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A quick note: while the story does feature Vizuna, he is not referred to as such in the story as it was written before his name was announced. As always, enjoy! All constructive criticism and feedback is greatly appreciated. NEW ---- Drops of dew patter against my roof as they drip down from the leaves above. It sounds like the obsidian fields of the Region of Earth, alive with the sounds of a hundred chisels being hammered into the rock. I visited the fields once. The harsh landscape assaulted my senses with smells and sights the likes of which I have found nowhere else. I much prefer the lush greenery and fresh air of the jungle. The morning sky is clear as the crystal pools found in the lowest levels of the jungle. The sun is just a sliver on the horizon, painting the heavens with an indescribable blend of reds and yellows. The sunbeams stream through the web of leaves and branches, casting strange and beautiful shadows over everything as far as the eye can see. A single melodic note breaks the silence. A morning bird is awake and has dared to be the first the sing the song of its kind. As the bird begins the melody, another joins it. Then another. And another. Soon the jungle is alive with their symphony, the morning song that will rouse the villagers from their slumber as it has every day for as long as anyone can remember. I sit on the edge of the platform upon which my house is constructed, my legs dangling over the side. The height does not bother me, nor does that fact that the thousand foot drop would certainly end me if I were to fall. My kind does not fear. My kind does not fall. The village comes alive around me. Villagers emerge from their huts, breathing in the fresh morning air. They gather their tools, their hammers and spades and fishing poles, and proceed along the hanging bridges that connect the huts to one another as they go merrily off to their work. Hunters, farmers, builders, and too many others to name. The dew is still dripping from the trees when I finally rise to my feet and return to my hut. I must prepare for my trip to the great library in the Region of Ice today. It will be a long and cold journey, but well worth it. There are things I need to know, and they can only be found in the library. I take one last look up at the sky before I enter my humble home. The stars are going out, all but six bright ones have vanished into the lightening dawn. I frown for a moment, unfamiliar with these strange stars. It is not uncommon for the light of a new star to appear in our skies. But never before have six appeared in one night. As I watch the stars begin to move. It is barely noticeable at first, but soon becomes more pronounced. They are growing further apart before my eyes. They grow larger as well, as if they are getting nearer. What are they? Are they sky rocks like the ones that fell out of the heavens four summers past? Or perhaps they are stars that no longer wish to light the sky and are coming down to rest at the bottom of the sea? Comprehension dawns. There are six of them. Six. They are not sky rocks or stars. They are our salvation. The Toa are coming. All thoughts of the great library are pushed back into the recesses of my mind. Now that the Toa have arrived all our problems will be solved, and all our questions answered. There are more important things to attend to than my petty attempts to do another’s job for him. Toa Lewa will require a proper greeting, one fit for a Hero. The villagers must be rallied. A procession must be organized. A celebration must be planned. As I swing from my secluded tree to the rest of the village on a vine hanging from the treetop canopy, I feel invigorated. Alive like never before. I am met by my personal attendant when I arrive. Kongu looks at me oddly, sensing my mood and noting the lack of travel supplies. “Protector, are you not going to the library today?” he asks. “Nay, Kongu,” I say. “There is no longer a need. Something grand has happened. Now off with you, spread the word. The Toa have arrived.” The villager’s eyes widen as he takes in the joyous news. “Oh yes, Protector. I will tell every soul in the Jungle.” I chuckle to myself as the young one runs off. He is so full of spirit, so enthusiastic about his work. Perhaps too enthusiastic sometimes. But his devotion and intellect are admirable. I have no doubt he will make an excellent Protector after I am gone. As I follow Kongu to the center of the village I feel as though I am on the threshold of something great. I do not know what the future will bring, but I know today is the beginning. The beginning of something new.
The first story set in my Shattered Alternate Universe, It is set in Mahri Nui, some time after the Great Cataclysm. Chapters will be uploaded on a weekly basis. Review Topic Rock Bottom Chapter 1 The navy blue waters of the Voya Nui Bay swirled aimlessly around Kyrehx’s still form as the her keen eyes scanned the muddy sea floor that surrounded the sunken village of Mahri Nui. Despite the fact that she had been trapped down here for years, the lack of marine life in the Fields of Air, and in turn, Mahri Nui, still unnerved the Ga-Matoran. It was not right for a sea to be empty; even the canals of Ga-Metru were home to a multitude of creatures despite the ‘purified’ state of the liquid protodermis that filled them. And yet here she was, standing at the bottom of a vast sea of water, real water - not that repulsive manufactured stuff that the Great Beings had had the nerve to call water - and there was not a marine rahi in sight. Kyrehx sighed before she could stop herself, using up a sizeable chunk of the air remaining in her rapidly shrinking bubble. She cursed silently herself, irritated that she still forgot how precious the air bubbles were to her and her fellow Matoran. It had been sheer luck that Mahri Nui had landed beside the Fields of Air in the first place. Without the precious air bubbles that now sustained them, the Matoran that inhabited the sunken village would have drowned mere minutes after the abrupt end to their descent, or worse, mutated into unspeakable water-breathing horror by the mutagen that leaked up from the massive deep sea trench known on as the Black Water. But instead the impact unleashed a massive burst of oxygen from the airweed, creating a series of giant air domes around Mahri Nui and effectively saving the lives of the Matoran within. It was not long before they discovered another useful feature of the massive air bubbles that protected their village. Whenever a Matoran left one of the domes they took with them a small amount of air, conveniently located in a bubble that inexplicably remained attached to their mouths. A few attempts to experiment with these 'personal air bubbles' had been made, though all had ended in disaster. Now tampering with anyone's personal air supply was outlawed, and the experimenters were forced to find something else to mess around with. The Ga-Matoran glanced over her shoulder for what felt like the millionth time, wondering when her replacement would arrive. Her shift had ended hours ago, but Lemiddus had an obnoxious habit of sleeping in late. Whoever had decided to give the Fa-Matoran a morning shift had obviously never met him, which was rather ironic considering the fact that only a hundred or so Matoran had actually survived the plunge to the bottom of the Voya Nui Bay. As Kyrehx turned her gaze back to the vast expanse of water that lay outside the borders of the Fields of Air, something flashed in her peripheral vision. It moved so fast that for a second she thought she had imagined it. But the pain that followed was most certainly not a figment of her imagination. The squid’s teeth tore through Kyrehx’s armor like knives through bread, digging deep into her flesh. The sentry screamed in agony, suddenly not caring about her dwindling supply of air. The squid had latched onto her neck, its mouth squeezing tighter and tighter with every passing second. Kyrehx felt herself getting weaker and weaker, as if her strength was being drained from her. As if her strength was being drained from her… Kyrehx’s eyes flashed open, her hands flying towards the squid on her neck. This was one of those Vampire Squids, the ones that lived in the Black Water and lived off the life force of others. The Matoran often came across the corpses of their victims, gray and lifeless with ghastly black circles all over their body. It was a truly disturbing site, and she usually went the other direction whenever the scouts brought back a corpse that had drifted up from below. As far as they knew, nothing had ever survived a Vampire Squid attack. Kyrehx grabbed frantically at the cephalopod at her throat, pulling on whatever she could grasp. Her vision began to fog over, and the blackness of unconsciousness began to creep past her eyelids. She did not have much time. Her flailing and futile attempts to remove the parasite from her neck grew rapidly weaker as the life continued to drain out of her. She could no longer see clearly, her air bubble was good as gone. The Ga-Matoran made one final tug at the squid then collapsed onto the sea floor, eyes rolling back into her head as her world faded into nothing. *** A hundred pairs of eyes watched with an anxious intensity as the lone squid brought down the Matoran sentry. A silent cry of triumph echoed through a hundred minds as she fell, one final scream exploding from her mouth before her air bubble vanished completely. A hundred bodies moved forward in unison to secure their prize. The squad of Vampire Squid approached the fallen Kyrehx with an expression on their twisted, malevolent faces that could only be described as excitement. They had brought down their first prey in weeks, ever since they had been driven out of the shadowy abyss where they had lived before it came. The monster that used them for food. The living mass of orange converged on the Ga-Matoran, her light blue armor already losing its vibrancy in favor of the dull gray of their victims. The single squid that had brought the sentry down had detached itself from its prey, leaving an ugly black scar where its tiny needle like suckers had punctured her organic tissue. He would not take part in the next few hunts, having drained more life force from Kyrehx than all of the rest would combined. That was the price for a filling meal amongst the Vampire Squid. The squad surrounded the felled Ga-Matoran, waiting for their leader’s signal to begin their feast. Anticipation gleamed in the squids’ beady white eyes as they hovered over the prone form below them. Then a single cry broke the silence, and the squid descended upon their prey. *** Lemiddus silently cursed himself for what had to be the dozenth time since he had awoken that morning. The Fa-Matoran had slept in. Again. And not just a few minutes. No, his chronometer told him he was a few hours behind. Kyrehx was going to be furious. If only he could find that blasted alarm feature that Fe-Matoran fellow had told him about. The Fa-Matoran ran about the corner, mentally composing his apology to the undoubtedly irritated Kyrehx as he went. Hey Kyrehx, sorry I slept in late. I’d tell you it won’t happen again, but… Lemiddus’ trail of thought ended abruptly as he rounded the bend just in time to see a mass of squid envelop Kyrehx, her pale blue armored body disappearing beneath the cloud of orange. For a second the Fa-Matoran froze, stunned by the sight he had just witnessed. Then his instincts kicked in, and he threw himself at the squad of squid. His first strike was met with a satisfying squash as his blade bisected one of the small orange monsters, sending it spiralling down to the sea floor. Lemiddus let out a triumphant shout as he watched the corpse’s descent. Then he looked up. A hundred pairs of beady white eyes were locked on him, eyeing his glowing heartlight with unequaled eagerness. The young Fa-Matoran was untouched by the forces of nature that had wearied most of the other Matoran inhabitants of Mahri Nui, still full of life energies. He was a feast, and he had just walked right into their midst. Lemiddus unleashed a colorful string of words too vulgar to repeat then darted forward, snatching Kyrehx’s rapidly discoloring body and launching himself back towards the safety of the closest air dome, the squid not far behind. He was kicking as fast as his legs would carry him, focusing only on the wall of air in front of him and trying not to look back at the nightmare biting at his heels. He could not afford to slow down, not even for the half a second it would take to glance over his shoulder; carrying Kyrehx on his back slowed him down enough as it was. He felt something small and sharp penetrate the armor on his foot, sending a wave of pain up his body. He winced, but did not slow, hoping the squid would be shaken off by his frantic kicking. He had no such luck. The vampiric cephalopod held on, latching into his foot with more of its tiny teeth. The creature was soon joined by another, then another. Lemiddus felt the life began to drain from him. His movement became more and more sluggish with every kick, and the dome seemed to be growing farther and farther away. The Fa-Matoran’s body was jolted by the impact as he suddenly crashed through the barrier that separated Mahri Nui from the watery world that surrounded it. He and Kyrehx were thrown forward onto the sandy ground, sending the black particles flying in every direction. Lemiddus pushed weakly against the ground with his armored hands, lifting his face out of the sand just in time to vomit up a mouthful of water. He looked weakly down at the unpleasant pool of salt water mixed with sand and who knows what before remembering the squids latched onto his feet. Lemiddus quickly glanced over his shoulder, expecting the demonic creatures to still be attached and sucking away. But to his eternal astonishment, the three vampire squid were writhing in pain in the sand, their orange flesh turning black and dissolving before his eyes. In mere seconds they were gone, vanished without a trace. Lemiddus stared stupidly at the spot for almost a minute before cautiously crawling forward to examine it. The air, he realized. The air killed them. The Fa-Matoran had just begun to wrap his mind around the implications of what he had just discovered when he heard a moan to his left. Kyrehx. Lemiddus wrenched his gaze away from the spot where the squids had been just moments before, crawling over to the weakened Ga-Matoran to assess her condition. One look was enough to tell him that Kyrehx was far beyond his abilities to heal. Her breath came in ragged, wheezing gasps that seemed to grow weaker with every inhalation of air. Her armor was pale, almost colorless, devoid of the life that was present in every healthy Matoran. Her eyes were bloodshot and stared blankly ahead as if she were blind. Lemiddus had to get her to the village Healer, a cranky old Ce-Matoran by the name of Kaira. That was her only chance; she’d die within the hour without treatment. But the Fa-Matoran was uncertain that he could even walk, much less carry an incapacitated Matoran across the village. But he had to try. He wedged his hands beneath Kyrehx’s body, lifting her off of the sandy ground and into his arms. His legs buckled under the weight, but by some miracle did not collapse beneath him. He took a tentative step forward. Then another, and another. He felt his strength return to his body with every move, his muscles reviving. He quickened his pace. If there was any chance of saving the Ga-Matoran’s life, he would do everything in his power to do so. Kyrehx would not die on his watch. *** In all his travels across the known universe, Gar had never met a being so vain and so despicable as Kyros. The Ko-Matoran was the prime example of a narcissist, in Gar’s opinion, and any Matoran unfortunate enough to meet him tended to wish they had not later. And yet there he was, standing behind the podium in the massive domed council chamber of Mahri Nui with complete control over the people of the sunken village due to the miracle of democracy. “Let this meeting of the Matoran populace of Mahri Nui commence.” Gar groaned inwardly as Kyros spoke. This was why he had been against the cycling of control of the council from the beginning, to keep prideful mahi such as the Ko-Matoran out of positions of power. The last thing he wanted was for the entire village to fall into ruin because some incompetent fool was misusing his powers to further his own selfish desires. He had hoped that others would come to see things his way when Kyros got into office, seeing as nobody liked the obnoxious Ko-Matoran in the first place. Kyros seemed to believe that he was the Mata Nui’s gift to the world and that his past in Metru Nui placed his at a higher status than the other Matoran. He spoke like a king and treated everyone else as if they were dirt. No, less that dirt. He did not have the spine to back it up, though. He was a coward, running into battle only when he was certain no harm would come to him. And he fought like a half-dead Burnak. Suffice it to say he was disliked by most of the villagers for a multitude of reasons. He never shut up, either. The Ko-Matoran had begun to read off a list of something or other that may or may not have been important when a dark green figure burst in through the arched entryway of the council chamber. The Le-Matoran skidded to a stop just inside the room, placing his hands on his knees as he gasped for air. “Ever-sorry for the interruption,” Defilak panted, waving wearily at the crowd. His eyes quickly scanned the crowd, locking onto Gar when they found him. He appeared to be visibly relieved when he saw his friend. He began to pick his way through the mass of villagers, earning a fair share of angry glares as he jostled his way over to the Onu-Matoran. “Thank Mata Nui you’re here,” Defilak whispered as he sat down beside his friend. “Why wouldn’t I be?” Gar hissed back. “Well, since you’ve been against the system from the beginning-start and you despise Kyros with every fiber of your being…” Gar’s only response was an agitated glare. Defilak quickly moved to revise his statement. “But of course it was incredibly foolish-stupid of me to assume that you would let your personal feelings-emotions get in the way of the greater good.” The glare did not leave the Onu-Matoran’s Kanohi. Defilak may not have had a way with words, but he was brilliant, in his own way. Perhaps that was why Gar had been drawn to him in the first place. The Le-Matoran had to work to gain respect and honor, he could not simply talk his way there like so many other Matoran Gar had come to despise. “Anyways,” Defilak continued in a hushed tone, “you’ll never believe what I found while scavenging around the mouth of the Abyss.” It took all of Gar’s willpower to keep from slapping his friend for his stupidity. The Le-Matoran was an inventor, and as such tended to spend his free time looking for scraps and spare parts wherever he could find them. It just so happened that down in the bay the best place to find such items was near the Abyss, the gaping hole in the Sea floor that was dark as night, earning itself the name ‘Black Water’. No Matoran had ever returned from down there, and it was believed to be the home of unspeakable monsters that ate whatever they could get their hands on. Most Matoran tended to stay away from the edge, but Defilak had long been known to lack common sense, and he spent as much time as he possibly could out there. His potentially fatal little hobby was more trouble than it was worth, in Gar’s opinion. Defilak was always late to council meetings, if he came at all, and there was always the risk of something dragging him off and eating him for lunch. But still Defilak continued, despite his friend’s warnings. “Was it a new thingamajig for that blasted submersible of yours?” The Le-Matoran shot him a dirty look, but before he could say anything in response another figure burst through the arched entryway, breathing heavier than Defilak had been just moments before. Kyros turned in frustration, clearly intending to reprimand the newcomer for his untimely introduction. Fortunately the Su-Matoran was able to catch his breath before the Ko-Matoran could being, sparing the crowd from his rant. “Kyrehx’s been...attacked,” he gasped between breaths, “...attacked by...Vampire Squid.” The silence that fell over the council chamber was absolute. Had the messenger really just said that Kyrehx had been attacked? That had never happened before. The squid had never come out of the Black Water before, let alone this close to the village. Gar glanced over at Defilak. The Le-Matoran had a stricken look on his Kanohi Kualsi, and suddenly seemed to be very aware of the contents of his pack. Before he could inquire to the strange behaviour of his friend the Matoran continued. “She’s in Kaira’s hut now,” he breathed, slower and more steady than before. He was beginning to recover from his frantic rush across the village. A yellow armored Po-Matoran by the name of Dekar jumped from his seat, pushing his way through the mass of confused Matoran over to the messenger. He was the Captain of the Mahri Nui Sentinels, and as such Kyrehx’s commanding officer. She was his responsibility, and he took his responsibility very seriously. “Take me to her,” he said worriedly, his voice lacking it’s usually commanding tone. The Su-Matoran nodded slowly, then walked out of the council chamber with Dekar close behind. Defilak took off after them, offering no explanation of his strange behaviour to Gar. The Onu-Matoran began to push his way through the crowd after his friend, determined not let him get away without talking to him first. “Defilak!” he called, his irritation obvious from his tone. The Le-Matoran turned around and called back, “Sorry, I have to go!” he called cryptically before disappearing into the tunnel, leaving Gar alone in the confused mob. Then the reality of the news he just heard suddenly sunk in, and Gar froze amidst the chaotic mass of Matoran. He suddenly found himself just as confused as the Matoran around him, questions swimming through his mind like a school of Makuta fish. What could have caused the squid to leave the Black Water? he thought worriedly. And what does it mean for Mahri Nui?