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> Five Years Too Many, The rebellion shall begin...
PeabodySam
post Sep 20 2009, 08:54 PM
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Dedicated to BZPower members everywhere (though particularly in LEGO General Discussion and the Library) who have made my time on this website one well worthwhile. Thanks.

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Five Years Too Many


Chapter 1
Welcome to City 25896


“Meench Vyzumi kicked Ikaag right in the chest, and she fell down the snowdrift. An orb of white energy formed between Vyzumi’s hands, which became a blast of energy, which sent Lahka flying. The Dark Hunter was upon him in seconds, readied his sword, raised it, and stabbed forward…
Just as Ikaag put herself between the Toa and the Dark Hunter. The attack meant for Lahka now was done on Ikaag, and now a sword stuck out of her chest. Weak and limp, she fell, but Lahka caught her. Kopeke waited to see Vyzumi strike again and kill them both at once, but surprisingly he didn’t. Perhaps he was a little shocked that Ikaag sacrificed herself for Lahka.
Lahka held the wounded form of Ikaag in his arms and removed the sword sticking out of her chest. ‘Ikaag,’ he whispered, ‘you didn’t have to…’
Ikaag smiled weakly. ‘Yes, I did. It’s the… truth, that you sacrifice yourself… for your friends.’”
- from The Story of Frosam

November 21 2006, 04:32 P.M.

Slowly, the Toa of Water opened her eyelids. It was no easy task, for her eyelids felt as though they were made of the heaviest protodermis metals.

When at last she did manage to force them open, she found herself staring up into a cloudy sky. The clouds completely obstructed anything else in the sky, blanketing the world in a dreary, dull, grayness. Sitting upright and looking around, the Toa saw that she was in a vast, featureless desert that seemed to stretch out for miles around.

What was she doing here? The Toa of Water pressed her hand to her forehead, trying for a moment to recollect her memories. Then, it all came rushing back to her.

She was Ikaag, Toa Ulti of Water. She and her brother Toa Ulti protected the island of Mata Nui from three powerful Dark Hunters who sought to conquer the island for some unknown client. Then, they amassed an army of about a hundred Matoran to finish off the Dark Hunters, but the Dark Hunters fought back with an even larger army of Nektann. Then she tried to take on the commander of the three Dark Hunters, Meench Vyzumi, and… and… and he stabbed her in the chest, inflicting a fatal gash!

Instantly, Ikaag’s hands instinctively flew to her chest. To her surprise, she found that there was no gash, no battle scars; her armor was as clean as the day she transformed into a Toa. Her heartlight rate having spiked from the memory, she took a moment to inhale and exhale slowly.

And yet, the memories were too strong, too powerful. She could make out every detail of that incident, could perfectly picture Meench Vyzumi as he tried to stab Lahka, her brother Toa Ulti of Air, and how she jumped in the way to save Lahka…

But it couldn’t have been real, could it? Was it all a dream? And how in Mata Nui’s name did she end up in this desert?

Determined to find an answer to these questions, Ikaag slowly stood up. She noticed a peculiar, white-armored being not far from her, also lying in the sand. Hopeful to find someone else who could give her a clue, she ran towards the white-armored being, then stopped when she realized that the figure was nothing more than merely a skeleton. Someone else had apparently died here, and once more Ikaag found herself plagued by questions of how she ended up here.

Slowly, she continued to walk towards the skeleton. She found herself intrigued by the bones, for she recognized that while the figure was built like a Toa, its skeletal structure was completely different from that of a Toa. While a Toa’s skeleton supported movement and structure, it was minimal since a Toa’s armor could easily provide both to a higher extent. This skeleton seemed to belong to a species that had no such armor, and therefore the structure and joints were heavily depended upon the skeleton.

Ikaag shook her head, disappointed. While the skeleton was indeed interesting, it did not answer any questions, but instead brought up new ones. She was about to turn her back on it when she realized that the skeleton’s right arm was extended in one direction, and its skeletal hand was closed in a fist with the index finger pointing in that same direction.

Ikaag stared out into the empty desert where the skeleton seemed to be pointing. Apparently, the skeleton was trying to reach some destination in that direction before it finally gave in and died. Silently praying that this hunch was correct and would not grant her the same fate as the skeleton, Ikaag summoned the energies of her Kanohi Kakama and ran in the direction to which the skeleton was pointing.

The journey was much like the desert it took place in: flat, featureless, and boring. Still, Ikaag persisted, putting distance between herself and the skeleton. She never seemed to tire, and the cloud cover made it easier for her to transverse a desert without bearing the heat of the sun.

For hours it seemed, she ran. Never seeming to tire, but never seeming to get anywhere. She did not dare to stop and turn around to see how far she was from the skeleton, knowing that doing so may cause her to fall off track and be lost in this desert forever. And still, she ran.

At last, after what seemed to be an eternity of endless running and endless desert, Ikaag saw the skyline of a city in the distance. She imagined that had she been tiring from this traveling, the sight would have given her renewed strength. She then wondered once more why she did not seem to tire. Even with the Kanohi Kakama, running for hours on end without stopping or resting would have exhausted her.

As she continued to run, the city grew closer and closer. She could recognize the outlines of several large buildings, including a particularly tall Citadel that reached into the clouds. She turned off her Kanohi Kakama and slowed her pace to a jog. The buildings seemed to enlarge, growing closer and closer, until at last she arrived at the city gates.

She stared quizzically at the large sign hanging high above her. At least, she thought it was a sign, but one written in some foreign language she did not understand. Instead of the characters consisting of circles with lines and dots within, the characters were an odd mix of straight and curved lines.

A feeling of cold dread washed over Ikaag. Whoever lived in this city obviously did not have the same written language as Matoran. She might find an inhabitant of this city, only to be totally unable to communicate. A Kanohi Rau would be useful in this situation, she thought to herself.

Still, Ikaag stepped through the gate and entered the city. Now inside, she saw that the buildings were of a mix of different cultures. Some seemed very much like the huts of Mata Nui, others were of a more urban style, and some featured technology beyond her imagination. She glanced at the Citadel in the center of the city, and could only imagine what was inside a building so important.

Ikaag wandered through the streets of the city. Her earlier fears of being unable to communicate with the city’s inhabitants started to grow dormant, as a new dominant fear took its place. The city seemed to be completely empty, devoid of any inhabitants at all.

Sighing, the Toa Ulti of Water sat down on the sidewalk. This was ridiculous! Without any recollection of how or why, she ended up in this endless desert, and hoping to seek civilization she only found an abandoned city! Perhaps this is all just a dream, and any moment she would awake to find herself lying in the snow near Mount Ihu with a wound in her chest…

Ikaag raised her head and blinked. A figure was running towards her from far down the road. Not knowing what to expected, she stood to her full height and reached for her Tidal Knives, only to realize that they had apparently not accompanied her to this strange desert. No problem, she thought, for she still had her elemental powers even without the Tidal Knives. Then, as she watched the figure draw near, she found herself wondering if she even had elemental powers here. Frowning, she clenched her fists and prepared for a physical hand-to-hand fight.

The figure came to a stop just a few meters away from her. She studied the newcomer with deep interest and surprise at his appearance. His stature was rather blocky, with a torso in the shape of a thin trapezoidal prism. He had two arms and legs like a Matoran, but all these limbs lacked joints such as elbows and knees. He wore no armor and seemed to be completely organic, although he did wear a black suit. His yellow cylindrical head analyzed Ikaag with black eyes without pupils, then he grabbed some sort of blaster weapon with his two claw-like hands.

Ikaag did not know if this newcomer was a threat, or simply perceived her as one. She noticed the skill and precision with which he aimed his weapon at her, an unarmed Toa. Reacting quickly, Ikaag concentrated on summoning her elemental powers to disarm the newcomer, praying to Mata Nui that it would work. To her relief, she felt that connection to her natural element, and seconds later a blast of water knocked the blaster out of the newcomer’s hands.

Unlike most beings, this newcomer did not panic and attempt to retrieve his weapon; instead, he positioned himself for hand-to-hand martial arts combat. Ikaag once more saw years of experience in his fluid, perfect motions. Then, he spoke: “Who are you and what are you doing here?”

Ikaag blinked, slightly surprised. While the newcomer’s speech contained a very heavy accent and did not seem perfect, it was at least close enough to Matoran for her to comprehend what he said. Slowly, she found her voice, unused since she arrived in this desert, and answered his questions. “I am Ikaag, Toa Ulti of Water. I’ve come here seeking shelter from the desert.”

The newcomer analyzed Ikaag for a few moments, then fell from his fighting pose into a more relaxed, laid-back posture. “A Toa, huh? I believe I’ve heard of that before – you’re like some sort of guardian-protector of the muh-toe-rans, right?”

“Matoran,” corrected Ikaag. “And what’s a guardian-protector?”

The other blinked in surprise. “You know, like a defender?”

“Oh, you mean like Hagah or Mangai,” Ikaag realized.

“Yeah,” the newcomer bit his lip. “Something like that.” Ikaag realized that, just as she did not understand ‘guardian’ or ‘protector’, he did not understand ‘Hagah’ or ‘Mangai’.

“But otherwise, yes, you could describe Toa as such,” Ikaag continued.

The other nodded. “Name’s Gromtin, a Minifig. I worked with the Alpha Team a couple years back, before I came here. Come, I’ll bring you to the Doctor.” With that, he turned around and began walking down the street. Taking it as a hint for her to follow, Ikaag followed suit.

“Gromtin,” repeated Ikaag, trying to memorize his name. “Now, if you don’t mind me asking… where exactly is ‘here’?”

Gromtin raised his eyebrow, then sighed. “Welcome to City 25896. At least, if you are naïve enough to consider this a welcome. This… Builder-forsaken city… it’s a dead end of a road… I just wish there was some way I could get out of here.”

Ikaag blinked in surprise. “You’re trapped here?”

Gromtin shrugged. “In a way. I mean, there’s nothing truly keeping me here, but if I were to leave City 25896, then I’d be lost in the endless desert. Just a few weeks ago, a group of black-armored muh-toe-rans… sorry, Matoran tried venturing outside City 25896, and we’ve not heard from them since.”

Ikaag glanced around at the buildings lining the street. She wondered for a moment once more about how she mysteriously came here, but then got a new idea. “How did you come here?” she inquired.

Gromtin thought for a few moments in silence before answering. “As I said, I used to work with the Alpha Team. I don’t think you know what that is; it’s a prote… sorry, defender organization for the LEGO Planet against Evil Ogel, a sinister Minifig who plans to take it over. You see, he’s got this army of skeleton drones. I was working with a fellow Alpha Team agent named Frozeen, defending World City from an army of Ice Drones, which are Ogel’s specially-trained drones for icy climates. One minute, I’m fighting alongside Frozeen… the next, an Ice Drone clubs me on the head with an Ice Saw, and I black out. Then, I woke up here, in this desert, and without an explanation or clue as to why or how.”

Ikaag stopped walking for a moment. Gromtin’s tale was eerily similar to her own, even if there were a few words here and there she did not understand. She wondered who – or what – was responsible for bringing them both here. She continued walking, quickening her pace to catch up with Gromtin.

“Then,” continued Gromtin, “I made my way through the desert until I found City 25896. To my shock, the city was seemingly invaded by Ice Drones. They were everywhere – the streets, the buildings, the sewers… Naturally, being an Alpha Team agent, I did my duty and eliminated them. They seemed stronger than ever, able to resist my laser, but eventually I managed to drive them all out of the city.”

“You,” Ikaag raised an eyebrow, “single-handedly drove out an army of ‘Eyes Drones’?”

Gromtin chuckled softly. “Well, Ice Drones aren’t exactly the smartest of Ogel’s drones. Besides, I’m a great fighter. Actually… I don’t mean to brag, but I’m actually great at a lot of things. At least, I think I am… or I was…”

Gromtin’s smile vanished, replaced by an embittered grimace. For a moment, he stopped walking, and just stood in the road silent as the grave. Then, anger twisted his face into a furious expression, and he shook his fist at the Citadel, visible above all other buildings.

That’s all I’m ever good for!” Gromtin shouted, trembling with fury. “That’s all I ever was – ‘good at many things’! But what the MegaBlok is that supposed to mean? Bah! I’m so good at things – why couldn’t I be good at getting some real characterization before I ended up in this blasted, Builder-forsaken city in the middle of this blasted, Builder-forsaken desert?

For several minutes, he continued on with his rant, as Ikaag watched from the sidewalk. She wasn’t sure quite what he was talking about, or if it was better to comfort him or keep her distance from him. In addition, she began to mentally question Gromtin’s sanity.

At last, Gromtin seemed to finish his rant, for he stopped yelling and instead knelt onto the road, his face buried in his hands as he sobbed uncontrollably. Still, Ikaag stood to the side and watched, not sure what to do.

“Psst!”

Ikaag quickly turned in the direction of the voice. Standing not far from her was another figure like Gromtin: another ‘Minifig’. Although his build was the same as Gromtin’s, he was slightly different in appearance from the ‘Alpha Team’ agent. This newcomer wore a grey uniform, as opposed to Gromtin’s black uniform, so Ikaag wondered if this newcomer was not of the ‘Alpha Team’. Most interestingly, this Minifig’s right arm seemed to be completely mechanical, in contrast to the rest of his organic body. In addition, he bore long, white hairs on his face, situated just above his mouth.

Recalling Gromtin’s words, Ikaag inquired: “Are you the Doctor?”

The Doctor smiled a bit and nodded. “Yep, that’s what Gromtin calls me. Actually, my real name is David Miner, though many know me as just Dr. Miner. I work with the Rock Raiders; surely, you’ve heard of them?”

Ikaag stared blankly at Dr. Miner. “I’m sorry,” she admitted, “the name does not sound familiar.”

“No?” blinked Dr. Miner. “Didn’t you live on the island of… oh, what was it called again… Mata Nui?”

Ikaag nodded.

“Then surely you must remember when the LMS Explorer, our giant spacecraft, crash-landed on the island? And all the Matoran and the Toa Nuva worked together with us to repair it, but then Tim and Bob showed up and…”

“What in Mata Nui’s name are you talking about?” Ikaag raised an eyebrow. Was Dr. Miner no saner than Gromtin, who was still sobbing after his breakdown?

Dr. Miner bit his lip. “Hmm, we must have arrived sometime after you came here, or else you’re part of a different continuity…” Seeing the confused look on Ikaag’s face, Dr. Miner changed the subject. “So, you’re a newcomer to City 25896? Intriguing. I bet you’ve got lots of questions on your mind, and I believe I may have the answers.”

The Doctor brought Ikaag into a nearby building, one of the more urban-style ones. Before entering, Ikaag glanced over her shoulder at Gromtin, who was still kneeling on the road weeping. “Why?” she asked.

Dr. Miner sighed as he led Ikaag up a staircase. “Poor Gromtin. He barely knows anything, especially about himself, before he came here. All he knows is that he’s good at things, and that he was an Alpha Team agent. When he came here on January 21, 2005, he alone was the only one who could defend City 25896 from the Ice Drones. Then, starting around July that year, in addition to Ice Drone invasions, he was forced to deal with occasional attacks by mutant dinosaurs – giant reptilian creatures with fantastic abilities.”

“All by himself?” Ikaag murmured, in a mixture of amazement and pity.

Dr. Miner nodded. “Indeed. And it remained that way until I arrived here… what was it… I think November 18 that year. Many months later, I mean – sorry for using LEGO Planet terms that you probably don’t understand. But can you even begin to imagine what it would be like to be the lone defender of a mysterious uninhabited city that may be your only home, against endless hordes of Ice Drones and Mutant Dinosaurs, while only knowing next to nothing about yourself?”

Ikaag shook her head. “That’s… horrible. That would be enough to drive anybody insane.”

“Exactly, and that’s why Gromtin is behaving the way he is.”

Then, Dr. Miner opened a door at the top of the staircase, and they entered a large room. Actually, the room was devoid of most furniture and decoration, save a desk, chair, and some sort of technology sitting upon the desk that looked much like one of the computers in the Dark Hunter Tower.

Ikaag followed Dr. Miner to the desk, where she got a better look at the device. There was a large screen, like the Dark Hunter Tower computers, attached to a control pad covered with buttons. Looking at the buttons, she was disappointed to find each one labeled with one of the same symbols that was on the sign at City 25896’s gate. She realized that it must be the alphabet of the Minifigs’ strange Matoran dialect.

Dr. Miner exhaled as he sat down upon the chair. He moved his finger along a small touch pad on the control panel, and a small cursor on the screen moved about. He pushed a button, and the screen was filled by what appeared to be a long, colorful tablet written in that strange alphabet. Most intriguing to Ikaag was the image in the top left corner of the screen of a Kanohiless face with two large gears behind it.

“What is this?” Ikaag asked the Doctor.

“This,” smiled the Minifig, “is BZPower. Luckily, I’ve managed to steal some technology from the Citadel, and I’ve been able to hook up to the Internet as a result! I don’t think you know of such things, and it would take too long to explain. But anyways…”

Ikaag watched as Dr. Miner clicked around on ‘BZPower’. Each time he did so, the screen changed to a different tablet. The Toa of Water shook her head sadly, wishing that she had a Kanohi Rau instead of a Kanohi Kakama so she could at least grasp what was going on.

Then, Dr. Miner turned to look at her. “I’m sorry,” he apologized, “but I don’t think you’ve introduced yourself.”

“Oh,” Ikaag realized. “My name’s Ikaag.”

“‘Eecog’,” repeated the Doctor, trying to figure out how to spell her name, and he pressed some of the buttons on the control panel. This time, the symbols on the buttons he pressed appeared in the same order in a small white rectangle on the current BZPower tablet. He pressed another button, and the tablet changed to another one, to which Dr. Miner frowned. He looked once more at Ikaag and gestured towards the control panel. “I’m not getting any results using my spelling. Can you spell out your name for me?” he requested.

Ikaag bit her lip. “I’m afraid I don’t know your alphabet.”

“That’s a problem,” murmured Dr. Miner, who scratched his facial hair. “But I think I may have the solution.” He turned back to his device and started pressing a large sequence of buttons. Tablet after tablet appeared on the screen, and Ikaag wasn’t sure what he was looking for.

Then, at last, an image appeared on the screen, and Dr. Miner smiled at Ikaag. “Does this seem more familiar?” he inquired. “I found this on Brickshelf.”

Ikaag bent forward to see the image on the screen better. In the background of the image, there was a large green spider web, similar to those spun by the Dark Hunter Vicee. In the foreground, there was a rock with some squat, black-armored, Rahi-Turaga hybrid standing on it. But neither of these details interested Ikaag, for the image’s main focus was on the familiar Matoran alphabet, with the alphabet of the Minifigs written underneath each letter. “It’s a Rau between our alphabets,” she murmured.

“Rau… if that means anything like ‘translation’, exactly!” nodded the Doctor. “Now, will you do the honors?”

“Right, of course.” Then, Ikaag pointed to the “ i.gif ”, the “ k.gif ”, the “ a.gif ” twice, and lastly the “ g.gif ”.

“Thanks,” Dr. Miner spoke, switching the screen back to one of the earlier ‘BZPower’ tablets. “Now, I’ll try searching that and see what I get…”

There came a knocking on the door. Ikaag and Dr. Miner both startled from the sudden sound, then Ikaag left the Minifig’s side to open the door, wondering if Gromtin’s mental breakdown had over. When she opened the door, she jumped back in surprise, and a huge grin crossed her face. “Lahka!”

There, standing in the doorway, was the ever-familiar Toa Ulti of Air, Lahka.

Overcome by joy at their reunion and the sight of a familiar face in City 25896, Ikaag rushed towards Lahka and embraced him in her arms. “I’m so glad to see you again!” she whispered.

To Ikaag’s surprise, Lahka was less enthusiastic. He broke out of her embrace immediately and backed away from her. Ikaag quickly realized that this was strange, for the Lahka she knew would be more than willing to happily embrace her after a reunion. But now, Lahka looked as though Makuta himself had appeared before him, and he could do naught but back away in fright.

“What’s wrong?” Ikaag dared to inquire. “Are you alright?”

Lahka continued to back away from her, then raised a wavering hand to point at her. “You…” he stammered. “No, it can’t be you… this isn’t real… it’s impossible!”

Ikaag, now worried about her brother Toa, stepped towards him, only to watch him quickly step backwards. “Lahka,” she spoke slowly and quietly. “It’s okay. It’s just me, Ikaag.”

“No,” Lahka shook his head. “It’s not you! It can’t be! You’re… you’re… you’re dead!”

The word struck Ikaag like a hammer. “What?” she blinked.

Dead!” repeated Lahka. “I saw it! Meench Vyzumi tried to stab me… you jumped in the way to save me… and… and…”

“Hey, you two!” called Dr. Miner. “Come over here for a moment, would you? I’ve got to show you both something.”

Ikaag was unnerved as Lahka nervously stepped into the room, glancing at her in such a way that she imagined him expecting her to turn into a Doom Viper at any moment. Together, the two Toa Ulti stepped over to Dr. Miner and his computer.

“After I did that BZPower search,” explained Dr. Miner, “I was able to find this information in the latest entry. It was posted… oh, would you look at that, it was posted today, by a member named PeabodySam. That explains a lot. Well, since neither of you can read our alphabet, let me just read it for you. It’s something about a war that you two both fought in… or rather, its aftermath.”

QUOTE(PeabodySam @ Nov 21 2006, 04:32 PM) *
“So the Dark Hunters are still alive?” Frosam asked. Jaller regretfully nodded. “And… Ikaag and Lahka… are they… well?”
Jaller and the other Matoran traded glances, their eyes full of sympathy, sadness, and pity. That’s when Kopeke and Hafu walked in, their hands behind their backs. “They fought great against the Dark Hunters,” Hafu explained. “They penetrated Vicee’s armor, dodged Skorpeo’s Rhotuka, and even gave Veezoomee trouble.” He and Kopeke looked at each other, then drew their hands out from behind their backs, revealing that they each held an object in their hands, silver in color. Frosam took the items and looked them over. They were disturbingly familiar, as they were Great Kanohi Masks. One was a Great Huna; the other a Great Kakama. It did not take Frosam long to realize he was looking at the masks of his friends.
Hafu sighed. “They will be remembered fondly.”
“Ikaag…” Frosam whispered, shocked. “Lahka… gone?” He pressed the masks against his chest and silently closed his eyes.
“Frosam, I never meant…” Whenua said, putting his hand on Frosam’s shoulder, trying to comfort the Turaga, but he turned away.
“Just go,” he whispered.
Whenua looked at the surviving Matoran, who looked at him back. The Turaga of Earth looked at Frosam one last time, and then replied, “Very well.” Then he and the Matoran survivors departed.
When Frosam was sure that nobody was around, he opened his eyes again. What he did not want Whenua and the Matoran to know was that he had given in to another rage of his. For when he opened his eyes, rather than the normal light green color of an Onu-Koro inhabitant, they were the red of the fires of Ta-Koro.
“Ikaag and Lahka’s deaths shall not be in vain,” he hissed through clenched teeth. “They shall be avenged. And the Dark Hunters shall find out the true meaning of pain.”

Ikaag could not believe what she just heard. “You mean that…?”

Dr. Miner nodded grimly. “Lahka is right. You are dead. Lahka, too, is dead. Gromtin is dead.” After a sigh, he added: “I am dead.”

Silence fell upon the group.



This post has been edited by PeabodySam: Sep 20 2009, 08:58 PM


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PeabodySam
post Mar 7 2010, 10:07 PM
Post #2



Lehvak-Kal Launched
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Group: Members
Posts: 4883
Joined: 3-September 04
Member No.: 25896

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Chapter 2
Forced Acquaintances


“Skorpeo suddenly found that the table was unbalanced with him standing on top. The table toppled over, throwing the Dark Hunter onto the floor and all his recently sharpened knives into the air. Skorpeo whispered a curse as the knives came for him. He maneuvered many with ease, until dodging one knife that nearly hit his stomach made him vulnerable for a knife that was coming for his forehead. The knife made contact, and the life of the Dark Hunter known as Skorpeo came to a very abrupt end.”
- from The Story of Frosam

Toa Ikaag, Toa Lahka, and Dr. David Miner ran through the streets of City 25896. All around them, emitted from speakers mounted on posts, ear-piercing alarms rang.

Ikaag knew that, being nimbler than either Lahka or Dr. Miner and wearing the Kanohi Kakama, she could easily outpace them. However, the recent turn of events and information left her uncertain of what was going on, so she slowed her pace to match that of the others.

“Can you tell me just what is happening?” Ikaag shouted over the sound of the alarm.

Dr. Miner nodded. “The radars of the Citadel have detected an enemy within close proximity of City 25896. We’ve got to put up the gates as quickly as possible!”

“And how do you quick-propose we do that?” inquired Lahka. His uneasiness had not passed, having been strengthened by Dr. Miner’s revelation, and it was clear from his tone of voice.

“We head for that guard tower!” Dr. Miner pointed to a tower with a large antenna at the far end of the road.

After a few moments of running down the street, they reached the guard tower. Dr. Miner climbed a tall ladder that led to what appeared to be an observation deck, then turned around and beckoned for the Toa Ulti to follow. “Just in case I’m not around the next time this happens, you should know what to do!” he called.

Ikaag and Lahka traded glances, and then one-by-one ascended the ladder. The observation deck was filled with computers and devices, and a curved window looked out to the desert beyond City 25896. Ikaag observed Dr. Miner as he checked a radar screen, muttered to himself, and pointed to a large red switch.

“You see this?” the scientist instructed. “When the alarm goes off, you’ve got to throw this switch. Do not hesitate! Go ahead, give it a try!”

Ikaag noticed Lahka still staring at her, not making any motion towards the switch. Sighing, Ikaag stepped forward and pulled the red switch. Suddenly, there came the sound of metal… lots of metal…

Looking through the window, Ikaag noticed a large wall emerging like an immense accordion from the guard tower to the left. The wall was massive, metallic, lined with spikes, and imposing, like that of a sinister metallic fortress. The wall connected with another wall emerging from their guard tower. Another wall emerging from their guard tower connected to yet another wall emerging from the guard tower to the right. “I see,” she murmured. “There are guard towers surrounding the Metru, and when the switch is pulled, walls emerge from these towers to form a perimeter, keeping enemies out…”

“Or else,” Lahka frowned, “keeping us trapped in.”

Ikaag narrowed her eyes and spun around. “Stop it!” she snapped. “Your negative attitude is not helping our situation at all!” Catching herself, her voice gentled. “This isn’t like you, Lahka. You’re worrying me. Please, snap out of it!”

“How can I?” retorted Lahka. “Something’s terribly dark-wrong here, and I don’t like it one bit! We’re dead!”

“Which reminds me,” Ikaag turned to face Dr. Miner, “you’ve got some explaining to do, David. How are we dead? Where are we?”

Dr. Miner did not seem to pay attention; instead, he was staring out the window into the desert beyond. “Oh my,” he murmured, stroking his chin. “That’s something you don’t see every day.”

Ikaag followed his gaze, and her eyes widened. “They’ve followed us here!” she gasped.

Approaching City 25896 were two figures. One was a massive black-armored spider, with multiple eyes, small mandibles, two large claws, and an awkward, clumsy way of walking. The other, clad in white, blue, and brown armor, had four arms, a tail that moved like a serpent, and a head resembling that of a Bohrok, with cunning, hateful eyes.

“They are Vicee and Skorpeo,” Ikaag quickly filled Dr. Miner in, “two members of a mercenary organization called Dark Hunters. We were fighting against them in a war before… before we came here.”

“Are they particularly dangerous or powerful?” inquired Dr. Miner.

Lahka smiled a bit. “Vicee, you don’t need to great-worry about. He’s far too slow-think and bog-foot to actually do anything.”

“Except when he’s a weapon,” frowned Ikaag, “wielded by an intelligent being such as Skorpeo or Meench Vyzumi. That is what worries me. If it were just Vicee, things would be easy… but the fact that Skorpeo is here as well suggests that at least one of them will - ”

Dr. Miner held up his hand assuredly. “Don’t worry; nothing can possibly get into this city once the walls are up. The problem comes when neither Gromtin nor I can get to a guard tower in time, or when we’ve got Mutant T-Rexes, which are large enough and tough enough to get over the walls, or Mutant Pterosaurs, which can fly over the walls… but other than them (and we don’t encounter them that often) nothing can get into the city!”

“So,” Lahka raised an eyebrow, “why do you need to keep quick-activating the walls? Why not just leave them activated so you don’t have to dash ever-quick to a guard tower every time the alarm loud-sounds?”

“The answer is simple,” Dr. Miner nodded towards the two Toa. “If the walls are always up… then noble beings such as yourselves have no way of getting inside.”

“That is true.” Ikaag glanced out the window, seeing Vicee looking utterly confused… and Skorpeo staring at her with malice in his eyes. Quickly, she averted her gaze. “I assume we’re done here.”

“Indeed,” Dr. Miner smiled. “We’ll check back later. If ‘Scorpio’ and ‘Vissy’ are gone by then, we’ll deactivate the walls. Come; let’s go check back on Gromtin, see if he’s feeling better.”

With that, the two Toa Ulti and the Minifig exited the guard tower by descending the ladder, then began to walk down the street. However, Dr. Miner did not say another word, and Lahka remained uncharacteristically silent, leaving Ikaag unnerved. After a few minutes of walking in silence, Ikaag decided to try again. “So,” she inquired, “Dr. Miner, would you care to explain - ”

“Yes, explain! Explain how the Karzahni I ended up here!”

Ikaag, Lahka, and Dr. Miner all spun around in surprise upon hearing a horribly-familiar voice. Standing before them was none other than Skorpeo. Two of his arms were crossed, and he eyed each one of them with contempt, yet he was visibly trembling.

“Skorpeo!” Ikaag narrowed her eyes. “How did you get in this Metru?”

Skorpeo sneered at her. “I can see now just why I enjoyed having Vicee around – it gave me an opportunity to boss somebody around and take advantage of his abilities. I convinced him to create a long strand of especially-sticky webbing, and a threat to kill him was all it took. By standing on top of him, I got enough height to swing around the webbing strand and get the end hooked around the antenna of your guard tower. Abandoning Vicee, I climbed the webbing like a rope, and ended up on the roof of the tower. With that, I was able to drop down to the street and silently follow you. You needn’t worry about Vicee; the fool is still outside the Metru walls, and will probably leave and get lost in the desert.”

Dr. Miner was confused. “How could anyone possibly be so silent in such an operation? We surely would have heard you, especially if you were so close… and what is this ‘Metru’ everybody keeps talking about?”

“I’m guessing,” Ikaag quickly explained, “from the context of your sentences, that ‘city’ is your language’s word for ‘Metru’.”

“And being able to mute our very sounds,” Skorpeo boasted, “is a natural ability of my species.” Then, his pride turned to grim seriousness. “But someone here needs to do some explaining. The last thing I remember is a falling table of knives… then I winded up here in this blasted desert! Where am I? What happened? You two Toa are supposed to be dead; what are you doing here? And who are you, with the yellow skin and mechanical arm and white fibers on your face? Answer me… or someone will get hurt!”

Lahka got into a battle stance. “If we need to drive you out of this Metru, so be it! Doctor Miner doesn’t need to answer your questions, you four-armed creep!”

Skorpeo snarled, but Ikaag could not help but notice a gleam of fear in his eyes. “I’ve walked too long through a featureless desert to get here,” he hissed, though his tone was wavering, “and I’m not leaving until someone answers my questions! I will not die, out there, in the desert, alone and ignorant!”

Ikaag watched Skorpeo, observing with much interest his trembling body, wavering voice, and fearful expression. Suddenly, she had an idea. It dawned upon her that the “falling table of knives” followed by suddenly arriving alone and confused in the desert may have been enough to traumatize Skorpeo. So traumatized, it left Skorpeo desperate for answers… and easily manipulative.

Smiling calmly, Ikaag slowly approached her foe. “You’re afraid,” she murmured, her voice soft and even a little seductive.

“I am not afraid!” Skorpeo retorted through clenched teeth.

Ikaag changed her path, now circling around the Dark Hunter. Skorpeo’s narrowed eyes never stopped following her. “Of course you are,” she continued. “Afraid. Traumatized. Confused. And I would not blame you for an instant, for I understand your feelings. You want answers. But what would you do with these answers? What if they do not meet your satisfaction?”

Skorpeo began to voice a reply, but stopped when he could not come up with one.

“And once you have these answers, what then? Would you leave the Metru, and spend the rest of your existence alone in an endless desert? This is a strange world, perhaps even perilous. Would you dare to face it alone? Risk dying an undignified end out there, with no other being to even acknowledge your passing?”

Skorpeo remained silent, continuing to follow her with his eyes.

“In this endless desert, you’d need shelter. In this strange world, you’d need allies. So, I suppose what you really want is information, shelter, and allies. And, I believe we can provide you with these.”

Skorpeo raised an eyebrow, surprised. By now, Ikaag had completed her circle around Skorpeo and was now standing directly in front of him. She locked her eyes into those of the Dark Hunter, continued to smile, and began her proposition. “If you agree to join us, abide by our rules, and atone for your crimes, we shall reward you with guaranteed shelter from the desert and information on how you and I came here. If you don’t… we’ll force you out into the desert, where you will die alone and ignorant. You’re an intelligent being, Skorpeo. I imagine it would not take much consideration to make the proper decision.”

“Ikaag!” gasped Lahka. “What are you doing? Have you gone - ” Ikaag raised her hand, signaling him to be silent.

Skorpeo gazed at Ikaag, making calculations and considering the possibilities. After a moment, he inquired: “You realize you’re trying to ally with a Dark Hunter such as myself. How can you be so certain I will not agree to this… then backstab you and kill you in your sleep and claim this Metru for myself?”

“You can’t,” Dr. Miner spoke up. “And I’ll explain why… after you agree.”

Ikaag observed Skorpeo look around at the city around them, at the faces of Dr. Miner and Lahka, but most of all into her own eyes. At last, Skorpeo nodded. “Your ultimatum leaves me with no choice. And yet, I admit surprise… I would have guessed you would not have even offered me a decision, and would have just tried to blast me away with water at first sight.”

Ikaag smiled. “I’m a Toa. It’s my duty to bring peace, not violence.” She held out her hand, and after a brief moment of hesitation, Skorpeo reached out one of his own and shook her hand.

“Very well,” sighed Skorpeo. “I agree to your terms. As long as we’re trapped here, we might as well be on peaceful terms.”

With that, Ikaag turned away from Skorpeo and walked back towards Lahka and David Miner. The doctor looked upon Ikaag with admiration, while Lahka seemed bewildered. “You realize whom you’re allying with?” he whispered. “We’ve been dark-fighting against Skorpeo and the other Dark Hunters – they may have even killed us, if what Miner says is true – and yet you’re letting him reside with us in City 25896? Are you even the Ikaag I remember?”

“You’re not the Lahka I remember,” Ikaag retorted, glaring at him. “The Lahka I remember was bold, daring, and always enthusiastic and energetic. Ever since you came here, you’ve been nothing but pessimistic and suspicious! It’s unsettling how out-of-character you are!”

“Says you,” spat Lahka, “the Toa who allies with a Dark Hunter.”

“I’ve always looked for a peaceful approach to things,” Ikaag pointed out.

“Yes,” frowned Lahka, “and you’re also the one who cut off his hand. You think he’s going to forgive you easily for that?”

Ikaag glanced back at Skorpeo. Interestingly, he showed not a single wound on his body, and even had all four of his hands when she distinctly recalled slicing one of them off in a battle. “I think he’ll come to forgive me,” she noted, “since the past is in the past. Besides, we need allies in this strange Metru, not enemies, and I’m not going to turn down a familiar face, even if it is Meench Vyzumi himself!”

“I’ll kill that Piraka should he rear his ugly head in here!” shouted Lahka, startling Dr. Miner and catching the attention of Skorpeo. “I for one will avenge your death, even if you do not care!”

“If what Dr. Miner says is true,” Ikaag replied, her voice quiet yet cold, “and we are truly dead, then, should Meench Vyzumi come here, our deaths would have been avenged. Nothing you can do will avenge me; it is up to the living to avenge us.”

“Then,” Lahka said through clenched teeth, “I would not dishonor your memory and betray Frosam, Mata Nui, and all that we know and love by putting my loyalties with Dark Hunter scum!”

For several minutes, the two Toa Ulti were silent. They glared intensely at one another, anger in their eyes, and neither one backing down. To Dr. Miner, it seemed that it was worse than if they had continued arguing.

“Get out.”

Only two words, and spoken as softly as a gentle breeze, yet colder than a blizzard on Mount Ihu and striking Lahka harder than a hammer. “What?” he sputtered in a mixture of shock and rage.

“Get out,” repeated Ikaag, with the same level of softness and harshness. “If you shall be acting so foolish, and refuse to tolerate old enemies that choose to become our allies, then go. Leave City 25896, and wander the desert for all eternity. Maybe then, when it comes to picking allies, you’ll learn not to be choosy when you’re a beggar.”

“This is absurd!” spat Lahka. “It’s terrible-bad enough that you’re allying with Skorpeo, but now you’re betraying your brother Toa…!”

Ikaag frowned. “Skorpeo is more willing to ally with us than you are willing to ally with him. What does that say about you? That shows that Skorpeo is far more mature and reasonable than you… unless you can prove otherwise.”

“Listen, Lahka,” Dr. Miner spoke up. “In this world, it’s best to have as many allies as you can get, even if they are forced acquaintances. The desert is harsh and merciless and likely swarming with Ice Drones and Mutant Dinos. Even if you stay in this city but isolate yourself from everyone else, it will drive you mad; just look at poor Gromtin, who was alone for nearly a year. It would do you well to remain here and make peace with Skorpeo, since the alternative is far less favorable.”

Lahka bit his lip and glanced back-and-forth between Ikaag and Dr. Miner. He glared at Skorpeo for a moment, then groaned. “Fine. But hear me on this – Skorpeo may be our ally, but he’ll never be our friend. Mark my words.” With that, he turned and stalked away. Ikaag watched him go, deciding it was best not to follow.

*****

The sun had already set by the time Lahka returned. Ikaag, David Miner, and Skorpeo were waiting for him inside a hut, not dissimilar to those on Mata Nui. Ikaag had suspected that these huts were built by the Onu-Matoran briefly mentioned by Gromtin. With a sickening thought, she wondered if these were the Onu-Matoran who were killed in the Dark Hunters’ raid upon Onu-Koro.

Lahka took a seat next to Dr. Miner, though he focused his eyes on the small fire in the center of the hut, refusing to look at either Ikaag or Skorpeo. This concerned Ikaag, for she knew that this could not continue if Lahka’s attitude did not improve. Sighing, she nodded to Dr. Miner.

“Right, then,” nodded Dr. Miner. “Welcome to City 25896. I’m sure the three of you are wondering - ”

“‘Welcome to City 25896’, bah! MegaBloks to that ‘welcome’!” Ikaag blinked in surprise as Gromtin stood in the doorway of the hut. Dr. Miner shook his head and muttered something under his breath about interruptions.

“Gromtin!” greeted Ikaag. “You’re feeling better, I presume?”

The Alpha Team agent promptly took a seat next to Skorpeo. “As better as I’d ever be,” he replied in a bitter manner. “I’ll never be better, not while I lack characterization. Judging from your confused expressions, Doc hasn’t told any of you about characterization yet. But yes, I’ve recovered from my fit. I’m sorry you had to see that… but you have no idea what it’s like.”

Gromtin studied Skorpeo and sighed. “So, another newcomer? Seems like there’s been a massacre or something.”

“A war, actually,” elaborated Skorpeo. “But how much longer before our questions are answered, Miner? The Toa of Air is here; now just get on with it!”

“And I would have,” frowned Dr. Miner, glaring at Gromtin, “had I not been interrupted!”

Gromtin simply shrugged in reply.

David Miner shook his head and looked at Ikaag, Lahka, and Skorpeo. “Before I begin,” he warned them, “everything I say is merely a theory based upon technology Gromtin and I have stolen from the Citadel. It’s possible that everything I tell you tonight is misinformation; however, the evidence we have based upon our findings leads us to believe that this is true. This also may be… difficult, seeing as you do not know of internet or websites, and there are some words in my language that you do not comprehend, such as ‘guardian’ or ‘city’. But, I’ll try to do my best.”

The scientist sighed and began his explanation. “There is a website, a cyber-world called BZPower. This world does not truly exist, but can be accessed by real entities of a particular universe, and in BZPower these entities… more or less, discuss our universes. The universe Gromtin and I come from, inhabited by Minifigs and revolving around LEGO bricks, and the universe you come from, inhabited by Toa, Matoran, and other biomechanical creatures. They refer to my universe as ‘LEGO’, a Danish word meaning ‘play well’, and they refer to your universe as ‘BIONICLE’, meaning ‘biological chronicle’.”

Dr. Miner paused for a moment, and Ikaag guessed trying to figure out how to describe this ‘internet’ phenomenon. It all seemed very strange to her, that in some universe there were entities who watched their universes and discussed them. She wondered for a moment if perhaps these entities were the Great Beings.

“Not only do these entities watch and discuss our universes,” Dr. Miner continued, “but they also create. Some of these entities are artists, some of them are builders, and they depict through art and models various aspects of our universes. And still, some of these entities are writers and storytellers. They write magnificent stories set in our universes, about heroes and villains and battles and so much more! They write and write! Comedies, short stories, epics, you name it!”

Then, a shadow passed over Dr. Miner’s face as he continued. “Let me ask you all a question. I’m telling you a story I am making up, and it features a brave hero who meets his untimely end. Did you ever stop to wonder… just what happens to this hero I have made up?”

After giving Ikaag, Lahka, and Skorpeo a moment to roll this question over in their minds, Dr. Miner spoke once more. “One of these writers – not a particularly skilled one, but a writer nonetheless – is an entity known as PeabodySam. So far, he has written various stories, including stories about a group of Minifigs called the Adventurers, a disembodied Toa named Hapori Tohu, and - ”

“I’ll take it from here,” interrupted Gromtin. “One of the first things this PeabodySam wrote was a massive collaborative group project known as ‘Alpha Team: Mission Deep Freeze RPG’, in which he and many other writers worked together to tell the story of Alpha Team’s most recent mission. In this, he wrote of a young rookie named Frozeen. At one point, Frozeen and other Alpha Team agents had gone to World City, a place I know well. There, he was fighting alongside another Alpha Team agent of whom PeabodySam wrote very little about. This other Alpha Team agent was quickly killed by an Ice Drone ambush, and PeabodySam never wrote of him again. All he had ever written about this deceased Alpha Team agent was that he was good at many things… and his name was Gromtin.”

PeabodySam wrote about your death?” blinked Ikaag.

“No…” grimaced Gromtin. “He didn’t just write about it… he made it happen.”

“You see,” explained Dr. Miner, “he has written the deaths of everyone in this desert. My death, he wrote in The Rock Raiders Meet BIONICLE. Your deaths, he has written in the most recent chapter of The Story of Frosam. The Ice Drones and the Mutant Dinos, too; he has written their deaths in ‘Alpha Team: Mission Deep Freeze RPG’ and ‘Dino Attack RPG’. Thus brings us to my theory.”

Ikaag, Skorpeo, and even Lahka leaned in close to hear what the scientist had to say. “I am led to believe that whenever a storyteller tells his story, he actually creates a universe in which the events of his story play out. What happens to the characters that die in his story? They are brought to another world, a place not unlike this desert, with a single city not unlike City 25896. And there, they wait for all eternity, unless they are brought back to life in another story… or they die a second death. In short, we’re all characters PeabodySam has created, written about, then killed… which is why we’re here.”

Silence blanketed the group. For several minutes, the only sound was the sound of the crackling fire. Dr. Miner then broke the silence with a soft chuckle. “It almost sounds like a child’s fairy tale,” he admitted, “as nonsensical and unbelievable as it may seem… but that’s my theory.”

“It may be our only explanation,” Ikaag pointed out.

“You said something about a ‘second death’,” Skorpeo observed. “And yet, you say I cannot backstab and kill you.”

Gromtin laughed bitterly. “If it was that easy to die a second death, I would have committed suicide long ago.”

Dr. Miner pointed out one of the hut’s windows at the Citadel. “The Citadel may be our only link to the outside world,” he explained. “However, its technology is beyond even my comprehension, and I’ve worked with super-computers, spacecrafts that reach the speed of light, and much other advanced technology. I believe there is a generator or some other sort of machine somewhere in the Citadel capable of preventing death itself. You see, while you are in City 25896… it is impossible to die. That’s why you cannot backstab us, Skorpeo.”

“So, why haven’t you simply left City 25896 to die?” Skorpeo asked Gromtin.

Gromtin shrugged. “Even I’m not sure of that answer. There’s something that draws me to this city, making it hard for me to leave. Almost as though there’s unfinished business I want to attend to before I die a second death.”

“Besides,” added Dr. Miner, “I think we’re all lucky that we came here. Many new arrivals do not even make it to City 25896 and wander the desert until their second death claims them. Considering you three died in a war, I wouldn’t be surprised if many other casualties of that war have arrived in this desert, but simply never found their way here.”

Ikaag shared with the others how she saw a skeleton when she first arrived in the desert.

“Indeed,” nodded David Miner. “What you have seen may have been the remains of an unlucky Alpha Team agent or possibly an unfortunate Dino Attack agent who never found City 25896 and perished in the desert. You’re lucky that he just happened to be pointing in the direction of this city.”

“So,” inquired Skorpeo, “that’s all this place is? An endless desert and a single city?”

Dr. Miner bit his lip and scratched his forehead. “Actually… no. We know of one other establishment in this desert, a town to the north that we have dubbed ‘Ravenholm’. That place is even worse than the desert, for it is currently inhabited by large numbers of Ice Drones and Mutant Dinos. It is a dangerous place, where one may quickly find their second death if they are not careful. Simply put…”

“We don’t go to Ravenholm,” concluded Gromtin.

“Is it possible that anyone lives in the Citadel?” inquired Ikaag, glancing out the window at the tallest building in the city.

Gromtin laughed bitterly yet again. “If there is someone in the Citadel,” he declared, “it’s someone that loves to amuse himself by watching us suffer for all eternity!”

PeabodySam, perhaps?”

Gromtin and Dr. Miner traded glances. “Perhaps,” shrugged Dr. Miner. “Or, at least, something that may represent PeabodySam.”

Ikaag noticed Skorpeo’s eyes widen. The Dark Hunter leaned over and looked directly at Lahka. “Toa,” he spoke in a quiet voice. “You want revenge on myself, Vicee, and Meench Vyzumi for killing you. Perhaps we’re the wrong ones. Perhaps we’re not the ones you want.”

Lahka raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?” the Toa Ulti of Air inquired.

Skorpeo’s answer was barely louder than a whisper, yet sent chills down the spines of all of whom were present:

“Perhaps the one you truly want revenge on… would be PeabodySam.”



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PeabodySam
post Mar 20 2011, 10:53 AM
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Chapter 3
Motives of Illusions


“I cannot forget, for some odd reason, that Meench Vyzumi was once a kind fellow. None of this old personality exists, I believe. But… if there is any of the old, kind, caring Meench Vyzumi left, he doesn’t pay attention to it. Or is there perhaps something going on inside his head, something I can’t even begin to fathom?”
- from The Story of Frosam

May 27 2007, 11:59 A.M.


Nothing.

As usual, that is what Toa Ikaag saw beyond the walls of City 25896. Nothing but endless featureless desert. No visible change over the last two weeks, but Toa Lahka insisted upon border patrols. Ikaag, David Miner, and Gromtin decided to humor him, and they dragged Skorpeo into this as well.

Two weeks ago, Meench Vyzumi had died.

“This is dull,” muttered the Dark Hunter who stood beside Ikaag in one of the city’s watchtowers. “No sign of Vyzumi, and still your half-baked Toa of Air wants us to look for him. He’s not coming.”

“I wouldn’t be so certain,” Ikaag suggested. “With a desert this vast, he might still possibly find his way after two weeks of exploration.”

Skorpeo laughed bitterly. “And even if he did, none of us would know it. I’ve worked with him long enough to know that he would not simply attack a Metru with patrolled walls. He would wait until nightfall and then strike at our weakest point. We’d never see him coming.”

Ikaag smiled. “At least, in death, I have the knowledge that Turaga Frosam was able to overcome this foe and defeat Meench Vyzumi for once and for all. A fine ending to our story.”

“For Frosam, anyway,” grumbled Skorpeo. “It’s always the so-called ‘heroes’ who win. Somehow, against all odds, a mere Turaga defeated the one and only Meench Vyzumi. If this PeabodySam really is the one who wrote our lives, then he is one poor writer who relies too much on Meench Vyzumi just happening to not attack here or finish the battle there… which I’m sure he would have done.”

Ikaag shook her head, chuckling to herself. She recalled how Skorpeo constantly offered commentary to Dr. Miner’s reading of The Story of Frosam Chapter 24, criticizing the story for twisting things in Frosam’s favor and complaining that Meench Vyzumi missed tons of opportunities to easily kill Frosam.

“Well,” she shrugged, “if PeabodySam resides in that Citadel after all, then maybe one day we’ll get to meet him face-to-face. You can offer your, erm, constructive criticism to his stories.”

Skorpeo was about to reply, but was cut off by Dr. David Miner. “Excuse me,” the Minifig scientist approached them. “There’s a new chapter.”

Another one?” blinked Skorpeo, his tone heavy with bitter sarcasm. “We’ve got to hear more about happy-go-lucky Frosam and his heroic adventures of honor? That one you read us last week clearly stated ‘THE END’. Even after that cliché bit about the story of Frosam only just beginning.”

Ikaag ignored this insult towards The Story of Frosam, having learned well over the past several weeks to tune out Skorpeo’s biased opinion towards his story of origin. “What is this one about?” she inquired.

“It’s actually more encyclopedic than story-telling,” shrugged Dr. Miner. “I didn’t get a chance to read it, but it might provide some more conclusive data about your lives. Deceased characters like us rarely are given much characterization anymore; this might help you better understand yourselves. For example, I didn’t even know that my first name was David until Slizer Prime wrote about me post-mortem in Rock Raiders: Legacy. It’s been five months since the last chapter, but Legacy has really given me much background, which helps me feel more whole.”

Ikaag nodded, knowing the alternative was an eternity of living like Gromtin, the unfortunate Alpha Team agent who barely got a short paragraph’s worth of characterization before his untimely demise.

“Come on, Skorpeo,” the Toa Ulti of Water said to her companion. “Unless, of course, you want to keep patrolling the border.”

Presented with this choice, Skorpeo enthusiastically chose the former option. They climbed down from their watchtower and followed Dr. Miner to the city-style building where he kept his computer. Gromtin and Lahka were waiting there, having already been summoned by Dr. Miner.

Turning on his computer, Dr. Miner accessed the website called BZPower and, after some clicking around, located The Story of Frosam. Ever since Ikaag, Lahka, and Skorpeo had arrived, Dr. Miner had the self-appointed duty of reading aloud chapters of The Story of Frosam to them, since none of them could read English. Over the past few months, he was also slowly trying to teach them the English alphabet so that one day they could read the writings of PeabodySam on their own.

As Dr. Miner had mentioned, this chapter was written in an encyclopedic format and was divided into numerous articles. The first three articles, while certainly informational, were not particularly interesting. The fourth entry belonged to Frosam, and in the first paragraph, Ikaag and Lahka were startled by the information they heard.

Metru Nui?” repeated Lahka. “Onu-Metru? Dume? What… where… who…? I’ve never heard of these before!”

Skorpeo widened one eye. “What do you mean?” he inquired. “It’s common knowledge your people fled Metru Nui and escaped to Mata Nui following the Great Cataclysm. Or are you Toa so single-minded on nobility and heroism that you forget everything else?”

“How intriguing,” murmured Ikaag. “An entire history of my people lost to time… I’d love to know more about this. Skorpeo, since you seem to remember better than Lahka or myself, would you - ?”

“I’m no history teacher,” snapped Skorpeo. “And besides, what’s it worth to you? Not like any of us will be traveling there any time soon.”

“I suppose that’s a good thing,” Lahka shrugged. “I wouldn’t want to eager-hear our history from a Dark Hunter who would probably twist-change things to suit his dark-views.”

“Actually,” sneered Skorpeo, stroking his chin, “I do like how the writer makes a specific point here about Frosam being nicknamed the ‘Onu-Matoran Dark Hunter’. Just goes to show you that even someone as innocent as your friend Frosam has the capabilities to be a greedy mercenary. You and I are not as different as we’d like to believe.”

“It’s just a joke,” blinked Ikaag. “A silly nickname they bestowed upon him. He likely wasn’t anything like a Dark Hunter, he just carried out… simple tasks, I think it was? Doctor, can you reread that passage?”

“‘What is known is that he made a living by carrying out simple tasks for the other Onu-Matoran,’” read Dr. Miner. “‘He had a nasty knack for crashing into exhibits when he tried working as an Archivist, so he, with Dume’s permission, began this new way of living instead. Usually these tasks were tasks that couldn’t be done because the one needing to do it was just too busy at the moment.’”

Skorpeo simply grinned. “Simple tasks, eh? I could consider cutting one’s throat a simple task. Notice how the writer does not go into much detail. Who’s to say that he isn’t hiding anything about Frosam’s past?”

Silence fell upon the group, so Dr. Miner decided to keep reading. Only two articles later, he was reading about Ikaag’s life. She found herself genuinely interested in knowing her own life, hearing about a forgotten past as a scholar in the mysterious “Ga-Metru”. She recalled how she was intrigued by the properties of a Heat Stone and wondered if this was some remnant of her life on Metru Nui.

As Dr. Miner read over Ikaag’s personality traits, Gromtin chuckled. “So, the only two things that tick you off are petty arguments and Skorpeo holding you?” he commented. “I can see why you get especially irritated by Skorpeo and Lahka squabbling over everything.”

With more humor than he ever had since his death, Lahka told Skorpeo: “Well, here’s a deal. You don’t lay a hand on Ikaag, and I won’t anger-argue with you. Then, we won’t have to deal with Ikaag when she’s dark-furious!”

“If only you figured that out sooner,” Ikaag sighed, rolling her eyes.

The next article described Karak, which Ikaag recalled to be one of the Dark Hunters that invaded Onu-Koro. Upon hearing the last sentence of the article, she found herself a little worried. It seemed to hint that the Shadowed One, whom Skorpeo explained as the leader of the whole Dark Hunter organization, was planning something terrible for Frosam.

After Karak, Lahka’s life was summarized in article format. As the article described Lahka’s personality, Ikaag reminisced over the Lahka she used to know, described in the article as “good-natured and rarely sarcastic”. For some reason, becoming a Toa seemed to leave him more sarcastic, and his death left him bitter and untrusting.

Glancing at Lahka, Ikaag saw that he too was thinking about the changes in his personality. “I never really noticed,” he admitted. “But now, hearing about it in this article, and then looking back on it… it has wide-opened my eyes and leaves me… unsure about what I have become.”

“At least you had a personality at all,” muttered Gromtin.

“‘He also had a crush on Ikaag’,” continued Dr. Miner.

Ikaag blinked in surprise, and Lahka’s eyes widened. Skorpeo chuckled a little. “A dreadful bond,” he muttered. “It leaves one weak and gives them poor judgment. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were just trying to outdo Frosam, the ‘big hero’, the ‘main character’, in order to appeal to Ikaag, and because you were just a side character, you were always in second place. No wonder you’re bitter! No wonder I was so easily able to break your unity by holding Ikaag hostage!”

“Love, eh? You should have just gone all romantic,” shrugged Gromtin. “Candlelight, soft music, a ballroom dance…”

“Love?” repeated Ikaag, slightly confused. “What is that?”

Caught off-guard by this question, Gromtin laughed. “You must be joking! What is love to you? Or rather, what would be the relationship implied by that sentence?”

Glancing at Ikaag, Lahka replied: “To Matoran, it refers to a very heart-strong form of friendship. It’s sort of like a brotherly-sisterly bond, but… not quite. We deep-care for each other and would willingly die to save one another. I… can’t quite describe it. But I’ve never heard of ‘love’ or ‘romantic’.”

“Maybe Minifigs and Matoran have different concepts of love,” suggested Dr. Miner. “Similar, but not quite the same. Minifigs think of romance when we think of love. Sounds like Matoran think more of friendship and loyalty.”

“So that’s it?” inquired Ikaag. “That’s the reason you have been so overprotective of me?”

Lahka slowly nodded.

A few articles later, David Miner was reading the article of Meench Vyzumi himself. Everyone was keenly interested in this one and had been waiting to hear it. Even Skorpeo, who barely knew anything about Meench Vyzumi’s mysterious background.

After Dr. Miner finished reading his biography, Ikaag cut him off. “Meench Vyzumi was once a kind and caring experimenter?” she murmured, unable to believe the words coming out of her mouth.

“What could have possibly changed his attitude, his very personality, into a murderous Dark Hunter?” wondered Gromtin.

“I’m actually more intrigued by that last bit,” continued Ikaag. “If PeabodySam went out of his way to write that there is a chance that Meench Vyzumi’s old personality is still alive, yet buried under his darker traits…”

“But… that’s impossible, isn’t it?” stammered Lahka. “Meench Vyzumi, light-kind and heart-caring… impossible…”

“I wouldn’t be so certain,” Skorpeo said quietly. “The Shadowed One is right; Meench Vyzumi is incredibly difficult to understand. I cannot even begin to fathom what exactly goes through his head, and I’ve worked with him for quite some time.” He laughed to himself, muttering, “Of course… it does seem quite improbable that he was a benevolent guy all along…”

Dr. Miner continued to read, first reading over Meench Vyzumi’s powers and abilities, then describing his status. Surprisingly, his status was labeled “UNKNOWN” by the Shadowed One.

“His death is not confirmed,” murmured Skorpeo. “Meench Vyzumi could still be alive!”

The room’s atmosphere turned cold. Lahka’s jaw dropped. “No!” he insisted. “There must be something that confirmed his death…!”

“He was in the Dark Hunter Tower when it collapsed,” Ikaag quietly pointed out. “That’s all it said about his fate. Unlike me, you, Skorpeo, Vicee, or Karak, Meench Vyzumi was never explicitly shown to be deceased.”

“So,” smiled Skorpeo, “looks like Meench Vyzumi still has a chance to make up for being such a poor fighter in that final battle! As long as he is still alive, Frosam will never be safe! And even if he is dead, sounds like the Shadowed One is going to make Frosam pay dearly for the deaths of four Dark Hunters! If two deceased Dark Hunters can result in a war between the Dark Hunters and Brotherhood of Makuta, then four deceased Dark Hunters… now I’d like to see how much the Shadowed One will make Frosam suffer for that!”

Lahka jumped to his feet. “We have to quick-warn Frosam somehow! There must be a way!”

Ikaag knew that this was probably all for naught, but she tried to think of any possible options. “Is there any technology here that could possibly broadcast a message to the outside world?” she inquired.

Gromtin shook his head. “Been in every single building over the past two years. Nothing of the sort. Maybe in the Citadel, but trust me… stealing a computer and some Internet was a lot harder than you might think. Even for a skilled Alpha Team agent such as myself.”

“Then we must escape to the outside world!” declared Lahka.

Dr. Miner shook his head. “I think that the only possible way that could happen is if your characters return from the grave. Whether PeabodySam decides to bring you back to life, or to make a retcon and say you never were actually dead to begin with, or even to make your spirits return in some form like a ghost or something…”

“But that already happened,” Ikaag pointed out. “In Chapters 22 and 23, we came back as ghosts, but all that time, we remained in here. And you returned in Rock Raiders: Legacy, but you’re still here.”

Legacy is a post-mortem flashback,” explained Dr. Miner. “Although I am one of the featured characters, I am not brought back to life; it’s just a flashback. But, as for the ghost issue… well, I’m afraid I have no good answer for that.”

“I think I might,” murmured Skorpeo. All eyes turned on him.

“What is it?” asked Lahka. “What do you know?”

Skorpeo leaned forward. “Before our mission to Mata Nui, I worked with Meench Vyzumi in previous missions. During one of those assignments, I saw him perform an ability unmentioned in that encyclopedic entry… he cast an illusion. It drained him of energy, was merely translucent and could not be opaque, and could only be maintained for a short amount of time.”

Gromtin raised an eyebrow. “There’s been no mention of this in any of your appearances.”

Dr. Miner glanced at the Alpha Team agent, and his eyes widened. “Perhaps… perhaps this is some form of ‘inherent’ backstory that a more developed character, such as Skorpeo, would naturally have. Or, perhaps even, he is somehow carving out a backstory for himself here and now.”

“Which means that was just a lie?” muttered Lahka.

“The memory is genuine,” snapped Skorpeo. “I did not just make it up!”

Shaking his head, Dr. Miner replied, “No… I think Skorpeo actually created genuine backstory for himself. Up until now, I thought that only PeabodySam or another writer could do such a thing, but… perhaps it’s possible that, in rare cases, this can happen.”

Glancing out the window at the Citadel, Gromtin grumbled, “Or, perhaps, it really is PeabodySam writing this backstory. Perhaps he is aware of our actions even now, and has some purpose in mind for us which required Skorpeo recalling this memory that was never written. Perhaps even, this purpose is as simple as explaining why neither Ikaag nor Lahka escaped City 25896 when they were ‘brought back’ as ‘ghosts’.”

“Which brings me to my point,” continued Skorpeo. “Perhaps Ikaag and Lahka were not really ghosts at all… perhaps they were just illusions conjured up by Meench Vyzumi. Why? To weaken himself, and to both motivate and indirectly help Frosam win the battle. Knowing the battle was inevitable, he ended the illusions shortly before fighting Frosam himself, but at that point, the illusions had worked. He was weak, and Frosam was motivated. That, combined with all the missed opportunities to kill Frosam, means… Meench Vyzumi wanted Frosam to win the battle.”

Silence fell upon the group. Ikaag let Skorpeo’s theory roll over in her mind. Was it possible? Could Meench Vyzumi have manipulated the fight in Frosam’s favor?

Then, Skorpeo burst out laughing. “I cannot believe it!” he chuckled. “What am I, insane? Meench Vyzumi purposely losing to a Turaga? What was I thinking? It’s ridiculous!”

“Perhaps it’s not as ridiculous as you think,” murmured Ikaag. “Remember that the Shadowed One said? There might still be remnants of Meench Vyzumi’s benevolent personality… if what you say about illusions is true, then I would not find it impossible to believe that Meench Vyzumi wanted to lose the battle and let Frosam, the hero, triumph over the Dark Hunters.”

Then, the gathered Minifig, Toa, and Dark Hunter heard a terrible roar, followed by footsteps that shook the entire building. “Blast it!” Gromtin gritted his teeth. “Not again!”

They raced outside the building and saw a massive reptilian monster on a rampage through City 25896. It left entire structures in ruins in its wake, demolishing anything in its sight. From what Dr. Miner and Gromtin had said, Ikaag knew that this was a Mutant T-Rex.

On the creature’s back was a mysterious figure. He looked vaguely like a Toa, but there was something different about him. He shouted commands to the T-Rex, who was charging towards the Citadel. It was clear that whoever was the Mutant T-Rex’s rider was not an ally.

Gromtin tossed his handheld laser gun aside, ran back inside the building, and came back with a much larger weapon. Dr. Miner narrowed his eyes, then his right hand retracted into his mechanical arm, which now began to glow a slight purple. Ikaag and Lahka readied to use their elemental powers, while Skorpeo summoned four Rhotuka spinners in his hands.

Gromtin fired first. His weapon launched a rocket which propelled itself towards the Mutant T-Rex. When it made contact, it exploded.

The dinosaur’s thick hide protected itself from most of the attack, but its attention was now diverted to the group standing on the street below. Its rider pointed at them and shouted something, and then the Mutant T-Rex roared furiously and charged at them.

Skorpeo fired next, launching a Rhotuka from one of his hands. When it made contact with its target, the Mutant T-Rex stopped and glanced around, clearly confused. Skorpeo smiled in triumph.

Lahka then used his powers over Sonics to hit the creature with a barrage of pure sound. Dr. Miner fired plasma out of his mechanical arm, forcing the Mutant T-Rex to back away. Summoning her Ice abilities, Ikaag flash-froze the Mutant T-Rex from the knees down, rendering it unable to walk anymore.

Although still confused, the Mutant T-Rex was now angry. As Skorpeo prepared to fire another Rhotuka, the dinosaur fired laser beams out of his eyes, hitting the Dark Hunter square in the chest and sending him flying backwards.

Then, the Mutant T-Rex snarled and tried to close its jaws upon Dr. Miner, who rolled out of the way just in time. Instead, it swung its head to knock aside Lahka, cutting short the Sonics attack.

Gromtin fired his rocket launcher again, but the Mutant T-Rex closed its jaws upon the incoming projectile. Ikaag was not sure how it could survive such a maneuver, but apparently the rocket had disintegrated in the dinosaur’s mouth.

The T-Rex shattered the ice around its feet and lunged for Ikaag. The Toa Ulti of Water dodged the attack and fought back with blasts of Water and Ice.

As soon as Skorpeo recovered, he launched another Rhotuka from a different hand. When this spinning wheel of energy hit the T-Rex, the entire mutant dinosaur’s body went stiff. Paralyzed, it toppled over and collapsed onto the ground.

The Mutant T-Rex’s rider struggled to get back on his feet, and in that time Ikaag, Lahka, and Gromtin surrounded him. Now that she was closer, Ikaag saw that the rider resembled a Toa clad in black and blue armor. However, his back and arms were covered with spines, he possessed a tail, and he wore no Kanohi, instead exposing a hideous face that seemed perpetually grinning.

“Those good-for-nothing Ice Drones,” he grumbled. “They told me that there were only two Minifigs in this Metru. Nothing about Toa or… that thing.” He pointed at Skorpeo, who grimaced at him.

“Never seen anyone like you before,” mused Gromtin. “Who… or what are you?”

The fallen rider continued to grin savagely. “My name’s Bucalb, and I’m a Skakdi. Surprised you’ve never heard of us Skakdi; we’re an infamous bunch.”

Ikaag recalled Skorpeo once mentioning six Skakdi Dark Hunters, which were also mentioned in Meench Vyzumi’s entry in the encyclopedic chapter Dr. Miner was reading. For once, she finally knew what they were referring to, and she was already sickened by the knowledge.

“Guys,” decided Gromtin, “lock this ‘Bucalb’ up in that Ogel Prison a few blocks from here; we’ll deal with him later. Dr. Miner and I will drag this Mutant T-Rex out of the city and… dispose of it properly. We’ll also have to repair the wall… again.”

“At least,” shrugged Lahka, who was already grabbing Bucalb by the shoulder, “now we won’t have to worry about Meench Vyzumi sneaking in.” Finally, his optimistic side was beginning to reemerge.

With that, Ikaag and Skorpeo assisted Lahka in dragging the Skakdi to the Ice Drone-built prison in the city. The whole time, Bucalb did not wipe his vicious sneer from his face. There was something about him that made him seem like the kind of being who would play on his opponents’ worst fears or backstab his superiors in the most disrespectful manner.

Because of this, Toa Ikaag did not feel comfortable for an instant while standing near Bucalb the Skakdi.



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Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 13th October 2012 - 04:09 AM