This story's been in the works for a while now, ever since I heard Beyonce's single "Sweet Dreams" on the radio one day. I was working on Chapter 18 of Lightning Strikes Twice at the time, trying to nail some faucet of Deimos's personality that I didn't know at the time, and when I heard the song, I asked myself, "Hey, what does this guy think about love?"
So I went and thought about it. Originally I said "He doesn't like love! He has the rational "Bionicles-have-no-use-for-love" argument stuck in his head!" But then I remembered a few things: he's A.) a halfling, and they have mind links to their progenitors, and B.) his progenitor is in love. That, and he has a bit of a bad habit of stumbling into people's dreams (as in seeing them), which was a tidbit I never could fit into LST proper.
. . . all in all, the potential for a really twisted 2010 Valentine's Day special. =D
Disclaimer: Deimos, Stara, and the locations/circumstances of this story belong to me, along with the story. Nuju belongs to Lego, along with Bionicle in general. Once upon a time, this was meant to be a songfic, the song being "Sweet Dreams", but eventually the lyrics vanished from the story until only the original title remained. =P (BTW, I stole borrowed the term "Vhalentain" from Repicheep, so all the credit for that goes to him.)
He was surrounded by light, something he instinctively recoiled from; light was dangerous to his kind, after all. Then he realized that this was another dream, and relaxed, assured that it wouldn't be able to harm him.
No sooner did he make this realization than he made another: it wasn't truly light, but lightning. A bolt had reached out and struck him – no, not him, her. A Toa was standing there, their bodies overlapping in the fabric of this dream somehow.
Feelings seemed to jump from the Toa to him in this endless instant, savage pleasure being the strongest. Comfort mingled with that, along with an emotional release. This Toa had been suffering, he realized, suffering from stress, loneliness . . . and heartache. Although it went against his nature, he wanted to reach out to this female, take her hand, assure her than all would turn out right in the end.
A new emotion joined the mix, but it didn't seem to be coming from the Toa; rather, it seemed to be coming from the tongue of electricity itself. It twisted around the old, reopened wounds that betrayal had inflicted on her soul, leaving her bitter and angry all over again. It seemed to be asking her Why stay? Why remain in this world, when strife constantly ruined all of her chances at a normal life?
There was more, pressing on their minds faster than a Kakama-wearer could run, nearly overwhelming them. Lightning cared nothing for the lives of creatures below; it was merely attracted to the sparks of itself that lived in all beings, with Toa of Lightning having the strongest signatures, carrying the power of the storm in their bones and the colors of the split tempest on their armor. And if the person in question didn't survive the encounter, well, what did it matter? The lightning didn't care. Why should its Toa care?
Then its offer became clear. This Toa was strong, but even she paled in comparison to the mighty storm. It could give her its power, though. All she'd have to do was abandon this life, forsake flesh and metal for the unrestrained, unforgiving tempest. No one could force her to be unhappy then. In fact, nothing could force her to feel.
They parted their lips to taste the lightning's gunmetal "kiss".
Deimos jolted awake, his breathing shallow and fast from the intensity of his dream. Since the Melding of his essence with Turaga Nuju's Shadow, he'd become subject to the mundane need for sleep – and with it, dreams, which becoming antidermis encased in armor had rid him of centuries ago. Unlike Matoran, he slept only when he needed to: mostly during the day, but also at night.
The halfling shook his head, forcing him to focus on the dream. Like all the ones he had been receiving since his Melding, it was confusing. There was no mystery about the Toa's identity, though why he would be dreaming of Turaga Stara during her time as a Toa was beyond him. He also couldn't figure out where the dream had come from, how he had felt only she could've felt, and why, against all rational thought, he had wanted to help her.
Troubled by these confusing thoughts – and troubled by the fact he even felt confused – Deimos abandoned contemplation of the dream and hauled himself out of the niche he had dozed off in. The Twin Suns, shining through one of the small windows that provided the only light in his fortress, were painting the sky brilliant colors, but he wasn't sure if it was sunsrise or sunset.
There were few things in the fortress: a rudimentary supply of chemicals and scientific tools, a few extra weapons, bottles of the acidic Hiziz poison, his clear scrying crystal. The only really important thing here, though, was a rack hanging on the wall of a central chamber on the second floor. The rack was in a style some would call "modern art" but most just billed as "ugly". And even that wasn't important, save as a containment cell for the being chained in it.
Deimos thoughtfully regarded the mask of Nuju, whose expression has as much personality as the stone wall for the most part, except when a spasm of pain shook him. The Halfling of Ice dipped into his thoughts, and found what he was expecting: the nightmares the prisoner rack was programmed to fill those in it. The dream hadn't come from him, then; he had must've stumbled into the Lightning Turaga's visions on accident. In the past, he had a history of his mind wandering like a flock of sheep, so accidentally meandering into a mortal's head wasn't all that surprising.
Satisfied that this mystery was solved, the halfling turned away from him and picked up the hand-and-a-half longswords he used, the blades stained purple from the multiple applications of neurotoxin onto metal. The stain was useless until the stuff was reapplied, so he dragged out a vat and hung the swords in the purple goo, letting them marinate until they had soaked up enough to head out again.
While he waited, he idly started scratching a random design into the rock wall he was leaning against. It took him a few seconds to realize that he had etched a crude Matoran heartlight into the stone, and it wasn't the one he usually carved, back when he had dissected Matoran cadavers to learn more about how they worked. It was the sort of heartlight that Matoran used on their gushy, overly-sentimental Vhalentain's Day cards.
Stop that! he ordered himself frantically, rubbing his hand over the wall and using his disintegration powers to make the carving disappear from the stone. Deimos was more than a little disturbed by what he had just done, mostly because this wasn't the first incident like this. Ever since his Melding, he had idly started scratching such things into the wall, and the dreams that had haunted him when he slept were at the root of it, he was sure.
Deciding to hold off on going back to Notus for another round of battle with the spirits that guarded the black island until he'd calmed down a little, Deimos – still breathing as hard as he would after a hard sprint – moved over to where his spare chemicals sat, and retrieved a jar filled with Matoran brains he had salvaged from cadavers in the past, the preserving liquid sloshing around in the glass container, tinted a faint yellow-green color. He had preserved them, so he would have a reference point whenever he wanted to reexamine whatever theory he had come up with.
Even as he prepared his dissection tools, he thought back to the days when he had been the Makuta of Shi-Nui. The city was notoriously self-sufficient, so they had rarely called on him for help. He had mainly spent his time studying the Matoran and how their minds worked. Unlike Mutran and Chirox – who had merely seen Matoran as test subjects – and the Makuta Icarax, Tageria, Kiria, and Gorast – who saw the little ones as a waste of the universe's space – he found them intriguing to a point.
In particular, he had been frustrated in his attempts to figure out why the emotion of "love" existed. It served no real purpose to their species, and it only managed to impair their judgment and make fools of them all. Hence why he had been secretly pleased about being Melded to Nuju, even though his outward façade about the choice had indicated the boot was on the other foot. Maybe by joining to a being that had felt this strange emotion, he would finally understand it, and why it persisted in society.
Shaking these thoughts from him, the Halfling of Ice set to work on cutting the brain apart.
No matter how long he attempted to focus on what he was doing, Deimos hadn't been able to banish thoughts of those dreams from his head, at one point nearly cutting himself with his knife. Finally, after his thoughts had wandered off for the tenth time, Deimos gave up on his dissection and destroyed the sample with one well-aimed shot of laser vision. Even as he mopped up – he liked keeping a clean place, even when the fortress was supposed to be temporary – he started feeling tired again. Incredulously, he asked why he felt tired – he'd only woken up less than an hour ago, for Karzahni's sake! – but the yawns overwhelmed him. Even as he sleepily put away his tools and sat down near the worktable, he wondered if he was about to get visited by more dreams.
Was she here? Was she there? The Toa couldn't tell which was which, only that she was existing. Nothing that she knew of or had felt during her long existence was this kind, this gentle to her. Only this feeling, beating in time with her heartlight – which had grown, but now had blossomed for eternity – made her feel this happy.
"Wake up, you!"
Deimos had barely seemed to close his eyes before he felt himself getting shaken awake again roughly. Opening a baleful eye, he met Makuta Hecate's glare with one of his own.
"How long have you been shaking me?" he demanded to know, shoving the fact he'd been visited by more dreams to the back of his head. The female Makuta had a tendency to know what her colleagues were thinking most of the time, and he had no wish to get ridiculed for these dreams. Brain-bending they might be, but he was starting to like them.
"About a minute," she said, roughly hauling the halfling to his feet with no semblance of ceremony. "Should've zapped you with lightning first, though – that would probably get you up."
Ignoring his indignant expression, the Makuta went on, now somewhat serious. "Tageria wanted to know what was going on, and how your work to procure the Spear was going. It's been two weeks now."
Deimos quickly shifted mental gears, remembering what he was here to do. "Notus has strong defenses; I've been ramming at them for days and I've got almost no progress to show for it. They'll crack eventually, though."
"Hmph. You're certainly better than our last halflings," Hecate said with a disdainful sniff; while she had overseen the Melding of Fyre, Kiria, and Tayra about fifty years ago, the scientific Makuta had never thought that they were some of her best accomplishments. "Too wrapped up in their immortality; always winging off to kill random Toa just to prove that they could. That was what got them killed in the end. At least you're sticking with the mission."
Unable to come up with a suitable response to that, Deimos simply shrugged. Hecate, seemingly satisfied for now, walked over to his scrying crystal, a large, many-faceted confection that sparkled flawlessly. "I wanted to ask if I could borrow this, brother. Tageria wants me to scry for another hiding place, and to see if any of our fellows are still alive. I'll give it back once the mission is complete," she assured him.
Since the Halfling of Ice had only brought the white gem along in case he needed it –and so far, he hadn't – he nodded absently. "Sure, sure. Just make be careful not to break it."
"Thanks." Hecate picked it up, holding stand and all, and made as if to teleport, but stopped at the last second. Behind her Mask of Incomprehension, her eyes gleamed scarlet as she said seriously, "Be careful, Deimos. Especially of your dreams."
And then she was gone.
Deimos tried to keep that in mind. He really did. For the next week or so, he did his best to keep the strange dreams out of his mind by keeping himself as busy as possible, attacking Notus' defenses as hard and often as he could. The physical exertion of using so much of his energy and powers, of ramming his muscles and metal against the strange ectoplasm of the guardian spirits left him exhausted by the end of the day's/night's work, and when he fell asleep, his mind was blank, with any dreams he might've had forgotten by the time he woke up again.
Still, like any physical being, he did have to rest without sleeping, however grudgingly he was willing to admit it. But during those times when he sat around, trying to wind down after a long time of hard work, the dreams – maybe feeling vengeful because of his attempts to forget them – started intruding his thoughts at every opportunity, despite the fact that he was trying to not think about them. It was like telling a Matoran to not think about something for an hour – no matter how hard the halfling tried, the thoughts always found their triumphant way back into his skull and proceeded to drive him nuts again.
It was getting worse, though. Not only was he becoming resigned to these daydreams, he was starting to enjoy them more than he ought to. And as if they were trying to see what his limits were, the dreams then started to mutate beyond what he had seen during his sleep, turning into other fantasies that were so strange and pleasurable, he became quite grateful that the scrying crystal he had lent Hecate couldn't reflect the thoughts of those being viewed.
About a week after Hecate's visit, Deimos was sitting before Nuju's rack, staring at his progenitor's mask and trying to will an answer out of the blank expression, even as another mutated daydream floated lazily in his brain. Like all of them, it involved Stara, the Turaga of Lightning in Xi-Koro, and him, though none of the original dreams had involved him directly; he'd just been a spectator. And, just like all of those dreams, it involved holding her in his arms, sighing each other's names under the moons. It was irrational, he knew that, but for some reason, he didn't shoo it away, liking this mental image too much to want it to leave.
Foggily, he tried to reason it out, tried to organize all this out in his head. Like a puzzle, he picked up the pieces and tried to fit them together, tried to come to a conclusion that would make sense.
This had started back with his Melding, when he had been subjected to mundane needs for the second time in his life. He'd been Melded to the Shadow of Nuju, who had fallen in love with Stara and helped clear her good name a long time ago, after they had defeated the Rohayan Halflings. His dreams always involved Stara.
Involved Stara with him, with that strange, light, fluttery feeling within his heart.
He stopped there, like he was paralyzed. Could he have possibly have fallen in love with someone who had helped slay three of his brothers, along with countless Brotherhood servants in the past? Could he have become enamored with someone he was supposed to thwart? Feel affection for a hated mortal?
Impossible, he told himself firmly, trying to shake all this off. But he couldn't because, in his heart, he knew he had already lost. Hecate had been right to fear these dreams, because he had fallen into the same trap his progenitor and countless others had.
But one thing plagued him, one that made him take pause in his vicious denial. Did she feel the same for him?
But then again, these dreams had stemmed from her, hadn't they? They hadn't come from Nuju, who was suffering from nightmares thanks to his prison's power. If he had been in Stara's mind, that meant they had to be about him, right?
He couldn't believe it. Yet it had to be true. That mortal, that same, wretched mortal he was supposed to hate, was in love with him!
Some little voice in the back of his head told him that something was off in his logic, that he had missed something about Stara. Well, there was an easy way to prove that voice wrong, wasn't there?
Deimos glanced outside. The suns were sinking beneath the horizon. Soon, Stara would fall asleep, and he could easily slip into her dreams as an unseen spectator then. When he saw that she was dreaming of him, he'd rub that fact into that little voice's mask for eternity.
Night seemed to come slowly, now that he was so impatient for it to arrive. Finally, though, the sky was painted black and midnight blue, and he rose up from Enyo, camouflaged with his Rahkshi powers as he flew, bat-like and silent, towards Xi-Koro.
He landed some distance away, disguising himself in shadow; there was no point in letting the Matoran know he was there while he listened. He reached out with his mind, searching for the mind of the Turaga. The Matoran were mostly asleep in their huts, so it was easy to pick out Stara's brain. She was already asleep, so he slipped deep into her mind, unnoticed, ready to listen. And as he listened, he, too, fell asleep.
If the Turaga noticed that someone was occupying her dreams, she didn't bring it up, or else didn't really care. After all, she was floating along in a pleasant dream, one that made a sleepy smile appear on her face beneath her mask. Her happy times with her Vhalentain, all those years ago . . . those memories made this dark time bearable. And knowing he was close by, the prisoner of his black mirror, made her determined to save him. She wouldn't let this end their relationship. Her smile grew stronger, unaware that she was doing so in her sleep, as he appeared in her dreams, as strong and powerful he had seemed to her when they had first met.
How many times had they fought side-by-side on Rohaya after that first meeting, watching each other's backs? That night when he had come after her in the storm, after Kronus had betrayed her trust, and the night they had affirmed their mutual affection for each other . . . those were nights she cherished above all else. They had valued every precious moment they had together, she and her Ice Toa, since their homelands were so far apart and they had few chances to visit each other; those chances had grown slimmer than a stone rat's whisker when they had become Turaga.
Each kiss, each time they had rested in each other's arms, knowing they loved each other: those were the moments worth living for.
Deimos woke with a start. The dawn was breaking; pale pinks and oranges were tinting the horizon. For a few seconds, he sat, befuddled by what he'd seen in his sleep.
Than anger set in, anger worse than he'd ever felt, worse than Kiria, the eternally angry Makuta-turned-halfling, had ever felt.
He stood up, glowering towards Xi-Koro. He didn't bother flying this time, lest he be sighted and attacked by the Matoran; he simply teleported into his fortress. There, he let his anger speak.
Someone standing outside might've thought an enraged Muaka had been unleashed inside the stone walls, the noise coming inside. Faint echoes actually made their way back to Xi-Koro, and the Matoran within its walls listened attentively, wondering what was going on back on Enyo.
Within the rock, many of Deimos's scant possessions were flying around as if caught in a cyclone, dissection tools embedding themselves in the wall and his glass jars smashing against the jagged outcroppings coming from the walls. And all the while, a silent scream resounded in his head, echoed by the one coming from his mouth.
He'd been fooled. The dreams had toyed with him, made him a fool for love, a fool for Stara, and then torn away his hopes as ruthlessly and cruelly as any other Makuta would towards their prisoners, leaving him hurting and helplessly angry.
Acting almost senselessly, seeking another way to vent his spleen, he whirled around, his cyclone halting and letting everything it had seized fall to the ground offhandedly. He seized one of his swords from the vat they had been marinating in, waiting for his next excursion to Notus, and all but flew towards Nuju, the tip inches away –
But then he stopped himself, forcing himself to not stab into Nuju's heart. If Nuju died, so would he.
But the thought of death was feeling really good right now, though.
He forced himself to get a grip, slowly pulling the purple-stained sword back. He couldn't change that he was in love with Stara (his heart gave a twinge), but he also couldn't change that he hated her for loving Nuju.
It was an interesting paradox. He wanted to kill his rival, but that would mean his death as well. He loved Stara, but he also hated her for loving Nuju. So much hate in him . . . could he bear to live with it?
Something outside the window caught his attention; the morning mist was burning off. Apparently, he'd been raging for a longer time than he'd thought. But when he peered harder at it, he saw a sleek, gleaming vessel sailing towards the main island. When he squinted, he saw gold letters on a plaque near the bow: Jaswinder.
Had Toa been summoned, possibly including Stiaye, the Toa of these islands?
Whatever it was, he'd have to check it out. Having Toa here might mess up his plans. And if they were Toa . . . they would have to die.
Glaring coldly at Nuju, he retrieved his other sword from the vat of Hiziz fluid and strapped both weapons to his belt. He'd settle this later. For now, though . . .
He spread his wings and flew out, the heartbroken halfling ready to unleash his newfound hatred upon his enemies.