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Endless Blue -- A Bionicle Paracosmos Epic


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#1 Online bonesiii

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Posted Nov 10 2011 - 03:37 AM

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Welcome to Endless Blue, the first epic in the “Rulers of the Sea” Saga (second of three) in the Bionicle Paracosmos, an Adventure Mystery fanfic series. :) As always and especially here, no need to read past stories – just jump right in! If you want the full experience, see the new Tapestry of Time Collection. ^_^EB focuses on Bhukasa, a reptilian sea explorer, during Bohrok 02 story, as well as Toa Lewa, Hujo the Solver of Mysteries, and several other side-threads, including one so mysterious you’ll have to read to find out. :biggrin:Many winners from the Blue MOCs contest and other Bones Blog contests are included in this story. ^_^Enjoy!

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Prologue

"NOW!" Bhukasa shouted. “Get everything onboard!”The white reptilian being stood at the wheel of his wooden sailing boat, overseeing boarding and loading of supplies. He had a lizardlike head, a tail, and in place of hands he had scissorlike claws.There was almost no time.He had to get to the one island they knew was out there, beyond the golden beaches of Mata Nui.Kriitunga Island.It had been discovered yesterday after two Toa were taken there by evil beings and escaped. Though its people were small, they were powerful – and there was a chance, however slim, of an alliance. All he had to do was sail due east.But right in between the two islands was a massive fleet of hostile ships.The fleet was sailing right towards Mata Nui.Towards him.Bhukasa knew his only chance of getting to Kriitunga Island without being seen was to leave NOW, and angle north, out of the fleet's line of sight. South wasn’t an option – five scout ships had gone to Le-Wahi already. He’d be spotted for sure.And he didn't have hours. Maybe not even minutes.Thankfully, everybody who was coming had boarded. Time to go.“Cut us loose, Twayzivl!” he shouted to a small being with razor-sharp claws. “We leave now, or the Kuambu will see us.” For that was the name of this new enemy, according to a secretive shapeshifter ally – and that’s about all the Kuambu let outsiders know.The small being named Twayzivl did so.With a cone-like forward-aimed head, huge silver claws compared to his tiny body, and a prehensile tail, the mutant Kriitunga hopped from rope to rope on the dock, slicing through them. Bhukasa hated to lose the extra rope, but this was an emergency.As soon as Twayzivl hopped back on board, Bhukasa turned the wheel hard, and shouted, “Open the sails!”Toa Gali, who was closest, unwrapped a rope from a metal handle, and let go. She and Pohatu were the two Toa who had discovered Kriitunga Island, and had vowed to return.The big white square sail on the front mast fell and immediately filled up with wind from the southwest.Also on the deck were some Tohunga villagers – or Matoran as they had now started calling themselves – and the strange Haze Glow Beasts.These orange-glowing, white and black titans with wings were standing in place and moving their limbs in graceful, but agitated motions. They too were mutated Kriitunga – their island was known, it seemed, for its miles upon miles of mutagenic sands – and they had powerful senses. They could tell the Kuambu were almost here, even if the ships hadn’t quite appeared on the horizon yet.They’d been getting more and more agitated with every second that passed.Bhukasa carefully guided the ship away from the floating village, and soon reached the open water.He waved back at Toa Lewa on the shore. “Thanks for the wind!”The green Toa grinned and waved back.The natural wind was actually coming from the west, right towards the enemy fleet, so Lewa had agreed to change the wind right here long enough to get them out to safety. After sailing far enough northeast that the Kuambu wouldn’t spot them, Bhukasa would turn east.He steered with the rudder to keep them from hitting the northern side of the bay.Once clear of it, the wind increased. Gali then created a strong water current to speed the boat up.Bhukasa stepped away from the wheel, motioning for Maku to take over. “Stay on a northeast heading until I come back up – I’m gonna inspect our supplies.”If anything had been forgotten, it was too late to go back, but he at least wanted to know about it. Or at least, he could get away the Haze Glow Beasts. They were now wailing, acting like the world was ending.Bhukasa walked down stairs from the raised helm deck at the stern of the ship, to the main deck, then entered double wooden doors under the helm deck.Here there was a single Gukko bird tied up, with two Le-Matoran tending to it. He nodded at them, and continued down another stairway. He climbed down past the quarters deck, to the storage deck. This level also doubled as an oar deck.Truth be told, there was a lot more behind Bhukasa’s decision to embark on this journey.He had explored the Endless Ocean before. He had lived on Mata Nui for three hundred years, then sailed away -- he’d wanted to know if it was truly endless. Or so the Turaga told him. Just a few days ago, he’d come back, with this very boat…But without any memory of what he had done or where he had gone. Without any memory at all.All of that exploring… Pointless. Unless I can get my memories back…Somehow, Kriitunga Island sounded familiar. The Turaga had told him he’d sailed due east seven hundred years ago. Maybe by going there, his memory would be triggered.Because the Kuambu sounded familiar too.Hauntingly familiar.And there was more, he thought as he opened wooden boxes and barrels, checking the food, ammunition, and other supplies. But he didn’t finish the thought. It made him far, far too sad, even if it was just something the Turaga had told him he once knew…Why am I doing this? he asked himself.He was broken. An empty mind. An empty heart. The loneliest person in the world, yet surrounded by friends. He should stay on Mata Nui. Help them defend against this new enemy, and against the Bohrok.Instead he was chasing memories.He stopped in front of a black metal hatch.It led to the lowest level of the boat. What was down there, he wondered? It didn’t fit the style of the rest of the boat. But none of them had been able to open it.And… just looking at it made him feel dizzy, like faint whispers of terror… It made him feel even more lonely… He couldn’t make sense of the feelings.But then he was rescued from his thoughts by loud shrieks.Bhukasa ran back up.As soon as he emerged from the wooden door to the top deck, he saw it was the Haze Glow Beasts. They were pointed due east now, flapping their small wings and waving their arms in dismay, making the radiating orange energy from those limbs look like wisps of flames.“Ship! One! Not with fleet!” their leader said. His voice was jarringly quiet and wavery compared to the shrieks and wails – no doubt a side effect of their mutation that had made them more beastlike.Bhukasa glanced east, but saw nothing.Glanced at the wheel. Maku was steering them due north.Toa Pohatu spoke into the air. “Toa Lewa, can you hear me?” The brown Toa had switched to a mask with a huge bowl-like speakerphone shape over the mouth area – a mask of Telecommunication.“Hearclear!” Lewa’s singsong voice replied. “Troublefind?”“Make the wind go due north, now!” Pohatu said. “The Haze Glow Beasts say we’ve got a single ship north of the fleet coming right at us!”“It’s a combing pattern of sailing!” Maku exclaimed. “Our fisherboats sometimes drag nets in a pattern like this. Round the fish up and corner them – best way to catch them – but we’re the fish this time!”Bhukasa ran up to a Ta-Matoran named Takua, and grabbed the spyglass device he was using. He looked through it, but didn’t see anything to the east.“Not seen. Yet,” another Haze Glow Beast told him. “Sensed. Close.”“How much time do we have?” he asked the beasts, as he climbed the steps to the helm deck and took the wheel from Maku.“Minute. Seconds. Unsure.”Bhukasa scowled. “Gali, Pohatu, get the water and wind heading northwest!” He tilted the rudder. “We need to head the same direction as them a bit while still dodging north.”He saw the water shift at Gali’s command, and a moment later, felt the wind change.“Take it again,” he said to Maku, who took the wheel.He went to the railing of the helm deck, and looked through the spyglass. Saw nothing.Then he looked up to the top of the mast. Sure enough, there was a crow’s nest he hadn’t really noticed before.Bhukasa held a hand out to Takua. “Energy pack. Now.”Takua blinked for a second, then handed Bhukasa the backpack device. Bhukasa quickly slung it over his back, and focused on the telescope. It flashed with light and disappeared – converted into energy and stored in the pack. Because the glass might break if he tried to just hold it for this…The reptilian biped crouched low, then called on his powerful leg muscles, and leaped up in the air.Some of the beasts and Matoran gasped with surprise as he launched himself up thirty feet into the air. But for him it was nothing.Caught the rope ladder just beneath the crow’s nest, by tilting his closed scissorclaws in like a hook – pinching the rope with them would cut it.Awkwardly climbed up the rest of the way as fast as he could.Spyglass.With his hand outstretched, the telescope materialized in his hand with another flash, unharmed. He put it to an eye and scanned the horizon carefully.He saw the very tip of a mast, slowly easing into view over the horizon.“DUE WEST NOW!” he shouted down to the Toa and Maku. “Haze Glow Beasts, down to the oar deck! Your glow is too easy to spot, and I need you to get the oars out NOW. Paddle with all your might. Somebody show them the oars,” he added to the many Ga-Matoran on deck, who were more familiar with his ship than he was.He lost his balance as the ship lurched to the left again. Hooked a rope. Didn’t fall.Looked up.The rope went up to a red triangle flag, halfway up the thin pole reaching out the top of the mast. Too easy to see.Bhukasa waited till the boat stopped turning, and gave a quick leap. Sliced the flag off with his left scissorclaws.As the flag flitted down to the water, Bhukasa turned the telescope to the southwest. There was the northern tip of Po-Wahi.Good, we’re clear of Mata Nui, at least.Looked back to the east. Took him a moment, but he found the mast again, now with a red triangle flag flapping.He thought he saw the very top of a head.Looked up at the sky. Dark clouds.“GALI!” he practically screamed. “Rain! NOW!”He looked down, and saw the oars working furiously. Looked east.Clearly saw a head. Of a… Ga-Matoran? Were the Kuambu Matoran?No, he decided, noting that the Matoran had a spyglass too, but wasn’t looking here yet. Probably some kind of mercenary or slave. The Kuambu went to such lengths to keep their appearance a secret, it made sense they’d save this highly visible job for another species.After what felt like a month to Bhukasa, as the Matoran’s spyglass turned slowly closer and closer, rain started falling.Bhukasa held his breath as the rain slowly built up strength – but the Matoran was already looking right at him.She – assuming the Ga-Matoran was a she, although they could rarely be male – put the spyglass down, and appeared to call down to other beings on the ship’s deck. Then she put the telescope back up and held it, right at Bhukasa.She waved, just before the rain obscured his sight.Bhukasa put his telescope down, exhaling explosively. She saw me and let me know it.Was there a chance this was NOT a Kuambu ship?But no, how could that be? It was too obviously a combing pattern with the fleet. Anything else would be too big a coincidence. No, he’d stick to the slave or mercenary theory. Slave would explain her wave, which didn’t seem unfriendly… but then how else could it seem, through the veil of starting rain?“They’ve seen us!” he called down to the others. “We need to change direction again to confuse them. Due north!” He started to climb down, not wanting to risk a jump while the ship was lurching to the right.Gali spoke as soon as he reached the deck. “I can’t keep up this rain and the current at the same time for long. I’m losing elemental energy fast.”Bhukasa nodded. “Focus on the rain only.”He climbed the ladder to the helm deck. Handed the energy pack and telescope back to Takua.Then he faced the mapmaker, a Po-Matoran named Ruugon, and the Ga-Matoran handling navigation, Nireta, as well as the other Matoran helping them. “Are you all keeping up with course mapping? I know I’ve been changing things fast.”“We’re managing,” Ruugon said. “But our speed measurer was thrown off by Gali’s currents.”He was referring to a small waterwheel device on a long pole one of the Matoran was holding on the water’s surface behind the boat, to count its revolutions. A rope secured the pole to the railing.“We’re just now resetting our start point based on our last sighting of Mata Nui to the south, now that Gali’s not doing that. I’d like to request no more unnatural currents from now on if you want to reach Kriitunga Island – our planned route was convoluted enough; this route takes the Fauii Cake.”“I can’t promise that,” Bhukasa answered. “Besides, the Toa and mutant Kriitunga all say it’s a big island, hard to miss.” He hesitated. “But… I won’t ask for a current unless we have no choice.”“Good enough,” the Po-Matoran said.Bhukasa was going to give another order, when he heard a strange sound, and forgot whatever he was going to say.It was a little like thunder, but instead of a loud crack or a rolling rumble, it was a single whump followed by a faint splash. The whoomp had enough energy in it to visibly shake the falling raindrops and hit the sails like a drum, making another sound; a cloth rustle mixed with rope stretching.It sounded close.“Everybody quiet,” he said.“Did you see a purple flash of light?” another of the Matoran whispered. This was Taureko, a Ko-Matoran translator of a different type of Matoran from the others. He was larger, and had a complex history and much knowledge of the larger world beyond Mata Nui.“I did,” Takua said.“That’s the exact same color of a teleportation power the Brotherhood of Makuta use to move their base island,” Taureko said. “I was enslaved there for a long time. The sound could be the air expanding as an object appeared.”“An object like a boat,” Bhukasa said. It wasn’t a question. He focused on listening, ignoring the little tidbit about a brotherhood of Makuta for now....All he heard was the oars.“Tell them to stop rowing for now,” he said to Pohatu. “But stay ready. ”The Toa of Stone nodded and went below deck.Flash of light.A blue globe of energy sailed through the air from behind them.It hit a rope, and blue energy flashed up and down the rope, which snapped in two with a whiplike sound. The square sail’s lower right corner broke loose and flapped loosely in the wind, leaving only half the sail to catch wind.Then Bhukasa saw it.A faint outline of a ship with sails, through the rain.Twazivl tapped his leg. Bhukasa faced him.The diminutive being’s birdlike head was shaking from fear.“Kuambu,” he whispered.

What Has Gone Before

Six Toa recently arrived on the island of Mata Nui, to face a threat familiar to readers of these tales, for it was the way of events in the original Bionicle Cosmos.But this was the Bionicle Paracosmos, a corrupted, expanded parallel dimension. Rahi, infected faster. A Matoran, questing for a Blue Fire Staff. A reptilian sea captain with no memories. Too many domes underground. Secretive shapeshifters called Unknown, lurking in darkness but claiming allegiance to the light. And a hidden enemy helping Makuta Teridax behind the scenes.Now that first Saga in the tale of the Paracosmos has drawn to a close.The hidden enemy -- the Rahunga, Tohunga who used the hateful mutagen rahudermis -- was revealed, defeated, and even betrayed by its own leader, Rathoa. He let the Toa apparently kill Makuta Teridax, then he unleashed the Bohrok swarms, as well as the Ghomboka, fellow servants with Rathoa of the evil Third Faction.They triggered a deadly series of events on the dark Twisted Island. Before the end of that struggle, two of the Toa, Pohatu and Gali, were taken to the Ghomboka’s island of origin, Kriitunga Island, and later escaped. Meanwhile, Rathoa transformed himself into a Makuta and set out to take over the Brotherhood according to their laws, believing Teridax to be dead.But Makuta Icarax claimed that Teridax was not really dead, and the Toa managed to defeat the Ghomboka, so both attempted power grabs failed.It was at this time that one of the deepest mysteries of the Paracosmos was solved.For the Paracosmos should not exist. It was spawned long ago by a Ga-Matoran scientist named Caroha, a shy inhabitant of the Cosmos whom its history has long forgotten. What Event could do such a thing?Why, merely the innocent touching of a harmless blue liquid.This chronoserum yanked her into the interdimensional void, copied much from the Cosmos, and drew from her dreams… and her nightmares… for the rest. As ruler of the cryptic “Unknown” people, she kept balance between the Three Factions, until the Ghomboka used chronoserum to make Twisted Island. Beasts, mutant Kriitunga, Toa – and Unknown – were trapped there for a time as the Ghomboka and Rathoa made their power plays.This offset the balance of power in the outside world, and alerted a new enemy to the existence of Mata Nui Island. The Rulers of the Sea. The enemies of the second of three Sagas in the tale of the Paracosmos.Caroha's worst nightmare come true.Their shape unknown, their goals hidden, their true powers secret… yet their name proudly trumpeted for all the world to know.They are the Kuambu.They are coming.

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Edited by bonesiii, Apr 16 2012 - 01:43 AM.

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#2 Online bonesiii

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Posted Nov 15 2011 - 04:48 PM

Chapter 1

Bhukasa yanked the wheel hard to the right.“Man the ballista-slings!” he called to his crew. “Gali, keep the rain up! Beasts, row as fast as you can! Pohatu, replace that rope!”The Kuambu boat had teleported close to where Bhukasa’s boat had been right before the rain started, Bhukasa realized. They couldn’t see them through the rain from a distance, so they made sure they were close enough that they wouldn’t lose his boat.Which meant all he had to do was survive their attacks long enough to gain enough distance. Then they wouldn’t know where to teleport to.As his boat turned its starboard side to the enemy, Bhukasa sized the Kuambu vessel up.First of all, it dwarfed his boat.He couldn’t quite make out its exact design, but he could see that it had only a single mast, despite its large size. He heard nothing that sounded like a boat motor.“Target their mast with bombfruit!” he called to the Matoran that were in position at the crossbow-like wooden launchers on rotating metal bases. “Fire until it falls!”In reply, he heard the loud screech-thump sounds of the stretched wooden beams releasing, following by whistling sounds of the round explosive Madu Cabolo fruit flying out.Meanwhile, other energy spheres shot at his boat.A red one hit the wooden railing of the helm deck. Red energy spread throughout the wood, and broke it apart. The pieces of the railing hung midair for a moment, moving around randomly, then the energy faded and the pieces dropped.Another blue one hit the hull above water, and he heard the sound of wood shattering.But he also heard the sound of bombfruit, and saw fireballs on the enemy ship. At first, none hit the mast, but then one did, and he saw splinters fly.The mast held.Bhukasa saw a bird in the sky… their Gukko!The Le-Matoran ran up to the main deck, calling for the bird to return, but it flew away until he couldn’t see it through the rain. “We’re sorry, sir!” the one named Vira called to Bhukasa. “We should have tied him up. These projectiles scared him and he knocked open the flight door!”He didn’t know what to say except to shake his head. What a waste… At least the Le-Matoran were still helpful, since the other, Nabmaia, was an expert bomb-maker -- she had brought many of her products. And he wouldn’t feel right rubbing it in. So he said nothing.The enemy ship got closer.“Gali?” Bhukasa called. “Can you manage a big wave to push them back?”“I’ll try!” she called back.“Pohatu,” Bhukasa continued, “How about weighing their mast down?”Pohatu smiled. He sent out a beam of yellow energy, which connected to the square sail’s wooden beam. Brown stone began growing like moss on it.Bhukasa had another idea – his own powers.Before he could really think it through, he sent out a thin beam of light towards the enemy boat. Towards the mast.Wood had energy in it. Everything did, really.That was the upside of his powers. He could add to or subtract from any kind of energy.What kind of energy could help here? Well, wood was dead plant material. Plant material had a lot of water in it, or at least the fruit he’d eaten in the past few days here did.Water could freeze.So Bhukasa focused on the heat in the mast’s wood, and sent out a superthin beam of faint light at it. He sensed the heat, and then commanded it to come to him.The downside of his power, of course, was that he could do only small things with it. And he was sensing a lot less water actually in the wood than coating its surface – the wood was dead after all. But the heavy rain was providing something he could freeze, at least.As the two boats lobbed projectiles at each other in the next few moments, the wood became rigid, unbending, weighed down by stone…And there! It snapped when a wave hit the Kuambu ship the wrong way. The mast came crashing down.“Now,” he shouted to his crew. “Let’s get out of here!”

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Toa Lewa felt very drained, when Pohatu’s voice gave him good news and bad news. He didn’t have to keep up the wind any longer.The Kuambu ship was the bad news. Pohatu’s voice had just come again, whispering that they’d downed the enemy mast, and were trying to row their way to safety, but the enemy was still firing weapons at them. Then Pohatu went silent to focus on the battle.“Do they chance-stand?” he asked aloud.He knew if anyone was close enough to overhear him, they’d think him insane, talking to nobody, since the Ga-Matoran were busy scrambling defenses on the floating village in front of him, should the Kuambu fleet decide to come here. He wasn’t talking to any of them.But he wasn’t talking to nobody.He was talking to a rock on the beach.Nothing mindscrewy about that, he thought with a grin.“The Kuambu do not kill,” the rock answered.For of course, the rock was really a shapeshifter. A faint carving of a fancier version of a Miru was inscribed in the side facing Lewa. To the Ga-Matoran in the village, the inscription wasn’t visible, but Lewa knew it to be the face of the Unknown named Surkahi.“But everything depends on Bhukasa losing them and getting to Kriitunga Island,” Surkahi continued.Lewa noticed he hadn’t answered the question. Not good.“Do you think the Kuambu will just overmarch and rule-start?” the Toa of Air asked.The mask inscription frowned. “I have never seen Kuambu behave like that. They rule from the shadows, never letting eyes alight on their faces, if they can help it. But then I’ve never seen them attack a single island with their whole fleet, either.”Lewa frowned too. “You speaktalk as if you know what they are. What they like-look.”This time the inscription smiled, the expression of an experienced grandfather trying to gently explain complex things to a little child. “I know a great many things that are not for me to tell you. This mystery must be explored, not told.”“I know,” Lewa said, shrugging, turning to watch the villagers prepare for battle. “We have to have our own adventures if we’ll self-learn how to deal with the wideworld.”“Exactly. From now on, don’t just say, it, believe it.”The rock fell silent. Lewa caught himself glancing at it just to make sure the inscription was really there, then looked away, feeling silly.He watched the horizon. Soon, white sails began peeking into the sky.Hundreds of ships lurked just over the horizon’s edge, sailing in a zigzag pattern into the wind.Each of the ship’s deck walls was lined with castle-like crenellations, like those made of stone on Ta-Koro’s walls. There was only one mast on each ship, with a square sail and two triangle sails, one in front of the mast, and one behind it on a boom. Weapons of some kind were mounted between each crenellation.As they neared, the illusion that they were small – caused by the single mast – disappeared quickly. Though they were still fairly far away, each ship now appeared larger to Lewa than the small Ga-Koro huts which were right next to him in comparison.Then they turned south. He sighed in a mixture of relief and concern.“They’re jungleheaded too,” Lewa said grimly. “Same-path as the scouts.”He and the shapeshifter watched until the sails rounded the southern edge of the bay, out of Lewa’s sight.Ga-Koro was safe, and it appeared Ta-Koro was too, but his own village, Le-Koro, would be first at risk. Thankfully, there was quite a lot of jungle surrounding it, and it was hidden. They would probably be safe for a while.After a moment, the rock spoke up again. “I don’t feel like laying around on a beach just now. Please become a spur-of-the-moment rock collector and walk into the forest. I have something important to tell you.”

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Niaka awoke to almost perfect darkness. For a moment, the Ga-Matoran ferrywoman thought she was at home, but then she remembered.She was a captive of the Kuambu.The only light in the room came from two glowing blue eyes. These lit up what was apparently a brown veil hanging from a wooden ceiling. The veil obscured the being's shape.She felt cold metal shackles on her hands and feet, chained to the wall behind her.Then she heard a whisper. The voice was not friendly, not sinister, and yet both. It was powerful – the veil rippled as if it was a drum being pounded on, and yet the sound was almost silent. Its pitch was deep, its tone serious."You seek to see the endTo our dark secrecy.An end to the endless;We rule the endless sea.Beneath our waves there mayBe Mata Nui’s realm,But this empire has sails,And we are at the helm.A single water drop,We let fall in your soul,Just one drop of knowledge;So fear swallows you whole.Our shape, powers, and plans,None have seen, nor shall you.Yet you shall know our name;We are the Kuambu."Niaka sat up. "Where am I? Where are my friends?"But there was no reply, and the eyes turned away. A door creaked, and she was left in total darkness except what little her own yellow eyes dimly lit.Her head felt lightweight.She touched her face – sure enough, her mask was gone.She felt like her world suddenly turned upside down and she was falling through the air.How am I conscious? she wondered. Then she felt it – there was a wire attached to her face and running up into a tiny gap in a wall. Somehow energy running along this wire was keeping her out of a coma. But it also meant she couldn’t leave.She called out for the others. But nobody answered.After a moment, she realized the floor was tilting slowly to one side, then to the other. Ocean waves. She was on a boat.She thought back to how she'd gotten here....

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Niaka cut the ferryboat’s engine as she beheld five wooden sailing vessels anchored just off the Le-Wahi shore.Earlier that day, after a series of terrible events, she and the whole population of Ga-Koro had witnessed these five ships sailing in from the east. Some villagers from other Koro were there too.The ferrywoman and seven other Matoran had decided to investigate.For that was what they were now – Matoran. They had called themselves Tohunga for a thousand years of division and war. Matoran – a name signifying Unity – was their ancient name, and now they were embracing it again. These eight Matoran were among the first to do so.And so there was at least one member of each village in this group.Nixie the Astrologer was here, also from Ga-Koro.Hafu the Sculptor and Korau the Chef from Po-Koro.Midak the Taxi Crab service owner from Onu-Koro.Kewonga the Healer from Le-Wahi.Akohre the Ko-Koronan Scholar.And finally, the strange Lava Farmer Vamuka, from Ta-Koro.These eight were tired of waiting for the Toa, or anyone else, to solve their problems.During the thousand years of Rahi raids, they defended themselves. Well, for the first three hundred years Bhukasa had helped. But the point was, Matoran were not helpless, and these eight were out to prove it.Besides, Turaga Matau had given permission, though Niaka would have gone without permission. She saw the five enemy scout ships arrive, she owned a boat, and she had the time.True, she thought, Bhukasa was already planning to investigate the Kuambu at Kriitunga Island.But these enemy ships were here. Now.“We’d better beach here,” Niaka whispered to the others, pointing to thick jungle foliage on a small peninsula between her ferry and the enemy ships.When they had tied the boat to a nearby tree, the Matoran grabbed their weapons and snuck through the jungle.At one point, they passed a swarm of Bohrok, buglike robots that were using elemental powers to destroy trees – and everything else.The Matoran kept out of sight, though they’d heard that Bohrok left you alone unless attacked. The Bohrok also threatened the island of Mata Nui, but it was a threat the Toa were more prepared for than for the Kuambu.“Niaka?” the lava farmer whispered. “Is it true that Bohrok are what bad Matoran turn into on Naming Day?”She smiled, shaking her head no. “As far as I know, bad Matoran don’t turn into anything. Not naturally anyways… And I have no idea where Bohrok come from.”“What made you think a thing like that?” Midak asked.Vamuka looked embarrased. “I have a problem called ‘gull abil tee’. I believe people even when they’re joking.”“It’s ‘gullability,’” Niaka correct kindly.“You’d have quite a muddletime in Le-Koro,” Kewonga said. “They’re playing practical jokes alltime there. You gotta learn to smart-tell when people are exaggerating.”“Is it true you live in the same tree as a nest of giant spiders?” Vamuka asked the Healer.Kewonga laughed. “Now that one is sure-true, but the spiders aren’t much bigger than you or I. They’re muchsmart and greatguards. They can even speech-mimic.”Vamuka’s eyes went wide. Then he squinted suspiciously and looked at Niaka. She, he knew, didn’t believe in practical jokes.She chuckled. “It’s true. I was there once for an injury from a fishing accident.”“We’re getting close,” Hafu said.They fell silent.The only sounds were their footsteps, the various Rahi sounds around them, and occasionally the gentle snap of a fruit being picked by Korau and put in his backpack – he was a chef, after all, and it wasn’t every day he was surrounded by the fruit he normally had imported to Po-Koro.Finally, they reached the five white-sailed boats. She quickly looked over their odd, castle-like designs, and took note of the huge rammer prows just under the water.Between each crenellation, a weapon was mounted, with glowing spherical ammo mounted in them. Most of the spheres were different colors from the others, and some had more than one color whirling around inside.“Those like-look Zamor launchers,” Kewonga said.Niaka wasn’t surprised he knew of something with such an odd name as ‘Zamor.’ He had not lost his memories from before the Great Cataclysm. The Turaga had sworn him to secrecy about the important things, but occasionally he gave out a relevant tidbit. This must be one off those tidbits.“But,” the Healer continued, “I don’t think the actual ammoballs are Zamor. They like-look Kuamor spheres!”“What are those?” Midak asked.“It’s complicated,” Kewonga said. “They’re essentially soulsongs, sphereshaped. Hujo would be able to explain treebright better than I.”Hujo was the ‘Jahurungi’ – the Matoran destined to unravel secrets. Niaka knew enough about that Ta-Matoran’s recent adventures to know that soulsongs referred to a complex physics vibration that all living minds made. As beings travel forward through time, these songs acted like strings stretched throughout time. Their unique vibrations could be sensed by some beings as a type of music, or held in energy spheres like these.And there was more to it, she suspected, but she hadn’t asked enough to know it, and Hujo had been told to keep some of it secret.The beings that told him not to reveal it were the Unknown.Niaka wondered if any of the secretive shapeshifters were nearby. They tended to spy on events, though they wouldn’t help except in rare cases, according to some system of rules that was… of course… unknown to outsiders. Whatever the rules were, they seemed illogical – beings with power should USE it to help out – but Niaka figured they were helping, just in ways normal people couldn’t understand.Still, it would be nice to know if someone was around to help them if things went bad. She and her team of Matoran might be bold, but they weren’t stupid.“I wonder what the connection is between ‘Kuamor’ and ‘Kuambu’,” Niaka said. It would be a good question for that Ko-Matoran translator that had come to the island yesterday from Twisted Island, but he was on Bhukasa’s ship.“I don’t see any beings,” Nixie said. “Doesn’t that seem strange?”Niaka frowned. Her fellow Ga-Matoran was right. She’d expected to find the boats crawling with soldiers or something. To see nobody at all was strange…“I thought I saw movement,” Akohre said. The Ko-Matoran pointed. “There are small veiled windows in the sides. The veils are the same brown as the wood. But I saw two green eyes peering out of that one there.”“Okay, so we know the Kuambu have eyes. That isn’t very helpful,” Hafu said. “What now?”Midak pointed at the foliage on the shore a few yards from where they stood now. “I might not be a Rahi tracker, but I’ve seen one in action enough to know that means something.”The plants there looked trampled. Very trampled. “A whole invasion army,” Niaka whispered.She looked at the direction the broken plants seemed to point in… and then noticed the grass and ferns were still moving, slowly bending back to their normal positions.“They just passed through,” she whispered. “And they’re heading towards Le-Koro.”They were all silent for a moment.Kewonga materialized something from his energy. A Madu Cabolo fruit, rigged as an explosive flare. A splotch of green paint decorated one side – the flare would shine green. Signalling danger to villages.Then Kewonga pointed at all of them, then pointed back towards her ferry. Pointed at himself, and then pointed north. She assumed he meant the rest of them should leave, and he’d fire the flare alone.“No,” Niaka replied, still whispering. “If they have just half the tracking skill of us, they’ll follow your flare to us before we can get away. And you’re the island’s healer – you’re too important to sacrifice yourself. We’re here to investigate. Let’s investigate.”“Le-Koro must be warned,” the Healer insisted.Suddenly, there was a flash of dim white light, and a crackling splash sound.Hafu was enveloped by the light, and fell to the ground, unconscious.Niaka swung her bombfruit launcher up. The others raised their weapons too, and encircled Hafu.“It came from that way,” Midak said, pointing northwest. They aimed their weapons that way.Not the way the tracks go, Niaka thought. But what hit Hafu was definitely a Kuamor sphere.Kewonga touched Hafu. His mask of Healing glowed, but nothing happened. “Not a stun power I yet-know,” the Healer said – he could use his mask thanks to the Btou staff in his backpack, but only if he understood the ailment.The Healer gripped the flare.Niaka nodded at him.Kewonga lit the fuse with a flint and a knife.Another shining sphere flew through the foliage at them, this one colored green. It missed them all, but instead struck a tree.Instantly, the sphere burst open into whirling green wind energy. It blew the plants around wildly, making a loud rushing noise, and the green energy obscured Niaka’s view to the north.The flare shrieked into the air, but the green energy bent its flight path. It curled around randomly, threatening to hit the Matoran.“Run!” Niaka shouted. They did, carrying Hafu.Finally the flare stuck a tree as they fled back towards the ferry. A branch exploded, sending bright green sparks and shards of wood out, along with a deafening clap of thunder. A wood shard hit Niaka’s left shoulder, richocheting off her armor.She thought she saw a purple flash ahead. Then a blue flash, and another purple.They emerged from the foliage to see her ferryboat – perfectly intact.And sinking.In seconds, the boat fell out of sight beneath the waves. There was no sign of a being anywhere around, and no hole in it – it had lowered down as if being pushed, with no visible leak, until water poured in over the sides. It must have been a weight power or something.While their backs were turned, there was still another white flash, and this time Kewonga fell unconscious.“NO!” Niaka shouted. “Get into those ferns! We need cover!”As they ran in, dragging Hafu and Kewonga, Midak tripped on a root. The taxi-crab driver struggled to his feet, just in time to get hit by a brown sphere of energy.Brown vinelike ropes materialized from the impact point and quickly wrapped around the Onu-Matoran, immobilizing him.Everything happened so fast, it was only now that Niaka consciously realized the Kuamor spheres themselves were creating these powers, not the Kuambu themselves. She had thought if they could escape this attack, they could bring some intel to the Turaga about the Kuambu’s powers, but they were not USING their own powers.Niaka reached back to drag Midak into the ferns, but a blue sphere hit her.With a flash of blue light, she was instantly jerked to the side. She flew over the ground about thirty feet. The last thing she saw was a tree in front of her face.

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The ferrywoman remembered that just as she was being hit by the blue Kuamor sphere, she had caught a glimpse of the being that fired it.But that part of her memory was blurry. She was SURE that in that moment, she had seen a Kuambu, but her memory must have been tampered with.Why tamper with this small memory, and not the rest of it?Her limbs felt cold with fear as she realized the answer. It was the poem the Kuambu had whispered through the veil.The Kuambu let their victims know they were being hunted, know just how helpless they were compared to their hunters… without knowing anything about the Kuambu themselves except their name. Not even why they were being hunted.They ruled not by force, law, or numbers… but by sheer reputation.

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Edited by bonesiii, Nov 15 2011 - 04:53 PM.

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#3 Online bonesiii

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Posted Nov 29 2011 - 06:23 PM

Chapter 2

Lewa walked into the trees until he couldn’t see Ga-Koro anymore and set the rock down. It rapidly changed shape, until a bulky version of a Matoran stood in front of him, wearing a fancier version of a Miru. Surkahi was the color of sand, with gray as his secondary color, and iceblue eyes. “So what’s the bigtalk?” Lewa asked.Surkahi shook some sand off himself and turned away, motioning for Lewa to follow. “Do you remember the first time I contacted you, at least first since your memory loss?”Lewa tilted his head. He didn’t really remember Surkahi ‘contacting’ him ever. The Toa of Air had simply met him when the others did just before Twisted Island. “Whatmean?”“The vision?”The green Toa narrowed his eyes. After the Turaga elders had assigned him alone to investigate the ‘hidefoe’ – the mysterious enemy that had been infecting Rahi beasts much more than normal – he’d had a dream, which he took as a vision. It warned him he would lose to the hidden enemy – the Rahunga as he later discovered – and be controlled by an infected mask. But the vision had motivated him to fight harder and smarter, and he’d escaped that danger. So you’re the future-shower, he thought. He thought of asking how Surkahi had known what would happen, then remembered that the Unknown leader, Caroha, had prophetic abilities. Apparently she could telepathically send them to the other Unknown, and Surkahi had then sent the vision to Lewa… somehow.Surkahi glanced back. “I take it that’s a yes.”“So aboutspeak,” Lewa said. “You’ve relaxed your guard. Have you forgotten the warning?”Lewa stopped walking and frowned. “The dangertime passed. Makuta is deadgone, and the Rahi are maskfree.”Surkahi kept walking for a bit, then glanced back again. Stopped, and faced him. “The vision wasn’t about the specific event, Lewa. It was about your carefree attitude. You need to be more cautious.”Lewa started to retort, but stopped with his mouth open. He thought for a moment, then said slowly, “When have I been carefree?” It was a stupid question. He was the one Toa among the six that knew how to have a good time. Of course he was carefree sometimes. Didn’t a hero deserve some entertainment?Surkahi turned and started walking. Lewa followed hesitantly. “You question-dodged.”“No I didn’t,” Surkahi said. “You do remember the Legend of the Paracosmos? About Convergeance?”“That happenstuff here always Cosmos-mirrors, with differences. So in the Cosmos, Makuta darkturned me after dying?!”Surkahi sighed. “I just can’t answer that, Lewa. Let me try it this way,” he said as he pushed through some thick foliage. Beyond these plants, Lewa saw more sunlight than here, and thought he heard distant crashing sounds. He also thought he smelled smoke. “The vision I sent was a particular prophecy Caroha had of you being darkturned by Makuta, which we saw as convergeance.”“I mind-guessed that,” Lewa snapped. He sighed. Of course the Unknown had a reason to be so vague – Lewa had said it himself moments ago. “I’m sorry.”“It’s okay. I know all this is stressful. My point is, in the vision, you made a mistake, and now you’re in danger of making it again. This time with a different enemy.”“The Kuambu? The Bohrok? Third Faction?”Surkahi pushed through more foliage, and they emerged into the light atop a tall cliff. The Unknown glanced at him, but said nothing, and turned back to face the wide valley in the distance. Lewa saw hundreds of Bohrok there. Red ones, burning trees. Some smaller beings marched along behind them that he hadn’t seen before. He felt dizzy for a moment from the height, and a bit from realization. “The Bohrok, then.”“I didn’t say that. It’s not so much about which enemy, it’s about your attitude.”Lewa shook his head slightly. He alone had solved the mystery of the Rahunga. He had survived the battle with them, helped kill Makuta, and helped the Unknown themselves – including Surkahi – escape the dark Twisted Island. And in thanks I’m accused of an ‘attitude’?But the shapeshifter seemed to be wise. He thought back to how Ito, the strange Le-Matoran Jungledweller, had taught him to move fast yet stealthily through the jungle. Ito had been strict, even harsh, in some of his teaching methods, but he’d reminded Lewa that real enemies would be far harsher. Maybe Surkahi, too, was just trying to shock him into his senses.“Okay,” Lewa said softly. He decided to avoid Treespeak for the moment. Some people felt the slang was inherently ‘carefree’. “I guess I’ve slacked off a little. I honestly thought all the trouble would end when we defeated Makuta. I have to admit I didn’t really help much after that.”“The darktimes will longlast,” Surkahi replied without hesitation. “You’d best get used to it nowtime.”Lewa grinned at the Treespeak. Surkahi looked at him, smiling. “What can I speaksay? I’m a shapeshifter. We in-blend.”“So I’ll caretake more. Warning sorrylearned.”“That’s not all this is about,” Surkahi said. “It’s about thinking. Surely I’m not the only one who realizes what you should be doing right now?”Lewa frowned, this time in thought instead of frustration. “Meetplanning with the Toa? The Turaga?”Surkahi chuckled. “Yes, especially the Turaga, but for what task?”“Stopping the Bohrok?”“Yes, but what else?”“The Kuambu. The Third Faction. Everybody darkbad.”The shapeshifter shook his head, laughing. “And what else? What’s the difficulty in doing all those things?”“We… don’t how-know? We don’t even mindknow what any of them want.”Surkahi nodded emphatically. “NOW you’re on the right track. And who isn’t here right now?”Lewa’s eyes widened. “The Jahurungi.”Hujo, the Ta-Matoran mapmaker, weilder of Blue Fire, destined to unravel secrets. He was away with the other Unknown, as Surkahi had just said. The island was without its best investigator. Lewa had proven his skills at exactly that with the Rahunga. And Bhukasa and the Eight Matoran were already investigating the Kuambu. Which left the robots free to play arsonist right in front of him. What did the Bohrok want? What did the Third Faction want with the Bahrag they had captured? How were things changed from the Cosmos, now that the Toa had collected most of the Krana early and even had the Bohrok Kal on their side? What about the other Bahrag that had left them, showing no thanks for being rescued from Twisted Island?Now that he thought of it, he realized he wanted to know the answers. Badly. “You want me to investigate the Bohrok.”“Now you’re using your head,” Surkahi said. “For more than just this.” The Unknown stepped off the cliff, and hovered in the air instead of falling. Miru power. Lewa didn’t know if the hovering was a joke or more subtlety… or both. But he knew one thing. He had a speech to give to the elders, who he’d heard were gathering at Kini-Nui right now. He cautioned himself not to take Surkahi’s praise as confirmation. The shapeshifter seemed to be a master of saying things without saying them.He thought of another thing Surkahi might be hinting at. Last time the Turaga had given him such an assignment, they had told him secrets only they knew, which they refused to tell the other Toa. What if they knew more about the Bohrok too? Maybe he’d get some inside info. He’d proven he could keep their secrets.Hopemaybe they know how Bohrok can darkturn me.Lewa squeezed his hand on the shaft of his ax. He had a mission now. It felt good to have a mission again. “Thanks, tanflier.”Surkahi gave a nod. “Any chance you’ll visionsend again?”Surkahi smiled. “Maybe. But Caroha hasn’t given me anything about it yet. And she’s going to be… gone. For a while.”That didn’t make sense. “Can’t Unknown use Rikaori?” he asked, referring to the Mask of Telecommunication. “Not where she and Hujo are going.”

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Hujo watched from a hallway as objects flew telekinetically into the submerged zoocraft. He was inside a huge egg-shaped Unknown hovercraft. Its narrowed prow had a huge rip in it, from when it had crashed the other day, unleashing its chronoserum fuel. The blue liquid had touched Hujo, and started the Second Event. If it hadn’t been for the safeguard system, a whole second Paracosmos would have been created. The Paracosmos version of the Field of Shadows, a dark pocket dimension, seemed to be designed to limit Events. So only Mata Nui Island itself had been copied – and changed – creating Twisted Island. The Field was divided into many Circles, which appeared to correspond to Matoran Universe domes, and to islands in the Endless Ocean. Twisted Island was on the Mata Nui Circle. The rest of the circles were barren, lightless rock, as they had always been.The Unknown were intrinsicly tied to the chronoserum and Events, somehow, in ways nobody else was. When the Second Event occurred, all of them were teleported to Twisted Island. This teleportation was a safeguard to make sure the Unknown themselves were not copied, Caroha said, in case the Event occurred beyond the safeguard of the Circles. The Third Faction had known this, and used it to their advantage, affecting Hujo’s mind during the Event to make sure Unknown could not leave on their own. The reasons didn’t make sense to him, but there was obviously more to the story.The point was, this teleportation left their secret city unoccupied. What was flying into the gash in the hovercraft’s prow were the ruins of that city. Hujo had gathered that the city was made of stone, since almost all he saw coming in were rock fragments… but that was about all that was easy to understand. The city had apparently hovered in the clouds, maybe using the same technology as this craft. It must have been quite a place, despite its humble remains.The stone city had, he realized, fallen from the sky, and broken into pieces when it hit the water. The pieces had sunk. “Why would the city fall just because its inhabitants were gone?” Hujo asked. He was standing outside the control room of the craft. The Unknown leader, Caroha, stood just inside the room, facing the front window. Caroha turned to face him. She was colored blue and silver, with two big sweeping silver shoulder decorations that together looked like an elegant V rising above her head, and carried a crossbow-like weapon. She wore a fancier version of a Kanohi Ruru, and had orange eyes. “Because with nobody to guard the city, we could not risk the Third Faction finding it and stealing our things. We had important secrets locked away, artifacts of great power… including the Core of the Paracosmos itself. Even the hover technology itself is valuable.”Caroha pointed at the incoming debris. “Look.”Hujo saw a machine, about as tall as him, roughly cube shaped, fly in. It must have had complexities inside it, but all he saw was the outer metal coverings, and a round hole. Behind it, a flat surface was visible, painted red. He’d seen several like it hover in already, but it was the only technology he’d seen.“What is it?”“A randomized object teleporter. The red side of the indicator wheel inside tells us it activated.”Hujo understood then. “Which means all the stuff you had in the city was randomly teleported away. To the Field of Shadow? The Core went there.”“No. Throughout the Paracosmos itself. To places people are unlikely to go.”“So the Core was something different.”“Not by our design. We programmed the closest teleporter to handle it too. But the Core is… well… unusual. We had never known for sure how it would behave with Events.”“What is it?”Caroha looked him in the eyes. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to dissapoint you, Hujo.”“What? You said you’d tell me the Unknown’s secrets. I mean, I understand you said you can’t just tell them, you have to show them. The Core is here… show me!”“Hence the dissapointment. I’ve been thinking about it, and decided you’re not ready for some secrets. I’m not ready to give them. The Core is one of them. Sorry.”Hujo looked away. Caroha could be really frustrating sometimes. He’d only met her in person yesterday, true, but he’d struggled with her demand that he promise to keep the Unknown’s secrets before she let him know them. He had seen keeping secrets as the opposite of the Jahurungi – the one who illuminated all dark corners. But in time, he had realized she was right, and he’d made that vow. He didn’t recall if she had actually promised to tell him everything, but it felt like it. The Unknown, it seemed, always left caveats to what seemed like clear statements. It was a disturbing trait for beings who claimed to be good.But who was he to question her now? They were her secrets. He decided to take what he could and go from there. Besides, ‘not ready’ meant she’d tell him eventually. Maybe. I guess that’s enough.He couldn’t help himself – his eyes went to the Core. It was there in the wide open room that had apparently been some kind of a vehicle bay in the zoocraft’s prow. The Core was a gray sphere, bigger by far than a Le-Koro hut, that he assumed housed a room inside. Four rounded downward-aimed studs rested against the floor to keep it from rolling. The only other feature was a huge round inscription. It was a symbol that resembled the Matoran letter P, with an added swirl design that reminded him of the Unity, Duty, Destiny symbol the Turaga used. It was the symbol of the Bionicle Paracosmos. And, Hujo suspected, the door to the room inside – and whatever was in there.Whenever he looked at it… he felt… fascinated. He couldn’t explain it – certainly its physical appearance was nothing noteworthy, although its size was. Rock fragments were being pulled in with the craft’s telekinetic orbs that dotted the zoocraft’s external hull, and set down around the Core. It was being slowly buried. If some enemy happened to look in, soon all they’d see would be lots of rubble.“Okay,” he murmured. “So. Random teleporter. All your most precious objects… they’re spread throughout the Paracosmos now? Do you know where they are?”Caroha looked haunted for a moment. “That’s the trouble. We don’t. And the Third Faction knows all this.”So they will be out searching. And they’re bound to find some things they shouldn’t. “I understand. Can I help?”“You and I need to leave. The others will handle it as best they can. The teleporters do keep a record of sorts, and it looks like the Third Faction left them all here. But the teleporters are complex clockwork mechanisms combined with protodermic powers. My people will have to take them apart piece by piece and estimate what happened based on the alignment of hundreds of small gears.”“Ouch.”Caroha shrugged. “It’s the hut we built for ourselves. We’ll live in it.”“That’s everything,” another Unknown said, the owner of the zoocraft. The last bit of rubble flew in. The Core was now out of sight, and all the mass of the Unknown City, besides its stuff, sat inside the craft. The pile was huge – Hujo realized the zoocraft must be twice as heavy now, but it seemed to hover just as easily as before.Caroha nodded, but said nothing. She was extremely shy, Hujo had learned yesterday, and abhorred talking to more than one person at a time. Just standing halfway in the control room, where several others of her people were, was obviously making her uncomfortable. He couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for her – she hadn’t wanted any of this. On the other hand, if she hadn’t touched that liquid, he wouldn’t exist. It was hard to sort out his feelings on the matter.He needed to focus on solving the larger mysteries of the Paracosmos. What was the chronoserum? How could touching it create new universes? Caroha had confirmed to him that she still didn’t know. And what else did all this mean? Why did the Event happen?Hujo remembered what she’d said about leaving. “So, where are we going?”Caroha motioned for him to follow her, and left the control room. “We’re going to the Cosmos.”

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The rain had lessened. Bhukasa glanced back. He couldn’t see the Kuambu ship, but their energy sphere projectiles were still flying through the air. Ruugon had said they looked like Kuamor Spheres, something he’d seen when he’d helped Hujo on his quest to find the Blue Fire Staff. But those Kuamor hadn’t had powers, he said – that was impossible… But here was proof it was not.Gali looked at him. “My elemental energy is gone.”He looked up at the sky. “It’s still raining.”“I set off a chain reaction in the clouds that was going to happen anyways. I made it rain earlier and harder than it would have. The clouds aren’t out of water yet.”“How long?”She shrugged. “Stormclouds are about more than just water. On the plus side, one of the powers in my Gold Kanohi is the Mask of Elemental Energy. I’ll recharge faster.”Bhukasa nodded. Her Kanohi was a blue Kaukau, but it was rimmed and decorated in gold, with symbols etched into it of the twelve other masks she had collected while preparing to take on Makuta. There were more than twelve options, though, and neither had happened to include a Rikaori, hence Pohatu’s need to still use the Suva for that mask. Which made him think of how easy Suva could be to tamper with. Mata Nui now had four separate kinds of enemies across it, if you counted the Third Faction and the Rahunga disguised as villagers. “Pohatu,” Bhukasa said, “Any chance you can bring the Rikaori here and stop using the Suva?”Pohatu nodded. He took off his Gold Kanohi, and with a whirring sound, the Rikaori appeared. He took it off and put the Kakama back on. “Good idea. I’ll put it in my quarters.” Bhukasa looked behind the ship again. He saw no more projectiles. Apparently they’d escaped. Depends on how fast they repair that mast.He felt a bit proud of himself. He’d stayed confident and on top of things as the crisis of the lone ship unfolded. And if he hadn’t gotten them out of there when he did, the whole fleet would have seen them.For someone who woke up with no idea who he was or what to do just the other day, he had filled the role of Captain well. But then, as time went on, and nothing bad happened, his confidence started to drain.It wasn’t for any reasons he could intellectually understand. Sure, there was a difficult road ahead, and overconfidence would be a big mistake. Sure, he felt haunted by the enemy. Sure, he feared he wouldn’t get his memories back. But none of that explained the sadness that rose up inside him like one of Gali’s tidal waves. He lowered his lizardlike chin a bit, and steadied his grip on the wheel. But the sadness became more and more acute. Lone survivor of an extinct race. That’s what the Turaga had said he was. He was the only one left. What had happened to them? Had he known the answer to that when he started his seven-hundred-year voyage in the Endless Ocean? This was as far as his mind got before emotion took over. Before the sadness threatened to bring tears to his eyes. He turned towards the stairway, avoiding eye contact with the Matoran who were hurriedly trying to plan an adjusted route to Kriitunga Island. “Take the helm, Maku. I’m gonna take a nap.”By the time he made it past the empty Gukko nest, the sadness could only be described as sorrow.

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A twisted mutant awoke to a loud knock at his hut door, limbs jerking. Krohlaba was a Kriitunga. ‘Was’, as in, had been, or is – he honestly wasn’t sure what to call himself. He was colored brown and dark red, like many Kriitunga of the Shredding power. He still had the normal power of his color type – the ability to send out red radiating beams of disruptive energy that could literally shred rock into dirt. Like many, he was a miner as a result of this, who shredded mined rocks to make non-mutagenic sands for the farmers to grow crops in. The resemblance to a normal Shredding Kriitunga ended there. While normal Kriitunga had birdlike conical heads, his head looked more like that of an oversized Mantid Rahi, complete with mandibles around a more normal mouth between them. To add insult to injury, he was lopsided. His right arm and leg were bigger than his left ones. “Go away!” he shouted to the knocker, and rolled over on his bed, trying to get comfortable again. “It’s early morning!”A muffled voice replied. Krohlaba couldn’t understand it. The knocking came again. ”LEAVE ME ALONE!” he screamed at the door. No more knocking. He jerked himself around again, trying to pound his body into a comfortable position, but his adrenaline was up now. He laid there stubbornly for a minute, glad whoever it was had left, but angry at himself more than anything.You’ve gotta learn to control that temper, he chided himself. It was his temper that made him look like this. The mutagenic sands, it turned out, changed you based on your mood. He had stormed out to the sands to pout one day when his boss tried to explain that he’d been doing part of his job the least efficient way.It was his temper that nearly got Toa Pohatu and Gali killed. He turned around again, trying to calm himself. It hadn’t really been his fault. The Third Faction had fooled his entire civilization. The Kriitunga were a people steeped in traditions that outsiders saw as primitive. Never having met a Toa, they believed them to be elemental spirits trapped in physical form. So when a group of the Third Faction’s servants gave the Toa to the Kriitunga as slaves, it really was only a matter of time before they tried to kill one of them. It was even more likely when you considered that this Faction group was the Ghomboka. The ‘Ghosts of the Kanohi’ had been Kriitunga themselves, before they'd spent too much time in the sands trying to gain Ultimate Power -- and decayed into energy as a result -- though half had defected furiously before this, and became the Haze Glow Beasts. Long story short, this eventually put Toa Pohatu on defensive in front of the huge walking silver cylinder – the Shredder Tower. Miners like Krohlaba would take rock from the mountain, and drop it down the tube. With the silver outer surface channeling their Shredder energy to radiate inside, the rocks disintegrated on the way down. This gave them the lifeblood of their society – non-mutagenic soil for their food crops.Pohatu was a Toa of Stone. So Krohlaba decided, why not Shred Pohatu himself? In the anger and frustration of the moment, he’d argued bitterly for it. He had been the loudest voice pushing for Pohatu’s death, although even he didn’t really believe his people’s silly traditions. He stubbornly upheld every letter of the rituals Pohatu should use to object to his own death, not caring that this was grossly unfair to an outsider like the Toa of Stone.Krohlaba cried as he remembered it. Crying was seen as weakness in his society, but he was alone in his hut, so if he felt like crying, he sure as the mutagenic sands would.And he saved my life! his mind exclaimed. Pohatu saved my life!The Third Faction had double crossed him. They had a kind of servants, a variation on Vortixx, that was known for never – never – missing when it fired weapons. One of them had shot Krohlaba with a lightstone rifle as he tried to stop Pohatu from escaping. If Pohatu had let it happen, Krohlaba would have slid backwards on the rim of the Shredder Tower, and fallen into its tube. But Pohatu grabbed him, and risked his own life to toss him out. The Toa had hung from a thin spiderweb of rock above the hot red lasers, his elemental energy almost at nothing, after that. If a strange shapeshifter posing as a Kriitunga hadn’t come along, Pohatu would have died after all – not for Krohlaba’s best efforts to kill him, but for Pohatu’s best efforts to save Krohlaba. He sobbed again at the thought. Thankfully, he’d seen the light, and secretly joined up with a small group of Kriitunga who knew the truth – including their King. But the vast majority of others… hadn’t seen what happened atop the tower. The others began following a charismatic mutant with a huge mouth… truly massive – the jaw was bigger than a typical Kriitunga in physical size. Mhondomva. That was undoubtedly what the knock was about. Mhondomva had been sending Kriitunga around, trying to gain support for an overseas attack on this Mata Nui Island the Third Faction spoke of, to kidnap Pohatu back, or Gali, or better yet the Toa of Earth.Well, I’m not helping, he thought, and the tears lessened. Then the knock came again.

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Edited by bonesiii, Jan 12 2012 - 03:34 PM.

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#4 Online bonesiii

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Posted Dec 07 2011 - 05:57 AM

Chapter 3

Niaka opened her eyes.She hadn’t realized she’d dozed off. But never mind that. She thought she heard a sound behind the brown veil.“Hello?” she whispered.Then she saw eyes. Two iceblue eyes.Her muscles tensed – a Kuambu?But then the veil lifted, and the eyes ducked under. The being walked into her view.It was a Matoran, of sorts, female. Blue and silver. Taller than a normal Matoran, fancier in design. Had webbed feet. Wore a Kaukau. Wings sprouted out of her back.An Unknown! Niaka thought triumphantly. The eye color was the same as the ones she’d heard about, though the blue color wasn’t.“I’m going to set you free,” the being said. Female voice.“Thank you,” Niaka said. “I’ve tried everything!”“But not yet.”Niaka froze.Had she misinterpreted?She had heard that the leader of the Third Faction was a shapeshifter – and, she suspected, probably the same species as the Unknown.“My name is Ahurahn,” the Unknown said. “Chief Adviser to Caroha, who is the Unknown leader. I don’t normally go on missions, but our best Agents are busy. There’s a lot going on in the… in the world lately.”The only names Niaka had heard used of the Third Faction leader were Nhayaka and Arakra. The second sounded similar to Ahurahn, though, she realized.“Why,” Niaka asked carefully, “are you going to wait to free us?”“You’re right,” Ahurahn said, smiling, “I am going to free all eight of you. I know you were wondering if the others are on this boat too. Yes. And when I make my move, all eight of you will be freed. And I’ve raised your boat too. You’ll have it.”Niaka began to entertain hope at that, despite the dodging of the question. But she didn’t say anything.“I can’t free you now, mainly because if I bring the boat anywhere near here, the Kuambu will just sink it again, and fight me. We Unknown might be powerful, but not that powerful.”Niaka still didn’t say anything. The reason made sense. But she wasn’t about to start trusting the shapeshifter. If it was Nhayaka, or Arakra, or whatever her real name was, this could just be a clever way to taunt her. She wouldn’t give the evil being the satisfaction of lavishing thanks.“And you’re wondering the other reason, since I implied there was one,” Ahurahn said, grinning.Niaka allowed herself a nod, but she kept her face expressionless.“It’s because of what you wanted. You wanted to investigate the Kuambu. You need to go where they’re taking you. See what they’ll let you see. Experience it. Then I’ll let you go, and you’ll be leaving with some new knowledge, as opposed to a blank memory.”It made sense. But Niaka didn’t have to like it. Experience what unexpected torment? It certainly wasn’t what she had in mind.But she had to hope.The Unknown stood there for a moment, as if waiting for a reply. “Tell the others when you get where you’re going,” she added. “But don’t let the Kuambu suspect you think you’ll escape.”'Think.' Niaka couldn’t help but notice the word choice.Then again, maybe that was the reason – Ahurahn didn’t want to give her too much hope. Unless she was lying, and she could get them out now, in which case fooling the Kuambu wouldn’t be needed. Niaka wanted to sigh in frustration, but thought better of it.“Well…” The shapeshifter flapped her wings once, and looked around awkwardly. “I guess I’ll leave now.” And she turned to do just that.Niaka realized she might regret not asking more questions. Her mind raced, but she couldn’t think of any before Ahurahn was out of sight.“Wait,” she whispered. “What do the Kuambu look like? Powers?”But there was no answer.

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Eyes took in a scene, without thought.A being was observing. But the being had no knowledge of itself, or even self-awareness at all. Merely the power of sight.The being was in a lake.The walls of the lake were made of ice. A sunny blue sky was visible above. The side of a cliff in the air above, covered in snow and ice. There were white fish swimming by. None of the fish reacted to the being’s presence.There was an ice bridge crossing the water above.Below, there was a faint hint of a circle carved into the ice. The being drifted closer to the circle – the fish did not react to the movement.The floor of the lake was beautiful. Light played across the varying knobs of whiter ice and vales of clearer ice as the water above rippled. The inscribed circle looked darker, but when the brighter parts of the dancing light hit its edge, it looked even brighter than the rest of the ice, even sparkly.The being could not see any of this. It could only feel – and it felt cold.Now all it could do was hear.The water made deep-pitched rippling noises as a faint wind above stirred it slightly. Another rippling noise came when a fish turned and moved faster at the sight of a larger fish.The being was overcome with a strange wave of emotions.It felt like the ice lake was its home, and yet alien to it, as if it knew every detail by heart, and was discovering them for the first time. Nothing surprised it, yet everything did.The lights and sounds were in sharp focus, as if they were all the being’s mind could process, but they were distinct in an unexplainable way.It saw the sights as if everything was muted. No smell, no sounds to distract it. Even the temperature didn’t register. The sounds did not distract the being from seeing the visual detail better than it normally could.Yet the sounds were also clearer than ever before.Or than they ever would be again; the being didn’t know the difference.The slightest little whish of an ice fish’s gills breathing water, the gentle, subsonic groaning of the ice throughout the Wahi moving like a very fast river… fast compared to the speed of mountains creeping downhill over millenia, that is. In fact it heard the even deeper wwwrrrrroooooahnk sounds that the mountains themselves made, as they slowly settled under the weight of the planet’s gravity.Then the being felt a distant tug, like a rope stretched taut over thousands of miles, tied to it, being given the slightest tug by someone far away.Everything floated by like a dream, the details of the lake, the music of the sounds, the smells, the cold, the heat in the fish. Up was down and then was now, and everything made sense… and nothing was anything.And then it was all replaced by a bright blue light.

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Krohlaba jerked out of bed at the sound of more knocking, and marched to the door in anger.He was about to rip the door open, when he caught himself.The Kriitunga stopped, and closed his eyes. Deep breath. He filled his lungs up, then willfully tensed his diaphragm downward still further, then slowly let the air out. Opened his eyes.It was a technique a friend had tried to teach him a long time ago. It calmed him down really well. He just needed to use it more. Much more.Then he opened the door.It was Grunrohti.This was another mutant Kriitunga. He was green and red, with an energy gun in place of his left forearm and hand. His head was misshapen. An old friend who’d suffered a similar fate as Krohlaba in the sands.And a follower of Mhondomva.“Can I come in?” Grunrohti grunted. “Got news that will definitely interest you.”Krohlaba suppressed a sigh, and motioned his friend inside. “What’s going on?”“A lot. Did you hear about the Kuambu Fleet sightings?”He tilted his large insect-head. “Didn’t.”“Yeah. Heading towards that new island those two Toa were from.”Krohlaba nodded slowly. So, the Kuambu had found out about the island, it seemed. The two Toa had not seemed to know of the enemy of all who lived in this ocean. And now they were about to find out.“We saw them rounding the southwest horn this morning. Someone tried to organize a defense, thinking they were coming here, but they just kept on sailing.”Grunrohti sat down on a stone chair at Krohlaba’s table. “We think it means they’re gonna try to join the enemy side,” he added.Krohlaba scrunched up his face, then thought better of it. With a face as strange as his, Grunrohti probably didn’t think anything of it. But knowing what he and the Khungoka knew – as the small secret band of followers of the King’s called themselves; those who knew the truth about the Toa – there was no way the Kuambu would be on the Toa’s side.“Which means the time is even more ripe for our group,” Grunrohti continued quietly.Here comes the pitch. And what shall I say?“We’ve formed a group of certain trusted Kriitunga from among the populace,” the red and green being continued, telling Krohlaba what he already knew. “We’re calling ourselves Mhondoka.”Of course they would. The “-oka” suffix to the base of a being’s name meant ‘follower’ in their language. It usually referred to some manner of rebellion or revolution.Even without the Mhondoka knowing about King Khungakrii’s true alignment, it was brazen foolishness to declare such a group now – but then foolishness was what this group was all about, sadly. And of course, the Khungoka had named themselves for much the same reason, ironically – they were rebelling against the rebellion of today.“I’ve heard rumors,” Krohlaba said. He’d heard a lot more than that, but Grunrohti must not be allowed to suspect anything unusual.“So,” Grunrohti continued, “we were assuming you would be quick to join. I know you’re a busy miner, and we would never wish to challenge your honor or your freewill. But, you must realize we all look up to you for your stand against Toa Pohatu that day.”Krohlaba’s head moved in a forced nod. Of course he understood, but all he could think right now was, don’t look sad.“I’ll definitely think about it,” Krohlaba said, but his voice trailed off hesitantly.“But?” Grunrohti prodded.“But… I mean, like you said, I’m a busy person. I have to leave soon in fact. All I want is my life as a miner. I don’t want to be involved in war. So, what I’m trying to say is, if I turned down the offer… just hypothetically, Mhondomva wouldn’t mind at all, would he?”It was an important question, because right or wrong, Krohlaba legitimately feared the bigmouthed one.If he himself had been known for his temper, being called the Angry Miner by many, Mhondomva put his… mouth where his money was, as it were. He alone could blast a shout across the village as easily as if it were a crack of thunder. He could probably swallow any other Kriitunga whole if he felt like it.And worse, his small brain was full of the intense, primitive kind of loyalty for home and tradition that made talking sense into him nearly unthinkable. Let alone possible.Grunrohti shrugged. “I can’t speak for him – and he hardly needs it – but I’m sure he would get over it. Eventually.”Krohlaba suddenly felt the need to gulp, but didn’t want to look scared. So he held the awkward feeling back.“Well, I’ll let you get ready for work… and start your thinking,” the other Kriitunga said, getting up. As soon as his back was turned, Krohlaba swallowed.“Just be sure to make it clear to him I’m undecided,” he said quietly, as Grunrohti walked out.“I’ll make it quite clear, don’t worry. Oh. Just one more thing, though. You should know that Mhondomva also wants to know exactly what happened up atop the Shredder Tower that day. It was raining, you know… and Pohatu obviously wasn’t killed. He seems to be… how shall I put it… dissapointed.”Krohlaba didn’t answer.If they had seen… well, if they had been able to see, the Oru-Vortixx would never have shot at him. The Third Faction’s plans apparently depended on the Kriitunga staying on their side until the moment for betrayal came. So part of him wished the rain had not been there to veil the truth… but deeper down he knew it was the only reason he himself knew the truth.“We’re having a meeting tonight, at the northwest horn’s crest. We’re leaving for it at sundown. If you’re in, be there.”Without waiting for an answer, Grunrohti left, closing the door behind him.Krohlaba just stared at the door.

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Jungle teemed with life over a swamp.A being saw this. It heard all the details, as if it was blindfolded. Saw the details as if it was deaf. Smelled the smells as if that was its only sense. All at once, all separately.Water flowed along by several smaller plants, and around the big trunks of trees. A tiny yellowgreen lizard scampered over low-hanging branches.The being was inside the water. Mostly it saw a layer of thicker mud below, being kicked up by the current. It saw tiny amphibious and fishlike Rahi darting in and out of the submerged bases of the plants. It saw the two lumpy eyes of a much larger reptilian Rahi, otherwise hidden beneath the mud.Then the being decided to go against the current.It floated past a swimming monkey, and into an area with tall, narrow plants. Soon the swamp was choked by leafy seaweed, and the being went down, into the smallest of the waving plants.There was earth beneath the roots of these plants. Water soaked the ground beneath it. Everywhere the water was, the being’s senses went too. It felt as if it was tiny, and swam down through the particles of mud themselves, past the roots of the grass.It found a place where three thick roots came, each from a different direction, and formed a weblike lattice, irregular in shape, over a perfectly flat stone slab.Then it focused on the incredibly complex but tiny biology of the roots themselves, until it felt the next tug, and all became blue light.

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Bhukasa tossed and turned in the cot.His quarters were small, with no table or food – just a cot, a wooden chest for personal items, a door, and a small window.He was trying to nap not because he was tired, but because it was the excuse he’d come up with for his sudden departure from the helm deck, and he wanted to stick to it.Tears had flown freely for a few minutes.All he could think about was the fact that his people were all dead. And he wanted to remember. He floated in and out of sleep, unsure each time he awoke if he had dreamed or not.Now he had a strong sensation, that reminded him of when a word was on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t quite remember it. He saw vague flashes of his homeland.A huge lake… or perhaps a small bay… or a large one… he couldn’t be sure. Plants of some kind. Blowing snow. Nothing definite.Once, he clearly saw a single scene, with tall pine trees.A rich, syrupy scent wafting from the trees. Fragile lumps of snow on the ground, but seaweed-like grass beneath it. Coastal water just out of the left corner of his vision.And… something… in front of him.While he could see the grass, trees, and snow clearly, this thing in front of him was a blur. He got hints of both darkness and light from it, grayscale and color. He felt like it was technology. But what it looked like, he simply could not see.This could not be natural, he felt. Why would he clearly see some detail of this image from his past, and not that one key part?Once again a memory surfaced, just partially, but enough to form a conclusion.The Kuambu tamper with memories.He knew this as surely as he knew his own name… even more surely, in fact. Was it how he’d lost all his memories? He didn’t know, but that felt right too. Regardless, somebody had tampered with this particular memory.He struggled for a while to remember anything else.But nothing came.Except the sadness. The sorrow. The despair.He closed his scissorclaws tightly, then pressed them together even more, so hard he felt like they might snap, and clenched his jaw too. The sadness felt so strong it messed with his vision, and he felt like the room had pitched forward, becoming blacker at the top and redder at the bottom.Bhukasa sat up, shaking his head.The room looked normal again. He took a few deep breaths. What is wrong with you, Bhukasa? The vision change had physically hurt his eyes, but he hadn’t felt in control of it.Rapidly he shook his head. A nap was not going to work.But he sat there stubbornly for another ten minutes anyways. What would he say to the crew if he went back up now?After that, he didn’t feel sad as much as just silly. He’d gone from confident captain to a hiding slacker in just an hour. And really, why shouldn’t he? As far as he remembered, he was basically an infant, having awoken to this world for the first time just a week ago, though he knew that was only perception.He sighed audibly. It didn’t matter. He’d said he would take a nap, so he would.Time passed… he wasn’t sure how much. He passed in and out of dreams. For a moment, he saw himself standing on that coastal snowy scene with the pines. The smell was stronger than he felt was natural. There was a big squid where the blurred memory should be – a giant silver squid that was ripping through the rock and trees as if they were water.The monstrous Rahi turned towards him, and roared in rage. The ground tilted violently, and turned into waves from the sound. Then it became just water, with no Rockswimmer Squid… although the pines were still there.Now the water was air. He was standing upside-down underwater, as if the air was the ground, and the trees were upside down with him. He wasn’t sure when it had started, but it was the case now, and since it was a dream, it somehow made sense to him. The sky was water. Far above, he saw constellations of upside-down fish.He felt the texture of the air beneath his feet – it was dirt with grass. The Rockswimmer Squid had turned into the Zivon beast, and it was walking on the dirt-grass-air towards him.Then it started dancing. He even saw it grin.In the real world, his head shook, and so in the dream world, everything shook and rearranged itself. The Zivon was tiny, and it was dancing on the main deck of his boat.Off to the Zivon’s left, the wooden deck was rippling as if it was a liquid.Floating in this wooden sea, there was a tiny red triangle-flag. The Zivon swam closer to the flag. No… it wasn’t the Zivon. It was his boat… except with his own legs. If he’d been awake, the image would have felt ludicrous, but here in the in-between land of sleep and the waking world, it all made perfect sense.The legs disappeared. Instead, there was a tiny version of himself standing at the wheel of the tiny ship… sailing in the wooden liquid sea of the deck of the giant boat… with a giant Bhukasa visible far above at the giant wheel.For a moment he saw out of the eyes of both Bhukasas at the same time.Then he was seeing a Zivon at the wheel of the tiny boat, ordering around a crew of blurry somethings, and silver squids. The boat sailed towards the red flag.The Zivon itself picked up the red flag, and held it up with a claw.Then the liquid deck began rolling with massive waves, and the giant sail, far above, turned into liquid, which rained heavily down on the tiny ship. The tiny boat was tossed around violently. The rain turned into water instead of liquified sail… and it was falling from the single eye of a Bhukasa as big as a stormcloud miles above.Bhukasa felt like he was falling, and jerked awake.Wait…It really was raining, and the boat really was being tossed around by huge waves.Fear rushed through him… and adrenaline.The storm hadn’t lessened as Gali had predicted.It had gotten worse.The adrenaline shocked him fully awake, and erased all traces of the sadness.Bhukasa dried his still-wet eyes on the cot blanket, and burst out his door, and up the stairs to the main deck.He emerged to find Maku shouting orders at Matoran, Toa, and Haze Glow Beasts. Twayzivl was atop the square sail along with a Matoran, trying to roll it up – because the wind was blowing in strong gusts. The day had turned into night, except when lightning flashed.Bhukasa then noticed the backdrop to this scene, over the bow of the ship.At first his eyes registered it as a dark gray-blue wall, among the dark sky and the pounding rain. He thought he saw distinct bricks, as if it was made out of sapphire rectangles.Then he realized that was impossible now that he’d re-entered the waking world of reality.The bricks were whitecaps… on the side of a massive rogue wave.Gali stood at the frontmost prow of the boat, her arms pointed at the wave. Rays of blue light spread from her arms at the wave. And right in front of them, the wave looked lower than to the right and the left. But only by a little.Bhukasa felt useless in that moment. Maku was managing at the wheel just fine. She’d pointed the wheel at the wave, so the ship wouldn’t be sideswiped by the wave, but would ride it up and over. And he shouldn’t have been napping to begin with. If they survived this wave, it wouldn’t be thanks to him.He briefly wondered if he could absorb some kind of energy in the wave. But he had no idea what kind of energy it had… and if Gali couldn’t affect it much, he sure couldn’t.And then Bhukasa realized something that might seem silly, given the circumstances. But it wasn’t.He was standing in the exact spot of the deck as the tiny boat had been in his dream.And he smelled pine.At first he hoped this meant he was still dreaming. But everything was too real, too unyeilding to his imagination. The smell was too strong.It came from the wood.Two and two became four in his mind, and he suddenly knew that his homeland was known for its pinewood. This boat had been made of wood from that land.Then he pushed all thoughts of distant pasts and distant lands aside, and once again assumed the role of Captain.He shouted for all to hear. ”Everybody except Gali, get below deck! The less on deck, the less getting washed overboard! I’m taking the wheel! Leave the sails – there’s no time!”

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#5 Online bonesiii

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Posted Dec 14 2011 - 08:39 AM

Chapter 4

Bhukasa grabbed the wheel, as the others rushed below deck. Gali stayed at her spot at the prow.The wave was shorter just ahead of them, and the slope was more gradual. It would have to be enough, he thought.The ‘foothills’ of the mountain of water reached them, and Bhukasa felt the deck tilt back. His ship sailed halfway up the massive wave, and then stopped rising.Instead, the wave pushed them along. Bhukasa felt the wheel pull to the right hard, and he braced his legs against the decking to hold it steady. His arm muscles tightened… thankfully his species was naturally extremely strong in the muscles.The sails were the problem. This wave wasn’t traveling with the wind now, which was gusting around in seemingly random directions. His crew was safe, but that left the triangle sails locked in their current position.The whole boat tipped towards the right, as a strong gust hit the sails from the left.Gali shouted something, but the pounding rain drowned out her voice.Bhukasa felt out of place again, as if he was still dreaming. He’d been finally falling asleep one moment, and then the next moment he was here, doing this, with no time to think in between. He blinked away the feeling, and focused again.Suddenly the wheel jerked. And slipped from his grasp. A piece of wood flew in front of his face.Bhukasa grabbed the wheel again, not sure what happened. Straightened the ship again. He saw the blue light from Gali continue to shine, and now he realized they were finally getting over the wave.He subconsciously registered that one of the handles radiating out of the wheel was shorter than the others. Didn’t know what it meant.Then the pressure on the wheel lessened, as the boat crested the wave, and slid down the other side, raising a large wake.Bhukasa looked around. No other such wave was visible behind this one. They’d survived. But the smaller waves were not really small.Gali stumbled along the tossing deck towards him. “Should I get the others?”“Yes,” he said, nodding in case she couldn’t hear him. She went below deck, and emerged soon after with the others.Then Bhukasa saw dim light ahead of them.In the next minute, the storm passed as suddenly as the others told him it had started.The rain stopped. The waves died down.Bhukasa looked at the wheel again.That handle was shorter, he realized, because his scissorclaws had actually sheared it clean off. All these handles were crisscrossed by tiny cut marks his own claws probably caused, but they were all shallow. Which meant something unusual had caused the sudden jerking of the wheel that had sent it through his claw like a knife through a Fauii Cake.Something had hit the rudder.Something big.Probably a sea Rahi, he thought. They’d probably never know. It didn’t matter.Then he realized they had a much larger problem than one broken handle.The sky was totally gray with clouds. As far as the eye could see.No sun.No more wind.No navigation.That was okay. They knew roughly where they were in relation to Kriitunga Island, and they had a compass… He glanced that way.There was no compass. Where it should have been on the table behind the wheel, there was just empty space.Maku saw him looking at it. “One of the Kuamor spheres took it out in the fight.”What she left unspoken was that Bhukasa should have hung around after the battle to inspect the damage instead of disappearing. Even now, he felt the sadness returning, but he decided to do his best to ignore it this time.So the compass was gone. There were other methods.He looked at Ruugon and the others. The Po-Matoran just sighed deeply, and shook his head. “We lost track of how far Maku turned us to face that wave. We don’t know where we are… and we don’t know which way to go.”Bhukasa grimaced.But he wasn’t about to just drop anchor and wait. They still had oars to move.“Make your best guess.”

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Lewa zoomed through a savannah of lime-colored grass and clumps of trees.His green Kanohi Miru was rimmed and decorated with gold. Nested in the thick gold on the rim of the back of the mask were eleven green pieces of solid protodermis, each shaped like a two-dimensional version of the eleven masks he had collected. Right now the one shaped like a Kakama mask of Speed was glowing.Then it dimmed and Lewa slowed to a normal run.He had entered a large clearing, dominated by a huge stone structure.This was Kini-Nui Hall, a sand-colored stone fortress that formed a square around a courtyard. At the western ‘back’ of the square, there stood three tall buildings. The other three walls of the square were single-story, castle style.In the center of the front wall, there was a large Toa head statue, its mouth forming the door. Lewa walked up to the head statue.Pacing back and forth in a room behind the ‘eyes’ of the statue was a Po-Matoran guard.“Greetings, Toa Lewa,” the guard called. “The six Turaga, two of the Toa, and the two good Rahunga are waiting in the meeting room.”Lewa nodded his thanks. “Which Toa’s herenot?” Besides Pohatu and Gali, of course.“Onua. His village is being threatened by a swarm of blue Bohrok.”Lewa grimaced. Those Bohrok used the power of water. A flood in the caves of Onu-Koro could be a disaster. “Understood.”He entered through the door, which the guard had just unlocked.Inside, there was a square room, its tan walls bare, with a gray carpet, and several green lightstone lamps with decorative tan stone mounts. Two doors stood at the other end of the room, on either side of a ladder up to the guard’s room.The guard peeked down the hole that the ladder went up to. “You’re in? Okay. Just so you know, you can lock the door behind you next time yourself.” He pointed at a switch on the wall behind Lewa.Lewa blinked. “I… sorry…”“Just a little hard to tell from up there when someone is through, you know? Don’t wanna lock it before the door closes, or before it opens…”Lewa understood, and forced a smile, then hurried out one of the doors into the courtyard. No time for chitchatter…The courtyard was mostly green grass, with some bushes, dominated by the huge stone spire structure in the center – the Kini-Nui itself. A sandy path led to the round temple base, where steps led up onto the center.It brought back memories for Lewa. Just the other day, the Toa had entered a door in its center, which had led them down to Makuta deep underground, and the showdown Lewa had wrongly believed was the end of their troubles. Now he understood – it was really just the beginning.He opted to take the circular path around the temple instead of climbing over it.Soon he found himself in front of another big head statue, with another guard. This one wasn’t as talkative, and just nodded, then unlocked the door. A Ko-Matoran.Inside he found more tan walls, gray carpet, and lightstone lamps. He walked past several rooms to a ladder and climbed up to the seventh floor, and reached the meeting room. The first thing he saw was a large round table that Pohatu had recently made for the Turaga, a lot bigger than their old one so all six Toa, six Turaga, and several others could be seated around it.Tahu waved at him. Kopaka just nodded. He sat down in an empty chair to the left of one of the Rahunga.This was Mukana, a Ko-Matoran – and he was in Matoran form right now too, as was Kanoka, a Ta-Matoran. Mukana wore a white Kanohi Rau, a mask of Translation, while Kanoka wore a Kanohi Naulako, a mask of Stamina. Kanoka sat on Mukana’s right, and the other Turaga were to the right of him. To Lewa’s left sat Tahu and Kopaka.Lewa wondered why they’d left this seat empty.He felt very uncomfortable sitting next to a Rahunga, especially given that his investigation of the Rahunga was what he’d be pointing to in his request to investigate the Bohrok. There were other empty seats to the right and left of Turaga Vakama, who sat at the other end of the table, but he’d feel weird purposefully avoiding this chair to get to them.So he lived with it.“Alright,” Vakama said, leaning forward. “As most of you know, Toa Onua cannot join us, as his village is already under the direct threat of a Bohrok swarm. Toa Gali and Pohatu, of course, are accompanying Bhukasa on his sea voyage. And we all know why the Jahurungi is not here.“So,” the fire elder continued, “since everybody who’s coming is here, let’s begin.”Lewa raised a hand hesitantly.”Speak,” Vakama said.“I thought Ito would be us-joining?”“He had planned to, but that was before the Kuambu fleet turned away from Ga-Wahi and landed in Le-Wahi. It’s only for the sake of Unity, so our plans will be wise, that I delayed sending you.”“I see. You should also mindknow that I have a request, when we’re talkready.”Vakama looked around. “I think we all know what the situation is right now. We don’t have much else to say, so let’s hear your request now.”“Uh,” Kanoka said, raising a hand slightly. “We have a request too. But Lewa can go first.”“Very well.”Lewa wondered very much what that request would be. But he wanted to get this out of the way.“I… You see, Surkahi…” Then he remembered the shapeshifter hadn’t actually told him anything… “I should say… Hujo is gone. With the other Unknown.” He sounded ridiculous, he knew.”And, we have two bigmuddles facing the island nowtime. The Kuambu – Bhukasa and the eight Matoran are investigating those. The Bohrok bugbots…”“I was going to assign Onua and Tahu to investigate those,” Vakama said when Lewa failed to continue. “While you and Kopaka focus on guarding the villages and finding out what you can about both enemies.”Lewa glanced at Turaga Matau. “What I’m trying to say,” he tried again, abandoning Treespeak, “is that I’ve proven myself as an investigator.”He nodded awkwardly at the two Rahunga. “You elders assigned me to investigate the hidden enemy, and now today two sit by our sides, giving allegiance to good once again. Perhaps I can do the same with the Bohrok.”“You mentioned Surkahi,” Kanoka said, catching Lewa’s eye. “Did the shapeshifter suggest this?’“Well… he implied it.”“What about the Bohrok Kal?” Mukana asked. “They’ve allied with us.”Vakama nodded. “Those six elite Bohrok appear to have awakened prematurely during the events of Twisted Island. It’s true, they have agreed that the Bohrok were awakened too early. And they have saved Matoran lives.”“But?” Lewa asked. “I mean, I could work with them, or some of them, to figure out at least what the Third Faction wants with their kidnapped Bahrag. They probably won’t tell me anything about the Bohrok themselves, but it would be a start.”“But,” Vakama said, “they are powerful beings created by the Bahrag, and we cannot be absolutely sure of their loyalty. That is why they’re not here today. They have made it quite clear to me what their plan is… to storm the Third Faction hideout in Ga-Wahi, freeing the Bahrag, as soon as possible, with our help.”Kanoka cleared his throat. “I have two questions, then. Are you saying that you will not fulfill our promise to fully free the Bahrag? And what of Mukana and I? We were your sworn enemy until two days ago, yet you have trusted us enough to invite us here today.”“You are reasoning beings, not robots controlled by strange brains,” Vakama answered. “The only one of you I consider to have proven his loyalty is Jombu.”The room feel silent. Jombu had been the third of three Rahunga to turn away from Makuta when that villain had been killed… but Jombu had given his life to help save the Toa from the Ghosts of the Kanohi.“And yes,” Vakama said, “We will fulfill our promise, but carefully. For all we know, an all out rushed attack is exactly what the Third Faction is hoping for.”“Only two Oru-Vortixx are guarding that Bahrag,” Mukana spoke up. “That will change. Now is the best opportunity for it.”“Is this your proposal, then?” Onewa asked bluntly. “To run pell-mell into whatever ambush has been set by two – yes, only two – members of a species that has never missed a shot they have fired?”“No,” Kanoka replied firmly. “I’m just saying… I will tell you our proposal, but I’m not sure if Lewa is finished?” He looked at the Toa of Air.Lewa couldn’t pin it down, but something unnerved him about Kanoka. Of course, he could pin it on many things, like how Kanoka had tried his hardest to kill the Jahurungi… or how he’d faked his death. Maybe it was just how confident the Ta-Rahunga was.Whenever Lewa had realized he’d made a horrible mistake, confidence was the last emotion he could convey afterwards.Focus on nowtime, he told himself. “My request is simple. I am the best investigator on the island nowtime, and one of the two enemies needs an organized investigation. The Kuambu are being investigated. Let me solve the mysteries of the Bohrok. And let me do it my way. And yes, Surkahi essentially said so. Just not in so many words.”Vakama narrowed his eyes, looking from Lewa’s left eye to his right and back again. Lewa felt as if the wise elder could see inside him.Could he? Could he see that Lewa didn’t really know if he wanted this?That Surkahi’s warnings terrified him, made him just want to go hide in a dark storage room in the Hall’s basement? That Lewa felt some resentment towards the elders for not telling him how much struggle and danger he was in for when he first burst out of the silver canister on the beach, about a month ago?“We will decide this amongst the elder council alone later,” Vakama finally said, “After hearing the Rahunga’s proposal.”

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The Gukko returned on its own when the storm lessened, thankfully. The Le-Matoran were belowdecks now putting a makeshift lock on the flight door.Bhukasa walked with Ruugon, the Po-Matoran mapmaker, down the steps from the helm deck and into the double doors to the Gukko room beneath that deck.Inside, he and Ruugon stopped, facing the two Le-Matoran.“Yes?” Vira asked. He was green in color except for lime feet and a cyan Matoran Pakari.Bhukasa motioned to the Gukko. “I need you two out there, scouting for the lone Kuambu ship that attacked us, and for the nearest land. Fly a rough spiral formation around us, but vary it a bit, and stay low so the enemy can’t find us if they sight you.”“Yes, sir,” Vira said.Nabmaia pointed at a stack of barrels. She was colored dark green with lime feet and mask; her mask was an Utati, a mask of Agility. “How much ammo may we take, and may we engage the enemy in battle if we see them?”“Take as much as you deem fit, but only fight if their mast is back up or nearly back up, and then only to knock it down again. Remember they can teleport, so if you go in to take the mast out, you must do it on the first pass.”“And, should we try to get a sighting of the Kuambu themselves behind their castle-walls?” Vira asked.“Not this time. I have a feeling if they thought you’d seen them, they’d use every method to take you down to blur your memories.”“You know they can do that?” Ruugon asked.“Not for sure. Just a very strong suspicion. Some of my memories have just barely begun to return. We’ll wait to use that tactic until after we make a home base at Kriitunga Island.”He continued. “Use your direction finders to know where we are in relation to you constantly.” He referred to tiny compass-like devices that Ito built for Gukko fliers and other uses. They did not find north, but they could point at each other. The Gukko had one, and so did he, in his quarters. “But if you think you’ll get captured, smash it.”“Understood,” Vira and Nabmaia both said.“If that happens, find the nearest land. We do still have Pohatu’s Rikaori, so we would be able to find you again hopefully. Now, remember that if you are spotted by Kuambu, you should fly up above the clouds to get away from them, so they can’t see which way you go.”The Le-Matoran nodded. “Anything else?” Vira asked.“I don’t think so. Just don’t lose the bird again.”

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Lewa watched as the red Rahunga handed a stone tablet to the Turaga. He saw that it was an unfinished list of some kind, with four names at the top, then the numbers one to seventeen.“This,” Kanoka said, “could become your list of reformed Rahunga. This is the number of Rahunga still on this island and free from Rathoa’s ‘mind-minion’ power.”“Kanoka and Mukana are names I know,” Turaga Vakama read, nodding at the red and white Rahunga respectively. “Bimiaku? She was of my village, but died. So her death was fake? I know she is not among those in disguise in Ta-Koro. She’s not under Rathoa’s control? And this fourth name I do not know.”“She isn’t. She and Klirisha pledged loyalty to you already, just this morning. They were sent by Rathoa to guard a secret Rahunga outpost in the Papa Nihu Reef before Makuta’s death. Both are happy to be free from Makuta’s deception.”“Who is Klirisha?” Vakama asked.“Onu-Koronan,” Turaga Whenua interjected. “I thought she died in a cave-in, four hundred years ago.”“Rathoa himself caused that cave-in,” Mukana said. “His Rahunga tunneling power kept her from harm.”“Where are the other names?” Vakama said. “This is a little underwhelming for proof of your loyalty. We frankly expected a detailed who’s who and what’s what report of all you know.”Kanoka looked pained. “The five of us… before Jombu’s death… seriously considered it. But you have to understand… The remaining names are all the Rahunga still disguised as normal Matoran among your villages… and that’s all they know. If I just outed them behind their backs… You may make many of them angry and only drive them away.“So I propose that you instead allow me to secretly talk to them one by one, test them subtly, try to recruit them back to your service, while pretending instead to assure myself of their continued loyalty to the Brotherhood of Makuta. I will claim I was only pretending to help you on Twisted Island.”“Why would they believe you?” Nokama asked. “It’s common knowledge you’ve been helping us.”“Oh, I know! And I’d like to make it even more common knowledge. Tell the whole villages everything I’ve said here. I…” Kanoka sighed, then shrugged. “Let’s face it, nobody trusts my word anymore after how I tried to kill the Mapmaker. They may not believe me, but they will have no choice but to recognize my rank as de facto Captain of the Rahunga after Rathoa’s treason.”“And why,” Tahu said, his voice low, “Should WE believe you?”“Because,” Kanoka said, looking Tahu in the eye without hesitation, “if you don’t, you’ll never get those names.”The room went silent.Then Kanoka continued calmly. “After testing them, I will ask them outright to vow loyalty to you Turaga and to the cause of Mata Nui. One by one I’ll tell you their names.”“What if they don’t?” Vakama asked, his eyes narrowed.“Then I continue to organize them to gather resources for a supposed mission to find and attack Rathoa. The Brotherhood will want Makuta’s mask; maybe he can still be revived if they act quickly. When I am satisfied that all who will willingly turn good have, I will out the others, and turn over all the resources to the Toa. We won’t bring you the mask – it’s honestly least likely to be used to revive Makuta in Rathoa’s hands anyways.”Lewa didn’t like it right away. He could tell the others agreed. What was to stop him from going on the mission anyways?But we need those names.And he could tell the others agreed with that too.Then Kanoka pulled several more tablets out of his tablet. “Vakama, you wanted a what’s what? As a good-faith gesture, here you go. Every base we have, including the supposedly secret one we’ll dig out soon.” He handed the map over.“This is a list of Rahunga tool powers and who has them, or did last time I knew it,” Kanoka said, handing over a detailed list, but with several names blank. “As village Rahunga vow loyalty to you, I’ll fill in the blanks there too.”Next tablet.Kanoka spoke confidently, with no hesitation. “This is a list of every mask power that I know of that Rathoa invented, along with who has which ones, as far as I know. Sadly, Rathoa has the majority in his energy pack.”Only two tablets left. “This is a list of all thirteen of Rathoa’s mind minions who faked their deaths, and this…” Now he paused, and spoke more softly. “This is the list of the Matoran who really did die. It’s not right for everybody who knew them to be tormented any longer with the question of who deserved their mourning.”The room stayed silent for several more long moments, this time with a different tone altogether. Lewa could not help but be impressed. He couldn’t say he was convinced… but he wasn’t leaning against it anymore.Finally, Turaga Vakama glanced at the other Turaga in turn, then broke the silence.“Leave us. We need to discuss these two proposals amongst ourselves,” he said, nodding at Lewa and Kanoka respectively.“Lewa, Kopaka, please go to Onu-Wahi and assist Onua against the Gahlok swarm for now. Tahu, remain outside this room; we will need your Telecommunication power.”He faced the Rahunga, but spoke to the Toa of Fire instead. “And Tahu, do not let these two out of your sight.”

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Edited by bonesiii, Dec 18 2011 - 11:37 AM.

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#6 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Dec 18 2011 - 11:37 AM

Chapter 5

Hujo stopped walking when Caroha reached a metal door near the aft of the zoocraft. A blue male Unknown stood in front of the door. “It’s all ready as you ordered,” he said, nodding at Caroha, then he walked away. Caroha didn’t respond except to open the door. Hujo followed her in, and beheld a tiny craft. Like the zoocraft, it was shaped like an egg with the pointed part forward. Just big enough for two Matoran to stand next to each other inside.The front half was all window with eight metal supports coming forward to meet at the nose. There was also a round window in the back. Eight small iceblue-glowing orb devices dotted the remaining silver part, ringing around it, each with metal pipes crawling around the hull to a single spot in the top where they bent inside the hull.The small eggcraft was the only thing in the room, unless you counted the giant open doorway it faced. Hujo saw a wall of water outside, held back by the zoocraft’s field technology. Apparently this room was a bay for smaller vehicles.Caroha walked around to the back of the small eggcraft, and Hujo saw that the round window was mounted inside a door. She pressed a combination of buttons mounted in a small metal circle in the middle of the window, and the door lifted up on a whining motor.She walked in and he followed. As he walked in, he passed through what felt like a thin wall of water – an airshield, he assumed, just like the one keeping water out of the bay. It made a deep-pitched rippling sound as he passed through. Inside, the vehicle was almost silent, except for a tiny repeating tapping sound that seemed to be coming from all around. There was a column in the middle of the rounded back portion of the egg shape, under where the pipes came in from outside. They reached into a silver sphere mounted two-thirds of the way up the column. The chronoserum power source.“Why do we need a vehicle?” Hujo asked. “Can’t Event Matoran pass between their home dimension and the dimension their Event made by simple teleportation?” Three times now, he had summoned a whirling sphere of blue energy that had taken him between the Field of Shadow and the Paracosmos at will, because his chronoserum-touching Event that had created Twisted Island in the Field had granted him that power. He’d assumed Caroha would just snap her fingers or the equivalent, and they’d be in the Cosmos.“I’ll explain in a moment,” she replied. “But we need to take off now. Get this suit on.” She pointed at what looked like two pairs of advanced technological boots, hovering an inch off the floor. The toes of the boots had spire-like devices that connected to a single frontal piece of armor. Three round iceblue orbs hovered above the armor.Caroha stepped in one pair of boots. Instantly, the suit shapeshifted. The armor raised, and the spire-like pieces got taller. The spires bent to touch the front of her legs, with a knee-joint appearing. The armor conformed to her chest armor, one of the orbs floated in front of her forehead, and the other two moved to the backs of her hands. Thin tubes extended from the backs of the foot pieces, and crisscrossed around the backs of her legs, her back, her arms, and the decorative V-shaped part of her body that rose from her shoulders over her head. Then formed a helmet of sorts. They also wrapped around the crossbow-like weapon she carried.Finally, a forcefield activated over her entire body, similar to the one in the eggcraft’s door. He noticed there was a tiny silver sphere in the center of the chest armor – apparently a small chronoserum power source.“These suits would protect us underwater?” Hujo guessed aloud. “Like the field the zoocraft just used while bringing in the debris?”Caroha nodded. “We won’t be able to bring this ship the whole way.”Hujo stepped into the other boots, and a similar transformation occurred, covering him entirely, including his Blue Fire Staff. When it sealed him in, he tried to move, and found it very difficult. Yet Caroha didn’t seem to have any trouble walking over to one of two seats in the front, and touching some controls underneath a computer screen. For a moment, he wondered if she was a clever villain that had tricked him into a strange cage… then he realized he could move. A little.She glanced back at his clumsy attempt to walk forward. “Sorry about that. That too will make sense soon. Make your way to this seat. While you come, I have to ask you one last question.”Hujo strenuously lifted a heavy leg and moved it forward. He found it hard to believe a suit that looked so lightweight could be so incredibly heavy. But then, Unknown seemed to love objects that defied physics. “Ask me what?”“Once you start on this journey, it will be a long time before you will experience peace and quiet again. Your life from now on will be a whirlwind. We’ll be constantly running, and sometimes we won’t know up from down. So my question is, are you sure you want to come?”Hujo lifted another leg, and walked forward. “Caroha, I’ve seen a friend die and then come back to life to save my life… at least twice, I now know. Another ‘friend’ pretended to die to save Jaller’s life, but actually faked his death to try to kill me. I’ve accidently created an entire island and trapped your whole people there, and I’ve weilded blue flames so hot I nearly melted myself. Besides that, I’ve endured a thousand years of Rahi raids.”He finally sat down in the chair… or rather dropped into it heavily. “I left peace and quiet behind a long time ago.”

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Bhukasa busied himself with anything he could think of while he awaited the Gukko scouts’ return. Anything to keep the sorrow at bay. Right now, that meant inspecting battle damage.“There’s a lavender sticky net thing on the railing over there,” Marka said. He had placed this Ga-Matoran shipwright in charge of repairs. He glanced at the purplish blobby substance. “The rope that snapped I can replace easily enough,” she continued, nodding towards the knot that held it in place now. “Only if necessary,” he said. “The knot should hold fine.”“And there’s something else that’s interesting… for two reasons… Look here.”She walked to the leftmost side of the railing on the main deck. Here, two wooden beams stuck out over the water, braced by diagonal trusses below. Between them on a roller hung a net. “Lean out on the beams, and look at the hull, just under the water line.”Bhukasa did so. At first, he saw nothing. Then he noticed how the water was behaving. Whenever a wave passed, the lowpoint of the surface seemed to pass inside the hull at one point, as if it was entering a hole. The way the water rippled off of the hull seemed different at that spot. Yet he still thought he saw no hole. He tilted his head, unsure what to make of it. “Have you checked that deck? Are we sinking?”Marka hesitated. “That’s the lowest deck. With the strange hatch you said you couldn’t unlock. But… get on the net, I’ll lower you down. It’s easier to just show you.”Bhukasa climbed out, and stood as best he could in the net – not easy as it refused to act anything like a flat surface. Steadying himself against the four ropes on its corners, he nodded at her. Marka turned the handle and lowered him. Soon he was just above the water and could see the strange spot clearly. The wood there was undamaged, but it was translucent. He reached one foot at it… and his foot passed through. “Intangible?” he wondered aloud.“I think so,” Marka replied. “But look at what’s behind it.”He saw it. Where he expected to see a wooden room flooding, he saw instead the same black metal as the strange hatch. There was a hull inside the hull, made not of wood but of… whatever this was. The water wasn’t acting like it was pouring in because it was still totally blocked.Bhukasa tapped the metal with his toe to be sure. A deep thud rang out, and it didn’t budge. Rock solid. He told Marka to raise him back up and continue her report. “That’s all we found so far,” she said as she cranked the net higher, “but we haven’t checked the rudder yet. I’ve got Pelagia rigging a rope to lower down to it now. Do you wanna look at it or should I?”“I will,” Bhukasa said. Anything to keep busy.Even now, the sorrow was still lurking just under the surface of his mind. Worse, he still saw flashes of vague images every few minutes. The visions felt like they were getting detailed, but going by so fast that as soon as they ended, he felt like he forgot whatever they were. But he wasn’t even sure of this; maybe no memories had actually surfaced at all. He wasn’t even sure they were really memories.

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A being existed in water. That was it, no body that it was aware of. Just water, a consciousness, and darkness. After a moment, it vaguely thought that it would like to move around, and it wouldn’t mind being able to see either. Pitch black. And then… faint blue light. The being now saw two blurry patches of earthen wall, lit by the blue light. It looked to the left, and the two patches of cast light followed the motion. It didn’t make the conscious connection that the light came from its own eyes, but it did appreciate the light.For several long moments, it admired the patterns of dim sparkling reflections the light made on the various particles of earth in the wall. Then it watched how the light bounced around on the water’s surface. The being was inside a mere trickle of water, seeping down the wall of a cave, deep underground. But the being didn’t feel the slightest tug of gravity; it floated weightless in the water because water was all it could exist in… as far as it knew. Nor did it feel pulled down by the current.A desire to test the theory of a watery limit almost came to the surface of its mind, but didn’t. Instead, it realized that for the past few minutes, it had not actually seen anything at all; instead it had only heard. Heard the trickle of water, heard the slight rumbles in the distance that were getting louder. It had been blind. Actually, it now realized it had been both blind and deaf, and had merely had a sense of smell. It sensed the traces of protodermic chemicals flowing through the water. It got some sense of the smells of Rahi creatures being carried through the water.Then it realized all five senses had existed on parallel tracks of thought, and for the next minute or so, it felt them all at once. The rumbling got deafening, and then was accompanied by a sight.A black and gray humanoid being burst out of the ground in the cave in front of the being. Black mask that looked like it was grinning toothily, but wasn’t really. Big black claws. Hunchback.The new person was the first such being the blue eyes had seen in any of the three times it remembered existing, not counting fish and the like. So it was understandably curious. But it couldn’t see the being very well. Black against barely any light.As if in response, the patches of blue light got stronger, casting the clawed being in brighter light. The clawed being responded to the change, and began turning towards the water being. This was the first time the water being felt a strong emotion. Until now, the only living things it had encountered had ignored it. It had been as if it didn’t really exist. But now, a being had noticed its blue eyes, and was turning to see it!But life is full of disappointments, and apparently it was time for one. Just as the clawed being’s head turned almost in line to see the two blue eyes in the stream of water… the feeling of a very distant tug returned. First the cave was cast into blackness again, except for the green light of the clawed being’s eyes. The water being’s last thought was that his two blue eyes had disappeared, though he could still see the other being’s green eyes. Then it was all replaced with blinding blue light.

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Toa Kopaka walked alongside Lewa through the cave. His blue eyes cast a slight light on the cave walls, as did his flashing heartlight, but for the most part, he had to glance at Lewa every few moments to tell where to go. Lewa’s Gold Kanohi included a Noble Mask of Night Vision.They did have lightstones, but they didn’t want to risk it. It was clear that they were near the Gahlok swarm. Cave walls that Kopaka could tell were normally dry were now seeping with water soaking through the earth from other tunnels the water robots were traveling through. They turned a corner, and Kopaka saw two green eyes at the other end of the tunnel.“Onua?” Lewa asked hesitantly.The green eyes nodded. Onua’s voice spoke.“Lewa? And… Kopaka?”“Sureguessed,” Lewa said, sounding singsongey now. Kopaka was mostly content to let the Air Toa do the talking, but he wished he didn’t have to sound like an Airhead while he did it…“Shh,” Onua said, holding up a barely visible clawed hand. “Listen.”The Toa of Earth leaned against the wall to Kopaka’s left, putting his ear to it, or so Kopaka assumed by how Onua’s green eyes cast light on a wall right next to his head.Kopaka leaned his ear against the wall too. He heard rushing water. Seemed pretty loud, too.“They’re just on the other side of this wall,” Onua whispered.

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Niaka had sat in silence for what felt like hours, when finally she heard distant sounds besides the occasional footsteps and distant voices on the ship. At one point, she distinctly heard the word ‘anchor.’Wherever we were going… we’ve arrived.Then she heard footsteps come closer. A being had entered the room, on the other side of the veil. Through the brown cloth, she saw only two red eyes glowing. It may have been her imagination, but they seemed… angry. Her heart skipped a beat. She could heard the being breathing… or rather see and feel it. Similar to the poetic voice she had heard earlier, this being’s very breaths rippled the cloth powerfully, and created a deep hum that shook the floor… yet she heard nothing that sounded like flowing air.Whatever happened next, she would not remember.

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Hujo looked at the controls of the tiny eggcraft. There did not seem to be any physical controls like those he’d seen in the zoocraft’s control room. Instead, there was a thin concave curved screen, as wide as a Toa was tall, but only about as tall as his hand. The screen was divided into different sections by glowing blue squares, and various indicators appeared in them. Then Caroha raised her right hand, and closed her eyes. Something happened on the screens – Hujo wasn’t sure what as he only saw it out of the corner of his eye – and Caroha jerked downwards slightly. As if she too now weighed as much as he did. A split second later, he felt as if he’d been bumped, but throughout his body and not in any particular direction. “I’ve now switched to mental command of the eggcraft instead of my suit,” Caroha said, “and activated inertial dampers. Without going into the technicalities, it means we’re ready to fly. Fast. We’re also cloaked.”The craft rose into the air, but Hujo felt a disconnect. On a Gukko bird, when the bird flew up, you felt tugged down, but Hujo didn’t feel as if they had moved at all. The craft jerked forward. Slammed into the wall of water. Hujo looked out the back window. A spray of bubbles trailed after them for a bit. He saw the huge zoocraft behind them, then it got smaller fast. Soon it was just a tiny egglike blur amongst a lot of deep blue. Yet he still felt as if they hadn’t moved.“So,” Caroha said, “where we are going.”“Yeah… I assumed you couldn’t get to another dimension by submarine.”“You have an advantage when teleporting between the Field and the Paracosmos,” she said. “The Field is a pocket dimension, so it always stays next to the Paracosmos. With the Cosmos and the Paracosmos, it’s a different story. For a year or two after the Event, I could teleport back and forth easily. But then they grew apart.”Hujo shook his head slightly. “How can a dimension be next to a dimension? To be honest, I’m not sure I get the whole dimensions thing.”“Well, have you ever seen a stream that branches into two streams?”“Not of water – water’s usually the other way around. Ta-Koro’s lava river did that in several places, as I mapped over the years, with two big splits. One river goes by Ta-Koro, and the villagers turned the other into a prime lavasurfing locale.”“And another question. Have you ever made a choice, but wondered what would have happened if you had made a different choice?”“Sure. Who doesn’t?”“What very few know is, you DID make the other choice. You simply made it in a different dimension. An Altacosmos. A different branch of your lava river. The shadow strings branching off of the Tapestry of Time, in the Legend of the Paracosmos.”Hujo narrowed his eyes, trying to picture it. He thought back to the time Kanoka had ‘died’, but then showed up at Kini-Nui as Hujo’s quest for the Blue Fire Staff drew to a close. When an infected Rahi had tried to knock Jala off into the lava near Ta-Koro, Kanoka the Most Trusted Guard had pushed him aside, and took the hit. Fell into the lava. Burned up. Given his life to save Jala. Hujo had seen it with his own eyes. But when Kanoka showed up alive at Kini-Nui, he claimed to have later awoken unharmed in the ocean, where the lava river emptied, the beneficiary of some imaginary hero with a sheild-projecting power and an obsession with secrecy – someone like an Unknown.He gave more details that almost convinced Hujo he was telling the truth, but said there was more to the story. The rest, he only dared to tell Hujo alone. Hujo had faced a key choice in that moment. Go alone with Kanoka to hear him out? Or refuse to believe him, and demand he speak his piece in front of the others, if he truly was good? Hujo had heard from Lewa already about the Rahunga, and how they apparently often faked their deaths. Kanoka’s incident fit that pattern too closely for comfort. And yet, Hujo’s life had depended on Kanoka for so long… as the best guard the island had, who had fought off so many infected Rahi, Hujo found it very hard to believe he could possibly be evil. Much less want to kill him. He had come within inches that day of going alone with Kanoka. Instead, he had picked up on a tiny slip-up in Kanoka’s story, and demanded an explanation. He had felt stubborn and foolish, obsessing over that one little detail, but he was scared, and now he was glad he’d done it. When Kanoka refused to explain, asking Hujo to instead just trust him, Hujo had refused to go with him. It was then that Kanoka had transformed into a Rahunga form, and began a long battle aimed at killing Hujo. His life had depended on that choice, perhaps more than any other before or since. It was only due to his friends being with him that they’d been able to survive the Rahunga’s attacks together.Now, Hujo imagined the choice he had made as one of the branches of the lava river. Then, he imagined a different branch of the lava river was the opposite choice. In his mind’s eye, he followed the events of the first lava river, up until today. Then he followed the events of the other lava river. Kanoka would have killed him. The Blue Fire Staff would have remained hidden. Kanoka would have had no chance of redemption. All the help Hujo had given Toa Kopaka on his quest to stop Rathoa would have been gone.The Third Faction would have chosen some other Matoran to use to create Twisted Island, and whoever it was, probably wouldn’t have been able to solve the mystery in time. The Unknown would have remained trapped there for a very long time… and war would be awaiting them if they ever did escape. One or more of the Toa would have certainly been killed by the Ghomboka, turning them back into their physical super-Kriitunga forms, and making their wild ploy for power in the mutagenic sands ultimately pay off after all. Mata Nui may have never had a chance of being awakened.Hujo shuddered. If an ‘Altacosmos’ existed out there of those events, he pitied its inhabitants…“Now,” Caroha continued. “Look at my shoulder fins. See how this part of my armor forms a V-shape? The two fins out start close together at my shoulders, but then get farther apart.”“So,” Hujo said, “the two lava rivers get farther apart as you travel downstream. Or… up.”“Right.”“But, I thought the Legend of the Paracosmos said that it was parallel to the Cosmos? How could it get farther away?”“Compared to the vast majority of other Altacosmoses, it is parallel.” She shapeshifted slightly, making her shoulder fins bend farther apart. “But it’s not perfectly parallel on the whole; events do diverge to some extent. What happened with Twisted Island was the biggest divergance we’ve seen in a long time, and probably for a long time to come. That made it even harder to get home… I mean, to the Cosmos.”“Why does Convergeance happen?” he asked. “Do you know?”“Do I know why? Yes and no. I might know, I might not. I have an opinion. You do not know, and you are the Jahurungi. That is one thing I ask you to discover on your own.”Hujo sighed out loud. “Fine.” He turned to the window, watching the water rushing by. The craft was curving rapidly around any fish or such creatures in the water, without him feeling any of it. He felt like he was watching a mere illusion. “So… right now, we’re going…?”“We’re going to… cheat.”

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Niaka awoke among plants. That was the first thing she noticed. The second was that she now wore a mask on her face again.She sat up abruptly, and looked around. Some of the other Matoran were standing around her in a jungle. They looked relieved. Niaka remembered vaguely that she had been attacked in that room. She had seen the Kuambu again, but now her memory of it was blurred. She’d been terrified, but now she couldn’t remember why.The attack had rendered her unconscious, probably so she wouldn't see the rest of the ship's interior. Obviously, she had been carried off the boat and placed here. But where was here?

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#7 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Dec 26 2011 - 12:47 PM

Chapter 6

The rudder’s axle was damaged, Bhukasa saw, but functional.He’d climbed down the rope Pelagia had made, gripping it gently so his scissorclaws wouldn’t just cut through it, taken a deep breath, and plunged into the water.The rudder’s lowermost corner was chipped clean off. Looking closely, Bhukasa thought he saw specks of… what? Metal? Something not wooden, but it was hard to tell, and he needed to breathe. The important point was, whatever sea Rahi or shallow spot they’d collided with hadn’t impaired their ability to sail.Still, he thought, it would be better to have Marka and Pelagia cut a replacement axle from the extra wood they had brought. Just in case.He emerged from the ocean water, took a breath, and blew out of his mouth to blast the salty taste away from his scaly lips.Then he climbed up to the helm deck, and gave orders for the spare axle.And the inspection would logically be over.“I’m going to keep looking around,” he told them without hesitation. “See if… you know, maybe you missed something…”They agreed politely, but Bhukasa knew they probably took it as an insult. He didn’t care. He didn’t want the inspection to be over.Before he started, he turned to Ruugon and the others. “Any luck with navigation?”The Po-Matoran sighed. “It’s all up to the Gukko scout now.”

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The water being existed again. Or perhaps it had existed all along, but simply lapsed in and out of consciousness?It felt a moment of pride that it had managed to piece together enough coherent thought to even wonder that question. Thought had not been its strong suit ever since it had become aware.Next, it wondered something else. Who am I?But no answer came, so the being turned back to what it had become good at. Observing.Now, it floated inside open water. It registered two senses at the moment; it saw a breathtaking vista of multicolored sea life spread across a sandy floor lit by a much larger version of the familiar rippling light from the ocean surface above, and it tasted the bitter tang of salt water.Or it would have been breathtaking if the being breathed.As it was, it simply stared in awe. This was the first time it had been in a body of water of any true size. Looking around at the blue horizon… it seemed to never end.It tried to focus on the variety of sea life – more than it had yet seen – but something distracted it.There was a… something… passing through the water. Whatever it was somehow interfered with its vision. When it tried to look in that direction, its vision failed, yet its vision did not fail. It felt sure that it registered – dimly – the scene behind the something. But not the something.Yet, it did sense the something.On some other sense it hadn’t yet realized it had, and didn’t understand, it ‘saw’ radiating rays of energy, ‘heard’ crackling sounds, and ‘felt’ as if it was being tugged at faintly by the something, almost like the tugs that had previously cut off its times of existence.But this time, that distant tug did not come.Instead, the being sensed the something travel through the water. The being followed.After a few minutes, the something reached a darkness that cut across the seafloor.

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“The Ninakorr Deep Sea Trench,” Caroha said as Hujo saw the line of darkness in the otherwise fairly bright sand ahead of them on the seafloor. “To the southeast of Mata Nui.”Hujo remembered hearing the Chronicler tell of a time when Toa Gali searched for a mask here. He hadn’t really paid attention to the details. Now, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe at the incredibly wide chasm and the vast array of colors the fish, seaweed, and other things decorated it with.The eggcraft reached the lip of the chasm, slowed down, and turned downward.“How aren’t we falling forward?” he wondered aloud.“This craft was designed with Gravity Kanoka material in the floorplates, and Gravity Shielding layers on the hull. Hear that slight tapping noise all around? That’s tiny robotic arms constantly tapping the Kanoka layers to keep the powers active.”“Is this why you said we won’t know up from down sometimes?”“Partly. I meant it both literally and figuratively.”Hujo just blinked at that. He hadn’t really considered that someone could mean two things at once by one statement. Was this something the Unknown did often?The walls of the chasm got progressively darker and darker.Then they passed a wide ledge dotted with many giant, elegant creatures.Each looked like a shell of glass, shaped something like a teardrop, pointed part aimed back, but three spires aiming forward out of the rounded part. The fleshy parts inside the glass shells glowed whitish orange.This was one detail he remembered from Takua’s tale of Gali’s mask quest. The glass-shells’ outer surface was not actually glass, but a very hard clear type of protodermis that resembled soft but tough tree bark, of the papery sort. This was so the glass-shells could dive deep into the trench, where the intense water pressure would kill most beings.The eggcraft dove still further. Ahead, Hujo saw one of the glass-shells diving. Its glow was dimmer than the others – it was going down to eat.Soon the eggcraft passed the glass-shell. A moment later, it passed another, coming up from below and shining more brightly than the others – it had just eaten.Then they began to pass Rahi of a totally different sort.Rhijokki Giant Deep Sea Fish, he remembered was the name. They were giant black fish with yellow-black ghoulish eyes, covered in big spines, and showing off huge black teeth even bigger than the spines.They were ugly personified.And they had a temper that was just as ugly. Worse, the reach of the Rahunga’s infection powers had even touched them; many still wore infected masks, though now that Teridax was dead, Hujo assumed the masks had little influence on them, if any.Regardless, the cloaking field worked perfectly, and the Rhijokki ignored them as they passed deeper into black water.And then, Hujo saw and heard the most awe-inspiring creatures he had ever imagined. All he remembered from the tale was that Gali claimed to have heard a symphony and seen a shining pink alien forest.Now he understood – on the floor of the trench far below, pink light radiated from several creatures, each easily larger than a Koro.They each had sixteen radial roots, and hundreds of shining pink tendril arms, with rounded arrowhead designs on the tips. Between and around the arms, the light seemed to spread unnaturally beyond even the brilliant shine of the arms themselves, in a glowing pink haze of energy.Glass-shells floated amongst the arms peacefully. They seemed to be absorbing the pink energy floating in the water.Besides the sights, the sounds were astonishing. Deep resonating musical horns, it sounded like, combined with a gritty deep rumble and the occasional high-pitched, high-volume trumpet sound that echoed dreamily off the walls of the trench.And Hujo felt a chill down his spine as he realized he was hearing the symphony not just with his ears, but in his mind!“Is that… a soulsong?” he exclaimed.“The Jahurungi is further along his path,” Caroha replied, smiling.“But how…” His voice trailed off.He gripped the Blue Fire Staff tighter, increasing his soulsong sense.He felt the same symphony more strongly, and also felt that the audible version was not being created by any vocal organs or anything else physical, but by the sheer power of these creatures’ minds. They might look like dumb alien plants, but the intelligence he sensed dwarfed any other mind he’d ever read the song of.“They are guardians,” Caroha whispered.“Guarding what?” he asked, unsure why he too was whispering, but it felt right to be quiet in the face of this symphony.“Guarding a lot,” she said, smiling again. “Guarding where we’re going now.”“Will they let us pass?”“They are already doing so.”Hujo didn’t see what she meant. As impressive as their size, appearance, and sound were, they still seemed to be doing nothing that glorified seaweed wouldn’t do. “What would they do if they weren’t letting us pass?”“Those tendrils can move like Pohatu using a Kakama, and hit us with powerful telekinetic energy. It would push us away the first time even faster than we were going before we entered the trench. If we tried a second time… then it would get violent.”Now Hujo saw movement. The eggcraft had reached the tallest of the tendrils, and Hujo noticed that the arms were moving aside for them. “It can see through our cloak?”“Not see – hear. It has a soulsong sense like yours, but much less fallible.”He thought back to Takua’s tale of Gali. He thought the Chronicler had said Gali had fooled both the Rhijokki and the strange musical seaweed things at the bottom of the trench. Clearly, Gali had only thought she fooled these guardians. The creatures must have let her pass on purpose.“How does it tell who to stop and who to let pass?”“Have you ever noticed a difference between the soulsongs of evil beings and those of good?”“Sure. Evil soulsongs are more discordant, violent… dark.”“Exactly. The Kuambu call those darkminds. We are lightminds, and it can tell.”The eggcraft reached the roots of the creatures without incident. Hujo wanted to ask how much she knew about the Kuambu and if that was something she’d reveal, but he was distracted by what happened next.Now the craft reached what looked like a dark cave, and went inside.Caroha leaned forward slightly, and the control screen changed; an indicator light of some kind came on. At the same time, a headlight apparently switched on outside, illuminating the dark tunnel.“I didn’t see headlights,” Hujo murmured.“I decloaked us,” Caroha explained. “The cloaking field projects some light as part of its function. I’ve diverted that light to a headlight effect instead, from the orbs.”Hujo nodded. These orbs seemed to be the ultimate multipurpose technology. Levitation, propulsion, airsheilds, telekinesis, cloaking, and now headlights. No wonder Caroha said it was valuable.Then another strange thing happened.The rock cave ended… and was replaced by another tunnel that did NOT look natural.Its walls were bluish gray, and perfectly smooth. Hujo thought it resembled protoplastic – a substance some Le-Matoran made from tree wax – except this also had a slight metallic sheen. He didn’t remember this from the Chronicler’s tale… if he’d heard about it, his Jahurungi mind would have been fascinated.The tunnel curved, and Hujo saw air ahead. Now that he thought about it, he did remember Takua mentioning air where air should not be.Now the tunnel was horizontal; he could tell because there was some sand in patches on its floor, although Caroha had the eggcraft’s floor upside down. In a moment, she tilted them right side up. And they continued along the strange tunnel.Hujo’s mind made a connection. “Does this have to do with Metru Nui?”“It does,” she said slowly – she was obviously concentrating. The eggcraft was only just smaller than the tubelike tunnel, giving them mere inches to manuever. He kept quiet after that, letting her focus.The tunnel now angled upward – there was no more sand up here. It twisted and turned seemingly randomly for a ways.Then they reached a point where it angled sharply downward and got wider. He saw the hole go down about twenty feet or so, and then end abruptly. At the bottom, there was a puddle, lit from below by what looked like a lightstone vein running through the floor. Only the walls were of the strange plasticlike material; the floor was a grainy-looking brown rock.“This is as far as we can ride,” Caroha announced, as she brought the craft to a stop at the bottom. “I’m recloaking the craft, but it’s not really necessary. The guardians will keep it safe.”“Where can we go? I see a dead end.”“You’ll see.” She stood up, and walked to the door. Hujo noticed she once again moved effortlessly, but he still felt like he weighed as much as a Manas crab.But he didn’t complain – surely there was a good reason. He just walked.They stepped out into the puddle. Caroha went up to the wall in one place.She shapeshifted. Her V-shaped shoulder fins lessened in size, and from her shoulderplates, two blue and silver wings sprouted. Each resembled another arm, with four large pivoting featherblades coming out of each of the ‘forearms.’ The tubes and forcefield of the special armor suit shapeshifted to cover the wings too.Then she touched the wall in seemingly random places with her two hands, one foot, and all eight of the featherblades.“Caroha,” she said.As if in response, a circular portion of the wall pulled inwards slightly, and slid aside. A new tunnel was revealed behind it.He’d seen the owner of the zoocraft do something similar to get into a special room on that vehicle. It was a security procedure, essentially, and he knew what came next. There was a blue forcefield blocking the way – and only Caroha and someone she was touching could now pass through.She walked halfway into the forcefield and held out her hand. He took it, and they both stepped through.Then the door slid closed behind them.Hujo looked down this new tunnel. All he saw was more grayish blue plastic-metal – the tunnel curved to the right just ahead.Caroha didn’t walk down it.Instead, she turned and faced him. “This is where the danger starts.”

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The blue-eyed being had traveled down into the trench for a ways, following the something. It knew it was a blue-eyed being, because its two lamp-like blue patches of dim light were now shining on the dark trench wall.At one point, something else interesting had happened.It spotted a humanoid being underwater, hiding amongst thick seaweed on a thin shelf a ways down. The blue eyed being couldn’t quite make out what the being looked like through the thick plants, but it was clearly watching the something descend.Then the blue eyed being had continued following the something – the hidden being did not seem to notice.But it felt bored by the trench. It felt as if it had been there before, although it didn’t actually remember it. Surely nothing that interesting could be down there.It wanted to go back up and look at the colorful sea life it had been distracted from.So it did. In just minutes, its consciousness and senses zoomed up through the water to where the light was a bright blue again. Its motion did not seem to cause any change in the water around it. It was intangible… or something like that. It wasn’t thinking clearly enough now to care.On its way up, it noticed the hidden being was gone from the seaweed.It zoomed up to a fish with a big sail-like scaly fin above and below its body, a metal helmet-like armor on its head, ribbed metal supports along the side of its body, and two scaly fins on its left and right held in balljoints. Its eyes glowed purple, and its scales alternated between orange and yellow.Then the being zoomed up to another fish. This was gray, but the light reflected off its scales and metal components interestingly.Zoomed to another creature. This was not a fish; it was a five-pointed starlike shape, with no metal visible at all, colored orange. The blue eyed being saw that the creature was moving slightly, and wondered how.So it swam underneath the creature. It had a vague sense that it had shrunk in size to fit. It now saw many tiny suction-cups on short stalks pointed down from the creature’s underside, but they appeared like giant trees compared to the being.It moved out and returned to what it felt was a normal size, at least in terms of the width of its glowing eyes.Zoom. Bluegreen seaweed. It was slightly translucent – a large gray shark behind it was totally visible through the blades of the plant. For a moment, the being felt a pang of fear at the predatory bullet-nose of the shark, but then the blue eyed being sensed that, whatever it was, it could not be physically harmed.So instead of swimming away, it swam right into the shark’s mouth – it fit easily without shrinking. In fact, it grew in size slightly to fill the entire inside of the mouth, and looked out from the hundreds of rows of sharp teeth.The shark darted forward, chasing a blue and red striped fish. The fish ducked into a small cave, and the shark gave up the chase.For a tiny moment, the being thought it saw the scene through the shark’s eyes. And it felt disappointment that it hadn’t caught its snack.Then it was shaken loose from the shark, and saw it swim away. The being felt dizzy and disoriented. Had it actually seen through the shark’s eyes, or had the shark simply started swimming faster and it had passed through the shark’s body?Could it even pass through solids? It didn’t know, so it zoomed up to the nearest rock, and tried to enter it.It felt itself go slightly in. Its eyes registered the grainy surface of the rock, and then for a split second, it saw different grains, as its vision pushed inside the rock.But in that moment, it felt the slightest hint of the distant tug, and became disoriented again.NO! I must NOT leave yet!It jerked itself backwards, and its senses returned. But now they were split into separate tracks again. It could only hear. It could only see. It could only feel the water. And yet, all of them happened at once. Parallel.I had a sense of ‘I’! it thought happily. There I did it again! And again!After a moment, its different senses converged again, and it felt whole. It was still in the ocean. It turned and watched the shark swim away. It still wasn’t quite sure what had happened, but now it no longer cared – it had a greater milestone to revel in.The being then wondered. Would air act the same for it as the rock? Rocks and sharks were solid, but air was more like a liquid – how it knew that, it had no idea.So up it zoomed to the surface.For a moment, it just admired the upside-down wave effect. It was as if it was looking down at the surface of the ocean from the air – except it was an ocean of air. The thought made it feel slightly dizzy again, and it briefly forgot which way was up and which was down.Then it inched closer to the air, curiosity overwhelming it.It pushed into the air slightly. It worked…But the familiar distant tug came again, and the being instinctively ducked back down into the water.But then it noticed something odd about the rippling light on the surface.It was now rippling away in a circle. From where the blue eyed being had touched the air.I moved the water.It tried again, this time focusing on the water. I don’t want to enter the air. I want to raise the water up. Form a head.And so it did. It was extremely difficult; it felt the water slipping downward, but the harder it shouted at the water in its mind to stick on him, the more a bulbous lump of water rose above the ocean surface with the blue eyes inside it.Finally, it came to a stop and reveled in its new form -- a ball of water with eyes, atop a long and thin neck that reached just above the waves.The neck started out wide at the base, then curved to be more narrow than the seaweed leaves in the middle, then wider to merge into the ball shape. The being sensed that if it tried to reach higher, the narrow part would split, the ball of water would fall, and the distant tug would instantly take him away.So it just held on as best it could, continually shouting at the water, STAY UP! STAY UP! NO, DON’T SLIDE DOWN! MORE WATER COME UP AGAIN NOW! STAY UP!Then, it dared to risk focusing somewhat on what it could see above the ocean surface.Which was endless water, for the most part. It did see a fish jump once. But nothing else.That was okay. It enjoyed watching the waves – and riding them. Its neck’s base stayed in one spot while the waves moved, so it was effectively bobbing up and down.It was fun. One moment, it was at a low point, its eyes just barely reaching above the nearest waves. The next, it was rising up, its range of vision becoming wider, and a sense of height filling it. At the very top, it could see the whole horizon clearly. Then down again, then up again. Whee!Slowly, it turned around in a circle, looking at the clouds that ringed the horizon. They formed a wide variety of ever-changing shapes. It felt like it could watch them for hours.But then something else distracted it.There was a shape on the horizon.It was very faint, almost hidden behind the blueing effect of so much air between the being and whatever it was. A dark line reaching up from the horizon.Perhaps cylindrical. Seemed to be colored grayish brown. A hint of green at its top.The surprise of this sight shocked the being, and it lost focus on the water. NO!Panicking, it dove down as the water fell, and it plunged into the water before the distant tug or the disorientation came.Then it looked towards the line on the horizon again.It thought it still saw the line underwater, wider than above, but the shape was so faint the being would never have noticed it without first seeing the above-water part; water created a much stronger blueing-out effect. It realized it was now looking at the underwater base of a tiny but towering island.The island was located directly on a perpendicular line from this spot of the trench.That’s important somehow, it sensed. But then it began to feel the distant tug again, as if its purpose for existing in this place had now ended.No!It zoomed towards the island, desperate to see more things about it. It wondered if it had a speed limit, and shouted at itself to go faster and faster.And faster it did go, but bright blue light slowly superimposed over everything it saw – not just its vision, but a sad kind of white noise over its hearing, intensely bland smell and taste, and enough sense of touch that it felt like it was being pummeled on every side by pounding water.NOT NOW! NOT YET! WAIT! WAIT! it shouted at the distant tug, but the tug did not care. Mercilessly, it got stronger and stronger, the light brighter and brighter, as water, fish, and seafloor zoomed past faster and faster and faster…Then nothing but pure blue.

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Niaka stood up, and looked around. She was definitely in a jungle of some kind.There were a fair amount of clearings, but for the most part it was dense trees and ground foliage. The trees were no taller than four or five times a Toa’s height, like those she was used to in Ga-Wahi.But they were mostly made of very thick, entangled above-ground roots and split trunks, the higher parts of which were covered in smaller leafy twigs instead of any in-between sizes of branches. It was very different from the mostly cylindrical tree trunks at home. Each tree almost gave the impression of being a small jungle.This was combined with very thick smaller plants that choked the ground and numerous vines that crisscrossed the trees. She didn’t hear very many Rahi sounds in the trees.“Have you looked around?” Niaka asked the others.“Yes,” Kewonga said. “Look over there.”He pointed towards a spot of blue sky on the horizon through the trees. She also saw what looked like a tall wooden fence partially obscuring her view of the sky.She ran towards it. Any time now, she thought – judging by where the sun was in the sky – Toa Tahu would be using his Telecommunication mask power to check in on them, according to Turaga Matau. Best to have some information to give him.She emerged into a clearing that lined the fence, and went up to the structure… or rather, she almost did. When she got too close to it, she felt a mysterious force push her away. Slid back a foot or two.The fence’s wood was brown, but she now saw that it was covered in some kind of hardened gel-like substance that was translucent blue. Sparkles of light appeared in it.“It’s a power nulling slime,” Kewonga said. “I’ve heard of such a thing… well, it doesn’t matter where. Distant past. My mask won’t work near it. It also prevents you from nearing it.”She looked beyond it.Where she expected to see more land, she saw only what looked like the edge of a cliff right against the base of the fence, and a distant horizon. She got a dizzying sense of being very high up.“As best as I can determine,” Kewonga said, “We’re atop a small but extremely tall cylindrical island. And yes, the fence rings the whole island. And there’s more. Come.”Niaka followed, making one last glance at the fence. She now realized it was very high, on vertical beams that started out as wide as the trees and tapered to a point at the top. It reached well above the trees. There was no escaping that way.“So it’s a prison,” she mumbled.Kewonga didn’t answer. They walked back to the others.Then Niaka noticed she only saw four Matoran standing, besides herself and Kewonga.The seventh lay on the ground, not moving. The eighth was missing.The one on the ground was Vamuka.“Is he…?”“He’s alive,” Kewonga said. “You remember you lost your mask?”She touched her face. She was wearing Vamuka’s mask, a black Kaukau.“He volunteered it. You and him can trade that mask. I tried to use my mask to somehow slow the onset of the coma, but I failed. Maybe if you trade constantly, within a minute or so, you’ll both be able to stay conscious. That’s the best I can think of.”Niaka allowed the emotion of this all to hit her then.She was amazed that someone would give up his mask for her, even with the trading idea. She wasn’t sure she deserved it, even if she was sort of the leader of this group. She was sad… and furious… that it was necessary. The Kuambu would pay, if she could help it. And she felt like she could, somehow.She looked around at the others. “Where is Korau?”Kewonga led her in the direction he had been heading. “The circle of the top of this island is divided into two halves,” he said.As they walked, she noticed there were two other beings on their half of the island. Other prisoners of the Kuambu. A large bulky beast with four legs, a tail, and two stubby, mostly useless wings. And a small white and sandblue centaur-like being with a knifelike tail, that wore a mask of a type she’d never seen before.The short centaur being waved kindly at them. “Always nice to meet new good people,” he said, “despite the circumstances.”She smiled back, but said nothing. How did he know she was good? Then again, Kewonga and the others had probably already talked with him.The other one said nothing – it appeared to be nothing more than a beast.Then she saw another fence ahead of them.Behind it were more trees like these. There were beings trapped on that side too.One was a giant humanoid being that wore no mask, colored blue. He looked upset.Another being looked like a Toa, but the expression on his face was off, as if he was staring into the distance dreamily, yet was frowning at the same time.Kewonga pointed to their left.Where the divider fence met the border fence, there was something odd. Niaka had to stare for a second to understand it.It was a slope of black metal, rising higher as it got towards the cliff edge. Then there was a circle that was darker in the side at the high point, and yet faint sparkles of light inside, she thought.She ran up to it.The circle was an open doorway. Inside was a black room, with an identical door on the other side. It looked like she should be able to walk right through to the other semicircle. To the right, a tunnel angled down under the sloping part underground.Korau.The Po-Matoran chef was sitting just on the other side of the far door, arms crossed, a frustrated look on his face. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he was pouting.She stepped forward.But ran right into a wall. Light rippled and sparked in the air in front of her. A forcefield.“And look at that,” Kewonga said, pointing up.Hanging high on the border fence, just to the left of the divider fence, there was a wooden sign. On it white paint showed a single word, once in Matoran, and in several other languages below it.“Lightminds.”Then her eyes drifted to the right. There was another sign hanging on the other side. That word was painted in black.Her eyes continued down to look at the chef in astonishment.Korau was a Darkmind.

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#8 Online bonesiii

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Posted Dec 30 2011 - 03:13 PM

Chapter 7

Bhukasa was finally rescued from his uneventful inspection by the return of the Gukko scouts.The orange-brown bird glided in, the green forcefield energy between its featherblades working like a parachute, and landed gently on the prow. Bhukasa stood there to meet them.Vira and Nabmaia greeted him. “We have two newsbits,” Vira reported. “We found the Kuambu one-boat.”“Their mast?”“Broken-still, and... the mast was sunkgone. We didn’t them-see, and we don’t think they spyspotted us either.”That was good, although Bhukasa couldn’t imagine why the wooden mast would sink… “The other news?”“We landfound.” Vira pointed in the direction they had just flown in from.“Kriitunga Island?” Twayzivl asked hopefully.“Sorryno. Not sandland. Treeforest. Tinysmall. ”Bhukasa sighed. So they’d gone totally off-course.“How close?”“Notfar. Just overpast the horizon.”“Any sign of a Kuambu presence?”“None. It looked wildmuch. No hutpeople. We did see a strange whiterock on overfly, though. Biground. Clearspeckled.”More flashes of vague memories hit Bhukasa at that. That place sounded familiar. But he couldn’t remember anything more than the feeling.He narrowed his eyes. “We’ll quickly check it out. Ruugon, Nireta, chart a course, and Maku, take us along it. Everyone else, please bear with me on this – I know we need to get to Kriitunga Island, but I have a… feeling this may be important to the mystery of the Kuambu.”Nobody objected.So the boat turned. With the wind still dead, the Haze Glow Beasts went down to the oar deck to paddle. And then… well, then nothing else interesting happened for a while.That’s the problem with sailing, Bhukasa thought. It can be so interesting and surprising at times. Mostly it’s just boring.And with that, back came the sadness. This time it refused to stay just below the surface.“I’ll be in my quarters,” Bhukasa told the others. “To… get the other tracker compass. We’ll be doing some exploring…” He was making it up as he went, and he feared they could tell.So he just stopped, and left.

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The blue-eyed being woke up in a small puddle inside a bowl of tan stone.Where am I? it wondered… Then it took a moment to cheer that it could still see itself as an ‘I’.The stone was glassy, charred in places. It seemed somewhat like sandstone – in fact, grains of sand could be seen beyond the clearer glassy parts in places. But the surface that touched the water was smooth.The water seemed clearer somehow than most of the water it had been in before.Definitely fresh water.The small pool was too small for most of the fish the blue-eyed being had encountered so far, and in fact it was devoid of any life forms, except itself.There was a bright sun in the clear blue sky. Not much else to see.The being was bored again.Time to make a head.It was about to, when two eyes peered over the pool.A being much like the clawed being, but much shorter, and much browner. It wore a mask on its face, the blue-eyed being realized. Had yellow eyes.The brown being lowered a bucket into the pool, filled it with water, and quickly left. Didn’t notice the blue-eyed being, which was disappointing.Then it realized something had changed.There was more blue light in the pool. Same colors as the being’s eyes. But there was no distant tug.The light came from the edges of the pool. The being narrowed its eyes, and looked at the surface line.The water was rising.Back to where it was, before the bucket-carrier had taken some.No sooner had the being realized this, than a different source of blue light blanked its vision, along with the hated tug.

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A Po-Matoran named Kuhauha carried the bucket away from the Lightning Well.After drawing water from this well for hundreds of years, Kuhauha no longer thought about how strange the phenomenon was. But he definitely appreciated it – Po-Koro was in a desert, after all.He had been there during the thunderstorm in which it had formed.One minute, rain was pouring – a rarity in Po-Koro, causing some flash floods in fact – and lightning was rumbling through the clouds. The next minute, there was a deafening clap of thunder from right behind the Koro.A bolt of lightning had struck the sand just outside the stone wall that surrounded the village.The lightning had melted the sand, fusing it into a crater of glass. But it had also done something else, which happened occasionally when conditions were right. The resulting glass got the protodermic power of water.The small crater filled with water.The next day, when some Po-Matoran, including Kuhauha, inspected the village’s surroundings for flash flood damage, they stumbled upon the new well. When they cupped their hands to drink from it, the well glowed blue and created new water to refill it.They’d been using the well ever since. Nobody knew what it used as a power source. It simply seemed to be endless.Today, Kuhauha had something else on his mind.He was out for water early today, and he’d be back several times today. To stock up for a possible seige.Because just minutes ago, the watchtower guards had spotted smoke to the south.Tahnok.Coming this way.

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Mukana waited patiently while the Turaga stayed behind closed doors.The Ko-Rahunga didn’t blame them for their distrust. Hadn’t he himself fought hard against Toa Kopaka? Hadn’t he spent years infecting the creatures of Ko-Wahi?He only hoped they’d give him and the others a chance to redeem themselves. Most of the Rahunga had been as deceived by Makuta as the Turaga had been by the Rahunga – Mukana included. Mukana had been furious when he had caught Makuta lying to them before the showdown with the Toa.He glanced at Tahu again.The Fire Toa had taken Vakama’s command literally, and hadn’t looked away from them once. Mukana imagined the sight of a powerful Toa looking so warily at two little Matoran would seem quite strange to anyone who didn’t know what the Rahudermis had enabled them to become.Then he looked away. Again. Glanced at Kanoka, then away.The truth was, even Mukana wasn’t sure about Kanoka.The Ta-Rahunga had been a mystery to him ever since he’d heard that Kanoka had joined Makuta’s side many years ago. He had been frankly the greatest fear of all Rahunga before that – the one person they assumed would never betray the Turaga and who could back that loyalty up with incredible battle skills, even without the empowering hatred and mutagenic powers of the Rahudermis.Then, he had joined the Rahunga’s side.Apparently not because he believed the lie that the Turaga were the evil ones and Makuta was good – he had proclaimed it a lie after hearing the evidence, something very few recruits dared to do. But then he had joined after Rathoa had beaten him in an intense one-on-one battle that burned down the trees that would later be called the Charred Forest.Even forgetting all the brilliantly deceptive and murderous ploys Kanoka had used, Mukana wasn’t sure he understood the vibes he got from the Ta-Matoran ever since he’d led them back to the Turaga’s side.Part of him wondered if Kanoka had all along kept loyal to the Turaga in some way.Part of him wondered if he wasn’t in truth loyal to the Brotherhood still, and maybe even to the thread of a chance that Makuta could still be revived. It was, after all, a big part of what Teridax told his Rahunga that he recruited them for. Insurance in the case of his death.But how could Mukana judge?Him not being able to understand the greatest warrior on the island wasn’t really surprising. Someone of that skill obviously knew things others didn’t, and maybe that explained the strange vibe about him.Mukana wouldn’t have even thought of Kanoka’s point about outing the village Rahunga only driving them further away. It didn’t feel like the sort of thing a villain who didn’t care about people’s hearts would even think of.He continued to mull over these things for several minutes.Finally, the doors opened.Turaga Vakama led the other five Turaga out. “We aren’t done, but it’s time for updates, Tahu. We need your Rikaori power.”The Toa of Fire nodded, while still staring at the Rahunga. Mukana couldn’t help but feel a bit irritated that they weren’t done.Vakama looked at him, then at Kanoka. “We do not wish for either of you to hear what will be said now. Please stand on the other side of the room.”Mukana hesitated, feeling a bit insulted. But Kanoka just said, “Yes, Turaga,” as if it was a perfectly normal order, and walked over.Mukana followed after a moment, trying to remind himself to be patient with them.“Tahu, you have an Inakko Mask of Combination in your Gold Kanohi, yes?” the fire elder continued.Tahu nodded.“Use it to combine the power of the Mua Mask of Silence with your Rikaori. Concentrate on us six Turaga, and also on the people we contact, and we should be able to hear each other, without these two being able to.”Tahu said, “Yes, Vakama,” sounding much like Kanoka had a moment ago. Then he stopped sounding like anything.Vakama’s eyes made direct contact with Mukana, and held it. The elder started talking without making any sounds, presumably to Tahu, but his eyes never left Mukana’s face.The white Matoran just struggled to keep his face calm.

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Blue Eyes existed again.That was what it decided to call itself. Blue Eyes. B. E.BE.It was the first attempt at anything poetic it had made, although it didn’t know enough to call it that. It just came from a natural desire to have a name.This time, Blue Eyes was in a swamp again. This was much muddier than the one it had been in before, which it did not appreciate. It could barely see anything. Just brown, brown, brown.So it slowly inched upwards, trying to touch its eyes to the surface without accidently pushing through to the air.Finally, its eyes touched the air. Stopped.This perspective made it dizzy. With no sense of gravity – indeed, the only way it had found the surface was by moving towards the brighter light – it felt like it was looking forward. But forward was up. Trees reached ‘forward’ away from it, and vines hung towards it, as if the whole world had been tilted on its side.Blue Eyes blinked, and tried to rethink what it was seeing. It imagined it was the clawed being, or the bucket-carrying being, laying on its back. This helped. The dizziness lessened.For a long time, it just stayed there, listening to the myriad Rahi sounds, watching for the slightest hint of one of the animals.Then it saw something.Not an animal. A bipedal being much like the bucket-carrier. Colored green and brown. Running and leaping from branch to branch, high above.Moving impossibly fast.Distant tug. Blue light.

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A green and brown Matoran reached the southern coast of Le-Metru. His name was Ito – the Jungedweller.To others, Ito was strange and mysterious, possessing knowledge that virtually nobody else knew, even after having revealed several secrets already. And nobody knew how he could move so fast through the jungle.They did know about his insurance, though. He was heading into an invasion of Kuambu, so he had his invisible bird friend fly close to him. At any time, Ito could reach out and touch the bird, and become invisible too. He could even ride on its back, and hopefully avoid any Kuambu attacks.Moments ago, Tahu’s voice had spoken to Ito.The Toa of Fire, who was with the Turaga at Kini-Nui, had just spoken with Niaka. Ito was told that she and seven other Matoran had been tasked with spying on this invasion. And they’d been captured.Sorrydumb decision, Ito couldn’t help but think. Why had the Turaga not asked him to do it? And of all the Matoran on the island, he alone had the guts to say so to their face… well, okay, to their disembodied voices.“Because you’re too valuable to risk,” Vakama’s voice had answered. “Yet… now we have no choice. We need you to quickly go there.”It seemed Niaka had lost her mask in the battle with the Kuambu. Ito was here to retrieve it if possible. More to the point, the entire Kuambu fleet had gone out of sight of the rest of the island – they wanted to know if it had anchored off the southern coast. They also told him everything Kanoka had said.Ito’s mind came back to the present. “Can you me-hear?” Ito whispered to the air.“Yes,” Tahu’s voice said.“They sorrysure herestopped,” he said. “Hundredboats. Shall I overfly, themspot?”“No!” Vakama said. “We have reason to believe they can sense you. Even invisible. Get out of there now. Don’t even go for Niaka’s mask.”“I masksee, though,” Ito said. “Beachlaying.”Matau’s voice came over the air now. “It’s a smarttrap, Ito. You mindknow that. Why would they maskleave?”“Lowvalue it, maybe.”“Ito!” Vakama scolded. “What in Mata Nui’s name are you thinking? You may be the Jungledweller, he who has died and come to life again eight times. But you yourself said, your lives are spent. If you die now, you’re gone.”“Why would they darkkill?” Ito said. “They just safestole the others. It is the Brotherhood and the Third Faction I must deathfear from.”While he spoke, he silently materialized two things from his energy pack. A strange variety of a slingshot, with some clockwork mechanisms added into it.And another device, which he’d never told anyone about. If someone had been there to watch, they would call it a gun, complete with a barrel and a trigger, but it was not a gun at all. If anyone knew what it was, they could easily put two and two together and learn his second-greatest secret.“We don’t know that.”Ito focused on the slingshot first. He broke off a somewhat thick twig from the tree branch he was standing on, and broke off its leaves, leaving a small cylindrical bit of wood. He stuck this into a part of the slingshot device, then materialized a bombfruit, loading it into the device.He looked at the distant ships, did some quick math in his head, and turned the gears on the device just right.It was a timer. It would fire a bombfruit at one of the boats in a few minutes. The enemy would think Ito was standing here – but he would in truth be elsewhere. He set it down, and began walking away, still holding the second device he had materialized.They cannot be allowed to darkknow what I do, Ito thought. He had his reasons for this. “I can quickgrab mask on Jhianau. Backfly. I’ll be brightsafe.”“Ito! I forbid it! We can’t risk you—”“I came back to life to be useful,” Ito interrupted, replacing Treespeak with iron resolve. “Not to cower away in some hole. If that were to be my use, I may as well have stayed dead.”“Of what use is one Kanohi? When Hujo and the Unknown defeated the Ghosts of the Kanohi, they brought back many extras, in addition to those we already had at Kini-Nui. If we can ever find Niaka, we can give her one of those.”“Onemask is information,” Ito said, turning back to Treespeak now.He had made his resolve clear. Now he could relax, and simply carry out the plan. Any further conversation was just satisfying their curiosity.The line was silent now. They were all pondering what he meant.The village Rahunga had one weakness. One way to be detected. Their Kanohi masks might appear as normal powerless Matoran masks, but they were in truth energypacks in the shapes of mask. Storing the evil black mutagen called Rahudermis in energy form.Ito had reason to believe you couldn’t tell the difference when the wearer was around – some safeguard Makuta had placed in the masks. But Niaka wasn’t around her mask now. He had an opportunity to find out if at least one Matoran was a Rahunga.And he would take it.The sound of a sigh was projected across the island. Presumably from Vakama, because he spoke next. “Just be careful. And fast.”Ito nodded, knowing they couldn’t hear a nod, but knowing it didn’t matter, because they had tuned out.Then he pointed the second device at his head and pulled the trigger.

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Bhukasa’s boat reached the new island by noon. Or at least, he was pretty sure it was noon; the clouds still obscured the sun.The island was shaped like an upside-down bowl of rock. Huge slopes and some cliffs of stone with the occasional vine on it curved right down into the water. There were no significant beaches to land on.Atop the hill shape of the island, an army of palm trees marched in place to the rhythm of the wind.Seabirds screeched, and a few other Rahi calls could be faintly heard coming from the palm forest. There was no other sign of life.Before anchoring, Bhukasa had them circle the island once – which took less than an hour – just to be sure he saw no signs of sapient beings.No docks, no ladders, no lighthouses.Nothing.“Alright, drop anchor here,” Bhukasa said.Toa Pohatu unlatched the anchor winch at the prow. There was a splash, then a whirring as the line let out. Finally it stopped, and Pohatu relatched the winch.The Haze Glow Beasts – or Glowies as Takua had started calling them for short – came up from the oar deck. Bhukasa addressed their leader – the biggest one. “Do you sense the lone Kuambu vessel, or any others for that matter, in the area?”As one, the Glowies shook their heads no.Good. “Alright. But let’s all realize that just coming here is a big risk. Mast or not, they can teleport, and we have to assume they know of this island. They’ll be watching Kriitunga Island, and when we don’t show up there, they’ll think to check here. Wherever here is.”“So what’s the plan?” Pohatu asked.“You, Takua, Taureko, and some of the Haze Glow Beasts will come with me onto the island. We’ll try to find the round stone Vira mentioned.”“We could just therelead you,” Vira said; he and Nabmaia were still on the Gukko which was still sitting on the prow, on Bhukasa’s orders. He wanted them ready to fly at any time.“I need you to stay with the boat in case the enemy ship comes. If they do, battle them.”“Should we nowtry to see what the Kuambu looklike if they do attack?”“Not yet. Now, I’m taking my tracker compass with me, so if you have to maneuver the boat in battle, I’ll know where to lead my scout team when we return. Keep the Gukko close to the ship, okay?”“Understood, sir.”Bhukasa paused for a moment, thinking how weird it felt to be called sir. Then he brushed the thought aside. They had work to do. “If an attack comes, somebody should send up a flare.”“I can do that,” Twayzivl said.“Thanks. Haze Glow Beasts? Have you chosen who will come?”“I,” said the leader. “And.” He gestured to the one standing to his left.“Alright. You know, I must apologize that I have never asked any of your names.”“I,” said the leader, “name: Rhengahii. My group: Rhengoka: followers of Rhengahii, but name, I like not much; leadership: not wanted; taken only against Ghomboka’s evil. We good.”Bhukasa gave a slight bow. They were good – they could be dangerous – but he wanted them on his side, so for now he’d take Rhengahii at his word on this.Rhengahii pointed at the Rhengoka he’d chosen to come. “He, good scout, name: Zvidugok.”Then he pointed at a third Glowy, who looked more feminine. “She, name: Vhekoraa. She. Second. Lead. Here.”Bhukasa thought he understood, so he nodded. “Okay, let’s go. Pohatu?”The Toa grinned. “You want stone steps?”“Actually no. I don’t want to leave such obvious proof we were here. I want your expert opinion – where’s the best place to climb?”

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Krohlaba crossed the Kriitunga town, passing between the shacks and huts of the lower class towards the tall stone buildings of the higher class by the mountain range.I need advice, he thought.But he took an indirect route.The Khungoka group of those loyal to the Toa still had to operate in utmost secrecy.Even the fact that the King himself was a member did not help – the Mhondoka vastly outnumbered them and their talk was getting increasingly violent towards the Toa. Both to protect the King’s valuable influence over the people, and so nobody would think it odd that Krohlaba was heading towards the high class zone, he had to have a cover story.And it just so happened that a popular shop was on that side of town.Krohlaba reached the shop, a small stone building with walls on only three sides. The fourth side was composed of a low wooden wall topped by a shelf counter. The shop owner, a slightly mutated Kriitunga, stood inside, and customers were to line up outside the shelf wall.A wooden sign hanging above the gap in this wall read, “Zyavrii’s Golden Touch.”Krohlaba got in line behind a few other Kriitunga, waving at his friend behind the counter. The shop owner smiled back.Zyavrii was a yellow and brown Kriitunga shaped mostly like a normal one; bulky arms, a short body, and short legs like a Tohunga, big claws on his hands, bulky shoulder armor, and a birdlike head. He was one of the lucky… oh so lucky… few that the mutagenic sands had been kind to.One day over two hundred years ago, Zyavrii had been caught in a border breakdown.Being among the poorest of the poor, he had lived on the outskirts of the town, not far from the mutagenic sand. Out there, the only thing protecting the villagers from wind-tossed sand were tall wooden poles with tan-colored tarps draped between them.On that day, the tarp fence by his house had broken under a gusty wind, and sand had immediately blown at him. He ran, but not before enough grains of sand had touched him to change him a little.Maybe it was that he was such a friendly person, maybe it was that he was thinking about his deep poverty at the time… maybe it was just luck. But it had changed him from a brown and red Kriitunga – the same type as Krohlaba – into the only yellow and brown one known.With the power to turn things into gold.Krohlaba’s mind came back to now as he realized he was next in line.He walked up, and set a small stone statuette he had carved earlier today with his red laser shredding power. He also set down a bag of coins.Zyavrii looked inside the bag. “No clay coins today?” he asked with a somewhat sad tone.Krohlaba grinned. “Gold is all I’ve got left.”For years, Zyavrii had accepted payment for his services in the clay currency that Kriitunga society had always used – but there had been nothing to stop him from turning these coins into gold. And then he had given most of them away, to others who had been as poor as himself or were otherwise in the lower class.These gold coins had then been coveted by the upper class. There were some troubles, but for the most part, the upper class sold the lower class more useful things like food, supplies to make better shelters, and best of all, stronger tarps for the outer fence.Eventually, gold became the more common currency here, and clay became the rare kind.The clay coins weren’t actually more valuable by any stretch of the imagination, but they did have one key value – Zyavrii always accepted clay coins as freely as he did gold coins. To him, what came in clay simply came out gold, so it didn’t matter. It was always better to save your gold coins for other purchases.“Oh well,” Zyavrii said, “Can I have the bag?”“Sure. I have a couple gold ones at home anyways.”The yellow Kriitunga picked up the bag, and the statuette. Yellow sparkling light flowed from his hands. Bit by bit, both things turned from brown to gold.As he worked, Zyavrii glanced around. Krohlaba carefully followed his gaze. Nobody else was in line yet, but some customers were walking up. “Heard about the Mhondoka meeting?”“Was invited. Don’t know what to say. Going to ask the King’s advice. Wouldn’t mind yours either.” For Zyavrii was also a member of the Khungoka.Zyavrii smiled at the newcomers. “Welcome to the Golden Touch!” Whatever advice he would have given, he now couldn’t risk it.The shopkeeper tossed the gold bag on a stack of other bags like it.These too he would give away; they had also become a currency of sorts on the island, as well as the statuettes themselves. Then Zyavrii handed Krohlaba his statuette, a miniature version of the Shredder Tower, now glittering yellow in the sunlight. He put it in his cloth backpack.I think I’ll keep this one, Krohlaba thought. The Shredder Tower now had even deeper symbolism for him than it ever had. His workplace, giver of non-mutagenic sands, and now reminder of his new reformed self.And maybe the best part was, anybody from the Mhondoka who saw it would still think it symbolized his hatred of the Toa. They hadn’t seen the true events of that fateful day atop the tower, amidst the pouring rain.It symbolized his dilemma too. Like the tower, he was now a symbol for both sides. What should he now do?Go with the Mhondoka, pretending to still be on their side? Or decline, making them suspicious of him, but avoiding any risk that he would actually help them harm the Toa?He could not decide. He SHOULD not decide.As humble as he was trying to be now, he could not deny that his choice could change the entire course of history on the island. This was a choice for the King to make.If only I had kept my mandibled mouth SHUT that day. The thought almost made him cry again, so he tried to focus on where he was going.He was walking north now, towards the Shredder Tower. But he needed to make a detour.The miner looked up at the sky, and turned around slowly, pretending to study the weather. But half his attention was on the people around him – whether any were looking his way or paying attention to him at all.The weather was sunny, as – unfortunately for a people who lived in a desert – it usually was, but the northern sky was overcast.The town around him was deserted.Perfect weather, he thought as he ducked into an abandoned shack.

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Edited by bonesiii, Dec 30 2011 - 03:13 PM.

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#9 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Jan 02 2012 - 04:25 PM

Chapter 8

“Dropleave it!” Lewa shouted at an Onu-Matoran.The villager – like the rest of Onu-Koro – was fleeing the village.All three Toa had agreed, since the Gahlok were clearly coming here, to evacuate before attempting a face-off. If they lost the battle, they couldn’t bear to know they’d left the village ignorant of the approach.Turned out, the villagers knew already, because a tunnel scout had reported the approach of the Bohrok. Still, if the village must be a battleground, best to avoid collateral damage.“I am Onepu!” the villager exclaimed. “I will carry my belongings to safety!”“A brightnoble sentiment,” Lewa answered, “if you weren’t hutbringing!”Onepu finally dropped the huge bag, and ran. Lewa ushered him under a huge rock that another Onu-Matoran was holding up.Before he could ensure they were safely out, a flood noisily rushed into the village.All three Toa turned their attention to it.White water was chased by darkly clear water that showed a rippling view of huts being battered to pieces underwater. Then spots of blue zoomed by in the water.“Swap weapons?” Kopaka asked Lewa.“Happysure.” Lewa handed Kopaka his axe. The Toa Tool had no power of air itself – it merely channeled the element of whichever Toa held it.But Kopaka’s tool was different. In a previous adventure, it had been merged with a Btou Staff, giving the sword itself the power of ice.Now two Toa wielded the power of freezing. Both sent beams of intense cold at the unrushing water. “Tell it to form a wall in front,” Kopaka shouted over the increasing noise.The whitewater froze in place, its splashing droplets turned into little pellets of ice that clattered to the floor.Behind it, more water churned up over the wall. Lewa and Kopaka moved as one, raising the beams of cold energy to meet this overflow. More wall formed.More water overflowed, and more wall formed, until an ice wall blocked off a fourth of the village from the rest.Round blue blurs appeared behind the ice, and with sudden violent motions, their handshields rushed into focus, slamming into the ice.Kopaka and Lewa moved the beams of ice around, pointing at one bloom of cracks, then another then another.The wall held, and thickened.Meanwhile, Onua was not idle. Blasts of mud could be seen erupting from the ground behind the dam, knocking into Bohrok. Once or twice, Lewa thought he saw a krana fall out, but for the most part, this tactic didn’t seem to be working.Then the Gahlok started slamming their heads into the ice. Then their whole bodies.After a moment, the attacks doubled in effectiveness. Ice broke out in clouds of floating shards, visible through the remaining ice. “They now mirror my own strength!” Onua exclaimed, gesturing at his Pakari. “What now?”“Can you earthshuffle?” Lewa asked, pointing at some loose rubble and calling on his gold masks’s telekinesis power to demonstrate. The rubble from behind moved around to replace the front rubble, and the rest was pushed back.“Nice idea. But make some ice pillars as I do. This roof is earth too.”“I’ll do that,” Kopaka said. “Lewa, Rathoa used a rapid-freeze power when he had my sword. Something the Btou staff allows. Try it now.”Lewa focused. Fastfrost!And the power came. A wave of dim iceblue sparks ripped through the air, and the icewall thickened instantly. Several Bohrok were frozen in place near the wall, and still the freeze power spread deeper. He couldn’t see how deep.Meanwhile, Kopaka turned the axe away, aiming at the floor of Onu-Koro. Tall upside-down icicles appeared and rapidly grew up to form columns.Then Onua started to change the earth.The earthen walls to the left and right of the ice wall rumbled and rustled as earth flowed out from them, and hugged the ice.Now a wall of earth stood. And constantly shifted, as more dirt came in from behind, and thickened, pushing the ice back up the cave tunnel the Gahlok had brought it here in.But before it got far, a Gahlok popped out of the earthen wall. Then another, then two more.“Tunneling power!” Onua exclaimed. “They even came through the ice! Quick – stop the others!”Kopaka and Lewa once again turned their weapons to the ice as one. This time, Lewa sensed the shape of the ice behind the earth – it was as if he could see through the wall as well as the distortion in the ice. And he could, because now he called on his gold mask’s X-Ray Vision power.He focused on a Gahlok that was tunneling.It wasn't moving its head – in fact it had rolled up into a ball – it was telekinetically making ice break off from in front of it, and slide around behind it, so an air bubble moved forward with a rider. Like the reverse of Onua’s wallshuffling… and much faster.Lewa called on both air and ice to make one of those ice shards slam down into the Bohrok’s eye. This was the trigger for the brainshield to flip forward and shoot out the krana creature.But there wasn’t room inside the air bubble. The faceplate just opened an inch, bounced off the ice, and locked closed again.Lewa tried harder, doing his own tunneling to make more ice crowd in on the Bohrok’s side, making more room for the air to form a gap ahead of the robot and slightly above it. Ice shard slam. Brainshield flip forward.The biological creature shot forward, and Lewa made the ice flow around it like a liquid to trap it.The Gahlok stopped moving, now reduced to literally all robot, with no motivation.Tunnelpower is in brainslug.He did this with two other Gahlok, but Kopaka had already gotten most of the ones with that kind of krana.Onua had paused in his ‘earthshuffling’ to fight the four Gahlok that had made it through. Lewa and Kopaka now joined him.Two of the robots faced Lewa – perhaps because he was now wielding two elements at once. Bigger scarethreat, he thought, grinning. Then he remembered Surkahi’s warning, and got serious.If they twofear, I’ll twogive. Twin blasts of wind and ice roared out from the sword, engulfing the Gahlok.The wind blast knocked a Gahlok back into a hut. The tunneling power activated again, and the front wall of the hut shattered telekinetically, flowing elegantly behind the Bohrok, which stood braced for another hit.The ice blast hit the other’s eye, but a handshield clunked over the faceplate, holding the brain in place. Lewa was surprised only for a second – he hadn’t imagined they were smart enough to think of that.Then he was in amongst them, swinging the sword as if it was an axe, clanking, dodging blasts of water, sending his own blasts back.Water hit his mask. He couldn’t see.Rapidfreeze! In the split second before the secondary power of the sword ripped out, Lewa thought to aim the sword… away from the other Toa.This resulted in only one Gahlok being frozen instantly. But that was enough. Lewa blinked away the water in his eyes and turned his full attention on the remaining Gahlok, which quickly fell to a well-placed kick.Lewa looked around. Kopaka was just finishing up his Gahlok. Onua’s Gahlok was now two-dimensional.They stood there panting for a moment.Then, after they traded weapons back to normal, Kopaka turned his attention to the buried ice again. “Let’s get all the krana.” For the next few minutes, the green and white beings made air pockets in the ice, made icicles pop open brainshields, and made the ice flow.One by one, krana reached the wall of earth, and Onua took over from there, bringing them to him and putting them in his energy pack. I better not anystore, Lewa thought, If Surkahi meant the Bohrok will darkturn me. Energy packs could break, which materialized all their contents. He imagined perhaps being trapped in a cave-in with hundreds of the brains, and shuddered.Halfway through this process, Tahu’s voice came, and warned them that Tahnok were attacking Po-Koro.Lewa and Kopaka agreed to go, while Onua would tunnel quickly to his people, make sure they were safe, and come later.First, Onua had to clear the tunnel to Po-Koro for them.All the nearby tunnels had collapsed in several places due to the quaking his massive earthshuffling tactic had caused, Onua had sensed, but thankfully the main cavern had remained intact thanks to the ice pillars. Onua would remain in that cavern for a while to re-strengthen the ceiling.Lewa was just emerging into the sunlight of Po-Wahi when he remembered Onepu and the other few Onu-Matoran with him.He’d forgotten to tell Onua or Tahu that he wasn’t sure they’d made it to the others safely. Undoubtedly they’d been trapped just on the other side of that big rock by one or two collapses.Worse, a Gahlok or two may have made it in with them. Lewa feared for them.But Tahu’s voice connection was closed, and the Toa of Air and Ice were too far away to help now. They’d have to manage on their own.

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The shack, of course, had a hidden panel that led to a secret tunnel. Krohlaba slid it aside, crawled in, and slid it back.When the King had told him about this secret network of tunnels yesterday, he’d been amazed… and disturbed.It seemed the old high class had used them to kidnap lower class members to sell as slaves to the Brotherhood of Makuta and other evil organizations often.Krohlaba wondered how often he had come within inches of being enslaved in this way himself.Thankfully, Khungakrii and others had rebelled against that class, selling them into slavery instead, and so the tunnels were now abandoned. The Brotherhood still sent raiding parties, but at least this way their own people’s hands were clean.But Khungakrii had remained afraid of the primitive violence his people were capable of, so was afraid to reveal the tunnels. Now it turned out the choice had been very wise.The tunnel was very narrow. Krohlaba wondered how they’d managed to transport captured Kriitunga through it.Then again, most Kriitunga don’t have to deal with a massive ugly head like I do.He was going very slow. This wasn’t acceptable. If he was late for work, the secrecy would be pointless. So he risked speeding up. He might get a scratch or two on his armor, but that happened sometimes anyways. If anyone asked, he’d make up some story, and go to a Forge Kriitunga armor repair shop.Finally, he emerged in one of the stone skyscrapers of the higher class.Another product of the revolution of Khungakrii was that almost a third of the higher class were now gone, leaving a lot of empty rooms and unused hallways in these buildings. Walking through them, Krohlaba couldn’t help but feel disturbed again, but in a different way.As repugnant as what they had done to his class was, how many of them had been going along with the old leaders out of fear? He had never been sure it was right to just ship them all off as slaves.But it was the King’s choice, done with the will of the majority of both classes. So it was done.That was ironically why Krohlaba was going to the King now.Khungakrii had the guts to make hard choices. Right now, that was all the miner cared about.Finally, Krohlaba reached the hallway outside the throne room. There were various higher class officials going in and out. There were also guards – who were not really considered part of either class, and came from both.All of the guards posted there were Khungoka – the very people who had been with Krohlaba atop the Shredder Tower when Pohatu saved the miner’s life. All of them had together witnessed the truth.But the officials were not all trustworthy.So they had agreed on a system to get Khungoka members in secretly. Krohlaba moved into position.The hallway he was standing in led to the personal quarters of the old top leaders and the old King – the King’s quarters ahead, and the council quarters behind him. The current council leaders still had their own quarters elsewhere, so this hallway was unused by the higher class, except King Khungakrii himself who took the King’s quarters.Between him and the King’s quarters, the hallway with all the activity went off to his left. It joined another hallway perpendicular to the one he was in. The three hallways together formed an “H” shape, with the King’s throne room atop the left vertical line, and his quarters atop the other.Officials met with the King at any time in the throne room. But to visit him in the lobby of his quarters, you had to be invited. And Khungakrii was not big on guests.So all Krohlaba needed to do was cross the middle hallway without any officials seeing him, and get to the King's quarters.This was made possible by the guards’ routine walking routes. One guard would walk back and forth along the “-“ hallway. The other guards stood at the intersection of the left “|” hallway and the “-“ hallway, so they could see if any officials were heading up the “|”. From there, it was just a matter of subtle signals to each other when officials weren’t in line of sight.A guard appeared in front of Krohlaba.It was a white and iceblue guard whose head had been mutated into an energy gun with eyes and a mouth. He stopped in front of Krohlaba, and turned around. They made brief eye contact, but otherwise the guard acted as if he wasn’t there.The guard started walking back. So his eyes faced the active hallway.Then he whispered, “Now.”Krohlaba ran across the hallway.For that brief moment, he experienced a profound terror. The guard could not be sure an official wouldn't appear at just the wrong moment and happen to glance his way.Once again, the fate of the island rested on his shoulders. So he ran as fast -- but as quietly -- as he could.And in a second, he was on the other side. He slowed to a stop, and breathed a long sigh of relief.Now the other guards would get a subtle signal to the King, who would declare a break to study some records or some such excuse.After a few minutes, Khungakrii rounded the corner, and nodded silently at Krohlaba.The King was a mutant too. Green and silver in color, the sands had made him twice as tall as a typical Kriitunga, with wide treebase-like feet, thin arms, and metal beetle-like wings. His head was as birdlike as a normal Kriitunga, but he wore a massive gold crown with a few colored jewels mounted in a vertical line on the front.He had once commented that the sands had a cruelly ironic sense of humor when they mutated him.He was made strong and big, able to keep a solid footing in any battle, and use his wings as swords in addition to his bi-bladed staff.But the wings were useless for flying with his added weight, and his arms were made puny and weak. In contrast to a normal Kriitunga, whose legs were weak and arms strong. So the staff was more of a symbol of the office than a weapon he could realistically weild in battle.Khungakrii opened the door to the lobby, and shut it behind them a moment later.The lobby had several protometal couches with cloth cushions, and a cylindrical glass table whose base doubled as a fish tank. Among the Ruki and other fish inside the large table was a cute Meeka, a roundish legged creature that seemed to be perpetually smiling.The King took a moment to feed the fish from a crate of berries. Then he turned and faced Krohlaba. “I have a guess what this is about. The Mhondoka want to recruit you, and you don’t know what to say?”Krohlaba wanted to smile – but it was hard with mandibles. “Your wisdom befits your office, my King.”Khungakrii smiled. “And here I King am the one who normally uses the lofty language of the high class.”Krohlaba shrugged. He was only being respectful. But he didn’t mind the King using normal speech in his presence. Easier to understand.“Grunrohti asked me this morning. He said Mhondomva is holding a meeting atop the northwest horn. And he has… questions for me, personally. About what happened. Exactly.”“An interesting location, and puzzling. Who is Grunrohti again?”Krohlaba tilted his head slightly. He’d already told the King yesterday, but then the monarch was a busy guy. I’m sure he has to juggle hundreds of names a day in his mind.“An old friend,” the miner said. “A mutant with a temper… kinda like me. And a devout Mhondoka. He’s smart and honest, and I hope to recruit him… but for now, he has no idea of the truth. In the worst way.”“I see.”“I made it clear that he should tell Mhondomva I’m undecided for now. But… and this is what scares me... he passed along a veiled threat. Now, he’s my best friend. He would never do that unless Mhondomva was in one of his… ah…”“Big moods?”Krohlaba nodded, again wishing he could smile at the joke. It was an apt description. Mhondomva had always felt like he was a giant in Kriitunga society despite his low class status, and as a result the sands had made him a giant physically.Which made him a giant in society.The sands had also given Mhondomva fearsome powers. Krohlaba only hoped that somewhere in his small brain, Mhondomva had learned to fear the energy decay disease and stay protected from the sands on the way to the horn – or his current mood would probably double him in size.“So, you have come to ask my advice?”“Yes. I can’t decide. I could be a spy in the Mhondoka ranks. But…”“I understand. But Krohlaba…” The King walked over to a shelf, took off his golden crown, and set it aside. “I don’t feel it is right for me to play the role of King here.”“But I—”“Hear me out.”Krohlaba bowed. Role of King or not, he would still follow any order.“You have brought us one very useful piece of information already. Mhondomva’s choice of meeting place. The sands are just as present there as anywhere, if a bit less likely to hit you due to wind. He could also have met anywhere along the river, but listening ears could hide behind trees. And there are soundproof buildings in this town.”“I don’t get it,” Krohlaba said. “Unless he’s using the Ghomboka’s plan of embracing the mutations.”“I doubt it. I fear he knows something I have so far only told the Khungoka.”Krohlaba’s eyes widened. “The tunnels?”Khungakrii nodded gravely. “Every building that my predecessors allowed to be soundproofed, they also brought a tunnel up underneath. Eavesdropping in those rooms is possible.”“How could he know?”“Anything’s possible. One of my predecessors may have been enslaved by the Third Faction, whom Mhondomva serves, and been forced to tell.”Krohlaba thought this over. He’d feel differently about the tunnel on his way back… but there was no other route to take.“We would not have known that had Grunrohti not confided in you. However, I would gladly refuse to hear about the meeting if I felt listening to it would in any way risk a Toa’s life. This island’s fate may depend on the the Toa Mata and their allies.”The tall beetle-like Kriitunga placed his crown back atop his birdlike head. “Therefore, I leave the choice in your hands.”

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A Ga-Koro boat reached the edge of the tiny island – Bhukasa had feared the water by the shore may be too shallow for his boat, so had one of the two small boats untied and lowered into the water.Bhukasa got out first, jumping to a ledge on the island’s steep rock coast while holding one end of a rope. He tied it to a root and pulled the boat in.“I can’t get it in any closer,” he said, pointing to sharp rocks just under the water.Taureko and the Haze Glow Beasts leaped over the small gap of water with no fear. Takua was a bit hesitant, but he too was across in moments. Pohatu on the other hand took a moment to work up the courage. But a levitation power in his Golden Kanohi soon helped.Once across, Pohatu paused to raise up some underwater rock pillars to brace the boat against the waves. These weren’t very noticeable, so Bhukasa was okay with it – they would keep the little boat off the sharp rocks. The sharp rocks themselves were distinctive, so Pohatu left them alone.Then they began the climb.This was as easy for the powerfully muscled Bhukasa as the long jump had been, although handgrips were harder with scissorclaws than for the others, who all had normal hands.About halfway up, he paused to check on the others.Pohatu was farthest below, but only in case one of the Matoran fell. Once again, the Glowies were doing great, and Taureko still looked fearless. Takua was having quite some trouble, though.Bhukasa was still well ahead of the others, and paused to admire the view. He was even higher up now than he’d been in his boat’s crow’s nest. It was amazing how much smaller and more abundant the waves seemed from up here.He also realized he’d be wise not to give Takua ideas about looking down. The Matoran’s blue mask seemed to have taken on a shade of green.So he turned back up and climbed the rest of the way.As soon as he stood among the jungle of palms, ferns, and bushes, he felt an intense familiarity.I’ve definitely been here before.

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Krohlaba made it to work just in time.As he spent his first hour on the job at the rock quarries, sending red lasers into the rock, he thought about the knowledge he could carve out from the Mhondoka by pretending to join them.As he spent the next hour carrying rough-hewn rock cubes half his size back and forth from the quarry to the Garden Frontier – the line where newly shredded earth covered over mutagenic sand in increasing amount, and Garden Kriitunga made plants rapidly grow up to produce fruit – he imagined working to expand the ranks of Khungoka from within the other side’s camp.As he climbed the dizzyingly high scaffolding around the giant silver tower on legs, and touched his hands to the power-channeling surface – knowing that his rays of red lasers danced with a thousand others inside from the other workers, shredding the rocks dropped through the tower by the few workers of the rock elevator – he remembered how he almost shredded Pohatu this way.“It was like killing me to get more gold,” Zyavrii had commented later on the folly of the plan.Shredding Pohatu wouldn’t have made any more rock – and ironically would have cut off any hope of getting more rock from him. Krohlaba had been horrified at the comment – as if he would ever want to kill his friend! But wasn’t I fooled by the same thing?As he contemplated the risks of going northwest tonight, something else occurred to him.What if Mhondomva has fooled the King?Khungakrii assumed the choice of meeting place was to avoid eavesdropping… and maybe so… But why the northwest horn?A meeting on the sands could be done, somewhat safely, via special vehicles used for certain jobs. The meeting place could be kept safe by tarp constructs, including one for a floor.This could be done anywhere.And arguably, the middle of the desert would be more discreet.But then, ‘somewhere in the desert’ is a useless invite.The horns made easy landmarks. They were basically giant stone ribbed cylinders on their sides, aiming directly out towards the water. His people believed them to be ancient versions of foghorns, but the inner ends were all buried long ago by the shifting sands. The connection with Mhondomva’s massive mouth and voice projecting power was probably not coincidence.So, why that horn? There were eight such structures around the island, two much closer to the river mouth than the northwest one.Mhondomva might not be smart enough to care where to meet, but he was working for the Third Faction.What if the Faction’s leader knew something?Krohlaba paused in his work for a moment, earning a curious glance from another worker. He went back to work, ignoring the worker.In that moment, Krohlaba had made his choice.He would go – he HAD to.Had to know if his hunch was right. What if it was? The thought chilled him to the metallic bone – it would mean it was more than just a meeting.What if that was where the Toa were coming?

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Lewa and Kopaka arrived in time to see the Tahnok army within a mile of Po-Koro.The Toa of Air was anything but carefree at this sight.If fighting a squad of Gahlok in closed quarters – with Onu-Koro’s patron Toa handy – had been hard, THIS would be twenty times that. This was a whole swarm.Worse, Pohatu wasn’t here.And worse still, they were down a Toa. “Maybe Onua should have withcome,” Lewa murmured. Kopaka didn’t respond.Then Lewa realized it got far, far worse. The villagers were all still inside – with no back door route.They were trapped.

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Bhukasa began walking towards the island’s center the moment Takua and Pohatu reached the top.Rhengahii the Glowy leader had pointed the way towards what he sensed as, in his words, “Big. Round. Rock.” Bhukasa himself couldn’t actually see it yet through the plants.Then he saw a glimmer of sparkling white protodermis.He sped up. Something felt so familiar about all this. Conflicting emotions suddenly raced through him. Paranoia. Relief. Fear. Hope.And then the group emerged from the trees.In the center of the clearing, stood a ball of translucent gypsumlike crystal that towered over Bhukasa.Taureko let out a gasp. “It’s a protocage! Only the combined beams of six Toa can make one! How could one be here?”And inside was a white and blue titan that Bhukasa KNEW he knew.But was he a friend, as half of his emotions told him, deserving of freedom?Or a villain, befitting such a prison?

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Edited by bonesiii, Feb 14 2012 - 12:58 AM.

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#10 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Jan 06 2012 - 02:43 AM

Chapter 9

“I know this being,” Bhukasa said, gesturing at the white and blue titan frozen in place inside the protocage. “I can’t remember how, but he’s very familiar.”“Happen to remember if he’s on our side?” Pohatu asked.Bhukasa didn’t answer. He didn’t know what to say.“Only a villain would be trapped in a protocage,” Taureko said. “I’m surprised you don’t know that, Pohatu.”A moment ago, Taureko had revealed that these prisons were the result of six Toa combining beams of their elements into one. Apparently only Toa could make one.But could Toa be evil? Bhukasa didn’t know.“I didn’t even know we could make them,” Pohatu said. “Would have come in handy against Makuta…”“Makuta Teridax?” Taureko asked. “He got trapped in one before… Well… I guess the Turaga probably don’t want me telling you that. But… now that I’ve said it, Makuta gets out of protocages. Killing him was a far better solution.”“We didn’t really mean to kill him,” Pohatu argued.“Never mind that,” Bhukasa said. “Villain or not, how would we go about freeing this titan if we wanted?”Taureko scowled. “You’d need six Toa. We have one here, one on the boat, and four far away. That’s not good enough, not right now. But you shouldn’t free him. I’m certain he’s an enemy.”That answer didn’t feel right to Bhukasa. What if this being had information that could help them on their quest? And time was important…Rhengahii walked up to the cage. “Test,” he said, and placed his hand on the edge.His hand became translucent, and passed through.“Of course,” Takua said. “Your intangibility power!”“Do you think you could free him?” Bhukasa asked.“Yes,” Rhengahii replied. “Should?”“No,” Taureko said. “But… it’s your call, Captain.”Bhukasa didn’t have a call to make. He stood there for a while… unsure, and frustrated because indecision was not an emotion he enjoyed in the slightest.A loud pop interrupted his thoughts. He looked around. All he could see was palm fronds, but he knew that was the sound of a flare.His eyes went wide. “The boat’s being attacked!”

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Ito flew along the beach on Jhianau, as fast as the invisible bird could fly.Just as he neared the mask, there was a soft click, followed by a whoosh, from behind him. The Jungledweller had just flown past his time-release slingshot.The bombfruit diversion flew through the air, and hit one of the Kuambu hulls. Fireball.The Kuambu never fell for it. Before the fireball even erupted, glowing spheres shot out at Jhianau.Both from the ships and from the jungle. Ito was surrounded.The bird expertly dodged the shots, flying ever closer to that mask. Ito took a quick moment to realize he now knew at least one new thing about the Kuambu – they had Vision powers similar to Toa Kopaka’s Kanohi Akaku.Niaka’s mask was just ahead….Most of the Kuamor spheres flying all around him were blue, green, and red. A few were of other colors, mostly brown, lavender, and clear. And most weren’t fired very carefully.But then a translucent-white sphere flew towards their path. Jhianau had just dodged upward – spheres were rushing around them on all sides. The new sphere was headed right where they had no choice but to go.It hit the bird on the neck.Instantly, the Rahi’s bright-shining white eyes went dim, and he crashed onto the sand. Ito went flying.After a moment he picked himself up, and ran back towards Jhianau. The brave bird’s heartlight was still flashing. Intense relief flooded Ito, even as he fought to focus on dodging.He used his double-ended stun spear to block several of the spheres. Their powers activated when they hit it, but they didn’t touch Ito himself. The Jungledweller fought his way back to Jhianau – the mask was important, but loyalty was more so – and touched him.The bird flashed visible as bright white light for a split second, turning into energy. Then Jhianau was inside Ito’s energy pack. Safe.Masktime.Ito ran, somersaulted, leaped, rolled his way to the mask, and energized it.It-got.He was now as far from the safety of the trees as he could be on the beach.His spear was entangled in brown ropes, lavender sticky nets, and one end had broken off when a red sphere hit it. Green stun juice pooled in the sand from inside the bamboo shaft, but Ito still swung the staff, dancing to the rhythm of battle.It was even fun.But now he was anchored where he was. Every time he tried to take a step, a Kuamor came within inches of him.Ironically his only hope was the one thing he also hoped wasn’t true.He materialized Niaka’s mask in his left hand, and focused ever so slightly.As if a dam had burst, rahudermis oozed from the mask into his arm.

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Niaka finally allowed herself to think the one thought she’d been avoiding, at the sight of Korau the friendly Po-Koro chef deemed a ‘Darkmind’ by the Kuambu.Everybody who knew Korau was shocked that he was, apparently, one of the Rahunga who had been in disguise in the villages as a good Tohunga all these years.None were more surprised than Niaka, because she WAS a Rahunga.And Korau was NOT.At least, Makuta never told me he was, and I thought I knew all among our ranks, she thought.“Could there be a sorting error?” her mouth asked the others around her.On the Darkminds side of the fence, the giant blue humanoid being who wore no mask spoke up. “Oh, there are DEFINITELY sorting errors.” The giant slammed a fist angrily into his other palm. “I am Azh-yuuros, noble Guardian of the Sapphire Vault, honorable Glatorian warrior, veteran of the Core War!”Niaka didn’t know what any of those things were. She was too occupied puzzling over Korau to ask.“Are all these ‘Glatorian,’” Kewonga asked, “giants?”Azh-yuuros shook his fleshy, transblue head. “I was mutated during the Shattering, when I became Guardian.”Nobody had any idea what he was talking about. Or whether to believe him.“The Kuambu care nothing about accuracy,” Azh’yuuros continued, “and if I ever meet one, I intend to teach him a lesson. Nobody calls Azh’yuuros evil. Nobody.”“I was mis-sorted too…” the Darkmind Toa said, his eyes staring off creepily into the sky, his mouth hanging open after speaking in a strange mix between a snarl and a yawn. He didn’t close his mouth.Niaka didn’t believe him. At all.“I’m not a Rahunga!” Korau insisted. “You guys have to believe me!”“I don’t know,” Midak said, “what to believe, but I for one will not abandon you because of the word of my very captors.”“I agree,” Hafu said. “There are many Po-Matoran I have suspected of treachery, but never you.”Niaka wondered if anyone suspected her of treachery.She turned to face Vamuka as the others continued to talk about their unseen captors and make futile escape plans. Now was the time to do something good. But it was something she honestly didn’t mind doing.She placed her mask… well, actually, Vamuka’s mask, on the lava farmer’s face. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes.Hers did not feel heavy just yet.Vamuka stood up. “Has Kewonga told you of his mask-switching plan for us?”She smiled. “The way I heard it, it was your plan.”He shrugged, looking away. “Only the part where I gave you my mask.”Her eyes started to close after a minute. Vamuka handed the mask back. Within three seconds, she felt fully awake.Next minute, she handed it back. And repeat.Niaka felt so… vulnerable. This was the first time since Rathoa had recruited her that she’d been without her Rah-Kanohi. Even when Makuta’s thoughts had gone quiet in her mind when he died, she had felt safe in the knowledge that a power as strong as hate itself was at her disposal should she ever need it.How she longed to let the black mutagen pour out of her mask, ooze throughout her body, change her into twice her size… Make her powerful once again.But that was not an option. This mask swapping was all that kept her conscious now.The one thing that made no sense to her in all this was, why did Vamuka choose to be her friend?She was not, after all, one of those Rahunga whom Makuta had fooled. Well, sure, at first she bought Rathoa’s complex web of lies, falsified evidence, and doctored Metru Nui film footage about how the Turaga were really the villains, Mata Nui was the Great Spirit of Shadow, and Makuta the Spirit of Light.But on her very first Rahi infecting mission, she knew deep down it was a lie.Niaka thought back to how she’d swam to the Ninakorr Deep Sea Trench in Rahunga form.The Rahudermis gave her increased ability to withstand water pressure. She swam down, past the useless glass-shells…There she encountered the Rhijokki monstrosities that Makuta called fish. They were brutally violent even before she placed infected mask after infected mask on them.Each black spiked beast that she infected turned on its uninfected neighbors with newfound ferocity, biting, ramming, even trying to flip them upside-down – they would drown if left that way; their lungs only worked rightside-up.As horrified as a part of her naïve old self had been at that, it helped the mission go faster, and more safely for her.The more she approved of this behavior, the more the hatred flowed into her from the Rahudermis…And welled up from inside her own heart.She discovered that day that cruelty could be… fun.Even now, she was being cruel, in a way. She knew the shapeshifter called ‘Ahurahn’ had claimed she would free them… but had made the mistake of only telling Niaka.Niaka wasn’t going to tell the others.They were all fools; let them suffer for a while.When the time came – IF it came – her cover story would be easy.She had been afraid Ahurahn was really the Vortixx Nhayaka… who was really Arakra, shapeshifting leader of the Third Faction. Niaka would claim she just didn’t want to give them false hope.And it would carry some truth.There was a chance some of the smarter ones here, like Kewonga, would see how shaky that excuse was. But she knew the greatest enemies of Rahunga in disguise weren’t necessarily the smart ones.Sometimes it was the simplest people who saw most clearly.Even if they didn’t think about it, deep down it affected their choices – and the simple are most in tune with their intuition. That was why Hujo the Mapmaker had once refused to trust Kanoka, despite all Kanoka had done to prove his loyalty, and with no evidence to the contrary that Hujo could cite.Just a feeling. Hujo had been such a simpleton, that was all he needed.Of course, Hujo was now the Jahurungi… for a moment, Niaka was very glad the Mapmaker was far away.And also very glad a piece of her right hand armor had been replaced with a small device Rathoa invented… When nobody was looking, she pressed her left hand to the back of her right. A power activated that would prevent Tahu from contacting them – just in case Ito found her old mask.But Jahurungi or not, people were intuitive, especially the very kind ones. So why would this kind, selfless lava farmer entrust his very consciousness to her?Why, the answer was so obvious she had to struggle not to smirk.Vamuka was gullible.

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Ito hated hate.Love was his life’s goal… although he hadn’t always known it. To call on the evil mutagen of Rahudermis, even in such a time of need as this, was incredibly distasteful.His body doubled in size. He knew he now looked similar to the Rahunga he had met – as tall as a Toa, but arms still serrated like a Tohunga version of Matoran, head still Tohunga instead of Toa style, still slightly hunchbacked, and still with arms much longer than his legs.The only noticeable difference between him and any other Rahunga was that he still wore his brown and green mask of Night Vision. The symbolic irony of wearing that mask while the one his left hand gripped turned him into this… thing… was not lost on him. Especially because of the secrets he knew…He snapped his focus back to the battle at hand.The Rahudermis gave him added adrenaline, speeding up his blocking swings of the staff, which had mutated too, becoming larger and shedding the ropes and goo stuck to it.In the form of a Rahunga, he also had the anti-elemental power of air stasis.Ito projected a wall of air effortlessly, as if he’d been doing it for years. Air turned solid, glowing green, between him and the ships. Letting him turn his back on that half of the battle.Now he walked slowly but surely towards the trees.In just a minute, he reached the treeline, and everything changed.With the cover of the trees, Ito started running. Faster even than he had gone before, thanks to the Rahudermis.His heart pounded as his adrenaline peaked, then doubled what it could normally be. He became a blur, hands and feet loudly SMACKing against branches, pushing him higher and higher into the foliage. Soon he was going so fast and kicking down on the branches so hard, he was leaping over open spaces longer than Bhukasa’s boat.With never a pang of fear.It was a method of running that only he had ever mastered, far more dangerous than the tentative leap-look-leap-look pattern of jungle scouting the villagers of Le-Koro were known for.One single wrong step and he would slam facefirst into a tree and fall to his death… but he no longer feared death.The real danger came from within. Anyone else with adrenaline this incredibly high while using the mutagen would have given into the hate before leaving sight of the beach.But Ito knew something few others truly knew, even if they proclaimed it.Love was more powerful than hate.By far.So he ran, still dodging spheres from hidden sources in the jungle, and ran, and ran.The spheres stopped, and he still ran. He’d crossed north of the farthest point the Kuambu had yet invaded, apparently, but he would take no risks.Finally, he slowed down. Now that he knew that at least some of the new villains had Vision powers, he had to make sure he was far enough away, although he hadn’t noticed any frightening accuracy after he’d left the coast.Regardless, he could foil Vision. That didn’t worry him.What did worry him was the news he told Tahu when the Toa‘s voice came across the wind again.

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The Turaga absorbed the news about Niaka grimly.They seemed determined, Tahu thought, not to be surprised. The Toa of Fire himself had ridden Niaka’s ferry several times while searching for masks.He didn’t remember suspecting her… but then it did make sense. Her ferry job obviously required her to be far from the villages. All she’d have to do to infect Rahi would be to take another Rahunga in disguise on a supposed ferry trip, but in reality stop off in the Wahi to infect Rahi.Also troubling was the news from Bhukasa. After several troubles, Bhukasa now faced an impossible choice, as a Kuambu ship attacked his ship… and a familiar being sat in a protocage. Vakama explained this power to Tahu, who found it interesting, but he was now focused on the issue with the Eight Matoran.“Contact Kewonga now,” Vakama said, his voice low.Tahu thought of the Healer. “Kewonga? Can you hear me?”No answer.Tahu remembered he was still using his mask of Silence in combination with the mask of Telecommunication. Maybe he was doing it wrong. He focused harder on Kewonga. “Hello? Anybody here me over there?”“Drop the quiet field,” Nuju said, speaking Matoran language.Tahu did. Both the Mua and the Rikaori teleported back to the Suva, leaving only the Inakko. Tahu mentally commanded the mask of Combination to teleport away, teleporting the Rikaori back to his face.In full hearing of Kanoka and Mukana, Tahu called out, “Kewonga? This is Tahu! Answer if you can!”Tahu’s eyes were on Kanoka when he said it.The Ta-Matoran raised his eyebrows at the only response they got.Silence.“We know about Niaka,” Vakama announced to the Rahunga. “Why can’t we hear them? Would she have attacked them?”“No, no,” Kanoka said, not acting surprised in the slightest about the revelation – which did surprise Tahu. A little. “Rathoa gave many of us a Xian device to jam the Rikaori power in our area. I have one myself, although I have never used it. As far as the others know, Tahu simply hasn’t called back.”The calm, almost cheerful way he said this was unnerving. Tahu was less and less convinced that Kanoka had truly reformed.“We also know about Korau,” the fire elder said.His voice sounded sure, but Tahu knew they were anything but. Niaka herself had told them… and it was just the way the Kuambu had sorted them anyways. Not exactly trustworthy witnesses.Kanoka didn’t act surprised, though. “Very well. But, if I may make a small request, could you avoid trying so hard in the future? The… situation with Niaka and Korau is unique, so I’ll let this pass. If you try finding out through other means than my own with anyone else, like I said, you’ll just risk driving them even further away.”“I can’t make that promise,” Vakama said, “But for what it’s worth, we weren’t actually trying to find out. It just… happened.”Kanoka gave a polite bow.“Silence field back now, please,” Vakama said. Tahu made it happen.“What do we think?” Nokama asked.“I think we just tricked Kanoka into confirming Korau’s treachery,” Whenua said.“I beg to differ,” Onewa said. “You don’t know the chef as well as I do.”Nuju said, “click click click SHREE!” and gestured at Mukana. Nobody needed to translate. Vakama could probably say the same in Matoran about Kanoka.“Well,” Vakama concluded, “I think we still have much to discuss… alone.” He nodded goodbye to Tahu, and the six elders turned away.“Wait,” Tahu said, leaving the silence field up. “What about the Mapmaker? Shall I contact the Jahurungi?”Vakama shook his head no. “Caroha herself made it quite clear to us… We are not to talk to Hujo until he returns.”

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Hujo and Caroha stood inside the start of a narrow tunnel.But Caroha wasn’t walking along it. Instead, she had turned her Ruru-wearing face to Hujo, and told him this was where the danger started. “Remember,” she continued, “what I said about obeying my every command without hesitation?”Hujo nodded.“Just a reminder.” She turned away and started walking down the tunnel.Stopped suddenly, whirled to face him. “STAND ON YOUR HEAD AND WHISTLE THE SONG OF PO-KORO NOW!”Hujo’s mouth dropped open in shock and he stumbled backwards a bit.Do WHAT?! Had she led him so close to deadly danger that she would now joke around?Then he realized it was a test, and he had just failed. Every command. Instantly. No matter how strange it seemed.She shook her head in slight disappointment. She could, of course, read his thoughts. “No, you don’t have to do that.” she said, smiling slightly. “Just don’t fail again. Some of my commands WILL seem strange.”She continued walking.Hujo tried to follow at her speed, but his suit still felt like it weighed a ton.Suddenly she stopped again. “Drop down on your face!”He did. Instantly.“Stand up on one foot!”He did, pausing only to wonder which foot to lift, then guessed it didn’t matter. Raised his right foot – and held it in the air. Not easy to do with the heavy suit.“Jump as high as you can, twenty times.”He tried one jump, and barely lifted an inch off the ground – besides the inch it already hovered above the ground. It took all his strength. Jumped again.If we’re entering danger, why tire me out?She didn’t answer the thought.Hujo jumped five more times.The eighth jump was extremely hard. His left foot didn’t even get off the ground.He tried another approach. While jumping, he swung his arms up before lifting off, then down hard once he did, carrying the maximum upward momentum to his head, torso, and legs. His feet got off the ground, but now his arms were tiring fast.“As you jump, listen,” Caroha said. “In addition to doing everything I say instantly, your life will depend on you asking no further questions when I didn’t tell you you could. There will be safe… kind of… moments when I’ll tell you we can talk. But until then, don’t question. Don’t even think your questions. Focus, or you will die.”He managed two more jumps, then had to pause for breath.“No pauses!”So he pushed harder and harder. Somehow, he found the strength to finish the twenty jumps. He stopped, gulping air.The very moment he did, Caroha whirled and ran down the cavern. “Keep up!”He stumbled after her, each step like lifting a giant head statue from Po-Koro – he wondered briefly if her allusion to Po-Koro had tricked him psychologically into feeling even heavier. Then he remembered he was supposed to stop thinking like that.Focused. Surprisingly, as exhausted as he was, walking was easier when he quieted his mind. Slightly.He plodded along, following her as the grayish tunnel curved to the right ahead.Now he saw a fairly big room, shaped like a flattened oval with no corners at all. In the middle of the floor, there was a circular depression. Between the tunnel and this circle, there was a button about as big as his foot mounted in the floor.Caroha walked briskly up to the button and stepped on it.Slowly, the circle groaned aside into the floor; it was a hatch.Below, as Hujo dragged himself closer, he saw miles and miles of open air, and the Silver Sea far below.“This is a tunnel between Metru Nui’s dome and another dome,” Caroha explained. “Stand on the edge and rest for a moment.”Hujo reached the edge and looked straight down. The height was terrifying. Was there another cloaked eggcraft here they could take down?But he wasn’t supposed to think now, and he was honestly too tired to think anyways. He just stood there, breathing deep, his arms laying limp at his side, his legs locked in standing position. He had no strength left.The rest was welcome. Already he felt his arms seeming to grow lighter, but his legs felt just as heavy.Suddenly, Caroha ran at him, and punched him in the back.He shouted in alarm, but there was nothing he could do. Hujo fell off the lip of the hole, and found himself plummeting towards the Silver Sea, miles below.He fired off a random Blue Fire bolt from sheer shock… and perhaps because his mind knew it had a few moments to contemplate its end, it could not help but give him one thought.Caroha had betrayed him.

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Edited by bonesiii, Jan 12 2012 - 12:35 AM.

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#11 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Jan 12 2012 - 01:18 AM

Chapter 10

Hujo’s mind raced as he plummeted towards the Silver Sea far below.Caroha had pushed him out and let him fall! She’d tired him out with humiliating exercises in a suit that made Pohatu seem lightweight so he couldn’t defend himself – and he’d trusted her completely!But why would the leader of the Unknown want to murder the Jahurungi?Caroha had once said she feared Hujo, but he hadn’t taken it like that…What if it wasn’t Caroha?That thought gave him a new horror, although he knew being even more scared in the face of the uprushing waves was silly. What if the Caroha he’d been following around was really Nhayaka/Arakra?Or even Rathoa? Both were evil shapeshifters. Caroha could even have been replaced by a Makuta – the supervillains were physically strong, which would explain how Caroha walked in her heavy suit so easily.“Now,” Caroha’s voice suddenly came… with no hint of a sinister tone. The voice was staticy and seemed to come from his chest armor. “Think ‘FLY!’”Hujo’s mind reeled.Was that all this was?Fly.He jerked into motion so fast he felt like his muscles had detached. One moment the waves were almost slamming into him, the next, they zoomed down and away from him.“NOW THINK, ‘STOP!’ STOP! HUJO WATCH OUT!”Stop!Hujo came to an armor-jarring stop midair. Just a few feet above him was the gray plasticlike roof of the giant tunnel between the domes. He’d almost collided with it, he was going so fast.And he hovered. Not falling.How embarrasing. She was trying to teach me to fly the way other Ga-Matoran teach people to swim. Push them in. The suits were obviously for flying.He now saw Caroha floating in the air in her own suit, facing him, about a hundred feet away. It was hard to tell at this distance, but she looked to be grinning. He also noticed the hatch was closing again, perhaps on a timer.“Now,” her staticky voice came again, “make sure you don’t think about flying towards me.”His mind was crosswired. That’s the best explanation he came up with – because as soon as she told him not to think about it, he zoomed towards her at supersonic speeds.She dodged, and he barely missed slamming into her.“Be careful, Jahurungi. These suits obey your slightest whim when switched on. They may protect against atmospheric dangers – including water – but not from high impact deaths against rock or other hard surfaces. Focus on drifting gently downwards now.”He did, and the suit moved him that way.He’d once experienced a similar power in the special inner room of the zoocraft. A technology there enabled everybody inside that spherical room to hover around at will. But this was that power amped up exponentially.“Now is the time when we can talk, briefly,” she said. “And yes, I sensed all those thoughts. I’m sorry I scared you so deeply… there was no other safe way.”“I think I understand,” he said. His voice sounded normal, but he assumed it was being projected technologically to her.“It is,” she said, clearly grinning now, “but I hardly need it. Telepathy is a really handy power.”Hujo continued with his theory. “The suits have to be able to move at high speeds with very simple mental controls to enable anybody to fly long distances without a lot of practice… but a new user will likely be jerked into full speed the first time. In that small room up there, let alone all the other places before that…”Neither of them needed to finish the thought. The reason his life had been in danger now became brutally clear. His own eagerness could have killed him if she hadn’t acted exactly as she did.“And what’s more,” he continued, “you tired me out to make sure I wouldn’t think about moving. You must have switched my control on to make sure it was working for a moment before knocking me down. That’s why I suddenly felt lighter.”“Yes. If I just told you, ‘think about staying very still,’ your brain would think about moving. It’s unavoidable. I had to make you physically too tired to move.”Hujo grinned too, wryly. The world of an Unknown was a complex and frightening place.It was his world now.“So, where – far away – are we flying?”“No time for that now. Two more things you should do. First, think about becoming invisible.”He did. And his arms flickered translucent.Flickered back to visible. And back and forth.“This is hard to control.”“It’s not the suit that’s hard to control, Hujo. It’s your desires. You know what I said back on Twisted Island, about how wrong you were to think you had grown out of all your old mistakes? Self-control is something else you need to work on.”If anything will teach me, it’s this…Finally, he was able to keep himself cloaked, but only for about a minute. “Can I project my own illusion just in case I lose focus?” The Blue Fire Staff now had that power, thanks to his brush with chronoserum.“You don’t understand. This IS your illusion cloaking power. The suit is simply taking it over to hold it on for you. Only my suit needed its own cloaking upgrade. Stop trying to hold it on – you only need to think about switching it on and off.”He tried looking at it that way.He stayed translucent.For a few seconds longer.“Don’t worry. Being around people you want to hide from has a way of focusing your desires.”“Who do I want to hide from?” he asked.“Everyone.”

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Bhukasa watched as the Haze Glow Beasts crouched in instinctive preparation for battle, their heads low and pinchers held ready, their four wings swept back, their arms and legs held taut against the ground. They were ready to burst into a run at his order and defend the ship.Pohatu’s Akaku symbol on his Gold mask lit up, and he began describing the battle.Takua and Taureko materialized weapons from their energy packs and looked at him expectantly.They were all ready.He wasn’t.Bhukasa just stood there in indecision. Part of him wanted to free the trapped being, ask for his help. Part of him dreaded the added danger the being might pose to them.He heard more sounds from the battle carry through the palm trees.“Sir?” Takua said.“I’m thinking!” he blurted. “I… Let’s vote. Who says we should free this guy and ask his help?”Pohatu raised a hand. “I may not be able to make a protocage, but if he attacks, I can make a stone cage.”Takua nodded. “I don’t see any other hope, since Gali is low on elemental energy now.”Taureko shook his head. “You already know my vote.”“Rhengoka?” Bhukasa didn’t have time for the long name.“I choose,” Rhengahii said, “neither. Influence Zvidugok not.”He turned to the scout.“My past: led astray by blind trust,” Zvidugok said. “So my vote: too risky.”Bhukasa sighed. That left them with a tie.“Deep feeling?” Rhengahii asked him.Bhukasa shrugged. He didn’t know how to think that way.“Takua’s right,” Pohatu said, looking at Taureko. “Even if this guy will turn on us later, think about what Tahu told us the Kuambu said to Niaka. The Kuambu rule the ocean – they’re everybody’s enemy. Surely he will help us now.”Taureko looked hesitant. “If you had lived where I have lived, you wouldn’t assume all subjects of tyranny are the tyrants’ enemies…”“The point is,” Takua said softly, “we don’t know what to do, but we have to make a choice. Shouldn’t we choose the only option we have?”The Ko-Matoran sighed, but gave no further objection.Bhukasa took only a second longer to decide. His feeling – maybe not deep, but the only thing his vague sense of memory had given him – was that he knew this person well, implying he was a friend.He turned to Rhengahii. “Do it.”

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Lewa watched helplessly as Huki felled Hafu’s statues, blocking the path into Po-Koro.The brave villager had bought the other villagers time… at the price of his own self if Lewa and Kopaka didn’t get there in time.The Toa of Air called on the Kakama symbol embedded into his Gold Mask and raced towards the scene.The crowd of Tahnok seemed to slow as his mind and muscles sped up. But they were so close already…Lewa focused on the air between the Bohrok and the Po-Matoran, aiming his axe…More air appeared, expanding as a gentle pressure explosion. It knocked Huki a few steps closer to the village, and the leading Tahnok back a step or two.It was enough. Lewa zoomed by, and stopped several bio away with the villager safely in his arms. “Thanks,” Huki said.Lewa called on his Miru power and jumped, lifting the villager back inside. As Kopaka began the battle below, Lewa set Huki down.“Whose idea was doorblocking?” he asked the gathered villagers.“Turaga Onewa’s,” Huki said. “He had Tahu tell us his plan by Rikaori.”“Good thing he didn’t tell Hafu,” one of the others quipped.Lewa managed a quick grin. In the face of danger, Po-Matoran didn’t lose their senses of humor. “Let’s just hope you haven’t been sealed in a doomtrap,” he said. “Aim your disks at their eyes. Hopemuch Ice-Toa and I can do the rest.”They nodded, and Lewa leaped down to enter the battle.He landed atop one Tahnok, his toes connecting to the eye. Braincase flipped forward, Krana ejected. Shot past Lewa’s mask.Another Krana flew past his mask.Then another.Lewa realized his foot hitting had not been a coincidence… these Bohrok were trying to “infect” him with the Krana as Makuta controlled Rahi with infected masks!He dodged a few Krana, then noticed small blue blurs among the red Bohrok.Va. Gahlok Va, zipping around and collecting the Krana that missed him. Putting them back in their Bohrok owners’ heads.A Krana bounced off his shoulder.Two Va grabbed his right foot.A Tahnok grabbed his left foot.Miru!He hovered an inch but their added weight stopped him. He tried to knock them off with the flat of his axe, but two Tahnok only latched onto the long handle and yanked it away from him.For a split second he considered making a blast of wind, but remembered Kopaka’s tales of how chaotic his ice control had been when Rathoa had stolen his sword. The axe focused his powers.So he lunged forward and gripped the axe again. Tugged. They wouldn’t let go.As more Krana sailed past his dodging and ducking head, Lewa realized he’d done exactly what Surkahi warned him about. He’d leaped right into the battle without thinking. He should have levitated and blown himself closer to Kopaka so he and the Ice Toa could defend each other.But they were both loners.And now they would both fall alone.

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Bhukasa opened and closed his scissorclaws in anticipation.Rhengahii was almost totally inside the speckled white glass of the protocage when his hand touched the trapped being’s hand.Slowly, the intangibility effect spread throughout the trapped being.Finally, the titan moved. It tilted its head down, and flexed its limbs. Its red glowing eyes blinked in surprise. Bhukasa saw it take a step – leaving behind an echo of itself as an empty cavity in the protoglass.Rhengahii guided the being out.As soon as it was totally free, the mutant Kriitunga let go, and the titan popped into solidity. It took a deep breath of fresh air, then exploded its lungs in glee. “BHUKASA!” the titan roared. “You have freed me!”The reptilian being couldn’t help but cringe at this outburst… but it sounded friendly. “So… you know who I am?” he managed to say.“Of course, friend! Have the Kuambu robbed your memories yet again?!”“I… guess so… but look, there’s no time now. Are you an enemy of the Kuambu?”“Of COURSE,” the titan roared again. “Who do you think trapped me in that? It sounds like I’m lucky you stumbled upon me, friend. Have you forgotten our quest for the Memory Stone?”Bhukasa just blinked. “Lemme just get to the point… friend. The ship we all came here on is being attacked right now by a Kuambu ship.”The titan’s red eyes flashed. “And you need my help? Point the way, my scaly friend.”Pohatu pointed, and the being ran that way.Bhukasa and the other ran too. He took a moment to study the titan now that the cage’s protoglass didn’t obscure him.The titan was blue and white, taller by a head or so than a Toa, with a skeletal appearance. He carried ice picks that looked like they might double as ski treads. The thuds of his hooflike feet shook the ground.On his back, Bhukasa saw a white sword. It looked… so familiar.Bhukasa ran a little faster, and snuck a better look at it.It was shaped so much like Kopaka’s sword, Bhukasa couldn’t tell the difference. Not Kopaka’s original sword. The fancier form the sword took when it merged with a Btou staff, granting the swords’ bearers the power of ice.He looked again, but couldn’t see any difference. As far as he could tell, this was Kopaka’s sword.

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Kopaka’s sword was a blur, his head swiveling, his mask power locked on.The Toa of Ice saw immediately that Lewa had brashly jumped into a trap and needed Kopaka’s help. He tried to fight his way over there.But most of his energy was spent hunting the nearest Bohrok Va. These ones seemed slightly different from the Va he had seen so far – a little bigger, and all blue.They were smart, and they were clearly the Toa’s enemy.One by one, Kopaka was freezing them, when he could spare a shot of ice between the parrying, clanking, ducking, spinning in a furious swordfight against the fiery handshields and teethed head lunges of the Tahnok.With the Va near him frozen, the Tahnok didn’t risk projecting their brains at him, so he avoided the trap Lewa now faced.But it was slow going, and Lewa came within inches of defeat again and again with every second that passed.Finally, Kopaka began freezing the Va nearest Lewa.A quick glance, a heat pattern view through the broiling mass of robots, told him that the Tahnok had mostly thawed the Va he’d previously frozen. But no matter – he was putting many krana in his energy pack, so overall, he was winning. If he could just rescue Lewa and then stay on his feet.Lewa cried out in alarm. “My axe!”Glance. A Tahnok had wrestled it from Lewa’s grasp and pulled it away. Others pulled Lewa away from the weapon.A krana landed on Lewa’s mask.Sword aimed. Ice shot true.The Tahnok with the axe froze in place, becoming a spiky sphere of ice.One of the spikes hit another Tahnok, on its way to Lewa, where it knocked into his head, brushing aside the krana. Lewa backed up and shook against his captors.The frozen Tahnok with the axe was closer to Kopaka now.“Tool swap!” Kopaka shouted over the clanking roar of battle.He waited until a safe moment, and levitated above a Bohrok, tossing his sword at Lewa’s only free hand.In the same move, he swung his left hand with his shield down and connected the shield to the frozen Tahnok (which was already thawing on its own). His right hand followed, aimed at the axe.One finger touched the axe and Kopaka absorbed cold energy as fast as he could.He’d barely landed before he had a thawed axe in his hand. Shot ice at the nearest Bohrok.“Oh no!” Lewa exclaimed.Glance.Kopaka’s heart fell. Not again!A particularly feisty blue Va had leaped up onto the second frozen Tahnok in the chain of ice Kopaka had made earlier, and caught the Sword of Ice mid-throw. Lewa was left without a weapon, and the Va scurried away.Lewa gave a panicked yell, and held out both hands as if trying to form wings to fly.Chaotic blasts of wind and flashes of green light erupted all around him.Highly compressed air appeared from the green light, and exploded, blasting away Bohrok, Va… and Lewa’s Gold Miru.Kopaka froze in surprise for a moment, beholding a maskless Lewa standing in a clearing of open sand, surrounded by fallen Bohrok just now coming back up for more…

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Without his mask, Lewa felt weak.Tried to stay standing. But slowly sank to his knees.Saw the final Krana coming.Saw a disk fly past it. A desperate throw from one of the villagers to save their foolish friend.Missed.The Krana flew on, right at Lewa’s face.This isn’t how—It landed.For the second time in a minute, a Krana brain was on his face, this time with no mask in the way.For the second time, he sensed a mental version of a rough handshake, as the repulsive creature tried to gain entry into his mind.Second time he scolded himself, in the blink of an eye, for risking his purpose. He was supposed to be investigating the threat of the Bohrok, not joining them.I…His thoughts became sluggish, and now he saw the battle moving fast as Kopaka tried to fight his way to Lewa and also to angle towards the sword-stealing Va.But Lewa knew it came down to him.I am not, Lewa thought to the Krana, the helpless victim you think I am!He brought a hand up, and swiped the creature away.Instantly, his thoughts sped up.He saw the mask laying on the sand between him and a blue Va.Both of them bolted for it.Lewa’s leg muscles were still sluggish.But he was determined. He reached the mask first – and gave the little creature a satisfying kick back into the wall of tangled Bohrok. Put the Kanohi on.With one hand clamped over his mask, he created another chaotic explosion of air.Once more, a clearing of Bohrok appeared around him – plus the krana that had been shooting at him were blasted away. Now, tangled in the creatures on the edge of the clearing was a Va carrying a sword.Dodging bolts of fire and a few more brains, Lewa pounced on the creature and froze it solid the moment his hand touched the sword’s blade.Moments later, all Va near the two Toa were frozen solid, and they finally stood back to back, defending each other against the army around them. Disks rained in, felling many Bohrok.About half the Toa’s time was spent angling towards fallen krana before the remaining Va could get them.Finally, after several minutes of exhausting, seemingly endless battle, the remaining red Bohrok and blue Va retreated, leaving a crowd of brethren standing around with seemingly no purpose.It was over.Until the next battle.As Lewa collected the remaining brains they’d missed earlier, he couldn’t help but feel proud of his reaction. But he knew that all he’d faced so far – including the near mind control of the krana – was nothing compared to what was to come. So he could not afford to hang his mask on pride yet.All that was left was anticipation. Would the Turaga approve his mission?

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Hujo followed Caroha along the Great Barrier until she reached a barely visible door in the edge of the dome wall.She slowed, and told him to focus on slowing too.He did, and soon landed on a rock ledge.“I’m switching off your control now,” she said.He was heavy again. But in no danger of suddenly ramming into a wall on a whim.She pried the hidden door open and entered. Hujo followed.Inside, he beheld a small room mostly barren, except for a brown stone sphere standing in the center.The sphere was about the size of a Le-Matoran hut. It had no features that Hujo could see. Just a big brown rock.He wanted to ask what it was, but Caroha had told him just before they arrived that he needed to avoid questions again. They had little time.Caroha stood in front of the stone at a seemingly random point, and held up a hand.“Caroha,” she said.A flash of blue light came from her hand, and hit the stone.Nothing happened.Caroha lowered her hand, and just stood there.Then she repeated the prodecure.Again, nothing. But she looked undisturbed.Repeated.Nothing.Still, Caroha waited.“This is a security system,” she explained quickly. “Even if someone faked my standard unlock procedure, it will only work on the fourth try. Most fakers would give up after the third. Caroha.”A square portion of the rock slid outward and angled down.Hujo saw that the inside of this rock door was made of metal, with a hinge and gear system, as well as a complicated computer device in the middle. Whatever was on the inside, Hujo couldn’t see.Caroha walked in, and Hujo followed.As they entered, he saw no light source. But the lights from the orbs in their armor cast a dim light. Hujo saw only brown stone.“So the only technology here is in the door? Let me guess, this place is a jump point? You yourself have the power to jump between the Paracosmos and the Cosmos, as I did between Twisted Island and the Paracosmos, but the dome makes sure you don’t jump into a wall or something?”Caroha beamed. “Truly you are the Jahurungi. Except, again, that I can no longer go directly there, as I explained earlier.”“Yes. How many dimensions will we have to go through?”“About twenty, though most of them aren’t all that interesting – on purpose; they’re less dangerous. And as soon as we appear in the first Altacosmos – one rooted in the Paracosmos – understand that we must fly to a different dome somewhere else in order to jump to the next dimension on the way to the Cosmos.”“Why?”“That, I can’t tell you, I’m afraid.”Hujo frowned. Secrets. But he was beyond the point of doubting his trust in Caroha now. “So let’s go.”Caroha nodded. “Take my hand.”Holding out his hand then took something from him, that he knew he did not have until recently. Perhaps courage, perhaps something deeper... To leave his own dimension... True, Twisted Island and the Field of Shadow were technically not his dimension, but this would be something else entirely.Something beyond the wildest dreams of a simple lava river mapper.Just a simple action, holding out a hand, he thought. It should be easy. But as he watched his own hand lift, he felt like he was lifting the entire Paracosmos, and setting it on his shoulders.Caroha took his hand, and closed her eyes. She just stood there for a moment, while Hujo's heart pounded, and his imagination went wild – what would he see on this journey?Then a whirling sphere of blue energy enveloped them both.

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“What’s your name?” Bhukasa asked the being as they ran through the palm trees.“Everybody calls me Toggler,” the blue and white titan said.“Why?”The being slowed for a moment, then suddenly changed shape.He became a hovering sphere that was half blue and half white.Then he shapeshifted back to the skeletal faunlike titan form.“My species are limited shapeshifters called shapeswitchers,” he said. “I can toggle between these two forms, and nothing else, although in this form I turn to a third mode of sorts. I’ve been away from my people for so long I’ve forgotten my real name, so Toggler suffices.”“I see. And this Memory Stone…”“It’s on an island due west from here; we were there already, but the Kuambu chased most of us away, leaving a friend there… Two of us were captured later… I was trapped in the protocage. I don’t know what happened after that.”Bhukasa had so many more questions, but the time for talking ran out – they had reached a cliff edge.He beheld his boat firing bombfruit, and the lone Kuambu ship firing Kuamor spheres. The Le-Matoran fired bombfruit and disks from the circling Gukko.“It’s the same ship,” Toggler said. “The one that attacked us on Memory Island. I recognize some of the scars in the wood – scars we inflicted.”The Kuambu ship’s mast had not been replaced. It must have teleported here.But it didn’t matter much. Oars had appeared out of slits in the side, and it was speeding towards Bhukasa’s boat. There was a sharp point underwater on the prow of the boat, like a massive Vako horn. If it hit his ship…Well, with the strange black metal inside, he didn’t know if it would puncture the hull or not… but it wasn’t a risk he wanted to take.Toggler was already moving.The titan dove off the cliff, with a strong jump away from the sloping side. Plunged into the water. Disappeared under it.Emerged a moment later, and bounced above the water.There was a white flash.Bhukasa didn’t know what had happened at first. One second, the titan had been about to splash back into the water. The next, Toggler was bent over on all fours, sliding over the water as if it was solid – but it was – he had frozen it.The ice picks were bent forward as ice skids. Gearlike parts on his toes now spun, propelling Toggler forward. The ice sword mounted on the titan’s back still glowed white.And ice formed all around him.As he zoomed forward, more ice formed ahead. In his wake, an ice bridge remained.In this way – the third mode he had alluded to, Bhukasa assumed – Toggler rapidly crossed the distance to the Kuambu ship, and then leaped into the air again.With a blur, he shapeswitched into the hovering sphere, and rammed at high speed into the Kuambu prow.The boat tilted off course, and sped just to the right of Bhukasa’s boat.In those seconds, though, they devastated his boat with weapons.Bhukasa also noticed the Ga-Matoran was still on the enemy boat, making no attempt to hide herself behind the castle formations of the walls. She held several plasma guns, and shot at Toggler with impressive skill.The shapeswitcher’s sphere form zoomed around, rolling across the hull, constantly pushing it telekinetically away while dodging the shots.Finally, a few plasma shots hit Toggler, and he dropped into the sea.Bhukasa worried he was dead, but the shapeswitcher emerged in titan form, swimming to Bhukasa’s boat.Viewing the battle from the cliffside, despite how fast everything was happening, Bhukasa felt glad. True, they were now in a desperate fix… and it wasn’t that he was just glad he wasn’t bored anymore; the vague flashes of maybe-memory had left him since the battle started.It was that something had changed inside him with his leap of faith in freeing Toggler – which now seemed to have been the right decision. He had a mission that was about his past.The Memory Stone. Whatever it was, he had to find it.“Let’s get to that ice bridge,” he said. “That was just round one.”

END PART ONE

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Edited by bonesiii, Jan 12 2012 - 07:22 PM.

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#12 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Jan 15 2012 - 06:41 PM

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Chapter 11

As Bhukasa leaped onto Toggler’s newly made ice-bridge, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something in his mind was… off.Even though the Kuambu ship’s attack was anything but calming, he still felt the sorrow lurking just under the surface. He feared it would break out in the middle of battle. He felt the memories threatening to rise up even as he ran… if they were memories…But not knowing what else to do, he ran right into the battle. His crew needed him.Bhukasa reached the end of the ice bridge right as his ship pulled alongside it. He looked back. The others were mostly there. They climbed aboard, while Bhukasa waited. The two Matoran were the last to come, and the boat was past the bridge by that time.He had to ask each of them to grab one of his arms, and he jumped, carrying them aboard. Meanwhile, the Gukko landed.Everybody was aboard, including Toggler. Bhukasa ran for the wheel.The Kuambu boat was coming about, still firing Kuamor spheres at them.Bhukasa looked at the deck. “Gali?”“I have recharged a lot,” she said. “I don’t know if I can do rain right now, though. These clouds have less –”“Spare me the reasons and try.”Gali nodded, and raised her hands to the sky.Bhukasa addressed the entire crew. “We need to take out their oars. Ideas?”“Stone again,” Pohatu said.“Let me handle it,” Toggler said, holding up the ice sword.“Do both,” he told them.Meanwhile, he turned into the wind, and circled the small island for a moment. It blocked the Kuambu vessel’s line of fire for a short time, enough to gain some distance.“Haze Glow Beasts,” Bhukasa said. “To the oars.”They went without comment. He noticed they weren’t wailing. He didn’t know if that was good news… or the worst news yet, but at least it let him focus.There was a deep WHUMP, and a gust of wind from behind.Bhukasa jerked his head around.Kuambu ship. Right on their tail.Kuamor flying.Ruugon’s map exploded. Railing wrapped in webbing. Hole blasted in the sail.“RETURN FIRE!” he shouted, turning the wheel so they could do so with the side-mounted ballista-slings.Bombs slammed into the enemy hull, ripping it in several places, but none hit below the waterline.Meanwhile, the enemy oars were being frozen and encased in stone, one by one. They were already falling behind again. And thankfully they didn’t hit his own ship’s mast.Rain began falling.Wasn’t obscuring his vision at all. Wouldn't conceal them.But the enemy ship did not teleport again. Bhukasa wondered if they had limited numbers of teleportation Kuamor, or something similar. He doubted it was one of their actual powers.It fell slowly farther and farther behind, until he could not see it at all.He glanced back at the destroyed map. Ruugon shook his head. Navigation was gone.“This Memory Island is due west?” he asked Toggler.“Yes.”“Then due west is all we will do from here on out. I want a sentry each facing north, south, east, west at all times,” he said to the Matoran.He watched for a while longer. Then nothing else happened.“Come,” he told Toggler, motioning towards the lower decks. “Time for lunch, and tales of the past.”

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Blue Eyes existed again, but this time, it knew things were different.It was in a dark dungeon flooded with shallow water.Aside from a maze of decorative pillars throughout the huge room, the only other thing it saw was fish. Lots of fish. None of them were as large as the shark BE had seen through the eyes of, but they looked just as predatory. They were blue and gray, with eyes almost the same bright blue as its own eyes.This was the strangest place it had been yet, it thought. Something about it felt… connected to him. Somehow. The place looked real, sounded real, felt real…And yet, somehow… It felt like a dream.BE took a moment to study the pillars.Spaced in a square grid for as far as he could see, there were large castle-like bundles of four tall silver pillars, arranged like a plus sign with connecting silver walls. All of these had vertical slits spaced closely together as texture. There were blue glowing crystal cones, and four silver spires, atop the pillars.In most places, there were then three smaller pillars placed in a row between two of the larger structures, also with blue crystal cones atop them. With these ‘walls’ between four of the larger corners, a square room was formed. But in many places, the smaller pillars were missing, freeing up pathways the fish could swim along.Satisfied, BE zoomed through the water and into the mouth of one of the spiny fish.It had to shrink the width of its eyes to fit inside. But once it was in, it moved up and tried to expand its eyes.SNAP.It worked! It could see through the fish’s eyes!BE swam around, enjoying a strange mix of control over the fish’s body and actually only being able to ask the fish to do what it wanted. The distinction was irrelevant at the moment, because the fish wasn’t hungry and was in fact bored.BE wondered for a moment how the fish could be not hungry, considering he didn’t see any food.And in response, he saw flashes of memory of the fish eating. It seemed that whenever the fish got hungry, smaller fish appeared in flashes of blue light similar to the blue blanking light BE experienced whenever the hated tug came.The smaller fish was fun to catch, BE remembered. It saw the minnow duck around the silvery pillars. With a flick of its tail, BE chased, angling around corners.The minnow was small enough to slip between the pillars, but the spiny fish was not. BE felt the suspense as the minnow put a long wall of pillars between them.But the larger fish easily jumped over the pillars. For a moment, BE was able to slow the memory down and linger in the air, looking at the glowing blue cones decorating the tops of the pillars. From above, the landscape of pillars looked like a starry, upside-down night sky – all of blue.BE felt even more strongly a sense of connection. As if this was his home. Was this where the tug always brought him? And somehow he’d failed to remember it until now?The thought gave him a thrill, which lost his focus on the fish’s mind slightly. The fish fast-forwarded the memory until it caught the fish.Then it showed him a memory of a day the spiny fish hadn’t felt like a chase. The smaller fish was slow and easy to catch that day. What was more, it looked like the exact same fish from the other memory.This realization increased the sense that this place wasn’t quite real.Back in the present, BE willed the fish to explore the maze, looking for anything different.After a while, it discovered there was an edge to this place. The pillars stopped, with a buffer hallway between the huge square maze and a low outer wall. Beyond the top of the wall, BE saw nothing but endless blackness.Come to think of it, there was no ceiling either – just endless blackness up that way.No… there was a single light up there. High above. It looked like a cave entrance, showing off a partly cloudy sky high above.But neither BE nor the fish had any hope of getting there. So he continued to search.He found that there was a rule being enforced in this place that was blatantly unreal. No matter how hard he tried to jump over the outer edge of pillars into the surrounding hallway, an invisible force pulled the fish back in.The fish wondered if BE could go into the hallway alone.So BE moved forward out of the fish’s eyes, and left its body.The being slipped between two pillars, and passed with no hint of resistance into the water of the outer hallway. It zoomed around a little, then returned to the fish.The fish then thought about two other places in the maze. It gave BE a flash of memory of a single unique pillar at one part of the border. It also showed BE a memory of a hole in the ground. It was impatient with BE’s direct exploring and wanted to speed things up now.It wanted out?BE wasn’t sure of this, but he got that impression. The fish was sending him on missions to see if there was any way it could leave this maze. Real place or not, the fish was totally real, he sensed.On the way, BE spotted something it hadn’t noticed before.Floating lightly on the surface of the water at a random point was a black sphere.It looked liquid, but it wasn’t absorbed by the water. In fact it wasn’t really floating, BE realized; it was hovering. When waves from his fins hit it, it didn’t move. The fish seemed paradoxically afraid of the sphere and yet drawn to it.The weirdest thing about it was that the black liquid sparkled. Blue specks of light.While the other glowing blue things BE had seen here so far were very close to the shade of blue of its eyes, these sparkles were exact.The feeling of connection was strongest near the sphere.The fish told him that the food minnows appeared from these points. But the fish didn’t want to stick around right now, so off they went swimming and leaping, until they reached the unique pedestal.It was essentially a silver trident, pointing straight up out of the water, right in the middle of one of the outer walls.It was placed like a middle small pillar between two of the larger castle-like pillars, but there were no other smaller pillars blocking that way to the right or left. The fish gave him the impression that this was the proper entrance to the maze for walking beings.The fish willed him to leave and look at the other face of the trident – the side aimed away from the maze.BE did. On the other side of the trident, the final outer wall bent out, forming a square room filled only with the shallow water. BE noticed the sky-hole far above was placed directly over this spot.BE faced the trident. Mounted at the base of the three spikes was a round blue gem, the same color as the conical gems that topped the pillars.Moving closer, BE saw that words seemed to be etched into the gem’s face. But strangely, the words were sidescrolling. They appeared on the right and disappeared on the left. BE actually blinked for the first time ever, in surprise that such a thing was possible.The being felt a connection to this gem too. Looking at it gave BE the strongest feeling yet that this place was not real. It was all an illusion, a dream realm, but one that physical beings could somehow enter.BE realized it could read the words.First scrolled the name of this place. “The Labyrinth of the Unknown.” BE celebrated – the first name it had attached to any place.Next scrolled what seemed to be a menu. “Check number of enemies defeated. Earn protos. Buy ammo or food.”Curious, BE focused on the protos part the next time it scrolled into existence.The etchings disappeared. Then new words scrolled across the gem. “Defeat at least 50 Rahi now to earn protos. (5 protos per Rahi defeated.) Counting for this chore starts now.”Suddenly the behavior of the other fish besides BE’s friend changed dramatically. They all swam and leaped madly towards the nearest black spheres, and jumped inside.The sphere seemed to eat them. They didn’t come back out.Suddenly five fish swam at once out of different sides of the sphere nearest BE, and swam right at him. There was a new tone of their eyes’ glow. Not quite anger, but antagonism of some kind.BE swam back into his fish, and tried to leap away from the other fish, but they surrounded him.As they rammed into his fish, or bit at it, he felt the hated tug begin to return with every attack.Angrily, BE bit back.The first fish he bit backed up, then came at him again. He bit again, and the look in its eyes changed from antagonism to peace. It circled and swam away.Then something strange happened. There was a flash of blue light by the trident, and a silver coin appeared midair.The coin plunked into the water. It was useless to BE, so he focused on the fighting.At one point, he tried to leap over one of the walls, but the invisible force stopped him. What?! Not only was he trapped in a group of many attackers, he was limited to the open pathways in the maze only.Luckily, the fish knew the way through the labyrinth. He fought his way out of the group, following the fish’s directions through the maze.Once BE got away from the other fish, he saw one retreating fish swim far away, then meander for a bit. After a moment, it swam madly at the nearest black sphere and disappeared – only to reappear with the next group of five from the sphere ahead of him.Rather than let himself get trapped in a fight again, BE swam to the side, distancing himself from the two groups closing in on him.They merged to become a larger group that chased him.The fish guided him nearly to one of the corners of the maze.There was a hole in the stone floor. The end of the maze.The fish wanted him to swim with it down the hole. And escape.BE wasn’t sure he was ready to leave yet. He wanted to explore his connection with this place more, and the distant tug was pulling on him strongly now. This might be his only chance!But the fish was desperate. This had been its prison for so long it could barely remember the wide oceanic vistas it had once called home.BE recalled his adventure around the deep sea trench. The fish lingered in the memory briefly, and even gave the closest thing to thanks an animal could give. But it wasn’t enough.The enemy fish were closing in.BE knew that if this fish got injured too much more, the distant tug would take him once and for all.But… would that apply if he simply left the fish?A wave of fear rushed over him… or the fish, that is. It begged him not to leave it now. One more mission, and then it wouldn’t ask for anything else.So they swam down the hole.

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Lewa was leaving Po-Koro when Tahu’s voice came over the air again.“The Turaga approve you investigating the Bohrok-related mysteries. Work with Toa Onua and the Bohrok Kal. Ito has also volunteered to help you. Kopaka?”“Here.”“The Ko-Matoran report the Tahnok swarm has moved towards their village. Nuju wants you to get there right away.”Kopaka agreed, and set off immediately.“Where should I meetgreet the others?” Lewa asked.“Head to the border of Ga-Wahi and Po-Wahi. The Kal are waiting there; Onua is on his way with Ito. I’m going to check in on Bhukasa next.”“Wait-hold,” Lewa said quickly. “Before you quietgo, what about Kanoka’s request?”“The Turaga haven’t quite decided that yet,” Tahu said. “I’ll let you know when they do.”Lewa thanked him for the news, and set off for Ga-Wahi.

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Rathoa stood as still as a statue in the meeting room of Destral. Over a hundred Makuta stood in the room with him.Or rather, against him – the current leader, Icarax, had just declared that Rathoa must die.He should flee for his life, but he was honestly too confused and frightened to move. It was as if he felt that by standing perfectly still, he would bar time its passage, even wind back the impossible conversation he’d just had.Rathoa’s mind struggled to catalogue all the wild claims of Icarax – surely they were all just desperate lies?Rathoa had come after playing a hand in the death of Makuta Teridax, and having used secret means to become a Makuta himself – a more powerful version in fact. By Brotherhood law, they should all now declare Rathoa the leader. Icarax was surely just trying to hold onto his own power… But he said it with such confidence…He said Makuta wasn’t dead.Said his apparent death had merely been a test of the Rahunga’s loyalty – which Rathoa failed.Said the true leader of the Rahunga was Kanoka, not Rathoa.Threw out some name Rathoa had never heard – he didn’t quite catch it or why it was mentioned.And what was that about Icarax remaining forever in charge of the Brotherhood? Didn’t that contradict Teridax being alive? Surely the mastermind wouldn’t have resigned…Once, as a Matoran, Rathoa had fallen into an abandoned mine-tunnel with a steep, slippery rock slope for a floor. He remembered grabbing at the floor and just barely managing to stop himself from falling to his death on the sharp rocks at the other end – the intense, chest-constricting nervousness that conquered his mind and body. He felt it now again.Icarax shifted, pointing to the other Makuta near Rathoa. And all too soon, delivered the line that broke the nervous silence. “Kill him.”Rathoa’s mind lost track of the next few frantic moments of chaotic motion, ducking, kicking, punching, quickly shapeshifting, firing off as many different powers as he could muster.Finally, he wondered what had become of the diminutive Chronicler he’d brought with him – the female Kriitunga named Somaihri. He didn’t see her among the others nearby. He didn’t know her well, but he’d brought her here, and he felt responsible for her. But could he do anything for her?He mentally commanded his mind-minions – several other Rahunga he'd enslaved with a mask power – to defend him, but they were all quickly defeated and dragged away.The energy bolt of some weapon hit him. It seemed to do nothing, until he tried to shapeshift again.Couldn’t!His right forearm was nicked – antidermis leaked. He was knocked to his feet.Then he noticed a huge body standing between him and the crowd of Makuta – another Makuta, faced away. Standing on his shoulders, the blue Kriitunga, staring at the being’s head intently.Wait… That was no Kriitunga. That species had conical, birdlike heads, sharp claws, and wore no mask. This being wore a Mask of Mind Control, had no claws… and the blue and brown color scheme was just now transforming into blue and silver.A shapeshifter?The Matoran-like body of the stranger grew in size, doubling, and took on intricate detail – the mask now looked like a much fancier version of a Kanohi Komau. And it was glowing – she was using its power!Rathoa tilted his head, dropping his jaw.An Unknown!The mind-controlled Makuta – a terrifying thought by itself, he felt – exchanged fire with the crowd beyond. Rathoa’s back lay against the stone table – behind it was Icarax.Rathoa stumbled to his feet and turned, just in time to see Icarax hurtling over the table, his face contorted in fury.There was an explosion of dust from the floor next to him.Rathoa ducked aside in its concealing fog. At the same moment, the blue Unknown leaped off the other Makuta, grabbing Rathoa’s shoulder. Icarax slammed into the other Makuta, and both tumbled into the crowd like a ball in the Matoran game of Knockpins.He felt the Unknown lean her head close to him, saw the fancier version of the Korau facing him out of the corner of his eye.An odd feeling came over Rathoa – his vision blurred and the sounds of battle faded away. His mind was filled with an insatiable desire to switch masks.Mask of Size.It was a turtle-shell-like mask that combined the powers of enlarging and shrinking – one of Rathoa’s many unique Kanohi power mixes. The instant it appeared from the hidden Suva Rathoa owned far away in a cave on Mata Nui, he willed himself to shrink.The Unknown shrunk along with him by means that were, well, unknown.The mind control lifted from his mind, and he looked around, understanding slowly.The explosion of dust in the floor had been a disintegration power from the other puppeteered Makuta. It had blasted a small hole in the floor, reaching down to a lower level. Now Rathoa found himself falling through a huge hole over dizzying heights. Strong winds buffeted him this way and that – just like the dancing dust motes that dwarfed Rathoa.Giants the size of mountains thundered above. As soon as the hole receded Rathoa lost sight of them. Did they understand what had happened?Rathoa looked down.The distant floor rapidly rose at them. He realized suddenly that he still weighed a lot more than the motes of dust, but not his full weight – if only he’d tested this power more! Normally he would just shapeshift wings and fly to safety, but that strange weapon’s form-lock effect was still on him. How to get out of this?Could he just turn large? Would that lessen the impact? Or just make it worse?He glanced at the Unknown.She was maskless.Rathoa didn’t see the mask anywhere. He glanced up, just in time to see Icarax picking up a full-size mask, staring at it in confusion. It must have gotten knocked off in the last moment.He shook her. “Shapeshift a parachute! Quick!”She slowly looked at him. Slowly looked down.Began to change shape.Became a cloth with strings, claws at the ends gripping Rathoa.Too late – they slammed into the floor.All went black for a long time – how long, Rathoa didn’t know.When he awoke, his mask was gone too, two giant pieces of dust had basically buried him alive, and he held a crumpled blue cloth in his hands.He was still microscopic. So that power doesn’t reverse itself automatically. Again, should have tested more.Grimacing, he struggled against the heavy dust motes. Finally broke free. He commanded some Rahudermis to cover the hole in his armor. The black liquid stopped the antidermis leak.He stood up, and looked around frantically for the mask.There it was.In the claws of a Dust Flea.The skittery creature turned the object over in its hands, tilting its ugly head to stare at it. Licked it.Rathoa stepped towards it.It turned its whole body to face him, froze in place…And leaped miles away.Rathoa looked up and around frantically to spot it against the grainy-stone ceiling many more miles above, but all he saw was a black oozing shape – not a liquid, but a shapeshifting metal armor.A Makuta was shapeshifting his way down the hole.

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Hujo’s world was nothing but whirling light and sound and a sense of static charge…Then the light faded, the sound went to nothing, and the crackling energy disappeared.He was back in the rock dome. Again, it had no built-in lighting. Again, the dim light from the orbs on their hands and foreheads showed Hujo that the dome’s interior was all plain brown rock, cut smooth, except for the gear mechanism at the door.The ground shook. Violently.“As soon as I open that door,” Caroha said, “we’ll be back in danger, and seconds will count. I will fly to our new destination. Your job is to follow me – and avoid collisions.”“Understood. Where are we?”“An alternate version of the Paracosmos. I call it The Shaking. And time for questions is over.”She went to the door and pressed a button.Just as she did, the ground pitched so violently Hujo was knocked to his feet.He saw eyes out the door. Bohrok eyes – the shape was too distinctive to mistake.Caroha ran to him and helped him to his feet. She was invisible, but Hujo was flickering.The Bohrok walked closer. Tried to block them in – or him, that was.Hujo saw that they had no krana – instead, compact machines sat behind their glassy braincases.Heavy steps… reached the door. Caroha hovered.Hujo felt lighter.“FOLLOW ME!” Caroha shouted as she burst into flight. “And think invisibility!”Hujo flew out the door, just brushing its lip, and passed just over the outstretched hands of the Bohrok. They let loose a volley of elemental powers, but just barely too late.Without intending to, Hujo hovered low, his curiosity about this place getting the better of him.It was a dome, the same size as Metru Nui’s dome… and he could see the ruins of Metru Nui in the distance. But almost every other detail was different. Not in any complicated ways – it was simply barren.There were no plants on the island, and most of the buildings had been turned to rubble.The original coasts of the island were gone, as if a giant claw had pushed their mass out and let it sink into the sea.Everything shook. Even as he watched, more buildings crumbled, and more masses of earth and stone fell outward. The constant quakes were leveling everything.And over everything crawled the spherical robots with their odd computer brains.There was no sky illusion.Instead, the two eyes were very clearly holes in scarred gray rock. Harsh light streamed down them, tinted red.Hujo glanced back at the rock dome, now just a tiny speck. His curiosity immediately moved him closer, and he saw that the door had closed before any Bohrok reached it. They were trying to melt it, wash it away, break it with rocks – nothing worked.“Hujo!” Caroha’s voice came over the speaker. “Where are you?”Oh! “Sorry… I got too curious. Back by the dome.”“Follow me and do NOT delay!”She swung by so he could see her. Then pulled away, flying towards the island, and up towards the closest sun-hole.Hujo worried that the translucent red barrier he saw was a physical one – but Caroha flew right through it, and it rippled like water. He followed.The surface looked just as altered as the domes. There were no plants on Mata Nui Island, except for a few strips near the southern tip. The whole island looked like it had suffered a volcanic disaster – huge canyons radiated from the Mangai, some filled with lava fields, most of it covered with a gray volcanic ash.And the island was shaking too.The ocean here was shallower. As such the island seemed even larger than it normally would have.Caroha zoomed over the eastern coast, and out over the ocean. Hujo followed, keeping himself invisible now.They quickly crossed the sea between Mata Nui and Kriitunga Island.Halfway there, Hujo noticed a tiny island shaped like a peg, sticking straight up from the sea. He wondered what it was, but Caroha had not given him permission to ask questions yet.They reached Kriitunga Island.This island was larger too, due to the shallower ocean. It looked much like the Kriitunga Island Hujo knew – a vast desert sliced in half by a mountain range that stretched from the northern tip to the southern, a town at the western base of the middle of these mountains, and a river reaching from there to the western coast.It was shaking too, though not quite as violently as Mata Nui or the Metru Nui.He thought he saw armies of the strange Bohrok fighting Kriitunga there.But Caroha did not head towards them. Instead, she flew higher and higher, heading over the mountain range.Hujo kept his distance from the rock, afraid of his own lack of control. Caroha, by contrast, flew very close, so she almost seemed to be running very fast over the rock’s edge.Two long streams of clouds climbed the mountain on either side of them, bending around a tall peak directly ahead of them. Caroha flew so close to it she could have touched it, but the edge was distinct and she did not pass inside. Hujo could not imagine flying that close – even if he passed in the cloud for just a moment he felt he would completely lose track of where he was and hit the mountain.Then she curved up and over the peak. Disappeared on the other side.Hujo unconsciously flew closer to the peak as if to cut right through it. No!Flew directly up.Leveled off. Zoomed over the peak, but it flew so close he thought he would hit it.When he passed over it, it was only feet away. Hujo gripped the two orbs in his hands so tight he was amazed they did not crumble.Lack of self control is right, he thought…Where was Caroha? He didn’t see her!On this side, the clouds spread out, curling around and languishing in the wind-shadow of the mountain, so that the two streams became one big fog.Had she dared fly into the cloud?“Caroha?”No answer.He hovered down close to the cloud.“Caroha!”In answer he heard a quiet burst of static. Then nothing.

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#13 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Jan 20 2012 - 01:21 AM

Chapter 12

Bhukasa listened to Toggler's hurried account of their time on a Kuambu prison island, their eventual escape, and venture to find this "Memory Stone."Toggler's own memory had been tampered with so many times, he himself had forgotten most of the details, including how exactly they escaped, or why they'd had to leave a friend behind on Memory Island. When the white titan had finished, Bhukasa updated him on events since his latest memory loss."Now,” he said once he’d finished, “we're headed due west to this Memory Island, the Kuambu on our tail. We've out-paddled them and we've broken their sail, but they can teleport. They'll be there waiting for us. Please tell me you have ideas.""I seriously doubt it will come to that. The Kuambu are brilliant strategists. And you saw that Matoran in their watch-nest. I'm sure she saw that our map was destroyed. They know we have to go due west or we'll miss the island.""What does that have to do with it?""Think about it. If they could, they would teleport into our way and attack us head-on again. I've seen their teleportations turn ships completely around in an instant, if you doubt that. The fact that they haven't tells me they have run out of teleportation Kuamor spheres."Bhukasa considered this. "But if they're such brilliant strategists, wouldn't they just hold onto one or two spheres and teleport to the island to wait on us?""I doubt they'd want to risk us finding the Stone, even if they could sink your ship there. They would have used all their ammo as fast as possible, trying to take us down quickly before we had time to figure out effective countermeasures.""Alright. But they are following us, so we won't have much time. How easy will it be to find this Stone?""I don't know. We must face mysterious forces and some unknown guardian, according to the latest rumors. Supposedly the defenses of the island got exponentially stronger after our last visit."Bhukasa sighed. "Well, we were trying to head to Kriitunga Island. Maybe this isn't worth it -- once we're out of sight of the Kuambu by enough distance, we could turn towards it, leaving them in the dark as to where we're going.""Tempting," Toggler said, as if he was the Captain, "but you really did lose that map. I know how to get to Kriitunga Island from Memory Island -- head due southeast -- but since we're not there yet, if we turn too soon, we might completely miss Kriitunga Island.""Our Gukko Riders can scout around us, enough to guarantee we'll see it.""Maybe. But what if the Memory defenses get even stronger because we were near... or just on their own over time? Since we're going that way, I think we'd better go for the Stone. It could be now or never, and one thing I do remember clearly was that you believed your own past to be a key to the mystery of the Kuambu."Which is officially why I'm on this quest, Bhukasa reminded himself.He clicked his scissorclaws. "Very well."“Now about these Matoran the Kuambu just captured,” Toggler said. “I also can tell you how to get there. The island they are on is also where we were captured. Do you wish to try to rescue them later, once we're done with Memory Island and Kriitunga Island?”Bhukasa frowned. “I don’t especially wish that, but what choice is there? If you can get us there, we should try.”

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Lewa found a surprisingly timid group of elite Bohrok behind a clump of bushes and a rock ridge at the Ga/Po border.“Whyhide?” he asked.The red Kal just pointed a handshield at the ridge. “Peer over, but stay low.”So he did.A cloud.Not a cloud – Bohrok. In ball form, hovering. Spinning, twisting, whirling in a tangled tornado shape, dwarfing any of the Koro.Standing on a rock spire in the very center of the twister, the two Oru-Vortixx; the purple one and the red one. There had been no rock spire there before – Lewa realized it was actually a remainder; the Bohrok tornado was tearing into the ground, digging a huge crater.One of the Vortixx looked directly at Lewa. Raised his weapon.Lewa ducked back down. “There must be thousandswarm there!”“We have no knowledge of the swarm having that many members,” the white Kal said. “Knowing that so many are still elsewhere, these cannot be Bohrok from this island.”“However,” the red one said, “there are extra hives much deeper underground. It seems the Third Faction has awoken these others and modified them.”“Great. Anythought why?”“None.”Lewa suggested moving somewhere else since the Vortixx had seen him, but the Kal disagreed, assuring him the Faction’s Bohrok were totally focused on carving the ground out. When he asked them to speculate why, they simply replied that speculation was not in their programming.Finally, Onua and Ito arrived, riding the Jungledweller’s invisible bird.“It’s lucky I was chosen to join you here,” Onua remarked. “They are obviously after something underground. But I can outdig them and find it first.”“Goodplan,” Lewa said. Then he turned to Ito. “You and me will bird-ride, enemy-spy. I rein-take.”The strange Le-Matoran just gave a slight nod. The Kal held position, with one peering over a ledge to see if their aid was needed.Lewa and Ito flew just to the outside of the tornado of Bohrok. From here, if he spun his head at the moment a Bohrok passed, he could just barely make out some sort of device on top of the headplates.He backed up and flew down to where the robots impacted the ground.Most of the Bohrok here were Nuhvok and Pahrak, their handshields slightly extended. Miraculously, though they spun around through both dirt and rock at high speed, their arms weren’t ripped off, nor their armor even scratched. Instead, the dirt and rock tore away and flew up.“Strong-shield,” Ito commented. Indeed, their armor slightly glowed yellow – brighter where they impacted things.Just above the black and brown Bohrok, Lehvak shot acid downward, aiding in the mining.The vortex of air created by the whole group was apparently being modulated by some device one of the Vortixx held. The purple one looked to be deep in concentration, eyes open, and held a device with a green glowing crystal inside.Lewa noticed the red Vortixx carried a weapon in addition to the dual-cannon mounted on its back. And a sack with round things inside, glowing brightly enough yellow to shine through the brown cloth.“That weapon eye-seems like a Kuamor launcher!” Lewa said. “They had no suchthing before!”Ito agreed.With a shudder, Lewa realized what this meant.The Third Faction were apparently working with the Kuambu.But why?

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Blue Eyes and the fish swam down the water into the blackness of the hole.Suddenly, they were both enveloped by darkness.BE saw a bubble of water form around them, but no other water came through. That was when he first worried this mission might be the death of his fish friend.Then he saw light cast on them from just above. And they were falling in air.Above, BE saw the same cave entrance that showed a partly cloudy sky, as if they were falling from that hole instead of from the maze they’d just left.Below, there was a maze.It had the same superficial layout as the watery one. But this maze was filled with plants, waving in a slight breeze that seemed to come from nowhere.There was no water.His fish slammed into the ground, and the bubble of water splashed out and sank into the soil.In the next few seconds, his senses split.Half of him was painfully aware of his fish friend laying there, gills burning in the air, eyes frantically looking around for even a puddle to breathe in, mind panicking and churning in furious curiosity to how you could follow a watery hole that had air underneath and yet didn’t create bubbles or a whirlpool…The other half analyzed the maze.Right in front of them was a single unique pedestal made of two spiky green stalks that bent into a fork around a round lime gem, with magically scrolling inscriptions like those BE had seen before.The grid corner pieces were made of a single tall green stalk mounting a bright gem, with glowing lime fence-railings radiating out from this part and mounted on more tall vinelike stalks. Then the walls of the ‘rooms’ and pathways were made by three shorter collections of stalks holding up gems.Once again, there was a single surrounding hallway, and a twisting and turning maze of hallways inside the maze.The breeze?From the flapping wings of the strangest creatures BE could have imagined – they were intelligent plants, each with a single yellow eye. Aside from the two leafy wings, they had three trident-like vines that rose above a bulbous body, and two spiky ‘tail’ vines that hung below the bulbs.The flying plants meandered around aimlessly, but BE knew if he ‘started the chore’, they would attack him. He had learned that lesson the hard way.This half of his senses was distracted a moment later by the sparkling and clinking sight of many silver coins falling from the hole above. They landed in a sloppy pile in front of the new pedestal.They were the coins BE had apparently ‘earned’ by fighting the attacking fish above. But the being had left them by the water pedestal. How had they followed him down the hole?This just reinforced his feeling that this place wasn’t real.But the fish was – and its need for water.His senses merged, and he was overcome with concern for his fishy friend.They flapped its tail, propelling it clumsily towards a tiny puddle of water they’d brought with them. But all the fish managed to do was lick the little pool.You should have stayed! Blue Eyes thought at it in pity.He was in trouble too. The distant tug was gaining in strength with every breath the fish failed to make.If only there was some way to push the tug away!BE had a flash of memory then. Buy food or ammo.What if the pedestal had a solution?He flopped his way close enough to the pedestal that he could read its magically scrolling etchings through the fish’s eyes, and focused on the food part.Instantly, several coins disappeared with blue flashes.A beam of blue light lasered at the fish, and hit it right between the eyes.BE felt the distant tug lessen. He exulted. The beam had been for him.But what about the fish?Blue Eyes realized that the fish was now moving without trying to. The invisible force!It pulled the fish around the pedestal, and behind it. Inside the maze.As soon as it passed through the outer barrier, he heard a roaring sound from inside the maze, and he saw light bending and rippling.It was the black spheres. Water gushed from them. As if the maze itself could now sense the fish’s needs, and supplied them.But the flying plants were not happy.A few got caught in the flood, and got stuck among the crisscrossing gem-poles and vines of the corner structures. The others flapped higher and aimed right at the fish. BE sensed this wasn’t part of any ‘chore’ – they wanted to kick the fish out and thus get rid of the water.Luckily, the water filled the floor first, and the fish easily swam and leaped away from the fliers.Its sense of gratitude returned to BE. You’re welcome. But what now?The fish felt that it could make its way from here. It could now read the pedestals. If there was another layer to this place – and it suspected there were several – it could bring water when it needed, and it could just keep going until it left.But if there IS an opening to this place, BE reasoned, how do you know there will be water there?The fish did not entirely understand – how could it? It was just a fish.All it knew was, it had been taken from the ocean by a tan being, who had carried it down a hole much like the one they had just passed through; it had been briefly carried in a tank through a lava-stone maze and a rock maze, then dropped into the watery maze. To the fish, this meant swimming down the hole was the way out – and it knew from previous attempts that by itself, the invisible force would stop it.This didn’t make sense to BE, but then, how could it? BE was just an unidentified consciousness made of water and glowing eyes that could live in the minds of fish…Now the deal BE had made with the fish was the issue. It had promised not to take the being on any more missions. But could BE really just leave the fish to make it out on its own?I don’t think you CAN get out on your own, BE thought. I had to turn on the ‘chore’ for the maze to treat me as the person to exit the maze, I think…But BE wanted to investigate the black spheres. The fish didn’t object.So they swam close to one, after first making sure the angry flying plants were far behind.These things were the key to the maze, BE understood. Somehow, it provided the energy for this dream realm, and everything here except the living beings came from the black substance.What was this stuff?Neither BE nor the fish knew, but the fish told him it had to do with hatred. The blackness of the liquid amplified feelings of hate, and – in here, at least – controlled the minds of those who touched it to attack. There was more to the other fishes’ behavior earlier, but that was the gist of it.But then why did the maze provide good things for those who needed them? That felt more… caring… than hateful.But then, the being reminded itself, I can’t expect to understand such things. I am only… whatever I am.By now, some of the plants had caught up to them. Most had lost interest and were flitting worriedly around the few that were still tangled up in waterlogged obstacles.The fish swam and leaped toward a different black sphere. BE spent a minute or so staring at the sparkles.The specks of blue light were what BE felt a connection to. Not the black liquid itself. What were they?But no answers came, and soon they had to avoid the persistent fliers again.BE had no more ideas, so it conceded to the fish. It would try to help the fish escape after all.So they headed back to the start pedestal.

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Rathoa climbed atop a mountain of dust and looked around frantically for the Dust Flea.Couldn’t find it…There.He ran after it.Glanced up at the Makuta coming through the ceiling. A stalactite of oozing, shapeshifting substance reached towards the floor and gained size. Then an earthquake struck – the Makuta fragmenting more of the stone around the hole.Enormous boulders – really tiny pebble-sized shards – rained down towards Rathoa. He leaped and rolled.One pebble hit the floor next to him hard enough to shatter. Grains the size of his head hit him like cannonballs, and he was knocked aside.Stumbled to his feet, glad that his Makuta armor was so strong, and ran on.There was the flea!He glanced back. He was safe from the Makuta for now, but if he approached the flea wrong, it would just jump again. He had a Kakama – but it was so tiny, he was afraid fast motion would only make him lose sight of it.Maybe one of his new Makuta powers would help? He thought through a record he’d once read on a tablet of the known Makuta powers.Rahi control! Or Insect Control, actually.He focused.The flea shivered suddenly. Again. He felt its mind, but it was fighting his influence.It leaped again.He couldn’t see it, but he still felt its mind. More. And more.Another earthquake.It leaped again – and landed right in front of Rathoa.He climbed on its back even as a meteor shower crashed down around him, and they leaped away, again and again.Its home was near, he sensed. He told it to go there, and it obeyed. A barely visible crack in the wall to a normal-sized being – but now a canyon.Darkness fell around him. It seemed that since becoming a Makuta, his Onu-Matoran traits had deserted him; this darkness was as impenetrable to him as it would be to any non-Earth Matoran. He could feel it now as if it was a liquid version of another limb, growing out of his mind, but his Shadow elemental experience was limited.Thankfully, the flea’s eyes could see just fine.Another earthquake, but not as strong.When he was satisfied that they were far enough away, Rathoa dismounted and took the Mask of Size back from the Rahi’s front claws. Then he got back on and continued riding it – its experience with these canyons would come in handy, plus he had another idea…After many turns, he finally reached the outer wall of Destral’s fortress.He stopped his mount atop a little knob of mortar on the outside, and beheld the rocky coastal lands of the gray island, and beyond it, the ocean. He could feel the steady, slow pulse of the ocean waves rocking the whole island – for it was a floating island.Farther beyond, he hoped to see other lands, but saw only endless ocean. Destral was probably in the surface ocean at the moment.He waited hours, until there was a bright purple flash – a sphere of whirling energy around the island.When that light faded, he saw land on the horizon, and a faint hint of a massive wall – the side of a dome. He thought he recognized Stelt. It would do.Rathoa grabbed the rope ends of the unconscious Unknown – still in the form of a parachute – and commanded the flea to leap.They floated to the ground safely.Then hopped far enough away to get behind some rocks. Rathoa used the Mask of Size to enlarge himself slightly, as well as the flea. The power didn’t work on the Unknown, though – Rathoa put her into his pack, checking that it was sealed tightly.The now giant flea leaped faster towards the coast. Once he was far enough away, he restored himself to normal size, and turned the flea the size of a Muaka.Finally, at the coast, he stayed normal size, but turned the flea into an even more gargantuan version of itself. Calling on his new Gravity power, he helped it leap into the air.Wind whistled past. Destral shrunk. The ocean fell away. It was working!He tilted gravity to aid its flight, shrinking it now to lessen wind resistance.Then he manipulated the two powers just right so that he landed deftly on the shore. Shrunk the flea back to its normal size, and let it go its own way. As he released its mind he caught a wisp of anger that it had been taken irreversibly from its own home.Checked the pack. The tiny Unknown was still there. He wondered if she was unconscious because she'd lost her mask, or perhaps had been hit on the head. If the former, this would be a problem, but he suspected it was the latter. The Unknown were not mere Matoran.If she would wake up on her own soon, he should be prepared.Time to prepare an interrogation, he thought. He’d been assigned once by Makuta to investigate the Unknown – and now he was all the more curious regardless of his treason. This was a chance of a lifetime. And he had no idea what to expect.Why had the Unknown helped him escape? She could have left him to die.And what did she know of Icarax’s claims?Kanoka. Maybe she had some way to get him back to Mata Nui quickly. If he was right, the Unknown, the Toa, and the Turaga all would share his desire to prevent Kanoka from freeing Teridax.And time was short.

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Lewa met up with Onua again, but the Toa of Earth had found nothing of interest underground.“They’re digging so fast I could barely stay ahead of them. I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s worth the risk to keep at it.”The Sonics Kal came in handy – it turned out that it could send a one-way version of a telecommunication message all the way to Kini-Nui. Once Tahu heard it, he opened a two-way connection with his mask, and Lewa updated him.“I have news too,” Tahu said. “The Turaga have agreed to let the two Rahunga recruit hidden Rahunga back to our side. But in return they are demanding Kanoka be locked up, and Mukana do the work, until they deliver on their promise to bring recruited allies to us.”Lewa thought that a reasonable tradeoff. As odd as it sounded, being the one who had exposed the Rahunga to begin with, Lewa found himself more and more convinced that they really were trustworthy.“So what now?” Onua asked.“Let’s have Tahu contact this ‘Toggler’ Bhukasa met. I’d love to know if he can confirm our theory about the Kuambu and the Third Faction.”

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“I’ve heard rumors both ways,” Toggler answered Tahu’s voice. “The Kriitunga often say the Kuambu are bitter enemies of the Ghomboka, who were Third Faction.”“It seems to me there’s a lot of factions within the ‘Faction’,” Bhukasa said. “Conflicting rumors could be true, although I can’t imagine why.”“But,” Gali said, “There’s a top leader, who surely has her own goals.”“What would the Kuambu want on Mata Nui, let alone the Third Faction?” Pohatu asked.“They always want souls to copy songs from,” Toggler said. “And we don’t know how they activate the powers of the Kuamor. As far as I know, it’s supposed to be impossible. Maybe something there helps with that?”“Land!” Twayzivl called down from the crow’s nest, interrupting them.Bhukasa looked ahead. He saw a low, flat, roundish island, of not much size, with virtually no interesting features, just brown rocky hills and sandy valleys. It looked like nothing more than a glorified sandbar – except for a larger rocky spot in the center.“Welcome to Memory Island,” Toggler said.“It doesn’t look like much,” Takua said.“That’s the attitude that got us defeated there last time,” Toggler said. “Nothing there is as it seems.”

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#14 Online bonesiii

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Posted Jan 23 2012 - 04:20 PM

Chapter 13

Memory proved indeed to be vital on Memory Island, long before they reached the center.Toggler would study the shape of the hills and recall some horrible fate that befell a member of their past exploring party there. “That is a place to be avoided,” he would say, and direct them around it.They were nearly halfway to the center when they finally encountered a safeguard.Bhukasa, Gali, Pohatu, Toggler, and several Haze Glow Beasts made up the landing party. The two Le-Matoran flew close above on the Gukko, scouting out the landscape ahead and calling down warnings of what appeared to be traps built into the rock or half buried in the sand.Gali suddenly cried out and looked down at her feet.They were sinking into the sand.Pohatu reached out to her, only to discover his own feet sinking too.Toggler burst into a run. “Do not stand still! Run, and the slow sinking will not take you!”Bhukasa did as he advised just as his own feet started to sink. Two of the Haze Glow Beasts grabbed the Toa and freed them.Shapes moved.Stone doors! Hidden in the steep walls of this gorge, they now slid across both ends and locked everybody inside. Bhukasa slowed for a moment, but his feet started sinking, so he just doubled back and ran backwards.Then the stone doors started sliding in towards them.“I’ve got it,” Pohatu said, shooting a beam of yellow energy at the inland door. It shattered, and they ran through.They tried to pause once they were free, but found that the sand continued to try to pull them down.“All of that is new except for the occasional sandpit last time,” Toggler said grimly. “Now stay sharp or we will merely run into a trap!”“Wait,” Pohatu said. He aimed his beam at the rocky wall, and part of it flared yellow and shrunk away, turning into elemental energy which vortexed back into his hands.He made a shelf, then aimed the excess energy at the edge and extended the shelf.All of them leaped on.“Good,” Toggler said. “Can you carve this shelf forward so we need not walk on the sand again?”Pohatu answered by doing it.In this way they got about a fourth of the way in.But Bhukasa felt something was off.He kept thinking he saw something out of the corner of his eye, but when he turned, there was nothing there. Every time he did this, he felt a strong sense of familiarity.Toggler suddenly jerked his head to the side and called out, “Sairiph?!”He blinked, then shook his head. “I must be imagining things.”“Who’s Sairiph?” Bhukasa asked.“The friend that fell behind here while we escaped.”“Do you think he might be angry at us?”“I fear so. I was almost certain I just saw him beyond that rise. Perhaps he ducked down. Spying on us? Signal the Gukko fliers.”Bhukasa aimed his left scissorclaws so they reflected sunlight, and held up the tip of his right claw between his right eye and the bird circling above, his right arm outstretched. Closed his left eye, and tilted his claw until the sunlight hit his right claw tip. Waved the light back and forth.The Gukko tilted down. Landed atop the hill. “Whatneed?” Vira asked.Toggler explained, and the bird took off again, circling the area the titan indicated. Then returned.“I see no sign of any other being. What does he look like?”Toggler did not answer for a moment. Bhukasa wondered why. “Something like a Turaga. Colored dark red.”“Everything I see is brown and tan, with the occasional glint of metal in the traps,” Vira said. Nabmaia nodded agreement.“Perhaps it was only my guilty conscience teasing me,” Toggler muttered. “Very well, return to your scouting.”Bhukasa added, “But keep an eye on our general area. This ‘Sairiph’ could possibly be an enemy now.”“While we’re here,” Nabmaia said, “you should know that the next stretch of rock continues above ground for a ways, and we do not see any sign of traps on it. You could walk atop it.”“Sounds too convenient,” Gali said.“I don’t sense anything off about the rock ahead,” Pohatu said. “Let’s try it.”The bird returned to the air. Pohatu now carved a stone staircase up to the top of the ridge, and they walked up.There was a rustling noise behind them. Bhukasa thought he heard a brief voice, then nothing.As one, the Haze Glow Beasts turned back, and started wailing. “OUR BROTHER!” one of them exclaimed.Indeed, they numbered one less!The Toa broke out in fearful speculation. Pohatu confirmed he felt nothing odd in the rock – the Rhengoka was simply gone. Gali wondered if anyone had seen a flash of light or anything else that would indicate a power had been used.Bhukasa just looked at Toggler, trying to fight down panic.“We did not walk atop the hills before,” the white and blue titan answered his unasked question. “I do not know what could do this. Nobody simply disappeared before!”The rustling sound got louder again – it did not return; Bhukasa simply became aware that it had not gone quite silent before.The Rhengoka finally quieted down, and formed a circle around Vhekoraa, the female second-in-command – the leader had remained on the boat.The rustling sound remained. It was coming from behind them, down by the sand, on the other side of this rocky ridge, opposite the side they’d come from.Bhukasa walked to the edge and stared down. Had he seen movement where the sand met the rock of this ridge?But now he saw nothing, and the sound was gone.“Let’s get moving,” he said, unable to hide the fear in his voice.They followed the ridge to its far end. Now from this height they could see the center of the island clearly, although it was a long ways off yet.The rock there was not laid out naturally, but it had been carved into a huge octogon shape. Windows with metal bars were inset in various places. Yet seemingly random uncarved portions stuck out beyond the otherwise geometric shape.Toggler gestured at the closest uncarved section. “There are no doors but one in the center of its roof. We will have to climb one of those natural staircases, and even then we’re still only halfway there.”“Or I could just make a hole in the stone wall,” Pohatu said. “Come to think of it, why not make a stone bridge across this chasm? I’m liking that sand less and less – am I the only one who thinks it somehow reached up to grab our beastly friend?”“How could sand do that?” Bhukasa demanded.“On Mata Nui,” Gali said, “there are creatures called Vatuka – they are stone and yet they live, move, and fight.”“There are rumors of other such elementals,” Toggler agreed. “I saw nothing like that here last time, but we knew the defenses had increased.”So Pohatu started materializing the bridge.He had a basic arch ready, and was beginning to thicken it, when the rustling returned behind them.Everybody looked that way. But saw nothing.Bhukasa thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye. Whirled.Saw nothing but a vague motion under the bridge.He stepped to the side and looked more carefully under it. Nothing.The rustling stopped.“Alright, Pohatu, continue…” his voice trailed off. “Pohatu?”Everybody stared where the Toa of Stone had stood. He was gone.“No!” Gali exclaimed. “Pohatu!” she called out.The Haze Glow Beasts wailed again. “Deserts all are cruel!” Vhekoraa cried out, gesturing at the sand. “What evil spirit curses sand everywhere?”Bhukasa turned to Toggler, ready to demand answers.But the white titan looked shaken to his core. He stared fixedly at the last place Pohatu had been, trembling slightly, gripping his sword tightly and grinding its tip into the stone.“This is how it was,” the being whispered. “I… begin to remember now. One by one… we all fell. To… what?”“I thought you said nothing like this happened!?” Bhukasa barked. He was seriously beginning to wonder if his trust was misplaced in this being.“I couldn’t remember! And it wasn’t the same… There was no…” Toggler whirled. “There! I saw motion!”But it was only the shadow of the Gukko – the bird flew down and landed next to them. “I thought I saw something huge moving right next to you guys!” Nabmaia said. She gestured to the rock bridge. “It was under there! What was it?”Vira looked around and spoke up before they could answer. “Where is Pohatu?”“Something is kidnapping us one by one!” Bhukasa told them. “Get back in the air and don’t take your eyes off of us! And if you see Pohatu or a Rhengoka, come back down immediately and tell us where!”They obeyed.“Let’s get over the bridge fast,” he told the others.They started forward, but Toggler didn’t move.Bhukasa stepped back towards him and placed a hand over the titan’s hand, holding the sword still. “Come.”Toggler continue to stare a moment longer, then looked back at Bhukasa. “What?”“Come! Let’s get out of here!”The titan only stared. Bhukasa pulled one of his hands off the sword and pulled him forward. The titan followed as if in a daze.The others were across. Bhukasa led Toggler across.His hand jerked. In the same moment, he saw Gali and the Rhengoka – who had turned back to watch – cry out in alarm.Bhukasa fell. Off the side of the bridge. Stabbed into the stone with his scissorclaws. Got a grip.Where was Toggler?A blue hand reached down and grabbed his wrist. A white hand grabbed his other wrist. Gali and a Haze Glow Beast pulled him up.“Toggler?!” Bhukasa shouted. The titan was gone.The Haze Glow Beasts were wailing yet again. Bhukasa wondered vaguely why they cared so much for the white titan, but then he noticed they were short a member yet again!“It was… It was huge…” Gali murmured, a look of shock stuck on her face. “We all saw it. It rose up and swallowed Toggler like a bug.”“What was it?” Bhukasa asked.“It was… I… It moved so fast…”A shadow crossed them. The Gukko landed again. “Did you see that thing?!” Vira exclaimed. “It was huge!”“I saw it!” Gali said.“Saw what?!” Bhukasa demanded. “Answer me!”“It was the sand,” Nabmaia said. “But not the sand. Something IN the sand. Something dark and huge. The sand rose up around it. It leaped into the air and enveloped Toggler. Then while you were being pulled back up, it swung back around and enveloped another Rhengoka – then it disappeared into the sand with them.”“What was it shaped like?”“I couldn’t tell,” Nabmaia said. Vira said the same.“This is too much,” Bhukasa said. “We must turn back.”“But your memories!” Gali said. “We have to—“The rustling sound returned.Between them and the shore.“RUN!” Gali shouted.They did. The sound chased them like wind. Bhukasa held up a claw like a mirror and glanced at it as he ran.He saw the Gukko spread its wings to take off – and a dark shape rise up and swallow the bird whole. The metal of his scissorclaws was not smooth enough to show the shape clearly. But he knew the bird was gone again – this time along with its riders.“RUN FASTER!” Bhukasa shouted.The animalistic Rhengoka bounded over the rock, running for the giant octagon in the distance. Gali ran behind them, and Bhukasa behind her.Bhukasa saw a reflection of a dark shape again, and looked back.But it ducked below the rock ridge, just out of sight. The rustling continued, louder now, almost like the roar of a windstorm. It doesn’t want me to see it! Why?He bumped into Gali.Both toppled to the ground. A shadow crossed over him when his eyes were aimed the other way.Bhukasa stumbled to his feet and ran on. Glanced in his mirrored claw to see Gali do the same.The sound of rushing water and a scream shocked him. Gali had shot water at something, but when Bhukasa looked, it was gone. Gali remained, but she looked terrified.The rustling stopped.Then he heard wailing shrieks up ahead. He’d lost sight of the Rhengoka. The thing was ahead now, attacking them!He crested a stone rise just in time to see only one Rhengoka left – Vhekoraa standing at the edge of a stone cliff and screaming in fury at the vast, unmoving sands.A roar behind him – of sand and water.He turned.Gali was gone! Only a puddle remained where she’d been lost. Bhukasa cursed himself – in his shock at seeing all the Rhengoka but one gone, he’d lowered his claw and thus his view of Gali.He whirled and stared hard at Vhekoraa. She was still there, now wailing in his direction – she must have seen the thing take Gali.In his desperation, Bhukasa’s mind pulled a nasty trick on himself – he found himself unable to mourn the loss of the others, but only to hope against all hope that Gali had managed to wash away enough sand from the thing that Vhekoraa had caught a glimpse of what it was.Now this gave him intense motive not to take his eyes off her. He ran faster.She was not running anymore. And he could see through her – she appeared to have made herself as intangible as possible as a defensive instinct.Now she stumbled to her knees, her eyes locked on Bhukasa as if she’d come to the same conclusion.He reached her. “Tell me you saw it!” he cried out, his voice cracking.She nodded. He tried to grab her hand, but his claw merely went through it.There was suddenly a loud crash behind him. The sound of rocks crumbling.Unable to help himself, he looked back.The rock bridge toppled in pieces out of his view.Then more such noises erupted, and the rock ridge just by the ridge began to crumble.Now he saw the sand moving like a liquid. Rock sank into it fast, and waves went out.The entire island began to shake then, and more rock crumbled. Sand across the whole island appeared to liquify.A shadow, a whoosh of air, a loud rustle, an orange flicker off a rock out of the corner of his eyes.He whirled.Vhekoraa was gone.

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Hujo called out for Caroha again and again, but got no answer.A new kind of terror gripped him then. The fear of being lost in an entirely different dimension… what would that be like? It wasn’t the sort of trouble he could map his way out of.What have I gotten myself into?Jahurungi trouble, that was what. When he’d agreed to be the Jahurungi, he had no idea it would involve anything like this.But here he was… and he refused to believe he was lost… Not yet. He had to try to find his way. Find Caroha.The cloud behind the mountain did not spread out over the entire desert. In fact it seemed to evaporate very quickly except for the wide fog that twirled endlessly behind the ridge peak.Hujo dared to fly out over the cloud, and look towards the desert and the base of the mountain below.There was a blue speck zipping around down there.Caroha?!He flew closer.Yes!Foolish to panic so easily…And something else. More specks, about the same size.Round.Bohrok.Flames spread out from them.Hujo flew closer, and static blipped over the speakers. Were those Bohrok doing that?The lines of flames were clearly aiming at Caroha, yet she was still translucent to Hujo’s eyes – so she should be invisible to the eyes of anyone here.One broke off from the group and flew towards Hujo. The static got louder as it did.As it got closer, Hujo expected to see red armor. Instead, he saw blueish silver.Still closer… and he saw that it was not actually a Bohrok at all!It was the same size, and it had a brainplate, but it had no limbs, and the eyes were round. It looked like it had been built out of components of Bohrok, but also other components. Most of the front was a large round air intake, and flames mixed with air blasted out the other end – a jet engine. Where the handshield arms would have been were two nozzles that lanced out liquid fire.Hujo gripped the Blue Fire staff and willed flames of his own to lance out.They sliced through the enemy creature easily. It shattered, sending a rain of robotic components down.He flew closer to Caroha and attacked the enemies chasing her. Again, the Blue Fire decimated them.When they were all gone – about twenty in total, the static disappeared.“Sorry about that,” Caroha said, as if it was just a minor inconvenience. “But it’s nice to have you along. Blue Fire is a lot more effective than my normal methods of defense against those.”“What were they?”“Not question time. Follow me.”

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Bhukasa ran.There was no strategy in where he ran. Just panic.His legs trembled. He completely forgot about holding up his claws like mirrors. He just ran.This rock ledge ended. He tried to leap over the chasm.Fell.Landed in the sand. It hurt.The sand moved like mud. His claws and feet sunk.He rolled to the side, shaking away sand. Scrambled to his feet and ran on.Rustling.Frantically he ran through the gorges between the rocks.Almost tripped a hidden metal trap in the sand. He stopped for a second, then ran around it.Where am I going?Running just any direction like this would not do.He found a natural staircase of sorts and tried to climb.Slid off before he reached the top. But he caught a glimpse of one of the barred windows.Ran that way.And climbed another natural staircase – one of the ones on the side of the giant octogon of rock.When he reached the top, he found a maze of brown stone walls.He ran right in without thinking, hearing the terrifying rustling just behind him, loud impacts as it ran into rocks and continued unhindered… too scared to look back, too scared to think.Ran.

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Edited by bonesiii, Jan 31 2012 - 07:29 AM.

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#15 Online bonesiii

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Posted Feb 02 2012 - 08:10 AM

Chapter 14

Bhukasa ran faster and faster. Took a turn. Finally worked up the courage to think – to hide behind a wall, and glance back.The rustling mass of sand rushed by a second later. He saw a dark indistinct mass inside – it flashed in the sun as it went by. Then it was gone, the sound diminishing as it continued down a different corridor.Apparently he’d lost it.He crept on as quietly as he could now. He still heard it rumbling through this maze, but now far away. In case it had the sense of hearing, he didn’t want to risk anything.I’ve lost everyone that came with me! he finally realized consciously.The sadness roared up to the surface of his mind, made sharper than ever before, and tears broke out from the corners of his eyes.I’ve… I’ve got to get a hold of myself! I’ve got to find them! Surely they have not been killed!His mind finally made a few more connections.Could that… thing… have been… this ‘Sairiph’ Toggler spoke of? Carrying out his vengeance? But then why target the Toa or the Rhengoka? Why spare me?Maybe it hadn’t spared him. Maybe he’d just gotten lucky. It had been chasing him – certainly he’d acted like he was convinced it would take him next. Now he didn’t know – but he knew if he heard it coming near again, he’d run just as fast. And hopefully smarter.Now… to figure out this maze.

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BE and his fish host fought through the green maze, and swam down the hole at the end.Even though the hole had been completely blocked off at first, sometime during the journey the maze seemed to rearrange itself, and BE found the opening clear.Shallow water was already in the white maze when they arrived.A thin coating of ice over blue tiles formed the floor, and the water sat above this. BE half expected the ice to melt, but instead, the water started getting colder immediately.The columns here were white and fancy in design.The enemy had no limbs, but a single tread, and a snakelike head curving forward from the back top. They sped around easily in the ice and were harder to defeat.After they made their way through the first half of this maze, they came out into a wide open area – it still had the wide, flattish pillars that always formed the corners of walled rooms, but there were no wall pillars anywhere.With the snake things wheeling about freely, and the corner pillars obscuring his view, it took a while to find the hole, but find it they did, and swam down. The creatures had fought ferociously -- BE was glad to be rid of them.The next maze was composed of strange blocky gray-metal corners and walls, with glowing purple inset designs.The shallow water was there, but almost immediately things went wrong.Because the ground beneath it was soil. Unlike the green maze, there was no grass growing in it to hold it together – merely soil.As soon as BE swam forward, his motion kicked up the soil. The water near him soon became mud.He activated this maze’s chore and entered, leaving the muddy water behind.But ahead, he saw more mud.The enemies of this maze had already kicked it up.Suddenly he saw one launch high in the air.Land with a loud splash.For a moment, while it was in the air, he’d gotten a horrifying view of it. It was something like a giant flea, colored the same gray as the walls, with a mohawk of purple hair down its back, big mandibles… and five eyes arranged like a circle on its front.Its jump was farther than anything he’d yet seen leaping in this maze, and when it landed, he felt the impact all the way over here – it was heavy.Urgently the fish swam forward, hoping to get past the group of giant fleas quickly. He took to leaping a little every few seconds just so he could see through the muddy water.A flea slammed into them from the side, and attacked with its mandibles.BE didn’t even bother to fight – and the fish didn’t want to either. They just swam on frantically.Finally they got past the mud of the enemies, and continued through clear water.But the maze itself proved to be as much of a challenge as the enemies this time. It seemed impossible. There were no unique arrangements, except that it seemed like the border of the maze never got far out of sight. They were being forced in a circle around the edge of the maze, with the end nowhere in sight.They circled the maze once and came back to the entrance just as that mud started to settle.Obviously I wasn’t looking hard enough, BE thought. So they went around again, but the enemies had been chasing them the whole time, so mud was kicked up everywhere now.Finally, with a lot of peeking into the air, he found a passageway he hadn’t tried that led further in, away from the edge.After that, he lost track for a long time.But finally, after a lot of wrong turns and maddening frustrations, he found the hole.Went down.BE felt that this was the final place even before he landed there.Unlike the other places, it had no outer wall, and it wasn’t even a maze. It was a wide platform, apparently made mostly out of hovering sand particles, with some square ‘rings’ of sandstone tile. Stone pedestals dotted the outer edge, and the four corners of a small square hole in the center. Beyond, just shadow.And yet shallow water filled the place, apparently having poured in from the shadowy edges. Just now, sand was appearing on the edges and moving around to form walls to hold the water in.A shortish humanoid being stood off to one side, staring at the water in confusion. He was colored the same as the sand, with eyes the same color as BE’s.Oddly, the humanoid did not wade in the water, but stood atop it… in fact the soles of his sandals floated an inch or so above it.Around him, strange robotlike beings apparently made of standstone, with four spire-like legs and two blue eyes each, milled about. These were apparently the enemies of this level, because as soon as they saw the fish, they walked towards it just as the enemies of the mazes had done.“Stop,” the humanoid said. The robots obeyed.The being walked closer to the fish. “What is this?” he muttered out loud, but to himself. The water amplified the sound, although it sounded less clear than it would have in the air. “How did a Korahga Spineshark get out of the Ga Maze?”BE realized the fish’s mouth could not speak an answer.He thought to the fish what his plan was, then left. Blue Eyes floated through the water, cautiously at first, fearing the hated tug would once again take him away when this being saw him. But it did not.The humanoid’s eyes lit upon the two glowing blue eyes, and he stopped, staring with an intensity BE couldn’t have imagined.“What is this?” the being said. “Who… are you?”BE moved closer. He wanted to answer, but he had no way to.Unless he could get inside this being’s mind too.He zoomed closer, towards the being’s right foot.But the being cried out in surprise. And the foot was gone.In the place of the being, there was a whirling collection of dots, each made of blue light the same color as BE.This energy zoomed around above the water, until it reached a point far from BE. Then it hit the water and turned back into the humanoid being. Then it just stared, and BE stared back.How had it turned into energy like that? Could BE do something similar?He tried to will himself to turn into a humanoid being, but nothing happened. No, of course he couldn’t.“My name is Surkahi,” the humanoid said slowly, cautiously. “I have heard of… beings like yourself…”BE’s eyes widened. That was amazing news!“As for myself, I am an Unknown. My mind is off-limits. I know that you are unable to speak. But we can still communicate.”Surkahi paused. “From now on, I will try to ask you yes or no questions. If you wish to answer yes, move your eyes up and down. If no, side to side. If you do not understand the question, move your head in a circle.”BE wanted to smile. It was a good plan.“Do you understand?”He moved his eyes up and down.“Good. Now… do you know your identity?”BE moved his eyes side to side.“I see. Is this the first time you remember existing?”Side to side.“Did you inhabit the mind of that fish?”Up and down.“Why?” Surkahi frowned, obviously trying to think how to phrase that as a yes or no. “Was it so you could find me?”BE hesitated. Now that he’d found this person, it more or less was. But not entirely. How to answer that?He moved his eyes up and down, and then in a circle.“So yes, but that isn’t the only reason?”He hadn’t intended to find Surkahi at all – hadn’t known he existed. But he decided simple answers were all he could do. So he nodded.“Alright. Did the other reason have to do with the fish?”Yes.“Do you have a mission from the… from… where you come from?”BE had no idea how to answer that. But as far as he knew, he didn’t. No.“Hmm…”But what if he DID have a mission? What if when the hateful tug took him away, he was conscious and aware, but somewhere else? Maybe he did.Unsure circle.“You seem to be very confused in general,” Surkahi commented.Yes.“That is normal, I believe. Is it possible you are… but just in case I’d better not..”Surkahi looked deep in thought, and unwilling to finish that question. “Is the fish… conscious? Aware of what’s going on?”Yes.“Oh dear. I should tell you now that you should avoid inhabiting the minds of fish or any other animal. When you do… you alter their minds. Turn what should be a mere animal into something more.”That wasn’t a question. BE wanted to explain his fear of the hated tug – when he was in the fish’s mind, it didn’t seem to come.Unsure circle.“Is this the first animal whose mind you have inhabited?”No.“How many others? One?”Yes.“A fish?”Were sharks fish? Yes, but unsure.“Something like a fish. Did it have fins?”Yes.“Teeth?”Yes!“A shark, perhaps?”Yes!“Oh dear. I’m afraid, my blue friend, you may have started something very bad. An ‘awakened’ Takea shark could be very dangerous. Did you spend much time in its mind?”How much was much? But no.“Good. We may be alright. But it would be impossible for me to know, without allowing you in my mind. And I know you might disappear at any second from this place.”An opportunity! BE shook his eyes no, and darted back into the fish.“No?”With the fish’s head, he now shook his head no.Surkahi’s eyes widened. “When you inhabit a mind, you do not disappear?”Yes, correct.“This is news to my people. When… ah… in the past… anyways, it is news. Thank you. Is this fish okay with you inhabiting its mind?”Yes.“Does it,” Surkahi asked with a sigh, “wish to leave this maze?”Yes, emphatically!“I was afraid of that. This maze exists for a very specific, important purpose. This is exactly why you shouldn’t be inhabiting minds… but I guess you do not wish to disappear. Am I right?”Yes.“You should know that the disappearing is not bad. But I can understand why you wouldn’t like it. It can be disorienting and limiting in some ways. Anyways, I believe I understand you now, about as much as you do yourself. Yes?”BE considered. Yes.“Then I have a proposal, a deal we can make for our mutual interest. Only you know which shark you inhabited, and only you know where you might find it. But I know how it would behave if it was awakened – it would be smarter than other sharks. If I let you and your fish out, you both must agree to work together and seek out this shark. Then you must use your something I will give you to capture it, and bring it to me. Do you agree?”BE and the fish thought about it. The fish was scared of the shark.Unsure.“If you’re worried about the shark, I will give you armor of sorts. It will protect you.”The fish thought about it and liked the idea. It was by nature a predator itself. To hunt and capture a Takea would be a thrilling experience for it, one it never could have dreamed of otherwise.And BE liked the idea of still having a mission.They both agreed and signaled yes.

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Rathoa shrunk again to peer out a tiny crack in a rock at Destral, which still lurked offshore.He saw boats coming.Not actual boats. Makuta who had taken the form of boats. Carrying servants.Other Makuta winged through the air.It was an all-out invasion force. Just to find him.At least it gave him a sight that would forever stoke his ego, to think back on it, he thought.But right now he was in serious doubt he could escape them. True, he had the Mask of Size, and it had proven very useful. But these were brilliant scientists. Even if they hadn’t yet imagined that he’d mixed a mask that combined shrinking and enlarging, at the very least they knew full well of those two very basic powers.Therefore, they would not be coming now unless they had thought of ways to hunt down a shrunken being.The ocean, he thought. That’s probably my ticket out of here. Or the Unknown, if she’ll agree to it. Or both.He turned and walked back through the rock to the cave.The Unknown was still there. Awake, and back to her normal form. Showing no signs of fatigue from the loss of her mask. And yet still there.“Why were you there?” Rathoa asked. “Why are you still here?”“I came with you,” Somaihri said, “to Watch you. You know full well Twisted Island robbed us of our powers. But I was able to take the form of a Kriitunga. Normally you would not even see me as I spied on you.”“Have you spied on me often?”“Not me personally, but Unknown, yes.”Rathoa shook his head. He shouldn’t be amazed. But he’d been tasked by Teridax with hunting down mysteries about the Unknown – it had never occurred to him at the time that one could be right next to him.It should have, he thought. He too, thanks to his Mask of Mutation, could shapeshift. He himself had spied often, on the Matoran and Turaga, and recently the Toa.“So however Twisted Island robbed you of your powers, that seems to be over. Why are you still here? Visible, at least?”“I… frankly, I am not sure. I was as shocked as you by Icarax’s claims.”“Are you… interested in helping me escape Stelt?”She frowned. “Not only that, but in checking on those wild claims. We must know, as much as you must. Perhaps we can help each other.”“Then what?”She shrugged. “I shall have to consult my superiors. You and I are enemies, after all.”“But is it not true that we are mutual enemies of the Brotherhood?”“It is true.”“Then I propose we work together at least until such time as we can determine what Teridax’s supposed New Plan is. For all either of us know, it’s a greater threat to both of our organizations than our organizations are to each other.”“You make a convincing case.”“What do you say?”“I…” She hesitated, and looked slightly off to the side, taking her eye contact away from Rathoa, as if listening to a soft sound he could not hear.“…shall work with you. As you say.”

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Mukana leaped over a narrow gap, his reflection flashing in the seawater below, and landed on the next tiny island.This was how most of the Papa Nihu Reef was – shallow seafloor that peeked above the waves here and there.Of all the Rahunga bases, it had always been Mukana’s least favorite. It was hard to get to, and he had no powers that would easily aid the journey.All Rahunga had three powers, at least before Makuta’s death.All shared a primary tool power – the ability to infect masks by touching their tool to the mask. Mukana had tested it after Makuta’s death, out of sheer curiosity, and it still worked, but since there was no Makuta Teridax to control the wearers of the infected mask, it was basically a useless power now. Never mind that Mukana had now rebelled against Makuta anyways.All had a secondary anti-elemental power, activated when they held a Rahunga Tool. As a Ko-Rahunga, his was Melt; he could easily melt ice. He could also vaporize water; here he could make a steam-fog if he needed to, but it wouldn’t help him cross these chasms.And all had a tertiary power built into their tool, and chosen from a wide range of powered tools by the individual Rahunga. Mukana’s tool power was Lava.Finally, all Rahunga could use their mask powers. Translation wasn’t useful here either.The lava power did help a little.Just now, as he leaped over a wider chasm, he missed the edge. With one end of his bisword, he dug into the rock, melting a tiny bit of it, then turned off the power to get a grip.He climbed onto the top of the sword, and leaped up to the top of the little island.Then he materialized a rope from his pack, and lassoed the sword. As soon as he had a tight grip, metal fibers in the rope allowed him to get a power connection to the sword even at this distance, and he turned on its rock-melting ability.It slid out, and he pulled it up.So lava’s a bit of a help, he thought.But all he had to do to prove the ‘bit’ part was walk to the other side of this tiny island – there were no narrow chasms here. Just a wide channel.All the little islands at the other end had steep walls. Too tall for the sword trick. He vaguely wished he’d chosen two knives like one of his fellow Ko-Rahunga, instead of a single weapon. His bisword had two swords connected, but connected they were – and stuck that way.Maybe I could use the lava power to melt the middle, turning it into two?He tried it – he made a pool of lava, then laid the sword out over it.Then he touched one tip of the sword and commanded the lava to blob up and wrap around the very center of the blade.But the blade did not melt. As he’d thought – the sword was, of course, immune to its own power.There was nothing for it but to swim. He knew from coming here long ago that there was at least one more gradual rise onto one of the farther islands, though he couldn’t quite remember which one.He dove in, and swam around.It took him a while, but he finally found the way up the gradually sloping island.But later on he had to swim again, and now he found the final island – with no way up.When he’d come here before, his companion had a levitation power. But he didn’t.He swam around until finally he concluded there were no handholds. No way up.Mukana sighed.Then he thought of a way.Rathoa would never have allowed it. It would totally ruin the secrecy of this place if any snooping eyes ever came around.But the Turaga already knew about it, and he was on their side now. Rathoa already knew of the base too, and probably Teridax had given records of it to the other Makuta. All three major factions thus knew… so it didn’t matter.He called on his tool’s lava materializing power, and shot a beam of lava out. Melted a handhold, and let the lava fall into the water. It hissed, shooting up steam and solidifying to blob-shaped pebbles which sunk instantly.When the steam cleared, he aimed higher and made another handhold.After about an hour, he finished the makeshift ladder, and climbed eagerly out of the cool water… to find himself shivering and his muscle tissue wrinkled. It took a lot to make a Ko-Matoran feel that cold normally, but water stole body heat faster than air.Finally he made it to the top, found the holographic secret door, and entered.Inside, two female Rahunga greeted him.Bimiaku, a red and orange Ta-Rahunga who carried a tool that doubled as a bow and a bi-sword – a bowblade.And Klirisha, a purple and black Onu-Rahunga who carried a shield with blades radiating out of its front.“What news?” Bimiaku asked.“The Turaga approved our mission,” Mukana said, “but insisted Kanoka stay locked up until we three carry it out and hand over the resources and those Rahunga who don’t choose the good side.”“Which side is that?” Bimiaku asked darkly. “But do not answer that. I do not trust you, but we must carry out our leader’s orders.”Mukana looked at her more closely. He did not know her – she had been recruited from Ta-Koro by Kanoka. He found himself unconvinced she had truly reformed. As he was unconvinced about Kanoka.Am I doing the right thing here? Using Kanoka’s strategy? Should I go back and warn the Turaga of my suspicions?Klirisha broke the awkward moment. “Well, we have our assigned villages – we start in our own, then go to our closest neighboring Koro. But since no Rahunga are left in Le-Koro, you just focus on Ko-Koro. Shall we get started?”Mukana bowed towards them. “You two may start right away. I’ve just had to spend a lot of time in the water… I think I’ll rest here a while.”“Very well.”They left.Mukana peered out one of the tiny window slits. Watched them dive into the water.He wasn’t about to rest. Instead, he walked all throughout the base, being careful not to leave dust tracks or give any other clue he’d done this. If Bimiaku wasn’t really reformed, maybe he’d find some evidence of it. Some hidden tablet detailing the true plans, perhaps.But he found nothing.

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#16 Online bonesiii

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Posted Feb 05 2012 - 11:37 AM

Chapter 15

Lewa had a hard time convincing the Kal to follow the Turaga’s wishes – and not launch an immediate attack on the two Oru-Vortixx and free Cahdok.As had been brought up in the meeting, the Kal believed reinforcements would arrive soon for the Vortixx. Now was when they were at their weakest.“But these Bohrok mindslaves are allies nowtime!” Lewa pointed out. “And we know-not where the Bahrag is. She’s herenot. I speakthink we should seekfind first, then sneak-free.”His reasoning made sense, but the Kal were stubborn.Perhaps they sensed ulterior motives. Lewa – and the Turaga and most others – seriously doubted the Kal could stop the Bahrag. Even if they put trust that they would if given the chance. Right now, only half the Bohrok were attacking the island; these ones controlled by the Third Faction were busy doing who knew what.Lewa feared that even if they succeeded, the Bohrok would only destroy the island.The Toa needed time. Time to collect krana. The Third Faction’s kidnapping of Cahdok gave them that time.But a deal was a deal. He could not delay them forever.So he decided to forgo his caution and speak clearly to them. But strategically so.“Lookwait,” Lewa said. “I must admit to you… we knownot even what the Bahrag’s true goals are. Do you? If so, will you us-tell?”The Kal gave no answer except to look at each other with that maddeningly blank expression they always wore.Lewa wanted to try a simpler question –why is it too early for the Bohrok to destroy the island? – but thought better of it. If the Kal didn’t really have a good reason, they might realize their temporary alliance was baseless. Once again he found himself grateful for Surkahi’s warning.Onua finally spoke up. “We shouldn’t continue this debate now. The earth is no longer being churned.”Lewa peeked over the hill.Sure enough, the hovering Bohrok were flowing up out of the hole.Finally, one last Tahnok came up, carrying something in its hand.“What-that?” Lewa wondered.Ito answered immediately. “A Btou staff. Looksee – it is fancier than either kind we’ve before-seen.”“A level… 3?!” Lewa speculated.“I fearthink so.”Level one Btou staffs gave the user the ability to use mask powers, even if they were merely Matoran.Level two Btou staffs could be fused with Toa Tools to grant the holder the elemental power of the Tool’s normal owner. Even though elemental powers weren’t really in the Tools. This in addition to activating mask powers – and there was a secret, extra power granted that was related to the elemental power.Who knew what powers level three would have?“This is why we should have attacked already,” Tahnok Kal insisted. “Now they have a greater advantage of unknown amount. Their advantages will only grow. Cahdok must be freed. Now.”Lewa honestly found himself tempted by this logic. He didn’t see any better window of opportunity coming. But the Turaga’s orders stood – and they had excellent reasons.Ito summed them up in two words – or three if you didn’t understand Treespeak. “Too-strong already.”The Kal objected – all six – with a strong demonstration of their power.“My electricity is like that of the greatest thunderstorm,” Tahnok said, zapping a nearby tree.“My sound like its thunder,” Kohrak Kal boomed.“My magnetism—“Lewa interrupted Gahlok-Kal. “But eye-look at the powers they’d added to your… brothers. They look… almost invincible!”“You are Toa of the hurricane wind and the bioquake if you need be,” Tahnok countered. “Added to we six, nothing is invincible against us.”“There are thousands of wielders of air and Earth in there,” Ito replied, softly. His voice was jarring with normal grammar – a trick he rarely used, but used very effectively when he did.Left unspoken was the other four powers. And the weapons of the Oru-Vortixx with their incredibly accurate aim.All the Kal obviously heard Ito’s unspoken reasoning.They looked at each other again.Gahlok-Kal, as if somehow robotically annoyed it had been interrupted earlier, pointed out, “My magnetism can cut through any shield and send them flying away. Then we may capture the Vortixx. We will never get another opportunity.”Lewa tried to answer. “But—”“My vacuum,” Levhak-Kal said, walking a step forward and staring Lewa down, as if to say the opposite of you, “can cut off their breathing before we ever give them a line of sight.”“Toa do not kill,” Onua said with such rapidness and insistence Levhak-Kal rocked back on his feet and turned to face him.“Suffocation can be a tool of stunning only if wielded by a master such as myself.”“But,” Lewa said, unsure how to voice his worry about the red one with the bulky suit. “How do we know they don’t have powers to counter yours? Surely they would consider you a threat before ever starting this venture and make preparations.”“This doesn’t feel before-planned to me,” Ito said, surprising Lewa at his apparent side-switching. “Wouldnot they send more troops?”“Or perhaps,” Lewa argued, anger tinting his voice now that Ito would dare give even one shred of logic against their superior’s orders, “they already know that exactly two Oru-Vortixx is precisely the amount needed! To give us a false sense of security to be foolish enough to be lured into their trap!”“We have not considered,” Nuhvok-Kal said, as if feeling left out, “my gravity. If it’s their aim you fear…”“And my plasma can take out all their weapons, regardless of what they are,” Pahrak added.“There are power nulling powers in existence,” Ito said, now switching back to the Turaga’s orders, apparently. Lewa saw the effectiveness of his approach immediately and wished he’d thought of it. “Selective nulling powers… you understand? Their powers could be made to work, while ours would be… stolen.”Something about the way Ito said it made Lewa feel like he knew much more than he was telling. Some deep secret. There was a strong touch of irony in his voice.The Jungledweller subtly turned to face Tahnok-Kal. “I jungledwell. I beastface ofttime. Knowledge is lifekey. Murky-powered beast? Do not attack. Study. Learn. Stronger-growing though it may be, it is always strongest when misunderstood.”“You, Matoran, dare lecture the Bohrok-Kal on wisdom of battle?” His calm mechanical tone mismatched his word choice.“No!” Ito said, his eyes going wide as if shocked the great Kal could even consider such a thing. “I of little power could never suchthink. But… there is more to battle than power and mind-wisdom alone. There is experience. And great though you are, you have spent your lives in pods. Sleeping.”If only the Kal knew what Ito had been through, Lewa thought. But the strange Matoran did not speak of it, so it must not be spoken of.Then a rare thing happened.The Tahnok opened its mouth as if to retort.And left its mouth hanging open for a moment, before closing it.Lewa wondered for a moment if it had seen the enemy make a sudden move – he was faced that way. But he would have felt silly turning around to look – so instead he peered in the reflection off of the Bohrok’s headplate. No such motion.Ito had outsmarted the Kal somehow, somehow deeper than Lewa understood.Perhaps the Kal had finally put two and two together, of something Ito had been hinting at. Something he and the Kal both knew, but Lewa did not. He wouldn’t have thought such a trick possible to pull on the ruthlessly brilliant mechanical minds of their rounded friends… but it had happened.Regardless, the Bohrok suddenly gave a slight bow. “Very well. We will do as the Turaga ordered.”As they finally walked away, sneaking through a small forest for cover, Lewa wondered if it was intentional the Kal appealed to the Turaga as the authority…And not to himself.

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Hours went by as BE, in the mind of his fish friend, scoured the ocean floor far and wide, looking for the awakened Takea.BE was fascinated to discover that the one island he had seen so far, which Surkahi had called Mata Nui as he'd flown over it with the fish in his hands towards the sea, was not the only land nearby.There were several tiny islands forming a rough semicircle around it – BE now realized he had seen one before, without quite realizing what it was. These were all cylinders, some reaching far above the water, others abruptly ending flush against the high-tide surface.And there were larger islands beyond these.For instance, now BE/fish peered up at a wooden boat, anchored off the coast of a smallish, bland island of sand and rocky hills.From the east, another boat sailed directly towards the anchored boat. It would get here in just a few minutes.BE thought he saw something odd on the beach.The fish was too afraid of the boat to go closer. The strange shapeshifting armor Surkahi had given them might protect against all manner of sea creatures, but the fish had heard rumors in its animalistic language that beings in boats had tricky ways to capture creatures of the seas, even the most armored ones.So BE briefly zipped out from the fish’s eyes, after the fish agreed to wait by a particular rock.The thing on the beach was like a moving cloud of sand.Inside the sand, something dark red… floated?It stood upright, but its feet hovered as far above the ground as its height. Its feet were not held parallel to the floor as Surkahi’s had been, but rather hung down as if the being was suspended from a cable.The being was shaped something like Surkahi or the other humanoids BE had seen thus far. No taller than Surkahi, and skinnier.But its form… was distorted… by the sand? Or distorted already? There was something profoundly disturbing to BE about this. The closer he looked at the being’s shape, inside the sand, the less sure he was he’d seen it right.The being was staring out at the boat.And then it whirled, turning in the air as easily as the fish could in the water, and disappeared.BE finally realized what was most disturbing about the being.It had no eyes.

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The rustling sound was long gone by the time Bhukasa finally reached the end of the maze, and the sun had crossed the meridian.He still crept quietly nonetheless. Who knew what else might guard this island?And soon he found his answer, at the end of the maze.As he’d expected, the end of the maze was a hole down into the chambers inside the huge stone octagon. A simple ladder allowed him to climb down. He began doing so, as quietly as he could.There was a simple octagonal room down there – but one much smaller than the outer octagon.The eight walls each contained a barred metal door. Locking eight rooms. Jail cells – inside, Bhukasa saw his friends.In one cell, he saw the Gukko bird and its Le-Matoran riders. In another, he saw no people, but instead the bags of ammo the Gukko had carried, and the weapons of the others who were imprisoned, including the sword that looked like Kopaka’s.The two Le-Matoran and the Gukko were the only conscious ones. Pohatu, Gali, Toggler, and Vhekoraa each had lone cells, in which they slept soundly. The rest of the Haze Glow Beasts in the seventh cell slept as well. One cell remained unoccupied.In front of its open door, a roughly humanoid being stood.It looked to be mostly robotic, especially on is right side. The head, left shoulder, bits of its left torso, and left upper leg were made of a completely different fleshy blue biomechanical design.It too slept, apparently – it was facing Bhukasa, but it gave no indication that it saw him.Oddly, Bhukasa could not make out which part of its face had eyes. There were a few lump patterns repeated symmetrically on both sides of its face, which was disturbing considering the lopsided mechanical right side of the rest of its body and biomechanical left. But more disturbingly, none of these lumps was clearly an eye. They seemed to actually be just lumps.In his biomechanical left hand, the being held a small sickle. In his robotic right hand, a strong short sword with a mechanical thumb feature built in.Could he sneak to one of his friends' cells without awakening the guardian? Free at least one person to help? Perhaps this guard was less dangerous than the… thing that had captured them.He decided to try it.As he stepped onto the floor, he found out the hard way that it wasn’t a normal, flat stone floor as he’d first thought.Most of it was mere loose sand, even in the cells.Only just under the ladder was it made of stone.Thin stone.As soon as Bhukasa’s weight pressed it down, it cracked loudly.He gave a cry of surprise as he felt himself fall… all of three inches.The broken pieces rattled against a much thicker stone floor just beneath it.The guardian jerked awake.“Bhukasa,” he said. “I remember you. HA!”“I… don’t remember you,” Bhukasa said, holding up his claws warily. “Sairiph?”“Torkax.” Its draping fleshy face contorted in what Bhukasa could only think of as a jellyfish snarling. “Sairiph cannot compare to me,” it said in disgust.Fear drove Bhukasa’s words, against his will; he should have kept his theories to himself. “Sairiph is the… sand thing that captured them?”Torkax nodded. “He is mere Price. I am Peddler.”“Peddler… this is the meaning of your name?”The odd being sliced the sickle through the air as if to slice Bhukasa’s words to pieces – and gave the same odd snarling expression. “I know not my name’s meaning! It was mere rhetorical poetry, simpleton! Are you a dome-dweller? Sail you not the seas of Aqua Magna? Know you not the Ways?”Bhukasa felt… off balance – maybe it was just the floor; he wasn’t at all sure what would happen if he took a step. He’d begun to notice the details of the walls between the cells. There were complex, apparently mechanical textures there, but seemingly made of the same brown stone as the walls around them. They looked brittle, and yet there was not a scratch on any of them.But he seized on one thread of familiarity from Torkax’s strange words. “You have… lost your memory too?”“I know not even that I have ever had a memory before this island.”“Why… are you here?”“To capture you,” Torkax said, and leaped at Bhukasa.He wasn’t ready for it at all and fell back in surprise against the ladder.It was only his body design that saved him – his head carried sharp reptilian teeth and aimed forward, and he carried no tools he could drop. Torkax came in feetfirst, swatting Bhukasa’s scissorclaws away, leaning his fleshy head back away from Bhukasa’s head, and brought up the robotic leg in a sideways sweep.Bhukasa flew sideways. Grasped for the ladder. Missed.Slammed against a wall.Immediately the mechanical stone devices whirred into motion. Little gears and levers and pulleys and chains rumbled, faster and faster, until they reached a top speed, and the floor shook, even more than it already was from the quakes Bhukasa had almost forgotten about.Torkax grabbed the ladder and pulled himself to his feet so fast Bhukasa reeled back in surprise again.But he wasn’t really weakened. He was good to go.And he had options Torkax hopefully didn’t know about.He stood up too, just in time to meet Torkax’s blades. Not a swordsman, he backed up to the ladder and ducked behind it, hoping to use it as a shield.As he did, he sent a tiny, tiny, tiny beam of his power at the bags of ammo.One lay at an awkward angle atop the icy sword. Bhukasa touched his energy to the sword.Cold. He absorbed it.Got to keep him distracted, Bhukasa thought suddenly. What age-old experience well he drew this from, he didn’t know, but felt it was wise.“Where’s the Memory Stone?” Bhukasa asked.“Beneath your feet, in the caves,” Torkax said, in a scolding tone, as if Bhukasa should have known that already to dare even come here.“I need it,” Bhukasa said. “You sound like you do too. We could restore—”Torkax loudly sliced at the ladder’s right post, and shouted at Bhukasa. “NONE may see the Stone of Pasts Lost to the Now!” He faked left but lunged right, almost bumping into Bhukasa.Who lunged the other way, desperate to keep the ladder between them.“Where’s your loyalty? The Kuambu?”“I may match their ways, but I am not them. The Memory Stone itself is reason enough. It is sacred.”“Why?”“Blasphemy to even ask!” Torkax shrieked, his voice taking on a liquid bubbling tone as if he was underwater. “It restores memories, but at terrible cost! Do not DARE to tempt me, villain!”He almost had enough cold energy. It was hard to hold onto, maybe only because of how illogical it felt to his mind – he thought of heat as energy, but cold as an absence. But in this world, cold was real energy and it could be absorbed.Absorbing cold had an unusual effect because of this.In the absence of cold… there grew heat.Under the bomb.But he needed to change something first. A bomb exploding that close to the other bombs would set them all off. How powerful were they? That was a question of chemistry and not in the realm of his powers.It held onto the sword by only gravity. The sword’s blade was tilted a little towards the door, the corner of one of Gali’s hooks under one side.The ladder would not work for him…When Torkax faked him out this time, Bhukasa simply ran away from the ladder.“Do you oppose the Kuambu?” he asked.Torkax gave no answer except to chase and meet him. His blades whizzed and clanked against Bhukasa’s scissorclaws.Bhukasa gave ground to the strange being, maneuvering closer to a wall.Finally, he had an excuse to duck…And Torkax’s shortsword slammed into the little gears.Bhukasa rolled away and glanced at the wall while Torkax’s back was turned. Not a scratch – and the machinery started moving… the ground shaking more.The bomb rolled off the sword.Towards the door.Rolled right out the door.Kept rolling – too far!Bhukasa sent a beam at Torkax quickly, spread it wide like a cone. Absorbed heat.Sent it into the bomb. Just enough.It instantly exploded.Smoke filled the room.Bhukasa lunged, swinging his powerful tail through the concealing cloud.Knocked Torkax into the empty cell.Slammed the mechanical wall next to it. Hoping this would close that cell. The walls on both sides now whirred to life.But the cell did not close. Torkax leaped out, pouncing on Bhukasa like a Muaka.Bhukasa lost his balance and rolled back on his tail.Pushed up with his tail against the ground, and up on Torkax against the swords with his scissorclaws.The guardian flew up and slammed into the ladder.Slumped to the big stone floor.Weakly started to get to his feet.Bhukasa had a desperate idea. If he was wrong…No time. He raced to the edge of the broken floor layer, picked up a piece, and tossed it hard against one of the few walls not activated yet. Repeated this for the rest.The thick stone floor slid aside.Torkax fell down a new hole.Yes!But oh… oh… maybe not a good idea. The island shook worse… and worse.All the wall-machinery reached top speed.And the quake reached levels of intensity he could not have imagined. He bounced off the floor. Thunder issued forth everywhere. Sand flew up and filled the air like dancing insects.Rock crumbled now – though not the mechanical walls or the cells. But the ceiling. Bits broke off.Huge sections from the maze fell through. Rained around him.“Free us!” Vira shouted over the roar. “HURRY!”Bhukasa tried to climb over a big rock between him and the bombs. His muscles were so tense, all he could do was cling to it, and hold it as he and it shook.It bounced to a side, rolling him atop it.Just then the rest of the ceiling fell in the central room.If he hadn’t been clinging to the big stone, it all would have fallen on him.All of it shook slightly less. As the big pieces of stone slowly sunk into the sand, which now acted almost as much like a liquid as it had when they’d had to run to stay out of it earlier, they shook slightly less.He took the opportunity to run over the sinking floor to the bombs.

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#17 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Feb 07 2012 - 05:03 PM

Chapter 16

Tahu was worried.Maybe it was just the nervousness he felt, sitting on a wooden chair outside Kanoka’s cell, watching the Ta-Rahunga diligently for hours while everybody else was out there. Doing the work he should be doing.But he’d just checked in with the leader of the Haze Glow Beasts, on Bhukasa’s boat, and learned of horrible news. The island was shaking violently – shaking itself apart. Pohatu had been supposed to check in via his own mask of Telecommunication, and hadn’t.And now the boat was engaged in fierce battle with the Kuambu ship.Without its captain.Tahu tried to call Pohatu, and got no response. One by one he'd tried to contact everybody Rhengahii said had gone ashore. None answered, not even Bhukasa. He was met with the same silence as when he tried to call the captured Matoran, although he thought he heard… almost something when he called Bhukasa and the two Le-Matoran.But nothing clear. Just whispers.His attempts to contact the Eight Matoran continued to fail, too. Not even whispers there.Meanwhile, Lewa reported the Third Faction now had a Btou staff… and Surkahi had shown up just quickly enough to answer the obvious question. Yes, it was a Level Three. But the shapeshifter had hurried to the Turaga to call a secret meeting, and refused to tell Tahu what Level Three meant.The sun was beginning to set on the day.He felt that he should do something. This was wrong, however urgent Vakama’s voice had been when he ordered it – for Tahu to just sit here, babysitting this… This… This whatever Kanoka was; villain, friend, ally of convenience…And he had to wonder.Even if Kanoka was truly on their side now… Would he be much longer, while they treated him like a wild beast to be caged?

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There were so many impossibilities to Memory Island.As soon as Bhukasa stepped into the room with the bombs, through the door the first explosion had blasted open, the shaking felt less severe. And the ceiling looked secure.The thundrous tumult of the rest of the island was just as loud, though, and the new ‘floor’ of the main room would not last long. He snatched up bombs and lobbed them one by one at the barred doors of the cells across from him.That opened the ways out for the sleeping prisoners, except Toggler’s cell to his right and the Gukko Riders’ cell to his left.He threw these bombs at the floor in front of those cells, unable to get a good angle for a direct throw.The Gukko door cracked enough for the Matoran to get out. Toggler’s door remained mostly barred.Nabmaia raced over the sinking chunks of stone and grabbed another bomb, while Vira ran into Gali’s cell and tried to wake her.A clever curved throw from the bombmaker blasted the Gukko’s bars clean off. The bird gave a shrill cry and hobbled out, perching hesitantly on the sinking stones and flaring up the green forcefield that formed the ‘feathers’ of its skeletal biomechanical wings.Nabmaia grabbed the rest of the bombs and climbed aboard, lobbing one more at Toggler’s cell as she went.Vira crawled back. “It’s no use! Gali’s eyes are open, but she does not move. She mumbles in her sleep as if talking to some dreamed friend. It looks like they’re all like that… and this ground is almost gone! And the cells appear stable – they should be fine.”“Go!” Bhukasa ordered. “But throw me another bag of bombs. I may need it.” He caught it. “Report to Rhengahii and the others onboard. And Tahu when next he calls -- defer to his judgement for what to do next. If you come back, come back only for the Toa, and do not linger here if I don’t make it out by five hours from now – take the Toa back to Kriitunga Island.”They nodded, obviously understanding what he intended to do. The bird launched into the sky.Bhukasa watched them go until he was sure the sand thing wouldn’t get them.Then he dove into the hole.

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“Fly directly above me no matter what I do,” Caroha ordered Hujo over the radio. “And stay within one hundred yards of me. Do not deviate from that course, no matter what. Am I understood?”Hujo hesitated a fraction of a second.Because her course was… flying directly downward, into the steep side of the mountain.A death plunge.But there was a fresh group of the Bohrok-like flying things on their tail.“Understood,” he said, his voice cracking.“No matter what! Say it!”“No matter what!”The mountain loomed. Caroha sped up.Wind reached down like a snake slithering over the mountain.With it came the remnants of the spread cloud.Thick fog hugged the very surface, in a thousand rivulets as the cloud condensed lower down.One of these rivers of fog was Caroha’s destination.Now a wide, thin haze spread over them.Caroha was a dot. Hujo could not see her.Directly down.The haze cleared.Caroha had flown north. Sideways along the mountain.Hujo let loose a burst of blue fire from his staff in sheer frustration and fear. Something felt horribly wrong… as if emotion could fill the air. Hate… fear… it was a gas filling everywhere but the corridor directly above her.Burst of speed. North.Slow.Too fast. Slow…Caroha was directly below him again.The peace filled him.He didn’t even glance back to see if the jet things were still there. He knew they were – more important was that his eyes not look away from Caroha.They crossed over many rivulets of sinking fog.She flew closer to them. Lower, lower. Realign! Realign!Peace.But rolling, churning fear inside that peace. The peace was made of bricks that were fear.She banked.Directly down.Between rivers of fog.Then west, towards the mountain’s peak.He followed as close as he could to her instructions, but holding the exact line was almost impossible. The bricks of fear chipped, the churning fear boiled.A spire of rock rose.No.Hundreds of spires.They dipped under the dark shadow of the rolling spread cloud far above.Faint blue glow of three orbs lit the fog ahead. Hujo refused to blink.She flew over a spire.Hujo flew over it.She banked directly down.He saw now that it was here that the sinking spread cloud’s lowest layer – the one hugging the mountain – was knifed into the rivulets by the thousand rocky spires.Behind that spire, directly beneath her, was pure fog.She sped up.Slammed into the fog. Disappeared.Hujo held the line.Choice moment.Option to waver, to slow. The churning bricks of fear threatened to explode.I choose obedience. The thought was a single snapshot, a sentence formed already and existing in a single moment.Then… just as he plunged into the fog, her voice came once again. “I’ve switched off your control. Now… just fall.”A thick bank of fog rolled over the entire scene, blanketing everything. Hujo just barely saw the spire, seeming to stab upward at lightning speed next to him.He was heavy.The inability to move is called paralysis.A line of round things, flames trailing behind them, slammed into the spire. Exploded.Silence.Bricks held. Peace.Time passed.Then violent motion, vision darkening from an impact. Staying conscious.Wet surface of the suit's forcefield.Glowing, roiling blue.And Hujo’s mind finally switched into gear.He floated to the surface of the water at the bottom of what he now understood to be a deep, fog-hidden well.Caroha hovered over the water. He barely floated – the suit was so heavy, even his head was completely under except the top of the forcefield. But that field held breathable air still, and he was safe.Behind Caroha, he beheld the faint outline of a huge rock dome.She held out her hand.“Understood,” he said, taking it.“I knew you would.”

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Mukana knocked on a carved-ice door.He glanced around through the thick snowstorm, making sure nobody had followed him.The door opened inward, into the darkness of the hut’s interior.Two glowing yellow eyes peered out, inside a Mask of Rebounding. “What do you want?” the Matoran asked out loud, glancing at Mukana’s rahudermis-fused tall body. As a whisper that only Mukana could hear, he added, “Turaga-sent iceburn!”Mukana smiled as if he hadn’t been insulted. “Hello, Rehyo. May I come in?”“Certainly!” Rehyo said in a tone of barely managed politeness.When the door was closed, the Ko-Matoran whispered harshly, “This is Kanoka’s plan of secrecy the whole Koro is buzzing about? The Turaga announced you would be coming to our huts, but not in ways that the others could see! Might as well just hand over our names!”“Makuta is dead,” Mukana said, as if the conversation had begun along an entirely different tack.“I know that! Think I don’t know why the voice from my mask has gone silent? We all do. What matter?”“By order of succession, the rule would have gone to Rathoa. But Rathoa betrayed the Brotherhood. It went instead to Kanoka, the secret second in command. You know this too, because that voice told you before the voice said nothing else. Yes?”“Yes, yes, yes. I say again, what matter?”“You know the plan, you said it yourself. The Turaga announced it exactly as Kanoka agreed.”“So Kanoka’s a traitor too, so what? Are you claiming the line went to you now?”Mukana answered quietly, his voice cold like a knife. “That’s exactly right.”“Bah!”The Ko-Matoran walked over to a pile of logs in a circle of stone, and struck a protoflint on a blade of metal above it. The wood lit. The Matoran went to a bucket of icefish and hung one on the blade.Mukana watched him prepare two places at a table in silence for a while, waiting.Finally, Rehyo faced him. “How came the line to you?”“Kanoka designated me second-in-command.”“When?” the Matoran demanded.“After betraying Makuta. I went along with it, as did Bimiaku and Klirisha, only to learn his treasonous plans. Now he’s locked up in a cell, by the Turaga’s very orders! Everything’s in place for us to carry out Makuta’s wishes.”“He’s dead! And a traitor’s orders mean nothing! There is no leader of the Rahunga.”“You FOOL!” Mukana spat. “You feign loyalty to Makuta on the one hand to reject my leadership, and on the other you refuse to carry out Makuta’s plan!”“Makuta’s plan depended on a set line of…”“Ahkmou is one of Rathoa's mindslave now. So are the others in the line Makuta set. It’s up to me now. To us.”“Bah!”Mukana waited in silence again. He had the logical upper hand here. He needed only wait for Rehyo to admit it. He was always a prideful Matoran.Rehyo went to the fish, checked it. “How you like it?”“You know how I like it.”“Bah.” After a moment, the fisherman faced him. “Very well. Your plan is good… but is it not our duty first to free the others in the line?”“Makuta’s spirit could be fading from that mask even as we speak. It must be. His restoration is our first goal… unless… you… aren’t really as loyal as you pretend?” Threat rose as that sentence ended, curved at the end to make a hook.“I AM loyal!” Rehyo glanced at the walls, lowered his voice, a pleading look twisting his mask. “I am! I swear it!How well we lie and manipulate still, Mukana thought ruefully. Was the path of loyalty to the Turaga really any better for them than to Makuta? Could any path be pure for those who had tasted the bitter hatred of rahudermis?“How can I know to believe you if you do not do as I say? Kanoka may have been a traitor, but he did call me his second. And I have ‘betrayed him back’ to serve our true Master. Is that so bad?”Rehyo looked at a loss for words. Glanced down from Mukana’s eyes, and obviously saw Mukana’s hand gripping the handle in the middle of his bisword, though it hung on a clip at his belt. He normally stored it in a different clip that hung it on his back… but this let him be more subtle.Subtlety was the key to effective manipulation.“I… then… do you vow that once we free Makuta, we will free the others, including Ahkmou?”His mind is on vows as I thought, but he’s too emotional to think of the trap-vow. It was worded as a conditional – he would not be vowing to actually free Makuta, thus the second part of the vow was worthless as well.“I vow it,” Mukana said.There was a beat of silence. Too long. Rehyo’s mind might turn to those other vows indeed.“Accept now or it’s too late! I have to speak to the others before the storm clears!”“I… I accept!” The pleading look still ruled Rehyo’s face. “Please show mercy on my hesitation and doubt!”Mukana accepted another two beats of silence this time, and slowly narrowed his eyes. He glanced from Rehyo’s right eye to the left several times – a simple trick of unbalance. One Rehyo knew, as did they all, but one that worked every time when the victim truly believed himself in danger.The ‘textbook’ of Rahunga manipulation told him he should now step forward slightly, lean forward. This would help intimidate.But best not to use that book too closely, lest the other student suspect.“I show it,” Mukana said, giving a slight bow. “I’ll take my half of the fish in this bag, if you’ll please,” he said, pulling the bag off his back’s clip where the sword normally was. This fulfilled politeness and gave Rehyo something to occupy his thoughts in the final moment.When he had the fish, he turned and strode out – not too fast, but fast enough. When Rehyo started to speak, Mukana called back as if he couldn’t hear him, in a voice aaalmost loud enough to carry to other huts… but not, “We’ll contact you when it’s time and tell you where to go!”He closed the door and stepped far enough away from the hut that Rehyo would not dare to come out and ask whatever final question had been on his mind.On the way to the second of the other two Rahunga’s huts, he mulled over every detail his short-term memory held of the encounter. He had the difficult job of analyzing subtle clues, looking for evidence Rehyo was actually willing to support the Turaga, despite his insistence on his loyalty to Makuta. But these had to be clues Rehyo would think a true loyalist to the Brotherhood wouldn’t think of…Turaga Nuju had announced Kanoka’s entire plan, by tablet message, which Matoro read aloud before the whole Koro. Just as the Rahunga had said.Why did Kanoka allow them to reveal that plan to everybody, exactly as he said it in the meeting?It wasn’t a technique in the standard bag of tricks Rahunga used to manipulate. It didn’t seem logical. It overcomplicated the process.Maybe that was the point, in a good way. No Rahunga would recognize it. Kanoka was smart enough to think of tricks the others wouldn’t know.But maybe that was the point, in a bad way. Maybe Kanoka was still loyal to Makuta after all. Maybe muddying the meltoff waters was exactly what Makuta had really wanted.How could Kanoka have even known all that would happen anyways? He couldn’t. Twisted Island had been unexpected by all… at least all outside the Third Faction.He was following a path of speculation so shaky, he knew it would collapse if he followed it down its next logical stretch.All I know for sure is my own refound loyalty to the side of good. All I can do is the best I can do.The problem was, Rehyo had dropped blatant clues that he might switch loyalty to the Turaga.Too blatant.What did that mean?It could mean anything. Kanoka’s whole plan, including his supposed double purpose, had gone public. Which ruined the whole plan… didn’t it? Rehyo knew Mukana was supposedly here on a mission to pretend to assure Brotherhood loyalty, while really trying to look for subtle clues he was on the Turaga’s side.So of course he would try to plant clues he was on their side.Mukana shook his head. He didn’t know what to make of it.So he just continued reviewing every detail, memorizing it for later analysis, as the Rahunga tradition taught him.Bah, he thought, to sum it all up.

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Bhukasa landed at the bottom of the hole, rolled on the dirty cave floor, and came to his feet, claws ready for a fight.Glanced around furtively for any sign of Torkax.Saw only eight dark tunnels, radiating from this point.He glanced back at the ladder and the hole above. The ladder reached down partway. Escape up it was possible, if he leaped to grab the lowest rung… assuming his bladelike claws could grip it…But this wasn’t the time to worry about his exit strategy. He had to get the Stone.Turned his eyes to the dirt.Footprints. Torkax had gone one way.Would he be foolish enough to head right to the stone, fearing Bhukasa knew how to get there… to take his position as the final guardian?Or did he think, instead, Bhukasa foolish enough to assume Torkax was the fool… and this was one of seven wrong ways… the one way that would lead to a trap manned by the guardian?He tried to remember.If you could remember, you wouldn’t be here, he reminded himself.It was remarkably calm down here. He had seen no sign that the quake stopped as he leaped in, but he felt only a gentle rolling, almost like the sea under his boat.And none of the huge pieces of broken ceiling came down here. The shaking should have knocked at least a few around and sent them down.Come to think of it, where were the broken pieces of that thin first layer of floor he’d broken before? They’d lain atop the stone floor that had slid aside when he activated all the wall machines.And how did the ladder reach below that stone?He glanced up, looking for the seam where the thick floor had slid aside. But he saw only a ring of darkness beneath the hole.More than meets the eye, indeed.And why was the floor made of dirt, not sand?Come to think of it, how could those pieces of ceiling be sinking in sand, when here he was looking at what was under them… and seeing nothing but apparently natural stone caves, not sand. And… caves mysteriously matching the octagonal pattern of the building above?Without bothering to put a bookend on the thoughts, Bhukasa scratched a single line in the wall of one of the tunnels that Torkax hadn’t walked along, and walked that way.

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#18 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Feb 10 2012 - 12:40 AM

Chapter 17

The end of the tunnel Bhukasa chose was abrupt.A solid wall – as natural looking as the rest of this cave… Bhukasa decided, though, that none of it could be natural.He turned back.When he reached the center, he marked two lines on the next cave – that Torkax hadn’t walked along – and followed it to the end.Again, a dead end.Three knicks.Dead end.Four.This tunnel did not end – it turned abruptly down.There was no ladder here. The edges were smooth. No way to climb back up if he slid down it.Should he check the other ways first? Perhaps the Stone was in a simple chamber somewhere, and this was merely a trick. A trap.But Bhukasa had strong muscles, and scissorclaws that did cut into this rock. If it was a trap, it was probably one he could get out of.Foolish… but… time could be short…He’d never felt less sure of himself as he leaped in.Slid.The light from the meeting of the eight tunnels above did not carry down here.He stood up, trying to let his eyes adjust to the light his own glowing eyes and heartlight cast off.Correction. Some light did filter down.His eyes adjusted, and he realized it wasn’t really dark at all.But the light did fade dramatically further inward.Bhukasa walked that way, trying to keep his fears… and the sadness… down.But both swelled the moment he thought about them. Fear… that some worse guardian hid ahead… sadness… for no reason…Sadness for failing the landing party, he thought. But he might get them out of this. He hoped he could.No, this was the same sadness that had brought him to uncontrollable tears before he’d even heard of Memory Island. Why? he asked himself in despair. It was as sad that he didn’t know why he was sad, as the sadness itself.What was that?Another light. Dim, hard to register… up ahead. On the floor.It cast a wavering blue light on the walls, so dim his eyes had only just adjusted to be able to see it.But as he got closer, he became… somehow… aware of the object that was casting that light, even before he could clearly see what it was.It brought back memories of that… otherness. Those visions that kept almost coming to the surface, which were dreams, and not memories. Whatever this was, it had nothing to do with Memory Island except that it somehow happened to fall by the way here.He reached it.A vial.Made of some nearly black, cloudy variant of glass.Yet he could still not quite see it. It was as if it was in constant motion.He bent over it, tilting his head sideways so one eye on his reptilian head could aim completely at it.Ah… it’s sparkling. It was a blue glowing liquid, sparks of light appearing and disappearing in it constantly.Gently, he picked it up, and looked more closely at it.As soon as he touched it, the feeling of connection to the lurking dreams grew stronger. He felt like he’d leaned against a wall and gotten a static shock. He felt like he was in two places at once – aware of what he saw out of his own eyes, yet paradoxically aware also of the vision of someone else… He felt like he’d just opened his eyes for the first time, only to discover they weren’t his eyes at all.He couldn’t sense any other detail about the other person except that those eyes he saw glimpses out of… were blue…

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Blue Eyes watched as the battle unfolded in the water above – from the eyes of the fish safely peeking around the corner of a rock.The anchored boat pulled up the anchor.The invading boat paddled directly for the first boat. BE noticed a rammer prow just below the water line.The boats were of very different styles. The one that had been anchored was small, of simple wooden construction, with only a wooden railing to block the sides, and with working sails. It fired small round things that exploded on impact.The other was also of wood, and clearly was supposed to have a sail, which was broken.But the wooden planks were curved just right to form a perfect oval shape. Instead of a railing, a castle-like wall hid the crew from all other eyes. Its projectiles were glowing spheres of energy, coming in many different colors.BE started to think about the differences in rudder design… but then something happened.Not out there… but inside his mind. A stream had opened between two ponds. Though he was here, underwater on the shore of this island… he sensed vague images of someone landing on that island and walking into it, going down into a cave… picking up a strange vial…How? Why? What did it mean? Who was the other mind?And then the stream dried up.

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Disturbed, Bhukasa slipped the vial into the bag. The strange feeling disappeared as soon as his claws no longer touched the glass.He walked on.

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Lewa knocked on the door to the Turaga’s meeting place.It swung aside. Surkahi peered out. “Yes?”“Oh good, still-here! One of the guards said you’d come. I need to you-talk.”“Is that Lewa?” Vakama’s voice asked.Surkahi glanced back and nodded. Turning back to Lewa, he levitated a few inches higher off the ground, and looked sternly in his eyes. “I’m busy, on an urgent matter, and then I must leave to see to something just as urgent.”“What-do Level 3 Btou staff?” Lewa blurted, unwilling to give the slippery shapeshifter any time to dodge the question.Surkahi smiled grimly. “That’s what I’m discussing with the Turaga, and it is not for your ears.”He started to close the door.“Stopwait!” Lewa said, sticking his axe between the door and the jamb. “The Turaga appointed me to investigate Bohrok-muddles. Bohrok were used to updig a fancymuch staff just now! I needknow.”“Let me talk to him,” Vakama said, an odd tone in his voice that Lewa couldn’t quite place.Surkahi stepped back, opening the door.The fire elder picked up his staff and walked to the door. “The powers of Btou staffs are not within the purview of the Bohrok,” he said. “You have performed excellently in convincing the Kal to continue in faith with our plans. Now I need you to seek out the location of the captured Bahrag.”“But all-Kal think staff was dug to help-guard!” He didn’t mention that he hadn’t really been the one to convince the Kal. It was worth adding that Ito agreed with the Kal on this, though. “Ito too. And me.”“Not Onua?”“He…”The Earth Toa had known the Turaga wouldn’t let Lewa know. Or at least strongly suspected. ”Don’t even let yourself think of tampering with their secrets,” he’d advised. He admitted he’d once let Makuta influence him to do that, and it had ended badly.“He agreed the powers could be important, and requests also you allow me to know, if none of the others. I kept the secret of Kraata. I can keep this secret.”“Not if a Krana is placed on your face,” Surkahi growled.Lewa looked at him in surprise. Had the shapeshifter been spying on him? Seen the incident at Po-Koro?Or perhaps just heard rumor?No… of course he was spying on Lewa. I should have realized that.Lewa’s mind leaped along a tangent… If I ever truly fell to the Bohrok, would the Unknown spy drop his cover and help me escape?But he had pulled off the Krana by sheer force of will before it gained control. He had proven himself immune to it. Learned the lesson of his impulsiveness, and come out all the more trustworthy for it.Hadn’t he?Vakama closed off the awkward silence. “And Ito? Did he believe we should tell only you? Or the whole group?”“Well…” Ito had actually only agreed that the staff was probably intended to guard the Bahrag, now that he thought of it. In the way only Ito and few others like Surkahi could, he’d made Lewa think he’d said something he hadn’t. “I guess I’m not sure what he thinks about that.”“If Ito states directly that he believes you should know— Understand,” Vakama interrupted himself, as Lewa’s mind spun wildly around more than Vakama obviously meant it to, “if a team leader doesn’t know the opinions of everyone on his team in a matter… It isn’t very convincing.”He almost admitted he’d take direct orders from Ito! Lewa had never imagined such a thing, in all the time he’d spent with the Jungledweller.The shape of authority on the island took on a completely different feel. Lewa realized he didn’t even know who was truly in charge here. He found himself wondering what the true relationships between Ito, the Unknown, Caroha, and the Turaga really were.But Vakama had cleverly stopped short of confirming Lewa’s suspicion. Apparently he had the same talent as Ito and Surkahi. Maddening.“I’ll… ask him.”

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Bhukasa passed through a doorway shortly.There was light in here.It came from just above the door. Cast upon several passages radiating from an octagonal room. Obviously, he’d come full-circle to the room below the entrance to the caves above.The doorway was the only hint of technology here. The jambs were wide and thick, with what looked like locked drawers mounted in them. On the inner end, there were hints of sliding doors to the right and left.He turned and glanced at the light. Two blue lamps, small.Turned away.Motion out of the corner of his eyes as he did.Wait…He whirled, staring at the eyes above the door.For that was what they were. Eyes. Not lamps.They were mounted in the forehead of a brown stone carving, shaped just like Torkax’s face. The glowing eyes were set into the topmost “lumps.” The carving fronted a much larger stone sphere that was mostly contained behind a circular gap in the stone doorframe.This sphere now turned, giving off the distinctive rumble of heavy stone grating on stone.The eyes narrowed.The door slid shut.Bhukasa cried out, leaping for the door to jab a scissorclaw in.Too late. The silvery metal doors slammed shut with a bang that echoed down the other seven passageways.Suspicions burned in his mind, but he was too panicked to think clearly. All he knew was, time had just become short.He ran down one passageway, holding his eyes wide open, and his head tilted to the side so one eye could see clearly. He wished his head was shaped like a Toa’s, with eyes aimed forward rather than to the side like a lizard.Eyes seem to be important on this island, he thought.The thought seemed to trigger another strange connection in his mind. This time, not to some other being somewhere. This time, to the past.Eyes.Camerati to the world.The tablet-scribes of memory…The connection closed, and Bhukasa was left to wonder what it meant. Surely someone who did not have eyes could still have memories… someone blind could hear and feel and think… And what kind of word was “camerati”?The tunnel reached a dead end.So he backtracked.On the way he remembered the bag of explosives.He could get out that door.His instinct told him an exit strategy would be far more important than reaching his goal here, or the goal would be meaningless – he’d end up like Toggler and the others.So he quickly pulled out a flint device, lit one of the bombs, and ran back into the tunnel a ways.The bomb exploded.The smoke cleared…And the door stood undamaged. Even the stone sphere above, and the eyes in its carven face, were untouched.Bhukasa reached out with his energy power to the door.Sensed a powerful forcefield. Far too powerful to even dream of draining it with his limited abilities.He glanced up at the eyes. They were clearly alive and following his every move.Better hang on to the rest of my ammo for now, he thought hesitantly.He tried the second tunnel.Backtracked, and marked the first and second. The door would give him a landmark anyways, but couldn’t be too careful in this place.The second was a dead end.He marked the third and started along it… but something told him it was a bad idea.He couldn’t imagine why, but he went with his gut instinct again, knowing he was short on time.The fourth tunnel was a dead end too.He heard a loud bang.Same sound as the metal doors.These tunnels were not quite straight, but this one was close enough that he could see a silhouette in front of the two glowing eyes.Shaped like Torkax.The being turned and looked down each tunnel in turn.At the fourth, stopped, and ran at Bhukasa. Torkax had obviously seen his eyes and heartlight.But the guardian had no such lights. He ran closer, a looming blackness. At least he was no larger than Bhukasa.Had his arms gotten larger, though?No… he was now carrying some kind of weapon. Bhukasa couldn’t see what. Except it didn’t look like a blade – more like a gun.Bhukasa grabbed a bomb and threw it. Impact triggered on the wall, and a fireball lit the room.But Torkax had been behind the fireball, which was bright enough that it ruined Bhukasa’s night vision.He took a deep breath, pressed against the wall where its curve hid him, and called out in the most confident voice he could muster, “No closer or I’ll blast you!”“I’ll ‘blast’ you!” Torkax shouted back.And something flared, brighter than daylight. Screamed towards him. Roiling smoke.Instinct told him to leap away from the wall, down, slide along the dirt floor.BOOM.An explosion that dwarfed his rocked the dead end. Rocks fell from the ceiling. But Bhukasa had slid under the rocket and away from the resulting collapse.He leaped to his feet. Reached in the bag.Strange sideways connection…That was the vial!Flare, scream, smoke… another rocket, aimed at his feet!Bhukasa stuffed the vial back in the bag and leaped right over the rocket.Slammed into Torkax.Dropped the bag. Grabbed Torkax’s guns. Headbutted him.But the guardian kept his grip on the weapons.Bhukasa whirled and swung his tail like a bat. Swatted Torkax into the wall.The guardian rolled back.Something glowed in the air between them.Another forcefield?!It radiated from rings around the very end of the rocket launchers’ tubes. Bhukasa couldn’t get through it. But missiles could.RUN!For good measure, he tossed a bomb behind him as he raced out of the tunnel. It wouldn’t harm the guardian, but at least it would make a quick smokescreen.Screaming rocket.Bhukasa reached the end of the tunnel, turned, ran down the fourth. Had an idea at the last second.Reached in the bag. Grabbed the vial and a bomb.Dropped them in the sand.Threw the bag full of bombs at the door.Bag and missile hit the door’s forcefield at the same time.The tunnel shook. Rocks rained from the ceiling.Bhukasa leaned over the vial and the last bomb, shielding them from debris. Digging his claws into the dirt and rock beneath to keep from being knocked aside from the explosion’s shockwave.When the thunder quieted, he found himself half buried in pebbles and dirt, but uninjured.He stood up, made sure to pick up the two objects, and ran along the fifth tunnel, not bothering to mark it.Merely glanced back at the door, registering its shredded remains with just an ounce of relief.“NO!” Torkax shouted, his voice echoing through the cave.Bhukasa immediately realized he’d picked the right tunnel. Torkax’s silhouette had just peeked around and saw that Bhukasa had gone this way. It was this that dismayed him, not the door’s destruction.The tunnel curved down just as the one that had brought him to this level did.He leaped down it, and ran back inland.This tunnel was winding and long. Bhukasa ran as fast as he could, hearing pounding footsteps behind him.The footsteps got louder. He pushed his strong muscles to the maximum, but he could not compete with the mechanical perfection of Torkax’s legs.Thankfully, the tunnel branched into a maze. Bhukasa ran one way, slowing his steps just enough that he could barely hear them.And it worked once again. The enemy ran quickly down a different way.Now he crept on, listening intently. Whenever Torkax’s footsteps came closer, he went a different way.He caught a glimpse of the guardian once – the forcefield was not on.The caves were a maze, but overall they were a spiralling, interconnected group of tunnels that wound narrower and narrower as they circled the island, getting closer to the center.There were less alternative paths the closer he got. And always Torkax was within hearing range.He really didn’t want to hurt the guardian. Who knew if Torkax was truly a villain, or merely misguided? Perhaps even this Memory Stone truly was worth guarding and he was only to ensure only the ‘worthy’ reached it. The Toa had told of dangerous guardians of their masks, and insisted the Rahi were not enemies to be killed.Yet I could end this with one bomb, thrown just right, while he passes by a connected corridor.Or he could wait to throw it until Torkax spotted him… could be too late then if the forcefield went on fast enough. That was a dangerous, dangerous gamble.Toa don’t kill.But he was not a Toa.He was… a friend of Toa.What were his morals?I don’t remember.No. He could not kill. Not unless he thought Torkax was going to kill him first… with those rockets, that was obviously a real danger, but one he knew how to avoid. Not until he got his memories back and knew what vows he had made in the past.Truth was, he felt he could—He turned a corner.Torkax stared him in the face.Forcefield snapped on. Too late to throw.Torkax fired.Bhukasa leaped sideways.The explosion shook huge stones down this time, but he was clear.He ran fast.Torkax followed, but not as fast this time…Oh no.The guardian was listening for footfalls this time.Bhukasa tried his trick to lose the guardian, but it didn’t work. Another rocket almost punished him for it.More rocks rained down. He ran closer into the spiral.Finally, there was a single fork.Torkax’s footsteps came closer…Bhukasa threw the vial one way.Crept the other way, closing his eyes and covering his heartlight.Torkax ran after the vial.

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#19 Online bonesiii

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Posted Feb 12 2012 - 10:03 PM

Chapter 18

“Those are Energy Hounds,” Rathoa muttered.He and Somaihri had fled to the far coast of Stelt. He now peered out a window in a tall building. Several Makuta and servants led a pack of the doglike Rahi directly towards them.He turned to the Unknown. “Tell me you have a way out.”“I have,” she said, as she tapped a seemingly random spot on a wall. She glanced back. “I said, don’t watch.”“Sorry,” he said, turning away. He wasn’t.“You’re sure your mask of Mutation isn’t working?”“I’ve tried it every ten minutes. And it isn’t a mask anymore, it’s shoulder armor.”“Whatever. Alright, the door’s open. Come on.”Rathoa saw that a panel of the wall had slid aside. Somaihri walked into a passageway lit by a blue crystal lamp of intricate design. The designs of the walls, floor, and ceiling were intricate too, filled with interlocking, spiralling, spiky insets, also of blue crystal.To think, the Unknown have had a room inside a normal Stelt building all along… He wondered how many other such rooms there were out there.When they were inside, the panel slid closed. At the end of the passageway, there was a deep vertical shaft. Somaihri jumped down with no explanation.Rathoa waited, assuming she would call up and tell him to follow, but she didn’t.Banging and snarling. At the door.He leaped.Somaihri still fell, far below. How deep is this? He noticed she’d grown wings, but instead of using them to slow her fall, she was using their tips, as well as her hands and feet, to hit the shaft’s walls at specific points, but seemingly random.Then something moved, blocking his view of her.And it was gone. It happened so fast, he couldn’t make out what it was in the dim light. But now Somaihri was gone, and he was falling alone down a shaft that seemed to go on without end.“Somaihri?” he called out. But she didn’t answer.Something slammed into his side.He’d half expected this, so he just tried to curl up into a ball and protect himself.But nothing bad happened. He was now standing in a room, much larger than the passageway, but with the same style of construction.At the far end, he saw something larger than himself, shaped like an egg. The far wall appeared to be made of stone, but with a layer of… was that water? and then the surface layer of glowing blue energy.Somaihri was not here.He turned around. He could see no hint of how he’d gotten into this room. The wall he stood next to was of the same metal design with inset blue crystal patterns. No hint of a panel that he knew must have slid aside and somehow pulled him in here from the passageway.He turned back to the egg-shaped thing.Now that he looked closely, he could see it was a vehicle of some kind. It had a windshield in the front, and the back was a combination hatch and rear window.He took a step closer, and the hatch opened.Rathoa expected to see Somaihri inside, but didn’t. There were two seats inside, both too small for his new Makuta size.But as soon as he stepped inside, the seats shapeshifted, merging to become one large chair. He stepped around a vertical column and sat down. The hatch closed.Then the stone wall swung out and up.Indeed that was water… and beyond this doorway, ocean. He was underwater. He’d fallen deep underneath the island.Suddenly the scene jerked. He didn’t feel anything, but he no longer saw the walls of the room.He turned to look out the rear window and saw the underwater portion of Stelt shrinking at a dizzying pace. Gripped the seat’s arms tightly. I must claim this vehicle as my own, he thought. It would make a mighty gift for the Faction.There was a crackling sound.Somaihri’s voice came from nowhere – it didn’t quite sound normal, so Rathoa suspected she wasn’t using a Mask of Telecommunication, but rather some form of technology.“You there?”“Yes,” he said. “And where are you?” He tried not to let the vague suspicions of treachery taint his voice – this vehicle was moving on its own, had probably locked him in, and he was her enemy.“I’m hijacking a Stelt boat.”“Why aren’t you on this… thing?”“The Makuta needed a diversion to chase. Although in all honesty, I think that shaft will keep them occupied for hours.”“Am I imagining it, or did it not have an end?”“I… ah… shouldn’t explain that. Let’s just say, any Energy Hound tracker that leaps down there will know for sure that your trail leaves it at some point, and have no clue how to follow you.”“What about you?”“Hang on…”There was another crackling sound, and her voice did not come again.“Somaihri?”She hadn’t sounded alarmed…Flash of blue light. Whirling energy. The musical sound of teleportation.And there she was – standing in the submarine. She now wore a fancier version of a Kanohi Komau, just like the one she’d lost back on Destral. She stood behind him, holding perfectly normal balance even though the craft ducked and weaved around higher parts of the seafloor, Rahi, and other islands.“I brought a matching teleportation device to the one installed in this craft,” she said. “And that boat is locked with its engines on full. They’ll either chase it till it crashes into the Barrier, or they’ll overtake it and find it empty.”“A nice plan,” he said. “What about the other teleporter?”“Oh, they’ll never recognize it. We know how to disguise more than just ourselves.”He realized he didn’t see anything in here that looked like a teleporter either.The light outside dimmed briefly, and he saw somewhat narrow walls.Then it brightened again. “We just passed into Metru Nui’s dome,” she said.“Already?”“We don’t like vehicles that waste time. Now for the really cool part…”Suddenly Rathoa turned translucent. So did the whole craft. “Invisibility?”She nodded.The egg tilted up – once again, it seemed unreal because Rathoa couldn’t feel it. The floor still felt like down, even though his eyes told him the rear hatch should now feel like down.Burst out of the Silver Sea. Flew rapidly into the sky. Up towards the western sun-hole.Through.And out into the air above Ko-Wahi.He tried to calculate just how fast they’d been going, now that they slowed down, and couldn’t quite figure it out, but it was all such a shock.Really must have this thing.His mind started an almost automatic calculation of a different sort. Weighing the value of continuing to work with this Unknown, versus just outright battling to possess this vehicle.But he needed to know if Makuta was truly still alive in any way other than as a fading ghost-spirit still attached to the mask in Rathoa’s energy pack.Maybe he’d get a chance later to steal this vehicle.It slowed now, over the hidden entrance to one of the Rahunga supply storages. The hatch opened, and Somaihri stepped out.Think… think… No. The truth about Makuta was more important.He stepped out, leaped to the ground.As soon as he left it, he appeared completely opaque… and he could no longer see the eggcraft at all. Despite his tactical concerns he couldn’t help feeling a thrill to know something so powerful was hovering there, looking for all the Matoran Universe like just another bit of air.Somaihri’s hand formed the shape of a key, which she inserted into a little keyhole amongst the icy rough texture of a wall.A section of the wall disappeared in a flash of blue light. In actuality, though this was the way to a Rahunga base, this room just inside the newly revealed doorway had originally been an Unknown storage room.Now it was empty of everything but a hole dug into the floor and a rope hanging down into an ice-cave below.Somaihri went down the rope, and Rathoa followed.Now they faced a long walk through a complex series of ice caves, until they reached the hidden Rahunga storage room at the end.“What do you expect to find there that will answer our question?” he asked.She started to answer…But there was a blue blur.A flash. She flew to the side. Slammed into a wall, fell unconscious.Rathoa whirled.Just in time to see… something… a being he’d never seen before…Firing a weapon at him.And all went black....……Rathoa awoke to find the sun’s light bent much farther towards the horizon as it beamed through the entrance to the cave. What happened?Had the Makuta caught up with him?But no… why would they just leave him here?He glanced down at his armor, touched his mask. Mentally checked his energy pack. Nothing had been stolen. The Kraakhan was still there. He just felt like he had a slight headache.Somaihri was nowhere to be seen.He’d been attacked! So had she. By…But now he could not see in his memory what it was. He’d seen the enemy clearly… but now in his memory the being was blurred out. As if his memories had been tampered with.He’d weilded a memory tampering device himself. He knew how it could be done. It had never been done to him.Something moved out of the corner of his eye and he whirled, expecting to see the enemy again.But it was only Somaihri – or rather a rock changing shape into Somaihri. She must have turned into a rock as a reflex defense.“What was that?” he asked.She groaned. “Kuambu.”“Kuambu?”“The self-described ‘Fourth Faction,’ rulers of the sea. Makuta never told you of them?”“Never.”“You have us to thank you that you never needed learn of them. It was we who kept them ignorant of Mata Nui. And your Faction that gave them a window of opportunity to discover it while we were trapped on Twisted Island,” she added, sounding angry.“Hey, Twisted Island wasn’t my idea. I just went along with the boss’s plans.”“I know. But you would toss us to the Takea if you felt it would help you, would you not?”Rathoa didn’t answer.She shrugged. “Come. The sun is sinking low.”“So… what did it want?”She glanced back at him. “It wanted… a copy of your soul.”“… A… Why?”“You know that every soul has a unique song?”“I’ve heard rumors there’s some sort of field of physics about that. I don’t fully understand it.”“You know what Rhotuka are?”“Of course. Their powers depend on the user’s personality.”“That stems from everybody’s unique soulsong. A copy of your soulsong can be made.”“This I know. A Kuamor sphere. But they have no powers!”“There is a way to make them have powers,” she said, darkly.“But how? Why?”She turned away, and kept walking silently. “I’ve said too much already. That is not for you to know.”

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Lewa did ask Ito about the staff, but the Jungledweller merely said, “If Surkahi and the Turaga don’t think you need to know, it isn’t my place to disagree.”Anger drove the Toa of Air’s next actions, though he tried to hide it.“Onua, Ito, Kal, all of us, let’s head out. We need to split up, hunt down the location of Cahdok.”“Alone-weak we’ll be!” Ito objected.Onua nodded agreement. “We should at least go in pairs only. Did not we Toa learn the folly of working alone already?”“But how will we ever Bahrag-find if we don’t cover as much ground as possible? Kal?”“We fear neither loneliness or companionship,” Tahnok-Kal said. “We fear nothing.”“But,” Ito said, turning to the red Bohrok, “surely you recognize logically that there’s a tactical disadvantage to working alone?”“For your pitiful Toa, perhaps. For you, small one, certainly. You may tag along with any one of us. We will split up. Cahdok must be found quickly.”“Let’s think about this,” Onua said, “before we rush off into traps. The Kuambu are out there. The Faction’s Bohrok are out there.”“There’s nothing to consider,” Lewa said. “Let’s go.”He turned, and waltzed out, ignoring Ito’s pleas to reconsider.This is stupid, stupid, he scolded himself… Impulsive…Well, what good was trying to do everything Surkahi’s way if the Unknown wouldn’t reward it? Vakama had given him his orders, and this was the best way to carry them out. They had to find the Bahrag – the Kal were absolutely right about that.And I’ll be careful.It was done.So it was done.

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Mukana decided not to eat the ice fish before going in Krinaara’s hut. He knew her fairly well – she was perceptive, and the best way to keep such a mind from finding the truth was to give her something to do.“No, I haven’t eaten yet,” he answered her polite question once he was inside. He’d stashed the fish in his own hut on the way.So she set about preparing another fish – this time an imported Ruki.Krinaara wore a Mask of Healing, and unlike most Rahunga, she kept her Rahunga weapon in plain sight, using the hatchet occasionally in her job of upkeeping ice-huts.“I take it you’re here to ‘recruit me to the Turaga’s side’?” she asked, laughing at the thought.“Yeah,” he said, laughing back. “Honestly, I don’t think I need to spend much time here. I know you well enough to know you’re solidly loyal to Teridax and his Brotherhood.”Her eyes sparkled oddly when he said ’his’, but she didn’t comment on it. He wondered if she knew something he didn’t. “Honestly, the way you behaved over the last couple of weeks,” she said, smiling with just as much humor, but speaking in a tone of voice best compared to a sharp knife, “it is I that must question your loyalty.”He shrugged, but made sure to hold her eye contact. “It’s a fair question. I admit I wavered there near the end of Makuta’s life. I didn’t understand where the Rahunga could go from there. Now I do.”“What of Kanoka?” She knew all about Makuta’s established line of inheritance for the leader role.So he explained the same thing he’d told Rehyo.She barked scornful laughter. “Kanoka, a traitor, and you loyal? You think me a fool, my old friend?”He knew he was floundering. And he knew she was too smart to use the Rahunga guidebook on. So he just replied in the most natural way he felt an evil Rahunga would. “You’re the fool, my friend, if you think me a traitor.”“So… what do the Turaga believe you’re trying to accomplish for them? How would any of this help them, if Kanoka Traitor got his way… hypothetically?”Mukana called desperately on Rahunga rules to avoid looking surprised. He hadn’t expected anyone to ask such a thing. And he had no idea how to interpret it. But he held eye contact and answered as quickly as he could, letting himself play the role.“I guess they imagine a team of… you know, experienced Rahudermis users who would use the powers it grants for their benefit.”“Rahudermis is hateful. Some say it’s hate incarnate. Do the Turaga mean to admit they are the hateful and we the good?”She said that with a rigid tone in her voice that didn’t belong. She’s playing the role too, he realized.Then he second-guessed himself… and almost forgot to continue the role himself. “I can’t pretend to know what the Turaga are truly thinking. Perhaps they see through all of this and they intend the Toa to double-cross us before we can do the same to them.”While he said this, his mind spun, wondering what sort of Rahunga Krinaara was, really. She’d been recruited in the so-called ‘Truth Room’, where Rathoa had shown recruits carefully edited false histories to convince them Makuta was truly good and the Turaga truly evil. She’d sworn fealty under that pretense, as had most recruits, including Mukana.Had she ever discovered the truth, as Mukana had? Did she know Makuta truly was the evil one, the liar?All Rahunga were exposed to the guidebook of tactics, which included how to manipulate others (called necessary deceptions to defend a good goal that must for now be kept secret). Most were involved with infecting Rahi, and it was hard to remain convinced for long in the face of this especially that evil was not present in Makuta.Perhaps the role she was playing was that of a truly evil Rahunga, pretending to still be fooled by the recruitment lie.Or perhaps she was playing the role of loyal Rahunga who knew Mukana wasn’t, but wanted to pretend she didn’t know it for sure.Tick-tock.He pushed the thoughts aside for the moment and carried on more conversation, accepting the prepared Ruki, then excused himself, blaming the storm once again for his rush.He hid that fish too, in his hut, and raced to the third and final Ko-Rahunga’s hut. Of the conversation with Krinaara, he could reach no conclusion either.I’m just not cut out for these psychological games.

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Bhukasa stepped into the central, final chamber.Both of the last tunnels entered a lobby room just before this, which bent like an L before entering this room. Thus someone could stand at the entrance to the lobby and not be able to see into this room. Etching on the lobby wall stated emphatically in all languages what Torkax now shouted in anguish.“None may set eyes on the Stone of Memory, or suffer a terrible curse!”The guardian stood at the entrance to the lobby, shouting this over and over at Bhukasa. But Torkax dared not follow him into the chamber.There it was.In the darkness of the room, a small rectangular shape rising in the center, set atop a stone pedestal.Bhukasa’s heart pounded as he entered the room, worried that there might be some final guardian.Red light added to the scene.He turned and looked over the door.Two red eyes, mounted in a stone sphere, over the entrance.Light from Bhukasa’s own eyes illuminated the carving those other eyes were set in. A small Turaga-like being, hovering in the center of an obscuring group of tiny bumps. Like a cloud of sand.Bhukasa felt sand under his feet.The door slammed.Rustling.He whirled, ran to the Stone, touched it.The rustling got louder.He tried to mentally call on the Stone’s power.But there…Was…No…Power…Slowly, eyes opened, in more stone spheres inset into the walls, all around.Eyes of all colors and shapes. Most came in pairs, some with three eyes, one with one eye.Out of huge, black alcoves in the walls, bodies walked. Eyeless bodies. Guardians of all manner of shapes and sizes.The rustling sound grew loud, and a lump of sand started rising up between Bhukasa and the door.Desperately he turned back to the Stone, sending a beam of his power at it, trying to seek out any kinds of energy hidden in it that would activate its power.But there truly was no power.He sensed the basic heat of its stone molecules. The energy that bound those molecules together. A slight magnetism.Other than that, nothing.The Memory Stone was not what the rumors said – no mythical cure for lost pasts.It was just a tablet.By the light of the myriad eyes, he now saw text carved into it, confusing text in a strange dialect of Matoran. A mere poem about memory…Nothing of value. Nothing to help him. Worthless.Bhukasa turned to see a red Turaga hovering above the sand… but blurred and with no eyes. Eyes that matched it peered down from the stone behind it. Sand whirled around it loudly, like a tornado.I’ve been a fool, he thought. He’d squandered his mission to take the Toa to Kriitunga Island and seek out real leads to the Kuambu on a false legend…And now he would pay the price.

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Edited by bonesiii, Feb 12 2012 - 10:05 PM.

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#20 Online bonesiii

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Posted Feb 16 2012 - 07:04 PM

Chapter 19

“I am Sairiph,” the Turaga-like being said. His voice was deep and booming, terrifying.Of course, Bhukasa thought.Now that he looked closely, he could see Sairiph wasn’t, in fact, hovering by any special power. He actually had wings sprouting from his back, which beat so fast they were a barely visible blur.“I was of your company, we who helped you escape the Kuambu pen, and sail the Endless Ocean. I was fool enough to help you come here to seek your memories, and fight to gaze upon this Stone.“Then, as now, you reached this cavern and saw the Stone, and now you must pay the Price, as then.”“What price? Surely it cannot be of much value. This is just a tablet!”“Have you not read it?!”Bhukasa glanced at it. Now by the light of the nearly thirty eyes that glared at him from stone spheres in the walls, he could read the text. Perhaps it was the ideas of the tablet, not the stone itself, that mattered…Sairiph did not seem to object to his reading it. All the guardians waited as he read.“POETRAXIENS MEMORYLUM: Eyes.Camerati to the world.The tablet-scribes of memory visua.DRM: Ears.Phonoscopi to the world.Bridgeos of memory audia.BRM: Barrelus, comparrowi of memory balancia.SUM: Bionisens, teloi of memory battela.LOM: Armoregistris, teloi of memory battera.DLM: Tempus, kotaloi of memory thermia.BLM: Ocutrios.Loqresars-calculi of memory veritia.SOM: Olfacticos.The miqpiwfaudi linament of memory giutronsiuma.SURM: All predermin memory vai octasens already possess recall.”“I don’t understand it,” he said. “All this gibberish. Eyes, ears, memory this, memory that. What value has it?”“I am its guardian, by your past curse. I am not scholar nor betrayer of the secrets I myself guard.”“Past curse? I don’t understand. What is the terrible cost?”“Price must be paid of all seagoers who gaze on the Poetraxiens,” Sairiph said, as if the odd word was a normal part of his vocabulary. “Either the Captain, or one of his crew, must be bound to the island to join in guardianship, if the rest of his crew are to be granted the right to leave.”The understanding came, and it really was terrible. Sadness welled up uncontrollably. He fought at least to keep tears from his eyes.“So… you were the price I paid last time?”“I was the Price. Now you must pay again.”“Who is in charge here?”“Torkax is Peddler.”Ah… Peddler of Prices.“How came he to this position?”“I do not know.”Cursed be secrets everywhere, he thought. But he was unable to keep from asking a more important question. “What relation have the Kuambu to this island?”“All are denied the right to gaze on this tablet without paying the Price. None are excepted.”Not exactly a clear answer.He decided to push again. “Do you guardians serve the Kuambu?”Sairiph looked furious at the word ‘serve’, if emotion could be read correctly in a face whose eyes were visible but misplaced.Something in the way he answered reminded Bhukasa of himself, but he couldn’t quite place why. In any event, the answer was useless. “Do not delay. I am but one guardian, and I the least in rank.” Anger again in the final comment.“Yes,” said another guardian, a titanic humanoid with many pistons for muscles, and again no eyes. “Not all of us brought crews we could bargain with, you know. For such fools as we, Price is bitter and nonnegotiable. Yet here we rule absolutely, and we will suffer no reveling in that small comfort we were robbed of. Make your choice.”“Verily he spake,” rattled an ancient-looking creature that was much wider than he was tall, with many tentacle-like legs, no apparent arms… and a disturbing river of sand that seemed to flow both in and out of three eye sockets down to the ground. “Whom shalt we fellow?”Bhukasa noticed this guardian’s stone sphere was larger than the rest and placed exactly opposite the door. His organic components were brown and tough, flecked like rock, and indeed the tips of his tentacle-legs were almost indistinguishable from the rock of the walls.Was this the first guardian? The true leader here?The one of highest rank?Bhukasa decided to try once more – he was here on a mission, and he took that mission seriously. “I really must know this, if I may.” He directed the question at the ‘leader.’ “Do you serve the Kuambu?”The three yellow glowing eyes in the large stone sphere narrowed and the stone jerked downward an inch, as if to look at Bhukasa more carefully. “We vow fealty to that Sacred Law that ye must not but stand here – that ye must answer for the Price!”Stubborn. But he IS the leader, and he was surprised I figured it out so quickly.And I have seen this poem before.I have seen this poem before.Bhukasa looked at Sairiph. “I have already paid the price. I have seen this poem.”The three sand rivers quivered. The stone sphere tilted slightly. Sairiph rustled angrily. The others murmured, their voices too low for Bhukasa to hear.Then the big stone sphere turned to face Sairiph.The blurry red being spoke on cue. “If you will not answer the guardians of the Cavern of the Stone, you will peddle with the Peddler. As you did last time.”Was that gratitude, or a hint of it, in that last line?Bhukasa had been just as reluctant to agree to this ‘Price’ last time. He hadn’t wanted to sacrifice Sairiph to this apparently unending task.“Does the Peddler know what this Stone is?” he asked after a moment.Anger. Immediate and strong anger from all the guardians.They attacked.Bhukasa formed his plan then in a split second. Perhaps he’d mulled over how he could have escaped before, since he obviously hadn’t the first time. Maybe before he’d lost his memories he’d already thought of this plan in hindsight, and now it was surfacing just enough to will his muscles to motion. Anyways, that was what his gut told him, and the thought gave him enough trust in the idea to instantly carry it out.Leap. Grab.He had the tablet in one hand.Threw the bomb with the other.Not at the door – he saw the flicker of a forcefield there. But at the streams of sand from the ancient one’s eyes.The explosion knocked the sand throughout the room.Bhukasa ran at the door and slammed into it.It broke apart.He was right! The protective fields across the island were projected by that ancient one’s connection to the island. Perhaps augmented by technological devices, but for the moment they were all switched off.He raced back out through the maze.Torkax was nowhere to be found. Probably waiting up there to Peddle.He purposefully went the way he’d thrown the vial. But it was gone.When he came to the slide-cave that he’d leaped down to reach this level, he ran right at it fast, and slid back up, then rolled, holding the tablet protectively to his chest and using his tail and his other arm to soften his landing.Then he ran to the central room… found the forcefield just beginning to flicker back to life, though only in patches.The idea of a field projected by that ancient one but augmented by technology looked proven. He imagined it could reshape the stone, at least, at will, and to some extent the sand too.But apparently never before had any guardian been as attuned to the sand to attack so effectively through it as Sairiph. Why was that?But now was not the time for theories.He repeated his running and sliding up method again, and ran to the ladder.Once he was up in the central room, he found the stone slowly reforming to its prior shapes. And both Gali and Pohatu were gone. But Toggler and the Haze Glow Beasts were all still here, still unconscious.Torkax stood over a re-collected pile of weapons… and the strange vial.He leveled the two rocket-guns at Bhukasa. “I am Peddler,” he said. “All who have seen the Stone must pay the Price. Choose one to guard, then the rest may take this spoil and leave.”Bhukasa held up the tablet, words facing Torkax.“THIS is the Memory Stone. Now YOU have seen it.”

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BE watched the two ships battle with interest. He did not know why, but he was rooting for the one that had been anchored.The fish, though, was bored of watching the air beings. It conveyed the sense that airbreathers weren’t part of this world, and didn’t ultimately matter.That Surkahi was an airbreather.But they were supposed to be finding a shark.Very well. You’re right, I suppose.So they swam away.But they hadn’t gotten far when they finally spotted the shark.Apparently it – and many others – had heard the distant sounds of battle amplified by the water, and come hoping for people to be cast overboard in the chaos.He knew this Takea almost instinctively, and couldn’t explain how he recognized it.It looked just like most of the other sharks. Although not all were quite of the same subspecies, and there were other things here, like the huge, mostly mechanical Sharkrays, which the Takea shied away from.There were even a few other Korahga Spinesharks swimming in, identical to the one BE inhabited.That set them on a whole different tangent. The fish suddenly longed to join the school of his brethren. They all fixed their eyes intently on the battle, so now the fish took interest in the battle too – it hadn’t occurred to it to look at those beings as potential meals. Probably because BE identified with those beings, though he didn’t know why.But I see the shark! We have to finish our mission!The fish wondered vaguely at that. Did they have to? This shapeshifting armor was useful. To finish the mission probably meant they’d have to give it back.Maybe not. Maybe Surkahi will ask us to go on other missions. Maybe this is just a test of our value to him.The fish did not entirely understand these ideas. It remained insistent that if they went back to Surkahi, that would be the end of their possessing the armor. Or at least there was a chance of it. To an animal, risking giving up a resource was inherent folly.BE felt himself relapsing into his older states.Consciousness drifted, replaced by a mere animal stare of focus at the Takea shark.The shark was like the curious shapes he’d seen in the ice or the mud when he’d first existed. Something of interest, in the unique ways light played on it. The faint vibrations it gave off. The slightly unique motions it used to swim.Awareness of the beauty of the sunlight playing on the blue waves above emerged in his mind. It had been there all along, but somehow he’d been occupied with things at once loftier and more mundane…How could this be?The question snapped him back into consciousness. Logic once again became possible.Think of the Takea as prey. Imagine! The fun you could have, chasing prey three times your size… and winning!Doubt expressed itself in narrowed vision and questions rolling through the fish’s mind. Questions even BE could not contemplate when he first existed… and the very fact of that made BE wonder if he was originally something comparable to an animal and he too had somehow been ‘awakened.’The fish understood some of these thoughts, and agreed with them in its own way.There was something wonderful in the simple, sensory way an animal saw the world, and something ungainly about the extra ideas that littered the world through the eyes of an intelligent being.Yet… there was something sad in the limits of animals…The fish even now saw one Takea sneak up behind a Korahga and snap it up in its jaws. The Spineshark had been focused so intently on the battle above that it had stopped paying attention to its other senses.All fish had an extra sense that BE did not have – a basic vibration sense. Motions in the water nearby could be felt very easily.But this could be fooled with a quick burst of speed as this Takea used… and if they’d been smart enough to assign some to act as lookouts, that fish would not have died. BE’s fish understood this now and lamented the bad strategy.The other Spinesharks felt the Takea’s motions and scattered without even bothering to turn and look at it. They now held consistent distances from it, and it failed to swallow even a single one more besides the first.Their target Takea eyed these proceedings hungrily, but knowing the other Spinesharks were more worried now and thus unlikely to fall to the same trick twice.Something happened then in the minds of BE and the fish – simultaneous and identical in them, so that later they could not understand which of the two it came from, and they could not explain it in either terms of animal sensory instinct or sapient logic.They simply zeroed in on their target Takea while it circled the wary Spineshark school. Swam low amongst swaying seaweed.And, with a thrill of the prey chase and the strategy success, lunged up and rammed the shark with the fish’s nose.Blue light enveloped the shark, and it disappeared.Stored in the energy pack built into the armor, as Surkahi had explained.And then both BE and the fish turned and swam away, leaving the battle to end how it may, heading back to where Surkahi had told them to meet him.

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Lewa was alone, in the forested region between Kini-Wahi, Ga-Wahi, and Po-Wahi.It was, of course, foolish. He knew it.But he’d done it anyways.He now sincerely wished he hadn’t.Because the flying ‘super-Bohrok’ of the Third Faction now zoomed in all directions over the forest, looking definitely like they were searching for someone.Lewa was hiding in a hollow tree, and feeling quite silly.But…It had occurred to him by now that the Bohrok were probably not searching for anyone specific, but rather guarding the air zone around the prison of Cahdok.So this was a clue.The problem now was figuring out how to capitalize on it.Eventually, Tahu’s voice would come, asking for an update… and hopefully quietly…That was the only way out Lewa could see.So he just waited for it.While he waited, he had plenty of time to realize Onua had been right.They should have waited, and thought things through. If they had, they might have considered scouting with Ito’s invisible bird before leaving the safety of Kini-Nui. Might have considered the whole group staying together and searching this very spot before even thinking about splitting up.As soon as he’d left, he’d realized this area – the most heavily forested part of the region where the two Oru-Vortixx had been seen last – was the most likely place to look.They hadn’t even discussed who would search where, though he assumed each of the Kal would look near the Koro of their color. For all he knew, others of the team were nearby, and maybe Ito was scouting with his bird. Or maybe they weren’t.Foolish. Impetuous. Impatient.Finally, just when he’d run out of insults for himself, Tahu’s voice came. “Lewa?”“Quiet, I’m in trouble,” Lewa whispered, looking up at the Bohrok. They didn’t seem to have heard.He told the Toa of Fire his suspicions… and reluctantly admitted his mistake.“I can’t very well blame you, my friend. I did no better when we first arrived on this island. Anyways, stay quiet; I’ll contact the others immediately.”

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Mukana sat down opposite Ahku, who wore a Mask of Summoning. Once again, the host prepared the guest a meal.The other Ko-Matoran shocked Mukana by starting in a way he hadn’t expected anyone to.“I believe you are truly on the Turaga’s side now,” he said urgently, “and I wish to join you.”Mukana just stared with his mouth hanging open. He hadn’t expected directness. Didn’t know how to answer.How can I know he’s genuine?He almost asked that.No! No! This is the Rahunga guidebook again! Manipulation by faked opposites! I must protect my cover!He let his voice cool like molten metal in a snowstorm. “Then you have chosen wrongly. I’ll report you at once to the others.”Ahku looked taken aback. “But… Mukana… I know you… I know you were fooled by the Truth Room. I know you believed the lie, as did I. And I know you found out it’s a lie! Come now… I know what you’re doing. Rahunga guidebook – protect your cover! But I’m being sincere!”Mukana almost believed him.But how could Ahku know what was in Mukana’s heart? Well, through Makuta perhaps… but none of the others spoke like this… he’s bluffing.He decided to just leap off a cliff and take a viewpoint he sensed Ahku didn’t expect. “How dare you accuse our master of lying!”Ahku looked doubly taken aback, and now Mukana sensed a real genuineness in the surprise… which meant the other surprise had been faked. Now Mukana had him off balance… had the upper hand…But he didn’t know where this was going. Leaping off into random tangents was definitely not advised in the guidebook… it had a tendency to end up splatting pitifully against cold flat stone ground. But now he clung to it precisely because the guidebook didn’t advise it.“I… you mean to tell me you don’t know?!”“Know what? What is there to know? Makuta rescued us from the lies of the Turaga!”It was pure Truth Room propoganda. Mukana recalled as he spoke how he’d felt when he was convinced by it. A pureness to it, an innocence, and a fervent desire to act on it. He let his mind fall back into these well-worn patterns now, as if he’d never left.“I don’t… But…” And then Mukana knew he was right – Ahku was bluffing indeed. “Well, I’ve been convinced they were lies,” he said slowly. “And… well… you may tell the Turaga I am on their side. That is that. Attack me now, or run and tell the others. But I will stand with truth.”Mukana was too distracted. He hadn’t paid attention to the subtleties of tone as Ahku said this. Was it genuine? He felt like he was running for his life through thick fog.“Everybody knows,” he said before he’d even thought it through… and now he hesitated in fear at his own mouth’s riskiness… but he turned the pause into an opportunity to narrow his eyes, “that you are good with the blade. Better even, perhaps, than me. And a swordfight in here, now, would reach unwanted ears.”“Then so be it,” Ahku growled.“No. No! You swore a vow, regardless of how you may feel now. And Makuta need not be dead for good. You may think you’re free of that vow, but you are NOT!” He let himself get angry as he said this… but his heart wasn’t in the words.Ahku must have picked up on his hesitation. Although he didn’t reach for his hidden sword, he too narrowed his eyes. “I think you’re bluffing.”“Bluffing about what? I came here in loyalty to the Brotherhood, to Makuta, and we have a clear mission. Forget what lies Kanoka, through the Turaga’s announcement, told you. He is a traitor.”There hadn’t been time to bring this up yet. It had worked as Kanoka said it would on the others. But Ahku was something different.He ignored the distraction, brushed it aside. “Bluffing that you’re loyal to the Makuta.”Oh no. Ahku knows Kanoka remained true to Makuta. He believes, as I, that Kanoka at least is solidly against the Turaga, still playing the master manipulator as he does so well.That meant Ahku was better at this than Mukana.And Ahku was definitely still loyal to Makuta.And now he had Mukana on the defensive. The weak side. How had he lost the upper hand so fast?But no. He did not have the weak side. He’d been sent here, in truth, from loyal Kanoka, whose authority he could now appeal to. It wasn’t how Kanoka wanted it, but it was a strong way out of this mess. And now he had what Kanoka really wanted, Mukana believed. It was bad news… but for the moment, it was good news.He smiled, leaning back and relaxing his grip on his bisword. “Congratulations, Ahku. You’ve passed the test. Kanoka sent me to test you subtly, as I’m sure you’ve figured out. I was bluffing about one thing – Kanoka is not really a traitor to our cause.”Identifying myself with Kanoka, good, but don’t dally here.Before Ahku could answer, Mukana continued, half interrupting him, and holding that calm, satisfied smile. “I believe that you are, indeed, loyal. And now, under cover of the passing storm, I must get out of the village – there is another village I’m assigned to cover next. Hold your cover, until one of us contacts you and tells you when and where to meet with the rest of us.” There was no other village... but he could use this lie as an excuse to wander and think. He needed time to do that.Ahku switched his focus rapidly from Mukana’s left eye to his right. Mukana ignored the old tactic, and pointed at the fish. “I’d say it’s done. Mind if I take it for the road?”Ahku looked down at the fish, obviously having forgotten it. “Oh… uh… yes. And… tell Kanoka he can rely on me.”“Thanks.”Mukana walked out, grateful to the storm for hiding his deep sigh of relief.

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Torkax’s face was a mix of confusion, righteous wrath, and triumph.“You try to show me the sacred Stone. You forget… I have no eyes.”Bhukasa wondered then, finally, how Torkax did manage to see when he was fighting. How did Sairiph see when he’d captured the others?Maybe they didn’t. Maybe they had some extra sense by virtue of their attachment to this island… to its sand and stone, through the ancient one.He glanced down at the words of the tablet.“Poetraxiens Memory,” he said.Torkax’s face contorted, and he covered his ears.Bhukasa shouted, using his energy power to amplify the sonic energy. “LUM: Eyes. Camerati to the world. The tablet-scribes of memory visua!”“Silence!” Torkax shrieked. “Do not DARE recite the sacred mystery! It is not for me to hear!”“DRM,” he shouted over Torkax’s continued protests, pronouncing the odd spelling ‘derm’, as if to say ‘number two,’ as he’d guessed it translated. “Ears, Phonoscopi to the world. Bridgeos of memory audia.”The words unlocked something in Bhukasa’s mind.Sounds of his past life.A whizzing Kuamor sphere.A stretching, rat-a-tat-tat of some mechanical tubing.A crackling, blustering, splashing chorus rising above a half-metallic, half explosive drum clank.Creaking wood, the clinking of frozen pine needles.An axe, chopping wood.“The Snow Lizard,” declared a disembodied voice, amidst the clinking of coins. Vague voices continuing, bartering for his wares aboard his ship – the only thing in the memory he could see.Then bone-chilling wailing, of deepest sorrow… his own voice.Silence.Torkax had run off, still blabbering to himself and covering his ears.In the sky, a Gukko flew. Bhukasa waved at its riders.It flew close, and landed.“Take Toggler and these things,” Bhukasa said. “I’ll be running to the coast soon, hopefully with all the Haze Glow Beasts. Be careful with the vial… I have a feeling it’s important somehow.”They obeyed without a word.He went up to Vhekoraa and sent a beam of energy into her mind.Yes, there were indeed two powers at work here. One came right up from the sand – holding her unconscious.The other came up through the sand too, but it seemed to carry along a line of electric charge rather than the sand itself. It spread more widely through the mutant Kriitunga’s mind, having a stronger effect.He focused on the weaker power, absorbing its energy and sending it shooting away through the air.Sleep faded from her face.She sat up, her eyes open. And she saw Bhukasa… but she looked around at nothing, seeming to see other things.“Captain! When came we to this paradise? I have wandered it without knowledge of such answer. And you were here not, till now.”She’s dreaming. She’s awake, and still dreaming.That must be the other, stronger power.But he knew he was short on time. The other guardians had all seen the tablet already. And they’d be coming.He ran to the other Rhengoka and woke them up one by one.Rustling.Footsteps in the caves.A deep, ghostly moaning that seemed to come from all around.Louder and louder.He awoke the last Rhengoka.“Come!” he shouted to them all. “Let’s race to the shore! Last one there gets double oar time!”They all grinned in their odd beastlike way… and apparently this idea fit with their dreams, because they all ran, much faster than Bhukasa could.So he didn’t. He crouched, and leaped far above them, over the maze.Landed in the sand.Looked back. They were phasing through the walls towards him.Leaped again. His strong muscles propelled him far above the tallest hill.The land started shaking again.He glanced back. The Rhengoka still ran, phasing through all obstacles. Behind them, guardians of all shapes and sizes poured out of the caves.A thick cloud of reddened sand rose up last and chased them.“FASTER!” Bhukasa shouted.They weren’t going to make it, though. They still thought it a game, and they obviously didn’t see any of the guardians.Sairiph reached the worst straggler, and this time in full sight of Bhukasa he enveloped the Rhengoka and carried it down into the sand.Bhukasa understood then what happened next. Once underground, the true leader must form a pocket of air that carried the prisoner to a cell.That was one down… one who would pay the Price if Bhukasa did not find a way out of this.Had he formed a plan for this moment already, in some forgotten past?He looked back at the tablet, muttering its words aloud quickly, hoping it would somehow act like a magic spell as the second part about sound seemingly had before, but nothing came to him.I need something to trade…He looked again at the tablet.Then towards his boat.And a plan formed.I need another bomb.

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#21 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Feb 24 2012 - 12:58 AM

Chapter 20

Bhukasa ran to the shore as fast as he could while making sure to avoid the metal traps hidden among the rocks and sand.When he reached the shore, he leaped up onto one of the tallest of the remaining rocky hills – not the tallest that had stood here before the massive bioquake, though. From here, he could see that at least some of the Haze Glow Beasts would probably make it to the boat, but not all, not even most.The new plan was the only option.He turned to the sea.There his boat was engaged in fierce battle with the Kuambu ship. I haven’t even factored all the new damage they’re inflicting on us, he thought.For a moment he was worried because he noticed his crew wasn’t firing any bombs. Had they run out already?But no… he could see bombs loaded in the ballista-slings. They were just conserving ammo. He saw their sail was still intact, and they were using it to meander all over, while the Kuambu rowers had to struggle to keep up.They’re tiring out the enemy rowers. Good tactic.He waited until they swung closer, then gave a single mighty leap.Not aimed at the boat – he feared his own body would damage the hull, or vice versa… but more importantly he didn’t think the tablet would survive such a landing. Instead he aimed for the water just ahead and off to the side of where his boat was steering right now.Splashed down.For a moment he saw only bubbles raining upward… he’d gotten twisted around mid-flight and by the water. Where was the boat?Ears…There was a rhythmic thumping above him and to his left. He turned and swam for it.Too loud, too close. Veered right a little.The bubbles cleared, and he saw the rope ladder rolling down into the water.Grabbed it just in time.

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Hujo climbed with difficulty out of the water and stood on the ledge.Caroha went up to the rock dome and repeated her name several times. It opened, and she went in, motioning Hujo to follow.The suit’s heaviness was almost unbearable now, but he accepted it. Better that than ramming into these narrow walls accidentally.Finally, he reached the dome, and the door shut behind them.“We can talk briefly now,” Caroha said. “First let me explain a little. The Shaking dimension is a very important one, but now is not the time to tell of its secrets. Suffice it to say that on our way back from the Cosmos, we’ll return here and I’ll show you what this dimensional journey is truly all about.”Hujo let that sink in for a moment, then nodded.“Concealment will be more important from now on, so please keep that firmly in mind.”“Okay.”“Any questions?”“What were those jet-Bohrok things?”“I’m afraid I cannot answer that yet. Suffice it to say… we may run into more in other dimensions.”“Why must we travel through each dimension to reach a different dome? Wouldn’t it be less risky to jump from and to the same Dome every time?”“There are some reasons for that I cannot say. The answer I can say… I would rather show. And the next dimension will show you. Any more questions?”“I don’t think so… except… how difficult was it for you to learn so much control that even now, in this little dome, you can hover?”She smiled. “It doesn’t matter – I am not you. You will learn in your own time and your own way.”Will I?She raised her hands, and sent out the blue whirling energy.Then it faded. Once again, the dome looked identical – if Hujo didn’t know better, he’d say nothing had happened.She opened the door and walked out. “There is an elevator this way,” she said.At a seemingly random point in the rock wall of the shaft, she tapped, and then tapped other spots near it, after rhythmic pauses.A hidden panel slid aside, and Hujo beheld a short passageway. Its surfaces were silver, crisscrossed with complex inset patterns of glowing blue crystal, with blue lamps mounted in the walls.At the other end, a shaft rose up.Caroha walked in, and stomped lightly on what looked like a silver button in the middle of the shaft’s floor. Immediately, blue energy radiated from the crystal insets, and she flew up.“I need not the elevator, but I do this to demonstrate how you should use it now,” she said over the radio.Hujo walked in – the hidden panel closed behind him. He did as she had done, and the blue energy whisked him up through the tall shaft.The field tossed him gently over the lip of the top of the shaft, to the floor of a passageway just like the one below.A door at the other end was open, and Caroha stood in it. “Walk here – you should be tired enough by now. I’ll fly out, and you follow. Don’t worry about the door – it’ll close automatically. If you’re curious, we’re atop that rock spire you saw earlier… or rather its twin in another dimension. So don’t even think about looking back to satiate that curiosity.”“Understood.”She burst up to full speed and then was a dot on the horizon.Hujo felt lighter. Follow her!Did.When he was out from the shadow of the clouds, he breathed a quick sigh of relief. He couldn’t learn better control too soon, he thought.Caroha turned up and flew back over the mountains. Then over the village and the river, back out to the ocean.The ocean was also lower here than in the Paracosmos… much lower.They came to Mata Nui… and there was no Mata Nui.Caroha dove into the water.“Come to a stop, and tell me what you see. I’ve chosen noon at this spot, so you should have maximum light.”Hujo did. He’d already theorized exactly what he now saw.A massive, chaotic mountain range of huge, broken rock. Deep underwater.“In this dimension Metru Nui’s dome collapsed, didn’t it?”Caroha hovered close, nodding solemnly. “If we tried to teleport to this dimension in the same spot as from the Paracosmos, we would appear inside rock, and instantly die.”Then she turned and flew back up into the air. “Come, follow. We must go to another dome.”“Not the one on Kriitunga Island?”“In the next alternate Paracosmos, Kriitunga Island doesn’t exist, and never has.”

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Gahlok and Pahrak Kal came to Lewa’s rescue in a way that proved their total lack of fear…or perhaps proved them fools.They flew, just like the modified Bohrok flying through the sky. No attempt to hide.Those Bohrok immediately gave chase. Magnetism and Plasma shot out at them and wreaked havoc, but always more Bohrok came.Meanwhile, Lewa snuck out from the tree and searched the area for any further hints to the prison.Perhaps that pile of dead plants concealed a chained Bahrag?He turned his axe backwards and gently stabbed into the pile with the handle end. Shook it a little to work past the sticks in the pile. No, nothing hidden under there, at least nothing that big.Maybe that indentation in the ground was a cave entrance?But no, on closer examination, it was just the dried-up remains of a mud puddle. Scratching in it with the axe blade didn’t find any hint of a hidden doorway or any such thing.Perhaps that boulder?Tapping it with the axe gave no odd sounds.He kept an eye out for keyholes too – in case the Third Faction had found an Unknown storage device.But he found nothing.He rounded a corner and ran into a Bohrok.Rolled away, crouched, holding his axe flat between his face and the enemy – a Tahnok.Fire lanced out at him.He ducked and rolled again, landing behind a tree.Fire punched the tree.It caught fire.Lewa risked a little wind, trying to blow it out… but it only fed the fire. He sensed the Tahnok was still using its elemental power to ensure this.The whole trunk was now ablaze.Lewa sent a little tornado at the Tahnok, knocking it off its feet.While its eyes weren’t faced his way, he just ran.He heard loud crashings and whirs, like the sounds of some massive machine or Rahi. Looking up, he saw a white and silver Bohrok entering the battle – Kohrak-Kal, using sounds to distract and frighten the lesser Bohrok.It worked for a second, but then they turned back and kept fighting.The sounds Kohrak-Kal sent out now were horrible… and horribly loud. Lewa had to slow and clamp his hands over his ears, as best he could with the axe in one hand.Fire blasted into his right shoulder. He fell on his back.Dropped the axe.Water rushed at the Tool, swept it away.A Gahlok picked up the staff and ran away.The Tahnok jabbed its head forward and flipped its braincase.A Krana flew out.Lewa rolled again, stumbled to his feet, and ran.Stopped. The forest ahead was being destroyed by a wall of yellow glowing Bohrok that fell from the sky, ramming into the ground, then swung back and flew back up to repeat the move.The wall swept towards him, clawing out tree and earth and boulder alike. The ground under his feet shook violently.Somehow these two walking Bohrok had communicated with the others, told them about him.He ran back, chasing the Gahlok. Maybe it was headed back to wherever the Bahrag was. Either way, he wanted his axe back.He leaped on it and punched its eye. The braincase flipped forward, and he tossed the Krana out.It backed away, closing its braincase slowly. Made no more threatening moves.He grabbed the axe, and it let go.Lewa put the Krana in his energy pack. Yet another for the collection.Then he ran on in the direction the Gahlok had been going.Tahu checked in, and told him Ito was on his way, riding Jhianau, and Onua was tunneling towards him. Nuhvok-Kal had arrived too and was trying to keep the enemy Bohrok away from Lewa along with Gahlok-Kal. Tahnok and Lehvak were also on their way.“Keep talkline to me open,” Lewa advised. “I bright-think I’ll soon Bahrag-find.”Then he ran into a wide-open space between several trees which spread their highest branches wide, where all the ground foliage had been cleared. It was like an open dome, hidden from aerial eyes.Had… Had he somehow run across the island?There were Matoran here. Almost two hundred Matoran.Green Matoran.They marched in circles around something in the center of the open area.But, oddly, their backs were all turned to him. They walked sideways and backwards as necessary to keep this so.A big machine with a frame of thick metal girders, with chains attached to them, filled with spinning gears, writhing wires, blinking crystals, puffs of steam, turning pistons.In the very center, a blue Bahrag.Thick tubes ran from the machinery surrounding her to a clamped-on helmet-like device around her head. Her eyes were covered with some kind of visor device.That’s what’s controlling her, Lewa realized.And on a raised platform above it, the two Oru-Vortixx stood, the red one’s weapons trained on Lewa already, the purple one working control screens connected to the other end of the helmet tubes.Cahdok clawed at the chains madly, obviously trying to escape. The device did not have her completely under control, but it did give the Vortixx control of half of the Bohrok armies.An Oru-Vortixx is aiming at me…He ran forward, running below the red one’s line of fire before he could shoot.Ran up to one of the Le-Matoran. Grabbed him by the shoulder and turned him. “Howcame you to—”Krana on the face.He looked around. All the Le-Koronan had lost their masks.They all wore Krana.They turned to face him, all in one identical move.“Greetings,” one of them said in a voice that sounded like rushing water… because all of them said it at once, “Lewa, Toa of Air. We have been waiting for you.”

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The door slid closed once Rathoa and Somaihri got past the lair of an Ice Squid.And they were in the Rahunga storage room.Weapons were stored on the left wall. Rah-Kanohi on the right wall.In the center, a pillar. Rathoa pressed a button on its base and it glowed orange – radiating heat through the cold metal room.There were two other things of interest here, one Rathoa knew of, another he didn’t…What he knew of, and what he and Somaihri had come here for, were the locked wooden crates against the far wall.“What is this?” Rathoa said of the second thing – a large black and green gemstone laying on the floor by the pillar. “I was not told of this.”“I have never seen it either,” Somaihri said.Rathoa tilted his head. It looked… so familiar.Somaihri spoke his thoughts before he could form them. “It looks like one the gems in that Brotherhood communication panel!”Rathoa nodded grimly. Indeed.The panel she spoke of was mounted in the wall of one of the underground domes – indeed there was one like it somewhere in the Barrier of every dome in the Matoran Universe.Besides communication equipment that Rathoa had used to call all the Makuta to Destral for his meeting, it contained a security procedure, designed to prove at least that anyone trying to use the device was evil. It contained a strange gun mounted above metal jaws.When Somaihri had gone with Rathoa as he called the latest Brotherhood meeting, a brown Skakdi of high rank had come with them.There had been an argument about who should be fated to this test. Rathoa had chosen the rather tempermental Skakdi instead of the ‘Kriitunga Chronicler’ Somaihri, and thrown him into the jaws, screaming his protest and terror.The gun had fired.A flash of white energy.When the light faded, the jaw held, instead of the Skakdi… a beautiful white gem, the color of his eyes.Then the metal arm retracted into the wall and deposited the gem into a bin full of other gems of myriad colors.Nobody seemed to know what that power truly did to the victim. Did it kill them entirely? Some speculated it turned them into a living rock – alive, but with exactly as much ability to move and interact with others as a dead rock… in other words none. The colors seemed to be related to the colors of each person’s Kuamor Soulsong spheres.Was that what this black and green gem was?It was a lot larger than any of the other such gems Rathoa had seen.“Green is the color of antidermis,” Somaihri said. “Black of shadow.”He nodded. This could be a Makuta gem…Rathoa recalled the list of Makuta powers he’d been trying to memorize. Mind Reading was one of them.But after several minutes of probing, he could sense no hint of a mind inside the rock. It appeared to literally be a mere rock.He shook his head. “Let’s get into the crates. I take it you know what they are?”Somaihri nodded. She didn’t move any closer – she didn’t want to be the one to open them up.Rathoa walked up to the only one that was smaller than the ‘Makuta gem’. It contained something different from the others. He opened it up quickly.Inside, there was a flat hexagonal crystal, orange. A label on it read, “Makuta’s death footage from tele machine.”“Hold this,” he told Somaihri. “I have a projector in the Po-Wahi base we can use to view it.”The Makuta turned reluctantly to the larger boxes.Pried one open.Inside, there was another box, oblong, made of perfectly sealed stone.“Hold your nose,” he muttered, as he opened the lid.His mind went back in time, thought about what these boxes were for.Whenever a new Tohunga was recruited to the Rahunga side, they had to end up in one of two groups. One group would remain in their normal job in their Koro, pretending to live out their life as they had before, but ready and able to transform with rahudermis to carry out emergency orders.The other group had to go into hiding, living at the base camps, and spending most of their time hunting down uninfected Rahi… and fixing that little problem via their staffs. Rathoa was among them, as well as his mind minions now probably stuck in some Destral prison.But if this other group just disappeared without a trace, the Turaga would send out search parties, investigate… they would have discovered the truth far too early.So these Matoran faked their deaths.In most cases, a fake dead body, made out of fibrous materials and metal, was found at the scenes of death, and buried in coffins just like this by the villagers. Only when Lewa solved the mystery of the Rahunga did the Turaga’s side learn the bodies were fake.But this left another problem.What if, just hypothetically, someone dug up the graves some day?They would have discovered that some of the bodies were fake.And some weren’t – the ones that decayed normally.Because some Matoran actually did die, for real.He couldn’t imagine this ever happening, but Makuta had believed it a real possibility. By process of elimination, such grave openers would learn who was a Rahunga in hiding and who had really died.So Makuta ordered Rathoa to tunnel under the graves, steal the bodies, and replace them with more fakes.That way if someone ever dug up the bodies, at least they wouldn’t know who was really a Rahunga and who was actually dead. Rathoa had to admire the thoroughness.But it seemed Makuta had pulled a similar trick, somehow, on Rathoa.Because this was NOT a dead body.It, too, was a fake.Somaihri peeked over. “I knew it! Do you know what this means?”“I don’t at all. Why on Mata Nui would Makuta put fake bodies here? What purpose could that serve?”“Don’t you see? The bodies you recovered were never real!”Rathoa’s knees gave way. He straightened his legs, and took a deep breath. “You mean… they were…”“They were never dead. No Matoran died on this island.”“But… why? What? I don’t understand…”“It’s because… someone on this island… has the deathsense,” she said, in a quiet, deeply serious tone that said such a power was extremely rare, perhaps unique. “There is someone on this island that can sense when people die. But he told me once that it didn’t seem to work on this island. He believed Makuta had a way to block that power, but only here. He never sensed anyone die here, not even Makuta.”Rathoa understood then. There was no block on the ‘deathsense.’Because nobody on or near the island had died.Including Makuta.

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Several Haze Glow Beasts – a little more than half – had reached the shore and dove into the water, when Bhukasa emerged from the lower decks, ready to carry out his plan.The guardians that still chased them stopped at the wave line. But they had plenty now captured. The intangibility power didn’t seem to help the Rhengoka once captured – they fell instantly asleep when touched – but they were using it to maximum effect by running right through the rocky hills and metal traps as if they weren’t there.More filtered through the guardians still at the beach.Once the guardians reach the wet sand they go no further, Bhukasa observed.That gave him the chance he needed.Furthermore, as soon as a Rhengoka reached the wet sand, they woke up, and saw his boat. They each started swimming for it.He called up to Maku at the wheel. “As soon as the last free Rhengoka is onboard I’ll leap towards the shore. Then I want you to take the boat into deeper waters and keep the Kuambu away from me… until I hand over this tablet.”She saluted understanding.He waited.The last free Rhengoka made it to the rope ladder.He jumped, for the shallow water, carrying a bag full of bombs, the tablet, and a pack slung onto his back.Waded shore, and stood several feet behind the wet sand line. Waited till the ancient guardian had crawled near enough to see him. The others hung back uncertainly, glancing from Bhukasa to the water.“See this bomb?” Bhukasa shouted at the leader.The leader looked at the single bomb Bhukasa drew out of the bag.He threw it several yards away from him. It landed in wet sand to the north.“I’m not touching it, and I have no physical fuse. But I can make it explode.”He quickly absorbed heat from the heatstone in his backpack. Sent a beam of it into the bomb.It exploded.He pulled out another. “See this one?”Threw it hard into the water, so it completely submerged before bouncing back up and floating on the crashing waves.Blew it up too.“Now see this bag? And see your precious Memory Stone?” Bhukasa set the bag full of bombs down in the wet sand. Set the tablet atop it.And walked several paces south.“I see you fear the wet sand and the waves. But lest you get over that fear, be sure that if any of you does anything to try to take the Stone, I’ll destroy it.”Some of the guardians glanced at the leader, as if waiting for an order. Bhukasa caught the motion, and shouted at them. “Don’t even think I won’t do it!”He ran back to the tablet, picked it up, and gripped a corner in his scissorclaws.“NO!” the guardians shouted.Bhukasa closed the scissors hard. Broke off a corner, to a chorus of heart-wrenching dismay.“I WILL destroy the Stone,” he said, setting it back and walking back away from it. “I CAN do it before any of you make a move. Now… back off, to behind the line of hills.”“Obey as he spake,” the ancient one barked, worry in his voice. They all did.“Now, here’s the bargain. I am willing to give up the Stone. On the condition that all of my crew be released – ALL of them… and that includes Sairiph –” he raised his voice over their objections “—and any other guardian who wants to be freed!”“Ye blaspheme!” the leader declared furiously. “All must pay the—”“I’ll make you pay a worse Price if you don’t do as I demand. I’ll destroy the Stone.”“If ye destroy the Stone, ye’ll never get off,” the ancient one began… but his voice trailed off, glancing down at the wave crashing around Bhukasa’s feet.“You would accept me back,” Sairiph asked, “though you have forgotten me?”“Toggler remembers you. He said you were of my crew; that is enough.”“I accept, then.”“Ye have not the Right to accept such, nor the Rank!” the leader spat at Sairiph, the rivers of sand from his eyes rippling as he shook his head.“What hold have you over me yet?” Sairiph demanded, waving a hand at the bombs.“He shalt not destroy the Stone. He needeth its words. He longeth for his memories.”So he believes the poem can indeed help me get my memories back.“I want my memories back,” Bhukasa said. “Sure. But I’m a being of morals. It would be wrong for me either to ignore my mission and stay here as a guardian for the rest of my life – or to bargain with the people of my crew. Nor was it right for you to demand Sairiph as Price the last time. Nor any of these.”“’Twas—”“Let me finish!” Bhukasa insisted, lifting a finger slightly towards the bombs. “If any of you wish to willingly stay and guard this Stone… that is your right. I grant you that. But none may be forced to stay unwillingly.”The ancient one’s face writhed in fury, his mouth opened and closed as he tried to spit out arguments, but thought better of them. The sand flew in and out of his eyes three times as fast.Then his appearance calmed, and he drew up his back. “If Peddler ye fancy thyself, let us Peddle. Over these other guards’ fates ye never had responsibility. Only over those ye brought on yonder vessel. Bargain only on those ye brought. Leaveth the rest.”“What,” Bhukasa asked cautiously, “makes you think you have any room to ‘peddle’? You think I won’t do it?”He began to lift a finger again, but the ancient one held up his hands in protest and shook his head. “Nay! Nay, I believe ye. Fear not that.”The guardian gestured to the various guards. “Ye know not these. I do. Various were pirates. Many thieves. Some murderers, some power-hungry.”By the meek looks they gave their master, Bhukasa found it hard to believe… but the guardian made a valid point. Can I really trust so many?“And have ye space or stock for such number?”No, I don’t. Barnacle-slime.But he had space for more than just Sairiph. They’d thought of that before leaving Mata Nui – there was always the chance that such a need would arise. For how many?“I could take on, say…” He should leave room for others he might later need to take on. “Ten others.”“Nine of whom ye hold no responsi—”“I don’t care. I make the rules here today, though you’ve raised good points. Any others you can think of?”“Ye… are willing to returneth the Stone?”Bhukasa looked at it again.“Its dialect be old, its words beyond ye, its meaning nigh inscrutable. Ye shall not…” He paused to emphasize the irony. “…recall it precisely.”“True… But I…” Bhukasa paused… “I have to listen to… things like…”He hesitated, glanced back at the boat.“Duty. Unity. Destiny. The Virtues of my newfound… my refound friends.”Once again he faced the guardians. “Who of you most wants to leave?”Two or three raised their hands immediately. Another stepped forward. “Me,” said another.Others looked hesitantly at their leader. About twenty eventually said they wanted to leave. Only a handful argued loyally for staying.Bhukasa turned to Sairiph. “I obviously trusted you once. Which nine should I take?”He indicated nine, only one of which had spoken up right away. “These I trust most. But I’d also bring her,” he said, pointing at a tenth, a blue female guardian.“Very well.”Briefly he considered Torkax, who hadn’t dared come near. But no, that one seemed to buy into the myth of this place; he would never leave.“Will you waste any more of my time with arguments?” Bhukasa asked the leader, gesturing at the sea battle behind them.A pause.“I shalt not. Ye may do as agreed. I releaseth these guardians. Sairiph, bring yonder captives.”Sairiph plunged into the sand. Disappeared. The ten other guardians sunk slowly into the sand.After a moment, they emerged. With eyes.Then Sairiph emerged, still without eyes, but his cloud of sand held suspended in it several sleeping Rhengoka. He set them down, and they awoke immediately. They looked around like trapped animals at the various guardians – obviously they had been freed of the dream states.Then Sairiph sank into the sand.The land shook. Cracks appeared in rock all around the island. Sand shook and rose into the air. Bhukasa thought he saw a very faint greenish tint to it. A soft rumbling and a sizzling hiss echoed throughout the island. Then it all settled.Sairiph rose from the sand.With eyes. No longer blurry, he appeared as a dark red humanoid with no hint of biological components, and no longer did any sand hover around him. Two batlike wings rose out of his back, but he walked on the sand like any other being.He wore a mask Bhukasa had never seen before, with three knifelike ridges reaching out horizontally from each cheek. It was colored the same dark red as his armor.When all who were coming were in the water, Bhukasa took back the bag of explosives, and set the tablet just beyond the wet sand. The Stone sank into the dry sand, and the guardians turned away, heading back to their alcoves in the final chamber, where Bhukasa knew the tablet would soon be again.Maku swung his boat in closer again, and they all climbed aboard.As they fled on a southeastern line, towards Kriitunga Island, Bhukasa went to his room to nap.Not to indulge in the sorrow, though it lurked just beneath the surface of his heart. He really was tired.But first…He closed the door, laid down on the bunk, and reached under the pillow. Pulled out a paper.Although he’d made it look like he’d come here just to stock up on bombs and get the heatstone before… Peddling… he had quickly grabbed a processed leaf page, held it over the tablet, and colored all over it with a black crayon – a simple dyed-wax writing tool used by navigators to plot ship courses, that could later be cleaned off of stone maps.Where the crayon passed over the indentations, it left a green space.He had what the archaic leader of the island hadn’t imagined he could have so fast. A traced copy.Now he pulled out some blank tablets and a chisel.Time to make more.

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Edited by bonesiii, Sep 02 2012 - 07:09 PM.

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#22 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Feb 29 2012 - 06:10 PM

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Chapter 21

It must be cleaned.Lewa-Krana looked out from its vantage point atop a boulder at the green rubbish growing on the island like mold. The thick layers of filth piled over its true surface far below. The ugly nests of these biped creatures – ‘Koro’ as they called them.How had this unit not seen, before being blessed by the gift of a Krana, what a mess it all was? The unit had a brain… surely it should have known.It must be cleaned.It clung to the unit’s feet like so many parasites, the mud and rot of the ground, the improper flecks of stone of this very boulder.It must be cleaned.Creatures stampeded, called, flew, burrowed… infested.It must be cleaned.From the unit’s center-mind, the forebrain through which its eyes peered, came new directives every few minutes or so.”Clean over here now.”“Now clean this spot of jungle.”“Clean that infestation-nest next.”“When you’re done, clean where that being is walking. Complete the being with a forebrain if possible.”“Those misguided close-brethren of silver must be captured and reprogrammed. If one flies or walks near, clean its corrupted forebrain.”“Don’t clean this center-of-organization near the Blue Queen. It is vital to our cleaning mission for now.”“Don’t clean this other area yet. Focus on cleaning where WE tell you to clean first.This was the nature of the Halved Army, under the order of the two Oru-Vortixx. Something felt wrong about the new hierarchy, but the Two Overseers did not send any idea that was incompatible with the mission of the Bohrok.We are here to clean. It must be cleaned.It matters not in what order.Lewa-Krana tested its own power with minimum effect. A breeze arose in response.This cleaning unit wields the power of air.A deep, instinctual pressure… or a psychological pressure of hardened programming… made Lewa-Krana feel inadequate. Air was deemed less valuable for cleaning than the Five True Elements or the Five Elite True Elements. That was why the green Bohrok wielded Acid instead of Air, why Levhak-Kal had been granted Vacuum power which was the opposite of any element, not just air.But Lewa-Krana sensed that Air was more valuable than the Programmers had judged. For instance…The unit sent a strong gust at the loose flecks of the boulder, the mud and rot on the ground below, the loose leaves of the nearby trees. Aimed them towards the nearby coast.They were all blown into the water.With other elements, more stuff had to be created to accomplish that same effect.True, Air was not as effective in breaking up the more rooted things, especially trees and bedrock. Ice, Fire, Acid, Stone, and Earth were best at that in their various ways.Once it was all broken up, though, Lewa-Krana could blow it all into the sea, there to be washed away on currents made by Gahlok.The Air unit was like a missing piece of a puzzle, as if the Programmers hadn’t been truly serious about cleaning this island, even though they put the overriding objective first and foremost in every cleaner’s mind.It must be cleaned.The unit glanced down at the axe in its hands.It looked much fancier than in the pre-Krana unit’s memory of its uncompleted years.Soon after the villager-units gifted it the Krana, when the Lewa unit stopped resisting the upgrade and accepted the Programming, the red Overseer had walked down stairs from the raised platform, and touched the Level Three Btou Staff to Lewa-Krana’s Toa Tool.The two Tools had merged.The Btou staff granted a modified form of the Toa unit’s elemental power in addition to its normal power, one far more powerful than the extra power of a Level 2 staff.It would help with cleaning, Lewa-Krana knew, though it hadn’t yet been ordered to test the new power out, and did not yet know exactly what it was.Lewa-Krana did not wonder at this mystery.The time would come when it would be ordered to use the power. Then it would find out.What it truly wondered at was the split in the Bohrok Army, the split in the Bahrag. Even the Blue Queen herself struggled against the bonds the Overseers placed on her, both physical and mental. Every once in a while a thought would escape through the flood of programming issuing from the Overseers’ equipment.”Do not obey my thoughts when they are channeled through me by the Overseers!”“Do not listen to their strategic arguments! Clean only where I tell you!”“The Overseers’ claim that they were sent from the Programmers is a lie!”But the drumbeat of programming from the Overseers was far too much for the Half Army to be swayed by this. They knew, deep inside every biological etching in their forebrains, that the island was to be cleaned, and the Overseers aggressively awakened these desires, urging more cleaning, more intense cleaning, than the Bahrag were comfortable with.Why was this?The Bahrag knew the Bohrok were programmed to clean. Why did they hold back? Why did the Unoverseen Half clean only superficially? At every encounter with that army, Lewa-Krana and the Overseen Half noticed this and were disgusted by it.Both parts of Lewa-Krana’s mind wondered at this mystery.The question roiled in the minds of the Overseen Half, but the Overseers' equipment seemed to work only one-way. They could only program; they could not receive data back from the units.This Air unit has a mouth to speak.But asking questions was not Lewa-Krana’s mission.

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Twayzivl was the first to see it.From his perch in the crow’s nest, the mutant Kriitunga thought he saw a line of golden light on the horizon ahead.Like a monkey, he climbed and leaped down the mast, and leaped up onto the steering wheel’s post in front of Maku. “Thing ahead. Yellow shine.”Maku peered around him. “I don’t see… Oh. What…”“Never seen thing like it.”“Takua, get Bhukasa.” She passed out other orders – to lower the sails, man the oars, and prepare the Gukko.Twayzivl assumed he was dismissed and climbed back up the mast. Watched as they carefully neared the shining wall of light.“This lies directly on a line between Memory Island,” Bhukasa could be heard asking Ruugon, “and Kriitunga Island?”The mapmaker confirmed it. “We’re heading due southeast.”Even Twayzivl, a creature of desert and forest rather than sea, could tell that. The sun was now well on its way to setting, so the direction west was easy to determine. They had remained on the southeast line ever since leaving Memory Island.Suddenly Twayzivl became aware of something else he was already seeing.Beyond the wall of light, he saw… a giant, narrow pillar of stone. It was of a light gray color that blended in with the gray clouds off to the east, the remnants of the cloud cover they’d sailed under when they lost navigation. But at the top of the pillar, there was green and brown. Wood… a wooden fence? And trees.“Land!” he called down, pointing. “Pillar land like the Eight Matoran’s prison!”“I see it,” Bhukasa said – he’d taken the wheel.Twayzivl couldn’t understand the base of the island. It definitely got wider abruptly lower down… and then the thicker column shape of it continued down, down… past the wall of golden light…Where did it enter the water?Twayzivl backed up a few inches, tilting his head. Was it possible?It never did touch the water.He looked to the right and then the left. And beyond the pillar.Yes, the golden light formed a massive cylinder around the pillar, rising just above the water line… and inside it, there was no water.Excitedly he leaped down the mast and perched in front of the wheel again. He jumped up and down, pointing at the wall of light, unable to think how to describe this. “Dry! Air! No shore! Ring!”“What?” the white reptilian captain asked. “What did you see?”Twayzivl held his claws so that his fingers formed one curved side of the yellow ring, and his thumbs the other. “Ring. Wall. Yellow.”“The wall is a cylinder?”Twayzivl nodded eagerly. “Pillar,” he said, holding up one finger where the center of the ring’s base had been.“The prison island?”“And dry!” Twayzivl held his left hand like half of the wall and waved his right pointer finger around inside its wall.“Dry?” Bhukasa asked. “Dry! There’s no water!”“No water!”“What does he mean?” Taureko asked, voicing the question of the rest of the crew who craned their necks to try to see over the shining wall of energy.Sairiph flapped his wings and hovered higher to see. “This wall has locked out the ocean from that island! Like a dike.”“Impossible,” Taureko said.Gali walked to the prow and tilted her head forward, holding a hand over her eyes.Then she faced them. “The Kriitunga is right. There is no water beyond that wall. We cannot sail to that prison.”“Is that where those Eight Matoran are trapped?” Sairiph asked.“No,” Toggler answered. “That one is to the southeast of Bhukasa’s Mata Nui Island. This is to the northeast of there, between it and the cliff island where I was caged.”“Shall I wing over there and investigate the prisoners?”“No,” Bhukasa said. “We don’t know enough about the limits of the Kuambu’s power. If they can… dry a portion of the very ocean… who knows what kind of trap could be there….”The ship neared, turning towards the northeast to row parallel to the wall, but sidled closer to get a better view. Twayzivl returned to his roost to watch.Now they were within yards of the edge. “Seabed!” he called down. “Dry!”He looked closer. There were little blue dots meandering around on the seafloor. Rahi of some kind.They rowed even closer.“Careful!” Bhukasa shouted to the rowers. “Hold an even forward push and let only my rudder steer!”Closer.The Rulers of the Sea, Twayzivl thought, recalling a mythic poem his people recited from time to time.The rulers of the sea,Know water, hull, and rudder,More than any of we,So know it well and shudder.They hunt our souls sans cause,Evoke our worst emotion,Their unseen fearful claws,Even tear out the ocean.Twayzivl watched the creatures on the seafloor. Were they Kuambu? They looked something like fish, but they also had insectoid legs. Beyond that, he couldn’t tell from this distance.He saw two fighting over an especially large fish.But how did a fish get down there?And he thought he saw something else.Twayzivl looked at the crew. The new crewmembers he feared. He didn’t want to even think about them… especially that winged one… He reminded Twayzivl eerily of a Makuta, albeit one much smaller than those that commissioned – and occasionally accompanied – the slave raiding parties on his home island.He looked at Pohatu.Climbed down the mast, tapped Pohatu’s hand.The Toa of Stone looked down at him. “Yes? Twayzivl, is it?”“Twayzivl.” He pointed at the wall. “Make rock. Kick.”They came closer.“Kick… gentle.” A dike is impressive… but not fearful.Pohatu materialized a rock, set it on the railing, and made a slow high-swing kick at it.It bounced off the railing.Curved down.But flew on as if Pohatu had kicked it much harder. Flew many yards out.Hit the wall of light. Just before it touched the wall, Twayzivl saw tiny threads of light reaching out to it, like hair to a static charge.The rock passed through the light, now at high speed. Fell down inside.A dike that holds out only water and pulls in fish… and boats… Evokes our worst emotion. Terror.The other thing he saw... was a shipwreck, with the mechanical skeletons of several Kriitunga littering the seafloor around it, half buried by sand.Bhukasa saw it, turned the wheel sharply, shouting – Twayzivl heard the panic in his voice – “Raise the sail! We turn north. Port rowers cease and starboard rowers put everything you’ve got into it!”The boat turned.But it was still pulled closer.“Current!” Twayzivl said, pointing at Gali.She was already making one without being asked. It helped.They came closer.The square sail was tilted to catch the eastward wind, and the triangle sail caught it full boar. Bhukasa held the rudder so they aimed due north.“Now all rowers at full speed!” the Captain shouted. Twayzivl shivered in fear, but he admired the strong command Bhukasa had over his crew – even the newest members raced to obey him in an orderly way. There was none of the chaos such a doomed crew might suffer in their panic.The mutant Kriitunga climbed back up to his perch and watched the wall of light get closer, closer, closer.He felt surreally detached from it all. As if he was merely observing, though his body went through the physical, instinctual ritual of fear reaction, but his mind was not in danger, merely watching.The wind lessened. Gusted a little. Shifted a little more southward, against them. Then northward to their benefit.It brought the smell of the salty sea, a strong scent Twayzivl had registered on boarding this vessel and then gotten so used to he’d forgotten it. The wind was cool and calming, he felt.The sun, off their port side, seemed almost to sink fast enough to see.Thin clouds spread like waves or sand-dunes, blue sky behind their gaps slowly yellowing with the sunset. Orange light tinted the westernmost edges of the clouds.The Gukko grabbed the prow and flapped its wings furiously under Bhukasa’s orders. Sairiph grabbed the mast and did the same. Toggler stood at the stern, shooting a beam of cold at the water to make a layer of ice between them and the wall.It was all working… but it was all failing to do anything but hold them where they were.They could not keep this up forever.We’re going to die.Twayzivl was going to die. Mind and body.Would his spirit be released upon death to fly far and wide and bless his greatest friends, as Kriitunga tradition said?It was a pity. After his radical mutation in the sands and his wandering of other lands… captured by the Unknown zoocraft… released on Twisted Island… and now his falling in with these kind people… he had a way to return, to finally go home.He had been unsure, when that Ta-Koronan mapmaker with the blue flames convinced him to return, whether he really wanted this.But his own people’s entrenched traditions had nearly cost the blue and brown Toa their lives. He liked the Toa, and he felt indebted to them for granting him freedom from the darkness and turmoil of Twisted Island.Now that he’d spent a whole day on this boat, knowing it was getting ever closer to his old home… he’d come to accept it. To look forward to finding his place in the old society, the way others who’d been mutated in ways just as radically as he had. It was his turn to find his true place in the world.He didn’t look forward to the struggle he knew would come before this. He must try his hand at altering that very home, changing its traditions.And yet, now, as he tried sadly to resign himself to this future being cut off from him, he found himself wishing at least part of those traditions was true.Closer, as the new floe of ice snapped in two under the pressure.Toggler held his sword high, then, and there was a brilliant white flash.Everything froze around him. The effect spread rapidly.Reached Twayzivl. His body… indeed his mind, froze solid, and that was the end.For now.

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Hujo and Caroha passed through a few more alternate Paracosmos dimensions. And then they once more entered a rock dome.This time, Caroha explained that they were making the leap from the Paracosmos time-tree to various other trees that filled the interdimensional space. Now they would need to travel between more than just dimensions; they would also need to travel to different places while they made the jump, because there was no copy of any Paracosmos location where they were goin next.This was the most dangerous part, and there was absolutely nothing Hujo could do to help her.She stood with her hands raised in the rock dome for nearly an hour, sending out tendrils of blue energy, but not the full whirling sphere of bright energy that would whisk them away from this dimension.She’d ordered him not to talk, but simply to stand motionless, silent, and wait.So, while she struggled with unimaginable dangers of the very fabric of existence, Hujo found himself suffering a much more mundane problem.His feet hurt.Finally, she sent out the whirling sphere.When it shrunk inside her, Hujo noticed immediately, by the light of his staff, that this was a different dome. It was of the exact same size and design, but the specific details of the rock’s surface texture were just different enough that he knew it wasn’t an alternate version of the one they’d just left.And they weren’t fused inside anything, he also noticed with relief.Caroha reminded him that invisibility was important here before she opened the door.Their immediate surroundings were the thick overgrown plants of a jungle floor. The dome was, in fact, hidden under the twisted roots of a thick tree and the sunken earth beneath it. Vines and other plants grew around it in such number they mostly obscured it from observation, except for a few curious round brown smooth parts.The door itself had to push past some vines that had apparently grown over it since Caroha’s last visit.Immediately beyond this were more such trees – short, but thick-trunked and all with complex intertwined thick roots above ground.Between these were many bamboo-like plants, also thick, and ferns and various other things. When Hujo had trudged just a few steps beyond the dome, he could no longer see it through the dense foliage.Something about the light here didn’t feel right, he thought, but he couldn’t decide why.Caroha reached the edge of a cliff, and walked through a gap in the thick foliage.Hujo followed, and a vista opened up to his eyes that… to say the least… he hadn’t been expecting at all.Beyond the cliff, things were about what would be expected. A stream at the bottom of a valley, more hills and trees of various kinds beyond. Some sort of Rahi wandered by.But beyond this, he glimpsed a village that baffled his senses. It was made of huts, but huts made of metal and filled with apparently advanced technology.The real shocker, though, was what he saw when he lifted his eyes still farther.Just beyond that village… the land simply ended. Like another cliff, but one that he could only describe as… the edge of the world. Beyond it… just air… and darkness… and…Huge, huge chunks of rock… each with one side looking like a part of a planet’s surface. One filled with snowy mountains, the other fiery vents, that other caves, that other lakes, and the other mountainous desert. But on all their other sides, brown rock.Beyond these, smaller moons orbited the six main chunks of rock, with various appearances on each of their flat sides… but most again with brown exposed rock on the other sides.Beyond all of this… a yellow light that seemed too close and too small to be a real sun.Beyond it all… translucent, glowing blue energy, like a massive sphere around everything… and still further beyond, other planets surrounded by their own shells of this blue energy. Many more planets than Hujo could have imagined could be so close to one another… it looked like almost ten.Motion filled the scene; moons orbiting, spacecraft flying, weapons shooting between some white spacecraft and others. A particular craft flying right up to the ‘sun’.“What is… where … uh…”“Aethion,” Caroha said, facing Hujo. “The universe of Aether. The Multiverse. If any dimension was ever closest to being as Real as the Cosmos and the Paracosmos, this is it. Its origins are perhaps as much a mystery. And for us, it is the perfect bridge between the two fully real dimensions, because it lies exactly between them.”She walked to the edge of the cliff and flew off. “Come. This is the ‘Shattered’ planet, Clysmax. We must get to one of the other planets if we are to move on… and that in and of itself is dangerous here.”It was relief, if only to his feet, to leap off the cliff and fly into the daunting, ever-moving maze of flying vehicles above.

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Blue Eyes and its fish host found Surkahi right where he’d said they could, on the shore of an inlet in the northern coast of Po-Wahi.Surkahi touched the fish’s nose. BE sensed that the stored-energy form of the Takea transferred to the shapeshifter’s own energy pack.“And now,” Surkahi said, “I’d like the armor back.”BE and the fish – mostly the fish – shook their head no.If only we could communicate more clearly!“Let me guess. You like the armor and wish to keep it?”Yes.Surkahi sighed. “I was afraid of that. Well, you have only just now paid for my rescuing your fish from the Labyrinth. If you wish to keep the armor, you must do something else for me.”Yes. Yes!“Sounds like you figured that out already.”Yes.Surkahi looked thoughtful. “Well, this is quite unprecedented. You see… beings like…you… the eyes, not the fish… Well, you’re not exactly… How to put it…”The humanoid frowned and said nothing for a moment.“I really can’t reveal that, no… You see… you’re not… natural. There are… reasons… that others out there should not know of you. You are… a secret.”Interesting… BE remembered several times someone had almost looked at him, but then the hated tug had pulled him away.“This isn’t your… well… No, I shouldn’t say that either. The secret must be kept, you see, even from you.”Unsure circle.“Yes, I am sure. I know you don’t like that, you desperately want to know your identity. But you cannot. Not… yet.”When, then? BE had no way to ask this. Except another unsure circle.Surkahi obviously didn’t know what to make of that. “Listen… I do have one thing you could help my people with. Someday you will meet a being who you need to deliver a message to. I cannot tell you the message, nor do I know when you’ll meet this being. But when the time comes, my leader has foretold that you will know what to do.”Strange… confusing…Who was the being?Surkahi answered just that question next. “His name is Bhukasa. He looks something like a lizard, if you or your host know what those are?”The fish had eaten some small lizards once in a swamp to the south of this island, before Surkahi had imprisoned it in the maze. Yes nod.“He’s taller than me, colored white, and walks on two legs. He’s the captain of a wooden sailing boat.” Surkahi described the boat.That sounded like the one they’d just seen, anchored to the north! Yes nod! Yes nod! Yes! A mission they could easily carry out!Except that he didn’t know what the message was.“You’ve seen it?”The fish swam north a ways, then back. Pointed north again. Back.“Well, my leader believes it will be a while before you know the message. But perhaps you could follow this boat, until you… ah… until the message… comes to you.”Yes!“This is how you will know what the message is: It will explain Bhukasa’s destiny.”Confusing… but the fish nodded anyways to mean ‘I’m listening to what you say.’ And trying to remember it. One day, it would mean something real.“Now, remember that Bhukasa is a being of the land. You will have trouble getting him to… ah… uh… hear… the message. But you may merge with his mind and share the message.”Nod.“Deliver the message successfully and your fish friend may keep the armor. But be warned: destiny is unclear whether you will succeed.”Surkahi waited for the nod, then started to turn away. He hesitated, and turned back. BE saw the seriousness on his face, even before the being spoke.“Be warned, eye-being… everything you’ve done before has been but trivial games compared to this mission. The stakes of this… are the fate of this realm.”BE wanted to gulp.Instead, he just nodded again, wondering what he’d gotten himself and his friend into.

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Bhukasa didn’t know how long he’d been frozen.He didn’t know how low the sun was now… only that its light still filtered through a thick layer of ice encasing everything.He tried to move…Couldn’t.It was only his brain that wasn’t frozen. As soon as he saw Toggler’s emergency tactic, he must have subconsciously started using his power to slowly absorb the cold energy and replace it with heat, thawing himself slowly.He’d seen such a power before.When Rathoa stole Kopaka’s sword and merged it with a Btou Staff, he’d gone to Ga-Koro and flash-frozen the entire area. The alternate power of the staff.It was then that Bhukasa had first awoken to find himself with no memories, alone on the deck of his boat, sailing west directly towards Ga-Koro. One of the first sights of his ‘new life’ was a scene much like what Toggler had just done to the boat here and now.Only then he’d been well outside the radius of the power when it activated… now he was inside.He racked his brain, just because he had time to do so, trying to think of any other way out of the trouble they’d been in, and concluded that no, Toggler had done the right thing. Especially if the shapeswitcher remembered Bhukasa’s energy power.It was quite clever, he thought.The field pulled in everything, except water against which it acted like a wall. Frozen water could also not get through, so the ice worked like a barrier.Bhukasa focused that power now on thawing his body, and melting a path for him to get out of the thick ice casing.The sunlight was noticeably dimmer when he succeeded. It was halfway below the horizon already.He walked carefully across the slippery deck, making sure not to make any move without thinking it through. A stray swing of his scissorclaws could decapitate one of his frozen crewmembers.Toggler stood at the stern, a heroic statue just feet away from the yellow forcefield wall.Bhukasa went up to him, intending to thaw him.But the pull of the wall’s energy was strong here. Bhukasa had to dig his feet and claws in to keep from sliding right off the boat.If he thawed Toggler just a little, the titan would snap in half from the stress.But… the only way out of this he could see was the Btou-merged ice sword. It contained the normal elemental power of Ice, which could be used to expand what little ice now separated the wall from the boat. If he could just thaw that out…No, that wouldn’t be enough. The shapeswitcher’s fingers were clasped around it. And the end of its hilt had a wider bulbous shape of some kind – he couldn’t just slide it out.He saw no way out of this. The ice had delayed their doom… but what could be done to prevent it?

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#23 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Mar 08 2012 - 12:14 AM

Chapter 22

If you were first looking at the scene of Bhukasa’s actions ten minutes later, as the sunless sky faded to purple, you’d think it quite odd.A thawed rope, slung around a frozen, ice-encrusted mast.Hanging sideways from that rope which was knotted around his waist, a titan, also encrusted in thick ice except for the soles of his feet.The other end of that rope reaching back towards the stern, then looped through the icy post of the steering column… and back towards the prow where Bhukasa stood, reeling it in gently.Fighting to balance his fragile friend against the southwestward pull of a glowing yellow energy-wall, the downward pull of gravity, and the eastward push of the wind.As Toggler was pulled over the steering wheel, the wall’s pull lessened, and he now hung more at a diagonal toward the deck. He passed within inches over Pohatu’s head.Once you understood the dangers involved, if you had to come up with one word to describe the scene, you’d probably pick ‘tense.’If you’d watched the leadup to this scene, you’d learn a simple lesson: Tying knots with scissors for hands is not easy.Finally, Bhukasa got the titan close enough to the mast that he settled on the deck, but he was still tilted diagonally… unstable position.Bhukasa lashed the rope to the prow and walked carefully between the other crewmembers.He went to the net device on the edge of the hull and thawed it. He pulled it up and looped it around the mast. Carefully he put two of its four ropes on one side of Toggler and two on the other.Then he went back to the prow and untied the rope. Gently let it out…Now Toggler ‘hung’ sideways safely from the net.Bhukasa went back to him. Put his left hand around the ice sword’s upper hilt, his right on Toggler.His left hand now gave him control over ice.With his right, he sent a beam of energy into Toggler, connecting to the shapeswitching power.With the sword, he moved the ice around, as with his other power he activated the switch… and Toggler slowly turned into a sphere.The sphere immediately tried to roll. If not for the net, no knot Bhukasa could tie would have prevented Toggler from rolling and smashing Pohatu. But there was a net.And now the sword was free.Bhukasa turned back to the stern. Now they could get away.

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There it was – the sign for Krohlaba to head to the meeting – the setting of the sun.When he’d gotten off work, instead of heading home, he went instead to the Oasis Truck base on the north side of the river.This was an area of non-mutagenic earth walled off by tarps, including a ‘tarp lobby.’Inside, several vehicles were parked.Each was propelled by a tread system and engine chassis that made up the lower half of the vehicle. The front half sported an enclosed cab with a bright lamp on the nose – this protected the driver completely from the sands, and contained both water and food storage. Hence the name – each truck was like a moving oasis. The back half held a wide, flat tray.They could be rented by anyone that had enough money. Tonight most were already rented by Mhondoka when Krohlaba arrived.He drove it over the dunes.Now climbing up, treads sliding a little. Now cresting the north-south dune, seeing the rising moon to the east. Now riding along its crest north a ways. Now turning back west and sliding quickly down the dune, seeing only by the glare of the headlight, the faint glow of moonlight on the top of the next dune, and the even fainter stars above.Far ahead, whenever he crested a dune, he could see several other lamps navigating the sands ahead of him. Occasionally now a lamp’s line of sight from behind him would cross over him. All headed where he was headed.He wanted to dim the light and tear off to the east, stop between dunes where nobody could easily spot him… and just… live there.Hide from his whole society. Better if he had no influence at all.But he’d wielded his influence already by trying to get Pohatu killed. It was now his duty to do something, anything, to try to undo the damage he had caused.So he held the course. Northwest.Now he passed a scattered group of Nagurr Turtles, hovering above the sands.Those turtles were the main reason Oasis Trucks had been invented. Their hemispherical shells were immune to the mutagenic effects of the sands, plus they were super-bouyant. The Turtles were one of the only creatures who could live in the desert without much risk of mutation. From time to time they shed their old shells.Kriitunga used Oasis trucks to seek out abandoned shells, to be later attached to each other to make multi-shell rafts, or used singly as single-shell coracles.A weak gust of wind kicked up a wave of sand across the desert, casting off an undulating sparkling effect under the moonlight.The Turtles instinctively folded themselves into their shells.The sand hit them, bounced off, and passed on. When it cleared, they cautiously peeked out again.Krohlaba couldn’t help but feel jealous.

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Niaka rested for a moment, letting Vamuka have the mask to work on the makeshift huts.Work had continued past nightfall on the Lightminds side of the prison. As was the tradition, at least here, all of the Lightminds pitched in to build shelters for the new prisoners.All that could, anyways. Whichever of the two Matoran who wasn’t wearing the shared mask didn’t have enough strength to help much. And one of the three older prisoners had been mutated long ago into a giant beast with very little intelligence – Heria, as she was called, did not have her own shelter. She slept in a tree like a beast.The mask-switching was tedious, but Niaka forced herself not to complain.If she’d been free, she would have had no qualms about running away with Vamuka’s mask, leaving the poor fool to fall into a coma after several minutes of torturous wondering why his trust had been misplaced. If the gullible one would even figure out he’d been betrayed!The really annoying part was the lava farmer’s attitude every time he gave her the mask, as he came now to do.He grinned, and hold his nose up in the air loftily. Innocent though he might be, he knew he was doing something honorable, and he let it puff him up. He sat down on the rock and watched smugly as she continued work on the last hut.Where is the Unknown? she wondered idly, then chuckled quietly to herself, realizing the question answered itself.They would escape. Niaka no longer doubted that.She’d thought carefully over her memory of the meeting with the Unknown, comparing every nuance of how she spoke to observations long proven and recorded in the Rahunga manipulation guidebook.The Unknown had not used any of the effective manipulation techniques.She had, in fact, behaved almost exactly like an innocent, young mind, almost like Vamuka, though in actual years neither the shapeshifter nor the lava farmer were truly young. With one distinction – this ‘advisor’ was familiar with the frustrating strife of conflicts with other people of authority who had their own stubborn opinions.But whatever conflicts those were, they did not appear to have tainted the advisor with cynicism or ulterior motives. Everything she did told Niaka her promise was genuine.There were only two concerns she had left.One was obvious – how long would they be imprisoned here before the Unknown helped them?The second was more pressing. Ever since before noon, she’d been blocking all attempts by Tahu, Pohatu – or anyone else, for that matter – to contact the Eight Matoran via a Mask of Telecommunication. All of them (herself included to make sure she fit in) had wondered aloud why nobody had been checking in with them.If only she’d been smart enough to activate the blocking device as soon as they woke up in this prison!Then she could blame the problem on whatever power-dampener coated the wooden fences of the prison. But Tahu had contacted them while they were in the prison, so that cover story was out. Besides, what would she do once the Unknown freed them, if that was the cover story?No…The only option was to speculate, as she did briefly, that perhaps the Kuambu, or the Bohrok… or the Third Faction… or the Rahunga… had attacked Tahu and broken his Golden Kanohi. She’d listed all four of those enemies when she’d suggested it, and pointed out that any enemy with much in the way of brains would realize Telecommunication was one of the good guys’ best advantages right now.But Kewonga the Healer had quickly pointed out that Tahu’s Golden Kanohi seemed to have some kind of a shield built into it that was always on, and other gold masks had been battered around before and not shattered.“Maybe it was stolen, then?” she countered, and then did not argue the point again. The others came to their own conclusions, but she knew the idea was sufficiently planted that eventually they would all come to accept it.The real point was not specifically what she said, but how she said it. Said it as if frustrated by it, flummoxed by it. Baffled, grasping at straws.And it helped that her initial story hadn’t quite worked. Though she hadn’t intended it, it gave the others a sense that she didn’t quite understand the full picture. If she had been a Rahunga, and if stealing Tahu’s mask was a plan known to all Rahunga, then she would look suspicious to think of that right off the bat.If only I’d gotten Korau to say something to incriminate him, she thought, glancing over at the Darkminds half of the prison.The Po-Matoran chef had been sulking inside his hut as soon as it was finished hours ago.Of the two older prisoners in there, only one had helped him build it. Azh’yuuros, the blue titan, had used focused beams of blue fire to carve out rectangular chunks from tree trunks, then absorbing the flames to keep the trees or the resulting boards from burning. Then he and Korau put together the new hut.The other prisoner just watched.While standing upside down, on his hands. With only one eye – the other eye roamed creepily, looking at the fence, the trees, the Lightminds working on huts, then returning every few seconds to stare at Niaka… then wink at her when nobody else was looking, and look somewhere else.As if he knew she was evil… but had decided it would be more fun to let her keep her secret.Niaka had stolen many glimpses at this disturbing excuse for a Toa while resting maskless. If anyone in this prison was truly evil, besides her, she believed it was him. If anyone could be either a serious problem, or a useful ally, once they escaped, it was him. Her immediate future would thus depend on understanding him as best she could.He was either a Toa of Gravity, judging by his purple and black color scheme, or of Earth.Niaka wondered how wooden fences could contain a Ba-Toa; the nulling field only worked close to the wood, so shouldn’t a Toa of Gravity be able to hover directly up and then away?Earth, however, could be effectively trapped here.The nulling slime had apparently been applied to the rock beneath the soil here, and that rock came up like a bowl to the edges, according to Knife-Tail, one of the older Lightmind prisoners, who had attempted to burrow out by conventional means already.Purple and black was, according to the encyclopedia all Rahunga had been required to memorize in addition to the guidebook, a very rare color for Earth Toa, even though Onu-Matoran had that color scheme often.But it would be foolish to confuse ‘very rare’ with nonexistent, and when planning tactics, it was best to assume the worst case scenario rather than let it blindside you.So for now, she assumed he was a Toa of Earth, but given the obvious insanity plaguing him, perhaps he was a Toa of Gravity who had decided he liked it here. If the latter, she must watch for opportunities to manipulate him to want otherwise – or perhaps to want to let them out and then come back in himself.Not that she disbelieved the Unknown’s promise… but that concern about how long the shapeshifters planned to let them waste their time here came into play.Niaka had an important mission – she had to quickly learn as much about the Kuambu as she could, using these seven other Matoran – and now any of the other prisoners if she could – to her advantage, under guise of preparing a report for the Turaga.In truth, she would report to Makuta.For she knew full well that Makuta was alive.His presence had never left her mind until she'd lost the mask.This was a gift of utmost trust placed in only a handful of Rahunga – the mastermind needed to fake his death in order to test the other Rahunga.But Niaka, as well as a few others, had passed similar, secret tests already. The supervillain knew she was truly loyal to him, and would stay that way no matter what.I’m here! she thought to Makuta. I hear your thoughts! I’m listening!But it was all in vain. The villain had among his many powers a way to send thoughts to his Rahunga no matter where they were… but this was one-way. It could send orders only.The problem was the loss of the Rah-Kanohi. With it she could have responded to Makuta, not to mention use powers. How to overcome that?By now, she knew from Makuta’s reports from Kanoka (one of the other trusted Loyalists) that Ito had found her mask. Where it was being stored, she didn’t know, because Makuta didn’t know.She would need to get her mask back, or find another Rah-Kanohi. Or even just an infected mask would do.This would be easy if she could get back to Mata Nui Island. But she had also sensed from the Unknown that if Niaka didn’t find her own way to escape early, the Unknown would force some deal that would NOT involve going back there anytime soon. The advisor had seemed eager to get some mission underway, and she emphasized the raising of Niaka’s ferry with this mode of inflection in place.So she had to find a way out before the Unknown came.And she had to do it without the powers her mask would have granted her.

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It took Bhukasa a long time to spread out the ice between the yellow wall and the boat, if only because he wanted to make sure he had the power under control. It wasn’t like he had experience playing Ko-Toa.Finally, he felt no pull from the wall at all.Then he carefully thawed everybody, and they got underway.All this time, he kept looking northwest, expecting the Kuambu ship to peek over the horizon. Surely it was following him?Or maybe it knew enough than to come this close to the yellow wall. Maybe it had gone ahead of him. It didn’t take a genius to figure out they were heading to Kriitunga Island, especially now that the enemy had gotten close enough several times to see that most of his crew were mutant Kriitunga.What if they have a way to communicate between each other?After they’d gotten underway, the unique Kriitunga mutant named Twayzivl had taken him aside, and in his halting mutant dialect, he’d described a theory he had about this ‘hole in the ocean,’ reciting a poem that seemed to hint at it.Bhukasa agreed with the theory, and combined with the poem an actual Kuambu had apparently told Niaka, as she’d told Tahu before they’d lost communication, it seemed everybody saw the Kuambu as the ‘rulers of the sea.’Come to think of it, I’d say we now actually know a fair amount about them, he thought, mulling over the events of the day.They knew the Kuambu claimed to be masters of boat and ocean alike.They knew the Kuambu kept their appearance and innate powers secret, although they clearly had two eyes, and their very breath, and voices, seemed supernaturally thunderous.The Kuambu hunted people down, knocking them unconscious and blurring memories, and then made copies of people’s ‘soulsongs.’ Then, apparently performing something everybody else thought impossible, they enabled these Kuamor spheres to have powers and function as projectiles.Which they then used in more huntings to obtain more Kuamor.Bhukasa hesitated. Maybe he didn’t know as much as he thought.Why – why! – would a race go through all this secrecy to create weapons, which are then promptly spent only to create more to replace the ones they just spent to create more? The process was circular, and seemed to serve no purpose other than to just be.They never killed their victims. Apparently, they usually let the victims go free as soon as they woke up.Why?However, they did take certain people, whose soulsongs were rare, to the prisons. Bhukasa had been among those. If they caught him again, surely they’d imprison him again… And if it took him 700 years to escape last time…Come to think of it, why, then, capture eight Matoran who, aside from the two who were now revealed to be Rahunga, were anything but rare?And, if they ruled the Endless Ocean with an iron fist, sailed the seas better than any other, with their presence known on islands to the immediate north, northeast, east, and southeast of Mata Nui Island, how is it that the Unknown could have truly kept the Kuambu ignorant of Mata Nui until now?None of it made sense. He could follow it all logically up to a certain point, and then the whole theory turned around to bite its own tail and devour itself.Except for one idea.One simple idea that remained like the skeleton of the suicidal theory.While doing all of this stuff, being so hard to understand, and proving such mastery of their weapons and their seacraft,Bhukasa thought with a chill, they manage to strike profound fear in everybody who hears their name.And now… glancing back to look for the ship he expected to be trailing him… thinking ahead to the ship that might instead have gone ahead… and worrying about the whole fleet that ship might have sent to his destination…Bhukasa shared that fear.

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BE and the fish went north to the odd island, and reached it just as the sun set.But the battling boats were gone.The only trace they left was that some of the large sharks and smaller spinesharks still roamed the area, called here by the battle and then having no particular reason to leave in a hurry.The fish started to panic, but BE managed to calm it down.The battle must have ended… but we can swim in a spiral formation to search for the boat.They did so, first circling the island and then circling it again in a wider circle, etc.Quickly they found the aggressor boat, sailing due north.Figuring it was chasing the other boat, BE and the fish swam north fast.For a long time, and a long ways.They came to another island.This one was wide, covered in a forest, and fairly flat, except for a narrow and tall volcano in the center, which looked dormant.They circled this island.Nothing.They circled wider, again and again.Nothing!Then they backtracked, and circled the boat. Maybe the victim boat had started to sail north and then veered off once the aggressor fell behind – BE could see that the aggressor’s mast was snapped, so it relied on oars.But nothing.Then they backtracked to the first island and circled it again. Wider. Wider. Wider…Nothing!Wider.Wider.Now they hit upon a tall cylindrical island. BE and the fish had encountered it twice before – it was exactly between the island where the boats had battled and the island where Surkahi met with them.But there was no boat here. They continued to circle the battle island, convinced the boat must have sailed away from it in a different direction than its enemy.Swinging counterclockwise around, now they found another cylindrical island, to the northwest of Surkahi’s island.This island was shorter than the other cylinder-islands BE had seen thus far. The part underwater was exactly the same shape – wider than the part above water if there had been one – and ending exactly at the water line.The fish leaped above a wave to see better – after a pebble beach around the surface, the center of the island contained a fairly sizeable forest with wooden fences around it, and one slicing right through it. BE saw several beings inside… it looked like a prison of some kind.He was curious, and wanted to study it a moment longer, sensing that somehow the details of this prison were important… but the fish was uneasy.There were vibrations nearby, deep below in the dark water… they felt like large predators swimming. Large enough that the fish worried the armor wouldn’t be enough to keep them safe.So they left, continuing the spiral.This should have been an easy task, but he’d underestimated just how much time it took to swim between the battle island and Surkahi’s island and then back. The fish didn’t have much of a sense of time, and BE realized he’d been infected with that attitude.He made a note to try to teach the fish about the importance of day and night… or rather remind it – before its long time in the maze, it had once lived in this ocean, hunting by day, hiding and sleeping by night.Now… something was coming into view… something shining…They were reaching a point directly to the northeast of Surkahi’s island. By now BE was used to the idea of geometric locations of the pillar islands, and this turned out to be more evidence for his theory. There was indeed a pillar island beyond this light…But no water around it.A shining wall of light…And now, the fish realized, big trouble.The wall was pulling them in.

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The hut was finished now, and Niaka let Vamuka have his turn with the mask.A meal was shared from the fruit of the strange trees, around a wooden table at the center of the Lightminds’ camp.Then everybody went to their huts to sleep.But as Niaka went, she glanced to the Darkminds side.Azh’yuuros had gone into his hut too, and Korau hadn’t come out except to stick a hand out and accept fruit from the blue titan earlier.But the insane Toa now stood on his feet… and walked in place.Every few seconds he looked around, still walking in place, and ended by looking at her, and winking when nobody was looking. This time with both eyes focused… almost.He was facing to Niaka’s right, towards the end of the divider fence opposite the strange door and the signs. As she entered the door of her hut (which she’d subtly designed to face the Darkminds side), she turned back, caught the insane Toa’s eyes, and winked.When enough night had passed that she was satisfied the others were asleep, she snuck out.The Toa was still there, walking in place as before.She walked the way he was facing, and he walked forward.Like this they both walked to the end of the fence.Niaka hadn’t consciously realized just how big the prison pen was, even when split in half. Idly she glanced back into the Lightmind jungle behind her, and realized there was a lot of potential for hiding in it. Someone could ‘get lost’ in there quite easily if they wanted to… and if they had a poor sense of direction, maybe if they didn’t want to.She stopped and faced the Toa.He faced her, one eye fixed on her right eye, the other eye wandering to his right, watching the way she’d come. As he stood there, his left arm reached out to a fern and ripped it out, then proceeded to clumsily try to tear each branching leaf off the stalk without using his right arm, which hung limp at his side.He continued to walk in place… no… he was walking forward towards her, and the fence’s repulsion field was pushing him away. She tried not to look as disturbed as she felt.He said nothing for a while, and neither did she.At the moment, she was fascinated by his mask. She hadn’t recognized the odd shape until now, with its wide square eye-holes and its perfectly circular mouth area.It was a Mask of Undeath, though his eyes were still lit, so he was alive.That power was seen as immoral by Toa!Who was this guy? Except for the mask and his behavior, he looked like a perfectly respectable Toa of Gravity. Had he once been a Toa like any other, and gone rogue… then been driven to insanity by the way others reacted to his choice of mask and maybe other things? Or perhaps did the insanity come first… or both at once?“My name is Niaka,” she whispered. “What’s your name?”“Hello Niaka,” the Toa said quietly, as one eye shot up to look at the sky… the other down to study the ground. He left his mouth open after saying it.Pause.“What is your name?” she asked again.“Oh,” he drawled, “I am insane. I am stark raving mad! I am loony! Not all there!” Now he clamped his mouth shut so tightly she imagined his jaw must hurt.“Okay…”“I AM DOWNRIGHT BATTY!” he screamed at the top of his lungs. “I WILL KILL YOU ALL!”

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Edited by bonesiii, Mar 08 2012 - 07:31 PM.

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#24 Online bonesiii

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Posted Mar 12 2012 - 05:46 PM

Chapter 23

“Quiet!” Niaka whispered urgently, glancing back at the camp. “I don’t want the others to hear us!”She’d thought he understood that, but maybe not.He just stood there, now with his mouth locked as wide as it could go, his limbs tense, even shaking, as if he was still screaming at the top of his voice, but he was completely silent. Both eyes stared at the sky now.She took the opportunity to listen towards the camp.“What was that?” various voices asked.“Nothing,” Knife-Tail answered. “Just the Mad Toa. He’ll probably do that all night and sleep all day tomorrow. He hasn’t killed anyone yet.”What followed was the expected grumbling, but nobody came out of their huts. Her secrecy was preserved for now. She noticed Knife-Tail had called the insane one the Mad Toa as if it was his name or title.“Mad,” she said, “can I call you that?”“I AM MAD!” he screamed, louder still, and then he crouched down, looking around frantically like a trapped animal, as if he’d heard his own echo and been terrified by it – but of course there was no echo here. Only a blue giant.“Quiet!” Azh’yuuros shouted towards them without leaving the hut. “Or I’ll scorch you again!”“Mad!” the Toa repeated, but this time at a whisper.“Alright,” she said, forcing herself to remain calm. “Mad. I was curious what your element is?”“Elementary dear Niaka. My element is an elementary element of the Poetraxiens Elemental.”“Uh… Which element?”“The elemental one. Two. Three. Four FIVE SIX SEVEN EIGHT!”“I mean it!” the Guardian repeated, banging on a wall.“YES DEAR GIANT!” Mad called back, but not at the top of his lungs. Then, to her, he whispered, “The blue one’s element is Blue Fire. That is not from the Poetraxiens Elemental. That is… one… two… three… or was it four? Maybe eight.”“Uh… what is this ‘poet racksians elemental’?”“Poeh trak ziens Elemental,” he corrected, pronouncing it clearly, and then spelling it for her, three times in a viciously scolding tone. “It is the Poetraxiens of Elements silly Matoran,” he added.“What’s a Poetraxiens?”He leaned close, looking conspiratorial, ready to share with her the greatest secret the world had ever known.Paused, looking around to see if anyone was listening.Then said, “I have no idea.”She sighed. Time to change the subject. “The rest of us would love to escape.”“Escapist,” he said, in a tone at once dismissive and accusing.“Uh… So… do you mean to say… you don’t want to escape?”“I want… pie.”“Uh… well,” she commented, just rolling with the punches, “it might interest you to know, then, that the brown Matoran is a chef, and he makes the best pies on… on my home island… Although the ingredients probably aren’t here.”He turned and walked in place, facing towards Korau’s hut.“Maybe if you’re quiet overnight, he could make you some kind of pie in the morning…”“Want best pie. Now.”“Don’t interrupt his sleep,” she warned. “I… he has friends that you’d hate to get on the bad side of. And the ingredients for the best pie probably aren’t here.”“His? Friends? Hate? Bad? Pie?” The Toa started chomping on air. Loudly, but probably not enough that the others heard. “Mad hates bad pie too!” he exclaimed in an even louder whisper. “Friendly friendies befriend friendly friendy!”“Quiet,” she reminded him, urgently stifling the desire to laugh at his antics. The insane rarely responded well to being laughed at – it was a rule that could be so dangerous if broken, that even though its wisdom was rarely needed, the Rahunga guidebook included it.Maybe he could only understand one idea at a time. “He can’t make the best pie here. The stuff he needs to make it is on Mata Nui – ” She cut herself off abruptly, realizing her mistake. She hadn’t wanted to let him know the name of her home island, but now it was out.“Mata Nui.” He looked northwest, right towards her island. “Heard of it. What stuff?”“I… I wouldn’t know; I’m not a chef…”“WAKE UP CHEF AND TELL ME STUFF!” he suddenly shouted so loud Niaka lost her balance and fell on her back. Mad burst into a run towards Korau’s hut.Niaka panicked and leaped back into the thick foliage. She shouldn’t have done this! Her cover would be blown! Everybody would come out of their huts to see this, and they’d wonder why she wasn’t coming out of her hut… Her mind scrambled to come up with convincing reasons a normal Ga-Matoran would have wanted to talk to Mad in secret.The Toa ran up to Korau’s hut, just before Azh’yuuros emerged from his.Ran at the side, not the door.No no no!Mad rammed into the wall. Hard.Toppled it.The whole hut came down on the unfortunate Po-Matoran, who shrieked and kicked and punched, trying to fight off his imagined attackers.Mad grabbed his arm and pulled him out, holding the poor chef up and facing the furious giant who now stared him down. “You are Angry! I am Mad! Chef is Outraged!” Then he giggled. “The others are Miffed!”“Put him down!” the titan ordered.“He is my shield now!” Mad held Korau up higher to emphasize his point. “You would not hurt a poor innocent Matoran would you Angry? Chef who is Outraged tell me stuff!”“What? What… what stuff?!” Korau demanded angrily. Or rather, in outrage.“Stuff to make best pie! Make me pie!”“I…What? The… Huh?”“Stuff to make best pie! Tell me stuff to make best pie!”Niaka was overcome with curiosity now, and her instincts were screaming at her. She quietly snuck back towards the camp, stepping around the thick ground foliage.The Lightminds emerged from their huts.Their eyes were right on the scene on the Darkminds half. Away from her hut – the farthest from the fence.Niaka stepped around her hut and walked up behind them, as if she’d just now come out. No need for a cover story, which was good, because she’d been unable to think of one.Mad was still demanding to know the stuff to make the best pie, so loudly and so often Korau couldn’t get a word in edgewise.Finally, Mad clamped his mouth shut, tilted his head, and stuck his ear in Korau’s face.“You… You first… you need… Jubai Juice imported from Le-Wahi, then you need Faui Flour, the namesake of the Faui cake from Ga-Wahi, and finally Muhufo Wheat from Po-Wahi, put over a high-heat firepit for ten seconds, in a suitable dish. Now put me down!”“WHERE IS YOUR STUFF?!”“In my kitchen in Po-Koro,” Korau said. “Why?!”Mad set Korau down.And flew directly up into the sky.

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Hujo followed Caroha, urgently focused on making sure he held his invisibility stable while he also didn’t lose track of her.Not easy, considering the air-filled space between the huge fragments of this ‘Clysmax’ planet were filled with spacecraft whizzing about.There was most definitely a battle going on against the ones who flew white craft.So naturally Caroha flew directly at the battle.Naturally.He gripped the staff tightly so he wouldn’t drop it, turning his head constantly to watch which of those white fliers might fire where, which of those red ones might fire where, watching the blue ones behind…And to make it all worse, the battle was taking place throughout what he concluded was civilian traffic. Long snakelike vehicles tried to angle for a route to escape the white-painted attackers, and all manner of others vehicles scattered frantically.The worst part was his instinct to protect the innocent. He had in this staff the power to easily win this battle, protecting the civilians from the attackers.He eased his conscience by reminding himself he didn’t know for sure that the ‘civilians’ were in fact the good guys. He supposed it was possible to imagine the white ships carried good heroes who were… maybe trying to interrupt a weapons shipment by some empire that ruled the other fragments.It was a weak argument, but he didn’t care now. It wasn’t his job to solve mysteries here.Caroha finally made it through the battle, and Hujo quickly zoomed up behind her, almost colliding with her.Then she flew on towards the snow-sided planetary fragment.It was from this chunk that the aggressive white spacecraft flew, Hujo noticed. They flew with enough space between them that there wasn’t all that much risk of a head-on collision, but Hujo watched carefully all the same. After all, they were the same color as the snow directly behind them.The snow-covered mountains loomed closer.Now Hujo could make out the details of the landscape fairly well.The Unknown swooped low. What is it with her and flying right next to mountains? he thought, then remembered a moment later she could hear his thoughts. But she didn’t answer him.Of course, she had a lot more experience. Maybe she was laughing at him in her mind for being such a novice.“I’m not laughing,” she said over the radio.So you are listening!“Watch yourself – I just saw you flicker visible,” she warned.“Sorry.” Focus!It must be easy for her, he thought. She was shy by nature. He was outgoing.He wondered why the suit couldn’t just use a physical button for the cloak activation and deactivation.“Honestly,” she said, “it’s never been important before for a novice to come on such an important mission. We hadn't thought of it when we invented the suits.”They homed in on a certain valley filled with snow-covered buildings. “Remember your cloak,” she said.Something silver flashed in the sky.Hujo looked up.Something else, flying. Right towards them, obviously able to see them.At first he assumed it would be one of the jet-Bohrok things… but this was humanoid, like a Toa encased in silver armor… as it got closer, he thought the armor looked almost liquid.“Turn back!” Caroha shouted. “Get away from any other observers! Head into the mountains! And don’t let the… don’t let our pursuer get you!”She knows what this is, Hujo thought as he obeyed, and doesn’t want me to know.

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Kuhauha had just walked through Po-Koro, entered his hut, and gotten into bed…When gravity went all wrong.He felt lightweight. Then heavy… then lightweight again.The Po-Matoran stood up and raced outside.Others were doing the same, looking around urgently for any sign of what might have caused such a thing…He knew the black Kal had such a power. Wild speculation flew through his mind.But the figure he now saw running through the other side of the Koro was no Bohrok. It looked like… a Toa?But there are only six Toa!The Toa ran around the Koli stadium in the center of the village. He was running up to every Matoran he could see, pausing in front of them, then running on.He circled near Kuhauha. The Matoran now realized the Toa was whispering something to everybody.Stopped in front of him. “Where is Korau’s kitchen?”Then turned and ran on to the next before Kuhauha even had a chance to think. When he did, all he could think was, he’d never seen such a mask before.The Toa ran around again.By now, guards were starting to assemble.One shouted at the Toa. “Who goes there? Friend or foe?”“Quiet!” the Toa scolded. “Or the Guardian will scorch me!”Nobody knew what to make of this.The Toa once again reached Kuhauha and repeated the question, this time only slightly louder.He noticed the Toa’s eyes didn’t track correctly – they aimed in different directions at once. He took a step back in alarm. There was something seriously wrong with this guy.When the Toa ran on, Kuhauha snuck up to the nearest guard and reported what he’d seen.“Understood.” The guard gave subtle handsigns to others, but Kuhauha noticed some were already giving the same sign. Everybody in the Koro knew it – it meant, ‘be ready for chaos,’ a warning often given in the old days when an apparently insane Rahi came near.Suddenly gravity shifted.The Toa leaped into the air.Landed in the sand inside the Koli stadium. Skidded to a stop, shouting, “WHEEE!!!”“Everybody back in your huts,” the guards ordered aloud. “Let us deal with this.” One sent up a red flare.“PREEEEETTY!”When the flare died, the Toa found a Koli ball someone had left in the stadium, and he sent it flying, literally.Made it hover… Kuhauha felt lightweight. Every step he took to get back to his hut was much easier than it should have been, and he didn’t have to take as many.Then gravity bent.He fell on his back, slid on the sand.Hit another hut, bounced off the side and slid on. One of the village’s outer walls was now ‘down’, and the opposite ‘up’.Things from many huts came rolling and bouncing out doors and windows, rained ‘down’. Sand even started to rustle and flow. Kuhauha hit another hut, and this time got a grip on a windowframe.Then it tilted another way. “The ball flies around like a dragon!” the Toa said. Indeed – all of this was just to make the ball move randomly through the air, it seemed.The guards were as helpless as the others against this.Another Matoran collided with Kuhauha and they both slid along the ground now. Screams and shouts of alarm filled the air.Then the effect suddenly switched off. “I AM BORED. GIVE ME KORAU’S BEST PIE STUFF!”Nobody answered him. Everybody just struggled to their feet, tried to regain their balance. Kuhauha felt sick.“This Toa was imprisoned with Korau and the others,” someone near Kuhauha muttered. “Have they escaped?”“Or has this lunatic murdered them and come here to get us next?” someone else whispered.“Slidy sliders slide on a slide!”And it started again. Stronger this time. Now some of the weaker huts started to break and fall along with the Matoran.“Sluggish slugs cannot slug you!” the Toa proclaimed when next he stopped the mad gravity bending. Then he giggled.Stopped, looked around as if unsure about something… Then giggled again. “Stone is an Element! Pie should be too! I want pie!”Kuhauha stood up.Maybe it was his own half-obsession with Korau’s Fauii cakes, but Kuhauha understood what the insane invader wanted. And it didn’t sound like anybody would be harmed if they gave it to him.“I know where the stuff is, to make Korau’s best pies!” he called to the Toa.The strangely masked face… er… faced him… though one eye kept watching the Koli ball. “Where.” It was a question, but he pronounced it like a statement. “I am Mad?” It was a statement, not a question.Kuhauha didn’t answer. Having that… person look directly at him had robbed his heart of its courage. Neither his legs nor his mouth would move.“It’s over here!” someone else called out – a guard – pointing at Korau’s hut. “Though your antics probably spilled everything.”“Ants can’t rant like aunts,” the Toa replied. “Ticks do not tick but they tickle. Fickle ticklers prickle.”Several Matoran now walked into the eatery, and walked out moments later with enough ingredients and dishes to make twenty Faui cakes.Kuhauha felt a pang of regret at his idea… anything that made him less likely to be able to buy those delicious things (someone else had been running the eatery in Korau’s place) was bad. Then he scolded himself for such foolish thinking.“Is that the stuff? Ants make sizeable hills from earth pulled out of their underground nests and are capable of carrying many times their weight. Many of the large red-armored varieties are often equipped by Matoran with weapons launchers on their backs. Is it the backs of the Matoran or the ants?”What under the Red Star’s sky is this guy talking about?“It’s the stuff,” someone said. “Please take it and leave us alone.”“You have an estimated population of two hundred. The definition of alone is lacking any other companion. You are not alone. Hermits are sometimes defined as inhabitants of villages whose populations are one. Hermits are alone. Should I make you hermits. Question Statement.“There was once a Toa named Al, short for Alioth. Alioth was a hermit. Alioth was an inhabitant of a village whose population was one. One. Al was the one. And Al the one was Alone.”The Toa whirled and faced Kuhauha. “WHERE IS THE STUFF SCARED ONE?”Kuhauha took a step, tripped over his other foot, and fell on his face. The crazy Toa giggled. “Scared one has sand in his mask. Sandy mask masks scaredy masked one.”“The stuff is right here!” one of the Matoran carrying the ‘stuff’ said, with a frustrated tone. “And it’s heavy, so please take it already!”“Matoran of Stone is Annoyed!” the Toa exulted, lifting his hands in the air. One arm then snaked down and scratched behind his ear, then snuck back up into the air.“Flying time! Gravity rhymes with… Uh… Depravity?”“Get away from the sacks!” Kuhauha whispered to the others.They set it down and leaped away just in time. The Toa walked between the sacks and suddenly he and the bags ‘fell’ up into the air. Then fell sideways, and disappeared over the wall.Something white flashed on the wall soon after. Kuhauha had started to help collect the things strewn throughout the village when he saw it. Looked closer.It was Toa Kopaka. “What threat do you face?” he called down to the villagers.“He’s gone now,” one of the guards called up. “It’s a… um… long story.”Kopaka made an ice ramp and slid down. “I might not be a talker,” he told the guard, “but I’m good at listening.” He motioned the guard to enter the Turaga’s empty hut.With that, the excitement was over, and that was that… Kuhauha hoped.

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Lewa-Krana wanted to sleep – sleep was allowed for Matoran and Toa units since it was also necessary.But there was a pre-Krana unit out there on an invisible bird. And another who could burrow through the ground. Still others who had been of the Army but had been corrupted though they still bore Krana.They were chasing the Lewa-Krana unit. The two Vortixx reported this, and gave orders to the unit.So the unit ran.Gravity bent in the area… and the unit wondered if the Nuhvok-Kal had finally found him…But no. The swarm reported it appeared to be another Toa of Air, flying as Lewa-Krana could… Or some other kind of Toa with other methods of flight.Lewa-Krana saw it now, passing over Ga-Wahi. Then it disappeared in the distance.The Lewa side of the unit tried to wonder at this, think about what it could mean.But the forebrain determined that this line of thinking was most likely not useful in escaping the pursuers, since the flying Toa seemed to be just passing through.So Lewa-Krana turned to a matter of much greater consternation.All this stuff around the unit.It must be cleaned.But the unit couldn’t do any cleaning now. Nothing to alert the pursuers.Such a waste of awake-time.

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Niaka had gone back to bed, trying to sleep, well before Mad got back – and come back he did.She couldn’t sleep now… and she knew once the Toa returned, she wouldn’t sleep either. She’d realized a possibly fatal blunder she’d made, fatal at least to her secrecy…Heria.Niaka hadn’t accounted for the beastly mutant when she’d snuck back into the circle of huts, while Mad was attacking Korau.Surely Heria heard the commotion too and peered out through the trees? Surely she saw me sneak around my hut instead of come out?Could Heria talk? Niaka hadn’t heard her talk yet, but Knife-Tail briefly mentioned that she had once been a Matoran. How would he know that if she couldn’t talk?Unless he’d known her before…But that was pure speculation. Rahunga did not base their actions on speculation.I’m off my game without my mask, she thought.No, it was worse than that. She’d never truly faced a mission of this difficulty. Hadn’t had practice.Her double life up till now had been neatly organized. Niaka the Ga-Matoran would ferry people between Ta and Ga-Koro during her work hours.After hours, from time to time, another Rahunga in disguise would ask Niaka the Rahunga for an off-duty trip to some more distant place for some excuse or another, and they’d together hunt down uninfected Rahi for a few hours.Then she would ferry back and the life of Niaka the Ga-Matoran continued where it left off.But all of this was just… messy. She hadn’t planned on being captured to begin with. She hadn’t expected to run into an insane Toa… one who now proved to be her only plan to escape. And now this mistake about Heria.I must know if she can talk, Niaka decided. Early in the morning if I can.Then Mad returned. Landed in the Darkminds prison.“I was missorted,” he declared matter-of-factly.The blue giant was just finishing the repairs to Korau’s hut. As soon as the Toa of Gravity landed, Azh’yuuros made a cage of blue fire around it and warned sternly against approaching.“Preeeeeeetty,” Mad replied, letting a mouth hang open as he stared transfixed at the firecage.“You won’t think it pretty if I whip you with it. Now… those are the ingredients you wanted?”“Stuff to make best pies.”“You can have a pie tomorrow,” Azh’yuuros said. “Do not bother us again tonight.”“Now wait a second!” Hafu spoke up. “You must have stolen those from Po-Koro. You didn’t hurt anyone, did you?”The Toa shrugged. “Ants.” Giggled.Then he walked off into the thick of the Darkminds jungle.“Wait!” Kewonga shouted after him. “If you can come and go as you please, carry us out!”Mad’s only reply was gibberish as his voice trailed away. “Dragonflies wagon dyes snack on pies…”

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#25 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Mar 18 2012 - 06:57 AM

Chapter 24

The yellow energy wall pulled the fish closer and closer. BE was terrified – why wasn’t the armor helping?!Then he realized it was – it was shapeshifting to grow propellors, and then they spun at top speed… but they were still pulled in.The fish’s heart beat faster and faster. It couldn’t keep swimming! Too weak!The fear itself repelled BE as powerfully as the wall pulled on the fish. And the feeling of tension – as if his very mind was being pulled in two!Blue Eyes left the fish.Immediately he regretted it, but at the same time, the intense pressure on his mind subsided to nothing, and he felt free and relaxed.He turned back just in time to watch the fish pass through the wall.Fall. Through air.BE watched the wall for a split second, checking… yes, he was free of its pull! He moved right next to it. Then lowered, to the seafloor, watching the fish.It landed with a loud bang on a rocky hill, bouncing out of BE’s sight.The big blue creatures heard it and walked towards it, clicking mandibles hungrily.In that moment, something changed for BE. This sense of loss felt familiar, as if he’d experienced it before, but in a completely different setting. He felt like… he wasn’t really supposed to be just a pair of eyes swimming around.While he’d inhabited the fish, he’d felt more like how he was supposed to feel. He’d recognized what it felt like to have a heart beating crazy-fast in a moment of sheer terror. But he did not have a heart. How could he recognize that feeling unless he had once felt it before in a heart that was purely his own?This change somehow corrupted and simultaneously purified his reaction to seeing the fish fall to almost certain death.He felt detached from the fish now. Unable to mourn his friend’s death.And yet he also felt unshackled from the grief that he knew would otherwise drive him insane.Even as he felt this, he thought to himself, How can two glowing eyes with no brain go insane?And then…And then there came…A distant tug.Someone miles and miles away, pulling on a metaphorical rope that reached across the universe. Pulling him back out of the here and now.All his detachment fled in that moment, and he felt all the terror and all the pain of his loss all at once, and he wanted to cry, but he had no tear glands. His mind destabilized and fell apart.Everything floated by like a dream, the details of the gap in the ocean, the music of the ocean currents around him, the smell of salt water, the slight chill of the dark depth, the faint heat of the energy wall. Up was down and then was now, and everything made sense… and nothing was anything.And then it was all replaced by a bright blue light.

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Hujo got separated from Caroha as the silver humanoid chased. But he did get away from the town.A snowstorm was building in the area and visibility was worsening.Hujo remembered the maneuvers over the Kriitunga Island mountains. It gave him an idea.He flew close to a mountain, just as a wave of heavy snowfall passed over it, while the silver being was behind a different mountain.Looked back.There was an explosion of rock, snow, and ice. The silver thing flew right through it. It’s completely unharmed! he thought, horrified.“Turn up!” Caroha shouted. “Watch out!”Hujo looked ahead.Mountain loomed.He obeyed, missing the mountain by mere inches. The wind from his flight kicked up a thick cloud of snow.The thing was still behind him.Now Hujo saw Caroha flying in from another angle – he had no idea what was ‘north’ or any recognizable direction here.She crossed behind the being, pointing off to a different way. Hujo understood, and flew into another thick part of the storm.Changed direction fast, and went that way.Hujo and Caroha flew through a narrow pass between two mountains.There was a town below, but Hujo held his invisibility and they passed out of sight of it quickly.Silver glint.There it was again!What are we up against here? he asked Caroha, sticking to thoughts in case the thing could intercept radio signals. Will Blue Fire take it down?“Please don’t try it,” she spoke back, since she apparently could not send thoughts. “I’d rather nothing from this dimension know of our powers.”Then what should we do?“Keep flying, keep avoiding.”So they did.A maneuver here in the cloud. A splitup here in a network of caves. Hiding here in this stone outpost.Nothing seemed to work.Finally, Caroha agreed they had no choice but to try powers. He mulled over some ideas and hit upon a plan Caroha agreed to, all without his saying any of it. She detested the risk it put on some valuable secrets but they could think of no other way.No other way, that is, except a way Caroha said she personally had… as part of the powers of Unknown… and she’d used that before to escape these beings. But she refused to allow Hujo to witness those powers unless she absolutely had no choice, saying their secrecy was even more vital. And another way built into the physics of this world… two, actually… but both were very dangerous.And Hujo didn’t like the danger of his own plan either.Because he had to let Caroha power down his suit.While falling from a great height, towards the town they needed to get to.But it was the best option.As he fell, he closed his eyes and tried to focus on the sounds around him. Gripped his staff tightly.Slowly, he fell into a trancelike state.Then the sounds of the songs of souls around him came to him. He could sense them, like many colors and patterns and variations.Now he focused on the town rising up towards him fast. He could see it in his mind almost as well as if his eyes were open.Every soul in it had a unique song, but all of them blended together to create a unique orchestra. The whole town had its own song. And the variations in how the ingredient songs blended made each spot in the town have its own song too.Hujo listened in on the song of a particular hut.Memorized it quickly.Then Caroha activated his suit, shouting, “FLY UP!”He did.Just inches from the town.Flickered visible… now invisible.They curved up and flew into the sky again, as the silver being chased.Again, they fell, and the humanoid chased again. Caroha had hinted the being could go faster now, and maybe catch them… but they could go faster too if need be. No, this was just to tire them out. The pursuer honestly believed he easily had the upper hand if he just bided his time. He or she or… it, Hujo thought.Now Hujo listened for traces of soulsongs beneath the town.Yes, they were there.Caves. One cave they’d passed through already, that Caroha knew from coming here before, used to go to the town, but the townspeople had discovered it and closed it off recently.But there was another route they didn’t know.Hopefully the silver guy didn’t know it either.Now they flew away from the town, as if giving up on one tactic and leaping to another with no plan.After flying around randomly for a while, Caroha and Hujo flew together towards the cave, while the silver one was behind a different mountain.Caroha switched off both their suits.Hujo materialized the Songsphere, and tapped in the song of their destination spot. With a prelude that told the Sphere to take them through the caves, not the air. He’d never tried this before, but he believed it would work.The sphere unfolded, hovered above their heads as they fell. Blue energy formed a bubble around them. Gently stopped their fall and flew into the cave.Just as the silver being flew into sight and saw them. And chased them.They flew into the cave.Silver followed.The Songsphere carried its passengers safely along any open path to its destination – the place whose soulsong matched the one tapped in by the passenger. No matter what. Sudden bends in the path did not matter to it.To their pursuer, they obviously did – he/she/it slowed down considerably, even though it plowed through most of the obstacles like they were nothing. Its super speed was clearly designed to work in straight lines, for the most part.But it stayed close enough that Hujo caught occasional glimpses of the blue light from the Songsphere glinting off of it.They flew on like this at sickening speeds for several minutes.Light ahead. Hujo made sure the Songsphere was kept invisible (to the townsfolk anyways).A narrow passage, nearly covered over by a snowbank.The Songsphere blasted through the snow.Emerged into the town. Hujo saw gray stone walls, snow-covered rooves, windows made of solid ice or glass, doors of hinged stone.Most of the beings looked to be Matoran… no, on second glance, half of these small beings had faces that looked totally organic inside helmets, not masks. Some of the others looked like Toa… but about half of these with helmets too. And then there were a wide variety of other species Hujo didn’t recognize.Most of their color schemes revolved around the colors white, iceblue, or light gray, as might be expected given the climate.To think, this looks like such a normal, Ko-Koro-like town, but not too far away the snowscape just drops off into the broken side of the planet. It was a chilling thought. Hujo tried to imagine if such a shattering could happen to his own home planet, and couldn’t fathom it.The Songsphere flew up and over several buildings. The blue bubble shrunk then, wrapping energy tendrils around its two passengers. Then it ducked down below the buildings’ rooves and rammed right through an ice window.That’s not stealthy, Hujo thought, wincing.Inside, he saw guards scrambling to pick up weapons, running towards the window, shouting orders. But the Songsphere dodged and weaved unseen around them all.Turned back to its bubble shape. Curved around a spiraling stone staircase, heading down into a deep basement.Hujo kept glancing back, expecting to see the silver-armored being.Now the bubble of energy stopped and blinked off, dumping the two heavy Matoran on the ground.Several tall humanoids stood around a pile of wooden crates, all holding big weapons of various kinds. They heard the sound and jerked their heads towards Hujo and Caroha.“Stay invisible…”Hujo focused on that. With his eyes locked on the guards and his mind repeating Caroha’s words over and over, he reached sideways, touched the Songsphere, and energized it. All invisibly, but there was a soft sound – the guards heard it.“Who goes there?!”Hujo struggled to stand up. Stay invisible, stay invisible. If only he could use the suit’s powers – he saw Caroha floating effortlessly now.Stay…Caroha hovered slowly, carefully over the guards, inches between their heads and the low ceiling of dark gray stone. Over the wooden crates.“Stay focused, but listen. I wish there was a way to do this totally stealthily, but I’m going to have to create a disturbance, Hujo. I’m going to throw you something. As soon as you touch it, focus on activating its power like you would for a mask or your staff.”Stay invisible. Hujo nodded. “Catch and activate, got it.”“I heard something,” a guard said. “Did you hear something?”“I heard it,” another agreed, and others nodded grimly. “Just the snowstorm?”“I’m not convinced. Sweep the area.”Caroha muttered angrily under her breath, then said, “At least they won’t come back here. But you’ll have to avoid them until I figure out which crate’s the right one.”Great! Wonderful!He laboriously lifted a leg and stepped sideways as a guard walked right towards him. Stepped again.The guard’s left leg came within less than an inch of Hujo’s left foot, just as Hujo pulled it away.Set it down.It made a sound.The guard froze. “What was that?”Everybody stopped.But now other sounds came from above... the sound of hand-to-hand combat upstairs. And from the sounds of the shouts, the guards were losing.Hujo knew who it was. The shouts of “Agent!” didn’t confirm it, but he recognized the fear in the voices he heard – it was the same fear he felt when he saw the ‘Agent’ fly right through a mountain unscathed.Hurry!“I know, I know!”Thankfully, most of the guards in this room rushed up the stairs to help their comrades. Just two stayed. And they seemed to have assumed the sounds they now heard were all they had heard, so they stood in place, weapons trained on the empty staircase.Hujo looked at Caroha. Stay… She had apparently shapeshifted knife-claws of some sort, mostly obscured from Hujo’s angle by the crates, and was quietly slicing circular holes in the sides of the crates.As soon as she had each circle clear, and pulled it away, it turned invisible. Then she set it behind the crates, and looked inside.The sounds of battle got closer fast. Hujo noticed the attacker never said anything.Shadows of colliding motion played in the stairwell.The two final guards rushed up the stairs to help.As soon as they were out of sight, Caroha abandoned caution and started ripping the crates apart pell-mell. Hujo walked heavily up to the front side and started prying others open with the lower end of his staff – careful not to let the three circling dots of blue flame in the other end come near the wood.“Found it!” Caroha exclaimed, just as the sounds of battle above faded to silence.There was a blue flash around Caroha as she threw the object to Hujo. She disappeared.He caught it.But it was just a piece of wood! Carved roughly into a cylinder, with some kind of symbol on the front…Shrugging, glancing at the Agent who ran down the stairs. Focused on the object. Sensed a power. Willed it to activate.Flash.Appeared next to another little wooden cylinder, in a room full of guards again, but guards of all colors and species, the walls made of bluish metal. Judging by a pane of something glasslike in the door, hallways of the same metal lay beyond.The guards were staring at the Totem, weapons trained on it, shouting questions and accusations, but Hujo just walked through them, invisible with little difficulty now. He heard the word “Ice” repeated a lot.Caroha was at the door. She pushed it open, ignoring the surprised exclamations of the guards. “Fly out after me carefully and fast! The Agent might follow us through the Totem!”

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Rathoa walked out of the cave in a daze.The bodies were fake. All of them. Makuta faked his death just as I faked my own death for him and almost half of the other Rahunga did.How, oh how, did he not see it?He was testing me.Of course! Of course!And I failed! Oh how I failed!But he’d done it for good reasons. Hadn’t he? He’d seen that the Third Faction was a better side to choose, not the Brotherhood.He faked his death!Nhayaka had argued convincingly that there was a profound moral difference between the two major evil factions. The Brotherhood indulged in pure evil. There was no true loyalty among them. They were willing to murder to get their way.How does that weird gem factor into all this?The Third Faction, by contrast, drew the line at murder, and seriously detested slavery even if it could be used as a means to an end. They would do wrong, they would capture and steal and lie and fight, all with full knowledge that they were doing evil. But not pure evil.But what if I missed the bigger picture?He thought of his mind-minions, now imprisoned on Destral. Had he not enslaved them? He thought of the Skakdi Lord. Was not the curse from that energy cannon the practical equivalent of murder?He tried to console himself that he was indeed using means to an end.He was trying to conquer the Brotherhood. Once he did that, he could reform it. Remake it in his image.And this thought helped… but was it good enough?What if Makuta really did value loyalty? What if Nhayaka hadn’t been as honest as she seemed? What if Makuta had the better…His mind leaped away from that thought and clung to the idea of honesty.Nhayaka also claimed that as a side effect of falling so far into pure evil, Makuta, being so willing to lie, even lied to himself. Pretended to be good sometimes, in order to get away with evil. Worked so hard to build the detail of this illusion – that was what the Truth Room was all about, after all – that Makuta started to believe his own lies.But not so of the Third Faction.We are honest. We know we’re evil and we admit it.But now it seemed Nhayaka had been deceiving him all along. She, and this powerful ally Icarax mentioned, supposedly knew all along Makuta had faked his death, but she let Rathoa go on believing the lie. As long as he believed it, he didn’t question his treason.Icarax could still have been lying about that part, Rathoa reminded himself.Somaihri could be lying about this unnamed person with the ‘deathsense.’ Or misinterpreting – Makuta’s lair had been far below Mata Nui; maybe the deathsense didn’t reach that far.But deep in Rathoa’s heart, he knew it was all true.Because it really was this simple -- how could Makuta have the idea for having the Rahunga fake their deaths, if he didn’t think of it for himself?THAT is a thought I should have had long ago.These thoughts distracted Rathoa entirely until he and Somaihri exited the cave, and she said, “We’ll fly to the base with the video equipment. I want to see all the evidence before our truce is over. Agreed?”Rathoa remembered the eggcraft. He wanted it.Honesty, he thought briefly, then once again leaped away from the painful line of reasoning. No… no… he… he was being honest with himself…And he would be honest now. “That makes sense,” he said. When in doubt, imply instead of state.If I do manage to steal it – and Makuta or not I shouldn’t be overconfident – for whom will I be stealing it?But he knew the answer even as he asked himself.I’m stealing it for myself.

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Bhukasa’s entire crew was exhausted, but Maku offered to continue to steer while Bhukasa and most of the others rested. Everybody going ashore at Kriitunga Island needed at least a little rest.He was tempted to order to drop anchor and let everybody sleep the night… but out this far he didn’t know if the anchor would even hit anything, and he was certain the enemy ship would take advantage of such a wait, one way or another.But he couldn’t sleep.So instead he worked on another copy of the Poetraxiens Memory. He’d figured out by now that it was easier to memorize something as you made a copy than just staring at it. Irony again, he thought.Was there some mystical, psychological unlocking of subconscious truths that this Poetraxiens inspired, though the tablet was powerless? Ever since he’d read it he’d been reaching conclusions about memory that he felt he wouldn’t have otherwise, even though the tablet’s incredibly archaic dialect was almost impenetrable.For example, he now understood, although the poem didn’t say so, that memory was essentially a recording of sensory input.The poem seemed to be listing eight separate senses that all beings had. But he was only aware of five senses.Eyes… okay. Ears, right. He copied these quickly.“Barrelus, comparrowi of memory balancia.”The only word he recognized here besides the obvious was balancia, which sounded like the word balance.A sense of balance… He wondered why people didn’t usually call it a sense. Of course it was.Do I remember anything odd about balance?Yes… Yes he did. Or at least he should, but it lurked just beneath the surface. What he could remember was vague – the feeling of being pulled every which way and moving at incredible speeds, the ultimate adrenaline rush. He remembered that, but he had no idea why he did.“Bionisens, teloi of memory battela.”This was harder… He thought he saw a modification of the word ‘sense’ in there, but that told him nothing specific. Teloi? Tell I? Nah, that was silly. Battella. Battle? Maybe…Next, “Armoregistris, teloi of memory battera.”Armor. Registry. That didn’t sound like a sense to Bhukasa. The other words were nonsense, but he noticed teloi was the same word used in the previous line, and battera was only one letter different from battela.“Tempus, kotaloi of memory thermia.”Something to do with a tempest? He shrugged and moved on.“Ocutrios. Loqresars-calculi of memory veritia.”Calculator… The rest was gibberish.“Olfacticos. The miqpiwfaudi linament of memory giutronsiuma.”Linament sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place it. The rest, nothing.And that last line.“All predermin memory vai octasens already possess recall.”‘Octasens’? Eight senses! And these three-letter things – Bhukasa inscribed them now – looked like number-words. “LUM, DRM, BRM, SUM, LOM, DLM, BLM, SOM.” So yes, it was intended to list eight separate senses, not five. Presumably three of them were simply taste, smell, and touch by different names. And…Already possess recall.Possess meant have. Recall meant remember!ALL.All… people?Vai… Via? Via the eight senses.Predermin!Protodermin?Protodermic beings!?Bhukasa put the tablet down. If he was right about that last line… The tablet wasn’t anywhere near useless. No wonder they guarded this like it was treasure.It meant all protodermic beings already had the power to remember anything they’d forgotten.All they had to do was focus on the ‘eight senses.’I need the rest of this translated. And I happen to have a translator on board… and if he doesn’t know, we can telecommunicate with Nokama.Bhukasa stood up.Night or not, he needed this now.

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#26 Online bonesiii

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Posted Mar 20 2012 - 02:48 PM

Chapter 25

Krohlaba had arrived at the northwest horn about half an hour ago. Now the others were just waiting for a few people to arrive, especially Mhondomva himself.The northwest horn was one of eight mysterious structures like it, located at the eight compass points around the island’s coast.Each peeked out of the sloping shore of mutagenic sand, shaped like a ribbed tube of massive proportions, pointing out from the island's center. The lower lip sat just above the high-tide line on the beach. The upper lip soared about forty yards above that.It was hard to tell in the moonlight, but it was made of sandstone. But not mutagenic sand – it was compressed, encrusted sand, perhaps that had once been mutagenic, but in this rocklike form it was not. And it didn’t, somehow, look carved. It looked natural in its surface texture.But it couldn’t be, because it was formed with geometric perfection.The Kriitunga people didn’t know what they were for, or who carved them. Perhaps ancient generations of Kriitunga had, but none today knew of any legend to support this.So naturally, the Kriitunga had invented their own ritual to give purpose to them.Whenever a slave-collecting raid was successful enough to deeply wound the society, robbing them of either a large number of people or of very important ones, a select few people would be picked for the special ritual. They would leave on Oasis Trucks, or sail on boats, for the horns. They would take the best weapons in case Kuambu thought to attack them.A group would stand inside each of the eight horns. Shout all their fury and all their grief to the eight winds. The shape of the hollow tubes amplified their voice and spread it for miles.Krohlaba often wondered if the sound actually did reach other islands. Did the ‘Ga-Matoran’ on Mata Nui sometimes hear a strange tone to the wind, and wonder if they didn’t hear some ghostly wail far off?But Mhondomva hadn’t called for a meeting inside the tube, but rather atop it, at the furthest point.As if to say ‘I of the huge mouth do not need to stand inside the horn.’Mhondomva arrived now, in the last of the Oasis trucks whose glaring light could be seen on approach. It was a specially designed truck, made much larger than the others for the rare giant mutant like the Mhondoka leader.Mhondomva walked onto the horn.A gust of wind kicked up sand just after the froglike giant passed safely away from the top of the last dune. Out here, they were all relatively safe from the sands, but not safe.“Mhondoka!” he bellowed with a booming murmur. “You have come. Let us begin with the Ritual of the Oka Oath!”The whole group opened wide their mouths and began a gutteral, drawn out, chilling “ohhhhhhhh.”Then stomped as one when Mhondomva raised a hand, chanting the “ka.” Then STOMPED again, harder.Again, louder. “Ohhhhhhhhhhhh-KA.” STOMP STOMP.“OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-KA.” Three stomps.Mhondomva lifted both hands, turned his massive head to the stars and shouted. “Mhondoka!”“MHONDOKA!” they shouted in reply.“MHONDOKA!” he shouted, jumping up and landing in a loud stomp, adding. “For the traditions that define us!”“MHONDOKA!” Jump-stomp. The horn shook. “For the traditions that define us!”Mhondomva opened his mouth wide now, and shook his head violently. “For the good of the people!”Open mouth, head shake! “For the good of the people!”Krohlaba tried to think, tried to shake the magic spell of the ritual, but it was too powerful. He fell into the music, the rhythm of it, almost completely.Left stomp, right stomp, left stomp right! Then with all Mhomdomva’s deafening gusto, “FOR THE KRIITUNGAAAAA!”I need time to think, to plan my… alibi… But… the shout is overwhelming. He took the steps in time with the rest, unable to resist the resonance of this all with his upbringing.Left, right, left right. “FOR THE KRIITUNGA!”Then utter silence. For nearly a minute.Nobody moved, except Mhondomva turned his head back down from the star spirits and faced the crowd. Krohlaba knew that the moves of the ritual’s leader – of the rebellion’s leader – were strategically designed to make a point.What Mhondomva wanted was for them all to declare allegiance to him.The chant was a selfish ‘ode to myself’… but by looking up to the skies, he evoked remembrance of those souls lost to death of the people, and those patron spirits watching over the people. He was saying, ‘by pledging to me, you pledge to the people, so something beyond just me.’And it worked. The bloated mutant managed to look not like an arrogant monster but a cruelly mutilated victim around whom the people would rally… for the sake of the people themselves.It even worked on Krohlaba.For just as long as it took to remember that moment, to remember Pohatu leaping over the deadly hole, grabbing Krohlaba, throwing him to safety, leaving himself to dangle helplessly.Pohatu didn’t know that Unknown would show up to help, he didn’t know one of the guards would see the light and shoot the protective bubble around him. He did it without knowing if he would survive.“Krohlaba!” Mhondomva shouted over the rising winds. “Tell us what happened that day!”The call shocked Krohlaba, though it shouldn’t have. He shook at the sound, and for a second stared up in surprise, mouth hanging open.Thankfully, everyone had been talking in low tones when he’d arrived, paying no attention to the latecomers, and in the darkness nobody realized exactly where he was standing. He closed his mouth.“Step forward if you are here, and tell your tale! I call you as Witness!”Krohlaba obeyed – heads turned towards him only then. This is an obscure twist to the ritual tradition, not done since the boatmaker’s rebellion centuries ago, to postpone declaration of intent until after calling of witnesses. He definitely timed it to catch me off-balance.But Krohlaba was used to being off-balance. After all, one leg was longer than the other.“As you all know, several guards wrangled the Rock Spirit into the Shredder Tower’s elevator after my urging and the urging of the people. He fought, but they won, thanks to the element-draining power of the Togoffo fruit and the taking of his mask.“I wanted to prove a point, so I climbed up the outer ladders to the top, before the guards got Pohatu there. When they got him to the very edge, I picked up a rock and threw it down the tube, to show him by what death his spirit would be freed among the thousand cutting lasers.”For effect, Krohlaba raised a hand and let the red lasers of his shredding power radiate into the night sky.“But the Water Spirit tricked us. She reached into the sky, to give us rain, claiming it was to celebrate the freeing of the Rock Spirit from his body. But in truth, it obscured the view of the people below, giving need for my Witnessing this night. This you know.“What you do not know is that the rain had another effect. Upon the metal floor up there, it fell and made it slippery.”The crowd murmured fearfully. They all knew how frightening it would be to stand at the edge of that hole without a firm footing.“The Rock Spirit Pohatu began kicking and fighting again. Guards slipped away from him, some almost falling in!”The crowd ooohed.“I ran around the circle to join the fight. By the time I got there, he’d climbed over the outer wall and was about to try to climb down the outer scaffolding, apparently.” Pause for effect. “So I leaped up after him.”The crowd ahhhed.“And then, my friends… something happened. Something that I had not believed possible. We have all heard a rumor from the occasional escaped Kriitunga slave who found their way back to us. A rumor of the Oru-Vortixx.”The crowd stared at him in silence. What was he saying, they were wondering? They knew the Oru-Vortixx had some of their number there that day, and one had fired a weapon. What happened to the projectile was not seen because of the obscuring rain.“We have all heard the rumor. They say that Oru-Vortixx never miss. But I saw them miss that day.”Miss, the people were thinking? And hit what? Krohlaba knew Mhondomva was wondering if he’d now tell the truth that Krohlaba knew the rebellion leader suspected. Let him wonder if I dare, for a moment.“The shot missed. And why, you ask?”“Why?” they asked in ritual unison.“Because of the rain! Because of the Water Spirit! She was in on it, you see! Even an Oru-Vortixx cannot aim properly if he cannot see!”The crowd nodded thoughtfully. The lie made sense. At least to a people as primitive as these.Krohlaba didn’t mention the projectile had hit him. He carefully kept the tone of his voice to surprised amazement.“But there is one part of the rumors that I can confirm. It is often said that Oru-Vortixx not only never miss, but they calibrate their weapons just right, so that they put just enough speed into their projectiles to hit the target, and not so much that the projectile will fly much farther if it did miss… because they don’t miss.”He gave the people time to think about this. This was a much rarer rumor Krohlaba had actually only heard once himself, from the gold-powered shopkeeper, who claimed that he in turn heard it from only one person. But by now, surely the myth would spread. Now he heard some people whispering confirmation to others who muttered doubts.“Well, that might be efficient most of the time, but obviously they weren’t prepared to miss that day. Miss they did, and let me tell you, that lightstone projectile just fell out the air behind Pohatu and I.”This was the weakest part of the lie. He hurried through it now, so they wouldn’t have time to think about it.“And it landed on one of our guards. This guard fell back. His head is mutated to fire a protective energy shield. Well, in his surprise at being hit by the stun lightstone, he tried to call out in surprise.“But instead he accidentally activated the gun!“Pohatu saw his chance, perhaps knowing he’d never make it past all that scaffolding filled with my brethren unshielded. He leapt into the path of the shield-bolt. The energy enveloped him, and he fell through the Shredder Tower. But due to the shield, he came out completely unharmed!”No pause for thought – “And then he fled, and the Ghomboka gave chase… but at that exact moment, almost as if it was planned, a Brotherhood raid came up from the caves to the Underrealm, and our people had to leave the Shredder Tower to defend the island.”Run-on sentence forced them to think over these words, not the weak point earlier. Was he implying the Brotherhood helped Pohatu escape? That was what they were thinking about. Not about the fact that Pohatu couldn't have known the guard's power.But he needed them to relive their own emotion at the time. “I saw it happen, and I was furious. I can only imagine how you all felt, not knowing for sure, hearing the ones closest to the base of the tower tell you what they’d seen – Pohatu running away… and wanting to chase but unable to. Distracted by the raid.”He saw it in their faces, even Mhondomva. They all felt a curious mix of regret and resolve. They truly did have to muster the defense. But they all wished the timing had been better.“Not long after that, both Spirits disappeared. There was another rain cloud that night, for what reason I can only speculate, perhaps to make sure there was another obscuring cloud to mask the two Spirits’ escape.”Escape was a bad word choice, especially to end on. It implied he sympathized with them as victims. Off-balance again.“Who knows what went through their minds,” he opined, now sounding angry. Trying to seem to feel it. “Who knows why they hoarded the power of the Spirits their bodies contained? Why would they not grace our fields with Rock and our skies with Water forever?”He stomped, clicking his mandibles. “WHY?!”“WHY?” they shouted back, stomping.Such an opportunity. Such a chance! Krohlaba almost did it, spilled the truth right then and there. The truth. That they were not Spirits and there would be no gracing once they were dead.Why indeed, in the tale of this lie?Krohlaba realized fearfully that he didn’t know. Couldn’t imagine. And wasn’t at all sure what answer Mhondomva wanted him to give – misguided spirit-bodies, corrupted spirits, proven useless spirits, what?So he didn’t answer the question.Instead, he turned to Mhondomva. “Our leader knows why. Our leader is wise. Our leader will answer. I conclude my Witnessing! MHONDOKA!” he added at the top of his lungs.“MHONDOKA!” they chanted back, thus concluded the ancient version of the prelude to declaration of intent.Krohlaba hadn’t planned to do what he’d done at the end, and even now he wasn’t sure it was wise. By ending the prelude with a question, he forced Mhondomva to abandon whatever introduction he’d planned.That put Krohlaba in the implied behind-the-scenes, true leadership position. Not at all what he wanted. Not at all, not at all.But the words were spoken now. He could not take them back.

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Taureko looked surprised to see the tablet.All of the crew had seen Bhukasa give the ‘Memory Stone’ back, and he’d told nobody of his quick copy. It seemed safer. But now he needed some to know.The Ko-Matoran seemed honored that Bhukasa would share the secret with him. Though he could barely keep his eyes open, he did not complain once that the captain had woken him.And he understood immediately that Bhukasa didn’t want word of this to get around. So Taureko kept his voice very low.“First of all, the title. ‘Poetraxiens’ isn’t a word I have ever heard, but I think I can decode it. Obviously ‘poet’ means that this is considered a poem. It is not the rhyming sort of poem, but it does have a clear organization theme, and some metaphorical imagery – calling the eyes ‘tablet-scribes’ for example.”Bhukasa nodded. That was obvious enough.The Matoran frowned, staring at the word. “I think ‘xiens’ sounds an awful lot like ‘science, don’t you?”“You’re right! I should have caught that.”“And ‘trax’ could mean ‘tract.' Poem Tract of Science, about Memory. I’ll bet this is a mnemonic device, like something they’d teach in Ga-… uh… in an olden-times place of learning whose name I shouldn’t reveal... A simplified, evocative poem designed to make scientific findings easier to remember.”“Yeah,” Bhukasa said, wondering what that olden-times place was. “It makes sense. And since it’s about memory, the Kuambu would want to hide it, since they tamper with memory. They don’t want people knowing about scientific findings about memory.”“Right. Next… I think these three-letter section headers are numbers.”“I agree.”“LUM. That sounds like an ancient word for light. I wonder if the idea of a Poem Tract of Science has to do with that. An illuminating, introductory idea. The first part of the poem that shines light on the rest.”“I hadn’t thought of that, but I’ve heard of that ancient word. I agree. Maybe this is a special set of numbers used only for Poetraxiens?”“Maybe. And I can’t help but notice that there are eight. I have often noticed that in our world, eight seems to be an important number far more often than I would expect, and I can’t think of any reason why.”“Maybe because there are supposedly eight senses.”“Maybe… I agree at least that this poem seems to be listing eight senses, plus a concluding thought at the end. So, the next number is ‘drm’. I assume it’s pronounced ‘derm.’ Many ancient dialects and languages treated R and L as vowels, not consonants.”“Interesting. I was confused by that part.”“Next is ‘berm’ and then ‘sum’ – that last one is definitely a math word. It is an obscure word for addition even in modern dialects. And then the pattern repeats but with Os and Ls. LOM – probably pronounced ‘lohm’, then dulm, bulm, and sohm. Four and four, making eight. Now, the first and second lines are clearly senses.”“I agree,” Bhukasa said. To avoid the need to repeat that over and over, he briefly explained the parts that made sense to him. “But these other words, like 'camerati...'”“Camerati means camera apparatus. Meaning, the eye doesn’t just show you the world, it records visual memory of the world in the brain. That supports your theory of memory. Visua means visual.”Taureko tilted his head, and his eyes ran up and down the tablet several times. “Yes… Yes! Look at this. There is a pattern to these word endings. All the first words to come after the number end in s.”Bhukasa’s eyes widened. He hadn’t noticed.“Then an important term after them somewhere always ends in i. Then the final word of each section always ends in a.”“You’re right!”Taureko studied the others for a while. “The s-words are sense organs, by their accepted names in this ancient dialect. The i-words are metaphors that poetically explain the purpose of the sense. And the a-words are the ancient name for the sense in question! It’s clearest with the first one – the one that ilLUMinates the rest.”Bhukasa nodded, excited. But Taureko’s whispering had gotten a bit loud. “Keep your voice down,” he said.“Sorry. This is fascinating. Yes. I’m right. So for the rest…“Phonoscopi for ears refers to sound-recording devices. Bridgeos must mean bridge. Audia to the sense of hearing. So hearing and sight together explain a part of each numbered item that the poem doesn’t bother to repeat; each sense acts like a tablet-scribe that bridges the gap between the sense organ and the actual sense as we experience it inside the brain.“Barrelus… Sounds like barrel. I don’t know. But it’s clearly about balance, as you said. And comparrowi… Compass arrow! The compass arrow that points ‘this way is down,’ instead of north.“Bionisens, teloi, battela. Bionic is an obscure term for biomechanical, which most protodermic beings are. teloi… repeated in the next line. I don’t know. Battela. Well, battle can be painful. The sense of pain?”“But that’s just part of touch. Is this touch?”“No… I am thinking that this list separates the different parts of the sense of touch into separate senses. Maybe because they have such different effects on memory.”“Ah. I guess I do remember pain a lot differently than other touch memories.”“Right. And if they’re splitting it up, teloi must have to do with the sense of touch, since it’s repeated. The two kinds of touch. The next… Refers to armor. I don’t know about you, but when my metal armor is damaged, I don’t feel pain. I only feel the vibration. So, this must be the sense of touch. Battera must mean the opposite of battle.”“Okay, I agree.”“Tempus and thermia. You didn’t get this one? Those sound like two less-used synonyms for heat and cold – temperature?”“Ah. So… they’re actually splitting touch into three senses. Plain touch, pain, and temperature?”Taureko nodded. “Notice also that after sight and hearing, those four are much shorter, and then the last two are longish again. You know, I think I once heard Makuta Okre… ah… a former… authority I once knew… claim that a… scientist he knew… said it was the inner ear that gives us the sense of balance. And notice this groups balance right after hearing. And then touch.”“You’re right. So what are the last, more detailed two?”“Well, this is very strange, the seventh one. Let me skip to the eighth first. That one is definitely about the sense of smell.”“Okay, which leaves the sense of taste for the seventh?”“No, definitely not.”“But…”“I think that at the end, even though they’d drawn out hearing into two and touch into three, they actually compressed taste and smell into one.”“That doesn’t make sense. What, then, is the seventh?”“Logic. Thought.” His voice got quiet. “The third eye. Could it be?”“Could what be?”“Uh… nothing. Nothing. But… the last word in that part, veritia, is an ancient word for truth. The… sensing of truth!”“Ah…”So whoever wrote this thing, they considered the sensing of truth to be an actual sense. He thought of his theory of memory as the recording of sensory input. Well, what about remembering thoughts you had?Apparently this seventh sense did just that. The sense of thoughts in your own mind. Thoughts that could find out the truth.“But then, why combine two senses? It seems contradictory to the rest.”“I don’t know. Except… it tells me they knew the number eight was important… and not because of this. As if they wanted this to serve as one clue among countless others that point to eight being important, so instead of listing nine, they squeezed it into eight at the last minute.”That was disappointing, if true. He’d hoped he’d stumbled on some kind of ultimate truth.On the other hand… if something so profound as a way to recover any lost memory wasn’t an ultimate truth… what could be found at the end of that trail of clues?“And… that final line?”“I agree with your theory, for sure. Pre means the same thing as proto, and species names often end with n, like Matoran. This would be a ‘family of species’ if you will. Maybe, if there are beings out there made of something else, they can’t necessarily get all their memories back.”“But we can. And that makes all the difference.”

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“I am Mhondomva,” the mutant blared, “and I Declare My Intent to you, the Mhondoka!”There was a beat of silence as the crowd was supposed to mull over the importance of this moment. This was the edge of the waterfall that would now cascade into rebellion.“I intend to recapture the Rock Spirit and the Water Spirit, and Shred them as we should have done that fateful day.”Cheers from the crowd. Krohlaba joined in, fearful of what people might think if he didn’t.“I intend further to capture anyone with them, and if any others might contain a Gracing Spirit, free those upon our lands too!”Krohlaba wondered why Mhondomva was ignoring his question. He heard the crowd softly muttering the same thing. It was against tradition to ignore a Question of Enemy Motive, although no formal rituals existed that demanded it. The Kriitunga of the southern watch had once paid dearly for ignoring it.But it did place Mhondomva clearly back in the seat of true leadership – he was in control here, and he knew it.Krohlaba had to breathe a soft sigh of relief at that. The burden of guilt this night was lifted from his own shoulders.“I further seek to invade this Mata Nui Island of theirs, find and capture the rest of the Elemental Spirits, and kill them all!”Half the crowd was taken aback, but the other half cheered wildly. Rumor of this had been spread already.“You, Mhondoka, will lead an invasion force of the people. And to carry out this incursion, I place as my Top General, the miner Krohlaba!”Oh no!Heads turned to him, giving bows of respect at the new title. No, no, no, no.“Some of you will remain here with me as we Shred Pohatu and Gali. For, my people, I believe that these two Toa have had the gall to return!”Murmurs of surprised and doubt. It’s as I feared, Krohlaba thought distractedly. And I know what he’ll say next… but what about the WHY?After all, returning was the last thing the Mhondoka should expect the Toa to do, and the single greatest action that could convince the people at large that the Toa were what and who they said they were.“They are stubborn fools,” Mhondomva snarled towards the sea. “They think they can come here to conquer us, but I say WE WILL NOT BE CONQUERED BY ROGUE SPIRITS!”Cheers. Krohlaba sat this round of cheering out due to sheer surprise.Mhondomva swept past the why so fast and with such a strong tone of voice the crowd seemed to accept it instantly. But it was ludicrous!And yet… this played right out of an old myth of a team of Toa who supposedly tried to conquer the island in the past, and an Oka rebellion was formed against those Kriitunga who sided with those Toa. And Mhondomva had been a key part of that rebellion, Krohlaba remembered from the tales.So this resonated well with this crowd. Probably many of them had fought on that side then too.Krohlaba had been one of the many neutrals that time. War was not his thing, and he hadn’t at all been convinced that time either that those Toa truly were trying to conquer, though he honestly wanted them freed from their bodily containers.“We will not be conquered! And so we must strike first, where they land as they invade us, and then we must follow it up with a strike on their own homeland!”The next question was obvious.“And I tell you, Mhondoka, that those invaders are coming this very night! And they come to this very spot!As I expected. But how, oh how, could he know?The same question was on the crowd’s mind. Mhondomva had them sitting on a fence now. One of them threw the question at him – “How do you know?”“Ah,” the froglike giant said, smiling his eerie giant smile, “you ask the Question of Secret Knowledge.”“The Question of Secret Knowledge!” the crowd chanted as one, stomping.“The Question of Secret Knowledge!”“The Question of Secret Knowledge,” the crowd whispered, stomping twice now.“The Secret Revealed.”“The Secret Revealed,” they breathed, their voice fused to the gusting wind. Three stomps, loud.Mhondomva walked closer, and everybody huddled close to hear. Mhondomva breathed the next words so softly he almost didn’t sound like he was shouting, for once.“The Kuambu are on our side.”

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#27 Online bonesiii

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Posted Mar 25 2012 - 06:09 PM

Chapter 26

The Kuambu? On… our side?“But the Kuambu hunt us, steal pieces of our souls!” someone shouted. Krohlaba recognized Grunrohti’s voice. Good, a seed of doubt in his friend.“SILENCE!” Mhondomva said, turning to the green and red mottled mutant. “This is a Secret Revealed! You shall KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN!” he thundered.Nobody else breathed a word after that.“You all know that the Ghomboka came back to us after many years and tried to deliver the Rock and Water Spirits to us. You all know we sided with them in that effort and work now to make it happen yet. You all know that the Ghosts worked for a secretive group called the Third Faction, if they have any moniker at all.”Beat of silence. No disagreement.“What our people have not known or accepted is this truth – the Kuambu are allies of the Third Faction.”This was shocking. This was revolutionary. This… this spoke against all the traditions! This was… this was…This is a challenge to the very traditions he claims to uphold!And it might very well, therefore, be as true as the challenging truth Krohlaba knew.Why would he do this? Why would Mhondoka work so hard to reinforce the bitterly ingrained beliefs of his people, and then threaten to topple it all with such a revelation?Was it a strategic blunder? Did he have no choice, no cover story for how else he could know the Toa were coming here?And then Krohlaba knew a kind of fear he had never expected. A chain of facts and conclusions formed in his mind so fast he almost forgot what they were as they passed on to the next.The Kuambu are masters of the sea.Masters of the sea would believably know where a ship was in that sea. This the people would accept.The location was vital to the declaration of intent the people had cheered this night.The Kuambu must have told Mhondomva the location already – how they could know, he couldn’t fathom – but it must have happened at least before Grunrohti first came to Krohlaba and told him where the meeting would be held.It was the only explanation.And everybody else would realize this too – they would realize now that they should have expected it.But the people of Kriitunga Island as Krohlaba thought of them would never accept this.Unless they were of the mindset of the exiled elite class.That elite class had dared to try to climb the ladder of enslaving tyranny, and sold off their own low-class people for a profit. It was raw ambition.Could that same raw ambition be found among the lower classes too? Some from the high class were here tonight, and others supported this cause, but they had supposedly opposed those treasonous elites, and ordered their exile. Maybe they were genuine in that and the rebellion would now lose their loyalty.But looking around, Krohlaba saw raw ambition in the eyes of many of the lower class.Beaten down for so many millenia, always looking up at the buildings of the elites. That could twist a soul in ways even Krohlaba had not been twisted. Some could conclude the only way out was not to fight the tyrannical enemies, but to join them.This fear Krohlaba now felt was familiar – it was a fear of his own people – but it was a fear grounded in proven power.An invasion by the Kriitunga, even though they did have powers, was not that impressive. They were mostly small, physically fairly weak, and their powers were nothing compared to that of Toa.But if the Kuambu were on Mhondomva’s side… who knew what his rebellion would be capable of?Krohlaba was used to being off-balance. But now he felt like he was sliding off the side of the giant horn.Mhondomva whispered just one more thing. “This concludes the Secret Revealed.” In his normal loud voice, he added, “I now begin the Demonstration of Trust!”Oh no… NO!A Demonstration of Trust meant Krohlaba’s fears were real, in the here and now. The Kuambu had given the leader something to help, already.Mhondomva turned back towards the desert.The miner heard a loud, drawn out gasp. The giant was sucking in his breath.He puffed up. More, and more. Doubled in size. Tripled. Quadrupled.This was one of his fearsome powers. Light rippled through his body as it expanded, flatting and stretching, even its mechanical parts, performing a minor shapeshift to pull in more and more air.The play of light stopped, dancing down instead to his feet, and his hands which he lowered to the stone, and made anchor cords. Stuck him fast to the ground.Then he blew a gust of focused wind so loud and so powerful it blasted the sand off the buried end of the tube.Even the parked Oasis Trucks closest to him were picked up by the wind and knocked away. The crowd cried out in surprise.Mhondomva shrunk back to his normal size, and as his body thus became less and less of a barrier to seeing around him, the moonlight made clear hints of something different about that end.Mhondomva walked closer to the buried end, and repeated the process. This time he shook his head to the right and left as the last bit of air left him. Oasis Trucks and sand flew away, piled up beyond.“How will we get back?” Grunrohti asked meekly.Mhondomva didn’t answer. He walked onto a wide structure now partially revealed under the sand, and repeat the gust-blowing. Now he whirled in a semicircle, blasting all the sand off the structure.It was revealed now to be a massive circular platform, with a low stone wall on the edge, and a raised square platform at the front end of the circle, with what looked like a console aimed towards the ocean. Countless tiny versions of the tube were connected to other circular platforms around the edge, just behind the wall, and other devices of some kind in the center.Mhondomva leaped onto the highest platform, and pressed a button.The horn shook.“Mhondoka!” the leader blared down to them. “Climb over quickly onto this platform and take a station!”The crowd took a moment for this to sink in… but the horn started shaking more and more, and fear alone whipped them into motion. One slid off the side and fell onto the mutagenic dune side, then ran up screaming as he changed shape before their eyes.The rest fell into a line and poured onto the platform. Krohlaba ended up at one of the consoles in the center.Now the horn shook violently, and he felt like the ground pushed against his feet.The dunes were sinking!No… the horn and its platform end were rising!He turned and looked out over the massive tube of the horn.Chunks of encrusted sandstone were falling away. Revealing gleaming metal beneath.The Kuambu knew of this?And a huge blue light flared suddenly from inside the tube, casting a flashlight beam out over the sea.And there it was.A sail, not too far off from the coast, on approach.No castling on the edge of the hull.It was Bhukasa’s boat.More shaking, more sandstone falling off the outer surface, flying out of the inner surface. And then a thunderous whirring built up, shaking it all still further.The light pulsed brighter and brighter.Then the sound and the shaking suddenly accelerated in volume and intensity… the beam of light flared brighter…And a huge, blindingly bright sphere of blue light shot out.Towards the boat.

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Twayzivl had just climbed to his perch after Kai finished her brief time watching while he’d slept. Maku had called for everybody to awaken – Kai had sighted land.Now, he saw the blue light from the giant tube, saw the thing rise up… recognized it as the northwest horn of his island. Understood in a flash what the horn really had been all this time.He looked down, seeing Bhukasa take the wheel. “Sir!” he called down. “It’s a cannon!”“MAN THE OARS AT FULL TILT!” Bhukasa shouted. “Arm the ballista-slings! Gali, we need current!”The tube flared.A bolt of blue light shot out, flying faster than Twazivl could run, leaving a trail of boiling water and hissing steam in its wake, brushing the tops of the waves.The sphere dwarfed their ship.“I’ve got a current!” Gali said, standing at the stern with her arms sending beams of blue light into the sea.Bhukasa turned, sailing east. It was the opposite of the way he’d said he wanted to go – he wanted to go south, but the wind blew east right now and they needed all the speed they could muster. “OARS NOW!”“They’re on it!” Pohatu declared, running out of the lower deck entrance. “Anything I can do?”“Not that I can think of,” the captain said. “Except see if you can figure out the mysterious hatch! Maybe if we can get inside there we’ll be safe as a last resort.”Pohatu ran back inside.Twazivl watched the bolt approach.But its aim was off, even before they’d turned. It passed almost an eighth of a mile off their stern.He picked up the telescope. Looked carefully at the cannon.“Mhondomva! The big-mouthed one is controlling it!” he called down.“I remember him!” Pohatu said.“The cannon's turning!” he shouted. “Aiming right at us!”“ROW FASTER!” Bhukasa shouted. “Nireta, take the wheel.” The Ga-Matoran obeyed, and Bhukasa went to the stern, shooting a beam of energy at Gali. He could grant her more elemental energy, Twayzivl understood – not much, but maybe just enough.The cannon flared bright again.Sphere flew out.“PUT EVERYTHING INTO IT!” Bhukasa shouted down to the rowers. “AND THEN SOME!”Sphere flew right at them.No…Would he die? He’d thought himself dead already and survived. Now he couldn’t think about it. He just tried to think of anything he could do to help. Anything!But the aim was off again – or it was now that the wind and oars had moved the ship. The bolt passed just yards from the stern this time.When they’d sailed in, they’d been more on the western side of this cannon, aiming a little more south than east, intentionally heading closer to the river mouth on the western side of the island. But they’d been unsure if their navigation was exact, so they’d maintained a mostly southeastern course.Now, south was out, so they had to pass a huge distance in front of the cannon.Twayzivl knew from brief tests they’d run just before coming that the cannon was now entering the range of the ballista slings.And Bhukasa gave the order, a bit early, but they were in big trouble. “Fire the slings!”Explosive fruit launched.Arced up, away… down.Splashed in the water.“Go closer!”“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Maku asked.“Maku, I want you and the night-shift crew to go downstairs and sleep. Direct order. You are too exhausted to be up here.”“But sir—”“Now!”Now the rest of the crew finally came up as Maku’s crew went belowdecks. The newest crew members from Memory Island, and Toggler, were not as disciplined as the others. Twayzivl wished they would have stayed below deck.“I can help, I think,” Toggler said, as the cannon flared again.He pointed his sword, and a beam of ice shot out.It crossed the distance between them and the bolt, and then bent down and grew a massive iceberg.The bolt reached the berg, which exploded and vaporized in a cloud of steam.And the bolt came on unhindered.Passed within inches of the stern.Gali was blasted back by a wave of heated air – Twayzivl felt the heat hit his face a second later.When the light faded as the bolt continued out onto the open ocean, Twazivl saw the tip of the stern was aflame. “Fire!” he shouted, pointing.Gali shot a burst of water at it and returned to her post.They were now closer to the cannon than they had yet been. “Shoot the platform!” Bhukasa shouted.Pohatu ran up to report about the hatch. “No use, I tried prying it open myself, with stone, with a metal bar, it won’t open!”Twayzivl looked out at the cannon again, staring through the telescope, looking, looking. Then put it down. He knew, then, what he could do.“Sir!”Bhukasa didn’t hear him over all the other noise.He raced down the mast and leaped in front of Bhukasa. “Sir! I have an idea!”“Say it!”“Look how high it has lifted now – if it hit us now it would only hit the mast.”“We need the—”“LISTEN! Gali can make a current. Wash the sand away from around its base. Then we can go under it. We need our lives more than the mast.”Bhukasa looked. At the mast. At the lower lip of the cannon, raining bits of some kind of encrusted casing. It was dangerous and almost suicidal, but he could obviously tell it was the best hope.“Alright.”

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Krohlaba had been horrified to discover the console he’d found himself in front of was one of the aiming consoles.And then, desperate, he had decided to toss all his plans away. This was no time to blend in, even if it risked his own life.He had to interfere with the aiming.But it wasn’t the only aiming console. It was a screen that showed what was apparently a camera view of the scene directly in front of the cannon. But other consoles in the center showed the same thing.He was supposed to pull a joystick so that a red crosshairs on the screen lined up with the boat, or where he thought the boat would be when the terrifying projectile hit it.Others did the same.Then, apparently, a computer averaged out all their estimates and aimed the cannon accordingly. A green crosshair showed the current average.Mhondoka’s controls apparently handled only activating, warming up, and firing the superweapon.To think how much this could benefit us against the Kuambu! he thought. He pictured teams of Kriitunga manning all eight horns and fighting off every raid.He heard explosions, glanced towards the boat – it was firing bombfruit. He saw one almost hit Mhondomva, but the giant took a quick breath and blew at the bomb so hard it exploded and the flames and smoke were blasted away.Looked back to the console.The green average crosshair crossed a bit ahead of the ship now. They were leading the aim now – and enough that it would hit.Krohlaba moved his crosshair all the way to the left upper corner, as far from the others’ aim as possible. But it wasn’t much – the cannon turned and aimed.But then the boat turned towards them.Krohlaba threw his crosshair to the opposite side, still as high as possible, and the cannon turned just a little more to the right.

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Bhukasa held his breath as the titanic cylinder flared and shot out another super-bolt.The sails died as he turned due south and slightly west.Gali made a river of water rise into the air and pour back down over the sand. It cascaded into the sea.The bolt passed just off the port side. The entire side, including the sail, burst into flames, and several crewmembers leapt back, screaming from burns.Gali ignored the flames, continuing the river of water.Sairiph flew at the sail, carrying a bucket of water. Toggler shot ice at the railing. Other crewmembers grabbed buckets and let them down on ropes on the starboard side to get more water. The fire raged on.The cannon started to brighten again.“Everybody but me, Toggler, and the Toa, below deck now!” Bhukasa shouted. Only he remained at the wheel, ready. He needed them clear in case the mast really did fall. “No arguments! Rhengoka, keep the oars going fast!”Cannon brighter, brighter.Everybody fled belowdecks. Sand washed away, washed away… a new inlet formed.Pohatu was already sending yellow energy into the sand, but the result of his handiwork was not yet visible.And the lip of the cannon loomed.Bhukasa turned right.At the last second, the flaming mast missed the lower side of the giant tube by inches, sailing into the right side of the new inlet.Gali kept eating into the sand there.Now Pohatu’s creation appeared, growing like a massive crystal out of the sand. A spire of stone, to the right of the giant cannon's base.The cannon fired uselessly over empty ocean.The flames spread despite Toggler’s best efforts. The other three ignored them except to stand on the starboard side.The spire rose and thickened.Smaller bolts of blue energy shot down at them from little cannons bordering the platform.And the cannon started turning, slowly. Shaking violently, breaking off still more chunks of what Bhukasa now recognized as sandstone, each about three inches thick.The chunks rained down onto the ship.One slammed into Toggler and he fell down, crying out in pain, but then he stumbled aside. Now he aimed at the circular platform and created a wall of ice between the small guns and the ship.Other chunks of rock slammed into the railing, the mast, the netting… Snapped ropes, chipped wood, crumbled and sent the pieces flying. Pieces bounced off the floor, danced before his eyes, half of them flaming.The sail ripped even as it burned to ashes.His heart pounded, his scissorclaws digging into the wheel's posts. He crouched, clenching his jaw.The cannon swept towards them. Hit the mast. Bhukasa turned right, aiming for the sand-mudslide that was the western shore of the growing inlet.Holes were burnt by little blue balls of light through the ice wall, but Toggler aimed and built it up again.The cannon pushed them towards the shore, more and more.Collision.The boat tilted. Wood creaked and groaned, sand hissed. The mast splintered slightly.And then there was a thunderous metallic groaning, the echoing clink as the cannon hit Pohatu’s stone spire and ground to a halt.Gali washed the shore away. The boat righted itself. The mast held, though it would need a new metal bracing.Now the Toa of Water let loose on the flames.Toggler restored the icewall once again.And Pohatu began creating a stone staircase leading up to the platform.“Alright, everybody who’s going ashore, come out and get ready!” Bhukasa shouted. “Close what’s left of the sail! Drop anchor!”When he found Twayzivl, he made sure to thank him. “You saved all our lives, my friend.”The little being looked embarrassed, but thanked Bhukasa for the recognition.

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Krohlaba watched Mhondomva blow uselessly against the thickening wall of ice.Nobody else knew what to do.The little guns didn’t work. The giant cannon couldn’t aim underneath its base. The Stone spire was stronger than the cannon – it held despite everybody but Krohlaba aiming their crosshairs as far to the left as possible. Even lowering the cannon would not work now – the boat rested safely to the side.So everybody looked around, unsure.Before he could talk himself out of it, Krohlaba climbed atop the console. “Kriitunga!” he shouted. “Mhondomva has betrayed us! He’s tried to use us to commit treason against our people!”Shocked expressions of surprise. Mhondomva looked down at him, the same surprise on his face. Did I really convince even him of my cover story? What am I doing?“Could not these cannons be turned against our true enemy, the Kuambu?”Murmers of dawning agreement.“And did not the Toa prove their faith by returning? You, Grunrohti on the gun there. You saw onboard. Were the Toa there?”“Why… yes!”“SILENCE!” Mhondomva roared.“I WILL BE SILENT NO LONGER!” Krohlaba shouted back at him, facing him and raising his fists. “You corrupt our people, and you sent my own friend, Grunrohti, to pass on a threat. YOU FORCED ME TO LIE FOR YOU!”“Lie? Threat?” various people asked aloud.“The Oru-Vortixx shot at ME, my people! They didn’t miss! They NEVER MISS! They betrayed us! They tried to kill ME!”Mhondomva’s mouth gaped. Had he not suspected this?“The Third Faction, the Ghomboka, the Kuambu, all of them are truly our enemies and the Toa are our friends!”There was no strategy in this. He was throwing away his value as a spy. Why was he doing this? What would be the consequences? He hadn’t thought it out – it was like that day, that fateful day when his anger had controlled him…Deep breath.It was the right thing to do. That was why he did it.“How…” Mhondomva began.“It is true!” a voice called.As one, everybody turned.Standing there, atop the stone spire where a staircase now scaled, stood a mutant Kriitunga.“My name is Twayzivl, and I was lost, imprisoned, turned nearly into a beast, for a long time, but the Toa brought me back! Mhondomva, you almost killed me! I was on that boat!”More people climbed up behind him.The… The Haze Glow Beasts? The Rhengoka?!“We too,” the one called Rhengahii said, “boarded boat of wood and sailed to rejoin you. To shine truth upon our beloved peoples.”“And we have risked our lives,” a familiar voice added, “to help you.”It was Pohatu.He really had come. The bravery of it… indeed, the gall as Mhondomva had put it, was thrilling.Behind him, Gali walked. She held her hands to the sky, and created a raincloud, which grew.Rain gently fell onto the scene. “As long as I am alive, I can visit your people and while alive, I can grace your fields with rain.”Pohatu made a stone. “While alive – and unhindered by any of The Cursehd Fruit! – I can give you as much rock as you want. We can visit often. A friend of mine can even make actual Earth, no need to even shred it!”“Why would you do this for we who attacked you?” Mhondomva challenged.“Because you attacked in innocence,” Pohatu replied.Krohlaba noticed a white reptilian being walking up behind them.“YOU!” Mhondomva declared. “YOU dare return here?”Krohlaba recognized him too. Bhukasa. He had come here once, almost seven hundred years ago, trying to get information on other lands.“Whatever you know of me,” Bhukasa said, “I have forgotten.”“I know you came to our land alone on that boat long ago,” Mhondomva said. “You thought to just walk in and talk to the King untested. It was I that saw you and had you captured, tested – and we found power in you like that of a Toa.”“I remember you talking about it, Bhukasa,” another being with white and blue armor said, walking up the staircase. “They tried to ‘free your spirit from your body’ like you say they tried to do with the Toa.”“Foolish myths!” Krohlaba declared. “Why we once believed them, I don’t know, but one thing I know for sure. We would have murdered people who could instead have been our strongest allies!”“And we can still be!” Pohatu declared. “The leaders of my island have given me permission to confirm it! We offer allegiance to the Kriitunga, and come to see the King!”Krohlaba glanced up at Mhondomva, who was fuming, but unable to form words yet. His potential to rise to rule the island was now seriously threatened, and the urge to follow the traditions was powerful. He could still do a lot of harm.Again Krohlaba spoke before he’d thought it through, right from the heart. “Grunrohti, you know me! You know how angry I was at Pohatu, how violently I argued for his death… and yet you see me here, now, saying the opposite. Surely you wonder why?”The mutant faced his friend, and nodded seriously.“Because the Oru-Vortixx – the friends of the Kuambu, mind you –hit me, knocked me back, and I fell into the Shredder Tower’s cylinder.”Gasps of amazement and fear, then disbelief, looking at Krohlaba, who was obviously alive.“But Pohatu risked his life…” He told the story. The truth. He pointed out now how weak his claim about the energy-shield guard had been – in truth, that guard realized Pohatu was their friend, and helped save the Toa’s life at the last second.Krohlaba even told the part about the Unknown. Maybe it was foolish, but it was time for the whole truth.“Liar!” someone shouted.Mhondomva looked incapable of forming a sentence, as if his tiny brain had been overwhelmed with new facts.“I was a liar earlier, but only because Mhondomva threatened me. I was sent by none other than our King! Sent to hear Mhondomva out, but he has betrayed us. Our King, I tell you now, sides with the Toa! So does everybody that was up there that night. You can ask them all yourself – you saw who it was. You can find them guarding the King’s palace.”“This is,” Mhondomva spat, “this is… treason! This is… lies! Nonsense!”“You made a deal with the Kuambu!” Krohlaba said. Calmly, no anger now. Anger could not be the motivation now. His true self had to prevail over himself, if over nothing else tonight.“I forgive you,” Pohatu said to Mhondomva. “I forgive you all. You had your traditions. I respect that. But I know I am not some spirit trapped in a body. I am a Toa, and that means that while I yet live, I will fight for what is right and for those who are good! That I cannot do if I die, and you sure won’t get that from the Kuambu!”“Mhondoka!” the giant mutant shouted. “Do not listen to these lies! You know my loyalty to our people! I sought only to use the Kuambu long enough to gain the power to stop them!”Clever, for such a small brain, Krohlaba thought. He shot back, “You have not the right to order ignorance! We have the Rite of Defense!”The crowd nodded, confused, but set in their ways at least that much.“I… you… we… They are…”“If there is to be an Oka Rebellion this night,” Krohlaba said, “Let it not take the form of anyone’s name! Not mine, not yours, not anyone’s name! Let us be united Kriitunga once again, and let us cast off only those ancient myths that we now know are lies! Let us hold true to our real culture, to our goodness, to the Rituals of Meaning!”Half of the crowd seemed to agree with this, faintly nodding. Others shouted angrily, threatening Krohlaba.“I am of our people!” Krohlaba answered them. “You know that is who I have always been! It was for our people I thought I argued that day, but now, for the people, I admit I was wrong!”More of the crowd nodded now.“And I,” Rhengahii said, “know well the Ghomboka hated you, my people. Never your friends, the Ghosts. Liars, power-thirsty. Now Ghombakli himself, dead for his crimes!”Gasps of surprise. That was news to them.Gali intensified the rain. “I offer friendship and rain! We are grateful that some have offered to accept it. Who else shall?”“WHO IS WITH ME?” Krohlaba shouted, riding the building wave of ritual resonance.“WE ARE!” most of the crowd shouted.“No!” Mhondomva boomed. He was ignored.“WHO STANDS FOR THE KRIITUNGA?”“WE DO!” almost everyone shouted.“WHO STAND FOR THE FRIENDS OF THE KRIITUNGA?”Same reaction.Not as loudly, he said, “The Toa are our friends.” Pause.Then, loudest yet. “SO WHO STANDS FOR THE TOA?”“WE DO!!!” If there had been any who did not join this last declaration, nobody could tell.With that, Mhondomva leaped at Krohlaba in rage, but the crowd had picked the miner up and carried him off towards what was left of the trucks in triumph, and did the same to the Toa and the others who had come.The giant mutant landed on the abandoned console, bounced, and rolled off into the sands.

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#28 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Mar 29 2012 - 02:15 PM

Chapter 27

A being existed.The being existed in darkness.In water.The being could not hear.The being could only see.Saw darkness, faint blue light from an island nearby. The words for these things did not occur to it, but it understood the shapes and the way the light played on the water.The being could not see.It could only hear.It heard only the sound of the waves.The being was blind and deaf, and could only tell which way was up and which way was down.The being felt dizzy, like up was down and left was right.The being felt pain… pain that did not live in the cells of a body, but the vague murkiness of a fraction of a latent memory… The pain of loss.The being felt only the wetness of the water around him.The being felt only the water’s cold.Was unaware of the world, aware only of its own thoughts. Who am I? Why am I here? What have I forgotten?The being could only taste the salt in the water.All the senses passed through the being’s mind, one by one, and then they began to come in all at once, in a confusing jumble.I had… a purpose. I had… a friend. I… had a… had… something I was supposed to find. Something that made me want to find it.And then everything fell apart and the being wanted to cry as blue light and gurgling noise and unbalance, pain, impact, heat, illogic, and an overwhelmingly sweet, electric taste rose and blanked out everything as a distant tug, familiar enough to be hated, took it all away.The being did not exist.But it had a thought, impossibly.This is good.

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Hujo and Caroha flew high above a city filled with blue-metal skyscrapers.It looked… like Metru Nui! But… only in the basics. Hujo had only been shown maps of that city and been given a description before Caroha brought him on this mission, but he knew enough that the skyscrapers weren’t blue, and much of the other details here looked different.Caroha called this planet ‘Alarist’, and said the stone sphere they needed now was across the ocean on the second of two continents.They did not encounter the ‘Agent’ again, but Caroha wanted to be sure. She had them fly low and plunge into the ocean as soon as they crossed the coast, and they continued underwater for a long ways.Finally, they reached a continental shelf which held five islands. They homed in on the central one, most notable for its huge tan-stone statue of a Toa head, with yellow gears sticking out the back.They flew behind the statue, into what looked like a park, between areas of tan huts.In a particularly thick part of the park, there was another stone sphere.Once inside, Caroha again spent a lot of time making sure she had the power tuned just right.Flash.And they were in a dimension she said was an alternate timeline of the Bionicle Cosmos.Hujo felt a building excitement as they flew and teleported through several other of these ‘Altacosmoses’ with no further incident over the next few hours.He remembered well how… thrilled and frightened… he had been when Surkahi had called the Turaga – indeed teleported them – into the darkness of the Labyrinth of the Unknown. Asked them to tell Hujo the truth of the Paracosmos. Hujo had not even known who or what Surkahi was at the time – even now, he didn’t truly know much.It was a very emotional time for him.Now he was getting close to seeing the true ‘Core Dimension’ as Caroha said the people of Alarist called it – for they, like she, had ways of peering into other dimensions.The Core Dimension. The origin, the source.What would she show him there? Would she show him something to explain how, exactly, a Matoran could touch a liquid and accidentally spawn an entire, corrupted Paracosmos?No – she didn’t seem to understand that herself. That was what he alone could figure out, someday, maybe.So, what, then?Finally, she looked at him seriously, and told him there was only one more teleportation to go. When this sphere of whirling blue energy faded, they would be inside the Bionicle Cosmos.Flash.

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The rest of that night had been busy. Bhukasa was glad, now as the sun rose in the morning and he felt fairly well rested, to be back on his boat.The crowd had righted and filled up the Oasis Trucks – with the Toa's help – and driven back to the town. The big one was filled up with the visitors and some those whose trucks had been destroyed by the big-mouthed one.Only a few of the Kriitunga had remained behind, as a now horribly mutated monster arose from the sand and gathered them for a vain attack on Bhukasa’s boat, which he’d ordered to sail away.The monster was only identifiable as Mhondomva by his size and purple color.His big mouth was replaced with eight mandibles, and he had five eyes. His feet and hands were turned into tentacles with spiky armor ridges on the backs.The sight was enough to scare away most of his former followers, who got on the last of the trucks, and all the trucks left, with no further fight. Mhondomva lumbered back to the platform lest he start decaying as the Ghomboka did.Now, as far as Bhukasa knew, the only remaining Mhondoka were trapped on that platform with their unfortunate leader. Unless they would dare cross the sands on foot, or maybe try to swim around the coast…But for now, everybody allowed their thoughts to turn to the new alliance.They’d arrived in the sleeping town, and the people carried them off to a House of Honor, a hotel essentially.It turned out the King had been prepared for this turn of events, and many people throughout the city who called themselves Khungoka were in place to guard the guests and spread the news from the meeting.King Khungakrii was awoken, and spoke briefly to the crowd in his lofty high-class dialect, agreeing with everything Krohlaba said.He revealed the secret of the Khungoka, and now urged them to cast away even his own name for any hint of an Oka Rebellion, instead to call themselves United Kriitunga.For the rest who slept through the arrival, the King promised to repeat his message in a gathering around noon.Bhukasa had spoken with him briefly then, asking him to pledge a large ship to the possession of the Toa so they could come and go with enough defensive capability to withstand a Kuambu attack. Khungakrii had agreed – because, as Bhukasa explained, he needed to take his ship out first thing in the morning to free some prisoners of the Kuambu.“I King fear you shall fail in this brave venture,” the King warned. “But valiance has well repaid you this night, thusly may it verily again.”Verily, Bhukasa thought. Truthfully, that would mean.And he wondered if the Kriitunga had been the people who’d written the Poetraxiens, long ago – even Mhondomva of the lower class had spoken loftily, and Khungakrii's speech reminded him of that poem.He also wondered if they had invented those giant cannons, which the King now sent teams out to just as Krohlaba suggested.It was hard to imagine, looking at the near-squalor of their lifestyles now, aided though they were by some technology and various powers. Even harder for the primitive mindsets and the apparent lack of memory of the cannons. But maybe. Maybe long ago things had been different.Along with Toggler, some guards, and a high-class official, Bhukasa was sent by small boat down the river, where his ship had laid anchor beyond the docks.The official declared the news to the night shift dock guard, who then allowed Bhukasa’s ship to come in and tie up. They set about immediately on a brace for the mast, and a restocking of his bombfruit – among the various plants they grew in their ever-expanding gardens, they had some samples of Madu Cabolo. They also replaced the sail and made various other repairs.By morning, the ship was ready to sail.Bhukasa yawned and sat up.He had more blank tablets now, thanks to the Kriitunga, and so he spent some time copying the Poetraxiens, recalling Taureko’s translation attempt.Only then did it occur to him Pohatu still had the Mask of Telecommunication. He’d run out of time to ask the Toa to call Nokama for a more reliable translation, and then forgotten about it in the battle.Wait…No… that mask wasn’t part of Pohatu’s Golden Kanohi, Bhukasa remembered. It was kept in the room Pohatu had called his quarters, now given to Sairiph.And Sairiph looked like maybe he could use mask powers. But that idea was repulsive. Somehow Bhukasa just didn’t trust Sairiph.Wait… Toggler had a Btou Staff!Yes. That would work. He felt he could trust Toggler. But what about Pohatu? He would have no way to contact the others unless the ship or Tahu contacted him first. Oh well, it was how it had to be – there was no way the Toa were going to leave that quickly, so they had stayed behind, to solidify the trust.Bhukasa finished the copy.He opened the wooden drawer by his bunk to put it away, with the other copies.What?He pulled the other copies out, trying not to panic.It wasn’t there!The vial!As soon as Bhukasa had gotten back from Memory Island, he had found the strange glowing vial in the pile of stuff the 'Peddler' had taken from everyone. He’d put it in this drawer.Now it was gone.Someone had stolen it.

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Rathoa awoke with a start.When had he fallen asleep?He was… freezing!I attacked Somaihri, he remembered.Foolish, foolish.He could barely remember the battle, but he remembered one thing – after he’d thrown the shapeshifter out and sat at the controls, the eggcraft had tilted back of its own accord, and dumped him in the snow.He looked at his hands. Looked around on the snow. Dug around frantically.The video! Somaihri took the video!YOU FOOL! he raged at himself. He blasted apart a crystal structure growing out of the ice nearby with his Fragmentation power. Disintegrated another and then sent Chain lightning through the rest.Then he tried to shapeshift.Nothing.It was a good thing he was a Makuta now, though. He was immune to most things, and apparently that included the bitter cold that would have left anyone else a giant icicle.But how did I fall asleep? I am a Makuta now. I don’t need sleep.The answer? The Unknown seemed to be able to defy normal physics sometimes. Maybe the eggcraft had a weapon that could do such a thing.However it had happened, Rathoa now had no alternative.There was only one thing he could do. Seek out whatever representatives of the Third Faction remained on the island, if any, and help them.

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Mukana wandered through Ga-Wahi, mulling over the other meetings he’d had, watching the sunrise.He should have headed towards the Papa Nihu base to give his report, but he hadn't yet decided who he trusted and who he didn't. He needed time to think, somewhere Bimiaku and Klirisha wouldn't think to look.He had made some judgments by now.Most importantly, Ahku was evil.He was truly loyal to the Brotherhood, and well versed in the Rahunga guidebook. Practiced at manipulation and deception. Comfortable with those tools. Mukana had constantly sensed venomous hatred beneath the surface of everything Ahku said, the way his eyes moved, the way he held his shoulders.Krinaara… was simply hard to read.He couldn’t reach any solid conclusion about her. He considered her a good friend… and maybe that was tainting his judgment, making him wish she was good, and so seeing something in her that wasn’t there.But Rehyo wanted to be good. That one didn’t know what side he should be on.Maybe Mukana could work on him, subtly convince him to join the Turaga’s side. But how to do that without giving his own loyalty away, in case he was wrong?It wasn’t enough to just complain to himself that these mind-games weren’t his talent. So what? It was the task given to him, and he had to meet it as best he could.And… what should he tell Bimiaku and Klirisha?He had no idea if he could trust them, for one. Had they, like Mukana and Jombu, truly been convinced to rejoin the side of good? Or had Kanoka secretly taken them aside and entrusted them with the truth about what the Ta-Rahunga planned?Think! This matters!I… I…He clenched his fists, trying to think. Trying to feel, trying to sense… nothing helped. It just truly was not his talent, reading people.Then he felt something cold underfoot.What? I’m not in Ko-Wahi!It was a piece of ice.Shaped… like an arrow?Kopaka.The arrow pointed to a barely visible crack in a rock cliff.Maybe he has advice, Mukana thought. Talking to the Toa of Ice would be awkward, given how furiously he’d fought Kopaka once. But… he was at his wit’s end. And… he’d been wrong then.He looked around, saw nobody watching, and ducked into the narrow cave.

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Niaka awoke to hear Kewonga calling her name.She opened the makeshift hut door.“We’re having a talkmeeting by the divider fence,” the Healer said. “Ideas to escape.”Everybody on the Lightminds side, except Heria, was gathered in front of the huts, by the dividing fence. Azh’yuuros and Korau sat on the other side – Mad was there at first, watching as Korau finished cooking three Fauii Cakes. Then Mad took all three, cackling and ignoring Azh’yuuros’ protests, and ran deep into the jungle.Vamuka had stayed maskless that night, so Niaka gave him his mask for a moment to revive him, and then they continued switching the mask every few minutes.“So,” Kewonga said, “we now have one obvious possibility for escape. The insane Toa – anybody name-know?”Nobody did.“He doesn’t want to escape,” Azh’yuuros said. “I have already tried everything, even direct threats, and he refuses to help me return to the Sapphire Vault. The only thing I have refused to try is to risk informing him why the Vault is so important, a secret I have vowed never to tell unless absolutely necessary.”“But Korau,” Kewonga said, “Surely you can use these Fauii Cakes as a ransom of sorts.”“I tried this morning,” the chef said. “No luck.”“What did he say?” Niaka wondered.“He just burst into random poetry again.”“I know an expert on Rahi traps at Ko-Koro,” Akohre said. “She has said that every trap inherently has a weakness, whether it be from the inside or the outside, and most have several weaknesses from the inside. Several times lately she has escaped from cages and prisons of our enemies. She would say to think about what the strengths are, and then ask ‘what weaknesses must result from these strengths?’”Hafu gestured at the fences. “The prison walls are nothing but wood and repulsion-slime. Even the strongest stone has a breaking point – maybe that’s true of this slime’s effect too.”“I have pounded it with my most intense flames,” Azh’yuuros said. “No luck. And there is nothing else here to use, except more wood.”“But a huge stone can break a small stone of the same material,” Hafu said. “If we worked hard enough, surely we could create some kind of a tied-together jumble of logs that we could… perhaps roll down a ramp to ram into the wall?”Nixie looked up at the sky. “The stars are unveiled to us. Maybe Mad isn’t the only one who can fly over the wall? What about putting together those same logs into a ramp we can simply use to climb out?”“That’s a good idea,” Knife-Tail said. “I should have thought of that long ago and gotten started already. Except that until you Matoran came, the only helper on my side was the beast.” He gestured towards the jungle where Heria was hiding.“It would be less work than building both a ramp and something to roll down it,” Hafu agreed.“But the Kuambu come here every so often and hunt us!” Azh’yuuros countered. “They tolerate our hut-building and anything else that cannot be used to escape. But such a ramp? Surely they would see it and destroy it.”“Not if we disguised it somehow,” Niaka said.“Disguise as what?” Kewonga asked, looking at her.“Uh… maybe a stronger kind of hut? Build it in pieces?”“Pieces,” Midak muttered. “I’m no expert on wooden ramps… but would it need to have supports? What if we basically just attached a lot of logs together, like a long pipe? Would it hold?”“It might,” Kewonga said, “and it would be easier to hide…”“Especially if we put it underground,” the Onu-Matoran added. “In Onu-Wahi we sometimes build lava-pipes buried in earth, and I’ve seen the process of putting it in piece by piece. It could work here. Then once we have it long enough, unbury it and escape.”“There’s two other problems with that,” Azh’yuuros said. “All of you Lightminds are small and weak, so lifting a tied-together log ramp would be very difficult if not impossible for you. I could perhaps do it if I had help, but here is only one other Matoran and the crazy one. The other problem being this divider fence itself anyways.”“Right,” Kewonga said. “We would have to both ramp-build, so one could divider-cross, and the other fence-cross to the outside. That’s twice the risk of the Kuambu spotting it.”“We’d have to have a lookout on at least two ends of the island,” Knife-Tail said, “maybe three or four points, to watch for approaching Kuambu ships. I should mention they can teleport in a purple flash of light, so we’d have to watch for that too. When they come up that ramp, they don’t give any announcement.”“For all we know,” Azh’yuuros agreed, “some could be coming up right now – we’re all here in the center.”“What about that black metal ramp?” Niaka wondered aloud. “The only obstacle there is the forcefield. Have you tried burning the field out?”“I have,” the blue giant said. “I exhausted all my elemental energy once on the attempt, and the field held solid as ever. Tried it on the metal surface too – nothing.”“Can you use fire to fly?” Vamuka asked. “At Ta-Koro they say fire can be used for flight…” He glanced at Niaka, unsure.“It can, but I could only make enough to lift only myself, and the flames I would project downwards would alight all these plants. Korau’s life would then be in serious danger. And as annoying as the insane one is, I have already refused to try it lest I be responsible for his death either.”“These Kuambu are very smart,” Akohre said. “It is as if they have thought of all these hindrances to any attempt we could make to escape.”“I say,” Niaka answered him, “we at least let Azh’yuuros use his flame-carving technique to test various thicknesses and shapes of board-cutting that, when tied together, will hold the weight of one Matoran at a time.”“I’ll go for that,” the giant said. “But then what about me, or Heria?”“I will talk to Heria about whether she wants to leave or not,” Niaka began, but Knife-Tail interrupted.“She doesn’t talk, at least she never has to me,” he said.Niaka looked surprised, though she was in truth relieved. “Still, I will try. But how, then, do you know she was once a Matoran?”“The insane one apparently knew her before she was mutated. He told me once – before Azh-yuuros came, the Toa wasn’t quite as incoherent.”“Well,” she said, “then here is my proposal. We both build tied-together logs, as lightweight as possible to hold one Matoran at a time. Then Korau climb over to our side. We convince… the insane one to come over too, to get the cakes more easily. All of us except Heria then escape, and finally you fly out, Azh’yuuros, since then there will be nobody left on your side.”“Good-plan,” Kewonga said. “What will we do once over the outer fence, though? We would need a great-long rope, or we’d just death-fall.”“I could help there,” Azh’yuuros said. “I cannot lift myself plus anyone else… but I could slow my fall if I held one Matoran at a time. You could each climb to the top of the final ramp, where I would hover. Then you climb on my shoulder and I safely lower you to the ground.”“What, then?” Nixie asked. “We have no boat.”Nobody answered for a moment. It was a very good point.“Maybe,” Korau said, “we could then convince the insane one to carry one of the ramps down in return for another cake. We could untie it, rearrange, and tie it back up in the form of a raft.”“Or maybe,” Niaka pointed out, “a boat will come to us. Bhukasa is out there, and I’m pretty sure Pohatu had a Mask of Telecommunication too. Even if Tahu’s mask was stolen, don’t you think Pohatu should have tried to contact us by now? So something here must now be blocking the signal, and that means they’ll be worrying about us.”“Ah yes,” Akohre said. “The weakness of the trap from the outside.”“It’s been a day and a night,” Kewonga said. “If he is coming, he will soon-come. We should hurry with the ramps.”“How will we make ours?” Midak asked. “It’s easy for Azh’yuuros, but not us.”“I am a Master Carver,” Hafu said, “I fear no medium to carve. Give me anything resembling a knife and you’ll have your boards in no time.”“What about rope?”“I’ve made flax rope as a chore sometimes,” Nixie said.“So have I,” Niaka agreed. “And these leaves look like they’d do. I’ll help with that as soon as I try to talk to Heria.”

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Gali watched with surging pride as King Khungakrii gave his speech before the entire population.The entire population, that is, except those he’d sent to activate the other seven giant cannons, and those already guarding the docks at the river mouth. And nobody had seen the remaining Mhondoka.“And now to tell his tale,” Khungakrii said, “is Krohlaba the miner.”There were awkward shouts of praise for the dark red mutant as he walked up to the amphitheater’s resonance pedestal. His voice echoed out across the crowd, retelling the events as they had actually happened.An air of ceremony shrouded everything this morning – several rituals had littered the day. Gali had thought the rituals silly when she was first brought here, but now she saw how, as Krohlaba pointed out quietly to her, they led the people through an emotional connection with what the speaker was saying. Apparently it was persuasive.But she couldn’t help but notice a faint trickle of Kriitunga, both mutants and of the normal varieties, slinking towards the exit and sneaking away.Some did not want to hear the truth, and probably they would seek out Mhondomva.I wonder if any of them know where he is?Gali leaned over to Khungakrii. “You see those ones leaving?” she whispered.“Verily.”“Maybe someone should follow them and find out there they’re going.”Khungakrii nodded slowly. “Good idea.” He made a hand motion to a guard – the white mutant with an energy-gun for a head. The guard was hidden from the crowd because he stood behind a row of connected stone seats behind the resonance pedestal that Gali, the King, and the others stood upon.“Vyaakli, I wish you to trail one of those who leave this meet.”Vyaakli looked out over the crowd, and nodded. “It shall be done.”“Don’t be seen.”The guard left.Krohlaba finished his story, and Khungakrii took the stage briefly then to invite Twayzivl up to speak.Gali watched the crowd, until she caught a faint glimpse of a white and blue Kriitunga with an odd head ducking behind some buildings, following someone who left.

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Lewa-Krana was watching over the moving of Cahdok to a new location in the Le-Wahi jungle, when Rathoa arrived.The Toa unit had an odd reaction to seeing the strange Makuta come on the scene. His forebrain was relieved that one loyal to the Overseers was here, because the Kal were still pestering the group.The forebrain watched with calm appreciation as various powers wreaked havoc on the rogue elites.Always when Rathoa weakened one of the Kal enough to get close enough, he threw a Stasis bolt at it.When Nuvhok was frozen in time, he remained hovering in the air, and Lewa-Krana was privileged to create a wind that blew the rogue into the grip of some of the Half Army’s Va servants, who then took it to the Matoran-Krana who proceeded to store it in cave with the others.There was just one Kal left now – the one with the thundrous sound power.But it hesitated, looked around, and fled the scene.No matter, the forebrain thought. It could fall back and regroup with the others. The Army would still win in the end.But alongside all of this, something lurked inside the unit’s onboard brain. A sadness when Nuhvok-Kal fell, a disgust at helping to trap the rogue unit, an exultation that one Kal got away.It was a flaw in all the humanoid units, the forebrain thought. Even the Va, who still entertained desires to listen only to the Bahrag, not the Overseers, to escape and rejoin the Other Half.It would have been better if there hadn’t been any other units here. Bohrok alone could do the job far better.But while those units were here, it was better to keep them in line with Krana than to just let them go on resisting. So it was an acceptable compromise, Lewa-Krana thought.What was this?Lewa-Krana looked down at the jungle floor.It was shaking.Moving.Something was there!The Earth-Toa unit! It blasted out of the ground, looking right at the Lewa-Krana unit!It wasn’t enough that the black unit followed Lewa-Krana all night, denying it sleep; now it had found him… found it, that was…What is wrong with me… with this unit? It couldn’t seem to think anything without having two contradictory attitudes to the thought.Bohrok converged to attack the Toa. They would suffice to capture it, or hold it at bay, Lewa-Krana knew. There was nothing to worry about.And then something invisible slammed into the unit from the side, and it flew through the air.

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Edited by bonesiii, Apr 02 2012 - 12:43 PM.

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#29 Online bonesiii

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Posted Apr 02 2012 - 12:43 PM

Chapter 28

Bhukasa walked onto the deck and found Toggler helping with some minor repairs from both the Kuambu battle and the encounter with the cannon.“I’d like to speak with you alone,” he said.Toggler followed him down to the lowest level. Nobody was on oar duty right now, so they would have the room to themselves. Bhukasa thought briefly that he wished the Rhengoka hadn’t left his crew – they were excellent rowers.And then he had another thought… He had allowed Sairiph to select his new crew members, and now half his old crew was gone. He couldn’t shake the growing feeling of mistrust of Sairiph. Perhaps that had been foolish… Toggler had seemed to think Sairiph might be capable of some very bad things…Like… mutiny?But he didn’t voice these concerns just yet. Toggler seemed trustworthy, but maybe it wouldn’t be wise to worry the titan unnecessarily.Atop the strange metal hatch, Bhukasa had left the extra Kanohi Rikaori.He pointed to it. “Since you have a Btou staff, are you able to use Kanohi?”“Ah, so that’s what this is about, friend?”“Yes. Pohatu isn’t here to use it now. And Tahu will check in eventually, but I would like to be able to call whoever I like still, when I like.”“Shall we test it out?”“Yes,” Bhukasa said, pulling out the hasty leaf-copy of the Memory Stone. “I need Nokama to help me translate this.”Toggler’s eyes widened. “Is that… You copied…”Bhukasa nodded. “Taureko already knows, but he was uncertain of some of the terms.”Toggler took the mask. “I have never met this Nokama. I don't know if this will work.”“Do you know anyone on my island?”“Who else is there to know?”“Six Turaga. Over a thousand Matoran. Four of the other Toa in Pohatu and Gali’s team.” Bhukasa tossed out some of their names.“I’m afraid I am unfamiliar with any of them. But perhaps it does not matter. Describe for me this ‘Nokama’ and where she is likely to be.”Bhukasa did.Toggler concentrated. Spoke Nokama’s name several times.Then he shook his head. “Nothing. But I have heard the voice of Tahu, and he has another mask like this. I’ll try him.”Concentrated. “Tahu?”“Yes?”Bhukasa and Toggler cheered. “This is Toggler, on Bhukasa’s ship. We were testing if I could use the mask to call you.”“I see. It has worked.”“Could you get Nokama?” Bhukasa asked.“I’ll send a guard to get her.”“Thanks.”Soon the water elder’s voice came through the air. “What do you need, Bhukasa?”He explained.“My mask only works on written languages, Captain,” she said.“This is written. I’ve got a copy right here.”“But you must speak it to me.”“True…”“Why not make a copy?” Toggler said.“I have made a copy,” Bhukasa said, “what good would—”“No, I mean, speak it via the mask, spelling all the odd words, and Nokama can then write it down. Then she can read it, translating it.”“Good idea… Toggler, is it?” Nokama said.“Yes.”“That’ll take a long time,” Bhukasa said, “but I guess we might as well try it.”“Okay, give me a while to summon the scribe on duty here,” the elder said.Once the Turaga was ready, Bhukasa began to read.

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Lewa-Krana slammed into a leafy branch, which snapped, but slowed him down. Slowed IT down.Grabbed a vine as it fell.Stopped falling.The Bohrok were nowhere in sight. Whatever had rammed into him – the invisible bird? – had knocked him… IT… far away from its allies. Lewa-Krana was alone.There was a current in the air that felt wrong. Moving close.The bird.Lewa-Krana made a gust of wind, knocking the enemy into a tree. Something flickered partly visible, and a green and brown Matoran unit, without a Krana, fell.The Matoran deftly slid down the curve of the base of a branch, and stood there facing Lewa-Krana. “Mindstolen,” he said, simply. Lewa-Krana remembered the unit’s name – Ito.Ito foolishly leaped to a closer branch, weilding his stunstaff.Lewa-Krana sent another gust at him, knocking him off balance. Ito fell.There was a quick groaning sound, louder than anything a Matoran could make, but there and gone so fast, Lewa-Krana couldn’t make it out over the noises of his own motion. It came from below, where the Ito unit had fallen.The Toa unit peered down. Where had the Matoran gone? Lewa-Krana couldn’t see it through the thick vegetation.It must be cleaned!And then something hit it again.Once more it flew sideways through the trees, barely holding onto consciousness.But this time it kept flying.Lewa-Krana saw that its own arm was translucent.And a translucent white bird’s head was there…Ito was not on the bird, but it must have instinctually rammed into him to defend its master. And his arm was held in its beak! It was carrying him even further away! Carrying IT…No! Yes! his split mind thought.

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Niaka walked deep into the jungle, softly calling Heria’s name.Suddenly, Mad walked out from a clump of ferns.“Mad!” she said. “How did you—”“I was missorted,” he said.He must have switched sides while we were all sleeping.“You want the beast.”“Yes. You knew her before she was mutated?”“Brave Matoran. Kuambu chased. Into the sands.”“The… sands?”“Kriitunga Island.” He pointed northeast. “She returned. Brought someone to the Captain.”“Captain…”“Bhukasa.”Her eyes widened. “You knew Bhukasa?”“This was where he was trapped.”He sounds… almost sane now.She looked at him more closely.There something else to it, though. He looked very weak, now that she saw him up close in full daylight. His muscles looked shriveled, almost burnt – had Azh’yuuros actually burnt him, though he claimed he hadn’t?And he seemed to favor his right leg, as if his left was hurt. She didn’t remember him doing that yesterday.“Bhukasa, Toggler, Sairiph, Heria, Johke, and my Toa Team.”“Your… You had a Toa team?”“Six Toa including me,” he said, nodding. One eye held locked with hers while the other went up and down faster than the nod.“Who was the leader?”“Me.”Was he making this up? What Toa team in their right minds would follow a lunatic?Maybe he wasn’t always this way.“BABBLEBLUBBERBUBBLEBLABBER!” he shouted.“Do you switch sides often?”He looked confused. “I… I…” Then he looked frightened. “I balance on the edge of the fence. I can’t hold on… I’ll.. I’ll…” He straightened, his eyes looking in opposite directions. “Fence stench hence defense clench.”Niaka thought she understood, finally. He had misunderstood her question, taking it metaphorically. Because in his mind, he really was divided in two, the old sane self fighting to hold on, the insane side fighting to take him over completely.The fight was eating him away from the inside.She shuddered.But maybe he could help, in the meantime. “Do you know where I can find Heria?”“She’s a Lightmind.”“I know. But where exactly is she?”He turned around, each eye studying the jungle around them, looking up and down and around. He walked in place as he turned, moving slowly.Finally he brought his eyes back to Niaka.“Heria is in a jungle,” he declared.Niaka sighed. Which side of this guy was so stubborn, she wondered? She didn’t exactly look up to Toa when they were sane. They were fools who fought for lost causes as a definition of who they were.“What happened to you that made you this way?” she dared ask.“My team,” he said. “One by one.”“One by one what?”“One Toa. Two Toa. Three! Four! Five! Stay far away from the big beehive!”“What happened to your team?”“Four,” he corrected himself. “One is with Johke now.”“Who is Johke? Where is he?”“He is Kriitunga… He is on Kriitunga… What?”“I… I need to find—”“FIND YOUR MIND AND MIND YOUR FIND!” he shouted. With that, he flew off into the sky and left her alone there.

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Bhukasa listened as Nokama translated her finished copy, while a scribe at Kini-Nui hastily wrote it down.“The Scientific Tract-Poem of Memory,” she began.“First, illuminating; starting a set of four numbers: Eyes, cameras to the world. The tablet-scribes of sight-memory.“Second, involving a drum: Ears, sound-recording devices to the world. Bridges of hearing-memory.“Third, solid footing on a berm or flat ground: Inner ear, compass of balance-memory.“Fourth, summing the first three numbers: Organic touch sense, impact-sensors of pain-memory.“Fifth, starting a second set of four numbers: Armor-based touch sense, impact-sensors of touch-memory.“Sixth, obscure spelling of dull: Temperature sense, thermometer device sensing both ko and ta of thermal-memory.“Seventh, powerful like a bull: The Third Eye, Logic parallel processing calculator of truth-memory.“Eighth, summing the previous three numbers in the deepest sensory memory: The dual taste and smell foam-like machine of scent-memory.“Ninth, summing all eight numbers, granting a waking dream into forgotten memory, all protodermic beings, via the eight senses, already have remembrance.”Nokama went silent for a moment. Muttered something.“I believe there should be more to this,” she said. “A tenth line, with the number SOLM.”Bhukasa tilted his head. “A missing conclusion?”“Yes.”He looked at his trace of the original. At the bottom.Then at the top and sides. “You could be right. I’ve just noticed there’s a much wider margin at the top and sides, the way the original was set up. The margin at the bottom is narrower than the space between lines.”“Does it look irregular?”“Not really, aside from the fact that it’s a rub-over trace made while I was in a hurry.”“I would say, then, somebody intentionally removed the final line, carefully cutting the stone smoothly so you might not notice unless you had a Kanohi Rau.”“But what might the line have said?”“Well, the ninth line says that all protodermic beings already have all our memories. I would guess this means it’s impossible to erase our memories; rather they can only be blocked from our conscious mind.”“What about the Kuambu?” Toggler wondered. “I have many clear memories of battles with them, but they do not block the parts where I see them – they blur them.”“I don’t know. But there’s more – notice the ninth line also says that we have memory ‘via’ the eight senses. But it does not make clear what ‘via’ means here. My mask tells me that is merely a generic word ‘by.’ It is as if I told you that a hut was made by a certain Matoran, but did not tell you the method the Matoran used to make it.”“So,” Bhukasa concluded, “the tenth line probably revealed how the proverbial hut was made.”“Exactly.”But how?

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Niaka eventually gave up on finding Heria – they needed rope fast.So she returned and helped Nixie make as much rope as possible.Knife-Tail worked on cutting down thick branches with his tail. Hafu and Kewonga used two sharp stones to carve them into boards. Vamuka worked on tying them together. Midak worked on digging a long, trench-like hole to hide it in.Akohre suddenly ran to them – he’d been on lookout duty. “A sail on the horizon! I think it’s Bhukasa’s boat!”She glanced over to the Darkminds side.Azh’yuuros worked alone; Korau was the lookout on their side. Mad was there, watching, and declaring over and over again that his new name was Mad and that they must all call him by that or else. He didn’t do anything to help.Akohre left to watch the boat’s progress. The others hurried.“Let’s forget about burying it,” Kewonga said. “If a Kuambu ship comes by teleportation, it’ll come. But by sail, I don’t think it’ll beat Bhukasa.”“And we need to hurry,” Niaka agreed.They fell silent for a time, until Azh’yuuros finished his boards and asked the Ga-Matoran to show him how to make flax-rope.Finally, Knife-Tail and Hafu finished making boards, and everybody set about either making rope or tying, in silence.“Turaga Vakama,” Vamuka said, breaking the silence, “told us a legend once.”Everybody listened as he repeated the tale.“It’s called the legend of Vordikam. I don’t remember how to tell it as well as he does. But it was a story of someone who lost their way, and came back.”He went on, telling the story a lot better than he claimed he could. Once upon a forgotten time, a Matoran ventured out from Ta-Koro on quest of utmost importance.When he left, he wanted nothing more than to succeed in the quest, saving a friend from Rahi.But when he came back, he instead wanted to capture more friends for the Rahi.He did not wear an infected Kanohi, but he seemed corrupted somehow, and he smelled of infected Kanohi. He behaved like a beast, going around committing evil acts.But Vordikam’s best friend tried to convince him he’d fallen into evil.Vordikam fought his friend, but his friend refused to strike a final blow. Finally, a Kane-Ra attacked his friend. As his friend was about to die, Vordikam leapt in and took the blow instead.The wayward Matoran was seriously injured, but his best friend carried him back to Ta-Koro. Vordikam thanked his friend and admitted he’d fallen to the evil influence of Makuta.“He described his mind as torn in two at the time. Always the real self stayed there. The evil side of his mind insulted the good side, calling it ‘divisive’ and worse, but the good side could not be fully eradicated because it was who he truly was.”Why is he telling this?! Niaka wondered.It sounded a lot like how Kanoka had faked his death – taking the blow meant for Jaller. And it almost sounded like… like… but no.Vamuka went on to say that Vordikam lived for a while as a cripple, but now was no more. Turaga Vakama never did say what happened to the Matoran.But of course, Niaka thought, remembering the true events in the old recordings of Metru Nui that the Rahunga had mutilated in the Truth Room, Vakama was speaking metaphorically of himself as a Hordika.“The moral of the story,” Vamuka said, “is never to lose hope. I’m sure we’ll make it out of this, guys. And this time I don’t think I’m just being gullible.”Niaka kept working in the silence that followed, but she couldn’t shake the impossible, disturbing feeling that Vamuka was much smarter than he seemed…

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Lewa-Krana finally wrenched his arm free of the invisible bird, and dropped.Fell past several layers of jungle until at last he caught a branch to slow his fall… Then landed on the earthen ground. But the ground was muddy in pockets – this was the edge of the Fau Swamp, and somewhat near the southeastern coast, where the trees were smaller.He stood, looking around cautiously. Were there any Bohrok around?No. There weren’t.And now… he… IT! noticed the ground was shaking.It was the black Toa unit! Onua! He’d somehow known where Lewa… Lewa-Krana was, and he’d chased!But… wasn’t this where the Kuambu had first landed, or close to it? Lewa-Krana remembered hearing this from the fire Toa unit before getting his forebrain. Yes. They were on the Overseer’s side – assurance of this came through the mental connection to Cahdok even now.We will send help soon, Lewa-Krana unit.Then, quietly beneath this, muffled mental screams, from Cahdok’s true mind. Don’t let the Kuambu get you! They oppose our purpose! They steal our greatest tools! Flee!Hold your ground, the main part of Cahdok’s mind said, the part Overseen. Fight this Earth unit.Yes, thought his forebrain. That is what I will do.The other half tried to resist. But it wasn’t strong enough.

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Takua called down the stairs to Bhukasa. “We’re in sight of the prison island!”“I’ll be there as soon as we finish something,” Bhukasa said.Nokama continued to read the scribe’s copy of her translation slowly as Bhukasa inscribed it on a blank tablet.Finally it was done. “I strongly recommend making multiple copies there and hiding them,” Bhukasa said. “Of both versions. Who knows if the Memory Island guardians are as stuck on that island as we think?”Nokama agreed. Then Bhukasa went up to the main deck, stood on the prow.He studied the island, noting how similar it was to the one surrounded by the yellow energy-wall. The only differences were in the details of the stone’s texture, the fences, the exact arrangement of the trees… and the glaringly obvious difference that the ocean lapped at its pebbled shores.Bhukasa asked for the telescope. Zoomed in on the top.There was a white Matoran there, waving at him. He waved back, though he doubted the Matoran could see him at this distance.Purple light.Bhukasa fell back, dropping the telescope. It shattered.The Kuambu ship was right in front of him, sporting a new mast, with the same Ga-Matoran in the crow’s nest…Right in front, facing them, the underwater rammer just yards away, and charging fast.

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#30 Online bonesiii

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Posted Apr 05 2012 - 03:22 PM

Chapter 29

Bhukasa ran for the wheel as the Kuambu ship towered over them.Ran past the mast…Then the mast jerked and flew back in front of him. There had already been shouts of alarm, but now he heard screams as the enemy’s rammer prow knocked the ship out from those nearest the prow. They fell into the sea.He fell. Rolled, to see the Kuambu ship scraping along his ship’s starboard side, wooden splinters flying up along with heavy water spray, as the enemy prow knifed along the side.The boat shook at regular intervals. Bhukasa didn’t know why.Kuamor rained down on them from the crenellations far above. One knocked a Ga-Matoran into the water, wrapped instantly in brown ropes. Another slammed into Sairiph, and a wave of cold blasted out, freezing up his joints.Still another slammed into the wheel, blasting it apart with red energy.“Rowers!” Bhukasa shouted as soon as the enemy passed beyond the prow. “It’ll be up to you to steer!”A tardy shot took out a part of the new sail with more red energy. Another took out a chunk of the railing.Finally, his crew recovered from the initial shock. Most ran belowdecks to man the oars. Others ran to the net to catch those who’d fallen in the water. Still others ran to the ballista-slings. One threw a rope to the tangled Matoran in the water.“We’re going to attempt a turn to aim the bombs!” he shouted, seeing that Maku ran into the doorway to pass on his orders in case his voice didn’t carry to the rowing deck. He waited until she repeated the order, then added, “Port side only now!”The left oars splashed noisely.Boat turned.“Are we sinking?” he asked Maku.She passed the question, listened, then repeated the answer. “No! That odd layer protected us, apparently, but there’s a lot of damage to the rowing area.”“I’ve got a line of sight!” Takua said, at the rightmost ballista-sling. Others on that side agreed.“FIRE!”The bombs flew.Purple flash.Bombs landed harmlessly in the water.Kuambu ship appeared at the prow again, same position, same maneuver.“PADDLE BACKWARDS, EVERYBODY!” he shouted.But it was too late.

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Hujo and Caroha flew over the sea, from the underwater dome they’d come out of.It was remarkable how much simpler the Cosmos was from the Paracosmos. And yet, how much more pure that made it.They were now flying in from the east to the Ga-Wahi coast. They had not flown over a Kriitunga Island. There was no Kriitunga Island – there was no other island either, at least in the parts of the ocean they’d flown over.Staying invisible…But it turned out not to be necessary. There was nobody on the island.Bohrok were tearing it apart.Most of it was already gone.Hujo was horrified.“This isn’t what you think,” Caroha said. “The Bohrok have a purpose.”“But… did the Toa fall to them?”“No. The Toa were the ones who released them.”“What?! How could that come even close to the ‘parallel’ events in my world?”“It’s a long story,” Caroha said. “Suffice to say, the Matoran went back to Metru Nui, so the island is uninhabited.”“Is that where we’re going?”“Yes, for a brief visit. Then we’re coming back up here. We must hurry.”They flew into the exposed sun-hole of Ko-Wahi.The city below grew larger as they flew down. Caroha turned to the east as she flew down. They zipped past the Coliseum, and Hujo saw many Matoran gathered there.Then they neared Ga-Metru.Caroha slowed, and landed in a particular section of the city.She walked up to a wall, and spoke her name while pressing random points.The wall slid aside. She entered; Hujo followed, his suit switched off again, but the boots hovered an inch above the ground, leaving no trace. The wall slid shut behind them.“This was my laboratory before the Event,” she said.It was a mess. Broken vials, a mix of chemical stains, scattered notes. Caroha walked over all of it, her feet also using the Unknown sandal effect. Hujo noticed she’d switched off her suit too, and wondered why, but she didn’t answer the thought.Then she went to a corner without anything on the floor, and tapped it in various places, speaking her name again.It lifted, revealing a staircase. “This hidden annex, I added for my return visits. None in the Cosmos know of it. Indeed, all have forgotten even the old lab, for I was not a noteworthy Matoran while I called this place home. Someday, they will find the lab and clean it up, and someone else will use it. But they will never find this – we have made sure of it.”The staircase was long, going deep into the ground.When they finally reached the bottom, Hujo found himself inside a huge metal sphere, like the inner core of the zoocraft. But there was no hint of anything using any powers here – sandstone staircases and terraces and columns all conformed to the round shape of the outer barrier perfectly, so you could walk to virtually any corner of it.A metal hatch closed once they were inside, and Caroha gave him news that he’d longed to hear. “For the moment, you may leave the suit by the door. I know it’s very heavy.”Apparently in response to some command from Caroha, his suit retracted, the little tubes sinking back into the bulky boots, the chest armor piece hovering down to connect to the boots, and the three orbs hovering over all of this. Hujo stepped out of it, feeling so lightweight he imagined he would just float away.She left her suit by the door too, and motioned for him to follow her to a particular terrace against one part of the metal wall.As he walked, he saw several tablets, complex devices he did not recognize, and little vials of glowing blue liquid, which he guessed was chronoserum.Standing against the metal wall on this terrace was a huge slab of gray tablet-stone, like those used by Chroniclers. Indeed, it seemed Caroha had inscribed an entire history here.“This,” she said, “is the history of the Bionicle Cosmos, abridged, of course, as observed by me over the years, or stolen from the thoughts of witnesses without their knowledge. I have prepared it specifically for the Jahurungi, begun years before I even suspected who you would be, and updated fairly recently.”He grinned. There were major downsides to being the Jahurungi, but this wasn’t one of them.The first thing he noticed was a map, which she had added near the end, of the Cosmos Matoran Universe. I bet you added that when you found out I was a mapmaker.“Of course.”He studied it for a moment.Then he tilted his head, unsure about something. “It looks… the shape is somehow familiar… I can’t place it.”“I’ll show you that later,” she said. “For real.”He read the history. He was surprised to find that it didn’t begin at the beginning, as he’d assumed it would, but rather began with the experiences of the Toa Mata when they’d arrived at Mata Nui.“Yes,” she said. “I have found in my studies and teachings of many Altacosmoses that there are often special moments in all history which represent the ideal entry point for observers to truly appreciate and understand a dimension’s history. It is less interesting if we begin at the beginning – I’ve found the middle or close to the end to be far more effective as a teaching tool. It is the same in the Cosmos.”Hujo nodded, intrigued. It was interesting to read it this way.Much of it mirrored the history he knew of, but he’d never thought to see the Toa’s arrival from their point of view, rather than his as one of the Matoran who awaited their coming for so long. To him, that moment felt like the beginning of an end, not the beginning itself… but then maybe that was the whole point.He caught Takua’s name. And many others he knew.There was no Hujo. No mention of anything like Btou staffs, Rahunga, Ghomboka, Kuambu…So… the Bohrok were released once, early, by Makuta!Ah, that does mirror the Paracosmos.“You must remember,” she said, “that it is the Paracosmos which converges to mirror the Cosmos, not the other way around. Or so I believe, perhaps you will one day prove me wrong…”Hujo couldn’t help but wonder about Caroha’s bias as an observer. She thought of the Cosmos as the original – true, it WAS, apparently, but she also thought of the Altacosmoses as ‘not real’, mere shadow strings. But the people he’d briefly seen in them seemed as real to him as anyone else.Hujo was tempted to see the Paracosmos as the only ‘real’ one. It would make sense that Caroha thought of the Cosmos and the Paracosmos both as real because they were where she had lived.Caroha sighed. “How quickly you discard long-beloved beliefs, Jahurungi.”“Perhaps those long-beloved beliefs have something to do with why you cannot solve your crucial mysteries yourself?” he mused.She didn’t answer.So, the Toa defeated the Bohrok. Okay. And then the Matoran returned to Metru Nui, and later the Toa were informed the Bohrok did need to be released as a step to awakening Mata Nui.“Can I tell this to our universe’s Toa?” Hujo asked. “Surely it would be good to know they were destined to win.”“I… It is my belief that you should not, Jahurungi,” she said carefully.Now it was his turn to sigh. Being the one ready to throw away beliefs did indeed have its downside. Nothing was certain.“Why?”“Because,” she said, then paused. “Because what if telling them they will win anyways makes them get too relaxed, and think they don’t even need to try?”“But the Paracosmos always converges.”“And do you understand why it does? Should we try to interfere in a process we do not understand?”“Well… good point.”“In any case, it is, at least, important for you to know their destiny. I hope you realize what rare knowledge you will have when you return to the Paracosmos.”Hujo finished reading, then frowned. “I don’t understand something. How is it that I can read of events that take place after the mirrored events in the Paracosmos? Here the Toa defeated the Bohrok already and had other adventures before re-awakening them. But in the Paracosmos they have not yet defeated the Bohrok the first time.”“Time flows at different rates in different universes,” she said. “Remember that odd dimension I used to bridge the Paracosmos alternate branches and the Cosmos branches?”“Aethion?”“From the perspective of the Cosmos right now, Aethion only came into existence for mysterious reasons in the past month – not that the Cosmos people know of it – but to the inhabitants of Aethion, it has existed for five hundred years.”“Wow.”Caroha looked over to a different terrace.Hujo saw a complex device there, with all manner of strange symbols on the ends of arms which rotated around a center – it looked something like a clock’s face, but with many more hands. A symbol that resembled a Toa’s face, with glowing red eyes, was moving near to a big arrow at the exact top of the circle.“Time to leave,” Caroha said. “That device over there uses technology that does something similar to the Mask of Eightfold Prophecy, though it need not be as powerful, because the future here is more certain. It’s almost time to show you the most important thing… Come.”As they walked out, Caroha mentioned that she had a small copy of the history wall in the Paracosmos, but due to the random teleportations in his Second Event, they had lost it. “There is always a slight chance an enemy will find it. So you should be aware that the knowledge you have right now, an enemy might also find. But what I’ll show you now, only the Unknown… and maybe Arakra know.”They put the suits back and heavily retraced their steps.Flew out over the Coliseum, where Hujo heard shouts of celebration.“They believe the Great Spirit has just been awoken!” Caroha said.Believe?They flew out the sun-hole.And up.And up.Up, up, up.Through sparse clouds.Out of the clouds.And still up.The blue sky dimmed. Grew black – even though the sun was still visible.“The atmosphere is thinner here,” she said. “Soon we will reach outer space itself. Don’t worry, your suit’s forcefield contains enough air to last for this trip.”He found it hard NOT to worry. He remembered the Toa Mata’s battle against Makuta, when the villain had died. But no… he can’t be dead, Hujo thought. He only pretended to be dead in the Cosmos. He has to come back for there to be Convergeance. Anyways, the villain had pointed up to the sky at one point, calling it Void.No air. Nothing. Bitter cold, he felt even though the suit’s field now emitted heat to fight that cold.And utter silence.Eerie silence.Motion seemed to slow, to still, though in truth he and Caroha were now flying faster than they ever had before.The sky was now black, the stars in full view. The blue horizon fell away, became a circle, with wider and wider cloudscapes sneaking into view over the widening horizon.The circle shrunk, and two other objects slid into view behind it.One, a massive dull brown… a planet even bigger than the ocean planet. Apparently a desert.Behind it, a planet the same size as the ocean one, colored green. A forest planet?Then Caroha slowed and stopped – she was now just a tiny star among the other stars.Hujo hovered close to her. She had now turned to look down at the planet.Something was changing… The island of Mata Nui… the only island on the blue planet…It was… breaking!Pieces slid to the sides. Hujo realized that as he’d flown up from it, he hadn’t seen any Bohrok anymore. They must have finished breaking the island into little pieces. But why?A face.It was impossible at this distance. But he saw a face!It looked identical to the face on the clocklike thing in Caroha’s lab, but with yellow eyes, not red.The face rose up from under the breaking island.Mata Nui! Hujo said, as an exclamation, when he realized how ENORMOUS this face must be.Then he realized the irony of the exclamation. “Mata Nui! It’s… It’s Mata Nui!”“Yes!” Caroha said, laughing. “But,” she added soberly, “keep watching.”Now Hujo saw shoulders, an arm, a body, connected to that face, rising out of the ocean.Now it rose to a stand.How tall it was! Its head reached far above the clouds!It lifted his head to the sky, almost looking right at Hujo and Caroha.Then a change came over it that sickened Hujo to the core.The eyes turned red.“It’s Makuta,” Caroha whispered. “Mata Nui’s mind once ruled this realm-giant – and all of our people” – by which Hujo realized for once she meant Matoran, not the Unknown – “were essentially maintenance workers, living in the domes inside. But now Teridax has taken over. And watch this,” she said.The giant leaned back, and a yellow spurt of tiny light came out from its chest.“That’s the Ignika,” she said. “The Mask of Life. Mata Nui’s mind is trapped in it. It’ll orbit around and land there, on Bara Magna.” She pointed to the huge brown planet.Then she pointed to the blue planet. “That is Aqua Magna, and the green one is Bota Magna. Once they were one. Spherus Magna.”Hujo shook his head, amazed at all this.“And the giant,” Caroha said, “was supposed to fuse them together again, restoring the original planet. Makuta now plans to corrupt that goal, but in the end, destiny outwits him, at least as I have prophecied, and Mata Nui will find a way to merge the planets after all. Then peace will rule for a time.”It was too much. Too much to take in… But it was the pattern the Paracosmos would somehow mirror, he knew.Or would it? What if… what if all those corruptions, those changes, in the Paracosmos, would eventually become too big for Convergeance to get over? What if it would turn out far, far worse there?What if destiny was destined to lose?“And now,” Caroha said, “we must begin the journey back. By now I hope the others have recollected at least some of our Library. And I must tell you what I know of chronoserum. At least… what of it I dare tell you for now.”“Must we go back down there?” Hujo asked. “With Makuta in charge of… that… I’m frankly scared to. Are you sure he can’t see you?”“I’m not sure at all. But don’t worry, I have an alternative, although it’s very dangerous. In this case, I’ll have to use it, but after that we shouldn’t ever use it again.”“What alternative?”“The domes’ purpose is to ensure a safe arrival point, without teleporting into the middle of rock to our doom, you recall.”“Ah. And out here, there’s nothing in the way.”“Right. But there’s also nothing to hide us from the view of those few enemies that know of dimensional travelers.”“Enemies like those ‘Jetrok’ things?”“Exactly.”

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Akohre ran back to the others, shouting news of the battle beyond.“Work faster!” Niaka urged the others. And herself.They did.Mad coughed.Niaka looked at him. “You’re a Toa of Gravity. You could help out there. Keep the Kuambu ship away from our friends!”Mad looked up at the darkening sky. “Clouds coming in. Crowds running in.”“Are you saying there’s a storm coming?”“Storm? Yes, a storm. Yes, that isn’t what I’m saying.”“Come on,” Korau said. “Go help with the battle. If you want more cakes…”“Storms are wet. Zap zap. Ouchy!”“You don’t have a hut to hide in,” Azh’yuuros said. “You said you didn’t want one.”“Hut,” Mad said, smiling, then frowning, then smiling, then running in place. “The targets don’t use huts. Two giant coins, one atop the other, but the top rolling, one side raised. A strong wind. Weapons.”“Help with the battle,” Niaka repeated, making it simple. “Fight the Kuambu ship!”“Kuambu ship?”“Fight it!”“Fight the Kuambu ship?”“Yes!”“FIGHT THE KUAMBU SHIP!” Mad shouted at the sky, fists stretched towards the ground.Then he calmed down and continued to watch them work on the ramps, making no move to leave.Niaka and several others groaned and tried to ignore him.

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Onua walked up to Lewa-Krana, who raised his axe defensively.But the Toa of Earth didn’t do what Lewa-Krana expected. What he secretly hoped.Onua did not raise his claws, did not attack.Instead, he kept his arms loose at his sides, and stood relaxed.“I have chased you all night and all morning, brother.”Brother! Lewa-Krana scoffed… but then something in its forebrain made it pause in its scorn for this term… and something in its body too. But what, it wasn’t sure.“I have been many times able to attack you. I have not.”“I would attack you, brother,” Lewa-Krana said. “I… I…”Onua took a step closer. “Lewa, it is I, Onua. Your friend.”“You… it… Get away! If you are my friend… get away, before I am forced to harm you!”Onua shook his head, and took another step.“Flee! While there’s still time!”Why am I saying these things? I wish to bring him into the Army, complete his mind with another forebrain.He glanced over into the jungle.There were no Bohrok here yet, no Kuambu, nobody else to help – they were all far away.But a blue Bohrok Va was hiding behind some branches there. With a Krana ready.The part of Lewa-Krana that had existed before its completion objected emotionally. If thoughts and inner turmoil could be as a violent attack, this was one – Lewa raged against Krana, saying, Leave him alone!The forebrain turned his head, looking around at the jungle. It must be cleaned. This unit could help.His axe raised.“Go!” Lewa managed. “I can feel the power building! Even your strength won’t—”The Krana reasserted control over his mouth, cutting off his words, and he was Lewa-Krana again.Air built up, and he readied the attack…“I know,” Onua said, “the Krana controls your body, but not your will. If it is strong enough to make you harm a friend, then go ahead. I will not defend myself.”Onua walked so close the end of the axe clinked against his chest armor, just under his low-hanging hunchback chin. He held his arms back, up, and wide, away from the axe.“You are stronger than this parasite! You are a Toa! Worthy of the name! A hero, a proven investigator. So investigate! Think! You see what it’s doing to you! Using you!”No!He felt Onua channeling healing life-energy out of himself, into Lewa, against the will of Krana. “My energies are yours, Toa Lewa. Be free!”Attack! the Krana screamed at him. It must be cleaned! The Overseers’s technology continued to chant commands at him, the Bahrag weakly agreed it must be cleaned…Lewa’s eyes followed Onua’s eyes, down the lower, crocodilian half of his mask, to the fancier incarnation of his axe, merged with the Btou staff. He’d so looked forward to trying this out.Deep down inside, he knew it must be cleaned. Makuta had awoken the swarms too early. He recognized it. But it must be cleaned anyways.He looked around. Out here, where the jungle was thin and the coast was near, few Rahi lived, and no Matoran lived.No reason this could not be cleaned now. There was a third option between fighting and ripping off his forebrain. A way to get away, so well Onua could not follow.“No,” he said.Lowered his axe, and ran.

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A being existed in water.There were clouds gathering above, so the water was only dimly lit.In the distance, the being saw golden light.It floated closer, its split senses admiring the interesting effects of the forcefield wall.But it felt so familiar!How could it be familiar? The being had only existed for a few moments.No…Sight and sound combined… balance… pain…Oh the pain! The being had done something horrible! Betrayed someone!The senses collapsed into separate threads again, and the being just floated there.Floated lower. The dim light from the clouded sky reached farther down beyond the wall than it did on this side.There was air on the other side.Floated down, down, down.The being reached the seafloor.Saw blue beings wandering on the dry rocky surface beyond the wall. They looked like big versions of fish – the thought of that word suddenly struck the being with pain – but with extra limbs that could double as insectoid legs.Littered across the ground were the skeletons of dead fish. Guilty!Dried-up remains of seaweed.A round lump, colored tan.The being moved closer. The round lump seemed familiar.It wasn’t a rock – it had mechanical features to it. But it wasn’t biomechanical like the big blue beings. And somehow the mechanical features seemed… rolled up, somehow. It looked like an optical illusion.More senses merged.Finally, all its senses merged, and the being remembered it had a name, or a nickname it had once given itself. Blue Eyes. BE.And BE had once had a friend.He had betrayed that friend?No… no. He felt… innocent and guilty all wrapped up into one.Surely BE wouldn’t have…I was curious.BE noticed then, as a fish wandered close to the energy wall, that the wall pulled things in. The fish turned and tried to swim away, but the pull was too strong.It flew right through the wall, and landed among the rocks. Flipped and flopped, gasping for water.FamiliarThe blue beings leaped over rocks eagerly to claim the fish. Fought over it, splaying their mandibles wide and hissing.Finally, one got the fish and walked out of BE’s sight to eat the poor creature.The rest wandered away. One kicked disinterestedly at the tan lump thing, then left.BE saw, now that the lumpish thing had been shifted a little, that it was shaped like a spiny fish.Spine… Spineshark…It moved.There was a little window in the front, rounded to reveal the front of a fish’s head, and two eyes looking around.There was water inside the… armor… And two odd devices shaped something like feathers stuck out the sides where gills would have been.Suddenly it all flooded back, and BE remembered.My friend! He’s alive!In the same moment, he resolved to rescue the fish. Somehow.

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#31 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Apr 11 2012 - 12:25 AM

Chapter 30

BE was tugged away.Instead of fighting it, or hating it, he tried to welcome it this time. Because where he had been, he saw nothing to help.BE existed.No time seemed to pass in between.Yes!He took in his surroundings – with all senses at once.It was a cave. BE was inside a small puddle, which he sensed was shrinking.But at the far end, laying on a slab, he saw a blue humanoid being.A Toa of Water, he realized from some forgotten past.The Toa was sleeping. Wirelike tubes ran from the device on her face to a machine against a wall.Water was what the fish’s place lacked. Could he fill it up with so much water it would overflow, and the fish could swim up?But he’d have to get to the Toa first and share her mind. Without her looking at him… Well, that wasn’t a problem as long as she stayed asleep. But what about once he got in her mind? Surkahi had said BE musn’t merge with his mind, though he must merge with Bhukasa’s mind. What of other beings?The whole world is at stake, he reminded himself. We must find Bhukasa.BE wondered if he could will himself to appear where he wanted. If he could, couldn’t he find Bhukasa that way?But no… apparently not, or would he not have appeared by Bhukasa this time?Well, maybe he needed to be focusing on that goal for it to happen. All he’d thought when the tug came was that he hoped he appeared somewhere where he could find help for the fish.Maybe… but in the meantime, it would be wrong to just sit around and wait for the tug. He had to do something.In fact, he’d begun to suspect that the tug never came until he’d accomplished some purpose for existing each time.So he began to try something he’d been vaguely wondering if he could do.He willed a round ‘head’ of water to peer above the puddle.Since there was so little water here, as he slowly succeeded, the puddle contracted.Now he formed a sphere of water with eyes.He willed himself to move forward. It worked! The ball of water rolled, the eyes still aimed forward.Rolled close to the Toa.As he got closer, he felt stronger somehow.Closer. Stronger. He could hold the shape together much more easily.Now he could bend the ball of water into other shapes. He rolled it with no trouble to the back of the slab, where the Toa’s head laid, and formed a cone. The tip of the cone, with his now-shrunken eyes in it, bent, touching the Toa’s head.And then he zoomed in.Instantly, everything faded to black and BE ceased to be.

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The Kuambu ship had taken heavy bomb-damage as it knifed past the starboard side again, and now instead of coming for a second run, it maneuvered fast to stay behind them no matter how the rowers rowed.Luckily the crew on the starboard side had thought to pull in the oars at the last second, so the Kuambu ship didn’t destroy them.Now it began to rain. Heavily.“Let’s take advantage of this,” Bhukasa told Maku, thinking back to the other battle with this same ship in the rain. “Row fast out of sight and then turn sharply to port. Get behind the prison island.”He went to the edge and looked over at the damage.The regular shaking had been the prow ripping alternately through planks and failing to cut through the stronger vertical supports behind them. He could see it through the water.Now he looked up at the island’s top.Several Matoran seemed to be moving something into position near the fence.Bhukasa remembered Tahu’s report that Niaka and Korau were Rahunga. And who knew what other Darkminds might be involved in this escape attempt? He started to wonder if he’d let himself and his possibly mutinous new crew into something that would further unbalance the crew’s loyalty.But for the sake of the others… he had to try. The Kuambu had to be taught that they couldn’t just imprison whoever they wanted. He would stand against it.“Starboard side a little faster,” he said. “Let’s circle the island and then hold under the pebble beach under that… ramp thing they’re setting up.”Maku repeated the order.Sairiph walked up to him – apparently cured from the Kaumbu projectile. “Sir, you should have a look at this,” he said, pointing to where the wheel had been.Bhukasa saw it, but didn’t understand it. A black… something…He leaped up to the rear deck and looked closer.Sticking up out of what had been the wheel’s wooden base, there was a perfect cylinder of the same black metal as the lowest level. At the top, a round knob with a cylinder sticking out of the aft-facing side, a flat, somewhat wider circle on the end.Toggler picked up a round piece of wood from the floor, among the splinters of the rest of the wheel. Then he held it in front of the flat circle.“A perfect fit,” Bhukasa said. “This was hidden inside the wheel the whole time! I had only to remove that round bit of wood to see it.”“Indeed,” said the female crewmember Sairiph had recommended from Memory Island. “I have heard of things like this before,” she said. “Someone hired me long ago to seek out beings that used them.”“What do you know of them… ?”“You may call me by my codename, Blue,” she said – and indeed, she was blue, as was so much else in this world, it seemed. “I was a Dark Hunter once, if that means anything to you. I know that this technology apparently once belonged to an extinct race. Apparently only they could use it.”Flashes of intensely emotional, but vague memory. That race is MY race, he realized with a sorrowful shock. The thought almost brought tears to his eyes, but he fought the emotion down, instead asking, “Technology? It looks like nothing but metal to me.”Blue turned to the faint outline of a Kuambu ship. “That’s what they thought when they first encountered it. But they learned later the truth. I never did find out quite what the truth was… but the Kuambu have a way to use it, and they call it technology.”Bhukasa stared at her, then at the metal circle.Where was the apparatus that controlled the rudder? The wheel should have turned a gear or belt device inside its base, which would in turn control a rod, connected sideways to another gear, most likely, which would turn the rudder.But now it looked like the wheel simply spun on the cylinder. Nothing like gears involved. Just an axle.He held a hand against the side of the cylinder.Blue light appeared, glowing out of the black metal. Shaped like his scissorclaws.He grabbed a piece of wood and held it near.Blue light, shaped like the pattern of grains in the wood. “It’s a sensor!”He dropped the piece of wood, held his hand close, and slid it towards the starboard side.The ship turned.“Yes! We can still steer the rudder!”

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A Toa of Water slept on a Stone slab.Her body would not move. She was in a dream.But now she saw out of her eyes, even though they were closed.She sat up.What?How was she moving? How was she seeing?She tried to wiggle her fingers. Nothing.The body moved on its own, taking off the nourishment mask, cutting off her connection to the device on the wall that kept her comatose body alive.No! I need that!But she didn’t feel immediately weak as the body stood up. She felt fine.Just in a coma. While walking.Gradually, as her body walked out of the cave towards light in the distance, she became aware of something… no, someone else in her mind.Who are you?And with the question came a flood of images, sounds, directions of balance… and other senses. Vague flashes of almost-memory. But she couldn’t quite understand.All she knew was, she had a connection with another mind, somehow.She’d felt like this before. Hadn’t she?The Toa had spent so much time in her comatose dream world, she couldn’t remember her past life. Except that she knew she’d fallen into a coma after a long struggle against some kind of illness… and now that machine her body was leaving behind was all that kept her alive.But most of the details were lost. Even her name.Her body walked out of the cave into a landscape of palm trees. She thought she saw a white sphere in the distance, but her body walked away from it, heading towards what looked to be a cliff edge.Now she saw that she was on an island shaped like a short cylinder. Beyond, ocean.I know this island. This was a base used by… friends… once…Her body dove off the cliff. She feared momentarily that she’d die upon rocks under the surface, but it turned out that beyond a short beach, the water was immediately deep.As her body swam towards the southwest, she caught a faint thought from the other mind inside her.The thought was, I’m coming, friend!

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Niaka watched as Korau climbed the shaky ramp over the divider fence.They formed a net with their arms.The chef jumped.They caught him.“Alright, now come over here,” Korau told Mad. “Azh’yuuros is gonna burn that side.”Mad shook his head stubbornly.“I’ll BURN you if you don’t!” the blue giant said. “I don’t want to burn you.”“Mad doesn’t want to be burnt,” he said. “Mad is so glad he’s a tad happy-sad.”“Fly over to the Lightminds side,” the Glatorian growled, shooting bolt of blue fire into the sky. “Or else!”“Going dear Guardian!” Mad said, and he flew over. Niaka thought, as it started to rain every more heavily, the fire might not catch after all, but better safe.Azh’yuuros blasted blue flames downward.Slowly, he lifted into the air.Grass caught fire. Smoked thickly. Hissed and popped under the rain’s onslaught.“Go!” he shouted to the others.They ran to the other ramp.Niaka glanced back only once – to see that the fire was indeed taking hold.

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BE experienced a sort of nine-fold sensory split, unaware of what he was doing or of his own existence, until he saw the golden wall of light nearing.I’m still here, he thought. In the mind of this Toa.His senses had taken in everything around him separately with no conscious thought on BE’s part, but a ninth part of him, his motivation, had willed the body to move anyways. The Toa was led by his latent memory that he must save his friend.What have I done in the process? Is there some kind of ‘awakening’ of even sentient beings when I’m in their minds?The stakes were high, though.The stakes.For now, it was justification enough.He commanded the Toa’s body to take a deep breath, and then dive deep.She was pulled in by the wall.Flew through it.A controlled fall, swinging arms, bending knees.Landing.The blue things ran at her.She ran to the fish. Scooped it up with her left arm. Shot water out of her right.At that exact moment, BE experienced a familiar sensation. Something like static interfered with his vision, even through the Toa’s eyes. Where she used her power over water, he could not see, or hear, or anything. And yet he could see beyond the use of the power, and seemed to see crackling rays of energy superimposed over the scene.The Toa’s eyes, he sensed, saw none of this, merely water materializing and spraying out.So, the ‘something’ I once saw going down into a trench… must have been a Toa of Water.Water began to fill the dip the Toa stood in.But then it started behaving oddly.At the edge of the new puddle closest to the pillar-island, the water flowed uphill.At the farthest edge, its level lowered.Yellow energy then reached out from the rock of the island’s base. Touched the puddle.The water there flew directly at the island, disappearing into the yellow light. The whole puddle was enveloped by the yellow tendril and all the water was pulled to the rock like iron dust to a magnet, disappearing en route. Now the effect traveled up the beam of water and touched the Toa’s fist.Everywhere he turned her right fist, trying to shoot out water, the water turned right back into energy the second it became physical.The blue creatures kept their distance, watching with interest.He tried again and again, but the power of the rock was too strong.We can’t flood our way out! I’ve failed to free you, my fish friend, and trapped this Toa too!

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Gali raced through the streets with a contingent of guards.Vyaakli’s report had been worse than she could have imagined. The people he kept trying to follow just disappeared, seemingly into thin air…But really, into various buildings. And then into secret passages beneath them. Khungakrii knew of the passageways. He’d feared this, but had no direct proof till now.The populus was now on the Toa’s side, but Khungakrii had warned them that the Mhondoka were still active, and they sought to tear apart the people’s newfound Unity. Pohatu had gone with Krohlaba and others to try to seal off as many of the passageways as they could.Because if the Mhondoka could go anywhere they wanted, they could do anything they wanted to disrupt the society.Even, as the King feared… outright terrorism.But where might they strike?A better question was, which class would they strike?The high class, she decided. Mhondomva was of the low class, and he wanted their raw, primitive power on his side. They far outnumbered the higher class. Only the loyalty of the people to the King, who had stood against the exiled evil elites in defense of the low class long ago, kept the two classes at uneasy peace.And how might he strike them?This she couldn’t imagine – all she could do was follow Vyaakli to where he’d seen Mhondoka meeting, and help these guards arrest the rebels.But where was Mhondomva himself?The giant obviously couldn’t have used the narrow tunnels. He had not been sighted coming in from the desert. He had not appeared at the river mouth.He was working with the Kuambu, she thought suddenly. And a Kuambu ship had been right behind Bhukasa’s, heading probably to the same spot. Could it be?And they had teleportation powers.Mhondomva could be anywhere. Anywhere at all… at least anywhere the Kuambu wanted him to be.They arrived at the meeting place. Gali called on the Pakari power in her Golden Kanohi, and broke down the door.Ran in, shooting bending beams of water at the windows and then back inward to prevent anyone from leaping out.Vyaakli ran in second, shooting energy bubbles around the most dangerous Mhondoka, preventing the targets’ powers from shooting out at the guards.Then the rest ran in.The largest mutant ran at Gali, raising a huge club. She called on her Hau power, and the club bounced back. She punched at it sideways, shot a little bit of water in the enemy’s eyes, and ducked all in the same motion.With the water she’d already made slicking the earthen floor into mud, she slid behind the enemy.Leaped up on his back, holding her twin hooks on his arms. Pulled the arms back – one dropped the club. The look on his face was priceless.But he was hardly restrained, and there was a small mutant trying to bite her ankles now. She kicked it away, but as gently as she could. Another guard picked it up and tied it to a table-leg.Finally, the other guards had their prisoners safely tied up or trapped in energy bubbles, and they helped her hold down the big one and tie him up too.It was done. Several of the guards flashed grins at her.She gave a bow, slightly smiling.Now helpers arrived to escort the rebels to the same prison Gali had been kept in before.On the way, she asked the captives over and over again, “What is Mhondomva planning? Where is he? How many more are on his side? Where can we find them?”But all the captives kept stubbornly silent.

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BE finally caught a glimpse into the Toa’s mind – she was screaming at him to say, The Krulak will not eat me! Let them have me! He heard it as a whisper.He couldn’t understand how she could know that, how she could trust these predators she called the Krulak.But he realized now that if he tried to fend them off, he’d only be weakening her comatose body still further. He could be risking her life by fighting the predators just as much as by giving her to them. It was crazy, but he made her set down the fish, and released her.Immediately, he was pulled away by the distant tug.

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Bhukasa had circled the island by the odd method of steering, the Kuambu ship chasing, when the creatures burst out of the water.“Krulak!” Toggler shouted in alarm.They were like giant fish, of various sizes… tail-fins horizontal, and with insectoid legs. Colored three shades of blue, creating an awesome contrast.Lumpy, spiky foreheads. Sharp teeth. Red eyes.They leaped out of the water, landed on the ship, attacked his crew.One carried a Matoran away. Another grabbed Sairiph’s wing.Takua and the others swung the ballista-swings around, firing at these ones. They dropped their prey, who all scrambled in a panic for the door to the lower decks.But then one slammed into the female crewmember codenamed Blue, and slid with her in its mouth all the way off the edge of the boat, into the water.A massive one leaped noisely up behind Bhukasa, breaking part of the stern. Ruugon and the other navigators scattered in terror.The Krulak slid on its belly towards Bhukasa. Pinned him against the steering device.He put a hand on each jaw, his powerful arm muscles matched evenly against its powerful jaws, as it tried to bend in and bite his head. He reached up with his tail, jammed it against the metal cylinder. The ship lurched.The Krulak slid to the left. Bhukasa stumbled to the right, leaped down to the main deck, burst into the doors.The hatch!He looked back to make sure all his crew got inside. “Takua! Leave it!”The villager grabbed one last bomb, and chucked it at an even larger Krulak that now leaped up out of the starboard water…Slammed into the mast.Broke it easily. Ignored the bomb.Takua ran inside and Bhukasa slammed the door, locking it, even as the fat toothy blue face of the other Krulak appeared roaring in front of it.Inside the two Le-Matoran tried to soothe the panicking Gukko.But the largest Krulak pounded on the door and it began to splinter.“Take off!” he ordered the fliers. “It won’t fit below, and that’s where we’re going! When you can, swing by the steering cylinder and set us on a course away from the island!”So they obeyed, but to do so they had to let down the big door behind, and no sooner had they flown out than a small Krulak leaped in. It immediately chased Bhukasa.He leaped down the stairs to the next deck, shouting at everybody to follow him to the strange hatch.Leaped down to the oar deck. Beheld some of his crew trying to tug oars back from the mouths of Krulak outside, and a huge Krulak on the starboard side biting viciously to widen the gap in the planks.Purple flash.The ship shook and everybody fell over.

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BE existed in open ocean. Searched for anything that might help him.But this time all he found was a boat. The boat he was trying to find! He was deep underwater when he saw it, and the thick clouds made it dark, but he floated up far enough to see it was so. But he wasn’t ready! He had to save his fish friend first!Or did he? Was that part of the mission?The indecision was so powerful, it shredded his mind apart and he floated there, barely understanding what he saw above, until the tug took him away.

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Niaka crawled over the fragile ramp, noticing how its top rested only against the repulsive effect of the top of the fence.Finally reached the end.She couldn’t see the battle below for the thickness of the rain. But she saw Azh’yuuros, hovering just beyond the end of the ramp.She reached him, took his arm, and leaped onto his shoulders.He sank rapidly. Too fast!But then, they were in a hurry. And he could land in water if need be.It turned out he’d fallen that fast on purpose because now he upped the strength of his flames as the pebble beach rose into visibility.He landed. She leaped off, joining Midak and Akohre.She saw the dismayed looks on their faces, and looked out to sea. Saw the ship being overrun by blue monsters. Saw the Gukko swing in, touch something with its wingtip, but then a Krulak leaped over it and knocked its riders off onto the deck.The ship now turned away from the island. She saw else nobody on the ship – they’d all fled belowdecks.The bird flew away, terrified.

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BE appeared in a scene that looked identical to the last – except now he saw a Gukko flying away from the boat.He followed it.It flew on and on and on…But finally it tired, and then it rested in the water like a swamp duck.BE moved in.Gained control.The bird shook its wings in surprise at the new presence. It conveyed shock, and then a sense of awakening, consciousness about its place in the universe… understanding what it must do.And then Blue Eyes spread his wings and took flight.

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Bhukasa stumbled to his feet just in time to see the ramming prow sticking into his rowing deck.Then slide out backwards, leaving a huge hole.The next few moments happened very quickly in rapid succession, but Bhukasa experienced them in slow-motion. It was as if he was back in the time-slowing trap that Rathoa had used near Kini-Nui once.The prow slid out.Splashes of water rained into the ship from the lowest part of this deck’s wall which was ripped out by the retreating prow. But not enough to sink it – the lowest level was obviously big enough, containing enough air, that it alone could keep the ship afloat.The Kuambu ship, or a tiny section of its prow, could be seen backing away.Krulak monsters crawled up over the decimated hull wall to the now-huge gap.Climbed in.Bhukasa turned to the hatch.Shot a thin string of white energy at it.Gained a connection that surged back through the beam, granting him control of the electrons floating around inside the black metal.Something inherent in the metal’s design forced the electrons into unnatural patterns. Some flew automatically up to the surface, triggered merely by the fact that one of Bhukasa’s species had activated a connection beam with it. These hit the surface and turned into light.Bhukasa saw a radiating, circular design of a computer control schematic appear, in blue light.The symbols etched onto it were not in Matoran nor any other language that anyone on the ship knew – this he sensed, because it was the secret language used only by members of his own species, with other members of his species. Or it had been, back when there had been others.He slid the beam to the radiating section labeled “Open.”The hatch opened.The feeling of slow time continued painfully beyond the split second when the hatch had tilted on one side and lifted out of the way, and a massive room inside had been illuminated by blue light. A long moment of staring, trying to understand that he’d finally opened the mysterious hatch, looking up to see the Krulak advancing over the ruined rower’s deck.And then it stopped. “EVERYBODY IN!” he shouted.They turned, they saw, and from mere survival instinct, they ran.He heard explosions on the higher decks. Moments later, two Le-Matoran rushed down the stairs, throwing the last of their bombfruit at more Krulak from above.Bhukasa struggled with a small Krulak that had come in first, pushing it away from the others with his mighty strength. Vira shouted that the Gukko had flown away again.And then, from the side, something massive burst through the walls like the walls weren’t even there. Not blue. Purple. With eight mandibles, five eyes, and tentacles in place of his limbs.Mhondomva!Here?!The giant barely fit in the deck. But fit he did, and he ran directly at Bhukasa.Slammed into him, stampeded over him.Bhukasa fell.Into the hatch.Heard a loud metallic clank.Landed on top of other crewmembers. In a dark room, barely lit by blue lines glowing in radiating patterns from a point in the floor, widening to climb the walls, and then meeting again around the hatch.The closed hatch.He aimed a beam at it. Got the controls to display again. Open!It raised an inch, then slammed down.Mhondomva is sitting on it!Then he saw a “Window” button and selected it urgently.The blackness of the ceiling changed to the browns of the wooden level above, the blues of the Krulak, and images of the rest of his crew, losing the battle fast. Bhukasa’s heart pounded – he needed an idea… he needed something to help. Maybe something in this room, but he saw nothing…A purple flash.He looked at a wall, and saw the rain-darkened world outside the ship, the submerged part of the wall showing water. He saw the Kuambu ship too – but it wasn’t in the water…It appeared in the air. Right over his ship.Falling on it.

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BE and the Gukko flew over the hole in the ocean.He saw the Krulak carrying the unconscious Toa up the side of the rocky lower half of the island, then into a doorway in the base of the thinner upper half. Realized they would carry her up into the prison he saw at the top. A prison he could use this Gukko to rescue her from.The Krulak did not seem to have seen him, so he turned away and waited.After a long time had passed, he flew close again, dove down into the hole.Down, down.Around, ignoring the angry waving insectoid limbs of the Krulak.Found the fish.Scooped him up gently with his beak.Then flew up, up, up, up.Over the repulsive edge of the prison. Searched the two sides of the prison, looking carefully through the jungle undergrowth.Turned out it was easy to spot her – several prisoners were gathered around her by a sign reading “Lightminds” in many languages, on one side of a strange doorway made of black metal, with a sign on the other side saying “Darkminds.”He dove in close. The other prisoners backed away in surprise.The Gukko’s claws picked up the unconscious Toa.But one prisoner leaped forward and grabbed the Gukko’s wing. Tried to hold its neck and climb on.No! No room!The Gukko tried to free its wing, but others rushed forward.I NEED to be able to talk to these people! They obviously thought a mere Rahi had simply wandered here.The Toa. She could talk.BE moved through the body of the Gukko, into its leg, through its claws, and into the Toa’s body.He experienced nearly a full minute of unconsciousness before he could think again.“Stop!” the Toa said. “I am in a coma and yet I speak to you! And you shall be rescued!”The prisoners stopped their frenzied grabbing at the Gukko, but they held it down nonetheless. They stared in confusion at the Toa.“Please back away from my bird friend,” BE said through her mouth. “It can take ALL of you to safety, but not all at once.”“The Kuambu will know and they’ll stop you if you don’t hurry!” one of them said.“Then let go the faster, and the bird will come back for you faster.” Then BE reached around and pulled the bird’s claws open – it relaxed its grip, obediently, and the Toa of Water climbed atop the bird. “Let us fly away, and in return we will come back to you immediately.”Then BE moved back into the bird to take direct control.The prisoners looked around at each other, desperation in their eyes, but one of them nodded and backed away, then one by one the others did too.Finally, with intense relief, BE flew away.I must return this Toa to her life-prolonging machine. Maybe I have awakened her, maybe not, but I cannot let her just die.BE asked the Gukko to take over – it wanted to return to the mind of the fish that had waited so long for its friend. The bird agreed, but first wondered if it really should return and free the others.Once you set my fish and I free in the ocean, BE said, I do not ask you to do anything except that which we’ve already agreed upon. Some of those prisoners looked dangerous, and you could lose your freedom if you do that. We did not actually agree TO free them, we only said that we COULD.The bird told him that it would think about it, and he left its mind.

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Niaka and the growing group of her fellow escapees watched from the pebble beach, in helpless horror, as the Kuambu ship gained speed, falling faster and faster. Yards, feet, inches away. Evil though she knew she was, this was too much… Bhukasa did not deserve this.Enemy ship slammed into the prow-half. Bombs exploded, ballista-slings shattered, the remains of the mast was destroyed.The forward side of the next deck down collapsed.The whole boat was pushed so that its prow pointed down.She lost sight of it after that as a massive splash, bigger even than the massive Kuambu ship, sprayed up, as Bhukasa’s boat sank.Krulak – as Knife-Tail called them – slowly surfaced all around the Kuambu ship. One crewmember of Bhukasa’s, a tall blue female, swam in vain away from Krulak pursuers.She hoped and hoped that Bhukasa’s boat would surface again.But it did not.It was gone.The rain thickened again, and she saw the Kuambu ship circle, obviously combing the water for survivors to imprison.And then something happened she knew, deep down, would happen all along, but she hadn’t imagined the timing.A small boat passed by.Her ferry. But altered. Enlarged somehow.At the wheel, the Unknown named Ahurahn.Like a ghost ship it swung close. Among the shouts of sorrow and fear from her ‘friends’ around her, and the loud downpour, she hadn’t heard it approach, hadn’t seen it until now as it passed right in front of all of them.There was a prolonged moment as they all stared at it, sadness dominating their minds so totally that hope like this could go completely unbelieved.And then Ahurahn solemnly waved for them to leap aboard, and the spell was broken.

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Edited by bonesiii, Sep 07 2012 - 12:21 AM.

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#32 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Apr 15 2012 - 07:31 PM

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Chapter 31

Niaka watched over the stern as the ferry quietly snuck away from the prison island.Krulak had captured the blue female and were now taking her into the doorway in the side of the island.She’d apparently be taken up to the prison from there, probably to the Lightminds side, if only because there was nothing but a raging forest fire in the other side now – she could see its orange light clearly even from down here through the thick rain.If they captured any other survivors, she couldn’t tell now. The rain obscured her vision of anything else.Now she could see only a faint outline of the castle-like Kuambu ship – clear enough to know a lingering fear that its Ga-Matoran telescope-wielder might spot her ferry.And then just rain, rain, and more rain, in front of a dark gray nothingness.Ahurahn kept the ferry going at low speed for a long time, then dared a bit more speed.Niaka looked at the others closely for the first time to see if they’d all made it. Azh’yuuros, Knife-Tail, Kewonga, Midak, Akohre, Hafu, Nixie… Vamuka, upon whom she depended… And Korau, the mystery.She noticed a shadow fall across them then.Looked up to see Mad hovering over them, a wide grin peeking around behind a finger held to his lips, symbolizing silence.Heria was still in the prison. At least she’d have one other prisoner to keep her company, Niaka thought.Why do you care? she asked herself. She was not like the ‘Vordikam’ of Vamuka’s tale, nor Mad. Her mind was not split. She was loyal to Makuta, and no other. What matter what happened to a mutant beast? Or anyone else, unless they be useful tools, or people she needed like Vamuka now.But you don’t need him. You could take the mask and flee, she thought.But no… no she couldn’t.She didn’t have any rahudermis. She was as weak as the rest of these Matoran. What was she supposed to do, tell them it was her ferry so they all had to swim if she didn’t want them on it?And now leaving the island… She thought of Tahu’s mask of Telecommunication. Her ‘theory’ for why he hadn’t been able to contact them was now left behind. Her cover risked being blown wide open.Makuta, if you can hear me in any way, if you know what’s happened here… I need help!

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Lewa ran from Onua, ran from the Bohrok Va, ran from everything except the driving urge to Clean it all! It must be cleaned!“Wait!” Onua shouted.But Lewa was already out of sight behind trees.Yet – he felt the earth churning now. Saw branches moving impossibly – Ito was near on the bird still.It was time to use the staff, time to reveal the power of a Level 3.He turned back, waiting for Onua to emerge from the soil again, to run up towards him.Lewa grabbed Onua’s right claw with one hand.He’d realized long ago that the claws were no more a part of Onua’s body than his own axe – they were Toa tools that fit around Onua’s real hand like a glove. Now he yanked one of the gloves off, kicked Onua back, and jabbed the glove into the staff.It merged.Became an axe with a glove handle, fancier in design than either Tool had been on its own.Two Toa Tools, merged with the staff and each other.The power of Air, the power of Earth, mutated versions of both… and a mutated power that mixed them both.He slammed the axe into the ground.Chunks of the ground split open. Huge earthy boulders flew into the air.Lifted. Hovered.Flew around.Slammed into each other. Broke apart, coalesced.The chaos spread, and in it, Onua and Ito both lost sight of Lewa.No, he thought. I am not Lewa. I am Lewa-Krana, who is known as He, not It.

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Mukana finished telling Kopaka all he knew and suspected.It was a big leap of faith, of trust. He appreciated that the Toa of Ice never once criticized him for his own mistake.In fact, the Toa kept silent through all of it, except to nod in understanding.Now Kopaka spoke. “I must admit I am not very good at mind games, or seeing through them. I… it is a failing of my own, perhaps. But I have worked with beings who are good for some time, and maybe I have latent experience from before my memory loss.”He paused, as if uncomfortable saying so much at once.“I agree you cannot trust Ahku. But the others… perhaps you can, especially Rehyo.”Mukana was hugely relieved by this. He, too, felt the same way. And maybe it was foolish, blind, to fall back on his long friendship with Krinaara, but he felt he could trust her too.The people of Ice were not like the others in the world, he knew. They could be cold, but they found a trueness in that calm approach to life that was what others might think of as warmth. If cold energy was as real as heat, the coldness of their hearts was as warm to them as outgoing friendship was to others. He felt in his heart that Krinaara and Rehyo were both true to what being Ko-Matoran really meant.They valued Destiny.The conflict he sensed in Ahku… perhaps it was like an icicle trying to live in a furnace. If it did not melt outright, at least it dripped nervous sweat, knowing it did not belong. Its trueness was gone, and it would fall.“In any case,” Kopaka said, “I now believe you to be in earnest. I felt the truth in your heart when you fought me that day… You were fooled, you know it, you now choose the truth.”Mukana smiled at the concise summation of his life. Any other variety of Matoran might resent his life being fit neatly into such a simple box. But not a Ko-Matoran. If anything, it was too wordy.“And I pledge that from now on, you have the loyalty of my sword, my mask, my heart,” Kopaka said quietly, raising the sword.Mukana raised his bisword. “And you have mine.”Nothing more was said. Kopaka nodded, and walked further into the cave to leave another way, and Mukana left out the exit and continued to the Rahunga meeting.

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Knife-Tail – or Udmijok as his people had called him – listened as the strange winged being who’d brought the ferry explained what was going on.Her name was Ahurahn, she said, and she was an Unknown. What that was, he had no idea, but perhaps that was obvious from the name. It seemed she’d been preparing to help them escape for some time.But there was a catch.“I’m sure you’ve all realized the Kuambu will try to hunt you down and recapture you. Especially the Captain of that boat – it was in his presence that you escaped and he WILL take it personally.” She gestured back into the rain.“I can give you valuable aid, but you must all agree that you will in turn do something for my people.”She’d paused, while everybody looked at each other worriedly – except Mad who just mumbled incoherent poetry.“I need you to continue south on this boat, and visit several islands. On each island, you must do something. Then you must go on to the other islands. I can’t reveal what it is you must do until you all accept, but it will be the same on every island, unless a special circumstance occurs – although you will run into various obstacles, of course.”Of course. Knife-Tail already distrusted the being. Left unstated was that if they didn’t agree to do her bidding, Ahurahn would leave them to the Kuambu.Out loud, he asked, “What if not all of us agree?”“What if NONE of us agree?” Kewonga said. “Whose side are you on that you would dare use a veiled threat to get us to act as your tools?”Knife-Tail grimaced. How bold this Healer was to speak what Udmijok dared only think. But he’d said it with a confidence and a gravitas Knife-Tail had always failed to grasp. The thought threatened to let the emotion come, so he pushed it away.In any event, Ahurahn didn’t act insulted.“I dare because what I would have you do is vital to the prevailing of good in this realm; we would do it ourselves but we are stretched thin on more important matters. We had others who could have helped us, but they’ve been scattered and we cannot find them.”“You didn’t answer the question,” Azh’yuuros noticed, a strong hint of warning in his voice. “What if one does not agree? I am the Guardian of the Sapphire Vault. And I know of your people – it was they that ordered me to guard it. Right now it is unguarded – I must go to it immediately. Now. It has… become relevant. Targeted. You know this.”“It is not unguarded,” Ahurahn said. “That is exactly what I have been doing myself when I’ve not come to you, and right now another of my people guards it until I return. Every moment you argue is a delay.”“But I was told that I alone could guard it effectively!”“There is a reason that your expertise is not needed right now. You were told when we assigned it to you that two things must be true at once for that. I can assure you that for the moment one is not true.”Azh’yuuros looked incredulous. “But you told me that the Vault m—”“SILENCE!” the Unknown barked. Though it had been directed at the blue giant, Knife-Tail crouched meekly in the face of such commanding urgency. “You were also banned from saying that in front of others like these. You know the reason.”“I’m sorry. But you told me that other thing was true, has been for well over a thousand years.”“It is temporarily untrue, and will return to truth soon. For now, you are needed by these for this mission.”Azh’yuuros fell silent for a moment, considered, and then nodded. “Very well. I accept.”“Thank you. And now, I really do need to get back to guarding the Vault myself. I ask the rest of you to quickly follow his lead and agree.”“I agree,” Mad said. Knife-Tail looked at him and was surprised to see no hint of insanity in his expression. Instead, he looked pained, as if it had taken all his strength to say it.“I guess if the Turaga agree, I will raise no objections,” Kewonga said. “Incidently, do you know why Tahu hasn’t contacted us?”Ahurahn looked the Healer squarely in the eye. “Because one of you is a Rahunga, blocking the Rikaori power.”Stunned silence from the Matoran met this relevation, then outbursts of shock, nervous glances at each other, some almost forming questions on their lips but falling silent. But it meant nothing to Knife-Tail except that it obviously implied a traitor. He almost asked what this meant, but figured he could ask the others later.“Who?” Kewonga whispered, looking as if he’d seen a ghost.“I will not reveal that,” she answered quietly.Knife-Tail noticed many suspecting glances at Korau. Ahurahn looked like she was going to continue, but the chef saw the glances and protested loudly. “It isn’t me! I swear I was mis-sorted!”Ahurahn tried to continue again, but the chef turned to her, his expression such a genuine appeal for aid Knife-Tail almost believed him. “Please tell them it isn’t me!”“I will not reveal either who it is, or isn’t,” she insisted.From the looks on the faces of most of the others, especially Vamuka, they saw that as basically confirming it was the Po-Matoran. Knife-Tail didn’t know what to believe, but these people would know one of their own better than he would – so he made a mental note never to put his life or freedom in trust of the chef if he could help it.“Please—”“I do NOT have time to indulge in this game,” Ahurahn said, and that was the end of it. “Regardless, you Eight set out to investigate the Kuambu. I promise you if you go back to Mata Nui, you’ll make absolutely no progress in that goal, but this way, you will uncover a very important secret about them. Several, if you follow my instructions exactly and do not waver.”Kewonga sighed. “Very well. I accept, but I do not accept for the team. Niaka? This team was your idea – if you accept for the team, I would count your word as law.”She looked uncertain, tried to form a response, then closed her mouth. Then said, “I see you as our leader, Kewonga. I don’t claim that position.”It was only then that Udmijok noticed that Ahurahn had still not answered the original question. Did they all have to accept? It seemed she really wanted to avoid answering this question, or even letting them focus their attention on it by actually admitting it. She wanted them to forget it had even been asked and the others all looked like they had.“Very well. Do the rest of you see me as leader as well?”There were nods all around. “And I think we’re all in this anyways,” Midak offered. Nobody disagreed.“Then as leader of the Eight, I say that we accept.”Everybody turned to Udmijok.He wanted to call the Unknown out for her dodging of the question. It wasn’t fair – it was trickery! He didn’t want to do this. He just wanted to go home. His people needed guards like him for the defense…As if she could read his thoughts, Ahurahn offered, “The third major location you will arrive at will be your home island, Udmijok. You need not commit to this until you reach it, but I do ask you to continue past your home island. You will be a great help if you do.”How’s she know my name? he thought.He started to repeat the original question. “What if…” Then something in his gut told him it was a bad idea. But why?He didn’t know why.But it felt right not to go there. Anyways, she’d implied he could stay on his island if he so chose. He had time to decide later.So he merely said that. “I will go at least as far as my home island. After that… I… I don’t know.” Sadness tainted the last of his words.“Very good,” Ahurahn said. “Now for the details.”

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A Matoran guard ran down the steps to the basement level of the Kini-Nui Hall, shouting Tahu’s name.The Toa of Fire turned away from Kanoka. “What is it?”“It’s the Bohrok, sir! There’s a swarm clearing everything in their path, headed right at us!”“Which allegiance – can you tell?”“We’re pretty sure it’s not the Third Faction’s Bohrok. But there’s some of all six colors in this swarm.”“How many?”“Too many to count!”Tahu gritted his teeth, looking at Kanoka.“Let me help,” the Rahunga said. He was serious. Seemed genuine.Tempting.Actually, if Tahu went, who was capable of guarding this Rahunga?Well, anyone… if he demanded Kanoka hand over his Rah-Kanohi. He’d revert to a mere Tohunga. And fall into a coma unless given a normal mask.“I know what you’re thinking,” Kanoka said, touching his mask. “But you can’t really even spare one Matoran to guard me. Please don’t leave me here defenseless. If you and the rest of the defense fall…” He shuddered visibly, gesturing at the bars of his prison.Tahu almost let him out then.But this is Kanoka!He mentally thought of the Toa of Ice. “Kopaka, can you hear me?”“Yes.”Tahu told him what was going on.“I’m on my way.”He called Onua and explained the situation.“It took us all night,” Onua said, “to get Lewa alone out here. I have a chance to get him back now. I think I need to take it.”The Toa of Earth sounded out of breath, exhausted. That alone stayed Tahu’s insistence – a tired Toa might be able to take on another Toa who’s just as tired from being chased all night. Not a swarm. He’d only be giving Onua to another Krana.So he agreed to let Onua continue the chase.“Call Mukana,” Kanoka said. “I know you don’t trust me… and I know of any of us you trust him. You need him.”“I don’t even know if he’s close enough to get here on time.”“Call him and find out.”Tahu started to object. Took a deep breath to calm his temper.I don’t have to tell him what’s going on.So he did call Mukana, simply asking for an update. The Rahunga gave it. He was on the northwest coast.He’s much too far away.“Any reason you’re calling now?” he wondered.“I…”He glanced at Kanoka, trying to read his facial expression. The Ta-Rahunga looked like he was trying to appear brave in the face of a deadly trap, but really knew this could be his end.Or was that just how Tahu wanted to see it?“Is something wrong?” Mukana persisted, sounding worried.“Yes,” Tahu said before he could second-guess his gut feeling. Kanoka was right. He trusted Mukana.He explained.“I’m coming. Shall I alert Bimiaku and Klirisha?”“No. Frankly, I don’t know them, but you I trust.”“What about Kanoka? Does he know?”“He’s here with me now. He wants to help.”Silence.That silence spoke like the thunder of a multitude. A chill raced through all of Tahu’s body.Mukana knows something’s wrong with Kanoka. Something very wrong.“Well,” Mukana finally said, “if you can’t decide, ask the Turaga.”Good advice, Tahu thought. And well played. Mukana had avoided saying one way or the other what he thought of Kanoka.It reminded Tahu of an Unknown. Come to think of it, I wonder what Surkahi would say?He tried to focus on Surkahi. “Can you hear me?” he asked, without speaking the name.No answer.“Who?” Kanoka asked.“Nobody,” Tahu muttered. He called the Turaga – who were already out on the walls using Noble mask powers to help.“I can see his argument,” Vakama said. He consulted briefly with the others. “I know Kanoka… he truly is the greatest warrior on this island. He would be most helpful… if he speaks true. And he did not betray us the last time we trusted him.”Tahu started to sigh in relief to hear his superior making the call for him.“And yet,” Vakama continued, “He has played us like this before. I… I leave this decision up to you, Toa Tahu.”BAH!Countless rebellious thoughts and condemnations flew through his mind. But he had to remind himself that the elders were wiser than he, and if even they could not decide…Tahu turned and looked Kanoka in the eye. “I promise I’ll come back for you no matter what. If I must abandon the fight, if I can tell we’re doomed to lose it, I’ll get you out in time.”“You can’t just leave me here!”“I…”“I can make a promise too, Toa Tahu,” Kanoka pleaded. “I promise I won’t use this as an opportunity to escape. I intend to stand and fight alongside you and if we save the Hall I’ll come back to this cell. I promise.”Tahu shook his head, not so much to deny the request but just in amazement at this turn of events.How is it that Kanoka always manages to need our trust? he wondered. And make us distrust him so much… but want to trust him so desperately?Once again it was as if the Rahunga read his thoughts – what else would Tahu be thinking? “I know,” Kanoka said, stepping forward and grabbing the metal bars. “I know I’ve asked for trust before and betrayed that very trust. I know I’ve been a liar! Attempted murder even. I know it’s ridiculous to ask you to trust me.”Tahu could only agree… so he said nothing.“But leaving me here is a death sentence. You can’t be sure you’ll be able to come back for me.”“I’m not sure of anything!” Tahu blurted back angrily. “I’m not sure these Bohrok will even attack the Hall.”“I am,” Kanoka said simply. “Anything on this island that’s in their way, they’ll destroy. Anything.”“Our walls are strong,” the guard objected. “Your Rahi army couldn’t destroy it.”“They didn’t have elemental powers. Try melting away a piece of this rock wall, Tahu. Try it. You can do it easily. So can Tahnok.”Tahu didn’t try it. He believed Kanoka on this…and he was afraid if he turned his destructive power on the walls now, he wouldn’t hold back. He just stood there, fingers clenching and unclenching his sword, fuming but trying to hold it in.“Sir?” the guard asked.“I’m THINKING!” he raged. “Go! I’ll follow in a moment!”“Yes, sir!” the guard said meekly, hurrying away.Tahu faced Kanoka, if only to keep his eyes on him as the Turaga had ordered.“I… I’ve doomed myself if you leave me here,” Kanoka said. “My own manipulating, my own ploys… it was all so wrong! This is the proof! This is why! I can… I can never truly earn your trust! But… it happened and you… you can’t…” He turned his palms up. “But… But I…”Suddenly he turned away and walked to the other end of his cell, facing the wall. Tahu heard him take a deep breath and sigh fast. Another.Either he’s faking it extremely well, Tahu thought, Or he’s filled with… genuine sadness…No, this was sorrow.Kanoka murmured through sobs, “I’ll get on my knees and beg. I’ll throw the mask out now. Look.” He faced Tahu again.While tears flowed down the mask, rahudermis flowed up.The now-normal-sized Ta-Matoran ripped the mask off his face and threw it out the bars. “Smash it now if you wish! I ask not for it again, not in the face of this threat, though I’ll accept it back if you order it, so I can better help in the defense. Just let me out and I will help as best I can. And come back. I promise!”He did get on his knees then. “Just get me another mask to stay conscious. The Turaga store extra ones on the first floor of this hall, above here. Then leave me here if you must… I wouldn’t blame you, but please, please, do not!”Tahu wanted to believe him. He wanted to say yes.And he wanted to say no.I must decide! I MUST!But he couldn’t.

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Ahurahn bent down and picked up a sack that Niaka hadn’t noticed before, laying on the ferry’s deck.She pulled out a small cube. It was colored silver, with a single clear button on the top.Next she pulled out a tablet filled with tiny etchings.Then she pulled out what looked like a modified Zamor launcher – Niaka noticed Udmijok clearly recognized it.Finally, Ahurahn emptied the bag of ten identical objects. Each was a silver circle crisscrossed with intricate blue glowing lines, about the size of a fist, with a handle on the back.She held up the big weapon. “You should recognize this, Udmijok. It was your own weapon before the Kuambu stole it.”“I thought so!” the centauroid exclaimed, taking it eagerly. “With this I can indeed help.”“For the rest of you,” the Unknown continued, pointing at the little handheld devices, “these will protect you against many harms. The boat itself has a similar protection.”“How do they work?” Kewonga asked.Ahurahn just smiled at him, as if amused he would think he could understand the answer. “Suffice to say, they are made by our people.”Niaka glanced at one of the handheld objects. Obviously they’d have to experiment with them right away, but it would rude to do it now.Mad picked one up. “Preeeeetty!”Ahurahn ignored him. She held up the tablet and pointed at a strange computer device mounted in front of the helm.“This tablet has exact directions about what buttons you must push on that device and when. Input these codes into it and it will control the steering for you. If you must change course to avoid danger, as soon as you relax control it will steer you back onto the correct heading.”She handed the tablet to Kewonga.“Each line on the tablet is the code for a single leg of the route. Input only one at a time.” Mad banged the handheld object on the boat’s hull. It did nothing. Niaka noticed it looked like a primitive metal shield sometimes used by warriors, although it was far too small to be effective.Now the Unknown held up the strange box. “This cube is more important than anything else on this boat, even the boat itself, even any of you. Guard it with your very lives.”“What’s it do?” Niaka asked, unable to keep silent.Ahurahn ignored the question. “You’ll notice that between every line of code on the tablet is the word ‘CHECK.’ This means that when you arrive at an island, someone must bring this cube as close to the center of that island as possible, and press the button.”She paused, glancing at Niaka and the others as if daring them to ask another question.Nobody did, although Mad tossed the little shield high in the air. Failed to catch it – it hit Korau’s shoulder and bounced to the deck. The chef scowled.The winged humanoid pressed the button on the cube. The button flashed red. “If this happens when you’re in the center of an island, you are done with the island. Go back to the ferry and input the code for the next leg of the journey.”Another pause.“You MUST press the button near the center of each island. If you come onto one of the prison islands like the one you were trapped on, the farthest inland side of the pebble beach will do.”Pause.“Whenever you arrive at the end of a leg, as coded into the navigation device, the screen of the device will go blank, erasing the previous code.”Pause, and she leaned forward, looking them all in the eye. “If there is more than one island in your sight, from your vantage point at the moment that happens – at the end of a leg – you must CHECK on ALL of those islands. This is extremely important.”“What if there’s a big island we can’t get to the center of?” Niaka ventured to ask.“There won’t be. I know all the islands on the route.”“What if the button doesn’t flash red?” Knife-Tail asked.Ahurahn ignored him. “If it is raining, or if there is fog – or if in any way you cannot clearly see the horizon when you arrive, you must do your best to hold that position until visibility improves. Lest you miss sighting an island. If you leave that position due to an enemy attack, you must return later.”Pause.“Remember, all of you, when any of you go ashore, carry the small shields with you at all times, or the launcher in your case, Udmijok.”She looked them all in the eye again, flapped her wings once, and asked, “Do you all understand the directions?”But what if the button doesn’t flash red?!Niaka didn’t dare ask the question. She couldn’t look suspicious.But Korau asked it for her, annoyance in his voice. “You didn’t tell us what to do if the button doesn’t flash red.”Ahurahn waved a hand at him dismissively. “I do not wish to clutter your minds with too much to remember. I have told you everything you must be very careful to do, exactly as I said. Fail to follow those directions and this will all be for nothing. So I repeat, do you all understand the directions?”Niaka practiced a technique Rahunga had used for a long time when hearing instructions from Makuta.She visualized all of the steps of the instructions as if from her own perspective, breathing quickly but quietly to accelerate her adrenaline, tensing and relaxing her muscles.When the instructions involved islands, she invented islands of all sizes and shapes, cycling through as many possibilities as she could think of within a few seconds.When they involved enemies and rain she pictured these and then what must be done in response.When she came rapidly to the end of her imaginary journey – the end which had no description save a question mark – the instructions were vivid and fresh in her mind. She ran through it again, and then again. Faster and faster, simplifying the details she had made up, changing them around, but each time executing the directions exactly.She did this ten times in the span of a few seconds.Now the instructions were memorized permanently.Others nodded and said yes well before she finished, but by the way they glanced nervously at each other, she knew most had forgotten almost all of it, especially Vamuka. Azh’yuuros appeared confident in his understanding, nodding solemnly. Mad looked like he was fighting for his life with the other side of his personality. Somehow even he managed to nod. Knife-Tail looked worried, but said he understood.Niaka glanced nervously at Kewonga to mask her unique reaction.Nodded.

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Edited by bonesiii, Apr 15 2012 - 07:33 PM.

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#33 Online bonesiii

bonesiii
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Posted Apr 18 2012 - 06:41 PM

Chapter 32

Udmijok watched the others trying to experiment with the little shields, but they appeared to be merely decorative. Some were already expressing regrets about agreeing to this mission.Before she’d left, Ahurahn had helped Niaka input the first line of code into the navigation machine. Then she’d flown away.Knife-Tail tested his weapon.When he focused, a sphere appeared in the launch part. A sphere of orange energy.A Kuamor sphere.This was one of the greatest secrets of his people. He knew how the Kuambu activated powers in Kuamor spheres. This sphere, like all Kuamor of the Shvontuk species, activated a Destiny power.He fired it out over the water, hitting a