Liberator in Black and Gold
Breathing hard, Hajia ran through the streets of Ga-Koro, leaping over obstacles, once even sliding underneath a object being lifted. Her pursuers were unseen, but certainly not unheard, for their shouts and cries of injustice could be heard from one side of the Koro to the other.
Not pausing to look behind her, Hajia shot into a back alley, choosing it for its darkness and cover. Sitting down, she drew her knees to her chin, and put her back to the wall. For minutes, she listened, but her hunters never neared her hiding spot.
Hajia was the equivalent of 15 or 16 years old in human measurements, but she looked a few years older. Her skin was an astoundingly eye-catching mix of Metru and Mata blue, creating a mesmerizing look. People had called her beauty an incredible gift, but at moments, when males wouldn’t take her seriously, and when everyone tried to hit on her, she felt it as a curse.
Speaking of being hit on, a male, rather young-sounding voice filled the air. “Hey there beautiful.” It said, stretching out the words in a comedic manner. Soon after the sentence was spoken, a orange and yellow head peeked out from an over-hanging roof.
The grin on the Toa of Plasma’s face was quickly wiped off, thanks to a large rock being thrown in his direction. After back flipping to safety, he slid down the roof, grabbed onto one of the many opposing alley wall’s bricks which stuck out, and then fell to the ground, landing on his feet.
“Show off.” Hajia laughed, once again tossing the rock. “Forgot about that Mask of Rebounding.” The Toa of Plasma said with a grin, leaning until he was almost in C-shape, letting the rock hit into the wall.
“Did you get anything good?” He asked, referring to her previous chase’s profits.
“Yeah.” Hajia murmured, already putting her hand in her pocket. “Some Vortixx’s money purse.” She said, holding it up and opening it. Her pouting frown immediately turned into a stretched smile.
“How much is in it?” The Toa of Plasma asked, craning his neck to earn a view of the object that a brought a smile to Hajia’s face (This was a rare thing indeed).
“500 Widgets, that’s how much.” She said, putting the money-purse back into her pocket. As she did so, she smiled teasingly at the Toa of Plasma, who’s eyes were wide and surprised. “Oh, stop drooling, Sikrin.” She joked, giving him a little push.
Sikrin quickly recovered, and set off beside her, slowly moving his arm so that it was across her shoulders, and pulling her closer. All he received for his troubles was a quick jab to the stomach.
That afternoon, Hajia purchased a gigantic meal to fend off the hunger always following her, a new suit of leather armor (Form-fitting, per Sikrin’s cheeky suggestion). Feeling kind, she gave the Toa of Plasma some of her earnings, and was surprised when he swore to not spend it on himself, but on a gift for Hajia.
Later that night, he disappeared, leaving behind a note in the inn room they had purchased (Two beds, per Hajia’s order), saying nothing except he was fine. All that night, Hajia stayed awake, blankets wrapped around her body. Her new-found fortune had left her feeling nervous, as if it wasn’t possible she could be this lucky. There was also the possibility that the Vortixx had been able to get a good look at her before reporting.
In the morning, Sikrin reappeared, a small white box in his hands. Hajia opened it slowly, peering at the grinning Toa of Plasma all the while. Inside, there was a small, protosteel necklace, with an amulet-like, diamond shaped protosteel object. After staring at in silence, she shot forward, wrapping her arms around the stunned Toa of Plasma.
That entire day, Hajia displayed uncharacteristic friendliness and kindness, confusing Sikrin beyond what he believed possible.
As the two of them walked, they became less and less cautious, laughing and drawing attention to themselves, something never intelligent for one such as them, thieves and pick-pockets, to do. Suddenly, and without warning, a large, Zamor-sphere wielding Skakdi grabbed Sikrin by the shoulder, briefly showing his Ga-Koro Marines badge before slamming the shocked Toa into the wall. As Hajia beat upon the Skakdi, summoned water, and threw whatever was graspable, Sikrin was handcuffed and shoved to the ground, where he moaned softly.
Turning to Hajia, the seemingly indestructible, juggernaut Skakdi grabbed her by the neck, squeezed, and suffocated her to unconsciousness.
Hajia awoke, alone and bruised, in a small, damp cell. All of her question went unanswered, except for final one; “Where is my friend?”, which was met with an emotionless “At the hangings. And he isn’t viewing. Now shut up, or I’ll make you.”
The sentence acted like a club to the face. Hajia sat back against the wall, stunned and silent. Tears of shock ran freely down her cheeks. As she sat there, she carefully felt her necklace, quietly promising to never forget the one who gave it to her.
She never spoke as they carried her out of the cell, and towards a wagon filled with other chained, restrained female Toa, all around her age, afraid and without knowledge of where they were going. For hours, they were jostled around as the rickety wagon surged through the dusty roads of Ga-Wahi.
Much later, they arrived at Ta-Koro, and were taken to a large exhibition pavilion. To Hajia’s and the other’s surprise, they were the exhibitions. The Marines had formed a deal with local slavers, sending them whatever they collected for a bargain price. Hajia was among those who were not worth the Marines’ time, and thus sent to the slave markets.
Bound in chains, Hajia watched in horror as a weeping Toa of Ice was stripped of her mask, and bound to a platform. The seller, a Ta-Matoran, examined her, all the while spouting shameful and humiliating facts and comments, all to the amusement of the buyers -male Toa, Skakdi, Matoran, and Vortixx of all shapes and sizes.
As the others were led to the platform, humiliated, and then sold one by one, Hajia’s fear and dread grew, but she did not dare fight the handler’s bodyguard, a gigantic and intimidating Skakdi, very similar to the one that had brought her happy, perfect day crashing down.
When she was dragged, kicking, screaming, and finally whimpering, to the platform, Hajia watched in horror as a Matoran in the audience watched her with amusement, his grin growing larger as the handler spoke words such as ‘Feisty’, ‘Fiery’, and ‘Hard working’. Wide-eyed and terrified, Hajia watched as the Matoran outbid all others, purchasing her for himself.
The months after that day were terrible beyond words. Hajia was abused, tormented, and tortured in every which way, but every night she was forced to crawl back to her master, the sadistic Matoran, whose fate she dreamed of every night. The dreams were often disturbing, yet she enjoyed watching him suffer. It was during these nights and day when her heart grew hard, blacked by pain. She had already lost her innocence long ago, but now she was gaining cruelty.
After years of service and pain, Hajia was severely beaten for refusing to dance seductively for the master, and then dragged, bloodied and bruised, before the matoran. However, there was someone else there, before the matoran that day. A tall, impressive, yet subtly kind being, referred to by the Matoran as “Hound’.
As soon as she was dragged in, he stared at her, but not as the other men in the last months had. It was a look of sadness and pity, but also one of comfort.
“Now then,” The Matoran said in his raspy, unattractive voice. “I assume you have come here to purchase slaves? As you can see, we have many of them, both male and female.” He paused his speech to look up at the Denuian. He followed the direction of his stare, and sneered at Hajia. “Ah. The wench. She is below you, I dare say. Now, I have a female Skakdi, strong and hard-working, used to be a gladiator-”
The Matoran’s speech was broken off by a spear at his throat, it’s black blade pointed directly at his larynx. “I want no ’Slaves’,” Hound said slowly, through gritted teeth. His eyes were almost red with rage. “The idea of taking you life is the only amusement you can offer me.” He said, slowly beginning to carve on the whimpering Matoran’s throat with the point of the spear.
Hajia stared at Hound with amazement in her eyes. She never saw him leave his seat, but he had, somehow… Kualsi user, perhaps? No, he wore no Kanohi. Her thoughts quickly dispersed as she listened to his words. A grin began to creep across her face.
Pausing from his work with the spear, Hound lifted the Matoran bodily from the ground. At this, the two guards tensed to spring, but suddenly relaxed, for one of them had a tri-tipped arrow poking the back of his head, and the other hand a recently-created protosteel bowie knife at his neck. Tirus and Kirian stood at opposite corners of the room, The Toa of Iron chatting casually with his confused target, while the Toa of Ice remained as silent as death itself.
“Now then,” Hound mocked, wiping the blood away from the wound he had caused, and revealing the cut. It was the slave mark that the Matoran had burned onto all of them. Hajia’s, thankfully, was hidden at the very bottom of her back, unable to be viewed most of the time. She smiled at the irony of the wound, making direct eye contact with the terrified Matoran. This mysterious being was clearly someone on her side, a liberator in black and gold. “About releasing your ‘Products’.” Hound continued, ripping a huge ring of keys of the Matoran’s belt. He tossed them to Tirus, who shoved the other guard to the floor, created protosteel bonds, caught the ring mid-air, and began to unlock the bewildered slaves’ rooms and cells.
As Hajia moved to leave with the others, a hand grabbed her shoulder. It wasn’t a firm, controlling grip, but a gentle, calming one. Turning around, she stared up at the Denuian, awestruck. “You’re young, strong, and beautiful,” Hound said, making Hajia flinch instinctively. “These are not traits I am looking for. However, you still hold promise.”
Even thought Hajia was confused by the speech, she nodded slowly. “I have an offer. Let me train you in combat and the mastery of your powers, so that you can prevent this from ever happening again. And so that you can prevent this from happening to others.”
Hajia nodded, tears in her eyes. “M-my name is Hajia.” She said quietly.
“This is Kirian, The White Death, and this is Tirus,” Hound said, gesturing to the silent Toa of Ice, and then to the Toa of Iron. “I, as I’m sure you know, am called The Great Hound.”
Hajia awoke with a start, gasping in surprise. She was in a dark, unlit cavern, so terrible and maddening, it seemed tangible.
Blood flew freely from wounds on her forehead and leg, and when she coughed, blood flew from her mouth. A male’s voice, high and abnormal, was filling the air with words, but she paid him no heed. She was thinking about that day, that day when everything changed.
“Listen!” The Toa before her roared, slapping with great strength. “Your suffering will be increased, you pitiful brakas.” Halion hissed, dragging the dagger-pommel of his hook-sword down her chest, and then stabbing it into her thigh once more.
Between gasps and sobs, Hajia focused on the feeling of the steel necklace on her neck, remembering her promise, uttered in the cell, to never forget Sikrin. Thinking past that day, she whispered slowly. “My liberator… in black and gold…”, hoping and praying to Mata-Nui that he would come for her once more.
Edited by D.A.V.E., Jun 16 2012 - 09:33 PM.