An epical story by me.
Consider yourselves lucky, wikians. You are seeing the full, unedited story before most of it hits the MBs.
Fire flew out of Tarvus's sword at the Dark Hunters below. They had brought out a battering ram and it was taking all the Toa they had to protect the Matoran inside the fortress, and most importantly, the stone it held. A messenger ran to a Toa swinging a flail, generating a bolt of white-hot fire.
"Tarvus! We have word from the others!"
"What is it, Dar?"
Dar was a Ta-Matoran with a black Kiril. He was brave, but weak. They kept him around as a messenger, but if Tarvus had his way, which he very nearly did, Dar would be evacuated entirely from the battle.
Dar looked around. He didn't want to give the bad news.
"They. . . Uh. . ."
"Dar! Does it seem like I have the spare time to listen to that?" A scything blade of energy whizzed past Tarvus' orange Pakari, then exploded a cart filled with Cordak shells, burning everything in the vicinity.
"Sorry, Tarvus. They cannot send— TARVUS!"
Dar saw Tarvus fall forward from the parapet towards the Dark Hunters. The other Toa ran to the wall and covered for a Toa of Stone as he attempted to lift Tarvus out of danger with his Matatu. A Dark Hunter used this opportunity to fire a huge arc of energy from his stinger tail, exploding on all of them.
The battering ram shattered the gates.
The fortress was lost.
Dar ran out of the HQ. He would find justice.
There was no place to go.
No safe havens left.
There was nowhere.
Dar woke with a start on his sleeping mat. He looked around and saw nothing much. The fading orange firelight, the firefliers slowly blinking in the trees, the distant, repetitive sounds of a small bird-like Rahi somewhere in the distance—
A twig snap.
The sound of cracking and crunching underfoot, as something approached his campsite. He grabbed his small telescopic blade and walked towards the noise with a lightstone. He tightened his grip on the blade, fearing it was a Krawaa— or worse. He neared it, suspicions growing exponentially as he came closer, and then saw. . . A tall, red and grey being with a staff?
"Stop! I am not here to harm you. If I had wanted to, you would have been dead a long time ago. I come from a place that wishes to help you. We have the ability to set it all right," the being said.
"Are you from. . . Artakha?" Dar had to ask. He had always heard legends of a land named Artakha, and all it had to offer. They could very easily help him.
"Uh. . . No." Upon seeing Dar's look of disappointment, he continued. "However, I am from a group that could help you. Your home was destroyed?"
Dar looked up, interested. "Yes. Yes, it was. Why?"
"We could help you avenge its destruction."
"How can I help?" If there was any way that Dar could bring harm to the Dark Hunters, he would do it.
"You can come with me. We cannot help you directly, but you can show you to someone that can. Come with me, Dar."
Dar guessed that this stranger already knew enough that finding his name wasn't difficult, but he still wanted to know his companion. "What's your name, then?"
"My name?" asked the stranger. "Tobduk. You don't need to know where I'm from," he added, almost reading Dar's mind.
They walked off into the night.
Dar saw the island ahead, but couldn't tell where he was; Tobduk had disoriented him before they got on the boat. The closer they came, the more he could hear a sound: the generalized bustling of any active location.
When they arrived on the shores, Tobduk said, "Look. This place has people bound by a code and an Order, but if you do anything to show you are against it, they will not hesitate to kill you instantly. It is best you stay close to me until you can be trusted."
"But you can trust me," Dar complained. "You're the reason I'm on this island!"
"Not everyone knows that, and that means nothing. Now follow me."
As they walked through the "city" (Dar could find no other name for it), Dar could detect a background noise, a throbbing, low thumping. Dar and Tobduk entered a palace-like building of magnificent architecture and walked straight through the courtyard, up the steps, and to a balcony overlooking a large cobbled field.
Dar now realized what the thumping was: a tribal, warlike drumming made by those in preparation for war.
"What is this? Where am I?" Dar asked Tobduk.
"This is the Order of Mata Nui headquarters on Daxia," Tobduk replied, looking straight down at the warriors going through a drill.
"This is. . . some type of secret group?"
"Of sorts. But you aren't staying with us."
"What? Then why am I here?"
"We are to show you who you will be staying with. Rest for the night." Tobduk glanced at the telescopic knife. "And we'll give you real equipment in the morning."
Dar walked with Tobduk to the armory. He noticed that everywhere he went, there was always someone going somewhere with tablets and records, sending and receiving reports of details of all the events taking place across the universe. Dar pointed at one of them and asked, "What does he normally report about?"
"The events of the Southern Continent," Tobduk said. "We have two agents on land, and in the waters below, we have another agent."
"I see," Dar said, not really knowing why there would be people underwater. "And who is in that room there?"
"That is the office of Helryx, our leader. She was the first Toa, and is the leader and founder of our grand Order."
"There's a lot you aren't telling me, Tobduk."
Tobduk looked down for a moment, thinking of what to say. "It's hard being a member of the Order of Mata Nui. Not even I know everything that goes on in the background, the behind-the-scenes ploys, the backstabbing that goes on in the night, the agents know one knows, stationed Great Spirit-knows-where, keeping watch over some being no one can know. . . Yes, Dar. There is a lot I don't tell you. And its not because I don't trust you. It's because of regulations, for one, and for another, its because if you know, whether you want to tell anyone or not, someone will find out. There are others out there, Dar, that are just as powerful as we are, and they can easily pick up anything in your head without you even knowing they exist. We are holding this universe together, Dar. We are all they've got."
"But the Toa—" Dar attempted to say, but was cut off by Tobduk.
"The Toa are not organized like we are. You saw that fortress destroyed. Imagine that army, a hundred times larger, marching on Stelt, or Xia, or the Northern Continent, or worse. We are the last line of defense, Dar. Mata Nui help us if the wrong information falls into enemy hands. Here's the armory. Let's get some weapons."
Dar found a Cordak blaster and shredder claws inside, and in one corner at the far end of the seemingly endless room, there was a large stationary cannon, the sound of buzzing Protodites barely audible. He spotted a huge, three-pronged lance leaning against a rack as well. He grabbed a modified Cordak blaster that carried more than a dozen shots and a protosteel sword and walked out with Tobduk.
He looked impatiently at the assassin. "When can I go? When do I finally get to fight? I want to be able to beat up some of those raiders."
Tobduk laughed, and it was intimidating. "You? Fight Dark Hunters? Never, not until you have trained."
"You're a master fighter, you teach me!"
"No. I cannot teach you what— no, I lie, I can teach you everything. They want one of your kind to teach you the techniques, though, so that you can. . . 'connect' with them better."
"My kind? A Matoran? Here?"
"No. . . A Toa."
Dar stared quizzically at Tobduk. My kind? I'm a Matoran, not a Toa. He must clump Matoran, Toa, and Turaga together. Many people do.
"So. . . When do I go see him?"
"You will see him today. He wants to give you several minutes to contemplate and prepare. From what I understand, he believes his time is nearing and is getting a lot wiser and a lot more thoughtful. I suggest you do as he says: he has lived a long time and knows what he talks about."
"Right. I'll go and do that."
Tobduk spent the day meditating outside the Toa's chamber, like a Ko-Matoran. It irritated him. How could anyone sit still like this? Not even an iron statue would want to stay this frozen to the spot. Even iron melts eventually, with enough heat. Yes, everything melts with the right heat. Heat is a source of life. Heat is a source of death. Heat is everything. I am a Matoran of heat, aren't I? Fire brings heat. Heat brings life. I bring life. Yes. . . That's right. . .
The door began to open. Dar could just barely see the cream-colored gauntlet holding it, before the rest of the Toa was visible. He saw the magnificent warrior before him, surely a legend in his own time. A gleaming, but scarred and pitted, silver Kualsi with a scope like an Akaku, Great Ice Broadswords on his back, extra armor on his arms, legs, and chest, and an icy blue stare that drove through you and pierced to the core. Dar wondered how much this wonder could tell about him just by looking at him.
The Toa's expression slowly softened, and he beckoned into the room. "Please, come in. I understand you have come to learn the skills of a Toa."
Skills of a Toa? Mask powers? Elemental control? Am I supposed to be a Toa? The Toa looked at him and could tell what he was thinking.
"You weren't informed? I thought you knew."
Something about the voice soothed Dar, calmed him. It was passive, but a firm passive.
"No, I wasn't told. I am to become a Toa?"
"Yes. Then, I am to train you in the art of being a Toa. Take this stone,” he said, "and put it in the wall."
Dar did as he was told, and placed the smooth, oblong rock into a slot in the wall. It fit perfectly. Then there was a small glow from the stone, and the wall slowly separated and split apart, revealing a Suva, the stone in one of the slots in it.
"Wait. . . This shrine, that stone. . . That's a Toa Stone!"
Dar said it just in time to find himself shining brightly, his limbs and body growing larger and longer. The sword he chose was now an orange protosteel fire sword, with ability to channel his Toa powers. He looked at his reflection in the Toa's shoulder armor, and saw a great yellow Kanohi of Regeneration. He was a Toa now.
"You may have your powers," Turaga Tanon said, "but now, you must learn how to use them for your own will, shape the environment around you with it, and rival my mastery of Ice with yours," he paused for a moment, thinking back to a time long past, when he fought alongside an equally great legend against masters of evil, "of Fire."
"Now is the time you will learn how to use your Mask power," Tanon said. "You," he said to a passing Order agent, "give me that sword."
The brown being handed him his protosteel long sword, sharp as cut glass, and involuntarily jumped back as the Turaga deftly sliced a statue and a fountain in two, then made random cuts in the marble floor of the courtyard.
Dar and the agent both stood there, mouths agape at the mess.
"Well? You're a Toa, aren't you? Fix it."
Dar shifted a bit, uncomfortable with the situation, now seeing the Order agents beginning to stop and watch.
"What? Aren't you a large organization? Don't you have jobs to do and errands to run? A universe to 'hold together'? I'm sure I heard that somewhere. Have you got nothing better to do than watch a Turaga show the next generation the ropes? You've all gone through the same thing when you went through your examinations. Be off with you, you're making him nervous and you're making me upset." Tanon then tossed the long sword at the agent blade first, making him first attempt to dodge it, then fumble it.
They looked at him for one moment and suddenly realized that they were very busy, yes, indeed, and that they had such a tight schedule they wouldn't get a break today, no sir, and no rest tonight, and oh so much paperwork, best be off now, good luck with that Mask thing.
Dar looked at the statue and concentrated. His face tightened as he tried to fix it. The one thing in his mind was to make the statue regrow. After several minutes, he gave up and looked pleadingly at the wise Turaga.
"First," Tanon said, "you're going about it all wrong. If all that occupied my thoughts was to teleport over there," he nodded at a hedge a ways off, "I would be killed before I knew it. No. The key is mental, though, you had the concept right. Try to connect with your Mask more, form a. . . a bond with it. Only then can you achieve the power you seek. Perhaps you know of how a Matoran can slightly alter the course of a Kanoka disk by thoughts?"
Dar looked at the Turaga. "It's one of the few things I do know."
"Good. It's somewhat like that. Try again."
Dar attempted again, and after a few tries, succeeded. The statue of Lhikan regrew, once again gaining the height of the other statues near it. Dar then regenerated the fountain, and healed the cuts on the pathway.
"Very good. Impressive. Now for your elemental power."
Dar and Tanon spent the rest of the day learning how to harness the element and use it, then to control it, and last, to absorb it. Then, Tanon gripped his staffs and lunged at Dar, attacking him ferociously until Dar was able to push him the length of the path.
==Part Seven== (This was part six, but it was too long)
At sunset, Dar and Tanon walked down the path, passing the statues of all the Toa who ever lived, talking. As they passed the statues of the Mangai, he noticed a change in Tanon's tone, and when they reached the statues of Lesovikk's team, he was silent entirely. He paused, and retrieved some flowers from his armor. He placed them in front of each of the statues, and continued to the last two statues. Dar recognized one of them as the Turaga, before he had transformed. The Turaga knelt before the statue opposite, tears welling in his eyes. He gently laid a red, yellow, and orange flameflower before the statue, and rose. He looked up at the granite Huna.
"What've I got left, old friend?" Tanon asked the statue. "This young one has a future. I, I've lost my power, my friends, and my life. I can't fight anymore. What am I to do, my friend? I've failed to do as you asked."
Dar looked at the engraved quote on the base of the figure.
"You cannot fail. Only ever find a new excuse to get better."
Dar looked at Tanon and shifted a little, uneasy and unsure whether or not to speak. "What did he want you to do?"
"Train you, Dar. Make you the next great legend. It was his last wish before the Dark Hunters destroyed him."
"What happened?" Dar asked, immediately regretting it for fear that it would bring too many bad memories to Tanon. The Turaga took it well.
"The Dark Hunters. . . We were in a gorge, and the Dark Hunters were marching right at us. We were able to fight most of them back, but there were two. . . One with a stinger tail and the other with one eye and a staff. The staff canceled our powers, and we were helpless. I realized we could use our powers again only when the tail fired at Ehlrys, and he was gone. The fire burned bright and hot inside Ehlrys. He never gave up. That's his most cherished saying, down there," he nodded at the quote. "He believed you never could fail anything. I am afraid that I have failed him, though."
"No, you didn't-" Dar started to say, but stopped when he saw Tanon's face. He looked Tanon in the eye. "I'm. . . Sorry about Ehlrys. He sounds like a legend, like you."
Tanon glanced up at Dar. "I am not a legend. Legends are those sung by the Matoran and Turaga. Legends are the ones that are dead."
"No." Dar hesitated a moment, waiting to see the wise Turaga's response. When he said nothing, Dar continued. "You are a legend. Just because you aren't remembered, doesn't mean you weren't a great fighter, a great person. Legend is not the right word. There needs to be a new word, one for those that were legendary in character, but were forgotten."
"There is, Dar. It's called a distant memory. Dust in the wind. Forgotten glory. The people that are only known by one now, and that one will-"
Dar mustered the courage and disrespect to interrupt Tanon. "And that one will pass it to another, and when that one is ready, he will pass it to another, and he to another. The memory never fades. The name never dies. I believe that somewhere, up there," he gazed at the stars, illusions of the Universe, colored differently for every Toa's element, "there is a place where the dead go, and they live on."
"Perhaps there is, Dar, perhaps there is. If there is," Tanon too looked toward the heavens, "I hope you are watching us, Ehlrys." He glanced at Dar before rising. "Come, we must rest if you are to shape the environment tomorrow. Tanon walked down the marble pathway back to the courtyard, where he would meditate all night before teaching Dar.
"Now then," Tanon said, "At this pool I want you to evaporate all the water." Dar looked into the calm artificial pond that Helryx used to practice her mastery of water and reflect on things.
"But I don't want to see any obvious fire. I want it to seem like the pool is simply vanishing into steam."
Dar thought for a moment on how this could be done, and the saw the key. He summoned the power of Fire, and began creating it underneath the water. There was a large outburst of bubbling, followed by steam rising from the surface. But Tanon was not happy with it. "No, no, no. It must be subtle. No one must know that a Toa was involved. If that were to happen while you were in secret and trying to do something, they would find you. Now try again."
Dar continued the flame, but this time at a lower temperature and on the fine line between the surface and the air. After half an hour of this, he succeeded. "Good work. Now then, I'll fix it so that no one will notice." Tanon held his hand out and concentrated a moment, and a thick layer of ice covered the bottom of the pool. He repeated the process until the pool was slightly overfilled. Dar attempted to say, "But there's too much," but was cut off before he could. Tanon said, "Trust me. Melt the ice."
Dar used some heat to melt the ice, and to his surprise, when it melted, it was filled perfectly.
"Trust is a powerful thing. Don't forget it, or it will forget you." At this, Tanon went back to swordplay. This time, he drew a thin saber, good for nothing against the long sword. Then, he tossed another at Dar.
"This time I intend to teach you how to fence. Swinging a sword full-force at someone is good, if you don't care about civilized fighting and the other person can't move an inch. Now, stand like this," he held his arm at his side, sword pointed up, and stood sideways with his feet apart, the front one pointing straight towards Dar and the other at a ninety-degree angle with it. Dar attempted to do this, but held the sword slightly wrong, and his feet weren't apart enough, and overall, it took a day's learning to know how to stand and to move.
The next day, however, was more exciting. When they began, Dar noticed Tanon didn't move at all. Dar began to advance, waving his sword slightly, and quickly lunged at Tanon, expecting to easily catch him. Tanon then masterfully parried the blow, touching Dar on the wrist.
"Good, but if we were really fighting, your hand would be on the floor. You need to be patient, waiting for the opponent to move. Once you get a feel for what he's doing, you will know how to react. You must be quick in the mind and in the body. Once you have achieved that, you will be a much better fighter. With that in mind, let's try that again."
They continued to fence for a few more hours, before the Turaga decided Dar had enough training for the day. He were now going to master his Elemental Power.
Tanon looked sharply at Dar, sixteen thousand years of experience as a Toa packed into the wise being. "Today I will finish your training in Toa powers, and you will be ready to track down the Dark Hunters. We will combat using raw elemental powers, and you will defeat me. Ready?"
Without waiting for an answer, Tanon held up his hand and let ice sprout out from it, the crystals nearly blinding Dar in the midday sun. The icicles continued to grow towards Dar, before he let a rivulet of flame shoot from his hand, halting the progress of the ice and melting it in glistening drops where the fire and ice made contact. For a moment, it seemed as if there was a standoff, but not for long. To Dar's astonishment, the ice began pushing back the fire, until his palm was almost touching the frozen water. Feeling somewhat ashamed for being beaten back by a Turaga, Dar drew on more strength and pushed forward, vaporizing the ice. Tanon took a step back, surprised at the sudden surge of power.
"I haven't felt that since. . . I last sparred with Ehlrys. You have a special gift, Dar. May it always be your advantage."