The 1st Shadow sat in his high-backed chair, and stared over his desk at the figure before him. “Well, Black Six? Exactly what am I needed for?”
Black Six and six other Moderators stood around the desk. A few of them looked very uncertain—B6 himself looked a bit uneasy.
Before any of them could speak, Shadow sat upright, clicked his fingers, and seven chairs materialized underneath them. “Please, make yourselves comfortable.” It was a show of power, and they knew it.
Though only a standard member, it was The 1st Shadow who had unlocked a pocket dimension and found a way to connect it to the BZPower website, creating the world of BZ-Nui, with some minor help from the Mods themselves. How he had done this was beyond them, but so far all had gone well, so they left him to his own devices, and allowed him to take residence in the Master Suite of the Coliseum.
Regardless, he was still a member, and this meant that he had to abide by the rules, and yield to the Staff when necessary. This was one of those times.
Recovering from the sudden appearance of the chair underneath him, B6 stood once again, straightening his cape and adjusting his face-guard. He glanced over at Windrider, then at the biomechanical skeleton known as bonesii, then over to the Matoran-sized, armored puffin called Tufi Piyufi. They all nodded in turn.
He looked over at Shadow, who was leaning forward on his desk, resting his chin on the bridge of his knuckles. Though hidden by a Kanohi, B6 knew there was a knowing grin on the other’s face. “The 1st Shadow, this is a matter of grave importance. There’s been a breakout.”
“Yes, the 2012 Hero Factory storyline. It’s been three years, so I’m well aware of it.”
Black Six frowned. “You know that’s not what I meant. It’s a matter of BZ-Nui security. There have been multiple breakouts. Well, multiple break outs and a break IN.”
Shadow sighed. “Can you staffers be any less specific?”
Tufi spoke up. “The break in happened in Completely Off Topic. The breakouts happened in BBC, almost all of the Library, Bionicle Discussion, and S&T.”
“What got out?”
Windy joined in. “A little of everything. Remember that contest to build the best villain? A lot of those apparently came to life and got loose. You know what the Library’s like, so I hope I don’t need to explain that. You know what S&T holds.”
“Yes, I see. Just one question though… Who the heck would want to break IN to COT? And why?”
“Well, that’s what we were hoping you could find out,” Black Six said. “We know you’ve got friends in every forum that you keep in regular contact with. Given your activity rate here, we figured you’d be able to get to the bottom of it quicker than most.”
Shadow nodded. “Understood. I’m gonna check the Creative Archipelago first to see what can be found there.”
“Best of luck, Shadow.”
Axilus Prime flew over the bridge leading from BZ-Metru to the Creative Archipelago. There was a central island that had bridges leading to the islands representing each subforum of the Creative Outlet. Off in the distance, he could see the largest of them off in the distance—the Comic Land. Just off to his left was the island that housed the Exhibition Hall, where members displayed MOCs. To his right, situated atop a large rock that jutted out of the sea, was his destination: the Library.
The red and blue titan came in for a landing at the central island, near the map that indicated the major locations in the Archipelago. Sitting under a madu cabolo tree was a green and black Toa he recognized as Toa Varova. The other waved in greeting and rose to his feet. “Greetings, Varova,” Axilus said as he landed, the jets in his boots shutting off as he struck the ground. “He has summoned you as well, then?”
Varova nodded. “But I haven’t seen him yet. Just that Ta-Matoran over there.” He pointed to the orange and red figure sitting on a nearby bench, reading a copy of EXTERMINATION, a look of contentment on his Pakari.
Axilus shrugged. “He’s not normally late, is he?”
“Who knows? I can’t read the guy’s mind. That Shadow is a puzzle of an Escher piece—no figuring him out.”
“And I would prefer it stay that way.”
Axilus and Varova turned to the Ta-Matoran, who was now walking towards them. The appearance was new, but both knew that voice. As he approached, his mask shimmered and changed to the form of a Kakama, while the red and orange faded to black and emerald. “Av-Matoran camouflage and the Kanohi Flashbaki—very useful.”
“Enough theatrics,” Axilus was starting to get a bit impatient. “Why have you called us here? Are any more of your Guest Stars on their way?”
The 1st Shadow waved a hand. “No, just you. I can only trust so few with this.” He grimaced and lowered his tone. “Something’s gone wrong, and the Staff want me to look into it. I had to leave the Kanohi Force alone for a time while I investigate.
“Something broke out. Not sure what, but it seems that there were many of them. BBC, the Library, Bionicle Discussion, and Storyline & Theories. Something else happened in COT, but until I hear more, I’m saving that for last. It seems that something allowed various creations to break loose—Akutahn is out there somewhere, along with almost every other entry for the Battle for the Golden Mask—as well as many characters from various comedies and epics. No telling what kind of damage could be done.”
Varova looked quizzical. “Who let them out, and why?”
“I’m still working on that. For now, I need you two to help me get to the bottom of this, and try to contain any major threats. You in?”
Axilus nodded. “For Tohu, for Unity, for BZPower!”
Varova smiled. “Yeah, what he said.”
Shadow turned towards the Library. “Then let’s get on with it.”
Mask Collector paced around his room, waiting for his new “friends” to deliver their reports. Akutahn, Zylor, Oohmin, Vroxx, and the ECDR were but few of many that had escaped from BBC and the Library. And here stood a few of them whom MC had entrusted to assist him in his endeavor. “Has he gone to the Archipelago yet?”
The ECDR spoke up. “My creator has indeed crossed the bridge, and he has been joined by two others. He has the Flashbaki with him.”
Mask Collector whirled on the oversized drone. “Of course he has it! If I owned that mask, I’d never let it out of my sight! But soon enough… Yes, soon, we will have it. The precious…”
Oohmin, the spider queen, hissed, bringing the obsessed museum curator out of his muttering. “What shall we do now?”
“Hm? Why, we slit their throats and peel the mask off of The 1st Shadow’s dead face!”
Akutahn grunted. “Even I know that’s not allowed. You can’t kill another member.”
Mask Collector grinned. “True, but we can torture him until he gives it up!”
The titanic Makuta crossed his arms. “Then why not simply capture him and take it while he’s restrained?”
“Oh, but that’s no fun! We must take great care with this one, precious. He’s too smart to be captured, and we can’t risk damaging the precious.”
Mask Collector suddenly straightened and pointed at the assorted lot. “If he is at the Library now, then he’ll likely go to BBC next! Confront him there! You, there!” He pointed to a group of figures out of the Bionicle Mafia series. “Go to the Library and ensure that he’s driven there! Go, now!”
The group rushed out of the dark room. A few of them donned the Exo Kuta Armors parked outside. Akutahn and the ECDR were too big for them, nor did they need the armor. The Makuta of Okoto flew ahead while the Evil Cyclopian Death Robot ran beneath him.
Mask Collector watched his new minions depart. “Soon, yes. We will have the precious… the Flashbaki!”
“There. That’s most of them.” Axilus Prime forced the escaped characters into the room that housed their stories and deadlocked the door.
Shadow and Varova still grappled with a few of Ballom’s Terra Nui Trilogy characters. Fortunately, outside of the story, away from the world their author had imagined for them, their power was diminished, making them a little less trouble than Black Six may have realized at first.
“Seriously, this is ridiculous,” Varova said as he tossed his opponent aside. “How did these things even get out?”
Shadow ducked as the beast before him took a swipe at his head. “Wait until you see what’s broken out of the Exhibition Hall. All those MOCs running free…” He trailed off as he drove his drill-staff into the beast’s shoulder.
Axilus walked over and bashed Varova’s opponent in the head with his fist, knocking it unconscious. “Well, let’s finish this and get over there.”
Shadow had just downed his opponent. It wasn’t out, but it had evidently learned its lesson. It gave him a look that suggested it wasn’t pleased about being beaten by a Matoran. “Then lock these two up and we’ll—“
He was cut off by a beep from his BZPad. He pulled it out and opened the new message. It was from Black Six, and read:
“BIONICLE Discussion dealing in progress. We’ll hold it off for now. Any luck?”
Shadow quickly replied:
“Yes. I enlisted Axilus Prime and Toa Varova to help me in the Creative Archipelago. We just cleared the Library, but I suspect there may be a few more we missed. BBC is still in need of work.”
He sent the message and turned back to his friends. “We’ll need to do a quick search around here.” In a blink, he disappeared, leaving the Toa and titan staring at the spot he’d just vacated. In seconds, he was back. “Search complete. There’s a whole group from Bionicle Mafia on the third floor. Not sure how we missed it, but—“
Another message from B6:
“Good work. I’m sending Zatth and a few others to help down there. Can I ask you to drop in on S&T? It’s a madhouse over there. Well, more than usual. The others should be there.”
“I’m on it. Thanks for the heads-up.”
He turned to his comrades. “Sadly, I must leave you to deal with this alone. Nothing you can’t handle, I know. Black Six needs you to join Zatth over at the Exhibition Hall when you’re finished. I’ll return as soon as I can.”
Axillus nodded, and raised his sword in salute. “We’ll do what we can.” Toa Varova nodded his agreement.
With that, Shadow sped out the door and across the bridge to the mainland.
A thin, white-armored figure walked out of the Debate Hall in the S&T district. Hard on his heels was a grey-and-white female with a fishing pole strapped to her back. She breathed a sigh of relief as they stepped into the fresh air. “Sheesh, why is it always a war when we join a discussion?”
The first shrugged. “It’s not like we can help it, fishers. Sometimes people value their headcanons more than the actual story, and it makes for some terrible arguments.”
Fishers64 stretched. “I hear ya, Bonesii.” She paused as an Exo-Toa rocket whizzed over their heads. “And to make matters worse, all of S&T has erupted into this chaos.” She gestured across the street to where Tahu Nuva dealt blows with a pair of Skrall. “How’d all these things get out, anyway?”
The Refrence Keeper shrugged. “I wish I knew. Black Six hasn’t been telling me much.”
“Well, you’re in luck, bone-head. News has arrived.”
The pair turned to see The 1st Shadow sitting atop the overhang above the front door of the debate hall. He leaped down to join them, smiling as he came, the trail of his long leather coat sweeping behind him. “Black Six sends his regards. Told me I’d find you two here.” His face grew deeply serious. “As you can see, something is very wrong here, and it’s gonna take the Big Three to sort out the chaos here in S&T.”
Bonesii's skull-like face lightened up a little at that. “Finally! Do you have any idea what caused this?”
“Sadly, no. But I think it’s more of a ‘who’ than a ‘what.’ If I’m right, then someone’s causing this chaos, unleashing the forces contained within each district. MOCs growing and coming to life; monsters written about by some of the most creative minds in BZ-Metru pulled from the pages and set upon the whole place; and here, the subjects of every theory and piece of story material made tangible and unleashed upon the streets. I just finished cleaning up the Library, but none of the escapees seemed to know what brought them out. Still waiting to hear about the situation in BD and BBC, but for now, I thought we could do some work here.”
Fishers pulled out her fishing pole and twirled it over her head. “When do we start?”
Bonesii swung the one of Lhikan's Fire Greatswords at a charging Kane-ra, attempting to keep it distracted while Shadow did some quick research on the creature. The blade sliced through the air, and struck the creature dead-on, dissipating after doing the necessary damage, but the rahi continued its charge. The Reference Keeper leaped aside as the beast continued its stampede. He sifted through his memories of the BIONICLE lore, quickly coming on a powerful blunt weapon that should down the bull. The Kane-ra, having missed the Staffer on its first pass, swung around for another charge. The warhammer of the alternate universe Teridax materialized in his hands, just as the beast came close enough to hit. One blow was all it took.
Of the Big 3, Shadow was quickest to recall character information. He had already determined that this was the same creature that had attacked Kopaka and Pohatu just after their meeting on the Island of Mata Nui. He pulled up the BS01 page on his BZPad, and began to read: "During a journey a meet the other Toa, Kopaka and Pohatu were attacked by a Kane-Ra in Ko-Wahi. They were able to trap it in a crevice and crush it with boulders." The sound of his voice washed over the beast, and it dissolved into a mist that quickly vanished. "Nice work, bones."
The skeletal Keeper of Reference shrugged, letting the warhammer fade away. "Thanks. Maybe you'll take the next few?"
"Any day now, you two!"
The 1st Shadow and Bonesii glanced over to where Fishers64 was tying up a krana-infected Lewa with her fishing line. Numerous decorative trees had already been uprooted by the Toa's air powers. The two of them walked over, Bonesii doing the reading this time. As he finished reading the Toa back into the story, the coils of fishing line fell to the pavement, empty. Fishers sighed in relief as she began to reel it in again. "Thanks. He almost took my head off with that axe of his. I know I said we should have some more action, but this is deadly."
Shadow shrugged. "Who better to do it than us? With our encyclopedia-like knowledge of the story, who better to fix things here in S&T?"
Bonesii, pulled up his BZPad and began typing something. Shadow and Fishers looked around. This whole street had been cleared. "Well, we've gotten this area." Shadow glanced over at his compatriots. "Suppose we'd better hit that Skakdi army down in the park?"
"Sounds good to me." The Reference Keeper looked up from his BZPad. I just sent out word to the rest of S&T--we should have some help on its way soon." He saw the concerned look on his friend's Kakama and added, "Not everyone, of course. Only those who know what they're doing. I requested some very specific people."
Shadow nodded. "Alright, then. you two head for the park, while I do a quick sweep of the area, see if we missed anything. I'll meet you there." With that, he sped off towards the Debate Hall, carefully noting every corner and alley. As he ran, he couldn't help but wonder:
What's causing this?
High above the S&T District, Mask Collector rode on the back of the bird Rahi Nivawk, drawn out of the story by a special weapon he'd designed. It allowed him to draw out the nature of any fictional works and give it life. He'd detonated one such device here in S&T, and the results were astounding. Everything from Toa to Vahki to Skrall were rampaging through the streets, brought to life from the endless discussions that took place here. Shadow had left the Creative Archipelago sooner than he would have liked, but soon enough, his friends would need his help again, and he would return, long enough for him to finish his work in COT.
"Yes, soon, my precious..." and he wheeled Nivawk around and directed him toward the Completely Off Topic District...
Fishers64 and Bonesii, along with a number of the S&T regulars were doing battle with the Skakdi army in S&T Park. Bonesii was focusing too hard on defending himself to determine what part of the canon these guys came from. He had forgone summoning in-story weapons in favor of the Staff of Reference, his badge of office. Mostly, he just used it to fire bursts of elemental energy at his foes.
They hadn't been fighting for more than a few minutes, but they were all beginning to tire. "Where's Shadow at?" Fishers yelled to her companion.
The Reference Keeper shook his head. "No idea. He should have been here by now. Unless he got caught up by--"
"Use the Staff."
Bonesii swung around, his staff accidentally knocking out a charging Skakdi in the process. "Shadow?"
"On the hill, to your left."
He looked where indicated to find The 1st Shadow, the Flashbaki forming a half Kakama-half Suletu hybrid, doing battle with what appeared to be Nektann and his pet Muaka. "Sorry, I had to check in with Axilus and Varova. Zatth and the others arrived at the Exhibition Hall and are holding off the MOCs, for now. Black Six has news, as well. When you have a moment."
Bonesii nodded and got close to Fishers. "Shadow needs us," he said as he batted a couple Skakdi in the face.
Fishers looked up, over at The 1st Shadow, then back at Bonesii. She grinned. "Hold on!" She cast her fishing line up into a nearby tree, grabbed the Reference Keeper around the stomach, and leaped through the air. The line carried them in an arc that allowed them to bowl right into Shadow's opponents.
The Av-Matoran gave his signature half-salute. "Good move." He grabbed them both, and called upon the Kualsi powers contained within the Flashbaki. "Let's go!"
A moment later, the three of them were in the Council Chamber of the Mods. Black Six and a few others were there. The Admin greeted them. "I've sent word to Zatth, and he will meet us later. For now, Tufi has discovered something."
The armored puffin got to her feet and waddled over to them. "I was checking out the situation down in the Library, when I noticed something. The characters that were brought out were only from active, open topics. It seems that a closed topic couldn't have been brought to life. I did some research on the MOCs and a few art pieces, as well, and the pattern seems to match. It seems we now have an advantage." She looked up at Black Six.
The lead Moderator nodded, and held out an open hand. A moment later, his BanHammer tore through the wall, flying right into his grasp. If we can find the topics these things originated from, and lock them all, it might force the summoned creatures to return to their place."
Shadow huffed. "Or it might keep them out here permanently."
Black six turned on him. "Is it not worth a try?"
"Oh, sure. But I suggest you try it out first. Pick something small and relatively harmless, and try to lock its topic. If it works, then go for it. Otherwise, I'd advise against it." He stepped back to Bonesii and Fisher. "We have to get back to battle. Keep in touch."
And they flashed back to S&T.
The Big Three, assisted by numerous residents of the S&T District, had finally restored canonicity to the area, putting everything they found back in the story. The Skakdi army had been the worst of it,, and the Skrall regiment down on 4th Street was easy to identify. The 1st Shadow, Bonesii, and Fishers64 were directing the clean-up and using their powers and tools to help move heavier wreckage. It was nearing twilight when all three received a message from Black Six.
"Come to the Creative Archipelago ASAP. Nearly complete, but the Comic Land is a disaster."
Bonesii turned to the others. "We good to go?"
Shadow nodded. "I should say so. Shall I teleport us?"
Fishers shook her head. "I've got something more fun." She whipped out her fishing pole, cast the line, and twirled it above her head. "You boys handle yourselves, while I take the high road!" With that, she slung the line out, and caught the hook on a nearby building. And she took off like Spider-Man, swinging from building to building on a length of fishing line.
Shadow turned to Bonesii, but the other was already waving him off. "I've got the Canon Cruiser on autopilot headed here now." A whirring sound emanated from above them. "Ah, there it is!"
As if it had heard him, the sleek, white hovercraft floated over the building and landed beside him. It was decorated with a skull print at the front, and the sides were decked out with blue flames. The hatch opened, and the Reference Keeper leaped in. He smiled at the Av-Matoran. "Besides, this things's fun! You'll have to try it out when this is all over!" The hatch closed and the craft took off after the swinging form in the distance.
Shadow shook his head and sprinted back to the Coliseum. He had something to check on before he met up with Black Six. He reached the Staffers' garage at the base, and made for a chute at the back that led up to the workshop, a few levels down from his suite. After ensuring that the Tohu system was close to completing his secret project, he headed back to the garage and leaped on his motorbike. His legs were getting tired, and the bike's wheels were outfitted with speed Kanoka. This would do just fine. And he took off towards the south.
To the southeast, Mask Collector climbed out of the valley that contained the Completely Off-Topic subdivision. He had finished his work down below, and was ready to use his new weapon. Another bomb, not unlike the ones he had already used in the Archipelago, S&T, and Bionicle Discussion. This one, however, was a bit different. Instead of bringing out the essence of each district, this one was filled with the essence drawn from one individual topic that was meant to affect everyone with its sickness. He would subvert and mutate the entire population of BZ-Metru, transforming it into something so chaotic, it would keep the Staffers busy long enough for him to deal with The 1st Shadow.
"Soon, precious... I will have the Flashbaki. Yes, my precious...."
He was in no hurry this evening. He walked towards the lighted buildings in the distance, caressing his handiwork.
A bomb that contained the soul of a single topic from COT.
The Official My Little Pony Topic.
The 1st Shadow arrived at the first bridge leading out to the Creative Archipelago just before midnight. His bike sped across the long stretch of paved stone to the central island. In the dark, it was hard to see clearly. But the moon was out, and he could identify silhouettes. Off to his right, he could see the towering shape of the Library; to the left, the Exhibition Hall, the gardens out front trampled and damaged by the chaos that had recently erupted around here. Otherwise, these two looked abandoned, except for a few Staffers checking on the status of things. Shadow nodded to himself, realizing that everything had been taken care of; he'd be sure to clarify that with Black Six in a few moments, though.
He passed the central island, with its map and benches, and took off towards the next split in the road. The Gallery to the left seemed calm, as did the Gaming Center to his right. Ahead, he could make out the Media Center. There. Ahead, illuminated by lightstone-flashlights and lanterns, he spotted a large number of members being led by Black Six down the final stretch of the bridge--moving towards the largest island in the Archipelago.
The Comic Land.
Shadow grimaced. That would not do. MOCs? Oh, those could get pretty wacky. Epics, comedies, and short stories? There were some nasty characters in there, as well. But the Comic Land? He didn't want to think about it. He switched his bike up to the next gear, and the engine revved a bit louder, picking up the pace. He braked as he passed the group, skidding around to face B6. "Have I missed anything?"
Black Six shook his head. Zatth and Tufi Piyufi stood beside him. Overhead, Bonesii and the Canon Cruiser hovered slowly, carrying other members with him. Black Six spoke up. "Zatth managed to clear out the Exhibition Hall, while Tufi and I dealt with the Library. Turns out, you were right. Locking the topics didn't return the characters to their places. The MOCists and writers have to individually put them back. Took us a while to round them all up, and a few still haven't responded. Those creations still out of their topics are either AWOL, or awaiting the minds that invented them to return them to normal."
Shadow turned to look out at the Comic Land. Axilus and Varova had moved forward to join them. Overhearing this, Varova spoke up. "Then you're gonna have a hard time here. Many of the Legendary Comic Makers haven't been active in years. For example, Axilus Prime should be able to handle 'Prototypes' just fine, and Loganto can cover all of his works. But Dark709 and Wise One? All the greatest Comic Makers may not be able to contain their works. Dark's unfinished Third Movie, for example..." He shuddered.
Shadow nodded. "That might be a problem, but I think I can clear it up. Black Six, send everyone out to the farthest reaches of the Comic Land. Set up a perimeter and drive everyone to the eastern mountain range."
Black Six looked confused. "Why there?"
"Because there's something there that can help. Get to it. I just need a few hours. Axilus, Varova, you're with me."
Under Black Six's orders, all other Staffers and members present were teleporting out to the edges of the Comic Land. They would drive the chaos to the aforementioned location, while Shadow led his friends to the location he spoke of, Axilus flying with Varova on his back, Shadow on his bike. They bypassed any rouge comic characters they encountered, focused on their goal.
"Where are we going, Shadow?" Axilus asked.
Shadow smiled as he turned back to look at them. "Something you might never have believed to exist."
An hour later, they arrived. Axilus landed, and Varova jumped down. Shadow had parked along a mountain path, with nothing but a blank rock wall in front of him. The Toa of Plantlife glanced around. "Well, Mister Secrecy, what is this?"
The 1st Shadow walked up to the wall, and rested his hand on a small outcropping. "Why, we're at the Hall of the Comic Makers." He pushed the rock forward, and the wall swung open, dust and pebbles raining down as it did so. The Av-Matoran led them inside.
The dark tunnel ended in a massive cavern, a huge lightstone chandelier illuminating the place. Axilus and Varova stared agape. Ornate doorways lined the walls, one every ten feet. Above each door was something that looked like a miniature Suva shrine, upon which was marked the name of one of the Legends of the Comic Land. In the center of each, a replica of the Kanohi they had worn was situated.
"Wow," Varova breathed.
Axilus nodded, and examined them carefully. "Everyone's here. Wise One, VakamaTK, Dark709, NuparuRocks, Lavaside Rahi, SuperKid11, and so many others I've not heard of." He turned to Shadow, who was standing in the center of the room, fists on his hips and a proud smile on his face. "How long have you known of this?"
"Since I put it here. This was the one thing that the Staffers didn't know about when we formed the BZ-Nui dimension. Only the greatest Comic Makers are told about it, and even then, only when they've made the decision to retire. You two have the good fortune to learn of it now. Perhaps, one day, a door here will mark your place. For now, keep it secret."
Varova traced his hand along the doorway of Dark709's room. "Is... Is this their tomb?"
"No, not at all! Just the records of their work. Their characters sleep inside, awaiting the return of their creators. That's what the Suvas are for. We're bringing them all back."
The two turned to look at him. "What?" they both exclaimed.
Shadow held his hand up, and let loose a beam of light from his fingertips. The lightstones reflected the beam into dozens of smaller beams, each one striking the masks of the Comic Makers. Each doorway illuminated then, and the masks began to float down toward the ground. Before they could go far, though, light flared out from each, blinding the two spectators. When Axilus and Varova could see clearly again, they were surrounded. An infected Toa wearing a Hau stepped forward.
"For what purpose have we been summoned?" Dark709 asked.
Near the bridge leading back to the mainland, Shadow and the other members watched as the Legends of the Comic Land led the charge against the characters set loose. Axilus and Varova had joined them, along with any other Comic Makers present. Dawn was less than an hour away.
Shadow turned to Black Six. "They'll handle this. I say we go back to BZ-Metru and clean up the last of the chaos there."
The Admin nodded. "Good call. Everyone, move out!" At his words, everyone turned back towards the city.
That's when the bomb went off. They all saw the light erupt out of the city, and a few moments later heard the boom. The buildings looked undamaged, but there was a strange quality to it now.
"Uh oh." Shadow whispered.
It might have been a lovely morning in the grand city of BZ-Metru. But if one crazed member was going to have his way, then maybe not.
Ghidora131 woke up in a darkened room. He groggily felt around for the wall. "I feel like I know where I am, but just to be sure..." After finding the wall about 8 inches in front of him, he pulled a spare light switch out of his pocket, and slapped it in place. He flipped said switch, and the lights came on. He was in the recently renovated deluxe Leedur Bathroom in the Kanohi Force Tower. "Ah, right! I fell asleep in here after we pigged out on chimichangas last night!"
He threw the door open and stepped out into the main office of the Tower. "Geez, that lead-lined bathroom was the greatest -- uh, I mean, 'investment' of Official Kanohi Force funds we've ever made!" the Toa of Awesome said with a smile.
He walked downstairs to the ground floor, hardly noticing the cartoon-y texture that had applied itself to the walls and furniture. He figured he might as well unlock the place since, he was already here, and wait for the others. Shadow had been missing for the last few days, but he still kept his hopes up. He reached the front door and began to unlock it when he spotted something strange through the glass. Outside was a very cartoon-y-looking quadruped, mostly dark grey but with a silver mane and tail. It only stood about four feet tall. Behind it were five others just like it: one red-and silver, another black-and-red, the next all red, one white-and-ice-blue, and the last silver and azure. Ghiddy cautiously opened the door, his thoughts struggling to come to terms with what he was seeing. "Um, hello?"
The first creature leaped up on its hind legs. "Ghiddy, it's us!" When the Toa of Awesome just stood there with a blank expression, the creature continued. "It's me, Irrie. I'm here with Jakura, Dallior, Tahu, Kovika, and Aerixx. Everyone in BZ-Metru turned into ponies! Well, except you, it seems." Ghiddy still stood there, processing. "Dallior says we're all from My Little Pony, and--"
Ghiddy snapped at the sound of that title. "My..? Little...? PONY!!" He began to seethe with rage, causing the ponies to back up. "What, HOW?" He stepped outside and looked up and down the street. All around, he could see other members now in the form of Earth Ponies, Unicorns, and Pegasi alike.
Jakura trotted forward, the tip of his horn wreathed in flame. "Now, Ghiddy, I know you don't like this, but really, being a unicorn is so--"
"Fool! I wanted a UNICRON, not a Unicorn! How dare you insult my wishes!? GRAAAAHHH!"
At that, something happened inside Ghiddy, as if he'd just unlocked the secrets of the universe. His body expanded, growing taller and bulkier, tearing through his suit.
The 1st Shadow and Black Six tore down the streets in their respective modes of transport, the others not far behind them. All around, they could see the apparent effects of the bomb--turning everyone and everything into something out of My Little Pony. Otherwise, it had caused no damage. Rather, the destruction was being caused by a 50-foot devastation engine rampaging through the streets. Black Six called over to Shadow. "Is there anything in that series like this?"
Shadow shook his head. "Negative. But I think I know what it might be. We're close to the Kanohi Force Tower, and I only know one person that despises the series enough to cause this much destruction when faced with it--" They rounded the corner and got a good look at the thing. "--It's Ghiddy."
"LET ALL THINGS PONY BE WIPED FROM THIS WORLD!" the titan raged.
Shadow slumped his shoulders and raised an eyebrow. "Yup, definitely Ghidora." He turned to Black Six and the others, who had just caught up with them. "I'll deal with psycho-boy here. You all find the source of the blast."
Bonesii floated over in the Canon Cruiser. "You sure you don't need help?"
"Of course! I see this guy every day! Shouldn't be a problem."
"Alrighty." Bonesii shrugged and began to turn the Cruiser away. "Your funeral."
Shadow straightened his leather greatcoat, shouldered his drillstaff, activated his bike, and rode up to his friend. "Yo, Ghidward!"
The titan paused its rampage to focus on this new arrival. Shadow leaped off his bike and took a few steps toward the other. "Hey, buddy, we need you to calm down now."
"DEATH TO ALL PONIES!"
"Yes, yes, we know you're upset! So are we. We're trying to fix the problem now, but it can't be helped with you going all crazy like this."
Karz-Fire Ghiddy flared up again, canons blazing. "PONIES BAD! MUST DESTROY--"
"Let loose with one more blast and I eat the last chimichanga."
The giant's red eyes faded back to yellow, and he looked down at Shadow, the dome around his head folding back. "You wouldn't."
Ghiddy sighed and began to breathe deeply. After a few moments, his newfound changes receded, and he shrank back to 7-feet tall. His suit did not reappear, so he stood there in his bared white glory. "I'm gonna go find another suit." And he sprinted back to the KF Tower.
Shadow sighed and turned towards his bike, intent on finding the others. "Well, glad that's over."
As he sped off, tracking Black Six's signal, a burst of light covered everything, and the whole city went back to normal before his eyes. Curious, he rounded a corner to find the mob standing around Zatth and Black Six. They were tinkering with a strange device. As he came up to them, Shadow dismounted and asked, "What's that?"
Zatth held it up. "The bomb, I think. I guess it just sent out an energy pulse, rather than exploding. Needed to keep a connection to the source, I think."
A clapping sound emanated from above them. "Very good!"
They all turned to look up at the new arrival. Mask Collector sat atop his copy of Nivawk, the one he'd drawn out of the story a few days ago. "I see you've gotten yourself to the bottom of this little scheme."
Black Six faced him. "Mask Collector! Seeing as you're a well-respected citizen of this society, we'll let you off with a warning, if you cease this now."
Collector sighed. "Oh, you've caught me. I suppose now would be the safest time for me to take you all down now!" He gave a quick, sharp whistle. In response, the Staffers, members, and The 1st Shadow were surrounded by Akutahn, the ECDR, numerous characters from the Legends of Terra Nui, all of the villains from Dark709's third movie, and many more. "I saved the best soldier for this. I let you have the easy ones as a distraction." He raised his arms. "Now, BZPower, do your best, while I collect only the best!"
With that, his army moved in.
It was chaos.
Mask Collector's army, led by only the most powerful creations, came down on the Staffers and members with such ferocity, it seemed they couldn't hope to survive.
The 1st Shadow, Axilus Prime, Fishers64, and Tufi Piyufi were guarding Black Six, who stood in the center of it all, hand outstretched, waiting for his BanHammer to arrive. The thing didn't travel as fast as he would have liked. But he'd left it all the way back in the Comic Land by mistake. While he had many powers at his disposal, as well as a bit of hand-to-hand combat experience, the BanHammer was his most effective and powerful weapon. Unlike Thor's hammer Mjolnir, the Banhammer required focus to be summoned--the stronger the focus, the faster it flew. So, these four kept the assailants at bay while the leader of BZ-Nui concentrated.
"This is getting insane. Any day now!" Shadow was growing tired of all this. His drillstaff wasn't as effective, and his light powers minimal at best. The Kanohi Flashbaki was his main weapon here, but even it needed to recharge after much extended use.
Black Six was shaking now. "Almost... There..." He suddenly relaxed. "Here!" The Hammer tore through a building, not bothering to seal the damage behind it, smashed through a squadron of Rahkshi and Dark Hunters, and glided right into its owners grip. His strength now enhanced, is eyes blazing within his dark hood, Black Six, soared over his guards and drove the Hammer into the ground, creating a shockwave that downed dozens of the assailants. He turned back to the others. "There, that should just about--" He was cut short as the Evil Cyclopian Death Robot snatched him up from behind and began to beat him into the ground.
Shadow leaped towards his monstrous creation. "Hey, get away from him!" The ECDR, hearing it's creator's voice, paused, staring him down.
"Mass...terrr..." It said slowly, as if it was coming out of a trance. Shadow, suddenly excited over his apparent victory, paused to congratulate himself. Unfortunately, the break in concentration let the Robot fall back to it's previous mindset. It fired a blast at Shadow's feet, knocking him over. "You will lose that mask." It reached for him, but the power of the Kakama was quicker.
"Geez, what's that about?" Shadow asked himself as he raced through the street, dodging fighters at every turn. "My mask?" He looked up to where Mask Collector still sat on the back of Nivawk, surveying the chaos below. "Mask... Collector... Oh, I get it now." He sped over to Bonesii and Fishers. "I think he's after the Flashbaki. His drive to collect all things BIONICLE has driven him to the point of insanity, knowing that the Flashbaki bonded with me. Maybe we can use that against him."
Black Six struggled up right then. "Well, if you think of something, that'd be great."
Shadow shrugged. "Well, at least I sent for help." He pointed towards the intersection of Main Street and Unity Avenue.
Coming around the corner was a green and white Toa, riding atop a mound of shiny brown stuff, and the whole of the Kanohi Force. They made their way over to the new arrivals. The Toa, now identifiable as xccj, saluted them. The brown mass, up close revealed to be a lot of plain brown frogs (that oddly smelled of cocoa), began to coalesce into a humanoid figure. "ChocolateFrogs and Xccj reporting for duty!" he said. "Looks like you've got your hands full. Let me guess, we start attacking the non-members?" Black Six nodded. "Onward!" 'Frogs shouted, brandishing a chocolate sword. Then, he and Xccj raced into battle. The Kanohi Force followed on their heels.
Shadow turned to Black Six. "See, help arrived." Then a thought struck him. "Wait..."
The other leaned in close, blocking an attack from a Skakdi. "What is it?"
Shadow stared after the Kanohi Force, particularly the taller member in a fresh suit. "Non-members..." A huge grin slowly spread across his face. "Black Six... What is the main rule of BZ-Nui?"
"Members can't kill other members."
"What about non-members?"
"I dunno. Probably doesn't apply. Why?"
Shadow continued to smile. "Because I think we've got a secret weapon. Well, two now that I think about it. One of them just came wrapped in a nice new suit." He turned back to where Ghiddy was leading a charge against some Bohrok.
Black Six followed his gaze, turned back to The 1st Shadow, then back to Ghiddy. Then he caught on. "No! No, no, NO! Bad idea!"
"Too late!" And the Av-MAtoran sped off towards the Kanohi Force. He called upon the Flashbaki to summon the powers of a Mahiki, Great Mask of Illusion. A moment later, the Bohrok appeared to look like more Ponies.
Ghidora took one look at them, and erupted in rage. In seconds, his Karz-Fire mode had activated again, and he shredded the Bohrok to bits. Shadow then redirected the illusion over to a bunch of Dark Hunters. Karz-Fire Ghiddy wasted them in seconds.
Shadow couldn't keep this up forever, though. Distracted as he was by his little game of cat-and-mouse, he never saw the shadow of Nivawk pass over him. Before he knew it, MAsk Collector had swiped the Flashbaki from his face. "Nooo!!" he cried, helplessly, as he watched the thief sail off into the skies.
"Haha!" Mask Collector shouted. "Mine, at last! Wait, what?" He trailed off as he realized the mask was trying to shift its way out of his hands, as if consciously trying to get away from him. "Hey, you stop that." He shoved the Kanohi into the bag he had slung over his shoulder.
The illusion gone, Ghiddy had reverted back to normal (albeit, once again without a suit). By now, the members were tiring, and the Staffers were running out of power. Mask Collector's army was rounding them all up, barring them in. Everyone fought their hardest to escape, but to no avail. Shadow, dazed as he was without a mask, felt a change happening. His BZ-Nui form was partly tied to the presence of a Kanohi. Without it, he would revert to his human form. Already, he felt himself growing taller, weaker, and less metallic. "Uh-oh..." In moments, the change was complete. There stood Shadow in his fleshy glory, black pants and a green shirt, leather boots and coat, and a wooden walking staff in place of his drillstaff. His friends spared him sorry glances. They'd find his other mask, when all this was over. But now, the goal was to survive.
"And survive, we will," Shadow said under his breath. He reached into his coat pocket, and pulled out his BZPad. He pushed a button and issued a single vocal command: "Tohu, activate the Marendar. NOW! Oh, and send my Kakama."
The reply came instantly. "Right away. It's just been finished."
Ghidora, Black Six, Bonesii, and 'Frogs, who were already nearby, came closer. "Marendar?" Bonesii asked. "The Toa-killer from the unfinished serials?"
Shadow shook his head. "That's what I named it after." He glanced north along Main Street Toward the Coliseum, then looked for Akutahn and the ECDR. "You there, ECDR! Respond!"
The silver titan turned to him. It's eye met it's maker's, and for a moment, it was under Shadow's control. Pull Akutahn and yourself just to the left.
The Titan responded immediately, grabbing the Makuta, who resisted loudly, and moved to where The 1st Shadow had indicated--right between him and the Coliseum.
Black Six grabbed his shoulder. "What did that accomplish?"
Shadow shrugged him off. "Get the Collector's attention. Try to make sure he's positioned just south of us. Distract him. Oh, and duck when I give the signal."
'Six hollered up to the airborne member. "Mask Collector! We wish to negotiate terms of surrender."
"Oh, do you now?" Nivawk hovered in the air some distance in from of the Admin, Mask Collector smiling with joy. "Well, I got what I wanted, so I suppose I win then. With the power of this mask, I don't need an army." He pulled out his own BZPad, and spoke into it. "You can all go back to your places." At his words, all attacks ceased, and the majority of the conjured assailants either faded back into the ether from which they'd been born, or they began to walk back toward the Creative Archipelago.
But they weren't fast enough. Rocketing through the air down Main Street was a sight only The 1st Shadow saw. "Duck. Now."
Black Six and the others turned to follow his gaze, and they all dropped to their stomachs instantly. Just in time, too.
The Marendar came rocketing in, smashing into Akutahn and the ECDR on their way out. the huge mass of metal caught Shadow as it flew past, landing just beyond the circle of members. They all looked up in time to see a huge green-and silver mech rise up, Shadow in the control center, Kakama and Matoran form restored.
Mask Collector had maybe two second to process what he was seeing and call his soldiers back before he was plucked from the back of the rahi bird by the powerful machine. It held him in one hand, while the blaster affixed to its other hand took out any of his conjured soldiers that were coming to his aid.
Reinvigorated, the members fought back, taking on every attacker with a newfound ferocity. Black Six leaped into the air, spinning around with his BanHammer, the mallet colliding with the heads of both Akutahn and the ECDR.
Dismayed by what he saw, Mask Collector lost his grip on the bag that held the Flashbaki. The mask fell out of the bag, and he and Shadow watched as it transformed into the shape of a Kualsi. It vanished, only to reappear inside the Marendar's cockpit with Shadow. "I think I win," The Av-Matoran said.
His mental focus lost, Collector's hold on his summoned fighters weakened enough for them to break free, and they ceased fighting.
Shadow, in the Marendar, placed his captive on the ground. Black Six and the other Staffers surrounded him. The lead Admin stepped forward. "Mask Collector. We understand what you wanted to accomplish, but this was certainly no way to go about it. You are hereby banned, but for your services to our society, this ban will only be temporary."
Shadow chimed in. "You know there are all those 14-karat gold 2015 Masks out there. Why not go after those?"
Black Six continued. "We'll let you back in once we're sure you've settled. I'll be checking in." With that, he swung the BanHammer, knocking Mask Collector out of the BZ-Nui dimension, and back to Earth.
When he logged onto his computer back home, he found that he had, indeed, been banned. "I'm sorry..." he whispered.
In BZ-Metru, clean-up was going well. Most of the city had been restored, and almost all of the conjured soldiers had been returned to their places. Life was good. Shadow was up in the pool atop the Kanohi Force Tower, celebrating alongside his friends. He had placed the Flashbaki in safe keeping for now, and set a guard. No one wanted to cross the Marendar on autopilot mode.
Life would go back to normal.
"Hey, I found a hipster goat in my pocket!" Ghiddy yelled.
Well, almost normal.
Many months after the chaos that had called The 1st Shadow away from his friends had passed, a portal opened on the plains of BZ-Nui. It appeared a few miles south of the eastern mountain range and a few hours from New Po-Koro, on the edge of what was known as the Bleak Lands. Few ever ventured out there, and today marked the first footprint on its dry, barren soil since it was placed there.
Out of the portal came a cloaked figure, a Toa in silver and tan armor. He stumbled, not entirely used to his body again, and fell facefirst in the dirt. He pushed himself up, coughed up some dust, and looked to the west. Night had fallen, but he could easily make out the lights of the city proper. Pulling the cloak up against the wind, Mask Collector began the long trek home.
A few days later, he arrived, worn and weary, cloak in tatters. It was morning now, and the sun illuminated the city in all its glory. He made his way around, pausing to look longingly at his Museum. He couldn't go there now, though. He had to make amends with the Staff and Shadow.
On is way to the Coliseum, he passed a street he was rather familiar with. Some of the older, more mature residents of BZ-Nui lived here. One of them he knew to be Roa McToa.
Something that The 1st Shadow had said to him long ago rang in his mind then.
Collector abruptly changed course and headed into the district, passing trees and well-groomed front yards, the dwellings nicely kept, for the most part.
He arrived at one decorated with statues of many fearsome figures, one of which depicted the Makuta Akutahn. Roa's dwelling. He went up and knocked on the door.
A blue-and-silver Toa wearing a Miru Nuva opened the door, a can of Kanoka Cola in her hand. "Geez, buddy. What happened to you? You look like you've just crawled out of the grave." She laughed a little, though in as polite a manner as she could manage.
"Something like that." Collector worked his mind, trying to come up with the words he needed. "Listen, I understand you are in possession of a rare artifact. I'm a Curator for the Museum, and I hoped I might be able to work something out with you."
Roa raised an eyebrow. "The Gold Mask of Skull Spiders?"
Collector beamed and nodded vigorously. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's it! The precious one... I mean, yes, if you'd be willing to donate it to the collection?"
Roa looked thoughtful. "Just give me a moment to think about it. I'll be back inside for just a second. In the meantime, why don't you talk to a friend of mine?" She rang a bell that hung just inside the door, and she went back in, closing it behind her.
Collector looked around, but saw no one. Then a shadow fell over him, and he looked up into the grinning face of Akutahn, Makuta of Okoto. "Oh, hey there. Hey, listen, no hard feelings, right?"
Black Six and some of the other Staffers were in the Coliseum stadium playing a little game of Kohlii, when Mask Collector suddenly fell into the middle of the field. Tufi Piyufi and Bonesii looked up just in time to see Akutahn winging away.
Black Six walked up to the new arrival, and hauled him to his feet. "You made it back, I see. Did just as our friend suggested, did you? Well, assuming you've learned your lesson, you can have the keys to your Museum back. Just try to stay out of trouble, okay."
Mask Collector accepted the key and thanked the Staff, then walked away.
Now, everything was back to normal.
"Hey!" The 1st Shadow yelled as the camera began to fade to black. "A Shadow Saga installment without ME? Are you kidding?"
No, I'm not kidding, now get back to your comedy.
"Oh, very well."