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A Mystery Explored

epic mystery

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9 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Zatth

Zatth
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Posted Dec 03 2014 - 06:29 PM

A Mystery Explored

 

Chapter 1

 

     Ajura barely twirled her finger, making the water sphere rotate on its axis. She usually did this to unwind after a day of dealing with irascible Matoran, or to clear her mind and focus on a problem at hand.

     Having to separate a physical altercation between two Ko-Matoran and their slightly different predictions on the star’s alignment counted as both.

     How simple, yet complex, she mused. A perfect sphere, but with a simple yet small flicker of my wrist, and it becomes an entirely different shape. The ball was now a diamond. From a continuous, smooth surface, to seemingly solid sides. The intricacy…

     The droplets flew out of her hand violently, splashing against the wall.

     And there’s someone who isn’t intricate in any way, Ajura thought.

     “Having fun twisting some droplets around?” asked Orde. “It’s as if you want to go back and spend your days studying the thing. Does controlling water mean nothing to you?”

     “Oh, it means quite a lot,” Ajura said as she stood up from her chair to face Orde fully. “I can control it, yes. Does that mean I spend my days over a desk trying to study water or Liquid Protodermis from far away? Not anymore. But now that I control it, it affords me so many more opportunities to learn. One door opens up, leading to a thousand corridors.”

     Orde couldn’t hold his snicker. “I’m sorry… corridors? I didn’t realize you were also into architecture. Here, I’ll call that Po-Matoran Hafu and tell him that you don’t really want to be a Toa anymore, that you want to design houses now.”

     Ajura’s expression didn’t change. “You really think you’re funny, don’t you?”

     “It could also be me having subconsciously projecting so many of my famed jokes into your head that now you consider them funny.”

     Ajura smiled. “Look at that, you might actually have an actual sense of humor after all.”

     “Yeah, well, humor isn’t gonna do much during our next patrolling session.”

     “No?” Ajura was bringing the droplets back near her palm. “You might be able to use it to get some Matoran to stop fighting each other.”

     “Or I could also use the more direct formula.”

     “Even though violently flinging Matoran against a wall using your telekinesis doesn’t actually fix anything.”

     “Alright, first, I was talking about that Doom Viper I stunned using that telekinesis, and second, you can’t just shoot all of my ideas down!”

     “No promises.”

     Before Orde’s retort, the high-pitched dinging noise that signaled someone entering the Toa Base rang.

     “Looks like I’ll get to test more of my strategies sooner than I expected,” Orde beamed.

     Ajura unsheathed her Water Sabre and followed Orde. She wanted to keep close to him in case he decided that the area was too peaceful for his taste.

 

***

 

     If they had to guess, the next block of foundries would be as calm and serene as the last seven had been. Ajura and Orde had been patrolling for about three hours now, and nothing seemed to be amiss in Ta-Metru. Two more blocks and they were off to Le-Metru.

     “It’s odd, isn’t it?”

     “What is?” Ajura asked, scanning for any signs of trouble.

     “You’d think that with this place being so… non-temperature friendly, the Matoran here would be more hot-headed.”

     “There’s only one hot-headed being here, and it sure isn’t a Matoran.”

     Orde let the jab at him slide, but he nonetheless stopped walking abruptly.

     “What is it?”

     “Ajura, just because I was never a Matoran doesn’t mean you can classify me as a being, or make fun of who I am.”

     “Orde, it was just teasi-“

     “I DON’T LIKE IT!” The outer wall of one of the foundries began to shake violently.

     “Orde, please calm down!”

     “JUST BECAUSE I WASN’T A MATORAN DOESN’T MEAN I DON’T FEEL LIKE THEY DO, OR CAN CARE ABOUT THEM.”

     “ALRIGHT, I GET IT! BUT CALM DOWN OR ELSE YOU’LL BE HURTING OTHER MATORAN!”

     Orde paused and looked at the wall that was beginning to cave in. He’d let his telekinesis run rampant. He breathed, and used his telekinesis to try and return the wall to the shape it once was.

     “What do you think you’re doing to my foundry?!” asked a Ta-Matoran that ran out of the disfigured building.

     “Apologies for that. We’ll have it fixed,” said Ajura.

     “Yeah well, you’d better!”

     Orde eyed him as he scurried back to his foundry.

     “I don’t trust him.”

     “Yeah, well, I don’t think he trusts us much either thanks to your temper tantrum.”

     Ajura made a mental note to send someone to fix the wall. Orde was great at punching holes, but his psionic powers weren’t as powerful as to allow him to undo the damage. She pushed Orde along.

     “In all seriousness, think about it, Ajura. No conflict, no fight between Matoran? How come Ta-Metru is that quiet? Heck, how come the entire island is this calm?”

     “You’d have the League to thank for that. You know that.”

     “The League? I have to thank a band of tyrannical despots who decided to form a trade pact with Metru Nui that leaves us out of their dealings?”

     “Orde, we’ve spoken about this. You have no proof that the League of Six Kingdoms is tyrannical. Are they the rulers of our universe? Yes, they were appointed as such by Mata Nui. Does this mean there could be someone else that could be ruling? Certainly. But we have no proof or evidence that they are such cruel leaders as you like to think about them.”

     Orde folded his arms. “That’s easy for you to say. We have to stay here and not see what’s going on out there.”

     “Well, it’s not like we have much of a ch-“

     “TOA!”

     Orde and Ajura turned around to notice another Ta-Matoran running towards them with an expression of anguish on his face. They quietly glanced at each other, worried at the Matoran’s state.

     “Please, you have to come with me!”

     “Of course. Your name?”

     “M… Maglya. Please, come with me Toa!”

     Ajura, why is he leading us to his foundry? Why not tell us here? I don’t know about you, but this seems slightly off, projected Orde into Ajura’s head. As the more diplomatic and level-headed of the two, she would be better suited to get the answer out of the Matoran.

     “We will, Maglya. We just need to know, why not tell us here?”

     “It’s about the Archive Mole infestation. They’ve been fighting amongst themselves and destroyed much of my property!”

     Wait, Ajura. Don’t Archive Moles work together?

     “We understand, Maglya. We’ll go with you to figure out the problem.”

 

***

 

     Maglya’s veiled message had indeed been hidden as a code. When the three of them were inside Maglya’s foundry, where the sound of the Matoran working was loud enough, he told the Toa this would be a safe place where no one would be able to eavesdrop on them.

     “Why would someone evasedrop?”

     “Because of what you yourself were saying, Toa! You know, about the League.”

     Ajura looked at Orde with annoyance.

     “Maglya, I understand that you are worried of the state of other islands,” assured Ajura. “But we have no proof of what my friend here was saying. So let’s deal with the situation at hand. What’s the problem?”

     Slightly off-put by Ajura’s dismissal of Orde’s comments, Maglya paused and then resumed. “My friend… Kadira. Po-Matoran living on the Tren Krom Peninsula, I… we send each other letters ever since he was relocated there. Even with the League’s conquest of the Northern Continent Kadira has always been able to stay in contact with me. Sure, the letters arrive late, and other times they might get lost, but I always know how he’s doing. In his last letter he told me that he was relocating in secret, to go to a better place. He said he’d send me a message again once he was there.”

     Orde crossed one leg over the other. “Alright, so why hasn’t he answered back?”

     “I don’t know, but the point is I got that letter seven months ago! I’ve written three more times and no responses have returned.”

     Ajura felt pity for the Matoran, but knew that they couldn’t go around helping every Matoran in a pickle. “Alright, anything else we should know?”

     “In the letter, he… well, he highlighted some of the letters. And they spell out something.” Maglya pulled out the letter. It was worn down, as if it had been folded, clutched, hidden, and clutched over again. Order didn't need his telepathy to know how much pain Kadira's disappearance was causing Maglya. Under every few letter there was a line under it. Not too visible from far away, but from close up it was quite evident:

 

VALMAI MANGAIA

 

     “Well,” whispered Ajura wide-eyed. “That’s not foreboding or anything.”

     Orde couldn’t contain the smile. “Does this mean we get to go out there and see what’s going on?”

     Ajura didn’t want to leave. Metru Nui had a certain safety, and their team hadn’t communicated with any Toa outside the island for a long time now. But there was something in this story that suggested that there were deeper layers. Only scholars like the Ko-Matoran and Ga-Matoran knew these archaic terms that well. Why this Po-Matoran from the Northern Continent knew them, she had no clue. And even though the term ‘Mangaia’ was more understandable, ‘Valmai’ wasn’t the kind of word she’d hear from a Matoran, unless there was something very serious going on. Was this Matoran insane? Had he learned something that had put him at risk? Ajura wasn’t sure.

     But it was worth investigating.

 

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Edited by Zatth, Dec 12 2014 - 03:02 AM.

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#2 Offline Zatth

Zatth
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  • 21-May 07
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Posted Dec 12 2014 - 03:00 AM

A Mystery Explored

 

Chapter 2

 

     “Ajura, you know there’s no way I am letting either of you to go on this crazy mission.”

     “Yes, but hear me out, Razo-“

     Orde stopped leaning on the wall and walked towards the Toa of Fire. “Alright, listen here, Razo. I hate to pull rank on you,”

     Razo eyed Orde and his insubordination.

     “But since I got started directly as a Toa, I think I know the Toa Code much better and have more experience under my belt, don’t you think?” Before Razo could answer, Orde continued. “I know you know that I distrust the League. But I haven’t left before, so you can’t tell me this is me caught up in my distrust of the League, because if it were so I would’ve left a long time ago. Second, this is about the Matoran, and we’re tasked with protecting the Matoran. If we can figure out why this Matoran disappeared, we can at lest bring peace of mind to Maglya. And third, we get to find out what’s going on out there! We have heard very little from traders and travellers, and you’ll forgive me for wanting to go on a recon mission.”

     Razo took a pause. As much as he hated to admit it, Orde had actually given him some decent reasons to go. If nothing else, Ajura would be able to keep him in check, no matter what. At least, that’s what he hoped.

     “Alright, fine. You can both leave at sundown. Make sure you don’t cause much of a disturbance.”

     Orde smiled and turned to leave. Ajura caught up with him as he travelled the hallways. “How did you get him on your side?”

     “I read his thoughts and knew what to reply to each of his concerns.”

     “Isn’t that a bit immoral?”

     “Not if the end result is saving Matoran, don’t you think?” Ajura paused to consider whether she was in support of Orde’s unorthodox methods. She couldn’t tell immediately. ”None of that matters now, however. Now we have to get ready to visit the Northern Continent. Who knows what we’ll find there, right?”

     As they strode towards the armory, Ajura spoke a bit softer. “Razo is still gonna want updates from us. Can your mental link extend that far?”

     “Probably not. But I’m sure we can find another way of communicating, don’t you think?”

     “But what if something happened to us?” Ajura knew Orde wasn’t concerned with her preventive measures, as he was already packing his bag.

     “Ajura, you worry too much. Look, your bag is already halfway full, so just finish making it, and we can discuss the contents later. And if something were to occur, I think being driven and being prepared will be enough of an insurance.”

     “Fine.” She’d humor him this time, but Ajura would nonetheless try to find a method of communication before leaving. After about fifteen minutes, Ajura spoke again.

     “Do you think this is too little?”

     Orde turned around to see Ajura clutching her Water Sabre, a week’s worth of food, and a Toa Badge. They were given to the Toa of Metru Nui as a distinction between those protected under the League’s trade agreement and those elsewhere in the universe.

     “No, I think that should be fine. I don’t expect much action during the trip, rather more of sleuthing.”

     “Coming from you, I find it shocking that you don’t expect any action,” Ajura teased him.

     “Which is why I expect to be quite bored for a good amount of the trip.”

     “It’s alright. If you fall asleep I’ll splash some water on your face.”

     Orde smiled.

 

     For the past seven hours, Orde had volunteered to steer their boat. However, night was in full, and Orde looked like he could pass out at any moment. Even his arguing with Ajura wasn’t as strong as it normally was, and so he eventually agreed to take a small nap. During this time Ajura used her water powers to move the boat. Again, why leave an amazing ability like controlling water and liquid protodermis to the machines when one wielded the power? Ajura could feel her muscles contracting and relaxing in sync with the waves, her circulatory system and mechanical parts communicating to make the waves move harmoniously in propelling the boat. It was a mindless task, but one that she was learning to fully immerse herself in. If Ajura could truly get in her head how these water powers worked and how they were connected to the elements, she would have a much better grasp of the energies at her disposal.

     Her thoughts, however, were disrupted by a loud whimper coming from below. Ajura abruptly stopped the waves and ran towards the lower level of the boat. She used one of their emergency torches to illuminate her surroundings, and saw Orde covered in sweat and whimpering, this time at a lower volume.

     “Orde, is everything alright?”

     Senseless garble. Ajura wondered whether her Rode would come in handy, but it seemed that if Orde himself wasn’t aware of what was going on, there was less of a chance for her to understand what was going on. She opted to bathe Orde in a small layer of warm water, helping him relax until he once again fell asleep. For the rest of the night, Ajura focused on any noises from below.

 

     Climbing up the small stairs, Orde stretched as he was greeted by the rising sun. He didn’t remember having a night sleep this good in a long time. He noticed Ajura was resting on the floor, having turned on the propeller.

     “Hey, friend!” he screamed. Ajura woke up startled, making the boat sway a bit. “You should’ve let me know when you were tired, I would’ve taken over for you!”

     “I didn’t want to do that to you, what with your nightmare and all…”

     “Nightmare? I slept great last night!”

     Ajura rubbed her eyes. “You mean you don’t remember the whimpering? Calling out in your sleep? None of that rings a bell?”

     “No, not really.”

     “Well that’s… odd. Anywho, you felt good because I gave you a water massage to calm you down. So you’re welcome for that.”

     Orde relieved Ajura from her post. “Well that was really kind of you. Go ahead and grab something to eat, I already took a bite.”

     “Do you have any idea how much we have left to go?”

     “I think we should be there sooner than we think we will.”

     “So you have no idea.”

     “Caught guilty as charged, ma’am.”

     “Alright, then just make sure you don’t miss the destination.”

     “It’s an entire continent, Ajura. Do you really think I’m that dim-witted?”
     She didn’t answer as she went to the lower level to take a nap.

     “THAT WASN’T MEANT TO BE RHETO- alright, fine then.” Orde slouched back into his seat.

 

     Knocking on the walls. “Ajura, wake up! We’re here!” Orde’s muffled voice carried even through the thick walls. Made sense, Ajura thought. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to hear his whimpers either. How weird, though, that he doesn’t remember them. As Ajura walked out of the lower level, she noticed the seaport coming into view. Plumes of smoke arose from the island. Alongside some tall buildings. If Ajura had to guess, they would belong either to the Turaga or Mantax, the ruling Barraki of the Northern Continent. She slung her knapsack on her back.

     “Are you ready?”

     “Ready as we’ll ever be.”

     Ajura took over from here, ensuring that the docking was meticulous but effective. One of the Matoran manning the seaport said so as Ord and Ajura got off the transport.

     As the walked out of the seaport, they saw Matoran of all types hurrying from one site to the next, no doubt with work to complete. That was what stuck out the most to Orde, however. The need to hurry across from one place to the next. As if they were all late, or running from something.

     “Alright, the Tren Krom Peninsula should be 30 minutes walking distance at the most. Let’s get over there and figure out what happened to Kadira. This place is already giving me the creeps.” Orde didn’t need to use is Psionics powers to sense that Ajura was in agreeance.

     As they walked off towards the treacherous Tren Krom Peninsula, one of the Matoran from the seaport that had been tailing them caught the name of the Po-Matoran. No one was supposed to know of Kadira. This was bad, very bad. They had the Metru Nui seals, but apart from that it didn’t seem like more of them were coming soon. Maybe they could take down two Toa? If they didn’t, VM wouldn’t be pleased at all, and all their livelihoods could be at stake. The decision was made. They had to send The Conjurer in.

 

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Edited by Zatth, Dec 18 2014 - 09:12 AM.

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#3 Offline Zatth

Zatth
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Posted Dec 21 2014 - 10:11 PM

A Mystery Explored

 

Chapter 3

 

     “Leave it to a bunch of Matoran to try and colonize such a hostile place, right?” huffed Orde as he climbed up the mountain slope.

     “No one has reached the Southern Chain yet, maybe you’d like to take a trip there?”

     “Very funny, Ajura.” Orde laughed, trying to hide his tiredness at climbing the mountainside. It wasn’t much of a step up from where they’d been half an hour ago. They’d both been directed towards the Tren Krom Peninsula, and when they’d approached it they understood why the name had stuck. The heat from the semi-active volcanoes already seemed to be turning them off the place. As they tried to get a Matoran to guide them to Kadira’s place, they had almost been seared by a carelessly mislabeled acid fall. Then they figured out no Matoran wanted to actually help them up to the settlements, meaning they’d have to climb the only mountain not lined by jagged spikes as a way to get up to the plateau. There was a reason why Orde wasn’t a Toa of a more physically present element. All this climbing was rendering him tired; it also didn’t help that he used his Psionics powers to give himself slight bumps upwards when a particularly hazardous climbing path appeared.

     Orde was more shocked, however, at Ajura’s agility at climbing. Even though she’d started after he did, she was already farther ahead than he was. Blocking the sunrays with one of his hands, he looked upwards to see Ajura was much farther than he had thought. “Hey! Wanna lend me a hand?”

     “Not particularly.” Orde could hear Ajura’s smugness in those two words. He got annoyed that he was left behind, in such a desolate and godforsaken place. He grunted, pushing himself farther up the treacherous cliffside. He looked up again, and Ajura was gone. Either the heat was starting to play tricks on him, or the end was in sight.

     “Hey, stop behaving like a Mahi and get up here!” Alright, so Ajura was at the end, and she was making fun of him. Orde grabbed onto the next ledge with much more force, determined to get there and make her eat her words.

     Orde finally pushed himself up to the top of the plateau, and felt Ajura’s grip on his forearm. She pulled him over the side.

     “Took you some time, didn’t it?”

     “You know me, just examining the view, wondering where I could drop a smart-alecky Toa of Water.”

     “Ooh, careful there. You wouldn’t want to follow up on that threat.”

     “Yeah? Just watch me.”

     “Banter’s over. Come on, we’ve got some sleuthing to do.”

 

     Ajura slapped Orde so hard his mask was almost knocked off.

     “Listen, bud. You’ve had your temper tantrum,” she said as she pinned him to the ground. “I’m also angry that our information was incorrect. So Kadira’s hut isn’t where Maglya said it would be. Alright, fine, we’ll tell him never to waste our time again.” She kept putting pressure on his back so that he couldn’t get up again until she was finished speaking, or until he calmed down. “But your temper tantrum almost made the Matoran attack us. Do you really think that carelessly using a Psionics blast that destroys another Matoran’s hut is nothing? That Mazeka very nearly broke your neck. Now I’m gonna step off, you’re gonna calm down, and try to not get angry again. Got it?”

     “Ymphs,” Orde muffled.

     “Good. Because next time I’ll just knock you unconscious and leave you in the boat.” Ajura got off his back, as Orde winced from the pain. While it was great to have someone to get some sense into him, it almost always came with some pain included, courtesy of Ajura. Still, he wasn’t entirely to blame. They’d arrived at the spot where Maglya said Kadira lived. But when they got there, they noticed there was no Kadira’s hut. They asked around, and none of the Matoran knew a Kadira. Orde had let his anger get the better of him, Ajura pinned him down, and now Orde was very seriously thinking of building up his anger on the way back. Maybe then Maglya would know how to give directions correctly.

     “Alright, I’m calm. Let’s just get back to the-“

     Ajura flew forwards, smashing into the dirt. She’d been hit by a Rhotuka spinner. Orde whirled around to see a being who was two heads taller than they were. He was clad in brown and golden armour, with some kind of staff in one hand and an empty Rhotuka launcher in the other. Before he could react, Orde was pushed aside violently by what he recognized to be telekinetic powers. Somehow, this being was using some sort of magical ability, because now he was calling around him some of the boiling water from the ocean that surrounded the cliffside.

     He was aiming for Ajura.

     Instinctively, Orde activated his Focus Gauntlets, letting his Psionics powers amplify. He shot a blast of amplified telekinetic powers, sending the being reeling backwards. Orde raced to Ajura’s side.

     “Come on, wake up!” He shook her until he noticed here eyes opened. “Ajura, we’re under attack.”

     “I… I feel so weak… I don’t have my powers anymore…” Orde realized with horror the being had stolen Ajura’s powers. He looked up to notice a stream of boiling water coming towards him. Only by lifting his Focus Gauntlets to his face did he redirect the stream towards a neighboring Matoran hut. Luckily they seemed to have noticed the disturbance and were now hiding, hopefully in safety.

     Orde pushed down with his telekinetic abilities, vaulting him up in the air. However, the being seemed to be prepared, as he used his own telekinetic abilities to forcefully bring Orde plummeting down below. Getting up, he noticed the being was charging his staff up and pointing it at Ajura.

     With no time to call out, he used his mind control ability to make Ajura to roll sideways. The being’s staff shot a stream of energy where Ajura had been a second ago. The bit of ground disappeared, creating a crater of sorts. Disintegration Staff.

     Orde decided to take a gamble. He forced Ajura to stop. The brown being turned to look at Ajura, and focused his staff again. Now!

     Orde focused his telekinetic energies, sending the being flying in the air. The stream flew out of his staff, but being misdirected to hit an outcropping of jagged spikes. Orde lifted his other Focus Gauntlet, and unleashed a mental blast aimed at the airborne being. He convulsed, and finally went limp. He wasn’t dead, but unconscious for a while. Orde let him plummet.

     He ran towards Ajura. She was starting to get up “Are your powers back?”

     “Yeah. Yeah, they are.”

     “Alright, well we gotta go. Now.” Orde helped Ajura up, making sure she was feeling well. So far she seemed to be. She limped towards the cliffside. They both looked down, and knew Ajura wouldn’t be able to make the climb downwards.

     “You good with me lowering you?”

     Ajura nodded. Orde focused his energies, picking Ajura up slowly. He began to lower her, making sure that it was slow enough for her, but fast enough so that they lost little to no time. Orde turned to look back one last time. Nothing.

     He turned to face the Cliffside, and began climbing down. He made sure to use his telekinetic abilities more often to get down faster. After what seemed an eternity, he landed beside Ajura. She was looking better now.

     “I don’t know about you, but either that was a totally random situation, or the plot in this mystery thickens.”

     “I’ll take the second one.”

     “Yeah, me too,” Orde replied. “And I hate to admit it, but I think we’re going to have to inquire further with someone who knows what’s going on. Someone who knows the lay of the land and might clear up our questions.”

     “Mantax?” Ajura was shocked that Orde would offer such a suggestion, considering his distrust of the League of Six Kingdoms.

     “We have no choice.”

 

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Edited by Zatth, Dec 21 2014 - 10:12 PM.

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#4 Offline Zatth

Zatth
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Posted Dec 26 2014 - 08:37 AM

A Mystery Explored

 

Chapter 4

 

     You know, I’m starting to have second doubts. Wanna back out?

     Ajura stared at him. If looks could kill.

     Yes, yes, I know it was my idea to come visit Mantax. Anywho, I was joking.

     Was he really, though? Orde’s mistrust of the League was well-placed, but to add on to that was the fearsome reputation they had earned. By this day and age, it was hard to separate rumours and myths from fact. The League of Six Kingdoms was a bit of both. Their exploits had become legend, and their fearsome power was now interlaced within the cultural subconscious of any denizen of this world. Stories of their erratic behavior, lust for power, and general unusual nature were common.

     Mantax himself was known as The Silent Death. While other Barraki were known to verbally or physically lash out, Mantax was the quiet one. One never knew if he was plotting or brimming with anger that would never be released in traditional ways. Rumours said that he had ordered the brutal murder of an entire town, with all Matoran impaled and placed around their former homes as a display. At no point did Mantax explain the rationale behind this, but some said that, after hearing of the evacuation by the Turaga of the island, he had simply smiled. Unpredictability was a trait very connected to Mantax, and Orde wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to read his mind. He might have his mind shielded, and that might make this entire thing much harder.

     The two guards walked side by side with Ajura and Orde. No more furtive looks at each other, no nudging or anything that could seem suspicious. They were here to do business, and nothing else.

     After a litany of hallways and corridors, they finally reached an ominous, black door. It appeared to be carved, with intricate designs depicting battles. The door opened.

     “In,” one of the guards said brusquely.

     Ajura and Orde thanked the guards and stepped into the room. It was a surprisingly spacious room, with a window looking out at the rest of the fortress. To their left were many stone tablets, seemingly untouched. To their right, a large tank filled with water. There was something swimming inside.

     “Many believe nothing can be learned from Underwater Rays.” Ajura and Orde turned to look at a slowly walking Mantax. He was pointing at the water tank. “Then again, many have yet to see and study Underwater Rays. You. Toa of Water. Did you ever study them?”

     “No, sir. I was able to read reports from the Archives, but I never got a chance to personally study them.”

     “Pity, they are quite fascinating. But from what you learned, what did you take away?”

     Ajura paused. “I’m not sure I’m understanding your question.”

     Mantax chuckled. “Nothing stuck out about Underwater Rays?”

     This might be a trick question. Ajura chose her words carefully. “They… hide under the sand and attack unsuspecting prey.”

     Mantax nodded. “Yes. It’s the first thing they taught me. My native species is brining with brutes that don’t know any military strategy. But Underwater Rays taught me a very valuable lesson. Attack your enemy in the most unsuspecting way. Catch them off guard. Fool them.” Mantax put his hand on the tank, never taking his eyes off the Underwater Ray.

     “If we’re honest though, and I wouldn’t recommend that, you are not here for a lesson. Well, maybe Water is. You are both here… why?”

     “Sir, we have reason to believe that one of the Matoran on the Tren Krom Peninsula went missing.”

     “Probably tripped and fell to its death. Doesn’t concern me.”

     He clearly wasn’t interested. Time to try something else. “Do the words Valmai Mangaia mean anything?”

     Mantax turned his head. “I have heard the terms being used. Does this have to do with the missing Matoran?”

     “Yes, it was in a letter written by the Matoran that disappeared.”

     “What was the Matoran’s name?”

     “Kadira.”

     Mantax paused to think. “No, still nothing. Anyways, I couldn’t concern myself with every single Matoran. However, I have heard the name Valmai Mangaia. Anything else?”

     “We were attacked while investigating Kadira’s disappearance, sir” added Orde.

     “I hope it was a fun fight. Mata Nui knows I barely get to fight and conquer these days.”

     Ajura glanced at Orde. “We believe we were followed by someone.”

     “Yes, well, until you can get more proof of something there isn’t much that I can do. Especially since I am not a detective.” That gave Mantax an idea. “Oh, but there is someone who might be better at finding a lead.”

 

     “And so we were hoping to have more luck with you helping us, Teridax.”

     He seemed lost in his notes, half-hearing the two of them. “Well, I must say I’m shocked Mantax would have faith in me. I think it’s no surprise that I don’t trust the League much. But the will of Mata Nui must be followed, so… Anyways, I think it was good to come here, if that helps.” He walked over to where they were. “I do have to ask, though, why two Toa from Metru Nui? Why not pass this on to another team? If I were you, I would stay in Metru Nui and not concern myself with these muddy affairs.”

     Orde piped up. “We want to do the right thing and help Maglya find his friend.”

     Teridax chortled. “The right thing? Oh yes. Toa, of course. The right thing.” He continued to pace around the lab. “I would expect you to be less of an amateur and see that there is no such thing as ‘the right thing’. I mean, look at Mantax. Is the right thing to follow Mata Nui’s will? Is it to murder and enslave Matoran? Is it to create Rahi like we Makuta do?”

     Teridax sighed. “Yes, I know this doesn’t matter much to you. After all, being the paragons of good you can’t concern yourselves with moral ambiguities. No matter. Do you have anything that belonged to this Kadira?”

     “No, there was nothing there his house should have been, if there ever was a house.”

     “And the letter. Do you have it with you?”

     Orde pulled the letter out of his knapsack. Teridax brought it over to one of his machines and began examining it closely.

     “My Mask of Psychometry didn’t do much to reveal anything,” Orde said.

     “Don’t bother,” Teridax replied. “You’d only be able to see the past, and, no offense, Toa, but that won’t do much in this situation.” He lost himself again in the examination of the letter. Finally, he laughed.

     “Oh, tricky, trick. They did a very good job of masking their trail. But no one can best a Makuta.” Using his telekinesis, Teridax pulled over a vial with a cyan liquid. He put some droplets on the upper-left corner of the letter, and then placed a sponge-type sphere over the corner. After a while longer, Teridax walked over to where the Toa were. Looking closely at the sphere, it had turned from its original tan into a swirling mix of cyan, green and dark brown.

     “Every being has a special mixture of chemicals that they exude. It’s how we can tell the genetic make up of a Rahi apart. This specific being that captured Kadira must have exuded some of that onto this letter.”

     “So Kadira was probably also covered with that genetic identification?” asked Ajura.

     “Yes. And I think that would extend to Kadira’s belongings.”

     “Yeah, but there was nothing there. This is the only thing we have of his.”

     Teridax walked over to a large chest, and began rummaging through the insides of the chest. Finally he pulled out a stone tablet. Walking over to the Toa, he handed the tablet to Ajura. “Here. A map with the location of a warehouse where any unclaimed possessions are taken. Mantax set it up years ago to send his spoils of war, but we have repurposed it to hide other things that don’t serve any purpose. If there is anything gone or hidden, it will be here.”

     “Is it legal to go in there?” asked Ajura.

     “Oh, most certainly not. But I’m sure you will take a look in there to help this Matoran, won’t you?”

     Ajura was uncertain, but Orde grabbed the tablet from her hands. “Yes, we’ll do it.”

     Teridax smiled. “Good. Then you have a heading. Use the sponge, and it will guide you to where any belongings of Kadira’s are.”

     As Ajura and Orde walked out of Teridax’s lab, he stopped them. “Oh, and Toa?”

     They stopped and turned around.

     “Please, do heed my words. I know you think Mantax is pure evil. I’m sure you see this Matoran as the victim. But you would do well to remember that not everyone is pure good or pure evil. Too many Toa forget that and, if I might be so bold, I think it’s why many of you fail. You don’t expect anything but moral absolutes, and learning otherwise can… break you. That is all.”

 

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#5 Offline Zatth

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Posted Jan 04 2015 - 02:31 PM

A Mystery Explored

 

Chapter 5

 

     Ajura finally understood the large light passing by them.  It passed by the narrow passageway they were trying to cross every three and a half seconds. Although it was nighttime, they were certain they would be immediately spotted by guards if any bit of the large flashlight was to shed light on them. Orde had tried to induce the guards under his Psionic powers, but they seemed shielded against such attacks. They were going to have to try something different. A projectile on some far off area probably wouldn’t draw both guards off; at best they’d run and see them trying to break apart the door, at worst one of them would stay behind and then they’d both suspect foul play.

     The other facts to work with was that there was a door, both guards had to be incapacitated some how, and… well, that was pretty much it. They didn’t know what kind of weapons the guards have, or how hard it would be to open the door. It also didn’t help that the two of them were at odds with the idea of the plan.

     “Orde, please. Let’s not break into the place. I’m sure we can get Mantax or someone to find us a safe passage in there.” Ajura looked at the guards. They hadn’t been distracted by Orde’s Psionic powers, but they might already have sensed someone, and simply be biding their time. In other words, an ambush.

     “Look Ajura, the time for second doubts was over a while ago. You know what the tablet says; apart from Mantax and members of the Brotherhood of Makuta, no one else can enter. That is where Kadira’s possessions probably are, and the only lead we have to solving this mystery!”

     “Yes, but doing it like some kind of lowlife criminal?!” Ajura whispered angrily. They might argue, but they could at least agree on not giving up their cover. “We aren’t Dark Hunters, we’re Toa! We have to stand up for what’s right!”

     “Yeah, that’s what we’re doing. We’re helping find a lost Matoran and maybe discover a bigger underlying plot.” Orde brought both of his hands to his head in frustration. “Look Ajura, I agree that we should do the lawful thing. But I think saving Matoran trumps not forcing an entry. The situation calls for it!”

     Ajura wanted to tell him that he couldn’t use the situation to justify breaking into a vault. “If that means you’d be willing to kill those guards, then go ahead. But since you love to say you’re the Toa who knows all the rules, then I shouldn’t have to tell you how that would break our cardinal rule. No killing.”

     Orde stopped. It was true. They had found no way yet to bring the guards down, and it seemed like the only alternative would be to hit them with such force, they would be downed permanently.

     He looked around. What was there to use? Rocks, the guards, something from the warehouse, the…

     Orde smiled.

     “I think I have an idea. How good are you drawing water out of thing air?”

 

     The guards stood vigilant. They’d felt some kind of power battling their shielded minds, but decided to stay near the door. To go out would only help those who were probably trying to get in, and they would much rather stay by the door and deal with the matter when it, literally, came to their doorsteps. But aside from the occasional roaming bird, there was nothing to see or hear.

     Creak.

     A slight shudder. Something was off. The guards scoured to see if there was anything. Nothing.

     Creak. It seemed to come from their left. They looked, blasters poised at the ready. Nothing still. As they turned back, the leftmost guard took one last look at the large flashlight.

     Something… something is off.

     His stare darted upwards just in time to catch the large metallic tower begin to budge. It looked like rust had magically appeared, distorting the steel frame.

     “Look at the tower?”

     The other guard faced that way.

     “Do you see the light? It’s slightly off.”

     “Go and take a look. I’ll stay over here.”

     The leftmost guard scouted the area surrounding the tower. Nothing, he signaled. He began to climb the tower, to see where the damage was. And then the tower began to fall. The guard screamed. A second later, the rust magnified twicefold, making the structure shudder and shake more than before. Now the light was definitely off course. The guard was still screaming for help, until he noticed that the falling force shook him off the tower.     Falling, he could only see the large metal leviathan that was about to crush him. Seconds before impact, he felt someone pushing him out of the way.

The tower fell, deafening roar in its wake. The light had now made the ground catch fire. It took a while for the guards to stand up, and a bit longer for their hearing to return. They swore they’d gone blind, but they then noticed it was just the smoke and violently shaken dust from the rubble. The leftmost guard thanked his partner for pushing him alongside him before the tower hit. His quick thinking had saved his life.

 

     Orde wanted to stare a second longer and see the tower fall and crash. But Ajura pulled at his arm as soon as she saw the other guard run to save his partner. Orde’s gamble had paid off, and Ajura made sure to give them both time to safely be out of the tower’s grasps. As soon as they hard the thundering crash, Ajura ran with Orde. They ran towards the door, trying to not focus on the aftershock of the tower.

     Mata Nui be blessed, it’s an easy door to open! projected Orde into Ajura’s head. The sound wouldn’t let them hear each other.

     Orde projectecd the door’s past onto Ajura’s mind, his Mask of Psychometry came to the rescue once again. Ajura mentally pictured what the key looked like, then made it out of Protodermis. Most doors had more complicated locks, and required a fully manual procedure to open. Others, however, responded to the general shape of the key. Making it out of Protodemris made things a bit easier. Finally, Ajura felt the whirring of the girders from within the door. It was open.

     Ajura pushed the door open, and dragged Orde inside. She closed the door and reset the mechanism. If the guards got back to the door, they, hopefully, wouldn’t suspect a thing.

 

     Rows and columns. That’s all there was in this seemingly neverending warehouse. Rows and columns of boxes. Orde had resorted to sit by wherever Ajura was checking, and use his Mask of Psychometry on the boxes to see the history of their contents. He’d learned of a mutated Visorak pincer that had been pried off and given to Mantax as a gift. He’d discovered three Kanoka that had been placed in separate glass casings in one box, with the label KEEP TOGETHER BUT DO NOT MERGE. He’d unearthed a very old tome, seemingly the studies of someone trying to codify a very archaic language. This last one didn’t have much, as the tome seemed to abruptly end halfway through. Orde began to wonder what had happened.

     “Hey, do you wanna come and be useful? I’m the one checking all the rows while you’re sitting there like a Dermis Turtle under fine weather.”

     “Did you check that corner over there?” Orde joke. “Actually, no worries. I’m sure you’ll get there eventually.”

     She whacked him off the box he was sitting on. “You wanna play the jester? Fine. But I distinctly remember you being the one who wanted to save this Matoran, so…”

     She had a point. Orde decided to actually help out. Who knew, maybe he could mind control her to keep doing it after a while. He continued to walk from where Ajura had been standing. He hadn’t walked more than seven steps, when the sponge began to swirl with cyan, green, and dark brown.

     “Wouldya look at that? All I had to do was work, and the sponge decided that I should find the box!” Ajura walked over to him in disbelief. Of course, the box had been right where she’d made Orde work. He’d probably joke about this being the stroke of luck or a true hardworking Toa. He wouldn’t let he hear the end of it.

     “Before you make any jokes about this, we might actually want to look inside.”

     She’d caught him there. He shut up, and they both pried the box open.

     Inside was a disk launcher, some carving tools, and a bed. Nothing that stood out to them.

     “Alright, let me do all the work again,” Orde teased Ajura as he placed his hand of the objects. If there was anything else here, his Mask of Psychometry would pick it up. He closed his eyes, and concentrated. Images flashed in his head. He fast-forwarded, until he reached the part where Kadira seemed more visibly worried. He stopped, and went back a bit. There! Kadira was talking with some being that had grabbed his disk launcher and toyed with it. Orde saw, that alongside Kadira’s own launcher, the creature had been holding some kind of modified Kanoka Launcher that Orde didn’t recognize. With no other leads on the other objects, he opened his eyes again.

     “There was a being holding Kadira’s disk launcher. Lucky for us, the creature was also holding its own modified launcher. Now, I’m not sure what kind of modifications, but I think I know where we can ask.”

     “Alright then,” Ajura agreed. “You make a sketch of the thing you saw, and we’ll inquire at Xia. If it’s something that unique, they’ll know whom it was made for.”

 

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#6 Offline Zatth

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Posted Jan 21 2015 - 12:18 AM

A Mystery Explored

 

Chapter 6

 

            Ajura asked again. “You’re entirely sure that you don’t find the waves at least mildly soothing?”

            Orde dipped his hand into the ocean. He left it there for three seconds, and then brought his hand back up. “Ajura, as a basic principle I don’t consider things that can kill me as soothing. Including water and liquid protodermis.”

            “Then that removes any known substance… and being.”

            “Well, yeah. Never have complete trust in anything or anyone, because unreliability is more prevalent than you’d think.”

            “So when did you get so philosophical?” asked Ajura. She began playing with a bubble of water. “It’s not like you’ve been thinking about this often, right?”

            “No,” he sighed. “It’s not my every waking thought, but it is something that I like to keep in mind.” He looked up at the clear sky. “You know, it’s like when you have a set of principles or laws of the universe that you guide yourself by. That’s one of mine.”

            “I hope that the first rule is to always make sure I’m happy,” she quipped.

            “Don’t worry, that’s the first 27 rules,” he smiled. “Rule 145, by the way, is to be wary of any and all Xians.”

            “Right. Back to business.”Ajura sat back up. The boat was going at a steady enough speed that it would take a few more hours to reach Xia. Until then, they could plan out their strategy. “What do we know?”

            Orde began to speak what he knew. “Xia. Manufacturer of weapons. Controlled by Pridak. Has an abnormally large and unusual mountain in the center.”

            Ajura nodded. “Good. So, weapons manufacturer. Who do we go to first?”

            “The records office. We’ll be able to find out either who creates disk launchers, or at least who made some kind of a transaction of a modified disk launcher.”

            One item off the list. “Next is Pridak.”

            Orde frowned. “Scary and volatile guy. Met him once while working under Icarax. If you think I have anger issues, wait until you cross him.”

            “So unpredictable ruler of the island. I’m gonna say we need to be as quiet and uneventful as possible?”

            “I’ll be on my best behavior,” Orde said.

            “And finally, that mountain. Should we consider it as a threat?”

            “If not a threat, at least an asset.”

            “How’s that?”

            “Why, that’s rule number 84! If something is a threat, you can also turn it into an asset.”

            “Alright, smug guy,” Ajura said. “One day I’ll test you on those rules, see how well you know them. And speaking of questioning you-“

            “As if you haven’t done so enough today,”

            “I meant to ask you. Two days before we left, you had some visitors drop by. Who were those Toa, I didn’t recognize them-“

            “They were no one. Just some old acquaintances. They came, we spoke, they left. Simple as that.” Ajura had never know Orde to back away from a topic or become so defensive. She thought it odd, but decided to give Orde some peace of mind.

            “Well, I’m here if you ever need to talk. In the meantime, I’ll take a nap. Maybe you’ll learn that water can, more often than not, really be soothing.”

 

            “This would be the time to commission a Mask of Air Purification,” Orde coughed. “I knew things were bad, but this kind of pollution?”

            “Yeah, well,” Ajura said as she pushed Orde. “Look at it this way; the sooner we do our thing the faster we’re off this island and the fumes.” The landscape wasn’t welcoming in any way. The large mountain, which seemed to smile at the Toa, was surrounded by sickly green clouds. Few birds were seen circling the mountain, but none at the top. The top seemed to be raining fiery tongues that shot downwards. When the fumes allowed one to look around the sight of towering structures made up the foreseeable horizon. The buildings looked crooked, as if ready to fall at a moment’s notice. How this could lead to production and manufacturing eluded Ajura. Since she didn’t want to stay long enough to ask such a question, she kept walking with Orde.

            A stray rock made Orde trip, and ingest the noxious fumes. He began coughing violently. Ajura panicked, making a bubble of water in case he needed some immediate healing. Before she could form the watery sphere, however, she felt a hand grabbing her shoulder and forcing her up. Orde was also forced to stand, and given some sort of apparatus to put over his mouth. Ajura was given a similar one. After taking in a deep breath, Ajura felt less light-headed. She could see color returning to Orde’s face. They looked up at a Vortixx standing behind them.

            “Tourists are always taken aback by the smell. I’ve always said, it’s costly to make these breathing things. Much easier to enact a mutation that can function on Xia and be turned off when leaving the island.”

            “Thanks, but… I think we’ll pass on those,” wheezed Orde. His lungs were clearing up, but he couldn’t let go off the presence of the gas.

            “Suit yourself, then. Which leads me to my next question. Why do we have two Toa visiting our island?”

            Ajura spoke up to let Orde rest a bit. “We’re here inquiring about some disk launchers.”

            “What kind? We have those retrofitted to Matoran, vehicles, Toa, you name it.”

            “It was… a different type of launcher. Modified.”

            The Vortixx smiled. She returned to a neutral face very quickly. “I see my modified disk launchers are getting some good press, then?”

            “In a way.”

            “What do you mean?”

            Ajura chose her words carefully. No need to anger a native. “We… saw one of these modified launchers. Wanted to know some specific details for Metru Nui.”

            The Vortixx looked puzzled. “We haven’t gotten any requests from Metru Nui for any inspection of specification of technical details for disk launchers.”

            “It’s a covert mission,” Ajura lied. “We were sent here to avoid surveillance from other organizations… they’ve been pestering us for a while and we don’t want to arouse any more suspicion.”

            “Toa hiding from the law?” The Vortixx smiled. “You’ve got my interest again. And I do love sowing some discourse.” She seemed to think again about the two of them. Finally she let go. “I’ll help you. But be warned, Toa, there might come the day when I find this organization and relay your treachery.”

            “Right. Duly noted,” Ajura answered. “Now, the modified disk launcher. Who did you sell it to?”

            “Well, I didn’t only sell it to one customer. Many were piping for my services, so you might need to consider a large list of applicants. Do you have any idea what the seller looked like?”

            Orde pulled out his sketch of the figure that had been with Kadira. The Vortixx looked closer into the drawing.

            “Oh yes, I remember him. Quiet customer, but nonetheless glad to have the modified launcher. I like to keep track of my customers, so you wouldn’t happen to know what he was doing with the launcher?”

            “He was last seen at the home of a Po-Matoran in the Tren Krom Peninsula.”

            “Say that again?”

            “Po-Matoran at the Tren K-“

            “Anywho, that’s also some more classified information,” Orde cut Ajura off. “And I don’t think any of it will be of any use.”

            “On the contrary, Toa. There is a Ta-Matoran called Vultraz. If our buyer was at the Tren Krom Peninsula, you can trust me when I say that Vultraz will know where to go.”

            “Right, great. Thank you for your help.”

            “Roodaka. The name’s Roodaka. Glad to have been of assistance.” She smiled, and suddenly Orde felt like the island itself wasn’t the most dangerous thing near him. He tugged Ajura so they could leave.

 

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#7 Offline Zatth

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Posted Mar 30 2015 - 07:31 PM

A Mystery Explored

 

Chapter 7

 

     Matoran, Vortixx, and other species scurried along, no doubt trying to get away from the noxious fumes. Ajura and Orde took one last look at the smoggy island, then started up the boat. After a few minutes, they finally felt confident that they could breathe normal air again.

     “Well, that’s an island I never want to visit again.”

     Ajura chuckled in agreeance. “Lucky for us, there’s a small island close from here where we can stop for a short while, restock on supplies, and breathe normal air while on land.”

     Orde took in a big gulp of air and then breathed out, as if highlighting this last point. “Saying that’s well-needed is an understatement at this point.”

     After half an hour, they finally began to see the contour of a small isle. Ajura and Orde began picking up their knapsacks, ready to stop for a short while before proceeding back to the Southern Continent. The island wasn’t too lush with wildlife, but rather seemed more of a dry terrain. A few huts here and there, but nothing too major or surprising.

     “They were settled by a small band of Matoran a few thousand years ago. They make their island available to any travellers who need their services.”

     “What, so this stop isn’t free?” Orde asked surprised.

     “No, of course not. They’re salespeople, looking to get their fair share of payment.”

     “You’d think they’d have shaken off some of their old habits,” Orde mused. He stretched a bit, hauled the knapsack over his shoulder, and stepped off the boat onto the dock. The island wasn’t too much to be amazed about; a few huts that differed by the kind of Matoran that inhabited them, what seemed like a bazaar judging by the fumes and noises coming from the other side of the island, and a few desert-based plants here and there. Bland and uninteresting, which was very much welcome to Orde at this point in the trip.

     He turned to see Ajura already discussing with one of the Matoran that worked at the dock to take care of the boat. Orde took in a big breath, thanked Mata Nui for the chance to breathe in normal air, and walked up to Ajura.

     “Anything interesting that you got out of that riveting conversation?” Orde teased.

     Ajura was packing up her remaining widgets after paying the Matoran. “Not much. They did mention a specialty dish we should try out while we’re here, but that was the only thing that stuck out.”

     “Well, it’s better that way. The faster we’re on our way to finishing this ordeal, the better.” Orde didn’t shy away from adventure; after all, he was a Toa. But he’d been left more weary and skeptical over the past few hours. Replaying much of their adventure in his head left him feeling uneasy, as if there was some greater force at play here.

     “Alright, then,” Ajura coaxed Orde as if he were a child. “We’ll pick up supplies, make sure the boat is good to go, and get off of this place. You’re starting to sound like the survivor of a Doom Viper attack-“

     Ajura’s thought was interrupted by a shattering sound that disrupted both their senses. Instinctively, Orde pushed away the newly-formed debris around him, trying to get himself back in focus. He noticed a Matoran-like figure running towards the docks. In front of Ajura and Orde were five mechanical quadrupeds. Their sickly-metallic green exoskeleton gleamed under the sunlight, forcing Orde to shield his eyes from the reflection. He turned to see Ajura getting up and unsheathing her Water Sabre. She began to whir the blade, summoning any nearby water to her aid. Orde in turn began to power up his Focus Gauntlets, feeling his Psychometry powers building up, quite literally, at his fingertips.

     He pushed back with one arm, and then pushed forward, sending a powerful burst of telekinetic energy. One of the creatures did not expect the attack, and was promptly sent tumbling backwards. The other four regrouped, avoiding their now fallen comrade. Ajura wasted no time, jumping in the air and bringing down the Water Sabre, creating a long whip of water that attempted to swat away another of the creatures. This time they were more receptive, and they all leapt upwards, narrowly avoiding the blow. Orde raced towards one of them in an attempt to switch to melee combat. He tried to uppercut one of the creatures, only for it to crank its neck around and avoid the blow. Orde was taken aback by the elasticity of the creature.

     He didn’t notice the way the creature’s arm bent to strike Orde on the left of his abdomen.

     Orde cried out in pain as the creature’s hand became a needle that impaled itself across Orde’s side. Ajura heard the scream and ran towards Orde, bringing her Sabre down on the creature’s arm. Sparks and buzzing flew from the creature’s socket, as the arm was detached from the creature. It didn’t seem to notice, but rather signaled to the other three creatures. They got off their attack positions, and began to retreat to the docks.

     Ajura wasn’t determined to let them go that easy. Summoning any droplets near them, she channeled her energies to make tens of tiny streams of water to flow towards the creatures. When she was sure that they were surrounded by the little streams, she willed the water to coalesce into a water hand that took hold of the four creatures in the middle of their escape. Ajura concentrated, and brought the fist down with all her strength, shaking the nearby huts. When she was finally sure that the creatures were knocked out and weren’t going to come to any time soon, she raced back to Orde.

     The wound was still there, but the needle had disappeared. No, not disappeared. Melted, more like it. Though the wound was gone, traces of a green metal were deeply embedded across Orde’s side.

     “Orde, can you hear me?!”

     A grunt of pain, wincing. And then, finally, he spoke.

     “We didn’t get to try that main dish they have here, but I think I just got a taste of their side.”

     Ajura shoved Orde, quietly thanking Mata Nui.

     Joking and alive. She’d take it.

     She helped him up, making sure that he was strong enough to walk. He slowly seemed to be regaining his strength.

     “Seriously, though, let’s not do that ever again,” he said as he limped towards the knocked out creatures. Ajura tried to focus on his heartbeat. She frowned. It seemed arrhythmic, and that was troubling to her. But Orde’s demeanour, while weak, didn’t seem to suggest anything out of the ordinary. She’d need to find out what the green-metallic substance was; though not much was clear now, it was still there, and could still pose a danger.

     “Orde, wait!” She noticed Orde slip from her grasp, running towards the mechanical creatures. He dropped on all fours, looking too closely at the creatures.

     “Ajura, they’re dead! Or disconnected, or something.”

     She ran towards Orde, partially to make sure he was right, partially to make sure he was all right.

     In effect, the creatures seemed to have turned off. No signs of life, no mechanical movement of any type, nothing. Ajura turned one of the creatures over, and it did nothing. A coordinated attack? A way to distract them? What had this been all about?

     Too caught up in the creatures, she barely noticed Orde slipping away again. Now he was running to the docks, and it looked like he wanted to swim.

     Which was odd, because Orde hated swimming.

     “Orde?”

     Nothing. No response.

     “Orde!”

     Finally, Ajura ran up to him, whirring him around.

     “Orde, do you not hear me? What’s going on?”

     But now she could see him up close. His eyes… they were changing colour. Almost imperceptibly, but the change was there. A sickness of some sort, and it was acting very rapidly. Orde seemed oblivious to his surroundings.

     “Alright, friend. Let’s go and get off of this island.”

     And then, more to herself than to her seemingly-delirious friend, “the sooner we’re done with this all, the better.”

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#8 Offline Zatth

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Posted Apr 18 2015 - 09:23 PM

A Mystery Explored

 

Chapter 8

 

     It had been a struggle to get Orde back into the boat. He’d run, crumple down, laugh maniacally, jump, scream, then repeat. Sometimes he’d switch the order, forcing Ajura to try and calm him down, hit him, talk to him, or try something else entirely. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Orde seemed to have tired himself out, which allowed Ajura to carry his weakened body into the boat. Before setting off, she made sure she had extra medicinal supplies in the boat. She had to get him to a real medical facility, but she’d have to assess, and perhaps try, to remediate some of the damage. Otherwise, by the time they reached a facility Orde might be a raving madman or a lifeless corpse. As of now, Ajura knew so little she wasn’t sure which might come first, if at all.

     She started the motor, ensuring that Orde was strapped down to the boat. She wasn’t taking any more chances if he woke up. Ajura kept controlling the boat for an hour, often glancing back at her teammate. He didn’t seem alert, but he was breathing. Ajura was using bandages and soothing oils to keep his fever down, and so far he had stopped shivering. Hopefully his body was fighting whatever was going on, attempting to return to normal.

     Finally, Ajura decided the boat could keep going by itself. She allowed the motor to keep going, then went back into the small hut. She sat by Orde and felt his forehead.

     It was starting to warm up again. She peeled off the bandages, and washed them with more of the healing ointments. She carefully placed them on his forehead. He was, almost imperceptibly, shaking his head back and forth. Ajura almost felt like he was muttering something.

     She thought it best to examine the wound at this point, since he wasn’t actively struggling. Ajura peered down at Orde’s side. The metallic green substance was coating part of his hip, and seemed to be mixing with his flesh, almost like a living rust that was slowly overtaking him. Ajura had never seen anything like this. No Rahi that she’d studied, nor any information gleamed from any other island would explain what this was.

     As she placed a sheet of water over the wound to try and feel any impurities, Ajura shrieked as Orde’s hand shot to her arm and began grabbing with strength that she didn’t even know she had. She could feel the circulation stop flowing, as Orde kept clutching her wrist with more and more strength. With no time to do it more delicately, Ajura brought up her foot and kicked Orde. He instinctively recoiled, and let go. Silently, Ajura thanked Mata Nui and began flexing her wrist. It was slowly regaining its colour.

     Orde turned to look at her. Though, it seemed more like he was looking through her, or behind her.

     “Orde, can you hear me?”

     In between labored breaths, he mustered up “I’m… sorry”

     Ajura breathed a sigh of relief.

     “Orde, it wasn’t your fault. It’s this poison, I don’t know what it is, but-“

     “Poison.” He spat out the word. “I am a poison. I am the scourge, and the poison, the doom and the rage.” Ajura thought the words to be delirious, but the way he said it… like he’d thought about this, or heard about it. He sounded completely lucid.

     “Orde, what are you talking about?” She quietly brought up a new bandage towards his forehead. When she replaced the old one, she felt his forehead burning.

     “I know what I am. I know what I did. And it’s a poison that lives within me.”

     Ajura decided to keep talking with him about anything; if nothing else, it proved he was alive and conscious… whatever that meant at this point.

     “What poison? Orde, what did you do?”

     He cackled. He cackled and sobbed. “Oh, you know well what I’ve done. I am the scourge of Mata Nui, the terrible secret, the horror incarnate…”

     Ajura looked down at the wound on his side. As he spoke, it seemed to pulse outward. Was she making it up?

     “Orde, what are you referring to?”

     “THEY KNOW!” timed with his scream, the green substance spread out a bit more. Ajura’s hypothesis seemed correct. Could this mean…

     “Orde, you have to explain what you mean. Start from the beginning.”

     Ajura was going to prepare to mentally map out the way the green substance moved. She’d also have to consider how and what Orde was talking about. But if both seemed to correlate, she might have an idea on how to cure Orde.

     “I… I was dispatched… my first assignment.” He began sobbing. “Mata Nui forgive me, my first assignment! I was asked to calm down the scourge, the mistake of the Great Spirit. AND. I. FAILED.” Each of these words was punctuated by Orde slamming his head backwards, angry with himself. The boat rocked back and forth, but Ajura kept focusing on the words, the intonation, and the green substance’s path. Though worried about Orde, she was glad for this last bout of rage; the green substance had almost expanded three times its size with every bang of the head.

     “It was a cruel joke, I know it to be true! To send the anger and the rage to calm down hatred and horror?! HATE IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH HATE! And they knew, and they felt me, and when I tried to bring calm, I but catalyzed their anger and hate, and the dreaded creatures spread out into every area of the universe…”

     Oh no. Ajura knew what he was talking about now. But why now? Why would he feel the need to confess about something none of them knew anything about. Anyone would have done as he did, no one understood or understands the Zyglak anyways, so-

     “And I brought death and destruction! Seven lives I took, one wanderer condemned by my actions.” At this point he was sobbing more and more, and appeared to be retracting himself, becoming smaller and smaller. Guilt.

     And then he looked at Ajura. Orde usually expressed anger, or sarcasm, or bravery, all with one glance of his eyes. But this stare was something very different, and something very troubling. Any trace of the mask Orde wore was gone. Stripped was his bravado, and anger, and jokes. Now, only a small child remained, anxious to be forgiven, understanding the consequences of unforgivable actions, and trying, nay, wishing, that they could be put right, that the universe could turn to before that fateful moment, but the universe couldn’t, and the child was destined to live forever knowing what he’d done.

     “Those Toa died because of what I did to the Zyglak. And I can’t ever put it right.”

     Orde slumped back, unresponsive. Ajura began to panic, but then felt his breathing. He was still alive.

     Looking down at the wound, it was slowly retreating once again.

     She was right.

     Somehow, the green substance had been affecting his brain. Any emotional stress seemed to worsen the physical effect, which just put further strain on him emotionally, creating a vicious cycle. It seemed to be feeding on his emotional and physical stress.

     Ajura gathered up more bandages, placing them now both on the wound and across Orde’s forehead. For this she was going to have to remove his mask entirely. Even though he was already weak, she was sure he’d be almost dead if she didn’t try something out now. This little experiment might have given her some proof, but had taken a toll on Orde. Summoning the purest water, she conjured up two large bubbles of water, interlaced with special oils from her cabinet. Slowly, she brought down the first to Orde’s side, and then the second over his head. Ajura closed her eyes, and focused.

     She felt the pull. Orde’s head seemed to be calling out to the green metallic substance, as if asking it to connect from one side of the body to the other. Ajura focused her energies on sending the water across this strange connection. Additionally, she allowed the soothing oils to cloud Orde’s mind, and serve as a sedative. This would hopefully weaken the mental connection a bit more.

     She could feel the pull getting weaker and weaker. Ajura tried to picture a wall coming up between Orde’s head and his side, and as she did this she felt the sickly substance fight back. Ajura pushed harder, driving the metallic substance away from the mental barrier she was now creating. Finally, she located an area in Orde’s side that would serve as the weak point.

     Ajura gave it her strongest mental push, turning the mental wall into a spike to jab into that specific area. Suddenly, her mental image was left blank. She opened her eyes, and noticed the metallic green substance on the floor of the boat, squirming around. Immediately, she scooped it up with another bubble of water, and bottled it up inside one of the empty oil containers. She turned to look back at Orde. His breathing didn’t seem to be returning to normal, but at least his forehead was cooling down. Ajura wasn’t certain if she’d done enough, but this would have to do until they reached a more secure facility.

It was only when she was stepping out to steer the boat that she realized what Orde had just confessed, and the kind of demons he kept bottled up. Ajura wished there could be a cure for one’s failures and regrets as well, but not even Mata Nui could grant such a request. 

 

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#9 Offline Zatth

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Posted May 26 2015 - 06:37 PM

A Mystery Explored

 

Chapter 9

 

            Ajura swatted a piece of cloth that flew into her face. It seemed like, since they’d last been here, the weather had gotten worse, since she saw other Matoran and denizens of the Tren Krom Peninsula guarding themselves from the powerful winds. For her part, Ajura didn’t mind the weather. In fact, as she thought about it now, having everyone run faster and cover their eyes made it less likely that anyone would pay too much attention on the hooded figure walking across the main plaza. It was also a good thing that Orde wasn’t with her, because it would be easier to be on the lookout for two Toa, but much harder to notice that only one of them had come back.

            Orde… she’d left him in the boat. He wasn’t getting worse, which was a definite plus. But he didn’t seem to be getting better. Ajura had done all she could, but Orde didn’t seem to be doing his bit to fight back. Whether that was because he’d genuinely given up, or because he was so deep in his state of terror that he wasn’t aware of what was going on, Ajura couldn’t tell. She could only hope that he’d snap out of it, get better, and together they could finish this.

            Ajura also had her own thoughts on how much to believe Roodaka. Not because she might have been lying, since Ajura’s Rode didn’t pick up any signs of malicious intent. It just seemed like this Roodaka figure dealt in less… lawful pursuits, and Ajura wasn’t sure how much she could abide by such practices. She was a Toa first, and that meant lawfulness over whatever seemed ‘right’. Especially because truth was such a fickle topic, something so subjective, it was easier and more beneficial to abide by the set laws that Toa were respected and renowned for.

            That was another point on which she and Orde disagreed on, which made patrolling sessions anything but uninteresting.

            Ajura chuckled at some memorable patrolling sessions, making sure that her face stayed hidden enough in her hood and the rest of her hidden inside the long, brown cloak. She could still see marks of their previous encounter here, and as far as she knew, anyone here could be an informant or an unfortunate loose running mouth, and if anyone got word that the two Toa had returned for any reason… well, they might survive this, but they’d be left without their only lead.

            Ajura looked up at the tall imposing cliffside. She sighed. It was time to climb again.

 

            After twenty minutes of huffing, grabbing and pushing herself up, and using her water powers once or twice to give herself an extra boost, Ajura reached the same area she and Orde had surveyed during what seemed like a lifetime ago. Only now was Ajura truly becoming aware of how long it had been since they’d been able to gaze out at the Metru Nui skyline. Ajura missed home.

            Nonetheless, they had a job to do.

            Ajura adjusted her Water Sabre, making sure that it was well hidden under the cloak but still reachable in case of an emergency. She began looking that the different huts, noticing while she did so that marks from their previous encounter here were still visible. Hopefully she wouldn’t have to deal with a reprise this time. She brought the hood down a bit more and began the walk towards the hut to the right that looked slightly larger than the rest of them. Out of the right side of her eye she noticed two Matoran looking out of their window; one appeared in shock, the other in disgust. Ignoring the odd looks, she approached the door of the largest hut, knocking at the door.

            Some slight rustling from the other side. Ajura waited, wondering what was going on. Finally, the door creaked open ever so slightly, as a Ta-Matoran looked up at her. He seemed angry, but quickly changed his demeanor, giving Ajura a smile that gave her the goosebumps.

            “Are you Vultraz?”

            “Yes,” he smiled, though his welcoming attitude seemed better suited for one springing a trap than anything else. Ajura gripped her Water Sabre ever so slightly. “How can I help you, Toa?”

            “I was hoping we could speak inside.”

            Vultraz made a pouty face. “Now, Toa, do you really think I am so foolish as to invite a paragon of the law into my home?”

            “Listen, Vultraz. I’m not here for you. I don’t know what you’ve done, but I’m here for information. That’s it.” And then, for good measure, she added “I swear it on my honor as a Toa.”

            Vultraz dropped the snarky attitude. “Be aware that, unlike other Matoran, I am much better armed, so any attempt to subdue me will end badly for me, but terribly for you.” With that, he opened the door further and let her in.

            Inside were a variety of weapons and Kanohi mounted to the walls. To the left Ajura could see a desk filled with various maps and sketches of places and people. To the right, what appeared like parts of a vehicle.

            “Now, I don’t normally do business with Toa,” Vultraz said as he grabbed a blade that was lying on the floor and propped it up on the wall. “That is, unless you’ve come to leave behind your life as a Toa?”

            “Toa don’t do that.”

            Vultraz chortled. “Really? It appears to me you’ve been very insulated, then, from the doings of your fellow Toa. Let me guess, Metru Nui?”

            Ajura simply nodded, slightly stunned. Had it been that easy to know where she was stationed? And if so, how much had she and the other Toa missed out on in the rest of the universe?

            “Yes, you Metru Nui Toa seem content enough to be wrapped up in your own little world,” Vultraz mused. “Which does raise another question. Why, then, is a Toa from Metru Nui in the home of one like myself?” He turned to face her, clutching what appeared like a shoulder-mounted cannon. Ajura put her hands up.

            “Vultraz, I told you before. I’m only here looking for information.” She did her best to sound as under control as possible. And yet he still wasn’t putting down the weapon. She slowly brought her hand to the sabre, and put it down next to her. “I can’t do much about my Elemental Powers, but there’s my weapon. Honestly, I don’t mean to attack you or take you in. I just need one question answered.”

            “I know,” he replied. He laughed as he threw the cannon on to the floor. “I just wanted to have a little bit of fun. Alright, then, what’s the question?” He’d changed entirely to being completely relaxed, with his back turned as he focused on the half-built vehicle. And yet Ajura didn’t feel any safer.

            “It involves a Disk Launcher and a missing Matoran.”

            `Sounds like my average workday,” Vultraz joked. “I’m gonna need you to be more specific, Toa.”

            “Po-Matoran named Kadira from here. Went missing a short while ago, taken by someone who owned a modified Disk Launcher. Ring any bells?’

            “Kadira. I was wondering where he’d gone off to,” Vultraz began. “But from what you’re describing, I think I do have an idea of who we’re talking about. And it’s about time that he was brought down, since the last thing I need to worry about now is competition.” He turned around with his arms folded. “Now you said you were here just for information, but I will assume that you’re here to find this being?”

            “I care more about finding Kadira. It would be nice to bring down a criminal, but it’s not the most necessary part of this job,” Ajura replied.

            Vultraz smiled. “I like your pragmatism, Toa.” He walked over to his desk, and began jotting down something. Finally, he brought it to Ajura, but she didn’t need to read it to recognize where she’d previously seen it.

VALMAI MANGAIA

            “I’ve seen this before… this was in the letter Kadira sent his friend-“

            “Kadira got to send a letter?!” Unaware of his outburst, Vultraz instantly forced himself to calm down. “Well then… no wonder this has reached levels where a Toa is asking someone like me for help. Unfortunately for you, Toa, there is little chance that you will be able to find Kadira now, not unless you want to take out Valmai Mangaia.”

            “Valmai Mangaia? You mean it’s referring to being?”

            “Well, of course,” Vultraz replied. “You didn’t think Protector of Cursed Lair actually referred to a place, now did you?”

            “Yeah, well, we’ve been kind of busy to figure out the specifics of this all.

            “And yet you’ve come to the likes of me for help,” Vultraz said. Ajura could feel how smug he was feeling right now. She really wanted to blast him with a jet of water. “Matoran are suffering all throughout the universe,” he continued in a more authoritative tone of voice. “For some, like myself, we have to turn to crime and less savory methods of surviving. But for others, the grip of the League is too much. They wish an end and an escape from their turmoil. And that’s where our friend comes in.”

            Ajura was starting to piece things together. “So Valmai Mangaia offers to whisk away the Matoran to a better place,”

            “Just to sell them to the highest bidder in need of cheap labor,” Vultraz finished. Ajura shuddered. A Matoran smuggler? How had they not heard of this? How had other Toa not noticed anything before?

            “How do we defeat Valmai Mangaia?”

 

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#10 Offline Zatth

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Posted Jun 20 2015 - 03:05 PM

A Mystery Explored

Chapter 10

 

            Just one last look, to make sure I’ve got it right. Ajura kew she was stalling, but didn’t really want to admit it. And so, she looked down at the letter for the fifteenth time in the last hour:

            Matoran,

            Meet your rescuer in the Field of Flames a week from now, at midnight. Go alone.

-       VM

           Ajura was slightly pleased with the plan she and Vultraz had come up with.

           The two of them had fabricated the identity of a fake Matoran who wanted out. Very soon, the message reached Valmai Mangaia, and the summons had arrived shortly after. Now it was up to Ajura to face Valmai Mangaia and take him down.

            Or so I hope.

            Finally, Ajura knew she could stall no longer. Yes, it was midnight. Yes, this was the Field of Flames. Yes, it was time to go out into the open and face Valmai Mangaia. Putting the letter on the ground, Ajura stood up from behind the rocks and walked towards the open field. Eyes open, she began scanning the area. She was obviously disadvantaged by the darkness above her, making her wish she had a Ruru or a flashlight. Heck, even a Toa of Fire would be welcome.

            Nonetheless, Ajura kept looking for any and all slight deviations. She knew that everyone was prone to making mistake, whether this meant a slightly elevated heartbeat, a breath at the wrong time, running from one area of cover to the next slightly too slowly, etc. Much like water’s peacefulness could be disturbed by the slightest of commotions, Ajura was watching for any of these ripples. If she found one, it would be easy to locate the source.

            Thus, it came as an utter shock as a scaly forearm swatted her on the back, sending her hurtling into some boulders. She’d been caught so unprepared, she tasted blood as she stood up, having bitten her tongue quite hard. If the blow had been just a bit stronger, she might have severed it more than she already had. Her wrist screamed in pain after she’d instinctively brought up her left hand to block her face from the rocks. And as she turned to look at where the blow had come from, she saw a huge, looming figure, barreling towards her. For a second, she worried the blow had been so powerful it had disrupted some of her senses, because she couldn’t hear the creature’s footsteps, nor did she hear the second blow that thrust her back at the rocks. She only had a second to swerve her head before a large fist came down, its power so strong it shattered a head-sized boulder into millions of little pebbles.

            Ajura panicked, and tried as best as she could to get up. Before she could fully get up, however, the creature’s other hand grabbed her leg, as the creature swung her up and then back down, as if she were nothing more than a lifeless carcass. Ajura attempted to take ahold of her weapon, but she was so disoriented she wasn’t sure whether she was grabbing the weapon or some piece of the landscape. This was going downhill too quickly, and unless Ajura could figure something out soon, she might not come out of this alive.

            She could feel her breath wheezing out of her, but still heard nothing; not from her, not from her opponent. Her limbs were in searing pain, as if her joints and bones had all been lit on a fire that didn’t seem to want to die out. Her eyesight was becoming blurry and foggy, and she had to struggle to stay awake. She closed her eyes for a second, trying to clear her head.

            When she opened them, she saw two bloodthirsty crimson eyes, looking down at her, as a scowl slowly turned into a diabolical smile on the face of her attacker.

 

            Orde heard the familiar footsteps approaching. And yet he allowed himself to block them out a few more seconds. He had to make sure that the illusion was so strong it’d hold if he allowed himself to multitask. Finally, he saw as Valmai Mangaia grabbed Ajura’s leg and brought her crashing down onto the outcropping of rocks. Orde almost wanted to feel sorry for Ajura. Almost. He saw as she opened her eyes, wheezing and coughing up blood. She looked drained. And finally, Valmai Mangaia looked upon her, a ravenous animal ready to dismember its prey. And as those eyes gained that primal and single focus, Orde knew he was in the clear. He allowed the illusion to take hold of itself, and finally looked to his side.
            Ajura whistled in amazement. “Have I ever told you how good you are at making these illusions?”
            “Depends,” he replied. “In real life, or in an illusion? Because in the latter you usually tell me how great and awesome I am in every regard, so I suppose that counts as praise for the illusions.”
            “I’d punch you if it weren’t for the fact that you’d lose ahold of the illusion.”

            Ajura turned back to look at Valmai Mangaia punching what he thought was Ajura, but was no more than a figment of his imagination. Yes, Orde’s Psionics powers came in handy too often.

            “Anywho, when is a higher-up gonna get here to take this one away?”
            “Oh, they’ll be here any moment now,” Ajura said. While Orde had positioned himself to spring the ambush, she’d been gone getting someone to capture the criminal.

            Afetr Orde had been feeling better, Ajura had regrouped with him, and she discussed everything she’d learned so far. She talked about Vultraz. About how he explained what Matoran were dealing with, and how they looked to this fictitious savior to get them out of their troubles. And about what Valmai Mangaia was really doing to those Matoran. Orde hadn’t liked a bit of it. He told Ajura, they had to work with other Toa and other beings to improve conditions under the League, but Ajura had convinced him that their focus should be on Valmai Mangaia and on Kadira. They could think about the other issues later.
            And so Orde had focused all his energy and power on this illusion, and Ajura had gotten those who could help bring Valmai Mangaia to justice.
            And finally, they were here.
            Two large-looking creatures jumped beside Valmai Mangaia, who was too busy caught up in the illusion to notice as they grabbed ahold of him and placed some sort of damper-handcuffs on him. Suddenly, he slouched over, his energies and powers curbed to almost nothing. And his head rose up, to see the two Toa. He scowled. And then he looked behind the two of them, and… he became afraid?
            Orde turned and saw Mantax walking alongside seven other beings with him.
            “Thank you, Toa,” he said. “We’ll take it from here.”

            Valmai Mangaia turned to look back at the Toa. “You think you can stop me from saving these Matoran?”

            “Matoran you were selling off to other bidders? That’s a very strange definition of saving,” Ajura replied.

            “Anything is better than the ###### these ones create!” he yelled as he pointed to Mantax. “Ask him about the Farms of the Disappeared! About the construction of the Fields of Sport and the Statues of Greatness! How many have died working there? How many more killed, or quartered, or disintegrated for speaking up?!”

            One of the large beings next to Valmai Mangaia slapped him so hard, his face went limp.

            “Dastardly vermin,” Mantax hissed.
            Orde had been staring throughout all the exchange. And finally, with this final straw, he knew they were targeting the wrong enemy.
            Mantax didn’t even expect the kick to his back, but he was brought down with a thud and a surprised scream. When he got up, his eyes glowed red and stared at Orde with a rage unimaginable.
            “Don’t you EVER do that again, Toa. Your badge may have protected you this time, but if you touch me one more time, I will inflict on you endless pain that will make you wish for death."
            Before Orde could reply, Ajura grabbed him, restraining his arms and pushing him back. Mantax looked at one of his aides and nodded, and a portal opened up. Mantax, his aides, the prisoner and his jailers all passed through. Only when the portal closed did Ajura let go. Orde ran and stood in the spot where only a second ago the purplish-azure gateway had stood. His fists were clenched, his head bowed, his entire body trembling.

            “When you suffer from an ailment, you don’t focus on curing the individual symptoms,” he pushed out. “You focus on eradicating the root of the problem.”

            “What, and cause an international incident because a Toa took out one of the six rulers of the universe?!” Ajura screamed. “Just listen to yourself, please. How absurd do you think you sound right now?! Orde, you know they are ordained to rule by the Great Spirit himself.”

           “Yes, but just because Mata Nui ordained someone doesn’t make it right! Who do you think is the one that makes the laws in the first place?! If we’re Toa, if we’re here to stop injustice and bring peace and uphold good, aren’t we supposed to do that?! We can’t let our actions be dictated by a regime, Ajura!”

           “So what are you going to do? Take out every member of the League? Help instill the ruler YOU think is the correct one? What’s your solution.”

           Orde turned to finally face her. She looked so much more calm, as if she was focusing all of her rage and discontent on her words, bringing the full impact of her anger only through her rhetoric. Meanwhile, Orde was shaking all over, his thoughts and ideas discombobulated.

           “I don’t know,” he finally said. “It won’t be easy, but change has to come from somewhere, even if only from one individual who starts the first step.”

           “So what, you are willing to kill or remove all of the League? Then what’s to stop you from killing another Toa, another Matoran, to save others, to do what you see as ‘right’? See, that’s your problem, Orde. You have no boundaries, no concept of when to stop. I have laws, I have designated boundaries. You tout about knowing the Toa Code so well, but I think it’s just your way of rationalizing your irrational actions and ideas."

           “Every second that pass, every lowlife enmy we focus on, costs the lives of every living being, Ajura! Having boundaries means nothing if those we are meant to protect are dead, or don’t believe in us anymore!” Without controlling his rage, he felt as thousands of rocks shattered, his Psionics powered linked to his rage.

           Ajura stared at him, and finally her eyes shoed a very slight bit of rage. And yet, almost in a whisper, she said: “Orde, your focus on emotions is so strong, I’m not shocked about your destroying of the village and killing the Toa Cordak. Do not justify the means.”

           Orde stopped shaking. His hands opened up. He changed from anger to a look of utter surprise and… shame?

           And then Ajura realized he didn’t remember his confession on the boat. He’d never told anyone. And she’d just used that against him.

           In that moment, Orde looked more vulnerable, more honest, than she’d ever seen him. His eyes were trained somewhere else. And as his eyes got watery and she heard painful and labored sobs coming from his chest, she realized just what she’d done.

            He brought up his hands to his face, covering himself for a few seconds. Finally, she heard him stifle the sobs, wiping his cheeks. And as he looked at her, she saw him look at her as if she were a stranger.

           “Ajura, I respect you as a Toa. I admire you as a friend. But I don’t think I can keep working with a person like you. And maybe it’s for the best. I loved Metru Nui, I loved our team. But from your analysis I gather that maybe… I was always meant to work alone."
            He extended his arm, stiff and formal. And then he added, “Perhaps if I have no one around I’ll learn from my mistakes and learn how to become more calm and rational. You’ve always been my conscience, and maybe I need to develop my own?”

           Ajura tried to say something. Anything. But the moment had passed. What had been said, between the two of them… it couldn’t be unsaid. They couldn’t work together as a team anymore. They were too opposite, and if a mission like this brought out such radical thinking in them… no, she wouldn’t imagine it.

           She extended her hand and shook his. It was a melancholic handshake, as she knew this would most likely be the last time she saw her friend. From now on he’d be just another Toa.

           “Just make sure you rescue the Matoran that Valmai Mangaia took.” She was looking down at the floor as she said this.

           Orde nodded, and began walking away. Ajura saw her friend leave forever, and she noticed herself having doubts about the League. On this, she at least agreed. Solving this one mystery had opened up many more.

           For once, Ajura was terrified to explore these ones to the end.

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