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- 40th Dimension, 61st Timeline
- Matoran Universe – Karda Nui
- 1,000 years after the Great Cataclysm
Peace. That’s all Knoxus wanted. He’d had it, for a time. 1000 years, to be exact. He had carved out a living with the Av-Matoran of Karda Nui, who had plummeted along with him into the massive cavern below their villages in an event they went on to call ‘The Fall.’ Some of their villages survived the disaster atop the massive stalactites which were now embedded in the marshy cave floor below. Knoxus managed to earn their trust and went on to help them rebuild. But now things were changing again, for the worse.
Roughly 1 week ago, the Av-Matoran villages were attacked directly by the Brotherhood of Makuta. At first, Knoxus thought they were still looking for him, but the Makuta weren’t simply killing Matoran this time. Instead, the Makuta were draining the light from the Av-Matoran, transforming them into nightmare versions of themselves using shadow leeches – demonic Rahi created by the Makuta to spread their evil infection.
The Brotherhood had whittled their resistance down to a single village, and to make matters worse, the Matoran were pretty certain that the Great Spirit had just died. Knoxus didn’t feel he had the same special connection with Mata Nui as the Av-Matoran, but he too could feel the change in the air. Somehow, he knew Mata Nui was gone. And now his so-called ‘brother’ was breaking down their front door.
Knoxus was taking cover inside a supply building when a familiar red-colored Av-Matoran came bursting in.
“Quick! Give me all the lightvine we have!” Radiak shouted into the shed. “The outer perimeter has been damaged. If I don’t get out there and repair it, we’ll be overrun by Shadow Matoran!”
Knoxus bundled up the little lightvine they had left and handed it to Radiak. “That’s everything.” He sighed.
“That’s it? Even if I do manage to graft the vine back together, the village won’t be able to hold out much longer without more.”
Knoxus was impressed by Radiak’s bravery. “I can go and gather more. I know a quick way down the stalactite to reach the canopy easier. It should be easy to avoid the Makuta that way. It’s the least I can do if you’re going out there alone.” Knoxus offered.
“Outstanding. You do your duty with honor, Knoxus. Good luck.” Radiak pat Knoxus on the shoulder and left to tend to the lightvine at the perimeter of the village. Knowing what awaited him out there, Radiak would be lucky if he came back in one piece. Knoxus pulled a sickle from a tool rack on the wall, strapped his trusty Nynrah Ghostblaster to his back, and snuck his way to the edge of the village.
Knoxus stepped up to the edge of the stalactite pillar and faced the misty expanse of Karda Nui. The skies were clear, for now. The Makuta must’ve been preoccupied attacking the other side of the village. Without hesitating, Knoxus took the quickest way he knew down the stalactite: jumping.
The air whistled through the holes in his Kanohi Pakari as he fell further and further, until he was only a few hundred feet above the canopy of the Swamp of Secrets. He activated his rocket gauntlets and took flight.
He’d improved the gauntlets’ design to perfection through the years he spent in Karda Nui, and he even assisted the Av-Matoran in developing jetpacks to travel from village to village. Now, his gauntlets could be operated independently of each other, and the controls were much more responsive. Knoxus checked that he wasn’t being followed, then continued rocketing towards his destination.
Knoxus looped the lightvine he had just harvested around his right shoulder. He had gathered as much as he could carry, and it was time to head back. Something seemed off however, even more so than usual lately. His surroundings were eerily silent, and he felt like he was being watched.
He looked back to the village. It was well within eyesight, but there was a suspicious lack of the winged guests circling in the air which he had grown used to seeing for the past week. He kept a careful eye on his surroundings as he took off back toward the village.
He didn’t get very far before hearing a faint popping noise directly above him. He looked up just in time to see a mass of writhing shadow leeches land on top of him. The shock of the impact made him drop his sickle as the swirling, snakelike creatures coiled around his arms, legs, and neck. Thankfully, the lightvine wrapped around his right shoulder kept them away from his second gauntlet so he could continue maintaining flight.
The leeches immediately began to attack, sinking their sharp teeth into as many parts of Knoxus’ body as they could reach. Knoxus screamed in pain, and tried to pry them off, but the slimy creatures slipped from his grasp. He wasn’t an Av-Matoran, but he could still feel energy draining from his body. The more he struggled, the weaker he became. At this point, he could hardly keep his course straight.
The shadow infection process seemed to be taking longer than usual, and the leeches were clearly getting impatient. They began biting repeatedly all over, and one of them managed to short circuit his left gauntlet. Knoxus started spinning wildly out of control. Through all the chaos, he saw a blue-armored Makuta swooping in toward him. His attacker was coming to claim its prey.
Suddenly, the entire cavern was filled with a flash of bright, white light. The Makuta was blinded by the flash and promptly broke off from its pursuit. The light grew brighter and brighter, until every corner of Karda Nui was bathed in its rays, and its glow somehow felt familiar to Knoxus. For a moment, he felt as if the balance to the universe had been restored, but that feeling was instantly replaced by a burning sensation in his left arm and leg.
The shadow leeches screeched in pain, loosening their grip on Knoxus. As the light faded, Knoxus regained enough of his sight to see where he was going – headfirst into Karda Nui’s Swamp of Secrets.
Knoxus crashed through the canopy of the swamp, tree branches snapping against his body the whole way down. He felt the remaining shadow leeches get knocked off him, along with his mask and blaster. Then with a wet slap, he vanished into the murky, mutagenic water.
Knoxus choked on the vile liquid. He had no air left in his lungs, as the impact had knocked it all out him. He felt the mutagenic water begin warping his limbs into whatever it pleased. The pain was immense, compounded further by the shadow infection spreading across his body from his left arm and leg. Sinking like a rock, he watched the familiar light of Karda Nui filtering in from above slowly dissipate.
This is it. Knoxus thought. I’m done for…
Knoxus heard something else hit the surface of the water above. A glowing object slowly sank toward him. Suddenly, Knoxus heard a voice inside his head.
Put on the Mask.
Knoxus reached out to the object as it drifted toward him. It was a Kanohi Tryna, the Great Mask of Reanimation, and it was glowing with a white-colored energy. It burned his hand as he grabbed it, and with the last of his strength, he lifted the mask to his face.
Suddenly, energy coursed through his body. He felt air fill his lungs and strength return to his limbs. Water started rushing around him, and he quickly realized he was being pulled to the surface! He burst forth from the murky swamp and landed on the muddy bank with a sharp thud.
Hours later, Knoxus woke with a bump on the back of his head. Everything he saw looked off, but he quickly realized it was because he was looking through the eyeholes of a different Kanohi. He pulled the mask off his face and examined it. It was the same Tryna from earlier, now cool to the touch, and no longer glowing. It was a reflective silver color, but the left cheek had several black smudges on it. He tried to clean them off, to no avail. In fact, they seemed to be discoloring the metal itself. But that became the least of his concern, as he had just noticed his hands weren’t his own. He quickly scrambled to the edge of the swamp to look at his reflection in the water.
His reflection was no longer that of an orange and gunmetal armored Matoran. Now, it was a Toa staring back at him. He stood roughly six feet tall and was clad head to toe in gleaming silver armor, all except for his left side, which was covered in the familiar black shadow infection that had overcome so many of his fellow villagers. However, the spread of the infection seemed to have stopped in place, only consuming his left arm and leg completely.
Knoxus lost track of time examining his new form. He wasn’t really sure what to think. He remembered the stories of six heroic Toa that Solek had recalled to him against his will. He had always hated listening to Solek’s stories. What good were Toa? None of them ever helped him out before. He had never even seen one before, but now he WAS one.
Knoxus suddenly heard voices shouting in the distance. “What is this nonsense? What do you mean you can’t fix blindness?”
The angry voices started getting louder, so Knoxus ducked into some tall grass nearby. Two Makuta stepped into the clearing. Knoxus recognized only one of them: The red-armored Makuta who had assisted in terrorizing the village. The Makuta accompanying him wore black and green armor, and they were clearly having a heated conversation.
“I experiment with Rahi, Antroz. I’m not an eye doctor. It may not be impossible to fix your sight, but I suggest finding some other method of seeing for the time being.” The green-armored Makuta replied.
“How do you suggest I find another method of SEEING, you buffoon!?” Antroz slammed the other Makuta against a nearby tree. “I don’t suppose you’ve got a Mask of Clairvoyance on you, huh?”
“Perhaps you could repurpose some of the Shadow Matoran to act as your eyes? I’m not sure what Teridax needs them for, but it certainly would make them more useful to us.”
“You expect me to carry one of those filthy weaklings with me at all times? I’d look ridiculous!”
“You already look ridiculous Antroz.”
The two Makuta continued to squabble, making their way closer and closer to Knoxus’ hiding spot. He tried to slink out of the way, but a twig snapped under his foot.
“What was that?” Antroz said, looking around wildly. The other Makuta looked directly at Knoxus’ hiding place.
“We’re not alone, Antroz. There’s something hiding in the underbrush.” Knoxus had been found out. He slowly stood, revealing himself to the two Makuta. The green-armored Makuta seemed taken aback by his appearance.
“What is it Mutran?” Antroz said cautiously.
“It appears to be a Toa of Iron… and Shadow.”
“Iron AND Shadow? Is this one of your experiments Mutran?”
“No, I don’t think even I could come up with something so twisted.”
Knoxus clenched his fists. He had had a long day, and the last thing he needed was to be insulted by the bane of his existence.
“You know what? The last thing we need right now is a Toa making things messy. Mutran, kill this miserable creature before it decides to be a hero.”
Mutran unsheathed a sword and slowly stepped toward Knoxus. In all his past encounters with Makuta he had Parax’s Ghostblaster by his side, but it was now somewhere at the bottom of the Swamp of Secrets.
I’m a Toa of Iron now. Knoxus thought. And Makutas’ bodies are made of metal armor… Perhaps it’s time to put these new Toa powers to use.
He thrust both of his arms at the approaching Makuta. Mutran flinched slightly and stopped. But Knoxus felt nothing – no energy, no control. Mutran smirked and suddenly rushed at Knoxus.
Mutran stopped. Knoxus was already bracing himself for more pain, but subconsciously, he had triggered a mechanism within his armor. Two small metal tubes extended from the armor on each of his forearms, pointing directly at Mutran.
“Ha ha! What is that? Some sort of party trick?” Mutran sneered. But Knoxus knew exactly what was going on. The noise they heard was the familiar sound of his rocket gauntlets. They had apparently transformed along with him to accommodate his new form.
With a flick of his wrist, Knoxus activated the gauntlets, and large fireballs erupted from the metal tubes protruding from his arms. Mutran screamed, barely jumping out of the way as the fireballs engulfed the surrounding area, having seared one of his wings off in the process.
“Run Antroz, you fool!” Mutran screeched. The two Makuta fled into the depths of the swamp. For a moment, Knoxus considered pursuit, but there was no way he’d be able to match their speed. Plus, he didn’t know how many reinforcements they had nearby.
Knoxus turned to the burning clearing and retrieved Mutran’s severed wing. The wing was rigid and sharp enough to be used as a makeshift sword for now. It was good enough to defend against swamp Rahi or Shadow Matoran if necessary.
He debated on what he should do next. Surely his fellow Matoran would have a negative first impression with his current infected appearance, but unlike the other Matoran who were turned, he seemed to be in his right mind. Perhaps, the reason he wasn’t under the shadow’s influence was due to the infection not spreading past his head. Either way, he couldn’t risk showing his face now. He had to get the hang of his elemental powers first. Then maybe, the Matoran would be more likely to accept him back into their ranks.
Knoxus was ready to retreat to safety, but he caught a glimpse of something watching him from behind some tall grass. The shadowy presence seemed to notice it was spotted, quickly backing further into the swamp. It had an eerie aura about it, and it moved almost unnaturally. Curiously, Knoxus pushed his way through the foliage, following it deeper and deeper into the swamp, until he suddenly lost sight of it. He looked around. Apparently, he had ventured deep into one of the darkest parts of the swamp without even realizing it.
“Who’s there!?” Knoxus called out.
“Your nightmare.” A raspy voice responded. Suddenly, a shadowy figure came rushing at him out of nowhere. A silver blade swung at his throat with a frightening speed, which Knoxus barely parried with his makeshift sword. He fell on his backside as the shadowy figure stood before him. He recognized the being. It was the same Makuta that attacked him in his tent on Stelt – the one from his recurring dream.
“What do you want from me?” Knoxus shouted at the Makuta.
“Nothing… ever.” He responded.
Another voice echoed from out of nowhere. “Oh, how dramatic.” Knoxus and the Makuta both froze, looking around in confusion. Suddenly, the Makuta was knocked away by some invisible force, landing against a tree trunk. The voice spoke up again, “Knoxus, I’ll handle this guy, you get out of here.”
“What? Where are you?” Knoxus yelled into the sky.
“Right in front of you. Now move!” The voice shouted back. Knoxus couldn’t see anyone, but somehow, he could sense a presence standing there. Was he detecting the traces of metal within an invisible Bio-Mechanical being?
“NO!” The Makuta screamed, lunging at Knoxus again. Knoxus jumped aside at the same time the invisible being slammed against the Makuta. His arm blade stabbed directly into a massive tree trunk with a deep thud. The Makuta tried to pull his blade free from the tree, but it was really stuck in there. He shot a vicious glare at Knoxus. The Makuta’s orange eyes of hatred locked with Knoxus’ eyes of fear and confusion. Then, a veil of shimmering red light covered the Makuta’s body, and he vanished, leaving behind a gaping hole in the tree trunk where his blade had once pierced it.
“So that’s how he does it.” The invisible figure remarked.
“What was THAT?” Knoxus said, flabbergasted.
“Classified.” The figure replied.
Knoxus stood up and faced the invisible figure as best as he could. “Who are you, and how do you know my name?”
“Again, classified. But, if you come with me, you may find the answers you seek.”
“Come with you? Where?”
The invisible figure sighed, “To my organization’s headquarters. We’ve been secretly watching you for years, waiting for the opportune moment.”
“Recruitment. My organization has a need for members with special talents. Destiny has chosen your duty for you, and it lies with us. Which is why you should follow.” The figure said calmly. Over the last thousand years, Knoxus thought ‘destiny’ had it in for him. But for once, a real opportunity stood before him, though ironically, he literally couldn’t see it.
“Alright,” Knoxus responded. “I’ll follow.”
A few hours of marching through the marsh later, and Knoxus was still without answers. The invisible figure had barely spoken other than to correct Knoxus’ course, as he was having trouble following someone he couldn’t see. Soon, the massive cave wall at the edge of Karda Nui was within view. Knoxus had only been this way once or twice on scouting parties, recalling the sight of a mysterious spherical structure somewhere along the outer wall. Was that this so-called organization’s headquarters?
The pair stepped out at the edge of the Swamp of Secrets, facing the towering cave wall.
“Here we are.” Said the invisible figure. Knoxus looked around. There was nothing in sight except rocks.
“Are you serious?” Knoxus spoke up. The invisible figure simply laughed in response. Knoxus felt he was about to go mad for sure. After dredging through the swamp for hours on foot, he was questioning if he wasn’t already insane. For all he knew, the invisible figure could just be a figment of his imagination.
Knoxus heard the figure snap his fingers. Suddenly, a huge portal – one large enough to fly a Metru-Nui airship though – opened in front of the two beings. Knoxus’ eyes widened.
“After you.” The invisible figure said. Knoxus could tell by his voice that he was smirking. He cautiously took one step into the portal, and then another.
Once through, Knoxus felt the climate change drastically. This place was blisteringly hot and humid, a stark contrast to the damp cold of Karda Nui. The invisible figure followed him through the portal, which was noticeably smaller on the other side.
The portal closed behind them, and Knoxus looked around. The area was extremely lush, with mountainous terrain and what appeared to be a volcano in the distance. Streams of water trickled down the hills, and resting across a small field before them was a massive stone fortress. It looked to be built from multiple tall stone towers interconnected with high walls. An impressively large tower loomed in the center of the fortress, higher than all the others, and a deep moat surrounded the fortress on all sides, with a single bridge leading across to the front gate.
Knoxus heard the sound of thrusters in the distance, and noticed a green and silver armored Matoran making their way toward them with some kind of jet-boots.
The Matoran landed next to them and began speaking. “Hi there Knoxus! Welcome to Daxia! Did you find him alright Jerbraz?” The Matoran said excitedly.
“Solunus! You weren’t supposed to use my real name. I could have you written up for that.”
“Oh, right! Sorry, sorry! I just got so excited to finally meet him in person. You know, Mata Nui himself-”
“Shh, Solunus. Take him to see the Mistress first. He isn’t one of us yet.” Jerbraz hissed.
“Oh, of course. You can take your leave then I guess.” Solunus responded. Jerbraz turned away from the two of them without a word, disappearing into another portal behind them.
“Follow me please!” Solunus said, with a flourish of his hands. Knoxus looked warily at the Matoran. He was clearly a Le-Matoran, but his armor seemed extremely high-tech. Various tools and other oddities hung from belts and straps all over him, and his mask was filthy with scratches and smudges.
“Okay, but I better not end up being taken apart.” Knoxus said. “I know the look of a tinkerer when I see one.”
“Ha ha! You wouldn’t know tinkering if it hit you like a Tarakava.” Solunus laughed. “Anyway, come! Helryx-, err, I mean, the Mistress is expecting you!”
Solunus turned, and with Knoxus in tow, began walking toward the fortress.
End of Chapter 3
Link to Story Masterlist: https://bit.ly/2XrTBmx