So yeah. These are my five entries to this year's Flash Fiction Marathon, Bionicle-wise. They're not amazing, but they're something.
Theme #1-A Dark Hunt
The Fair Dark
[font="arial, sans-serif;"]At his feet was a mangled corpse. Though only recently robbed of life, its face was so familiar; he still half expected it to talk to him like it had always done. [/font] [font="arial, sans-serif;"]His name was Dam. At the least, that is what they called him. At one time it had been an honored title. Now it was just a code, a falsity. His real name, along with everything else, had been stripped away. [/font] [font="arial, sans-serif;"]He looked at his companions, lounging around the huts of the village, cloaked in shadows. Their orders fulfilled, they sat and traded small talk. Their recent actions, if not ignored, were talked about in pride. Dam was horrified, but couldn’t seem to muster any words. [/font] [font="arial, sans-serif;"]How had he come to this? How could he have ever done what he just had? [/font] [font="arial, sans-serif;"]It was a pointless, stupid question. He knew the answer too well. [/font] [font="arial, sans-serif;"]At one time they had called him the Dam of the Rusting Valley for his heroism. For centuries, his actions succeeded in maintaining all danger, natural and otherwise, from the small settlement located at the base of the valley. At one point, he had used his elemental powers to erect a massive stone wall to stop the flooding of the valley by a nearby river. [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]He wasn’t alone. Another Toa, his best friend and closest partner, protected the Matoran inhabitants to the best of their abilities. They were inseparable and trusted each other completely. Together they felt they could do anything.[/font] [font="arial, sans-serif;"]They often clashed with Dark Hunters, who were after the meager resources of the Valley, but, together, were always able to overcome them. [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]Unfortunately, Dark Hunters are rarely willing to give up so easily, or forgive such insults. One fateful day, a large number of Hunters mounted an assault on the Rusting Valley. With all their power, the two Toa were unable to defeat them.[/font] [font="arial, sans-serif;"]And when the Hunters were on the verge of overtaking the village, he murdered them. [/font] [font="arial, sans-serif;"]He wished he could wash away that act, to tell himself that he had only been acting to protect, but he had murdered them in anger and fear. Mustering every last bit of power he had, he opened the floor of the Valley and sent all the Hunters to fall, and then be crushed, by his power. [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]His partner couldn’t face him after that. He knew that a Toa could never act that way, and the Dam knew it as well.[/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]So he left. It was an exile that both wordlessly agreed to, and felt was necessary.[/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]It didn’t take long for news of this event to reach the ears of the Shadowed One. Enraged, he called for the killer to be brought to him. His punishment would be unique, befitting the severity of his crimes.[/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]Lacking a home, the support of his closest friend, and anything to protect, he was apprehended easily. [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]The Hunters broke him down, physically and mentally, to his breaking point. They trained him to work for them and even sent him on missions, in vile hunts, the foulest the Shadowed One could find. Always he was instructed to leave survivors. Their judging eyes pierced him and only added to his torture. [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]He was surprisingly adept at the task, but not a single soul had any delusions about the chance of his survival. [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]Eventually, his last task came to him. [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]His partner, in his absence, had trained and redoubled his efforts to maintain the Valley safe. So the Shadowed One assembled a team to hunt him down, and assigned Dam to lead it. [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]Under the cover of dark, they departed, and overpowered his previous friend. As the Shadowed One hadn’t specified what to do with the village, the others razed it. His previous partner’s pained expression at seeing him with the Hunters, the destruction of their home, finally broke him. He stopped feeling. [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]When, in a last effort, the captive Toa broke free of his bonds and attacked them, he dealt with him, swiftly and brutally.[/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]Once the task was done, he had a fleeting moment of lucidity. It was so horrifying he almost went mad again. [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]His friend’s eyes were full of judgment and despair. [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]As Dam stood in the growing darkness, he could feel no similar judging glances from the darkness.[/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"] [/font][font="arial, sans-serif;"]Perhaps, he thought deliriously, those in the dark, robbed of sight, are truly the fairest judges…[/font] [font="arial, sans-serif;"]His thoughts were interrupted then. [/font] [font="arial, sans-serif;"]His companions, free from judgment, followed their final orders. [/font]
[font="arial, sans-serif;"]Theme #3-The Chronicler[/font]
But Never Fun
“Now, that’s too simple a question to too complex a situation.”
“I don’t think you believe that. You did it because you could.”
“There is some truth to that. But if you thought that was all it was, you wouldn’t have asked anything at all.”
“Enlighten me, then. Why?”
“Well, it all started when—well, you should know yourself. You were there at the battle of the Rotting Gorge, were you not?”
“Not close enough to know what you’re referring to, and that was an enormous battle to begin with. My account was written based off other’s, too.”
“That seems to be how most of your work is done.”
“Indeed. Which makes our present situation most awkward.”
“I suppose. But then, a coward would be expected to think that.”
“I prefer not to think of myself that way. I am simply not openly suicidal.”
“Then why won’t you come closer? Do you really think I could hurt you in my state?”
“I don’t know if you could or couldn’t. As it is, I’m trying to figure out if you would.”
“Be a little more trusting.”
“I would rather not.”
“Do you remember what happened at the Gorge?”
“A lot of things happened at the Gorge. Be a little more specific.”
“I mean the Nova.”
“You should have just said that.”
“You should have known that’s what I was talking about.”
“I’m not a mind reader. You should know that, at least.”
“…Do you remember the Nova?”
“Of course I remember the Nova. That’s all anyone talks about when the Gorge is brought up.”
“Yes…And for good reason. That devastated both sides and killed both Toa and Skakdi. It would be irresponsible not to discuss it.”
“Don’t make me laugh. You never had any intentions of discussing it. You probably made up your mind the second you saw it.”
“Oh? And what is it that I decided?”
“You decided it was awesome.”
“It was probably awe inspiring. But then, that’s your opinion as well.”
“Sure. But that doesn’t mean I would want to repeat it.”
“Empty words, Matoran. You do not have the power required to do it even if you wanted. Perhaps if you did, it would be a different story.”
“Perhaps. But maybe that’s why I am not a Toa, and why no fools like me should be, either.”
“You haven’t heard all I have to say yet.”
“I doubt your situation will improve either way.”
“Anyway, as you well know, that Nova ended the conflict. Our commander had been the one that detonated, while he was battling the Skakdi warlord. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of either left after the blast (Or of a few dozen others), and the front ranks were left in disarray. Truly a messy situation.”
“What’s your point?”
“Well, one of the commander’s main aides, one the casualties of the Nova, was a very close friend of mine. According to another mutual acquaintance,
she had sensed the commander’s intent before battle, but did not warn anybody.”
“Then she was a fool.”
“I thought so at first. But then I wondered why she would keep quiet about something like that. Then it struck me that none of us had ever seen anything like a Nova before. It is the grandest demonstration of a Toa’s power possible. Wouldn’t you be curious to see how much power you really had, even if the marker was only the extent of destruction you caused?”
“Not at all, but that aside, my question remains. You were there. So why again?”
“Because I wasn’t. The Rotting Gorge is enormous. All I saw was some smoke out in the distance. I only learned later that my friend had been killed.”
“And because you weren’t present, you felt you needed to repeat the Nova.”
“Then you are also a fool.”
“Yes. And now I am sure, so was she.”
“Her foolishness cost dozens their lives. Why would you do this?”
“Well, only one life is ending today, and it’s the life of a fool. I don’t see it as a great loss.”
“Then you are a greater fool than I thought.”
“You are a Toa. Without you here to protect us, how many more will fall?”
“That’s why you’re here, Chronicler. Tell others the story of this fool. Warn them of my stupidity. It should be fun.”
“It is true that that is my Duty. But if you think I will enjoy it, you truly understand nothing.”
Theme #5-Find the Power
“Isn’t this just the best?”
“There’s really nothing better than being under constant threat of death.”
“Indeed, this is a fine morning for the suicidal. Why, if I wasn’t having so much fun, I would violently eviscerate myself!”
Yrena tried her best to ignore her companion, but her patience was running out. In addition to making her even more nervous than she already was, Wofke wasn’t being particularly quiet (Not that he ever was…), and the danger of being heard was not negligible.
“Please be quiet. You’ll get both of us killed!”
“Gosh, I sure hope so. This wait itself is just killing me.”
“Shut up! Someone will hear you, and we really will get killed.”
“Oh darn, I guess I’m not being loud enough HEY PEoporghghg”
“Why would you do that?! Do you really want to die?!”
“Of course I do! After all, I let you of all people drag me here!”
Yrena let go of him. He was being difficult and selfish, and he knew it.
“Just…you know just how important this is.”
“Yeeees! Finding the artifacts is so important enough that the Turaga thought it apt to offer two healthy Matoran sacrifices to the Great Spirit.”
“This wasn’t their choice, and you know it. Toa Nuroka chose us.”
“Doesn’t matter. So long as we still get to die, I’m fine.”
Yrena sighed. Wofke was being terrible, but she knew it wasn’t fair to blame him for panicking. For as long as they’d known each other, he never once had been interested in heroics. It had always been her who had been most involved in the affairs of the Toa. She was fascinated, and longed for nothing more than to be one.
Wofke had been a simple sculptor. His life began and ended with his work in his workshop. He and Yrena were lifelong friends, but their interests were completely dissimilar.
When Toa Nuroka disappeared and the Turaga revealed that the two of them were Destined to be the next Toa, Yrena saw all of her dreams fulfilled. Wofke, in turn, saw his peaceful life fall to pieces.
His life, as far as he was concerned, was already over. Could he really want to die? Yrena wouldn’t accept that.
Unfortunately for them both, the Toa Stones required for their conversion had been stolen and hidden away when the Toa vanished. To receive their future power, they first had to find it.
As they found themselves entering the Dark Hunter-infested canyon, it was only natural that their emotions would be on edge. But Wofke was practically delirious.
“Say, dear friend, what says the map? The sooner we can find ourselves in as many little pieces as possible, the better.”
Yrena had been given a special stone map crafted to detect Nuroka’s energies even if he was gone. Unfortunately, it wasn’t overwhelmingly accurate.
“As far as I can see, we’re close. They should be somewhere in that general direction,” she said, pointing. “But chances are high they’ll be hidden and closely guarded. We can’t just walk in”
“I don’t see any guards. I better go look for some in that general direction”
As he ran rashly into the cave where the Toa Stones were located, Yrena tried to call him back, but decided it was futile. She ran to follow him and found him
standing alone, the surrounding area devoid of any sign of life.
“Well, bummer. It doesn’t look like anyone is here to chop off our little Matoran heads. That is one disappointment I could have done without.
“Wofke, you’re a moron…but it seems like this was the best opportunity we could have hoped for. Come on, help me look.”
Then she noticed him already holding the two stones on his hands, looking at them as if mesmerized.
“How odd…they were just barely buried. What a poor digging job.”
“You found them! Wofke, this is great. Now we can leave this all behind!”
He was looking hard at his stone, his expression unreadable.
“I don’t want to die either, Wofke.”
“I don’t want to die,” she repeated, pointing at a mound of sand he now saw concealed the body of Toa Nuroka. “Not like him. Not ever.”
“Oh. So he died.”
“He died the day he became a Toa.”
“I guess…we’re going to die soon, too. That’s what finding this power meant.”
“But I think it’s fine.”
“How can any of this be fine?”
“We’ll be together. Just like now.”
Theme #7-The Order
“This is definitely the worst misappropriation of our abilities imaginable.”
“Putting aside the irreparable falseness of that statement, I’d say you’re right.”
“We’re Toa, for Mata Nui’s sake!”
“Indeed. This really is work best suited for Matoran couriers.”
“They send Toa to deliver the Turaga’s food order.”
“A crueler joke hasn’t ever been told.”
Rimoto decided to stop talking to catch his breath, an act that his partner, Forr, also thought appropriate.
“Holy Mata Nui. This Turaga must be a glutton…what kind of food order requires two crates, and ones of this size? What even is in these?”
“Well, my dear Forr, you’re better off not peeking. You know how Greva is, always peeking around and sticking her eyes in other’s business with her creepy mask. I don’t want to have to be reprimanded because you were ogling the Turaga’s berries.”
“Hey now, these are way too heavy to be berries.”
“Anyway, you know it’s an order to not look into the order. It’s a secret. A secret secret.”
“That is the best kind of secret, I think. Also preferably the only one…”
“What kind of stupid rules are these, though? Deliver the food in thirty minutes or the negotiations are off? I get that we’re in a tense situation with that village, but this just seems excessively inane.”
“And why did we have to be the ones to go?”
“It might be because we’re so annoying.”
“Maybe. But that seems really risky. We waste so much time, we may not get it done at all!”
“That’s…unlikely. It’s a very safe road and we aren’t that terrible. There really isn’t any way to mess this up.”
“Yeah, but really…why us?”
”Greva is too busy to waste her time like this…though I worry about sending two thirds of the village’s defenses away on such a random mission.”
“What two thirds? That would be Greva.”
“Ha ha. I suppose…”
They reached their destination soon afterwards. Looming before them was a massive, ornate fortress carved of pitch-black rock.
“That…that is a really big house for a Turaga.”
“No joke. Not to mention dark and ominous.”
“Maybe he’s in a bad mood (because of the hunger) and redecorated to match.”
“…Yeah. That is definitely the most likely explanation.”
“I’m glad you agree.”
“Either way, how do we get in here?”
A shaken-looking Turaga answered the door, though, at seeing the two Toa, his expression brightened.
“Oh! The order has finally arrived. I was lucky. A few more minutes and I would have been in trouble. But by all means, come in, come in.”
“Uh, greetings, wise elder. We don’t mean to intrude. We’re just here to deliver the order. We’ll be leaving, if that’s all.”
The Turaga, deaf to their protests, ushered them in. “Oh, don’t say such silly things, come in!”
The Turaga led them through a dark corridor, and at the end, they faced a grand door.
“This is where you go.”
“Sorry. I thought you ordered this?”
“Huh? Oh, goodness, no. The order was for food for the Master. I’m just the aide.”
“Hmm? So there’s another Turaga in here?”
“Oh…sure. But do hurry, he’s been grumpy lately.”
As the two entered the chamber, they noticed it was shrouded in total darkness.
“Hey, what’s with the dark? We might bump into a chair or something.”
Shutting the door, the Turaga apologized.
“Oh do forgive my Master, great Toa. He’s been out of it for a bit now. It's the hunger. You see…
…it’s been a while since we got a pair of fresh Toa around these parts.”
Then there was the sound door being locked, and silence.
He Got It from the Discount Aisle
“Well this is shameful.”
(Gosh, Artakha! Such a mythical, wonderful place of rest for hard-working Matoran. And hey, no boring work! It might as well be paradise.
So…this was Artakha?)
“I don’t think this is Artakha, Moden.”
“Ridiculous. Didn’t you see the sign? The sign said Artakha. It was on the sign. ‘Artakha.’ In big fat round letters.”
“No, I know but, this…wasn’t this meant to be a sort of paradise realm?”
“Yes. Yes it is. We were promised something more paradise…ey. Paradisical? Parasitical. Paradispy? Paradingy.”
“I think the proper term is paradical.”
“That doesn’t sound right at all.”
“Either way, I don’t disagree that this is a poor fit for our expectations, but maybe they were just too high.”
“The ground is screaming. The freaking ground is literally freaking screaming right now. That the ground not be screaming is not ‘high expectations,’ unless you are seriously deranged.”
“…You’re right. This is just…wrong.”
“…but maybe we’ll get used to it!”
“Are you listening to me?”
“You are acting like a total imbecile right now.”
“That’s harsh, brother.”
“We are not staying here, and I don’t care what the sign says, this isn’t Artakha!”
(So I suppose we’re leaving. Qoroo is right, obviously. This…place can’t possibly be Artakha. It’s preposterous. And we simply cannot stay.
But…what can we do? My arm won’t work. Qoroo doesn’t say anything, but I know his eye pains him, and his foot must be killing him. The trip here was hard enough. Where will we go?)
“What are those?”
“I…think we should head back.”
“Now that, my young friends, is a wonderful idea!”
(This day just keeps getting better. Monster crabs. Gold and black-armored giants.
“Tell me, good Matoran, why would you ever want to leave my realm? Isn’t it wonderful?”
“Sir, no disrespect, but we were seeking Artakha.”
“Artakha? Why would you ever want to go to that awful place? This here is Karzahni! A brighter paradise couldn’t have been imagined by the Great Beings themselves.”
“So this isn’t Artakha! I knew it.”
“Why would you ever think my realm was anything like that terrible island?”
“Uh. It was the sign, sir. The sign that said Artakha.”
“Oh, that old thing? I thought I tore it down ages ago. Oh, but I’m ever so sorry to have misled you with my sign. That was unfortunate…or rather, rather fortunate. Now you have the chance to stay on Karzahni, which is far superior! Indeed, follow me!”
(That…guy… has gotten all excited and run ahead. Me, I can’t figure it out. This place…how can it possibly be a paradise, by any standard?)
“That guy is insane.”
“Where did he even get this ‘paradise’?”
“I don’t know. But wherever he got it…”
“He got ripped off.”
“Yeah. I know.”
So there they are. This year I went for a much more lighthearted and dialogue-heavy style than last year, where it was all dark and gloomy and almost exclusively prose. The Fair Dark, for the first theme, is then left as weirdly sticking out as my old style and not at all fitting in with its forcibly-humorous compatriots.
Either way, if you have read any of these before and want to comment on them, or if you're only taking a gander at any of them now, I appreciate any and all feedback. I took this marathon very much as an exercise to do new things. Whether I succeeded or need to go dump all my jokes down a river is something I can't tell on my own. So yeah, criticism is great.