"Get to safety!" yelled Draconius as the missile went off beside them. The two beings were blasted back yards, but resumed the walk through the mud.
"Never mind," hissed Tetrack in his cold voice. He looked up to see another flying Enforcer craft. Concentrating all his powers, he drew the massive craft into his body for half a second, then released it into the air, colliding with another craft and annihilating both with a spectacular explosion.
"Nice work," muttered Draconius. "Let's go. The ship is waiting."
"You ever wish you had powers?" said Tetrack.
"All the time," said the Skrall. "I suppose it amazes you how I can do without them."
"We could give you some, you know," Tetrack replied. "It's very simple..."
"I don't need a lecture right now," said Draconius, jogging so Tetrack could catch up. "I'm quite happy as I am."
Tetrack had just been rescued from the base of the secret order known as the Enforcers of Gigas Magna by his ally, Draconius. They were leaders of the Bounty Hunters' Guild, an organization whose goal was to destroy the Enforcers. Tetrack was a Kodax, a prototype Makuta, and he had established the Guild to get revenge on his old enemy Brominax.
They were running now from the Enforcers. The rest of the rescue team had been killed already, leaving only the two beings running through the mud. They were headed for an aircraft by the sea; putting it any closer to Gigas Nui would have been to risk detection.
The ship was in sight now that they had crossed over the ridge. Now, however, there was a strange, unidentifiable sound, and it was growing nearer.
Then it became identifiable.
"Oh, drat," said Draconius. "Why is it always Boreal?"
An explosion came from the direction in which they had come, and Draconius hurled himself and Tetrack to the ground just in time to keep themselves from being hit by the motorcycle in mid-jump. In his seat was Boreal, a Toa of Aura of the Enforcers; the legendary Chronicler of Gigas Magna. Draconius, however, only saw him as a very large annoyance.
"Get to the ship," said Draconius, ducking as the motorcycle's machine-gun rifles sent volleys of bullets in their direction. "I can handle him."
Looking back warily, Tetrack kept as close to the ground as possible as he ran. He turned back to look for a fraction of a second, and saw that Draconius had, he calculated, 42.3 seconds to live against the motorcycle. Despite his fighting skills, Draconius was no match for a battle vehicle.
Tetrack decided to change that.
Signaling to the pilot to take off, Tetrack jumped into the open cargo bay. He ran through to the cockpit of the ship he had designed and ordered the pilot to blow the motorcycle to Karzahni.
"Sir," protested the Agori, the initiation sequence commences in thirty seconds."
"I know perfectly well when it commences. Do it!"
Muttering something about suicidal Kodax, the pilot raised the ship into the air and shot one of the plasma cannons. It hit the motorcycle, and it went up in a massive fireball. Draconius ran to finish off the Toa, but Tetrack, realizing that doing so would take one second too long, concentrated his powers and summoned the Skrall to him. For a moment, the Skrall was a part of his own body, but then Tetrack released his hold, and Draconius was whole again.
"You should have let me kill him," protested Draconius, but stopped.
Far away at the horizon, a massive fireball rose into the air. The powerful blast shook the ground and even the air itself. Tetrack watched as the Enforcer base was engulfed by a stream of lava, and saw as the lava waves approached their location.
"A volcano bomb," whistled Draconius. "Effective."
"Get us out of here," called Tetrack to the pilot, who quite willingly obliged.
As the ship flew over the ocean of Gigas Magna, behind them, a stream of lava met the sea, and Tetrack watched as new land was formed.
Tetrack Nui's reminiscing was interrupted by the sound of a repetitive knocking. The thirty-foot-tall being activated his powers and telekinetically moved the twin doors open. A small — at least, in Tetrack's eyes — black Kodax stepped into the room.
"Is it urgent?" said Tetrack Nui, tapping his enormous fingers on the massive chair's armrests.
"You know I would not disturb you if it were not, My Lord," said Mordrax to the larger being.
"Is there a problem?" hissed Tetrack, his voice echoing off of the massive room's corners.
"There is a being at the entrance, My Lord. He requests permission to see you."
"Many beings request permission to see me. Send him away."
"He says he's an old friend of yours. And he has a large rocket pointed at the communications tower."
"Ah," said Tetrack. Finally, something interesting had happened in this boring city. "One of my ore... forceful friends. Send him in."
Many things had changed since the Bounty Hunter Wars. Tetrack had successfully overthrown the Enforcers of Gigas Magna and declared himself dictator of the planet. He had eliminated his partner, Forsk, and in the process had gained his new massive form. His armies, even now, were marching across the surface of distant worlds, conquering them and forcing the inhabitants to bow to the Brotherhood of Gigas Magna's flag.
All in all, things were going very well.
These first few months as dictator had been tiresome. He had to wipe out his Enforcer enemies, destroy all foes on newly conquered worlds, while, at the same time appear to the Matoran as if he were a just and wise leader.
The problem was with making the general population trust him while forcing the rest of it, the part which new who he truly was, to obey him. He had many effective minions capable of inspiring fear, but they were limited in number. He needed new warriors, new fighters; the "military" of Tenik Nui was a bad joke, made up of out-of-practice Matoran and Toa that couldn't hit targets a bio away with a Thornax launcher. Most of his armies were made up of Odina Drones; expendable warriors, but warriors all the same. They had done quite well against the relatively small armies of other planets, but a hundred of them weren't a match for one Enforcer of Gigas Magna. He needed elite, trained warriors, not mindless robots.
Then he looked up, and an opportunity to gain such warriors lay right before his eyes.
Three beings were standing in the doorway. One was Mordrax, looking at the other two with distaste. One was Zirahk, a Mechanical Rahkshi, and one of the elite warriors in the Brotherhood. The other was a recognizable but still surprising face: that of a Skrall in his old age.
"Draconius," Tetrack said, the word echoing around the chamber. "We meet again."
"Hello, Tetrack," the Skrall wheezed. He looked old and tired, but his gleaming eyes had not dimmed, and his quick hands had not grown slower. He was still fit and able, a surprising fact considering that Tetrack had last seen him nearly a hundred thousand years ago.
"We represent the Bounty Hunters' Guild," said Zirahk, stepping forward. "No doubt you've heard of it, Tetrack."
"It still exists?" said Tetrack in surprise.
"We went into hiding after the end of the war," said Draconius. "No one knew of our existence, not even the Enforcers. We have spies planted everywhere in the universe, including," he gestured to Zirahk, "here."
"I should kill you right now," the larger being snarled.
"Make one step — literally, one step — towards us, and my agents will blow this building to bits."
"What do you want?" Tetrack growled.
"The Guild has been in hiding for a hundred thousand years. We have power, but we have no means to use it. We want to begin a partnership with your Brotherhood. I understood you needed help in rooting out the Enforcers."
"We don't need your help."
"After the Enforcers are destroyed," Tetrack said with an edge to his voice, "what will you do?"
"We stay, as a branch of your military," said Draconius.
"So if I agree, I have to constantly pay your forces until they refuse," Tetrack muttered. "If I refuse, we all die."
"A bad option and a worse option," said Draconius. "I'd go with the bad option."
Tetrack chuckled. "You were always so persuasive. How many of you are there?"
"About five hundred," Draconius replied, "but if we join you, I'm certain others will join."
Tetrack laughed again, a cold, hollow sound that echoed eerily across the room, bouncing off the walls until it sounded like a scream. "Very well then. You've persuaded me. You could be useful after all."
"We can deal with the official things later," said Draconius, walking out of the chamber, his Skrall feet echoing off of the cold, hard metal surface of the floor beneath.
Mordrax grabbed Zirahk by the shoulder as he walked out. "What did you do to the guards? There's a thousand of them. I don't believe they just decided to abandon their posts."
Mordrax nodded and let go of Zirahk. He didn't trust these bounty hunters, and he was going to carefully memorize all of their strategies until he knew enough to prove to Tetrack that they were plotting against him. He would not rest until the bounty hunters had been exterminated.
Boreal heaved a heavy sigh as he looked at his ancient holographic transmitter. A news report was playing on the holovision, one of particular interest to him and all the rest of the Enforcers of Gigas Magna.
"The Bounty Hunters' Guild," the news crackled, "will now devote all their resources to the extermination of the Enforcers. They have officially become part of the military, and are even now searching for them in far-off worlds. There are even some estimates saying that the Enforcers will all be in prison by the end of the—"
Boreal shut it off. He didn't need to hear any more. He knew the Guild all too well, having fought with it years before. He had been a general back in the days when the majority of the world didn't know that the Enforcers existed...
He was gone. He was back in the prison cell back in that nightmarish dream, back in that dark part of his mind that contained his memories of the Bounty Hunter Wars.
A Skrall strode into the dimly lit room, carrying a small metal clipboard. He turned to face the Toa of Aura. "Tell me, what is your name?"
"Boreal," he growled, looking with unbridled hate at the being who was, no doubt, responsible for his imprisonment.
"Do you know who we are?"
The Skrall scribbled something down on his clipboard. "Why were you headed for this continent?"
"A change of guard."
"And if you could kill me, would you?"
Boreal looked up at his captor, his eyes narrowing at the Skrall. "In an instant."
"Really?" The Skrall wrote something down.
"Sir, if I do some questioning I might be more successful," said the green Rotaxian lurking in a corner.
"Oh, really?" the Skrall replied, smirking at him as if they were sharing a private joke. "Well, then. I'd be perfectly willing to let you, under one condition; you don't harm him in any way; don't even give him a threat."
"Ah." The Rotaxian smiled. "Perhaps I should be going."
"Perhaps you should."
The Bota Magnan stepped out of the room and walked at a level pace out into the corridor, his footsteps fading until they had gone into the perpetual eerie stillness that hung over the place.
"You are very a valuable asset to us," said the Skrall. "Sadly, that means that we can't have you dead, or at least not for a time. I just want to spare you a large amount of pain. If you give us what we want easily, your death will be peaceful, I can see to that."
"We shall all die eventually," growled the Chronicler. "I care nothing for the means of my death, so long as I die nobly and honorably, in service of the Enforcers."
"A pity," said the Skrall. "I thought you'd be more reasonable."
"You'll have to get rid of me," said Boreal, looking the Skrall straight in the eye.
"I'm sure you'll come round eventually," the Skrall chuckled. "I think it's time we tested out some of our new torture experiments we've been saving for special occasions."
"I won't give in," Boreal responded, "so long as my name is Boreal."
"I think you will," said the Skrall, walking out of the room and closing the door behind him, "or else my name isn't Draconius."
The Toa of Aura awoke from his vision and shook his head. He heard a strange cluttering noise and looked up momentarily, but the source of the noise soon reached his range of vision, and he saw that it was only a small Rahi making its way through the gutters. He sighed. Living in the "underworld," the system of pipes and tubes that lay beneath the streets of Gigas Magna, was making him paranoid.
So what to do now? The Enforcers had scattered. There were only two hundred or so left now, presumably hiding as Boreal was in the shadows of the planet. He hoped that some of them had made their way off of Gigas Magna; they were the lucky ones. He, and probably a number of others, were lost in the dark, almost literally, living off of the small packs of food that remained in their packs.
There was no place for him in the great city of Tenik Nui, where he was hiding; that much was for certain. His face was on every other holowall, with the caption "WANTED" in large blue letters beneath it. Perhaps he could find a nice place on, say, the West Continent; live among the Vandrox. He briefly considered going back to Gigas Nui to salvage what wat was left of the libraries, but then he remembered that the Guild was building a base there, and besides, most of the records were probably gone: either lost in the fires or stolen by scavengers.
Scavenger. That was what he was now. Not Chronicler, not general, not Enforcer; just scavenger.
He wondered what Brominax would do, as he usually did when situations like this arose.
And then he knew exactly what to do.
Girahk sighed deeply and looked towards the horizon, where the last glint of sunlight was slowly vanishing. As the light in the sky faded completely, he looked away and began practice fighting with his dual weapons.
He was on the peaceful and beautiful planet of Noctxia Magna, a haven of life, filled with lush jungles and great oceans and majestic mountain ranges. Or at least it had been peaceful; now the lush jungles served as hiding places for criminal headquarters, the oceans served as places to throw useless technological and radioactive waste in, and the mountains, such as the one he was in right now, had become perfect places for beings to hide from the criminal empires.
Or more specifically, one criminal empire: Dark Talon.
Girahk sighed again as he orchestrated an effortless and flawless sequence of martial arts moves, followed up by a series of quick yet elegant thrusts from his blades. Practice fighting had always been his way of letting go of his emotions.
Dark Talon had been operating for more than fifty years. It had sent the local government, along with its military: the Noctxia Guardians, into hiding. It was unofficially in charge of the entire planet, and all threats to its rule were routinely sought out and crushed.
Girahk was a threat to their rule, and he was taking very precaution to avoid being sought out.
He had worked for Dark Talon once; he had just been brought to the planet by its ruler Great Being before the organization had made its home on Noctxia Magna. The Great Being had later vanished, and Girahk — then a young, newly created sentient Rahkshi from another universe — had been eager to claim his share of power. But over time, he realized that the atrocities that Dark Talon had committed were too great to be justified. He fled, and now some of Dark Talon's best assassins and infiltrators were after him.
The one reason he had gotten this far was that in his time in Dark Talon, he had become one of them.
He spotted a brief glint of red out of the corner of his eye, and spun around to face it. The source of the glint was gone, but he knew Dark Talon well enough not to take any chances with them. He turned around again, and there, on a rocky shelf that lay a few bio below the ledge he was standing on, was a massive Rahi.
Even as the thought of the Annihilator came into his head, that very being spoke aloud in his mechanical voice: "Hello, Girahk. It's so nice to see you again."
Girahk turned around to face him. The red-and-green being looked down at the diminutive Rakshi, his face covered, as usual, by his customary helmet, which allowed him to disguise his voice. The Annihilator unsheathed his claws, pointing them menacingly at Girahk. Girahk didn't have to look around to realize that the Gardorax had manage to get up the ledge, and was even now growling at him, apparently eager for battle.
"I suppose," said Girahk in a level tone, "you're here to take me back to Dark Talon."
"I'm glad that you've begun to catch on,"
- The flashback scene in Chapter 1 is an edited version of a scene from Chapter 5 of The Bounty Hunter Wars.