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Aderia

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About Aderia

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  1. Chapter 6: Patsy The multi-colored crowd had taken on a consciousness of its own. It was unsettled, shifting and murmuring uneasily. One practically needed a Mask of Intangibility to wade through the tension. One wrong glance at the wrong Matoran could set off a brawl. All around, Matoran pressed in, trying to get a glimpse at the wreckage of the once-glorious Great Temple. Ginsa, standing with a group of colleagues, could only see smoke rising somewhere just off the coast. She had come straight from her synthetics lab, curious as to why none of the students she was tutoring for the semester showed up. In fact, almost the entire school building was empty. She’d joined a small trickle of Ga-Matoran, and they’d soon enough found themselves drawn to this chaos. The Cobalt Guard, in conjunction with the Fire Brands and the Conservators had barricaded the boulevard, but that didn’t stop the city from crowding into the adjacent streets. More pockets of the law enforcement divisions had placed themselves within the crowd, de-escalating a brawl or skirmish occasionally before it could fan out into a full-blown riot. Snippets of only the most obnoxious could be heard through the unsettled din of the crowds, shifting anxiously. “It’s a sign from the Great Spirit!” someone shouted. “No, you dolt! It’s a sign from the sculptors!” another replied. “They’re taking us all to Karzahni with them!” “Watch your mouth, icicle-farmer!” “Big talk, coming from a failed test driver!” And not far away, “Can you believe it?” “Where’s the Turaga? Why isn’t he doing anything?” “He died in the explosion, that’s what I heard!” “He lives in the Coliseum, Ruki-brain!” There was a surge in Ginsa’s section of the mass of Matoran, as a cluster of Le-Matoran lunged at two Fire Brands who had been jostled too close for their liking. Many nearby stumbled and fell, and more than a few blows were exchanged, before Po-Matoran and Ga-Matoran pulled the two groups apart. It was getting hard to breathe. Ginsa elbowed those around her, trying to get some space. She found herself surrounded by unfamiliar masks, the full glare of the twin suns magnifying the sense of unfamiliarity and hostility everywhere. This was not Metru Nui. Not the Metru Nui she knew. “I heard a Cobalt got crushed trying to salvage some artifacts,” a Ko-Matoran a few feet away said to his brother beside him. “I saw. The medics said she’ll be lucky if she only loses her legs,” the other said grimly. Other voices began to chime in. “This feuding is getting out of hand. Why is nobody doing anything?” “Obviously someone did try to do something! That’s what this was! This is why we can’t trust anyone!” “Next thing you know, the Archivists will be tunneling up into our homes and the Po-Matoran will be throwing hostages to the canyon creatures for sport.” There was a rough couple minutes of jostling and accusations and short-tempered outbursts as a large troop of Po-Matoran from the Po-Metru Garrison marched in. They remained stoic and did an admirable job ignoring those around them. A show of force? “Watch it!” Ginsa pushed back at an Onu-Matoran beside her. “It wasn’t me!” He raised his arms defensively. It wasn't me, either, she thought. Why did she feel like it was? All of it? Ginsa realized with sudden clarity that she had to get out of here. This was her fault. Nuok promised nobody would get hurt. But he was trash, barely fit for his own incinerators. Why would his promises be any better? If only she had known. She should have known. She cursed herself. She could have pushed harder, asked him what he was really planning. She never would have agreed to this. This was a scene straight out out of Karzahni. The synthetics student whipped her head this way and that, trying to find some way out. Armor, limbs, masks, bright reflections off of all of them, blinding. The air. They were using up all the air around her. There were entirely too many Matoran around. Matoran that would no doubt turn and tear her to shreds if they knew, if they suspected, that she’d been the cause of this tragic havoc. Or, at least, she’d made way for it to happen, let it happen. It was the same, surely. Surely? There! That unmistakable flash of crimson. It was Nuok. It had to be. He was here to expose her. Set her up as the fall-Matoran. She knew it. “I have to get out of here,” she said. She never knew if it was said aloud or not. Ginsa tried as hard as she could to find enough air, but there really just wasn’t enough to go around. This was probably why the Turaga never hosted events in the Coliseum anymore. So many Matoran. She flinched, as the shouting around her became louder. The shoves and bumps were becoming unbearable. Somewhere. There had to be space somewhere. “Hey.” Ginsa yelped involuntarily as another student came up beside her, gently putting an arm around her. “You don’t look well,” the student said. “Come on, let’s get somewhere less crowded.” “Crowded,” Ginsa repeated, still casting about desperately for a way out. “I don’t like it either,” the student said. “I never dreamed it would get this crowed so fast. Excuse me, sorry. Sorry, I need to get through.” The student, soft-spoken as she was, miraculously was able to make her way toward the outskirts of the crowd, a slightly hyperventilating Ginsa safely in tow. Before Ginsa knew it, they were sitting on one of the low canal walls, and the student was handing a cup of water to her. “Here.” Ginsa accepted it numbly. The student patted her back kindly, slowly, urging her to sip, not gulp, and just to count up and down for a little while. “Maybe count by twenty-sevens, or something complicated,” she suggested. Somewhere in the mid 1,200’s, Ginsa finally was able to focus on the cup in her hands, and take a tentative sip. And another. It was difficult. She hadn’t even noticed how much she had been trembling. “Wha-What’s your name?” Ginsa asked her helper, too exhausted to be ashamed or embarrassed, or even wonder what had happened to her. Slowly, everything began to come back into focus. She hadn’t realized it had ever slipped out of focus. “I'm...you don’t remember me?” the Ga-Matoran asked, trying not to let the little bit of hurt show on her mask. “I’m Hahli. You were an assistant teacher in two of my classes last year.” Ginsa shook her head, still a bit dazed. “I can’t remember every student.” “I understand.” Hahli nodded, and refilled Ginsa’s water. Everything this little Hahli was doing for her, for no reason, began to sink in, just a bit. It was strange. Did she expect something in return? Better grades the next time Ginsa taught one of her classes? A position on a research team? Trying to pin an ulterior motive was exhausting, Ginsa found, and she just couldn’t find the energy to wrack her brains to dig more. But if the student was being nice, it was probably best to at least try and say something nice in return. The strict and unspoken give and take of niceties was so tiring. "If I saw your handwriting, I’d recognize it,” Ginsa tried. It had always been one of her favorite parts of being an assistant teacher, grading the students’ assignments. “It’s insane, isn’t it?” the student nodded at the crowd instead, not knowing exactly what else to say. “The crowds?” They were now safely two blocks away. “How frightened everyone is.” Ginsa bobbed her head, reigning in her frazzled thoughts. Something the Matoran beside her said reminded her vaguely of something else. “Wait! Are you okay? Where are you going?” Hahli stood with Ginsa, as the latter stumbled to her feet. “I can help you.” “The library,” Ginsa said, with no intention of going there. “I need to go to the library.” The student nodded. “It’s quiet there. Will you be okay?” She stood back, as Ginsa shook her off, clearly wanting to help, still. But a flustered ‘thank you’ and dismissive wave were the only response Hahli got. She watched until Ginsa turned and took the road toward the block of buildings that served as the School’s library. It was the same road that would take Ginsa to Ta-Metru. Larker frowned at his directive tablet. “That can’t be sure-right,” he said, and showed Subi the instructions. “See? It’s an outdated storage district. Is this a prank-joke? Am I supposed to test-prove myself?” The Ussal nipper blinked at him and then decided turning in circles would be more worthwhile than listening to him. As an employee for Phase Dragon Enterprises, he’d signed on to run some errands for them, which he didn’t mind. It couldn’t be that much different from when he’d had his own delivery business. Except he had to give up a quarter of the profit and wear a stupid Phase Dragon Enterprises badge when he was on the job. The Le-Matoran hopped out of the flatbed of his leased Phase Dragon cargo hauler and walked around the rear of the small truck. He held down the small lever that lowered the loading ramp from underneath the bed of the truck. The delivery the company had given him was a single, moderate sized crate of unspecified equipment to an address in an old storage sub-district. It hadn’t been used by businesses since the Moto-Hubs had been built. There were mostly outdated vehicle parts and spent energy cells stored there, as far as he was aware. Sometimes Matoran from the closest residential district had drone races there, but otherwise, it was pretty abandoned. For good reason to, it was so far away - all the way on the tail of Le-Metru. The tail was the city’s biggest peninsula, or at least, all the Le-Matoran believed so. The only real business there were shipping businesses, who ran actual ships, as in, in the water. And, since the seagates had closed, not much business came through that way. Sometimes, when there was a new class of airship haulers being produced, they used the huge lots and crashpads there to test air vehicles. But again, with all the trouble in the city, time and energy that would have been spent on new inventions had been channeled into … other things. “You’re no use-help,” Larker grunted, having bodily shoved the equipment crate up the ramp himself. “We’ve gotta get you into the Ga-Metru schools for some Ussal lesson-classes.” The nipper, dizzy from his circle-spinning, had flopped himself on the cockpit floor of the cargo hauler, panting slightly, and chittering to himself. He couldn’t even be bothered to watch as Larker strapped down the crate, double-checked the foremost treads on the hauler, and hopped into the control cockpit with him. “You’re getting to old-big for this,” the Matoran told his pet. Subi was probably due for a molt soon. It was a messy, smelly process, and Larker was not looking forward to it. The Matoran deftly threw his hauler into gear. One hand controlled the throttle, and the other controlled the steering mechanism. It was the simplest vehicle control interface currently in model. He merged into one of the lane designated for business travel on the highway, and whistled at the traffic headed in the other direction, in all three lanes - personal, business, and expedited. Most highways had multiple business lanes, as that was probably more than eighty percent of the city’s traffic. Today, there was an insane amount of traffic headed north. Thankfully, that was the opposite direction of where he had to go. As he drove, there were more and more vehicles piling onto the opposite lane. Twice, he saw vehicles ahead of him exit, only to see them merging into the north-running route, a few kio down the road. Was there some sort of event he’d not heard about? Perplexed, he drove on. He should have asked the Matoran in the Moto Hub when he stopped by to get his assignment. But, he remembered, it had been unusually empty, barebones staffing, if he’d had to guess. Little traffic going his direction afforded him speedy travel, but he balked at the idea of the return trip. Perhaps it would have cleared, by that time. Larker double checked the address on the directive tablet, and pulled off the main highway down an exit ramp that led straight to a large, mostly empty parking lot. He made short work unloading the crate, but had some trouble trying to load it onto the small, flatbed dolly he’d taken with him from the Moto-Hub. One day, hopefully within the next few molts, Subi would be able to start helping him with things like this. “Come on, little shell-buddy. You can’t stay here alone,” Larker said. “I know it’s bright-day, but still.” Subi pretended not to hear him. “You’re a wreck-wretch,” Larker grumbled, and began pushing the crate toward the pedestrian street, waving as the one other cargo-hauler in the lot began trundling toward the highway. It looked like it was carrying away crates of debris to be melted down. “Hey, wait!” Larker called, running toward the driver, who he vaguely recognized. “Do you know what’s happening? All the rush-traffic, headed north?” The driver shifted his hauler into idling mode, and hopped out. “I was wondering the like-same. I heard it’s all headed toward Ga-Metru.” “Ga-Metru? Is it a skiff race?” Larker asked. “No, we probably would have heard about it, you know, for move-hauling?” the other driver shook his head. The cargo haulers of the city, or at least of Le-Metru, tried to keep one another in the loop about good job opportunities. “If it’s something we should know-hear, I’m sure the Turaga will telecast it.” Larker found himself nodding in agreement. “When did you start work-hauling for the Enterprise, anyways?” the other driver asked. “When the Archives cancelled all their business with us,” Larker told him. This was one of those interactions where they both recognized each other, but clearly neither could remember the other’s name, but now Larker felt bad, because clearly this other driver remembered more about Larker than Larker remembered about him. And now he felt bad. Larker hated these types of interactions, no matter how pleasant otherwise. “How are you holding out?” “Not too poor-bad. I’ve picked up lots of work with our stone-brothers,” the other said. “I can do some asking around for you, if you’re interested.” “I’ll safe-keep that in mind, thanks,” Larker said, nodding. “Happy-safe driving!” “Happy-safe driving,” the other driver returned the farewell. It was a commonly used irony between Le-Matoran drivers, who understood each other well enough on the road, but were often considered reckless and a threat to public tranquility outside their own Metru. And, what the rest of the city would consider ‘safe’ driving is not what a Le-Matoran would consider ‘happy’. Thus, ‘happy’ came first, and ‘safe’ came second. “Oh, now you’re up.” Larker shook his head as Subi skittered across the parking lot toward him. “No, I didn’t leave-forget you. Come on, let’s get this delivery over-done and go see what all that clamor-fuss in the north is about.” It took Larker a good half an hour to find the address, everything looked the same. Subi was content to follow along without a complaint. They heard one more debris-clearing hauler in the distance, but that was about it. Larker hesitantly tried a padlocked door, before realizing he’d gone one street too far, and had to back track. Reaching the right address, and mildly irritated, he knocked on the metallic door to the large storage building. There was one window in the door, tinted, and high-up rows of windows ringing the one-story building, and three large bay doors. After a moment, he knocked again, louder. His directive tablet didn’t have any lock code to get into the building, nor instructions to simply drop the crate and pick up his payment elsewhere. Sighing, he tried pushing the door open, then realized it was a pull door, and it was open. He knocked one more time, then pulled open the door, wheeling the crate through first, and followed. He’d just leave it inside the door, and go ask the sub-district administrator from the Enterprise what he was supposed to do. It was a mostly empty building, with a wide open floor broken up only by the support pillars, and some crates, pallets, and barrels piled here and there, mostly along the walls. “Hello?” he called. “I have one box-crate from Phase Dragon Enterprises?” The sub-division administrator said that this was a delivery run they did twice a year. “Hello?” Larker was almost knocked over as Subi scampered past him, gibbering excitedly. “Hey! This isn’t an adventure-trip! Get back here!” Larker stomped after the nipper. It was probably his fault for not getting the young crab enough exercise. But, if Subi were big enough to help with errands, it wouldn’t be a problem. “Subi! That’s not yours! Get away from those barrels! Come back, if you know what’s healthy-good for you!” The nipper was running in circles around a pillar surrounded by crates and barrels. “I don’t want to happy-play, okay? I just want to-“ Larker yelped, and almost fainted when a dark shape dropped from the ceiling right in front of him, and slammed him into the ground. “Who are you? How did you find this place?” his assailant demanded. Whoever, whatever she was, she was a good deal larger than he, and much stronger. Subi was squealing, somewhere nearby. The shocked Le-Matoran sputtered inarticulately, trying to get a good look at whatever was pinning him down. “How did you find this place?” she growled, shaking him. “De-delivery,” he gasped, and waved his directive tablet weakly. His assailant snatched it, glanced at it, and discarded it. “Who are you?” she repeated. “Larker! Just Larker. Just a happy-safe delivery driver, trying to survive,” he cried. “I’d really like to survive.” He felt the pressure holding him down, over his heartlight, disappear. Carefully, he sat up, and saw his assailant crouching, watching him closely, as if trying to assess every individual muscle-fibre twitch. The two stared at each other warily. “Your Ussal isn’t very brave,” she finally said. “He also said you’re an impatient brakas with him, but he likes you anyways, and says not to hurt you.” Still flabbergasted, Larker said nothing. She watched him through slit-pupiled, green eyes, undoubtedly ready to spring into action, tip of her tail twitching in anticipation. “Why would you close-listen to a silly nipper?” Larker asked, although, as he said it, realized it was not the most important question he could have asked. But she seemed to find it amusing, at least. “He may be silly, but Ussal don’t usually follow bad characters. Not willingly.” Immediate danger passed, the nipper in question had resumed his romp around that same pillar. “I don’t know what got into him,” Larker muttered, mostly to himself. This stranger didn’t seem to care about the delivery, and Larker doubted he would be getting paid. He certainly didn’t want to ask. The stranger sighed, looking pensive. “Larker, I’m going to have to ask you for help.” The Matoran didn’t quite feel he had the option of saying ‘no’. “Larker, my name is Erylist, and I’m trying to help your city. But I can’t do it alone. Things are escalating quickly, many lives are on the line.” She offered him a hand up. “Are you a Toa-hero?” he asked. She let out a short laugh. “No. But I’ve worked with Toa before.” “I didn’t think so. A Toa-hero probably wouldn’t lead off with the smash-slamming into the ground,” the Matoran said, and finally took her hand. Erylist found this amusing, and hauled him to his feet. She apologized quickly, and then asked carefully, “Have you heard anything recently about the Great Temple?” “The Temple? No, why?” Even as he asked, he started to get a bad feeling in his gut. The endless traffic headed north - headed toward Ga-Metru. “You haven’t heard?” She looked surprised. “Well, something happened there, last night. I think I know someone who witnessed it all firsthand. I need your help, because he won’t talk to me.” “I don’t blame him, if that’s how you meet-greet people,” Larker grumbled, dusting himself off. Erylist laughed at this, and Larker felt his terror slipping away slowly. He was also intrigued. What was going on with the Great Temple? What did this powerful stranger know about it? “I’ll keep that in mind for next time,” she chuckled. “Shall we?” She turned toward where Subi was still running loops and began walking. “You can’t just say-tell?” Larker asked warily, but followed, despite himself. Erylist grimaced to herself, because what she needed to show Larker, what she needed his help with, would certainly not encourage him to put much confidence in her. 'I’ve been keeping a battered Matoran captive in my basement’, would send poor Larker screaming for the law enforcement, probably. She also doubted that Larker would follow her willingly through the trapdoor in the ground. Were she him, she certainly wouldn’t. She shooed the nipper away, because he had indeed been circling her trapdoor. It led to a single room that she’d been using as her sleeping chamber, until very recently. “It’s easier to show you,” was all she said, throwing the hatch open and descending a steep but short staircase. Larker was quite apprehensive, she was pleased to see. It would do no good to be allied with an overly-trusting air-head, as she’d found many stereotypes about Le-Matoran to be based in truth. His Ussal nipper, however, was eager to follow her down the stairs, and clacked his claws and whined impatiently when he couldn’t. “It’s safe,” she promised, not blaming him for simply looking at her skeptically. “Lightstones and all. Just poke your head in and see, if you want.” And so, Larker did just that. Erylist gestured to a dirty-armored Ta-Matoran huddled on a thin sleeping pallet, eyes squeezed shut. “He won’t talk to me,” she said again. “Perhaps you can try?” Larker cautiously descended the stairs, and Subi stretched his out pinchers after him, very sad to be left behind. But Larker’s eyes were fixed on the Ta-Matoran. “What’s wrong with him? Is he head-hurt?” “I don’t know. Shock? He woke up a few hours ago, and has been like this ever since.” Larker landed in a small, plain chamber with only the bed pallet and an up-side down crate that served as a small stand, where the lightstone lay. There were a few more small crates under the stairs. He sat down next to the other Matoran, nudging him gently. “Fire-brother, are you okay?” The Matoran shook his head, and pulled his knees to his chest, hugging them fiercely. “I should leave you two,” Erylist said. Perhaps if she weren’t present, the Ta-Matoran would talk to Larker. She wasn’t used to being feared on sight, and she couldn’t say she much cared for it. “Nuh-uh. I don’t want you up there where you can shut-lock me down here,” Larker said. Erylist rather liked his answer. “I’ll wait on the stairs, then.” This answer seemed to please both Larker and his anxious Ussal. Larker tried again, and said softly, “My name is Larker, from Le-Metru. I work doing drop-deliveries around our city-home. What’s your name, brother?” The Ta-Matoran cracked one eye open, then opened both. He turned his head to look Larker straight in the Huna, and whispered, “I’m Rofto, and I killed the Great Spirit.” Nuok barely noticed the sounds of an approaching ruckus from his office, situated above the working floor of eastern Ta-Metru’s foremost foundry. His control panel lay spread out below large, tinted windows that gave him a view of the entire floor, and were strong enough to stop a charging Kikanalo, or so his workers assured him. Even if Nuok could have been bothered to look up from reviewing the systems report, he probably wouldn’t have cared that there was a small swarm of Ta-Matoran making its way along one of the B-level perimeter catwalks, quickly approaching the landing that doubled as his office’s observation deck. He only looked up when his office door slammed open, almost knocking over the row of small stasis tubes in the corner. His workers knew better than to barge in on him. And so, he was not entirely surprised when he found himself Matatu-to-Pakari with an enraged Ginsa, with his aides and foremen floundering and sputtering excuses and apologies to him in her wake. He waved them off with a severe 'I’ll deal with you later' glare, and they were all too happy to flee. He stood to welcome the Ga-Matoran. She still wore her heavy-duty lab coat. “Ginsa. To what do I owe the pleasure? Did class let out early?” he asked, and his patronizing undertone did not go unnoticed. “Please, come in. I-“ He ducked as she whipped a sealed vial at his head. It shattered against the far wall, bubbling and hissing and emitting a foul stench. “Nuok!” she cried, voice shrill. “What did you do?!?” The pitch of her voice rose with every syllable. She readied another test tube, this one glowing ominously, and advanced menacingly toward him. “By all means, make yourself at home,” Nuok smiled easily, although he was thrown off by all this rage. Perhaps he'd underestimated Ginsa. He could use rage, though, to his advantage. He made his way toward her, his welcoming body language at odds with her hostile one. “Sit down, let’s talk this out,” he said, gesturing to his vacant office chair. “With words,” he added, as he drew level with her, and she raised her vial as though to smash it on his head. “I’m just getting the door. Can I presume what you are here to talk about is something that you don’t want the whole foundry to hear?” Ginsa found herself standing by Nuok’s chair, but refused to sit. She wasn’t entirely sure how she’d made her way all the way across his office. The overseer closed his office door, and adopted a relaxed posture, one arm resting idly on the display rack of half a dozen small stasis tubes, barely the size of his arm. “You never told me you were going to blow up the Great Temple!” she shouted at him, clenching the glowing vial in her fist and brandishing it at him again. Nuok winced inwardly. Even though there was no way anyone on the floor could make out what they were saying, he was a bit paranoid about bugs, since Ginsa’s report last week about unofficial Cobalt spying. “We set a small chemical fire in a lab building, call the Cobalts to report it, and wake up the next morning to that! I never would have agreed, if I had even the slightest idea!” I know, Nuok thought, but didn’t say as much. He wanted her to keep talking. He began fidgeting with the cap of one of the stasis tubes, trying to look sorry. He even said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to tell you more, because the more you know, the more danger you’d be in.” She scoffed at him, an ugly sound. “And you said nobody would get hurt!” “Well, did anyone get hurt?” he pressed. He was curious, he hadn’t been to the scene of the wreck yet, although many of his workers had shown up late after going to see for themselves, along with half the city, the smoking remains of the Great Temple. “I-I don’t know,” Ginsa said, trembling. She was frightened. But Nuok didn’t want her to stop and think about why she might be frightened. “What are they saying, Ginsa?” he asked. “They said they didn’t find any bodies, and nobody checked into any infirmary stations in the area last night.” As she spoke, she found her legs weakening, and she all but collapsed into Nuok’s chair. “Nuok, what did you do?” she asked again, weakly. Nuok smiled, and tightened the cap of the stasis tube he’d been fiddling with. “We’re one step closer to getting your lab funding, Ginsa. You and your Magisterials have done well. Suffice to say, it was only a matter of finding a daydreamer, giving him a lightstone, and sending him to the Toa Suva with a pack of Po-Matoran carving tools and explosives.” Ginsa simply shook her head at him, aghast. “I’m an accomplice.” Nuok ignored her, and asked instead, “What else are the Cobalts saying?” “I couldn’t get close,” she answered, sounding tired, eyes fixed on her lap. “They’ve closed the causeway, only the policing forces are there. I even saw some Ko-Matoran headed there. None of the schools are in session today. I heard the Turaga is going to see it himself.” “Good. Ginsa, we need them to blame the carvers. They can’t find out we were behind this. If word got out that a Ga-Matoran helped bomb her own district…” he trailed off, letting the implication sink in. She glared up at him. “Go to Karzahni.” “Eventually,” he chuckled. Ginsa dropped her gaze back to her lap, shaking her head slowly and occasionally murmuring something to herself. The Ta-Matoran opened the door to his office, but made no comment that Ginsa should leave. It wasn’t a terrible thing to have her where he could literally keep an eye on her, as the shock of what they’d just pulled off settled. He went about organizing his desk, wheeling the desk chair with the Ga-Matoran out of his way as needed. Although he appeared business-minded, going through files and record tablets and inventory sheets, his mind raced elsewhere. He’d had a small troop of his Incinerators waiting to pull the remains of his daydreamer from the wreckage, if need be. It would do no good if the city found the body of a Ta-Matoran in the wreckage. Only the remains of the carver’s tools. But his Incinerators had yet to report back to him, and Ginsa said that the Cobalts hadn’t found any body. His Incinerators had instructions that, if Rofto had survived, to make sure he didn’t talk. If they didn’t send someone to report to him by the end of the work day, he’d signal for a meeting that night. They were few in number, just over a dozen and a half, but with the high stakes game he was running, he couldn’t afford to bring in anyone extra. In selecting his inner circle, he’d carefully chosen Matoran in positions of influence, to sweep most of working Ta-Metru to his side in a matter of days, if need be. He wanted more information on the insurgent group of students which Ginsa had rounded up. Davanu and his Moles were working on obtaining more tunneling permissions, but time for permissions and permits was a luxury that, as of last night, they could no longer afford. He’d need to pay the Archivist a visit. He also needed to push to get one of his Matoran into the Turaga’s next council meeting. The list of things he needed to do kept growing and growing. “Ginsa, if you don’t mind, I have a lot of work to do today,” he said finally. She stood and pushed past him. “And, Ginsa,” he said, and she paused in the doorway, glaring at him. “I’m not one of your professors, I don’t have open office hours. I’d appreciate if you kept that in mind, in the future.” She slammed the door behind her, and Nuok could only smile. He fetched one of the stasis tubes from the display rack, slightly loosened the seal, set it on his desk. At his control panel, he punched in a quick request to have a Matoran come take care of the reeking mess that Ginsa's shattered vial, and sat down to work. There was no turning back now. Review Topic
  2. I'm not convinced the Matoran do have an overwhelming numerical advantage over other races. (if there's a citation specifically against this, I'd happily stand corrected) I think the stories we've been given just happen to focus on the Matoran society. That aside, if they do have an overwhelming numerical advantage over other races, wouldn't it make sense to balance them out with a glaring flaw? Also, while it's not as important for less-powerful Matoran or Turaga, giving Toa a handicap like that seems to make sense, with all the powers they have access to, otherwise (elemental, rhotuka, fusions, etc). Also, (total speculation) didn't the Great Beings create the Matoran rather early on in their whole Matoran Universe project? Then, later creations got more powers simply because the GBs had invented more powers by that point? On to your larger question - I agree with your reasoning about 'lack of mental discipline' being a shaky explanation, at best, and I agree with the counterexamples you provided. From what I understand, being transformed into a Toa gives the former Matoran access to latent elemental powers, as well as a reserve of Toa power. I suspect being able to access Kanohi power also may be in a similar vein. I'd say mystical Toa power is the culprit. I can see a lot of societal lore around mask powers, in Matoran society. I think concepts that would come into play are 'Duty' and 'Destiny'. Matoran are laborers and workmen, or at least were created as such. While some mask powers would be useful in a day-to-day Matoran society, I think they probably get by just fine without them. Toa, on the other hand, come into existence out of necessity, from what we've seen - their duty becomes a lot more dangerous, so gaining more powers makes sense. Multiple times, I remember Toa referring to their mask powers as gifts 'given by the Great Spirit'. I'm not sure if they actually do draw energy from their Kanohi. How would one draw energy from a powerless Kanohi, which many Matoran wear? I always thought of a Kanohi more of a ... bandaid? that stops power from leaking out? Except, again, all speculation, and not great speculation at that. I'd argue that Turaga are under greater physical constraints than Matoran. Or, at least, they're usually described as frail. I think Turaga are more like expired Toa than they are like Matoran. They can use Kanohi, like you mentioned, but I believe they also have access to weakened elemental powers. That also seems to fit with the 'transformation by Toa power changes a lot' idea. So, yes, I agree that 'lack of mental discipline/willpower' isn't a sufficient explanation. Good question and follow up questions : )
  3. I always liked this tidbit from one of the chapters in Time Trap (thanks Biological Chronicle Project for the screencap). I like the level of prestige and expertise it indicates is needed for someone to become a renowned mask maker, like Vakama. Agree, I also think Plasma Matoran would be well suited to forge/foundry work, since they also have heat-resistance (greater than Ta-Matoran, I believe?). Perhaps even moreso, as BS01 states their eyes are naturally resistant to bright lights, which also sounds useful for that kind of work.
  4. Chapter 5: The Midnighter You, Tengi thought to herself, nearly in a blind panic. She whirled and wheeled down yet another street, she’d lost count how many, and barreled ahead as fast as her legs would carry her. Her pursuer had not lost interest in her, evident from the much too close screeching and scraping of large claws against street - claws that would surely, easily tear though a Matoran. And why, Tengi had wondered at one point, about two streets back, was this monstrous, size-shifting Kuma-Kava so doggedly after her? Because she’d carried her Ussal carapace halfway across Ga-Metru on her back. She smelled like dinner. Are a complete, the Ce-Matoran’s thoughts flew all over the place. An alleyway? No, it could shrink down and still follow her. Sharp turns were the only thing keeping distance between her and it. She was coming up on a T-intersection, and fast. Left would take her closer to the inhabited residential area of the Metru. Not that way. Still, she veered slightly left. MORON!! She finished her thought, and veered as sharply right at the intersection as she could, nearly losing her footing. She found herself running with a low wall on her left, which meant she was running parallel to a canal. Could this thing swim? She would tire faster in the water, though. Tengi risked a glance backwards, gasping for breath, and seeing it had gained a bio or three on her. Come on! Think!! She could only think enough to berate herself. As she passed a promising looking side street, she realized she was headed toward Ta-Metru. She didn’t know much about the layout of the fire district. The only thing she could think of, frazzled as she was, was to try and make it to the weapon crafters subdivision of Ta-Metru. Of course, she had no idea where that was. Tengi scrabbled around another corner, and had to slow to pull air noisily and rapidly back into her lungs. She was beginning to see spots. Still, the snarling approach of the monster, easily four times her size, prodded her back to a gallop. It was slow, but it was the best she had. Her breath was coming in ragged wheezes now, and her steps much less sure. The sporadically lit, abandoned street around her blurred in and out of focus. She couldn’t tell if it was her own breath that was so loud to her, or the Kuma-Kava, breathing down her neck. No. She saw it turn the corner of her street, beady, glowing eyes locked on her. She stumbled, clutching at the side of the washed-out building, still somehow pulling herself forward. She couldn’t remember ever being this exhausted before. The monster let out a squeal that she could have sworn was a laugh, and advanced on her as she began to collapse, taking. Half crawling, half falling, Tengi saw one last hope. If she could just make it to the doorway of the building, perhaps there was something inside to give her an edge. Her head swam, and her field of vision began shrinking, giving way to blackness. The solid protodermis of the building, where her head had been only an instant before shattered under the bullet-fast punch of the Kuma-Kava’s armored boxing limbs. Tengi was pretty sure she screamed, but couldn’t say for sure. But it gave her a surge of adrenaline, and she was able to lurch out of reach for the next blow, miraculously. But she didn’t have enough energy left to steady herself, and she fell to the sidewalk once more. She rolled, raising her arms to protect her mask, as the shadow of her end fell over her. There was one last, terrible screech. Tengi squeezed her eyes shut, hoping Artakha was everything everyone always promised. It took her a few breathless moments to realize that the growling and scraping of metal she was hearing weren’t the sounds of the Rahi feasting on her dead body, but were actually sounds of battle. The Matoran half-rolled over on her side, blearily trying to make sense of what she was seeing. A tall, black-armored fighter was dodging the Kuma-Kava’s bullet-blows gracefully, almost effortlessly, careful to stay between the Rahi and the Matoran. It tucked and rolled, sprang here and there off of buildings, swung around lightstone-posts, and even got in a few counter-blows with a heavy looking combat baton it wielded. It was leading the Rahi farther and farther down the street, away from the fallen Matoran. It made the Kuma-Kava seem sluggish in comparison, and the Rahi did not like how the tables had turned. With a frustrated, guttural roar, it paused, hunching over, and began to grow once more. The fighter hung off of a second-story window, leaning out into the street. It also stopped to watch, but only for a moment. Flipping off the building to land lithely in the street on all fours, the fighter straightened up, and with one sharp movement, whipped out its baton again, and the end of it crackled to life with white-blue lightning. Without waiting for the Kuma-Kava to finish its growth-spurt, the fighter charged it with a shout. The rahi, caught off guard, reared with a screech. The fighter feinted high, as if to directly counter the rearing, colossal beast, and ducked in low at the last moment, as the rahi’s basher-blow cracked in the air. The fighter’s baton found its mark, jamming up beneath the rahi’s chin, finding the unprotected organic tissue. The Rahi gurgled and dropped with a crash, spasming slightly, as excess electricity from the stunning baton roiled off its limp form and then dissipated. “Get up,” was the next thing Tengi heard, to her surprise. “Come on, you can do it. Get up. It didn’t get you, did it?” The Matoran shook her head, which was still spinning, and groaned. The black-armored fighter was crouching beside her, tail-tip twitching anxiously, and peering into Tengi's Kakama with concerned, bright green eyes. “You…you’re,” Tengi tried to ask. But she realized that the fighter had disappeared. The Matoran concentrated on breathing deeply, counting the spinning stars above, and tried to pull herself together. She managed to struggle to a crouching position, more like a squat, when the agile fighter appeared again at her side, and pushed a cup of liquid protodermis into the Matoran’s hands. “Drink,” the fighter said, not gently, but not commanding. “Is this…” It was Tengi’s own cup, the one that she used to play caps and pins. “Borrowed it from you. I hope you don’t mind canal water.” The Matoran shook her head, downing the cup in an flash. It was amazing how fast the cool liquid protodermis cleared her head. “Who are you?” She turned to her rescuer hesitantly, and a bit fearful. The fighter snapped her attention back to the Matoran. She had been looking at something in the shadows of an adjacent street. “I’m…” She frowned a bit, thinking. “I’m someone who is trying to help the city, just like you.” “Thank you,” Tengi said, opening her satchel to put her cup back. “Do you need more?” the fighter offered, with a slight nod in the direction of the nearby canal. Tengi shook her head, “I can manage. But really, thanks. I would have been rahi-bones if not for you.” “Rahi-bones?” the fighter repeated, and snorted, amused. “I like that one.” Then, with a slight shake of her head, she pressed on, “You have to get out of the streets. Something’s happened, at the Great Temple. Something bad. I don’t know what, yet. But it’s not safe to be out. Not alone. Even with that thing down and out.” She indicated the unconscious Kuma-Kava, which had been slowly shrinking back down to its normal size. “I need that rahi,” Tengi said, getting to her feet and making her way unsteadily toward the beast. “Need?” The fighter followed her, padding along on four limbs easily, to look at the downed Rahi. Although it had stopped shrinking, it was still bigger than both of them, combined. “I took a job trapping it for an Archivist,” Tengi explained. “The Archives,” the stranger stopped, and raised herself to a crouch once more, gazing at the Kuma-Kava. “Stasis?” “I’m not sure,” the Matoran answered with a shrug. “Probably.” The fighter didn’t say anything for a long moment, and then sighed. “I can’t help you with stasis. I still think you should go home. It’s dangerous tonight.” She cast her gaze in the direction of the Great Temple. The Matoran didn’t answer right away, and the fighter rose to her full height, turning toward the Temple. “Don’t die, after I just saved you,” was all she said, and began walking briskly away. Tengi watched, startled as, about halfway down the street, the fighter vanished into thin air. Erylist cursed as she began to flicker between translucent and fully visible in the moonlit street that would bring her right to the Great Temple entrance. She was far from mastering her relatively newfound nocturnal stealth skill. And, with strange Rahi on the loose, and the Matoran terrified of the other side hiring foreign mercenaries, practicing the stealth ability had become a priority by necessity. Being seen would spell trouble in capital letters. Breaking into a run, she dashed into an alleyway, and clambered easily up the side of the building, crossing the last few blocks on rooftop. She had an unobstructed view of the broad causeway that led to the Great Temple. And what she saw, she didn’t like. Her little detour saving that Ga-Matoran had cost her. It was worth it, but she hated inconvenience. The causeway was now packed with murmuring Ga-Matoran. Her keen night vision also showed her the entrance of the smoking Temple crowded with armed Ga-Matoran, and lit with portable lightstone-posts. The Midnighter heaved a sigh, and crouched low, peering over the low wall of the rooftop at the scene. She could try and wait out the crowds. But more and more Matoran were arriving by the minute. She could make her way through the residential district and out to the next small peninsula over, and swim to the temple. That was not appealing, for a number of reasons. Or, she could try and sneak her way to the Temple. The underside of the causeway, indistinct as it was, seemed promising. She’d gotten pretty good at traveling beneath the highways, via the various support beams, cables, and girders. It was strenuous, but she was only getting stronger. Big-city living really was something else. She’d seen a lot of cities in her day, but Metru Nui dwarfed even the largest of those. And perhaps that’s why she’d made next to no progress on any of her mission objectives, thus far. The city was entirely too vast. The abbreviated version of the city’s history she’d studied during her training was laughably unhelpful. But moping wasn’t going to get her anywhere. There was more then enough work, tagging and tracking all these mutated Rahi in the city, trying to piece together and patterns of movement and trace sources of origin. And occasionally, there were encounters with Matoran. Metru Nui Matoran were rather wary of outsiders to begin with, and so she hadn’t been able to make any solid connections yet, frustratingly. Most encounters ended with the citizen running for help or screaming like a rock raptor, or both. But the little Ga-Matoran she’d saved earlier didn’t seem to fear her. There was something off about that one, but Erylist couldn’t quite place it. Still, she’d snuck a small tracker into the Matoran’s satchel, just in case. Erylist noted the direction most of the incoming Matoran seemed to be arriving from, and prowled to the opposite side of her rooftop, intending to give the crowds as wide a berth as possible. She vaulted back down into the cluttered alleyway, landing lightly, and completely invisible and silenced in the shadows. She could stomp around all she wanted and be surrounded by a ring of fully charged lightstones, and nobody would be able to see or hear her, unless she spoke, or willed herself visible and audible. It was only when in the moonslight that it became more difficult - her shadow fell, and she became both translucent and fully audible. Once any fraction of either one of the moons dipped below the horizon, or either one of the suns peeked above, any and all of her stealth powers vanished. And then she'd just have to sneak around the good, old fashioned way. She was getting a lot of practice with that, too. She glanced at the moons in the sky. She still had a good three hours to work. More than enough time. The Midnighter came to a dark crossroads of alleyways, again pausing to count roughly how many Matoran were passing by. Even without nocturnal Rahi and Rahkshi loose, it was rare for any Matoran to be out this late, let alone in droves. Erylist was nearly boiling over with impatient curiosity. Wait. She turned to her left, keen audio receptors picking up faint noises from the dark alley that shouldn’t be there. The faint whiff of something burned also floated in the air. The sea breeze wouldn’t carry the burning Temple smell all the way to the mainland. In fact, it was blowing in the opposite direction. Erylist crouched low and crept toward the sound, belly nearly brushing the ground, triple checking she was safely and fully shadow-cloaked. She cautiously rounded a cluster of sealed barrels, and dropped her shadow-cloak ability with a sharp intake of breath. “Mata Nui,” she breathed. Tucked behind the barrels and pressed against the alley wall, was a trembling, terribly scuffed up Ta-Matoran in a tattered cloak. His eyes were squeezed shut, and he was whimpering under his breath. “Hey,” she whispered as gently as she could, and reached out toward him carefully. His eyes snapped open, and he yelped involuntarily, trying to make himself even smaller. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he kept repeating, frantically looking around and never quite focusing on her. She was sure she had made herself visible, but checked again anyways. She laid a hand on his arm, mindful to keep her touch feather-light. “What are you sorry for, little brother?” “I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t know. I just wanted to help. I didn’t mean to. I did what he told me. Just wanted to help,” he broke off in a sob. Erylist gaped at the poor Matoran, completely at a loss. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. Wanted to help. I’m sorry, sorry, sorry,” he kept repeating. “What are you sorry for?” Erylist asked quietly, withdrawing her hand and quickly checking both ends of the alleyway to make sure they were still secure. But the Matoran just broke into incoherent sobs. She had a feeling she knew. In the distance, she could hear the din of the ever-growing crowd, As day approached, news would only spread, and more and more of the city would show up, she was sure. She couldn’t stay when that happened. She also couldn’t leave this poor, wretched Matoran huddled in an alleyway. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, not relishing the plan of action she had settled on. But, with a ticking clock, and remaining unseen a priority, she didn’t see any other options. She unlimbered her stunning baton, and set it to the lowest intensity possible. It hummed quietly, and she said, “I’m sorry too, friend,” and zapped him. At least he looked less troubled in his sleep. Now, the fun part was figuring out how in Karzahni she was going to lug an unconscious Matoran, who was likely a fugitive, literally to the far opposite end of the city, before daybreak. Suddenly, three hours until dawn seemed woefully inadequate. She carefully checked the Matoran over for other injuries, and hauled him up over her shoulder, staggering slightly. Matoran were not large, but she was not the strongest being around. Still, this would have to do, for now. Erylist made her way carefully out of the alleyway, eyes and ears on prime alert. All things considered, she decided, tonight hadn’t been a terrible night. True, she technically had knocked out one of them, but still, two Matoran saved overall was a personal best. Review Topic Author's Note: There does happen to be a single, mostly (except the last of the three segments) self sufficient chapter here that shows a bit of who Erylist is, because I'm slightly self-conscious that she seems like a convenient plot device if one hasn't read 'The Ternion', and I felt that nagging urge to try and justify myself.
  5. Hey friends, So, as far as simple games go, this is one of them. I picked up RPG Maker MV in a recent Steam sale because I was looking for a new hobby, and voila, I have a short game here for anyone who's interested! Estimated play time: less than 3 hours. Premise: You're a spoiled cat of a rich family who, despite herself, finds herself on an adventure to help out a surprise visitor. Zip files available for both Windows and Mac OS X. Definitely let me know if you can't get it to work, or feel free to shoot me a PM! Here are some screenshots I'm actually really looking for feedback, since I've not made anything like this before. Specifically, pace of the story, enemy strength progression, stat distribution (over or underpowered players), inconsistencies, suggestions/criticisms, etc. I've played through a few times to try and weed out any bugs and inconsistencies, but am always looking to improve! Thanks, and hope you enjoy! Some hints:
  6. Chapter 4: Nothing is Sacred “See ya, Rofto,” his fellow firepits worker, Kalama waved as he packed up his things for the day. “Hey, are you going to the ground drone races tonight? Over on the Fifth Kio?” “Probably not.” Rofto shook his head. “I’ve gotta work on my application.” “Application?” “I’ve been thinking about taking some Protodermis Processing classes,” he said. But, then again, he already had a good portion of the form complete. Why had he been putting it off, anyway? “But I might stop by if I get far enough.” “It’ll be relaxed. Nobody’s betting this week,” Kalama assured him. “I’ll try to make it,” Rofto said noncommittally, swinging his own rucksack onto his shoulder. He didn’t usually bring a bag to work, but this one had shown up right inside his doorway that morning. It hadn’t been there when he went to sleep, but it was there when he woke up. It was heavier than it looked. Inside, he found three tightly wrapped parcels, and an oblong crystal that fit comfortably in his grasp. There was also a small note with two lines. It read: Take the stone to the Great Temple tonight. You’ll know what to do from there. If he could get his application finished, perhaps he could take it to the Ga-Metru school offices on his way to the Great Temple. Rofto joined the multitude of Ta-Matoran workers headed home for the day, or headed to pubs or hurrying off on errands before this or that shop closed. The five blocks it took him to reach his residence passed beneath his feet quickly and unnoticed, as distance has a tendency to do when the mind is elsewhere. Surely, this anonymous rucksack, with its mysterious contents was from Nuok. It hadn’t quite hit Rofto that night talking with Nuok in the pub that they had been considering entrusting the Toa stone to Rofto himself. Physically holding the stone, it became entirely clear that it it wasn’t at all clear what they wanted him to do, besides bring the stone to the temple. Would someone meet him there? He certainly hoped so. Perhaps he was to deliver the stone to someone. It was an easier idea to accept, than to become a Toa hero himself. Still, hope gnawed at him, hard to ignore, but oh, how he wanted to. He wouldn’t even know where to begin, thinking about so much change. Mata Nui, the benevolent and wise Great Spirit was the one who chose worthy Matoran to become Toa in times of need, everyone knew that. Not Nuok the overseer. But, then again, Mata Nui’s will was often accomplished through others. Maybe the well-wrapped packages in the rucksack would help him understand more. But, then again, maybe they were special Toa gear, and there was no guarantee that Rofto was meant to be the Toa. Best not to touch them. Yes, there had to be someone there at the temple to meet him and explain all this to him, or to give these items to. Being an errand Matoran for someone else’s destiny was a much less scary thought than oneself being transformed into a powerful warrior for Destiny. The Matoran’s head swam with questions and wonderings. It was only by supreme force of will that he was able to shake himself out of his musings and focus on the set of stone application tablets before him. He had to talk himself through the last few questions out loud, and even then, he barely managed to stay on task. He wasn’t worried about whether or not he’d gain admission to the School of Synthetic Sciences. With the sea gates to the city closed, the schools were sorely hurting for an influx of students. Many of their students who hailed from foreign islands had left when the commerce disputes started affecting tuition and living costs, and now no new students could come to the city. The applications were simply a formality. Rofto reviewed his now completed form once more, and sighed. He still had a good two hours before it was fully night, before he could go to the Great Temple. It never ceased to amaze him, how little time it actually took to accomplish those little, chore-like tasks that he always wanted to put off. The actual putting off of the tasks was more agonizing that completing them, he was now convinced. For now. With an inward chuckle to himself, he tossed the tablets into the rucksack, and grabbed his pouch of ‘cills and cogs from his nightstand. He had time to hit the Fifth Kio, maybe catch a few drone races. The prosperous vendor’s boulevard was probably the most popular evening hangout in this half of Ta-Metru. It sat between two firepits sectors, as well as three foundries, and a multitude of artisan streets and local businesses. It helped that it was one of the few vendor lanes not criss-crossed with noisy overhead highways, giving it a pleasant open-air ambience. There was nothing wrong with hitting the downtown district and seeing a few friends. Besides, this might be the last time he would see them as a Matoran. He tried to push away the thought, as he ambled out of his home, but the whispered offer of heroism, although it still made him shy away, was too alluring to completely shut out. The twin suns were almost through setting for the night when Tengi rushed to to the counter of the Ussal Drag ’N Drop station, breathless. “Made it back in time, here.” She offered the Ussal cart key and locking chain to the unimpressed Ga-Matoran clerk behind the counter. “How much?” The Ga-Matoran checked the small timer built into the lock-chain, and told her, “Eleven and a half widgets.” “What? I only had it out for an hour!” Tengi caught her breath, and craned her neck to try and get a look at the timer herself. “Rate went up since last week,” the clerk told her. The fact that Tengi had cut it so close to their closing time, also, probably didn’t help. Now the Ussal stable hands would have to wash down and pen up a last minute Ussal before they could go home, and the clerk would have to record the transaction and figure out which original station the Ussal had come from. Tengi sighed, and fished out a helical, two tines, and a snag. “Eleven-point-five,” she sighed, pushing the widgets across the counter. “Thank you, have a good evening,” the clerk Matoran said, sweeping up the widgets and waving her away. The incognito Ce-Matoran was already out the door. She hurried around the corner toward the Ussal pens at the back of the building, sparing one “thank you” pat for the Ussal she’d just returned. She ran up to the fence of the Ussal pen, leaning over, and asked one of the Ussal hands leading another crab past, “Hi, um, excuse me?” The stablehand looked at her curiously, and Tengi continued before the stablehand could greet her. “Do you have any recent nipper molts? I’m looking for an molted husk or a shell or something.” “Uhh, I can go check, I’m sure we have some husks that haven’t been sent off to the firepits yet,” the slightly confused Ussalry worker said. The stable-hand's calm demeanor was at odds with the clerk's rushed irritation. Tengi paced back and forth for what felt like ages, until the stablehand returned, lugging a carapace about the size of a Matoran’s torso behind her. “Will this do?” “Yes, yes! Perfect. Do I owe you anything?” Tengi asked, reaching for her widget pouch. “Nothing,” the stablehand said, waving a hand. “Students, especially biology students, come around, and ask for far more, far stranger, too, sometimes.” Tengi laughed, although she was afraid it sounded a bit too anxious, and called thanked the stablehand. With a heave, she hauled the empty shell up, having to awkwardly grip it with both hands up behind her shoulders, like the city’s most awkward cloak. She wished very much she had thought to ask for an empty shell while she still had the rental cart out. But it would have to do. She rushed off into the dusk, toward the old protodermis processing plant district, long out of use. The Toa of Tais was a daring and honest Toa of Fire. Tais, the southernmost island in the southeastern island chain, was said to be a land of giant fungus forests, ravenous, powerful Rahi, and not much light. That was, until the Toa of Tais arrived. The Toa brought light. The Toa bravely fought back the ferocious and frighteningly intelligent Rahi that threatened his people, and chose the bravest and the best of the villagers to join him in his adventures, granting them the awesome power of a Toa-Hero. The Toa of Tais and his team liberated their home and their people from darkness, and traveled across the islands of their region to help others in the same way, passing into legend. These were Rofto’s favorite Toa tales - strange tales from the backwards southern islands. It was rumored that the inhabitants there had to physically eat things to get energy. As in, eat things with their mouths. Rofto shuddered involuntarily, whenever that little detail came up in a story. There was talk of cunning warrior species that even a Toa would have difficulty taking out, species with non-elemental abilities beyond a Metru Nui Matoran’s wildest dreams. And Rofto was quite the dreamer, as far as Metru Nui Matoran went. Perhaps I’ll voyage to Tais and see these things for myself, Rofto thought. Someday, when I'm a - He caught himself, stopping his train of thought, almost embarrassed when he realized what he'd been about to think. A hero? “Someday when I’ve saved up enough vacation time,” he said aloud. His mind wandered much faster than his feet did, as he crossed into an outlying residential district of Ga-Metru. There were no inter-Metru crossing stations, or even booths that he could see. Those mostly connected business districts or were along roadways. Having a station between adjoining residential districts would be silly. Daring and honest, he thought vaguely, reminiscing about his far-off hero. That’s what I’d want to be. But he didn’t feel daring or honest, as he tried to inconspicuously make his way to the Great Temple, shrouded in a large cloak that concealed his mask and the heavy rucksack he carried. He clutched the carefully wrapped Toa-stone in his hand, close to his heartlight. It was quite comforting. It was fully night time now, both moons waning above. Rofto was relieved that he only passed one small group of Ga-Matoran, as he picked through the outskirts of a residential district. They hurried past, headed toward the schools without sparing him a glance. But, why feel relieved? He wasn’t doing anything bad. Right? It was just, well, how would he explain himself? ‘My boss gave me this Toa stone and I’m supposed to take it to the Great Temple, and maybe become a Toa-hero’? he thought, and shook his head at the absurd idea. However Toa were created, it certainly had to be different than this - more grand, more ceremony, more Mata Nui, more Destiny, perhaps. But, who was he, really, and what did he know? Still, there had to be some guards at the Temple gates. What on earth would he say to them? He wasn’t even sure if there were open visiting hours to the central sanctuary, and if there were, they certainly wouldn’t extend to this late hour. 'Mata Nui told me to meet him there', he laughed to himself. That will work. He passed one more group of Ga-Matoran, headed in the same direction as the first, without time to spare him a glance, and talking among themselves quietly. Too quietly? No, that was just because it was a quiet neighborhood. Right? Rofto pushed the worries out of his mind as the modest residences around him gave way to a wide boulevard, lined with moss-covered carvings of great Kanohi masks, most of which he couldn’t identify. The wide, cobblestone street became a bridge spanning gentle inlets of the Silver Sea, the Great Temple gates looming ahead. Rofto kept far to the side of one street, passing in and out of the shadows of the sculptures at intervals, nerves standing on end. The closer he got to the Temple, the more illegal it all felt. He paused in the shadow of the last carving before the impressive gate, taking a second double-take. Surely, there had to be at least one guard Matoran, or even a drone, around, especially with the gate itself wide open. He sorely wished he knew more about the Great Temple. Perhaps this was normal. If Matoran wanted more Mata Nui in their lives, no matter the hour of day, then it would be heretical to have closed gates. Still, Rofto stood frozen, watching for any sign of movement. Finally, it was the weight of his rucksack that drove him cautiously forward. He edged his way through the gate, after long minutes of nothing happening, and made his way to the Temple doors. They were large and grand, and he nearly fainted trying to push one open enough to get in. He slipped inside, out of breath, and leaned back against the heavy door to close it, which resulted in quite a noisy clang, to his dismay. The sound reverberated through the Temple’s ornate antechamber, also empty of any other Matoran. Minutes after the sound had faded from the air, Rofto finally let out his breath that he hadn’t realized he was holding. A few more deep breaths, and he felt ready to proceed. Yes, he was slightly terrified, and this all felt rather surreptitious, but what else was he going to do? He rolled his tired shoulders, and decided to drop the heavy pack just inside the doors. It was a large temple, and it might take him a while to find whatever it was he was looking for. You’ll know what to do from there, the note promised him. “Well, I’m here,” Rofto whispered to the stone in his grasp. He readjusted his cloak to hang much more naturally, after removing the large lump of his rucksack with a relieved sigh. “What now?” There was only one way to go, and that was across the antechamber, and through a candle-lit corridor, through which he could see a fraction of the main hall. If the sunslight had been streaming through the masterfully crafted windows of the temple, it would have been a breathtaking sight, with intricate carvings and murmuring hieroglyphs. But in the dark, to a frightened Ta-Matoran, with the constant sound of trickling water in the background, it was breathtaking in a bad way. “Daring and honest,” Rofto told himself, with another deep breath to steady himself. “Daring, honest.” And he continued bravely on. It must have been nearing midnight, and Tengi was about to give up for the night. The carapace she’d lugged halfway across Ga-Metru lay in the middle of a long-abandoned four-way intersection of pedestrian streets. On each street corner, a small tower, not much taller than Tengi herself, hummed gently, and a singular, calming blue light pulsed at the top of each tower, in unison. These towers were what she’d needed to rent an Ussal cart for. They were stasis-field towers, used by field Archivists and some Ga-Metru students. She’d shelled out more than she would have liked to rent the equipment from the biology department. Her plan was a simple one, although it might take several nights of staking-out. The Ussal shell was in the center as bait. Tomorrow, she would try and find more shells to use. The Kuma-Kava she was hunting, ideally, would go to it, and Tengi would trigger the towers remotely, from her safe hiding place on the corner rooftop, overlooking the whole intersection. While the thing was trapped in the stasis field, she would carefully move the towers closer and closer to one another, and trigger the stunning gas cartridges in each tower to knock it out, and be done. The towers were fully charged, and could keep a stasis dome running full-force for up to eighteen hours. That was more than enough time to arrange for transport for the Rahi back to Mavrah. That was one advantage to this wondrous city - the technology. Back home on the Tren Krom Peninsula, she never would have dreamed of portable stasis devices. She probably would have had to painstakingly set up a rockslide, rock by rock. And, of course, rockslides were just as likely to kill your quarry as they were to miss it entirely. What was she going to do when she went back, without all this hi-tech? But, she didn’t have to worry about that, since it looked like nobody was leaving the city anytime soon. She yawned, shooing away a small rodent-rahi with her foot. According to her slap-dash research, this protodermis processing block had been bought out by Metru Formulaics, and its resources and employees had been moved closer to the large processing and refinery company’s base of operations, closer to the heart of the Metru. Small rahi birds and rodents seemed to be the only residents. Soon, this old block would be demolished, and the parts from the buildings and underground street mechanics torn up and processed into either widgets if they could get the Turaga’s approval, or simply sent to Ta-Metru. Tengi considered taking a quick lap around her flat rooftop. She should be on alert, anyways. But, if something as large as her quarry was approaching, she could be in a coma and still hear it. She sighed, regretting not bringing any homework to work on, or lightstones to read by. “Hey! Scram!” she yelled, her cry echoing down the streets, still lit with lightstone posts. It was by their light, she caught the shadow of another small rodent scampering right up to her carapace, down in the street. “That’s not for you!” she hopped onto the ladder that led down to the street, tucking her remote into her small satchel. She bore down on the Ussal shell, flipping it over in search of the rodent. Angrily, she hissed, “I said-" Except the rodent wasn’t a rodent. It was the Kuma-Kava. Not even half the size of her foot, but complete with powerful, clawed little hind legs of a rodent, and the spring-loaded club arms of a Tarakava. And teeth. Little sharp teeth that glinted even in the lightstone lights and blue lights of the stasis towers. “What?” was all she could say, staring at it, baffled. Was this all a grand joke Mavrah had contrived? Was it- The little monster screeched at her, and before her startled eyes began to grow. And grow. And grow. With a cry, she fell back, jolted out of her stupor as the monster surpassed her quickly in size, and kept on growing. Her remote! But she couldn’t trigger the stasis field while she was in there with it! The monster’s screech had turned into a sidewalk-shaking roar. It was not happy that Tengi had tricked it out of a meal. Stumbling to her feet, Tengi ran for her life. Not all that far away, Rofto completed his third, slow journey around the perimeter of the Great Temple’s main chamber. A large, intricately carved fountain of very pure looking protodermis served as the room’s center, ringed with a pristine, metallic dais that was covered in carvings, some were words, some were pictures, some were pictures that looked like they could be words, and vice versa. Still, nobody besides the Ta-Matoran was there, and he still had no idea what to do. There was one more side chamber that he hadn’t explored yet. His loop took him to the side chamber’s entrance. Peeking in, it looked rather unremarkable. It was not ornate, like the antechamber, or the main hall. It was a high-ceilinged stone room with impressive pillars spaced in such a way that drew the eye to a simple, segmented dome that rose out of the floor in the center of the chamber. If Rofto could read the ancient language above the doorway, he would have been able to identify the Toa Suva. Still, he was intrigued. He took a step into the side chamber. And then an explosion ripped through the Great Temple. Dazed, and partially buried in rubble, Rofto dragged himself back into the main chamber. It was by luck alone, he was sure, that he had been in the shelter of the doorway when the explosion hit, and hadn’t been completely crushed. But he was pretty dazed, and badly shaken and bruised, so he wasn’t completely sure of anything. But he was scared. Not everything had been torn apart, but many things were scorched, a few things were on fire, and a lot of things had either fallen over or been shattered. Smoke filled the air, and the fountain spurted its last. Rofto was so confused. What had happened? He made his way uneasily to the main doors, where the damage was by far the worst. There were only two walls left standing of the antechamber. The remains of his rucksack lay smoldering by what was left of the great doors. Fuzzily, a realization began to form in his mind. But that formulation was cut short by shouts and quickly approaching bright lights. And so, Rofto ran for his life. 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  7. Chapter 3: Dastardly “Please,” Tengi implored the somewhat flustered Archvist. “I’ve been working with Rahi for centuries. At least give me a shot.” She had gotten up early that next morning, and spent three agonizing hours trying to get to the Archives. Even for a weekend, the crowds were insane. The various policing forces seemed to be out in droves, as well. “I believe you, I believe you,” the Matoran said, holding out his hands as if to calm her. “It’s just, well, Mahi and and Ussal are one thing, but we’re talking about something that eats those for a light snack.” “Rahi are Rahi. I can track and trap,” Tengi said. “I’ll just need some higher tier equipment. I’ve even listed out what I think I’ll need.” She offered him her notes tablet, with a small list written on it. He waved it away, saying, “Even if I wanted to fund your paraphernalia, you can’t use the same hunting or tracking techniques on a hunting Rahi that you would on a domestic Rahi.” “I’ve worked with all kinds of Rahi,” she insisted. She was kicking herself for leading off with the fact that most of her Rahi jobs had been Mahi-wrangling. “Well, has someone else already taken the job, then? I could help them.” She highly doubted the job had been claimed already. There wasn’t exactly a line out the door of the cluttered office. In fact, it was a pretty desolate wing of the Archives. “No, but… well, no,” Mavrah sighed. “But I can’t fund your equipment upgrade with no promise of a return. I’m not made of widgets.” Very technically, he was. Protodermis was protodermis, in the end. But Tengi knew that would be very unhelpful to point out. “Could you show me the sketch again?" Tengi asked instead, craning her neck to see over the piles of clutter on the desk. There was a charcoal sketch of what the Archivist and a few of his coworkers thought they were after. This was the Rahi that they believed to be terrorizing the Ussal pens all over the city. There was a small task force of combined Conservators, Jet-Setters, and Cobalts that were supposedly chasing this thing, but, like most cooperatives, was probably falling apart due to the inter-Metru tensions that just kept getting worse. “It almost looks like…” the blue-armored Matoran turned the sketch this way and that. “A lizard-rat. A Kuma-Kava. That’s what they were calling it,” the Archivist supplied. “Any reports of it attacking Matoran?” she asked. “Only if they get in the way of prey.” “I can’t believe something that large can avoid capture for so long,” she said incredulously. “Like I said, we don’t know much about this thing, only that it likes Ussal and has left at least one Conservator unable to walk.” “I have some ideas that will help me keep my legs, I hope,” Tengi said. She stepped back, examining her feet as she weighed her options. “Okay. I can get my own equipment. Just give me a week.” It was a bit risky, but Tengi had enough saved up that she could afford a small gamble here. Especially since she wasn’t good at actual gambling, and she knew she wouldn’t be winning any sailer-skiff races soon. Might as well try her hand in another ring. “I was honestly expecting a team of Matoran or something to answer the ad,” the Archivist fretted. He couldn’t have a dead or maimed Ga-Matoran on his conscience. But she seemed so determined, and she did know what she was talking about. “Well, maybe the Rahi is expecting a team to come after it as well.” As much as she hated to step on someone’s toes, this was taking far too long. "Don’t worry. I know when I’m in over my mask. I’ll let you know if it doesn’t work out. If you don’t hear from me after a week, here’s how to contact me.” She scrawled the information on the corner of the Rahi sketch with charcoal. Before Mavrah could protest further, Tengi had picked her way through his messy office, and disappeared. He hadn’t even agreed. But, of course, if she did bring in the Rahi, he wouldn’t refuse it. Still, he wouldn’t be getting his hopes up anytime soon. The heated argument of the three Matoran in the Council chamber seemed to fade away as Turaga Arrakio regarded his valor sculpture fondly. It was barely more than an indistinct figure cast in a heroic pose that suggested victory, obscured by the low-quality, early stasis technology that encased it. It was a life-sized statue that was cast from a rare metallic protodermis from the eastern island chain, and it didn’t react well with air, or so they’d told him, hence the stasis container. He liked it because it reminded him of his days as a Toa. Those were days spent mostly on the Southern Continent, leading many teams and never wanting for adventure. Just because one could lead a team of Toa well did not mean one could lead a city well. And, oh, how Arrakio wished someone had told him that beforehand. “For the last time, it’s not the Archivists!” the Onu-Matoran in the room yelled. “I swear it by Karzahni, Artakha, and Mata Nui himself!” “You’re not going to convince the city of that, Davanu,” the Ta-Matoran replied, in a similar tone of voice. The two were nearly mask to mask, both seething. “I’ve lost three of my firepits workers in the last two weeks to these attacks.” “The Cobalt Guard lost a patrol member, two days ago,” the last Matoran, a Ga-Matoran, cut in before Davanu could fire back an accusation. “What about the Fire Brands, Nuok?” “I don’t do much business with them, you know that.” The Ta-Matoran crossed his arms. “They’re idiots.” “You’d say that about Mata Nui himself, if he showed up in the armor, and looked at you wrong,” Davanu scoffed. “Ginsa, what else are the Cobalts saying? You have Matoran on the inside?” Nuok gestured rudely at the Onu-Matoran, and turned fully to the Ga-Matoran student. Ginsa smirked at Davanu’s indignant sputtering, and reported, “Just one." No need to mention in front of the Turaga that it was her. "They’re not interested in assigning blame, they just want the schools to remain open and the students to stay safe,” “Quaint. Staying safe never won over any cities,” Nuok said. “If you and your Magisterials want that funding for your synthesis studies, we’re going to need to push a bit harder to get more of the Ga-Matoran on our side.” “Don’t you talk down to me,” Ginsa snapped. "I know you and your Incinerator group want that breakthrough in energized protodermis as badly as we do. I’m not in your pocket, and we both know it.” “Davanu,” Nuok turned sharply to the morose Archivist. “What about the Conservators?” Onu-Metru’s policing force had always been difficult to get information on. “They’re demanding inventory reports on all rahi exhibits, and recounts of those exhibits, to make doubly sure that none of our exhibits are the ones loose in the city. That’s all I know.” Listen to them squabble, Turaga Arrakio lamented inwardly. Worse than Gukko chicks with a bula berry shortage. He shook his head, and the tall, vague figure of his valor sculpture seemed to gaze back at him sympathetically. Or, was it mocking? If your Toa-self could see you now. Relegated to arbiter of petty, dysfunctional business Matoran. The Turaga of Ice turned away from the imposing statue, and slammed his staff on the edge of the dais where he stood. “That’s enough, Nuok. Davanu.” The two bickering Matoran quieted, and Ginsa took a seat smugly off to the side. Arrakio rather liked the effect the valor sculpture gave off, as he stood in front of it, ready to command. It practically whispered victory into his audio receptor. Of course, victory in a the Council chamber was very different than victory on a battlefield. Not that this was an official Council meeting - that would be scandalous, meeting with such recalcitrant insurgents. “Nuok, you promised me that Metru Nui would be able to rival the Xian market by now- surpass it, even. And where are we?” “It takes time to change the entire economic playing field of a city-island, Turaga,” Nuok replied in a measured tone. “The Po-Matoran and the Le-Matoran won’t cooperate.” The Ta-Matoran’s words were a thinly veiled accusation. The Turaga was not passing reductionist regulations against Po-Metru and Le-Metru, as Nuok and his allies urged him to. “We agreed to make Metru Nui a world power, not just Ta-Metru,” Arrakio countered. Yes, the Great City had a shining reputation, but nobody considered them a force with which to be reckoned. They were just a nice place for Matoran to work, and made nice things, and taught nice classes. And, as the recent League wars had proven to the world, 'nice' wouldn't cut it anymore. “I have to listen to all my citizens, and honor their requests when I can. It is my duty, and my privilege.” It really had never felt like a privilege, but Arrakio would never admit that to anyone besides himself. “All the muddling about in regulations and politics has set us back indefinitely.” Nuok didn’t bother to keep a respectful tone this time. Beside him, Davanu and Ginsa kept silent, and very still. “You and your incendiaries are making a mess of the city," the Turaga ordered. "Stop encouraging your Matoran to take matters into their own hands. The Metru policing forces have enough on their hands. I need them to work together to get to the bottom of these Rahi attacks.” He glanced pointedly at Davanu, who glared back. “Stopping their own brothers and sisters from sabotaging each other is an enormous and tragic waste of resources.” “You’re one to talk about waste of resources,” Nuok said acidly. “We all know you don’t really have the power to enforce your edicts, that the separate policing forces don’t really answer to you. You’ve been trying to play both sides for too long, and have ended up irrelevant. Now, what we need is to have another Council for the chief business Matoran of each district, probably with the policing heads as well. I expect-” Nuok’s demand was cut off with a cry, and he dropped to the ground. “You need to learn when to stop,” the Turaga said calmly, pointing his staff at the Ta-Matoran insurgent. “And you need to learn that you don’t have all the pieces, and you certainly don’t have all the power.” Nuok made some incoherent, muffled sounds. “Are we clear, Nuok?” The Turaga deactivated his noble Kanohi Garai, and Nuok’s armor returned to its normal weight. “Yes, Turaga,” Nuok growled, getting to his feet with a mutinous look in his eyes. “Perfect. Then, you are dismissed.” The three Matoran wasted no time making their exit, the Turaga watching their retreat with an unreadable expression. Once the heavy door to the Council chambers had slammed shut, the three Matoran began making their way down the grand corridor, not looking forward to the long descent. There was something about being in audience with the Turaga that set even the most even-tempered Matoran on edge. And none of Nuok or his conspirators were even-tempered to begin with. They weren't always at one another's throats, usually they managed more subtle hostility between one another. But just...something about the pressure of being in the Turaga's own audience chamber. “You pushed him way too hard,” Ginsa grumbled. “He might have let us take the elevator down, otherwise.” “Really? That’s why you’re upset?” Davanu laughed. “Shut up, mole.” She glowered at him. Nuok was shaking his head. “We need Ga-Metru to cooperate.” “They’re onto you, Nuok. There’s a small group, students mostly, running some basic espionage for Marka. They’ve got some bugs in your break rooms.” “Marka? The Cobalt?” Ginsa shrugged. “She’s newer, but she’s risen quickly. She’s getting things done, Nuok. She wants to make peace, not just keep it. She’s collecting information to feed to their diplomats. For now. If she finds anything solid, though, I’m sure she wouldn’t hesitate to get the rest of the Guard involved.” “Well, I won’t give her anything solid to find,” he said. Then, he guessed, “You’re part of her little spy group?” “I feed them information from my contact in the Archives,” she told him, elbowing Davanu, who looked at her, alarmed. “Nothing true, don’t worry.” “Don’t draw any attention to the Archives at all!” Davanu protested. “If anyone gets wind of our project…” he trailed off worriedly. “Be careful, Ginsa,” Nuok agreed. “I don’t want even a reason for someone to turn their mask there.” “I know what I’m doing, calm down. No need to make a Kikanalo stampede out of a Kinloka scampering,” she snapped. “More bad news, they still don’t know who’s running the operation in Po-Metru, either.” Nuok let out a half-sigh, half-growl of frustration. “I’ve been after them for years.” He went on muttering darkly to himself for a few moments. “It’s fine. I have a play to force their hand. But, again, we need Ga-Metru.” He fixed Ginsa with an intense stare, and she paused on her stair nervously. “Don’t look at me. I’m just a student. I can’t mobilize the masses,” she said, looking down. Ideally, he’d want to cut off the sculptors and their allies from the Matoran feeding point, which would cripple them. The Ga-Matoran would never go for it, cutting off nearly half the city from a basic necessity. They clung to their jaded, moralistic neutrality as though their lives depended on it. That was going to have to change. “Leave the mobilizing to me. I just need to know one thing: How are you and your Magisterials with diversions?” “Diversions?” The Synthetics student tilted her head curiously. “What type?” “The type that brings the Cobalts running.” The three Matoran began descending the impressive spiral staircase. “We can probably manage that,” she said, and smiled, ideas blooming rapidly. “Energized protodermis experiments go bad all the time.” “Good. The night after tomorrow. I want all the guards away from the Great Temple,” Nuok said. Ginsa and Davanu gasped, pausing on their respective steps. “Nuok…” Ginsa stared at him. “Not the Great Temple.” “It’s won’t be anything crazy,” he promised. “If you do your job, no Ga-Matoran will be hurt.” “Don’t you have any fear of the Great Spirit?” Davanu demanded. “Apparently not,” Nuok chuckled. “Davanu, if we get the Ga-Matoran to work with us, it will be a lot easier to pass anti-Le-Metru regulations. We can finally take down Kesian.” This gave the Onu-Matoran pause. It was because of Kesian that Davanu was stuck in this menial Archives job, which he hated. Yes, it was an envied position for some, but not for one who had no other options after failure. And, to make matters worse, the failure that was his was not his fault. He, like many, was the victim of sabotage. But he, unlike others, knew who was to blame. “Maybe this could work,” was all Davanu said, with a one-shouldered shrug, and continued down the stairs. “So, about this diversion,” Ginsa began. “I already have a plan in motion,” Nuok said confidently. “Don’t worry. Just get the Cobalts away from the Temple and enjoy the show.” Review Topic
  8. So well-traveled! That's awesome! How long did you live in Paraguay for? The little I've seen of South and Central America was beautiful, I bet Paraguay is, as well. Haha, I, too, wish I'd hung onto more Euros. I think I traded them all back in because of the exchange rate, but I don't remember. Now, getting some of the pre-Euro currencies of some of the European countries would be fun. And probably difficult. And I feel like I'd have to learn more about European history and politics. But still.
  9. So, over the past few years (about 3?), I've had the privilege of being able to travel to a few different countries. Mostly for academics. I started collecting the different bills, because, as a United States resident with a mostly monochromatic currency scheme, the other colors and sizes of foreign currency is one of my favorite things ever. Also, sorry, the coins photographed really terribly, but I realized too late. 这是中国元。 我在大学的时候, 专业是中国文化, 所以我需要学习一个学期在中国。我三年以前是留学生在上海。 Translation: This is Chinese currency. (if you didn't guess). When in college, I studied Chinese, and needed to study in China for a semester. Three years ago, I studied abroad in Shanghai. The two small bills, which are the equivalent of a few Chinese cents, were pretty hard to come by, I think I only encountered two or three of each my entire semester there. Entonces, tengo dinero Guatemalan tambien. (lo siento, mi español es muy muy poco, jaja). Viajé a Guatemala uno año pasada. Creo los dinero Guatemalan esta mucho bonitos. Translation: I've also collected Guatemalan money. (sorry, my Spanish is abysmal). I traveled to Guatemala about a year ago, and I think their money is gorgeous. A fun fact, the exchange rate for Chinese Yuan and Guatemalan Quetzales is almost the same. (or at least, it was when I was in each country, respectively). While I don't think I can say I've been to Colombia, I do have Colombian bill (the little blue one beneath the Guatemalan coins). It was acquired during a layover in the Bogota airport. My personal requirement for being able to say I've been to a country is 1) leaving airport/customs/border crossing property and 2) buying something in the country in the native language. The Colombian bill was more of a gift, and was kept because it's really pretty and makes a good bookmark . Now, what I really need are some widgets.
  10. All info/screenshots from BS01 From the "Matoran" page: From the "Ga-Metru" page: From the "Flora" page: Bula berries are the only plants that jump to mind that specifically are to restore energy. I'm not sure on the canon use for these. Were these items in the MNOLG? I'm not sure about Rahi - canonically if they eat and if they are eaten, but it seems within the realm of possibility. Most interestingly, from the Skakdi page, a more cultural tidbit : ( edit: what @Xboxtravis mentioned, I think) I found this bit to be the most insightful. One thing - there's so much of our cultures and daily lives that are facilitated and structured around food, mealtimes, grabbing a coffee with a friend, holiday meals and traditions, regional cuisine, etc. While a lack of foodstuffs and what societal developments come with it, it makes sense mechanoid-based society, but it sometimes does feel like there's a layer missing. As @Makuta Luroka pointed out above, I guess there are exceptions, probably moreso in early G1 than later on.
  11. Chapter 2: Flotsam The game of caps and pins was about bluffing and being able to count better than everyone else at the table. It was a rather popular game in pubs and breakrooms throughout the city. One could win some nice pocket-change, and there were a few Matoran who could afford to work reduced time, they’d gotten so good at the betting and counting game. “Pass three,” the Ga-Matoran next to Tengi said. Tengi obligingly handed over the first three bits that fell into her hand as she shook her game cup, which was filled with a mix of ancillary widgets and worthless valve caps. She passed over two caps and a washer warily. “Call it,” the same Matoran, Amaya, said. The other two players at the table cleared some space, as Tengi and Amaya carefully spilled the contents of their stone game cups onto the table, and counted their pieces. One pile for the ‘cills, and one pile of the valve caps. “Widgets?” Amaya asked. “Thirty-four,” Tengi replied, sweeping the valve caps back into her cup. Each player had to have a minimum of ten caps in their cup, and Tengi liked to play with the minimum, because she was honestly not very good at this game. More worthless caps in the overall game made it harder to figure out how many widgets everyone else had in their cups. “Me too,” Amaya crowed. “Tengi, you’re out!” At the end of your turn, after getting or giving a trade of one to five pieces from a player of your choosing, if you suspected that player and you had the same value of widgets in your cup, you could call for a count. If you were right, the other player was eliminated, and you got their ‘cills and caps, and could choose to add however many caps and ‘cills to your own cup you wanted, usually based on how you thought you could best match the remaining players’ widget values. Tengi leaned back in her chair, watching the rest of the game intently. Luckily, they weren’t playing for keeps. Amaya was a statistics teacher for the School of Applied and Synthetic Sciences, if you wanted to get better at caps and pins, you watched Amaya play. After losing yet another skiff-sailer race, Tengi was running low on widgets. It was probably the last race she could afford, which she didn’t like. She considered renting out her skiff. Citizens of Metru Nui were guaranteed basic living necessities - housing and access to the Matoran Feeding Point. If one wanted a nicer living space, or anything resembling a hobby or interest outside of work, whether it be recreational, academic, athletic, whatever, that’s where one spent their widgets. But Tengi wasn’t a citizen of Metru Nui. She would probably have to pick up a real job soon, instead of taking classes full time, which were also not free. Amaya made short work of the other two Matoran, and called, “Anyone up for another go?” The most recent losers, and all around the tavern, a couple heads shook ‘no’, but most of the Matoran ignored the challenge. “Tengi? How many widgets did you put in?” The Matoran began helping Amaya divvy back the ‘cills they’d played with. “Started with thirty, most of them pins. But it doesn’t matter which, I guess.” Tengi would prefer to get mostly pins back, as they were currently worth a nice round five widgets. Snags and bearings weren’t worth much recently, and tines were only worth half a widget. Before the game started, they’d agreed - everyone puts in between ten and twenty-five caps, and between twenty-five and sixty widgets worth of ‘cills. Tengi usually put in low, both in widgets and in valve caps. For an inexperienced player, it was best to minimize any variables as best as one could, in better hopes of controlling them. “Glad we’re not playing for keeps,” one of the other Matoran laughed. “No one ever plays for keeps against me,” Amaya said, shaking her head in subtle mock exasperation. Then she smiled, and added, “They know they’d get cleaned out.” “Do you really give extra credit if your students can beat you?” Tengi had been dying to ask, ever since she had taken Amaya’s class, years ago now. “Take another one of my classes, you can find out,” the teacher said, sweeping her own widgets back into her pouch. “Next semester is booked for me,” she said. “Well, I’m just taking a communications class, but I want to start working a bit. Get out of the school bubble, you know?” “Anywhere you go, there’s a bubble,” Amaya told her. “What communications class are you taking?” “Something about conflict resolution, I think,” Tengi replied. “I’m on the fence about more classes anyways. There seem to be a lot of changes going on in the city.” “Communication and Conflict? With Nokama?” “Yeah, that’s the one.” Tengi nodded. "Why?” “She’s so wrapped up in the peace demonstrations and truce politics,” Amaya said, shaking her head ever so slightly, as she began to pack up her things from the table. "I’d be surprised if she teaches at all, next semester. Especially with the way things are going, you know?” The teacher swept an arm in a wide gesture. The Ga-Matoran generally were doing a good job of staying neutral. It was a delicate thing, not wanting to anger one side, or ingratiate themselves to another. But the growing frequency of unity rallies and demonstrations, often headed by some of the more opinionated Ga-Matoran, were drawing negativity from both sides. “Hm. I’m sure I’ll find something to take, either way,” Tengi waved a goodbye. “You’re headed home early.” “Exams to grade,” Amaya sighed. "But I'd still make time for another round. Or even a quick game of 'cills." Her companions declined, most getting ready to take their respective leave as well. It was a school night and a work night. "Well," Amaya laughed a bit as she took her leave. "Your losses. Well, it would have been, anyway." Tengi was left alone at her table, which suited her just fine. She had worked it out with her lab group to finish their write-up here, at the tavern. Kailani’s tavern, called The Silver Seafarer’s, was unusually busy, even for a weekend night. Usually other sporting events would be going on, especially the test track circuits, which ran throughout Le-Metru’s largest moto-hubs. But a new restriction against Le-Metru and Onu-Metru had been published earlier that week, after Matoran from both districts were exposed in a case of corporate espionage. It was the story of the month, in the news tablets Tengi now shuffled through at her table. There were always more Rahi attacks to read about, and some speculation columnists had some interesting theories. These were mostly in Po-Metru, the outskirts of Le-Metru, and some in Ta-Metru. There were always Matoran being attacked by Rahi in Onu-Metru, so nobody batted an eye at those reports. But, an advertisement in the Onu-Metru section of the news tablets caught her eye. “Archivist seeking SAFE capture of rare Rahi for study,” it read. Intrigued, she kept reading. “Are you going Rahi hunting?” One of Tengi’s classmates sat down at the table with her. They were waiting on one more group member to brainstorm for their mid-semester write up for Elementary Protodermic Theory. “Thinking about it,” Tengi replied, flipping over the tablet to see if the back had anything interesting. Her classmate looked at her incredulously, and asked, “Where did you say you were, before you came to the city?” “The Northern Continent,” Tengi said, copying down the important information from the ad in charcoal on her spare stone half-tablet that she carried around, like most students, for diligent note taking. She hailed from the Tren Krom Peninsula, specifically, although she didn’t think it was wise to talk about it so openly. She’d held a handful of rahi-related jobs there, including Mahi wrangling, Ussal training, runaway Rahi tracking, and had been on a few Fikou nest raids. And, for a Matoran of the treacherous Peninsula, those were considered the easy jobs. “I’ve worked with Rahi a bit before. I’ll go talk to the Archivst, tomorrow, and see what he thinks.” Tengi had come to the Great City just over a decade ago, now. Yes, she had always wanted to study at the Ga-Metru schools. It wasn’t an uncommon ambition for Northern Continent denizens, who lived close enough to Metru Nui to make that dream realistic. But secretly, she had also been tracking something that was probably a bit more dangerous than a Rahi. The trail - a trail of murdered Steltians, led north, to the city, and then went cold. And, just as luck would have it, the year she spent in the enormous city trying to pick the trail back up, the sea gates were shut down after an outbreak of muggings and skirmishes along the Le-Metru and Ta-Metru border. So, she was stuck in the city indefinitely, and trying to make the best of it, although that wasn’t necessarily difficult. There was plenty going on that would keep a curious, tenacious Ce-Matoran occupied. That was also something she hadn’t told anyone. They all seemed content to think she was a Ga-Matoran. In fact, before she left the Peninsula, she’d traded in her gold-colored armor accents for pale blue, not wanting to stand out so blatantly. “Where in all the firepits is Paitia”? Tengi’s classmate demanded, slapping her own research notes down on the table. “She’s not usually late.” “I told her when and where we were meeting to start the write up, and she agreed.” Tengi shrugged, getting out her own class materials. “We can fill her in when she shows up.” The two students reluctantly bent over their notes, exchanging data quietly amidst nearby games of ‘cills and traded sailing stories. None of the Matoran in the Seafarer’s tavern were any wiser, as Paitia, the missing Matoran in question, was dragged along the bottom of the nearby canal, securely wrapped in the many barbed tentacles of an amphibian hunter. Of course, nobody knew she was missing yet. And by the time they did realize it, the Rahi was sure that there wouldn’t be much left of the Matoran to find. “We think someone is trying to shut down the schools,” Hasira stood at her table to take the floor. “I have some Ta-Matoran firepits workers in my Intro to Protodermis Solids class, I made sure to get in their lab group. We went to the northern smelting sector, two weeks ago to do some research for a write-up, and I was able to plant a bug in one of the break rooms.” The Ga-Matoran student, and part time student-teacher held up her small playback machine, and pressed the button. The dozen-odd blue-armored Matoran crowded around the three tables in a side room of Kailani’s tavern, Tengi included, with her lab write-up complete, despite Paitia’s no-show. The Matoran all leaned in to listen to the thin, recorded voice issuing from the device. “…should do something about those cursed diplomats. They’re the ones coming up with all these leniencies for the sculptors. Those rock-bashers aren’t clever enough to be blocking all our policies on their own.” A second voice, very hard to hear, suggested jokingly, “It’s probably the Jet-Setters helping them out.” Both voices on the recording shared a good laugh. Le-Metru’s policing force, if one could honestly call it that, was full of bored test drivers and ambitious Ussal jockeys who often created more disarray than they tried to fix. “Well, what I heard is that the Incinerators cut a deal with some of them, and policies are going to start working in our favor pretty soon.” Hasira cut off the recording, looking to Marka, who was running this covert meeting. The sole representative of Ga-Metru’s Cobalt Guard thanked Hasira, and stood. “It’s not much to go off of, but it’s more than we could have hoped for. Good work, Hasira. Yes, we have some of our best diplomacy professors and power structure theorists working on the Coliseum front. They’ve been working with some of the Scholars Nui of Ko-Metru, actually. So, the Ta-Matoran on the recording are either talking about one of theirs having made a deal with some of ours, or some of Ko-Metru’s.” “They don’t want a three-sided standoff,” someone in the corner interjected, a prominent Synthetics student. If Ga-Metru and Ko-Metru formed their own allegiance against the other two... Some murmuring broke out, but Marka quickly got their attention back. “Yes, thank you, Ginsa. We can’t take anyone’s side, and we can’t make our own. Now, I know what all the other Metrus like to say about us, that we’re cowards who play both sides, no backbone, and so on.” There was some more discontented murmuring that ran through her audience. Apparently, not all of them were aware how fed up the others in the city were with the obstinate Ga-Matoran. “Obviously, that doesn’t make it true!” she insisted. “I know it’s tedious, and I know it’s not easy, but the work we’re doing is important. The Cobalts can’t investigate other Metrus without instigating hostilities and arousing suspicion. But we need this information to stay ahead fo the politics games that go on in the Coliseum councils. We’re doing what the Ko-Matoran truce trustees couldn’t. They tried to solve this with high-minded philosophy and idealistic morals. They had a good run, but their theoreticals didn’t offer any practical follow-throughs or consequences. We can negotiate a truce with hard facts and evidence against both sides. "My contacts in the Assembler’s villages indicate that a mass boycott of Ta-Metru goods, by both Po-Metru and Le-Metru is in the works. The Coliseum can't make anyone buy Ta-Metru goods. We have to be ready for whatever blowback might come from that.” Marka began making her way from table to table, getting updates from the Matoran about their various contacts, connections, and informants, furiously taking notes in an old sailor’s shorthand. "Hasira, keep working on your Ta-Metru connections. See if you can find some artisans, too. The firepits workers a bit too opinionated." “Nireta, how about that Moto-Hub contact? Hm. Well, I wouldn't be happy about those assembly supply restrictions either. Okay, good work." “Tengi, your Po-Matoran transporter?” “Gadjati stopped doing business outside the sculptors and their allies, apparently.” Tengi crossed her arms on the table in front of her in frustration. Then, she remembered, “But there might be a Le-Matoran transporter who would have similar information.” Marka nodded, “Good, follow up on that and see how that pans out, then.” She went around addressing the gathered Matoran, mostly students, with a few traders and waterworkers in the mix. At the table beside Tengi, the Synthetics student, Ginsa, shook her head. “The longer this stalling goes on, the more the entire city suffers. Regulations and restrictions just frustrate the workers and add to the tension. I’d say its only a matter of months before one side or another loses it. Did you hear about Kesian, armoring up his new class of transporters?” “That’s just talk,” another Matoran at her table dismissed the assertion. “The nutjob probably started the rumor himself.” “I think it’s foolish to write off Le-Metru’s most prominent player so quickly,” Ginsa snapped. "I think Kesian and his whole company are bad news." “Everything is conspiracy and woe for you, Ginsa,” Nireta chuckled. "I’ll see what headway I can make with my Moto-Hub informant, then maybe we can worry about conspiracy.” “Besides, what we really need to know is who’s running the insurgents in Po-Metru,” Ginsa pointed out. "They’re supposed to be the ones who started this whole thing.” Many Matoran from surrounding tables expressed disagreement with this. “Yeah, they’re not known for their subtlety. They shouldn’t be so hard to find. So why are they?” another fretted, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with Ginsa’s accusation, but not wanting others to continue taking sides over it. Quiet conversations died off as Marka had made her way back to the front of the small room. “I know it might not seem like we’re getting much done,” she looked from mask to mask deliberately. “But I promise, it’s important. Information is powerful, and gathering and appraising it is no small feat. I know, ideally we’d never have to use it to leverage against either side, but we can’t afford to live in a world of ideals anymore. Let’s meet here again, same day of next month. Great Spirit be with us all.” Review Topic The classified ad that Tengi was reading.
  12. I'm so glad you've enjoyed it thus far, as well as my research post! I've been a huge fan of the City of Legends since the first pages of the Mystery of Metru Nui, so fleshing out some history is just my favorite thing ever! I do worry, though, that I get a bit heavy-handed on the descriptions of politics and economy and stuff. Definitely edited out a lot, haha. Let me know if it ever gets to be too much, and starts to take away from the characters and plot! Thank you, again, for the feedback, and I hope you continue to enjoy
  13. Hey! So, like I mentioned, I've been enjoying this epic for a little while now, and am finally getting around to doing the review thing. Admittedly, I'm always initially slightly averse to first person present tense writing, but you have a very elegant way of making words do what (I assume) you want them to. Your writing style struck me as artistic without being frilly - no frivolous or flamboyant word use. If I had to equate your writing to another art form, I'd probably say it's like carving, which I suppose is ironically appropriate, considering the content of the epic You have great, hard-hitting lines, as well as intricate, deliberately crafted lines that enrich and give detail to the characters and story, working very well together. A hard-hitting line that stood out to me: A detail-y one: And, a nice mix of both: Probably not a coincidence that two of the three lines above are openers for their respective chapters. Well crafted. Other details that I enjoyed enough to want to point out: Clever explanation of the location etymology, without explicitly saying so. Adds a great layer of culture/society to your world, love it! The inclusion of the title, verbatim, in chapter 1 was also a nice touch! So, Corvec is a great character so far. Clear flaws, motivations (or lack thereof), and distinctive personality. How he chooses to use his Mahiki was pretty creative, I thought. Looking forward to seeing how more of his skillset plays out in his predicaments. My only gripe thus far is that, in comparison to Corvec, and perhaps Ahret (I like this villain, lots to find out about him, great power set. Mind powers are always terrifying) I feel like I don't really know who Halak is. She is certainly more than just an observer of events, but I feel like I should know more about what goes on in her head, why she says what she does say, etc. Her disdain of the Toa is currently her defining quality, at least to me. Now, I understand that this is one of the difficulties first person present narration presents, but as you've done so well so far, I'm more than confident you're able to handle the challenge. Keep up the great work! Ads
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