Varesh sifted through the rubble of what was once a Brotherhood Fortress. It had been several years since Mata Nui had left them all to survive as well as they could on Spherus Magna with organic beings everywhere, new threats beyond the remnants of the Brotherhood servants, and the Skakdi and their rumored champion of power. It was well enough for him, safely tucked away inside a Mask no one dared destroy. The irresponsibility of it all made a Toa want to–
“GAH” A great spider had just launched its way through the rubble, knock Varesh on his back. A triangular piece of rock landed in his hand and Varesh lashed out with it at the creature that stood over him. The thing leapt away and scuttled a few feet before standing to watch Varesh with great intensity.
Varesh summoned power to his hand, ready to encase the Rahi, or whatever Spherus Magna beast is might be, in stone. The creature took a step forward and…bowed?
Standing down his power, Varesh looked at the Rahi, which enough dust had fallen from that he could see it was a green Visorak. A Keelerak if he could remember properly. Where one was, Varesh was sure there were more. Varesh snapped his fingers, sending a pulse through the stones beneath the Visorak, and ran, dropping the stone he had picked up so he could use both hands to scramble over the ruins of his old universe. He would make camp far from here, closer to one of the Southern Islands if he could. Excavation crews had barely cleared to the Northern Continent, and he should be able to live in relative peace back for a few years before anyone found him and forced him out of his true home.
The ocean was silent, as it had been for millennia. The water ebbed and flowed far above, but in the furthest, darkest reaches of the ocean floor, nothing stirred the sand or the rotting corpses. Seaweed grew unmoved and slimy, straining against their roots for the surface. The sea creatures in these depths were vast and shadowy, passing through chasms to vast mountain ridges without a sound, a mystery to all who dared to observe their vigil.
A dark, spindly, hunched character gazed over just such a scene on yet another bleak day in their prison. His tattered cloak hung loosely over one shoulder, rotting matter breaking and drifting off with every movement. Moss and barnacles covered this ancient creature's claws and deformed head. The once-great warlord Mantax had stood on this cliff overlooking an even greater chasm than their beloved pit for the greater part of the last century, and his legs were getting tired.
Mantax' mind slowly began to refocus on his reason for standing over this valley when he remembered that there was nothing better to do, and promptly dismissed the thought. As soon as he did, however, another thought came to him: an artifact that had been lost to him many years ago. Something that held great power, he was certain. Slowly, with no small amount of groaning and the crack of his thin mineral shell being shed, he moved his right claw to his left hip, only to find his satchel had corroded and fallen off some fifty years earlier. He craned his neck with another loud snap and gazed at his feet. Ah, there it was. A tablet.
Mantax mentally shrugged and resumed his position. Whatever the object was, he was certain he would have done something about it years ago if it really was as relevant as he had so erroneously assumed.
By By Nick/Zarayna:
Slowly the dark figure turned the tablet around in his hands, even as he swiftly paced back and forth with the gait of a caged Muaka, almost invisible in the early morning mist. There was nothing very special about it, a triangle of smooth stone, with an embossed symbol upon the front. But what made Aola tremble with fury was not it, but what it meant. To the side was the corpse of a thin, also black figure, from whom he had wrested the tablet. It was one familiar to all Makuta, but the insignia… It had changed, and its change was what infuriated Aola; gone was Miserix’s symbol, instead the sinister shape of the Kraahkan of Teridax was upon it. It meant two things. First, that Teridax had firmly taken control of the Brotherhood, and second that Aola’s safety was gravely endangered. He had taken control of the southern islands, with Chirox retreating not only before his forces, but also to the aid of his new master. Now, with no rebellion or disorder, there was nothing to stop Chirox from returning with greater force than ever before.
Why destiny? Why do you while and cull such evil to coalesce, and then expect such preternatural strength from us? Why hast so little reason? His mind riled, matching the despairing frown on his face. But Destiny, if there was such a being, was silent, as always. Makuta believed in Destiny, for well they saw its effects. But belief in did not equal the following of, and it was long since he had walked in the way of Destiny.
Without such trite belief in Destiny, all that is left is what I always have known; the cold, dark gloom of impending Fate. For if there is no Destiny to lift, there is certainly Fate to drag down even the lofty Makuta themselves.
The tablet had slipped form his hand, and with a growl he sent a wave of plasma at it, leaving its remains to coalesce upon the corpse of its former bearer.
I will meet this tide alone, he decided. Alone with my sons, I will quell it, or fall to it.
Unknown to him, the fog was watching, and waiting. It heard his thoughts, saw his anger. And in its heart, the silvery mist smiled in anticipation.
By Eli/Kal Grochi:
Tablet of Transit
The shadows surrounded him as he walked, slinking about in the dank, slimy place that he’d come to. The vaguely insectoid being paused, turning, thinking he heard a sound behind him. He saw nothing. Typical.
Gripping his knives like they were his only lifeline, he continued along, his joints creaking, gears whirring and pistons hissing as he moved. The tunnels seemed endless, the faint, greenish glow the fungus giving off the only light, leading him on where he needed to go.
His heart pounded, the blood rushing in his ears as he continued along, feeling himself subconsciously speeding up, now at a jog, soon to be a run, unable to control himself. His long experience as an assassin told him one thing: He wasn’t the hunter, now. He was the hunted.
Unable to stop, he ran and ran, ducking down various side passages, getting himself easily lost in the area. He had no way of knowing where he was going, because he had no map. He only felt himself being driven further, past unthinkable beasts whose eyes he just barely saw as he ran past, squamous plating over rugose bodies, an indescribable hunger in their eyes.
He ran farther.
And promptly slammed into the wall. His metallic fingers grasping the knives he held in a grip such that death couldn’t break, he turned, facing that which he knew to be behind him, and saw nothing. He began to curse himself for a fool before the voice spoke.
“And it seems that one of the petty kings has come into the domain he has no control over,” the dark, rasping voice said, the shadows vibrating with it. “Does he have a death wish, or does he desire something different?” The shadows lashed out, bringing the interloper to his knees.
“Speak, Takadox,” the voice commanded. “What is your desire?” The insectoid creature on the ground grimaced as he was struck again, knowing that, one way or another, his information would be taken.
“An alliance,” he growled, holding his head high, before he was struck again, forced in pain to grovel upon the ground. “An alliance,” he repeated himself, barely gasping it out. “Makuta,” he said after, taking on a properly reverant tone, having figured out just what it was that had him here.
“An alliance,” the voice repeated as well, mocking. “What need have we of an alliance with one of the founders of the League of Six Kingdoms?” The Darkness seemed to draw into itself, contemplating something. Then Takadox felt a blast of power through his body, gasping in pain.
“Tell us your allies’ next destination,” the voice commanded. “Now.” When Takadox didn’t comply, he was blasted with pain again, forced to speak.
“Metru-Nui,” the humbled King gasped out. “Metru-Nui is where we are going, where we wish to conquer.” As he attempted to regain his breath, to quell the pain he felt, the Darkness seemed to radiate…satisfaction? Or a great malevolence?
“Very well, King Takadox,” the voice said, a dark mirth within it, promising of battle. “Let it not be said we aren’t grateful…we’ll throw you a bone, we’ll keep you safe,” it said a moment later, a small, triangular tablet skidding to the ground in front of Takadox.
The insectoid king picked it up, scrabbling along the ground to grasp the tablet, knives at his sides. He stood, holding the Tablet of Transit closely, as though it were something precious. He looked about for something to lead him out, and the Darkness about him seemed to catch that feeling, and it seemed to radiate its malevolent happiness again.
“Find your own way home,” it said, withdrawing from him as the howl of one of the beasts reverberated through the tunnels, great breaths seeming to be near.
Haltingly, Takadox took the first few steps out of the small alcove within the tunnels, not noticing the easy exit from the tunnels that was hidden within it.
Draped in the hooded cloak, Rasinov passed through the swarms of Rahkshi as though he were invisible. A few of the hideous creations cast a suspicious eye his way and more than a couple dared to hiss in displeasure at his presence. His response was merely to keep his eyes to the ground and pass on regardless.
In his hands he held a triangular slab of rock with the symbol of the Makuta etched deep into it. A tablet of transit, or so some called it. By right it wasn’t his, he had nothing to do with the Makuta and would usually desire to keep it that way. However, desperate times called for desperate measures and Gherik had clearly decided that if the Lost Souls were to declare war on the Dark Hunters, then the times had gotten pretty desperate indeed. So she procured a tablet of transit from the black market, though the suppliers made no comment on its previous owners. Whoever it was, they probably lay dead in a ditch far away on some distant land, Rasinov thought to himself. Good. It was more use to him than them.
The throngs of Rahskhi eventually passed by and left him alone to wander into the huge, towering fortress of Destral. The huge silver structure leaned over and gazed down through a rain-spattered reconstruction of the Kanohi Kraahkan. Not the most inspiring sight to greet travellers, but then Destral wasn’t exactly a tourist hotspot.
Passing out of the unpleasant drizzle that had been annoying him for the duration of his journey, he was relieved to feel the loving cover of a roof hanging above his head. What he wasn’t happy to see was a caped being staring at him from the depths of the shadows that lay before him.
“Hello wanderer,” the being said. It carried a staff with a vicious looking spike at the end that dripped with a liquid Rasinov was sure he didn’t want to know about. “What brings you to my lands?”
Rasinov considered his response for a few moments, listening to the sound of the rain patting the dirt outside and was beginning to think of how inviting it sounded. Instead he responded saying, “I seek an alliance with the Makuta.”
The being’s eyes narrowed and Rasinov could almost see the smile lighting up behind his fearsome Kanohi. “And what makes you think we would want to seek an alliance with your kind?”
“We have a common enemy. The Lost Souls want the Dark Hunters disbanded. So do you. I don’t see a problem here.”
“I see a problem,” the Makuta replied. “In your hands you possess a stone stolen from a far nobler warrior than you. No, don’t look surprised. I can read your mind like an open book and I know you had nothing to do with the stone’s creation. I also know the nature of the Lost Souls, a pathetic worm of an organisation that thinks that one day you might stand to rival the Dark Hunters. It’s a laughably cute goal but ultimately a futile one.”
Rasinov faltered and took a step backwards. Behind the Makuta stepped several Rahkshi guards who hissed with what Rasinov interpreted as joy at the idea of finally using their staffs for combat. He stammered for a few moments, trying to think of something worth saying but gave up. If the Makuta was in his mind he had nothing to say.
“Good choice,” the figure in the shadows smirked. He took a few steps forward into the light so Rasinov could see his red and purple armour, then outstretched a hand. Keeping his head down, Rasinov handed over the Tablet of Transit, knowing full well that was what the Makuta wanted. “Now run.”
As soon as he finished speaking the Rahkshi leapt forwards. Rasinov turned and likewise fled out of the tower into the rain. This had been an embarrassing failure and he wasn’t looking forwards to the taunting of his colleagues. If he got out alive, he thought grimly, considering the distance of the boat to the tower…
My name is Makuta Novirax and I have a very special function within the Brotherhood. The creation of Rahi beasts for the universe was never terribly satisfying for me, no, I preferred a different breed of challenge. When it became apparent the organization would required a way to distinguish enemies from allies, we agreed on adopting a system of objects that secretive and clandestine supporters could use to ensure their safety if another Makuta suspected them of standing in our way. Thus, the Tablet of Transit was born. I am the only Makuta in the universe that knows the location of every one of those tablets, as well as its holder. I know why they possess it and the likelihood of their betrayal. In our line of work, you have to keep tabs on potential risks at all times, because you never know when a potential risk turns into an immediate problem. The ancient, long destroyed, League of Six Kingdoms made a similar error. We cannot afford to repeat their mistake.
The reason I take such a personal interest in the tablets though, is mostly due to the fact that I created them. Each one was painstakingly crafted by my hand, given the insignia of the Brotherhood - the infamous Mask of Shadows replacing Miserix's Kanohi following the coup. It didn't take much work to track down the tablets and place the new seal on them, though a few tablets were beyond my access. Suffice to say, some of the holders could no longer be reached through the extent of my powers. Regardless, the tablets remain an important part of my life, giving me the purposes of knowing where any and all Brotherhood allies are at any given time.
It's true that an early drawback to making the tablets was that the word got out somehow. Biomechs learned we were identifying allies by whoever held a tablet, and if anything of value exists, a fake is bound to be made eventually. It took me quite some time, but I trained myself to spot a forgery. More importantly, I trained myself to spot liars. Wearing a Kanohi Rode assisted me at first, but I didn't like taking a Mask of Truth with me everywhere. It made the game too simple for my taste. I wanted the satisfaction of knowing I could see through falsehoods and half-truths with my own wit, and with time, I succeeded.
I provided myself with a challenge, and I rose to meet it. Even now, as I analyze the piece of stone the Matoran of air standing (cowering really) before me placed into my hand, even as he swears up and down that it is a legitimate Tablet of Transit, my eyes and my mind cannot be deceived. His behavior is too panicky, and he exudes fear…I can feel it. The Brotherhood does not tolerate rebels to our cause, especially those so exalted in the eyes of the Great Spirit. This Matoran will have to be educated on why you do not cross a Makuta that has dedicated his lifetime to a collection of rocks. After all, centuries of that would mentally unhinge most biomechs, don't you think? You think you know the legitimate tablets from the forgeries, but every now and again, you start to wonder in the back of your mind, if you accidentally confused them in your mind. Teridax has reminded me that there cannot be room for doubt when dealing with our enemies, but sometimes…well, I just don't know. Enough delays - this deceptive little Matoran must be dealt with. Just as soon as I can stop talking to myself.