This is a story I wrote quite some time ago. I had it posted on some external sites, then thought: why the heck is it not posted on BZP?! So here it is, my first story ever posted here. I hope you like it! I have a few others like this, all focusing on members of the Toa Inika/Mahri when they were still Matoran. Let me know what you think!
The island of Mata Nui, ~1,001 years before Mata Nui's reawakening.
Where in Mata Nui's name are we?
Jala sat alone on a felled tree staring out at the nearby beach and the ocean that lapped at it. A cool wind blew in from the ocean, and the liquid that filled it was blue, which struck him as odd. The only ocean he'd ever seen, the one back at home surrounding Metru Nui, had been a deep silver. This thought led him back to his original query: where was this new place? Why was what appeared to be the entire Matoran population of Metru Nui on this island? Who had brought them here? Perhaps that Turaga who had given him his new mask would know…
Jala's old friend, Takua, came running, water dripping from his armor. "What's wrong, Jala?" he said. "Afraid to go swim with the rest of us?"
"Are you kidding?" Jala replied. "I'd rather surf on lava!"
"Come on. Hahli's there."
Jala hesitated. "S-so?"
"Just get off your high… log, and have some fun for once. We've been busy building temporary huts all day, and when we finally get a break, you want to spend it sitting down?"
"Sure. It helps me, ah, recover energy more quickly."
Takua shook his head. "Jala, we aren't on Metru Nui anymore. There are no vahki to give you a slap on the wrist if you're slacking. Trust me, I've checked."
Jala's mind wandered. Metru Nui… The name sounded familiar. My old home! he remembered. How could I have forgotten something like that? He shook off the thoughts. "I know that, Takua. It's just that… well, it doesn't feel right to me. I feel like I should be doing something important, not splashing in that weird blue ocean."
Takua sighed. "I see you're just as much a stick in the mud as always. Guess I can't make you come over if you don't want to, but if you ever do decide to, you're always welcome. Or maybe you'd rather go sit with the Po-Matoran?" He gestured toward the brown armored villagers, all gathered together farther down the beach and noticeably farther from the water as well. Jala chuckled as he saw one Ga-Matoran—Maku was her name, if he remembered correctly—attempted to pull out Huki, an old acquaintance of Jala's. They'd often shared tools to help each other with their respective duties. Sometimes, Huki needed incredibly delicate shapings in his sculptures, and he'd found that the easiest way to accomplish them was by using a heat-staff, which Jala would provide. In turn, Jala would borrow one of Huki's hammers or chisels to his own detail work on…
On what? Jala found that he could not recall what it was he used to work on… back in…
"Thanks, Takua," said Jala. "You go have your fun. I think I need to talk with those new Turaga. Do you know who they are?"
"No clue," Takua said, starting to walk away. "You know, you're right," he called back. "The color of the water is definitely weird."
"What is it you wanted to ask me, Jala?" the red Turaga said, turning to face him. This was yet another thing struck Jala as odd: this Turaga, who was a complete stranger to Jala, knew his name.
"Turaga, I—" Jala floundered. He knew there was a specific question he'd wanted to ask earlier. Something important, regarding the past… He searched his mind to no avail. "I… was wanting to ask you who exactly you and your companions are."
The Turaga chuckled. "It's me, Jala. Vakama."
Something extremely distant seemed to stir in Jala's mind, but he ignored it. He cocked his head. "I'm sorry. Should I… know you?"
Vakama looked shocked, almost… sorrowful, but only for a moment. "Nevermind that now. I am Vakama, and my fellows are Matau, Nuju, Whenua, Nokama, and Onewa," he said, pointing at each fellow Turaga in turn. "We will do our best to lead you here on this, our new island home, which we've agreed should be named Mata Nui, in honor of the Great Spirit."
Jala nodded. "I see. An honor to meet all of you," he said, bowing his head in respect. The Turaga nodded back.
Turaga Nuju suddenly broke out in a series of strange-sounding whistles and clicks. He seemed to be trying to communicate a message…
"Ah, what did he say?" Jala asked.
The other Turaga laughed gently. "We have no idea," Whenua said. "It's something he picked up from an old friend, but he has yet to teach anyone else how to speak it as well."
Can this day get any crazier? Jala thought. He cleared his throat. "Well, Turaga, I've been having some concerns lately, primarily about—"
"Hey!" Turaga Matau suddenly shouted. "Get away my airships!" He ran as quickly as he could over to where some Onu-Matoran had begun dismantling one of the beached airships that Jala assumed had carried the Matoran here.
"Those ones probably have the right idea," Whenua mused. "The airships would certainly be a good source of building supplies, wouldn't you say, Onewa?"
"Certainly," the Turaga of stone replied. "We'll find no better immediate well of resources as those. It would be a waste to just leave them sitting there forever."
"You were saying, Jala?" Vakama said.
"Yes, Turaga," Jala said, praying that he wouldn't be interrupted again. "I have some concerns regarding our security."
"Ah, yes. I have had some thoughts on this matter as well. Is there anything specifically that you've noticed?"
Jala took a deep breath. "I believe I've seen a Kane-Ra in the area."
Vakama's eyes widened. "Oh… That may pose a problem."
"May?" Whenua said. "If we're camped in the Kane-Ra's territory, you can bet your mask it will try to… remove us."
"Exactly," Jala said. "I was wondering if you'd have any ideas on how to secure the camp, or if, perhaps, we should move…"
"Or both," Nokama suggested. "Tearing down what we have built will take some time, but would be best if a Kane-Ra is around. We'll still need some defenses to keep us safe in case it decides to attack while we're in the process of moving."
"I agree," Vakama said, nodding. "Jala, recruit some other Matoran and inform them of the situation. Use whatever materials you can gather, including anything you want from the airships—even if Matau yells at you—to prepare a suitable defense." He rested a hand on Jala's shoulder. "Our welfare may depend on your success."
Jala blanched, then saluted. "Of course, Turaga," he said, struggling to keep from stuttering. "You can count on me."
"You do know we're facing a Kane-Ra bull, right, Jala?" Aft asked.
Jala finished pulling off a sheet of metal off the outside of an airship. "I do," he replied. "And I have a plan on how to deal with it."
"I don't see how something like this will slay such a great beast," Aft said, holding up his own sheet of metal.
"It won't, but I don't intend to slay it. We only need to delay it long enough for us to get out of the way."
"So… a trap, then?"
"Using sheets of metal, long pointy sticks, and…"
"Shovels. We found some in one the airship's storage garages, and we'll use them to dig a giant hole."
Aft shook his head. "I can't say I see what you're doing, but… you seem like the best one to take care of this. That Turaga chose well, I think."
Jala extended a closed fist toward his friend. "Thank you, for being willing to follow me."
Aft bumped Jala's fist with his own. "Of course. But if you get us all gored, I may be a little upset with you."
"The creature-beast approaches!" the Le-Matoran scout, Kongu, shouted.
"Right," Jala said. "Everyone ready?" He looked to his gathered squad of Ta-Matoran. Each held a long spear whose tip had been dipped in pitch and set aflame. They appeared nervous, but determined. Jala heard heavy rustling in the trees beyond the beach.
"Have courage, brothers!" he shouted.
The large red bull burst through the brush, sending a group of Nui-Rama into the air as it went. Jala and his Ta-Matoran backed up, keeping their fire spears thrust out toward the Kane-Ra, slowing its charge. It roared and feigned charges at several, but always stopped shy of the flames.
"Close around it and move toward the pit," Jala commanded, struggling to be heard over loud buzzing of the unsettled swarm of Nui-Rama. "Keep backing it up until it falls in!" They began the slow process of keeping the bull contained, giving it just enough space to think itself free, toward the place where the true trap lay.
Aft gave a desperate cry as he was lifted from the ground by his shoulders, an orange Nui-Rama gripping him in its claws. The Kane-Ra, sensing a point of weakness, charged the opening, running through despite the fire spears of nearby Matoran.
"Help!" Aft shouted from above. Jala looked up just in time to see his friend receive a brutal sting in the back from the Nui-Rama.
Jala shuddered at the sight of Aft going limp in the Rahi's claws. No time to freeze, he thought. Lives are at stake. Move!
"Nuhrii!" he called to another Ta-Matoran. "Take the squad and try to herd the Kane-Ra again. I'm going after Aft." Nuhrii saluted and ran to catch the bull, commanding the remainder of the guards as he went.
Jala searched the air. It was full of Nui-Rama, still buzzing nervously after being disturbed. He soon sighted on the one that held Aft, and it appeared to be trying to get away, its progress impeded by its own fellow Rahi. Jala changed his grip on his spear and threw it up into the swarm, but it was knocked aside by the other Nui-Rama. Cursing, he ran forward, underneath the swarm. It was difficult to keep pace with the Nui-Rama above—the shifting sand underfoot on didn't provide a firm surface for running—as well as keeping track of it. When the creature eventually cleared the swarm, Jala took time to search his surroundings for a means of getting to it. He spotted a round piece of driftwood and a vine that looked rather useful…
He grabbed the items without slowing down. This wood felt familiar in his hand. Like… like a disc.
You can't have him! he thought as he swung the disc up at the Nui-Rama. It clipped the Rahi's wing, disturbing its already burdened flight. It dropped fast, nearly crashing in to the sand. Jala ran quickly, catching up to it. Gathering what little strength he had left in his legs, he jumped up onto the Rahi, swinging the vine he'd grabbed around the creature's neck. Mata Nui, what am I thinking!? he thought as the Rahi bucked wildly against him. The Nui-Rama let go of Aft, now trying to reach up and remove the Matoran on top of it. It's arms were just short enough that if Jala moved carefully, he could avoid being grabbed. That didn't stop it from trying, which distracted it enough for Jala to exert some control over the direction of its flight. He tugged with the vine, yanking toward where the Kane-Ra had gone.
Jala's eyes widened as he saw what had occurred. Several tents and makeshift huts on the fringes of the camp had been destroyed by the bull. He was thankful to see that no Matoran seemed to be hurt. He could see Nuhrii and the others making some progress as the beast took time to fully dismantle a small campsite that Jala himself had set up. It rammed its head into a brown tent, tearing it up from the ground. A gust of wind blew in its face then, plastering the cloth to its snout. The Kane-Ra roared in anger, trying to remove the thing that obstructed its vision. The Ta-Matoran guards charged then, poking the beast with their spears.
Jala soon reached the bull himself, still on top of the Nui-Rama. One shot at this… He dropped off the Nui-Rama and landed on the bull's back. He grabbed hold of its horns and headed it toward the hole they had dug earlier. The bull responded to his sharp tugs and ran toward the pit, still blinded.
The beast lost its footing over the edge and tumbled down. Jala leapt off, barely grabbing the edge of the hole himself. He looked down to see the Kane-Ra sprawled out at the bottom. The pit wasn't too deep, only about 15 feet. Then a shadow passed over him.
"Need a hand, Jala?" a voice said from above.
He chuckled. "Wouldn't hurt, Hahli." He grabbed her extended hand, hoping she didn't notice the way his heartlight sped up, and was pulled out.
Once he was safely above ground again, Hahli called to her fellow Ga-Matoran. They ran forward and tossed a large net down over the Kane-Ra, giving it a new obstacle to struggle with.
"Nice touch," Jala said, nodding. "Once it gets through that and the tent on its head, it should notice itself in the mirrors we set up down there. The idea was that it would be distracted at the thought of another of its kind in the pit with it."
"Good thinking," Hahli said. "Is it going to be… stuck down there?"
"It'll be able to get out eventually, but we should be gone by then." He took a look over the rest of the camp, noticing that most of the equipment and shelters had been removed. "Thanks again, Hahli."
She smiled. "I'm always happy to help out."
"I have a feeling we'll need all the help we can get in the coming days…"
Jala watched as Turaga Nokama finished tying a bandage around Aft's wounded middle. "You'll make a fully recovery in no time," she said. "Just don't get picked up by any more Rahi."
The wounded Ta-Matoran nodded and lay back on his makeshift bed. "Thank you, Turaga Nokama," he said quietly. "And you, Jala, for saving me back there."
"Just doing my duty," Jala replied.
"Duty indeed," said Turaga Vakama as he entered the small tent. "That reminds me of something I wanted to speak to you about, Jala. Step outside with me, so we don't bother you fellow Matoran." He placed a hand on Jala's shoulder as they exited the tent.
"Your display of tactical wisdom and heroic action today impressed me," the Turaga continued. "When we have established society here on Mata Nui, someone will be needed to keep order and protect what we have. I had been thinking on how to solve this problem, and thought to myself, why not Jala and his fellow Ta-Matoran? We've seen what you can do. So tell me, Jala. Would you be willing to protect this land, and to take command of your brothers to that end?"
Jala stopped walking. What he'd done today had stressed him like nothing he'd ever done before. Of course, he couldn't remember a whole lot of things he had done in the past, yet he knew it to be true. The thought of taking command of others and working to protect everyone in the long-term was… daunting. "I…" he began. "Thank you, but I'm not sure I'm the one for the job, Turaga."
"Most difficult tasks are uncomfortable when we first begin them," Vakama said. "Believe me, I've experienced it. But it is those tasks which are often the most important. I have seen something in you today: a gift for leadership, a heart full of courage, and a desire to protect. We need you and your mind, Jala. Over time, you will gain confidence and ability. You can learn and adapt. These are your greatest strengths. I believe in you, and your ability to succeed."
"I see," said Jala, falling into deep thought. Was it true? Of course, he had done the things the Turaga mentioned. But a knack for leadership? He certainly didn't feel like much of a leader. Yet… this Turaga said he saw it. Saw potential for more. If I'm to have a place in this new land, where better than to be defending my people? "All right. I'll do it."
"Excellent," Vakama said with a smile. "If you ever need me, I'll be there to give you advice. I know you'll do well. I know just what to call you, too. You shall be our Captain of the Guard."
Edited by Kookie, Dec 18 2016 - 08:56 PM.