IC: Xylak (Vorex), Huaki (Wotsiznaim) (Ko-Wahi)
The Dreamer stood before a wall of Ice, examining it carefully, as though searching for some kind of marking.
It was the fifth wall they had reached in the last few hours, each one similar in appearance, and yet there was something the Dreamer saw there that was different enough that they should be forgotten. But he seemed hopeful about this one. Perhaps 'hopeful' wasn't the right word... he feared what he seeked to awaken, but he had no choice in the matter. He took a knife from his armour, and with a grimace sliced it across his palm, blood beading up and filling the line with dark red immediately. He put his palm against the ice and shivered, before beginning to channel his power into the wall. Slowly, cracks formed, and the red of his blood seemed to seep through to the other side, crawling slowly along the ice. When at last it reached the bottom, the Dreamer stepped back, looking carefully at his work.
Behind the ice, a shape took form and began to move, tall and thin, like something from a nightmare. The head, too, was far too thin, and stained with red, distorted as it approached the cracks and looked through the ice at the Dreamer and the Ko-Matoran by his side. Its head tilted, and then it stepped back. In the blink of an eye the ice had shattered into millions of tiny shards, and the two beings were thrown back by some invisible force as the creature stepped out into the light. It was hunched over slightly, its arms hanging at its side, and it had the look of some form of animal; but its eyes gleamed with an intelligence no Rahi could ever match. The Dreamer stood up to face it, but as it looked at him he was picked up into the air and a loud crack was heard as his back was bent backwards, his spine snapped like a twig, and he was quickly discarded, before the creature took a few careful steps toward Huaki, still lying on the snow.
Huaki looked on in horror as the man she had seen as her father was broken with ease and thrown away like a ragdoll. Just when she thought this moment couldn't get any worse, she looked up, and it looked back. It's eyes, the swirling abyss of the beyond she was soon to face...
No. Not today. Never today.
She scrambled back on all fours, then spun around and waded as fast as she could through the snow. As a Ko-Matoran, she was more resistant to the cold and the snow seemed to allow her to pass, but her little legs could never be fast enough to carry her to safety. Deep down, she knew this, but pushed it away. There was always hope.
Looking over her shoulder to try, foolishly, to lay eyes on it again, despite how little she wanted to, something caught her foot as it came down, her momentum bringing her front first back down into the white. Spitting out her mouthful of foul-tasting sludge, she turned to what she was certain was her certain doom.
But now, what was worth living for? Her entire life had just crumbled in one fell swoop, she was homeless, without friends, family, nothing. Alone.
Her vision began to blur. Closing her eyes, warm drops spilled from her eyes and rode, silently, down her cheeks. Wincing, she gritted her teeth, and waited for the end.
The creature stood over Huaki, its eyes glaring into her, and spun its sword in its hand, heading in for the kill. But suddenly, it stopped, looking down at the crying Matoran. It was lost and alone, broken and grieving. It spared a look at the Dreamer's body, lying still on its back, and returned its gaze to Huaki. And then it did something that no one would have expected: it spoke.
"Get up, child," Crux said, as gently as he could manage. His voice was barely louder than a whisper, and felt like sandpaper, sending a small shiver through the Matoran as she heard him speak.
Despite the fear she still felt from the creature, which even now numbed the shock of its ability to speak, Huaki could see it was trying. It was trying to do something it wasn't good at, and that made it a little less terrifying.
Still, however, she shook and stumbled as she slowly rose to her feet, sniffing once or twice and keeping her eyes on the thing standing over her. Was that remorse it was showing? Understanding? Something like that, she bet herself.
Crux looked down at the Matoran who stood before him. In a way, she reminded him of himself, before power had grasped him and taken its terrible hold on his mind. Not just in her current state, but in her appearance, too. He felt almost like he was looking into the eyes of a female version of his childhood. And it was that familiarity which had saved her life. "You are alone."
"What?" was all Huaki could manage to say at first, inhibiting the flow of tears. A moment or two passed as she looked, confused, at Crux, steam steadily puffing from between her lips, before it sank in what it had said. Yes. "Yes," she said, mumbling slightly from the stiffness in her jaw courtesy of the cold. "I... I am... Alone... I am alone..." am alone alone lone
The word echoed, rang through her mind after she'd said it, forcing her to accept she was isolated. Was this its aim? Was it trying to break her spirit even further by making her think about it?
"You have no loyalties, no allies?" Huaki may have reminded Crux of himself, but that did not change the fact that she was a person, and like other people, that made her a tool to be used as he saw fit. If she served him no purpose, it would be simpler to set her free, and hope never to meet her again. If, on the other hand, she had something of use...
This frustrated Huaki. She stood firmer, her rage serving to boost her confidence somewhat. She looked deep into Crux's eyes as she growled, "You murdered my allegiance, my loyalty, my allies," she pointed to the unmoving body of Xylak. "You killed everything I have. You killed me. Now, I'm nothing, nobody."
Crux nodded, following the Ko-Matoran's outstretched finger to the Toa's body. "I see. You are of no use to me."
His speech was odd, more comfortable than before, but still awkward somehow, like he was only adjusting to using his voice for anything but the most animalistic of sounds, and in fact he was; he had not spoken to anyone in decades, perhaps even centuries, and it had taken its toll on his grasp of the Matoran language.
You shouldn't have said that, was her first thought. Stupid girl, shouldn't have-
No, no need for thoughts like that. How was she to know of anything different? How was she to see the future? What was done, was done, and the end was now to come. And perhaps... Perhaps she was ready now. Perhaps death would be kind with her consent.
Still, even in near-death, acting was still her strong suit. Seamlessly, she became confused. What in the universe was he talking about? No more use for her? "So... What's that supposed to mean? What are you going to do to me?"
"I am going to let you live," Crux explained, calmly. With every sentence his words were growing natural, his original accent taking form once again in place of the broken one that he had started out with. "But without allies, you serve no purpose to me, unless you wish to follow me. If I succeed, Matoran, we will both have great power. If I fail, we will have nothing ahead of us but death."
She was going to live. At first she was close to breaking into song with ecstasy, but within moments she realised what that meant. One more day all on her own, one more night to cry. An entire lifetime of bleak, empty, nothingness. All of a sudden, being alive seemed like a special kind of death in itself. She saw her future, the embodiment of Karzahni it was.
"Then I am left with no choice," she said at last, reluctantly bending down on one knee. "From now on, I- I live to serve you. My..." her eyes wandered over to the black lump in the snow that was Xylak. Her mentor. Her teacher. Her father. Dead.
"Then the time has come for us to leave," Crux said solemnly, looking down at the Matoran. "Come. Our destination is Onu-Koro -- a strategic position, for rule and for fear."
This was it. The end of her old life. In leaving Xylak here, lying still in the snow, she was leaving everything she had known, everything she was. She was, both figuratively and literally, walking into the darkness with a powerful, evil stranger.
From now on, nothing would be the same.