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A New Realm[]

The Vindicators, the Universal Alliance, and Zallirix raced from the control room of Makuta Rularx’s fortress and into the myriad hallways. They knew something had to be done. Allow Rularx’s massive Time Dilation Accelerator to transport Crystal Island to another place in the universe, regardless of exactly where that “other place” happened to be, would render the Makuta too difficult to defeat. They had to somehow find a way to stop the Makuta’s device before it spelled the end of peace forever.

“So, what’s the plan?” Lihee asked Suntrah.

“We find Rularx’s machine and scrap it,” the Runask replied flatly. “There’s nothing else we can do.”

Runik, panting, came up beside the two of them. “And where do you think it is?”

Suntrah smiled. Usually he would rely on his mask to guide him, if it even could (sometimes it activated when needed, other times it left Suntrah in the dark) but this time he didn’t need to. He knew Burtok’s old fortress. There was but one room he knew was big enough to house that machine. “In the main hall,” Suntrah replied. “It’s a huge dome that Rularx could easily have converted into a room to house his contraption.”

“Leaders three!” Ferrak called. “Stop for a moment. I need to say something.”

Suntrah, Runik, and Lihee gestured for all to stop, but only for a moment. “Quickly, Ferrak. Speak,” Suntrah said.

Ferrak nodded. “Okay, then. I only wish to point out that your plan is suicidal.”

Suntrah shrugged. “When fighting Makuta, they all are.”

“No, that’s not what I mean,” Ferrak said, flustered. “I mean to say that the very act that we need to accomplish will undoubtedly spell our dooms. The machine must require a massive amount of energy to be coursing through it to be able to warp an entire landmass. Thus, destroying the device would no doubt release all that energy, and where do you think it will go?”

Lohrua winced. “Right. Boom. Should have thought of that myself.”

Suntrah threw his arms in the air. “So what do you propose? We find some bomb suits a the last possible second? We have no choice. We must do this.”

Lihee put a hand on Suntrah’s shoulder. “I think that what Ferrak means is that only one of us must do this. So sense in us all rushing to our dooms. Ferrak figures it makes sense for one of us to take the hit.”

Suntrah exhaled deeply. “So a heroic sacrifice, huh?” He closed his eyes and folded his arms, not liking the sound of it. “I hate the very thought of it. I can’t bear to lose another of us.” He sighed. “But it must be done. As the team leader, I must make it clear that I am fully willing to make this my final day to save all of you.” There was a deathly silence as Suntrah swallowed hard, “If anyone wishes to join me, let him speak now, or forever hold his peace.”

“Wait, Suntrah? Why you? Why can’t someone else take the hit?” Bultrox asked. “I could very well heal from that explosion.”

Suntrah shook his head. “I doubt that even you would be able to recover, mainly because I think you will be completely obliterated. If you want to join me, the time is now. I have made my choice.”

Suddenly, a loud, robotic voice sounded across the loudspeakers, ending the conversation immediately. “LOCKDOWN MODE INITIATED.” The voice said. At once, all the doors in the structure slammed shut, and a shimmer across the metallic surface signaled the formation of a brand-new force field.

All the heroes attacked the walls, to no effect. Panuko tried to phase through them, but even he was blocked from going further. Apparently, just like the field outside activated during “Defense Mode,” this new barrier made the protected structures immune to that type of penetration, as well as – seemingly, at least – all others.

Suntrah belted out an obscenity and pounded his hands on the wall. “Too late! Blast it all to Karzahni!”

The team gathered around Suntrah. “Saved by the bell, old buddy,” Bultrox encouraged him. “Don’t worry. Wherever we’re going, we’re going together. We can find a way to win all over again.”

Lihee joined Suntrah. “Together,” he added.

Suntrah relaxed and nodded. “All right,” he said finally. “All right. Very well. We will ride with Rularx as a team.”

Suddenly, the fortress shook with another tremor. It seemed that this one differed from the previous ones, however. Instead of being created by an outside attack, this one seemed to be a result of an inside force. A big one.

“Uhh,” Choro murmured. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that thing just exploded on its own.”

“No, it didn’t.”

The team turned around to see a very emotional Levuku looking down at the ground. “It didn’t.”

Ferrak glanced around. “Hey,” he realized. “Where’s Zallirix?”

Reality crashed down on the heroes like a ton of bricks. If the walls and ceiling had collapsed on them at that moment, the shock would not have been any greater than the shock that they all felt right now.

Levuku wiped something out of his eye. “He did it. While we were here arguing over who should go, arguing over who should do and die to allow the rest of us to fight another day, he just went and did it himself. We never missed him. We didn’t even notice as he took off, ready to end his own life so that we didn’t have to end ours.”

Vohk asked the obvious question. “Why?”

Levuku laughed a little. “Well, after he saved my hide from Zortak, I saved his from Recapar. We were even, I thought. But Zallirix was never one to leave well enough alone.”

Silence descended on the group. No one said anything for a long, long time. Because of the sacrifice of someone whom no one cared for, they all would live. Ironically, they would never have grieved for the loss of Zallirix before, but now that he had gone to his end for them, they now wished that he was not gone for good. They all wished that he could return, if only to say thank you. Now, however, that chance was lost forever.

A wall exploding brought everyone back to reality. Standing in the rubble was Makuta Ikirro, of all beings, flanked by Tamrix and three Hokanuka, Catrolev, Lukanov, and Slaryka.

“Oh, no,” Lihee groaned. He and all his comrades got ready to fight.

Ikirro surprised them all, however, by gesturing for the heroes to proceed through the hole he had made.

“What?” Thravak shouted. “Since when do Makuta make escape routes for their enemies? Or work with Hokanuka?”

Ikirro frowned. “Much has changed in the last few hours. One change that can be avoided, however, is your general location in the universe. Get moving or risk never seeing your homes again.”

With no time to argue, the heroes filed through the new door, still never letting their guard down as the passed Ikirro and his assemblage. Soon they were tearing through the fortress, leaping through holes that Ikirro had blasted in the fortress doors as they made for the outdoors. They could see the light of the sun up ahead, and it filled the twin teams with glee.

Just a few more yards. They would make it! A few more…a few more…a few more… That was it! They were out!

And the portal was about to suck them straight in.

“Get down!” Ikirro shouted. “Stay low! The portal will end you if you don’t!”

Still not used to taking advice from a Makuta, the heroes still bent down low to the ground, trying to resist the portal’s power, all the while making slow headway away from it. Ikirro tried to increase everyone’s weight, but the massive vortex was somehow messing with his powers. All they could to was grip the ground with every bit of strength they had.

Lohrua, personally, was unsure of why the portal was even still functioning. He took a chance and turned around to scan it. After doing this, he found out something both terrifying and comforting at the same time. The portal had no set destination. Apparently when Zallirix sabotaged the massive Accelerator, he had ruined the device’s ability to create a portal out of whatever realm it was using as a transition dimension. This was horrifying because it meant that the heroes, if they failed, would be transported to a strange new universe with possibly no way to escape. On the plus side, so would Rularx. They would be on equal footing.

Unfortunately for Lohrua, that little chance he took backfired on him, and he lost his footing. A gust of wind entering the portal lifted him off his feet, and he hurtled toward the hole in reality at increasing speed. His teammates saw him disappear and cried out, but it was too late. Lohrua was gone.

There was no arguing this time. Everyone knew exactly what to do. With nods to each other, they all simultaneously stopped fighting the pull of the vortex. One by one, the Vindicators and the Universal Alliance were drawn into another universe. Whatever Lohrua would face, they would face as well. They would face their destiny as a team.

At first Ikirro reacted in shock and anger at the heroes’ decision. After pondering their choice, however he decided that, as long as he was going to play the hero from now on, he might as well take the fight to the villain. Flashing commands to his teammates, he prepared for the vortex to claim him as well. Soon all that were on the island were swallowed up into the multicolored swirling rift.

Even taken to another realm, the purpose of the heroes would not change. They would still defend justice and peace, even in the new realm that they found themselves in. They also had a great way to start their campaign: they would hunt Makuta Rularx down and put their collective all into ending his insanity and evil. They were heroes, after all. It was their duty. Already having their unity, all they had to do was their duty, and they would be on their way to their destiny.