientist, who had created the droids called “Heroes”, now common on many worlds in the systems near Winter. Of her family, little was known, due to the unstable politics of those days. On the arrival of the tanks, they were placed in storage, awaiting their new owner’s curiosity.

Kopaka blinked. It was bitterly cold, yet he felt it not. He activated his Akaku, trying to see through the liquid that surrounded him.
“Am I trapped on the Star?” he wondered.
He blinked again. Something was wrong. Nothing he saw outside made sense. The Star had no armed beings on board, at least, none with projectile weapons. Then he saw the latch. It was a simple electronic device, using a few magnets to hold the doors sealed. He began absorbing heat from the air outside, causing the doors to shrink slightly.
“A few more seconds…”
There was a snap. The tank began shaking. Kopaka realized that the refrigerant was escaping, shattering the tank in the process. He just had time to activate his mask’s shield before a freezing blast of metal smashed into the door of the lab. The two droids at the door turned, aiming their weapons at the doors of the storage room. They watched in surprise as Kopaka kicked them open, causing one door to fall off of its frozen hinges. Kopaka was also surprised, seeing the droids with an H-shaped device on their chests.
“Activate security!”, one of the droids called, hitting a button on a wall panel. Kopaka drew his Ice rapier, and stabbed at the other. He was flung backwards as it grabbed the blade, twisting the blow away from its chest.

Kopaka responded by blasting it with ice, which covered the droids helmet. It collapsed, stuttering an incomprehensible word. The Toa turned to face the other, a red and orange droid with an angular helmet.
“Let me pass,” he said.
The droid laughed, a strangely organic sound.
“Why shouldn’t I? You’ll never make it past the others. You experiments never get far-“
Kopaka slammed it into the wall. Then he grabbed its radio.
“Open the gates,” he said. “This has got to be finished. You have just made yourselves enemies of the Toa by your resistance.”
“What the heck does that mean?! You’re not Furno,” said someone on the other end. “Calling in reinforcements, now!”

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Ah so the Heroes exist in this universe? Interesting…

And if you’re wondering about the Gethenians, we’ll, they’re not the same as in The Left Hand of Darkness. They too will be alternate beings…

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“When the choice must be made to protect others at the cost of our soldiers, the Hero Factory will step in. We must not uselessly spend lives to solve problems that are not answered by violence…” - Emran in the Hero Report.

Chapter Four

Emran paused. The laboratory, so often a peaceful refuge from the demands of government projects, had lit up in red warning lights. As the Gethenian turned, they highlighted her face. It was ambiguous, and seemed somehow wrong, as though it were a mask covering her emotions. She headed up the hallway, her protective robe making a slight swishing noise, barely detectable among the alarms.

She was not prepared for the sight that greeted her. A tall, white being was holding a silver Hero against the wall of the lab, trying to choke it to death. It wasn’t working, as the Hero was shoving back with the strength of a hydraulic press.
“Get off of him,” she cried. “He’s only a droid!”
The being spun, its face frozen in shock. It then fired a blast of frozen shards at her. She felt them slice her face, then she fell to the ground, a wet liquid sliming her jaw.
“No!”
The being kneeled, and lifted her. She groaned, and felt the sting of blood on her face.
“Emran,” the Hero said, “he got Furno! Shall I take it down?”
But she was past hearing. The world was fading, becoming rushing darkness…

As the sun rose over the horizon, the scout paused. He saw footprints in the sand. Footprints that were not normal. He stood.
“Looking for something?”
He flinched, too late to ever see the blow dealt by Tuyet. She stood, pensively washing her sword.
“There are more nearby…”

The guard at the Harkonnen base laughed. An old Fremen woman was begging for him to release her son, conscripted for the spice mines.
“Old woman,” he said, “I have no authority to do anything about your son. Go find yourself a useful job. Something where I won’t have to listen to your complaints.”
“Maybe this will make you listen!”
The woman cast aside her robes, revealing the blue form of Tuyet. Before the guard could respond, she had leaped to the top of the wall and cut him down. Then she triggered the alarms. Harkonnen troopers poured into the courtyard, surprise on their faces. Their leader, a grim-faced Saurdakar, drew his lasgun.
“So, you want a quick end?”
He fired, and gaped in horror. The blast went right through the Toa. Immediately, a barrage of gunfire lit up the dawn, ricocheting and causing immense damage to the wall. Tuyet leaped to the ground, dodging among the soldiers. Soon, they were dead, killed by comrades or by her sword.

After several minutes, a massive explosion shook the city as the building exploded. Tuyet smiled. Life was getting easier all the time…

Emran blinked. She felt her face. It was raw, and the cuts were deep. She looked around. She was in a bathroom, with towels lying nearby. They had been used on her cuts, and were covered with bloodstains. She glanced at the mirror. In it, she saw a young Gethenian, but with her right cheek laid open. Through the wound, she saw the metal structure of her bones, and the semi-organic mesh that bound her skin to her body.
“You are not an organic, then.”
An armored figure opened the door. It was about six feet tall, made from a glistening red and gold metal, with an ugly green visor where its eyes should be.
“Who are you,” Emran asked.
“Since you won’t live much longer, I’ll tell you,” the figure said, drawing an absurdly large gun.
“I’m designated S4M-US, and I hail from the House-“
It fell, as a blade appeared in its stomach. Kopaka withdrew his sword.
“I’m deeply sorry, ma’am. I should have apologized for the wreckage.”
The bounty hunter rolled over, clutching its stomach.
“How- how did you do that? This armor- its pure titanium- nothing can stab through it-“
“What the heck is going on here?!”
A silver form appeared in the doorway.

  • For clarity, the Gethenians are androids- beings constructed similarly to Vision in Marvel, though without enhanced abilities other than resistance to cold temperatures.
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“This just in! The planet Arrakis, home of the rare spice known as melange, has been captured by an alien! Yes, it sounds like tabloid news, but it’s true. Security cameras captured the battle, and it has been proven by the fact that the alien has released the footage onto the internet…”- a news report on Tuyet’s takeover of Dune

Chapter Five

The Baron drummed his fingers, thinking hate-laden thoughts.
“How could Feyd-Rautha allow this?” According to footage, he had wound up with his troops shooting each other, and his armory detonated.
“If you will, my lord…”
Piter was wearing an expression of keen interest.
“What is it,” the Baron asked.
“I have heard that a certain person has caused great damage to our forces. If we could eliminate this person, the problem would be no more. We have a large budget for such expenses, correct?”
“That’s right…”
“Well,” said the Mentat, “your agents reported seeing a bounty hunter from the Winter systems recently. You may have heard of him- the one that was left with a major inheritance after House Stark was dissolved by the Landsraad.”
The Baron thought. It was true, then, that this hired fighter existed. He had heard of House Stark being dissolved, of course. He had helped to destroy it at the ruling. But that had been years ago…
“Was this gunman’s name mentioned at the trial?”, asked Piter. “It’s not on record, yet the ship is a Gethenian drop ship, one the Guild would pay highly for. You know that they have their own hyperdrives…”

On Winter, the labs had filled for business. The sun was rising, and the Heroes were deploying to their various stations. Kopaka stood in front of the a door. It led to a room that, according to the Gethenian he had shot last night, held medical supplies. He had used his Akaku, but had stopped once he saw what was happening. Arms extended from the ceiling, and began painting a substance over the Gethenian’s face. It was an android repair facility, not medical stuff at all.

Beside him, the bounty hunter was lying on a mattress. The wound in its stomach was sealed with a flesh-like material that Emran had painted onto it.
“What are you,” asked the bounty hunter. “You’re not like the heroes.”
“I’m a Toa,” Kopaka said. “You know, the ones who serve the Matoran. We follow the will of the Great Spirit Mata Nui, and the Toa code.”
“I don’t know what any of that is… The only ‘great spirit’ I know of is that of the Christian faith, which is mainly limited to this system of the Galaxy.”
The bounty hunter turned its head to look at Kopaka.
“Could you take off this helmet? I’m getting rather thirsty in here.”
Kopaka looked at it. The helmet seemed too plain. It was… wrong.
“Ok,” he finally said.
He grasped the helmet. He began to lift it from the head of the bounty hunter. It rose, as though repelled slightly from the rest of the armor. Then he gasped. The bounty hunter was not a droid, but an organic being. The head looked like a Gethenian head, though with darker skin, and golden hair. Then he saw the circuits inlaid on the beings face. They formed a sort of diadem on the forehead, and accentuated the lines of the cheeks.
“What… are you?”

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ooh, cool

“It is enough to defeat an enemy. Only kill when the opponent refuses to stop, at the risk of his life and those around him.” - Duncan Idaho, in “Duncan’s Blade: an interview with Leto’s warrior”

Chapter Six

Stilgar gestured to the man standing to his right.
“Nidhiki, meet Gurney Halleck. As a bard, he has no equal.”
Gurney extended his hand towards the Toa. Nidhiki was unsure of how to respond.
“I am glad to meet you,” he finally said.
Gurney smiled.
“It’s common to experience confusion in a new culture. In any meeting between strangers, this is felt clearly.”
He turned to Jessica and Paul.
“Milady, I am glad of your safety. Is the Duke…?”
He paused. Her expression told him the whole story. The eyes seemed dark and empty, like a soul tormented by guilt, or sadness.
“Sayyadina, we welcome you to our sietch,” Stilgar said. “Long have we been in need of a Bene Gesserit to lead us in our spiritual matters. But come, they are waiting.”
He led the way towards a tunnel. The group followed, Nidhiki taking the rear. He wondered what was going on. A ceremony, certainly. The Fremen girl in front of him seemed nervous, and unsure of something.

They emerged into a massive cavern. It was filled with the Fremen, who were eagerly expecting something. They glanced at Jessica excitedly, a strange hope evident in their faces. Nidhiki watched as Stilgar mounted the stage.
“Today we welcome a strange new event in our history of freedom: the first time in which we have pledged allegiance to a besieged House of the Imperium. And we have a new ally to greet: Jessica, our new Sayyadina!”
He motioned for her to come forwards. At the same time, a group of Fremen brought in a litter, on which was seated an ancient woman. She was robed in blac, yet was obviously not a Fremen.

Stilgar continued: “To prove herself worthy of this task, she must drink the water of the Makers and provide it for the sietch.”
The girl Chani appeared from the side of the stage, carrying a water skin filled with some liquid. Jessica drank a small amount, then froze. Nidhiki saw numerous reactions to this. Stilgar assumed a pose of intrigued interest, while Chani looked nervous. Paul and Gurney, standing beside him, looked strained.
“…chaumurky,” Gurney muttered, his eyes focused on Jessica. Suddenly, Nidhiki saw Paul relax, his tense muscles visibly flexing slightly. Jessica drank some more of the liquid, then handed the water skin to Chani. She looked, Nidhiki thought, like Naho on a good morning. Happy and serene, poised beautifully and eternally the master of herself. Like a calm, warm ocean, ready for a Ga-Matoran fishing fleet.
“She has it,” a voice cried. “The true sight, and the weirding ways! The true Sayyadina has arrived with her son Muad’Dib! Thus the prophecy is fulfilled.”
The cry of “It is fulfilled!” grew, filling it with an echo. It felt like a nexus, a gathering of energies. Anything might result, they knew. A fanatic uprising, or a ritual feast. War, or peace.

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*“The terror one feels when faced by one’s enemies is always less than when you are faced by the impersonal bureaucracy.” - Excerpt from the diary of Doctor Yueh *

Chapter Six

“I need some help,” Emran said. “You see, under Intersystem Statute 272, I am not allowed to shelter you from the proper authorities.”
The bounty hunter looked from her to Kopaka.
“Well, then, I may as well tell you that they may not want me arrested.”
Emran blinked.
“Why?”
“You have heard of House Stark, and their bid for the Imperium?”
Emran nodded.
“I am the product of that fight. I am, or was, a human from Fomalhaut II, of normal stature and strength. I was taken, with others, to the Imperium’s capitol, where certain, ah, modifications were made to my body. I was given improved genetics, steroids, anything and everything that could make a fighter. Then they left me on— you know where– the place of the Saurdakar. There I received my training, from the planet itself. I emerged as a monster- and lost myself… only after I took a direct shot from a lasgun did I remember my homeworld. And now, I am a hunter, fighting for whoever will shelter me and pay my expenses. You can relieve yourself of your worries and remove me now, if you so wish.”
Kopaka looked at her. She looked tired, worn down by a long struggle.
“I can guard her,” he said to Emran. “Just let her rest. This may be her last chance.
The Gethenian sighed.
“I’ll let you,” she replied, “but remember, I’m a scientist, not a government leader. I can help, but only so much. If I exceed my limits, we’ll all suffer.”

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Ooh cool

“Everybody wants to be my enemy!” - Imagine Dragons, in “Enemy”

Chapter Eight

Emran left the two beings in her lab. She thought hard as she drove back to her apartment.
“Why must my family always be getting into these sort of situations,” she thought. “When it’s not politics, it’s science or religion.”
She remembered the picture, hanging in a beautiful frame, on the wall of a dark hallway. It depicted a young King of the Gethenians, standing over the body of the previous ruler, holding the blaster that had taken her life.
“I’m the one who is dead,” she thought. “I’m- I’m going back.”
She turned, the wheels of her car skidding on the icy pavement. Emran thought of the laws regarding mutants. They were not technically legal, but if she could work it out with the ruler…

She glanced up. There were lights ahead. Not lights, fire. The lab was burning, and a Hero Factory dropship was blocking the road.
“This is a bad idea…” she thought.
As the car neared the dropship, two Heroes stepped out. One was grey, armed with a large projectile launcher, while the second was carrying a spherical weapon.
“Halt! Show us your identity!”
Emran gunned her engine, heading straight towards them. The droids raised their weapons, aiming precisely, carefully. As the car came closer, a burst of lightning struck it, causing it to spin out of control. It hit the gate of the lab, smashing the sides to pieces.
“Did you have to do that, Surge? You may have killed the driver.”
“Stop worrying about that. I’ll just get a visual scan…”
The blue Hero bent over the wreckage, peering inside. He started.
“It’s- not possible. Emran? Our creator?”
As he turned to look again, he heard a cry, then a loud crunch. Surge reached for his weapon. It was… gone. He turned… and flew backwards into the landing gear of the dropship. Two figures tore the door off of the car. A Toa, and a lithe, heavily armored figure.
“Just get her into the ‘ship, Toa,” said the latter. “I’ll fix these droids–“
“No,” Emran muttered.
“Whatever,” the bounty hunter said. She leaped up the ramp to the cabin of the dropship.
“We need to leave. Now. Where was this thing headed, anyway?”
“Hmm. The computer says Arrakis,” Kopaka said.
“Well, let’s go there. It’s security has been notoriously lax recently, especially for smugglers. We’ll just stop somewhere and rip off the insignia from this ship along the way. I know a few guys who could help.”
The engines fired, surprisingly quietly, and the ship began turning, angling. Then the exhaust flared blue, and it sped off, away from the wreckage of the lab.

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ooh very nice

“It is their own pursuit of stability that has destroyed them.” – Duke Paul Atreides, in The Battle of Arrakis.

Chapter Eight

“Welcome to Giedi Prime, home of the House Harkonnen!”
Kopaka felt an intense urge to laugh. The spaceport was not at all welcoming. Armed guards patrolled its halls, and it seemed generally unused by commoners. He could tell, though, that they were uneasy around him. S4, as the bounty hunter was now called, had helped him disguise himself as a Saurdakar. The armor was almost the same as his adaptive armor, and no one dared question him at the moment. He walked towards a door, carefully avoiding the notice of some figures lounging in the nearby bar.

The door led into a tunnel. It was damp, and the metal rails on the floor were rusted. He continued walking, scanning everything for traps. Kopaka saw that there were telltale signs of something large in the tunnel. Scratches on the floor and walls confirmed his suspicion. He pressed on. It had been the better part of an hour, and he began thinking that S4 must have been wrong. The tunnel was dark, and seemed to stretch out into infinity. Then he slammed into a door. It was metal, a type he had never felt before. Activating his Akaku, Kopaka tried to look through the door, but it had no effect. All he saw was darkness, and a strange symbol on the lock. It was a face, a strangely kind robotic face, with the mouth covered by a metal plate of armor. As if on cue, a voice spoke.
“Say the password to enter the secured area.”
“What? There is no secured area! This is a sewer,” Kopaka shouted. “I was supposed to meet up with someone who could get a ship repainted here.”
He stopped, listening to the echoes die away. There was a moment of silence, then the voice replied:
“Who sent you?”
“A bounty hunter.”
“What was the bounty hunter’s name?”
“I don’t know, it was something weird that sounds like Sam. She said to call her S4.”
There was a loud clunk, and a sound like a hard drive whirring. The face on the door began splitting, as it slowly retracted into the walls. Kopaka stepped back, raising his Skyblaster. A bright light struck his face, blinding him. He could see two titanic figures, covered in armor that had a strange appearance. They had numerous odd protrusions on their limbs, circular objects that looked to be made of rubber. In the hand of the taller one was a great longsword, glistening in the light. Kopaka slowly lowered his gun, his scope expanding and contracting as his vision adjusted to the light.
“Who are you,” he asked.

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