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A.Z.T. and A.J.T. Inc. presents....

Based on the stories of The Toa’s Apprentice and Heartlights Burning Bright….

The Mind of “Triad”


Prologue:


Today was a good night, a Steltian trader thought as he wandered through the dark, narrow streets of wrecked buildings. Great fight in the arena and fifty widgets richer…Then why does something feel wrong?. . . They couldn’t have known…they’ll never find me… The trader looks behind him and, after not seeing anything, looks forward again and continues on his way. He looks hard up the street and barely notices three strange silhouettes. No, no, no! They know, they know! The Steltian quickly turns around and starts running, running anywhere and everywhere, just as long as he can get away from them. He looks back and sees the shadows are giving chase. Then to his horror, they started singing.

“We three kings of all different kinds. Baring weapons we traveled afar.”

The trader ran faster, dashing in and out of alleys. After ten minutes of running, he stops and leans against a building. He looks around and doesn’t see his pursuers anywhere. Did I actually get away? Then singing came again, but this time only one voice.

“I am the one hiding under your bed—teeth rounded sharp and eyes glowing red!”

The Steltain looks around in panic and then sees a pair of red glowing eyes. The thing roars like a Muaka and sends the trader running for his life again. To the harbor! I’ll be safe there! He runs out of the winding maze of buildings and out into the moonlight on the beach. The trader slows down his pace to a jog and stops altogether on a dock. He quickly looks around and sees no one following him.

“Scuba! Scuba! Everybody Scuba!”

The Steltian jumps and starts running again, heading back to the buildings, upon seeing the source of the song rising out of the water. Must get out of here! He runs blindly and doesn’t bother to pay attention where he was going as he ran. Eventually, his luck runs out comes to a dead end.

“Lucky for you, I don’t have a song.”

The trader turns around, but can’t see who was speaking as it was too dark. Should have had a weapon with me… He quickly look around for something he can use and finds a lightstone behind a crate. The Steltian picks up and raises the lightstone above his head. Though not very bright, the lightstone is just bright enough to reveal the trader’s pursuers—humans. The three were white males, 5’7”, with black red-mixed hair, and roughly sixteen, all identical. Almost identical anyways, they looked to be the same person, but the one in front had biomechanical implants, with about a quarter of his face replaced by metal. The one on the cyborg teen’s right was more animalistic, with his head more like that of tiger, his right arm larger than his left and also was completely covered in fur, and, most noticeable to the Steltian, red eyes. The one on the cyborg teen’s left was also had some animal characteristics, but not as forthcoming as the other boy. This one had a dorsal fin, lots of teeth, and transparent skin in most areas not covered by clothing.

“Did you really think that you could get away with counterfeit payment?” The cyborg asked coldly.

“I was framed! Someone switched out the real money!” The trader shouted in a panic.

“Oh, I do wish that ‘The Shadowed One’ would believe you, but since I don’t…”

The tiger-like boy and the shark one walk past the cyborg, readying to strike the Steltian.

“I’ll pay! Here! Take the money! Double even!” The Steltian pleaded, throwing widgets on the ground.

“Too late. You shouldn’t have tried to make a fool of the Dark Hunters.”

The cyborg turn around and walks away as festive music literally screams.

“We’re ‘Triad’ and I write this account to keep myselves myself from going insane and so I don’t kill my other selves. I would have the “Recorder” do it for me, but he said no. The good-looking cyborg in the middle is me, Andrew Cross Vicar, the original ‘Triad.’ . . .

Chapter 1:


Home… It’s sad that I call this place home. I reflected as I and my other two lookalikes walked along Nidhiki’s Beach.

“Last night was fun,” the shark teen commented; his words had a gurgle to them.

“Yeah, but it was a waste of time. We so could have taken that Steltian out much faster if we hadn’t messed with him.” The tiger-ish, mutant teen complained.

“You’re always impatient Archie. Besides, we hardly ever have a chance to even have a little fun.” I shot back at the tiger teen.

“True, but like anyone can have fun with Jaws over here.”

“Hey! I’m not the one going around and eating people. And I thought we agreed that my name would be Jake, so stop calling me Jaws!” The shark teen protested.

“Would you two shut up already? It’s bad enough I have your voices in my head, I don’t also need to hear them out loud.” I stated bluntly.

“Whatever you say, Andy.” Archie replied.

I swiftly turned and delivered a powerful upper cut to Archie’s jaw, sending him off his feet.

“You know I don’t like being called that. I would so return you into a red and white ball if I had one—Arcanine—, but I sadly don’t have one. Pick yourself up already, we’ve to report to ‘the Shadowed One.’”

Archie growled and got up. We continued to trudge along beach as we made our way to the Dark Hunter Fortress. Formidable and dangerous, the base was not a place one would try to sneak into like the principal’s office for kicks. No, only a person wanting a death sentence would dare try to come into this fortress. If the person is suicidal, they might even try to break into the “Shadowed One’s” quarters. Which is why I always hated going to meet with “The Shadowed One.” It’s not because of the moving walls, the guards, or how dark it is, but from looking at the King of the Hunters. Looking at him is like staring at a lion with no fence or cage between you; leaving you with no chance of surviving this viewing unless the lion isn’t hungry. But this lion always looked hungry and this time was no different standing before him.


After a few seconds of looking in horror at our master I spoke. “Mission was a success. The Steltian is dead and here is what he owes you, with interest.” And I set a bag down before him.

He looked down at me from his throne, like a god on judgment day. “You have done well ‘Triad’… No training secession required for today. A new Apprentice has joined, so you and the others can…instruct him on how things work here.” ‘The Shadowed One’ said, his voice stale and cold.

A small wave of relief came over me and I could sense the same happened to Archie and Jake (they even let out a small sigh). The lion wasn’t hungry this time and we counted our blessings. We walked out and, once we were out of sight, ran out of the building. Not that we could ever actually be out of the “Shadowed One’s” sight, he had informants everywhere.

“One of these days, I’m going to stand before our leader just as fearless as he is.” Archie finally blurted out.

“And that will be the day we’ll see you turned into ashes instead of our targets.” Jake replied, with a grand smile.

I shook my head. Don’t they get it by now?

“Get what?” they asked simultaneously, even though they knew the answer.

“We’re connected,” I replied. “And like it or not, if one of us goes down, so does the rest of us. Let’s just get past the apprentice stage and maybe he’ll be merciful and grant me peace from you two.”

They remained silent on the outside, but they were cussing me out on the inside. We were walking too close together, so the annoying psychic link was kicked on. Oh the link could be useful sometime; like when I’m having a nightmare I can cause the other two to also suffer with me.

We just wondered around for the next several hours as there was really nothing to do until the meeting. Though we were all wondering the same thing. What will the new kid be like? Who had he been apprenticed to? Will the new guy even make it past the first week? Such questions swirled in our minds until sundown, or at least this world’s equivalent.

That’s when we ran across him, “Lost.” He was just standing there, looking out into the silver seas and yellow-red skies beyond the rough mountain with his sword sheathed on his back. To us, he looked like a hero, watching the forces of good coming together for the final battle against evil. We of course knew that he was no hero, but that still didn’t lessen our jealousy of him. I could hear Archie growling softly behind me; he so wanted to launch a fire ball at “Lost,” as did the rest of us. After all, he was one of “The Shadowed One’s” favorite apprentices, has a flaming sword, and control over three elements. Which was absolutely no fair considering we only had one, fire. Everything seemed to go well for him…

“You shouldn’t be jealous of me, for there is nothing to be jealous of. Especially after all these years.”

While I didn’t even flinch from “Lost’s” sudden words, it made my skin jump mentally. How did he know what I was thinking? How does he always know?

“Yes there is, you’re better than us. Always have been and always will be.”

“Lost” turned towards us and though I couldn’t see his face behind that gas mask of his, it seemed that he was sad.

“But my life has not been any better than yours ‘Triad.’ None of us has better lives here. Perhaps we did before we were brought here, but not now.”

The fact that “Lost” can say such things so calmly made my jealously worse. He was emotionless, something I needed to be.

“When you get two clones, then we’ll talk about who is better off.” I snapped. “Come on ‘Lost,’ our group meeting will start soon.”

I started to march off to our meeting place, and Archie and Jake soon quickly followed. Though I actually didn’t see it, I knew “Lost” just watched me go on my merry way before finally following me.

After a while, we came to a small stone building. I opened the leaf door covering the entrance and stepped in. The inside was just as boring and plain as the outside, nothing but smooth, flat walls of grey stone and a couple of chairs. Only one person was already in the room, Lyra, and she was sitting in one of the chairs sharpening her long sword. Lyra was around eighteen, 5’10”, white, and had long, blue, wavy hair that went past her shoulders. Like most of us Dark Hunter apprentices, she was lean and fit. I could feel Archie purring softly behind me and I wanted to punch him in the face again. He knows how we feel about her and he also knows the rules; no relationships with other apprentices other than good friends.

I went and took a chair opposite of Lyra while Archie went off by her side and Jake went to lean against the upper left corner of the room. When “Lost” came in the room, Lyra looked up and smiled, she was always happy to see him. “Lost” just waved at her and went to stand in the corner by Jake since he normally doesn’t like sitting down.

After a little while, “Maelstrom” came into the room and his shadow followed him like Hades following the horseman Death. He was around seventeen, 6’1”, and, for the most part, always covered in darkness. His skin looked blackish purple because of this, but in the right lighting you could see that “Maelstrom” was very pale white. The shadows also made him look sickly, but we knew better, for underneath those shadows was a mountain of muscle. None of us could ever tell if “Maelstrom” was really alive or a Ghost as he never spoke and was more emotionless than “Lost.”

For at least ten minutes, none of us said anything as we were all waiting for the new kid to come. Then the new guy stepped in; he had to be fourteen, was 5’4”, white, had short black hair, and green eyes. But . . . there was just something different about him . . . I could feel a strange presence coming from him.

After staring at us for a few second, the kid asked, “Is this cellblock 89?”

Cellblocks, that’s what arranged groups of Dark Hunter Apprentices where called. We were probably one of the few groups left with actual living humans.

“We prefer to call ourselves the Takedown Team, but, yeah, we’re Cellblock 89.” Archie replied.

The boy nodded and gave each of us a hard look and then decided to break the ice.

“Well, I’m Stephen Cahill, and it’s nice to meet you all. I can tell from looking at all of you that you’ve been through a lot pain, but I’m here to tell you something; that there’s still hope.”

Stephen paused, and anger started to build up in me already. I knew what was coming next, but the others didn’t. Not even my clones knew, since this area of my life was left out of them.

“For God so loved that world the He gave His one and only Son, that whoever shall believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life—“

I looked over at “Lost,” Lyra, and “Maelstrom,” they seemed in awe of what he was saying. I swear that even “Maelstrom’s” eyes glittered with hope for a quick second…I guess he isn’t a Ghost after all. But I wasn’t going to let this preacher boy continue.

“God has forsaken us…” I said suddenly, deep and dark, and everyone’s heads turned to look at me. I didn’t even noticed I got up from my chair. “We have been left here in this Karzahni of a universe to suffer for all eternity.”

Stephen just looked at me, surprised, and then shook his head. “No, the LORD my God forsakes no one. You have forsaken him.”

“How dare you say that! How can you even think that there even is a God when you’ve been brought to this world, which has its own god!” I yelled at him, now holding up my elemental rifle at him without realizing it.

“Maybe this world is just living symbolism, like Narnia.” “Lost” said, suddenly speaking up.

I looked at “Lost” and gave him a stare that burned holes through his skull. “Well ‘Lost,’ you never struck me as the religious type. Are you going to start preaching too?!”

“Lost” just barely moved, most wouldn’t even notice his movement. But after knowing him for so many years, you start to pick up signs of emotions and that hurt him badly.

“A friend lent me the series…He tried to convince me, but…” “Lost” muttered, a hint of sadness in his voice.

“And failed. Why? Because there isn’t a god! There is no hope! Hope is a scam for the weak! Or has ‘The Shadowed One’ not taught you all well enough?”

There was silence for a second or two, but it seemed like hours. I could see it in Lyra’s face, she was surprised and horrified by me. I looked and even my doubles where wondering what the heck I was doing. Then Stephen spoke up again.

“There is always hope and hope will not put us to shame. What I see among you is sorrow (he points to ‘Lost’), abused (he points to Lyra.), and crushed mind and spirit (he points to ‘Maelstrom’). But you, you are nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The others are innocent, but you are a servant of Satan.” He said, pointing at me.

Me?! ME!!! Aaaaaahhhhhh! I pulled the trigger on my rifle, launching a blast of lava just above Stephen’s left shoulder. The shot smacks into the leaf door, burning into ashes within seconds. Without a word I stomped out of the building and for once my doubles didn’t follow me.


Chapter 2:


I awoke from my sleep, still angry, and got out of bed. Archie and Jake were still asleep, they must had stayed at the meeting for a long time. I decided not to disturb them and left for the beach to blow up some rocks. Blowing things up always helped to calm me down, but it wasn’t working that day. I looked into the water and saw a demon looking back at me instead of my reflection. I tried to kick it away, but just as Nidhiki’s reflection on this beach didn’t leave him, it wouldn’t leave me. The only thing I was left to do was cry or scream…I ended up doing neither and just sat there on my knees, staring out into the silver sea.

Then I heard someone sitting down next to me. I was surprised that I didn’t hear the person coming and even more surprised when the person spoke for it was Stephen.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge. My timing for giving the Good News was off. I should have built up a relationship with you guys first, but you all seemed so hopeless…In so much pain. So, can we start over?”

Where did this kid come from? Straight out of preacher school?

“Sure, why not.”

I’m sure Stephen smiled though I, once again, didn’t see him do it.

“Good…..So what’s your name?” Stephen asked

“’Triad.’” I replied as calmly as I could.

“No, not your codename, your real name.”

I looked at him with a question on my face. No one cares about your real name around here, only your codename if you’re given one.

“Andrew Cross Vicar.”

Stephen nods, “That’s a good strong name. So why did you parents name you that? I’m sure there was a reason for it.”

Man, this kid is good. I nodded, “Yes, they did. I’m named after my ancestor, Andrew Cross the Crusader. He was a knight, more like a general, during the Crusades. Some thought he was a coward because he used a crossbow and a shield, with only a sword for back up. According to family legend, Andrew Cross hated magic and mythological creatures as he considered them anti-Christian. One day, while sieging an enemy castle, a dragon attacked. Andrew went straight to the unholy dragon to kill it. The beast just smacked him away into a large oak tree, something that normally would kill a man instantly. But somehow he was spared from death and continued to fight the dragon, which he finally did slay it. Then the dragon’s master and rider, a black armored knight jumped off his fallen steed. With a fiery, molten sword, the black knight melted Andrew’s shield and sword to slag. Since his crossbow was lost during the fight with the dragon and slowly dying from the poisoned scales of the dragon, he was left with no choice but to run. He tried to make it to the rope on the castle wall so he could help the battle in the inside. He never made it. The black knight chop down a large branch from a nearby tree. The branch was set a blazed and fell on Andrew, pinning him down at the bottom of the castle’s moat. Whether he was killed by the poison first or by drowning, it was never said. Andrew and his Crusaders were lost, but neither side won the battle…If my ancestor could see where I am right now, he would go mad.”

“So why did they name you after him?”

I shrugged. “I never knew that reason beyond that he was our most famous ancestor.”

“But that does explain some things, like why you use a rifle for your weapon. It’s ranged, just like your ancestor’s crossbow.”

I sat up straighter, that thought had never occurred to me…My ancestor also preferred to fire arrows too, just like my element… Stephen continued, “And that would also explain your jealousy of “Lost.” He wields a molten sword, just as the black knight in the story.”

I almost jumped at that connection. Then I started to really wonder where good old “Lost” had come from.

“So did ‘Lost’ tell you I was jealous of him?”

“No, I asked your tiger triplet.”

“Figures…”

“I know all of you have stories to tell, but the others won’t tell me. So how did you get here?”

“You like to ask a lot of questions.”

Stephen shrugged. “I like to find out the real reasons behind why people think and do the things they do.”

I sighed. “Well, a Toa of Fire brought me from Earth to here to be his apprentice. It didn’t work out, I became a Dark Hunter, and got turned into a cyborg because organics are weak. When I woke up from surgery, my two clones where given to me. One was mutated by half a dose of Visorak Venom and the other by mutagen. After another experiment that stopped our aging, we haven’t been changed since.”

“You don’t age?”

“As far as I can tell, nope. I’ve been alive for several thousands of years. So have “Lost,” “Maelstrom,” and Lyra; time just won’t kill us.”

“So how did Lyra come to join the Dark Hunters? She said that she was recruited right out of her home, but it seemed like she was lying to me.”

“Wow, you really have people skills. Yes, that isn’t the true story, but she doesn’t know that. Only me, “Lost,” and “The Shadowed One” know the real story. . . I’ll tell you it, since you probably won’t even last a week here.”

“We’ll see about that.” Stephen stated with a smile, as if he was happy for a challenge.

“Anyways, before the Dark Hunters went to war against Metru Nui, many thousands of years ago, ‘The Shadowed One’ sent Hunters to try to convince the leader of the city to let him build a base there. ‘Lost’ was sent on one of these missions by himself. He never told me what his mission was, but while he was completing it, he heard deep sobbing. ‘Lost’ decided to investigate and found Lyra lying on the floor crying. So he asked her why. Apparently, she was apprenticed to Toa Tuyet, a Toa of Water. She was fooled just as the other Toa were that Tuyet was good. Her master tested an object called the Nui Stone on her apprentice and it took her powers—permanently. All she wanted was to forget it all, her powers, her teacher, the betrayal, everything. ‘Lost’ promised her that she would forget everything and she did, but I have no idea how her memories were erased and replaced. ‘Lost’ would never tell me that. And so she was brought to the Dark Hunters and apprenticed to Lariska.”

Stephen remained silent for several seconds, taking all this information in. “What’s Metru Nui? And you’ve been in a war?”

“Metru Nui is a large, high tech city filled with Matoran…You know what Matoran are right?”

Stephen nodded, “But what about the war? What happened in it?”

I shook my head, “There were many battles…too many…But I guess I could tell you one of them.”

“Please do so,” Stephen begged.

“Alright. I, ‘Lost,’ and Lyra were given the task of destroying a Vahki factory in Po-Metru.”

As I started to tell the story, everything from that day came back at once…


Chapter 3:


I was walking through the dust bowl streets of Po-Metru, with my elemental rifle charged and ready. Archie and Jake where behind me at my sides, with Archie cracking his knuckles in anticipation for battle and Jake readying his throwing knives. “Lost” was ten feet away from me on my left, holding his molten blade with both hands. I was always amazed that the metal of his sword didn’t lose a drop of liquid metal, even when it was put upside down. Lyra was on “Lost’s” left, also ten feet away from him.

I can’t believe it. Our first mission without masters and teachers around. This shouldn’t be hard at all, the Toa are distracted fighting a large force of Dark Hunters on the other side of Metru Nui.

“Don’t get cocky ‘Triad,’ there still are Toa here. Not to mention Vahki and Matoran forces. They might not be Toa, but don’t expect it to be an easy fight.” “Lost” stated.

“How did you know what we were thinking?” asked Jake.

“I didn’t, but I could guess we’re all thinking the same thing.” “Lost” replied without missing a beat.

“He’s right, Vahki can still be a challenge,” Lyra piped up. “Especially if they’re Keerakh or Nuurakh.”

Suddenly, Archie stopped and turned around, sniffing the air. “Guys, we’re going to have a problem…”

We didn’t have to ask why, for the ground started to shake. Looking back where Archie was, we could see the cloud of dust coming for us. As it got closers we could see Kikanalo…and Kane-Ra?

“That’s not right, we aren’t in Kikanalo territory. And Kane-Ra would never be with them.” Lyra stated.

“I think we have our answer,” Archie said, pointing. “You guys can’t see them yet, but there are Keerakh and Nuurakh leading that stampeding herd. They must have used their Staffs of Command on these Rahi.”

“Shouldn’t we be running?” Jake questioned.

“No,” “Lost” replied. “They are the ones that should be running.”

I watched “Lost” activate the spinners in his boots, and soon he was floating twenty feet up in the air with two twisters beneath him. He charged, or rather, flew at the incoming stampede. The tornados and the Rahi collided and it started raining bulls. They were being thrown around everywhere; into rocks, each other, more rocks. It was fun to watched Vahki get squashed by a large Kikanalo. Though a Kane-Ra and a Kikanalo got past “Lost’s” flight.

Archie charged his spinner and fired it at the Kane-Ra heading towards him. Directing the spinner, he was able to land it inside the Rahi’s mouth and then it screamed as a towering inferno erupted from the spinner. The Kane-Ra stumbled and fell face first into the ground, not stopping until right at Archie’s feet. He howled in delight for nothing was better than the smell of grilled steak.

While I was busy watching my Hordika double take down the Kane-Ra, Lyra was fighting the Kikanalo. I was sad that I didn’t get to see the fight, but I saw what had happened to the Kikanalo after the fight. It wasn’t pretty.

Lyra was enjoying her work and then looked back towards where we were supposed to go. Her face was filled with shock and then I turned around to see what it was. More Vahki, this time Fader and Artahka Bulls were with them, and they were already upon us.

Quickly, I fired a blast of lava from my rifle at one of the Vahki, melting its head to slag. One of the Vahki launched a disk at me, which I did a side step spin to dodge and fire off another blast, taking down that Vahki.

Meanwhile Jake threw his preheated knives into one Vahki, slicing off the robot’s arms. He ran up to it, gave the Vahki a nice elbow jab to its neck, and then swiftly put his hands together in one large fist and brought it down the Vahki’s head. The robot collapsed to the ground. Jake grabs on of his knives and cut its head off, and used its launcher to fire a disk at one of the other Vahki.

I turned another Vahki to slag when I looked to see what happened to Lyra. She was gone.

And then Archie shouted, “Above you!”I promptly rolled backwards and a longsword came down into the dirt where I was standing. Lyra quickly pulled her sword out of the ground and came charging at me, readying for a powerful swing. I knew what happened, one of the Vahki got to her, and I was going to die.

“Arcanine, help Jaws while I hold Lyra off!”

“With pleasure,” Archie replied and ran off to fight an Artahka Bull. He was promptly sent back.

I did the first thing that came to mind and conjured up a wall of fire in between me and the raging Lyra. I forgot one very important detail about Lyra; she can jump, really high. She came over the fire, spinning herself with her sword like a sideways top. I jumped back, just barely dodging the attack. This time I gave her no time to recover. I quickly ran over to her while she was still in her kneeling, landing position, holding her sword with both hands, and I grabbed her right wrist with my free left hand. I tried to wrestle the sword from her, but she stood up, kneeing me in the stomach, and then gave me a light kick to the chest.

It hurt, really bad. My biomechanical implants didn’t provide much protection in that area. The attack forced to fall on my back, clutching my stomach. Lyra stood over me, raised her sword, and just as she started to bring it down, there was a loud snap.

“Lyra!” “Lost” yelled, coming over to us.

She blinked, and looked at me confused. I was pretty confused too. How did “Lost” saying her name bring her out of the Vahki’s control? I didn’t care, I was just happy to be alive. “Lost” helped me to my feet and then we looked to see how my other selves where doing.

It wasn’t good. While they had crushed all the Vahki and had taken down a Fader Bull or two, but they were now being used as the ball in Pong between two Artakha Bulls. “Lost” stomped on the ground, causing the earth underneath the bulls to open up, swallowing them in. He didn’t get to make another move as a Fader Bull teleported next to him and side hit him with its horns. This sent “Lost” flying into rock wall, knocking him out. Lyra then tried to cut down the bull, but she attacked its image as the bull reappeared behind her, head butting her. The rahi was too slow for me though and I launched several blasts of lava into the bull’s side. It screamed and fell over. I went over to “Lost,” shook him awake, and helped him up. The others collected themselves and we regrouped.

“That was fun,” Archie said, rubbing his back.

“Just wait until we get to the factory,” Jake said, rubbing his jaw.

“If the Vahki knew we were coming, so do the Toa.” Lyra says. She then looks back at the Kikanalo she killed. “Perhaps there is another way in…”


Chapter 4:


“And so we used the deceased Rahi that were in good condition as disguises. Turns out there weren’t any Toa waiting for us, but an army of Vahki. They never suspected a thing and we destroyed the factory. To this day, that terrible smell has never left my nose” I told Stephen, finishing my tale.

“Talk about wolves in sheep’s clothing. You actually did that?” Stephen questioned.

“Yep, and I’m sad to say that wasn’t the grossest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

“Well, what about ‘Maelstrom?’ When did he come in?”

“He came in after the war. Story has it that he came from the legendary island called Artahka, which is basically this universe’s heaven for Matoran. On that island, ‘Maelstrom’ was often called ‘Mythran’ or ‘Nexus’ do to his helpfulness and creativity. He was very happy, but it was not to last. The Makuta attacked the island, after some mask, and captured ‘Maelstrom’ during the attack. He was tortured and experimented upon; darkness follows him everywhere, he can corrupt things into evil, destructive forces, and cause things to explode into tiny, little fragments. The only things he makes now are things to cause more destruction. Eventually, ‘The Shadowed One’ learned of this boy. So he made a trade, ‘Minion’ for the boy. Of course, he didn’t really give the Makuta ‘Minion,’ but by the time they found out, it was too late. ‘Maelstrom’ was then apprenticed under ‘Darkness.’ I guess that’s why he doesn’t talk much.’

“And what about ‘Lost?’ When did he join?”

I paused and thought about it for several minutes. “I don’t know. He had joined several years before I came along. I can’t believe I’ve been his longest, oldest friend and have never actually heard how he came to the Dark Hunters…”

“I noticed you never said who you were apprenticed to, or ‘Lost.’”

“Aye, I forget who my first master was; though my second was ‘Tyrant’ and I betrayed him to ‘The Shadowed One.’ After that, ‘Ancient’ has been my teacher as a reward. ‘Lost’ moves from teacher to teacher. He doesn’t really have an actual master.”

Stephen opened his mouth to say something, but he didn’t get the chance as Jake shouted a remainder that our training secession would start soon. We got up and went our separate ways.


Chapter 5:


“So first he says I’m a servant of the devil and a wolf, and now I’m more hopeless than the others because I had the truth and walked away?! Gah! Does he have that entire book memorized?” I said, blasting a shadowy Combat Nektann with lava. It had been a couple of days since Stephen and I chatted on the beach.

“RRRRAAAHHHH!!!” Archie roared, slashing away at a different shadowy Nektann.

I winced at the sound of his roar. While he normally isn’t affected by his animal rage side, my own anger was triggering it whenever he was near me now. Which is really bad in this training secession as we were fighting “Maelstrom.” The Nektanns’ were under “Maelstrom’s” infected control and physically hitting them carries of big risk of becoming infected yourself. It is especially dangerous for me to touch them, since my implants made me more susceptible to corruption.

“You know,” Jake said. “You seem to know a lot about this Christianity stuff. How come we don’t? I thought we were just like you in body and mind?”

I jumped over a black Zamor and fired lava at “Maelstrom,” who was stand with his arms crossed at the other end of the battle field. I missed.

“Not quite, some parts of me were left out of you two. Religious morals aren’t exactly something a Dark Hunter should have.”

“How come this was never brought up before?” Jake questioned, casting a wave of flames at another Combat Nektann.

“There was no need to, and I tried to bury that part of my life.” I said, kicking a corrupted camera robot.

“But for thousands of years, not even the slightest mention? Looks like you were wrong Andrew, you are just as emotionless as ‘Lost,’ just in a different area.”

“Don’t tell me that you’re turning against me Jake.” I looked at the last robot and caused its temperature to rise, making it melt into slag.

“I’m not, but you’re turning against us. Look what you’re doing to Archie!”

I looked the idiot Archie as he ran at “Maelstrom.” He tried to slash “Maelstrom,” but the dark apprentice gave him a blast of shadow, sending Archie flying back to us. This training secession was over.

“It’s not my fau—“

“Yes, it is! You know Archie is your rage side. So you’re torturing him since you can’t hurt Stephen and I’m sick of it! I can’t even enjoy swimming anymore and I’m an X-ray shark boy for crying out loud! Your tearing yourself apart…just admit Stephen is right or we’ll all be destroyed by you.”

“If you’re killing yourself, then you are in a worse mental state than me…”

Jake and I both jumped and looked at “Maelstrom.” It was so quiet that we barely caught wind of the words, but “Maelstrom” spoke! Never, ever, not even to scream in pain has anyone heard him speak and now he has! “Maelstrom” walked away silently as ever, but my mind was still frozen in shock.

I shook my head to clear it and then looked down at Archie. The shadow blast had hurt him pretty bad and a lot of fur was burnt off. He was still unconscious and I realized that Jake and “Maelstrom” were partially right. It’s Stephen’s fault. His holy words of hope sicken me as much as his holy accusations. I’m not the one at fault! ‘Let us do evil so that good may result!’ I walked off, leaving Jake to take care of Archie. I knew Jake was shedding tears, for this was the first time I had really left them, especially when one of them was seriously injured. I guess Jake was really starting to consider if I really meant all those times I said that I couldn’t wait for the day that I got rid of them.

I went to my hut and saw Lyra and “Lost” waiting there at the entrance. This can’t be good. They’ve never done this before…

“What is wrong with you?!” Lyra almost shouted. “You are called ‘Triad’ for a reason. Two are strong, but three are invincible. Stop hurting your brothers!”

“They aren’t my brothers, they cursed clones. And where did you hear this from?”

“’Maelstrom’ told us. He’s worried about you—we’re worried about you.” Lyra said.

“Like any of you really cared about me.”

“We do care, you’re on our team, and we’re family. The only thing we have left in this world is each other.”

“My family has long been dead. Get out of my way Lyra, or else.”

“Or else what? You wouldn’t burn me back in Metru Nui and you won’t burn me now.”

At this point I was beyond reason and launched a fire ball at my beloved Lyra. “Lost” saw it coming and took the blast for her, but that didn’t spare her the pain she felt. The “Triad” she had come to know for so many years had been destroyed within a few days.

“Now out of my way!” I shouted, and walked into the doorway of my hut.

Then “Lost” said, “Andrew, wait!”

He never called me by my real name before… I turned around and stared at him.

“Wait for what black knight? For you to kill me too?”

“Lost” remained silent.

“Thought so,” I said, my words dripping like lava and entered my hut.


Chapter 6:

Nothing really interesting happened until it was Stephen’s fifth day with the Dark Hunters. We were all gathered in our cellblock meeting building, except for Stephen who hadn’t arrived yet. Archie was still recovering, but doing much better. Though both he and Jake stayed away from me, hanging out in upper right corner of the room. I was by myself on the left side; Lyra wouldn’t even look at me and I no longer cared. “Lost” was sitting in a chair for once and even “Maelstrom” was being more social by standing closer to the others. In an organization filled to the brim with every scum and villainy, I was the outcast.

Then Stephen came in, he knew what was going on, and was…smiling.

“I bring you good news of great joy, I found a way out of here!” Stephen said excitedly.

The others looked at him like he was a crazy man. They knew it was a trap, but they wouldn’t tell him. So I did.

“It’s a trap Stephen, it is false hope. Trust me, we’ve seen this a thousand times. You’ll get caught and then be made an example of.”

“This coming from the same teen who quoted, ‘Let us do evil so that good may result?’”

I looked over at Jake, he heard my thoughts since he were standing close enough when I thought that. That blasted tattle teller, I’ll have some words for him later.

Stephen continued, “You do know that verse say about those who say such things don’t you? ‘Their condemnation is deserved.’ I guess I was wrong, you can’t be saved.”

“Well everyone, LOOK! A former teen of faith. Your God isn’t going to save you, you can’t escape.”

“Lies of the enemy. I will leave and if I do it alone, fine. I gave you all a chance and you refused to take it. Good bye.”

Stephen left and then every looked at me.

“What? You all know it is a trap. At least I tried to warn him while the rest of you said nothing.”

“No,” said “Lost.” “You knew that if you said it was a trap, it would drive him into it. You have sentenced an innocent kid to death by your own choice this time. You were right, I shouldn’t be the ‘Shadowed One’s’ favorite for you are more of a Dark Hunter than the rest of us combined.”

“About time I get some recognition,” I said as I got up and left the building.


Chapter 7:


The next morning, “The Shadowed One” requested all Dark Hunter Apprentices to meet him in his throne room; judgment day. Our team came together, but my fellow hunters keep giving unbelieving looks. And in the throne room, chained to the floor, on his knees, battered and bruised was Stephen. The hungry lion stood over him, licking his chops.

“This apprentice tried leaving my establishment without permission. So he will be made an example to all of you apprentices of what will happen to you if you ever try to leave, disobey, or overthrow me.” “The Shadowed One” stated coldly and to the point. “But I will not kill him. ‘Triad,’ come forward, the honor is yours.” This was unexpected, as I thought that “The Shadowed One” would kill Stephen. I never dreamed that he would allow me to do it.

Me and my doubles stepped forward, walking towards Stephen when “The Shadowed One” said, “And only the original ‘Triad.’”

Archie and Jake looked at each other and then stopped. I kept going and stood before Stephen. He looked up at me, his eyes filled with, sorrow, hatred, and tears. I aimed my rifle at Stephen’s head, but then I set the rifle down and kicked it behind me.

“I’m not going to shoot you Stephen, that wouldn’t satisfying enough.” There was much happiness in my voice.

I held out my right hand and a fiery claymore formed in my empty palm. My clones were still close enough to where I knew their thoughts. To them, it was no longer I standing before Stephen, but the black knight with the molten sword standing before a kneeling Andrew Cross, the Crusader. I had become the black knight. I raised the fiery sword high above my head, and then Stephen said three little words.

“I forgive you.”

With a burning rage, the sword came down, and the Crusader was no more….Oh what a happy day.



Epilogue:


Several days later, “The Shadowed One” called me to see him. So I, Archie, and Jake came, but we didn’t know this was about.

“I have a new assignment for you…you’ll be going back to your world for this one.” “The Shadowed One” stated.

A brief feeling of hope up swelled up in me, but I knew it was false.

“If you don’t mind me asking, why send me back home?” I asked gently.

“’Minion’ has finally revealed some information. There is an apprentice I need you to kidnap and bring back with you…This apprentice will tip the power scale in the universe. You won’t be going alone. I’m sending Lyra with you. Get your things ready, you’ll be leaving soon.”

“Yes my lord,” I said and this time we didn’t care if “The Shadowed One” saw us; we ran out too excited to care.

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