Dark forces are at work on the island of Mata Nui. Miners and explorers are vanishing all across the island, and sightings abound of strange insectoid creatures lurking in the underground. There are rumours about rusted, whispering masks being discovered in isolated corners of the continent, and enchanted Kolhii balls washing up on forgotten shores.
Perhaps Makuta isn't quite as dead as everyone once thought.
Suffice to say, bad things are coming.
Ko-Wahi, Mount Ihu Summit (Two Weeks Ago)
Turaga Nuju died screaming.
Or, to be more accurate, he died making a shrill, strained whistling sound not dissimilar to that of a distressed Gukko bird. This sound broke off in an echoing crunch as his flailing, falling body finally struck the bottom of the ravine he’d just been pushed into.
“What…” Matoro stammered, staring dumbstruck at the familiar being responsible for Nuju’s abrupt departure from the realm of the living, “…why?”
“Why?” The other Matoran scoffed, taking a few steps away from the ravine edge, “Because your precious principle of peace is overrated. Because he was leading our people to stagnation and isolation. Because he was too weak to stop me. Because you were both stupid enough to agree to this meeting.”
“Wha- what are you going to do to me?” Matoro whimpered, clawing at the flimsy bone knife strapped to his thigh. He finally managed to pull it free, and brandished it before him with his shaking hands.
“What do you think I’m doing to do?” The other Matoran chuckled, withdrawing a compact crossbow from within the folds of his furred coat. “Are you afraid I’m going to kill you?”
“Ye-yes.” Matoro looked to be on the verge of sobbing now.
“There’s no need to be afraid,” the killer said gently, momentarily lowering his weapon, “But I’m still going to kill you.” Quick as a Doom Viper, he whipped his crossbow back up, and fired.
Unlike his Turaga, Matoro didn’t even get to scream. The barbed bolt that lodged itself in his throat made sure of that.
Onu-Wahi, Southern Mine Extension (Eleven Days Ago)
“I’m not getting paid enough for this,” Mavrah whined, as he continued hacking away at the rockface before him with his pickaxe.
Well, the pickaxe wasn’t his, per se. It had come with the job, and, just like the job in question, it was absolutely terrible. The useless tool broke off pieces of itself almost as often as it managed to chip chunks off of the rock wall.
“None of us are,” snapped back the grizzled Onu-Matoran next to him, “You don’t earn the right to complain about it until you’ve been down here a few decades longer, boy.”
“Pffft, I don’t think so,” Mavrah abandoned his pickaxe, and rounded on the older miner, “I’m getting out of here as soon as I make enough money to buy an Ussal.”
“And what are you going to do with a crab?” the old miner scoffed, “Animals aint cheap.”
“I know. But an Ussal gives me freedom. To travel, to explore. The island’s changed so much over the years, but no one’s made much effort to document those changes.”
“That’s because no one cares,” the miner guffawed, “Now pick up your axe and get back to work.”
Mavrah glowered at him a moment longer, then bent to pick up the dropped pickaxe. Ever though it had landed right by his feet, it still took him a few moments of fumbling to find it again. This was a natural tunnel that the miners had only recently burrowed down into. It was deep, and mostly unexplored, and as such, the lightstones that were normally strung up in the mining areas were few and far between in this new section. He and the old man had come across a promising-looking vein of ore while exploring, and decided to make a head start on digging it up. They only had one lightstone between them, and it seemed to grow dimmer the deeper they went.
He heard a gravelly rustling behind him, followed by a gasp of surprise and a sort of wet crunching sound. The yellow-white glow of the lightstone on the floor behind him shifted to a grisly red. Mavrah turned around slowly, and what he saw was something that would have terrified his nightmares.
The old miner – what was left of him, at least – was gripped in the pincers of a hunched, chitinous being, more and more of his twitching form being gradually shoved into the monster’s multi-jawed gullet. As Mavrah moved, however, the creature released its meal, and focused its narrow, beady eyes on him.
Mavrah screamed. The creature lunged.
His body was never found.
Ta-Wahi, North Mine Entrance (Eight Days Ago)
“You’re going to have to run that by me again,” Takua said, his patient tone contrasting harshly with his growing inward frustration. He was the Chronicler, one of the few Matoran on the island who could still travel free and unhampered through every village on the island, and here he was stuck in some backwater clearing in Ta-Wahi, listening to a grumpy – and quite possibly inebriated – miner boss, who was whining about a supposed ‘monster’ scaring away his workers.
“What part aint you understandin’?” The Ta-Matoran burped, “Three o’ me workers quit yesterday. There’s somethin’ down there, I’m tellin’ ya!”
“And what did this ‘something’ look like?” Takua pressed, “You need to give me something to go on beyond ‘big’ and ‘scary’, otherwise no one’s going to believe your story.”
“They’ll defin’ly believe it if you’re the one tellin’ it.”
“That may be so, but I don’t believe your story right now, either. You need to convince me to convince everyone else.”
“I dun’t get it,” the drunkard frowned, “You think I’m lyin’ to you?”
“No, I think that you think that there’s something down there… which doesn’t mean that there’s actually something down there. Belief doesn’t equal fact. You need to give me proof.”
“If my word aint good enough for ya, then there’s nothin’ else I can do.”
Takua sighed loudly. “Which way is the mine?”
It was the last question he ever asked.
Po-Koro, Dark Alleyway (Three Days Ago)
Ahkmou was dying. He was slumped against a wall in a desolate backstreet. A spiked dagger was buried up to the hilt in the centre of his chest. Blood was seeping into his lungs. This was the end.
He hadn’t expected to die like this. In truth, he hadn’t expected to die at all. He was protected, shielded from age and injury. Or so he’d thought.
“I’ll take that,” his assailant bent down to pry a gleaming black object from his clenched hands. It was a Comet, one of the cursed Kolhii balls that Makuta had used to spread a terrible plague through Po-Koro almost one hundred years ago. It was, as far as Ahkmou knew, the only vestige of Makuta’s power left on the island, and somehow, it had kept him safe and ageless for all these long years he’d spent in hiding.
He coughed up a mouthful of red. “How did you find me?”
“You’re not the only one with Makuta’s blessing,” it was a woman’s voice, “He thanks you for your past service, by the way.”
His response came out in a breathless wheeze. “Why?”
“Because you stopped serving, Ahkmou. You hid yourself away, and exploited Makuta’s gifts to prolong your own miserable existence.” She slipped Ahkmou’s Comet into a pouch tied to her belt, and smiled coldly at him. “You squandered the blessings he bestowed upon you, so I’m taking them away from you. Along with your life.”
“Wh- who… are…”
“Who am I?” She purred, leaning in close to give the handle of her dagger a sharp twist, “I guess you can think of me as your… replacement.” Without warning, she ripped the dagger free. It was a cruel weapon, hewn of shimmery black metal, and covered in thorn-like edges. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Ahkmou. Goodbye.”
The Po-Matoran was too dead to compose a reply.
Ga-Koro, Docks (Present Day)
Tuyet stepped off the ferry and made her way into Ga-Koro, unable to hide the growing smile on her face. Makuta was pleased. Everything was progressing as planned.
It was good to be home.