When they first meet, they don’t quite exist yet.
Neither of them can put a name to where they stand (for there is no place to be named, and they are no more standing than sitting or swimming or flying), but they can name each other, at least.
Akamai, says Wairuha, because he knows somehow that he should.
Wairuha, responds Akamai.
And then they are gone.
Their eyes open together thousands of years later, in that same nameless, necessary plane, and there they find a third of him waiting for answers. Gali, who gives Wairuha his wisdom and his fury, looks to them through a window that only she can see, and they tell her what they must. She is confused and apprehensive, but she listens, because on some level she understands that the beings speaking to her are as much a part of her as she is of them, and that they would not appear if they were not needed.
When she is gone, they are too.
They give one of Gali’s brothers the same message, and then without warning they stand alive and together. The Manas crabs come rushing down at them and the Toa of Valor and the Toa of Wisdom move as one, batting back the shadows’ assault with tools forged in the spirits of their Toa. Akamai can hear Tahu rallying them to victory deep within, and Wairuha dances with the hunters’ grace that Lewa embodies, but it is not until their wiser sides see the towers giving life to the beasts that the battle is won.
As the second Manas falls to the ground, the two stop and look at each other. They both understand that it could be millennia before they both stand alive once more, and each allows himself a moment to look over his kin. Akamai is a titan of steel and muscle, an Atlas that is ready to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders; Wairuha is quicksilver, a totem that seems to sing as he moves.
Each feels comfort; each feels unease. The three each carries are not as united as they could be, perhaps; there are hints of jealousy and anger, of doubt and fear within the Toa Mata’s hearts, and each of the Kaita can feel the Makuta’s shadows stirring within them. Before long they will be separated once more, and the Toa will have to prove their unity without them. But for a moment, no matter how brief, Akamai and Wairuha feel safety in the other’s presence, a knowledge that they stand together, that if the Toa call upon them they will be ready.
They turn and march into the darkness, and soon they are gone again from this world.
They do not return for some time. Somewhere in their slumber they feel the Toa overcome their doubts and topple the Makuta. Akamai hears the chatter of the Bohrok for an instant, Wairuha for days. A great power grows within them, and they understand instinctively that their Toa have changed, that a power has been bestowed upon them. Strife follows that awakening, and the Kaita slip away as the Toa Nuva go their separate ways.
When Wairuha next opens his eyes, he is alone.
He is moving within an instant, analyzing the loss of his elemental powers, taking aim at the Bohrok-Kal before him nonetheless. He knows the danger it poses, and he understands that he is necessary to strike it down.
When Kohrak-Kal summons its own partners and builds itself into a Kaita of its own, Wairuha still does not feel fear. He has heard the whispering voice of Kaita Ja somewhere in the darkness, a monster waiting to be born, and it is in some ways as familiar as Akamai. Within him, Lewa is unable not to picture that Kaita’s Krana affixing to Wairuha’s face, of the three of them finishing the dark work that he once began, and Wairuha can feel Gali and Kopaka reaching out to the Toa of Air, reassuring him. He closes his mind to the voices of his Toa; they need his strength now, not his guidance. Yet Ja’s attacks are swift and furious, and the Toa of Wisdom can only dodge and parry for so long before a horrible thrumming energy buries itself deep in his breast and slams him against the nearest tree.
For a second, he feels as though he can hold together, even though he can already feel his Toa pulling apart from the strain. Ja looks down at him with something that approaches pity, and for the first time in one hundred thousand years Wairuha feels anger.
Within him, his Toa’s minds go out, one by one, and he goes with them.
He can hear Akamai’s voice distantly as the Toa Nuva do battle with the Bohrok-Kal a world away. The other Kaita is saying something – perhaps his name? – again and again, but Wairuha cannot make it out.
Far beneath him, the Bohrok-Kal fall victim to their own powers. Akamai hears his brother’s voice respond at last, speaking without using words, a mixture of pride and sorrow.
They succeeded where I could not.
And succeed they do. The Toa Nuva face challenge after challenge; some they overcome, some they fall short, but throughout their struggles they do not call upon the Kaita again. Akamai and Wairuha grow stronger as their Toa shed their doubts and turn from brothers chosen by destiny to brothers forged in life, yet they do not taste the air, they do not feel the beautiful solidity of physical form. They are not yet needed. Perhaps they will never be again.
Marendar is a nightmare of metal, a monstrous machine designed to wear away at Toa and Matoran bit by bit until they fall and it can harvest them like so much wheat. It pounds the earth to dust beneath its four massive protosteel paws, razor-sharp blades as tall as a Matoran serving as claws. Its face is twisted and narrow, smooth steel that narrows to a diamond-point snout that guards its cacophonous maw. The massive teeth inside are not made to devour, for the beast needs no food; they are simply designed to crush and shred whatever may fall within reach as quickly as possible.
Wairuha and Akamai can do nothing but watch as it falls upon the walls of New Atero, unthinking, uncaring, doing only what it believes it has been awakened to do. A Le-Matoran falls into its waiting claws, and Lewa’s scream of fury and agony nearly bursts from Wairuha’s own spirit. An Onu-Matoran is next, and the ferocity of the black anger that surges within Akamai makes him wonder if it was not Onua who came closest to falling to the Makuta’s temptations in Mangaia that day.
Gali yells something, and the Toa move. Tahu, Pohatu, and Onua take cover, knowing they are sealed away from their Kaita by Tahu’s form and the golden armor he now wears, a weapon that toppled the Makuta yet is unable to piece the beast’s shimmering hide. Kopaka and Lewa reach their sister, and suddenly Wairuha lives again, his weapons clutched in one hand and his other already preparing a maelstrom of energy. There is no time to think - Marendar sees him and turns immediately, charging at the Kaita with a concentrated fury. He dodges out of the way just in time, one of its horrible metal claws lashing out and coming inches from gouging his side. Its charge is stopped only by the stone wall of a guard tower, and the force of the impact brings the structure crashing down onto the street below. Wairuha can feel the horror and shock of his Toa rising within him, and it is a testament to how far they have come that he does not fall to pieces then and there.
Then in the rubble he spots a battered, white staff sticking out from under a cacophony of stone, and a moment later Turaga Nuju feebly sticks his head out and attempts to pull himself free before Marendar can notice him. Wairuha is moving despite himself, the rage of Kopaka driving him forward even though he knows that it is foolish to attack the beast directly. It turns and slams out a massive paw, and he feels one of its claws dig deep into his midsection as they collide. A red-hot wave of pain washes over him, and though some part of him tries to shield his Toa, he can feel them crying out in shock. Marendar lifts him up on its hand, its face contorted into an unthinkable snarl of teeth, and then throws him across the ruined space into another piece of the wall. It crumbles as he collides with it, debris storming down on him and threatening to drive the mask from his face.
He shakes his head, looks up, and sees the monster has turned to face him. It is moving slowly now, watching to see if he has any last tricks, and when it knows he doesn’t, it will kill him. This is its function; it knows nothing else. Destroy the enemy when you are called upon to do so.
I’m sorry, thinks Wairuha, and he can’t tell who he’s apologizing to. He reaches out a hand and summons a maelstrom at the other end, a crackling mass of air, water, and ice that could bring down half of New Atero on its own, but when he flings it towards the monster the energy seems to slide along its body, slipping into crevices and panels designed to nullify precisely this kind of attack. The machine wastes no time on the pity Ja had shown; it merely picks up its pace.
He hears Tahu scream.
Marendar does not, or cares not, and so when Akamai slams down on its back sword-first, it lets out a roar more of shock than of pain. It shakes viciously, yet the Toa of Valor will not let go of his blade; with his other hand, he gathers up a comet of magma and drives it down onto the beast’s back. The elements disperse harmlessly, but there is no stopping the heat, and the protosteel that makes up Marendar’s hide soon begins to glow white-hot.
The beast howls in pain, and a shard of metal on its back suddenly whips up and smashes the Kaita in his face, sending him tumbling backwards and to the ground. The blade remains lodged within the beast’s back, and when Marendar turns to Akamai its eyes are full of hatred that a machine should not be able to feel. Wairuha forces himself to stand, to shake off the rubble, and draws his own sword. “Brother!” he yells to Akamai.
Akamai looks up, and for the first time Wairuha feels shock of his own. The other Kaita is malformed; steel plates buckle together where they shouldn’t, and one leg seems withered and warped. His left arm is stripped of protection entirely, fibrous muscle shining through, and the Aki is twisted and cracked. Wairuha has no need of the instinctive connection they share to know his brother is in pain.
Marendar can sense Akamai’s weakness, he can tell. It charges at the fallen Kaita fast – incredibly fast – and Wairuha charges after it, sword outstretched, pouring every ounce of his will into being faster.
He sees it all so clearly, those final moments. Marendar’s outstretched claws, spears of protosteel, digging into Akamai’s chest far too deep. His own sword, crackling with energy, swinging down, fueled not by his Toa’s wills but by his own. The beast’s metal head tumbling to the ground, a twist of wires protruding, severed, sparking, and then still.
Akamai looks up weakly from the blades still piercing through him. His voice is quiet and rough. “My Toa… I made them do this. Help them.”
There is sorrow in Akamai’s eyes, and then there is a flash and the bodies of Tahu, Onua, and Pohatu tumble to the ground along with the beast’s now-empty claw. Wairuha feels his own Toa’s horror and fear burning within him, and he forces them down. The three Toa strewn across the battered earth are covered in damage that they did not have before fusing, and Wairuha knows that they have perhaps minutes to live. He leaps to the Toa of Stone and gathers him up in one hand, then does the same to the Toa of Earth, bringing them to the ground alongside the Toa of Fire. In the distance he can hear yells and running footsteps, other Toa and Matoran and Agori and Glatorian coming to help their fallen heroes.
He reaches deep inside him, to the three Toa within. You have to do this, he tells them. I can help, but they are yours.
He knows they understand. From his hands a bubble of light begins to form, a mixture of air and water and ice that once healed the wounds of the Toa of Fire struggling for life before them. The energy slides across the prone bodies, sighing as it sinks into the wounds, and then there is silence.
Slowly, Onua opens his eyes and pushes himself up on his hands. He looks up at Wairuha, and the Kaita sees in the Toa of Earth’s eyes the wisdom that was so far buried in the back of Akamai’s.
“I’m sorry. He’s gone,” says Onua.
And in the next moment, Wairuha is as well.
In a place that has no name, a spirit that has no body and no life of its own stands alone. It is waiting for the day it is needed again. Perhaps that day will never come, or perhaps it will come many a time over the eons that stretch ahead of it.
The spirit can feel its Toa deep within itself, the joys of the Toa of Air, the peace of the Toa of Ice, the kindness of the Toa of Water, but it allows itself to share in none of these things.
Still, there are days when its Toa are not alone. When another three kindred spirits join them and talk and celebrate and live. Spirits so close that it could almost reach out and touch them, and if it could do that, maybe it could reach out a little further, and-
Yet on days like that, the spirit cannot stay silent. He must speak, because he knows somehow that he should, even if it is a meaningless act now.
Edited by GSR, Aug 08 2013 - 02:27 AM.