Kulagi, an Onu-Matoran from Metru Nui, was hard at work on his forge in his home. He was a talented Kanoka Maker, and had crafted many powerful discs in his time. Kanoka discs are used everywhere in Matoran society, from work to sports to transport to self defense. Kanoka discs are formed out of protodetmis from one of the six Metrus of Metru Nui, and can have one of eight standard powers at various power levels. Kulagi was known for going to extremes to collect the purest of protodermis in order to make the strongest of discs. Even then, purity didn’t count for everything, and Kulagi’s skills and techniques are above most of his peers.
Kulagi finalized a disc at his forge, and set it aside to let it cool. But he didn’t give himself time to rest; he quickly poured more protodermis into his forge to start another disc. The protodermis was part of a batch he had received from Ta-Metru, and its purity was not up to Kulagi’s standards. But Kulagi couldn’t complain; even in the peaceful days of Metru Nui, it was hard to come across pure Ta-Metru protodermis, since most of it was located in restricted zones.
Of course, Kulagi was not currently living through the peaceful days of Metru Nui. Right now, the city was in the middle of a war between the Dark Hunters and Toa.
It had begun years ago when the Dark Hunters released the Kanohi Dragon upon the city. A team of heroes, known as the Toa Mangai, had arrived and after a major struggle subdued the beast. This had not pleased The Shadowed One, the leader of the Dark Hunters. Next, they tried to kidnap Turaga Dume, the leader of Metru Nui. The kidnapping had ultimately failed, and in a rage The Shadowed One sent an army of Dark Hunters to besiege the city. But the Toa managed to get word out, and an army of over one hundred of the heroes arrived to protect the city. And thus the war began.
The Matoran’s livelihood abruptly changed with the war, as they now worked to support their Toa protectors. Many Matoran had to flee their homes as the Dark Hunters claimed large sections of the city. Those who remained set up fortifications, and worked hard to create weapons and armor for the Toa. Kulagi himself was now cranking out Kanoka discs as quickly as he could to support the war effort.
Kulagi’s door abruptly opened. On reflex, Kulagi snatched up his disc launcher, with a Kanoka labeled 626 already loaded. But he relaxed as he recognized the Po-Matoran’s brown Hau. “Welcome back, Huaju.”
“Put that down!” Huaju said, as he closed the door. “I don’t need you shrinking me down to the size of a protodite every time I walk in.”
“It’s a freezing Kanoka anyway,” Kulagi said casually.
“Great, because turning into an ice cube is a much better fate,” Huaju replied sarcastically.
Huaju was a fellow Kanoka Maker, and a good friend of Kulagi. However, the Po-Matoran often found it difficult to live with Kulagi’s habits. Kulagi couldn’t blame him for being on edge either; Huaju’s home had been in a region invaded by the Dark Hunters, and he had evacuated with the other Po-Matoran over a month ago. Kulagi could tell that Huaju was getting homesick, but there was nothing he could do about it. After all, he had invited Huaju to stay with him, instead of being forced to live in the Coliseum with the other refuges.
“Why are you so trigger-happy anyway?” Huaju asked. “It’s not like the Dark Hunters are going to attack here any time soon. This region is too well protected.”
“Well, it could’ve been a member of the Matoran Guard,” Kulagi pointed out. “The last time they paid me a house visit, they took every last Kanoka they could get their hands on. I don’t mind supporting the Toa, but I need some discs for my own arsenal.”
“And how are those discs coming along?” Huaju asked.
“The bad news is that it’s not the best batch,” Kulagi said. “But I did get a couple of powerful ones, and the good news is that they’re not power levels 7 or 8.”
Huaju laughed. “That’s not normally something you’re happy about. You’re always trying to make the strongest Kanoka.”
“Yeah, well that was before the war,” Kulagi said darkly. “Now every disc with a power level of 7 or 8 gets sent directly to the mask-makers to be turned into a Kanohi mask for the Toa. It’s that new mandatory law that the Turaga passed.”
“Yeah, nobody has any spare 7 or 8 discs anymore,” Huaju agreed. “But it’s helping the Toa out, so we can’t complain.”
“Sure we can,” Kulagi said, retrieving the disc he had let cool off. “According to the Kanoka recorder, this is a level 6 Ta-Metru Shrinking disc. It’s just below the cutoff, so I can keep it in my personal collection.” He began to carve the code into the disc, the last step that needed to be taken before the disc was completed.
“And what about the rest of these?” Huaju asked, gesturing to the piles of finished discs on the ground.
“They’re all low levels,” Kulagi said with a shrug. “They can go to the war effort, to arm the Matoran Guard or, against my better judgment, the Vahki.”
Indeed, Kulagi knew how important his Kanoka discs would be for defense, even low powered ones. The Matoran and Toa were just barely holding out against the Dark Hunters. In the north, much of the dry Po-Metru had been claimed by the Dark Hunters, and they were also expanding their territory in Le-Metru and Ko-Metru. The rest of the island, including Ga-Metru, Ta-Metru, and Onu-Metru, were under the constant threat of a Dark Hunter attack. While the one hundred Toa were the main combatants, they relied heavily on intel from the Matoran Guard and assistance from the robotic law enforcing Vahki.
Kulagi wasn’t a fan of the Vahki. In the days before the war, he had been on the wrong side of the law many times in his search for pure protodermis, and had been attacked by Vahki countless times. But with time also came experience, and Kulagi had learned how to outwit the Vahki at their own games. And the Onu-Matoran was not a stranger to combat either; he had played a major role in subduing the dreadful Gang Matoran. His actions had earned him recognition from the Turaga, who had shown more leniencies to Kulagi’s unlawful ways. At least, more than usual. Kulagi had still been arrested twice since that incident, but his punishments hadn’t been as severe as before.
Ordinarily, Kulagi wouldn’t have obeyed any laws that he disagreed with, especially when it came to giving away his precious Kanoka. But he had to admit that he knew it was for a greater good, so he begrudgingly accepted them as long as the war lasted.
As he continued to work on Kanoka, Kulagi looked to Huaju and asked, “So did you learn anything while you were out.”
Huaju frowned. “Yes, but none of it was any good. The Dark Hunters made a push and captured the region north of the Moto Hub in Le-Metru.”
Kulagi’s head snapped up. “Wait, that’s where Triki lives!”
“I know,” Huaju said solemnly. “And there was a big battle too, and not all the Matoran got away. I looked at a list of survivors, but Triki’s name wasn’t on it.”
Kulagi glanced down at his partially made Kanoka, as doubt gnawed at him. Still, he said, “I wouldn’t worry too much. This is Triki, and you know he wouldn’t go down without a fight. And he probably got out with the rest of them, but was too distracted to tell anyone that he was all right.”
“Maybe,” Huaju said. “But Triki doesn’t always think straight, and he might’ve done something that would’ve gotten him captured.”
Kulagi shook his head. “I don’t believe that. He must’ve escaped.” Triki was a Le-Matoran Kanoka Maker and amateur mask-maker, and also a close friend of Kulagi’s. He was a little eccentric and borderline crazy at times, but he was still a decent Matoran who had come through for Kulagi multiple times. Remembering this, Kulagi said, “Are there any refuges being shipped up here? Triki might be with them.”
“There should be one coming into the Archive’s airship dock soon,” Huaju said. “But the odds of him being there...”
“With Triki, you never bet on the odds,” Kulagi said, turning off his forge and getting to his feet. “In fact, you could say that Triki will do what is least likely. Let’s go see anyway.”
The two of them packed up some spare Kanoka and exited Kulagi’s home. Kulagi’s home was located in a housing district close to one of the larger openings to the underground Archives. Normally, Onu-Matoran archivists would be hard at work cataloging relics of the past, or else digging down into the earth to mine for new minerals. But with the war, the Archives entrance was instead a central headquarters for the war effort. Supplies were moved in and out of the Metru via chutes or airships, and Toa gathered there to rest and resupply. It was far busier than normal, and Kulagi and Huaju had to pass through the crowded streets as they moved towards the airship docks.
Indeed, they saw a massive blimp dock, and as they approached, they watched various Le-Matoran exit the craft. Normally, Le-Matoran were at peace in airships, but this crowd seemed to be very eager to get back onto solid ground.
“Le-Metru must’ve been really bad if they’re so excited to get here,” Huaju noted.
“Actually, I think it may be for a different reason,” Kulagi said, a grin forming on his face. “Like perhaps there was someone on the blimp that they wanted to get away from.”
The last Le-Matoran wandered off the airship, his green Kakama mask snapping back and forth as he took in the view. “Hey everybody, why you fast-flee? I thought we were gonna play a game of Kanoka-catch!”
“You know, an airship is a really dangerous place to play Kanoka-catch,” Kulagi said, walking up to the Le-Matoran. “How are you doing, Triki?”
Triki looked up, surprised to find himself with his friends. “Kulagi dude! Huaju dude! What are you doing in ground-world?” he asked, jumping up and down in excitement.
“Well, I kind of live here,” Kulagi said.
“Wait, we need to exchange proper friend-cool meet-up!” Triki exclaimed. He swung his hand up into a high five, which Kulagi mimicked. This was followed by a low five, and then swirly arm movements. Kulagi did his best to copy Triki’s moves, but he was caught off guard as Triki suddenly swung up his arm and his fist collided with Kulagi’s purple Miru, knocking him over.
“What was that for?” Kulagi sputtered, as he got up.
“That new move I quick-add,” Triki explained. “You’re supposed to lean back, swing around and stuff. Did I tell-not you?”
“No, you didn’t,” Kulagi grumbled. “I think next time I’ll remember.”
“Now your turn!” Triki said, lifting his hand in a high five for Huaju.
Huaju ignored him. “Not interested,” he said. “So, Triki, did you manage to get any of your belongings before you left? I heard the Dark Hunter attack came without warning, so you must not have had much time to get away.”
“Yes, they came with lots of big Booms and Crackles and smell-bad armor,” Triki said. “I up-picked the essentials before I quick-left. Some raw protodermis, some Kanoka, my trusty launcher-of-discs, and most importantly, my ever cool Triki mask!”
“You brought that mask?” Huaju asked hesitantly. Triki had dabbled in mask making, and had learned how to carve a Kanohi whose power a Matoran could use. Unfortunately, the Kanohi’s power was extremely unstable and dangerous, and Triki was the only one who’d ever risk wearing it.
“Yeah, I was gonna show Matoran-pals on blimp how it works,” Triki said. “But they said no. Loudly. And repetitively.”
“So what are your plans from here?” Kulagi asked.
Triki paused to consider. “I not-think much of that? Archives have Rahi-petting zoo, no? Maybe I play-visit that!”
“There is no petting zoo in the Archives,” Kulagi said. “I meant, do you have a place to stay? Huaju’s rooming with me, but...”
Kulagi glanced up to see Huaju shaking his head back and forth. Getting the hint, Kulagi continued, “But there might be an empty room nearby where you can stay.”
“I’m very particular about stay-places,” Triki said. “Must be well ventilated, Rahi friendly, and have easy-fix walls for when Vahki burst-crash in.”
“There might be a stasis tube in the archives that would fit him,” Huaju muttered.
“We’ll help you find a place,” Kulagi said. “You just may have to give up a few of you more... unique habits.”
“Must have soft floor for bouncing when things blow-smash,” Triki added.
Before Kulagi could respond, there was a loud crash that echoed throughout the Archives. A cloud of smoke rose up in the distance, close to the local chute station.
Kulagi and Huaju shared a glance, and quickly rushed towards the scene, with Triki tailing them. A crowd was already gathering at the station, and Kulagi quickly realized that it was not a Dark Hunter attack. From the looks of it, a transport with three Matoran had crashed into the station, causing the ruckus.
“Step back, everyone,” a Ta-Matoran said, rushing forward. “I am Jaller of the Matoran Guard. Let me through.” He knelt down next to one of the Matoran who crashed, and asked, “What happened here?”
“Our transport ran out of control,” the Po-Matoran with a brown Ruru said in a raspy voice. “It was because we were attacked. We tried to get away in time, but we weren’t fast enough.”
“Get away?” Jaller repeated. “From what?”
“Surprise attack,” the Matoran continued. “Dark Hunters stormed the labs in north-west Ga-Metru. Barely managed to escape.”
Jaller stood upright, with a sense of urgency. “Contact the Toa,” he shouted. “We will prepare a force to head that direction via the chutes.”
“It’s useless,” said another one of the Matoran who crashed, a Ga-Matoran with an Akaku mask. “They destroyed the chutes leading in. That’s what knocked us out of control.”
“We need to get back,” the Po-Matoran said. “It’s important that we get back!”
Jaller narrowed his eyes. “It will take days to get our forces over there on foot. We need to tell the Toa about this immediately!”
“This is bad,” Huaju said, as the crowd parted way to let Jaller by. “Surprise attacks on Ga-Metru and Le-Metru at the same time. And that part of Ga-Metru is not easy to reach. The chutes were the safest option; if the Toa travel overland, they’ll walk right through Dark Hunter territory.” He turned and suddenly noticed Kulagi, whose mask had turned pale. “What wrong with you?”
“That part of Ga-Metru,” Kulagi said. “That’s where Sufina lives!”
Edited by xccj, Jan 25 2017 - 04:23 AM.