We're Not on Earth Anymore
Location: Rohaya, Matoran Universe
"Come on, Stara! Wake up!"
A muffled groan sounded from under the covers of the bunk, indicating that the bed's occupant had just been unceremoniously roused from blissful slumber – or was doing a really good imitation of that. It did nothing to keep Toa Rohaya of Lightning Alvis from shaking them, cheerfully oblivious to the fact the Twin Suns had just come over the horizon.
"Go 'way, Alvis," a female voice slurred from under the cocoon of blankets. "I dun wanna get up today."
"Up time!" she enthused, grabbing a pillow from Hesprides' bed (all the others that slept in the room were already awake) and using it to smack Stara in the general area of her face.
"Alvis," the taller Lightning Toa growled, pulling the covers down and abandoning all pretenses that she had been sleeping, "I am not getting up today."
"Too bad; we say you are. Now up and at 'em!"
Alvis punctuated her sentence by tossing the pillow aside and yanking the covers off the reluctant Toa beneath them. Scowling, grey and gold Stara hauled them back over her head, only to have her way-too-cheerful friend remove them. "Come on, Stara – Egan's not gonna wait forever for you!"
Stara ripped her sheets out of Alvis' hands and over her head. One emerald eye glared out at the other Toa as she snapped, "Alvis, for the last time, I am not going along with this! Just because Egan and I kissed a few times –"
"More than a few times, I'd say."
"Whatever! The point remains: I am not getting out of bed so you can haul me off to Shi-Nui and do this thing –"
"What makes you think we're going to Shi-Nui today, Stara?"
Stara abruptly stopped her ranting, apprehensively lowering the covers to get a better look at her friend's grinning face. Alvis, unlike her, seemed perfectly awake even at this un-Mata-Nui-like hour, making the Toa of Lightning wonder what magical substance enabled her to be so bright, chipper, and logical at all times.
"What are you trying to say?" the female asked suspiciously, wondering if this was some sort of trick.
"Kronus got back from the Razor's Edge at in the middle of the night. According to him, the events in Sirien's vision are about to start – sometime this week, I think – and we need to be ready for whatever that entails. Me, you, and Egan have been assigned to finish setting up the psionic beacons around the island, so there's no trip to Shi-Nui today."
Satisfied by this work-related explanation, Stara kicked off her covers and swung her long legs over the edge of her bunk bed, grabbing her boots and beginning to put them on. Behind her Kanohi Ceray, she hid her smile – she liked Egan, and could tolerate Alvis even at her most hyper, but she would rather muck out Ussal crab stalls than have those two plus Paytah try to give her love life a push in the "right" direction.
Before she could finish hauling on the other boot, a shriek – both in their minds and in their ears – rang out further inside their fortress. Both exchanged startled glances, and then ran out of the bedroom, Stara hobbling a bit because of her new leg-length disparity: as she had dashed out before finishing, her left foot kept twisting out of it boot. The taller Lightning Toa tried using her Mask of Enhancement to increase her speed, but it didn't work very well.
"That was Sirien," Stara called, trying to catch up to the smaller Toa. "Think it might be another vision?"
"Who cares? She needs help!"
All the while, the screams had grown louder as they approached the great hall, forcing the pair to yell to be heard. When they made it into the great hall, they found that they had not been alone in hearing Sirien. Egan, Cargan, Atlas, and several other Toa Rohaya had descended upon the area, with Kronus – who looked like he hadn't slept a wink the night prior – and Baird supporting the Toa of Psionics in their arms. Her blue-gold body was reflecting both the natural light streaming through the many windows and the gleam of her Mask of Clairvoyance as it shone.
"What's going on?" yelled Stara, leaning against the wall so she could finish buckling her boots. "Another vision?"
"Looks that way," Atlas replied in kind. "First time she started screaming, though."
As if his words had been a prearranged signal, Sirien's arched body abruptly sagged down, letting the two male Toa support her weight as they carried her to a chair and set her into it. Ears ringing from the newfound silence, the gathered Toa Rohaya converged on her, with Althea and Cartriona – the latest arrivals in the room – began hovering over the Toa of Psionics, checking her over.
"I'm fine, I'm fine," Sirien assured, looking slightly dazed and embarrassed. "I got hit with a vision and a psychic barrage at the same time – it took me by surprise."
Stara looked sympathetically at her friend, her peripheral vision catching Egan's gaze. Both Alvis and Sirien, together with Amaya, Catriona, Althea, and Hesprides, had been the prisoners and lab rats of Makuta Hecate before joining the Toa Rohaya, and all had suffered some sort of change to their biology from her tinkering. Althea, Catriona, and Hesprides had had their native elements stripped away and replaced with a Rahkshi power, while Alvis had gained a pair of long, thin, metallic appendages that extended out of the back of her head. Sirien's damage wasn't as severe, but just as demeaning: she could no longer remove her Mask of Clairvoyance from her face. While she could wear and utilize other masks, her basic one would never change.
"It's perfectly fine, Sirien," Baird said soothingly (as he was a Toa of Sonics, he was capable of always sounding calm). "What did you hear? What did you see?"
"And what was so important that you had to scare me out of bed?" grumbled Paytah as he staggered out of the hallway, looking like a Muaka tiger that had been dunked in cold water. Despite the fact he wore the Mask of Speed, he was somehow the last Toa Rohaya to join the impromptu meeting.
"I saw … things. I don't know how to describe them, they were so alien … they were as tall as we are, maybe a little shorter. Their bodies were made of crystal, colored either scarlet or cerulean. There were five scarlets, one cerulean, and I got the impression that the blue one was good and the reds were evil.
"Then … I saw eight other creatures, smaller than us but taller than Matoran, and wearing the colors of the elements. All fourteen of them were flanked by machines, transports I have never seen before … and then they vanished."
"A repeat of what you saw a few days ago?" Ares, the Toa of Magnetism, inquired.
"Yes … only much more intense. And at the same time, I heard voices … their voices. They were garbled together, only three female voices amongst them, but I knew they were the people that were in my visions." Sirien's voice was growing stronger, her pauses shorter, but her bewildered expression was fading much more slowly.
"Six were here, or at least close by. Three were further north, and five came as if from far away, into the southern lands. And then they ended."
A very pregnant pause followed.
"Then if what you heard is true," Eos said finally, "the vision has come to pass, and we have intruders on our island."
The Toa of Psionics cocked her head to the side, shaking off the support as she got back to her feet. "Yes – I can hear them. Six are here, but I'm not sure where the others are. All of them are unconscious and less than a kio from the fortress, near the hot springs. They might be like that for a bit, but not for long."
Kronus quickly asserted his authority as the team leader, now that the crucial details had been passed along. "Sirien, continue listening to their minds; alert us if you can hear more. Paytah, Alvis, Stara, Ares – we need the rest of those beacons up now."
"What, no breakfast?" Paytah protested. Ignoring the Toa of Fire, the Gravity Toa kept on going. "Mastu, Baird, Amaya, Washi – you four will keep watch over them. Do not reveal your presence; keep hidden and relay your information back through Sirien. Everyone else – on standby."
Location: Metru Nui, Matoran Universe
A throbbing headache greeted Tezz Volitov as he slowly regained consciousness. As his eyes began to report images back to his brain, the Russian genius noticed that he was still strapped in his chair in the Mobius Command Center; AJ was similarly tied down. Twisting around slowly, as to not aggravate his migraine, the sallow-skinned teen saw that Sage was in her Power Orb, body sprawled out and faintly glowing – she was absorbing energy from the convoy vehicle's systems, which he took as a positive sign that she had not crashed forever.
Unbuckling the harness that held him, Tezz stood and apprehensively stretched his stiffened muscles. To his eyes, nothing in the Mobi's bridge was damaged, and from the view out the windshield, he deduced that they were out of the Hub and in the desert that surrounded Handler's Corner. How that had happened, he wasn't sure, but perhaps some directive of Sage had made the Mobi drive itself out of the Hub.
Memory returned with a jolt of pure adrenaline.
Diving back into his seat, the Russian teen brought the defensive systems online, and to his horror, he found that they were not in cloak. He also had no idea how long they had been sitting out in the open, but they had to get to a place where they could hide, both from civilians and Krytus –
No matter how long they had been unconscious, surely Sage's twin might have been able to use the machine and open the portal to Earth, if Vert and the rest of the BF5 had not been able to thwart him. Since the lift took two minutes to reach the surface – and when he finally checked his watch, Tezz realized that several hours had gone by since Sage's vision – surely the mission to destroy Krytus' machine had been successful.
Tezz felt his heartbeat calm slightly, clearing his mind and allowing him to think logically.
All right. Clearly they had been sitting out in the Arizona sun for some time now, and by some miracle they were not surrounded by Red Sentient vehicles or confused civilians. Engaging the cloaking mode, the genius thought hard. If Vert and the others were not back, the first order of business was to wake the others, decide on a plan of action, and then utilize it.
Once again rising up out of his chair, the driver of the Splitwire shook AJ, an awkward gesture for him. His years on the Red Sentient moon had made him divorced from many of the things that were commonplace for his companions. He had had no friends in his forced exile to watch his back or wake him when danger was afoot, and he had been unable to do the same in return. While confident in many things, in other areas he was like a young child, finding it difficult to unbend and show genuine emotion.
AJ groaned as he revived. "Did you get the license on that tank?" he asked the moment he was capable of thinking straight, which bewildered Tezz for a moment before he realized what the Canadian was really asking: a roundabout version of "What happened?"
"Don't you remember anything before we fell unconscious?"
AJ frowned. "Well … we were in the Mobi, about to drive ourselves and Sage out into the Multiverse, because …" He abruptly swore, which startled the Russian for a moment: the extreme sports fan hardly ever cursed. "Krytus! What happened to the others?"
"I do not know." For a nanosecond Tezz considered putting a reassuring hand on his companion's shoulder, but rejected it; it felt too awkward. "Several hours have passed since we blacked out. Somehow we made it out of the Hub, uncloaked, and neither Krytus nor the people of Handler's Corner have found us. We can assume that Vert's mission to destroy the machine was successful."
Nodding in relief, the Canadian looked through the windshield outside – only to frown and start unbuckling his harness. "Are you sure about that, Tezz?"
The Russian frowned as well – he hated it when people doubted him. "Why do you say that?"
Now levered out of his seat and crossing to the glass, the white-blonde teen practically had his face plastered against the transparent material when he replied. "Because this place does not look like Handler's Corner – hell, anywhere on Earth for that matter, except maybe the Grand Canyon."
Alarmed – maybe he had been off in his calculations for once – Tezz walked quickly across the bridge (he never ran unless he needed to) and joined the extreme sports enthusiast in peering out the window.
Sure enough, this was a canyon. Yet, to Tezz's eyes, it didn't look like the canyon his companion had mentioned: for one thing, there was no river at the bottom. And surely the Grand Canyon had less space, unlike this place, which could easily house three Mobis side-by-side and still have ample room for more cars between its sandstone walls.
And the Grand Canyon definitely didn't have biomechanical hybrids of kangaroos and elephants staring curiously at the place where visitors had been before they'd vanished.
Tezz counted three of them, all of them taller than Krylox by at least a head and as long as the Splitwire from head to tail-tip. Before AJ freaked at the sight of their red eyes and their horns, he managed to notice that the biggest one was covered in scars, possibly indicating that it was an alpha male … or whatever was the equivalent here.
Then – naturally – AJ had to spoil it by slamming down on the Mobi's horn.
The resulting honk deafened Tezz temporarily, and in his irritation he half-expected Sage to revive. Sadly, that didn't happen, and to make matters worse, the animals – startled by the noise from nowhere – took off, leaving only dust in their wake and the horn's echo resounding multiple times.
Somehow oblivious to the death-glare now leveled in his direction, the Gearslammer's driver slumped down in a seat. Even through the ringing in his ears the genius could hear what left his mouth next.
"We are so not on Earth anymore."
Location: Southern Islands, Matoran Universe
Consciousness returned to Kytren the way it always did: quickly and painfully. The Red Sentient let the faintest of groans escape his lips as he sat up, checking his shell for any injuries. Tiny cracks in a Sentient shell would be repaired automatically, and would not result in a trip to the Respawn Chambers, but major injuries – the equivalent of a broken leg, for example, or a blast to their sternums – were sure-fire ways for their life force to be released.
Thankfully, the damage was minor: his only issues were in his head, manifested by a headache. The Vylirex had been shattered by the landing, but it was no issue: the energy that made it up had retreated back inside himself, waiting for him to recreate his vehicle. Free to look around, the RS5's Scout stiffly got back to his feet. The very idea of him feeling stiff was almost like blasphemy – he was the quickest, more agile member of the team – but that was the least of Kytran's worries.
The portal had dropped him and the rest of the Red Sentients into some barren place, flat and rocky with little vegetation. The wreckage of the machine that had been the focus of their labors for the last few hours were not far away from where he had awakened, with Krytus intact and wrestling his way out. Kyburi and Kyrosys – their own vehicles destroyed and back inside them – were still unconscious, but it was Krylox he was most concerned about, though he would never say so out loud.
Alone of the five, Krylox had not been sheltered in some sort of solid structure, whether that was a vehicle or the machine. Prepared for the worst, the Scout made quick, deliberate movements around the area, growing steady and relaxed again, scanners searching out for the familiar life force of the hot-tempered giant. For a few moments Kytren found no trace of him, and he was just about to think that the Tech Officer had returned to his Respawn Chamber after all when the ground rumbled beneath his feet.
Most would think it was an earthquake, but Kytren knew better. For a nanosecond the faintest of smiles appeared on his face before he turned around, looking impassive as the Synataur rolled up before him and vanished back inside Krylox's body. Landing with a heavy thud, Krylox acknowledged the Scout's presence with a curt nod before addressing Krytus, who had now freed himself from the machine.
"I've run scans of the area. There do not seem to be any significant life forms on this planet."
Krytus lifted one hand up: in it was the mask that had started the whole mess. For a moment Kytren was seized with the impulse to rip it from his friend's grip and snap it into as many pieces as possible, but the revival of Kyrosys and Kyburi dragged their attention away from the thing. The Alpha Hunter and Weapons Master had been lying far closer together than they would if they had their own way, and both snarled primal warnings at each other as they climbed back to their feet.
"No sign of Sage's Humans?" Krytus asked, turning his attention away from the others and back to Krylox.
"None. We are alone."
"This not Earth," Kytren broke in, his eyes still riveted on the mask and toying with the idea of destroying it. "Earth not empty."
Kyburi's head abruptly snapped around like it was on a three-sixty swivel, allowing her to stare over her shoulder at a place ten feet from where she stood. The rest of the RS5 fell silent at her actions, realizing that her attention had been directed at a possible eavesdropper, and let the Alpha Hunter do her work.
The female Red Sentient stayed in that position for a few moments, then spun around the rest of the way and lunged, claws first. There was a brief struggle that kicked up some dust, and when it cleared, Kyburi had subdued and absorbed the life-force of the unwanted guest.
It was a large, copper-brown creature, looking something like a four-legged, biomechanical spider with giant mandibles. A concave place on its back indicated a place where a natural weapon could be attached, though Kyrosys himself could not identify what the weapon could be. Spinnerets were located both in a second jaw and where a normal spider would have them, and – as none of the other Red Sentients had noticed it before Kyburi had killed the creature – had a very effective form of camouflage.
"I agree with Kytren: this is not Earth," the Alpha Hunter said, lugging the animal up off the ground and speaking as if what had just happened was completely normal. "All the creatures of Earth are organic by nature. This is not."
"Kyrosys," Krytus said, holding out the mask far more delicately than needed, "what happened?"
The Weapons Master glanced from the monstrous arachnid that Kyburi had killed to the mask, to the landscape and then back to mask, before he replied. "My theory is this: in tapping into this artifact's power at the same time the Battle Force used their Battlekey, their powers combined and reacted, similar to the effect of many Battlekeys being destroyed at the same time. We could be anywhere in the Multiverse, possibly in an unexplored dimension."
Four heads nodded in silent agreement. All of them knew that the extent of the Multiverse could be measured as infinity times infinity, for lack of a simpler explanation. Even in the glory days of the Sentients there had been unexplored regions, and the wars between the races had resulted in the loss of much of their recorded knowledge. Kyrosys – before he had taken up weapons-building in the wars – had been one of the best explorers, so his knowledge was far more extensive than his companions'.
"As far as I can see," he now concluded, "unless we can access the mask's powers again, or find a rift portal, we will not be able to return to our homeworld – or get to Earth."
"The machine doesn't work anymore," Krytus broke in. "I scanned it before I cut myself out. Even if we still could use it, we would need to obtain new energy sources."
"What do you propose, then?" Krylox asked.
"Find a place for us to set up a base. We drive north."
Without any ado, the Red Sentients formed their machines of war and raced off, Krytus at its head with the mask in his cab and Kyrosys and Kytren beside him, Kyburi and Krylox bringing up the rear and running full scans, looking for any trace of something that would be of interest.
Behind where they had been, over the discarded body of the arachnid, another one of its kind appeared with a shimmer in the air. After dragging the body into a crevice and webbing it up, it skittered off to the east.
Its Masters would be very interested in what it had seen.
A/N: For the record, I am unaware if caffeine exists in the Matoran Universe, so the "magical substance" that Alvis uses to remain perky all the time is still a mystery. =P Apologies for the long wait for this, but I had to cut out a part that dealt with the rest of the BF5 so this would arrive somewhat on time. I also had some difficulties with the RS5's scene.
(For the non-Bionicle fans: the creatures Tezz and AJ saw were Kikanalo, while the creature Kyburi killed was a Roporak, one of the many breeds of Visorak.)