IC. Okuo - Tuyet's Grotto
Okuo nodded and took the disks. He'd held many kanoka disks before, but there was something about these two level nine disks that elicited a sense of awe in the new toa. Carefully, he began the process of merging the two disks together, finding them sliding together with surprising ease, almost as if they were pulling together themselves. Okuo didn't spare too much a thought for that as he held the completed Great Disk of Time in his hands, before then handing it off to wherever it was needed.
IC: Tuyet | Cavern Warehouse with Time machine
Tuyet took the disk from Okuo, giving him a pat on the shoulder once she did. “Thanks. You’re good, Firespitter. You know that? Take care of yourself.”
The toa of water placed the last two remaining disks of time into their slots, the combined powers of six dimensions crumbling into an unraveled paradox linked finally in a single device that existed across all timelines. She stood in the center of the ring, wrapping her hands around the chains that hung from the sides as hand holds. When Knichou finished his work he came around, picked up the large switch near the front of the device he’d jerry-rigged as the power button like Nuparu once did, and asked;
“How will we know if your plan worked?”
Tuyet looked down at him, the new toa willing to sacrifice his life for his timeline, and felt compassion flow through her. Her gaze softened. “If your world stops falling apart.”
Then she looked at Sidra, who until now held up her end of the bargain. She gave a curt nod to the Dark Hunter. “Thanks for not killing me. But if you could totally do me a solid: if you see another Tuyet running around, put her down.”
She looked back to Knichou, straightened her back and nodded. He flipped the switch.
The powers of the Great Disks flowed into her, rocking her body and making her shift in time and space like a glitching television screen, as if she were made of pixels and they all caught on fire. Smoke rose from the time machine as it churned and groaned and attempted to place the powers of six Disks of Time into one toa.
Eventually the process ended, and she fell to her knees. The Great Disks turned to slag in their sockets and pooled down to the floor completely spent. Tears rolled down her face. She’d never expected the pain, and she bore it silently. Something felt sharp in her back, sharper than the shards of the Nui Stone embedded in her collar bone. Someday, she’d look in a mirror and realize she had a new tattoo.
With a blip and a pop she was gone…
Tuyet’s body reassembled itself in her past.
She stood on a large rocky plateau, looking out over a desert. A small lizard sunbathed on a rock with an empty crevice in it where once a Great Disk of Po-Metru sat. She blinked in the sunshine, held her hand above her eyes to block out its rays, and then swore.
OOC: and that concludes Tuyet's role in SKE.
IC, Atamai: Coliseum
Atamai waited a few tense minutes. The apocalypse continued. I’d better go check on the others, he thought. He closed his eyes and concentrated on Tuyet’s grotto.
When he opened them, he was standing in front of the machine. There were pools of slag in front of it. He looked around; Tuyet was gone, but the others remained.
“Well, doesn’t take a genius to see that Tuyet screwed up,” he said. “Come on, I’m getting you guys out of here.” He grabbed Okuo and Knichou by the shoulders, and activated his mask. Suddenly the three Toa were standing in the Coliseum plaza.
Atamai turned around and promptly vomited. “Ugh, I don’t think I’m used to teleporting so much...” he said.
IC: Skyra - Ko-Metru -
Skyra hadn't noticed it before, what with the Turaga rescuing and all, but the world seemed be shaking rather violently. Hmmm, this is bad.
It seemed the world was ending, that kind of sucked. Skyra looked at Rose. "So, it looks like the world is ending or something..." Skyra moved close to the Toa of Fire, even as she held the sleeping Turaga in her arms. "...figured I should probably do this, just in case I never get another chance..."
With that, Skyra leaned in and gave Rose a kiss.
IC: Okuo - Tuyet's Grotto
And then she was gone. Disappeared into the thin air in front of them. Okuo stood there waiting. The tremors continued. Okuo waited a little longer. The tremors still continued. A loose pebble dropped from the ceiling and pelted him in the shoulder. "Alright well that didn't work."
"Well, doesn't take a genius to see that Tuyet screwed up." He suddenly heard from behind him, and as he turned around, he saw the familiar form of Toa Atamai, his familiar Mask of Conjuring still carrying the residual glow of his latest teleportation. "Come on, I'm getting you guys out of here." Okuo nodded, and Atamai took him by the shoulder, he turned and looked over Sidra's way. "I'd ask you to come with us but we both know you have your own way out. I'll be honest, I hope I never see you again."
And with that, he was gone, transported to the Coliseum grounds, where the world was tearing apart and the sky was churning over head.
"Oh holy sh-"
IC: Rose - Ko-Metru
Rose immediately turned redder than red. "Ah, uhm, yeah..." she stammered out, trying not to look flustered and failing, "...that was kinda gay."
She smiled. Who knew things would work out like this?
"I guess the war's over, huh?"
IC: Knichou, Endgame
After going through what Knichou could only imagine was unspeakable suffering, Tuyet vanished in front of his very eyes. The journey was complete. The machine had been used. The disks of time were now gone. The machine here would soon be buried, its purpose fulfilled. Knichou had done it, he no longer needed to be here. Now all he could do was hope that 'it' was a good thing, or that he could even know of any changes that were made.
The quaking did not soften. Dust still fell from above. Knichou did not know if it was too early to say the effects of Tuyet's plan were missing.
When Atamai materialized behind him, Knichou snapped back to reality. He had been so preoccupied with the machine and preparing for the worst that he hadn't considered the possibility that Atamai would come back for him. The ex-ghost had expected Atamai's teleportation to be a one-way trip, and prepared accordingly. Now it felt like giving away all his important belongings may have been... premature.
As Atamai blinked him to a new location, Knichou could not find words. He stood still, limbs numb, as he looked towards the sky, where the stars were swirling in anger at his failure.
Zataka barely noticed that the sword had made contact as Kalmah slammed into her. The impact drove the air from her lungs and they fell backwards together - towards the portal she had no idea was there. Everything happened at once, yet time seemed to slow for her, as she distinctly experienced a momentary feeling of weightlessness - then vertigo kicked in, her vision spun and there was an odd tingling on her skin. She didn’t understand, but tried to; her mind desperately racing to regain situational awareness. But any thoughts towards solving the mystery were violently cut short by a sudden, intense flash of light. The two warlords hit ground again in a tangle, tumbling end over end.
The titan came to rest on her stomach. She ached all over, and by the intense pain she felt on her left side she was sure she’d gotten several contusions at least, but there was no time to assess the potential damage: She didn’t know where her opponent was, she’d lost hold of her blade when she had hit the ground and she needed to get a grip before Kalmah could land a fatal blow while she didn’t have her bearings. Her head snapped up immediately to scan for the other warlord and her missing weapon, palms pushing into soft dirt as she scrambled to get back to her feet. Some part of her noted how odd it was to suddenly drag her fingers through dirt, but her surroundings didn’t fully register yet.
The titan got to about standing halfway upright before the dull throbbing at her side became a sharp stabbing and she winced, hand instinctively reaching to check. Her armor was intact, but the slightest touch caused her jaw to clench in pain. Remaining hunched over as to not further agitate the injury, she looked around herself to see where her blade had fallen. And that’s when she noticed she was no longer in the Coliseum Yards - or anywhere that looked like Metru-Nui. The ground, the landscape, the sky...it was all wrong. Reddish dirt and rocks with grey scrubs growing sparsely in-between surrounded them up to a cliff edge just a few meters behind them. They had emerged on some sort of plateau, overlooking a wasteland of sand and rock as far as the eye could see under an encroaching sunset. One. Singular. The chain of events finally clicked into place: Kalmah had wanted to cut the fight short - banish her to this place by using the mask of the fallen Brutaka. Was this even their world anymore? From what she knew of the Olmak, they could be any place, at any time - even an alternate reality. Part of her screamed for her to focus, to stop trying to figure out things while she was technically still in the middle of a fight, but she couldn’t help it. It was as if she’d suddenly stepped into a lucid dream.
She slowly stood up to her full height again, as fast as the pain allowed and craned her neck, trying to find the only point of reference she could think of as constant. She took a few slow steps backwards while trying to spot the red star overhead. But she had barely looked up when her foot brushed against something metallic, pulling her out of her trance. Glancing down, she spotted the hilt of her sword and, turning to pick it up, she noticed the dark stain covering the weapon.
A rasping gurgle came from close by and her eyes locked onto a dark heap, silhouetted against the sunset on the ground just a few feet away. With her blade in her left and right arm covering her injury, she carefully approached.
Kalmah had lost most of his intimidating aura as he lay curled up on his side. His wound had not been immediately obvious against the sun, but as she got closer, Zataka saw that her sword must have pierced the Barraki’s torso just below his left pectoral and his own momentum had then caused it slice violently upward, severing the limb along with the majority of the shoulder girdle. And since it was nowhere to be seen it must have happened just as they'd fallen through the portal. Kalmah’s remaining arm clutched at the gushing wound her blade had inflicted. Dark ichor covered his torso and a puddle was starting to form around him. All his flagellation and trained pain resistance mattered little as his body went into shock from the blood loss. He wasn’t long for the world.
Better put him out of all our misery.
But as she stood over him, grip tightening on her sword’s handle, she found his eyes were still open, looking at her. She hesitated.
“How far?” she demanded. “How far did you take us?”
The Barraki made another rasping noise that could only be laughter.
“Far...enough.” he gasped as a trickle began to flow from the corner of his mouth. He flexed his broken body, rolling onto his back and slowly lifting his arm.
“You may...have beaten me - but there...is no victory...for you...h-here.”
Her head tilted up once more, eyes following the invisible line indicated by Kalmah’s gaze and his raised hand. Higher and higher it went, orange sunlight giving way to azure and then dark blue, where the first stars managed to shine in the evening sky. And there, among them, impossibly distant yet starkly lit along its edge by the single sun - a body. With naked eyes, it looked like that of a Toa, but Zataka realized how massive it had to be to be able to spot it like this. And as she squinted, she noticed that it was drifting apart - the head had clearly separated and was drifting away.
At the titan’s feet, Kalmah watched, content and with contempt for her, as she started to realize the situation. But there was one thing he still had to do. With effort, he used his hand to remove the Kanohi Olmak, placing it in the dirt to his side. He had hoped to do this cleanly. Banish Zataka, kill the Toa that thought they could stand against him and march into the coliseum. But he had been too eager. He could admit his own failure here to himself here, away from everything and on the cusp of death. Final death. There was no red horizon to resurrect his remains. And nobody else was ever going to hear his private confession or bear witness to his end. And that suited him just fine.
Zataka heard the Barraki groan again and that finally let her take her eyes off of the horrible realization overhead and focus back on her opponent - who was looking at her again, but this time she saw his actual face behind the mask - which he’d set aside. “Why…” she started, confused. This was all too much. Somehow, subconsciously, she understood that Metru-Nui - no, her entire world - was...up there. Inside that body. But how could that be? It seemed impossible and was too much to comprehend - but somehow she knew it had to be true.
“You took...what was mine.” Kalmah said, raising his hand again, seemingly towards her, fingers curling into a fist. “So...I’ll take from you…”
His fist came down at his side, all the remaining strength he had left summed up in one final act of defiance, and hit the Kanohi Olmak, mask of dimensional gates. It shattered in a flash and small shock wave of energy.
Zataka blinked, stunned. Kalmah’s head had turned to the side, eyes closed, but with a faint smile upon his face. And the titan realized that, with his dying breath, he'd tricked her into giving him just enough time to exile her. With the mask broken, she could not return to Metru Nui - and worse: her homeland - ever again. All that she’d fought for...it was forever beyond her reach.
The titan’s eyes squeezed shut for a time, tears hitting the dusty ground, mixing with dark Barraki blood. Her sword fell from her grasp, her shoulders dropped and she sank to her knees as the strength to stand went out of her. With trembling fingers, she slowly gathered up the pieces of the Kanohi, almost as if they were a puzzle to be reassembled, but she knew it was hopeless. And as all that remained of the Olmak was a pile in her lap, she let her hands fall to her side and looked up again.
All she could do was watch helplessly as her world slowly fell apart in the sky above.
Is the head getting closer?