Part One of the Chrysalis Saga
A new story by Takuta-Nui
Vyroko woke up in the sand and saw the sea being laid down upon the land like a blanket.
He stared as the vast sheet of water hung in the sky like a cloth. Sections here and there dropped down with tremendous splashes. In seconds the entire sea had returned to its place.
The sea was still rocking as it settled, and a wave reared up toward the beach Vyroko was laying on. He jumped up and backed away. He thought he saw a shape in the water, but had to shield his face as he got sprayed by the impact.
There was a shape - it hit the sand and bounced out of the water onto the drier part of the beach. It was a humanoid being like him, but seemed to be covered in a complex full-body armour coloured light and dark blue. It came to an unceremonious rest in the sand.
“That was strange,” she blurted, sitting up.
Vyroko ran over. “Are you all right?”
“Yes, I think so.”
She was standing up already. Her eyes were wide and fixed on the sea. She hadn’t looked at him yet. Vyroko looked between the her and the still-settling ocean.
“Did you do that?” he asked. That made her look at him.
“Of course not! Where are we, anyway?”
She turned around and looked at the jungle that Vyroko hadn’t even noticed until now. They were standing on a wide beach bordered by water on one side and a wall of jungle-like foliage on the other.
That was, foliage that was still being restored along with the sea.
The leafy bushes and trees weren’t falling from the sky like the ocean had, but as Vyroko watched, the uniformly grey jungle faded into brilliant tropical colour. Dark greens became apparent first, and then the lighter green of grasses. Then the flowers showed themselves, having always been open but somehow robbed of their colour.
Vyroko realized that the sand had also been a bland grey and just now had regained the speckled pattern of many browns and gold-yellows.
Or perhaps the colour wasn’t being returned. Perhaps it was being added to the world for the first time.
Within moments, the jungle was truly a jungle again.
“What is going on here?” the blue one wondered. She looked back to him and blinked. “Sorry. My name is Nela.”
“Vyroko,” he greeted.
They looked around for a moment. It looked like an island they were on.
Without speaking, they started walking down the beach.
Nehara raced madly through the forest.
An angry buzz filled the air. Drilled into her skull. It was like the trees themselves were humming. Deep, full, dangerous.
She ran full speed past leafy branches. Leapt over small bushes. So fast that the fallen leaves ahead of her seemed to fly to the sides.
Nehara didn’t care how much it hurt to be running this fast for so long. It was better than being caught.
She hurtled through a particularly thick grove. Branches snapped painfully against her protective arms. She was broad-shouldered with thick black armour, so she could handle it. Her lithe legs gave her balance while her torso let her barrel through minor obstacles.
One odd thing she had noticed already. This forest was somehow completely new. There were no scars or splits in the trees she saw. No fallen twigs. The leaves on the ground were still completely green and crisp.
As if the forest had sprung up yesterday. Maybe even today.
She didn’t remember how she got here. All she knew was that she woke up on the immaculate forest floor, heard that unmistakable buzzing, and started running.
The trees thinned out. She kept running. More light coming from ahead and above.
Going so fast that she burst out of the forest and almost ran straight into the sea. But water wouldn’t have worked against them. They could swim. Horrid little adaptive things.
Instead, Nehara turned a sharp right. Felt her ankle shudder. It would hurt later.
Kept running along the beach. Sand was slowing her down. Moved sideways into the wetter sand. It was flatter, more packed down. Started going a bit faster.
They weren’t giving up even after leaving their home. Perhaps this entire place - was it an island? - was their home.
Nehara just kept running. Hoping for something to show itself, something she could use to defend or attack with.
Beach curved. Forest on her right morphed into jungle. Very abrupt transition. Another odd thing about this place.
Running. It hurt so much now. Burning lungs. Protesting legs. Screaming ankle. Even her arms and neck were hurting now.
They were catching up.
Red and blue.
Full-body armour that seemed to be fitted so perfectly that it was part of their bodies, just like Nehara. But they were smaller, slimmer, still powerful-looking.
Nehara was almost past them already. They had been walking her way and barely had time to react to her sudden appearance from around the tight curve of the beach.
“FIRE!” She screamed at him as she charged past. He flinched. Instinctively raised his hand, stopped for a split second in sheer confusion, then pointed his palm past her.
The air rippled. Nehara felt a blast of heat sweep across her back. She didn’t dare stop running completely, but she looked behind.
A cloud of fire bloomed across the beach, throwing both Toa into silhouette. The blue Toa half-crouched and backed away.
In the fiery cloud, thousands of little black dots.
The dots dissolved in the midair blaze. In seconds they were all gone. The buzzing stopped.
The proven Toa of Fire let his hand fall to his side. Air cooled.
Nehara collapsed into the shallows. Cool water. Sea wind. A luxury experience after that ordeal.
“Are you all right?”
Female voice. Probably the blue Toa. Nehara didn’t raise her head or open her eyes. Just kept her neck angled enough to breathe and speak above the water.
“I’m Nela. And my friend who saved you is Vyroko.”
“What were those things?”
Nehara could tell from her voice that Nela understood immediately.
Nehara had woken to that buzzing, which had unlocked a certain knowledge right away.
She was a Vortixx, a species of strength and endurance with few weaknesses. The buzzing was not the weakness - it was what the buzzing portended.
Vortixx had a deathly fear of stingers. The long thin tendrils that hung from the back of the Vortixx’s head were sensitive to the point that any kind of impact could be exceedingly painful. Stings, even just a few, would be agony.
That was why Vortixx often decorated their tendrils with rings of metal as protection. It also served to transform them into distinctive headdresses, but Nehara had woken with only her bare tendrils.
That, and a swarm of Bibaka wasps? Nehara thought it was a wonder her instincts hadn’t driven her to drown herself when she found the sea.
The Vortixx laid in the shallows for a few more moments before sitting up.
The Toa of Water gasped. “Oh dear.”
“What?” Nehara looked around her, and saw it immediately. A piece of her armour was hanging loose at an alarming angle from the middle of her chest. How had it broken like that?
She fingered it gingerly. No pain. It swung slightly at her touch as if it was attached to her chest with a hinge.
Something didn’t feel right. This didn’t feel like an injury.
The shape was very clean-cut. Looked designed that way. She touched it again, and swung it back toward her chest. It joined with the rest of her armour and was gone. Not even a line around the edges.
“That’s interesting,” she heard the Toa of Fire say.
Intrigued, Nehara touched the left side of her chest, where the piece had been. Nothing.
Paused. Tried again, this time with two fingers. Tapped.
The square plate swung open again, just as suddenly there as it was not a moment ago.
Nela crouched down in front of Nehara and pointed. “There’s a little space inside, a hollow.”
“I don’t have one,” Vyroko said.
Nela checked herself. “Neither do I. Looks like it’s just you, Nehara.”
Nehara felt uncomfortable and closed her chest plate again and looked around the beach.
“Is this an island?” Nehara asked them.
“We think so,” Nela replied, closing up her chest. “I can faintly sense the shape of the water around this land. It seems to be an island, but I can’t quite feel the other side. Perhaps a large peninsula.”
“Did you see anything... unusual about this place?” Vyroko asked Nehara.
Vyroko tilted his head uncertainly.
Nehara went on. “I just woke up here. I don’t know where I am. I don’t belong here. Do you--?”
She stopped abruptly and bolted upright, jumping away from her spot. The Toa flinched.
It wasn’t a wasp. But it had felt like a sting.
A sting in her mind.
“Are you all right?” Nela asked again.
Nehara snapped her head toward her. “Yes!”
Nela looked hurt at the sharp tone, but Nehara was too interested in what had just happened to immediately apologize. A sting in the mind?
She knelt again and looked carefully at the submerged sand where she had been laying.
Something glinted. Metal.
Nehara reached out and gingerly brushed away more sand. Definitely an object.
“Looks like you found something,” Vyroko remarked.
Nehara touched it again. Sting in the mind. This time, she was expecting it so she didn’t jump. But it was still a deeply startling sensation.
And she noticed something else when it happened. Something in her vision changed, like a brief flash of black, as if she had been looking at a bright light and it had burned a spot in her eyes just for a second.
She scooped it out of the sand.
It was disappointing. A shard of black metal smaller than her hand. No features, no markings.
Nehara tilted her head. Looked back at Vyroko.
“What did you ask me?”
“Uh... whether you had noticed anything unusual about this place.”
Nehara stared at him intently. “By asking that, do you mean you’ve already seen something?”
Vyroko and Nela looked at each other, then nodded at her. They described how they had woken up - Vyroko in the sand, Nela in the ocean - and what they had seen. The sea falling back to the land, the forest’s colour sweeping back into existence.
“Very unusual,” Nehara said quietly. She looked back at the metal shard in her hand. Rubbed a finger along the sharp edges. It was the same shade of black as her own armour, but shinier.
The strange sensation was still in her head, but more muted. Her mind had become accustomed to it already, but she didn’t even know what it was.
It felt like… communication. Something talking to her in a gracious but alien language.
Despite the strangeness that entered her mind, Nehara smiled. Something made sense here, finally. Out of that sensation she had gleaned a small meaning. An intent.
She tapped her chest and opened it again. Then, with one more glance at the black shard to remember what it looked like, she placed it inside. It was odd, feeling a new weight inside her body. But then she closed it and the mind-sting stopped.
The black shard belonged in her chest chamber.
Looking up, she realized the two Toa were staring at her, mystified.
What could she say?
Looked over their heads. “Did you notice the mountain yet?”
They blinked for a moment before turning around. Rising above the jungle was a rocky crag. The slope meandered up toward a peak, making it look easy to climb. Much of the mountain was shrouded in thin fog.
“That wasn’t there before...” Nela said uncertainly.
“We were pretty focused on the beach,” Vyroko added. “But at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if a mountain did spring up just now.”
“So where should we go next? There might be others on this island,” Nehara said.
Nela looked uneasy. “Maybe. But look at it this way... so far, we’ve been lucky to meet friends and not foes.”
That brought some silence to the three. They didn’t look at each other, but everyone knew they were realizing the fact that they really didn’t know each other. Names were as far as they’d gotten.
Nehara knew that Vyroko might have saved her from the Bibaka wasps only so he could learn more from her and eventually use her, if he was the bad guy.
She also knew that the Toa would be wondering if the Bibaka wasps had been a cover, to gain their trust. What better way than to appear in trouble and be saved?
Perhaps Nela had fabricated the falling sea and carried herself through it, so it would look to Vyroko like she had also been helpless.
All conjecture. Nehara shook her head. Nothing was certain yet.
“We can keep an eye on the mountain,” she said. “Let’s keep walking the way I came from. See if we can figure out whether this is really an island. And maybe find out how we got here.”
Both Toa nodded in agreement and they started walking further along the beach.
On the other side of the island, Jehui considered what he had just seen. He looked away and out across the still-turbulent sea.
Then he looked back in the direction where the two Toa and one Vortixx were. Raised one hand to his other. With two fingers, grasped a ring on his left hand’s pointing finger. Twisted.
His mask glowed faintly - he could tell because his eyeholes glowed.
His vision stretched. Sped over a green canopy. Coasted upward, swerving past the mountain that had just appeared. Dipped back down with the incline of the island. Arrived at the other side. Altogether, two hours of journey covered in seconds.
The three strangers were still walking in a line along the beach.
Jehui wasn’t fully accustomed to this power, but there was no harm in experimenting. There was no way they could know he was watching.
Shifted his vision to the side, so that it looked like they were walking toward him.
Zoomed in a little. Managed to stop just before going past the Toa of Water.
The Toa of Water had light and dark blue armour. Jehui knew he looked the same way, except that he was half the height of the Toa and had grey and silver armour.
What they held in common was how curiously perfect their armour was. No skin was exposed. To him, it felt like he was the armour.
Setting aside those bizarre thoughts, he studied the Toa. Her armour was more warrior-like than his with cobalt overlays on her arms, chest, and legs. She wore a mask that Jehui instinctively recognized as a Mask of Possibilities - blue with thick silver ‘eyebrows’ above her eyeholes and a silver diamond-like outline on her forehead.
He studied the Toa’s eyes. They were steady but very alert, almost scared. Jehui didn’t blame her. He had been scared too when he woke up right next to the edge of the cliff. Nothing but watery noise as the sea crashed down, and then he had rolled away only to see a grey jungle being coloured in.
This was a strange island they were on. And from the look of the Toa’s eyes, she didn’t know much more than he did.
The first time he had watched them - accidentally discovering his mask’s power of sight by turning the ring he found on his finger and racing across the island before he brought it under control - he hadn’t gotten close enough to see their expressions. Only witnessed Nehara bursting out of the forest, the burning of the wasp swarm, and the resulting conversation that had gone silently before his eyes. Jehui couldn’t read lips.
Now that he was more used to his mask power, he delicately shifted his vision to the left to look at the Toa of Fire.
This one was clearly characteristic of his element - focused, almost angry. But clearly calm.
The Toa’s armour had some dark orange, with thick overlays similar to the Toa of Water’s on his arms, legs, and chest. Jehui mentally flinched. This one’s primary colour was red, but not any red.
Piercingly blood red.
He didn’t know why he knew, but no Toa would ever wear such a colour. It was more becoming of a Makuta.
Jehui didn’t know what a Makuta was either. These were instinctive thoughts rising out of his still-waking mind.
For the first time, Jehui really realized something. He, and these other three, had awoken on this island with no memory of who they were besides their names. No history, no experienced knowledge. Just these facts that seemed as self-evident as the grey colour of the sky.
He stopped mid-thought.
Everything had colour except the sky. Jehui didn’t understand why, but he sensed this was very wrong. It wasn’t cloud cover - the sky was literally featureless except for the sun.
This mental distraction lasted too long for his mask power to continue, and he felt his intangible spirit be pulled back into his body like a rubber band snapping.
Jehui fell to the ground. Looked up again.
A new sensation crept up on him… like he was being watched.
Where could he hide from those invisible eyes?
The forest. Jehui hesitated, but the feeling of being tiny underneath an immense grey gaze pushed him forth into the greenery.
Edited by Takuta-Nui, Feb 13 2015 - 03:32 PM.