Chapter 5

It was time. After hours of travel to reach Portland Metru, and another few hours to find the planned meeting place, scope out the area, and get everyone in position, Quake was entering the establishment and ordering a drink. It was right before doing this that Quake had a moment of cleverness. He recalled hearing once that the juice of a certain fruit called Madu was volatile, and got more and more so as it aged. He ordered a tall glass of the drink, which was very fresh. Quake knew, though, that by exposing it to his mask's power, it would corrupt and age rapidly, and would make for a good explosive distraction. He grabbed a seat at an empty table near the middle of the room, sat down, and waited.

Originally, he picked a shady place because it would be a hangout for criminals and gangs, and would likely also be owned by a criminal group. If someone was to get into a fight, the criminals would likely step in to protect their property. With the intention of just talking, it was a great place to do it.

The group changing the plan to capturing the guy made it a bad location. Quake decided he'd have to make the fake Vortixx start the fight, or get him to go outside first.

Eventually, a being that matched Daril's description walked in. His head was slightly flat, was long, and he had a mouth full of sharp teeth with eyes like a doom viper's. His darkened, blue-gray armor lacked in shine, had a few marks showing slight damage here and there, and seemed like it was designed for silence and stealth. He had a sword that formed a triangle shape with three edges, which was sheathed on his back, and he had four knives hanging on a belt around his waist. I guess he's not one to leave his weapons at home for diplomatic occasions. Qauke thought. Seeing him, Quake was glad he brought his two swords as well.

The being walked straight to Quake and sat down across the table from him. "Ah, it's good to meet you, Quake. My name is Zavalin." Said the man. "You gave me your name?" Quake said, raising an eyebrow. "You're friend never gave me his." "Enrikar is like that." Zavalin said.

Quake raised an eyebrow as he stared across the table at this strange and disturbing being. "You're far more generous then your friend."

"I'm far less protective of information than Enrikar." Zavalin replied. "And speaking of information, I believe that is what we're both here for, so, shall we get on with it?"

Quake smiled. I like this guy. Nice and helpful. Quake thought.

"My main question is an obvious one: what do you have against Juhhar?" He asked.

"Juhhar is ultimately running his legal operation with less then legally gained funds. What he's doing, who he's funding, it's all irreconcilable to my organization." Zavalin explained.

Quake frowned. They don't exactly seem like the legal type themselves. "You're operating outside of legal boundaries, and you aren't assisting the public." He pointed out. "As long as that's the case, you're far worse than he might be."

Zavalin let out a short laugh, the unnatural and disturbing sound sending a chill up Quake's spine. "We could just be vigilante's," Zavalin said. He leaned in close, and his voice and face darkened. "Or it could be that we tend to not care for rules, and get the job done. Reliably, messily if we have to, but if we intend to make it happen, it will happen."

Quake was tempted to simply age his Madu-fruit drink to the point where it would be explosive, toss it, and run. Zavalin was disturbing him to the point of definitely considering the option. But he still had a job which involved knowing one thing. What will it take to make him angry to the point of attacking?

"So then, who do you really work for?" He asked.

Zavalin smiled. It wasn't a humorous one. "That's secret information, i'm afraid. We're too good at hiding our existence to simply give our name away."

Quake rolled his eyes. "So what, you're that legend meant to scare little Matoran? A part of the scariest organization I've never heard of?" Quake scooted a little closer. "It's not working. No one's scared."

"That's because there's often no one alive to be scared." Zavalin said, his voice making it clear that he wanted Quake to drop the subject.

And so he did. he leaned back in his chair nonchalantly. "So, that just leaves me with a few more questions."

Zavalin raised an eyebrow, curious as to the nature of this new question, and Quake's sudden switch to it.

"What kind of Makuta-spawn, or abomination from Karzahni, are you?" Quake asked, his voice blunt. The result he was hoping for was instant, as Zavalin nearly leaped out of his chair at him, only barely restraining himself.

"I'd be very careful if the rest of your questions are like that." Zavalin warned.

Quake smiled in response. "Thank you for that resounding note. You're most certainly Makuta involved." He mocked.

"We're against the Makuta." Zavalin seethed.

Quake feigned an apologetic nature. "Oh, I'm sorry. You're not with them, you're just a victim of them." He smirked, "great to know that I'm not alone in the "hurt by Makuta" club."

"I didn't come here for insults, 'Toa.'" Zavalin spit back.

"You know, it's kind of funny." Quake said, "at first I thought you pitied me for my memory loss, and that's why you knew anything about me or were willing to connect with me. We're both victims after all."

Quake leaned in slightly. "But now, I think I rather pity you, because I lost a life and have a new one." Quake leaned in as close as he dared. "Terribly sorry that you can't live a normal life, ever."

Zavalin kicked his chair back and started to leap at Quake, with claws that Quake hadn't particularly noticed before extending out. Quake launched himself backwards and hurled the Madu drink at Zavalin.

Quake had heard that it was very volatile. The small, and extremely colorful explosion of flaming and bursting fruit juice went well beyond what Quake expected. With a kick of his leg, Quake deflected the mid-air and blinded Zavalin off to the side. He rolled away from his opponent and leaped to his feet.

Zavalin, infuriated, his vision blurred by the explosion of color in his face, still managed to get to his feet first. With a roar, he kicked Quake back to the floor,  and then grabbed an entire table to use as a club, not caring that there were people still using it.

Quake grunted in pain as the table impacted with his arms once, twice, thrice, before cracking in half. Zavalin split the table fully in two before throwing it aside. He was suddenly swarmed by a dozen different thugs before the halves hit the ground.

And that's why I wanted the meeting here. When a bar is the front for far more illegal operations and paid by those operations to be a nice little hangout, the owners don't act kindly to those who might trash the place.

Quake attempted to get to his feet, and heard Zavalin yell something even as he started downing the thugs with swift, precise, and brutal attacks.

A few seconds later, Enrikar suddenly burst through the doorway, smashed into the the thugs, and with Zavalin flattened the few left standing. They made a hasty retreat through the doorway, and upon swinging the doors open, were greeted by an unexpected sight.

Skaern smirked as his two enemies stood before him, stunned. He rather expected the reaction. He too would be surprised if he found five fully armed beings awaiting him. And they don't even know about Vorn being on the roof, right above them.

Nearby, Daril was mentally kicking himself. He had been assigned to patrol a perimeter and look for the false vortixx's allies. He failed to see them, they had slipped by, and now he heard the sounds of battle. The real bad part was, the sound of fighting was coming from two different directions.

Daril was expecting the worst at the moment. So it didn't particularly surprise him when he saw exactly what he expected. Hallevar(One of the two unnamed Varen-Argh), the other patroller, was currently in a duel with the Rulanark that Daril had previously seen.

The battle was not going in Hallevar's favor. Although Hallevar was a highly trained warrior who wielded his two protosteel daggers with great skill, he wasn't a Rulanark hunter.

There are many in this world who have never heard of a Rulanark hunter. Dark Hunters are a familiarity to nearly everyone, but a Rulanark hunter is relatively unheard of. "What's the difference?" is a common question of those unknowledgable about the subject.

Quite simply, a Rulanark hunter is an assassin of the highest caliber. They are the very best warriors that the Rulanark people have to offer, and they will make a joke out of your everyday thug, or even your average Dark hunter. Given that there are never more then two dozen in the entire world at a time, and that they go through one of the most intensive training programs known to this world, this is not a suprising fact.

Daril whipped out his weapons as he bounced from rooftop to rooftop towards the fight, and centered his stun rod on the Rulanark. A thought later, and a burst of electricity went forth from it, striking the Hunter in the torso and giving him a nasty jolt.

With Hallevar now aware of Daril's entering the battle and in need of something to better combat the Hunter's sword, Daril threw him his other combat tool.

Hallevar backflipped away from his fight and landed next to the tool, quickly picking it up after sheathing a dagger. The tool wasn't much larger then Hallevar's daggers, but that wasn't what made it special. What did was that one side of it had several triangular projections, forming pits that the triangles hanged over.

The pits and triangles were set up so that any sword that was swung at the tool could then be made to be stuck within the pits, the edges of the triangles working like hooks to catch the blade and hold it in place. A strong person could then, theoretically, snap the blade if enough force was applied.

Hallevar caught onto this instantly, and a moment later had the hunter's sword stuck in the dagger. The Hunter tried to get his sword free, managing two tries before Hallever threw all his weight to his left, knocking them both off balance and sending them careening into a building wall.

With a yell, Hallevar slammed the dagger into a wall, while the hunter, willing to take this opportunity for a cheap shot, began punching at Hallever with one arm while trying to wrench his sword away. Hallevar ignored the blows as best he could, still slamming at the sword, before he finally brought it down and his knee up, striking the flat side of the sword and snapping the blade.

The Hunter snarled, and with a final punch, kicked off the building and into the center of the alleyway they had been fighting in. He flipped his broken sword into a reverse grip, and Daril realized that the guard of the broken sword, flowing down to the pommel and having a sharpened edge, would actually make for a great slashing weapon. Which was probably exactly what the Hunter was thinking.

Meanwhile, Quake was allowing himself a small smile. Catching Zavalin off guard was making for an amusing scene, as the former viciousness on Zavalin's face faded away into grimness.

"You guys made a mistake." Zavalin growled. He moved his hands back, as if he was about to draw his sword. Instead, there was a hissing and snapping sound, and two single-bladed swords popped out into Zavalin's waiting hands. The three bladed sword was actually three separate swords, all put together.

Enrikar drew his own rapier sword, and as one, they leaped up, kicked off the bar's wall, and landed behind Quake. "Big mistake."

Quake was only allowed a brief moment to wonder what the tactical advantage of leaping over his group was, especially if the two planned on fighting, not running. The moment was brief due to the yelling and growling that simoltaneously sounded behind him and answered his question.

A glance backwards showed that those dozen thugs were now armed and very angry. "You all messed with us, you're all getting taken down!" The group leader said.

Quake sighed. Just great. "Xalin, would you and the Varen do us the honor of beating the Karzahni out of the fellows?"

Xalin gave a slight nod before twirling around to face the various thugs. Quake felt an ever so slight pinge of sorrow for those thugs as Xalin quickly got to work. A few seconds later he was hearing a sympony of pain from behind him as the thugs were smacked around by the vicious Crynok.

But Xalin's work was the easy one. His would get to personally test just how good the two uknowns in front of him really were. Their opponents started forward, and so he began moving as well, hoping that Vorn was still an effective wild card to use.

It turned out he was, and and he was playing. Vorn leaped off from a building to the right of the charging two, pointed his mace at them, and enveloped them in a cone of intense sonic power. He hit the ground with a thud and a crack, the crack coming from his mace striking Zavalin in the shoulder.

Enrikar spun to face the new threat the moment the sonic attacked stop, lashing out with a series of stabs that quickly drove Vorn back. Shyra took the opening moment to fire her energy gun at Enrikar. The spheres of repulsion energy struck Enrikar, and forced him back.

Quake charged in and began attacking Zavalin, swinging his swords one after another. Zavalin replied with speed that amazed Quake, deflecting his stronger blows and dodging under and to the side of other attack without difficulty.

Zavalin ducked just under another two swings and then rose suddenly, kicking Quake into Shyra's way.

Shyra was in the middle of firing her shotgun, and personally didn't care who was in her way when she fired. Half-a-second later, Quake was on the floor, and Shyra was firing again, aiming at Zavalin.

The fight played out similarly to the fighter's combat styles, being quick, fluid, and brutal. No one went for lethal blows, for it wasn't the purpose of anyone to severely injure or down their opponent, but to simply defeat him or her.

Quake and Shyra traded blows with Zavalin, driving him back to only for him to leap and dodge his way back onto clear ground. Vorn and Skaern had greater difficulty fighting Enrikar, who was keeping them at bay with thrusts, quick swings, and the occasional long-legged kick.

Half-a-block away, Hallever and Daril were in an intensive martial arts/knife fight with the Rulanark hunter, a fight in which Daril was not well trained in and Hallevar was outclassed.

It was Daril who first realized that use of his powers was the only way to resolve the conflict quickly.

He began charging his elemental power and renewed his attacks with his stun rod, hoping that between his and Hallever's efforts an opening would present itself. Within seconds, the oppurtunity appeared as Hallever was kicked away from the fight. Daril leaped forward and struck the Hunter, sending a violent surge of electricity through him. Hallever charged forward, slamming into the Hunter and ramming him into a wall. He reared back for a knockot blow, only to find the setup wasn't as great as it seemed.

The Hunter fired a shot with his pistol at Hallevar's leg, and then activated his jet-thrusters, launching into the sky. Hallever held on for a few second before getting thrown off and crashing onto one of the rooftops below.

Back at the main scene of the fight, Zavalin was beginning to smile. And that annoyed Quake to the point of doing what Daril had done. With a roar, he stomped the ground and sent a wave of power through the earth.

The ground dramatically shook for a few seconds before suddenly exploding upward and forward. Zavalin was hurled into the same building he and Quake had first met in, and collided with the front wall with a resounding 'clang'. Shyra, being off to the side, merely stumbled, while Vorn gracefully recovered in mid air from being launched high up and Skaern used his mask of fate to dodge the effects. Enrikar was thrown off to the side and hit the ground back first.

"You want some more of that, Zavalin?" Quake yelled.

"I read up on all the information we have on you." Zavalin said, his voice full of mockery. "Given your lack of control, I'm surprised you didn't bring down a few buildings on accident. Maybe if you give it another try, you will. I'm sure that will make your new boss happy."

Quake growled in response. "He's right, Quake." Shyra stated. "We're supposed to keep the messes from being made, not make them ourselves."

"But go ahead." Zavalin continued, "try again. There's always the chance of getting lucky twice."

Quake's growl deepened in response, and he charged forward. He didn't make it very far.

A series of energy bullets rained down on him, slowing him, and the moment he located the new threat, Enrikar stepped in the way and lashed out with a kick. Quake felt the blow in his midsection, and then found himself propelled through the air to crash into an unprepared Skaern.

The Rulanark Hunter hit the ground feet first, while his other target, Vorn, found himself crashing face first five steps to the right. "Authorities should be here within three minutes. The two targets dealing with the ruffians are no longer occupied, and the two fighting me are not disabled."

"A stalemate, then." Zavalin said.

"It would appear that way," the Hunter replied. He grabbed a small cylindrical device from his belt, twisted and pulled out a pin, and then dropped it in front of the trio. "This time, at least."

The canister exploded in a spray of noxious gas, spewing it over the surrounding area and the group. Quake, coughing and gasping for breath, backed out as best he could and looked for Zavalin. He, and the two others, were gone.


It took a few hours, but eventually, the mess was sorted out with the local Order of Altronia wardens. Cerran was infuriated, and remained so for another day or two afterward, constantly saying "I should never have allowed this!"

Zavalin, Enrikar, and the Rulanark were not sighted for the remainder of the journey to Juhhar's headquarters.

The arrival at the Metru Building Companies headquarters was neither dramatic, or eventful. The entire compound was surrounded by a fence of metal bars, and here and there a few bars were bent out of shape. Past the gate was a massive area consisting of a large, twenty-story building, and a few smaller building connected to the main one, with a pair of huge warehouses off to the left. The grounds of the place were, for the most part, covered with transportation vehicles and building supplies, as well as a few dozen Varen and Matoran mulling about, moving supplies, fixing vehicles, or doing some other important task.

"The main building is where the sleeping quarters and energy wall are. If you prefer to get your energy by food or drink, there is a small cafateria on the second floor. Juhhar's office is on the top floor, as is mine and the other managers offices.

"Who's our manager? Hallevar asked.

"All of you will be put under the command of our security officer, a Toa of plant life named Lassekin," Cerran stated. "His 'office' is on the first floor."

"I'm sure Lassekin can anser any other questions you may have, and I've already gone over the matters of hours and payment," Cerran finished.

Quake noticed that only a few people payed any attention to the group. He assumed that most of the workers had already seen a variety of different species and new recruits, and were no longer fazed or interested by anything that walked through the gates.

The entrance to the main building was through a pair of ornate, metal doors, with door handles in the shape of hammers and images of workers and fantastic buildings on the doors. Juhhar's pretty serious about the image of being city builders, Quake thought.

Cerran yanked open the pair of doors, and Quake found they had two people waiting for them, one a Toa and one a Varen. "Juhhar, Lassekin!" Cerran stuttered, "I didn't expect you to be waiting to greet the recruits."

"If I was ever to wield a weapon, that weapon would be surprise." Juhhar replied, smiling. Juhhar was tall, standing close to nine feet tall, and had gray and green armor that shined in a pristine fashion, which fitted with the brilliance that exuded from him. "Thankfully, Lassekin has insured I don't need to use a weapon for several thousand years now," he gestured to the slightly shorter toa of plantlife.

Lassekin stood a few inches taller than Quake, and at his side was a long spear with metallic vines that wrapped and circled around it. The Toa seemed entirely different from his friend, his mannerism and stance suggesting deviousness, danger, and constant watchfullness. He looked to be every bit the commander that he was meant to be, if not more so.

Lassekin only smiled at Juhhar's comment before speaking. "As you should already know, all of you have been hired because we've been having trouble with villains and thugs lately. The Order of Altronia, has been working dilligently and put away several vandals and thugs, but that still leaves entire criminal organizations for us to deal with."

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