80,115 years ago...
The ocean, as always, was in motion; waves rose from its glassy gray-blue surface, letting a fine spray of moisture soak the air around Lesovikk and his Sea Sled. With a small effort he summoned a little breeze to blow the mist away. Then he turned his mind back to driving.
The Sea Sled was a good nine, ten feet long, its silver metallic build sleek and aerodynamic. It could skip across the waves like no other vehicle Lesovikk had ever ridden, turning as quickly as though it were responding to his thoughts. Thank Mata Nui he had it.
Still, Lesovikk was growing tired of circumnavigating the dangerous waters; and what was worse, a stiff wind was blowing in from the east. A storm was fast approaching -- and it would be near-suicide to stay out in the open, as the former Toa of Air knew full well. He was already sailing northeast at top speed, so it would be foolhardy to turn a full three hundred sixty degrees back to the southwest. Nevertheless, he glanced to the west first. Just in case, he told himself.
Sure enough, there was land off to the west, barely anything more than a dark green smudge on the horizon at this point but far better than nothing.
He glanced back to the east. Already a group of clouds, dark and ominous, was gathering far off in that direction. Was it his imagination, or had that been a flash of lightning?
Without another thought he spun his Sea Sled to the west, relying on the east wind and his own powers over air to speed him up.
* * *
He had barely made it onto land when the storm hit.
The winds were terrifying, easily blowing upwards of fifty miles per hour, causing Lesovikk to stumble as he sought shelter. Leaves were torn off tree branches, swirling madly in the air amidst the ceaseless roar of rushing air and pelting rain. The next several minutes were a blur -- water reduced visibility to near zero, and the waves crashing against the shore launched even more moisture toward the clouded heavens.
Only with an almighty effort was Lesovikk able to half-drag, half-push his Sea Sled behind the scant shelter of a cluster of rocks inland. There the wind lessened slightly; the rain was blocked away by the gray masses behind Lesovikk’s back. But he only allowed himself a small rest: He still had to find shelter for himself. No way could he wait out the storm in the open -- if the wind shifted, these rocks would no longer provide protection, however small.
Steeling himself, he launched back into the tumultuous weather.
Seconds blurred into minutes as the green-armored warrior ran blindly through the storm--
Lightning, far too close for comfort. Lesovikk ducked, throwing his right arm over his head as he stumbled forwards. His left arm reached out before him, trying to find something, anything, that could save Lesovikk from nature’s mercilessness.
Was that -- was that a village up ahead?
Through the roar of the storm, a single thought surfaced:
I must reach those buildings.
Step by agonizing step he pushed through the rain; the moisture struck his Kanohi Faxon, dripping down into his eyes, half-blinding him. He was picking up speed now, his walk turning into more of a jog.
The flash imprinted itself onto Lesovikk’s retinas for a split-second, long enough for Lesovikk to take another half-step toward the village. Another roiling BOOM resounded through the sky: more thunder, but farther away this time.
Instinctively Lesovikk threw up his hands -- though what protection his arms would serve against a lightning bolt, he couldn’t guess.
Just a few more steps...
With mud splashing against his churning legs, he threw himself at the first building he felt, wrenched open the door, and fell in face-first.
The rain followed after him, but the wind no longer buffeted Lesovikk’s body. He breathed a sigh of relief and turned to close the door.
Then he saw his shadow playing across the door and realized there was a lit fire behind him.
Turning, he slammed the door shut and fell into a battle stance, all in one smooth movement. There was indeed a fire there, burning lively in a stone fireplace and casting a warm glow over the bare room. But why would a fire be there without someone to light it in the first place?
‘Someone’ stepped forward from the shadows to the back-right of the fireplace. Lesovikk caught his breath. It was a Toa.
For a moment they both merely stood there, gazes locked for what seemed like an eternity. The stranger’s armor was jet-black, highlighted by brilliant orange-red gleams from the fire behind him. His mask was sleek yet armored-looking, with a row of spikes reaching from the stranger’s forehead, over his scalp, to the back of his head. His armor was worn-down yet still tough-looking.
Dangerous was the first word to cross Lesovikk’s mind at the sight of the stranger’s armored hands curled into fists.
“So,” he said, not willing to talk but just as hesitant to keep the awkward silence. “I, um, was riding across the ocean and landed here to avoid the storm.” He gestured outside to where thunder suddenly tore through the air.
The stranger remained impassive.
More silence, save for the pitter-patter of the rainfall outside.
“So,” the Toa finally said, his gruff voice matching his appearance spot-on, “you a Toa?”
Lesovikk hesitated a moment before answering, “No.”
“Really? You certainly look like a Toa.”
“It’s... a long story.”
The hard look on Lesovikk’s face must have convinced the other not to continue on that topic. “Well,” he said, smoothly changing the topic, “you won’t be able to leave while this storm is raging. Feel up to waiting it out in here?”
Lesovikk ran a hand across one of the walls. It was stone, held together by some unknown adhesive and covered by large leaves. It certainly felt sturdy enough, at any rate.
“Sure,” said Lesovikk with a nod. “Thank you, um...?”
“Jovan,” said the stranger. “Toa of Magnetism. And you?”
“Well, ‘Lesovikk’,” Jovan said as he walked toward a back corner, “let me show you where you can sleep...”
* * *
Moss and leaves didn’t make the most comfortable mattress in the world, but at least Lesovikk had a cloth to lay overtop. Even so he still couldn’t sleep, what with the raging storm outside and his Sea Sled somewhere in the midst of that chaos. So he merely laid there, eyes half-closed, listening.
Jovan stayed by the fire for most of the night, poking the wood with his weapon every now and again to keep the flames roaring. As Lesovikk watched the Toa of Magnetism do so for the umpteenth time, a wave of fatigue swept over him, he closed his eyes, and...
Light hit his face: warm, sweet, natural sunlight -- not the harsh blues and yellows of lightning. He opened his eyes and leapt to his feet with reflexes born of over twenty thousand years of wandering. Then he remembered there was no danger; not yet, at any rate.
He barely even remembered falling asleep last night, but obviously he had slept well: Outside, the sky had already turned a pale blue. Nary a cloud floated along that dome; in fact, Lesovikk found it hard to believe a storm had raged for all of the previous night.
The door banged open, interrupting Lesovikk’s thoughts, and Jovan stepped in with an armful of branches. He nodded to Lesovikk as he set the wood down by the fireplace. “Slept well, I presume?”
“You going to leave yet?”
The former Toa of Air considered before saying, “Yes. Why?”
“Because,” said Jovan, “I’d like to spar you.”
It took a moment for the words to register in Lesovikk’s brain.
“I need the practice. I haven’t fought another Toa” -- here he noticed Lesovikk’s gaze had gone stony -- “eh, warrior in a long time. You fit the description. So what do you say?”
With a shrug, Lesovikk said, “I guess it won’t take long, so sure. Just promise not to kill me, ‘kay?”
Jovan walked back to the door; as he opened it, he remarked over his shoulder, “In my experience, most people don’t get killed by someone else. They kill themselves through mistakes of their own. Not that we’ll be fighting to the death, of course,” he added with a chuckle.
As Lesovikk followed, he couldn’t help but mull over those words.
* * *
“Sword,” ordered Jovan, bringing his own before him to point directly at Lesovikk.
Lesovikk complied, drawing his air sword and admiring its gleaming edge, shining like a second sun. He brought his hand back down to waist-level, letting his sword point drop to ever so slightly graze the ground at his right.
Now that he wasn’t worrying about getting inside before a storm killed him, he got a good glimpse at his surroundings. The grass was somewhat sparse, but not badly so; at the very least, it covered up the dirt-turned-mud enough for Lesovikk to keep from getting too dirty. The rest of the village, a good half-mile off to the southwest, seemed empty; and as Lesovikk knew from close-up views, it certainly played the part. During the walk here -- a precaution, Jovan had explained, in case either Toa lost control of his powers -- Lesovikk had tried to ask Jovan about it, but had gotten only an “I don’t know, and I doubt Mata Nui does, either,” in return.
Around them, a few beach trees swayed in the breeze. Not too far to the east sat the ocean, a glimmering blue mass that caught the sunlight like a thousand sapphires. The location was beautiful, a truly incredible view to take in; as he and Jovan began to circle, Lesovikk made a mental note to come back here someday if only to see the scenery.
Jovan’s posture was excellent; as he circled, not once did he cross his legs, nor did he ever take his eyes off his opponent. The Toa of Magnetism’s gaze was laced with intense concentration. His body was tensed, every muscle strung up in anticipation of action.
On the other hand, there was Lesovikk. Admittedly, he was a warrior of the air element, so he had an excuse for his unorthodox style. He glanced around himself every few seconds in an instinctive attempt to keep an eye on both Jovan and his surroundings. In the absence of fighting, he bounced up and down on the balls of his toes to keep his muscles warm.
He had no idea what Jovan’s Kanohi was, but both warriors had agreed not to use their mask powers in the spar -- though Lesovikk felt himself itching to use his Kanohi Faxon, the Mask of Kindred, to copy Jovan’s talents.
Jovan made the first move, leaping forward and stabbing with his sword -- but leaping back before coming into range of Lesovikk’s own blade. He did it twice, then thrice, each time keeping his gaze steady on Lesovikk. The fourth time he came forward, his intentions of actually attacking etched into his expression, Lesovikk was ready. He raised his sword, took a quick step forward to meet his opponent, and--
Quicker than lightning Jovan leapt to his right, leaving Lesovikk’s sword to slice through empty air. The warrior of air was quick, though; he danced to his own right and around to keep the Toa of Magnetism in sight.
For some odd reason, Jovan was grinning widely, as though this were all some sort of joke. Lesovikk had half a mind to whack him with the flat of his blade, if only to wipe that expression off his face.
Jovan came forward again, but before Lesovikk could reach him he leapt back out of range again.
Just attack already, Kolhii-head!
The Toa of Magnetism complied. This time he didn’t bother with leaping aside; he and Lesovikk met head-on. Their swords clashed with a CLANG that echoed through the empty air.
Jovan brought his sword around; Lesovikk parried and tried to land his own blow, which was quickly knocked aside. He tried again: no luck.
Annoyance crept through his limbs. As Jovan leapt back, Lesovikk leaped into the air after him, spinning, bringing his sword down--
He fell out of the air, hitting the ground with a powerful gasp. His breath had been knocked out of him when the flat of Jovan’s blade had hit his side, and whatever air left in Lesovikk’s lungs left upon his impact with mud.
But Lesovikk could recover quickly. If there was one thing his seemingly-endless wanderings had taught him, it was that lying down could be the death of you.
He rolled onto his back, reaching his arms out and calling upon the wind to come to his aid. Slowly at first, a breeze began to pick up, carrying the warm salty scent of the ocean in its wake.
The problem? That breeze built up too slowly. Far, far too slowly. For only a split second after he had summoned the wind, his arms were pulled down to his sides against his will; his legs stuck together as though they were glued; and his Kanohi, already secure over his face, squeezed his head just a little bit more.
Through closed teeth (he could barely open his mouth now), he managed to growl, “Not fair.”
As soon as the words left his mouth the powerful magnetic forces that had held his limbs together vanished. Lesovikk stood up slowly, cautious of another elemental attack from Jovan, but none came. The Toa of Magnetism had turned away, staring out at the sea; Lesovikk, being smarter than he looked, knew better than to charge him now. Getting a face full of sand wasn’t high on the former Toa’s to-do list.
So, instead, he stood by the Toa, searching Jovan’s face for any sort of emotion.
“Lesovikk,” said Jovan suddenly.
Why had Lesovikk’s throat gone dry at the other’s tone?
“Yeah, what? You won fair and square.” Grudgingly, Lesovikk added, “Good job.”
The ghost of a smile drifted across Jovan’s face. “The same can’t be said for you... Toa.”
“I told you,” Lesovikk growled. “I’m not a Toa. Not... not anymore.”
“Exactly. This way I get to annoy you more.”
Lesovikk sighed. “Whatever you’re going to say, can you just say it?”
“Whatever.” He turned, his brilliant green eyes locking with Lesovikk’s orange ones, and said, “You’re staying here for a while.”
A full second passed before he understood the words. Wow, he was slow today.
“You can’t hold me here against my will!”
“I just did,” Jovan remarked.
Lesovikk couldn’t argue with that.
“Face it, Lesovikk,” continued Jovan. “You need more training. I beat you in, what, fifty seconds?”
“I’m pretty sure,” Lesovikk protested quietly, “it was sixty.”
“Either way, that isn’t a ‘good job’ for a Toa. Stay here and practice, Lesovikk. To be honest” -- he glanced Lesovikk up and down as though looking over a mangled weapon -- “I’m surprised you haven’t been mortally wounded during your travels yet.”
“Eh, I’ve gotten banged up before.”
“So you want to keep getting ‘banged up’?”
“Well...” He hesitated; but then he realized Jovan was right. Lesovikk needed the training. “No, I don’t. And before you say it, yes, I’ll stay here and train.” He didn’t add that any training he got now would help him, later on, enter the island of Karzahni and rescue his Matoran friends; but Jovan didn’t need to know that. Not yet. Not until Lesovikk had felt him out first.
“In that case...” Jovan nodded to Lesovikk, his earlier brief, almost crude demeanor fading away slightly. “We’d best begin training now.”
* * *
That night, Lesovikk dropped an armful of wood by the fireplace and then collapsed onto his sleeping area with a groan. He ached all over; in fact, he could have sworn his aches had aches, and all those aches hurt like Karzahni.
Jovan sat down with much more grace -- but then again, he hadn’t done a whole lot, had he? No, Lesovikk had been the one doing the pushups and sit-ups, collecting food, and even cutting down a tree with nothing but his sword and his strength. Ugh. Even remembering those strenuous activities made Lesovikk hurt all the more.
He must have looked ridiculous just lying there, because Jovan let out a little chuckle and asked, “You up for another spar, champ?”
“Shut up.” Lesovikk rolled over and clamped his hands over his audio receptors. If Jovan made one more sarcastic remark, he’d end up sailing out the door in a freak hurricane.
* * *
The next day wasn’t much better, nor the day after or even the day after that. The schedule -- which Jovan obviously took delight in reinforcing -- went something like this:
Lesovikk was awakened early in the morning, very early, in fact, for every time he could see that the sun still hadn’t done much more than peek above the horizon. With alarming regularity, he found himself thinking every morning, Another long day...
First Jovan had him do pushups: eighty, to be precise. After that, the former Toa’s arms ached so much he could barely manage to hold the bundle of firewood he was supposed to be carrying in their dwelling. Next the Toa of Magnetism had Lesovikk do sit-ups, a full agonizing seventy, even worse (was it possible?) than the pushups; they left Lesovikk’s abdomen aching enough that he would clamp a hand to it every now and again throughout the rest of the day.
But that wasn’t all. No, he’d spend the rest of the morning jogging from one rock on the shore to a second and back again until he’d run a full two kilometers. At noon, he’d get a brief rest, a quick drink of water -- and then he’d be back to work, climbing trees to retrieve the fruit on their tops.
Sometimes he’d find words coming out of his mouth that didn’t even seem to be his: “Can’t we” -- he gasped for air -- “take a break?”
To which Jovan always responded, “Do you want to get into Karzahni or not?”
For Lesovikk did indeed wish to get into the land of Karzahni, as he had told the Toa of Magnetism on his second night here, too tired to care about keeping his past secret. He had to save his Matoran friends, Sarda and Idris, not to mention all of those other Matoran that had been wrongly sent to be ‘fixed’ -- that is, if what Karzahni the being even did was considered ‘fixing’.
All the more reason, Lesovikk decided, to get this training over with as quickly as possible.
Through his daily fatigue, despite his frustration, every now and again he would see a glimmer of hope. Soon he could do a full eighty pushups without resting, though his muscles would always burn afterwards. He could run his two kilometers within fifteen minutes, no sweat. Through climbing trees and tossing the fruits down to Jovan, he became adept at picking out finger holds and grasping trunks with his legs as well as his arms.
In a way, he hated to admit it, but there was no denying the fact that Jovan’s training was helping. Helping massively, in fact, for not only did Lesovikk’s endurance rise, his confidence rose with it. He was stronger, faster, and he sure felt it.
One thing he did notice throughout his exercises was that Jovan stayed fit, as well. Sometimes, during his runs, Lesovikk would catch glimpses of him doing chin-ups on some low-hanging tree branch. On the fourth day of Lesovikk’s stay, Jovan challenged the former Toa of Air to a race, the same two kilometers Lesovikk had been working on for the past three days -- but the Toa of Magnetism was the one who won, making running the two kilometers in eleven minutes look easy.
So when the morning of the final day dawned, Lesovikk wondered just how well he’d do against Jovan in a fight.
* * *
“No elemental powers this time,” said Jovan.
Lesovikk was a little surprised at the statement. “Why not?”
“Because powers aren’t everything.” Jovan paused a moment, glancing outside one of their dwelling’s windows. The sky still carried a slight reddish tinge from the sunrise; again, Lesovikk had been awakened early. “And I want to test your full improvement.”
“But you used elemental powers last time!”
“Not,” Jovan pointed out, “until you did.”
Lesovikk conceded the point. “Whatever. Sure, I agree; just hold your end of the bargain, will you?”
Again, that ghost of a smile appeared on the Toa of Magnetism’s face. Lesovikk had long ago assumed that Jovan practiced that expression at night, when the former Toa of Air wasn’t watching.
“Let’s hope you’ve indeed improved.” Jovan turned to open the door to the dwelling; before Lesovikk could follow, he turned and said, “You don’t need to go through the routine today. Just do whatever you think you should do.”
Then he was gone, leaving the doorway suddenly empty. Lesovikk frowned after him for a few moments. He sure seems confident, he thought. A little too confident, if you ask me...
He spent the rest of the morning going through Jovan’s schedule as normal: first pushups, then sit-ups, then running the two kilometers (finally getting under fourteen minutes this time). He tried to do chin-ups the way Jovan had, but couldn’t do more than ten before dropping from the branch, fatigued.
Hopefully that would be enough to beat Jovan later today.
* * *
Lesovikk was resting in the dwelling, eyes closed, when he heard Jovan’s confident footsteps enter the room.
Without opening an eye, he asked, “You ready, then?”
“Are you going to get up any time soon?” Jovan returned.
Lesovikk shrugged. Then he leapt to his feet in a flash, settling into a casual stance just as quickly. “That soon enough for you?”
It was about time Jovan had nothing sarcastic to say.
The two walked out to the beach, not as far from the village this time as before, as they weren’t using their powers. A cold breeze blew in, chilling Lesovikk a bit but not enough to shatter the courage within his mind.
I can do this.
“Sword,” Jovan ordered, just like in their first spar four days ago. It seemed like an eternity had passed since then, blowing away memories of the past like grains of sand in a hurricane.
Metal sang out as Lesovikk drew his sword, holding it before him in a defensive posture. He didn’t jump around as much now, but he sure wasn’t staying still. He had to stay warm, keep his muscles loose.
Jovan cast a critical glance over Lesovikk’s form before speaking again. “Remember: If you win, you get to leave.”
“And if I win, you stay here for another week.”
A week seemed like a long time -- but, then again, was it much longer than the twenty thousand years Lesovikk had spent just wandering? Not getting anything done?
“Right,” repeated Lesovikk.
Jovan nodded, a couple quick, vertical shakes of his head. “Then let us begin.”
They circled, neither heeding the gentle rush of the ocean’s wave, ignoring a Gukko bird’s call that rang through the sky. Each one’s attention was focused solely on the other.
Lesovikk shifted his weight from foot to foot, eyes moving quickly, looking for an opening. Jovan let out a chuckle at the sight.
“I see your stance hasn’t grown any better.”
Shrugging in return, Lesovikk replied, “Neither has yours, come to think of it.”
Silence, save for both warriors’ gentle footsteps, muffled by the golden sand they trod on. The sun beat down as they continued to walk, waiting the other out, watching for the first move.
This time, Lesovikk struck first. Five days ago he had considered himself quick; now he considered himself a bolt of lightning. Even Jovan seemed surprised, going by his eyes, which widened as the Toa of Magnetism hurriedly parried the blow. Lesovikk’s sword swung thrice more -- three swings that were all deflected -- and then the former Toa leapt backward, out of range.
The circling began again.
“Didn’t think I was that fast, did you?” Lesovikk taunted.
“Face it,” he continued, “you did too much of a good job on me.”
Jovan’s mouth moved, but no words were audible. Cursing?
“What was that?” Lesovikk called.
Then Jovan ran forward. “Overconfidence can kill, you know.”
His sword rose to his shoulder; it came down in a streak of silver. Lesovikk was ready: Planting his right foot and bending that leg, he slid his left foot slightly to the side, placed his weight on that, and lifted his own blade.
In a surprise move Jovan switched direction, skillfully twisting his sword around and bringing it toward Lesovikk’s abdomen.
But again, Lesovikk was ready. He twisted his own sword upside-down, shifting his weight to his right foot as the two swords collided. Again, Jovan seemed slightly surprised. He tried picking up speed, switching from plain swordplay to kicking up sand with his blade. No luck. Lesovikk managed to parry or avoid any blow that came to him.
He felt... empowered? Improved? No; invincible was more like it.
But even so, Lesovikk wasn’t infallible. Jovan’s attack was merciless, quick, and cruel; he leapt and ducked, spun and sidestepped, swung and stabbed. Even in his improved physical prowess, he couldn’t hope to evade or block every blow -- hence the long, jagged cut along his right shoulder and his aching left hip.
He knew he was tiring. His sword moved a little slower now; his steps were just a tad less confident. Jovan knew this, Lesovikk was sure, and the Toa of Magnetism seemed ready to take advantage. He was feinting now, trying to get Lesovikk to expend more energy in lifting his sword.
That’s when Lesovikk realized Jovan’s advantage: He hadn’t taught Lesovikk swordsmanship. That trickster.
At least the former Toa of Air had a backup plan.
When Jovan came up for his next attack, Lesovikk tried a vicious overhand swing -- a swing that he knew was nowhere near ‘vicious’ from the moment he began the move. Jovan gave Lesovikk his little sarcastic grin as he lifted his sword to parry Lesovikk’s, balled his right hand into a fist, and sent it flying into Lesovikk’s face.
The warrior of air spun his head with the blow, but even so its sheer force sent him to the ground. He gasped, spitting out sand.
Jovan stepped toward him, his face almost directly above Lesovikk’s.
“I think you like it here,” he remarked. “Otherwise you wouldn’t have gone down so easily.”
Lesovikk said nothing, merely continued panting, trying to catch his breath.
“What? At a loss for words?”
Again, no reply escaped Lesovikk’s lips. He was concentrating. Waiting.
“Get up,” he said. “Let’s go back to the dwelling. You get to catch a Rahi for dinner.”
Once more, Lesovikk didn’t speak.
Rather, he acted.
With strength borne of five days of constant workouts, he pushed out and back with his arms, lifting his body from the ground. He didn’t make it all the way onto his feet -- but that wasn’t necessary. All that mattered was that, a split-second after pushing off, his feet struck Jovan’s knee, sending him down.
He didn’t wait to see if Jovan would get back up; gripping his sword tightly, he spun and pointed it toward Jovan’s chest. Both beings’ chests heaved with exertion.
It was a long, long moment before Lesovikk spoke.
“I think,” he panted, “I win.”
* * *
Midday -- low tide.
Lesovikk had never been so glad to leave an island -- at least, not that he could recall. For all he remembered, he could’ve gone through such a thing just a couple thousand years ago.
But he still doubted he’d felt as much satisfaction as he did now.
Behind him stood Jovan, a small grin on his face. He’d explained before that he still had his duty to his own Toa team (‘Toa team’ brought a pang to Lesovikk’s chest); he was only here temporarily, he had said, training to better serve them.
“Nice meeting you, Lesovikk,” he said in that maddeningly casual tone of his.
For once, Lesovikk forgot to be annoyed. He nodded in return. “Likewise. I guess... I guess this is good-bye.”
He dragged his Sea Sled into the ankle-high waters, swung his leg over, and took a final look back.
Jovan, Toa of Magnetism, raised a hand in farewell. His voice drifted across the shore:
Then Lesovikk turned to face forward, gunning the Sea Sled’s engine, sending it flying out into the watery beyond as he reflected that now, he was closer than ever to entering Karzahni and saving his friends.
The sun had set the water shimmering. It was truly a beauteous sight to Lesovikk’s eyes; a hopeful sight, too, perhaps.
* * * * *
This is my second entry to KanohiJournal Contest 5: Lesovikk's Hiatus. Including asterisks and dashes, this story is about 4,878 words long, keeping it a cool hundred words beneath the short story category's word limit.
To be honest, I think this is my best Bionicle story yet -- though of course, the jury's out on that (the jury being you, the reviewers, of course). Constructive criticism is, of course, greatly appreciated.
Edited by Legolover-361, Oct 15 2011 - 03:53 PM.