This is my entry for the Rernahk backstory contest.

Shadows spin across the battlefield. Darkness tears Toa apart, leaving nothing but dust behind. There are screams and yells of victory as the Shadow Matoran break through the Toa’s defense line. Three Veiled Ones, their faces hidden by the shadowy hoods they wear, slash their deadly daggers through the air and cut down even the mighty Zyglak like reapers. As the massive Dragon Riders of Corpse appear above the ridges of the hills on the planet of Xaterex I, the Hand of Mata Nui scatter and flee. As the massive shadows coil around the ruins of the city, only one figure stands above the carnage, watching the battle below.

Rernahk watched impassively as the Veiled Ones under his command slew the last of the Hand of Mata Nui agents, leaving none alive. Two figures appeared beside him out of the darkness, Lord Skorpix, the Empire’s high commander, and the Illieran Lythë Valkyria, his deadliest assassin. Skorpix’s face was impassive, but Lythë was smiling. Rernahk sighed. She enjoyed this carnage. He had lost his love for this war many years ago.

It had begun when an Elemental, the deadly Eostra, had declared leadership of the Hand of Mata Nui. The old leader, Guardian, had failed to drive the powerful Mystery Guild out of the Xaterex Star System, and thousands of Matoran had become disaffected by the constant warfare. The leader of the Xaterex Rebublic, Toa Xarnath, had supported the takeover, much to the surprise of the Toa Guardians and the Hand of Mata Nui. When the Hand and the Toa had refused to give in, and the Veythari began attacking the republic’s starcraft, Eostra and six of her followers had taken over by force, killing all of the Elementals still loyal to the Hand. In the chaos, the powerful dark lord Nihiltidax, who ruled the Mystery Guild and much of the known multiverse, declared himself Emperor of the Xaterex system. However, the rebels refused to give in. With the aid of the Veythari warriors, they began attacking the Mystery Guild and the new Empire’s outposts across the massive Xaterex system.

“You have completed the job well, Commander.” Skorpix said, his voice sounding like a claw rasping against stone. Rernahk looked up at the Elemental, one of Eostra’s Shadowy Ones. Recently Rernahk had heard that one of the Shadowy Ones, Arcturas by name, had become disaffected by the massive war that had spread across the multiverse. Lythë had been watching him, ready to kill him as soon as Skorpix or Nihiltidax gave her the order.

“We have the final outposts on Xaterex II and IV surrounded.” Skorpix continued. “Soon we will invade Xaterex I, but with the capital in the Empire’s hands, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. You have performed well here, Rernahk. A large force of Imperial Veiled Ones will attack at dawn. Have you destroyed the supplies and the starcraft?”

“Yes, Lord Skorpix.” said Rernahk. “Has the Empire managed to take Arcturus Capitol?”

“We have the planet surrounded by Corpse Fighters, and Titan Model MK-VII aircraft are assaulting the rebel’s main defenses. In a few days, we will take the city. None will oppose the might of the Empire.

You underestimate the will of these Toa, Lord. thought Rernahk. They will fight until the last one falls to defend Xaterex Capitol. “No, Rernahk.” said Skorpix, reading his thoughts. “You underestimate the Empire. We know that this war could still turn against us. Windeus and I have developed a…little surprise…for the Toa that still survive. They will all fall before the Empire’s might.”

Twenty years later…

Rernahk strode up toward the hill, weapons ready.

The war was finally over. After ten more years of bloodshed after his attack on Xaterex I , it was finally over. The Empire had unleashed a massive plague on the Xaterex and Veythari systems, which eliminated Toa and transformed Matoran into dark beings of shadow. The Empire’s armies had overrun the last of the defenders of Xaltrax, and established their capital in the Arcturus Magna System. Rernahk had become even more powerful then before as Skorpix gave him promotion after promotion, until he became senior field commander of all the Corpsian legions. He and his army had fought for three more years on Veythari, trying to defeat the last of the rebels, who had withdrawn to Veythari and were trapped and blockaded by Imperial forces. Despite this, the Veythari were some of the most powerful beings in the history of the multiverse, and the Veiled Ones were unable to obliterate them completely. Eventually, Skorpix, not wanting to lose his senior commander in a pointless battle, called Rernahk back to Xaterex.

Now he was running from his former masters. Whatever interest he had once had in the war, he had lost. Bloodshed and misery was all that he remembered for the past twenty years. He’d fled the Empire’s capital, taking with him their most powerful weapon-the Shadow Cataclysm. It was powerful enough to destroy entire worlds, and he knew that it had the power to teleport powerful beings to other dimensions. It had saved the seven Shadowy Ones, who had used it to escape Xaterex I after they used the Shadow Cataclysm to obliterate the planet. Rernahk knew it was the key, but he also knew he needed more power. The Cataclysm had the ability to drain power from other beings, but for him to escape an entire dimension, he needed the power of an Elemental Prince.

Then he saw his chance. Hunted by the Empire, and trapped on Arcturus Magna, now called Drakos I, he heard that Arcturas, one of the Shadowy Ones, was calling the group together for a meeting on Shadow Crag, a massive crag of obsidian that seemed to rise out of the ground. He knew that he would be able to steal power from Arcturas or one of the others. He knew it was risky, and some days he still expected Lythë Valkyria to slip a knife through his chest, but he needed to escape. The Empire was extremely powerful. Wherever he ran, they would find him. They’d kill him, or worse, sentence him to death in one of their deadly Eternal Games.

Suddenly Rernahk was jolted out of his thoughts by the scent of fire. Screams rang through the air, and he could see Arcturas racing down the hillside. The flames crackled and lept, burning through even the cliffs themselves.

Feindflames. Rernahk guessed. No normal flame would burn through obsidian. Arcturas has done it! Betrayed the Empire, slain the Shadowy Ones, and taken their Shadow Orb! He could see Arcturas carrying a fragment in his hand, and watched as he slid it into his sword. Instantly it flared with fiery power. Rernahk saw Eostra Nihiltian, her black robes burning, run at him, raising a massive Scepter and firing a bolt of black lightning from the tip. Arcturas dodged the blow, and it struck a rock, which crumbled to nothing. As Eostra caught up with him and stabbed him through the side with a trident, Arcturas shot a blast of fire from his sword, which struck Eostra directly in the face. The Elemental fell to the ground, and then the flames hid her from view. Arcturas turned and ran, and Rernahk saw the shadowy figure just before she struck the Elemental like chain lightning. Arcturas screamed as Lythë drove a dagger through his shoulder, and as the Illieran raised a second dagger to stab him again, Arcturas flung her off him. Lythë landed on her feet, and as the dazed assassin staggered backwards, Arcturas grabbed her arms and smashed the dagger from her hand. He seemed to be saying something to her. Lythë tried to tear herself free, but was unable to break free from the powerful Elemental. Arcturas raised her dagger and stabbed it at her heart. At the last second, Lythë dodged, and the dagger tore a wound in her side. Arcturas shoved Lythë backwards as hard as he could, and the Illieran fell to the ground.

As Arcturas ran, Rernahk began to drain power from the Elemental. Slowly, shadows began to writhe across the Rahkshi’s body, and Rernahk knew that soon he would be free forever from the Xaterex Multiverse.

“Yes!” Rernahk screamed, as the Feindflames lept higher. Rernahk saw a massive Spinax hound leap on Arcturas, and watched as Arcturas ran down the crag, desperate to escape the Feindflames. As Rernahk began to vanish, he saw Arcturas fall, and watched as the Elemental was hauled to his feet by a tall, cloaked being with a single skeletal hand. Rernahk wondered briefly who it was, and then realized that he was free. The Toa were finished. The Shadowy Ones were finished.

As Rernahk finally disappeared completely, and the Feindflames consumed the entire Obsidian Crag, he knew that he was free of the Empire forever.

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