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Found 33 results

  1. The Kohlii Champion and the Captain of the Guard. More photos of the pair on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/B63TqqUJLxr/
  2. Oh, yeah, I've been meaning to post this for a bit. It's... not anything super-spectacular - as much as I'd like to produce more Bionicle artwork, capturing their detailed mechanical appearances doesn't come easily to me nowadays - but, at the very least, an attempt was made to get back into the style. I ran with movie style because... well, I've always loved how those old movies looked, anyway. And it just feels more natural to me than set-based style. Also, considering I signed up to a movie-style animation project on here earlier in the year, I certainly need the practice! I actually drew this several months back; only, I procrastinated on doing the final shading until recently. Not altogether sure whether I'm happy with it or not; but I figured, why not share it here anyway? It's far from the worst work I've shown here xD Drawn with a wacom bamboo tablet in FireAlpaca; final shading added in Photoshop. Um... I really don't know what I'm doing when it comes to drawing Bionicle characters. Constructive advice is welcome?
  3. Review Topic Here The enforcer stood, dormant, as if it was silently guarding the workshop. Dust and filth covered the machine, obscuring its original matte grey and blue colors in a subdued sleepy tone. It looked simultaneously ancient yet also incredibly advanced. Hahli couldn't even begin to fathom how it worked. Notes and carvings covered the small room in the workshop. ...Nuparu's work. She had trouble reading a lot of the notes, but a word kept repeating. "Vahki". Hahli knew these robots. Police automatons. She had encountered a few heavily malfunctioning ones whilst traversing what was left of Onu-Metru. This one, however, looked intact. The Ga-Matoran looked over the droid. It had completely empty hands, devoid of the signature staffs the Vahki often carried. Hahli's eye caught onto something by the pelvis of the machine. A switch. A very small switch, mind, but it was there. The innate feeling of curiosity was common among Matoran, though somewhat paradoxical to their original purpose. Hahli's hand crept to the switch. A few moments passed. Click. The switch flipped under the pressure of the curious Ga-Matoran's finger. Nothing happened at first. A quiet buzzing seemed to emit for a few moments but the room quickly returned to silence. A frown appeared behind Hahli's powerless Kaukau. Then, a dim blue light began to glow in the otherwise soulless optics of the Vahki. The Vahki's head tilted upwards, suddenly. Hahli jumped back almost instantly. She could begin to hear cogs whirring as the robot's individual parts began to move. The vahki seemed to stare at the Ga-Matoran for what seemed like minutes. "Dest....roy...." A monotone, yet sure voice managed from the sound box of the droid. In reaction, Hahli's form seemed to shift, growing larger and savager, arms becoming legs, hands becoming claws. Her back soon nearly reached the ceiling as the being known formerly as Hahli transformed into a Muaka. The Muaka roared at the vahki, before pouncing on the bot, front claws pinning the Vahki down. "Memory core....dest...royed....what are my orders?" The vahki continued, weakly lifting its head. The Muaka's head tilted. The vahki finally seemed to notice that the Matoran had completely and utterly changed forms, and a small, yet potent shock went through the vahki's body. Claws flew off the vahki as the giant tiger Rahi yelped, legs smoking from the shock. Legs began to shrink again and the Muaka's stance shifted upwards, taking a more familiar, upright, yet smaller stance. Dark green armour now covered what was once Hahli as well as a Muaka. A Kanohi Volitak adorned the Toa's face. "Memory core partially restored. Your powers match that of intelligent Rahi known as Krahka. You have assumed the identity of Toa [iNFORMATION WITHHELD]. Info banks still not complete." The Toa, or more accurately, Krahka, relaxed a little, seeing that the Vahki wasn't approaching. He gingerly nodded, surprised by this Vahki's ability to speak. "This person...it's Toa Nidhiki. I met him once. He tried to kill me. Like many of your top-dweller masters tried." The vahki didn't immediately react, but a few moments later it seemed to nod. "You are considered hostile by most city personnel, including my fellow vahki and the Toa [iNFORMATION WITHHELD]." "How...can you speak? I never saw your kind speak before." Krahka's voice seemed unnatural even to herself. She didn't usually speak either. There weren't many people to speak to. Not anymore. The vahki looked to think, almost, as it formulated an answer. "I am...unique. Nuparu, the Onu-Matoran responsible for the creation of the Vahki concieved me as a higher command unit to accompany vahki squads. I would be followed by similar units for each Metru. Mine was...I cannot access which Metru I was meant for." "Toa Nidhiki" listened to the Vahki's words, taking another look around the workshop. The robot hadn't been locked away by any means. It was out in the open, in fact, right on display at the back of the workshop, standing above all of the benches and numerous notes and spare parts and notes. Yet it had been abandoned, and it was in fact alone. Krahka's eyes narrowed behind the Volitak. Nuparu. Yet again Nuparu was at the forefront of her questions. The vahki stepped forward slightly. "You broke containment. How?" "There wasn't much left to keep me down there. Most of you top-dwellers are dead, if not gone mad." Toa Nidhiki's image replied, still observing the room. The vahki's eyes glowed brighter, almost as if surprised. "...Explain." Krahka stayed silent. Instead of trying to explain, she simply gestured to the door, and left. The vahki followed behind, if slowly. *** Every building outside that had once stood tall now lay crumbled and rusted deep in the nooks and crannies of Onu-Metru's subterreanean land. A single rusted watch tower peeked out of the crevice Krahka and the Vahki were. Dozens of small openings to other huts and workshops peppered the belts of the crevice. The sky was an rusted, sickly orange. Onu-Metru looked like it had been baked in a hot Ta-Metru furnace and thrown out, burnt and ruined. The Krahka gestured to their surroundings. "This is what is left of Metru-Nui." *** Far, far away from Krahka and her newfound companion, a hulking mechanical suit sifted through the scraps of its last skirmish. A few dead stray rahi and a destroyed vahki were strewn around the area. Appropiated disk launchers and a few prototype weapons adorned the shoulders and arms of the mech. Whoever was piloting it was completely covered in armour and devices. A speaker had been stuck on the front of the large suit, though it was rarely used. Barely anyone was around to hear it, and those that were didn't want to. Deciding there was nothing there for it to scavenge, the mech stood up, walking away from the mess. Ta-Metru was a ways away, and he needed to get moving. To be continued.
  4. This is the review topic for my story Nuparu's Folly. Sorry if this is kinda not what you wanted but I really did like the idea of writing about Krahka so here we are. Tell me what you like and dislike. New entries should be in every week, if not, the week after.
  5. My entry for the BZPower Fanfic Exchange; this story is for ArchAngelleofJustice, who wanted to read about why Jaller and Hahli stopped flirting with each other between 2003 and 2006 (and also about Nobua, who gets a cameo later on - though I had to look up who he was first!). I can't help but wonder if, perhaps, the prompt was supposed to inspire a more jokey story rather than something heavily serious - but the idea most appealed to me as a way to delve deeper into Jaller and Hahli's thoughts and mindsets, which is something I love doing. Plus, there was one particular key thing that I could imagine having a big effect on the two of them and, well... the idea spiralled from there. So even if it's not quite what you were anticipating, ArchAngelle, I hope you enjoy it anyway! ^^ ----- Additional note - sorry if my writing is a bit clumsy; I'm more used to writing individual roleplay posts than whole stories, and my style maybe didn't adapt as neatly as I'd like. That said, it was definitely a fun experience; thanks for giving me a chance to play around in the heads of some of my favourite Matoran! ----- “I don’t much like this, Hahli.” The Ga-Matoran who he addressed raised a single, expressive eyebrow. The statement was so vague, she couldn’t help but think, that Jaller could be referring to just about anything; and yet, she had a feeling that she could get it in one guess if she tried. She didn’t even need to know him as well as she did; the Captain of the Guard had been on edge ever since the Kolhii tournament had wrapped up… and it didn’t take a genius to trace it all back to the mask that sat, now, carefully propped up on his desk. Its glow had dimmed; while the magnificent golden finish still caught the flickering torchlight, it no longer cast out the bright ray that had enveloped Jaller at the stadium, or even the warm glow it had seemed to cast as the Turaga had pored over it. Now it just looked as if it were… a mask like any other. Amazing to think that it held such power, such hope… And even more amazing, that it was the Matoran who she loved so much who had been chosen by it. Not that Hahli couldn’t see why; brave, smart, determined… why wouldn’t it chose him? “I dunno… for a mask, it sure has good taste.” Her tone was light, teasing… just as it always was around Jaller. That was just the kind of relationship they had; while other Matoran might tire of a friendship (or something more) built around joking and flirting, Hahli wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Jaller was too busy for a full romantic commitment; and living on opposite sides of the island made it impractical – though evidently not impossible, according to Macku – to keep up anything of that kind long-term. In contrast, this? The blend of light-heartedness and intimacy… it suited them both. Which was why, for a moment, she was surprised when Jaller whirled on her, his expression taught and even… dare she think angry? He didn’t immediately speak, but his brows were lowered in a glare that gave Hahli pause. Whatever this was, it really was troubling him; and Hahli quickly dropped the teasing attitude to really take stock of her partner’s mood. She’d thought, perhaps naturally, that Jaller was just feeling a bit overwhelmed with the responsibility of it all. This was, after all, a different kind of task than he was used to; hunting all over the island for a mysterious Seventh Toa, rather than having a specific enemy to face, to plan and strategize against… she had imagined he’d just felt like he was in over his head, but would quickly come to terms with it. That was, after all, the Jaller she knew. This, though, was… more than that. Something was genuinely bothering him; and if there was any time to drop the joking and teasing that characterised most of their interactions, it was now. Hopping up from the bed, she crossed to Jaller, took his scowling face gently in blue-armoured hands. “Do you ever…” Jaller shook his head a little, his scowl softening into an expression of… what? Concern? Resignation? He just looked so put-upon by this that Hahli really felt for him. She might not have understood, but that didn’t matter; she would support him anyway. A few moments later, Jaller continued. “Ever feel like you were chosen for something that wasn’t meant for you?” He held up a hand to forestall her immediate answer, clearly more thinking aloud than actually asking anything. “I know a thing or two about Duty; it is the virtue of Ta-Koro, and all. But this isn’t my…” He hesitated, seeming to be on the fence about giving voice to something specific; and then changed his mind, correcting himself and looking away from her. “I mean, doesn’t feel like it’s mine. I know where my Duty lies, and this…” “Maybe Duty isn’t that simple?” Taking his hand, Hahli led the captain back over to his bed. Jaller looked, for just a moment, like he wanted to protest; then simply allowed her. The two Matoran sat there, side by side; Hahli swinging her legs slightly where they overhung the edge, while Jaller remained stiff-backed and upright. When the silence dragged without him answering her, Hahli tried again. “I know it’s not quite the same; but I had a similar feeling when the Turaga chose me for the Kolhii team. I’d never even played Kolhii before, I felt like completely the wrong choice… everyone was really supportive, even Kotu, but I still felt like I was completely the wrong choice.” Despite himself, that got a snort out of Jaller. “Tell that to the fact you kicked our butts.” “Exactly.” Undeterred, Hahli gave him a playful jab in the ribs, then pressed on. “See what I mean? It felt so wrong at first, but clearly it was the right choice. That’s gonna be the case for you too, you’ll see.” “But I’m not--!” Jaller cut himself off, swallowing his outburst with what looked like great difficulty. There was, evidently, something that he wanted to say… and, just as clearly, he didn’t feel it was right or appropriate to do so, and as he looked away from her Hahli felt a slight pang of regret in her heart. Didn’t he fully trust her? Was this the price for the unserious nature of their relationship? “It’ll be okay; you know that, right? We still have each other… nothing’s going to change that, Jaller. I promise.” Finally, she sensed some of the tension starting to leave the Ta-Matoran’s muscles. He didn’t say anything more; but the way he leant back against her, allowing her to support him for a little while instead of relying only upon himself, told Hahli that she’d managed to get through to him. Beneath the teasing, the joking, there was something very genuine between them; and though the moments when it shone through were rare, they were also very precious. *** The morning dawned bright and surprisingly clear; for once, the ever-present smoke that rose from the fortress of fire seemed thin, allowing a cold dawn light to bathe the ancient stones in a colour other than reds and oranges… and, for a Matoran who’d long awaited an opportunity to see more of the island, Jaller found himself unexpectedly reluctant to finish getting ready to leave. The Mask of Light was tucked away neatly in his backpack, his trusty spear was at his side, he’d arranged whatever supplies they might need for the journey… And now, he dawdled uncharacteristically as Takua and Turaga Vakama crossed the main square. Ta-Koro was his home, it was true, and Jaller told himself it was natural not to want to leave it behind for a while… but, when it came down to it, that was far from the reason he was unhappy. He’d been away from his village many times before; leading the backup force for the Kini Nui defence, then helping the other villages stand strong during the Bohrok War, not to even mention numerous scouting missions back before the role of captain had fallen to him. Each time, he’d left the village proudly, his head held high, on a task that he knew was of the utmost importance… On a task that he knew was his own… He still had misgivings about the whole thing. Jaller wanted, more than anything, to scream to the heavens themselves that HE WASN’T THE HERALD, that it was Takua who found the mask, Takua who it had picked, Takua who had earned this duty… and yet, he couldn’t bring himself to say anything. Even last night, when his companion was the one Matoran who he cared about most in the world… he hadn’t been able to trust himself to say anything. He couldn’t… wouldn’t… look like he was trying to squirm out of a duty given to him… no matter that the duty wasn’t even his in the first place. All the same, it weighed heavily upon him. That, and… for the first time, he had someone in Ta-Koro who he wished he didn’t have to leave. A Captain of the Guard couldn’t let his personal feelings get in the way of his duty, it was true, but that didn’t make it exactly easy to say goodbye to Hahli. He hadn’t done so yet, in fact; he was aware of her walking just behind the three of them, but he hadn’t yet decided what he wanted to say to her. There was so much… and yet, also, so little. More than anything, he wished she could come on this quest too… but he couldn’t force that upon her like he had on Takua. Besides, she had her own home and friends and places to be; it wasn’t fair to ask her to come along on a task that not even he knew how long it was going to take, how long he’d be away… Still, a little sigh escaped him. Hahli, it seemed, had developed an ability to read his mind… or maybe she just knew him that well, for her voice spoke up in his ear almost as soon as his thoughts had started to wind down. “Look, don’t get mushy, Jaller. I have no time for a long goodbye.” “I… was just gonna say…” Turning to face her, Jaller abruptly realised that he had no idea what he had been going to say. Staring into those lovely eyes – yellow, though they appeared tinted blue behind the Kaukau’s visor – taking in every feature of her small, armoured form at a glance, he felt more emotions than he could name welling up inside him. Whatever it was he was going to say, he wanted it to be serious, meaningful, to let her know something of how much she meant to him… What slipped out, therefore, was none of those things. “You owe me a rematch on the Kolhii field.” “Well, then.” At the sight of her raised eyebrow, Jaller could have smacked himself. What had that line even been meant to be… rematch on the Kolhii field? Really? If he was honest, Jaller supposed, he’d been thrown by Hahli’s return to their usual banter, had grabbed for something that felt true to that… and had settled upon the most Mata-Nui-awful line that came to mind, apparently. “You’d better hurry back.” Also apparently, Hahli was content to run with that. Placing hands on her hips, she started to saunter off, looking far less troubled by the whole situation than he was… only to pause and shoot a final parting line back over her shoulder. “Because I’ll be practicing.” Several minutes and a brief lecture from Turaga Vakama later, and they were off. Pewku, Takua’s trusty ussal crab, trundled easily over the stone bridge that joined Ta-Koro to the wider island of Mata Nui, carrying the two Matoran on their way; and who knew what lay ahead? Takua was leaning forward, seemingly eager to be off again; and for a couple of moments, Jaller observed his friend. For Takua, adventure was his life, the blood in his veins… being out like this was nothing new to him. While, for Jaller himself… travel called to him in its own way, sure. But everything he truly loved was back in Ta-Koro, now behind them. The sturdy stone walls, the shadows of the volcano, they were his home, and it was never so easy for him to leave as it was for Takua. Even less, now, when he knew Hahli was back there… and despite all his resolve to the contrary, Jaller found himself turning to look back. He half convinced himself he could see a blue shape up high on the battlements, watching them leave… a shape that rapidly became a speck, and then nothing he could make out at all, as Pewku carried them swiftly on. “Hey. You still in there, or…?” Takua’s voice from his side jolted Jaller out of his thoughts. The bridge now, too, was behind them, the three travellers on the verge of entering the twisting paths of the charred forest; and Jaller quickly lifted the Avohkii in front of his face to determine which way it wanted to guide them. Even as Pewku began moving again, the Captain could still feel his friend’s eyes on him. “Yeah… yeah. I just got a funny feeling. Like… I’m not gonna see her again.” He didn’t need to specify the her; his relationship with Hahli was no secret, even if all it ever amounted to publicly was teasing and banter. Takua knew, he was sure. Knew, and was clearly weirded out by the direction this was taking. Rather than answer directly, the chronicler rolled his shoulders in a noncommittal shrug. “Hey, come on. You’ll be back with Hahli before you know it; the wars are over now. Nothing’s going to get in our way with that thing on our side.” He gestured vaguely at the mask, before turning his attention back to their road. “Yeah. Sure.” Not altogether reassured, Jaller nonetheless sat back, putting the thoughts away. As Captain of the Guard, he had great mental discipline; and now was the time to put that to the test. He’d see Hahli again, in Mata Nui’s good timing… and until then, there was no space to mope about. He had a job to do. *** Kini-Nui, some time later. She took the trail down towards the Amaja-Nui in something of a daze. Just a few weeks ago, Hahli would never have imagined treading the sacred ground of the Great Temple all alone; she’d come here just once before, with all her fellow villagers, for the Naming Day Rebuilding Ceremony. And yet… everything that had happened recently was enough to make her head spin. For a shy Matoran who’d never once dreamed of adventure, she’d been dragged clean out of her element and could see no obvious way to go back; ever since Turaga Nokama had chosen her to be Kolhii champion, things had spiralled. Some of it, she would admit to herself, was just the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time – the attack on Ta-Koro, for one – but beyond that… visiting the other villages for the Kolhii tournament, finding the sacred crystals, placing them in the temple in Ta-Wahi… none of that was exactly accidental on her part. She’d stumbled upon them almost without intention the first time, granted, but her curiosity had led her on. Still, none of that had quite prepared her for being whisked away to the island’s spiritual heart after placing the last of the crystals. She was here, and… she had no idea what she was meant to do now. The horrible creatures that had destroyed Ta-Koro, she had seen heading for the temple just before sunrise; she’d also seen the giant tornado whipping around the area that – she hoped – could only have been the work of Toa Nuva Lewa; and then the eruption of light that, had she been closer, would have been blinding? That had to mean only one thing, right? That Jaller had succeeded in his task, that the Seventh Toa had been found? What she should have done, perhaps, was wait where she was for the Toa to find her when they left the Kini-Nui; but doing so was the last possible thing on Hahli’s mind. If Jaller had been successful, then she wanted to be the first to get there and congratulate him… and maybe, just maybe, tease him about taking so long. It had been… how long since he and Takua had set out? Hahli had honestly lost track. Of course, the island was a big place to search; but such teasing was only in the name of flirting, and they both knew it. She could hardly wait to see him again… and also, it had to be admitted, she was curious to see this Seventh Toa. Where had he or she come from? Had they been hiding under the island the whole time, waiting for the Herald to return their mask? The Ga-Matoran didn’t know, but she was eager to learn all she could about this new addition to the roster of heroes. Maybe Takua would share his notes on the subject with her… Scrambling over the rocky debris that littered the base of the giant Pakari statue – hadn’t that been a Toa head when she’d been here last? – words of greeting for the one she loved were already on her tongue… until the sight before her stopped Hahli in her tracks. Rahkshi lay dismembered all around. Six Toa Nuva stood solemnly by, some with heads bowed, while others watched the proceeding in silence. A seventh, golden-armoured being was walking away from them; but it was hardly the triumphant scene of victory she would have expected from the defeat of Makuta’s minions and the discovery of the island’s latest hero. And then, as the golden being moved to pass her, Hahli’s eyes fell on the limp, yellow-masked form in his arms. “No…” The word was a whisper and it was a scream, all at once. Time seemed to stop moving at all for Hahli as her gaze traced the beloved red-armoured form; one hand rested over his still chest, while the other dangled limply out of the unfamiliar Toa’s grasp. His head, too, lolled lifelessly; while the outlines of her brave captain’s mask looked just the same as ever they had, beneath it his eyes were closed, and none of his features moved. His armour, too, looked just as she remembered it… a little scuffed, maybe, but nothing that indicated he’d died a violent death. Unbidden, her hand reached out in his direction, as if trying to stop the Toa in his path, or to call him over to her, but no words came out. He might not have even noticed her; as the frozen moment seemed to pass, he continued on his way towards the shattered remains of the Suva Kaita, and Hahli felt herself sink to her knees. She couldn’t take it in. Jaller… he… couldn’t really be… Her breath sounded loud in her own ears; her heartlight flickered rapidly, picking up pace as she wrestled with the sight she’d just seen. It wasn’t right… Jaller was supposed to return to her after he’d found the Seventh Toa… they were supposed to have all the time in the world together… not this, not THIS! She didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to process… it seemed false, unreal; and yet, at the same time, all too real. Ta-Koro’s bravest had fallen. She was only dimly aware that the Toa Nuva seemed to be splitting up for the moment. To each, it seemed, the burden of Jaller’s loss lay heavy on them; Matoran had died before of course, in the Makuta Wars, but that had mostly been before the Toa had arrived. None of them, she numbly supposed, had quite seen a sacrifice like Jaller’s, and each seemed to need their own time to think on it, to come to terms with what had been lost. Hahli wasn’t sure she’d ever come to terms with it. She didn’t sob or cry… in honest truth, she felt too numb to do anything of the sort. A massive hole had just been torn in her heart, and she ached for the fallen captain; but her emotions seemed to have shut themselves down, preventing her from feeling the true extent of grief and loss. It almost felt worse – she felt attached to and detached from what had happened, all at once, and couldn’t process any of it fully. No-one seemed to notice her as, at length, she slowly picked herself up. Her mind still felt horribly blank, as if it were registering the pain in her heart but not able to properly process it or understand it, and Hahli hardly knew what she was doing as she moved to follow in the new Toa’s footsteps. His strides were long, and he had already reached the Suva; but still, she traced his steps, moving numbly through the carnage of battle. None of the other Toa tried to stop her as she reached the steps and began to climb them. Slowly; one, then another, then another… she barely registered them any further than to avoid tripping on them. With agonising slowness, the crest of the shrine came into view. The Toa had been busy in the time it had taken her to reach him. He had cleared away a patch of the stone, making a space for Jaller’s body, and was preparing to place the captain’s prone and maskless form into its final resting place. His kanohi, Hahli saw – that familiar yellow Hau – hung suspended in a pillar of light over the ruined Suva; a memorial tribute to a fallen warrior. This Toa, too, seemed not to have noticed her; he knelt down, starting to lay Jaller’s body into the stone grave he’d prepared. “Wait. Please…” She outstretched a hand in front of her… for what reason, Hahli couldn’t quite fathom. She was just a shy little Matoran; how was she supposed to stop a mighty Toa from doing anything he wanted to? Why should some newcomer to the island even care that this, the bravest of Matoran, was loved by a little nobody like her? And yet, all the same, the Toa paused in his action, turning to face her. “Hahli…” It should have surprised her that he knew her name. It didn’t, really. The pause was all the permission Hahli needed; in less than the space between one breath and another, she was scrambling forward, over the stones that the Toa had moved aside, to reach the red-and-yellow armoured body. Jaller… he looked so vulnerable without his mask, so fragile in death that she was almost afraid to touch him, lest the remains of his form crumble at the slightest contact. She had loved him, had loved him dearly, and looking at him now… Now, she felt her eyes grown moist. She couldn’t think of any words, anything to say… just a deep, deep sense of loss and regret in the core of her being. Slowly, ever so slowly and carefully, she took Jaller’s lifeless hand in her own, clasping it between them. Had the two of them ever just… held hands like this, when he’d been alive? Offhand, she couldn’t remember. Maybe that one first time, back on the beach outside Ga-Koro? In fact, searching back through her memories… she found a distressing lack of genuine moments of warmth between the two of them. Just teasing, flirting, never taking anything seriously… and though it had been the very nature of their relationship, Hahli had always counted on the thought that someday they’d be able to be more than that. Someday had never come. “He saved me, you know.” That was the Toa’s voice; heavy with grief of his own, it nonetheless carried a ring of familiarity to it that – in another time and place – Hahli might have been able to recognise. For now, though, she was so consumed with her own thoughts that it was all she could do to just acknowledge his words. “Without his sacrifice… I probably wouldn’t be here at all. He showed me who I truly was, but…” He swallowed, almost stopped there, then kept going. “Such a price.” And I never got to say goodbye. The thought rose, unbidden, to Hahli’s mind. Their last words together… stupid banter over a Kolhii rematch. No real goodbye – she’d prevented him from giving the sincere farewell that he’d seemed to want to… it was almost like he’d known – just more flirting, joking, not letting it become too serious. Perhaps it had been a defence mechanism for her; but if it was, it had blown up in her face, leaving an empty void in her heart, one that she had no meaningful memories to fill with. Had anything sincere truly ever passed between them? She wished that she could say it had. Jaller, she knew… Jaller would be proud. He’d done his duty, and if he’d died bringing it to be, then… as Captain of the Guard, Hahli supposed, he’d probably always been prepared for this day to come one day. But she’d been so certain that it never would, so convinced that they had all the time in the world… Would it have changed anything, if she’d allowed their relationship to become something sincere? Maybe not… but she’d had the capacity to give him something meaningful; and had always held back. And, now that she was finally realising that… it was far too late. At some length, she stepped back, releasing the Ta-Matoran’s hand. There were so many things she wanted to say to Jaller; but she couldn’t bring herself to say them to the vacant corpse. On impulse, she touched her forehead to Jaller’s; hoping that, somehow, that simple action could reach beyond the grave to convey to him all that she’d wanted the two of them to mean to each other. It was a vain hope; no-one ever came back from death, and Hahli knew that the only thing to do was trust his spirit to Mata Nui. Still, all her emotion was poured into that one single touch. Slowly, then, she stepped away. Inclining her head to indicate to the Toa that she was done. Rather than watch as he again lifted Jaller to his final resting place, Hahli turned instead to look up at the mask where it was suspended, empty eye holes staring vacantly out and across the island. And, though she said and did nothing right then and there… Hahli knew in her heart that she was going to take it down from there, and carry it with her all her days. A tribute to the bravest Matoran who had ever lived… and a reminder of her terrible mistake in failing to appreciate the short time given to them. *** “Halt, little one.” When so little time had passed, but so much seemed to have happened, Hahli could hardly bring herself to be surprised that the giant titan that was half Takua and half Makuta had singled her out. Between her stowaway ride down to Mangaia; appointing herself as Chronicler for the Toa of Light, who she had belatedly recognised as Takua in a new body; climbing back to the surface to summon the Turaga and Matoran on his orders; and now, playing witness to not only this final clash between Light and Darkness, but seeing the first steps being taken to awaken the Great Spirit… Surprise felt like a thing of the past for her. So, she slowed, turning to regard the massive being. With its one glaring eye of Makuta’s juxtaposed against the otherwise more friendly visage of Takanuva, with its mishmash of golden and rusted steel armour, it should have been a fearsome sight; but Hahli found herself unafraid. If anything, she was expecting a reminder from the Takanuva half of the being about making sure she got this down accurately on the Wall of History… What came next, therefore, was a shock to even her. “That mask… needs life.” The Matoran’s gaze dropped to Jaller’s Hau, still clutched in her grasp. True to her earlier intention, she had indeed taken the mask down from his memorial; first, she had set it upon the front of Takanuva’s vehicle, and, when that had been abandoned at the entrance to Makuta’s lair, had carried it with her ever since. Now, she simply stared at it, wondering what the titan could possibly be getting at. Of course it needed life… but the life it needed was Jaller’s, and he was gone for good. Hahli didn’t think she’d quite be able to bear seeing the mask given to some stranger just so that it wouldn’t remain inanimate. Still, when a fusion of a Toa of legend and the most evil being ever known held out its hand to you, you didn’t very well refuse it what it wanted. With some reluctance and trepidation, Hahli placed the kanohi in the being’s giant hand, watched as it set the mask down on the stones beneath their feet. She didn’t know what to expect and, quite honestly, was reluctant to find out. The being stretched out its hand over the mask. Raw power seemed to flow from its form, dancing around its fingertips, coalescing in its palm. Beneath this energy, the surface of the mask shimmered, almost becoming golden as the power – light? Or something else entirely? – flowed down into it. Slowly, it tipped backwards, as if it were no longer lying flat on the ground but as if it were being worn by someone invisible who was, themselves, lying prone. The Ga-Matoran opened her mouth to speak, then closed it again, not certain what to even say… And in the time it took her to do that, the ‘invisible’ body had resolved into one that was clearly visible, and Hahli felt her heart skip a beat. Jaller lay there now; his eyes still closed, his body as unmoving as when she’d last seen it, and Hahli felt a fresh wave of grief threaten to consume her. She didn’t know why the titan had seen fit to recreate the dead form of the Matoran who she loved, but… the thoughts, the emotions choked her. And then— Then— For a moment, Hahli was certain she’d imagined it. She almost thought that, through a vision blurred with emotion, she’d seen the body blink its eyes; but of course, she couldn’t have. Jaller was dead, and the dead didn’t come— A breath, half sigh and half groan, from the direction of the red-armoured body, cut that thought off even before it could finish forming. She didn’t understand it, had no idea what was going on or how the titan had managed it… but Hahli didn’t waste a moment more in reaching the other’s side. Against all likelihood, against all possibility, he was trying to get up… grasping his arm, she helped him climb slowly to his feet. He seemed confused, disoriented – though who could blame him? – but right then, Hahli wasn’t in any kind of place to form a response. There was only one thing she could think of to say, to do. “Jaller…” And she hugged him tightly, in a way she never had before. All the emotion of the last twenty-four hours, ever since she’d seen Takanuva carrying his body, welled up in her and she honestly wanted nothing more than to just cling to him desperately. She could hardly believe it, yet she didn’t want to risk not believing in case that somehow made it not real anymore; and if she didn’t have any flirting, teasing comments to offer him? That was because she now knew he meant indescribably more to her than they could ever convey. And if Jaller wasn’t exactly returning the hug so much as just hanging off her, letting her support him? She could live with that, too. Whatever they had once had, whatever they had once been… it was different now. That difference, she assumed, would become clear; but until then, all she knew was that she wanted to stay as close to Jaller as she could. In time, they would see. In time. *** Sand was kicked up beneath his feet as Jaller trod a path along the familiar golden beach of Ta-Wahi. Familiar… and yet, unfamiliar, all at once. With all that had happened, it felt as though a lifetime had passed since he’d last stood on these shores; and maybe, in a sense, it had. The captain wasn’t sure he quite grasped the details of what Takutanuva had done for him even now, after Takua had filled him in… was he, then, back in his old body? Or had a new form been created for him? If he went back and moved those stones at Kini-Nui, would he find his old one still there? It wasn’t a theory Jaller much wanted to test. It certainly felt, though, like he was seeing the world through a new pair of eyes. That might have been figurative or literal; Jaller honestly couldn’t say which. But he did know one thing; he’d been dead, and now he wasn’t. And that… Was a Karzahni of a lot to take in. Further down the beach, he could see the Toa Nuva gathering. Turaga Vakama had promised them that, at last, he would reveal many of the mysteries surrounding the island of Mata Nui, and would tell them the truth of the underground city that Takua had discovered in the wake of Makuta’s defeat. It should have been a thrilling time, of discovery, of moving on to find where their true destinies lay… And yet. Jaller deliberately stayed away from the small gathering, preferring to remain lost in his own thoughts. As momentous as the occasion was, it was still overshadowed by the many troubled thoughts that weighed upon his mind, and he wasn’t quite prepared to move on with that future until he’d at least straightened a few things out. He’d died. Jaller remembered that as clearly as anything. Throwing himself onto the Rahkshi’s staff to protect Takua; feeling the awful, crippling fear overwhelm his heart; the detached sensation of just knowing that he was about to die… he didn’t want to dwell long on them, but the fact remained that they were inescapably etched in his memory. Jaller had been prepared to die in the line of duty, many times before; but never before had it actually happened. And now, knowing how it felt, would he ever be prepared to do so again? And what kind of guard captain would he be if he wasn’t? He remembered, too, his return to life. It was fuzzy, indistinct, in much the same way as waking up from a long sleep; he’d first been aware that he felt cold, that his body was stiff and achy… and then, before anything else, of Hahli grasping him and clinging to him desperately. Hahli… Looking back over his shoulder, Jaller could just make out her form, sitting with the Toa Nuva and Turaga. There was another piece of his life that didn’t quite feel like it fit back into place in his new perspective on the world. He didn’t love her any less than he had before, of course, yet at the same time… something was different. After he’d been revived, they’d barely had chance to exchange more than a couple of words; between seeing Takutanuva get crushed, being herded by Turaga Vakama onto their respective spots of the Three Virtues symbol, and Takua’s discovery of Metru Nui, there had simply been too much happening. But that was the way things had so often been in their relationship. So why did this feel so different? Even now, he still hadn’t had chance to sit down with Hahli and discuss anything. She’d been kept busy in her new role as Chronicler – and a more deserving Matoran, for the post Takua had vacated, Jaller couldn’t imagine – and he’d had far too much on his mind to seek her out. He wanted to get his own thoughts straightened out, in privacy, before he talked them through with anyone else. Even her. He represented Duty, Turaga Vakama had said. But even Duty needed time to come to grips with everything. His whole perspective on the world had been forcibly shifted and, while he didn’t really expect anyone else to understand… it was important to him that he came to terms with it in good time. The problem was that he didn’t know where to start; it was just too much to take in. There was a reason, Jaller figured, that the dead didn’t usually came back – and that was because the memories of that death were incredibly hard to deal with. And here he was, the weird exception to that. He just couldn’t quite process it. His feet continued to scuff through the sand as he walked, his path unplanned, his direction undetermined. He was just moving idly, with no thought to spare for where he was actually going; his mind was spinning in circles, like an out-of-control ussal cart. Everything seemed, from his perspective, to have changed, and it was hard even for one with his legendary discipline, to focus on any one thing for long enough to work it out fully. But he could at least try. First of all… his duty. It was the thing Jaller always came back to, the very core of who he was; and yet, looking at it now, he felt as though he hardly recognised it. He’d literally died in the line of duty; did that affect it, for him, in any way? It could seem, almost, as if he’d fulfilled his duty and his destiny in that moment, in dying so that the Seventh Toa could be born; and, if that was the case? Then what did the fact that he was now back mean for that? Was his duty just the same as always? Or, now that his destiny had played itself out, and subsequently been ‘rebooted’, did he have a different duty altogether? Had destiny accounted for the fact that he’d be brought back to life, or had Takutanuva deliberately gone against what destiny had established by returning him? And if the latter… what did that mean for him now? Was he even still Captain of the Guard? Was he still worthy of that post? That was another thing Jaller found himself struggling with. In the past, sure, he’d been willing to die in the line of duty; but there was a difference between being prepared for that to happen and it actually happening. Recollecting his final moments still left Jaller cold, and he had to face the very real possibility that, put in a situation where he once again came face to face with his own mortality, he might just… freeze up in the face of such debilitating memories. And in that case, was he even fit to lead? How could he possibly ask his soldiers to risk their own lives, when the prospect of doing so himself might stop him cold? Even if Vakama reassured him a hundred times that there would be no such need for an organised guard on Metru Nui, Jaller wasn’t going to be lax when it came to considering it. No such thing as too much security, especially in a completely unknown land. But if he wasn’t fit to lead the guard, then…? He shook his head. Questions upon questions that he had no answers for; and that he nonetheless had to work out on his own, because no-one else on Mata Nui had ever been through something like this. It was with some surprise that Jaller noticed his path had led him back to the ruins of Ta-Koro. Had only a week or so passed since he and Takua had ridden out of the fortress’ gates, confident that nothing could possibly go wrong on their quest? It had never once crossed either of their minds that there simply might be no Ta-Koro for them to return to afterwards… and though Jaller felt a pang for what had been lost, it was a far more detached feeling than he might have expected. His home was gone… but when everyone on the island was on the verge of leaving their homes to head to a completely new land anyway, that seemed to have much less significance. Besides, the old guard-house, the one on this side of the stone bridge, remained standing; its interior rooms had been left abandoned during the reconstruction of Ta-Koro after the Bohrok War, but never completely dismantled, and the Ta-Matoran ventured inside. The place where he’d spent many of his hours during the Makuta Wars, strategizing and planning and preparing for the inevitable day when the Makuta’s forces would try to overrun them completely. Seen from the other side of having died… it all felt like so long ago now. He kept on coming back to that one thought. He had, perhaps, lost track of how long he’d been standing there, lost in such musings. It was only the sound of his name being called, by a most familiar voice, that brought Jaller back to the present. Tucking away the remaining strands of thought that he still had yet to resolve, the captain stepped out of his old strategy room, raised a hand in greeting. “Right here, Hahli.” And there… was another aspect of his life that he needed to think through seriously. “I didn’t expect you to be along so soon. The Turaga’s stories are over already?” “It’s been two hours, Jaller.” Shaking her head slightly, Hahli stepped to his side, and moved to intertwine her fingers with his own. To Jaller, the contact felt more awkward than it would have before; but nonetheless, he didn’t resist her delicate touch. “Today’s tales are done, though there will be many more days’ worth to come. But…” She tilted her head slightly, regarding him. “What are you doing all the way out here?” “Thinking, mostly.” The answer was returned instantly. It was the truth, after all; and while he didn’t feel like he wanted to go into great detail yet, Jaller also felt as though he had nothing particular to hide. It was natural, after all that had happened, that his mind would be busy. “I just needed some time to myself, before we all start work on the boats.” “Thinking? Sounds dangerous.” Though Hahli nudged him gently, though her tone was as lightly teasing as it ever had been… neither Matoran quite seemed fooled by it. Hahli shuffled her feet, looking like she wanted to say more but not quite knowing what, while Jaller couldn’t quite bring himself to reciprocate with their traditional flirting banter. What had, previously, always just been their way with each other felt unnatural now, empty and forced. And even as Jaller summoned a grin in reply, he had to admit he wasn’t quite sure where that left them. He wasn’t sure where he stood with anything right now; Hahli least of all. What they’d been, what they had… the occurrence of his death seemed to hang like a shadow over all of it, and it felt wrong to lead her on without knowing how that affected… them. “Listen, Hahli…” As she turned to him, expectant, Jaller realised that whatever he was about to say was unlikely to be the same as what she was hoping to hear. He cleared his throat awkwardly, before trying again. “We’re both going to be busy over these next few days. So much has happened, so much is going to keep on happening… we’re not going to have much time to spend together.” “So… you’re saying…” Hahli frowned. She seemed to be of the impression that he was going somewhere with this; though, if he was, Jaller couldn’t have said where. He didn’t want to break anything off with her, but he also couldn’t just keep pretending like nothing had changed. He rubbed the back of his head, trying to piece together what he wanted to say – and unintentionally leaving it wide open for Hahli to take a guess of her own. “You’re saying we should make the most of the time we have together before that?” It wasn’t quite what Jaller had been leading to; but he found himself unable to think of anything better to say to correct her. “Sure. Let’s go with that.” *** She probably shouldn’t be surprised by this development, Macku reckoned. Her relationship with Hewkii was, after all, no big secret. While romance between Matoran wasn’t exactly frowned upon, it was also regarded by many as an unnecessary complication; for most of her brethren, the Three Virtues were the core of everything. As many in the village contributed their own skills to work, from the flax-weaver to the rope-maker to the shipwright, so Unity was exemplified. Their dedication to all that they did represented their Duty. And Destiny… that was harder to pinpoint, for the Ga-Matoran, but still a crucial part of everyday life. Their bond of sisterhood was just one further indication of Unity; and was all that many felt they needed. Relationships based around emotions such as romance were uncommon; to most, they seemed to fall outside the realm of living by the Virtues. Macku rather thought otherwise – what greater Unity was there, after all, than the bond she and Hewkii shared? Their commitment to each other could be taken as an additional Duty with which to honour the Great Spirit; and Destiny was sure a lot more enjoyable when you had someone special to share it with at the end of the day. Still, such things were uncommon… so it really could be no surprise to Macku if she found herself as the go-to expert on the subject. Behind her blue Huna, she struck a smile for Hahli. Her Kolhii teammate had been troubled by something for a few days now, Macku had noticed, but she’d never quite found the opportunity to say anything to her. As the inhabitants of Mata Nui had been hard at work building boats for their journey over the Silver Sea, all of the Ga-Matoran found their expertise being called on frequently as those from the other villages, who had no seagoing experience to speak of, sought their advice. Macku herself wasn’t even a shipbuilder by trade, but she knew a thing or two about handling boats; so she, too, had been rushed off her feet. It was quite a relief, then, to have a quiet moment mostly to herself again. Much of the work on the boats had been completed; and while Marka the shipwright was still busy overseeing the final details, most of her fellow Ga-Matoran had retired from the scene for a while, as members of the other tribes put the finishing touches to their work. Macku had actually been planning to seek out Hahli for herself, just to see if everything was alright… but it turned out she hadn’t needed to. Hahli seemed to have had much the same idea. Now, she sat subdued upon an upturned bucket that had been used to carry materials to and from the shipbuilding site. Macku, leaning against one of the few trees in this part of the island that hadn’t been stripped bare for the materials it could provide, watched her shrewdly, but kept her thoughts to herself for the moment. Whatever Hahli wanted to say, she expected it would come out in its own time, not from any prodding on her part. A little longer passed, before Hahli seemed to decide on exactly what she wanted to ask. “It’s… Jaller.” Of course it was. Hahli’s relationship with the Captain of the Ta-Koro Guard was no secret; so, when she’d come asking for some advice, Macku had easily guessed who it was they were going to be talking about. For herself, the athlete had never been Jaller’s biggest fan – he was too stuffy, and tended to treat everyone as though they were soldiers in his guard, whether they liked it or not – but she respected that Hahli saw something in him that she didn’t. Her friend continued to elaborate. “I know I shouldn’t be surprised, after all he’s been through. But he’s distant now… he’ll spend time with me, if I ask, but I don’t think his heart is in it anymore. We used to, well… you know…” “Flirt all the time?” Macku supplied with a slightly raised eyebrow. It had been a curious way to conduct a relationship – though it certainly had helped to bring Hahli out of her shell, for the first time in memory – but she also supposed that she had no grounds on which to judge… her relationship with Hewkii, after all, had started with her and Kotu playing pranks on him rather relentlessly (and, in her case, unsubtly), and had only slowly grown from that into something serious. “Yeah. That.” Hahli looked a little abashed at being so blatantly called out; but she pressed on anyway. “It just feels awkward now, though. Not just because he doesn’t reciprocate anymore, but… it’s not really sustainable for a relationship, is it? I mean, you and Hewkii, you do more than flirt aimlessly all the time, don’t you?” “Oh, you bet we do.” A grin touched Macku’s face for a moment, before becoming serious again. “It’s not just that though, is it? You’re really troubled by something.” Hahli looked as though she was tempted to deny it; then, her defences crumbled. “It’s… he died, Macku.” Her yellow-eyed gaze bored into Macku’s own. “I thought I’d lost him forever… and when I looked back on the times we’d shared and could only see moments of dumb flirting, nothing that meant anything, it was almost too much to bear. It was like I’d wasted our time together. If we’re going to pick up our relationship again, I want it to be something meaningful this time. Something that, if anything happens to either of us, we’ll have something that was worth looking back on.” “Hahli…” Okay, that was heavier than Macku had been expecting. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been surprised; she didn’t know any details, but the whole island had heard of Jaller’s sacrifice at least in passing. And while Macku couldn’t exactly relate to that – while she’d come close to losing Hewkii once, during the infamous sickness of Po-Koro, it had never actually happened; she couldn’t imagine it, and she honestly didn’t much want to, either – it was no wonder that Hahli was struggling. “Look… I appreciate you coming to me for advice; but this is really something you and Jaller need to talk about between you. I can’t tell you how he feels about this, or what he’ll want to do.” “I know that.” Hahli rarely ever sounded impatient, but there seemed to be the barest touch of that clinging to her tone now. “And I would… if he’d even talk to me much now. I know he’s busy with work on the boats; but I even invited him along to hear the Turaga’s stories with me the other day, and all we managed the whole time was small talk together. I don’t know if I should push him to talk to me more seriously, or…?” “Talking helps.” Macku nodded thoughtfully. It was, indeed, always good advice to talk through any problems in a relationship – her and Hewkii’s seemed to be mostly plain sailing on that count (perhaps a bad choice of words, as Hewkii couldn’t stand water), but even they’d had their moments. However, a second thought occurred to her, too. “But sometimes... you might just need to let him have some time.” At Hahli’s quizzical expression, Macku continued. “Like you said, he’s literally been to death and back… and I can’t speak from experience, but that probably gives a guy a whole lot to come to terms with. It’s easy for you, having lost him and got him back again, to want to pick up right from where you left things; but look at it from his perspective for a moment. He’s been through an experience that he probably doesn’t expect you to understand, and doesn’t want to burden you with.” “I could offer to listen to him? I don’t mind hearing…” “You could… but you might wind up hearing exactly what it felt like for him to die. I don’t know about you, but I’d struggle with it if Hewkii was giving me a blow-by-blow account of experiencing death, even if he was alive again now.” At Hahli’s resolute expression, Macku shrugged a little. “I mean, you do you, I guess. But I think the best thing to do is give him some space; let him know that you’ll still be here for him whenever he’s ready to talk, but that you’ll also respect that he maybe needs time to sort through it all himself before he comes to you.” It probably wasn’t what Hahli had wanted to hear; Macku rather suspected that her friend had come to her hoping for an instant resolution… and wait until Jaller’s ready certainly wasn’t that. Macku herself knew for a fact how hard it could be to just hold back when the one she loved needed some space – it had happened between her and Hewkii before, and doubtless would again eventually – but just because it wasn’t easy didn’t change that it was probably the best thing to do. “Mm.” Hahli’s response was incredibly noncommittal, and Macku wasn’t sure whether that meant the other had accepted or rejected her advice. “I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. If anyone knows that, it’s me… A way back now, when I still had to sneak out of Ga-Koro to spend time with him, I found Hewkii with a lot on his mind that he didn’t want to share with me. I could have followed the advice I’m giving you now; but instead, I badgered him over and over to talk about it, to let me in on the secret… I wouldn’t let it go. It kind of soured our relationship for a while.” It hadn’t lasted, of course; neither of them had been able to stand things being frosty between them and, when they’d approached the matter again, Macku had been hasty in apologising. In time, Hewkii had revealed that Po-Koro as a whole had been going through a bad spot of Rahi attacks at the time, and he had wanted to keep her from getting caught up in the trouble, so it wasn’t exactly like Hahli’s case here… but Macku thought that her advice was sound. Hahli seemed to be pondering this; behind her mask, Macku thought she could detect the hints of a frown on her friend’s features, but any specific thoughts went unknown to her. The athlete tapped her fingers together rhythmically, mostly for the sake of occupying herself while she gave Hahli a few moments to formulate a response. “I guess you know best.” She didn’t sound entirely convinced, and Macku bit back a sigh. Maybe the reason most of her fellow Matoran weren’t interested in talking relationships was that no-one would heed sound advice until they found it out for themselves… but hadn’t she been the same, back in the day, after all? Turaga Nokama had tried to offer her advice on occasion and Macku, secure in her own confidence, hadn’t listened much. When it came to talking with the one you loved, maybe there really was no better teacher than personal experience. Rather than express any frustration, Macku simply shrugged. “Maybe I do; but you know Jaller best.” She wasn’t even going to argue the point; partly because she already knew that wouldn’t be the way to get agreement out of the other, and partly because… for as much as good advice could be universal, it also depended a lot on the couple. “I can only give suggestions – what works for Hewkii and me might not for you. Take a look at what you know about Jaller; if my advice matches, use it. If not, well…” She punctuated with a small shrug. “I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong.” That seemed to please Hahli more. Macku wondered, for a moment, if she hadn’t just unwittingly paved the way for Jaller to be subjected to the never-ending barrage of questions about whether or not he wanted to talk that she’d thrust on Hewkii that one time… but it really wasn’t any of her business. In any case, if the two of them had come out of that okay in the end, then surely Hahli and Jaller would, too, and… well, it seemed likely to Macku that Hahli would approach the matter with just a little more tact than that. “Thanks, Macku.” Hahli hopped up from her seat, looking decidedly happier than she had at the beginning of their conversation… such as it had been. While she was great at giving tips for sports, like canoe racing or Kolhii, not even being in a successful relationship herself made Macku really feel qualified to offer romantic advice. She was an athlete, not a counsellor, and she rather felt like that showed. But she’d at least got Hahli looking at the situation from a different perspective, so that had to count for something. In fact, the new chronicler seemed positively cheerful again now. “We’ll figure it out somehow; you’ll see.” *** At long last, the shores of Metru Nui rose into view. For many hours, the glistening spires of the island city had been visible in the far distance; far away and yet tantalisingly close, all at once. For much of that time, as the silver sea swept by beneath them, Hahli had been hard at work, organising all the notes she’d carved based upon the Turaga’s stories and sharing bits of one tale or another with her curious fellow passengers when they asked, but… even so, her mind had only half been upon her task. The other half was occupied by her anticipation. Almost every few minutes, the new chronicler would sneak a glance ahead, at the slowly rising skyline that belonged to the towering metropolis she had heard so much about. A home from so many, many years ago that no-one present – save for the Turaga – could remember… and while Hahli knew that the place was going to be little more than a ruined shell, which would need a lot of work before it could truly be habitable again… Could anyone blame her for being excited? This expectancy had even, if she was completely honest, put most thoughts of her situation with Jaller out of her mind. Of course, she still wanted to talk to him, wanted to understand how he felt, and all… but the opportunity simply hadn’t presented itself. It had been the very evening of her consultation with Macku that the announcement had been given that all work on the boats was completed, and that they would set sail first thing in the morning; and every Matoran who wasn’t of the fire or earth tribes had hurried back to their homes to gather any possessions that they wanted to bring with them. For herself, Hahli hadn’t had a whole lot to fetch. Her kolhii stick, perhaps, and a couple of more personal items… she’d planned on rushing back to the Amaja Circle to catch Jaller that very evening, but it wasn’t to be; she’d been roped in to help her fellow villagers pack – Nixie, in particular, had armfuls of star charts and had absolutely refused to leave her precious telescope behind – and, by the time morning had rolled around, everyone had been far too busy for her to be seeking any personal time. She kind of wished she and Jaller had at least ended up on the same boat; this was the kind of moment that would have been perfect to share together. But… At least she knew, now, how she wanted to approach him when they next did get a moment together. No longer content to simply sit still, not now that they were so close to landing, Hahli packed up her stone tablets full of stories. Tucking her chronicler’s staff under one arm, the water villager carefully picked her way between the rows of still-seated Matoran, making her way towards the boat’s bow. It didn’t much surprise her to find that she wasn’t alone; an Onu-Matoran wearing a purple Hau was eagerly leaning out over the bow point, as if that little extra distance would speed their boat along faster. He didn’t seem to notice her arrival; and Hahli, who didn’t recognise him personally, had other things on her mind than conversation. The city was growing closer all the time; and, to both the left and the right, Hahli could see other Matoran vessels cutting their way through the liquid protodermis. Keen eyes picked out Jaller standing proudly at the prow of another boat to her right, looking every bit the captain that he was, and Hahli gave a wave in his direction. For a moment, he didn’t seem to notice her, either; then, his gaze drifted across, and he gave a small nod in her direction. Hahli’s heart swelled at even that little interaction and, more satisfied than she had been before, she settled in beside the Onu-Matoran to wait for the landing. The wait was, indeed, not much longer; within the span of maybe twenty minutes, the boat at the lead of the formation had come to rest at the shoreline, with hers following suit in a matter of minutes. The Ga-Matoran could see a group of unusual Rahkshi-faced beings, who she supposed had to be the Rahaga, rushing to greet the Turaga, helping to pull their boats ashore, while the villagers from the other boats managed themselves. Her Onu- companion, who had taken half a moment while they were landing to introduce himself as Nobua, made point of being the first Matoran out of their own boat; he struggled for a few moments to heave the vessel up the shore, before Hahli and some of her fellow experienced Ga-Matoran moved to give him a hand. Everything was busy, bustling with Matoran moving every which way as they beached the boats, disembarked and began unloading, mostly managing to get under each other’s feet a lot. Unity was not particularly obvious on display here, today, but no-one seemed to mind; everyone, Hahli suspected, was simply reeling from being in a location so foreign to them all. Foreign… and yet very familiar. In the middle of all the business and bustle, the chronicler slowly came to a stop. Though she had no personal memories of the ruined cityscape stretched out before them, it all felt so very… very… like she really did know it. There were no memories, but such a sense of familiarity – of homeliness, even as battered as everything was – that took her breath away. The only word Hahli could find for it was… Magical. Matoran were still moving this way and that in the scene of barely controlled chaos; but for a moment, for Hahli, everything seemed to still. Lowering her gaze from the skyline, she had just happened to catch sight of something through the crowd; a very familiar pair of eyes had caught her gaze, for just the barest of moments, from behind an equally familiar yellow Hau… and, whether that moment had been intentional or not, Hahli decided to seize on her opportunity. If it was now or never… then she chose now. Carefully, she began to push her way through the crowd. ----- (Continued in the post below because the post cut off here for some reason!) -----
  6. I originally wanted to draw Hahli and Macku together in order to contrast how different they are, but I ran out of space with what I wanted to do. (Maybe in a different piece later on ) Anywho, I wanted to experiment by drawing Hahli in a more dynamic pose instead of just standing there with her Kohlii stick. I've mostly just drawn figure profiles from this point, and I knew I wouldn't be able to branch out artistically unless I tried to do something new and different (which was kind of intimidating at first). But now that I've started to get a feel for it, I'm very excited to be showing more character and personality through body language. And for Hahli, I wanted to show that she is very sporty and athletic, but also still very pretty and fashionable without being dainty. She has an aggressive and competitive streak for sure, but it usually only shows itself in the arena.
  7. Another one! This story is the longest one yet and is definitely the shakiest so far, as I feel I took a lot of liberties here (you'll see what I mean). It was also the hardest to write; I'm still not sure I got the emotion right here. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it! -------------------------------------- Ga-Wahi, ~11 months before Mata Nui's reawakening. Hahli shoved desperately at the crowd of gathered Matoran that stood at the entrance to the mining shaft in Ga-Wahi. She had been waiting for Toa Onua to resurface for nearly two days now, anxious for him to return with news of her lost friend, Kuni. The Ga-Matoran had gone missing three days past on a trip to visit Le-Wahi. She had been last seen near this spot, and it was assumed that she had mistaken this mine for a tunnel leading to her destination. Onua had been told of the issue, and he ventured below the surface of Mata Nui, swearing not to return until he had located and rescued Kuni. Hahli had just gotten word that he was nearing the surface once again. "Move!" Hahli said, miffed that these Matoran from other parts of the island were barring her from witnessing the return of her friend. She finally burst to the front of the crowd, leaving grumbling villagers in her wake. She saw Toa Gali standing not too far off. "Toa Gali! What news?" Gali gave her a surprised look behind her gleaming golden mask, but said, "Nothing beyond the fact that my brother is nearing the exit. He should be here any moment." "And he has Kuni?" Hahli inquired. "I believe so," the Toa of water said with a smile. "The message he sent seemed to indicate that he did find her." Hahli breathed a sigh of relief. Her friend was safe, and she could relax. In mere moments, she would be reunited, and life would go back to normal. She could stop worrying... The crowd began to murmur as a black figure emerged from the earthen tunnel. Toa Onua carried another motionless, blue figure in his powerful arms. Hahli rushed to meet him. "Kuni!" she cried. "Is she all right?" Onua shook his head. "I..." he hesitated. "I am not sure, little one. We must get her to the Turaga immediately. Something is wrong, I think." "What?" Hahli said, her worry growing. "What's wrong?" "She has been groaning the whole way back, ever since I found her unconscious underground. I don't know what ails her exactly, but there is certainly something... dark in her presence." Gali approached the two of them. "I'll take it from here, brother. Rest from your task." She moved to take Kuni from his arms. When he recoiled slightly, she urged, "You must rest, Onua. You have been at this for nearly three days. Please, let me." Onua's shoulders slumped. "I... You are right, sister." He gently exchanged his precious cargo to Gali's arms. "I suppose I feel as though I am failing her somehow by not seeing her all the way to safety." "You promised to return her to the surface, Onua," Gali said. "In that, you have succeeded, and we are all grateful. I will be sure to tell you about her recovery." Onua nodded and moved aside to take his rest. "Hahli?" Gali said, looking to the Ga-Matoran. "Let us return swiftly to Ga-Koro." "Of course," Hahli said. She ran to keep up with the Toa of water, the pair of them moving through the crowd with ease as it parted before them. It took a full sprint for her to keep up with Gali's gentle jog. Within the hour, they had reached Ga-Koro and were approaching Nokama's hut. "Turaga Nokama!" Gali called from outside. "We have someone who requires your attention!" A moment later, the green door of the hut swung open and Nokama stepped out into the sun. "What is it, Toa of water?" she asked, leaning on her trident. "Is something wrong?" "It is Kuni, Turaga," Gali answered, kneeling down and cradling the Matoran's head in her arms. "She is the one who was lost a few days ago. Onua returned to the surface with her not an hour ago, but something is wrong." "How so?" Nokama asked, moving to look at Kuni's near motionless form. "She has not woken since Onua found her, and she moans in her sleep," Gali explained. "We fear something dark has come upon her." Nokama drew close, examining Kuni closely. "I see..." she mused. "Bring her inside. I must take a closer look." The trio stepped inside Nokama's hut and Gali gently let Kuni down on one of the extra beds in the room. The unconscious Ga-Matoran groaned and twisted on the bed. Hahli had never felt so uncomfortable as she did now, seeing her friend so clearly in pain. "If what I suspect is true, Kuni may be in a very grave condition indeed," Nokama said. "But to see for sure, I must remove her mask." "Are you sure?" Hahli asked. "Wouldn't that just make her weaker?" "Yes," Nokama said apologetically, "but it is the only way to prove my suspicions." Hahli nodded, trusting her Turaga. Nokama wrapped her fingers around the edges of Kuni's Kanohi Pakari and gently peeled it up from her head. Underneath lay Kuni's face, a mix of organic material and armor... and it is was stained a deep black. It started at the center and fanned outwards, even dipping into her eyes. Nokama's eyes closed at the sight, and she gave a sad moan. "What... what is this, Turaga?" Gali said. "I fear she is touched by shadow," Nokama sad, replacing Kuni's mask. "Makuta's darkness has corrupted her. We thought we had rid the island of the creatures that are capable of doing this..." "Turaga, doesn't the shadow usually appear in the mask?" Gali asked. "It does," Nokama answered, "but under the right circumstances, it can seep beyond the mask and into the body, making its effects permanent." "But she can be healed, right?" Hahli said. "There's a cure? What can I do for her?" "I'm sorry, Hahli," Nokama said, leaning heavily on her trident. "I can soothe her, perhaps bring back her mind for a while. But eventually, she will be lost. Makuta's shadow will corrupt her, just as it did the Rahi." The Rahi... No. That was impossible... Hahli couldn't imagine that happening to another Matoran. Rahi were simple beasts, easily manipulated. Surely a being as strong as Kuni would not fall so easily. But if Turaga Nokama, the most experienced healer on the island, said nothing could be done... "Take her to her hut," Nokama said. "Make her comfortable. I will visit her after I gather some supplies." As Gali picked up Kuni and exited the hut and Nokama moved to begin preparing her healing items, Hahli would not move. Her fists clenched and her eyes closed. "I can't just give up on her!" she said, louder than he had intended. Nokama's shoulder dipped and she turned to face Hahli. "Not like you. I can try, I can look for a way to save her!" "Hahli..." Nokama said soothingly. "I am very sorry about all this. I want the best for Kuni, but I have so rarely seen this condition. My experience and knowledge are limited, and the only thing I know to do is to make her passage easy." Passage. "Is there anything I can look for, anyone I can talk to, something to do to make it better?" Hahli said, on the verge of tears. Nokama laid a hand on the Matoran's shoulder. "Be there for her. She needs you now, more than ever. Really, you should be proud of her. When a Rahi is overtaken by shadow, its mind is turned almost instantly. Even mighty Toa Lewa found it difficult to resist the corruption. But Kuni... Kuni fights. Had her mind already been lost, she would not be so docile. Yes, she is in pain... but she is not lost. It is her way of fighting the Makuta." Hahli gave something between a small laugh and a sob, and wiped at her eyes. "I see. Well... I suppose I will go help prepare the hut." With a grim heart, she took her leave. -------------------------------------- Hahli rapped on the door to Kuni's hut. "Come in," came Nokama's voice from inside. "How is—" Hahli's words broke off as she looked at her friend and saw her eyes open and alive. She ran to her and embraced her. "You're awake!" "Careful, Hahli," Nokama chided gently, smiling on them. "Kuni is much stronger, but she still needs her rest." "It's good to see you too, Hahli," Kuni said with a weak smile as Hahli backed away. Hahli grinned broadly and wiped at her eyes. It was so strange... To look at Kuni now, one could hardly notice her... illness. It lay buried, hidden beneath her Kanohi. "I was so worried," Hahli said. "I... I wasn't sure you'd wake up. I thought you might be gone..." Kuni gave a wry grin. "Can't get rid of me that easily," she said. Nokama turned to the bedside table and tucked a few of her healing items in her leaf bag. "I will leave you two to talk," she said. "Don't be too long, Hahli." Hahli took a seat on a bamboo chair beside the bed as Nokama left. "What happened to you?" Hahli asked. "Down below?" "I... I can't remember a lot of it," Kuni said. "Or maybe it just feels short. I took a wrong turn and slipped down a steep, smooth surface. There was no light at the bottom... Thankfully, I'd thought to bring a lightstone with me. I lit it, but it seemed feeble somehow. The darkness of the cavern I'd come to was... oppressive. Deep." "Is that where you were when Onua found you?" Hahli asked. Kuni laughed and shook her head. "I'm not so smart as to stay in one place. I explored. There were a few other tunnels that branched off of the place I was in. I wanted to find a way out, to free myself. Of course, that didn't work. I only got more lost. And then... then I saw a creature." Hahli's stomach tightened. "A... a creature?" "Not one I'd ever seen before," Kuni explained. "Small, sluggish. Purple and black, I think." "Doesn't sound familiar." "It was weird... and disgusting. Left a gross trail of slime everywhere it moved. I remember I went to look more closely at it, trying to figure out what it was, what it was like, then... something hit me." Kuni visibly shivered at the memory. "It wasn't like getting punched or something. It didn't really have impact on my body, but I felt it... in my mind." Kuni paused, letting the information set. After a moment, Hahli asked, "What then?" "I don't know," Kuni shrugged. "That's the last thing I remember before waking up to Nokama tending to me a few minutes ago. She explained everything that happened since I got lost." "What a strange tale," Hahli said, her eyes falling to the floor. "You know, it was funny..." Kuni chuckled. "While I was lost, there was one thought I kept coming back too: 'I'm going to miss Hahli's kohlii game.'" "Aw, you don't need to worry about that. You know I'm not very good." Kuni gave her that grin again. "Oh, I know that. But I know you can be. I want to be there for you, see you play. You'll be great one day, I know it. Maybe even a champion." Hahli chuckled. "That'll be the day. And you know what I just thought of? This is just like that time when I was sick a couple hundred years ago, and you took care of me." "Yeah... except now, I'm the one stuck in a bed. I liked the previous arrangement better. Come to think of it... why am I here? I don't feel that bad. Tired, but not exactly... ill." She doesn't know. "Nokama hasn't said anything?" Hahli said, trying to keep her voice from cracking with resurgent sadness. "Nothing," Kuni said with a shake of her head. "Only that I need to rest, stay in bed. Nokama is usually so forward with me, but she hasn't said anything about my condition. Do you know why they're keeping me here?" Hahli was silent, debating with herself. If I tell her, wouldn't she be crushed? The knowledge that she is corrupted with Makuta's shadow... I don't think I could bearing knowing if I was in her position. On the other hand, to let her go on without knowing what will happen to her, for me to keep it from her... it doesn't feel right. "I... I do," Hahli said, struggling with the words. "Well, what is it?" Kuni asked, seemingly oblivious to the conflict in her friend. "The Turaga said that... that you've been infected..." "Infected? With what, a poison?" "I wish it were so simple," Hahli said. "Nokama said... you have been touched by Makuta's darkness." Kuni was silent for a long while. She barely breathed, not looking at Hahli. At length, she spoke again. "So... is it like the Rahi we have fought with all these years?" "Yes," Hahli said, choking back a sob. "So Nokama has said." "Why can't I feel it? Why doesn't my mask look different?" Kuni sat up straighter in bed, looking at her reflection in a mirror on her wall. "It's deeper than that. The corruption sank through your mask, into your body. It... it's permanent now." Kuni's eyes closed and she exhaled heavily. "So I am lost, then." "Don't say that," Hahli said. "Nokama said you were strong, that the only reason you were still with us was that you were fighting the darkness. Maybe you can make it, you can beat this..." Kuni shook her head. "I think... I think I kind of already knew. When I was asleep, I remember having... strange dreams. Dark dreams. Creatures in shadow, voices in the night. Even now, if I think about it, I think I can feel something. Something pushing at the back of my mind..." Her hands came to her head, cradling it. "I... I'm scared, Hahli." Hahli stood and moved to her friend. "I am too. I..." She grabbed one of her friend's hands. "I wish there was something I could do. If there's anything you need, anything you think will make it better, I'll do it, I'll get it for you." Kuni gave a sad laugh. "Thank you. I don't know that there's anything I can do to make it better. Just... promise me you'll take me to your game." Hahli smiled and gave Kuni's hand a squeeze. "Sure," she said with a smile. "We'll get you there." "All right," Kuni said, letting go of Hahli and lying back. "I'm getting tired again... All your drama is wearing me out." "Fine, I'll get out of here," Hahli said. "Rest up, and get better." "I'll do my best," Kuni said. Hahli moved to exit the tent, but Kuni said, "Thank you again, by the way. For telling me. I'm glad that, even if this shadow takes me, I knew about it. I go with the dignity of... facing my enemy, I suppose. Thanks to you, Hahli." Hahli nodded. "Anything for you." -------------------------------------- The days went by, and Kuni's condition worsened. It was not a surprise to Hahli, but it hurt all the same. Kuni continued to be bedridden, and Turaga Nokama kept paying her daily visits with simple healing treatments, meant only to provide comfort. Hahli continued to feel afraid, anxious, angry, and helpless. One of her best friends on Mata Nui was dying, or perhaps worse, having her mind being stolen by the Makuta. And there was not a single thing she could do about it, or even think to try. Hahli was awakened one night by a horrible screaming, a desperate cry from another hut. She rushed from her bed out into the cool Ga-Wahi night, the sea breeze brushing her mask. The screams did not stop, but she saw no signs of an emergency. Her tired mind took a moment to connect things. Kuni! She ran as fast as she could to Kuni's hut, and screams grew louder. Other Matoran were beginning to rise as well, peeking out of their doors and windows to see what was the matter. Some asked her if she knew anything, but Hahli just kept running. Finally, she burst through the door of Kuni's hut to find her friend writhing on her bed, hands on mask, screaming her lungs out. Hahli had never heard such a terrible sound in her life. She started to move to try to help Kuni, but then she spoke. "The voices!" Kuni cried. "Oh, the voices...! He is here, in here in here!" Her hands pounded on her mask. "Makeitstopmakeitstopmakestop!" Hahli ran then; there was nothing she could think to do but find help. "Nokama!" she yelled. "Toa Gali! Please help!" Footsteps behind her signaled an arrival, and she turned to find the Toa of water approaching. "What is it, little one?" she asked. "Who shouts?" "It's Kuni," Hahli said breathlessly. "She's... she's screaming, speaking horrible things, and thrashing in her bed." "Take me to her," Gali said, grim determination on her mask. Hahli ran, leading her back to her friend's hut. The pair entered again and Gali knelt beside Kuni. Kuni did not stop her thrashing in the slightest; she didn't seem to be aware that either of them were there. Gali summoned a large oval of water from thin air, large enough to envelop Kuni's entire body. She gently lowered it onto her, leaving room around her face to breathe. Light gleamed as Gali poured pure elemental energy into Kuni in a desperate attempt to stave off the darkness, to calm her mind. Slowly, Kuni did calm. She still twitched within Gali's bed of water, but the screaming had ceased. "Th-thank you, Toa Gali," Hahli stammered. "I... I didn't know what to do for her." "It is all right," Gali said, looking at her over her shoulder. "I am glad to help, no matter the hour or the situation." Her eyes turned downward. "I only wish I could do more for her." So do I, Hahli thought. And still I wonder, can it get worse than this? -------------------------------------- They decided to keep Kuni strapped to her bed; this way, if she had another fit like last time, she would not thrash about and harm herself. She lay calmly in her bed most of the time, simply sleeping. Nokama still tended to her, and Hahli still visited her every day. Kuni seemed to have less stamina each time, ending their talks sooner with every visit. Hahli's feelings of anxiety deepened until things came to a head on the tenth day after Kuni's return. Hahli had been helping Marka construct a new fishing boat when she heard a commotion from within the village. Matoran were gathering, and Hahli could hear crashes. The rustle of conversation turned to shouts. Kuni? Hahli set the rope coil she had been working with around her shoulder and ran into the village, pushing through the crowd in time to see that Kuni's hut was indeed the center of attention. Turaga Nokama suddenly came crashing through the door, rolling on the ground. Hahli rushed to her side. "Are you all right, Turaga?" she asked, helping the elder to stand. "Do not worry about me," Nokama said, voice strained. "Worry about her." Hahli followed the Turaga's eyes into the hut, where a lone figure just inside the doorway. Hahli stood slowly. "Kuni?" she said. The figure gave a wicked grin that Hahli could barely see. "Kuni is gone," it said. The being that was once Kuni flew out of the hut, running straight for Hahli. She dodged the blow just in time, rolling out of the way and instinctually pulling a disk from her pack as she rose. The crowd of gathered Matoran began to scream and disperse. The village's warning horns sounded. "Kuni, stop!" Hahli shouted. "Get a hold of yourself!" Is her mind lost? Has it finally happened? Kuni stood now at the edge of the floating platform, staring off at the waters of Naho Bay. She looked back at Hahli, and she hardly recognized her friend. Kuni's eyes were full of hatred and... was that fear? Without saying a word, Kuni ran away from Hahli, headed for the fleeing Matoran. Hahli gave chase. Kuni caught up quickly with the runners, seeming to run unnaturally fast. She tackled the first Matoran she came in contact with and wrestled her to the ground. Her victim screamed, begging for her to stop, for someone to help. She continued to struggle and whimpered as Kuni's fingers roughly grasped the edges of her Kanohi. Hahli readied her disk. "Kuni, stop this!" But Kuni did not stop. Kuni continued to pull at the downed villager's mask, but the villager struggled to keep it on. If that came off, she would be completely helpless... This is not my friend, Hahli thought as she drew her arm back to throw her disk. Don't think of her as Kuni. She is the enemy. Right? Hahli flung her arm forward, letting the disk fly with all her strength. As Kuni raised her arm to strike at the villager's head, the disk struck home, knocking Kuni's own mask askew. She reeled from the blow, falling to the ground and cradling her face. Thinking quickly, Hahli grabbed the rope from around her body and ran at the fallen Kuni. She took one end of the rope and started wrapping it around her friend, securing her arms and legs, before finally pulling it tight and knotting it. She stepped back, watching Kuni writhe on the ground, unable to move a limb. She suddenly stopped, looking to Hahli. The anger in her eyes slowly dissolved, only to be replaced with what seemed to be... smugness. Kuni laughed, a deep and unnatural sound. "I told you," she said. "Kuni is gone. Now, there are only shadows." Hahli saw the words come from Kuni, but they were clearly not of her. Makuta... "I don't believe you," Hahli said, breathing heavily. "She fights you. This is just... temporary." "I admit, she did put up quite a struggle," the shadow said. "It does not usually take this long for me to gain control. It was really only sealed moments ago, but my control was not strong enough to direct her fully. She knew my heart, though, and attacked her fellows. Not what I would have had her do, but it was entertaining enough." Hahli gaped in horror, and the Makuta laughed. That laugh would haunt her for hours to come. -------------------------------------- Hahli lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling. It had been a day since the incident with Kuni, who had now been placed in an improvised cage, a cell to keep her contained. Her body remained tied, and she sat in silence, staring at any who passed. It was unnerving, and some said they wanted her out of the village. Is that the answer? Hahli wondered. To simply toss her out? But wasn't that the fate they had been trying to save Kuni from in the first place? A knock came at the door. Hahli jerked in surprise, then sluggishly rose and moved to open it to reveal Marka. "Hey, Hahli," Marka said. "How're you holding up?" Hahli shrugged. "Fine," she answered. Marka cleared her throat. "I was wondering if you would come down to the dock, to help me finish that boat we were working on? Everyone else is busy." Work? Yes, work. That was what Matoran did during the day. But... "I don't think I feel up to it right now," Hahli said. "Thanks for offer, though." Marka seemed to deflate. "Oh, all right. Um, I'll see you later then." Hahli returned to her bed. Several more visitors came as the day went by, each with some offer for her. Nixie invited her to gaze at the sky. "No thank you." "You need to do something, Hahli. Kuni wouldn't just want you to sit around." Kai offered a leisurely boat ride. "Thanks, but I have things to do." "Mmm, all right then. I really am sorry, Hahli." Maku asked if she would help her practice kohlii. "I don't really feel like it right now." "You don't think I feel it too? She wasn't just your friend, Hahli. We all feel it. At least I'm trying to do something with myself." One by one they came and each was turned down. Hahli continued to lay and stare. With the final knock, her pent up emotions burst forth. She stormed to the door, and opened it saying, "What do you—?!" She stopped short upon seeing her visitor. "Jala? Why... what brings you here?" "Turaga Nokama summoned the Guard," the Ta-Matoran answered. "She just wants some of us to keep an eye on your friend for a bit, make sure things are safe here." Hahli nodded. "I see. Well, I hope your stay goes well. Now, I, um... I have things to do." She began to close the door, but Jala caught it. "No you don't," he said, gently reopening the door. "I've heard the others talking. You haven't done anything. You just sit in your room all day. You don't get out, you don't say much." "I'm just tired, Jala," Hahli said. "Now please, just go on." "They're worried about you, Hahli," Jala said. He laid a hand on hers. "I'm worried. I know you're losing someone dear to you, and... I'm sorry. I want to help you." "I don't want to talk about it," Hahli said, anger rising again. Even towards Jala? He was one of her best friends. This wasn't normal... Jala backed away and nodded. "I understand. If you need anything, I'll be around. And... I know it's odd, but I want you to have this." He reached into his pack and pulled out a small retractable knife, the kind he often used himself, and offered it to Hahli. "What is—?" she began, then realized his intentions. "Jala, no. I can't..." "It may not be safe, Hahli. I know it's hard, but please... we don't know what might happen. We've lost one of you to him; don't let us lose two." Hahli's sighed in resignation. Without a word, she took the knife and closed the door. Hahli lay awake on her bed that night, eyes open, but unseeing. The endless swirl of thoughts still churned in her mind, never ceasing, never letting her get any rest. The knocks had stopped coming after Jala's visit. For that, she was glad. No more distractions... Something crashed outside her hut. Hahli's eyes glanced around nervously, landing on the knife Jala had given her. It lay on her bedside table, glinting in the moonlight that came in through her window. No, she thought. It's probably nothing. Just the wind, maybe a Rahi. If it comes in here, I can protect myself. A dull groan followed by a snap came next. Hahli sluggishly moved out of bed and moved to her door. She opened it slowly. What—? Something slammed against the door, knocking Hahli back. She sprawled on the ground, catching herself with her hands. The thick leaf floor bounced with the impact. A figure slipped calmly inside the door and closed it. "It's kind of pathetic, really," the thing said. Kuni? No. Makuta. "You put me in a cage, but you think I'm powerless?" It laughed. "You forget what I can do. One blow from one of my tarakava, and it was simple to get out. So kind of you all to leave the cage so near the water." "What do you want?" Hahli said, rising carefully to her feet. "Not much," Makuta said through Kuni. "Mostly for you Matoran to stop meddling. Why can't you just stay where you are, where you belong? What is there for you below ground..." "That was a mistake!" Hahli said. "Kuni never meant to go there, let alone find you. It was a harmless mistake." Makuta chuckled. "Even so, why should I pass up such a golden opportunity to spread chaos? Perhaps end an existence... or two." It came for Hahli then, hands reaching for her neck. She caught them with her own, struggling to grapple with her attacker. "Kuni, stop!" she cried in desperation. More chuckles. It pulled back, breaking Hahli's grip, then came rushing back in a crouch. It tackled Hahli's midriff, and kept running. Such strength! It ran with Hahli over its shoulder and slammed into the wall. Hahli lay slumped against the wall of her hut, disoriented from the impact. The thing stood over her. "Part of me regrets this, Hahli," it said. "Needless loss of life and all that. But just imagine the kind of statement this will make! Matoran lost to shadow, kills her old friend. Imagine the horror, the fear... Yes, that would keep you all docile, wouldn't it?" A fist came down on Hahli's head. She grunted in pain and threw up her hands to ward off further blows. "Help..." she said weakly. She tried to move away, to reach the door, to escape. "Is that all you have left?" Makuta said, grabbing Hahli by the throat and lifting her up. Hahli could see the eyes in the moonlight now. Green. Kuni's eyes. But they were filled with hate once more, with malice. Such emotions never dared to reach Kuni's eyes. She is gone. "Go on, little Matoran," Makuta said through Kuni's mouth. "Cry for help, see if anyone comes. Or at least try." The grip tightened, and Hahli found herself gasping for air, hands clawing at the one that held her, seeking release. And she did try. Pitiful attempts at forming words were all that she managed. Hoarse squeaks that would have been inaudible outside of the hut. Is this how it ends? she thought. Slain by the hand of my friend, an instrument of fear for the Makuta... Mata Nui, how can this be? Her eyes flitted madly about the room, searching for something, anything to get her out of this. Moonlight was still streaming in through the window. It glimmered on something near. The knife. No... Hahli reached out a hand and grasped the handle. Not like this... She hit the button and extended the blade. Her lungs begged for air. Forgive me. Before Makuta could realize what was happening, Hahli shoved the blade into her attacker's chest. The eyes went wide in pain and shock, and Hahli could not help but see her friend's pain in them. Then a primal yell, louder than anything she had heard before, escaped its mouth, forcing Hahli to cover her ears as she was released. The scream was terrifying, but Hahli thought she could hear another sound, a softer voice within its depths. Makuta staggered back, staring at the knife in its chest. Hahli thought she could see something dark and wispy leaking from the wound. Makuta ripped the knife free. It growled, then screamed again, this time in rage as it lurched toward Hahli. Its energy seemed to give way halfway through the motion, though, and it stumbled toward her, arms falling low. Hahli caught the falling form, still wary. The trail of darkness vanished from Kuni's body. The body lay still for a moment, and Hahli was unsure of what to do, what to feel. She felt Kuni's head stir gently on her shoulder. Her head lifted just enough so that their eyes could meet. Kuni's eyes were empty of the rage that filled them only moments before. This was... her. The Makuta's presence was gone. "Kuni," Hahli said. Had her friend come back, only to die in her arms?! "Kuni, no, I'm so—" "No," Kuni said weakly, eyes drooping. "Do not be sorry. Thank you." Kuni's eyes closed. Hahli held her limp body close as the door burst open and Matoran peeked in, curious to see what the noise had been all about. Hushed murmurs filled the air as they saw Hahli cradling the now-lifeless body of her best friend. -------------------------------------- Hahli sat on the beach, several kio away from Ga-Koro. She stopped weaving her ropes for a moment to look out at the sea, at the waves rolling in. The tide was coming in. She heard footsteps from behind and looked to find Jala approaching. "The others said you wanted to be alone," he said, "but I had to come see you. I had to be sure... sure you were okay." "So what if I am or not?" Hahli said, returning to her weaving. "What would you do for me?" Jala was silent for a moment. "I don't know," he sighed. Hahli stood and faced him. "That's right," she said, tears threatening to rise again. "You can't help me. No one can. She's gone. And I killed her..." Hahli broke down then, falling forward. Jala caught her, and he held her, and it all came out. Stories of before, of the centuries Hahli had spent being friends with Kuni, the things they did together. Then the full tale of how this had all come to be; Kuni going missing, then found again, only to be irreversibly lost. "I'm sorry," Jala said when it was all finished. "I'm so sorry. But you can't stop living. You don't have to forget, you don't ever have to stop missing her. You just have to keep living. She was glad for what you did. She told you herself! What you did for her was... it was the only way for her. Even so... I can't tell you how much I wish it hadn't come to this." Hahli said nothing; she only stood, sobbing. Then she said, "If only I had been stronger. I could have saved her..." "Hahli..." Jala said, taking her chin and bringing her eyes to his. "You did save her. She was beyond healing, but not beyond saving. And you saved her... from a fate worse than death. You freed her, and protected yourself at the same time. You never stopped being a true friend for her, Hahli. You never left her side. Not really. At least remember that." Hahli seemed to relax in Jala's arms. Her sobbing slowed. "Then why does it still hurt so much...?" she whispered. Jala gently pulled away and looked her in the eye. "You know, they're having the remembrance ceremony tonight. The entire village will be there, even Matoran from other villages. We all feel the loss. And even though we've lost someone dear to us, we all know that we don't want to be driven back because of it. You said that Makuta meant for this to drive us back in fear? Well, tonight we'll show him. Show him that what he used to try and make us fearful will instead make us stronger and braver than ever before. We'll never stop fighting, because of people like Kuni. We won't stop fighting, and we won't stop loving each other. We remember and honor her if we keep fighting. If we keep... living." He reached down and took her hand. "Come on. Come back to the village with me. Let's remember her. Together." Hahli nodded and walked with Jala along the beach toward Ga-Koro. They spent the night with the rest of the island, not in mourning, but in celebration of a life well lived. Tales were told of Kuni's life, her adventures on the island, and the things she did for her fellow Matoran. All knew that she had been strong indeed, Hahli most of all. You will always be in my heart, Kuni. Until the very end.
  8. Author's Note: Tagged PG 13 for action and ending. Much thanks to AceGreenLegend for beta reading this! Disassembly The shadow of the Kanohi Dragon passed over the eleven Toa as it flew overhead, deciding whether to continue being a pest or to eliminate the pests below. While it made up its mind, Toa Hagah and Toa Mahri alike were sweating it out in the fiery inferno which raged in the surrounding plains, gripping their tools tightly. Far to the north, a path of destruction loomed in the dragon’s wake, as it used its fiery breath on the land. The Toa were determined to stop the destruction right here, but the battle had been a shaky one—the Kanohi Dragon was a more formidable beast than any Rahi any of them had ever faced, and they wondered if there was any hope of taking it down. “Behemoth creatures with loads of armor,” Pouks grumbled. “Why did the Great Beings always have a fascination with behemoth creatures with loads of armor?” “Maybe that can play into our benefit,” Nuparu piped. “We could overheat its systems, perhaps?” “The dragon thrives on heat,” Norik reminded him. “And under each of those mask scales the Rahi has a ventilation system. Too many vents to try and plug.” “Whatever we do, we just have to keep it from using its fire,” Hewkii growled as he summoned a boulder to throw the dragon’s way. “And we can’t let it reach the villages south,” Gaaki reminded them. “It came from the Great Volcano,” Jaller said. “How are batteries like us supposed to have enough power to suppress something a power plant couldn’t satisfy?” “Precision,” Kualus answered, firing the tri-bladed staff he carried as the Kanohi Dragon dove towards them. What was intended as a strong stream of frost aimed at the dragon’s underbelly resulted in a thick coating of ice which adhered to its underside, the staff amplifying the Toa of Ice’s elemental abilities. Kualus continued his offense, bombarding the Rahi with ice colder than his Sub-Zero Spear could ever manage. The dragon’s maw opened wide as it roared in pain, fire beginning to conjure in its throat. The conjuring was short lived, however, as a growing Toa of Earth rose up to tackle the dragon. It lashed out with its double bladed tail, catching Bomonga in the back. He grimaced, but he did not falter. Instead he reached back to grab the behemoth by its tail, ripping the creature out of the sky. Bomonga grappled with the dragon, distracting it as the two Toa of Water created moisture for Kualus to freeze. Feeling weak at the sense of the cold, the dragon let itself drop to the ground, slamming into the earth with the force of an earthquake. It wriggled furiously against the Toa of Earth, trying to escape from his grip. The remaining Toa of Earth and Stone rushed to assist their brother, willing the ground of Spherus Magna to help their enlarged brother pin the gargantuan. In the meantime, Jaller and Norik rushed to either side of the beast, using their control of fire to suppress any flame the dragon tried to shoot, whilst Iruini and Kongu used their elemental powers to suffocate the ravening infernos spreading along the plains. Spherus Magnans who saw the fight claimed it was nothing they’d seen since the Core War, while historians from the Matoran Universe recalled the fight the dragon had given another group of eleven Toa millennia before. The beast both times had been a ravager of the land, but perhaps this time it would be put down for good. To the mountains of Iconox it would be shipped, where the cold would inhibit its power. The Toa had originally let the beast go, and it had been peaceful. But apparently it would never be content to leave the Matoran and their new Agori peers alone. *** The eleven Toa watched the sun set to the west, sweat of the battle turning cold under their armor in the arriving evening. At the bottom of the hill where they stood, the Kanohi Dragon was being loaded onto a platform by hundreds of black armored denizens, of which half the group looked skeptically upon. “Do we trust the Vortixx to take the dragon?” Kualus asked. “The last time they had it they—“ “The only place it can go is the northern reaches of Iconox,” Jaller nodded, understanding the Toa Hagah’s concerns. “We have to trust them with the dragon.” “But if they do anything like they tried to do last time…” Iruini said, uneasy. “My mask shows me nothing of the dragon’s future,” Gaaki said. “I think it will be alright with them, this time.” “They don’t have access to all of the technology they had on Xia,” Nuparu pointed out. “The disassembly of the robot made them leave a few things. And since Roodaka isn’t leading them this time, I think they’ll be on the right path.” The Toa Hagah of Ice nodded, watching the silhouettes of the Vortixx rushing to finish the work before nightfall. “Is everything alright, Kualus?” came the voice of Norik. The others had left, leaving only the two of them on the hill. The Toa of Ice shook his head. “No brother,” he said, pointing his staff to the north, “There is somewhere you and I have to go.” *** The hannah crab clacked its claws excitedly as it scuttled through the maze of furniture before it. Eagerly venturing through the closed quarters, it bumped on every possible chair leg it could come across, ricocheting onto the wall and back. Each collision made the Rahi more excited, looking for the way out of the absurd arrangement of furniture. There had to be a gap somewhere to duck out of this… after all, there was food outside of here. The crab continued to crawl through the maze, nearly passing the exit in its furious search. It crashed into the wall as it tried to reverse direction, then managed to crawl backwards to the break in the furniture. It shot through the gap to a wide chamber, nearly scuttling into a pair of blue columns in the middle of the floor. It was only the swift sweep of a big red arm which prevented it from a painful collision. “We come here every week, little one, yet you get lost back there every time,” Jaller chuckled as he nestled his pet in the crook of his arm. The crab began to coo as its legs came to a stop. It curled up in the Toa of Fire’s embrace. “It would also help if someone didn’t rearrange the furniture every time we visited,” he jabbed at the winged Toa standing in the middle of the room. “You don’t have to come over for these healing treatments,” Hahli retorted, fluttering her wings. “Surely the Kanohi Dragon didn’t burn the Toa of Fire too bad.” A knock on the door whisked his comeback away, and Jaller set his drink down as he went to answer it. His evening with Hahli was interrupted, and he wondered by whom at this time of night. The door opened to reveal a gold and white Toa, standing behind a Ta-Matoran, and Jaller was curious as to which odd character led the pair. “Takua! Kapura!” He exclaimed. Kapura gave a courteous nod, but when the Toa only exchanged a solemn hello, it seemed strained, and Jaller saw that there was something painful in his old friend’s eyes. He pulled them in, asking what was wrong, but Takanuva could not answer. “Nothing to be spoken of in doorways, Toa Jaller,” the Ta-Matoran responded for his companion. *** Toa Jaller had seen his share of dead Rahi as a Matoran on the island of Mata Nui; there were plenty of casualties in the battles with the infected beasts of the Makuta. But what he saw now was another level of grotesque for him. The corpse of a Muaka tiger rested some ways from of Vulcanus, the gelatinous mass of organic material usually underneath its armor sitting exposed in the desert sun. The Rahi had only been dead a few days, but its hollowness made it seem as though it had been deceased for ages. Numerous parts were missing, more than when Kapura and Takua had initially found it. “This has to be the fifth or sixth one we’ve found,” the Toa of Light informed his friend. “But this one is the freshest kill.” Only one half of its face remained, its clean skull showing huge gaps into its body. One eye looked darkly into the sand of its final resting place, where the other parts of its being were scattered. Jaller shuddered, unable to shake off the memories as a Matoran being stalked by this creature. A powerful forearm that had been lined with armor and implants was completely bare, now nothing more than a tendril of lean muscle shriveled in the desert day. Even the toenails were stripped of its parts. A few wild birds had been pecking at the flesh, but they had flown off at the approach of the the Matoran and the four Toa. The five of them now looked over it, trying to comprehend what the dead Rahi meant. “The first two we thought were random,” Takanuva said. “But once more were showing up…” “How do we know that it wasn’t simply attacked by some larger Spherus Magnan animal?” Hahli asked her Av-Toa friend. “It’s too cleanly done,” the Nuparu answered her. The Toa of Earth had met up with the group on Takanuva’s request, the Toa of Light hoping to use his engineering expertise to gain insight on the trail of corpses he and Kapura had found. eHe pointed to mechanical parts on the Rahi’s head which were still intact. “Look here. The skull is gone, but there are no actual ‘breaks’ in its parts. It’s as if the pistons were taken off very deliberately. Other than what the birds have taken, no predator has gone after this. The flesh looks otherwise left alone.” “So are you saying… someone took the Rahi apart?” the Toa of Water inquired. Nuparu looked at her, an unsettling truth hanging silently in the air. “It was not a natural death,” Kapura said. “I found it during a scouting mission, with a few others just outside of Vulcanus. There was a roar we heard, and I volunteered to investigate it. Staying hidden within sight, I crept over to see the Rahi already dead. There were a few parts missing, but not as many as there are now.” “There aren’t claw marks or anything of the sort signifying an assault, and that’s the odd thing,” Nuparu added. He led Jaller to a bare shoulder. “Look at this. The armor over there is removed, not torn off. And none of the tendons are ripped particularly brutally. This happened after it died. I highly doubt that anything that was trying to feast would have pecked so evenly; a large predator would have made marks within the meat.” “Why would someone want to… disassemble a Rahi?” Jaller asked, uncomfortable with the word. “And how did they kill a Muaka themselves?” “Perhaps the answer is not in the dirt, but on the horizon,” Kapura said. They turned in confusion to see what he meant. The Ta-Matoran was pointing in the distance, where a dot was rapidly growing, and the four Masks of Power grew concerned. This was not an area on any trade routes, and the being was coming from the east, whereas Vulcanus was south of here. There were no villages east. Who could be coming out here, and why? Jaller wondered. His Arthron quickly scanned, and he did not like the returning signals. The three Toa armed themselves, cautious of who it could be. A sole rock steed galloped into sight, the particularly nasty Bone Hunter known as Fero mounted atop, sword wielded. The Toa glared at him as he sneered from atop his ride. “What brings you out here Toa? Your kind are like statues, only present where you can be admired.” “We could ask the same thing of you, Hunter,” Hahli growled. “This animal was found dead, hunted down. Was this or your clan’s doing? And what did you do with the parts?” “A coincidence that I pass this spot,” he chuckled sinisterly. “But I have the native right to travel my own territory, without assault from other worlders,” he spat. “I know not how this robot died, but I can tell you that it is not the first that I have seen.” He then flashed his spurs, which held a piece of a Nui Rama stinger that Jaller knew was impossible to get without losing a hand. “Your beasts make good trophies, but I would not waste my time hunting your kind. Better to wait until you’re like this one here, rusting in the sands and prime for scavenging.” With that, the rock steed lunged forward, jaws bared. “That’s evidence!” Jaller snarled, letting a warning burst of flame at the bandit and his mount. “That’s Skirmix’s dinner,” Fero laughed. “But I will tell you where I got this, before I go on, for I have elsewhere to be. There is a market far from here, to the north, where someone of your stature wouldn’t go. That is where I got these, from a merchant. I know not of how he gets his products, but I those in the market have high demands. Expect more carcasses like this one as the demand increases.” He kicked the steed in its sides, and they went off into the distance. The five watched Fero depart for a long time before they turned back to the deceased. “Bone Hunter scum,” Takanuva snarled, gripping his Toa tool. “Should have lit him up till he told us more.” “He told us enough,” Hahli said, flexing her claw. “We move this body somewhere where we can investigate it better. Jaller, you can use your Arthron to find out more clues, and I’ll use my mask to see if any animals know where this market is. If what Fero mentioned was true, I can get us more information.” “We’ll take what we can back to my workshop,” Nuparu suggested to the Toa of Fire. “And I can look at it more in depth there.” “I’m going with Hahli,” Jaller said, shaking his head. But the Toa of Water aggressively shook her mask. “You’re not coming with me. Two Toa sized travelers will give suspicion.” *** Not far away, under the sand, a figure was watching the group investigate the Rahi, fear rising in him as he noted who they were. He had been on his way to retrieve more of the parts of the Muaka, but the arrival of the investigators forced him into hiding. This was bad. Jaller and Hahli could be fanatics about nature, that much he knew about them. If they investigated this and caught on to what he was doing, he would have to be especially careful about how he conducted his operations. They seemed to be leaving, but he would wait a while, and slip away under the cover of nightfall. *** Ahkmou stood amongst the tables in front of his shop, a tarp overhead to protect his wares from the oncoming rain. Grey clouds were rolling in from beyond the Black Spike Mountains, shady and silent as they travelled across the sky. A few drops he could feel blowing in on the deathly quiet breeze, but the Po-Matoran did not retreat into the depths of the tent behind him; it would take a little more than water to hurt the Po-Matoran. His gave a small smile as he silently observed the passing crowd. The slave caravan being marched through the market was a rich mix of roughened Spherus Magnans and Matoran Universe inhabitants, somberly marching through the market by their master for exhibition. Some merchants taunted them, offering their products to those who clearly could not afford them, but the Po-Matoran kept silent, instead letting his merchandise speak for him. Their master would beat them if they dared turned their heads, but Ahkmou could see a few eyes lingering for more than a casual second before being rushed down the line. A number of customers required his attendance, and the afternoon wore on as Ahkmou sold his keep. The faceless and nameless customers came and went, only remembered by the piles of widgets they left. They disappeared when the storm seemed to strengthen, scrambling for drier quarters, but the merchant remained outside. His pockets were full of money, but his curiosity was still to be satisfied, as he observed one customer who remained: a cloaked being stood across the way between shops, indifferent to the rain. Much taller than the Matoran, that much he could tell, but no more. Ahkmou cocked his head as he finally turned his attention to them, as they had been facing his booth all day. Knowing they had caught his attention, the being trudged towards Ahkmou’s booth, effortlessly trudging through the mud. It was impossible discern a mask or helmet under the hood, no eyes even visible, and he simply waited for the being to speak. “Impressive wares you have,” they commented. “But…I hear you have more inside.” A large bag emerged from the stranger’s robes, landing on the table next to a Nui Rama shoulder bone with a number of clinks satisfying to Ahkmou’s ears. “Right this way,” he offered, pulling the flap of his tent back to allow the stranger in. “These pieces, they’re… fascinating,” the being said, noting the horn of a Kikinalo. Ahkmou said nothing, but let the stranger wander around his assembly. They did not draw their hands from their sleeves, keeping their features hidden. Ahkmou was slightly disappointed, hoping to get some insight into this high paying client. “How does one get such a stock?” “Now, a merchant can not tell the secrets of the supplier,” Ahkmou replied, admiring a claw on a table. “I am afraid, in good business, that I cannot reveal where I get these.” “I’ll pay extra,” the figure insisted. Still entranced in the claw, the merchant shook his head. “I cannot disclose where I get my product,” Ahkmou told them. “Then maybe the price of your miserable life is enough to interest you,” the customer snarled. The Po-Matoran whirled to see the cloak on the ground, and Toa Hahli in his tent, tri-talon bared. “Treacherous slime merchant. Talk, or you’ll find your shares here will become…liquidated.” “Toa Hahli, so nice to see you,” Ahkmou grinned. “I take it the Toa are learning of the new craze of fashion on Spherus Magna? Are you come to join in?” “Who is giving you these pieces to sell?” Hahli demanded. “There was a Rahi found brutally murdered, and its parts were missing. Why are people poaching Rahi for parts?” “Oh, Toa, always trying to find someone to bring to justice.” Ahkmou chuckled. “What’s a few Rahi gone from the universe? Think about it. People hunt animals all the time. Everyone did it on Mata Nui, I’m sure you Ga-Matoran were no exception. What are you trying to prove?” “There is something not right about it, Ahkmou,” Hahli insisted. “Of course, someone like yourself wouldn’t understand, the matter being about other lives than your own.” “Well, Hahli, there’s nothing that I can tell you,” Ahkmou shook his head. “It’s nothing more than friendly poaching and profit.” “If it’s no serious loss then, you probably won’t mind if I flood this entire black market back to the endless seas,” the Toa of Water growled. Ahkmou began to notice the rain pattering on the top of his tent. It was coming down heavier. “Your supplier, Ahkmou. Who are they?” “Where did you find the corpse?” he asked. “Somewhere near where you aren’t welcome,” she snarled. “Their hunting skills are pathetic,” the Po-Matoran laughed. “Whoever is helping me turn a profit, they are definitely more on the mechanical side. It takes someone with mechanical skill to acquire these parts,” Ahkmou smirked. “Whomever may giving me these parts, that’s one thing they do have.” Hahli glared. It was not much, but she thought she sensed where he was leading her. Nodding, she draped her cloak over her, exiting the tent without another word. Ahkmou remained inside, waiting a long time for the rain to lighten up. The entire market was a sinkhole a few hours later, ruined by Hahli’s powers. The Po-Matoran exited his tent to witness the damage, grimacing. Silently, he hoped nobody in the market would know an enraged Toa of Water had come through, or that it was because of him. “The Toa of Water,” came a voice from the shadows. Ahkmou jumped, suddenly aware of another cloaked being. The figure was just as tall as Hahli, just as featureless, but this time, the Po-Matoran knew who they were. His supplier. “What did you tell her?” “I sent her a clue, but it was down the wrong path,” he promised. “Nothing to allude to who you are.” “You know what happens if you violate our deal,” the stranger said. He stepped aside to reveal a large sack that had not been there before. More merchandise, was Ahkmou’s thought as he unwrapped the bag eagerly. He turned to say more to the figure, but they were gone, disappearing as suddenly as they appeared. Shrugging, he went to cataloging the new inventory, only to stop in shock at the non-Rahi pieces he found within the loot. *** Jaller and Hahli, Have been looking into the Muaka specimen you gave me. Had to go consult Turaga Whenua in Tajun about it. Will find you when I return. —Nuparu Jaller read the note on Nuparu’s workbench in his Vulcanus home, irritated at the Toa of Earth’s disappearance. As much as the earth types were tied down to their projects— mining, history, inventing— they were extremely difficult to keep track of; once they were set on a project, they would go far and wide to find whatever they required.He would find Nuparu later then. Hopefully the Toa Mahri returned within the day. A Matoran came up to Jaller as soon as he left Nuparu’s hut, scroll in hand. “Toa Jaller!” the villager cried. “I have been looking for you everywhere!” “What for?” the Toa of Fire asked. “Toa Norik asked me to give you this, said it was urgent,” the villager said. Jaller opened the note, which held a meeting place and time. Jaller thanked the Matoran. “Have you seen Toa Hahli? I was asked to pass on the same message to her.” “Don’t worry, I’ll find her,” Jaller replied. “Thank you for this.” *** Hahli was the last to arrive at the campsite, immediately launching into the news that she had found. Jaller and the two Toa Hagah across the fire listened intently, shaking their heads at what she had found. “Of course the little vermin was selling parts,” Jaller spat after Hahli told him the tale. “Anything he could do to make a profit.” Across the campfire, Toa Norik shook his head. “Never have I heard of a Matoran so far from virtue,” the Toa Hagah of Fire said. “From Makuta’s Turaga in Metru Nui to this?” “He was working for Makuta long before we made our way back to Metru Nui,” Hahli told them. “But this is a new low for him.” “He wouldn’t tell you the supplier?” Toa Kualus asked. “No names, but what he gave was a small hint of where to look,” she said. “If it is true, then the eleven of us trusted the wrong people.” “What did you two find though?” Jaller asked the two Toa Hagah, breaking an uncomfortable silence hanging over them. Kualus looked at the two uncomfortably. “Something felt off about the Kanohi Dragon’s attack. Onua Nuva and I took a trip up there a few years ago, to check its status since leaving the old universe. There was no real reason which it would want to even come back down here. It seemed… at home.” “So what changed?” Jaller asked. Kualus shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “The Great Volcano was a mess last time I was there, but…” he shook his head in disbelief “There is nothing to describe it now.” “The ‘volcano’ itself is in shambles,” Norik told the Toa Mahri. “There is no heat coming from the area whatsoever. The land is torn apart. Where the Rahi’s nest was is a bunch of chasms now.” “An earthquake?” asked Hahli. “Or possibly a bigger beast from the Great Jungle?” “Not both though,” Norik said. “But we haven’t felt any seismic activity down here,” Jaller reminded them. “You’re not saying…” “Something forced the Kanohi Dragon out,” Kualus finished. “What could have the power to do that?” Hahli asked. “There was… a lot of machinery when I went to the Vortixx’s facility in Iconox,” the Toa of Fire cursed. “I didn’t know what a lot of it was. Nuparu would.” “Maybe he can accompany you to another trip there,” Hahli suggested. “But Norik, Kualus… are you saying the Vortixx could be responsible?” “The Vortixx have operated unchecked— here and on Xia —for millennia,” Norik said, glaring into the fire. “They could want to ‘revisit’ old projects.” “What reason would they have for wanting the Kanohi Dragon?” Hahli asked. “Weaponry, at the very least,” Norik said. “They don’t know all the players of this world, but they may want to be prepared for the day another Barraki or one of those Element Lords seeks them out.” “Nuparu did say they couldn’t bring all of their tech off of their homeland,” Jaller recalled. “But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t take a lot of it.” “Ahkmou isn’t the only one who wouldn’t do anything for a little extra income,” Hahli remarked. “What Jaller could have seen could have been anything,” the Toa of Ice said, annoyed with the conspiracy theories bouncing around. He used his ice powers to lower the height of the flame, the two Ta-Toa unintentionally feeding their power as they grew eager in their conversation. “We have no confirmations. We all have dislike for their society, but we cannot let prejudices push our suspicions.” “Yes, but it never hurts to investigate further, if the Vortixx are up to anything.” Jaller reminded him. *** Vohon closed the door to his shop, the sun beginning to dip past the western dunes on the outer reaches of Vulcanus. He watched the yellow orb of Solis Magna until it had sank behind the dune, and then turned to put his wares away. Selling was done for the day, and it was time to go home. A feeling of eyes on his back as he cleaned his shop made Vohon wary, and he almost expected the click of his shop doorknob. The Ta-Matoran stood there, laying his hands flat on top of the table he was at. “I’m closed for the day,” he said as calmly as he could, knowing the words wouldn’t discourage the intruders. “Come back tomorrow.” “We aren’t here to buy,” a voice chuckled, and Vohon turned to look at who had trespassed into his shop. A Vortixx and an Agori stood across his doorway, dropping their cloaks to the floor of the hut. The Agori took off his seemingly empty backpack, a grin coming from under the half mask that they wore. Vohon had thought they were wearing Kanohi at first, but the more he looked, the more he could see they were not Kanohi at all, or even Glatorian helmets. They were masks, but not even poorly crafted ones; they seemed much more warped than that. The thought crossed Vohon’s mind that he may not be dealing with simple thieves. “Now wait just a second—“ Vohon started, whipping out a loaded Kanoka launcher from under his table. Aiming at the Vortixx, he pulled the trigger, and threw the launcher unexpectedly at the Agori as the disk flew. The pseudo mask on the taller figure was knocked off, but the disk was too weak to have any effect on him. The Agori had dodged the launcher thrown at him, a grin growing on his face as he began to advance on the Matoran. Night was arriving in Vulcanus, darkness coming in the form of these two bandits. Vohon raised his fists halfheartedly, thinking he knew what was about to come. *** “Still think we shouldn’t be accusing them?” Hahli asked Kualus the next morning. He said nothing, simply gazing in shock at the mess that was Vohon’s ruined shop. The Matoran in question sat with Norik, sporting a new mask and nursing his socket where his arm used to be. Another Matoran medic was there, studying the spot where the limb had detached. Hahli reread the scroll she carried with the Matoran’s account of what had happened. The only word with meaning on it was ‘Vortixx’, describing one of the assailants. Kualus frowned, upset with the tortured Matoran’s physique. “We’re headed north as soon as this investigation is over,” the Toa assured her. “but not necessarily with Cordak launchers blazing.” “The interrogation should be more hostile than the last visit,” Jaller’s voice reached the two. In his hand he held the deformed half mask Vohon had presented to them when they had arrived. “I’ve never seen that kind of mask before,” Hahli said. “That’s because it’s a scale,” Norik corrected. “A decoy mask from the dragon, meant to lure in unsuspecting Matoran to feed on when they were close enough.” Kualus looked at his brother, disgusted. “The Vortixx are definitely doing more than keeping the dragon in stasis,” he said. “I’ll ask Ackar to borrow his Thornatus again,” he resolved. “Did Vohon have anything to say other than what he told us?” Jaller asked Norik. The Hagah shook his head. “No, but I told him we would personally see to it that he received a new arm,” Norik informed Jaller. The group of them nodded to Vohon and the medic, their work in the hut done. It was time to travel to Iconox again. “Before we leave, have Takanuva on double patrol tonight,” he asked the Toa Mahri. The Vortixx at the gate of the Iconox facility were concerned when Jaller and Norik brought them the news. “But the dragon has been here since you entrusted it to us,” one of the guards said. “How could an incident with the dragon happen in Vulcanus, if it never reached there?” “That’s why we’re worried as well,” Jaller said. “We want to take a look at the dragon. I just want to assure its well being. Norik here is an expert on reptiles, and he wanted to look as well. If you allow us just a few hours to observe, then we will be on our way.” “We weren’t expecting visitors today,” one Vortixx commented. Norik’s mask did a double take, sarcastically incredulous. “Toa Nuparu did tell you we would be checking in,” the Toa Hagah reminded the guards. Their brows darkened, and they nodded, letting the two Toa in. Their bluff got them into the dragon’s chamber, where the behemoth lay in stasis. An icy Spherus Magnan substance covered the dragon, keeping it dormant; whatever was on the dragon frosted over the surface of its hide, and the Toa could barely make out the details of its armor. Bringing two Kanohi Akaku from their packs, they saw past the substance, and began scouring up and down the length of the creature. It had some damage from the wrestling match with Bomonga, but the majority of its armor was undamaged. The Rahi’s midsection was where the Toa found something off. In the bulk of its body, where the Rahi’s ‘masks’ lined its hide, the stasis substance appeared patchy. Jaller and Norik crouched down to where they saw the disturbance. One section of the substance appeared patched— investigating further, the Toa could see no mask scales on the creature. The Toa looked at each other, eyebrows raised. While Norik glanced up to check on any spying Voritxx, Jaller used his powers to burn away the substance to investigate further. Underneath the patch, it was as they suspected; a broken scale stuck out from the rest, the Kanohi-like appendage missing. Jaller looked at it grimly, while Norik’s eyes were raised. They said nothing, repairing the seal quietly before moving on. More patches were visible further down the hide, various spots here spread out to try and look random, but the Toa could distinguish a pattern. They were undetectable from the platforms surrounding the dragon, where Vortixx walked to and from different facilities within the place, but down here, the more they looked, the more the Toa could see the substance had been tapped into. “Dozens of ‘masks’ missing,” Jaller said. “But why? A powerless Kanohi doesn’t hide that much. Vohon was clearly able to tell it was a Vortixx attacking him.” “Perhaps they’re not using the masks as disguises,” Norik suggested as they walked further down the dragon’s side. “The question is, then, what else they could be using them for. And how does this relate to the deaths of Rahi you found in the desert?” “They’re not just taking the masks,” Jaller realized as they came to the rear of the Rahi. Curled up behind the massive beast was its tail. Covered by the stasis substance, it was hidden, but with the aid of their Masks of Vision, they could see the raw muscle of the tail. Some of the armor from one of the Rahi’s greatest weapons had been removed. “They’re stripping the Rahi.” “For weaponry?” Norik queried. “There are thousands, if not millions of other weapons on Spherus Magna. Why would they waste their time stripping a dragon of its parts for—“ A sudden rumble cut Norik off. Tremors began to shake through the cavern, dust descending from the ceiling high above. The Toa looked at each other, surprised. The shaking did not last long, but it came in and out. Next to them, the comatose dragon began to shake as well. The two Toa nodded that it was best for them to leave. “What is going on?” Jaller demanded of their guide as they exited into a side tunnel. “Minor tremors, we have them every so often,” the guide explained, a collection of tablets and scrolls piled into a satchel he carried. “Nothing severe enough to awaken the dragon, but as a safety precaution we must ask you to leave.” “What is causing said tremors?” Norik answered. The Vortixx shook his head, saying something they could not hear in the rumbling. He turned to lead them toward the exit, and stumbled as another tremor hit them. The Vortixx tripped, his open bag spilling onto the ground. The Toa went to help him collect everything, but the Vortixx scrambled on his hands and knees, picking everything up as fast as he could. Jaller went to help him, and Norik could not help but notice the dark expression on his mask as they continued to the exit. “Are you ok?” The Toa Hagah asked when they met the fresh air of the mountains. “Keep walking,” Jaller responded, eyes forward on the path. Hahli and Kualus waited some ways away from the entrance to the facility, keeping hidden amongst the snowbanks. They immediately descended back to the path when they saw their comrades, equally as puzzled by Jaller’s silence as Norik was. The three of them watched the Toa Mahri fall to his knees. His fingers became a whirl in the dirt, tracing something that only he could see. Any attempts to get an answer from what he was doing were met with only silence for a few moments. He stood up, brushing his hands off to the side, and the other three gathered to see what he had drawn. A depiction of the north, but there were paths between here and the Great Volcano that none of them recognized. “What is it?” Kualus asked. “Our host let something slip,” Jaller began. “When we were leaving, I happened to get glimpse of this on one of the tablets he dropped. I used my Arthron to memorize it as best as I could— the mask isn’t too precise. But there is something out here—“ he indicated a section in the Black Spikes, midway between Roxtus and Iconox. “and where we are. We need to continue north to check that out.” Using her power, Hahli sent water into the ruts the Toa had carved, allowing Kualus to freeze them into a sheet of ice. They pried it from the ground, smearing the original drawing Jaller had rendered as a precaution. When they were finished, they rose to see Norik gazing up at the slopes, troubled. “Is something wrong?” Hahli asked him. “The path is clear,” Norik said to Jaller. “I would’ve thought otherwise.” “Why shouldn’t it be?” asked Kualus. “I just would’ve thought… that the tremors inside would’ve shook the snow loose and down to here,” Norik responded. The Toa of Ice and Water looked at him quizzically. “What tremors?” Hahli asked. The Toa of Fire met eyes, Norik cursing. Another of the Vortixx’s tricks, they realized. “We need to get going,” Jaller said, leading the way. The makeshift map showed them paths that were definitely not known to any travelers, they realized after a day of hiking. The four of them had crossed from Iconox’s icy slopes to deep within the Black Spikes, now walking single file along a path entrenched between two mountains. On either side of the path, black slopes reached high toward the sky. There were no sign of any animals, let alone other travelers, which kept Jaller on edge. Though he led the way, scouting with his Arthron, he was so focused on interpreting the returning signals that he continually tripped on cracks in front of his face. “How much more of this?” Norik asked, picking up Jaller for the umpteenth time. “The path ascends soon,” Kualus said, using one of their Akakus to spy a trail on the mountain not so far away. “Wherever the map leads… its close.” “It better be,” Jaller said, crushing a rock with his power sword. “Because I’m sick of—“ A loud crack cut him off. To their side, a rumble sounded, and the Toa stiffened, knowing the sound of an oncoming rockslide. Tripping and tumbling over one another, the Toa began to sprint down the alley that was their path. Out of the corner of their Kanohi, they could see tons of rock coming closer with each stride they took. “Go! Go!” Kualus urged them. As far as they could run in the short time they had, Jaller thought, they were not going to get clear of the rubble. Wielding his sword with both hands, Jaller turned and sent waves of intense heat at the rocks, trying to split the stone before it toppled onto them. A figure on the mountain stood satisfied when he saw the rocks settle, the Toa buried far beneath them. He breathed a sigh of relief. The Toa were close, but they were not going to get any closer to uncovering his operations. That he was certain of. Satisfied with his work, he unlatched the door that would lead him into the mountain. Though the sounds of muffled agony could be heard several boulders down, but Jaller’s power sword still carved toward the surface. The rock above him exploded in a molten mess, and he emerged gasping into fresh air. His chestplate had been dented, and he set his sword down to fix it, before beginning to carve to where he heard the sound. Clearing the rubble, he found Norik trapped, a larger slab of rock pinning his leg. The sounds of yelling had come down, but the expression of pain on his mask remained intense. The armor on his leg had twisted under the impact and weight of the rock, and now the Toa laid amongst the rubble, fighting blacking out from the pain. Kualus freed himself and made his way over to the pair, freezing the rock and shattering it, but it did no help. In an extremely short period, the injury had turned gruesome. They could not remove it, Hahli noted—the weight of the rock had caused the injury, but now it kept it all together. Whatever Kualus did to the rock, it would have further hurt his comrade. Hahli bent down to him when she freed herself, sending healing water powers into the Toa Hagah’s injury. “You have to go on without me,” Norik said to Jaller and Hahli. The combination of the two Toa’s healing powers had done all it could now. “I’m of no use to you like this now.” “We can’t leave you,” Jaller said firmly, but Kualus’s look said otherwise. “It’s your mission,” Kualus reminded Jaller. “We are merely here to help. Go find out what the map led to; if we can catch up to you and serve as backup, we will.” The Toa of Fire opened his mouth to argue, but Hahli’s claw on his shoulder shut him up. Exchanging goodbyes with a fist bump, the two Toa Mahri made their way toward the mountain path. Hahli was unsettled with how calmly she was breathing in the crisp air as they walked up the path. It wasn’t leaving the Toa Hagah behind that bothered her; only Mata Nui could possibly fathom what they were walking into now, and it might’ve been best to have back up or someone else to tell that they had gone missing. No, it was nothing about the injuries Norik had sustained; it was the quiet surrounding her and Jaller. Even without her Mask of Kindred, she could sense something looming in the nature ahead of them. “I don’t like this,” she said to Jaller. “We shouldn’t have left them down there.” “You’re the one who agreed with them to do it,” Jaller reminded her, a little surprised at her sudden change of heart. “But the rockslide was too convenient. We can’t let a few tricks from a species of tech geniuses scare us away. Whatever the Vortixx are hiding, they’re really desperate to keep hidden from us. We need to keep going at all costs.” The Toa of Water gave a small smile; Jaller’s sense of justice, though strict, was somewhat comforting in the face of her building anxiety. Her fears returned and intensified when they saw the door. It stood against the face of the mountain, locked by a large gear. Hahli could feel its coolness with her protosteel claw, a chill running up her spine as her fears began to take on a solid form. Jaller grabbed its handles and cranked it open to find a dark, featureless tunnel. There were no signs of anything as far as they could see, but Hahli knew there had to be something deep in the tunnel. A door this well hidden had to be there for reasons she didn’t want to think about. They stepped inside the yawning entrance, and Hahli pulled the lever to close the doors, the view of the mountains disappearing as she did so. Where the Toa of Water before could see blue skies and mountaintops, was now solid stone and metal, the crack in the two halves of the door impenetrable. She didn’t like the feeling of confinement overcoming her, but she turned to Jaller, calm and collected. Neither torch nor lightstone illuminated the tunnel, and Jaller used his Arthron to guide them. The Toa of Fire was only visible by the glow of his eyes, but somehow her hand found his, and she let him lead the way. While he concentrated on his mask power for ‘sight’, Hahli relied on her other senses to keep alert. As the Toa of Water walked blindly, her thoughts drifted to her hearing, and she listened to their footsteps. Though they walked quietly, their armored feet resounded far down the tunnel, giving her the slightest idea on how large the tunnel was. Something was not right about the way they echoed, and Hahli listened more intently, the nerves on her neck suddenly sensitive. Jaller squeezed his partner’s hand as he felt her pace pick up, but she did not reciprocate while she concentrated. Something was not right about the way their footsteps echoed, but she could not discern exactly what it was. There was the pair of footsteps coming back to them, but something was off about the way they sounded. Hahli suddenly realized what it was as she stopped, her hand jerking Jaller and bringing him to a stop as well. But the sound of footsteps kept resounding behind them, and Hahli’s worries were confirmed. There was a third person in the tunnel with them. She whirled, slashing her tri-claw at the darkness. “Who is there?” she cried, her question repeating itself down the tunnel. Jaller directed his Arthron behind them, ‘listening’ for any response, but the footsteps had stopped. After a few eternal moments of silence, they continued onward again. Hahli continued to listen, but all she heard was two pairs of footsteps. The shadows seemed to soften, but it took Hahli a while to realize she could see again. She and Jaller walked through shafts of grey light now, a soft glow coming from somewhere ahead to dispel the shadows. Hahli glanced over her shoulder to see a wall of absolute black, and looked forward again. Yes, there definitely was a difference now, not just her imagination playing tricks on her. Jaller slowed to a stop, putting a hand on her shoulder to caution the fellow Toa. “There's movement up ahead", he told her, his voice troubled, "but I can't discern any details. Be prepared for anything.” Hahli nodded, and cocking their Cordak blasters, they slowly advanced. Their path narrowed into a catwalk that wound around a chamber, where an assembly of machinery criss crossed into an elaborate factory line. Lightstones mounted high above cast a cerulean glow on a series of eerily still conveyor belts, mechanical arms paused over the shells of Rahi resting on them. A few Vortixx wantered the machinery, hauling boxes of pieces to another room. The Toa looked at each other as they glimpsed the Rahi there, as well as a ladder that would take them to the floor. As quietly as they could manage, they snuck down the ladder, keeping hidden from the Vortixx as best as they could. On the belts the Rahi lay still and dark, devoid of any sign of life. Gone was any organic tissue that had been inside of their frames, the beasts appearing as haunted skeletons of what they once were. The eye of one Muaka tiger was dark, gazing blankly into the strange facility but not seeing the doom that it brought the beholder. As the two Toa walked further along the belts, they stuck to the shadows, precariously trying to keep hidden from the Vortixx workers. The two looked further along to see more Rahi, dozens of species and samples in various stages of disassembly. One belt contained multiple Rahi with their limbs detached— A Nivhawk with its wings removed, a Phase dragon with its limbs disconnected from its torso— whereas another belt had a Nui-Jaga completely taken apart, each piece laid out in a frighteningly precise manner. Following the belts led them to a hefty workbench in the middle of the factory, the stools surrounding it strewn about as though they were thrown in frustration. Scrolls and tablets were scattered along the tabletop, which the Toa began to sift through, until Jaller pulled up one of a diagram of the robot that had housed the Matoran universe. Some of the writing was Agori, but it was the few notes on it in Matoran that the Toa of Fire did not understand. Setting that scroll down, he dug through the pile he had plucked that one from. Hahli took that tablet as Jaller sifted more, reading notes about the giant robot, which from the context had to have been written by the Great Beings. There were some notations of Mata Nui and his mission, as well as the reformation of Spherus Magna, but it did not stop there; something that trailed off into Agori about the shutdown of the Mata Nui intelligence system, as well as reorganization of the materials within the robot… Hahli took a hard swallow as she looked around the factory, and then back at the text. “What is this place?” she asked aloud. “The place of our beginning… as well as our end.” The Toa looked up, the voice coming from the other side of the workbench. Barely peeking over the surface, a Matoran grinned at them. He hobbled his way around to Hahli, smiling as he took the scroll from her. The two Toa looked at him, mouths agape with shock. They had forgotten about him, in their wild journey though Voya Nui and Mahri Nui, and the mask he now wore was one from the hide of the Kanohi Dragon. One of his arms seemed new… and they realized in horror that it was the arm of Vohon, hastily latched onto his shoulder blade. The body was familiar, but the sound of his voice instantly sent them back to their time as confused Matoran in a twisted world. The Matoran whom had helped them escape the realm of Karzahni stood before them, staring wide eyed and cheery in this dark and mysterious factory. “You?” Jaller asked. “What are you doing here?” “A lot of people… forget,” the Matoran giggled. “But I… I remembered. You’ve forgotten me in your adventures, Metruan. But I forgive you, just as the Great Spirit forgave his playthings.” “Playthings?” Hahli asked nervously. She and Jaller looked at each other, and then to this decrepit Matoran. They were the able bodied ones, but somehow she felt this Matoran was the one with more power right now. “The Vortixx, the Skakdi, those who weren’t Matoran…” He answered, nodding. “All… playthings. And the Rahi too!” He gestured to the cluttered workbench. “While we worked, the Great Spirit, he played. But he never cleaned up. That was our job. My job.” Jaller shook his head. He was not following. “What is this place?” “It is my factory,” he replied. Hahli raised her eyebrows. This Matoran, own or be in charge of a factory? As incredulous as it sounded, it made sense to her worried mind. “It’s where the first of us was built by the Great Beings, and where the last of us will be taken apart.” “Taken apart… like the Rahi?” Jaller asked. “Exactly like the Rahi!” the Matoran said, excited his guests were starting to follow. “We were never meant to be here this long, it’s a wonder we’ve lasted in Paradise for the time that we have. The Great Beings never had a clue things would stray so far from the way they were supposed to.” “So you’re the one taking apart the Rahi?” Jaller demanded. “No… I am.” The two whirled at the sound of the raspy voice behind them, weapons drawn at a Vortixx they had thought snuck up on them. With a chuckle, however, the figure stepped into the faint light, revealing himself to be anything but one of the denizens working the factory. The Toa Mahri gasped. Strange silver additions to the being’s upper body gave an awkward bulkiness to him. He bore wicked looking claws, his left hand hidden by a shield strapped to his forearm. An orange glow seeped from under all of the armor, that, to which Hahli and Jaller could only assume were his bones given some sort of translucence. The being’s body looked almost unfamiliar, almost like a Vortixx, but the mask… there was no mistaking the Kanohi Volitak, or the sad smile that he looked at the two with. “Nuparu?” Hahli asked, almost hoping the being in front of her gave a different name. But the nod that he gave made her heart plummet. “What are you doing here?” “I think I know the answer but I don’t think we’ll like it,” Jaller grumbled. “Now I know I saw you, when I first came check on the Dragon. I wasn’t sure at first. Nuparu, are you working with the Vortixx to take apart the Rahi?” “It’s more along the lines of they are working with us,” the Toa of Earth grinned. “Explain yourself,” Hahli demanded. “It’s for the next step in the Great Being’s plan,” Nuparu quietly answered. “You’ve read some of these scrolls. All of the Great Beings’…research.” “Most of what we think of them is our own delusional myth, did you know that?” the Matoran chimed. And it looks like some of us are more delusional than others, Jaller thought, hand tight on his power sword. “Mata Nui was never meant for anything more than reuniting the planet,” Nuparu continued. “Once Spherus Magna was fixed, the robot was supposed to return to the Valley of the Maze and be shut down, and then be taken apart for uses in further projects they had in mind. Building the robot took up so much of the planet’s resources— and they were going to build TWO!— that they wanted to try and fully restore the planet.” “So were we supposed to be dismantled with the robot?” Hahli asked, incredulous at what she was hearing. “None of this was ever supposed to be integrated into Spherus Magna in this form,” he confirmed, a slightly apologetic tone in his voice. “The Great Beings just thought it was too dangerous.” “See, we’re all scheduled to be ‘disassembled’,” the Matoran said. Hahli shook her head. “Nuparu, how can you be behind this? How can you stand with this Matoran?” “I once saw a Spherus Magnan animal hunting in the desert,” he recalled. “It had come upon a recently deceased carcass of another animal, killed by some other predator but left otherwise untouched. The animal ate the spoils it found. But it later was hungry. It went and found another carcass, but the result was the same. The animal eventually died of starvation. When I looked at it, the animal had eaten the food, but there was no nutrition in it. “I know, it seems trivial, but it stuck with me. The sound of that animal dying of malnutrition, it seemed wrong. It seemed cheated.” “I’d gone wandering,” the Matoran said, sitting on top of the workbench and swinging his twisted leg. “And stumbled upon all of this. Nuparu eventually found me, and together we came and made this operation.” “It all seemed logical. I would take apart Rahi, figure out how we biomechs absorbed food. Because I wanted to figure out something.” He shook his head. “But there’s no so
  9. Hi all! First attempt at fanfiction, inspired by a discussion about the ridiculousness of the Kanohi Faxon. It got me thinking about creative ways one could annoy people using the mask- and what might happen to Jaller if he and Hahli ever had a massive argument. Basically it takes the good old "wife makes husband sleep on couch" cliche in a new direction. A bit fluffy, a bit cracky, and definitely shippy (Jaller x Hahli or Jaller x Hahli x Takanuva, depending on your interpretation)- I thought the style was more like a short story, though it could easily qualify as a comedy, so please move if appropriate. The idea was for a silly fic that was still mostly consistent with the canon "rules". Enjoy! The Argument For the third evening in a row, Toa Jaller was regretting not being a bit more discerning when he bought the furniture for his home in New Atero. Not that there had been much to choose from at the time- Bara Magna’s furniture industry hadn’t exactly been thriving since the Shattering… But if he’d waited a few more weeks for the Matoran to get settled back into crafting, he could have got something much nicer than the battered, threadbare brown couch he was currently stretched out on. It was probably well over a thousand years old, and parts of it had clearly been scavenged for other uses at some point. Something metallic was jabbing him in the back. He rolled over and shoved the wayward spring back down where it belonged. Jaller wasn’t fussy about couches. It wasn’t as though Toa spent much time sitting down anyway, he’d reasoned. And he certainly hadn’t considered the possibility that somebody might need to sleep on it at some point. Or that the “somebody” might be him. Now, beds- beds were a different story. He’d been very particular about the bed. Toa need to sleep properly when the lives of others are in their hands. Perhaps they’d gone a bit overboard with the bed. It was large and strong enough to withstand a bellyflop from a Toa Kaita (which he knew from experience- the Agori furniture salesman had nearly fainted at the sight), and the mattress was very comfortable. It was a great bed. Too bad he wasn’t currently allowed to use it. It was still light outside. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to sleep for several hours, regardless of how much he might want to. Toa really only needed to sleep every few days- they could go for about a week without if they had to- but he’d been helping build the new Great Furnace in Ta-Atero. His muscles ached, and he knew his ability to focus had been compromised. But it wasn’t just the horrible couch or the aches and pains keeping him awake. Takanuva had disappeared off to Bota Magna as part of an expedition led by Onua Nuva over three weeks ago and hadn’t come back- Jaller and Hahli had been out on another mission when Takanuva was unexpectedly recruited, so they hadn’t even been able to say goodbye. And as often as he told himself the Toa of light would be okay, his hope was fading by the day. He was starting to plan a search party of his own, but had no idea where to start looking. And then there was the whole mess between him and Hahli, which showed no signs of being – Click. Jaller sat bolt upright . Click. Rattle. Click click. Yes, that was definitely the sound of a key in the front door. “Hello? Anyone home?” called a familiar voice. Jaller leapt to his feet and ran down the hall. He was startled to see a mottled green figure hunched under a heavy pack trudge through the door, but relaxed upon seeing the familiar shape of the Kanohi Avokhii as the figure discarded his backpack and stood up straight. “Jaller!” cried Takanuva, flinging his arms around the Toa of Fire. “How are you?” “Tired, but a bit better now.” said Jaller vaguely, “More importantly, how are you?” “Good! Yeah, really good! I was-” “Oh? Are you sure? You’re looking a bit… green.” The pun would normally be well beneath Jaller’s dignity, but he was tired, and Takanuva was back, so it didn’t really matter. “Hm? Oh, yeah, the camouflage!” He switched back to his normal white and gold colouration, revealing a thick layer of mud and grime crusting his armour. “Uh… I guess I should get Hahli to squirt me down before I get any further…” “Don’t worry about that,” said Jaller a little too quickly, then had an idea. “Hold still”. He touched one of the dirty patches on Takanuva’s shoulder armour, causing only the surface to heat up without affecting the organic tissue beneath. The muck dried up into a brittle coating that flaked away easily. “You should get Nuparu to make a machine that does that,” said Takanuva, looking impressed as Jaller worked at the rest of his armour. “Water-free bathtimes! He’d make a killing with the Le-Matoran market.” “You’ll still need a bath later,” said Jaller with a sniff. “You’ve still got that boggy smell, but at least you won’t make the whole house look like a swamp-There,” he said when he had finished, handing Takanuva a brush. “Go dust yourself off outside.” Takanuva obliged. Jaller got a cloth and started wiping up the muddy footprints. He wondered how he was going to explain about Hahli… A few minutes later, Takanuva had flopped down on the couch, and Jaller was hearing tales of laser-powered lizards, plant people, and awkward rescues. “So you found him?” “Lewa? Yeah! He was sort of being held prisoner by a tribe of Agori, but he’d sort of made friends with them, so he was sort of happy that we rescued him, but… well, it’s complicated, apparently. Anyway, he made sure Onua didn’t beat anyone up too badly, so I think it went well. He promised them he’d come back to visit now and then.” “And what if they kidnap him again?” “Then at least we’ll know where to find him. Besides, I think they’re all too scared of Onua to try that.” Takanuva chuckled. “So, is Hahli not home?” “Not sure, might have to check,” lied Jaller. “Want some tea?” “Oh, yeah, that’d be great- I can make it if you like-” He moved to rise. Jaller dismissed his offer with a wave. “Faster if I do it.” he said, and then left for the kitchen. Jalle waved his hand over the dry wood in the stove, causing flames to instantly spring up. He filled a pot and hung it over the fire to boil. He could have snapped his fingers and boiled it immediately, but it never seemed to taste quite the same when he did that. Besides, he needed to do a quick detour before getting back to Takanuva. Jaller trudged down the hall, arrived at the bedroom door and thumped loudly on it three times with his fist. “Takanuva’s back, if you felt like being sociable,” he called gruffly to the room’s occupant. There was no response. Well, he supposed that was to be expected given how the last few days had been. He returned to the living room with two mugs of tea, setting them down on the table in front of Takanuva. The Toa of Light looked uncharacteristically serious. “Did… something happen between you and Hahli?” asked Takanuva. Jaller froze. His silence was as good as a “yes” as far as Takanuva was concerned. “How do you mean?” said Jaller warily. Takanuva gestured to the blanket and pillow crumpled in a pile on the couch next to him. “You’ve been sleeping in here,” he observed. “Long story,” muttered Jaller. “Short version?” Jaller sighed. “I’m sleeping in the living room because my bed has been hijacked by a giant blue Muaka.” he said finally. “You don’t need to be sarcastic.” “I’m not.” There was a pause. Takanuva’s eyes widened as he processed this information. “You mean there really is a Muaka?” “Yes.” “On the bed.” “Yes.” “A real Muaka?” “No.” A look of confusion crossed the Toa of Light’s face, but Jaller offered no further explanation. “Can I see it?” asked Takanuva after a few seconds’ silence. “Go ahead. Maybe you can talk some sense into her. Wouldn’t advise getting too close, though.” While Takanuva somewhat doubted his ability to “talk some sense” into large, carnivorous wild animals, his curiosity once again triumphed over his self preservation instincts. Forgetting about the tea, he jumped to his feet and made his way down the hall. Cautiously, he opened the bedroom door and peered inside. Yes, there was indeed a large, feline Rahi curled up on the bed, eyes closed, its massive head resting lazily upon its forelimbs. And yes, it did look like a Muaka, more or less… but there were a few odd features that stood out. Like the presence of two powerful, clawed hind legs in place of treads. And the colouring was all wrong. Muaka were yellow and black- this one was mostly deep blue, with occasional patches of lime green. But most peculiar of all was the pair of little silver fins- tiny and delicate in comparison to the rest of the beast- protruding ridiculously from the creature’s broad, muscular back. Takanuva wondered at first how it could have possibly got in there- it was too big to fit through the Toa-sized doorway, or any of the windows for that matter. His attention was suddenly drawn back to the strange creature’s fins- bizarre and out of place, and yet oddly familiar. His eyes widened in horror as he suddenly recognised the silver appendages- and the creature they belonged to. “H-Hahli?” he choked. The feline Toa of Water opened one amber eye and gave a soft grunt of acknowledgement before getting back to her nap. “What happened-?” Takanuva started, cautiously moving towards her. “Somebody figured out she could borrow the Krahka’s shapeshifting power using the Faxon, and decided to exploit it for the purpose of throwing a tantrum, that’s what happened,” said Jaller bluntly. Takanuva’s horrified expression instantly dissolved into a massive grin. Partly out of relief that Hahli hadn’t had an overdose of Hordika venom or lost a fight with Roodaka in his absence, and partly at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. Any delusions he’d had about Toa being unfailingly wise, majestic beings untroubled by petty concerns had been dispelled long ago (well, within a few days of first meeting Tahu, actually). He’d seen a variety of Toa sulks, tantrums and hissy-fits over the years- but this… this took sulking to a new level. He had to give points for Hahli’s ingenuity. Although, he supposed, her approach was much safer that angrily throwing fireballs around, at least. “I can’t leave you two alone for a minute, can I?” said Takanuva, shaking his head. “You’re one to talk,” Jaller snapped. Takanuva whirled around, surprised at his tone. Jaller composed himself and elaborated. “We were out for less than a day, and came back to find you’d trotted off to Bota Magna to go frolicking through the forest with the laser lizards for Mata-Nui-know-how-long, and we didn’t see you again for three weeks! What do you call that?” “Is that your way of saying that you missed me?” said Takanuva innocently. Jaller still looked stern. “Besides, that wasn’t my idea… for once… and Lewa sort of needed rescuing. Y’know how you’re always going on about that duty thing I’m supposed to do?” “Mmhm… fair enough…” Jaller murmured vaguely. “Just… just don’t take off like that again anytime soon ‘kay?” It was then that Takanuva realised how Jaller must have worried about him, and how much it had drained the Toa of Fire, though he’d never admit it outright. He put a reassuring arm around Jaller’s shoulder, and the two gazed at the Muaka-shaped Toa occupying the bed. Takanuva noticed that the Kanohi Faxon was now attached to Hahli’s cheek, like he had seen on some of Makuta’s infected creatures. “So,” he said to Jaller, “If you pulled her mask off right now, do you think she’d change back? Or would she be stuck like that?” “I’d be in even more trouble either way, so I can’t say I really care to find out,” said Jaller flatly, looking at the wicked talons on Hahli’s forepaws. “You can try… if you don’t particularly value your life.” Takanuva chuckled, and released Jaller. “Oh, no, I’m not taking sides in this one- ‘specially since you haven’t even told me what you two are fighting about.” A grunt from Jaller indicated that this was not about to change. “But I do want you to get some sleep, and… I want you two to get this sorted out… I don’t like to see you and Hahli fight,” he paused briefly as Hahli yawned and stretched out her forelegs. Her fins gave a comical little flap, and her head swayed from side to side, before she once again settled down, paws crossed, watching her fellow Toa intently. The Toa of light grinned again. “Even if it is ever-so-slightly hilarious.” “Oh, yes. Hysterical.” said Jaller curtly. He glared at the blue creature. “Well, Hahli, I’m glad you’ve found someone who thinks you’re funny. A rare and precious treasure indeed.” “Cheer up,” said Takanuva, nudging him. “I mean, it could be much worse, couldn’t it?” Jaller glowered at him. “She can use all the Kanoka powers of the Rahi Nui, remember?” The Toa of light continued. “Freezing… teleportation… shrinking… I mean, having to sleep on the couch might not be fun, but at least you’re not sleeping on the other side of the planet… Or in a matchbox.” Takanuva managed to keep a straight face for about half a second before the mental image caught up with him, and he burst out giggling. The blue Muaka gave a low, rumbling sound that might almost have been a chortle. A faint smile even tugged at Jaller’s lips, though there was a slight look of worry in his eyes. “Don’t give her ideas,” he told Takanuva, as if possibly ending up one inch tall and being used to light candles was a serious concern of his. Takanuva reasoned that regardless of her current appearance, if Hahli was in a good enough mood to laugh at his jokes, he was probably safe around her, so he plucked up the courage to get closer. “Hello Hahli,” he murmured, crouching down in front of the Muaka’s massive head. The Rahi-shaped Toa extended her neck forward, brushing her snout against Takanuva’s shoulder. “Yeah, I missed you too,” Takanuva told her, and then, resisting all of his body’s natural survival instincts, put his arm around the great feline’s neck. A growl of disgust from Jaller made Takanuva turn around. “I told you, Jaller, I’m not taking sides,” said the Toa of Light calmly. “Look, I don’t know exactly what happened between you two, and I realise it can’t have been good, but I still care about both of you, and that’s not going to change just because one of you has turned into a big, growling, surly sulk-monster and the other one has turned into a Muak- Aaaaah!” For while his back was turned, the beast of the bedroom had struck. A powerful foreleg had whipped around, seized the Toa of light by the waist, and in a split second he found himself sitting upright on the bed, held tight against the Muaka’s torso, like a plush doll being cuddled by a small Agori child. Hahli’s claws had never touched him- he was pinned down by the strength of the huge limb resting across his legs- powerful, but surprisingly light. The feline gave a low yowl at the Toa of Fire. Jaller thought it sounded suspiciously like the word “Mine.” He shook his head. “Great, now she’s started taking hostages.” “Little help here?” gasped Takanuva. Jaller just shrugged. “I did warn you not to get too close” he said, still having not quite forgiven Takanuva for the “sulk-monster” remark. He gave an exaggerated yawn. “Besides, as you know, I’m very tired right now, so if you two are all set up for the night, I think I should go have my nap. Good night.” “I don’t know why I bothered coming back to you jerks!” Takanuva called out as Jaller walked out the door. “I should have just stayed in Bota Magna with the laser-saurs!” And then, as an afterthought, “I didn’t even get to have my tea!” Resigning himself to his fate, Takanuva reached out and grabbed a pillow from the bedhead, stuffed it behind his shoulders, and tried to get comfortable against the wall of armour and muscle that Toa Hahli’s torso currently resembled. Hahli’s enormous head snaked around and nuzzled against his chest. “No, don’t start that, you horrible creature,” he muttered. But in spite of himself, he soon found his knuckles brushing gently against the Muaka’s forehead as he drifted off to sleep. --- Later in the night, Jaller, in spite of his intent on napping, was still wide awake. It hadn’t been fair on Takanuva for him to come back to this mess. Takanuva generally didn’t hang around awkward situations or difficult people very long. If they carried on like this, he’d be gone again before they knew it. And the fact that he was unable to tell Takanuva- of all people- what had happened- that was very telling. It sounded bad because it was. He knew it was his fault. And he had to fix it. He hauled himself off the couch and made his way towards the bedroom. “Hahli, ” he whispered. No response. Takanuva was in the same spot he’d been left in, curled up, fast asleep, but the feline was now stretched out on her back, all four limbs in the air. Jaller wondered how she’d got like that without waking Takanuva. “Hahli!” There was a high-pitched trilling noise, like Pewku used to make when woken, and the amber eyes cracked open. They regarded Jaller with a mixture of curiosity and annoyance. “I wanted to tell you I’m sorry,” he said. No response. “I am. And it’s okay if you can’t forgive me right away… but, I just wanted you to know that.” He pointed at Takanuva. “Just… don’t take it out on him, okay? We’re both being unreasonable idiots towards each other, and we’re gonna end up hurting him as well if we keep this up. But I know I started it all, so… just… don’t become a horrible person because of me, okay?” The Muaka sighed, and gave an upside-down nod. “Okay,” said Toa Hahli. Her voice was slightly growly, but still recognisable. Jaller was caught off guard by the talking Muaka- so much so that he didn’t see its head whip round to knock him to the side. “Oof!” This was followed up by a swipe of the paw, scooping him up onto her chest and pinning him there. “Still gonna be a horrible Rahi for a bit, though,” said the horrible Rahi, sighing with satisfaction at her most recent “prey”. Jaller sighed. At least they were on speaking terms now. The underbelly of the Muaka was mostly soft organic tissue, Jaller found, running a hand around it. Certainly softer than the couch, anyway. He might almost get a decent half a night’s sleep here... provided Hahli didn’t roll on him. The surface beneath his body began to buzz with a low growly sound. It caught him off guard at first, before he realised what it was. “Pretty sure Muaka don’t purr, Hahli,” he muttered sleepily. Within a few minutes, the purr was intermingled with his snores.
  10. Humanized Jaller and Hahli They're my (and a lot of people's) favorite couple, so why not? Here's a link to my original dA page for this picture. Thanks for looking!!
  11. I felt like re-drawing my Hahli from not too long ago, taking into consideration some advice given, I still can't draw hands, but oh well. Without further ado, here we go: Here's the original drawing:
  12. As many of you may remember, back in 2007 I started this BIONICLE-style High School Musical parody series, written in prose format. It was one of my personal favorite comedies, along with its half-finished sequel, though most of it was lost as a result of the Dataclysms. Unlike most of my other reposted Archive comedies, however, I do intend to finish/remake the rest of this one once I run out of saved chapters to repost, based on as much of the original as I can remember. Also, if any of the readers of the original GMSM comedies have ANY part of the originals cached/saved on their computers, please let me know! I'll take any help I can get at attempting to restore this one in particular. So, let's begin again! This is a BIONICLEized spoof of 'High School Musical,' just in case you couldn't tell from the title. Krekka: I couldn't tell! ...Never mind. Anyway, to make things less confusing, these are the characters and their HSM counterparts: Troy=Jaller Gabriella=Hahli Chad=Takua Taylor=Nixie Sharpay=Roodaka Ryan=Krekka Coach Bolton=Tahu Gabriella's Mom (I don't know her name)=Gali Piano Girl=Macku Mrs. Darbus=Nokama Zeke=Sidorak IN A RANDOM KNOWLEDGE TOWER IN KO-METRU... Jaller took his kohlii stick, faked to the left, took a shot at the goal--and missed completely. "Drat," he cursed. Toa Tahu, Jaller's father, laughed. "What have you been doing in practice, singing? Imagine that." This time, it was Jaller's turn to laugh. " " he emoticonned. "Just kidding!" He then scored a goal on the surprised Toa. "I see you've been practicing Sneakiness--the seventh ability, found in Makuta's lair in MNOG2," Tahu pointed out. Just then, Jaller's mother came in. "Did we really travel through THREE METRUS just to play more Kohlii?" she asked. Jaller and Tahu looked at each other. "Yes," they both replied. "That was a rhetorical question," pointed out Jaller's mother. "Oh. And by the way, you don't have to capitalize the 'k' in 'kohlii,' Jaller said. "Fine," she corrected. "'kohlii.' Is that better?" Tahu nodded. "You two are getting us way too off topic. Jaller, there's a Matoran's party on the roof. Why don't you go?" This made Tahu very upset. "Are you saying that you would deprive my son of kohlii for more than FIVE WHOLE SECONDS?!" he shouted. " :burnma--" he began emoticonning. "Don't you use that emoticon indoors!" scolded Jaller's nameless mother. Jaller took advantage of their arguing over use of the 'burnmad' emoticon to slip away to the rooftop party. * * * In another part of the same Knowledge Tower, Hahli was sitting, reading the Bionicle Encyclopedia. Toa Gali, her mother, walked over and picked up the book. "You can't read encyclopedias all day," she said. "But Mom," Hahli protested, "I'm reading about myself!" "Very nice," Gali sighed. "You should get up to the rooftop. There's a Matoran's party up there. Hahli stood up. "Can I at least bring my book?" "Fine. Besides, you never know--you might end up meeting a guy named Jaller, sing together on karaoke, find out you go to the same school, both sign up for the school musical, make some people named Krekka and Roodaka mad at you, and then get the part," she said. Hahli laughed. "Like that could ever happen." With that, she walked up to the roof. Next: The party, the singing, and Naming Day Eve! ~Lewa# Studios Lewa0111 Nuva
  13. A couple of drawings I've done over the last few months. Nokama Metru: Based this mainly on the Miramax version with some of my own ideas on Toa anatomy thrown in. Hahli Inika. I decided to make the max more of a mix of Kaukau and Elda rather than just the straight up Elda mask. I think it turned out okay, so...yeah. Well, thanks for viewing!
  14. The review topic for this epic can be found here. FADE IN 1 EXT. EXPANSIVE OCEAN- MIDDAY A roughly hewn dugout canoe plows past us, cutting through the water sharply. Two Ga-Matoran are rowing it: MAKU, a young, fast-talking, unyielding brunette with many a day spent rowing or fishing in deep water, and HAHLI, in her late twenties and very set in her opinions, who is prone to daydreaming and very talkative. Maku is clearly the faster of the two; she could easily move the entire canoe on her own, and she sits in the front. Hahli, seated behind Maku, struggles to row as quickly as her, wanting deeply to be able to show the world her adequacy against her friend. Her mood is beginning to affect the quality of her rowing, and she is now beginning to slow down with each passing second. HAHLI (Indignant) I just wanted to remind you that I’m rowing as fast as I can. Maku doesn’t pause or falter in her speed for a second, though she throws a passing glance to her partner. MAKU I know; you said that already. HAHLI (Witty) Well then, I hope that you’re keeping a record of my improvement each week. Maku ignores her entirely, and Hahli pauses for an instant, only to immediately start again afterwards. HAHLI (CONT'D) I’ll bet that I’m the fastest on the entire island by now; I could run the fastest ferry service going to and from Ga-Koro of anyone, since I’ve been practicing so much. MAKU Maybe so. You’re much faster than anyone in Ta-Koro, for example. But of course, they’re surfing on lava. The relief which was building inside Hahli drowns instantly, and she frowns as she responds. HAHLI Come on now, Maku; is something bothering you today? MAKU No! I just need you to put a little more effort into your lessons. This isn’t the time, nor the place for your wit. Ga-Koro is more defenseless at the moment than it has been in decades. 2 EXT. SAND BEACH- MIDDAY Maku steers the canoe to her left, angling it to the shore. It reaches a beach covered with bright orange sand, gleaming brilliantly in the sunlight. She steps out nimbly and promptly begins to pull it onto the luscious sands of the beach, which are coarse and dotted with small stones. Turning to Hahli, her face reflects the urgency and high stakes of their situation. MAKU A little help, please? Hahli grudgingly begins to help her friend. they both pull with all their strength to dock the canoe on the beach. MAKU (CONT'D) Until Nireta returns, we’re at one heck of a disadvantage against the Rahi. Learning how to row is the least that you can do. Maku gives Hahli a guilt-inducing look. HAHLI Can the other village militias- Maku steps out on to the beach, beginning to walk briskly in the direction of their village, which is about one mile away. Hahli follows her. MAKU The other militias are busy with their own villages. The best way to allow them to help out others, such as ours, is by giving them a chance to breath for a little while. HAHLI And JALA’s guard? Oh, what I’d give to see Jala again! MAKU (Annoyed) They’re just as busy as the rest, if not more so. HAHLI (Dreamy I still think that he’ll come back to aid us, if only to take me to a nicer place. Anywhere else on this island would be better than here, where the unyielding noise and commotion are constant reminders that we’ve been at war forever. MAKU Well, it’s no better in Ta-Koro. No better at all, especially since their guard has been spread so thin recently. Maku gives her friend a surprised look. MAKU (CONT’D) He can’t work miracles, you know. He’s just another man, just like everyone else; always trying to keep his village safe. Hahli stops walking, turning to face Maku directly. HAHLI I don’t think that he’s a “miracle worker”, but he’s certainly done some incredible things. It's been decades since any of the Koro have had a captain as talented as him; do you remember when he broke all of the records for advancement in the Ta-Koro guard? You just haven’t gotten a chance to know him yet, that’s all. Maku also ceases to walk. MAKU Oh yes? How do you know him? Did you hear a rumor, or watch a play about his life's story? Hahli shrugs off the comment entirely, beginning to sing. "OH JALA" HAHLI There’s nothing about this Jala guy That isn’t confidently presented. Even when the entire island is calm He’s poised for a sudden reaction. Why, even the briefest look in his eyes Hints at courage which only needs cause To run the gambit To save a damsel in distress When the slightest of threats Comes to knock on the door His business is all about safety. Oh Jala! Oh Jala! He’s never been- MAKU -Persuaded otherwise! HAHLI Oh Jala! Oh Jala! His list of deeds- MAKU Might be dramatized! HAHLI His men are the sharpest for miles around Only due to their captain of countless missions Nothing can keep that crew in town Save a certain captain’s premonitions. Oh Jala! Oh Jala! A winner! MAKU A loner! HAHLI Oh Jala! Oh Jala! A talker! MAKU A mocker! HAHLI There’s plenty to show for his reputation In many a rahi confrontation. He’s found and captured many a beast That would have surely convinced any other To back off and make safer camp. But not this Jala! With his military finesse Any creature he doesn’t want coming Seems to fall- MAKU -Head over heels with him. Right? HAHLI Oh Jala! Oh Jala! MAKU If you’d just let- HAHLI -Yourself see! Oh Jala! Oh Jala! He’s made just for me. Both Maku and Hahli cease to sing, and begin to walk once more in the direction of their village. MAKU Hahli, would you like a little advice from me? HAHLI I’m not so sure. Has your advice improved? MAKU Has yours? Listen; I’d stay a comfortable distance away from Jala. HAHLI How can you say that about someone who you've never met? MAKU I haven't, but my parents have. They met him during the last assembly at the Amaja-Nui. Nearing the village, the two are so deeply engrossed in their conversation that neither of them pay much attention to the smoldering, wrecked pieces of debris scattered on the beach. It is clear that the debris is composed of pieces of homes and other buildings belonging to a well-developed village; in this case, the town of GA-KORO, where Maku and Hahli are headed. A steady stream of smoke coming from the direction of the village begins to drift beside Hahli, gradually growing thicker as they near its remains. Maku and Hahli continue to discuss Jala, unaffected for the most part by the evidence of the destruction of their homes. MAKU (CONT'D) He organized a part of the meeting. Even though he talked plenty, he didn't seem to care about others. They said that he didn't mind how concerned or hopeful a person was about anything, that he only understood his own desires. Hahli turns her head curiously towards her friend. MAKU (CONT'D) Other people don't matter nearly as much to him as a promotion does. He hides his self-centered intentions behind a heroic facade. HAHLI All of this is coming from your parents, right? MAKU Well, they're not the most polite folks themselves, so you'd think that they wouldn't say something like that about someone else unless they really meant it. The amount of debris scattered on the beach continues to grow, as does the thickness of the smoke; however, neither of the two notice the signs of the calamity. HAHLI Even though it isn't in any of his biographies, and none of the Turaga have ever hinted at having opinions like that about him. You think that I should trust a second hand word? MAKU Isn't it all second hand words? And would you write a biography or give a public speech saying that he was selfish and uncaring? Hahli throws a long look to her friend; she subtly indicates her dubious appreciation of this surprising new information. HAHLI Regardless, I'd like to meet- A surprised stare from Maku hits Hahli hard, though it doesn't startle her. HAHLI (CONT'D) The captain of the guard myself. The two have reached the gates of Ga-Koro, though they don't resemble those of the town which they left that morning. Ripped apart and smoking, they lie crumbling at the feet of Maku and Hahli. Beyond the gates, the village itself is even more damaged. MAKU By Mata Nui... I had a bad feeling about today, but this is just insane. You can listen to the song "Oh Jala", featured in this chapter, here:
  15. So m8s, I finally made a new FAZE klan image. if 2edgy4u don't look!
  16. Here is my interpretation of THIS SCENE in the Mask of Light movie. I love making my own interpretations of characters! I originally posted this on Deviantart and Tumblr but there's not a whole lot of Bionicle fans there, so I thought I would share it with you all! I tried to incorporate each character's original design, mask and colors. I always pictured Jaller as having dirty blonde hair. He keeps it short because it's a requirement in Ta-Koro's guard. His necklace has the fire emblem and his shoulder armor has the Unity, Duty, Destiny symbol. For Hahli, I wanted to incorporate the greenery of Ga-Koro into her outfit. Here she is wearing a traditional Ga-Matoran dress because she is proudly representing Ga-Koro in the Kohlii tournament in Ta-Koro. Her face paint and high cheekbones resemble her Kanohi mask, and the designs on her dress are similar to the ones on the gate at Ga-Koro's entrance. I always pictured her as petite and spunky with choppy hair, with dark skin like a Pacific Islander. I really like how Vakama's design turned out. He's not your typical wise old guru. I feel like he was always the Turaga who you could always immediately sense that he went on many adventures in life, hence the beard and stylish ponytail. And lastly, Takua, my favorite! I'll have to do more of him! I wanted to make him look young and adventurous, with crazy wild hair! This is also on Deviantart and Tumblr!
  17. So, just a few confusion I've had for a while, regarding Takanuva's actions in MoL (maybe not the book, I haven't read it). In the film, Takanuva goes to confront Teridax in his lair, and, since none but the Turaga knew about Metru Nui, his only motive would have been to stop Makuta from doing all the evil and destructive things he had been doing, with an extra stake of avenging Jaller's death, plus he probably would have assumed that beating Makuta was part of his destiny. Now, maybe he was initially confident that he could beat Teridax, although it seems crazy he would want to take on a Makuta that the 6 Toa Mata could not collectively handle so soon after becoming a Toa. So, first question: 1. How much time did Takanuva/Takua wait before going to face Teridax? The film makes it seem like he went to Mangaia within like a day after becoming Takanuva, but this seems crazy to me considering that it took the Toa Metru so long to really master their new forms and powers. Sure, he would have had the Turaga and Nuva to train him up, but there's no evidence of this in the film. It'd be like going to face a game's final boss without completing the tutorial level! Now, granted, he is a Toa of Light, and so his powers are very effective against Shadow, but I understand that Shadow is likewise very effective against Light? So if the Mata/Nuva's non-opposite powers made made the fight like a fist fight, where you can usually hit your opponent a good few times before they go down, wouldn't Takanuva and Teridax's 'opposite' powers make the fight into more of a knife fight, were one good blow can mean game over for either side? I get that Takanuva is basically an anti-Makuta weapon, but surely Makuta are also anti-Takanuva weapons. It would have just heightened the stakes. I get that Makuta in general would be pretty scared that you have a new player on the field = that can basically use a metaphorical knife against them, and someone like Teridax would be much for defensive as a result, but Takanuva's Light powers were still Toa-level, and a Makuta's Elemental Shadow powers always seemed to be on a higher tier than a Toa of Shadow would be. So: 2. Why would the Brotherhood of the Makuta be particularly scared of a single Toa of Light? Really, the Makuta should, in my mind, still win in a one vs. one like 3 times out of 4, so I don't see why Takanuva was so terrifying for them in general as just one guy. Can someone justify it for me in other terms? Considering all of the above, and just general common sense considering a Makuta is a serious threat to anyone (let alone Takanuva): 3. Why the Karz did Takanuva think it was a good idea to summon ALL the Matoran into Maktua's Lair?! What if he had lost the fight? Makuta would have had the Matoran right there! Sure the Toa Nuva would have probably been fighting a battered Teridax and thus won, but it seems so irresponsible of Takanuva to risk things like that. Surely, if he was so keen to fight Makuta alone, but was still worried that he might lose, it would have more sense for him to have the Nuva on standby to finish Teridax off? Even if Teridax's plan required Takanuva to be alive for later, there was no way for Takanuva to know that. It seems like it was just a lazy way to force the Matoran to return to Metru Nui, but since Takanuva wouldn't have known about Metru Nui, I cannot think of a single good reason to get Hahli to summon the Matoran.
  18. The script for Mysterious Island, the musical film which I've been working on re-telling the 2001 story, is well underway, and I've put together these two songs together for your viewing pleasure. One of them, He is Makuta, fits in the part of the script that this sneak preview features, and the other, Oh Jala, is the first in the script, being sung in the second scene of the film. Please enjoy the songs. Also, please give feedback on one or both of the songs if you have the time; I'd appreciate any tips to help to make Mysterious Island better. As a small side note, you can expect the first chapter of the script to be online in the short stories forum on this site by this next Saturday night.
  19. Hello. I revamped Hahli. Inika Hahli. That horrid set from 2006. I like how it turned out. ~LINK~
  20. I have tried for years and I still cant figure it out! What are you supposed to do? I know how to play kohlii but i don't get the game! I just keep clicking for the ball and they ALWAYS BEAT ME! And my goalie just does whatever it wants!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!
  21. Thought to myself "YES, Magical Girl Bionicle! Gonna make this happen". So here we have it. Gali, Hahli and Macku as the Charming Mahou Ga-Magi. Because why not. All the dresses are based on various Magical Girl designs. Challenge you to figure out all of them. In black and white (or… blue and white) because it’s really hard to think of any pastel colours that fits for blue people. Also a bonus sketch of our heroines carrying the men (and Tahu): This sketch took longer than I'm willing to admit, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit I started to really hate drawing this at the end. Will be adding more when I feel like it.
  22. The Water Stays the Same Something captivates me about how the river flows, never being in the same place at once. It’s frustrating, almost, watching it pour from one place to another, and this bank is merely somewhere in the between. I keep watching the water pass, wondering how many times I have to see the same rolling current, as my eyes ache to follow the stream around the bend; but I am stuck on this shore, unable to continue with it to the easy ending as the river meets its end, relaxing into some sunlit horizon on the ocean. My mind wants to follow toward that peace, but my body cannot bring itself to swim with those currents. Picking my head out of my hands, I skip a rock across the water and watch it sink, unable to follow the flow. In an attempt to move my thoughts along, the idea boomerangs back, as if the water is a restraining net even my talons cannot cut through, not the auspicious flowing liquid that I am peering at. Slouching further into the sand, I sigh. The desire to surrender is great, but if I fall asleep, the debacle will still be there when I awake. I could be out here forever, contemplating how to move on with my life. Everyone else has moved on from the past, but why can’t I? Though I look at it from different directions, the face of it never changes; those adventures were exactly what I was looking for in my daily life, and after finally amounting to something more than the pleasurable small moments, it just felt over. I thought in the beginning that being a Toa meant making journeys only to return to my home, but after that home was moved, I feel simply misplaced. They say that one day you’ll wake up in a better place, a better time, but I wished to simply relive the happy days of this past millennia. Maybe it is so I can relive this scene again, and know the answers, just like Gali and the others did. It was all memorable, but I need to make new memories. I wonder if I could pick myself up out of the sand and be the old Hahli; that sea maiden who believed in the virtues that incorporated themselves into daily life, not mottos that have to be forced. It could be that they are an umbrella, and they’ll reveal themselves again in time, but what if I am straining to see something that simply isn’t there? This Faxon makes me ashamed. It is a constant reminder now of unity, whereas in the good old days it was within me... I miss my old Mask of Detection sometimes- it helped me lead into what I am now, perhaps it could lead me back to what I was, and help me find what I have forgotten. I remember Jaller after the Bohrok invasion ceased, so eager to report to Vakama, but he stayed. Our unity was implied in those days, and not emphasized, not something that hindered us from beating the bad guy. Is this mask a sick joke then, that our unity is not what it was? The visor is clear, but I keep seeing all of these memories of our time on Mata Nui. To be able to put these memories away would be such sustenance. I simply want to leave this bulky, troubled figure that is myself to float away on the current, and stand tall as that Ga-Matoran once more. How long I have been here, I do not know- not even the sun marks the passage of time on this part of the River Dormus. The water does not change, and maybe it is somehow the same water that sat in Ga-Wahi, that I swam through in the Pit. Nothing about it has changed, and it was the same face underneath different masks that swam through it each time, so why should I differ? I suppose, thinking to identify a little more with those molecules. Or maybe I’ve been a Toa forever and nothing existed before this river, memories of being a Matoran existing only in my imagination. If they are though, and all that exists is now, then maybe I can be whoever I want to be. Glancing around, I see I sit in the shade of a tree, even though the deep shadow on the ground could just as easily be my own. I didn’t sit in nostalgia and shadows on Mata Nui- I became myself by doing, not pondering. These self restraints are nothing but an illusion then; shaking my hands of the imaginary ropes, feeling a breeze roll across them, I smile, almost like I did in the before time. Standing, anxiousness flutters in my chest as my legs familiarize myself with the weight of the rest of myself, as if for the first time. I shake off the fuzzy feeling of sleeping limbs, and walk along a bit. My eyes follow the river as before, but though they strain to follow the flow, my feet respond, slowly walking around the bend, with the same curiosity of the eyes of a Matoran.
  23. There once was a matoran with yellow hands, yellow feet and a yellow mask. Yes, yellow appeared to be his signature color. This matoran loved many things, but the thing he loved most was the thrill of surfing. The wind in his face, the heat of fire rushing over his body and the speed, oh the speed! How he loved it all.He turned his board sharply to the left as the next wave approached. Moving with the flow of the surf, he began to accelerate. The only thought in this matoran’s head was speed. Yes, he had to move faster, faster.Soon the matoran was a mere blur to the world and the world was a spectacular blur to the matoran so much so that he could no longer see clearly. It was in this carelessness that the matoran fell with a grim splash.---Cough. Cough. Wheeze.“Easy there, fire-spitter. You may be fast, but not even you can breathe water like Toa Gali.”Jaller tried to clear his eyes of the sea-water and looked toward Naho bay. His companion was not ten feet from him bobbing on a surfboard and her voice was all too familiar.“Haha, you’re one to talk, Hahli. Last I checked you’ve had quite a few wipe-outs yourself.” Jaller raised a brow at the ga-matoran.“None that were anywhere near as fantastic as your grand display just now, oh great Captain of the Guard.” She stuck her tongue out, a soft irreverence in her tone.To that, Jaller was a little unnerved. He took his position in Ta-Koro very seriously. However, the ta-matoran was not currently in his home; he was with his friend on a peaceful day. Here and now he was lax and at-ease. That meant there was only one way to deal with such a comment.Jaller quickly spun his arm over the surface of the water, creating a decent-sized wave in the ga-matoran’s direction. After his magnificent spin, Jaller looked back to find his target had left; all that remained was a board floating aimlessly in the water.His eyes darted back and forth as he tried to look beneath the waves. He couldn’t make anything out. The feeling of loneliness was beginning to vibrate in his chest; it began making him uneasy with each passing minute.Was she in trouble? Could she actually breathe water? Perhaps she had fled on a Takea shark? His eyes darted everywhere in vain.Somehow, he gained the courage to speak,“…. Hahli?”Suddenly something pulled him beneath the waves.---A sharp sting burst through the matoran’s side. It was followed by another sting in his shoulder and one on his leg. The pain was immense, yet it had to be endured at all costs.Faster… I need to move faster. The thought was the only hope the matoran had to forget his pain. A dark buzzing filled the air with the sound of impending doom as he ducked and turned and even jumped over the lava. The distance he had covered from his home was great indeed. He knew his duty; he had to keep moving. Yes, keep moving…A blur of lava was the last sight the matoran would realize.---Two matoran dragged themselves to the shore of Mata Nui.“That was a cheap shot; pulling me underwater like that.” Jaller chided.“Oh, lighten up. It’s not my fault you can’t see underwater.” Hahli tapped her Kaukau. Its visor came in handy for Hahli. She loved to swim and she could hold her breath for quite some time.The sun was setting on the beach as Jaller and Hahli collapsed, exhausted.“You know, you’re normally not that reckless. What came over you today?” The blue matoran looked to her friend with a cheeky smile. She was glad to see Jaller relaxing for a change. As the Captain of the guard he always seemed to be serious.“… Well, today just seemed too good to waste…” Jaller looked off into the distance almost in a trance. A dark cloud loomed over his head as he spoke.“Hmm? … Jaller… What’s on your mind?” Hahli’s eyes grew concerned.Jaller wasn’t sure what to say at this point. How could he explain…?An old tale slowly faded into his mind.“Hahli, have you ever heard of a matoran named Lhii?” The words he spoke sounded mournful and grey.“Lhii? I can’t say I have.” Hahli looked down at the sand. Actually, she could have sworn she had heard the name before in passing. It never really struck her as a name she ought to remember until now.“Lhi was a ta-matoran. He was the Captain of the Guard before me. There are many stories of him in Ta-koro. He was a legend; he could surf through lava like it was water! Turaga Vakama said he would be second only to Tahu even today.” Jaller spoke with a mixed sense of pride and wistfulness.“What happened to him?”Jaller mutter a short word that was nearly inaudible.“…What?”“Hoto. There was a swarm of hoto plaguing Ta-Koro. According to Turaga Vakama, Lhii managed to find the swarm’s queen. He picked it up with a kohli stick and attempted to lure the swarm out of the village through the lava. Lhii managed to save the village, but the swarm was too much for him, and he… fell…” Jaller’s words had a certain rising and falling as he spoke.“… Wow… I never knew there was a matoran like that on Mata Nui.” Hahli shared Jaller’s mood as they both looked up towards a falling sun and a red star emerging from the fleeting light.“… I’ve got some big shoes to fill, Hahli…”Hahli gave a soft smile and rested a hand on his shoulder. It felt so soft and gentle in its reassurance.“We all do.”---------Whew. Lots of thought went into this one. So, yeah, a bit of a different angle from what I was generally seeing with this concept. Most stories I read and skimmed dealt with Vakama personally telling one of Lhii's tales. Well, I thought it would be refreshing to see Lhii's influence on the matoran of Mata Nui instead. Who better to focus on than the matoran who wears Lhii's (Lhikan's) mask?I actually kinda hate my entry because I had to shorten it so much. I started out wanting to do something really short, but it proved rather difficult with this one. Curse my ability to ramble! So, yeah, this one has a word count of 984 as opposed to my entry with a word count of 600. This one is better in my opinion.Hope you guys enjoy it! ^^
  24. Remember the 2006 Flash Animations that were somwhere between CGI and MNOLG animation? The ones with little games you could play? Well, I took a few screenshots, particularly of the Inika, and made banners out of them. I'm working on avatars as we speak.and might make more banners from other animations.Jaller: [url="http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937"]http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/FlashJaller.jpg[/img][/url]Hahli:[url="http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937"][img=http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/Flashhahli.jpg][/url]Kongu:[url="http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937"]http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/Flashkongu-1.jpg[/img][/url]Matoro:[url="http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937"]http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/FlashMatoro.jpg[/img][/url]Hewkii:[url="http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937"]http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/Flashhewkii.jpg[/img][/url]Nuparu:[url="http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937"]http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/Flashnuparu.jpg[/img][/url]Group pictures:[url="http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937"][img=http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/FlashInika.jpg][/url][url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937][img=http://s1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/?action=view&current=Inikafire.jpg][/url][url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937][img=http://s1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/?action=view&current=Flashinikavictory.jpg][/url][url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937][img=http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/Flashinikavspiraka.jpg][/url]Piraka:[url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937][img=http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/Flashzaktan.jpg][/url][url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937][img=http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/FlashHakann.jpg][/url][url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937][img=http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/FlashVezok.jpg][/url][url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937][img=http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/FlashThok.jpg][/url][url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937][img=http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/FlashAvak.jpg][/url][url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937][img=http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/Flashreidak.jpg][/url][url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937][img=http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/FlashPirakagrrrrrrrr.jpg][/url][url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/index.php?showtopic=2937][img=http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m587/Zarohum/Flashpirakavictory.jpg][/url]Enjoy, and please leave feedback if you use them. Or even if you don't. Credit is not needed, since the codes redirect to this topic. Just don't claim credit for them
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