The wind howled across the mountaintops. Snow and ice whipped through the air, and the cold seeped into every nook and cranny, driving even the hardiest Rahi into their burrows.
A lone figure trudged through the knee-deep drifts, icicles clinging to the edges of his armor. Suddenly, his foot sank into the snow, pulling the rest of him with it. An irritated sigh escaped his nostrils as he summoned his elemental energies. The snow rose beneath him and lifted him out of the sink hole.
As he stepped onto firm ground again, he began to mutter, his rough northern accent echoing off the nearby rocks.
"Ah sure Zonerri, send the Toa with a Mask o' Diminishment to check on the traps. Ye couldna ha' gone yereself, havin' a Mask o' Vision an' all, and –"
His rant came to a sudden halt as his foot struck against something. Bending down, he brushed away the snow and saw a piece of black metal.
"That's no' just a rock," he said.
Pushing back more of the snow, he gasped as he uncovered the body of a Matoran. Looking closer, he saw a faint light coming from his chest.
"He's alive, barely," thought the Toa of Ice.
He tried to pull the Matoran out of the drift, but the smaller being would not budge. Reaching out with his power, the Toa pushed away the snow and ice that covered the body before him. When he uncovered the being's hand, he saw that it held another. Digging deeper, the Toa of Ice found the second hand's owner, a Toa.
"Mata Nui," he exclaimed, "what were these two doin' out 'ere?"
Calling on his ice powers once again, he lifted the pair of them out of the ice. Turning back the way he had come, he began to pull the pair behind him.
"Mata Nui," he thought earnestly, "let them be alright."
* * *
Tsonclad sat on a bench outside the infirmary, his face drawn with concern. The door opened, and he jumped to his feet.
"How are they?" he asked, as a Ko-Matoran healer walked out.
"They're doing just fine," said the healer. "They should wake up very soon."
"Ah'm glad to hear it," said the Toa of Ice.
The healer looked at him, puzzlingly. "You didn't know them, by chance, did you?" he asked.
Tsonclad shook his head. "No, I just want to know mah efforts were no' in vain."
Suddenly, three enormous booms blew out of the infirmary. Tsonclad rushed in to find the Toa standing in a corner, a trembling Ga-Matoran held in front of him.
"Nobody try anything," said the Toa, "or she gets it."
Tsonclad looked closely and saw the air vibrating around the Toa's hand.
"A Sonics Toa," he thought.
Slowly, the Ice Toa lowered his blade and let it fall to the ground.
"Alright lad, you win," he said. "Just let the girl go."
"Not until you answer me," he cried. "Who are you, and who do you work for?"
"My name is Tsonclad, and Ah'm a Toa of Algiren."
"You're…not with the Brotherhood?"
Tsonclad noticed a hint of hope rising on the Toa's voice as his grip on the healer slackened.
"He's just afraid," Tsonclad realized. "Nay lad," he said, "ye're safe here."
The Toa's arms dropped to his side, and the Ga-Matoran rushed away. As the Toa fell forward, Tsonclad moved to catch him.
"Safe," murmured the Toa, "at long last, we're – Raeser!" he cried.
"Did you find him? An Onu-Matoran, he was travelling with me."
"Ah did, lad. He's in the next room."
"C-can I see him?"
"Worin? What d'ye think?"
The old healer approached and chuckled, "Ha ha, well, if he's feels strong enough to threaten us, I suppose it can't hurt to see his friend."
The two Toa got up and moved to the next room. There, sleeping on another bed, was the Onu-Matoran. His breathing was deep and even, but a deep cut ran down his left arm.
"Raeser, I'm so sorry," whispered the Toa.
"Ah take it he was a good friend?" asked Tsonclad.
"The best," said the Sonics Toa, "I'd give my life for him."
After a moment, Tsonclad said, "Well lad, what d'ye say ye get some rest? Ye've had a rough day, and every Toa needs his sleep."
As Worin led the Toa back to his room, Tsonclad said, "By the way, I never caught ye're name."
The Toa paused for a moment. "Zerrek," he said, "my name's Zerrek."
* * *
"Ugh, I'm so glad to be out of that bed," said Raeser.
"Ye were only abed for three days, lad," said Tsonclad. "The last time Ah was caught in a blizzard it took me a week to recover."
"I guess we've always been a bit more…resilient than most beings," replied Zerrek.
"So, are ye ready to see Algiren?" asked Tsonclad, as they approached the infirmary's exit.
"You bet," said Raeser.
As the doors parted, the new arrivals' eyes widened at the sight before them. Smooth walls of ice surrounded the village, stretching to the sky. Row upon row of buildings, crafted from crystalline ice, glistened in the sunlight. At every intersection a fountain rose, each one unique; their crystal clear water falling in brilliant cascades that gleamed in the sunlight.
"It's so beautiful," said Raeser.
"It's so quiet," said Zerrek.
"Well, comin' from a Sonics Toa, that's sayin' somethin'," said Tsonclad. As the three of them made their way down the street, he continued, "Algiren was founded some thousands o' years ago as a place o' refuge and reflection, a place where beings could come and look inward, away from the cares o' the rest of the world."
"Somethin' wrong?" asked Tsonclad.
"Nothing's wrong, just sounds like this place might actually do me some good."
Tsonclad nodded as he said, "Come on lads, let me show ye around the town."
Tsonclad led the two of them down the street and into the city. As they walked, they passed other beings out about their day: Matoran (mostly of the Ice, Earth, and Water tribes), winged Aviena, some wolf-like Naxan, even a pair of four-armed Cuartan.
As they passed a rather large building, shouts could be heard coming from the inside. As they entered, a burst of intense heat flew past them. They rushed in to see two Toa locked in combat. Zerrek began to move towards them, but Tsonclad grabbed his shoulder.
"Dinna get in their way, Zerrek," he said. "Let 'em fight."
One of the fighters, another Ice Toa, stomped on the ground, and a crack ran along the ice floor towards his opponent. Dodging away from the crevice, the other Toa lashed out with his whip and sent a ball of super-hot plasma at his opponent. The Ice Toa pulled a wall of ice out of the ground, blocking the glowing glob. A series of punches to the wall then sent dozens of razor sharp ice blades flying at his opponent. The other Toa threw up a wall of plasma and sent it flying towards foe. The Toa of Ice reacted by kicking the ice wall in front of him, sending it towards the oncoming wall of plasma. The two walls collided in a cloud of steam. The three beings watching covered their faces as the hot air rushed past them.
When they looked back, they saw the Toa of Plasma had cleared most of the steam, but the Toa of Ice was nowhere to be seen. The Plasma Toa looked this way and that, unsure as to where his opponent had gone. Suddenly, the ice beneath him grew up around him, incasing him in a solid block. A hole opened next to him, and the Toa of Ice rose out of the floor, a blade of ice encasing his arm. He struck the block with his free hand, shattering the top half of other Toa's prison, and jabbed in with his blade. With his sword an inch from the Toa of Plasma's chest, he stopped and said, "Give up?"
The other Toa gulped and stammered, "Y-yes."
With that, the Ice Toa shattered his ice blade and freed his opponent from his prison.
"Well done ye two!" said Tsonclad approaching the pair.
"Ah, Tsonclad, nice to see you," said the Ice Toa. "Oh, wait."
The Toa laughed, leaving Zerrek and Raeser a bit confused. Tsonclad motioned the pair of them over.
"Zerrek, Raeser, meet Taiyu and Nerin, two of mah teammates."
Zerrek smiled as he shook the Plasma Toa's hand. "So what was that all about?" he asked.
Nerin replied, "We were just sparing. Even in a peaceful place like this, we still need to train. And it seems I need to train more. As you could see, he beat me pretty badly."
"Are you two the ones Tsonclad found in the ice?" asked Taiyu.
"Well, yes, we…" Raeser stopped, as he saw the Toa of Ice's face up close, or more specifically, his eyes. "You're…blind?" he asked.
"What? Oh, yes, I am," he replied.
"Then how were you…"
Taiyu answered the understood question. "Since I can't see, my other senses have become much more acute. I can also sense through the ice with my feet. Through that, I can tell where just about everything is, just by sensing the vibrations it makes in the air and ice. And I can sense Nerin's plasma attacks just by the heat they emit."
"Cool," Raeser said, "hey, you know what I – Oh, never mind."
"What?" asked Nerin.
"Nothing, it's not important."
The Toa of Plasma shrugged and turned to Tsonclad. "I'll take them from here," he said. "You're up to spar with Vehya next."
"Argh, Ah completely forgot!" exclaimed the Toa of Ice. "Well, at least Ah'm here, and don't worry Nerin, I won't go too hard on yer girlfriend."
"She's not my – Oh never mind!" Nerin threw in hands in the air in exasperation as he led Raeser and Zerrek out of the arena. Raeser looked at the Toa inquisitively.
Nerin sighed, "Vehya's our resident Toa of Water. She and I were on a team together before we came here, and as such, we're pretty close. The others like to joke about it, but we're just friends."
"I see," replied Raeser. "So where do visitors normally stay?"
"Usually in the houses, as most of them are vacant for that reason," replied Nerin. "We'll just stop by Turaga Ajev's to see where we can put you."
"I'm afraid we can't stay," said Zerrek.
"What, why not?" asked Nerin.
"Well, we really have to get someplace within the next couple days."
"Oh, come on. At least stay for one night. You can't just run off after being frozen near death, even Toa need time to recover."
"Yeah Zerrek, please?" asked Raeser.
The Toa of Sonics sighed. "Alright, one night, but we need to leave tomorrow morning."
As the Onu-Matoran cheered, Zerrek sighed. "I just hope this turns out alright," he muttered.
* * *
Later that evening, Taiyu and Tsonclad made their way to the house the two new arrivals were staying in. It was one of the smaller huts with a main room and two bedrooms. "Nothing fancy," as Ajev had put it, "but enough to get by."
As the two Ice Toa approached the door, Taiyu held out his hand. "Hold on," he said, "I feel something…strange."
"What d'ye mean?" asked Tsonclad.
The blind Toa knelt down, placing his hand on the icy street. Finally, he responded, "It feels like the furniture is moving on its own. I can sense Zerrek and Raeser, but they're nowhere near the things that are moving."
"D'ye think Zerrek has a Kanohi Matatu?"
"Even if he did, he's in a different room." As he stood up, he shook his head. "This doesn't make sense."
"Well, regardless o' what's goin' on in there," said Tsonclad, "we need to get them for dinner."
With that, Tsonclad made his way to the door and knocked. Moments later, the door opened, revealing Raeser.
"Oh, hi Tsonclad, what's up?" asked the Matoran.
"We're just here to take ye two to dinner," said the Toa.
"Oh great, uh, let me grab Zerrek."
As the Matoran took off, Taiyu said, "Is it just me, or did he seem a bit nervous?"
"Well, ye're the one with the super hearin' and the fancy feet, you tell me."
Taiyu chuckled, "I just get the sense that there's more to these two than they're letting on."
"Well, secrets or no', we'd best be gettin' to the dining hall. Ye know Heusi will throw a fit if we're late!"
A few minutes later, the four beings strode into the dining hall. There, all Algiren's permanent and visiting residents shared their evening meal. As they entered, they found themselves on a dais; a small set of stairs led down to the main level where dozens of circular tables sat, each seating between ten and fifteen beings. Unfortunately, it seemed the meal had started without them.
"Oh boy," said Tsonclad.
"Late again!" came a cry on their right. The beings turned to see a thin Le-Matoran in an apron, a wooden spoon in hand and his hands on his hips.
"Tsonclad, Taiyu, if I've told you two once, I've told you a thousand times," he exclaimed. "If you don't show up on time, don't show up at all!"
"Sorry, Heusi, but we had to stop to get these two," said Taiyu, motioning to Zerrek and Raeser. "You wouldn't want to turn away hungry visitors, would you?"
The Le-Matoran stroked his chin before answering. "Alright, this one time! For the sake of these visitors, you can eat." With that, he turned on his heel and marched through one of the dais' side doors.
Zerrek looked at the other Toa in shock. "What was that all about?" he asked.
Tsonclad chuckled. "That's Heusi, Algiren's chef. His mentality is that too many people take their food for granted, so he makes sure that we appreciate it."
"But he's just a Matoran," said Zerrek.
"Yes, a Matoran with power over who gets fed," replied Taiyu. "Now let's sit down before he gets back out here."
The four of them moved to a table and sat with the rest of the Toa of Algiren. Aside from Nerin, there was Vehya, the Toa of Water, a Toa of Magnetism named Pralen, and the team's leader, a Toa of Stone named Zonerri.
"So tell me," said Zonerri, "why were you two out in that blizzard anyway?"
"We were on our way to, uh, Aleris," said Zerrek, "when we got sidetracked."
"Why'd you come up through the pass?" asked Vehya. "The Erenian Gap is just a day and a half south of here."
"We're trying to get there ahead of some, uh, friends of ours," replied Zerrek, "and that would have added three days to our trip."
"I see, so why are you going there?" asked Vehya.
"Uh, we, uh…" Zerrek stammered.
Zonerri turned to Vehya and said, "Don't be so prying, Vehya. If he wants to tell us, he will. It might be some private matter."
"Sorry, guess I'm just overly curious sometimes."
Zerrek nodded as he went back to his meal.
"So Taiyu," said Raiser, "I noticed, when you were sparing with Nerin, you've got an interesting fighting style. It's not like most Ice Toa I've met."
Taiyu nodded. "I'm the only Toa here that is originally from Algiren. When I became a Toa, it was just Zonerri and me. He trained me, and I ended up picking up his fighting style."
"Yeah, you did look like a Toa of Stone out there, and –"
A sharp shriek filled the air, causing everyone to turn towards the front door. A Xi-Matoran carrying a large tray of food had missed her footing and stepped off the dais. Time seemed to slow down for a moment as she and the food fell towards the floor. Then suddenly, they stopped falling. For a moment, they hung a bio off the ground before they righted themselves seemingly all on their own.
The hall was quite quiet for a few moments, until Taiyu turned to Zerrek and said, "So you do have a Mask of Telekinesis."
"Uh, yes, I…do," Zerrek said.
"Ye seem very talented with it," said Tsonclad.
"Yes, when we came to get you," Taiyu said, "I could feel you rearranging your furniture with it, but you were in a different room."
"I must say, I've never seen a Matatu quite like yours," said Zonerri.
"That's true," said Vehya. "It does seem to be a bit more stylized."
As the room's conversation level returned to normal, Tsonclad noticed Zerrek stare at Raeser for a brief moment. The look on his face was one of disapproval mixed with a hint of fear.
"What's that about?" he wondered.
Later that evening, Tsonclad was passing the visitors' house on his way to guard duty when he heard raised voices coming from inside.
"Should Ah?" he wondered, contemplating whether to eavesdrop or not.
Shrugging, he activated his Pekhui and shrunk down to the smallest he could. Calling on his energies, he rose up to the window on a thin column of ice. He rubbed away a small portion of the frost on the window and peered in.
"How could you be so stupid?" cried Zerrek, bearing down on his companion.
"I didn't want anyone to get hurt," Raeser replied sheepishly.
"You mean you didn't want the food to get hurt. Every time we stay someplace something like this happens! Why can't you learn to control yourself?"
Raeser stared at the ground and said, "I'm tired."
"Oh, then by all means, go get some sleep!"
"No, I'm tired of not being able to do anything. I just can't keep this inside me anymore. You can act like a Toa and get all the praise you want when you save a village, while I have to sit on the sidelines like a good Matoran and wait for the heroes to come back."
He sighed, "Look, I'm sorry for what I did tonight. It was stupid of me, but I just feel so repressed."
Zerrek's expression softened as he placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. "How do you think I felt for all those years?" he asked softly. "I know what it's like to pretend to be someone I'm not, and I know it's not fun. But if we want to stay alive, we need to do whatever we can."
"Even if it means letting others suffer?"
Zerrek turned away and said, "I don't know."
Tsonclad backed away from the window and dropped down onto the street.
"What in Mata Nui's name was that all about?" he wondered. "Act like a Toa…I feel so repressed…pretend to be someone I'm not…" Everything he had just heard whirled in his head. "Who are these two?" he thought, "and what are they hidin' from us?"
* * *
The next morning, the Toa of Algiren stood at the city's gate as they bid the two travelers farewell.
"Are you sure there's nothing we can say to get you two to stay?" asked Nerin.
Zerrek shook his head. "Sorry," he replied, "but we do really need to get going."
"Just be sure to stay on the path," said Zonerri. "These mountains can be pretty tricky sometimes."
"Well, it was a pleasure meeting you two," said Vehya, extending her fist. Zerrek and Raeser returned the gesture.
"Likewise," said the Matoran. With that, they turned and began to walk away.
The Toa watched as the gates closed behind them, and they were lost from view.
Vehya and Pralen stayed at the gate on guard duty as the others turned to leave.
"Sure were a nice pair," said Nerin as they began to walk. "I wish they could have stayed."
After a moment, he turned to Tsonclad and said, "You haven't said anything all morning. With Pralen, I could understand, but…what's troubling you?"
Tsonclad sighed before he began. "Ah was passin' by the house they were stayin' at last night, and I heard them arguin'."
"Let me guess, you listened in," said Zonerri.
Tsonclad nodded. "Ah heard some stuff that didna make a lot of sense, like about pretendin' to be someone else or feelin' repressed. Ah didna quite understand it."
"I did notice they seemed on edge a lot," said Taiyu, "but everyone has a right to keep secrets."
"I suppose yer right, Taiyu, but –"
He stopped as the sun suddenly darkened. The Toa looked up and gasped. An airship of enormous proportions was hovering above the mountains; its shadow blocking out the sun.
As the Toa stood in awe and fright, the bottom of the ship opened up and dozens of objects began to pour out. At first, they were too far away to tell what they were. Zonerri called on his Mask of Vision to get a closer look.
"Rahkshi," he said, "dozens of them."
Seconds later, the creatures began to touch down all around them. The Toa stood in a circle, weapons at the ready, prepared for an attack, but the creatures just stood there, as though waiting for a command.
"What's goin' on?" asked Tsonclad.
"I'm very glad you asked," said a voice.
The Toa looked up and saw a floating platform descending from the sky. Standing on the platform was a Steltian elite, flanked by two Steltian bruisers, and on the platform, as well as on the beings' chests, was the symbol of the Brotherhood of Makuta.
"Please excuse the Rahkshi," said the Steltian. "They are simply a safety precaution."
"From what?" asked Nerin, brandishing his whip.
"I assume you may already know. A dangerous fugitive has been tracked to this village. Simply hand him over, and we will be on our way."
"And who may I ask is this fugitive?" asked Zonerri.
"Actually, it's two. Their names are Zerrek and Raeser. A Toa and Matoran, perhaps you've seen them?"
A look of disbelief flashed over the Toa's faces, before Zonerri said, "Yeah, they were here, but they left days ago. You'll never find them in these mountains."
"What are you doing?" asked Nerin, under his breath.
"Trying to buy them some time," Zonerri replied.
"I was afraid it would come to this," said the Steltian. "Rahkshi, begin searching."
With that, the Rahkshi all around the Toa turned and began smashing through the huts and buildings around them.
The Steltian turned to the Toa. "Until you tell me where they went or where they are hiding here, I will search until I find them."
"We'll never tell; we –"
The Toa and Steltians turned as one towards the sound of the voice. At the top of the wall, two figures could be seen.
"Hey, slag for brains!" cried the smaller figure, "Looking for us?"
The Rahkshi stopped what they were doing, as though under some mental command, and parted as the pair of beings walked towards them.
"Zerrek? Raeser? What's this about?" asked Zonerri.
The Toa ignored him as he turned to the Steltian and said, "Alright, Unikii, you've caught us. If we turn ourselves in, will you leave this village alone?"
"Zerrek, my only mission is to bring you two in," replied the Steltian.
He motioned to the two bruisers beside him, who then proceeded to handcuff the pair of beings. The two of them stepped on the platform, and as it began to rise, Unikii motioned to the Rahkshi. Amidst wild screeches, the creatures returned to their acts of destruction.
"Hey, you said –" cried Nerin.
"I said nothing of the sort," said Unikii. "I only said bringing them in was my mission, I never said I wouldn't destroy the village." Amidst a strain of maniacal laughter, the platform rose towards the airship.
The Toa looked at each other in despair.
"There's no way we can fight all these off," said Taiyu.
"But we hafta try," said Tsonclad.
"You're right," said Zonerri, "we –"
An explosion cut off the rest of his words. As the Toa looked up, they saw the floating platform explode in midair. Instants later, two figures could be seen falling from the cloud of debris.
"It's Zerrek and Raeser!" cried Zonerri. "They're going to crash!"
But as the figures came closer, Raeser began to glow and slowed down, as though held up by some unseen force. Zerrek's arms were spread wide, when suddenly, a pair of wings sprung from his back.
As the two of them safely descended, Zerrek shouted to the Toa, "Get the civilians to safety. We'll take care of the Rahkshi."
The Toa rushed through the crowd of Rahkshi, blasting and smashing as they went.
"How is Zerrek using a Matatu and a Mahiki at the same time?" asked Nerin, as he melted an Aviena out of a pile of ice.
As Tsonclad helped a Ko-Matoran out of a pile of rubble, he said thoughtfully, "Ah dinna think he is."
Thanks to Zonerri's Mask of Vision, the Toa were able to locate all the civilians. As they gathered everyone outside the main gate, Zonerri did a head count.
"Eighty-seven, eighty-eight, eighty-nine. Alright, that's everyone. Nerin, Vehya, Pralen, take everyone down the path and get a good distance away. Taiyu, Tsonclad, come with me; we're going to help Zerrek and Raeser."
As the small crowd made their way down the trail, the other Toa rushed back through the gates. As they ran through the icy rubble, they soon found Zerrek, but it was quite obvious that he needed no help.
Zerrek was alive with power. A blast of sonic energy leapt from his hand, destroying several Rahkshi. A bolt of plasma sliced through half a dozen more. Another cluster was crushed beneath an intense gravity field. Lightning flew like a storm, destroying more. Bolts of power shattered the shells of others. His eyes flashed as beams of heat sizzled through the air.
"This is unbelievable!" asked Zonerri, in astonishment. "How can a Toa be so powerful?"
As the words fell on Tsonclad's ears, everything suddenly made sense; their constant nervousness, their argument, the incident in the dining hall, the Brotherhood chasing them – they all pointed to one thing.
"It's because he's no' a Toa," he said. "Zerrek is a Makuta."
As reality sunk in, an explosion filled the air. The Toa looked up and saw the air ship falling to pieces. Instants later, a figure emerged from the smoke. The figure glowed with a pale green light as wisps of energy wrapped around him. Dozens of energy tendrils shot out from the figure, wrapped around the falling wreckage, and threw them into a ravine. As the figure descended, the Toa could see it was Raeser.
The Toa looked back at Zerrek and saw him deal the final blow to the Rahkshi horde. He turned towards them, his breathing ragged. As they watched, his eyes closed, and he began to fall.
The Toa rushed to catch him, but before he hit the ground, he stopped. The Toa turned and saw Raeser, holding up his hand, a faint tendril of energy connecting the two beings. The tendril rolled Zerrek over and laid him on the ground. As they stared down at him, they saw his true form. A pair of bat-like wings sprung from his back, he was taller and thicker than he had looked as a Toa, and his hands and feet ended in a set of claws that demanded respect.
"I've never seen him use this much energy before," said the Matoran, his voice carrying an uncharacteristically mellow tone. "Not even when we escaped."
"What's going on?" asked Taiyu. "Why is the Brotherhood chasing down its own member? And…where did you get such power?"
Raeser landed on the icy ground and stared at his Makuta friend, before answering, "About forty years ago, I was one of several Matoran 'recruited' into a Brotherhood experiment, called the Nui-Matoran Project, to find some way to bypass the destiny aspect of Toa creation. We got exposed to all kinds of stuff: mutagens, energies, some even got rebuilt. When it was all over, only about twenty of us had survived, but we came out with incredible power. We weren't Toa, but we each had enough power to rival one.
"We probably would have broken out, but the Makuta had had the foresight to brainwash us into serving them. We each got sent to a separate location and were each placed under a Makuta's care. It was their job to train us into loyal soldiers for the Brotherhood, while keeping our actual presence a secret. I got sent to an island called Tedra Nui and was placed in Zerrek's care.
"Ten years after I arrived, Zerrek got a message from the Brotherhood. It said that one of the other Matoran had overcome his brainwashing and escaped, killing his Makuta in the process. Zerrek was then instructed to kill me, before I too could break free. As you can see, he never did.
"Why not?" asked Tsonclad.
"Zerrek isn't like other Makuta," Raeser replied. "When the others embraced the shadow, Zerrek hung back, holding on to the light inside him, the only Makuta created without their curse. He's a kind, caring person, but to save his own hide, he had to act like a bully, and he hated it. When I came around, I quickly became the only friend he had. Since I was never allowed to leave him, he had someone he could be his true self around. To him, killing me would be like ripping out his own soul.
"After receiving the message, he reached into my mind and undid the damage that made me serve him. He then explained to me what had happened. Had it not been for the kindness he had shown me before, I might have done what my cohort had. Together, we fled Tedra Nui, and ever since, we've been running from the Brotherhood.
Raeser sat down on a pile of rubble and sighed, "We knew no one would trust a Makuta or a glowing Matoran with telekinetic powers, so we took on these false identities: Zerrek, Toa of Sonics and Raeser, his faithful Matoran companion. We've had several run-ins with Unikii, the Steltian sent to catch us, but we were always able to escape while he tormented the village that had sheltered us."
"What made you come back this time?" asked Taiyu.
Raeser turned towards the Toa and said, "Because we finally realized it was the right thing to do. All those times we left a village to Unikii's army, I felt like we were betraying them. As we left this morning and I saw the Brotherhood airship approaching, I stopped and turned back.
"When Zerrek asked where I was going, I replied, 'We can't just leave them. Those people gave us shelter and supplies, and this is how we repay them? With an army descending on them?'
"He said we needed to keep moving, that there was nothing we could do for you.
"I turned and continued to walk. 'Go if you want,' I said, 'but I'm not going to let them suffer because of us.'
"I didn't expect him to follow me, but moments later, I felt his hand on my shoulder.
"'Come on, Raeser,' he said, 'let's give that Steltian swine of taste of his own medicine.'"
"So you knew he would destroy the village anyway?" asked Zonerri.
Raeser nodded, "We knew he was counting on us not wanting to reveal ourselves, so as he double-crossed you, we double-crossed him."
"So, what should we do for Zerrek?" asked Tsonclad.
Raeser replied, "Nothing, as a Makuta, he doesn't need nourishment, and if there are no holes in his armor, then he's fine. He just needs to regain his energy, and from the looks of things, that might take a bit."
It would be two days before Zerrek would wake up and another before he could rise to his feet. But when it came time to leave Algiren, he did so with a smile on his face.
"For years," he thought, as he walked down the snowy pass with Raeser at his side, "I've run from my past, trying to stay one step ahead of it. I was always afraid that people would judge simply because of what I am. But when I finally turned and faced my past, I found that there are those who are willing to look past what I am and see who I am."
As he looked over his shoulder at the slowly shrinking village, he sighed and said, "I'll never forget this place, Raeser. Algiren was made as a place to reflect and look inward, and I think it did me a world of good."
Raeser smiled as he said, "It's kind of ironic though. It took an act of reaching out, to make you look in."
Zerrek nodded. "Let's get going. Somehow, I don't think the Brotherhood will take kindly to us trashing their ship."
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Bionicle (c) LEGO
Story and related characters (c) me
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