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Found 9 results

  1. Welcome to the final poll in the Memoirs of the Dead S&T contest. As explained in full detail here, in the category-polls stage, four entries ended up, according to my math (and please feel free to check it!), as guaranteed winners within the number chosen by the average results in the math poll, for how many final winners there will be -- 6. However, due to multiple entries in some polls versus the "no winner" option, exactly where seven other entries fall on the rankings with respect to the top 6 cutoff point is unclear, so this poll is needed to determine which two of the remaining entries will join the other four as final winners. There's a chance the number of total winners will go up to 7 or even 8, depending on what the results in this poll look like. We'll see. I've included a multiple choice option and a one-choice option to give the clearest results. Voting here is open until Thursday, April 2, at 7:00 PM EST. Please review the entries to refresh your memory, and if it helps, look back at the category poll it won in (the second link in each list item below). Entry #1 -- All That Glitters by Magnus Greel, from Spiriah poll. Entry #2 -- Teacher by Tikiturbo, from Jovan poll. Entry #3 -- The Mentor's Way by Mersery, from Ihu poll. Entry #4 -- First Kill by TheSkeletonMan939, from Naho poll. Entry #5 -- Legends of Lhii by Yio, from Lhikan poll. [Please take into consideration that there was apparently one judging oversight for this entry as recounted in the discussion (the Kanoka detail, not the others which were about the other entry). If this entry wins this will need dealt with, which may or may not be possible.] Entry #6 -- Memento Vivere by Infrared, from Reysa poll. Entry #7 -- The Unknown Turaga by ZippyWharrgarbl, from Kodan poll.
  2. Here is my entry for Contest #7: Memoirs of the Dead. Word Count: 4752 ----- "No! No! Incorrect! No! This part’s too vague and this whole section is completely wrong!" Those were the first words of complaint that I remember Nuju uttering as he partook in what would be the first of many lessons with me. I wasn't surprised. I had browsed his various academic evaluations shortly before he had come to my workplace. All of them spoke very highly of him; many other Seers who had taken him under their wing believed he was destined to become a fine scholar. Indeed, he was believed to be one of the brightest and most promising students Ko-Metru had seen in decades, maybe even centuries. He had tremendous potential. However, there was a catch with taking on Nuju as a student - there always is in these sorts of things, I suppose. Despite his intellectual prowess, he was said to be... impatient and always in a hurry. He was firm in his convictions, which was always a promising characteristic, but he was particularly stubborn in his beliefs. Many had said it was difficult for him to see things from other perspectives. He was still a learner after all, and bright ones like him always stood behind their ideas. The young Ko-Matoran glowered at me coldly. I took no offence from his harsh gaze; among us Matoran of Ice, it was all too frequent a response. Nobody likes to be proven wrong. But Nuju's eyes gleamed with something more than intellectual frustration or hunger; they glowed with disappointment. He held out the tablet he had just finished reading. "This cannot be a useful learning tool, Ihu." I smiled at him and walked to where he was sitting. An array of stone tablets lay scattered messily on the top of his table, each lecturing on a different subject of philosophy and science. Nuju held his hand out expectantly, clasping the tablet he was clearly displeased with. I took it from his hands and examined it closely. “Nuju, you are critiquing a highly-acclaimed document," I began. "This text is a record containing the notes of some of Metru Nui's finest scientists. I do not see how their collaborative ideas on the creation of Kanoka can be inaccurate, especially since they have been in practice ever since they were devised." "The information is hundreds of years old," Nuju grumbled. "In the centuries passing since, scores of mask makers have proposed new and better ways to create Kanohi. These techniques are obsolete and outdated." My new student's tone was as firm as it was detached. "And what do those mask makers base their progress on?" I asked him. "They always refer back to this data when they wish to make improvements. The technology that created the first Kanoka, regardless of how old it is, laid the foundation for an entire industry in this city." Nuju grumbled for a moment, his eyepiece expanding and shrinking as he re-examined the tablet in much closer detail. It was brand new and had been attached to his Matatu by a fellow named Vakama, who I had heard was becoming something of a rising star in the Ta-Metru foundries. I smiled at my new student courteously, despite a glare he gave me that was sharper than any icicle and twice as cold. He still had so much to learn. "Why am I studying this anyway?" he demanded. His face had contorted so fiercely with frustration that one could be forgiven for believing he was wearing a different mask. "I am not some starstruck student who’s ready to blindly accept a teacher’s word as law. If I were, then my place would be down below in the schools of Ga-Metru. I know when I am right. And I know that the study of Kanoka has no relevance when forecasting tomorrow's events. It certainly has no place in my future." I had expected this much from Nuju. "I present you with this document to prove that the greatest advancements in Matoran culture do not solely rely on stargazing or deciphering cryptic puzzles." Nuju frowned. "But studying Kanoka does not help us learn about the future." I turned away from him and walked across my observatory, coming to a stop near the massive window that overlooked the spires of Ko-Metru; a glassy empire framed by a crystalline skyline. Aside from basic furniture and essential stargazing equipment, the room was spared any of my personal effects. For many years now I have been of the belief that a workspace serves equally as a reflection of its occupant's character. For this reason I had made sure my quarters revealed as little as possible. And for this moment, perhaps it was all the better for it; nothing to obstruct the burnt orange light as it flittered away beneath the clouds. “To understand the future, you must comprehend the discoveries that allow a society to flourish in the first place, and the principles that underline those discoveries. We can never truly dismiss our past, for without it we have no platform to make any sound judgments about our future." When I turned to face Nuju, he had a look of shock on his face, as if I had just muttered some foul Skakdi curse in the Great Temple. He almost seemed insulted. "With all due respect, Ihu, the past is something we leave the Onu-Matoran to bumble about. Any Seer worth his work knows that the lessons of the past are what they are because the stories they tell are little more than didactic morality tales. The future is determined by ever-changing patterns in the present; the past merely tells us what has gone before. It cannot guide us into our future." I frowned. Nuju was bright, but also naïve. "Without the past, how would we adapt to the future? Our experiences are built upon the past, and every mistake anyone has ever made affects the way they look to the future. There is just as much importance in what has been as what will be.” "This would explain why many of your peers consider you such a maverick, sir." I couldn't help but grin at the comment. It was true, that the name ‘Ihu’ had both positive and negative connotations. For years, I had been described as one of Metru Nui's finest thinkers; a pioneer from a golden age of learning. In particular, my extensive knowledge of the prophecies of the future had earned me great acclaim. Many times over, I had deciphered some of Metru Nui's most cryptic prophecies with a standard that had never been matched. In more recent years, however, I had become far more suited to the lecture halls than the observatories. And I had been called upon to lecture in places well beyond my district – the schools of Ga-Metru, the Archives and even in the most private rooms of the Towers of Thought. However, a personal philosophy that was all-inclusive of the past, whilst popular with Onu-Matoran, did not sit well within the elite circles of the Ko-Matoran. I, personally, did not mind their scathing gossip. Their reactions amused me. I gave Nuju a friendly smile and pressed on. "I am a maverick only to those who are stubborn and narrow-minded and I am assured you are neither. Now, I’m sure I’ve given you plenty to think about. We’re going to have many more lessons like this, so a change in perspective might go a long way in making them all the more enjoyable." Nuju snorted as he raised himself from his desk and left the room. Thank you’s and goodbye’s were to be a luxury, it seemed. He wasn’t my student, not in mind or spirit, but he was still new to the Knowledge Towers. He would need a helping hand to get him through these first few hurdles, especially with Ko-Metru’s finest watching with hungry eyes, eager to see if he would wither or thrive. I would be more than happy to help him, but it would be up to Nuju to accept it and do the most important thing any Matoran could possibly do. Listen. ---- I was standing in the lobby of one of the Metru's innermost Knowledge Towers. Apart from the mechanical chirping of the nearby Vahki drones, not a single word had been uttered. That said, even if I had wanted to speak, I would have no doubt been escorted off the premise; the nickname "the quiet Metru" was a surprisingly literal one. That said, it was almost a relief to know that the nearby scholars were bound by silence, if only because it refrained them from gossiping amongst themselves. It had been two months since I had become Nuju’s mentor, and needless to say, he had not been responding well to my teachings. My theories appalled him, my heresies outraged him and to him my works were totally unworthy of their praise. More than once during our lectures, he had attempted to dethrone me in my own classroom, like many of my colleagues had when I myself was a young Seer, but I simply proved too well versed in my field to truly depose. Many times over, Nuju had presented me hours of work that I had dismissed with the wave of my hand. There were always small oversights, not enough attention to detail, too few compelling arguments. He did not hate the fact that I criticized his work; he hated that I was right. Obviously, it had finally gotten to him. I approached the group of Vahki, keeping a wary eye on the huddled scholars that dotted the corners of the room, their eyes boring holes into the back of my head as I approached. The Vahki squad leader, clearly of the Keerakh variety, split off from the rest of its team and approached me, taking long, calculated strides as it came closer. Beside it stood the relaxed form of Nuju, who was staring up at the ceiling with wide eyes, a look of confusion decorating his blank face. I sighed as I realised the cause of Nuju's mental state. The Staff of Confusion was always said to be the most merciful of the Vahki stun tools, far more compassionate than the Staff of Erasing, but I always found it unnerving to see the drifters borne of the staff wandering aimlessly in the streets. The Vahki commander turned and issued an order encoded in a mechanical whistle to its comrades. Immediately, the other Keerakh turned to the other Ko-Matoran and began shooing them off. I looked up into the empty icy blue eyes of the commander, who stood firm and motionless, like the great works of the Po-Metru. I cleared my throat. "I heard of what Nuju did. I do not condone his actions, but I wish there to be no lasting damage." The Keerakh shook its head slowly, its mechanical eyes never flickering off me. A short pause ensued and an almost sinister silence clutched the void. It was numbing. Nuju continued to stare at the ceiling. Though he had not been my most yielding of students, I had never wished him any ill. I cleared my throat again as I realized how long I had been rooted to the spot. "Thank you for your assistance. I will escort Nuju back to my observatory whilst the effects wear off." The Vahki didn't reply. Instead, it broke itself from its motionless stance and made its way to the lobby entrance with its unit. Within mere seconds, they vanished into the blizzard outside. I frowned for a moment, then turned and herded the confused Nuju through the winding hallways and passageways. We strode past several rooms of prophecy, ancient centers of learning and various laboratories. Along the way, countless scholars scowled at me disapprovingly as I guided my pupil through the halls, though I paid their judgments no thought. By the time we had returned to my observatory, near the very top of the tower, Nuju was back to his old self again, though he refused to talk until we were within the safety of my room. I seated him down in one of my armchairs before turning on him sternly. "What was that?" I asked him. I was not being malicious. Nuju shrugged. "A protest.” I fought back the urge to pull a face. “A protest? Screaming down the corridors of the Towers of Thought is not a sign of protest, especially when you're complaining about my adequacy as a mentor. Be glad this room is soundproofed." "But that's exactly what a protest is." "Not when you're disturbing other scholars in a no-speaking zone! It gains nothing! You know as well as I do that the Vahki monitor those buildings around the clock; they'll withhold someone for making even the slightest noise. I'm surprised they were willing to escort you back to my Knowledge Tower and notify me of what had happened. What you did there was downright stupid!" Nuju was silent. Accusing any Ko-Matoran of stupidity was a great offence. "You're a brilliant savant, Nuju. Your genius will take you far, but things like this will not do any favors for you! Whatever point you were trying to prove, such reckless behavior serves only to march your cause backwards." Something changed in Nuju's eyes in that instant. It was subtle of course, but the effects were there nonetheless. I smiled inwardly. Finally, after so much struggle and resistance, I was getting somewhere with him. "I see," he whispered plainly. His gaze then turned to the large telescope that sat outside on my balcony. "Perhaps we should see what secrets the stars hold for us tonight," he said politely. "Not tonight, I think," I replied. My eyes were fixed on the twin suns setting in the distance, their orange lights joining them in the retreat. "You need to rest. Go think about what I've said. The mysteries of the Great Spirit will still be waiting here when we return tomorrow." ---- Things had changed dramatically over the year. From being my most defiant student to my most avid listener, Nuju had become more than just another pupil. He had become my friend, an intellectual peer. Since the incident with the Keerakh, Nuju had begun to mellow out and his stubbornness had been tempered enough for him to concede on at least some grounds. He was still as sharp as ever, and analyzed everything that crossed his desk with an unrivaled scrutiny, but he did this no longer with the intention of proving my folly. Ever since, lessons had become much easier with him in the depths of the Knowledge Towers. He had even been permitted back into the Towers of Thought, despite the incident he had instigated the last time he was there. Word had obviously spread that he had finally began to cooperate with my teachings. Today, however, I had decided to do something a little bit different. Feeling the need to push aside any lingering disagreements, I had decided to take him with me on an excursion of sorts to Ga-Metru. I myself was familiar with the region; many Ga-Matoran teachers had asked me to lecture here and had more than once offered me a position at their schools. They were very respectable positions, but they were not suited to me. I could never really wrap my head around those Proto Level examinations. Still, coming to this district was always immensely pleasurable. Unfortunately, however, Nuju was not quite as well traveled as I was, and was immediately thrust out of his comfort zone. I couldn't help but smile. Like many Ko-Matoran, he rarely left the Knowledge Towers he was admitted into, let alone the Metru itself. Seeing his reaction to the stunning scenery of Ga-Metru was priceless. We began our tour of the city’s greatest spiritual center with a trip past the Fountains of Wisdom, followed by a tour of the jaw-dropping Great Temple. We then went on an expedition along the coastline of the water region via a business called Macku’s Canoes. By the late afternoon, Nuju had chiseled up what looked like forty-five pages of notes. This was not surprising. "Next time, I should take you to see the musicians in Le-Metru," I remember saying as we walked across an intricately crafted bridge that overlooked the beautiful Protodermis Falls. "Nobody makes quite as good an orchestra as, surprisingly, the Le-Matoran. Some of their symphonies are spectacular, provided they don’t have their choirs speak in that highly confusing Chute-Speak." Nuju grunted in acknowledgement and leaned against the railing, staring out at the orange suns and the glimmering, infinite waters of the Falls. The subtle hints in his body language suggested he was just taking a second to soak up the atmosphere; there was a peace, a harmony and a tranquility that couldn’t be found anywhere else in the city. Seconds ticked by as the two of us just stood there, watching the waters topple over the cliff tops and down to the rivers below. "Why did you bring me here?" he asked gently. I did not look at him. "To prove a point to you,” I replied. "When do you ever do anything that doesn’t relate back to a point you are trying to prove?” Nuju asked. It was a rhetorical question. Ignoring his wit for once, I continued. "I wanted to prove to you that there is far more to this life than just sitting in skyscrapers and gazing up at the skies above for answers. So many Ko-Matoran look so far forward, they miss everything important that goes on around them. It's an addictive lifestyle; not necessarily a bad one, but it can sometimes take away from your experiences." "So you’d prefer me to do my research during live Akilini games?" I chuckled. "No, my friend, not at all. But the Great Spirit did not lay out all this beauty before us just so we could lock ourselves inside specialized laboratories and think about why it's beautiful. At times, one must simply appreciate what life offers us, rather than observe the world through narrow scopes and spyglasses." Nuju's eyes glimmered with thought. "You are a very wise soul, Ihu. Metru Nui will never have a Seer quite like you." I smiled at him as I finally forced myself to meet his gaze, my mind having finally reached the heartfelt conclusion it had been trying to make for days. "And that is why I am now challenging you to prove that compliment wrong. You no longer need me anymore, and your destiny is your own. I have taught you just about everything I can and you have finally learned the one thing I have been trying to teach you this entire time. Everything else was just an added bonus." Nuju's eyes narrowed in curiosity. "And what would that one thing be?" I paused for a second before I found the right words. "Humility and respect; the ability to look beyond your own opinions by accepting and understanding the views of others. By learning to keep an open mind for yourself." ---- "Ihu, you have a visitor waiting for you in your observatory." I turned away from the circle of Seers I had been talking with to face a young messenger. Ehyre, I believe his name was. "Tell him to make an appointment first," I said with a dismissive wave of my hand. "I, like any one of the Matoran here, am very busy right now. So please tell this guest to either sit and wait in my office for the next week or so or head off home." Ehyre stiffened none too subtly as he said his next words. “Sir, I believe your visitor is an old student of yours. A Seer from the southern district. Nuju, I believe his name is. He’s already waiting in your office.” I turned back to the messenger, a look of surprise on my Hau. It had been four years now since Nuju had officially completed his training with me, and since then, he had gone on to enjoy a very successful career as a thinker in the upper echelons of Ko-Matoran society. He was scarcely found outside his new observatory, where his restless mind could focus without a hint of distraction. It was then I noticed something else. Ehyre had hurried through his message as if he were eager to be done with it, and he had made no effort to mask his discomfort in mentioning my friend's name. Something clicked in my mind. Ah yes, this was that Matoran whose scholarship Nuju had very bluntly denied. He had said the Matoran was ill suited to the role; he lacked patience, was too talkative and too quick to act. Personally, I suspected Nuju had seen too much of himself in the enthusiastic errand runner. "Tell him I'll be right with him," I said. Ehyre nodded solemnly and left without a word. I quickly excused myself from the scholars I had been chatting with and hastily made my way through the crystalline corridors of the tower. Meetings like those were always rather dull. Arriving at my observatory, I opened the doors to see Nuju standing out on my balcony, gazing up through my telescope. He turned at the sound of my entrance and nodded courteously, the ghost of a smile on the tips of his mouth. His eyepiece adjusted as he did a quick scan of the room. I smiled back to him and moved to tap a clenched fist in the customary manner, but was greeted instead with an open palm. We shook hands. "Nuju, my friend! How have you been?" The lens of my former student’s mask zoomed in and out as he looked around the room. "I am most well, Ihu. Since we last met, I have been dabbling in a variety of top-level research projects. All very exciting ventures. I also noticed you have redecorated your observatory since the last time we visited one another. I don't like it." Though it wasn't obvious, this was Nuju's version of a joke. The only problem with him telling a joke was that he never made it apparent that he was actually trying to say something funny. "Well, fill in a complaint and see how far it gets you," I replied. "I'm sure the others will get a good laugh out of a rant on the décor of my office." Nuju titled his head, then dismissed my statement and continued. "How have you been since we last met? Taken any more students under your wing?" "Not this time," I said as I took a seat in one of my armchairs. "This old Gukko's wings can only stretch so far – and you certainly strained them.” Nuju fought back a grin as he seated himself in the chair that lay opposite my own. "So what do you do now?" My eyes trailed off over his shoulder as I thought of a response. "I've been poached for one or two projects. Many value my comprehensive knowledge on the prophecies, so I haven't run out of interesting work just yet. Though I have found myself drawn to a range of smaller ventures that I have in the works.” There was a pause. It was in no way awkward. Many Ko-Matoran paused mid-conversation to collect their thoughts and catalog their feelings. It was a perfectly natural habit. "You're going somewhere, are you not?" Nuju asked. I refused to dignify him with anything less than a perched eyebrow. He was spot on, of course. But he didn’t need to know that. "And what makes you say that?" I asked playfully. Nuju shrugged. Yet again, the focus of his mask’s multiple lenses adjusted. "Your most prized intellectual properties are not present on your desks. Implication: They have been stored somewhere. Your telescope has also been completely shut down. Most Ko-Matoran only power them down to recharge as opposed to deactivating entirely, should they be needed at a moment's notice. Also, the door to your office was locked; fortunately, I know the code. You really must change that." Nuju inhaled a breath of air as he concluded his deduction. "My hypothesis: you are departing Ko-Metru. Most likely to conduct another talk." I chuckled lightly, more to myself for having made that all so obvious for him. "That deduction is invalid. You used an eyepiece to get all that. It would be more impressive if deduced without that microscope in your eye, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt." Nuju smiled. “But indeed, you are correct. A group of Archivists want me to sit as a guest speaker in a public lecture. I'm to talk about the relevance the past has on determining the future." Nuju’s grin disappeared at that news. "Typical. The Onu-Matoran's work gets more attention than it deserves, especially with all those constant expansions to their Archives. One day, I'll make sure they come to understand the importance of our research." I smiled at him with an unexpected warmth. "Well, when you become the next great pioneer of our future, remember to name something after me." Nuju smiled back at my joke. "Consider it done." Nuju's smiling surprised me; there had been very few (if any) occasions where I had seen him actually do so. I peered outside the window and stared at the suns, noting how low they hung in the ginger sky. Deciding now would be the best time to leave, I rose from my armchair and moved to my desk. "Now then, my friend, I believe it is time for me to depart. I don't want to miss my trip. I've already got my luggage at the station and you know what those attendants are like; so unwilling to skip the standard procedure when you don't board in time." As I began to make my way towards the door, Nuju rose and extended his fist. I bumped it firmly as I deviated from my journey to the door. "Best of luck with your lecture, Ihu," he began, his voice filled with genuine emotion. Warmth even. In that moment, the line between friend and mentor blurred. "I’d be curious to hear what those narrow-minded Onu-Matoran will have to say on your comments. Perhaps you can convince them to pluck their heads from the ground. In any case, have a safe trip." "Oh, Nuju," I said merrily with a wide grin etched on my face. "I'll be back before you know it!" ---- And this concludes my memoirs for the moment. Being a Ko-Matoran, I feel the act of putting chisel to stone both irksome and unnecessarily tedious, so I have devised a better way to amass my thoughts. Indeed, many will question my use of this Memory Crystal for such purposes, or even brand me as downright selfish for trying to leave some small imprint of myself upon this world in such a manner, but I do not see any better way. The Memory Crystal's potential goes far beyond that of a mere data storage tool. It can be used to record entire biographies and accounts of one's life without the painstaking effort of carving letters on tablets. It’s a quick and easy method of transferring information, so I see no reason for my colleagues to intervene because of my unusual usage of this crystal. Whilst my memoirs are currently incomplete - my tutoring of Nuju simply being a smaller section of a much larger work - I intend to properly conclude them once I return from my excursion to Onu-Metru. Until then, I leave you with a small statement I gave to Nuju in Ga-Metru, one that had him thinking for days: Life is a puzzle that cannot easily be solved, the bane of every philosopher's existence. It takes time and patience to piece its intricacies together, and then to understand its meaning in a global vernacular. If these mysteries frustrate or confuse you, look to the skies above and keep an open mind. Your future is not a series of events set in stone; pre-determined by the forces of chance. We may each have a destiny, but even those can be resisted, and in the most extreme cases, averted. Our future is determined not with solid certainty, but with careful consideration of variables. The slightest of miscalculations, shifts in temperature, even impulsive actions can throw the entire natural order out of balance. And such a world is something worth revelling in.
  3. Sorry for the last-minute entry. Anyway, this is my entry. It may get disqualified if you find any errors since entry period is about to end in a matter of minutes, but oh well. Anyway, I hope it's good. I'd have liked to have added in a part at the end where Lhikan confronts a straggler on Nynrah to emphasize his "not running away" resolution, but it would have surpassed the 6,000 words limit. Dawning Valor By: DoomIgnika Word Count: 5,912 Protagonist: Lhikan Some might call me a hero. Others would call me a coward. Whatever their verdict is, it's not because I am a Toa. It is because I have found the courage within myself to do what I know is right. After recent discussions with Turaga Dume of Metru Nui, I've resolved to move to the island to contain a Rahi attack. This is not to earn a better name for myself. This is because I know it is right. I feel for these Matoran, whose lives are in danger now because of a threat, that perhaps has a driving force behind it more complicated than they believe. Today, I write these texts for those Matoran, or any others, who too wish to be heroes, but fear they have not the courage and strength to do it, those Matoran who seek the truth, but are intimidated by outside forces to abandon these beliefs. I am here to show you that anyone can be a hero, but you are the only one who can make yourself a hero. - Lhikan ---- My name is Lhikan, and this marks the beginning of my story. I'm not exactly sure what has compelled me to record this memoir. Perhaps it is to log recent events that I have finally accounted for, or perhaps it is because I have managed to gather and align my feelings on those events, rather than to tell it to those who haven't the patience or courtesy to listen. I made a simple life on the Southern Continent. I am a crafter, but my work is regarded as mediocre. I don't particularly blame anyone for saying so, but I try my best. Considering my discreditable work, when I heard of the island called "Nynrah", and the "Nynrah Ghosts", I was in awe. The Nynrah Ghosts had always been shrouded in whispered tales and myths. Their craftsmanship was said to be the finest in existence, surpassed only by the skill of the legendary Artakha. They were said to have no equals, no match, no competitors. So when I heard that some of the Matoran from the local area would be going on an expedition to Nynrah soon, I figured it would be for the best if I could find these Nynrah Ghosts as well. Perhaps they would have words of advice for me that others did not. I'd never really thought of how ridiculous this expedition would be until I finally stepped foot on the boat. The entire crew was comprised of Matoran, none of which were particularly schooled map experts - those that were had declined to go on the mission. So I shouldn't have been surprised that it took us days longer than expected to actually reach the coast of Nynrah. When we did, we arrived at night. We didn't expect a welcome from divine, wise beings now, but simply no welcome at all. But our expectations were not met. Oh, yes, we arrived, and what welcomed us was a plethora of confusion. A large group of Matoran were gathered in a fire-lit, rocky clearing, around a large establishment from which a taller being stood. He was around 2 bio tall and clad in purple and red armor. That wasn't what struck me, though. What struck me was the emotion that his eyes reflected. The crimson slits reflected rage, perhaps madness, and the emotion induced fear in me. He looked down at the Matoran as if they had done something wrong as he spoke. I wasn't listening to him right now, only observing the being. Given from the looks of him, he appeared to be the leader here. In my native village we had Turaga, and of course, certain things that we did angered them. But our Turaga had never reacted like this, with such rage and hatred. I could only deduce that something these residents of Nynrah had done had enraged him. I looked at the Matoran standing around the sight. Recalling the tales I had heard, I remembered that the Nynrah Ghosts were the only Matoran on the island. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting the Nynrah Ghosts to be Matoran, but I also wasn't surprised that they were now that I reflect upon it. But I was still hoping for more. These were simple Matoran, nothing more, clad in armor of various shades of silver, gold, and burnt orange, obviously Fe-Matoran, not the benevolent figures I had thought I may see. They, too, gave off an aura of passionate rage, but this vehement anger was that of rebellion. Almost none of the Nynrah Ghosts looked at us as we stepped, dumbfounded, into the crowd, and those that did gave scathing glares. I ignored them and pushed into the assembly. I accidentally stumbled into one of the Nynrah Ghosts along the way, knocking him off of his feet. I quickly apologized and offered my hand to help him up. He gave me an odd look, as if I were giving some kind of respect to him that he didn't deserve. "Who are you? I've never seen a Matoran of your kind here," he said, obviously confused by our arrival. "What's your name, and why are you here?" I stood there, speechless for a second, looking him over. For a member of such a revered society, he was not what I expected. Was a member of a group of such revered crafters a simple Matoran such as this? "My name is Lhikan. I'm a Matoran crafter from the Southern Continent, and I've come to seek guidance and assistance from the Nynrah Ghosts. May I ask your name, and what is going on here?" The Matoran was obviously still quizzical about my appearance, but he asked no further questions. "Sometimes, the Nynrah Ghosts receive... questionable customers. If we need to use our names, some of us prefer to go by code instead. I prefer the codename 'Phantom'. About your second question, a number of Makuta's experiments got loose from his laboratory, killed a number of workers and destroyed some homes. As you can see, we aren't happy about it," he explained, and gesturing towards the tall figure in the center of the gathering, he added, "And neither is he." I shrugged. I'd heard the name "Makuta" before a number of times. I rarely ever saw the being the other Matoran on my homeland referred to as "Makuta", considering that he rarely attended to our continent at all, and I'd seen him in slightly different forms when I did, but the Makuta I'd seen was nothing like this one, both in regards of attitude and appearance. I recalled the "Brotherhood of Makuta" now, an organization dedicated to creating Rahi for our universe and protecting it, though I'd never quite seen this in action due to our Makuta's lack of attendance. Now I was seeing it in action, and I didn't like it. As I began to tune in to what the Makuta was saying, he paused, and looked straight at me. He looked into my eyes with that same glare of hatred now, and I felt the fear building up within me. I stood there, speechless, not knowing what to do. "What are you doing there?" he asked me in a low, pulverant growl. I gulped as I replied. "We - we're from the Southern Continent, some other Matoran and I. We came here on an expedition to meet the Nynrah Ghosts." The Makuta turned, ignoring me. "Well, as I was saying. Further rebellion will be punished. I have done my best to maintain this as a steady workplace, and your chaotic outbreaks do nothing to improve its conditions. Mind what I have said to you here." The Makuta walked away, grumbling, as the shouts of the Nynrah Ghosts rang out in protest. But it was too late, he was gone, ignoring them. Finally giving up, most of the Nynrah Ghosts shrugged and walked away, brushing right by me, giving only the occasional look. Some still stayed, rambling profusely. In the confusion, I decided to stay next to Phantom, who was grumbling under his breath. He turned and glanced at me, a bewildered look behind his mask. "What are you doing?" he asked. "What am I supposed to do?" I inquired in response. "I don't know what to do here. This...well, it's not exactly what I was expecting." "We Nynrah Ghosts get customers, not visitors," Phantom curtly replied. His tone more sincere, he added, "You can stay in my establishment for the night, considering you don't have anywhere to go. But when you return, you'd best tell your friends that the Nynrah Ghosts have no advice to offer you." I nodded, tired and somewhat ashamed. Just then I'd lost all of my hopes and dreams of becoming the legend I wished to be. An expedition wasted, and the Nynrah Ghosts were not the phenomenal beings I had thought - my own idols torn from me. I just wanted to let go now. As I followed, glancing around me to see a combination of huts and more industrial buildings, all of which the Nynrah Ghosts made their homes, I just wished for this night to end, so I could sleep and never awaken into this harsh truth I'd been introduced to tonight. ---- My slumber was interrupted by an abrupt scream. Taken by surprise, I quickly rose to my feet and rushed out into the night, towards wherever the sound had come from, not exactly sure what I was doing. I heard Phantom calling behind me, but for the moment I took no notice of him. Something was wrong. I felt, right now, that whatever was going on, I had to lend my hand in assistance. I arrived at the scene to lay eyes upon a sight I wish I hadn't. Several Matoran were being terrorized and harassed by hideous creatures who I found hard to pass off as Rahi. They walked on two legs, were slightly less than 2 bio tall, with sharp, spike-like appendages coming from their spine, and staffs in their hands. Obviously, due to the fact that they walked on two legs, these were no normal Rahi. At their side were smaller creatures, a small assembly of winged, clawed insectoid Rahi and more scorpion-like creatures. Both may have had other features, but they were obscured by darkened, pitted masks. Just then I should have realized that something was wrong, but I wasn't thinking clearly enough to reach that epiphany. I glanced at one of the anthropomorphic, hunched creatures, this one adorned in armor of a blue hue, carrying a two-pronged staff. I watched it aim its staff at a Matoran, and energy crackled at the staff's tip. A beam of energy let loose from the prongs, just barely missing the Matoran. The rock by the Matoran's side instantly turned to dust, as if it had never been there. The creature aimed again. I made a decision, then. It probably wasn't a wise decision. I really don't know what that decision was, perhaps a stupid one. Or perhaps it was the decision that would shape my future. I grabbed a stone lying by my feet, and hurled it at the creature. It bounced off its armor, leaving the monster unharmed, but it did attract its attention. It looked at me now, and pointed its staff at me. Fear overtook me. I realized then, as the energies coursed around the staff's two-pronged tip, that this thing could kill me now. I wanted to flee. I braced myself to flee, but the turn of events that would occur next stopped me from doing so. Just then, there was a flash of light. Flames danced around me and the creatures, leaving me scatheless, but deeply singing the armor of the beast that had assaulted me. The flames burned a hole in the hunched back of the creature, and some kind of snake-like slug emerged from the opening, slithering away, leaving the body of the thing an empty shell. The other creatures and Rahi at its side fled at the sight, but they were unsuccessful in doing so. A tall figure, not much smaller than the creature, clad in red armor appeared, beating the lifeless creature that had attacked me backwards and away from me. Several others of the same size, each adorned in armor of different colors, followed, and there was a rainbow of colors as chaos ensued. I felt sick and my vision blurred, and when it all cleared, I was face-to-face with my rescuer. He was clad in bright red armor, and he wore what I recognized as a Great Kanohi Kiril, Mask of Regeneration. He glared at me with a look in his eyes, reflecting an emotion I couldn't quite put my finger on. For the first time, someone looked... impressed by something I had done. I didn't know by what, but as he looked me over, I could see that he had taken an interest in my actions.I had now experienced something I never had before, and then, a spark ignited in my mind. A small spark, but a spark that could grow into a passionate flame. I felt a desire to do something I never had thought of, a new purpose. I could still become a legend... I could become a hero, just like the one standing before me now. I'd never seen a Toa before, but the air of gallantry that surrounded him and his allies told me that this was among the storied Toa heroes I'd heard of. "My name is Toa Dume, here to help." He offered an armored hand to me, lifting me to my feet. Most of the Nynrah Ghosts looked in awe at the figures before me. One cried out in confusion, pointing out the madness of the events that were ensuing. I, too, would be quite amazed by recent Rahi attacks, newcomers arriving, and staying, in my village, and now this - tall, powerful newcomers arriving from virtually nowhere. The bickering of the bystanders was silenced by the arrival of the Makuta of Nynrah. He was obviously not amused as he glanced side to side at the confused Matoran. Then, he turned to face the red-armored Toa, Dume. "What are you doing here?" he queried, an ever-hostile edge to his voice. Dume looked him straight in the eyes then. I saw no fear in Dume's eyes. Not the same fear my eyes reflected, but courage. Unending courage that was the flame that saved my life. Courage that made him a hero. He was defiant, not submissive to the Makuta, and I could see that the Makuta knew it. As the mad defiance blazed on in his eyes, he answered. "My team and I were passing by to attend to troubles on another island. We heard there was a predicament, and we came to investigate." "Well, there is nothing to see here. I would have properly dealt with it without your interference, so I now respectfully ask you to leave here, Toa," the Makuta replied, projecting hate from his crimson eyes. "So you'd have dealt with it, and saved this Matoran's life?" Dume asked in a tone of suspicion as he gestured towards me. "Because considering how much of a 'hurry' you arrived in, it didn't look like it." "It's not your place to question my judgment, Toa. Now, I again ask you and your allies to depart this island, and I expect our Matoran newcomers to do so as well," the Makuta growled. I looked at him, angered. Certainly, a Toa hero like the one that stood before us deserved more respect. Dume narrowed his eyes, and looked back at me. He turned his back to the Makuta, and kneeled down, grabbing a rock from the ground. Then, looking around him to ensure nobody else saw what he was doing, he placed his hand near the stone and projected a ray of pure energy from his clenched fist. I watched in awe and confusion, as the Toa transformed a normal rock into a glowing red stone that emanated energy from its surface. Then, he placed it in my hands. "Take this with you. Let nobody see it or lay their hands upon it. And when the time is right, use this." Before I could ask further questions, like how to even use it or what it was for, Dume turned back to the Makuta, giving one last glare of defiance. Then, he turned away and walked off into the night, followed by his Toa comrades. The Makuta watched them, with rage on his features, before he, too, turned away and walked off to his laboratories. Soon, the Matoran crowd disbanded. But it was not like before. There was a general upbeat air of the crowd as it walked off, as if a new hope had dawned in their hearts. I knew that a hope had dawned within me. I should have been shaken by the events that just ensued, with death having been right at my doorstep. But no, I felt no fear, because hope had overridden that fear. I no longer wished to be a crafter, I thought, as I walked off to return to Phantom's residence. I wanted to be a hero. ---- Various things had changed that night, since the appearance of Dume and his team of Toa. The Nynrah Ghosts had completely forgotten of the recent Rahi attacks, or our own arrival, and now an upbeat air of hope surrounded the village. Discussion circled around about a hero to protect the village. The Makuta had attempted to answer this call by calling for the shipment of automated Exo-Toa guardians to the village, but the Nynrah Ghosts were having different plans in mind, I would find. I prepared for my leave from the island, alongside my other Matoran comrades. They were evidently disappointed by the realization that the Nynrah Ghosts had not been the almighty beings they expected, and they were none too excited. But I felt different. I had realized a new purpose on this island – to be a hero. Before I could leave, I was stopped by Phantom. I could tell that he, too, was still awestruck at what he had seen last night. “What do you think?” he asked me. “What?” I asked, not knowing any other way to reply. “Of Dume. Of the Toa. What do you think of them? You were the first to meet them, after all, and the only one they spoke to,” Phantom explained. He was right. I’d had the closest encounter with the Toa of any of the Matoran, and they had given me a gift – whatever it was, along the way, though I decided not to tell anyone. “I’m amazed,” I replied, keeping some of my deeper feelings to myself. Surely, a Matoran aspiring to be a Toa hero such as that would sound crazy. “We all are. Some of the other Nynrah Ghosts are talking about…well, making a hero. To protect the island. We’ve never done experiments with living things before, but we thought that it was necessary, with all of the recent Rahi attacks. Sure, Makuta has ordered the Exo-Toa to protect us…but I feel like that’s not enough,” Phantom said. I nodded. What had brought him to speak to me about this, of all things? Phantom had been the only Nynrah Ghost to offer me shelter on my stay, but he was not much different than the other Nynrah Ghosts – obsessed with work, detached, secretive. I awaited his next words, knowing there was something more for him to say. “I volunteered to become one of these new, engineered heroes for the island. I don’t know why. I just feel like I, too, want to be a hero, to have an impact on this world, to protect the Matoran. I thought you’d agree, having met the Toa and all,” Phantom continued. I understood. I’d wished to become a Toa, to protect innocents, to save Matoran from danger and to bring hope to Matoran ever since I’d met Dume, and perhaps even before that. “Well, good luck,” I said to him. I pondered for a second, contemplating my next words. “I, too, wish to be a hero. Perhaps one day we’ll both be hailed as the guardians of our islands,” I confided in him. Phantom nodded. We said our parting words, odd for two individuals who had just met a day before, and I prepared to leave. The other Matoran from my homeland waited, impatiently, on the boat, shouting towards me, but I ignored them. Something beckoned me to the sight of where I had been attacked, and where Dume had rescued me. I almost lightheadedly walked through the village, ignoring the fading protests of the other Matoran. In a few moments I was there, at the sight I’d been attacked. It was much more peaceful now, without the horrific sight of Rahi at my neck, but I was still not sure of it. I looked at the pile of ash that had been left from the creature’s attack. I’d never seen a normal Rahi transform a rock into ash instantly before. Nor had I seen a Rahi that walked on two legs. I glanced to my left to see the corpse of the creature still lying lifeless on the ground. I crouched down to inspect it, the next sight leaving me speechless. The corpse was empty. It was a simple suit of armor, a shell. Scattered near the motionless figure were multiple Kanohi masks, something I had disregarded until this point. There were numerous shapes scattered about the rocky ground of the village. I could name a number of them. A Ruru, a Pakari, even my own mask, a Hau. But while I’d seen masks in various different colors, these were all the same shade. A darkened brown, with various scratches and cracks in addition. There was something wrong about this. I picked up the nearest mask, which I identified as a Pakari, and wandered off. I could leave the island now, but I didn’t want to yet. Not yet. First, I had the Makuta to confront. I pinpointed his establishment among the others, and walked off towards it. No longer could I hear the protests of the Matoran, just a few murmurs from the Nynrah Ghosts in their homes as I passed by. Eventually, I came across the building, and walked over towards it. A sound was coming from the residence, I noticed, growing more intense as I got closer. It was a conversation. I put my head to the door, not bothering to see if anyone was watching. The Makuta was in exchange with another being. I couldn’t hear exactly what they were saying, but I heard the names “Tridax” and “Chirox” passed around. I listened closer, intrigued. “Why is it my job to ensure your dominion over this island, Tridax?” asked a voice distinctively different from the Makuta’s. “Because, Chirox,” the other voice, belonging to the Makuta, replied. “You make the Rahi with the biggest teeth, and big teeth is just what I need to scare these Matoran into submission. They’ve been slacking lately, and slacking leads to bad business, and no profit to the Brotherhood.” I gasped. I was correct in my assumption that something was wrong now. The Makuta, or Tridax, as the other had referred to him, had been using the Rahi to scare Matoran into work. “And how has that worked out? A Toa rescued the Matoran, and now all they’re talking about is becoming ‘heroes’,” the first voice, who I deduced could only be the one Tridax called “Chirox”, answered. “No thanks to your efforts. I ordered you to give me instructions for infected masks and your Rahkshi, and look what happens,” Tridax hissed. “I recall I told you precisely how to create infected masks – and it didn’t involve tampering with the Kraata or the masks along the way any further than I instructed,” Chirox growled, anger rising up in his voice. “Perhaps your instructions weren’t good enough. After all, how was I supposed to know it would drive the Rahi insane?” Tridax suggested. I heard only a grumble from Chirox in reply. “Now, next time I request your assistance, I expect that these creatures don’t escape and nearly kill a Matoran. I don’t particularly care for them, but another death could mean total rebellion, and that’s not the thing the Brotherhood needs to deal with for the moment.” “And next time perhaps you should not tamper with my experiments, Tridax,” Chirox mumbled. I heard a slight noise too quiet to identify. Then, the door burst open, and Tridax emerged in his crimson and purple armor. He was different now, albeit only slightly, with sharper claws and small wings, but I could still identify him. I couldn’t see anyone within his establishment that Tridax could have been speaking too, only air crackling with energy. I turned to face Tridax, who was staring intently at me with that same rage, the madness in his crimson eyes that melted my courage. I gulped and backed off. “Well, little Matoran – tell me, what brings you here at this time?” he asked, with an edge of sarcasm in his voice. I held up the pitted, darkened Pakari I had found. Tridax merely nodded and said nothing more, waiting for me to speak. “I – I found this at the village,” I said, stuttering with fear. “What Rahi wears masks?” Tridax sighed. I felt something brush against my mind, only briefly, and Tridax’s eyes widened. “So…you certainly know a lot, Matoran. You’ve been digging a lot. You’ve even been making deals with Toa, with them offering you generous gifts. But, let me tell you the problem with digging, Matoran.” He leaned closer to me. I backed off even further, but his mad, crimson eyes were still locked onto mine. “Have you ever heard of the tale of the Matoran miners?” he asked me. I shook my head, not knowing what would happen next. Tridax simply grinned. “Once, there was a group of Matoran miners. They found something interesting on the ground – an odd lightstone. It glowed so brightly, they’d never laid eyes upon a lightstone so bright. They thought, perhaps, if they kept digging in this spot, they would find more of them. So they kept digging and digging and digging. They dug themselves into a pit so deep, but to their dismay, when they looked up, there was nothing to meet them but a pile of earth. And so the tunnel they had created crumbled around them, burying them alive. And there was nobody to hear them scream. Nobody to help them. Nobody even remembered them. They just…faded away, buried alive, never heard from again.” Just then, I realized that this Makuta could kill me right now. I backed off, Tridax’s glance still intent on me. A wicked grin was plastered on his mask as he watched me. “I think you’ve just about missed your friends. They left without you.” I ignored Tridax’s words, running off as he continued. “Go ahead, little Matoran,” he said. I looked behind me. He was still glancing at me, his eyes not moving. His mouth hadn’t even moved when he spoke, almost as if he had spoken to me through my mind. “Go ahead and run. You’ll never be a hero, only a coward.” I ran off through the village, ignoring all around me. I saw a nearby, small boat and merely leaped into it, ignoring the madness around me. I didn’t care about returning to my home now. I didn’t care about those that I once knew. I’d even left my aspirations to become a hero behind then. But the Makuta’s mad gaze, and his threats – I wanted to get as far away from this island, and this life, as possible. I could still hear Tridax’s words echoing in my head as I used the oars to row away. “You’ll never be a hero, only a coward.” ---- That had marked the end of my life as I knew it. The rest of my days for 10,000 years had been spent wandering the world, only subject to passing rumors among the various passengers I traveled with. In that time, I learned many things. Dume, the very Toa that had rescued me, had become Turaga of the island of Metru Nui. Phantom, the Matoran who had been kind and generous enough to offer me shelter in his presence, had been shunned by his people after the experiments, and cast away, leaving him only to join the group of murderous thieves and bandits, the Dark Hunters, where he continued to go by the codename of Phantom. I learned much in that time, but I paid no mind to it. My life had lost its purpose. I was no hero. I was only a coward. I’d fled then, fled from that confrontation. I’d fled from my life. This time of my life would come to an end when, perhaps by chance, or perhaps by the hands of the Great Spirit himself, I stumbled upon the island of Metru Nui. It was quite an active, busy, industrial place, buzzing and bumbling with activity. In my wandering, I was quick to come upon two Onu-Matoran deep in discussion with a slightly taller figure. I stared at him, a strange feel of familiarity in my head as I looked over his features. He was adorned in red armor, and he wore a Noble Kiril. I remembered him now. He was Dume, the very Toa who had rescued me. He was far shorter now, but I could tell he was the same being who rescued me. He looked at me in amazement. “I remember you. You were the Matoran I had met on Nynrah,” he said, amazement in his voice. “I never even learned your name then.” I’d never spoken my name in the longest time, but I told him then. “My name is Lhikan.” “I see you haven’t remembered my gift to you,” Dume replied, ignoring the now-arguing Matoran at his side. I remembered now. The glowing stone that Dume had given me so many years ago. I’d left it on Nynrah! “Take it to the center of the village. There, you will find the Suva. You’ll know what to do,” Dume said. “Why? What’s so special about it?” I asked him, confused. Dume only smiled, and gave me that same look of admiration he had given me when we’d first met. I nodded. I didn’t know what this would do, but the stone was the last part of my life, the last spark of my dreams to become a hero. I had to follow Dume’s orders. I set off, ready to return to Nynrah and return to my past. ---- Energy coursed through my body now. I looked at my arms and legs. Whatever the Suva had done, it had changed me. I had become a Toa. I looked at my armor, seeing now that it was almost like Dume’s armor. I saw Dume’s form reflected in my own, now. I grabbed two pieces of equipment lying near the Suva, two large blades. I slammed them together, fitting them into one, then taking them apart again. This would certainly be useful. A sudden spark erupted in my mind. I was a Toa now! I could be the very hero I once wished and aspired to become. I decided, then, to face another aspect of my past. The very being that had tricked me into fleeing that day. I walked through the Exo-Toa infested villages, as the machines nudged Matoran and the Nynrah Ghosts’ customers along. I ignored them. I continued along, paying no mind to the Exo-Toa pointing their weapons at me. I was intent on one thing now. I ran into Tridax quickly. When he turned to face me, I remembered that glare – the same glare that had instilled fear into me before. I thought, then, being a Toa, that I would feel no fear, but I was wrong. I still felt that fear when I looked into the mad, crimson eyes. He wasn’t much different than he was before. Slightly taller, this time with an acid-tipped spear in his hands. He stared at me, rage prominent in his features. “Well, well, well. The coward returns to right the wrongs of his past, does he not? Nothing to see here, move along, unless you wish harm upon yourself,” Tridax hissed. My courage melted as he stared at me, but I continued, resolute. “It’s…time that your corrupted rule comes to an end,” I said, fear in my voice. “My corrupted rule? My, my, Toa, how delusional you are. I’m only enforcing order. Now, I shall give you one chance to flee. To return to your little cowardly world and hide from the truth. Or you may die here,” Tridax growled. I stood there, defiant, even with the fear in my heart. “No. I will not flee again.” Tridax only nodded in response. Gesturing towards his Exo-Toa, they moved in towards me, as the Matoran bystanders watched in horror. I held up my two swords near me, almost in defense, as the machines edged in towards me. Soon, I couldn’t take it, as they slowly inched closers and aimed their weapons at me. I ran fast on my feet, away from the scene. I felt it all over again. I ran again. I was a coward. I felt Tridax’s eyes focused on me as I fled, his mad cackling echoing through the village. I heard the same words again. I was a coward. I was a fool to think I could be a hero, that being a Toa would make me a hero. I just wanted it all to end again. ---- Once more, I wandered, my life’s purpose lost again. This time, it had been far shorter, as I caught passing rumors of a group of Toa who had recorded the entire history of the Brotherhood of Makuta and left it, guarded, in the safety of their fortress. They distrusted the Brotherhood too, and, remembering the treachery of Tridax, the words passed between him and Chirox, I volunteered to join them. Perhaps it was a mistake, perhaps not. Soon, the island would be raided by two Skakdi savages, and then rampaged by mad Frostelus who murdered all but one of the group. That one was me. I remembered it clearly. The leader of the squad telling me to flee, to recover the Makoki stone, as it was called. I followed one order. I looked for the stone, and to my dismay, I could not find it. I still fled. I thought it was merely following orders then, but now as I reflect upon it, I realize what I had done. I had fled a third time. I had fled from my life twice, and I had again. That day, I resolved that I would never flee again. I’d left too many innocent lives behind, let people die, because of my cowardice. I would never run again. It might not make me a hero. It might still leave my reputation as a coward imprinted throughout history, but I resolved that the least I could do was pledge never to leave my allies behind again. I would never run from the truth, or anything, again.
  4. This is my entry in the Memoirs of the Dead contest. Brothers The green Toa darts right, swinging his blade towards me. I easily block then flip his blade out of his grasp. He quickly recovers, and blasts me with a torrent of wind. I dodge out of the way and fire my Zamor Launcher, knocking my adversary down. He quickly jumps back to his feet. I’m not sure who this Toa is, but I know one thing: he is good. Almost too good. He calls upon his elemental power to bring his sword to him. I fire my launcher again, forcing him to dodge and breaking his concentration. The blade drops to the ground. As I charge the Toa, I call upon my elemental power to bring his blade to me. It flies from the ground and into my hand. He responds quickly, blasting me with a wall of Air that knocks me off my feet. As he approaches, I ready myself. He is almost on top of me when I launch myself at him, smashing into his chest feet-first. When the dust clears, I am standing atop my adversary with the two blades crossed across his neck, ready to behead him at a moment’s notice. “What is your name?” I ask. “Lesovikk,” he replies. “Well, Lesovikk,” I say. “You certainly have promise. I would be willing to help you hone your skills, if you like.” The Toa of Air stares at me. “Now why would I need your help? I’m a veteran Toa, you’re just a rookie.” I laugh. “You think a rookie would know how to pin you like this?” “I guess not,” he replies. “But I still don’t think I can learn anything from you.” “Have it your way,” I say, though I do not release him. He gives me a questioning look. “Well?” he asks. “Aren’t you going to release me?” “And let you attack me from behind? Do you take me for a fool?” Lesovikk appears thoughtful. “If I promise to let you ‘hone my skills’, will you let me go?” I nod and step off him. Lesovikk climbs to his feet and stretches. Then he turns to me. “Where are we going to go?” he asks. “To a place I know,” I reply. We walk for about ten minutes, with Lesovikk following me. “Hey,” he calls. I turn towards him. “You never told me your name.” “Jovan,” I respond. “Toa Jovan.” *** We soon reach the cave that I have in mind, and we enter. Lesovikk is holding his blade rather tightly, as I had returned it to him before we arrived. I find his behavior curious, though I think it best not to ask. As we near the center of the cave, the light increases. We then enter the central chamber. Lesovikk’s eyes widen in awe, for the chamber is a sight to behold. Sunlight shines through the holes in the roof at odd angles and reflects off the crystals lodged in the walls. The floor is smooth, as are the walls and roof, and a stream crosses the chamber in its center. We walk to the center of the chamber. I turn to Lesovikk. “Will this do for a training area?” I ask. Lesovikk nods, still dumbstruck by the beauty of the chamber. “Then we shall begin.” I lunge at Lesovikk, who barely manages to bring his blade up to block. I feint right and swing at his head. Suddenly I am thrown backwards by a blast of air, and my blade the slides to the side, out of my reach. Lesovikk raises his blade and prepares to impale me. I activate my Kanohi Kadin and fly between his legs, knocking the Toa of Air off balance. I use my powers to call my blade to me then charge Lesovikk. My opponent calls up a windstorm, which follows me around the chamber. I am able to stay ahead of it, though it keeps me from reaching Lesovikk. I need to formulate another strategy. Then it comes to me. I use my power to yank Lesovikk’s sword out of his hand. He loses his concentration and the storm disappears. I now angle my body so that I am aiming directly at the Toa of Air. I find myself on the ground, pinned by Lesovikk. The Toa has somehow jumped onto my back and forced me to the ground. “Nice one,” I comment. “It’s what I do,” Lesovikk replies. “Get used to it.” Over the next few weeks we continue to train, growing stronger every day. Our friendship also grows, and our trust in one another is strengthened. We spend our nights sitting in the central chamber, or trekking through the nearby forest. It is during one of out walks that Lesovikk tells me of his team. He tells me about the many adventures they had, fighting off rahi, protecting villages. He told about their personalities and traits.Tonight was the first night I had ever seen Lesovikk smile, and he looks so much better when he does. He moves on to the encounter with the Zyglak. He shudders as he remembers his fatal mistake, his hesitation, and sorrow engulfs him. I am deeply moved by my comrade’s story. It expands my view of the world. I help him back to the chamber and we rest. *** Today we practice melee combat. Lesovikk seems to have recovered, but I cannot be sure. Better to play it safe. As we practice, a messenger Gukko arrives. It is from the nearby village that we have often visited. I read the note aloud and gasp. It says the village was under attack. We grab our gear and charge through the forest. Smoke is rising in the distance. We arrive to find the village burning. Zyglak prowl the streets. Lesovikk stands still, seemingly scared out of his wits. I realize why and panic. We will both need to work together to defend the village. “Lesovikk!” I whisper. “Pull yourself together! These Matoran need you.” Something lights up in Lesovikk’s eyes. He pulls out his blade and prepares to charge. I join him. Together we charge into the village. The Zyglak appear surprised, as they probably were not expecting Toa to arrive. We slice through the first wave and proceed forward. The others notice us and attack. We fend them off easily, but they keep coming. I see a gap in the sea of enemies, and charge it. I burst into a small clearing, with a lone Zyglak standing in the middle. The Zyglak is tall, ugly, and completely black. He is despicable, in my opinion. I ready myself to fight. The sound of battle disappears, and I know Lesovikk has entered the clearing. I am just about to address my comrade when he gasps. “You,” Lesovikk snarls. The black Zyglak chuckles. “So you remember me,” he says. “I was hoping you’d come. I tried to warn my minions that you would be coming, but the idiotic fools forgot.” Lesovikk stares at the black Zyglak, whom I have decided to call ‘Black’. The Zylgak returns his stare, and the two become locked in a face off. Lesovikk charges Black, who easily blocks his strike. The two are now locked in a fierce struggle, and either side could win. “I will not let you harm these Matoran,” Lesovikk snarls. “They will not be butchered like my team.” Black makes no response; instead he swings his blade at Lesovikk’s head, though the Toa dodges. I am so fixated on the fight I do not notice the Zyglak sneaking up behind me. Just before he impales me on his blade, I spin around and strike him with the flat of my blade, and he crumples to the ground. This causes the horde to scream in outrage, and they rush at me. I know that I must keep them from Lesovikk, as he is not skilled enough to take them all on at once. I defeat Zyglak after Zyglak, but there seems to be no end to their ranks. I continue to defend my comrade, but I know I cannot keep this up forever. Just as I am about to collapse from exhaustion, the Zyglak stop fighting, staring behind me in amazement. I turn to see Lesovikk yank his sword out of Black’s chest, and the latter collapses, now just a lifeless corpse. “That’s for my team,” he growls. I turn to find the Zyglak horde retreating, helpless and aimless without their leader. As soon as they leave the village, the Matoran run out of their huts to thank us for our actions. We allow them to thank us, and then we return to the chamber. *** It is now one day after our battle with the Zyglak, and Lesovikk appears troubled. “What is the matter brother?” I ask. “I must go on,” the green Toa replies. “I have other friends I must find.” I nod and reach into my pack. I pull out a Cordak Blaster and hand it to Lesovikk. “This is for you,” I say. “You have earned it.” Lesovikk graciously accepts the gift, then turns to go. He pauses for a moment and turns back to me. He nods his head in my direction, and I return the gesture. Then Lesovikk turns, and disappears over the horizon. *** I, Lesovikk, happened upon this journal of Jovan’s on my way to Mahri Nui and felt obligated to add something. I have always looked fondly back on those weeks we spent together, and have even placed the Cordak Blaster he gave me on my sea sled. It serves as a reminder of my dead brother, who helped shape me into the Toa I am today. Author: DeltaStriker Protagonist: Jovan Word Count: 1,601 Edit 1: This first edit added the second ***. I made no changes to the story itself. Edit 2: This next edit added the final paragraph (With permission) Edit 3: No changes to story, just formatting fixes.
  5. The Journal: Memoirs of the Dead Entry By: Click Word Count: 2,742(not including dividers) Protagonist: Reysa Reysa stared at the softly rippling airweed, appreciating its strange shape and pocketed surface filled with what some members of Mahri Nui called “Clear Gold,” or air bubbles. Then, a green Hydruka bumped it with its sharp tusks, catching the bubbles for the harvest. To any other Matoran, the pace of the Hydruka would seem painfully slow, but Reysa had worked with them for a few months, and had grown accustomed to their sluggishness. After all, if he forced them along any faster, they might stop altogether, and he couldn’t imagine many other Matoran in Mahri Nui would be happy about that. He had already learned from experience during his time underwater, which was no place for an Onu-Matoran. He always was envious of his memories of being on the surface, as foggy as they seemed. In fact, all he could remember was the faint sense he was on the surface at one point, but he didn’t know where, or when. Mahri Nui had sunk into the deeps, and only the release of these bubbles from the airweed had saved what few Matoran still remain. The Hydruka came to harvest the air for the Matoran, being their only lifeline in this hostile world, and it could only be harvested for one hour of “safety,” which seemed like a crazy notion when it was introduced, but surprisingly held true for all the time Reysa had been out here. So, to pass the time, Reysa pulled out a set of tablets. No one else knew about these, as he found them in the wreckage of his previous hut right after Mahri Nui sank. In the pandemonium that followed the sinking of rebuilding, burying, and trying to survive, he had forgotten all about them, but now, with an entire hour to himself, and little to do, he had some time to read them. Among their chipped edges and sometimes fractured corners, he could make out it was a journal of his own memories before coming to Mahri Nui. It started in a small, lonely village of a hundred or so Matoran and their Turaga all trying to survive. Earlier in his shifts as a guard, Reysa had read up to the part where the cave he was mining Protodermis in suddenly collapsed due to a huge, subterranean Rahi seeking food. He was able to be rescued, but the cave-in resulted in his right side being twisted beyond repair, and with such a small island with barely enough to get by, there simply wasn’t enough materials to rebuild him. The Turaga knew their only choice was to send him to Karzahni, the brother of Artahka, to be rebuilt. This next entry started with his journey there. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Today is the day I travel to Karzahni. These weeks of struggling around without the use of half of my body has been difficult, but a fellow Onu-Matoran, Gar, has been helping me along. He will also be accompanying me to our village's boat, and then along the long journey to Karzahni. I hear that he is the brother of Artahka, the Great Creator, and I assume he must be as good at his job. The journey should only take a few weeks by boat, and I can't imagine anything would happen during that time. We're heading out now, and I doubt I'll have time to write any further until I arrive. ------------------------------------------------------------------ I arrived in Karzahni perfectly safe, and the sailing was as uneventful as planned. I walked into a huge dome along a narrow, barren peninsula, and through a gate with a barely visible field across it. Karzahni itself is rather strange, but I suppose I won't be here for very long. It will take me a while to get used to the soft wails that come from underground with every step. I thought I stepped on a small Rahi when I first got off the boat! While waiting for Karzahni, I was also introduced to another interesting part of the island, when a tiny creature someone called a “Dust Darter” suddenly decided my ruined armor would make a nice snack. With a large amount of jumping and swatting, I drove the creatures away with more agility than I would have thought in my condition. Finally, my turn to be repaired arrived, and I carefully walked up to the door, leaning heavily on Gar. Another Matoran who was so rusted and discolored that I couldn’t tell what element he was from helped me into the operation room while my friend waited outside. To be honest, Karzahni was not the imposing figure that I always pictured. His dark red and light blue armor was horribly mismatched, and his Mask of Alternate Futures was just as jumbled, it’s spiky and seemingly random patch up looked about as unbalanced as his sanity. Various Matoran pieces littered the room, some twisted beyond repair, others from much larger or smaller beings, and every piece a completely different design and color. Obviously, not the grand genius that I had heard he was. I was strapped to a table by the Matoran who helped me in, and the “mastermind” asked “So, what seems to be the problem?”I stared incredulously. I thought he was joking, but his bad attempt at looking sincere made me realize he had actually meant it. I explained my accident as best as I could, and he suddenly seemed to notice the twisted and flattened metal down my right side. The ruined pieces were carefully taken off, and Karzahni attempted a casual conversation as he rebuilt it. The straps prevented me from looking down at his progress, but I could slowly feel my body coming back together. Something felt a little bit off, but I attributed that to the new armor pieces he was placing on me. The operation was going on as planned, with little Matoran servants helping to find the right pieces, but suddenly he started on my other side. “Um, excuse me, Great Mechanic, but I only had some damage on the right side.” He simply nodded his spiked head like he heard me giving great praises, and continued to disassemble my left leg. Finally, I gave up struggling, and Karzahni made a few finishing touches on my other arm, and undid the straps. A mirror was handed up by one of his servants, and I saw what he had done. My legs were short and squat, random pieces of armor attached all over the place and one arm reached almost to their wide toes, while the other was just about normal size. Nothing matched at all, and the armor plates didn’t even seem to fit my size. I looked up into Karzahni’s lopsided grin, which almost forced me to agree with his optimistic comments. I suddenly blurted out “It looks awful! What have you done to me?” His grin quickly vanished, and a huge scowl appeared across his mask. “Awful? Do you know what awful is? I can show you awful, you ungrateful little fireflyer! The last thing I saw before everything suddenly disappeared was Karzahni’s Olisi begin to glow, and I had the sensation of falling until I hit the table with a thud. Through blurry eyes, I looked down at myself, not even recognizable as a Matoran anymore. I tried to blurt out my objection, but all that came out was a hoarse grunt. Karzahni smiled his crooked smile again, looking like my appearance was a great achievement, getting bigger all the time until it appeared to be the grin of a mad villain who just completed his next super weapon. I threw my ungainly new body at him, but his maniacal laugh swallowed me up, and I suddenly fell onto the table again, this time bouncing off and into a pile of scrap metal. Karzahni’s mask was slowly dimming, but his grin was still in place, just as insane as in the illusion. “You…you monster!” I tried to form a coherent sentence in my state of shock. “Just look…I mean you…I thought you…” Finally, I just collapsed into the junk heap, too exhausted and surprised to say anything more. “That’s right, little Matoran, just lie down. Take it all in how you look now, because you’re stuck like that for the rest of your life, which, since I can’t have you going and ruining my little business here, will be spent happily in the Southern Continent. How’s that for monstrosity?” By that time, I was too stunned to even do anything as his rusted servants carried me out. As soon as I could think again, my first thoughts were for my cautious friend Gar. Did he escape Karzahni? Will he miss me? What will my village think? ----------------------------------------------------------------- I soon found out about him. I was sent off to the northern shore of the Southern Continent with little supplies, a small charged weapon, and a whole new, freakish appearance. In my wanderings for food, I came across a small village of other “repaired” Matoran, who had established a firm settlement and a good system of supplying their daily needs. I was welcomed in with open, while often misshaped, arms, and quickly found my place in the village. A few days later, another Onu-Matoran arrived on the shore. His long legs and arms confused me for a moment, but when I took a closer look, I recognized him as my old friend Gar. Karzahni had captured him to keep him silent, and “repaired” him while he was there, then quickly sent him off to the Southern Continent. I felt horribly guilty about him being trapped here with me, neither of us being able to see our friends ever again, and it was my fault for falling for that ruse. Gar seemed to take it pretty well though, but I could tell he was upset with not seeing through this earlier, with his cautious nature. In fact, I was surprised as well, as Gar was always the first one to question the decisions of our Turaga back home. Life was simple on the Southern Continent. We would each work to gather food, defend against the usual predators and other dangers, and then relax in our little spare time. I got back to digging a little bit with my new weapons, and my longer arms and shorter body helped in at least that regard. I found spare protodermis for the village, and mined whatever stone we needed, with Gar and a few other Onu-Matoran working alongside. I could actually begin to like it here. --------------------------------------------------------------- All of the peace of our village changed one day, when a rogue Doom Viper broke through our defenses, spewing toxic breath all around. No defenders could even get near it, especially with the six colorful heads watching in all directions and breathing whenever something came near. Many of our number died before we even realized what was happening. Gar and I had been in the mine when it broke through, and we came up to discover that our little village was now destroyed, and many inhabitants lay dead. Gar, being as cautious as he was, held me back from quickly avenging their deaths. “You are too impulsive. Stay back for a while, and we might discover a weakness.” I knew he was right, but I had to fight hard not to charge straight in while my closest friends suffocated in the fumes. So, I did the only thing that I could, and just watched, and waited, which for me, was extremely difficult. Some of my enemies in the village said that was precisely why I was caught in the cave-in that brought us into this mess. I would charge straight into a cave without checking to see if it was stable or if it was clear of Rahi nests, both of which contributed to my injury. The Doom Viper was thrashing around, whipping heads all over the place and destroying all of our hard work. Gradually, I noticed that the tail was stuck in a crack in one of the huts, and it was trying to escape. I looked at Gar to tell him this, but he obviously already noticed, and just nodded to me. I could tell he was formulating a plan right then, and hopefully it would get us out of here alive. All he told me was “Go right now and get to the tail!" I ran as fast as I could, with Gar outdistancing me with his much longer legs. The viper was too busy smashing a food storage hut to notice the two Onu-Matoran charging it. On my way there, I quickly reached into my ruined hut and grabbed my digging weapons, and Gar grabbed his as well. I reached the tail soon after he did, and braced myself to fire on it. “Stop!” Gar shouted. “You can’t attack it yet; use that only as a last resort! Your tools would simply free the tail.” He had a point, I had to admit. He was just about to tell me the real plan when the Doom Viper turned on us. The tall Matoran suddenly closed his mouth and bolted, poisonous gas following close behind. I did the wise thing and ran the other way, half of the heads following my progress as well. It could only chase one of us though, and I suppose it judged Gar the greater threat, and it gave pursuit… until its tail snagged on the broken hut again. Gar sighed in relief, and ran back to me, keeping his back turned to the viper. Unfortunately, his one lapse in caution had drastic consequences. The viper reached out a head, slowly entwining it around Gar’s huge legs, tripping him. Instantly, all six heads were on him, gas leaking out of their fanged maws. Gar managed to back away just enough for the gas to pass beneath him, but he was running out of time. I had to act fast, so I ran to the tail. A quick pulse of my weapon shattered the stone encasing it, but did little to the armored Rahi except to draw its attention, and that was enough. All six foul heads turned to me, striking at air as they charged me. I just ran to the only place I could think of, the old mine. Its narrow tunnels kept at least some of the heads away from me, and the viper moving slower than I could run. I finally reached a particular tunnel that the Matoran had abandoned long ago because of its risk of caving in. I felt it was my only choice, and as soon as those heads rounded the corner, I quickly jumped over them, swinging with my long arms to gain that extra few bio to get to the other side, firing my weapons in mid-air. The tunnel roared as it collapsed, along with the Doom Viper’s hissing, and then all was silent. I managed to limp my way back to the opening to find Gar, with a cracked leg joint, limping towards me, smiling the whole way. I couldn’t help but smile too, but then he collapsed. The fractured leg was giving him much pain, and there was little I could do for it now, so I decided to repay the long-awaited debt of carrying him back to the village. He continued to smile through his pain the whole way. Everything seemed to be just perfect. ------------------------------------------------------------- Reysa finally set down the tablets to observe the Hydruka harvest, laughing at that last line. Since his city had sunk, nothing was perfect, and so much had happened since the ending of that entry. By now, a few of the Hydruka were leaving towards Mahri Nui, their special bowl-shaped under armor holding huge bubbles of air like liquid mercury, but the rest were still working. Reysa also noticed that it was much darker now in the low light that filtered from the surface, much later than he would usually leave. He stood up to get the Hydruka moving, hurrying them along when a noise stopped him. It was probably just a tool some foolish Matoran left out getting pushed by a current. Still, at the edge of the airfield, there wasn't any sign of a tool. Reysa's eyes suddenly opened wide as a tentacle wrapped around his waist, dragging him into the depths. The only sign he had been there was his journal, now a memoir of the dead.
  6. LEGENDS OF LHII Turaga Vakama was treading through what were the remains of Ta-Metru. After 1000 years, the Matoran had finally returned to Metru Nui and Matoran were now hard at work restoring the glorious city. Vakama has been visiting many places, remembering all that had gone before the Great Cataclysm. However today he felt that he needed to visit a very special place. At his side was Jaller, Captain of the Guard and one of the lead Matoran in charge of the rebuilding of Ta-Metru. “Jaller, I appreciate your coming with me, for the place we are heading to has meaning to your inheritance," said Vakama. Jaller nodded, already guessing where Vakama was taking him. “Does this have to do with Toa Lhikan?” asked the Matoran. Vakama nodded. Jaller had recently discovered his mask belonged to the legendary Toa Lhikan who had sacrificed his power so that six Matoran would become the Toa Metru. As they came to the place Vakama, closed his eyes. The last time he had come here it was in anger, when the rage of the Hordika was taking control of him. Then he had only been interested in the discovery of the truth behind his becoming of a Toa and why Lhikan had chosen him. But for many of the centuries above on the island of Mata Nui, Vakama had wished he could have retrieved the tablets that contained the life and achievements of the former hero. Now that day had finally come. The door was bent and twisted open, a result of raging monster a thousand years ago. Jaller helped move some debris that had covered the structure and the two entered the small room that Lhikan had called home. On the floor lay a single tablet. Vakama knew what was written on that, it was of no interest to him now. He moved over to the single shelf in the room, covered in a thick layer of dust. Pulling out one of the tablets from the shelf, he wiped gently with his hand and looked over it. “Now Jaller, you have been told the tales of Lhii the lava surfer. Today, I ask you to listen to the real legends of Lhii the hero,” he said and started reading the journals aloud. As I carve these words, my thoughts are adrift. Peace has been on Metru Nui for the last 500 years since our war with the Dark Hunters. I hope that this will continue but I cannot know. Perhaps one day the Kanohi Dragon will return or the Dark Hunters come to take their revenge. Regardless, I want to leave behind my words to describe my life and my achievements. Whilst it hasn’t been an easy one my hope is that it will live on and inspire those who read to follow the three most important values; unity, duty and destiny. My early life began many thousands of years ago. I was working as a simple craftsman on the eastern side of the Northern Continent. We were a small village, about 100 or so Matoran led by our Turaga of Ice. Although we lived near the coast, we were cut off by large mountains that surrounded our village that not even a Po-Matoran would venture up. Life was very simple and happy then. It was also incredibly boring. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my work. But nothing ever happened to our village for centuries, no raids, no dangerous weather, not even a Rahi attack. To say that my village was peaceful would be an understatement. However there was one thing about our village that made life working there worthwhile and that was the sight of the ancient Hau mask resting in the Turaga’s hut. Most Matoran visited the Turaga just to see the treasure. It was said to have been crafted in the realm of Artahka itself which would explain its magnificence; it was flawless in design and was imbedded with thousands of crystal fragments which made it glow in the light. It was our protector, the thing that kept the peace for us throughout the centuries. However, as it always is, the peace never lasted. One day I was delivering some of my Kanohi I had crafted to my friend, the local trader. “Lhikan!” he greeted as I entered his hut, “Ah, I see you have brought me another lot of wonderful masks. It’s a shame I can’t have that lovely one on your head!” I grinned and said, “Don’t worry these ones are of equal quality,” placing all the masks on his table. “Six masks?” my friend asked, “Lhikan, you do know that I asked for four, right? I’m sorry, I don’t have enough protodermis for all this. Or could you just save it for the next order?” I raised my hand and said, “Please, that would mean that I have spare time later. As it was I made the extra because I needed something to do”. Now it was my friend’s turn to shake his head, “Lhikan, you really need to-“ But whatever he was going to say I never found out. A loud commotion suddenly could be heard, coming out from the village. My friend and I looked at each other and quickly ran outside to see what was going on. A large red being with four wickedly sharp claws and two Kanohi masks mounted on his shoulders was towering over our Turaga in the middle of the village square. Many villagers had come to see what was going on but were hiding behind their houses. This was the first newcomer in centuries and he looked a bit more than frightening. “Give me the mask now and let’s be done with this Turaga. Give it to us now and let’s not make this ugly," the red being spat, his blades hovering above the Turaga menacingly. The Turaga shook his head. “Fine, let me make an example for you," responded the red being and he picked the Turaga by the throat. Just before the creature squeezed the life out of him, the Turaga activated his mask of mind control and the red being stopped. “Go back to where you came from Dark Hunter,” ordered the Turaga. The being placed the Turaga slowly down and then with speed as fast as any Toa, he ran off into the mountains. The village was quiet for a long time, before I finally had the courage to ask the Turaga what that was all about. “Do not worry yourself,” said the Turaga and he turned to face all the Matoran. “Our village is and always will be protected! Carry on with what you were doing." I frowned at the Turaga’s apparent arrogance. This ‘Dark Hunter’ could have obviously obliterated the town if he wished to. And what if he came back? Or worse, return with more? The Turaga’s mask wouldn’t be able to protect us next time. “Turaga, with all due respect, don’t you think we need to evacuate?” I asked him. The Turaga shook his head, “Lhikan,” he said, “you always were a fiery spirit. But our village is in peace. Let us leave it at that”. “But what if we face more dangers? What if you are injured? We have been living so long like this, we wouldn’t know how to fight!” I argued. “Peace”, said the Turaga and he stared at me for a good minute, before returning to his hut. I stood there wondering how such as a wise being could be so naïve. Houses were burning. Matoran were screaming. The streets were littered with tools, masks and the occasional friend. The cause of this destruction? The red Dark Hunter, named Lurker, had returned for the treasured mask as I thought he would but this time with a friend, an armoured being with a serpent head called Kraata-Kal. The serpent one had arrived out of nowhere in the night, lashing out shadow and fire blasts everywhere. This was followed by Lurker, who attacked from the shadows at any hiding Matoran. I had been preparing myself for the last week in preparation for such as attack, but our village was clearly losing. Our Turaga had tried again to protect us again but he could not control both Dark Hunters and inevitably was killed. I launched Kanoka disk after Kanoka disk at the beings, hoping it would do something. Alas it made them angrier but they couldn’t see me as I hid and darted around in the smoke. I saw my friend, the trader, wield some launcher in his hand. It looked like it hadn’t been used for eons. He activated it and a spinning wheel of energy leapt from it at the serpent headed creature. It missed and unfortunately it got the attention of the armoured being. He strode over to the Matoran and as casually as he pleased, he swung his sword straight through him. “Nooooo!” I yelled. Anger filled me from mask to foot and I leapt over the rumble I was hiding behind. I kept loading my disk launcher and firing. Kraata-Kal blocked all the attacks with ease and walked over towards me until he was right in front of me. I hit him as hard as I could but to no avail. His armour was strong but pitted, black and rusty. He was so close I could feel his very evilness radiating off him. He brought his sword close to my neck and breathed on me. “Goodbye Matoran”, he hissed, raising his sword to strike. This was it, I thought. This was the end. My village was in ruin because I didn’t have enough strength to protect those around me. And not only that, I couldn’t protect myself. I closed my eyes and waited to see if I’d open them again. “Aaaaaaagh!!!” Kraata-Kal screeched in pain and fell next to me. He had smoke drifting off his burnt back. I looked up to see what could do such a thing and standing before me was a Toa. Clad in black and red armour that had the marks off a thousand fights and wielding a large sword, he ran over to me and looked at me through his Kanohi Kiril; “Who…who are you?” I asked, shaking from fear. “My name is Dume. And may I say that was a very brave thing to do. What is your name? Lhikan? Well Lhikan, that was also foolish. Very foolish but brave”, Dume said. Kraata-Kal began to stir. “Now go! Follow my fellow Toa” he ordered and he readied himself as Kraata-Kal rose again, very angry. I ran as fast as I could but I couldn’t help but look back. “You are going to pay for that, Toa”, I heard the Dark Hunter say. But he did not attack. I could see that Lurker was about to spring from the shadows behind Toa Dume. Kraata-Kal was distracting Dume! “Behind you!” I yelled. Dume quickly swirled around and hit Lurker in the head just as the he was pouncing to attack, knocking the Dark Hunter unconscious. “I said go!” ordered Dume. Kraata-Kal then swung his sword towards Dume and the Toa of Fire parried, the two were now locked in combat. Suddenly a hand grabbed my shoulder. It belonged to a Toa of Water wearing a Kanohi Kakama. “This way. I’ll lead you to safety”, she said and picking me up over her shoulder, she ran with me up to a small hidden cave that I had never noticed before in the side of one of the mountains. When I looked into the cave it was practically a straight downward fall which would be impossible to climb down if it wasn’t for the rope ladder. “Follow the cave tunnel at the bottom of the ladder it leads out to the sea where there is a boat with the rest of your brothers and sisters. Once there you will meet my brother Toa. He will take you south. And don’t worry you’re the last Matoran”, instructed the Toa of Water. She then used her mask to run back down to the village to help Dume. I looked back down into the cave and gulped. It was a long way down and I suddenly developed a fear of heights that I had never known before. Knowing that going back was definitely worse than forward, I proceeded cautiously and slowly. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot I thought to myself in a steady rhythm. But one of the rope steps had worn from all the other Matoran walking down and eventually snapped. I started falling the floor of the cave screaming along the way. Really wish I could fly now! I thought to myself, closing my eyes tightly, preparing myself for my next apparent death whilst still screaming. The next thing I knew, a Toa of Air wearing a Mask of Flight shot out from below and caught me in his arms. “Why hello there Ta-Matoran!” he greeted as though catching Ta-Matoran from certain death was something he did every day. “Next time, leave the high-flying for people like me. Now, I’ll quick-take you to your friends”. Still shaking in his arms from the experience, we flew through the tunnel right to the mouth. We stepped on the boat with about 60 other scared Matoran. The Toa of Air stood at the wheel of the boat and looked up at the sky. He raised his spear into the air to create a mini cyclone. It must have been a signal, for it was responded by a tall pillar of fire that came roughly from where the village and was probably the work of Dume. “Alrighty then Matoran! Never fear, next stop, south!” grinned the green Toa and he started the boat. “Excuse me, but how did you come in time to rescue us?” asked one of the Matoran on-board. “We had been sneak-following the Hunters”, recounted the Toa of Air, “caught them quick-scaring a bunch of villagers for a boat on a close-by island. Tail-followed them, fought them and lost them at sea. Didn’t know what they were up to until we found their boat again docked near that cave”. He then proceeded to tell an extravagant tale about their fight with the Dark Hunters at scene. I wasn’t listening, to busy looking out over the boat, deep in thought. In just one night, the life of my village had changed. We had practically been cut off from the rest of the world, living in complete peace and isolation thinking that it would last forever. There would be no more peace now. We needed someone to protect us. And what if Toa weren’t around like this time? As I pondered about a solution I realised that I should make it my duty to defend other Matoran that couldn’t defend themselves the best I can. Thousands of years went past and whilst I still did my crafting job, I always trained myself to be a better fighter. I practiced in swordplay and disks and was a lead figure in the fight against Rahi attacks in various villages. Kikanalo, Kane-Ra, Nui-Jaga, all of them I had stopped. What I didn’t know was that my fame for being such a lead figure had spread all the way to Metru Nui, for one day a messenger arrived at my hut with a request from a Turaga Dume to help the city of Metru Nui. “Turaga Dume?” I cried surprised. “Yes, the very one that saved you that night your village fell. Before he was a Turaga, that is”, said the messenger. “He asks you to help our glorious city. Our main trade route at sea has become dangerous and we’ve lost a few of ships. We think that some sea Rahi have been preying on them. We ask that you accompany a trading boat that is going to Metru Nui. If you are successful, the Turaga has asked you to see him.” “But why not ask a Toa or two?” I inquired, “Surely they would be more suitable?” “I’m not sure why, but the Turaga specifically asked me to seek you. Now, you can decline this invitation if you wish but something about this whole business says to me that the Turaga has seen something in you before. Consider this a test”, answered the messenger. I thought about that for a moment. A test? For what purpose? It was a mystery I wanted to solve. “Alright, I’ll do it”, I replied. The next day I prepared my belongings, packing as many special Kanoka disks as possible. I managed to get a trip on a local trading boat whose journey was to Metru Nui. “Greetings, Matoran! My name is Defilak”, said the Le-Matoran in charge of the boat. We clanked our fists and he continued “My ship’s heading straight to one of the docks at Le-Metru. We’re planning on selling a lot of stone carvings from my home land. They’re really precious to me at the moment, we need to sell them for resources back home. So make sure you take care of those sea beasts!” “Don’t worry you worry, leave everything up to me”, I said, rather arrogantly. Two days later the storm could be seen on the horizon. The clouds were as dark as the armour of Kraata-Kal and I could see large bolts of lightning. I looked over the deck and whistled. It looked dangerous, as though it would shatter our boat the minute we were in the middle of it. “May the Great Beings be with us,” I said. A nearby Po-Matoran in the corner carving a small statue started muttering to himself. “The sun does not pray and if it did, would it pray to other suns?” I looked at him, very confused “Are you talking to me?” He smiled at me through his Kanohi Komau and went back to his work. Defilak was behind me and saw my confusion “Don’t worry about Velika, most of the time we don’t know what he is saying either. He has a unique perspective on life. Anyways, back to this storm. I’ve never seen one like this before. We might have to tie down our cargo, including ourselves.” Velika stopped what he was carving and was now looking at the storm too. He frowned and said “If the fire is a furnace then who makes a furnace?” I looked at him oddly, as if he had grown two heads. “Wait, I actually think I get this one” said Defilak happily. After the moment of satisfaction he said “Velika is trying to say that someone must have conjured the storm because it’s not natural” Then he paused. “Who can conjure up a storm?” I had no answer so I looked back. That was when I noticed some things were flying in the storm. I suddenly remembered a story I had heard from a traveller. “Are they Rahkshi of weather-control?” I asked. Defilak squinted and said “Yes… they might be”. He swore and then ordered the crew to take up arms. He turned to me and said “Most of us aren’t trained fighters. We really could appreciate some help”. I pulled out my disk launcher and looked at my new friend; “Don’t worry, you have no need to ask. The Rahkshi are probably what’s causing these ships to sink as well”. The battle that happened next I could only describe as savage. The winds and water threatened to tear us apart and all the while there were two Rahkshi of weather-control locked in combat. They had been too busy fighting each other to notice us directly but once we were right under them, they landed on our boat. One of them landed right behind me and I turned around to face the monster. Its sight was hideous and I suddenly swelled with fear. What am I doing here? We needed a Toa! But then I remembered we didn’t, there was only me and only me here to protect the crew. The Rahkshi swung its staff at me and I ducked underneath. It hissed and a lightning bolt nearly hit me. I raised my shield and then fired one of my Kanoka disks. The effect was immediate. The disc’s power was shrinking and the next moment, the Rahkshi was 1 foot tall. I laughed and went to kick it over board. Next thing I knew, it crawled up my leg and starting scratching me, which actually hurt. “Aaaagh, get if off!” I yelled. I waved by arms but it kept hitting me. Velika came up to me and hit the Rahkshi off my face. It fell on the deck and the Po-Matoran quickly flipped its back open to expose it’s Kraata. He then hit the Rahkshi out into the sea with his carving tools, knocking the miniature Kraata out of its Rahkshi shell. “Even an injured Doom Viper is a dangerous enemy” Velika said and this time even I got that one. “Don’t underestimate your opponents, no matter how big or small they may seem” I nodded. “Well, one down, one more to go. I probably could use a hand this time too”. Velika smiled and nodded and we turned to face our next enemy. This one was being taken care of the other crew but they weren’t doing well at all. Four Matoran were unconscious including Defilak and three Matoran held spears at the armoured creature. A few more were hiding behind some cargo. Water was washing all over the deck, the whole boat being threatened by the storm created by the last Rahkshi. “Velika, now” I ordered. Velika aimed my disk launcher at me and fired one of my precious disks. The disk’s enlarging power activated and I was now taller than the Rahkshi itself. Seeing a bigger enemy, it hissed and went for me. My new size meant I was just as strong and I battled it out with the Rahkshi. I still wasn’t strong enough to take it down but that wasn’t part of the plan. Velika quickly explained the plan to the rest of the Matoran and they started by moving our unconscious friends to safety. Once that was done they grabbed a rope and pulled it has hard as they could, forming a trip rope. They signalled me when it was done and I slowly pressed forward. Time was crucial because I could feel I was shrinking already. Just as the Rahkshi was about to fall over the rope, it turned as saw what was happening. Reacting as fast as I could, I pushed the Rahkshi, knocking over the rope and it fell over. The Matoran quickly then tied it down and freed its Kraata. The storm immediately disappeared and all of us cheered. “That was excellent work Velika!” I complimented to the Po-Matoran “I hope one day you’ll be rewarded, I really do”. Velika patted me on the back and we joined in celebration. Once I arrived at Metru Nui I said my farewells to Defilak, Velika and the crew. My next destination was to the great Coliseum to meet Turaga Dume as he asked me to. As I walked down the corridors of the magnificent building I could see him smiling right at the end. “Lhikan, Lhikan, Lhikan” he started to say “when I saved you as a Matoran, I knew that there you had a bigger purpose. As you may have guessed, once I heard of your reputation, I wanted to test you and see if you had the ability to face those that threaten use even if they may seem more powerful. You realised your duty and through unity you were able to overcome the challenge. And today I would like to present you with this token of your destiny”. The Turaga then pull out a small object from his robes. In his hand was a glowing stone which could mean only one thing. “A Toa stone!” I exclaimed.Dume nodded and continued “I chose a number of Matoran to become a Toa when I changed into a Turaga. But I kept one because I felt that there was someone out there that deserved it but the time was not ready. Today I believe the day is ready. Come, follow me to the Great Temple.” We travelled to the Great Temple but not alone. Swarms of Matoran stopped working and began following us to see what was happening. Dume asked them to go back to work but he couldn’t get all of them to. I didn’t mind in the slightest. I wanted to show the Matoran a new hope. As we approached the suva thoughts raced through my head. Was I worthy of this title? Would I have to stay in Metru Nui now? Who would train me in my skills? There’s no way knowing until I find out I thought to myself and I placed the stone into the only free slot. A beam of energy shot from the Suva and I could feel my armor twisting and expanding, becoming stronger. I opened my eyes and looked down. I was now a Toa of Fire! The Matoran gasped in awe, approaching me to touch my armour. I laughed and let them do so.It was Dume’s turn to finally approach me. “Now that you have these abilities what will you do with them, Toa Lhikan?” I shook my head “I don’t know Turaga. I don’t know yet how to use my abilities. What would you have me do?” Dume thought for a moment and said “A team of Toa have been defending their fortress to the far south of Metru Nui for centuries. I recommend you go there and learn the ways with your fellow brothers and sisters”. I nodded at this. “If you ever need me, send a messenger. I will get here as fast as I can fly” “Fly?” asked Dume. I raised my two new blades and put them together to form a hover board. “Yes, Turaga, fly,” I grinned “Once I almost died because I couldn’t. Today, however, I soar” and I flew out of the Great Temple, soaring so high that I could see all of Metru Nui laid out below me, ready for my next adventure.
  7. Nidhiki stood at the wall of the Dark Hunter fortress. Every now and then he thought about the times he had been in Metru Nui and the many battles he had fought in the Toa-Dark Hunter War. During times of war, it was normal for someone to write down the details for each battle, so future historians can have a record. When Nidhiki was bored, he would read the words he wrote all those years ago and ponder what he could have done to prevent himself from becoming a Dark Hunter and looking like the monster he is now. * * * Toa-Dark Hunter war, day 42 I was in the room with the rest of the Toa Mangai and Dume where we usually strategize, when someone knocked on the chamber door. I was wondering who was rude enough to cut me off in mid-sentence until I saw she was one of our Toa scouts. She was a Toa of Lightning and wore a white Kanohi Akaku. She stepped forward. She explained that she had overheard a couple of Dark Hunters talking about a bomb. She also stated that they planned to use that bomb to destroy a third of the Toa defending the city. And then... All Lhikan said was that we would deal with it after we got medical supplies for our injured Toa! So I decided to make my thoughts on the matter clear. "You can't be serious! We need to deal with this as soon as possible! This is war! The Dark Hunters wouldn't waste time to destroy us all!" I said. "Even if we did something about this bomb, what would we do? Throw elemental bursts and hope they hit something? If we go in with just what we have, what would we accomplish?" Lhikan replied. "That's a much better plan than waiting!" "If I can get a word in, we could just send in a team small enough to slip by their defenses and steal the bomb for examination," the scout interjected. I had to say, I was quite surprised I hadn’t thought about that. She continued, "I volunteer myself to go, since I am the only one who knows where the bomb is located. "Lhikan considered this for a moment. "We’ll send a team in about an hour. And since you are so eager for action, Nidhiki, you shall accompany this Toa and two others who are willing to go on this mission. Is that clear?" "Yes... Brother" I replied bitterly. We then headed out to search for Toa who would be willing to accompany us. * * * There were two Toa willing to accompany us, one a Toa of Fire with a gold hue and a red Hau, the other a Toa of "the Green" wearing a blue Faxon. The three Toa with me seemed to know each other quite well. They were remembering their adventures before the war. They seemed to have a lot of good memories, but where I come from, you can never be completely safe, which was why I had learned to use the shadows to my advantage, unlike these three. Eventually we reached Ga-Metru, where the Toa of Lightning said the bomb was located. She used her Kanohi Akaku to scan for the bomb, but she couldn’t find it. She suggested that the Dark Hunters had moved it to keep it safe. "So how do you suppose we find one bomb in this entire section of the Metru?" the Toa of Fire asked. "We should split into two teams so we can cover more ground. You, Toa of Plant Life, you're with me. Let's go," I replied. The team went in opposite directions, the Toa of Plants and I taking the left path. Eventually we found a Dark Hunter outpost, with the Dark Hunter named Primal standing guard. He didn't see us yet, so I created a vacuum around him, and due to the lack of air, he fell unconscious. I and the Toa of the green went inside the outpost, only to find that there was nothing there. Then, we saw a ball of flame erupt in the air just about a kio away. "What is that Toa thinking!? He just gave away his position to the whole city!" I exclaimed. "He is still a novice, so he has a lot to learn. But don't worry; we know where he is, so I suggest we make haste." When we arrived at the site of the flare, we found our two Toa allies battling four Dark Hunters at the time. "I guess we'd better help," I said to my partner. A green dark hunter of the Skakdi race seemed to notice us. He seemed to be the one in charge of the group. "Hakann! Reidak! Teach these two to not interfere with things that don't concern them!" he ordered. The one called Reidak charged at me. I hurled a cyclone at him, which seemed to make him even madder. As soon as the cyclone subsided, he charged at me yet again. “You’re a tricky one, aren't you?” I said. He let out a growl of frustration and swung, with the blunt end of his Buzz saw smacking me right in the mask. "OWW! That's it, no more playing easy!" I swung at him, with my scythe hooking onto his Buzz saw. With all my might, I tore it free from his grip. As soon as he was defenseless, I punched him with enough force to knock-out a Kane-Ra bull. "Toa, one, Dark Hunter, zero." I went to go help out the novice Toa of Fire, who seemed to be having a hard time beating the one I recognized as Thok. As soon as the fire-spitter noticed I was coming he shouted that he could hold them off while the Toa of Lightning would destroy the bomb. "Sure thing fire-spitter,” I pointed to the dark hunter in charge. “But I'll handle him!" * * * After a furious battle, Zaktan shouted to his squad, "The bomb is lost! We shall live to fight another day!" The one called Hakann pointed his lava launcher at the Toa of plants. "Of course, but it would be rude to leave without a parting gift!" With that said, he shot a lava sphere right at the Toa of "the Green". It struck him square in the chest, slowly burning away at his organs. It must have been an agonizing death. "NOOOOOO!" the fire-spitter shouted, hurling balls of flame at the retreating dark hunters, but it was already too late. "It's all my fault! I should've helped him out! I should've done something!" I went to the Toa of fire and said, "It’s not your fault. Things like this are going to happen during a war, kid. You need to learn to get used to it." And with that, we returned to the Coliseum, where I informed Lhikan of the death of the Toa of plants. "And you are sure you couldn't do anything to prevent this?" "If I could, I would have." I replied. After that was dealt with, we put the bomb in storage, where it was decided it would remain. But I kept on thinking that I should have convinced Lhikan to use the bomb against the Dark Hunters. Bah, he probably would have said “No, we cannot endanger the Matoran!”. Anyway, why would Lhikan care so much about ONE life out of one hundred? Is he surprised that someone was killed in a war? It wouldn’t make sense if he was. In my opinion, you should only care about a death in a war if you lost someone important. This Toa of Plant Life, however, was not important. He was just a soldier, we have dozens of Toa who could take his place! After I thought about this, Lhikan asked me to check in on the guards and inform them of the loss. After I did that, I went to our usual room where we would talk about strategies. END
  8. The Sea Gate Mission: Today, I received a summons from Turaga Dume. It was very early in the morning, so I didn’t really want to get up. However, the Vahki escort at my door told me I should probably get up see what it was about. I arrived at the Coliseum and the two Zadakh directed me to Dume’s private chambers. When I arrived, I saw Naho, Toa of Water and the silent Toa of Ice known only as Freeze. “Welcome, Kodan. I trust the Vahki weren’t too…persuasive. It’s all to ensure your safety. You and these Toa have an important mission ahead of you,” said Turaga Dume. “And what is that mission?” asked Naho. “You will be going to the southernmost Sea Gate and closing it so that we can have a barricade against any attacks that might come that way. We already know that dangerous Rahi are coming in through them so it is imperative that they are closed,” explained Dume. “But won’t that halt our trade with lands like Xia and the Tren Krom Peninsula?” asked Naho. “It will weaken them, yes, but then they don’t really have much to offer us, do they?” asked the Turaga. Both Toa shrugged. “Well, then you shouldn’t have a problem with this task!” said the Turaga, enthusiastically, “It should take you maybe four days maximum, but remember; take all the time you need. Now, Chronicler; I need you to go with them to record their story.” “OK, but I don’t see what could possibly happen,” I said. Why would a chronicler need to go on a mission that was supposed to be easy? I went with it though. “You never know where an adventure could turn up,” he said. “Alright, if you say so,” I said dismissively. “Excellent! Your airship leaves from the Moto-Hub at noon today. “ And I thought, Oh joy. --- I arrived at the Moto-Hub and realized that I had forgoten my Reconstitute at Random disk. I take it with me on every trip I go on and it’s kind of a symbol for luck. On my way to the boarding dock I ran into a strange looking Ta-Matoran with a blue Pakari. “Oof! Sorry, I didn’t see you the-oh! You’re him! You’re the Chronicler!” “Yes, and I’m in a hurry so could you please stand aside,” I said, then realizing that I might have hurt his feelings I said, “Look, I’m sorry, I can’t sign anything right now, just take this,” and I gave him a souvenir that I got from Ga-Metru. “Cool!” he exclaimed. He told me his name was Takua as I was running to the loading dock. I got on before I could hear anything else. --- It is a nice airship, with a cargo bay, auto pilot, observation deck, multiple floors and rooms, and spare Kanoka disk storage compartment. I’m no expert on aircraft -- or vehicles in general for that matter -- but it is a thing of beauty. I found Naho in the cockpit. She looked concerned. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “Something just seems…I don’t know …off,” she said slowly. “With what?” I asked, although I had a feeling I already knew what she was talking about. “This mission to close the gate, I mean, how would it benefit anyone by doing this? Rahi numbers aren’t really as high as the Turaga is trying to say. Trust me, I take care of a lot of Rahi in Ga-Metru.” “So what do you think the real reason for this mission is?” I asked. She paused for a full minute. “I don’t know. But he is the Turaga, and he knows what’s best,” she said, and then she scanned the cloudy horizon for the sea gate. At that moment, a tiny passing thought came into my mind. It was a small, idle thought, yet a disturbing thought. What if the Turaga doesn’t have the Matoran’s best interest at heart? However, I dismissed this idea as ridiculous. After all, Turaga Dume would always keep the safety of the Matoran first, wouldn’t he? He wouldn’t purposely put Metru Nui in danger, would he? Naho snapped me out of my daydream. “There it is!” Freeze ran in and looked to see what she was talking about, while I pulled out a small telescope from my pack to get a better view. It was hard to make out what it was due to an overhanging fog, but sure enough, there was a large hole in the Great Barrier that was big enough for a ship to pass through. When we landed near the ledge by the hole I noticed a wheel off to the side embedded in the wall. It was obvious what it was; a wheel that you turn to open and close the gate. How easy that would be, I had no clue, but it had to be turned to close it. We got out and I put my hands on the wheel and tried to turn it with all my might, but it didn’t budge. A hand laid itself on my shoulder. I looked up to see that it was Freeze, almost as if to say that it’s not my place. So I backed away. Both Toa put their hands on the wheel. They strained for many minutes before they decided that they needed a new method. So Freeze created a pillar of ice that was wedged between a rock and a spoke in the wheel while Naho created extra moisture for the pillar to expand. When the pillar’s length expanded, the wheel turned. When the pillar got to be too long for the wheel, Naho would smash it. This process was repeated multiple times, but even then, by the time night had fallen, they were exhausted. But they did it, they closed the gate. Naho said, “Well, I think that’s the hardest I’ve worked since that swim to get more Toa to help us in the War!” Freeze nodded. We boarded the airship and I went to my quarters to write this chroni-- ---- The report sent to The Shadowed One by Eliminator: By the time you receive this message, I will have killed two Toa on their airship from Metru Nui. Also, I killed a Po-Matoran chronicler named Kodan who was also on the trip. I slipped onto their ship while they were closing the gate and took a 117, a 368, a 656, a 188, and a 527 out of the disk compartment and obliterated them, taking their masks and weapons as trophies. I also stabbed the Po-Matoran with the staff he had with him (the one that showed his rank), and attached the chronicle that he was writing to this report. By the time you get it, I will have sent their airship to the bottom of the sea and moved on to my next location. Be sure to send our client my regards. 1,162 Words, including dividers
  9. Whelp, here we go. Three on Three by Makuta Matata aka Knuckles Chaotix It was nearly midnight. The only ray of light in the Pit came from a lone, dim lightstone suspended above the rusty protosteel bars of the fifth cell in the dank hallway, in the middle of the wall. Surveying the jail, the prison guard, Hydraxon, paced through the cramped halls of the Pit, eyeing each prisoner as he passed their cramped, dank cells, all of which were on one side of the hall, facing a blank slate wall that was in a constant state of dampness. To pass the time on slower days, he would note the reactions of his captives as he passed by them on his routine corridor sweeps. Over time, the inmates would improve from their snarling, spite-filled arrests to a subdued and almost respectful demeanor. Sometimes, inmates glared at him or even snarled, but it was usually beings who had recently been condemned to the Pit. As days turned into months, months turned into years, and years turned into centuries, the criminals began to act more and more subdued, often times not sparing Hydraxon so much as a glance as he strutted by. Something feels off today, Hydraxon thought as he turned into the hall where the malicious Barraki were confined. How long have they been here? 75,000 years? No, 80,000. I don’t recall. They’ve been here for eons, that’s what matters. And prisoners who have wasted away in this miserable place for that long tend to not be up and about. Especially at this time of night. He walked down the hall, all his senses on high alert, because he knew that these particular criminals were extremely potent, even while completely unarmed. Hydraxon narrowed his eyes suspiciously at each of the former warlords in turn as he trudged down the aisle. In return, the Barraki assaulted him with piercing, white hot glares. This was his least favorite part of the Pit, if any part of it could be called his favorite. He was approaching a bend at the end of the hallway when he heard a condescending voice snarl his name. “Hydraxon,” spat Pridak. “You’re pathetic.” Hydraxon spun around and walked back towards Pridak’s cell. Pridak slammed his fists against the protosteel bars, causing the dim, fading lightstone overhead to flicker, casting an eerie glow over the hallway, just enough so he could see Pridak’s menacing face loom out of the darkness. “Pathetic?” said Hydraxon, raising a mechanical eyebrow. “Now what could possibly make you say that?” “Your life is dedicated to pacing this miserable hole, constantly guarding us, trying in vain to keep a bunch of outlaws like us contained, even when you know you can’t,” said Mantax from an adjacent cell. “You six will never escape,” said Hydraxon with a smirk. “This place has the best security system in the universe. How could someone like you ever hope to break through it?” “You’ve never done anything substantial at all in your life, have you?” Mantax retorted, ignoring the insult. “Funny you should bring that up,” Hydraxon said. “You might want to carve this one.” And so his tale began. --- I stood upon a rocky outcropping overlooking a warm, sunny beach on Daxia, observing the rookie Toa team before me with a mixture of satisfaction and disappointment. For a Toa team that had recently been created, they seemed to have mastered their new powers well. Their mastery did not translate into practicality, however. I saw Tahu melt a boulder to slag just for the sheer joy of it, Lewa summoning a breeze just to observe the rustling of the leaves, and Gali challenging Pohatu to a swimming contest. They needed training. After all, that was my assignment. “Enough!” I shouted to the Toa before me, who all turned, unaware of who I was. “My name is Hydraxon, your new trainer. Line up!” The Toa dutifully shuffled into a line, looking somewhat excited about their very first training mission, yet somewhat rebellious, knowing that their free time had come to a close. The red one, Tahu, looked particularly defiant. He did not seem happy being bossed around. He must have had the whole “being a leader” thing get to his head, I thought. I’ll have to work on that. “Now,” I began. “When you train with me, you train as equals, no individual being placed in charge unless I say so. I am in charge around here.” Tahu looked at the ground, clearly disappointed. I could sense the Toa’s anger rising. “Now, now, Tahu,” said I, almost in a mocking tone, “you’ll get your chance to prove yourself as a leader soon enough. But first, it is quite evident that training is needed.” “We already have mastery over our individual Toa and Mask powers,” said Kopaka in his signature cold, quiet voice that nobody could emulate, “what more training could we possibly need?” I decided to ignore that comment. He would see in due time. For an ice type, I thought, he doesn’t really have a good attitude towards learning and training. “Now, for your first exercise.” I gestured towards Tahu, Pohatu, and Onua. “You three. Come here.” They obliged. “I will give you three a head start into that jungle,” I said, pointing to the semi-dark jungle behind me with my thumb. “After five minutes, Kopaka, Lewa, and Gali will be sent in after you with the intent of tracking you down, capturing you, and bringing you back to me. You three must avoid your brothers and sister and find me. I will be hidden somewhere in the forest. Be warned, though, because I will be well camouflaged. Whichever group fails to complete their task gets a... special treatment, courtesy of yours truly. Any questions?” Tahu and Pohatu exchanged a glance. I merely frowned. Neither of them wanted to find out what my ‘special treatment’ entailed. And I did not want them to find out either. “When do we start?” asked Tahu, his usual bravado tempered by uneasiness. “Now,” Hydraxon replied matter-of-factly, looking at the Order-issued mini sundial positioned on the ground nearby. Pohatu grabbed Tahu’s and Onua’s hands and triggered his Kanohi Kakama, pulling the two of them into the brush in a blink of the eye, though not at top speed. Tahu and Onua cried out in fear as Pohatu zoomed out of sight. The Madu and bamboo trees swayed in the wind and moved apart where Pohatu had vanished into the jungle. I whistled, never having actually seen a Kanohi Kakama in action before. The wind he created even uprooted some palmettos, and would probably rip Tahu and Onua in half. “They get five minutes like that?” Lewa asked exasperatedly. “How in Mata Nui’s name are we supposed to catch them if they’re running that fast?” “That’s the point of the exercise,” I said, somewhat impatiently, not lifting my gaze from my sundial. After five anxious minutes, I pointed over my shoulder with my thumb again, I told Kopaka, Gali, and Lewa to go. Kopaka and Gali took off at a steady sprint and Lewa, letting out a groan, followed them with an off-balance jog. I waited for a few seconds, watching them disappear into the greenery, then followed, keeping to the shadows so as not to be seen by the Toa. --- Upon reaching the edge of the forest, I quickly scaled a sturdy-looking tree and, listening closely, could still hear the three most recently departed Toa planning some distance away. “Okay,” I heard Kopaka say. “Gali, you hunt down Onua. Lewa, see if you can somehow catch Pohatu. I’ll take care of Tahu. This is assuming they’ve split up already.” “Kopaka!” said Gali incredulously. “They’re our fellow Toa! And even more. They’re our brothers! We can’t make them fail this test just so we can succeed. Mata Nui knows what Hydraxon will do to the Toa on the losing end.” This comment amused me. “That’s exactly why we can’t lose,” said Kopaka grimly. “Helryx told us Hydraxon’s one of her most fearsome allies. Do you want to be shredded by that arsenal he carries on himself?” “Now wait a moment here,” said Lewa, who I noticed was now levitating using his mask power. “Kopaka, they’re our brothers, and we can’t make them fail for us. But Gali, how are we supposed to finish the mission if we don’t capture them?” Gali shook her head. Kopaka looked down. “I don’t know what to do, Lewa,” Gali said. She seemed deep in thought. “I still say that we focus on each Toa separately, assuming they are not all together,” said Kopaka. “If we find them in time, we’ll decide what to do from there.” “We’ll stick together until we have to split up,” said Lewa, even thought he was not in full agreement with Kopaka’s plan. Gali nodded and murmured something about agreeing, even though she did not seem thrilled with Kopaka and Lewa’s plan. Kopaka nodded too. “Alright then,” said Kopaka. “If any of you captures one of our brothers, send a signal up into the air so we know where you are.” As a group, they walked off along the path. I nodded in approval. This training mission is working better than I expected, I thought. Upon realizing that Lewa was about to scale the tree I was in, I crawled over a strong branch into a neighboring tree, this one even bigger than the last, and climbed down. Upon reaching the ground, left in search of my other three Toa. --- I crept stealthily through the forest, searching for my other three trainees. I sincerely hoped that they were no longer using Pohatu’s Kakama to traverse the forest, otherwise I would never be able to find them. I wondered how in the name of the Order of Mata Nui Kopaka expected Lewa to catch up to Pohatu at that speed. It’s ironic, I thought with a smile. Their mission is to find me, and here I am stalking them. I turned a sharp bend in the narrow path I was walking on and nearly fell over, because Tahu, Onua, and Pohatu were walking not two Bios in front of me. Luckily for me, they were facing the opposite direction. Using this to my advantage, I scrambled behind a thick tree and decided to climb, just to be safe. The last thing I wanted at this moment was for the Toa to find me. Only once I had cleared my mind of all internal sounds and thoughts did I realize that the Toa below me were chatting amongst themselves. I leaned in closer to hear. “If we don’t find Hydraxon, we’ll lose,” said a friendly voice that belonged to Pohatu. “But if we do find him, our brothers and sister will lose.” Once again, I smiled. All this smiling is unlike me, I thought. I haven’t smiled this much in one day since... I don’t think I’ve ever smiled this much. “I don’t want to make my fellow Toa lose for us, but we have to win this,” said Tahu gruffly. “And they are probably thinking the same thing as we are right now.” “I propose,” said Onua, “that we confront our brothers and sister rather than searching for Hydraxon. This way, we can work out together what exactly we must do.” “Now wait a minute, Onua,” said Tahu haughtily. “What if they aren’t thinking the same thing we are? I said probably, not definitely. And who made you the leader? Last I checked, I was in charge here.” Pohatu chuckled. “Remember what Hydraxon said? Your leadership is irrelevant unless he says so.” “As for your first objection,” said Onua, “we’ll just have to assume that they are thinking for us just as we are for them. And besides, if they try to capture us, we have this.” Onua tapped Pohatu’s mask with an armored finger, which caused a faint clanking sound. “So, we’re all in agreement?” said Pohatu jovially. Onua nodded, and Tahu merely looked away, then looked back at Pohatu. “We’ll take that as a yes,” said Pohatu with a chuckle. Pohatu grabbed his brothers around the waists and took off at a faster than normal speed, but took care to not go nearly his top speed, as he did not want to hurt his fellow Toa. I lowered myself from the upper branches of the tree, making a beeline for the area I knew Kopaka, Lewa, and Gali would be. They could not have gone too far. I ran at a steady pace to the east, already looking forward to the confrontation I knew would be one to remember. --- Again, I crouched in a tree that dwarfed me in size, watching Kopaka lead Gali and Lewa along a forest trail. They made a triangle formation, but all three were on alert, keeping their eyes peeled for any sign of their brothers. Lewa, unsteady as he was on his feet, was levitating rather than walking, leaving his legs trailing limply behind him. Gali looked dried out, as if she had been away from water for too long. Her armor, normally a deep aquamarine, seemed like a dull blue. Kopaka seemed as if he had melted; the strong determination that exuded was replaced by a dull weakness, like a melted ice cube. I suddenly realized that we had been in this jungle nearly all day, and that the sun was beginning to set. If Tahu and the others didn’t arrive soon, I might have to terminate the exercise. Alas, from my vantage point atop the tree, I saw the brown streak that I knew to be Pohatu. The others couldn't be far behind him. I knew that Pohatu was not running full speed so that Tahu and Onua could attempt to keep up. Hoping that they would notice their brothers and sister in the near-darkness, I could do nothing but watch. Sure enough, they slowed down to a stop near Kopaka, Gali, and Lewa, but did not reveal themselves. Quietly, I crept my way through the treetops so I could hear the ensuing conversation. “Are we sure we want to do this?” said Tahu, who was clearly more bent on finishing the mission. I realized at that moment that I would have to train Tahu to be a better leader someday. I could not imagine at that point why he was appointed leader and not one of the others. I would learn in due time, though. “We have to,” said Onua in reply. Before Tahu could stop him, he stepped out in front of the others, attempting to reveal himself, but his dark armor concealed him in the darkness. Slightly annoyed, he grabbed Tahu, who's red armor glowed like an inferno, and pulled him out next to him. I almost smiled again. Kopaka stopped in his tracks, causing Gali and Lewa to nearly crash into his back. For a moment, they wondered why he had suddenly stopped walking, but they quickly noticed the red and black duo blocking their path with Pohatu on the sidelines, who was following the other two out of their concealed position. Lewa landed back on the ground gently. “Don’t!” said both Onua and Gali simultaneously, each holding out their hand. Neither was amused at this coincidence. “Don’t run,” Gali said to Pohatu “Don’t try to catch us,” Pohatu replied with a chuckle. “We’ve come to work out some sort of deal,” said Tahu, stepping forward. “This way, neither of us will fail this test.” “Same,” said Kopaka shortly and flatly. “So uh, any thought-plans?” asked Lewa sheepishly. Nobody spoke. “What if we catch Hydraxon at the exact same time that you catch us?” said Pohatu with a grin. “We won’t know who to pass and who to fail.” “This isn’t the time for jokes, Pohatu,” said Gali in a reprimanding tone. “Maybe we could talk to Hydraxon,” suggested Onua. “Maybe the point of this mission was to work out this compromise.” “We were told differently,” said Gali. I decided it was time to reveal myself. “You are correct, Onua,” I said, my voice booming from the treetops. I jumped down from my perch atop the tree and landed gently in the middle of the group. All the Toa, even Kopaka, appeared startled at my sudden appearance in their midst. Onua and Pohatu exchanged a look of confusion. I almost smiled again. Almost. I continued. “You’ll find that this will be one of your easier tasks throughout the course of my training, but it is no less important than all the rest. If anything, this is the most important of them all. This mission is meant to show you that fighting is not always the answer. As you have seen, a solution to a conflict can often be worked out by simply talking the situation over with the enemy, eliminating the need for further conflict.” “Then why the arsenal of weapons you have with you?” Tahu asked. I ignored him and continued. “This exercise also showed that sometimes, your camaraderie may be threatened by your mission. Never allow that to happen. A mission that puts your friends or the innocent in danger is a mission not worth completing. That was something my trainer told me. Remember to always use your better judgment in situations like these. It could make the difference between being a Toa hero or a villain like those in the depths of the Pit.” “Uh, what’s the Pit?” asked Pohatu. “Thank you, Hydraxon, for teaching us this valuable lesson,” said Gali, elbowing Pohatu. “You six did the right thing today,” I said. “It was all luck, we just thought the same way,” said Kopaka. “We felt petty emotions and we acted upon them.” “I think that was the idea, Kopaka,” said Gali. “These ‘petty emotions’ are what we were supposed to feel.” “It’s almost like it has been programmed into us,” said Lewa. “Like it’s what we are built to do.” “You’re correct, Lewa,” I said. I have hope for these Toa. Through training, they could possibly become the best Toa team to ever live. I turned to Kopaka once more. This one seems much more promising than I previously thought. They all do. “Remember, Kopaka,” I said firmly. “It’s not luck. It’s what you do that makes you a hero.[1] And sometimes, being a hero isn’t about defeating the villain. Sometimes, it’s about making the peace that will keep you together.” --- Hydraxon took a deep breath and sighed. He wondered how those Toa were doing millennia after they were sealed in the Codrex. Memories of the days before he got assigned to this miserable Nui Kopen dung hole flooded his mind, but he quickly repressed them. Pridak simply stared at him, as if he was at a loss for words. Then, without warning, he burst out hysterically laughing. “Bravo, Hydraxon, bravo!” he bawled. “That was perhaps the funniest tale I have ever heard. I can say for certain that even our finest jester 80,000 years ago could not top that!” Hydraxon frowned. “That’s what you do that makes you a hero? That’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard! That whole story was complete rubbish. Any of the grand tales of the Barraki can blow that story out of the water.” “I found it to be worthwhile,” said Kalmah, who had recorded the whole story onto a tablet. Hydraxon turned to him. “Where the Karzahni did you get that tablet?” said Hydraxon, alarmed. The Barraki were in special holding and were not allowed anything at all that could be used as a weapon, tablets included “Oh, relax,” said Kalmah, annoyed and amused at the same time. “I can’t hurt anyone with a puny tablet, can I?” “I don’t care if you can or can’t” he said. He held out his palm. “Just give it to me.” Kalmah rolled his eyes and extended his arm through the bars of his cell, giving Hydraxon the tablet. He clutched it tightly. “Great,” said Kalmah. “Now what will I read when I’m bored?” “Don’t worry,” said Hydraxon, grinning somewhat maliciously. “I’ll be around for the rest of your lives to tell it to you on the slow days in your cells. Then again, it’s not like you’ll ever have a turbulent day in here.” No sooner had the words escaped his mouth when the whole prison began to rumble. Hydraxon, confused, looked around frantically for the source. The Barraki were taken aback, but Takadox merely chuckled. “Someone has succeeded where we had failed,” he said. “What do you mean?” Hydraxon snapped. “He means that someone else has struck down the Great Spirit Mata Nui,” said Mantax, who, along with the other five Barraki, was now smiling. This can’t be good, he thought. He could see cracks beginning to form in the walls and ceiling. Water began to drip through the cracks. Hydraxon’s eyes widened. “Why is water flooding in?” he wondered out loud. “There shouldn’t be water in here!” For the first time ever, Hydraxon was openly expressing fear. All the Barraki looked worried, but they felt jubilant that someone had finally finished the job they began 80,000 years ago. Despite not knowing exactly what was going on, the Barraki were openly expressing glee and triumph. Their prison was collapsing. Their jailer was, for the first and only time in his existence, alarmed. They would soon be free, and they would soon extract revenge. The ceiling tore open, while the walls were shattered. Within minutes, the mutagen-filled water that filled the Pit would drown some of its inhabitants, and transform others. The water had already begun to inflict its painful transformations on its victims; Hydraxon was barely able to keep his breath. Multiple cells were ruined. Many of the other inmates were either floating corpses or writhing monstrosities. The Barraki, however, seemed to be at ease with their transformations. One by one, they escaped their cells, shooting Hydraxon dirty glances as they went. Hydraxon tried to react, but a piece of debris smashed against his arm and disabled it. Between his transformation and his wound, he was not able to move, let alone stop the Barraki. He watched as five of the warlords swam by him, barely even sparing him a glance. Wait, he thought. Where’s Takadox? Too late, Hydraxon realized that Takadox was right behind him, his face giving off an eerie blue glow. As for the rest of him, Hydraxon preferred to keep his sanity and not even look. Takadox grinned and elbowed Hydraxon, forcing him to take in some of the water. The pain his former jailer was experiencing was almost too much pleasure for him to handle. Killing him and forever dooming him to this sort of pain was a good idea, he reasoned. Takadox grabbed Hydraxon’s wrist and forced off his wrist blade, twirling it between his fingers. “Maybe I can’t exact my vengeance on all of those cretins who locked me here, but I can certainly exact my vengeance on you. And what sweet vengeance it is,” Takadox croaked, the water horribly distorting his voice. With those words, Takadox rammed the blade into Hydraxon’s neck. Leaving the jailer to die, he followed his allies. He would be free of any captor, of any Toa, of any Makuta that could possibly strike him down. He would be free to rule this cesspool while he amassed a new army. He was free, and soon it would be known that the Barraki had returned. Hydraxon’s heartlight was flickering rapidly. He was seconds away from death, but in those seconds he looked at the tablet Kalmah had carved his tale on. Without thinking, he tossed it with all the strength he had left towards the hole in the ceiling. Perhaps, one day long after his death, a chronicler would find it and share his last memoir... Hydraxon’s feebly glowing eyes finally lost their light and closed, and the jailer of the Pit was lost to the world. For now. --- [1]: Mask of Light, 2003 (Not sure if I was supposed to cite that quote, so I did, just to be safe.) 3,943 words 3,997 words (including dividers) 3,981 words (including dividers) 4,010 words (including dividers)
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