Template:Writer Template:Fiction The Shadows Coil is the sequel to the extremely popular story The Eternal Game. It details the beginning of the Corpse Empire War, as well as Leviathos' imprisonment in the Annihilation Dimension.
Shadows twisted and writhed across the dark sky of Gigas Nui, the once-great city of the Gigas Magna Resistance, and now a powerful outpost of the dark Corpse Empire. The shadows flashed across the darkened planet, only distinguishable from the rest of the night sky by the fact that they were even darker than the darkest cloud. They whirled and danced across the cloudy sky, carrying a single, unspoken message. One that every being in the Solis Magna System knew and dreaded.
The Eternal Game was over.
A lone, dark, cloaked Toa walked hurriedly across the plains that lay outside the city of Gigas Nui, watching the Shadows twist across the sky in a loose pattern, darkening the already shadowy citadel. He knew what the message meant as well. It was a sign that another year of bloodshed and misery was over, and that another was about to begin.
Once, this was a place of light, now it is the cradle of death, The Toa thought grimly, pulling his dark cloak around him tightly.
Once, the city was ruled by the noble Enforcers of Gigas Magna, who defended the city from threats and beings of shadow. Then came the Underworld war, when the Gigas Magna Empire, under the leadership of a twisted Kodax known as Tetrack, attacked the city with his armies of Threen, eventually gaining control of much of the universe. After the Brotherhood was defeated, the city, still weakened horribly after the war, was attacked by the armies of the Corpse Empire, who had managed to defeat Velnax and take control of the Kodax Empire. And, to keep the Toa and other beings living on Gigas Magna in a constant state of fear, ordered the beings who remained alive there to send over twenty beings from each planet under their control to join the sadistic "Eternal Game:" a dark game where about eighty beings were forced to fight to the death in a bloody arena. Then, every few years, more beings were sent to fight to the death.
But something had changed in the previous fight in the Eternal Game. Many beings had shown devotion, sacrifice, and unity within the arena, and Toa banded together to stop the Kodax group, under the command of Antidax and Tetrack. And the Toa of Infinity, Tanuva, when given the chance to kill Fairon, a fellow contestant, instead spared the Toa and fled, followed by Iruka and the remainder of the Fallen Six. Such heroism in a dark realm of death was beyond the comprehension of the Corpsians. But within the Empire itself, the spark of rebellion had grown, and the beings that were trapped in the dark empire were beginning to dream of a life without any Corpsian overlords, where the entire universe would be safe and free. The Corpsians knew that the Toa's rage was growing, and their only way to strike was to strike back, and strike back hard. The twisting shadows were a sign that the Empire was still as in control of the Solis Magna System as they were 100 years ago, when their reign of darkness had begun. And now, the beings trapped in Gigas Nui were certain, that the empire would strike back, as hard as they could.
One hundred years later, we stand at the brink of another war. The Toa thought. He had watched his entire toa team be taken and he had been forced to watch them fight to the death in one of the arenas. He had been the only one to remain alive.
His name was Xhrex, the last surviving member of his Toa team. Pain welled in Xhrex when he thought of his old friends, brutally slaughtered by the Kodax armies in the Eternal Game while the Corpsians watched, laughing inwardly behind their impassive faces. The pain became so great the Xhrex was forced to stop his thoughts, or else lose himself in his grief once more.
I'd better return to Gigas Nui. Xhrex thought. The Corpsians will want me to watch the latest fight to the death tonight.
He had already seen the entire fight, and he had been among those cheering for Fairon after the death of Leviathos. But the Corpsians, to keep the horror of the carnage fresh in the being's minds, would want them to assemble and watch the completed fight to the death on the Corpsian's digital screens, which stored the scenes and were able to replay over, directly into the minds of the viewers. Each battle would forever be stored in their memory, and each fight to the death would always be with him until his dying day.
Turning away from the twisted shadows, which had begun to dissipate, the Toa began to return to Gigas Nui. The spires of the large city rose above him in the distance, but he could tell even from here they were in an extreme state of disrepair.
Suddenly, the temperature plummeted. The cold chilled him to his bone. Dread began to set in, and Xhrex turned around slowly, and saw a tall, cloaked being emerge from the darkness.
"Oh, Mata Nui." He gasped in horror. "No. You're dead. I watched you die. I saw you burn. You're dead!"
The being made no reply, simply raised a single hand and pointed a finger at him. Xhrex felt his blood go cold, and he turned away from the dark one. The tall figure raised another robed arm and Xhrex felt his body collapse on the cold earth. He tried to breathe, but his lungs filled with blood. The dark liquid began to tear itself free from his body, and he began to gag on the flowing blood. It began to rise, and terror and panic began to dissapear as it was replaced by the cold feeling of death. It chilled him horribly as more blood rose and flowed openly from his body. The dark being stared at the dying toa, and suddenly it was as if his body forgot everything it once knew about staying together. His blood exploded outward, and his body imploded on itself until the Toa's own blood tore him apart.
The dark blood summoner moved closer to the body of the dead Toa, looking contemptuously at the corpse. His red eyes glowed as he turned away and slipped into the shadows. He moved slowly, gliding across the ground as he strode purposefully toward the darkened city of Gigas Nui.
The Toa think they are rebelling against the power of evil. How could they ever know that they are obeying the plans of the Dark One?
Wind whipped through the dark city of Xaterex, causing some of the older towers to creak and crumble. It was the only noise on the eerily dark night, save the cheers of the small groups of Toa as they watched a replay of Fairon's victory farther away in the city. Otherwise, the entire city seemed deserted. The shadows above the city were slowly dissipating as well, leaving nothing but a few faintly glimmering stars gleaming outside the city.
Suddenly, there was a creak as the scrape of metal-shod feet echoed across the seemingly empty city. Another gust of wind blew, drowning out the sound of the being's footsteps. A tall Toa of Fire emerged from the gloom, walking slowly down the streets, clutching a eerily glowing Kanohi in his hand. In the other he held a feebly flickering torch. He turned down a darkened alleyway, then opened the door of one of the towers. The door opened with a creak, and the Toa cursed silently, hoping none of the Corpsians had overheard him.
A voice echoed from within the building.
"Vaerak, is that you?" The voice hissed.
"It is I." The Toa replied. "I've brought the Mask."
"Is it still glowing silver?" The other being asked. "Yes." Vaerak hissed. "Keep your voice low."
The Toa entered the building, and raised his firebrand above his head, illuminating the crumbling interior of the building. Dark carvings depicted the Corpsian's victory over the Enforcers, and others showed the planets uniting into the Kodax/Corpse Empire. Vaerak turned away from the carvings, and saw the speaker standing in the hallway.
"Corridax" Vaerak hissed in an undertone. "We have to work fast. The Corpsians will suspect something when they realize I did not turn up at the gathering in the city. They know that I come here often. We need to get the Mask away from here, and fast."
Corridax raised his hands to his mask. "I take it you want me to use the Olmak?"
"Yes." Said Vaerak quietly. "Send it to Xaterex IV. Shardak's homeworld." Both the Toa fell silent as they remembered Shardak's death, flung over the edge of the Void by Antidax during a massive battle.
"The Corpsians may recover it there." Corridax warned. "They know we have it, and they'll take the Ignika from there."
Vaerak undid the sack, and raised the Kanohi Ignika. The mask glowed silver in the half-light, and the symbol engraved on the Keystones glowed with power.
"Shardak gave this to me before he entered the final battle in the Twilight Void." Vaerak said, his voice breaking. "I owe it to him, and to Blast, to make sure that the Corpse Empire does not get it.
There was a large explosion as the door flew off it's hinges. Vaerak turned around, still holding the Ignika, and saw the Corpsian soldiers pour into the chamber.
"Give us the mask." They said in their emotionless, nasal Corpsian tone.
"Never!" snarled Vaerak. Corridax drew his Twin Tri-Bladed Scissor and engaged the Corpsians, slashing a small Burning Arm of Corpse to the ground. Vaerak stabbed his sword at a robed Corpsian. The Corpsian parried with a large Dagger-Scythe, and the Toa felt ice-cold pain flash through his body as the Shredsteel did its work. The dark material, specifically designed by the Elemental Prince Windeus for the purposes of severing souls from being's bodies, could kill easily. Vaerak's wound was shallow, but even a small wound could cause him terrible pain.
Vaerak stabbed out at the Corpsian, and the Corpsian easily blocked his blow. Vaerak slashed his blade across the Corpsian's chest, and the Corpsian speared him again with the Shredsteel weapon. More Corpsians poured into the building, their dark robes conclealing them from the Toa's view. Corridax slashed a dark robed Corpsian to the ground, and a Burning Arm raked its claws down his shoulder. Corridax winced in pain and speared the Burning Arm through the heart, where it twitched erratically for a few moments before falling still. Vaerak blocked the Corpsian's next blow and attacked, his blood-drenched blade a cold black against the stark gray of the ruined building. The Corpsian lept to one side with surprising agility and slashed the blade from Vaerak's grasp, taking off two of the Toa's fingers. Blood welled from the wound and drenched his hand. Vaerak stared at his wounded hand, his brain unable at first to take in what had happened as blood continued to drip from his wound. The red liquid appeared black in the darkness.
Vaerak turned around, and the Corpsian drew another dagger, spearing the Toa through the chest. The sickle's sharp edge struck deep into Vaerak's heart. The Corpsian's second dagger went through Vaerak's neck. Blood poured from the Toa's wounds, and Vaerak's vision began to loose focus. Vaerak turned his head to look at Corridax, and saw the Toa cornered. He cluched the Ignika under his arm, the silver glow illuminating the masks of their attackers, as well as their dead-looking gray eyes that, at the very core, shone with maniacal light.
"Corridax!" Vaerak screamed. "Use the mask! Use the-"
His speech was cut off as the Corpsian tore the dagger from his chest and stabbed the Toa through the neck. The Corpsian let the daggers go, and Vaerak's limp corpse fell to the ground.
"Vaerak!" Corridax screamed as a Corpsian raised his scythe. Corridax dodged the blow, and flung his Tri-Scissor to the ground. The Toa stepped away from the Corpsian's second strike, and put his fingers to the Olmak. The Mask of Dimensional Gates glowed with power as Corridax saw a portal open, a door to another world. Which world, he did not know.
The Corpsian raised his scythe and stabbed Corridax through the back. The Toa gasped for a breath that wouldn't come, and with all his remaining strength, flung the Ignika through the portal. The Toa felt his vision blur as he heard the Corpsian's scream of fury. His vision weakened farther, and he was dimly aware of the fact his body was collapsing backward to the ground.
The last thing Corridax saw before death claimed him was the Ignika disspear into the closing portal. The Corpsians watched dispassionately as the Toa breathed his last, then melted into the shadows of Gigas Nui.
And far, far away, in a darkened world that no being had ever returned from, the Ignika landed. Its silver glow lit the darkened world, and in another world of darkness below an abandoned arena, a single being with a skelatal hand knew where exactly it had landed.
"Hail!" The tall Toa of light replied to the speaker, a small, hunched Ta-Matoran. He shook his head. Ever since the Eternal Game, his victory, and the return to Gigas Nui, all of the inhabitants of the ancient city had treated him like a celebrity. Fairon wished to shake off the Games forever, but no one would give him time to heal.
The Empire makes sure these horrors never leave you. Fairon reflected as he strode down the narrow alleyway.
If it was up to the Toa, he would forget about the games completely. Scour them from his memory. Destroy them. But the Empire made sure that this would never happen. They would soon begin another game, and after that, another, to continue the Games for all eternity. Fairon felt a wave of dark memories wash over him as he strode through the city.
Serrakaan's dark robes catching fire. Dredzek's last screams as the fire consumed the mortally wounded Makuta. Tabaris exploding into thousands of bloody fragments. Fighting Antidax's Kodax hordes on the cliffs near the Void. Phoenix sneering at him as she sat on the rock beside him, raising a knife and grinning evilly as she readied to kill him...
Fairon shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. The memories left him feeling spent, as they always did. Fairon had always thought that the "Eternal Game" was so called as it continued forever, but now the Toa wondered if it was because the memories of the arena would never leave him, no matter how long he lived.
Nightwatcher and Antidax fighting to the death on a cliff as he grappled with Malok. Ravdev falling into a pool of lava as the Lavawight ran her through mercilessly. Kaluu burning to death inside a firey inferno. Shardak's last screams as he was flung over the edge of the void to certain death. Iruka bearing down on him at the edge of the firey arena, hauling him over the edge. The flames as they burned his body and ripped the breath from his lungs-
Fairon shook his head again and sighed. There seemed no way for him to reflect on his world without the dark memories of the Game returning. He lifted his head from the scattered rubble and grime that coated the alleyways and lifted his face to the sun. Another day was beginning, the fifth since he had returned to Gigas Magna. Now, just as suddenly, he was leaving again. The Empire was going to take him on a trip across the universe to the Drakos System, their capital, where they would collect tribute from the other star systems for the victor, as well as rounding up other Toa for the never-ending Eternal Game.
Lekhop's mangled corpse falling from the burning cliffs as the Kodax and the Fallen Six battled to the death amidst the raging flames-
Fairon cut his nightmares off before they could return to plague him again. He could not let his mind wander from the task ahead. The Empire wanted him. The resistance wanted him. He had to choose a side. The Eternal Game was not over. There were more deadly challenges to come.
But how? Fairon thought. Beyond the insane beings that would fall from the strange realms above called the Twilight Void, there were none who dared oppose the Empire and live. The fear of losing their lives in the Eternal Game held them in fear. There was no way for them to resist without the Empire destroying them all in a bloody arena.
The leering Kodax, spear raised as he lifted the Teleporter. Serrakaan appearing behind him, and blood pouring from the Kodax's body-
Although it had been a week since the conclusion of the Game, Fairon still felt the horror as if it where happening to him all over again.
Fairon cursed and kicked at the rubble-strewn ground with one armored foot. He could not rid himself of the horrible memories of the arena.
But I will make sure that no one ever has to suffer through another Eternal Game again! He thought defiantly. Soon after the Games had concluded, a small group of rebels on Gigas Magna had contacted him, and he had met with one of their agents and agreed to meet them. While they were small, they hoped to strike a blow to the Empire that would keep them from gaining unending dominion over the universe. Fairon had agreed to meet them in one of the ancient, weakened towers of Gigas Nui, where the Gigas Magna Enforcers had once ruled. The city's once most powerful district had fallen apart, and was full of rebels, criminals, and other beings who fought with both Veiled Ones and slaves alike.
And the Empire does nothing to stop it. Thought Fairon. Turning down a long corridor, the Toa saw a single dilapidated building at the end of the alleyway like a grim sentinel among the ruins of the district. Fairon walked silently though the rubble, making sure not to disturb the wreckage. Fairon opened the unlocked wooden door, pulling it so hard it came off the hinges. He crushed the door into the earth so hard it splintered into fragmented shards. Fairon savored his victory for a brief instant before entering the chamber. A bolted steel door barred his way, the rebel's last line of defense. Fairon knew how to bypass that as well. Raising a gloved hand, the Toa stared at the door with intense concentration. Sparks of light burst from his raised hand, and the door swung open. Fairon entered the chamber and the door clicked shut behind him.
He stood in a massive room filled with smashed armorplates, rusted swords, and cracked walls. The room seemed on the verge of collapse, and the ceiling above him creaked ominously.
"Oh, don't worry, It won't fall." Hissed a voice. Fairon turned as a clawed hand touched his shoulder. Reacting instintively, he whirled around, blade drawn, to confront a tall Toa in gleaming silver-gold armor. He carried an icey sword that gleamed with an otherworldly pulsing light, giving the impression it was charged with lightning. His hands were covered by clawed gloves. Out of the rubble of the wreckage heap of weapons. A Toa of Water, eyes gleaming in the darkness as she appeared like a ghost from the wreckage. Then two Toa of air, a male and a female. They were armed with powerful, bladelike weapons and they stared at Fairon with a mixture of pity and hatred. Last to appear were three Toa of Ice, a Toa of Fire, and a Fire Glatorian.
"Greetings." said the silver-masked Toa. "I am Toa Jareroden, leader of the resistance. These are Galika, Sayna, Treedaka. He said, his eyes staring at each of the Toa in turn, first the Toa of Water, then the two Toa of Air. "Flardrek." he said, gesturing to the Glatorian. "And Shardos, Xatax, Vorral, and Zhrek."
The four Toa nodded a greeting, as did Galika, but Sayna and Treedaka continued to stare a him, contempt showing in their eyes.
"Oh, don't mind them." Jareroden said. "They lost their entire team after Vinax fled the Empire."
Fairon nodded. When he'd returned, Vinax had fled from Gigas Nui for reasons that had never become clear. All of his friends had been killed. Fairon and his dead friends Fyxan and Leviathos would have been killed as well, but they had died in the arena before Vinax's betrayal. It was only Fairon's status as victor that kept him alive. Vinax, however, had yet to be found.
I hope they kill him quickly when they find him. Fairon thought. Not torture him or send him into the next Eternal Game.
"They believe that Vinax fled because you won the Eternal Game, and blame you for the deaths of their team."
Fairon remembered the bloody corpses of the Toa lying crushed at the edge of the void, Kodax spears embedded too deep to ever be removed from the body. He remembered Tanuva, the Toa who had died so Fairon could win the Eternal Game, and Leviathos, who, though mortally wounded by Ghost's soul-eating scythe, had saved Fairon's life by dragging him into the Void.
I, too, have lost my team.
"It was not my fault that Vinax chose to flee. His motives were never made clear. Maybe the Empire knows. Maybe not. But tell them I am sorry for their loss, and sympathize with them more then they know."
Jareroden nodded. "They will eventually forget their anger. And while they hate any victors, they will cooperate with our plans, for they know it is the only hope for the Empire to ever be destroyed. While we cannot hope to overthrow the Empire, we can prevent them from gaining the ultimate power. The power of the Ignika."
"Shardak's mask?" asked Fairon, remembering how the Toa/Elemental had told him that he had once used the Ignika before he had fallen from the Twilight Void into a Corpsian trap that had taken him to the Empire.
"Yes" Jareroden replied. "Shardak once wore the Kanohi." Jareroden raised a small, computerized screen that was playing one of the Eternal Games throgh silently. The Toa inspected the screen and pressed a few keys. The sound was turned on and the Toa turned the computer over to Fairon.
The Toa of Light gasped in shock. The scene was all white, and was showing a scene he recognized all too well. He, Fyxan, Tanuva, his small alliance of Toa and Makuta, Shardak, and Blast cowering in a small cavern. Leviathos was there as well, using his limited (or not so limited, as he had soon discovered) Time abilities to hold the white death of Nightwatcher's shockwave at bay. A wave of memories washed over Fairon again, and before he could stop them he was back in the world of the arena...
Tanuva, eyes bloodshot and desparate, readying to kill Fairon, Fyxan, Leviathos, Shardak and Blast as they huddled in the caverns below the arena. Tanuva, A bag of Iruka's supplies raised, decoying Iruka away from Fairon as the leader of the Fallen Six readied to kill the two Toa. Fyxan, remaining in the caves, using the scythe of creation to keep the power of the arena at bay while Tanuva and Fairon's team readied to attack Antidax's Kodax hordes...
Fairon's world came back into focus just as he heard Shardak's voice describing how he had given his mask away after a battle in the Twilight Void with his archenemy, the Corpsian girl Nightshade, who had murdered his friend Arcturas. The Toa exchanged stories briefly, then readied to leave. Jareroden turned off the computer just as they were leaving the caves.
"According to Shardak, he had given the mask to the Toa called Vaerak. The night of your victory, Corpsians attacked Vaerak and his friend Corridax, killing him. They searched the area in search of the mask, but did not find it. However, three undercover resistance operatives in the Drakos System managed to trace the mask's whereabouts to a specific location- The Void."
"The Void?" Fairon felt as though he'd been punched. His memories of the Void were so horrible, it took all his willpower not to vanish into his memories of the arena. "Surely it was destroyed, along with the entry to the arena. And even if it wasn't, the Void would have absorbed them. I watched it kill four contestants in the games. Shardak, Ghost, Nightwatcher, and Leviathos all met their deaths there. Dredzek may have vanished into the Void as well."
"We believe, however, that the Void does not instantly kill."
"What?!" Fairon was shocked. "It kills beings and absorbs them. All who fall there are obliterated from the universe, used to feed the Void..."
"Yes" said Jareroden. "That is what the Empire wants you to believe, and yes, it does absorb beings and feed on them. But I believe that a being has reset the Void without the Empire's knowledge to an unknown location. While there is no doubt that many of those who fell were killed by the fall itself, there was one being we were able to trace who fell into the Void and survived."
"Iruka!" said Fairon. "I was sure he was killed by the fall, yet he somehow emeged. How?"
"We do not know for sure. However, we believe that Iruka encountered someone or something there that returned him to the arena for an unknown reason."
These revelations were making Fairon dizzy. He asked. "So where is the mask now?"
"Possibly lying in the realms below the Void. Ancient tales speak of beings who live there, deities of death, space, and time, that control the fabric of the multiverse and would tear it to shreds if ever released. But the mask could enhance their powers to impossible levels, levels so great that they would break free from the Void and rip this world apart forever."
"So you wish me and a group of resistance members to follow the Mask into the Void? How will I enter the Void?"
Another thought occured to him. "And what of my status as victor? The Corpsians want to control me, to use me as a pawn to exert control over their Empire."
"Yes, we are aware of that. If you agree to help us, Zhrek and Shardos will go in your place. You will go disguised as me, the leader of the rebels. Me, Flardrek, Galika, Sayna, and Treedaka will accompany you. Others in the Drakos system who are rebels will join you."
"So that is where the Void entrance is. Drakos City."
"Obviously." Said Jareroden. "The Corpsians have been using it as a method of execution to destroy prisoners that displeased them. If the Void really is a portal, however, then they may be still alive." He locked eyes with Fairon. "I cannot tell you more unless you agree to join us. If they capture you the Empire will torture this information out of you, something we can't afford unless you join us."
Fairon realized they had backed him into an inescapable corner. If he did not join, they would kill him, for they could not let the secrets they told him be known to the Empire. If he did join, he would be forced to commit suicide by jumping into the Void. Or worse, If he survived...
Fairon let the thought trail off. They may have been forcing him into a a suicide mission, but he had vowed he would do everything he could to destroy the Empire after the Games.
"I will join you." He answered.
As Jareroden led him out of the gathering chamber and into the next, with Flardrek and Shardos following, Sayna and Treedaka stared at the dark mark of pure annihilation that had been burned into their armor. The two Toa communicated silently to each other via the dark power that allowed them to share their thoughts.
Time to report to the Empire. The two Toa thought as one.
And below the Void, in a place of unspeakable horror and terror, a being heard their thoughts.
A being who knew the true power of the Shadow that controlled the two Toa.
One with a single skelatal hand.
All was still within the dark abyss that was the Void. Not a creature stirred, and the blackness that obscured the Void prevented sight completely. But what did it matter to the corpses that lay in the Void, their eyes staring sightlessly up into the blackness. Everything that mattered in the world above was meaningless here. All was dark. All was still.
Suddenly, light broke through the darkness. Twin glowing red orbs slashed through the black shades, gleaming balefully in the shadows. The dark light that shone from the eyes cast red light on the approaching figure's shadowy claws. Most of the being was pure black, the rest of his armor gray, colors that seemed to melt into the darkness and blend the being into the shadowy void. Slowly, the creature came into view, illuminated by the torch he carried in one clawed hand. Light, something so incomprehensible in this realm of darkness, flickered constantly. The tall shadow Matoran who carried the dying torch shivered with a tingle of foreboding.
Corzakx gazed through the darkness, trying to keep the torch burning while his eyes stared coldly at the Void. If he was not as loyal to his master as some, he would not be here. Only the thought of Dredzek's last message to him through their telepathic link kept him going, had made him jump into the Void the way he did. He had expected to be killed, like the Corpsians who had forced Dredzek and Millennium into the Eternal Game had told him, but he had not. He had survived, and was now in a prison, a prison with absolutely no way out. He had tried for hours to escape this prison, but, while this world had less gravity then the world above, he still had no way to escape the Void. Only Dredzek's last message kept him going.
Come to the Void. The Scythe is there.
Most Matoran, having seen their master die, would ignore this final message. But Corzakx was not most Matoran. Like all Onu-Matoran, he had once lived a simple life on his home island of Versuva. When Dredzek became protector of Versuva, Corzakx had joined him, and when Teridax and the Makuta rebelled against Mata Nui, Corzakx became a shadow Matoran. Dredzek had risen in the Brotherhood's hierarchy, and Corzakx with him. When the Brotherhood met destruction after the death of Teridax and the takeover of the Corpsians, Corzakx and Dredzek's true master was revealed-Millennium, leader of the Shadow of Ages, a secret organization that wished to rule over time itself. After a long time, the Empire took over leadership of the Shadow of Ages, and Millennium, along with Dredzek, Corzakx, and an inner group of elite Shadow of Ages soldiers had fled.
Millennium continued to manipulate the Empire from behind the scenes. Eventually, However, Millennium and Dredzek were hunted down and subdued, and after being held prisoner for a few years, was forced to join the Eternal Game. The previous game had ended with a Makuta lord as victor, and Dredzek was sent with his master in to the Eternal Game. Corzakx and a small group of Shadow of Ages had escaped, and they had watched the game together, hoping that their masters would triumph and return. When Millennium was killed, Corzakx saw for the first time a chance that Dredzek would win. The Matoran had watched as the final contestants, the last of Antidax's Kodax, Tabaris, Fairon, Serrakaan and Iruka make their moves.
Tabaris had been killed first, destroyed by Serrakaan. The Kodax fell to the Blood Summoner as well, and when the arena exploded into flames Fairon survived and escaped while Dredzek and Iruka were destroyed. Corzakx, however, knew that Dredzek was a survivor. He had obeyed Dredzek's last instructions to enter the Void, knowing that Dredzek had flung the Scythe into the Void during the final battle before the flames. Corzakx and fifty of the most fanatical Shadow of Ages members had entered the Void itself, sneaking into the Drakos System and flinging themselves into the Void. Most of the Shadow of Ages soldiers had been lost on their arrival, disappearing into the Void, and four were wounded badly and abandoned. Six were found lying dead in the Void, and three still followed Corzakx through the darkness.
The Matoran motioned to the soldiers behind him. They were tall, masked beings with scythe-like spears made of iron that gleamed in the shadows. The spears ended in long, curved sickle points that could kill a toa with a single blow. They all were wounded. One's shoulder was savagely torn open, and the others were badly scraped. Despite these wounds, the soldiers displayed no signs of pain.
From the dying light of the torch and the gleaming spears, Corzakx made out his surroundings. They were on some sort of ledge that jutted out into the otherwise empty Void. On one side, the walls of the Void gleamed in the darkness. To their right the Void cascaded into the darkness. Even with the light, Corzakx could not see into the pit. Ahead, a body lay sprawled unnaturally on the ground, his dulled golden armor gleaming in the shadows. Half of the corpse hung over the edge of the Void, but the feet, buried completely under the rocks, held it hanging halfway over the edge of the Void.
Corzakx approached the corpse, he kicked it twice, but it did not stir. Corzakx inspected the body. One dead hand still held a gleaming sword, the other, a bloodied dagger. A smashed metal blaster lay at the Toa's feet. Corzakx thought back to the Eternal Game, when he had seen this same toa kill a Makuta in the battle on the edge of the Void. He also remembered watching Antidax smashing the Toa to death with a single blow and watching the body fall over the edge of the cliff, wounded horribly. The fall had obviously killed the Toa.
Shardak. That was his name. Corzakx remembered the victor, Fairon, call the Toa by that name. Well, it didn't matter now. All that mattered was finding the Scythe. Corzakx gestured to the Shadow of Ages soldiers to search the Void. Two began searching around Shardak's corpse, the others continued along the cliff face, holding their blades out before them. The Void had many legends surrounding it, and the Shadow of Ages had been studying the abyss for centuries. Eventually, they had come to the same conclusion as Jareroden-the Void was a prison, not a destroyer. A prison for every being that had ever crossed the Empire.
A Shadow of Ages soldier walked silently over to Corzakx. His hood was slightly torn, and his armor was badly dented. In addition to his normal weapons, he carried a damaged Scythe. Though damaged and badly mangled, power still glowed in the blunted, melted blade. While it was useless as a weapon, Cozakx knew it still contained the power of reality-possibly the most deadly force in existance.
The Scythe of Creation had been created long ago by a mysterious being. Little was known of him, and no one knew anything about him. Millennium had known about him, as had Dredzek and Corzakx, as well as a few elite Shadow of Ages members. The being had long since vanished, and even Millennium could not locate him. Since the death of its original weilder, the Toa of Light Crystillix, it had been in the possession of the Empire. Another Scythe had entered the multiverse when an enigmatic being known as Blast and Shardak had entered Corzakx's reality. For reasons known only to them, the Empire had let Blast retain the Scythe for the Games. Corzakx had seen him use it, and while he had displayed deadly power with the Scythe, such as aiding Leviathos' time powers and vaporizing Makuta Benjarmin in the caverns below the arena. It had then caused a massive explosion, burying Millennium forever beneath the caverns, along with the Baterra and the Element Lord of Technology.
Corzakx rasied the Scythe, and felt the object's power. The power contained within the weapon was deadly. The power of reality contained in the Scythe was so great that Corzakx recoiled. He withdrew his mind from the Scythe, knowing that it would kill him if he immersed himself in its power. He felt, rather than saw, the beings that had carried the Scythe, remnants of those who had used the Scythe, for good or for evil.
First to appear was a Toa in gleaming golden armor, Crystillix, the being that had been created to use the Scythe in the Great Being War. Then more Toa appeared. Fire, Water, Air and Earth Toa, long forgotten. Another Toa of Light, Hendrax, who also carried the Scythe. He "saw" A Toa of Air, a Toa of Gravity, a Toa of Stone. The Corpsian who had slain the Toa of Ice who had last carried the Scythe and taken it to the Empire, where it had been thrown away, and eventually had come into the possession of a being known as Blast. A being called Leviathos, from the games, who had been killed by Ghost, had carried the Scythe briefly in the Eternal Game. Then Fyxan, who had been imprisoned in stasis by Dredzek, who had taken the Scythe and flung it into the Void before he had been killed by the flames in the final battle at the Void.
As he called upon the powers of the Scythe, Corzakx felt the power surge through him. He was unable to control it at first, and the power began to control him. Corzakx fell to the ground, and writhed like a Doom Viper. Somehow he managed to hold the Scythe. He tried to fling it away, but found he couldn't. He felt as if his skull was about to burst-
Then the pain vanished.
Corzakx rasied the molten Scythe, willing it to recreate Dredzek. He knew that the Scythe was capable of altering reality. He knew it could recreate his master. Just as the Scythe was used by its owners, its owners were used by the Scythe. The Scythe contained some of Dredzek's spirit, and using the Scythe, he could return Dredzek to life by creating another spirit to merge with Dredzek. He saw the artificial spirit he had created flow through the Scythe, then merge with the antidermis trapped within the Scythe. The Matoran writhed in agony, pain blocking out his vision completely. Slowly, Dredzek's antidermis began to reform. The artificial antidermis merged with Dredzek's completely, and an image of Dredzek's body appeared, faint at first, then slowly becoming whole.
Corzakx fell to his knees.
"My Lord." he whispered.
Dredzek smiled thinly. "You came to the Void. I knew you would."
"I will go to the end of the multiverse if Dredzek commands!" said Corzakx. "I have taken the Shadow of Ages with me. They still have no idea how to escape this Void, but we can find a way. The Scythe of Creation has powers of reality so great it could eaily free us from the Void.
"We cannot leave the Void." Dredzek snarled. "Not while my antidermis is incomplete. I feel...broken, with only this weak peice of Antidermis. The artificial spirit keeps me alive, but it is a half-life, weak and torturous."
Corzakx was confused. "Then why did you want this...half-life, if it is so weakening. Surely, in all the thousands of years you worked for the Shadow of Ages, you could have found another way to heal your antidermis."
"While I was within the Scythe of Creation, I sensed a new power enter the Void. One that contained a limitless supply of power. It could heal me completely, and free us from the Void. Using the Scythe to return to the surface would destroy the weapon, and I still need it. Once we have the Ignika and the Scythe, I will be more powerful then the Great Beings themselves! And even the Empire will fall before the power of the Shadow of Ages!"
Continued from Twilight Void...
Atarus stood above the central complex that was once the Twilight Citadel and watched as the Toa, Matoran, and Glatorian worked to repair the damage that the Hand of Mata Nui armies had caused in the recent battle. During the fight, Toa Shardak and and Listra, a Veythari warrior had been captured by the Shados, allies of the Veiled Ones. They had been taken from the Twilight Void into the Empire, facing execution or death in the deadly Eternal Game. Atarus had ordered that the Matoran soldiers from Veythari had fought with him in the Veythari Civil War and the Twilight Void battles to bring him a disk containing the content of the last Eternal Game. A Toa named Fairon had won. He seemed to be a noble warrior, and Atarus had ordered his soldiers on Gigas Magna to capture him, see if he could help the resistance recover the alternate Ignika that had fallen into the Void when an alternate Shardak had died in the Games. They needed the Ignika. It was a potent weapon. Atarus hoped that Shardak had survived in the Void. He would do everything in his power to rescue Shardak from the Empire, but the resistance needed a backup plan if Shardak had been exectuted.
Executed. Atarus thought. It was an extremely likely fate for a Toa who had caused so many problems for the Empire, including the Assult on Drakos Capitol and the victory on the Veythrai Homeworld, which many were now calling the Hybrid War. Blast would be devastated if he learned that his Toa friend had been killed by the Empire. Blast had last seen Listra and Shardak at the edge of the Core Void, fighting a losing battle against Corpsian Limiters.
The sound of metal-shod feet scraping against the glass floor suddenly disrupted Atarus' thoughts. He turned around and saw Vaethar, the leader of the Veythari resistance on the Veythari Homeworld, walking toward him. His eyes looked haunted and tired. None of the Veythari were happy that one of their warriors had been taken prisoner by the Corpse Empire, but Vaethar was the only Veythari who knew Shardak's true value to the rebel's cause. After their victory over the Veiled Ones during the Hybrid War, Shardak had been lost in the Twilight Void and the Corpsians had destroyed the Hand of Mata Nui base there. After their victory in the Twilight Void, the Soul Eaters had escaped into other dimensions that the Twilight Void was connected with, and their armies were disbanded or captured. Above, the Corpsians had lost the edge, and the rebels were able to launch large numbers of Starcraft to the Calos System, where they had captured one of the planets, which surrendered after the Hand soldiers invaded, and cut off the others from outside help while the resistance continued their war. Still, Atarus knew the rebels didn't have the resources to continue the war forever. The Empire's virtually limitless amount of Starcraft were constantly trying to destroy the rebels and end their presence in Calos.
"What's the news?" asked Atarus grimly, wondering if the war had taken a turn for the worse.
"We have him." replied the Veythari. "Fairon has joined Jareroden's team. They are about to enter the destroyed arena and then the Void."
"Excellent." said Atarus. "What of the war?"
Vaethar sighed. "Three Imperial Starcraft shot their way through our blockade over Calos II. They destroyed large numbers and have invaded the planet itself. However, on the surface of Veythari the last Veiled One outposts have fallen. There is no chance they can recover their forces there, and are regrouping outside of Veythari. The Empire may send more Starcraft to reinforce them, but with their current problems in Calos, this is disputable."
A minute passed in silence, then Atarus asked the question he dreaded. "And what of Shardak and Listra?"
"Unknown." said Vaethar. He sighed again. "We have no way to contact them. The Empire still holds the Core Void and the areas surrounding the Twilight Void. Our forces are invading from the surface, but their last message was a week ago, so there's no way we know if their mission was sucessful."
Atarus was annnoyed, but showed no emotion. "We can't lose the edge in this war." He said. "Assemble the armies. We have to get back to the surface of Veythari."
Vaethar looked doubtful. "Our armies are badly depleted. During our conquest of the Twilight Void, our armies suffered heavy losses. Over thirty Veythari warriors were killed."
Atarus knew the Veythari were excellent warriors, usually winning a battle with no casualties. He knew that many Veythari had died in the war, but he knew that they needed to strike back now. If the rebels lost their edge, the Empire would soon recapture Twilight Void and Veythari, and the rebels in Calos would surrender. Then any hope for the resistance would be lost.
"We need to strike back now." Atarus said. "If the Veythari will not join us, then so be it."
"The Veythari warriors will fight beside you to the end." said Vaethar. "But the death toll for the Twilight War was staggering. Over 1000 Matoran warriors died, and even more Stitched Ones and Soul Eaters."
"I know." said Atarus. "I fought beside you on the front line, remember? We must strike back now, or we will lose the advantage that we gained after the Assult on the Spire of Dreams."
Vaethar nodded. "I will tell them your plans." he dissapeared into the darkness of the Twilight Citadel.
Fairon sat tensed within the small hovercraft, watching as Flardrek, Jareroden, Galika, Treedaka, Sayna, and the other toa readied their weapons. Fairon had already readied his lance. The rebels had replaced the one that had been destroyed in the arena.
"So, how did you all survive it?" Fairon asked Jareroden.
"Survive what?" asked the Toa of Psionics.
"Elimination." said Fairon. "The Corpsians virtually annihilated the Toa race."
"We were from an alternate reality." Sayna answered, smiling at Fairon. He looked away. Despite her initial coldness toward him, she had come to believe that Fairon was not a threat. "We were captured by the Empire's dimensional gateway traps, and taken to the arena."
"So you're all victors?" he asked.
"Treedaka and I won the games in two years, first him, then me." she answered. "Jareroden and Flardrek have also won the Eternal Game."
Fairon nodded in reply. He'd seen Jareroden's victory before. The Toa had killed a massive Makuta by stabbing him with a lightning spear. The Makuta had survived, and flung Jareroden over the edge of a cliff, but the Toa had dragged the Makuta over the edge with him. Jareroden had suffered near-fatal wounds, but the Empire had managed to rescue him in time to save him. He remembered Flardrek winning the Games as well, he had impaled two Kodax with fire arrows, and killed the last contestants by using his fire sword he had gained in the games to set massive fire traps within massive pockets of earth below the arena, causing the entire arena to burst into flames as soon as the Skakdi warriors attacked him. Flardrek had killed the final survivor himself, disarming the Skakdi and beheading him with his own axe.