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The Ocean of the Sky


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#1 Offline constable-frozen

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Posted Apr 29 2014 - 05:37 PM

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[ REVIEW ]

 

VORSPIEL/

/RIESEN

 

Waves crashed relentlessly against the walls of the tunnel, and a stream of Matoran bolted through it. Besides the deafening sound of the sea, the commotion of armor clanking against walls made the shouts of idle conversation impossible to make out. "Hey, watch it..." said Sephra, knowing that raising her voice beyond the groan that escaped her mouth would be futile. The Matoran scrambling to their stations around her battered her from all directions. Despite her prided Le-Matoran agility, she was finding it difficult to stay upright among the furor.

 
Sephra was launched into place as if the Matoran around her were one large monster spitting up a particularly unsavory meal. Not hesitating to watch the Matoran around her apply the electrodes to the flesh beneath their armor, Sephra set to work. The Booster Suits were quite an ingenious invention--of course, nothing surprising coming from the brilliant smiths of Fälsch. Sephra gazed through the protoglass window as she applied a cluster of wires to her right forearm. Easy now, she thought and clenched her fist. The Booster Suit beyond the glass twitched reluctantly for a moment, and finally its huge fingers curled up into a fist. Sephra continued with the laborious process, easing each electrode into her muscle with a satisfying magnetic tug.
 
"Booster Unit!" boomed a voice, almost immediately silencing the clattering armor and small talk made in shouts. The only sound to be heard in the corridor was the waves, and even they seemed to shy away from the imposing presence.
 
"No doubt you heard the alarms sound," continued the voice. Sephra strained on the tips of her toes to see over the masses of Matoran around her gearing up for battle. "And I'm sure you all know what this is about. The onslaught upon Fälsch continues. I'm here today because the enemy has taken... certain measures to advance."
 
The voice drew closer and finally Sephra could discern the shape of the Toa as the crowd parted around her. "Intelligence reports that among the enemy today is a breed formerly unknown to us, a bruiser of monstrous proportions. I haven't come because I doubt a single one of you. I've come to warn you of the grim dangers to come, and to inform you that today I will be taking part in the battle."
 
The silence gave way to a cacophany of gasps, which quickly silenced itself as the crowd regained its reverence at once. Sephra continued to watch the Toa walk her way until she passed for a brief and glorious moment: Kalii, the Toa of Lightning. Despite her career as a defender of the island, Sephra had only caught a few glimpses of Toa Kalii in person. All other depictions of her were drawn from pictures and statues. Every time Sephra saw the Toa, though, she was amazed at how Toa Kalii was truly larger than legend. She carried herself like a true soldier, standing straight and confidently. Toa Kalii took a quick downward glance at Sephra as she passed, and Sephra nearly jumped out of her armor. As the magnificent Toa strode away, Sephra was sure she saw a smile flicker across her mask.
 
"Intelligence has yet to report the origins of this beast, or if there are more to come. Nonetheless, we must take extraordinary precautions. I will fight alongside you today. Other than that, it's business as usual. Carry on."
 
And as mysteriously as she had appeared, she vanished through the sliding door at the end of the corridor. The excitement started to build up again, first a series of mutterings that built into a chorus much louder than before.
 
Sephra stood there dazed for a moment. Toa Kalii was, more literally than not, legendary. Not a single Matoran was ignorant of the many heroic tales that surrounded the Toa, but she was rarely seen outside the Fälsch-Metru, let alone smiling at pitiful, humble Sephra.
 
She was knocked out of her daze as a crass Fe-Matoran nudged her. "Wake up, cross-wire."
 
Sephra scowled. Cross-wired, maybe, she wished she could say, but I didn't see Toa Kalii smile at you.
 
Bottling up the bitterness that the Fe-Matoran had resurfaced in her, Sephra continued to prepare her Booster Suit. The familiar echo of the captain boomed through the corridor as a new alarm began to sound. "Booster Unit, take up arms and move to your stations." The protoglass shield lifted with a tremendous groan, and the line of Matoran marched forth to their Booster Suits. The suits stood magnificently: armored like the Bohrok and coursing with life like the Maker itself. Sephra pounded up the metal stairs and into the cockpit, her electrodes' wires retracting into place in the suit.
 
The Booster Suit shuddered mechanically as Sephra clenched her muscles. She performed all the obligatory tests--arm lifts, leg lifts, head rotations which made the metallic tendons in her neck crackle--and a new loudness exploded into the room.
 
Sephra turned with the rest of her unit and continued the march as the tremendous door to the sea opened and the floor flooded with frothing Protodermis. Straining her eyes, Sephra could see the lines of the enemy approaching on the gray horizon. It almost felt like ordinary routine until a shadowed figure appeared among the fleshy masses. This was... different. Even from bio and bio away Sephra could make out its monstrous shape. It looked like a pillar, straining toward the thunderclouds above.
 
The captain's voice echoed uproar: "Forward!" There was something uneasy about his command... a certain hesitance, as if he feared this unknown monster as much as the rest of the unit. Sephra sat transfixed, watching the thing glide through the sea with an eerie stillness. This only lasted for a second though--she was a soldier, and she couldn't back down now. Sephra took to the waves among her comrades, Jets thrusting and legs pedaling. Even in her heated cockpit, she felt chilled to the core.
 
But despite the frost within, Sephra knew she could take on any challenge. For Fälsch. For Kalii. For the Fe-Matoran and his cruel words, and all the cruel words of the others. She repeated the mantra in her head. I am a giant. Sephra would do this for her people, but above all, for herself.
 
Lightning crackled in the sky and the invasion began.

 

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REVIEW ]


Edited by Euphrates, May 12 2014 - 11:34 AM.

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#2 Offline constable-frozen

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Posted May 11 2014 - 11:27 PM

AKT I/
/THE MOUTH OF THE BEAST
 
The battle had already broken out in full force as Kalii soared over the violent waves. She watched Matoran in their Booster Suits grapple with the Reisen as the perturbingly massive beast glided through the water. The Le-Matoran she had spotted earlier caught her wandering eye as she surveyed the turbulent seas. Kalii had long admired the Booster Unit's penchant for Matoran diversity, but it was oddballs like Sephra that always caught her interest.
 
Kalii stopped letting her mind drift as she focused on the task at hand. The beast on the horizon only seemed to grow bigger and bigger with every moment that passed. Taking initiative and soaring out to deliver the first blow would allot the Booster Unit more time and energy to battle the Reisen hordes, but would ultimately be foolhardy. Kalii knew she needed a plan if she wished to topple the tremendous monster.
 
As a gray-masked Matoran struggled to stay afloat against the blows of a particularly vicious-looking Reisen, Kalii fired a bolt of electricity at it. The Matoran gave her a reverent nod as he finished off the monster, stunned and charred and looking like nothing but a black ball of teeth and blubber.
 
Time to face the music, Kalii thought, arcing through the air with her Kadin. The monster appeared more and more like a column of flesh stretching up to the stormclouds every second. She might not have a plan, but if she allowed it to draw any closer to Fälsch shores the consequences could be unimaginable. As she soared toward the thing she almost marveled at its grace. A mountain of blubber and eyes, moving so still and unperturbed through the storm and the turmoil.
 
The monster remained unfazed by the blue-clad Toa soaring towards it. This thing is not Reisen, Kalii thought, staring into its soulless and foul profusion of eyes. It is something different. Something far more...ominous. A sign of something terrible coming.
 
It was only when Kalii was upon it that it opened its great maw. If its unsettling face bore any semblance to a Matoran's--eyes up there, mouth down there--it would almost look as if it were grinning. The rows and rows of teeth spun independently, beckoning Kalii to a painful demise.
 
It'll take more than some teeth and an ugly face to topple me! Kalii thought, absorbing the abundance of electical charge from the stormclouds above. This is what I'm made of!
 
Stopping flight mid-air, Kalii allowed the power surging through her to travel in a single beam straight through the mouth and into the belly of the beast. With a heave and a deafening rumble, the monster closed its mouth and squinted most of its terrible eyes. The storm almost seemed to clear for a moment. The sea stood still, waiting to see what this monster would do.
 
Its mouth opened again. The sound of tearing metal rent the air as a horrid roar escaped the huge thing's throat. Kalii covered her ears, struggling to concentrate enough to work her mask. With that same uncanny grace that the monster had used in its swimming, countless arms rose from the water, disturbing the waters unsettlingly little.
 
This place is not yours.
 
The words seared in Kalii's head like a brand. They were not Matoran words, but a thought shared between Reisen and Toa, burning with millenia's worth of flame. Kalii couldn't ponder the omen further--she couldn't even defend herself from the tendrils and their bony fingers. Delicately, not unlike hands preparing for a massage, they reached upwards and under Kalii's mask.
 
"No." Kalii felt the color drain from her body. She felt powerless as gravity took hold of her and the remaining electricity poured out from her body. Everything looked dark and blurry. The hands delivered her almost lovingly, through the air, into the horrible maw. This place... is not... yours?
 
Kalii could not fight the waves of unconsciousness. She was met with a dreamless sleep.
 
At least, for a moment.
 
The first thing Kalii noticed was the smell. How could she have missed it before? It dwarfed the smell of the sea and the rain. The air was rank with the smell of decaying metal.
 
The second thing she noticed was the light. She was surrounded by shadow, laying powerless on rotting layers of flesh. But above her shone this beautiful light, like the moon in a starless sky.
 
Finally, she discerned the shape and the sound. Among the teeth and the stillness, the silhouette of a Booster Suit stood splayed in the beast's lips.
 
"Toa Kalii!" wailed the Matoran. "Please wake up!"
 
The voice brought Kalii back to her senses. Her mask had been forcibly removed. She'd been nearly swallowed by the mutant Reisen, but a Matoran had come to her aid. Not just any member of the Booster Unit, however. Silhouetted against the relative brightness of the storm, Sephra stood, holding open the jaws of the monster with everything in her.
 
It was then that Kalii noticed the pain and the weakness shredding their way through her body. "Save yourself," she hissed through clenched teeth.
 
"Not today, Toa Kalii." The horrible sound of rending metal echoed again, Sephra's booster suit seeming to give way. "Not to say haste wouldn't... be advisable."
 
Kalii, unaccustomed to her body without the power of a Kanohi, staggered to her feet and charged forward. With a roar of her own, she gathered all the static she could into her body. Kalii flung herself at Sephra, wailing and releasing the electric buildup within her.
 
The two soared from the monster's mouth toward the sea below. The Reisen flailed and spat behind them. Kalii held onto Sephra's booster suit for dear life, hoping the damage dealt to the suit wouldn't reduce it's buoyancy.
 
The Great Spirit was smiling upon them, Kalii decided when they landed in the sea with a mighty crash. Not only did they float upon the surface shaken but unharmed, the blue Kadin bobbed in the water next to them. As the waves settled, Kalii perched herself on Sephra's shoulders and dove into the sea.
 
She rose to the surface, putting the mask firmly in place.
 
Still dazed from all that had just transpired, Kalii could only nod. "Thanks."
 
Sephra seemed to be equally shocked by all of this. "Sure."
 
Kalii turned around and gritted her teeth. Expecting to see the beast rearing up for round two, she saw instead that uncanny and graceful movement. The Reisen were floating away en masse, led by the revolting pillar of eyes and teeth.
 
"This place is not yours," she whispered.
 
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[ REVIEW ]

Edited by Euphrates, May 19 2014 - 06:33 PM.

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#3 Offline constable-frozen

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Posted Jan 06 2015 - 09:04 PM

AKT I/
/NIGHTMARES


Sephra wandered through an uncanny and terrifying labyrinth. Its twists and turns were built of a horrible fleshy material, wet and oozing with a fluid that made the whole place smell like rust and death. The place almost felt like some deep, dark cave, but it wasn't long before Sephra realized the white and curved stalactites were not made of rock but instead dreadful teeth.

She knew not why she was here, nor how she got there. Worst of all, Sephra hadn't the faintest inkling of how to get out. Despite how utterly gross the landscape was, Sephra didn't find herself fearful, just curious and very unsettled. That is, until the sound began.

Thunderous, and in three. Boom... Boom... Boom...

Sephra considered turning and running the direction from whence she came, but the booming sound was clearly emanating from behind her. Boom... Boom... Boom... What was that? Footsteps?

Boom. Boom. Boom. Every moment the noise grew louder, so Sephra picked up her pace and began to run. Something was happening, right behind her. When the sound appeared once again she dared a glance back and was greeted with nothing but the sight of the twisting, fleshy walls.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

In her fear and awkward stance, running forward and looking back, Sephra neglected to notice a crevice underfoot. She tripped, flying forward like a rocket, and landed face-first in the rancid material.

Boom. Boom. Boom, the sound continued.

Sephra dared a glance up. She was in a room built of the same pinkish material, stalactites and stalagmites gleaming from some unknown light source. In the center of the room a faceless, Matoran-shaped being stood. It was made of the same exact material as the maze Sephra found herself in, its feet fused to the ground and its arms reaching upwards, intertwined with the sinewy ceiling.

"Who are you?"

Boom. Boom. Boom.

"Sephra!" a voice echoed.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

"Sephra!"

Sephra awoke, heart racing, safe in her bed. A nightmare. It was just a nightmare. She sat panting heavily before she realized the booming from the dream was a knock at the door.

"Sorry! I'll be right there!"

She jumped out of bed and tried fruitlessly to tidy up the place but soon gave up. A messy living space was certainly less embarrassing than sleeping in until high noon.

Sephra opened the door and suddenly wondered if she was still in a dream. Crouching in the doorway was the figure of none other than Toa Kalii, armor shining in the midday sun.

"Toa Kalii! What... what a surprise!"

Kalii nodded.

"Please, please pardon my manners. Come in. I apologize for the mess."

Kalii grimaced. "You may speak casually with me if you wish. I am simply Kalii."

"Kalii. Kalii."

Kalii took a seat in an undersized wooden chair beside an undersized wooden table. Her eyes immediately focused on the trinkets and sustenance tablets (unconsumed and consumed alike) littered across its surface.

"Please, pardon the mess."

"You should see my quarters," chortled Kalii, "no need to be apprehensive. I'm merely admiring this set of sculptures based on the Toa Ennui. It reminds me of the task at hand."

Sephra was dazed enough from her nightmare, but now a living legend was sitting there in her room, complimenting her taste in knickknacks. "An old friend made them for me... Kalii? What do you mean 'task at hand?'"

Kalii laughed silently to herself and looked out the undersized--Matoran-sized--window. "Acts of heroism aren't to be ignored. Had you not come to my rescue, I would be Reisen-bones now."

"Don't mention it," Sephra found herself saying. "Don't mention it?" what am I, some kind of superhero?

Kalii seemed to find an equal amount of humor in Sephra's confidence. "It was my hubris that led me into the mouth of the beast. I truly had no idea what I was in for. The Turaga have given it a new classification. Großreisen, that's what they're calling it. According to Turaga Ennui, it's a whole new league of monster. Hopefully such bruisers are rare, but..." Kalii trailed off, lost in thought.

"The Turaga are worried that this is only the first of many," Sephra finished.

Kalii nodded. "It had telepathic powers. Not to mention it was nearly invincible and may as well have been made of teeth."

Kalii continued looking out the window, head rested on her hand.

"The... task at hand?"

"Right." Kalii snapped out of her trance-like state. "We're going to the Metru."

"The Metru?"

Sephra had never visited the island's hub before. As long as she lived she'd always been a guardian of Fälsch's coastline. The idea of the Metru was something that had always struck her as odd and foreign. It was a center for commerce, for trade, for the arts. The Koro on the coastline seemed to be in a constant struggle against Reisen. Completely landlocked, the Metru was free from these worries.

Kalii nodded. "As I said. Acts of heroism aren't to be ignored. Turaga's orders. I'm to bring you to the Metru."

Sephra stared at Kalii in bewilderment and wondered to herself what the burst of bravery had gotten her into. She certainly had never seen herself as a coward or unskilled, but at the same time could never imagine herself as exceptional or heroic. Finally, Sephra nodded back. The only beings with authority over Toa Kalii in Fälsch were the Turaga and she wasn't about to ignore their orders.

"Then let's go," said Kalii.

Upon stepping outside Sephra's eye caught the sun shining off of something magnificent. A black two-wheeled cruiser with Kane-Ra I emblazoned along the side in yellow Metru Nui-style glyphs sat parked right outside her house. She shielded her eyes and observed the thing closer. She'd heard of vehicles like this overseas, but imported? Not even the more privileged in Fälsch's Metru owned cutting-edge technology like that.

Kalii glanced down in embarrassment at Sephra. "I was never one for flashy things like this... but if it gets me to point A to point B faster than a Mask of Speed there's no way I wouldn't need one."

"Are we riding it to the Metru?"

A look not unlike pain crossed Kalii's mask. "Yes. You can sit on the back when I drive."

Kalii mounted the cruiser and turned the handle, causing the engine to rev up. "Hop on," she cried over the thunderous machine. Sephra approached and touched the seat gingerly. It shuddered with a mechanical ferocity, but it was certainly no match for a Booster operator like Sephra. She shrugged off all hesitation and hopped onto the bike as if it were just another day fighting off sea monsters, but the terror of something so fast still ate at her.

"Hold onto your mask," said Kalii, and without further notice the bike kicked into a speed Sephra had only dreamed of. They crossed the Koro in record time, making the cottages and nearby Matoran nothing but a blur. Sephra felt something lurch in her stomach, so she closed her eyes tightly and held onto Kalii's waist for dear life.

 

--------------------
 
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Edited by Cap'n K, Jan 19 2015 - 09:55 PM.

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#4 Offline constable-frozen

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Posted Jan 19 2015 - 09:53 PM

AKT I/
/WELTSCHMERZ


It was difficult to discern their surroundings as they rocketed through the Koro at breakneck speed, but before long Sephra was able to identify one thing: she was far from home. As the colorful streaks of muddy brown turned gray and eventually silver, Kalii slowed down enough for Sephra to observe the Metru up close. Aside from the sight of plentiful vehicles not unlike Kalii's cruiser the Matoran seemed to clip along at an equal pace. Not to say the duty-bound Koro Matoran spent much time stopping and smelling the roses, the Metru Matoran moved... differently. With extreme precision and purpose. What this purpose could possibly be was a mystery to Sephra. All she knew about Metru industry was it focused far less on day-to-day survival and more on "bigger picture stuff," or so citizens of the Koro always said. In fact it wouldn't be an exaggeration to concede the one biggest stereotype regarding Metru Matoran was they were a city of pencil-pushing stuffed shirts.

 

Sephra spent a good deal of time watching the silver and white clad Matoran go about their nebulous business to stave away the motion sickness until they finally slowed to a stop. "And here it is," said Kalii, "the Wunder Establishment, home of the honorable, resolute Turaga Ennui." The sarcasm was so evident in Kalii's voice Sephra noted that a pile of bricks could probably detect it. "But you will have to let go sometime soon."

 

As if knocked out of a trance Sephra realized that her body was still petrified in fear. She loosened her grip around Kalii and all the armor in her body creaked. "It's midday so Maker knows they'll be so busy." And what was that supposed to mean, Sephra wondered this time, thinking again of the pile of bricks threatened to crumble beneath the Toa's verbal beatdown.

 

Kalii deftly flicked the kickstand in place and gestured for Sephra to follow her. The building that stood in front of them was constructed entirely of a metallic white stone that shone drably in the sun. The enormous double doors stood propped open at the summit of a mountainous set of stairs. Sephra's eyes wandered from the steps back to the rigid clockwork of Matoran who walked to and fro to...where, exactly?

 

"Anyway this is the Wunder Establishment. Fälsch's technology center, the pride and joy of the Metru. Et cetera, et cetera. The Koro is dotted with factories full of brilliant engineers of course, but this is where they work on...'bigger picture stuff.' Not to disparage their research of course. Spending all one's time in the Metru is enough to put vitriol in anyone's words. It's full of a sort of... boredom. A stale and listless air of industrialized living. What would you call that?" Kalii left no time for Sephra to offer a response. "No matter. Some cool stuff happens in here."

 

Kalii continued to go on emphatically and Sephra's eyes started to wander again. The place was constructed of the same mausoleum-white rock on the inside, and Matoran flowed in and out like a stream. Unlike the familiar Booster Suit chamber, the place was filled with an uncanny silence. The height of the room suggested the clamor of armor should echo loudly but there was not a sound to be heard aside from Kalii's soliloquy. Kalii weaved around a stream of Matoran with the agility of a particularly skilled swimmer, continuing her speech uninterrupted, through a door, leaving Sephra in the silver-armored lurch.

 

"Hey, wait up!" Sephra interjected. She pushed aside a group of Matoran to their obvious chagrin and followed Kalii through the huge archway. The Toa was already nowhere to be found. Sephra groaned loudly and bolted through a random doorway. She was greeted with a monolithic door marked with a single black word:

 

WELTSCHMERZ

 

Sephra was beyond doubtful that this was the correct way, but the odd word piqued her curiosity. It can't hurt to peek, Sephra thought, but when she reached out she realized the door was without a knob. She gave it an inquisitive push, and with a booming groan it moved. The door was heavy and immense, but Sephra paid it no heed. The air beyond was stale as a tomb. She peeked around the corner to confirm nobody had followed and slipped inside.

 

The room was dark. This was the first thought that struck Sephra. Darker than a starless night. Perhaps it was her curiosity getting the better of her but it seemed to Sephra to be the darkest place she had ever been. She choked on the bitter air and realized for the first time she was somewhere she was not supposed to be. The place wasn't just dark but cold. Certainly not naturally cold. Something was working to refrigerate the room, a thought that led Sephra to her third realization. It wasn't quiet.

 

The sound was quiet but evident, machines working in the background. Sephra took a tentative step into the room, letting her eyes adjust to the shadow. Just in time, she was greeted with the sight of a steep set of stairs down. I shouldn't be here, Sephra thought again, and the thought made the steps grow even more ominous yet even more alluring.

 

And so she took another step forward. Before she could grasp what she was doing she was descending the stairway, going deeper into the cold and the dark. One word lingered in her mind: Weltschmerz.

 

Weltschmerz, Weltschmerz, Weltschmerz.

 

Just when she thought the room couldn't get colder, when she felt as though she were deeper than the seafloor, she reached the bottom. A metal floor that made a tinny, rattling sound when struck with her armored foot. Looming before her in the dark was a vault door covered in a complex-looking pattern of pipes, gears, and pistons. This is the end of the road, she realized. Her fingers yearned to twist the tremendous turn wheel, but instead she laid her palm on its metal surface. Ice cold.

 

"I think you've seen enough," Kalii chortled from behind Sephra.

 

Sephra thought she would leap out of her armor. "Toa Kalii... I can... I can explain... I..."

 

"Sure, sure. You saw the big weird word and got curious. I'm not going to hold it against you. But the Turaga? They despise tardiness. Dare we face their fiery wrath by stalling even more?"

 

Sephra thought of bricks.

 

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REVIEW ]

Edited by Cap'n K, Jan 20 2015 - 12:14 AM.

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