- "He is the watcher in the night,
Forever cast from guiding light.
In dark he walks, through night he stalks,
The shadows have no end in sight.
- "The dark obeys his every will,
He waits to pounce, forever still.
In mist he hides, where Phantom glides
Within the night's unearthly chill.
- "A master warrior is he,
But a deathly curse is what he sees.
The earth shall quake and worlds shall break
Ere the day that he is free.
- "Ever doomed never to rest,
The finest fighter he can best,
He is now lost, and at what cost
Can he be saved before the end?"
- ―The Elder Prophecies
Four silent pairs of feet left imprints in the gray mud, which were quickly washed away by the heavy rain. Four pairs of bright glowing eyes looked at each other knowingly as they saw another, larger, pair of footsteps.
"He was here," said one of the figures, his eyes and body a bright crimson. His body was heavily built, and muscles covered what parts of the body could be seen in the dim moonlight.
"He is not stupid," said another, a lean figure with thin blue limbs. The rest of her body was covered in a dark black cloak. "Of course he would cover his own footsteps. We are walking into a trap."
The four figures silently unsheathed their weapons, four blades that glistened in the bright light of Spherus Magna's two moons. Together, they trudged in the direction that the footsteps headed.
"You know, as we all do, that he has to remain behind," said the blue figure. "If we fail on this mission, at least one of us must survive to continue our work."
"Cowardice is what I call it," growled the first voice. "The arrogant snob is too scared to face his own creation..."
"Any thoughts, Cordak?" asked the green one. The fourth and last figure, a hunched being with armor the color of ice, shook his head.
"Of course," hissed the red being. "Wise old Cordak says nothing, as usual, because he thinks we won't notice the difference between his silence and him running off to leave us alone."
"Shut your fiery mouth, Galdrex," retorted the green one, "or I'll shut it for you."
"Oh?" said Galdrex. "So you're hiding behind your telekinetic power again just to avoid a battle, eh, Vortex? Let me show you just how—"
"Silence!" whispered Metallica. "I think we've found him."
The three other Great Beings came closer to her, and found themselves looking down into a massive crater. Its edges were perfectly smooth, and its bottom lay some hundred bio below them.
"Well," said Vortex, "this most certainly was not here a minute ago."
"Which means that he's still around here somewhere," finished Galdrex. Cordak nodded his agreement. The Great Beings began to look around, spreading out—
"Wait," said Metallica. She activated the telescopic lens on her mask and looked towards the bottom of the crater. At its depths lay a thin layer of a strange silvery-black liquid. "Vortex, there's something at the bottom. A substance of sorts. Can you bring some up here for us to examine?"
"My pleasure," said Vortex. Concentrating, he all but removed his mind from his body. Thousands of images flashed before his eyes, and he instinctively managed to select the one he knew he had to focus on for his work. It was the image of a small pool at the bottom of a crater. He willed a small drop to rise from the pool, and in his mind's eye, it did so. He willed it to fly up to where they were, and in both his mind's eye and his true eyes, it was there.
He smiled momentarily. He had never gotten used to the thrill that came with telekinetic power.
The other three Great Beings gathered around the drop of silver liquid, examining it closely. Codak used his Kanohi to store all the information about the substance for future reference, while Galdrex frowned.
"This isn't a natural material," she murmured. "It seems like the protodermis we created, but it seems somehow... different."
"Quite right," said a voice, and Vortex was so startled that he stopped levitating the drop of liquid. However, it remained in the air, suspended by another force.
The "other force" was standing in front of them, ten bio high, his eight arms pointed menacingly at them.
"I suppose you are here to kill me," said the being. "You shall find your attempts to be sadly futile."
"Matata," growled Galdrex. "Surrender, and you will be unharmed."
"I offer you a similar proposal," responded the Omega Being. "Surrender, and you will he harmed marginally less, which is still quite a bit."
"We don't want to harm you," said Metallica.
"I suppose I should be grateful," Matata sneered. "You created me, after all. The six of you were trying to make the 'perfect species.' Here I am. I am perfect. Don't you think I'm handsome?"
"You are a threat to the universe," proclaimed Vortex.
"Oh, yes," said Matata. "You didn't think about that, did you? You Great Beings are all the same; doing things without considering the consequences. I'm a consequence. Now you have to consider me."
"We cannot allow the power of reality to run rampant across the universe," said Metallica, looking him in the eye; a difficult feat, as Matata was three bio taller than her.
"Another consequence," Matata answered. "It is a very unwise decision to give someone the power of reality. Especially if you try to kill them. That might make them mad. Yes, very, very mad."
"Prepare yourselves," ordered Metallica, and her allies readied their weapons.
"You hope to defeat me with flimsy rods of metal?" spat Matata. "Here — taste the ignorance that your minds are so full of."
He flicked one of his wrists gently, and the forgotten, lonely drop of silver liquid flew into Codak's face. The silent Great Being screamed as his body dissolved into dust.
"I call this Energized Protodermis," said Matata to the astonished Great Beings. "It is capable of either mutating or killing a being. Sadly, your friend here wasn't ever destined to be mutated."
He flicked his wrist again, and as a massive pillar of Energized Protodermis rose out from the crater, forming into a massive tidal wave, he whispered to them, "Care to take your chances with destiny?"
Cold. Darkness. Emptiness. Void. There was nothing in Toa Charon's mind. He was alone in the empty vast black abyss of nothingness and fear. All around him, the dark masses swirled in fearsome patterns.
He stirred slightly, and then he became aware of the things around him, or rather lack of them. It is a disconcerting feeling to be in a void, such as this one was, Charon decided.
Charon's first thought was, Where am I?
His second was, Who am I?
He knew his name. He knew that he was a Toa, whatever that was. But apart from that, there was nothing where his memory should have been. Only void, like that which was surrounding him on all sides.
The swirling masses disappeared suddenly, and he was standing in a massive stone citadel, in a body that was not entirely his own, looking out a window into the setting of a great red sun. Below it was a massive strange object, which he could not properly identify, that covered the entire gray landscape before him. A cold, clawed hand touched his shoulder, and he jerked around.
Then the vision disappeared. He was lying, face-up, on a cold metal surface, looking up at a powerful white light. He looked into the eyes of a strange, twisted green creature, who laughed and stepped away from him...
He was twirling a massive silver double-bladed weapon, slicing through the air, but at what he could not see...
He was staring at a strange stone wall, looking at what appeared to be otherworldly inscriptions. He looked at one in particular, and pressed his face against it, tears running down his cheeks, experiencing the strange emotion of sorrow...
He was being ripped apart, pain coursing through his body, a terrible scream ripping through the air. Then the pain ebbed, and he looked down at his hands, and what he saw was terrifying...
Then the visions came, too fast for him to recognize them, and they penetrated every corner of Charon's mind. The shock of it tore through Charon's brain, but there was no pain. He was numb, as if it were too great for him to comprehend...
It stopped. He was in another vision: standing in a small room and looking at the wall. His shoulders were hunched as an unseen wind rippled through the air around him, and a shadow passed over him as he noticed the presence of a tall figure behind him.
"Kill him!" screeched the voice, and Charon tried to turn around to see what it was, but he was frozen, unable to move...
Then the visions were gone. He was back in the void, but something, somewhere, was pulling him away from the darkness. For a moment, he repulsed it, but then allowed himself to be pulled freely from the emptiness.
He was lying on the ground; beneath him, a cold metal floor made of what felt like a strange sort of wire, bound together tightly. Upon realizing that he had feet, he stood up and looked up. A large red sun glowed in the sky, and Charon blinked in the intense light.
Then he realized that he was not alone.
Four other beings like him, each different colors, pointed their weapons menacingly at him. He turned in a circle, blinking the light out of his eyes, still regaining consciousness. One of them, a lean gray-and-orange being with a pair of massive swords, stepped out to face him, the rest of the Toa closing ranks behind him. Charon blinked at him, confused, but was unable to summon any words. The Toa stepped closer toward him, until he was looking down upon him, his green eyes glinting, his face dark and expressionless...
"Toa Charon," he said, a bitter taste in every word, "you are under arrest for the murder of Toa Janneus."
Words sprang to Charon's lips, their meanings suddenly understood. He had hundreds and hundreds of things to say, most of them questions, but he held them back, until at last he could do so no longer.
"Where am I?"
"Javnak," answered the Toa, his face no longer blank; now he was frowning as if Charon had said something exceptionally strange. "Of course, you know that already. Come on, now. You're going with us," he said, extending his powerful arm to grab Charon. Charon jerked away, confused.
"What is this place?" said Charon, looking around him. Details were coming into focus as his mind entered the world for good.
"I see," said the Toa. "You're faking memory loss. Oldest trick in the book. Only I never expected you to use it, old friend."
"Old friend?" Charon responded, confused, his gaze shifting back to the Toa in front of him. "Have — have we met before?"
The orange Toa laughed aloud almost mockingly, still looking at Charon strangely. "Okay, fine, if you insist. I'll play along. My name is Dorex. I am a Commander of the Toa Order. Yes, we have met before — many, many times, in fact. Now, will you come with me?"
"Why?" Charon answered, his vision and thoughts no longer blurry. "Why... must I come with you?"
"Because," Dorex responded, thrusting his face into his, any pretense of calmness long forgotten, "you're lying. Lying, as you very well know, is unacceptable. Especially about murder. Now you're a suspect, and lying doesn't do you very much good."