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- 40th Dimension, 61st Timeline
- Matoran Universe - Stelt
- 100,300 years after the Shattering of Spherus Magna
It was a warm, humid night on the island of Stelt. Knoxus knelt above a pile of twisted metal he called his latest project, heat stone in hand.
“How long do you plan on tinkering with that thing Knoxus?” A dreary-eyed Fe-Matoran groaned, rolling over in a bunk on the opposite corner of their tent.
“Not much longer Kronos.” Knoxus responded. “It should be ready for some flight tests in the morning.”
“You know we have a ■■■■■■■■ coming in early tomorrow, right? You’ve been working on those gauntlets for weeks now, give it a rest.” Kronos sighed.
Knoxus reluctantly stood up and kicked his prototype rocket gauntlets under the bunk. He was getting weary of constantly moving from island to island. The caravan of Fe-Matoran he lived with were weapons dealers, who made their living crafting and selling weaponry to some less than savory individuals. They had just as many enemies as they had friends, so packing up and hiding was just a fact of life.
“I’m just tired of building guns.” Knoxus said.
“Yeah, and I’m just tired.” Kronos quipped back.
Knoxus paid no attention to Kronos’ stark response and decided to turn in for the night.
Knoxus… this is your end…
Knoxus was startled awake. For as long as he could remember he’d been having the same recurring nightmare of a tall, shadowy figure chasing him down until it finally kills him. Despite the warm outside temperature, his entire body was cold. He squinted as a bright light shined into the tent from outside. He looked over at Kronos’ bunk, which was now empty.
“Ugh, morning.” Knoxus mumbled to himself. He climbed out of his tent and was greeted to the sight of his 16 Fe-Matoran brothers frantically stacking up various crates of blades and Nynrah Ghost Blasters on the docks at the edge of the camp, preparing their goods for the next trade ship’s arrival. One of them turned toward Knoxus. His name was Parax, and he was the leader of their venture.
“Knoxus, my boy! Where have you been?” Parax shouted over the noise.
Kronos’ voice echoed across the camp, “Oversleeping! He was up all night working on that busted rocket pack of his!” Kronos said, laughing. Parax started toward Knoxus. Expecting to be scolded, Knoxus looked at the ground, but caught a glimpse of a smile on Parax’s face. Parax threw an arm around Knoxus’ shoulder and began walking him along toward the shore.
“I admire your work ethic Knoxus, although you’ve got to learn to use it at the right times.” Parax said, grinning. "How’s the jetpack coming along, anyway?”
“They’re rocket gauntlets actually. They should allow for finer control in the air, but I haven’t tried to fly them yet. The last few gas mixtures I used were a bit too… explosive.” Knoxus replied.
“Ah, I see. At least the leftover flamethrower parts are going to good use.” Parax stopped to think for a second. “Perhaps, if this trade deal goes well, I’ll give you all a day off tomorrow!”
The group of Fe-Matoran cheered in unison. Parax spoke up again. “And then maybe we can watch Knoxus do his first test flight!” The whole group let out a laugh. Knoxus smiled and shook his head. His brothers were rough around the edges, but they were like a family.
"Now everyone, get to it!” Parax shouted. Everyone immediately scrambled back to work.
The crew of the merchant vessel ‘Palanquin’ had arrived not 30 minutes ago and had already made short work of the pallets of crates on the shoreline. The crew consisted of several Steltian traders, as well as the occasional Ga-Matoran mixed in. The captain of the ship, also a Ga-Matoran, discussed payment with Parax for a while before finally deciding on a number they both liked. They settled on a price of 500 widgets, and the ship set off.
Knoxus leaned back on a rock to watch the waves roll in as he tried to decide what to do with his afternoon. He was soon joined by Parax, who had wandered down from the camp after noticing him. The two Fe-Matoran sat quietly for a moment.
“So, you’ve been having those dreams again.” Parax spoke up.
“Uh, yeah. How’d you know?” Knoxus asked.
“You seemed a little shaken this morning, like your mind was elsewhere. I didn’t want to say anything in front of the others, though.”
“Oh, uh… thanks?” Knoxus wasn’t sure why Parax was suddenly being so personal with him. All he knew about Parax was he used to be part of a group of weapon builders called the Nynrah Ghosts, but had cut ties with them.
Parax’s eyes wandered along the shoreline. “Would you believe I’ve never met a Matoran as strange as you, Knoxus? There’s just something… different about you.” “We Matoran are built to work and yet, I’ve never seen a Fe-Matoran shy away from a set of welding equipment. It’s almost like you’re plotting something…”
Knoxus had a puzzled look on his face. “Sir, I assure you I’m not-”
Parax interjected. “I know, I know. I guess I’m just worried you’ll want to leave us! I would miss having someone with your talents around. I can’t trust a lot of these buffoons to handle the more delicate side of weapon crafting.” “But destiny is destiny. If you feel like there’s more to your tale, don’t worry about what we’ll think. I trust, deep down, even Kronos would understand.”
Honestly, Knoxus did feel like he was meant for something more. The life of a weapon maker was all he knew, but he had always felt like he didn’t belong.
“Don’t worry,” Knoxus said. “I’m not going anywhere.” He held his fist out to Parax, who bumped it with his own. The two Matoran looked out to the Protodermis Sea, which reflected the light of the lowering sun. Parax squinted into the light, and suddenly stood up.
"What is that?” Parax mumbled. Knoxus looked as well, and he could barely make out several strange, angular objects flying in their direction. A moment later, Parax’s eyes widened.
“Mata Nui, it’s an attack!” Parax shouted. He turned and sprinted toward the camp, waving his arms and shouting, “It’s the Brotherhood! Sound the alarm bell!”
Knoxus ran after Parax. He’d been a part of a few skirmishes due to trade disagreements, but this was the first time their camp was being attacked without warning.
“The Brotherhood!? What do they want!?” Knoxus asked.
Parax yelled back to Knoxus as they continued running, “Many years ago, the Makuta commissioned the Nynrah Ghosts to upgrade their armor to accommodate their ‘improved’ bodies. After seeing what they’d become I refused the job and left to start my own weapons business. And I don’t think they forgot about me.”
Blasts of shadow energy rained down upon the camp, splintering crates and blowing up weapon stores. Knoxus’ fellow Fe-Matoran took cover, but a few weren’t as lucky in surviving the initial barrage.
“For the love of Artakha, shoot these wannabe Cliff-Screechers!” Parax shouted. The Matoran all reached for the closest weapon and began a counterattack. Knoxus and Parax were almost to the camp, but Knoxus tripped on his feet just as one of the bat-like Makuta landed behind him. Parax spun around, pulling a Nynrah Ghost Blaster from a holster on his back.
“Down Makuta!” He yelled as he pulled the trigger. The Makuta was blasted backwards out of sight as the shot exploded on his chest. Knoxus slowly stood back up.
“Thanks, I thought-” Knoxus’ words were cut off by the sound of a shadow blast. He watched as Parax fell to the gray sands in front of him, with a gaping, smoldering hole in his side.
“PARAX!” Knoxus yelled, rushing over to his leader’s body. Parax looked up at Knoxus, his eyes and heartlight flickering.
“I think it might be time for that test flight…” Parax sputtered, and his heartlight went out. Knoxus looked around. The Makuta were coming around for another attack, so he had to run. He took Parax’s Ghost Blaster and began running back to his tent to retrieve his gauntlets.
The path back to his tent was littered with the bodies of Fe-Matoran who had suffered similar fates to Parax, but Knoxus couldn’t stop. If his gauntlets worked, he could attempt to shoot down the Makuta in the air before they had a chance to land.
He arrived at the tent and ripped open the front flap. Suddenly, a curved blade shot forward from the tent, barely missing Knoxus’ head, and scraping his shoulder. Knoxus jumped backward as the blade retracted into the tent, where Knoxus could now see his attacker.
It was a tall, thin Makuta wearing black and silver armor and a Kanohi Huna. At the end of his arms were two curved blades instead of hands, and it looked exactly like the shadowy figure from his dreams. He silently glared at Knoxus for a second, before moving forward, and readying his blade once again.
Knoxus pulled out the Ghost Blaster and fired blindly. The first shot whizzed past the Makuta, searing a hole in the tent’s canvas. He lunged again as Knoxus pulled the trigger a second time. This time, the shot found its mark, and the spindly Makuta was sent flying five feet backwards, taking the tent with it. Knoxus clambered over to his bunk and retrieved his gauntlets. He looked to the pile of wood and fabric that was once his tent and was surprised to see that it wasn’t moving. He approached the crumpled tent and looked inside, and the Makuta he shot was nowhere to be found.
“Knoxus! Over here!”
Knoxus turned to see Kronos frantically waving at him. Several Makuta were about to land near the islands’ shore, and Kronos was beckoning him to join the Matoran’s line of defense. Knoxus began running toward the line, but the incoming Makuta weren’t slowing down. He was halfway there as 4 Makuta dive-bombed the line of Fe-Matoran, crushing more than half of them. Knoxus watched in shock as the remaining Fe-Matoran began to fight for their lives.
Kronos had locked blades with a larger, purple and red armored Makuta, and appeared to have the upper hand. However, the Makuta lifted his leg and grabbed Kronos by the neck with a clawed foot. Two wings then sprouted from the Makuta’s back, and he began to fly away.
Knoxus’ grip tightened on his gauntlets’ controls. He refused to let Kronos die too. Pointing his arms at the ground behind him, he pressed the ignition. A huge fireball erupted from each gauntlet, launching him into the air. Within a moment, the flame jet stabilized, and Knoxus was flying above the camp. He kept his arms as straight as he could, as even the smallest change in angle altered his course. He looked forward and saw the Makuta roughly 100 feet away from him, still carrying Kronos.
The Makuta looked back with a shocked expression as Knoxus caught up to him. Four additional wings sprouted from the Makuta’s back, which flapped in tandem, leaving Knoxus far behind. Knoxus went to reach for his Ghost Blaster, but he hesitated.
His gauntlets had a major design flaw. Once they were activated, he couldn’t move his arms at all without deactivating them, and there weren’t separate controls for each arm. If he wanted to shoot the Makuta, he’d have to enter freefall.
Knoxus looked down. He was only a couple hundred feet above the protodermis sea. He couldn’t imagine that height would grant him much time to aim.
I’ve only got one shot at this… Knoxus thought.
He deactivated his gauntlets and spread his arms to either side to grant himself as much time as possible. He pulled out his Ghost Blaster, and carefully took aim at the Makuta, which was getting further and further away. He took a deep breath, hoping to Mata Nui he wouldn’t hit Kronos, and pulled the trigger.
The shot flew straight and true, hitting the Makuta square in the back between its six wings. It let out a screech as it plummeted toward the sea, losing its grip on Kronos on its way. Knoxus reactivated his gauntlets, but he was just seconds too late. As the initial fireball launched from the gauntlets, he crashed into the sea.
Knoxus flailed back to the surface. In the distance, he saw the Makuta he shot down do the same. It sprouted wings again and flew off. Knoxus began to swim to where the Makuta had landed, in the hopes of seeing Kronos there. As he swam, he noticed a sinister-looking airship floating behind a massive cloud. Several Makuta were flying toward the airship. The purple and red Makuta he had shot down joined them, and Knoxus realized these were the same Makuta that attacked the camp. He turned to look back at Stelt.
The entire beach was on fire, and there was no movement. The Brotherhood had done their dirty work, and his brothers were no more. Knoxus saw a silver object floating in the protodermis up ahead, and continued swimming. When he arrived, he found Kronos’ body floating there. At some point after taking off, the Makuta had crushed his neck in his grip.
Knoxus wanted to cry, but a large shadow suddenly blotted out the sunlight. The Brotherhood’s airship was flying overhead, so to avoid being seen, Knoxus dove underwater, and used Kronos’ body as cover. He waited a full minute for the airship to pass before coming back up for air. He then stayed with Kronos’ body until the Brotherhood’s airship was completely out of sight.
Knoxus noticed something else on the horizon. A ship was sailing toward him, and not just any ship. It was the Palanquin, the same trade ship which had stopped there earlier in the day. Knoxus debated swimming toward Stelt, but realizing the Palanquin was closer, swam towards it instead.
Knoxus was pulled up onto the deck of the Palanquin by a Steltian Trader, who quickly stood aside as a stocky Ga-Matoran approached him.
“What happened? We saw the smoke from miles away!” The Ga-Matoran asked.
“The Brotherhood of Makuta ransacked the camp. They killed everyone, even Parax.” Knoxus said, coughing up some liquid protodermis.
The crew of the ship began murmuring when they heard the news. Knoxus looked up at the Ga-Matoran, who had sympathy in her eyes, but she suddenly looked over to the crew.
“Resume the original course!” She shouted, walking away from Knoxus and toward the back of the ship.
Knoxus blinked, realizing he had just been talking to the captain. He stood up and walked after her. “Wait!” He shouted, “What about the camp? Shouldn’t we make sure there aren’t any survivors?”
The Ga-Matoran whirled around. “Listen. Parax was my friend. But I’ve dealt with the Brotherhood before, and I know, if you end up on their bad side, they don’t leave survivors. You’re lucky to be alive, but if you think I’m going to risk my ship, my crew, and my cargo for some dead Fe-Matoran craftsmen, then you’ve got another thing coming.”
“But… we were business partners!”
“You were the cheapest weapon dealers we could find. If I’d known better, I would’ve gone the safe route trading with the Nynrah Ghosts and lived with the higher prices instead.”
Knoxus was flabbergasted. He thought Ga-Matoran were the docile type, but this one was anything but. Still, he understood where she was coming from. Had he known his camp was on the Brotherhood’s hitlist, he would’ve thought about leaving much sooner.
“You’re right, but I still need to go back! Where is this ship heading?” Knoxus pleaded to the captain. She sighed and pointed to the horizon.
“That way.” She huffed. “Toward the Southern Continent. After we do our business there, we can arrange for a boat to take you back to Stelt. It’ll be a few weeks, but you have my word.”
“Alright… you’ve got a deal.” Knoxus said, holding a hand out to the captain. She reluctantly shook it.
“The name’s Muras. CAPTAIN Muras. Don’t think you’re getting this ride for free either. I expect you to work.”
Knoxus sighed. “Of course.”
End of Chapter 1
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