Three Matoran were thrown roughly to their knees on the wooden deck that shone with spray from the sea. A rough voice bade them not to move. Two of them obeyed, shivering in sheer terror; the third, a bold Ta-Matoran, looked up to face his captor. He instantly regretted it.
A single long, wicked claw hooked under his chin so he couldn't look away, cutting off the gasp that had begun to escape him. This ghastly hook extended from the handless arm of a Matoran, who stood glaring down at the horrified sailor with a predatory grin. His body was so battered and rusted that his element was indiscernible. Barnacles encrusted his legs like the pillars of a pier.
Behind his Noble Kaukau only one of the golden eyes was lit. It gleamed with arrant maleficence. He was a vision out of a horrific dream.
His voice was a sharp, gritty bark. "Were there any other survivors?" he asked, leaning closer to the Ta-Matoran who stared, trembling, back into his one eye.
"No, Cap'n Storm. Except for these three, the ones we didn't kill drowned with their ship," croaked the mass that towered behind the hook-handed Matoran. It was a four-armed beast with the legs of an amphibian, hunched shoulders, a jaw insulated with jagged teeth, and beady eyes that glowed a demonic red. If his leader was out of a horrific dream, this abomination was a nightmare in himself.
"Good. Then there will be no survivors at all." The Matoran called Storm slowly raised a long, serrate blade, savoring with sadistic glee every moment of his victim's fear.
The Ta-Matoran closed his eyes. In one swift movement, the blade flashed; the Matoran crumpled.
The captain of the vessel turned to the beast behind him. "Barbarian, truss the living vermin, then throw 'em all in with the Takea."
"Yes, Cap'n Storm." Nightmare repeated the orders to the crew, who roughly seized the three Matoran.
Plish. Plish. Ploosh.
Captain Storm whipped around. "Retrieve that last Matoran!"
A Skakdi gaped at him. "But you said----"
"It's no business of yours what I said! Unless you want to have a nap in Karzahni's locker, you listen to what I say!"
Without a moment's delay the Skakdi dove off the edge of the deck. A rope was thrown over the broadside, and Storm waited with growing impatience until the Skakdi hefted a Ga-Matoran onto the deck. She lay coughing and sputtering until the captain stormed to her side, turning her over with a rough kick to procure the seaweed bag that hung from her shoulder.
"Who tied this Ga-Matoran without searching her first?"
All hands pointed to the Skakdi who was at that moment swinging a leg over the rail. He met the captain's eye. An instant later his body struck the water, and he clawed furiously at the water in an effort to carry himself with all haste away from the vessel.
"Don't make him wait for the Takea, Barbarian."
The hulking first mate plunged into the ocean with a splash that rained water upon the deck.
Storm gave the contents of his captive's bag one fleeting perusal, then ordered, "Untie the Ga-Matoran and bring her to my cabin."
The captain had seated himself behind his desk by the time the Ga-Matoran was shoved roughly into the room and the door pulled quickly shut behind her.
Storm smiled with ostensive cordiality. He said smoothly, "I apologize for the savage treatment, my dear. You see, my crew are--well, savages." He gestured to the luxuriously cushioned chair across the desk. "Have a seat."
Without speaking, the Ga-Matoran stepped to the chair, wringing her hands, and seated herself.
Storm plunged his hook into the surface of the desk with a precipitation that gave his guest a start. In the same smooth tone he said, "Let us take a look through your baggage, shall we? I don't allow my passengers to smuggle contraband, you see." With his free hand he emptied the seaweed sack onto his desk and rifled through its bowels. "This is quite a heavy object you wrapped with this cloth here. What have we? A rock. A very large one. Burdensome things, rocks. Heavy and hard. Why did you go to the trouble of wrapping it and carrying it in your bag?"
"I--I collect them." The Ga-Matoran swallowed. "It was a-a rare one, that I f-found on my t-travels, so--so I----"
"Wrapped it to take home. I comprehend. And this stone, here. What an unusual shape. It is the spitting image of a Great Zatth. My! And that color! Never have I seen a gold this resplendent. Paint, I conceive?"
"That--that's a real Kanohi."
Storm's eye widened with sardonic shock. "You don't say?"
"It--er--it belongs to Toa Dume."
"I did not realize Toa Dume was in the habit of sharing such powerful Kanohi with sailors."
"He--he isn't. He didn't. I--we--he's been a friend of mine, ever s-since he was a Matoran."
"So I see. But that does not explain what you are doing with a Kanohi as powerful as this, even if it is Dume's, and he is your friend."
"He--broke it. I took it--for him--to the best forger in the universe."
"And he repaired it?"
The Ga-Matoran nodded.
"And you were on your way to return it to your close friend, Dume?"
She nodded again.
"I see." With some little effort, Storm loosened his hook from the desk and rose. He circled the desk, slowly and deliberately, murmuring, "I see. I see. I see." He nodded in satisfaction. "Yes. I see that you are a very clever Ga-Matoran and that you concoct a credible tale." He rounded suddenly on the Ga-Mtoran, who squeaked with fright. She whimpered as he leaned close and whispered into her ear, "But I know all there is to know about lies. I know the word in many languages. And I know all the words for it in our own. I can classify a lie, from the whitest of fibs to the deepest and most intricately spun prevarications. And I can always"--he leaned closer--"tell"--closer--"when someone . . . is lying!" He spat the words vehemently at the Ga-Matoran. "Where is it?"
"What? What?" the Ga-Matoran sobbed, burying her mask in her hands. "I don't know what you're talking about!"
Storm watched her weep, her hands desperately clinging to her mask. Storm seized one of her hands, then glared into the eye he had uncovered. It widened. He peered into the fear there. She was trying to hide more than just her face.
She shrieked, pulling with all her strength in an attempt to escape the grip of his single hand. But it was in vain. He grasped her arm with viselike retention. As she struggled, he reached his free arm across his body--toward her head--hooked the top of her Huna--and rent it from her face.
The screech she unleashed before slumping to the floor was horrified, harrowed, and chilling. Storm would have felt his flesh crawl, had he any flesh--or any feelings.
But he had heard better screams.
Instead he smiled. It was a smile of satisfaction. With wicked enthusiasm he detached the snatch of paper fastened to the inside of the Kanohi. "Clever," he observed, "very clever."
The door creaked open behind him. A wide-eyed Zyglak peered into the cabin, glancing from the body on the floor to me to the unusual items on the desk.
"Is--is everything okay in here, Cap'n?"
Storm laughed. "Everything is better than that--everything is grand."
The Zyglak pointed at the desk. "What's that----that rock there?"
"This?" With practiced dexterity Storm tossed it into the air with his hook and caught it again, balancing it on the razor-sharp edge. "It is a Toa Stone."
"And what's that you have there?"
Storm unfolded the paper and grinned down at the mark labelled . "It's a map."
The Zyglak's eyes brightened. "A map? To what?"
"I have much power," Storm responded, his smile spreading into a rapacious grin across his mask. "The fear I inspire is that which no Matoran has ever known. But what I hold here is the key to more than power, more than mere fear. I hold my future. I hold puissance . . . and I hold horror. I hold in my grasp control over all the seas. I hold the deed to Karzahni's locker."
-x- the end . . . ? -x-
I created this backstory from a character I concocted for a short epic so old and so horrid that it shall never see again the light of day unless I rewrite it which I've already begun to do and might finish. I created the character as a Turaga, and for years I've been toying around with various concepts for his past. Finally I decided upon this one. It's amazing how much Storm transforms, from this ruthless pirate to what I can only describe as an eccentric, garrulous, senile Turaga--maybe even more amazing that this evolution was reversed in my mind. From an old fool I created this intimidating villain. I hope to develop his character further and elaborate (and justify) this transformation.
But I hoped you enjoyed this piece. Even if you didn't, I would appreciate your thoughts, especially constructive criticism.
From the desk of Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith