I seem to be dreaming about the past more and more lately. This time I dreamed I about being a Toa again, soaring through the clouds and watching over the Matoran. Seeing me fly towards them, they would pause in their work and wave at me, smiling and safe. And I would smile back, wishing that moment could last forever. Smiling and safe…
I lower my carving wedge and look up to see the sun shining brightly through my window. I grab my simple staff as I step outside to breathe in the morning air. The distant cries of the Lava Hawks echo in my ears and I slowly accustom to the changes night has brought. I head off towards the village square to see my villagers busy with their duties. Ever with a determined look, Dalu goes off with her tools to search for supplies for the others. Behind his mask, I can tell Balta is lost in thought designing new equipment for the builders. Tired from a long night guarding his fellow Matoran, Garan trudges back into his abode. I smile at the sight and make my way back to my hut.
Amazingly, it is these mundane things that have kept me going. The promise of getting up each morning to see these children hard at work and without a care in the world. It astounds me that I could ever forget…
That’s right. I lower my wedge again. I did forget. I forgot for the longest time... Let’s see. It was only a few years after my team and I had retrieved the Mask of Life…
As the blinding sun glared through my hut, I gave an irritated sigh. It was still early, so the light was able to hit my mask almost sideways. I was awake, an old habit from my years as a Toa, but I delayed rising for as long as possible. What was I getting out of bed for? Did the Matoran need a Toa to save them from an imminent threat? No. Everyone in the village was safe, and even if they were not, a weak Turaga could not do anything about it.
“All I can do,” I muttered as I got up, “Is go out there and look important. A symbol, that’s all I am. The end result of working hard and loyally doing your duty.”
I walked outside and the Lava Hawks greeted me with piercing screeches, alighting back to the inactive Mt. Valmai as I passed them. It was time to go check on things in the village and make sure everyone was dutifully at work. Then it was back to bed. Sometimes I got the urge to share with them the valuable lessons I had learned as a Toa, but they rarely seemed to be listening, so I would just go back to my hut and write what I would have told them in my log. That was one thing I never had time for as a Toa. I had always seen the importance of wisdom and understanding the world around me, but I never had the time to share my ideas with others. I thought maybe this log would be a way to make my dream a reality. Placed in the cavern where records of Voya Nui’s history were stored, it could instruct the Matoran for centuries to come. No, I decided. It’s pointless. I would be better off going to sleep. I closed my eyes. Maybe I would have that dream again…
“Jovan! Turaga Jovan!”
The cries were close. Instinctively I grabbed my staff and rushed outside, but there was no sign of whoever had called. Or so I thought. I heard rustling in the bushes behind me and looked in time to see a white hand being pulled into the forest – into the Green Belt.
“Mata Nui, this isn’t good.”
Panicked footsteps sounded behind me. I turned, and panting exhaustedly were three villagers, a Ta-Matoran, a Ga-Matoran, and a Le-Matoran, all carrying strange tools.
“What happened?” I demanded. “Tell me quickly.”
Out of breath, the Ta-Matoran gasped. “Our village was attacked by a Fenrakk. We managed to drive it off, but – but it took Kazi with it!” His voice quavered. “We have to get him back! We - ”
I waved my hand and he stopped mid-rant. “Why are you here, where is Garan? I thought he was the leader of the village guard.”
The Ga-Matoran seemed just as scared, but was composed enough to speak up. “He’s trying to assemble the villagers to go after Kazi. He sent us to track down that thing so we can take him back.”
At those words, I shook my head. “That’s no good. Fenrakk Spiders don’t wait for their prey to be rescued. Your friend will be dead before Garan can rally the villagers.” My mind raced. I scrutinized the Matoran before me. They were terrified on the surface, yes, but underneath emanated an indescribable determination. They aren’t Toa, but I guess I’ll have to make do. “The only option is to go after him ourselves.”
Upon hearing this, the Le-Matoran’s legs started shaking and the Ga-Matoran stared at me like I had suggested jumping into the volcano. The red one’s quavering got worse. “We- we can’t go by ourselves. We’ll die!”
I stared at the sky for a few moments before answering. “A village is like a Toa Team. Everyone is a part of the whole, no one member more important than the others. But at the same time, that one member is just as important as everyone else put together. We’ll all make it and survive, or we’ll all fail and die.” I felt a lump in my throat as I said those words. “Whether it’s just the four of us, or the whole village.”
I brought my eyes back down and looked at the Matoran again. This time they seemed a little less afraid and a little bit fiercer. I turned in the direction of the Green Belt. This was no time to make speeches. “Follow me. Tell me about your tools and what you can do, and I’ll find a way to save your friend. I won’t let you down.” The lump got bigger.
I set off into the familiar forest without seeing if they were ready first. I was going either way. After a brief moment’s hesitation, the three Matoran plunged in after me. I heard them join my path. I’m not going to let anyone die. I won’t. Can’t.
We followed the trail of the Fenrakk as best we could. We were not far behind, and, thanks to the memories of my all-too-recent journey through the Green Belt, I knew where the Fenrakk’s nest would be. The Matoran, named Balta, Dalu, and Piruk, had told me what I had to work with, and I had begun formulating a plan that I was confident would succeed with minimal risk to them. However, there was something bothering me.
“You.” I directed this to the Ta-Matoran. “What was your name again?”
“Balta,” he answered with a roll of his eyes. I guess he never listened when I was teaching about respect.
“Balta, why haven’t the Fenrakk attacked until now? It’s not like there was anything stopping them.”
Balta slowed his pace while he thought. After some consideration, he resumed his normal speed. “They did attack before, but then you arrived and they suddenly stopped. It was almost like they were afraid of you, at least for a while.”
Balta’s words recalled a forgettable incident that occurred on our way to return the Mask of Life. Fenrakk charging at me. My idly unleashing Magnetic Bolts at them. Fenrakk scurrying away from me. I redoubled my speed. “Can’t imagine why.”
The landscape began to slope downward, and up ahead it dropped completely into a rocky, bowl-like nest. Slowing down, I signaled for the Matoran to be quiet and we crawled to the bowl’s edge. At its bottom were the unconscious Kazi and a particularly ravenous Fenrakk Spawn inching towards him, drooling acid in anticipation of its meal.
“Remember,” I whispered. “It’s not about the strength of the enemy. It’s about his weaknesses.”
“What if our plan doesn’t work?” asked Piruk as he nervously sharpened his Shredder Claws.
“Why do you think I’m here? Now get into position, hurry!”
As I had instructed, Piruk moved soundlessly to the left side of the bowl and began to quietly dig. I patted Balta on the back twice and his eyes became unfocused, but then grew intent. He stood stiffly up and began to climb down the rugged bowl. The sounds of his descent alerted the Rahi, and it wheeled to face its unexpected guest. The terrified Ta-Matoran moved likewise to face the nightmare. Fortifying himself mentally, Balta raised his Repellers to return its predictable rush. The Fenrakk, foaming acid, charged, and, against his will, Balta’s eyes clamped shut for what his body knew to be the end.
Then Balta heard something shrieking and thrashing in front of him and he forced his eyes open to a sight. Where the spider once was, now writhed in agony a red and black heap choking on its own acidic saliva, its sense of taste multiplied a thousand fold. I released an internal sigh as I caught the weakened Dalu. Her Chargers had done the trick, but we were not done yet.
I gave the confirmation for the shivering Matoran to continue. Hardly daring to take his eyes off the Rahi, Balta retrieved Kazi and carried him to the Le-Matoran’s newly built exit in the side of the stone nest.
Finally daring to make a sound, I breathed an external sigh as Balta and Piruk brought Kazi over to Dalu and me. Though the Ta- and Le-Matoran looked ready to pass out, we had pulled it off. I started to look back up to the sky when something caught my eye. On the opposite side of the nest was an army of fully-grown Fenrakk, eying our handiwork in their nest.
I wasted no time gaping. I looked back to my side wherethe Matoran were, unsurprisingly, wasting time gaping. “Don’t worry,” I assured them. “I planned for this.”
Piruk was frozen where he stood. “Really?”
In response, I activated my Kadin and took off into the sky. When I was high enough, I yelled to get the army’s attention. Given how quickly they started chasing me, I assumed they recognized their former assailant. I flew away without seeing the faces of the Matoran below me. I heard them calling after me, but the wind snatched their voices away before they could be understood.
I glanced back and down. The whole army of Rahi seemed to have followed me. Good, they’ve taken the bait. Well, good for the Matoran, I guess, not for me.
A tugging sensation interrupted my thoughts. I had begun to descend, but I had not lost the Fenrakk yet. As I expected, my Noble Kanohi’s limited flight would not be enough to escape my pursuers. It appeared I would not have to worry about my responsibilities as a Turaga much longer.
I landed in a wide-open clearing. Even if I wanted to, there was nowhere to hide.
After saving the universe as Toa and transforming into Turaga, my team had disbanded. The others left to become elders for distant villages, but I felt a compulsion to remain on Voya Nui. What am I saying? It was no compulsion. It was guilt.
The Fenrakk lurched closer, their combined acid forming a fog.
When I was a Toa, I had enjoyed protecting the Matoran. My team also. No matter what the danger, I always found a solution that ensured everyone’s safety. I had confidence in my ability to lead my team through the toughest of trials and emerge unscathed. But my confidence broke after completing my final mission. Because completing that mission cost one of my friends his life.
The fog drifted ahead of the beasts, their combined fumes suffocating and blinding me.
Our mission was to save Mata Nui, every Matoran and even the universe itself. We succeeded in our mission, but I failed myself, by being unable to save one of my closest friends. We all survive, or we all die. That was why, after we became Turaga, I stayed behind. I knew if I stayed with them, I would end up getting them killed too.
Now the least I can do, I sensing my enemies draw near. Is make sure Balta, Garan, and the rest don’t have to experience that as well. That’s one lesson I don’t want to teach them.
Whether it was the stampeding wave of monsters or my own screams, everything was quiet now. My vision had been replaced with a semi opaque view of the world around me. I could hear nothing, I could see nothing, and I wordlessly accepted my fate. So naturally, that was when a giant explosion chose to detonate in the center of the Fenrakk swarm. I curled into a ball and covered my ears at the unwelcome return of sound, and coughed as the blast dispersed the acid mist, along with many of its distributors.
I blinked and looked around, my sight restored as well. What happened? As I was getting reoriented, the Fenrakk scurried back to their nest for protection after the fright caused by the mysterious explosion of energy.
The next thing I heard were loud voices behind me. I rolled over to discover the source of the clamor, and I was shocked to see the entire village, armed and gathered together, cheering after having driven the Fenrakk away. Leading the villagers was Garan, who slowly uncrossed his Pulse Bolt Generators. Upon catching sight of me, he relaxed his shoulders and waved. Uncertainly, I waved back. He was very far away. Balta, Piruk, Dalu, and Kazi were also with the villagers, the Ko-Matoran smiling weakly and propping himself up against a friend.
At the sight, I felt the lump in my throat return. Those fools. What were they doing back here? I was going out of my way to make sure they all stayed safe, and they had followed me anyway! “What are you doing!?” My reprimand emerged a whisper. My voice was hoarse.
Balta looked puzzled. “Well… we came to save you. It was either we all made it, or none of us, that was the plan, right?”
Save me? Gradually I closed my eyes. The lump had vanished. “That’s right," I whispered. “This time we all made it. We made it together… “
I put down my carving wedge and read over my log. What should I do with it now? Should I store it in the cavern of records for the Matoran to learn from? “No,” I say. “It would be pointless.” I reach for my staff.
The only lesson worth teaching was the one they had taught me.
Edited by Tikiturbo, Jan 11 2013 - 06:08 PM.