Dim moon-eyed fishes near
Gaze at the gilded gear
And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?" ...
Well: while was fashioning
This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything
Prepared a sinister mate
For her — so gaily great —
A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.
And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.
Alien they seemed to be;
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history,
Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one august event,
Till the Spinner of the Years
Said "Now!" And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.”
--The Convergence of the Twain, Thomas Hardy
IC: Niici & Wokapu – Niici’s Home
Time froze as the two Toa made contact. Wokapu's eyes sang of happiness as well as urgency, but Niici's eyes sang a different song. Wokapu noticed little as he spilled everything that he had been through over the past couple of months. He spoke of his encounter with Lekori, the Matoran he described as being a member of the Gukko Force, and likely having an infatuation for his sister, Wokiya. He also elaborated on how Ronkshou found him, and broke his back, leaving him to die in a Kofo Jaga Nest. Wokapu then went on to talk about Wokiya's friend Darien, the Toa of Plantlife who found her in the Motara Desert, nearly dead from dehydration. He talked about how they became friends and found Lekori in Ga-Koro while Wokapu was being healed by a Toa of Water named Cael, who used her Mask of Healing well (though Wokapu was sure to avoid playing up the healer's looks in front of Niici). Finally, Wokapu went on to talk about how he, Darien, Wokiya, and Lekori returned to this village to find Niici, and while at Nuju's funeral, encounter Darien's long-lost Pa-Toa sister, Visenya. Wokapu mentioned that the sister would probably be travelling with their group.
"Niici, I can make sure that you get none of the flack for this!" Wokapu promised, his eyes glowing with sincerity. He extended his hand lovingly, hoping that Niici would take it, "Just come with me and we can end this, together. We'll put everything from before behind us, and work as friends to right such a terrible wrong on this island"
So that was it. The twenty minutes of straight blabbering about his past adventures was finally over. Wokapu wasn't sure what to do now, as he was slightly regretful that he unloaded all of that information onto Niici at once. But time was of the essence, and he knew that Niici wanted out just as badly as he did -- he had to practically beg her to become the new Chief of Operations.
He waited for Niici to make a response... to say anything.
Niici, at this instance, couldn't say anything even if she wanted to. The mere shock of what she was seeing (and what she had just heard), still trying to register in her mind. Soon, however, Niici's brain kicked into high gear, and it began calculating the situation.
I suppose that signifies how much our Prime Stakeholder cares, Niici thoughts raged against the Toa who stood opposite of her.
As the seconds ticked, her will to keep up her excited and loving visage became increasingly more taxing. Silence fell upon the two occupants – one was a patient silence, the other was a stark, agitated silence. The Toa only stared at each other, each having a growing sense of confusion.
What must I do? Niici asked herself. Does she finish the job? Kill the genuinely kind Toa who was still in love with her? Even after she pretended to finally requite his affection? What did that make her?
No, this isn’t any different from other time. Shake him off and move on! Another part of Niici mind raged against her. For years, people looked down on her, cast her out for being a burden and a “freak”. Even when her peers got more mature, no one wanted her affection, not once they knew her ailments. Her acceptance into the Cultured Gentry reminded Niici of her potential – of what she could do with just money, looks, and smarts.
Strength wasn’t a factor in this club. One could gain control of an entire guild or even a whole village just via the influence gained through being part of the exclusive circle of aristocrats. She was admired – nearly worshipped!
No, Niici thought. The thought of giving all of that up pained her like a stake to the stomach.
Wokapu stood there, hand still invitingly extended. Why wasn’t she taking it? Was she afraid? Did she not have faith in Wokapu’s ability to protect them after all?
“You can trust me, Niici,” Wokapu said softly, “I will take the fall on everything. What else is there to fear?”
“What else is there to fear?”
How about the loss of everything I’ve worked for?! Niici thought, How about losing the followers I’ve gained, the grace and beauty that I’ve become known for?!
It was both funny and sickening how Wokapu resolved to just throw this all away. True, he was nearly killed because of his membership of the Gentry, but that was something that Niici concocted. The Toa of Ice knew for a fact that she would be safe. In fact, she would be better than safe.
Once the Makuta was defeated, there would be no more offerings. Niici could claim the seat of royalty for herself.
And she would.
Wokapu’s patience turned to confusion as Niici’s beautiful smile melted away. Her arms slowly but deliberately rose and crossed one another.
Wokapu’s confusion then turned to anxiety.
“Seba, we’re out of milk,” Niici said to the approaching butler, who gasped in surprise when he saw Wokapu.
“Um,” the butler stammered, “Yes madam”
The Matoran quickly grabbed his coat and headed out the front door. Niici’s gaze then returned to meet Wokapu’s glowing eyes.
“I’m sorry, Wokapu,” Niici said, her expression becoming plain, “I can’t give this up”
The Toa of Ice realized that she still felt cold even though a day had passed since that encounter, and she involuntarily shivered. Wokapu simply stood there, bewildered.
“Can’t?” Wokapu stuttered; he rested a hand on Niici’s left arm, “Why?”
The Toa of Air then found himself flying backwards through the long hallway that rested behind him. He crashed onto the floor and slid across a door onto a cold metal surface. Once his vision cleared, Wokapu realized that he had flown through the hallway and was now inside the metallic safe, which was open for some reason. He then looked down at the sizable dent in his chest armor.
Niici had done that with an unarmored fist.
When Wokapu staggered to his feet, his eyes met Niici’s; they were maculated by a dark rage.
“I would advise against doing that again,” Niici seethed, briefly favoring her arm as if Wokapu’s touch had further contaminated it.
“What… happened to you?” Wokapu asked with bated breath, his eyes misting. He could vaguely smell the alcohol in his friend’s breath.
Niici watched the Toa of Air with eyes overflowing with raw hatred. Niici had trouble trying to determine which day was worse – the past day when she was shocked to the core in an encounter that she would never forget, or today, when the one lynchpin of her plan didn’t even work out as it was supposed to? Normally, Niici would have had even greater pain to carry this through herself. There was a reason she had made all of these arrangements, otherwise she could have just killed Wokapu herself.
She didn’t like being just an object. She didn’t like being used. She didn’t like being considered common. And she didn’t like being expected to do one thing when she wanted to do another.
She would rectify this, and she would remove the whistleblower and all of his party.
The two were now both standing inside the safe, and Niici unceremoniously used her mask power to close the door, turning the large dial that resembled the wheel that was aboard a ship. Finally, the foreboding sounds of deep clicks and whines ceased.
Something happened to her, Wokapu thought with anxiety. He had to get Niici's head clear and get her out of this shark tank before it was too late. The traitor was already making his moves to grab the Chief of Operation’s chair. What Makuta did to Wokapu, he would do to Niici as well. All the traitor would have to do is-
Then, suddenly, Niici whirled around like an ice-skater, sending a white, cold shard into Wokapu’s abdomen.
“I am the ‘traitor’,” Niici said in an uncharacteristically low voice and saying that last word mockingly. Her voice sent as many chills up the back of Wokapu as there were through the front.
Wokapu had stepped off the metaphorical ledge, and was now floating in an abyss of stupor. He looked down to see a rather large icicle penetrating his stomach, red life fluid spilling out. And holding it was the girl he thought he had finally understood.
What did he understand about her? Apparently nothing… and yet he understood her as well as he understood himself. He then noticed a dark voice slithering into his ears, and peering its way into his heart.
“I took the money from your account,” Niici whispered, “I spread the news of your supposed betrayal to the rest of the Gentry. I made sure Ronkshou found out, and I made sure that he would kill you. I got everything right… except one”
A crimson puddle grew between the two Toa, and Wokapu’s mouth hung agape, as if he had given up and was about to relinquish his life, letting his soul escape through his mouth and into a more peaceful plane of existence.
Wokapu heard Niici’s words, but he still could not comprehend them. The quick-witted Toa’s mind had now slowed to a crawl, and he found it difficult to even form complete thoughts.
Indeed, the heart and the mind have a mutual dependency, shatter one, and the other will struggle to work normally.
Wokapu had not said a word thus far. No plea for mercy, no appeal to her morals. This should have made the act all the more easy. Instead, Wokapu’s silence made his elimination all the more painful. It was clear that the Toa of Air had not seen this coming – not in a million years. He was blinded by his infatuation, and with that gone, it seemed that Wokapu wasn’t anything at all.
This wasn’t a clean murder by any stretch; nothing romantic about it whatsoever. It was like most killings – an irrational response to something that you fear. Because of that, a scene of mutual confusion arose. At that instance, neither had a clue of what they were doing. Sure, they had goals, but their aspirations were hackneyed and clouded – like an endpoint with no path.
And so, Niici and Wokapu were here; one committing the act of murder, and the other accepting it, not with a sense of honor or nobility, but with cowardice and abulia.
The word had spontaneously appeared in Wokapu’s mind, and it stung the Toa just as much now as it did when his sister carved it into the snow in the drifts. He had long ago resolved that he would never join “that fight” again, that he would never compromise more good people for a line of work that he proved amateur at. He had promised himself that he would never fight the Makuta.
However, another thought began to bubble up deep within Wokapu’s soul: what about himself? What about those whose darkness charged beyond that of the Makuta?
No, Wokapu thought, Nothing is darker than the Master of Shadows.
That was the truth, right? The vile acts that the villagers committed were the acts of Makuta. Everything evil was the Makuta, and everything good was Mata Nui.
No… that was wrong. Makuta is but a slaver and a conqueror who coveted his brother’s throne. Wickedness, that comes from within – the people themselves. And people were easy to beat… Wokapu spent much of his career defending his business rivals in the ore-mining industry. He didn’t have to take on the Makuta… not the Ultimate Evil… just the wicked villagers of the island.
Naturally, it was a person who was killing him now; not the Makuta… just some girl… who apparently has quite the list of issues.
More blood spilled out of his abdomen, and Wokapu felt his knees buckle and give way. In less than a second, Wokapu found himself slamming against the cold metallic floor, the ice shard still protruding from his lower torso.
“I can’t let you take this away from me,” Niici whispered, her once beautiful voice now as vile as a serial killer’s, “What I’ve been through, what I’ve put up with… I had to kill you. I’m just sad that I’m the one who had to do it”
Niici turned on her heel and walked out of the metallic chamber. Wokapu heard the deep, reverberating clang that signified that the safe door was shut and locked.
IC: Wokiya & Lekori -- Outside of the Sanctum
Wokiya looked around, bewildered. Wokapu really had ducked out without her. Blood began to boil inside her. She and Lekori followed the group outside, eager to hear more of this newcomer's story. As much as she was happy that Darien had found a part of his family that he thought he lost, Wokapu just getting up and leaving them unsettled her.
“Something’s not right here. I dunno – maybe I’m just paranoid…” Wokiya said while Darien and his sister momentarily ceased talking. She then threw her hands into the air in frustration, “Why would he just leave? I thought he had gotten over the whole keeping-secrets thing, but I guess not”
“Time is of the essence,” Lekori said, trying to calm down his friend, “Wokapu probably just wanted to hurry and include her in our plan while we paid our respects”
Wokiya grunted and looked in the direction of Niici’s house, an expression mixing a scowl with a look of worry.