This epic is a sequel to Vakama, Roodaka, and the Mask of Time, which can be found here.
This epic is a part of the archive. However, I have elected to post the full story here, and avoid a bunch of archive hunting.
As the night embraced the Matoran/Agori encampment, the six veteran Turaga sat in counsel, the flickering flames playing across the sandy ground. For many of the hardened warriors of Metru Nui, the flames transported them back to a time when darkness came from within as well as without, when they had been forced to do what every prideful hero dreads - ask for help.
"To begin" said Turaga Vakama. "We must accept our ignorance. The Matoran of Metru Nui are asking for our guidance. But I am afraid, brothers and sisters that we have little to give."
None of the Turaga spoke up to object to that. Finally, Turaga Whenua spoke up. “Vakama is right. We must learn from the past. Ignorance is our past-”
“…and will be our future, if we do not act” Nuju finished. Whenua smiled and clapped his fellow Turaga on the back.
“Anyway” said Onewa, glaring at the Onu- and Ko-Metru Turaga, “We agree that ignorance is a problem, so why are we sitting here talking about it? Let us explore this new world, talk to its inhabitants, learn!”
“Onewa, that task is too great for us alone” Nokama said. “We are but Turaga, and this world is a great one.”
Matau broke in. “Perhaps we should quick-ask the Matoran to task-help.”
“Brother, we cannot risk harm to the Matoran. This world is full of dangers!” Nokama shuddered. “This is a job for Toa. Not for a group of powerless Turaga who must debate every point.”
All the Turaga looked at Nokama.
Then they looked at Vakama.
“I know” he said “That we are not powerless, Nokama.” Slowly, he pulled out the Mask of Time from his pack and set it on the ground in between him and the fire. The six Turaga gasped.
“I thought you said it was stolen” Turaga Onewa said.
“Even we have allies” Vakama whispered fiercely. “It has been recovered.”
“Who?” Nuju wondered aloud. “Who would align with a bunch of old fools?”
“Us” said a voice from the shadows. “After all, most of us have little amusement these days, and taking on the Shadowed One and a few paltry threats from this new world would be…entertaining enough to preserve sanity.” Flame danced across her form as she advanced toward the fire, her eyes glowing in refraction, her body shrouded in shadow.
“Vakama!” Nokama gasped. “What have you done?”
Behind Roodaka, Makuta Teridax towered over a Keelerak and Mazeka.
“Great” muttered Nuju, “All we need is an enormous Rahi…” A hissing sound came from the Turaga’s seat, and he…disappeared into the dark. Whenua’s Ruru revealed a giant Rahi worm curled around Nuju, its gaping maw closed around the Turaga’s throat. Before anyone else could react, Roodaka snapped her fingers. The Keelerak launched a spinner, paralyzing the creature, which flew away from Nuju, his mask faintly glowing as a Lorahk was consumed in flame.
“Bad joke, horde-queen” growled Nuju. “Vakama, I hope age has not blinded you to her talents.”
“It was not her doing, Turaga.” The voice of Makuta Teridax made even Vakama shiver, given what they were discussing.
Onewa said “That’s right.”
Matau looked around. “Why is the old Makuta-familiar wearing light armor?”
“Vakama must have an explanation for all this” Nokama said.
“Well” said Turaga Vakama, “I suppose I have a story to tell…”
* * *
“Not Roodaka” said Nuju. “I will not trust her near any of our villagers.”
“Much as I think the Turaga of Ice has been disturbed by his unusual experience, I am inclined to agree” Nokama looked at the Turaga of Fire, wondering what might lurk beyond his eyes. But Vakama remained impassive as the other Turaga nodded their agreement to Nuju.
“Very well” he said. The words carried no emotion, but all the Turaga saw what Vakama felt, a mixture of relief and sorrow and disappointment and delight.
Roodaka turned and walked off into the shadows.
Nuju glared. “Watch your backs. I’m sure we haven’t seen the end of her yet.”
* * *
Old memories run deep, thought Roodaka. Young scars last the longest and cause the most pain. She almost smiled at the thought of outsmarting her enemy, of knowing more than they did. Did they really think I was trying to get them to accept me, and then betray them? For what? There are many ways of defeating my enemy…but information is essential to that end. Wandering aimlessly through the camp, dodging the light of various beings’ fires, Roodaka wondered whether she could still call Vakama an enemy.
Not exactly. That is the least of my problems. The thought of spending the rest of her existence as a wandering nomad with only a former jailer for company severely annoyed Roodaka, and the thought of aligning herself with the Toa and Matoran was next to impossible. She could return to her own people, but they were a species accustomed to hard work in factories in an area rich with resources to support them, not an unknown planet where any factories would have to be built and resources found, a process Roodaka found boring and tedious. The Visorak here might not remember their queen’s treachery, but they would have to be tracked down and trained to obey, which was too slow – by then, the Matoran and Agori would have spread across the landscape, leaving Roodaka no land base. The Spherus Magnans, however, might prove willing and useful subjects, if Roodaka could convince them to obey her.
Toward the western side of camp, three beings sat around a fire, shielded from the incoming night wind by a large piece of prototype robot leg armor. Roodaka approached slowly, staying well out of view.
The smallest of the three beings nodded. “The excellent location will allow all the villagers to travel an equal distance from their homelands, so that there will be no dispute.”
“And” said the being on the right, “The Fire Matoran and Agori will be able to settle near this ridge. I’m able to vouch for some of the those Matoran’s skill in weaponry and defense.”
The tall being on the left sighed. “We are all in agreement on the site for New Atero. But those two passes will have to be guarded, and scouts placed on that ridge.”
“What exactly are we defending against, Ackar? All the threats against us have been defeated, and we’ve been out here, in the open, vulnerable for weeks. They fear us.”
“No, Raanu. They are simply biding their time, plotting their next move.”
Raanu threw up his hands. “Whatever you think is best, Ackar. But I think you are imagining shadows and swords where there are none to be found, having lived under the eyes of your enemies for centuries.”
“Perhaps” said the third being. “But better to fear imagined swords than to be crushed by real ones.” He had the marks of having lived in Roodaka’s universe, and something about him seemed vaguely familiar.
It was at his point the conversation seemed to falter between the three beings, and the two Spherus Magnans left, presumably to get rest, and seeing that there was nothing more to be heard, Roodaka left.
She found a place outside the camp, unable to forget the expression on the Toa of Fire’s face - furious, burdened, and very much alone.
* * *
The light of the flames of Solis Magna slowly crawled across the encampment, slipping across a certain Agori’s eyes. A few minutes later, he was making his way across the encampment. He walked past a curved piece of prototype leg armor, then redoubled back, looking down at the map Toa Tahu had spread out before him.
The Toa of Fire looked up. “The site for New Atero is here.” He quickly explained the map to the Agori, who quickly darted away, toward the far side of camp, zigzagging as he went. More Agori and Matoran joined him, threading their way into the area where Thronatus were parked. Several Agori leaped onto a vehicle, and the one who started it all drove the party away.
* * *
Roodaka stood on a small hill, observing what went on below. Hands on hips, armored feet on two boulders someone – Mata Nui, in Roodaka’s opinion – had jammed into the sandy mound, the former Visorak viceroy never saw the dark figure behind her until she felt the sting of the sword in her back.
Fortunately, Roodaka was able to roll with the force of the blow, snapping the long sword in half. The wound was poorly delivered, but it had severed some armor and tore through some of the muscle in her back, making it difficult to stand.
The Keelerak, approaching from behind, launched a spinner at the newcomer. He slumped over, paralyzed. Roodaka sauntered over and lifted him up and smashed his head up against the rock, grimacing in pain from her wound. Laying him out flat on the rocky hill, Roodaka knelt to examine him.
Mutating things requires a certain amount of knowledge. True, Roodaka could just launch a spinner at a form and will it to become another, but the more dissimilar the form, and the less Roodaka knew, the more energy it would require. Attempting too complex a transformation could be fatal. Fortunately, due to her training with the Dark Hunters, who had more than their share of dead enemies, acquiring a good deal of knowledge on Matoran Universe inhabitants was simple.
This being had all the marks of a Spherus Magnan, and Roodaka had thought to get a basic idea of his anatomy before releasing him. Organic Tissue, Roodaka thought. This being is completely organic. They just embedded the armor in his tissue to protect him…
The Keelerak chirped in the language of the Visorak. Five Skrall warriors surrounded the ridge. Roodaka scowled. The Keelerak fired two acid spinners, disarming two Skrall, who ran away.
Roodaka leveled her spinner launcher at the remaining Skrall, firing toward the lead Skrall, who dodged easily. Outnumbered, Roodaka retreated off the ridge. However, she kept her spinner launcher leveled, watching as the leader approached the ridge, the other two climbing over the rocky sides. Once they were inside the ridge, Roodaka gestured to the Keelerak.
Six more spinners and sixteen minutes later, the job was done, the details of which would make the Shadowed One smile. Suffice it to say that there was one very dead Skrall and later, three very confused Agori.
What Roodaka didn’t know was that she had made a very serious mistake.
* * *
Cautiously, and with a deal of pain, Roodaka mounted the mysterious machine. It wasn’t overly complex, but it took her a few minutes to get used to the controls. Intensely aware of her surroundings, the Vortixx eased the contraption through the encampment, increasing speed as she left it, flying over the sand to new realms to explore and conquer…
The air in front of her shimmered, and Roodaka, unable to see ahead, wrenched the transport to a dead stop, trying to clear her vision. The golden armor of Makuta Teridax appeared in front of her, emerging from his teleport right in front of the astonished Vortixx.
“All right” scowled Roodaka “You drive.”
Mazeka was miserable. Obviously, being a Ko-Matoran, standing in front of a fire wasn’t exactly comfortable, but he had willingly had endured worse things during his Orader of Mata Nui training. The bigger problem was that his mind was full of questions and no answers which had always annoyed him.
Roodaka had been sent away. If Vakama’s history was complex, these other Turaga’s relation to her was simple – she was an enemy, and they wanted nothing to do with her. He had seen the same look of contempt on agents sent to interrogate prisoners. Whatever complex history Vakama had, it raised Mazeka’s suspicions. He knew from experience how deadly a traitor could be. He needed to discuss this with Teridax. Unfortunately, private discussion wasn’t a luxury he could afford, due to the Turaga in front of him and their discussing a plan, which he would soon be involved in.
Nokama was advocating a settlement not far from the original camp at an estuary, which the other Turaga reluctantly approved.
Matau still wanted to explore the Great Forest with a contingent of Le-Matoran. After some debate, it was decided that they should go, but take a number of Gukko Birds and scouts, and to seek out some Glatorian to go along.
The other Turaga sought to explore the mountainous lands to the North. By now Mazeka was lost in his own thoughts, but the end result seemed reasonable. At least, that was what the Matoran remembered before he lay back on the sand to sleep…
* * *
When Mazeka awoke, he experienced that terrible where-am-I feeling you usually experience after reentering life at a different place then you left it. Fortunately, the feeling was transient enough – he was in a tent on Spherus Magna – and he stood, ever watchful and wary.
“Good Morning” Mazeka’s fellow traveler looked up from his meditative pose. The tent was small, certainly not large enough for the armored colossus to stand, so he was forced to ease himself – backwards – out of the tent. If it had been any other person, Mazeka would have winced in sympathy for the person’s sheer humiliation. Well, he did wince, but he didn’t say anything about it, seeing as the veteran Makuta didn’t say anything about it.
“Vakama” said Mazeka.
“I think he could be a traitor.”
“He was a traitor” said Makuta Teridax. “Long ago. But his heart lies with the Matoran, not with Roodaka.”
“Yes.” said a voice from nearby. “I did betray my team - once – in times before. It is twice as painful for the betrayer as the betrayed, when you finally know what you have done…” He broke off, overcome by sadness.
Mazeka put a hand on his shoulder. “You came back. You overcame the madness which I saw overcome another.”
Vakama nodded bitterly. “If it is within my power to do so, you will not see it again. But I see that your eyes burn with curiosity, Matoran. Perhaps, when these immediate matters are settled, I will call Kopeke the Chronicler, and you can read the Tales of the Toa Metru. For I have walked the painful roads of memory once, and would not like to do so again.”
* * *
“I suppose we will speak with Toa Tahu and see what he can be done about getting us some transport to the North.”
“Coward” said Mazeka. “Why don’t you talk to those Agori? I’m sure I could broker a deal.”
“Mazeka, don’t” said Makuta Teridax. “There is…no need.”
And the next thing the Matoran knew, he was standing on top of a machine of some sort, of the kind none of his kind had never seen. And Makuta Teridax was taking the controls from a certain renegade Vortixx. He spun it around, taking it back to the storage area.
“So” Mazeka looked at the nearby Agori. “Mind if we take this for a spin?” The Agori looked around, confused. “You see, she was trying to steal this…and we brought it back…and if you let us use this we’ll take her away so she will never bother you again.”
“Okay” said all the Agori.
“Are you sure?” Makuta Teridax said.
“Oh, no, it’s not a problem” The Agori looked at each other nervously.
“Excellent” Makuta Teridax replied.
* * *
After they were a safe distance out of camp, Mazeka and Makuta Teridax clanked fists. Even Roodaka turned at the sound, and they could catch a flicker of a smile.
* * *
Miles passed as the Thornatus shot across the desert. There wasn’t much conversation, mostly because the occupants, whether feeling sorry for themselves, being overcome by the scenery, or concocting a new master plan, were lost in their own thoughts.
As for Mazeka, he was cataloging motives. Why Makuta Teridax wanted Roodaka on board was beyond him – or maybe he just wanted to stop the theft of the Thornatus by Roodaka. Of course, what Mazeka had said had only made it worse. He wondered if their newfound speed of travel was worth their unwanted passenger.
Soon, they had left the terrain of desert canyon behind and glided under a canopy of greenery, which, after an hours’ travel, gave way to a grassy carpet. To the left were ice covered mountains of hard stone, and to the right were shorter mountains which emitted steam and smoke. Various Agori were scouting the area, some scratching notes on tablets, others huddled in groups, pointing out various elements of the area amid much nodding.
“The site for New Atero” said Roodaka.
Makuta steered the craft toward the right, away from the river that cut through the ridge that the Thornatus had just climbed. Slowly, they slid off the ridge and to the base of one of the smoking mountains.
“We’re looking for a site for the new Ta-Koro” Vakama explained as the group clambered off the machine, stretching stiff muscles and looking around for enemies.
“Okay, so this is going to be quick” said Roodaka. “Climb mountain, make sure mountain is not a hazard, climb down, reverse direction, and I end up…somewhere.”
The Keelerak sighed in disgust, muttering under its breath. Roodaka kicked it in irritation. “Move, you wretched beast, or I’ll throw you into the lava.”
And so they climbed up the mountain. Mazeka didn’t particularly have much trouble – there were plenty of hand and footholds, and it wasn’t like he was a complete rookie at this. He was also beginning to like the chance to enjoy a simple challenge – until he saw Makuta Teridax using his hammer to clamber up the slope with Turaga Vakama on his back.
“it is fair and just!” yelled Roodaka and Mazeka. Mazeka scowled and kept climbing, but he could hear Roodaka and the Visorak talking in excited tones behind him, which encouraged him to pick up the pace.
A web shot past Mazeka’s ear. He looked to see Roodaka swing past him, holding two ends of a Visorak web in one hand and the Visorak in the other. As Mazeka watched, the former Visorak viceroy flicked her wrist, sending part of the loop over another rock on the top of the crater. The anchorage swung the Vortixx forward as well as up, allowing her to land in a low gap in the crater.
“You cheat” said Roodaka, setting the Keelerak on the ground away from the Turaga of Fire. “I cheat.”
“And I don’t have to” said Mazeka, marching in between the two, into the cloud of gas and steam.
* * *
White swirled around the Ko–Matoran. Mazeka kept walking forward, knowing that soon that the humid heat would be too much for him to tolerate. Just before he thought he’d have to turn back, a cool wind blew out of the north, and the fog around him sifted away…to reveal a sight that no other Ko-Matoran would ever see and live to tell about.
He was standing half a kio from the center of a lava lake, on a long rectangular platform that protruded out into the lake. Directly in front of him, yet several kio away, lava cascaded out of a vent, perpetually filling the pulsing pool. Surrounding this, ribbons of pale blue cut through the dark rock, glowing in the evening light. But the sight was a comparably brief one – in spite of the breeze, Mazeka was already feeling dizzy from the heat exposure. He slowly walked away, and only strong mental fortitude allowed him to reach the side of his comrades before he was forced to rest on the rocky ground. Being a Ko-Matoran, he knew that he would have to leave the mountain soon or risk unconsciousness and death. He also knew that he did not have the strength to make the return climb down.
So Mazeka watched as Roodaka and Vakama walked out towards the center of the lake, hoping that they would make their decision quickly. He watched the lava bubble, noting the fact that it seemed to bubble in some places and not in others. He saw the twin columns of flame leap up and melt through the stone in front of what Vakama stood on. He heard Roodaka say “Vakama.” and then, “Vakama!” as she dashed forward toward the severed end.
Edited by fishers64, Dec 10 2011 - 03:11 PM.