IC: One Seeking Redemption: Ihu-Koro
He watched the Aggressors see to their friends, feeling a slight pang for people he hadn't seen in some time. Business he'd left unfinished. The last shards of who he was that stood between him and beginning to rebuild.
And he knew what he had to do. Erith stood, shaking his head and walking off, the plated Toa leaving Ihu behind him. Sparks of his past flickered through his mind as he left, the limping pain in his left leg a constant reminder of what he'd done in the interim.
One year past.
“This was always how it had to end, Kai.”
The Bo-Toa groaned from his position on the ground, his senses fading in and out. One of his hands found purchase on the stone floor, attempting to push his form up, shaking from the effort. He didn’t know where his machete had gotten off to, it had skittered across the surface and vanished beyond his narrowing vision.
Rekhan stomped on his back, then his hand, fresh, shooting pain spreading through his chest and arm.
“Stay down. This is what destiny decrees. You came alone, without your team. You left your charges to face me. You have no virtue, Toa.”
The Fe-Toa drew his foot back and activated his Pakari, kicking Kaithas in the side. There was a sickening crunch--he hoped it was the wooden plates that covered his steel armor, not his ribs or his back--and he was launched across the ancient hall, clattering into the wall and coughing blood.
Maybe it was his ribs.
He pushed himself up against the wall, lying broken against the cold stone surface. Dull pain spread through his chest, through his arm. His leg felt shattered, he didn’t have the heart to look at it right now. Fading yellow eyes looked up at the other Toa--he’d staggered Rekhan, sure, but he was still in far better shape. He gritted his teeth as the midnight black ironshaper walked toward him, willing the wood of his armor to bind tighter around his leg, push the bone back into place--
He screamed. Panted. Looked up again, after managing to wince away the stars in his vision, only to be faced with Rekhan activating his Pakari and grabbing him by the chestplate, picking him up off the ground. “Let’s recap, Maasi. You failed to protect Matoran.”
He was slammed into the wall, another bloody cough coming.
“You caused an entire village to fall to evil.”
“You fled captivity and justice. Then you fled your second chance. You have nothing. You are nothing. You have deserted unity and duty, and in turn destiny has forsaken you. It is my obligation to purge you.”
Kai’s wooden armor cracked in the other Toa’s grip as Rekhan hurled him, hitting the ground and bouncing with another crunch as more of his plates were destroyed. He gasped, writhing and trying to move out of the way as Rekhan pulled out his quarterstaff, twirling it above his head and bringing it down, aiming to break his opponent’s back--
It was over. He couldn’t move, couldn’t muster the willpower to activate his Kualsi and escape.
There was impossible pain.
No, it couldn’t end like this.
He was alone. There was no one to protect. He could die, and no one would suffer for it. For the first time, no one could fault him his failure.
In the stillness.
In the silence of incoming death.
Some small part of him screamed in defiance of destiny.
He poured everything he was into the wood of his armor. The image of a Matoran wracked with pain as she was disintegrated by lightning. The Daedra casting him out as a villain. Tarnok’s reprimand. The months spent rotting in prison. He spent it all. He was no Toa. He had no courage. He was desperate and afraid. He deserved this, deserved his death. There was a deafening crack and moan of fiber on fiber as the Pakari enhanced blow struck down on the last remaining splinters that protected him from paralysis.
But his armor still held.
Roots sprang forth from the wood, yanking him away from the second blow, tumbling him across the floor. He saw sparks, but he managed to haul himself to his feet, rooting himself into the ground and reinforcing the plates on his legs to remain standing, to avoid staggering back to the floor. He dug the tips of his fingers into his palms, panting with the exertion. He swallowed hard, Rekhan’s head only tilted to the side in mild curiosity. The Fe-Toa had a faint smirk on his face.
“I have failed, brother. You’re right. Failed at everything that counted. Except one.”
He willed his power into his right hand, his wooden sword reforming slowly.
“I have no honor. Have no Toa code. But I reject destiny too. I will not die here, virtueless and alone. I will get back up again, like I always have.”
Rekhan’s smirk vanished, a snarl taking residence on his ebony face as his quarterstaff swung again--Kai gripped his wooden blade in both hands, holding it firm against the swing of his opponent. It cracked with the impact, shatter lines spreading through the wood as their weapons met again.
He pushed harder.
Vines sprouted from his armor--binding his body, pushing into his flesh.
The pain brought clarity. The bindings brought motion.
His shattered bones and fatigued muscles were useless. His mask was there, but it felt powerless. All he had left was that defiant scream, and the elemental power it sustained. He was something less than Kaithas, something less than a being. But he was still standing.
His will puppeteered him, the armor he wore pulling his broken body into action. He shambled forward, roots attaching to and detaching from the ground as he advanced. His blade swung, wide and awkward--Rekhan parried it easily, chunks of wood and detritus flying away--he let go, the blade flying from his grip, his yellow eyes glowing with animal fury as he reached out to the splinters.
Wood sprouted from them, roots lancing out, grasping for the Fe-Toa. Rekhan stepped back, forming a shield in his free hand and throwing it forward, catching the roots--he spun around behind it, another Pakari enhanced strike coming for the Bo-Toa’s side. It landed with a crunch, more pain shooting through Kai’s ruined torso.
He grit his teeth, pushed again, and in that sinking instant--grappled the Fe-Toa’s staff with the splinters of wood at his side, lunged forward. Thorns sprouted from his fists, poison dripping from them as he finally landed a solid uppercut on the other Toa. Rekhan growled, Kai tackling him to the ground and getting his hands around his throat. Rekhan shoved him to the side, but he’d already rooted in--he raised his fist again, slamming it down into the other Toa’s mask, vines already sprouting up from the ground to bind him.
Rekhan tore himself free, stabbed a shard of iron into Kai’s left hip, stabbed another into his right shoulder. The Bo-Toa could feel his muscles stiffening, locking--but it didn’t matter. He wasn’t using them anyway. The Fe-Toa rolled over on top of him, brought a knife down to stab him in the chest--his blood spurted out--then grabbed him around the neck. A collar of iron started to form, choking him.
His hand lanced out, grabbing Rekhan’s mask, desperately trying to push him away. Vines started to sprout from the palm, wrapping around his face. His narrowing gaze focused on his hand, forcing hemlock thorns out of the vines. They wrapped around Rekhan’s mask, seeking for some fleshy part of the other Toa. He couldn’t breathe, his vision was closing in.
They found it.
Stabbed in, released their venom.
The pressure stopped.
The collar remained.
He gurgled, grabbing at it, writhing, trying to pull it off. The iron hadn’t formed all the way, yet, he was able to force some wood growth between the gap and start wedging it apart--
Kai gasped as he could breathe, sitting up quickly, looking for Rekhan.
The Fe-Toa had succumbed. His words were gone, the smirk as well--he was lying on the ground, twitching and spasming as the poison coursed through him. His arms moved without intent, without control--iron grew and bent around him, in twisted, warped forms.
Kai forced what remained of his elemental energy into a wooden dagger, pulling himself over to the convulsing Toa with his left hand--then stabbed, finally putting his brother out of his misery.
He collapsed, in the final silence.
He remembered why he didn't believe anymore. But if that storm was any indication... Someone would need to do something.
Perhaps he was too flawed to do it. But he had to try.
He owed them that much. Owed him that much.
OOC: And that's a wrap on Kai for the time being and Rekhan forever, putting my first character ever into a worse spot than he's ever been and killing off my first villain. You all are my oldest friends, and I'll always appreciate you. I'll have an ihu post up soon.