Unseen Ch. 9
Today the Bones Blog continues with the final few chapters of Unseen, the Bionicle Paracosmos short epic slow-reveal of the winner of the Monster Mystery Art contest. Chapter 9 reveals for the first time the top three winners. Note that the order they're presented here has been randomized three times, so you can't know which was top winner yet.
Hujo awoke to a prodding in his shoulder. Blinked his eyes open.
The Mapmaker was laying on his back on the ground, looking up at red-tinted skyscrapers and passing airships.
He sat up.
Five Ta-Matoran stood nearby. “You missed a message for you,” one of them said.
Hujo realized the Songsphere was laying on the ground in plain sight. Hastily, he touched it and energized it into his pack. Phew… I have to be more careful… that thing could be dangerous. If a villain got it, they could get to places you couldn't get to any other way... places that could benefit the villain in powerful ways...
"I want all of you to swear to me you'll never tell anyone about that sphere," Hujo told the Ta-Matoran. All five swore it.. and even managed to avoid asking what it was.
The Blue Fire staff was also laying on the ground. He picked it up, and used it to help himself stand up.
His mind felt normal again. But he dreaded knowing he would have to return to the Unseen’s lair, without the use of his powers. Hujo sighed. “How do you know about the message, then? What do you mean?”
The Ta-Matoran pointed at one of the city screens. “Taureko and Mohrook broadcast on the citywide. They said you should send up a Blue Fire flare and they’ll meet with you. They have important news about the Unseen, I guess. But then something attacked the studio.”
Hujo looked towards the Coliseum. Even from this distance, he could tell a window had been blasted out. He hoped they were okay.
“Thanks for telling me,” he said, as he sent up the flare.
But Taureko and Mohrook were busy climbing up stairs inside the Coliseum, away from any windows. So I return to Surkahi’s perspective, just outside the Turaga Meeting Room in the Coliseum...
The potted plant turned into a sand-colored bulky version of a Matoran, and ran to catch up with Jerabu’s group of guards.
The choice hurt his pride. But it was the wisest choice, he knew. If only Caroha had been more specific about what her vision had shown her – which guards was he supposed to follow? Tlenoh and Vira, on the maddeningly secretive missions Turaga Dume sent them on? Or Jerabu, going to investigate why Taureko and Mohrook’s broadcast had been cut short?
In the end, he chose Jerabu’s group because he knew they would be in the most danger, assuming the Trickster himself had attacked the studio. It was the wisest choice, but he hated himself for making it.
He also realized that if Volitaos hadn’t whispered in his ear, he probably would have been tempted to just remain in the potted plant form, and try to get back into the Meeting Room. Caroha might not have cared which guards he followed, as long as he did something helpful.
One of the guards with Jerabu glanced back, noticed him, and touched Jerabu’s elbow.
The female Po-Matoran looked back. “Hello, Surkahi.”
He nodded, and they continued in silence.
When they reached the studio, Surkahi could only think of one word to describe the sight. Warzone.
Remains of wooden desks, tablets, and unconscious Matoran were piled all over the place. The camera and decorative stone desk were missing, as were Taureko, Mohrook, and most of the glass of the huge window behind the missing desk.
Jerabu moved to look over the windowsill, but Surkahi held a hand in her way. “Let me do it,” he said. The floor under the window looked to have been damaged. If whoever checked was at risk of falling themselves, better to be a shapeshifter.
Far below, he saw a crater, stone and glass dust, the crushed remains of the camera… but no sign of Mohrook or Taureko. The Ko-Matoran’s mask had probably saved them.
“They’re all alive,” Jerabu reported a moment later about the reporters and five other guards that had been in the room. “Stunned, I think.”
Surkahi nodded. They’d probably been hit with the same Kanoka Arrow stun power he’d been hit with earlier… maybe even the same re-used arrow.
But what did the Trickster want?
The answer seemed obvious. To interrupt Taureko and Mohrook’s broadcast, and interfere with their ability to meet up with Hujo. Thus delay the solving of the Unseen mystery, and the freeing of the two captives.
But this was the Trickster. The obvious answer was usually wrong.
In the Gukko room atop the Coliseum…
Taureko and Mohrook walked between Gukko nests to the empty nests for outsiders’ birds.
He walked up to Jhianau’s nest, and reached his hand out to touch the invisible bird.
His hand met air.
“Jhianau?” he called.
“Isn’t he there?” Mohrook asked.
Taureko checked the other empty nests. He found nothing but air.
He stood still and listened. Jhianau had been trained by Ito to send a thin beam of sound towards his friends when the bird was out and about, so they could know what direction he was in if he was nearby.
Taureko heard nothing.
“Maybe he got hungry?”
Taureko pointed at a bin of Ruki fish. “The Gukko eat right here. No need to hunt.”
There was only one other conclusion. He and Mohrook looked each other in the eye. They both realized it, but neither wanted to say it.
The Trickster stole their ride.
In the Turaga Meeting Room, Dume was acting paranoid after kicking Surkahi out, believing the invisible Unknown named Volitaos was still inside. On the other hand, maybe paranoid isn’t the right word, because Volitaos WAS there…
Volitaos held the form of an impossibly thin, invisible surface layer over the the huge window that acted like one of the room’s four walls.
Dume had indeed started throwing his staff around, and ordered the other seven Turaga to do the same, clearly hoping one of them would bounce off an invisible Unknown. But in this form, even though staffs had bounced off of him several times, he was indistinguishable from glass.
“Ow!” Onewa exclaimed as one of the staffs hit him on the shoulder.
“Sorry,” Takanuva grimaced.
“Enough,” Dume said. “I know right where he is.”
The elder ran right at the window, holding his staff high.
Volitaos wanted to shake his head in amazement. As silly as it was to kick the Unknown out, at least Dume’s mind was able to think clearly. But he had an easy solution.
If Volitaos could have been seen at the moment, he would appear like a massive, rectangular Kanohi Volitak, stretched over every inch of the glass.
With a mouth.
Volitaos opened his mouth. There was no back of the throat in this form. Dume’s staff smashed through the glass, going right through the hole in Volitaos.
Broken glass erupted out and fell away. Volitaos let the huge hole’s corners turn up in an open-mouthed smile.
Dume stood there, confused, for a moment.
Then the elder swiped the staff up.
There was a part where more glass had fallen away than anywhere else. The staff slid up into this gap…
Then stopped. Bounced off Volitaos’s invisible lip.
His unseeable eyes widened. You clever little Kofo-Jaga…
“Gotcha,” Dume said, grinning wildly. “Now get out. And let me see you out, or we do this all over again.”
Volitaos was flabbergasted. He’d been outwitted fairly… and couldn’t quite come to grips with it.
Out of sheer spite, he turned his mask power off while in the form of a giant face, and chomped down on Dume’s staff, keeping all emotion out of the face. Then turned invisible again, taking the staff with him. He noticed Dume and several of the other Turaga jump a bit at the sight.
He grew long legs which reached out the glass hole, taking care not to break or disrupt any more glass in the slightest, and oozed the rest of his form out the hole.
Once outside, he gave himself a single massive eye, a mouth, and kept the seemingly random legs radiating out from him in all direction, holding him out of reach of the other Turaga. Made a single arm out one side to hold Dume’s staff.
Then he added about twenty huge, elegant ears, radiating around him just as randomly.
“You’re smart, Dume,” he said, “But have you not realized you just made a hole I can hear you through?”
He expected to see Dume scowl… but realized he didn’t see Dume at all?
The elder had walked back to the computer console in the far wall while Volitaos had been oozing out and taking his form.
Dume pressed a button.
Metal slid across Volitaos’s sight. SLAM!
Volitaos almost dropped the staff in surprise. A huge panel the width of the room, just inside the window, had just slid down from the ceiling. Fast. He had not even known it was there – its edge must have been very flat into the ceiling to not show a gap.
Dume had tricked him into being locked out.
Worse, for all his huge new ears, he realized he didn’t hear a single sound from inside the room.
The new panel, like the other walls and the entrance, was soundproof.
Back in Ta-Metru…
Hujo waited for several minutes, and saw nothing.
So he sent up another flare.
This time, he was rewarded a few minutes later with the sight of a Gukko winging over the Metru. From this distance, he could only tell one passenger was white and the other black – that told him enough.
Taureko and Mohrook landed next to him moments later.
And told him their news.
The two captives were alive.
“That makes this a lot more urgent,” Hujo said. “And it rules out my best theory.” The Foliage Monster killed its victims.
He could also rule out the Windrock, an invisible beast made out of solid air that crushed its victims and turned them into more solid air to add to its mass.
That left only three.
Hujo pulled out Jorthao’s tablets again, and re-read them in random order.
The Nui-Phryno. A ruthless, illusion-powered reptilian Rahi that Jorthao had observed to kill its victims, but usually not right away. First it would kidnap them and let them imagine their fate for a while. Colored green, it would blend in well in Le-Metru even without its illusions.
The Happy Salesman. A sentient gift bag whose owner had unfortunate brushes with Makuta and the Mask of Life long ago, with an animated zipper chain as a tongue. It was really just a legend Jorthao had heard in Le-Metru long ago, but it supposedly hated life, sometimes eating Matoran and leaving them to slowly suffocate and starve to death in its cloth belly. It usually left a gift behind as payment for those it killed.
And the Makuta Wolf, a top predator that normally only hunted at night, but fit the size and shape Hujo had just barely witnessed. Hujo honestly doubted this one, since he couldn’t see any Le-Metru-related clues in Jorthao’s notes, but then the choice of Le-Metru could have been random. The fact that it was used to eating only at night could explain why, for now, the two Matoran had only been captured, not killed immediately; a side effect of having been turned into one of the Third Faction’s Unseen.
All three fit what little he knew. All three meant the captives wouldn’t last long.
Hujo wondered why he had heard no reports of any other attacks. From Taureko and Mohrook’s tales of Dume’s stupid mask smashing move, or the Trickster’s apparent attacks on the city broadcasting systems, he realized other attacks could have happened without his knowledge.
But the Jahurungi realized, as he explained his plan to shop for many Matoran weapons to his two friends, that most likely the Unseen had simply not digested its current meal. Which meant…
If news of another kidnapping by the Monster came, it would mean Kuhauha and Tamaru were dead.
In the news studio…
Surkahi held a hand on the mask of Jofo. The unconscious Po-Matoran newscaster flashed with dim white light briefly. This would hopefully disrupt the stun energy and awaken Jofo early.
Then Surkahi started looking through the wreckage. “Look for anything unusual,” he told the others.
Soon they started piling the debris they’d gone through already in one corner, sorting desk, chair, and other non-informational pieces from the broken tablets.
Finally, Jofo awoke. “What happened?” he exclaimed.
“That’s what we were going to ask you,” Jerabu said.
“I was attacked first! Just because I’m a reporter doesn’t mean—”
“By who?” Surkahi interrupted. “The Trickster?”
“What? Oh. Yes! And where’s Taureko and Mohrook? My desk… my camera? Oh my,” he added as he noticed the broken window.
“Don’t go over there,” Surkahi warned, pointing at the unstable floor.
But Jofo was headed for a locked closet, pulling out a key. Inside, Surkahi saw several other cameras. “Hold on,” he said, “I want to look through there.”
He found a few walkcart platforms for the cameras, a lot of extra wiring, and a lot more tablets and orange crystal hexagons. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Surkahi closed the closet, and looked at Jofo, who was setting up another camera. “When you’re done there, could you look at these broken tablets? Tell us if anything’s missing?”
Jofo nodded. “Could somebody get another desk from the room across the hall?”
“No,” Surkahi ordered the others. “Nobody splits up.”
“It’s a news tradition!” Jofo protested. “You have to sit behind a desk! Can’t you shapeshift a long arm to pull one in or something?”
Surkahi blinked. It was an odd request, but yes, he could… so he did. Standing in the door, he sent an elongated arm stretching into the other room and dragged a wooden desk towards him, screeching on the floor.
Jofo walked with one end of a wire towards the wall.
He stopped abruptly. “What is that?!”
Surkahi jerked his head to where Jofo pointed, letting go of the desk halfway.
There was an… object mounted on the wall.
Surkahi tilted his head, trying to make sense of the electronics he saw there, and the object itself.
Just below the object was a metal box mounted in the wall. There were wiring sockets in the box, which Jofo was presumably going to plug the camera into. A wire ran straight up from this box into the ceiling.
This wire had been severed. Surkahi recognized the telltale pattern of a Goulmaruian Kanoka Arrow rip power; the lower half of the wire simply bent down, the other hung straight down from the ceiling, and both ends were frayed.
The Object was small, round, and dimly glowing blue. It was smooth, blueish metallic, with crisscrossing curved lines carved across its surface. The indented lines glowed slightly brighter blue. There were also tiny blue gems sliding along the indentations at seemingly random but rhythmic paths.
A short stylized metal clamp atop the round part connected it to the wire that ran up into the ceiling.
Surkahi walked closer. How had he not noticed it?
Blue indicator lights. On the metal box, just below it. He’d probably looked right at it before and just assumed it was part of Jofo’s equipment. But he must not have looked very hard – it was unlike anything Surkahi had ever seen.
Just the sort of object the Trickster might collect.
But what was it for?
Feel free to review, theorize, ask questions, etc. by adding a comment to this chapter blog entry, and stay tuned for the next chapter as a new blog entry.