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Darkness In The Depths


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#1 Offline Kagha

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Posted Dec 20 2011 - 03:37 PM

So this is an old repost from the old BZPower. Please message me if I'm not eligible to be posting this, but I thought I might as well.

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A clump of seaweed rustled in the water as a figure quickly moved through the kelp forest, concealed by the shadows given off by said structures. Tension hung as ripples stirred outward by the movements of a single, large body in motion, racing steadfast through shafts of rare light filtering down from above, leaving behind merely a cloud of distorted water and a flicker of tentacles......Kalmah was in pursuit. The cephalopodan Barraki had just been in the open water, hunting for copepods and fish off the foot of the Kora Seamount, the one and only landform in the Pit, when he had come upon a rich bounty of crabs off the fringe of the forest. Unfortunately, as the eel Barraki commonly did, Ehlek had found a way to ruin a perfectly good feast, blindly taking Kalmah as a squid rahi and attacking him. Normally Kalmah would just let Ehlek get off with a casual jaw-breaker punch and continue to go after the crabs, but in his hunger the moron had scared off the cluster of tasty crustaceans and caused Kalmah an unforgivable amount of pain, delivered by the combination of a volt 0f mind-numbing electricity and the tear of talons through Kalmah’s rubbery, skin-like armor. Upon realizing whom exactly this drift-off squid was, Ehlek had fled immediately, but Kalmah wasn’t going to let him get off with a warning......“Get back here you coward!” Kalmah said, soaring forward with a blast of water from his abdominally located siphon and zipping through the brush at the fleeing green creature......“I didn’t do anything!” Ehlek called back frantically.“Didn’t do anything?” Kalmah roared. He flew by a lobster sitting on the frond of one large thallus, but ignored it. Food would come after he taught Ehlek a lesson. “You nearly shocked me to death, and almost severed off one of my arms, and you say you didn’t do anything?”.....“I told you, I thought you were a rahi!”“I’ll feed you to the rahi when I’m done with you!” Kalmah shouted. He reached out with his right tentacle, which had once been an armored, jointed arm more than seventy thousand years ago, and managed to clasp his tentacular club around the leg of the Barraki. Ehlek let out a screech, and began to struggle in the water. However, Kalmah’s hooks dug into his skin and he fell still. There was a long silence......“I said I was sorry,” Ehlek said nervously, like a timid child who’d just broken a vase......“Sorry doesn’t cut it,” Kalmah snarled.Ehlek cringed, staring at Kalmah with terrified blue eyes. Kalmah hissed and released his grip. Ehlek fell slowly in the water and caught the light of a small shaft, and it gleamed off the armor of his talons and limbs. Unlike all the other Barraki, Ehlek was part of a subspecies of sapient creatures that naturally lived in the water, so the mutagenic effects of the Pit didn’t fully overtake him, and he retained some metallic parts, making him the target of jealousy of lots of them......Ehlek was quiet for a moment. “You’re letting me go?”.....“There’s no point in hurting you,” the squid-base replied. “Just a waste of energy.”.....“Why can’t you come to that realization more often?” Ehlek muttered, scratching a scar on one of his arms. Kalmah smiled. “Because sometimes tormenting you is just fun.”.....Ehlek’s eyes flashed and he shot towards the ground headfirst, throwing up a cloud of gassy dirt that hid just what he was doing. When he reemerged, there was a glassy shrimp in his incisors, and he was grinning triumphantly. Kalmah flinched with irritation. “Give it to me.”.....Ehlek’s grin disappeared. Refusing to hand over his prize, he crunched down, spilling out the shrimp’s fluids. Before he knew it, Kalmah had delivered a solid blow to his face and then seized the animal in one of his smaller arms. While Ehlek stumbled back, Kalmah nicked the shrimp in half with his beaked mouth and ate it......“That was mine!” Ehlek complained.“Those crabs back there were mine,” Kalmah countered. Ehlek thought about that, and then nodded. “So, since you’re not going to get me back with a beating, I’m assuming you’re going to make me do something.”.....“And you assume correctly,” Kalmah replied. “You’re going to help me find lunch.”.....“You just took it,” Ehlek moaned......“One shrimp isn’t going to do,” Kalmah said. Already, he was in the water and swimming again. Ehlek began to follow close behind......“A crab?” Ehlek inquired......“No.”.....“Lobster?”“No.” Kalmah stopped in midwater. “I want... a shark.”.....“Pridak won’t like that,” Ehlek taunted. “You know how he feels about us killing sharks.” A dark scowl fell across Kalmah’s features, and he turned dagger-like eyes onto Ehlek. “Since when do I care what Pridak likes?”.....“I was just saying, you know, after he blinded your third eye...”Kalmah’s tentacle shot out, but Ehlek nimbly dodged it. Kalmah didn’t notice this, though, and continued. “Pridak got lucky,” he said, his voice no more than a whisper. “And it went to his head. I dare him to challenge me to a fight again.”.....“He is our leader...”Suddenly, Kalmah burst into laughter. “He thinks he is our leader. I, for one, do not follow him. Mantax does not follow him. Carapar does not follow him, or Takadox. Tell me, Ehlek... do you follow him?”.....“Of course not!” Ehlek said, not just because he wanted to spare himself of Kalmah’s wrath, but also because it was true. But everybody recognized Pridak as leader, it seemed to him......“He is an egotist,” Kalmah said, “and one day, his massive pride and arrogance would backfire on him. Badly.” He suddenly spun around, arms waving through the water. “I smell a shark.”.....Ehlek was still for a moment, most likely smelling the water, and then a vicious grin spread across his face. “Takea,” he said simply, the name of the most deadly shark species known. Takea sharks were voracious hunters, created by the Brotherhood of Makuta to be war beasts under the legions of the Barraki tens of thousands of years ago, different from all other rahi at the time by the fact that they ate other animals. They were the greatest of all of the other sharks in the ocean because they had metal armor rather than skin, and an inborn instinct to hunt. The meat of a Takea shark was a luxury to the Barraki - and a guaranteed setback to Pridak......“Come,” Kalmah commanded, turning and swimming off in the direction of the scent. They dashed under sparse patches of starry light, coming down from the surface thousands of feet above them and finding the clearest areas of water through which it would shine, therefore giving the effect of countless different moons up in a watery sky. Stiff, lifeless ooze undulated beneath them, littered with trees of kelp, until finally they reached the end of the forest. A flat, rocky shore stretched out for a dozen bio before ending in a precipice that signaled the beginning of the rest of the ocean. And then, what they were looking for: the silvery body of a Takea shark, gracefully descending toward the blackness to hunt for deep-sea squid to satisfy its carnivorous diet......“There it is,” Kalmah said wistfully, floating at the edge of the cliff. He then turned to Ehlek, who was floating beside him, eyes focused on nothing. Kalmah knew that the eel Barraki depended more on sense of smell and sensitivity to movements and electrical currents in the water than eyesight. “Kill it.” Kalmah said......Ehlek turned and looked at him like he was crazy. “What! Why me? It’s your meal!”.....“You owe me. Or would you rather I give you another scar?”Ehlek grumbled before taking flight. He swam off the edge of the cliff into the boundless darkness, approaching the shark less than sneakily. The large fish stopped, sensing his presence. For a moment, it was still, and then it lunged at him, mouth open. Ehlek dodged to the side and summoned electricity, which began to crackle on his fins. The sparks released from his own body and raced through the water, attracting to the metal pelt of the shark. It jolted away, reeling in the water as spasms ran through its body. It roared and charged at Ehlek again. The Barraki effortlessly caught its teeth, which could normally bite through the hide of a razor whale, on his talons. Then he turned the metal claws upward, slicing straight through the roof of its mouth until the tips of his talons were sticking out of its back. Blood floated in the water all around, though unseen in the darkness. Ehlek pulled out his talons and turned to Kalmah, smiling. “Easy work,” he said, “for one who could combat even a Makuta in battle.”.....“Was it not Makuta who sent us here?” Kalmah snapped back, and Ehlek cringed at the memory. The eel Barraki grabbed the body of the shark and swam back to Kalmah. He set it down on the ground of the shore. “There. But I get the tail.”.....‘You owe me,” Kalmah pressed......“I didn’t eat either!” Ehlek retorted.Kalmah ignored the other, fiddling with the shark with his arms and tentacles. He wrapped one arm around its tail and, with a casual yank, ripped it off. He threw it into the water, where it floated in front of Ehlek. “Normally I wouldn’t care at all about you,” he said, “but I know how you can get when you’re hungry.”.....Ehlek smiled, flashing sharp teeth, and began to devour the shark tail. Kalmah wrapped his arms around the shark and lifted it up to his mouth, where he rapidly began to consume it with nips and slices that couldn’t be seen with an untrained eye. Eventually, all that was left was a bloodstained, cartilaginous skeleton, with small bits of meat still hanging from it......“We should leave that in front of Pridak’s sea cave as a sort of token,” Ehlek chuckled. Kalmah smirked sinisterly. “Good thinking, Ehlek.”.....“Thank you,” Ehlek said through a full mouth, still working on the tail. Kalmah wrinkled his face in disgust. “Would you stop being a slob and just eat the Pit-forsaken thing!”.....“Sorry,” Ehlek said, stopping when he realized he was now chewing on bone. He spat out the bits and threw the tail into the ooze. “What do we do now?”.....“I don’t give an octopods scat what you do,” Kalmah said. “I’m going to go leave this as a message to good old Pridak.”.....“Could I possibly follow you?” Ehlek asked, spines rose with anticipation. “I have nothing better to do.”.....Kalmah glared at Ehlek. “Get this through your head,” he said, “I have no wish to be in your company, the only reason I am here right now is because you owed me for scaring away my food.”.....“Great then, I’ll come,” Ehlek said, licking his talons.Kalmah rolled his eyes. “That’s what I thought you were going to say.”.....This time, Ehlek led the way, turning in the water and swimming back the way they came, leaving the edge of the seamount alone. While they swam, he could be heard murmuring hysteric dreams of slaying Matoran on the way. Kalmah sighed. “Would you shut up about those stupid mongrels?” he said. “It’s like watching a whale holding a grudge against a group of shrimp.”.....Ehlek stopped, almost causing Kalmah to barrel into him from behind. He turned around slowly, focusing frighteningly cold eyes on Kalmah, who, to his credit, did not flinch. “They destroyed my fortress! Mine!” he said, sparks now dancing on the tips of his spines. Kalmah clenched his teeth, looking at Ehlek with boundless disappointment. “Get over it.”.....Ehlek hissed, nearly lunging out at Kalmah, but he stopped right before he could make contact. Still, Kalmah didn’t even move, but his eyes goaded Ehlek on. Ehlek knew better, however, and turned back around. He started to swim again......“One of these days, the destruction of Mahri Nui will come,” Ehlek said, “of that I assure you.”.....“I’d like to believe we’d escape this place of damnation rather than the deaths of some insignificant Matoran,” Kalmah replied......“What difference is there?”.....“Lots.”Ehlek rolled his eyes and turned a corner through the forest, passing by a marching sea cucumber. He snatched it up in his mouth and electrified it to death with a single shock, before beginning to munch. “Want any?” he asked Kalmah......“I hate echinoderms,” the squid-based Barraki merely said.Ehlek shrugged, picking the feathery tentacles of the dead creature through his teeth. “They do taste like crud, I admit.”.....“I can imagine,” Kalmah said, retching at the smell of fried sea cucumber. Ehlek chuckled. “Being fickle will not get you anywhere, Kalmah,” he said. Kalmah rolled his eyes. “Right. Besides retaining at least a few precious pieces of my health and sanity.”.....Ehlek snorted. “Down here, who really needs those things?”.....“Me,” Kalmah said simply.Ehlek finished off his meal and ascended a hill, sending shrimp running into the kelp. Kalmah managed to catch some with his arms and guided them into his beaked mouth. In a few minutes, the two were floating at the end of the forest. “Pridak’s sea cave is right off that giant rock formation.” Kalmah said, pointing one arm to some sort of stalagmite at least two kios away......“He was always a loner,” Ehlek said. “Then again, which one of us isn’t?”“Carapar,” Kalmah answered. “That thing depends on someone to help him masticate.” The two Barraki swam down the hill. While Kalmah had changed the color of his body to a dark purplish for camouflage purposes, Ehlek apparently wasn’t worried about getting seen; the eel was grinning and dancing with emerald sparks......“Get down, you simpleton,” Kalmah snapped. “He’ll see you.”“Are you afraid?” Ehlek teased, but his talons twitched in preparation should Kalmah strike out at him. The other Barraki didn’t reply though, simply swam on, tentacles trailing behind. They reached the sea cave, and Kalmah peered into the darkness. A grin spread across his face. “He’s not here.”.....Ehlek rolled his eyes. “I already knew it. I take it you were looking forward to getting confronted?”.....“You could say that,” Kalmah said. He swam into the cave, and unwrapped his tentacle from around the shark skeleton, dropping it in the middle of the room. Though Ehlek knew he was probably tempted, the squid Barraki didn’t bother to look around. There were plaques and tablets and scrolls of seaweed strewn all around Pridak’s cave, and a large rock in one corner that probably served as the shark Barraki’s punching dummy, as it looked torn almost to bits......Ehlek hesitated, eager to start foraging through all the precious information that was stored in here. After all, he might not have another opportunity. But he knew he couldn’t with Kalmah here as a witness. Instead, he ground his teeth in frustration and suppressed his impulses by dragging his talons against his arm......“Now what is this...?” Kalmah said with a hint of amused curiosity, as one of his arms snaked down to the ground to pick up an intricate sculpture made out of a substance rare to the Pit – protodermis. Ehlek shrugged. “Probably an heirloom of some sort.”.....“If there’s one thing Pridak doesn’t respect, it’s the past,” Kalmah said with certainty. “So this is truly a curious...”.....Both Barraki froze, and Ehlek smiled like a maniac. “He’s coming.”Kalmah grinned. “The current will carry away our scent; come on,” he said, tossing the sculpting down and swimming deeper into the cave, where a hidden tunnel made a secret entrance to the outside. He slipped his flexible body through a small patch of reeds, and Ehlek did the same. The two Barraki quickly fled the cave right as both sensed Pridak entered. Before too long, they could hear his roaring and cursing......Kalmah emerged from beneath a deep sea coral and spread out his tentacles to halt his momentum. He turned around, and his face expressed no more than elation – a rare instance in time when he actually showed emotion......Ehlek swam up to him. “He’s going to find out, you know,” he said. “Your scent will be on the skeleton.”.....Kalmah shook his head in denial. “No,” he said. “Yours will. You’re the one who stuck your talons through its back.” He turned to Ehlek, wearing a con artist’s smile of achievement. Ehlek, suddenly furious, shrieked and blasted out with electricity at the Barraki. “You liar!”.....Kalmah knew that the blast was unavoidable, so he made no move to dodge, deflect, or otherwise get around being hit by it. He flinched in pain as the shock ran through his body, but after thousands of years of being with Ehlek, he’d gotten somewhat used to it. “I did not lie at all,” he said, and it was true. “And you owed me.”.....“Oh, go take your “owe” scat and shove up your mantle!” Ehlek screamed, lunging out at Kalmah. He dodged out of the way, however, and caught Ehlek’s arm in his tentacle. He twisted, and Ehlek growled in pain. “Stupefied with anger, you strike out blindly,” Kalmah said, kicking Ehlek with another of his arms and sending the Barraki hurtling backward. “Everything, including plain violence, requires thought and strategy.”.....Ehlek pulled himself of the ooze and spat out a mouthful of mud and pebbles. “One of these days,” he said, “I’m going to go and prove you wrong about your stupid strategy philosophy by ripping your guts out of your gills.”.....Kalmah snorted. “And soon, sea cucumbers will grow fins and learn to swim.” He said. “Get real, Ehlek; the only reason I spew all this “stupid strategy philosophy” is because it’s true. Grow up.”.....Ehlek suddenly turned stiff, and memories ran through his head. Energy raced along his head and he turned to Kalmah. Slowly, he said, “Why don’t you just shut up?”.....Everybody, even rahi, knew not to deal with Ehlek when he was really mad, and this was one of those times. Kalmah backed off, swimming away to increase the distance between them. “There’s not much to do anymore,” he said, trying to change the subject, “I’m going to go back to my sea cave and dream about death and destruction.”.....Ehlek huffed. “You go do that. I’m going to go hunting again.” Nothing could satisfy an eel’s hunger......Kalmah nodded. He turned to swim away, when his eyes caught something in the distance. It was not rare to see a sinking piece of flotsam, but this one was different in the fact that it was shiny. And golden......Ehlek beat him to the question. “Do you see that?”Kalmah swerved to face the Barraki. He was not looking into the distance, but Kalmah knew he could sense electricity levels and movements in the water for hundreds of miles around. Then that must mean, he thought, this object has some kind of energy emission for him not to just disregard it as debris......Kalmah decided right then that it was best to go check out the glowing object, but as always, Ehlek beat him to it when he straightened and began to wind himself through the water before the squid Barraki could move. Kalmah followed, gaining speed with constant siphon jets. Before long, they could make out the object clearly, and it was apparent that this was some sort of mask. But a Kanohi that glowed when not in use was unheard of, not to mention one that retained color......“Where is it?”Kalmah stopped in the middle of the clearing. Mountains and hills shot up all around him, and the golden mask was no longer in sight. He rose up a tentacle to signal Ehlek to calm down, and concentrated for a moment. Suddenly, both Barraki raised a limb and said, “That way.”.....Not stopping to revel at the simultaneity of their actions, the two quickly headed into a tunnel at the foot of one of the mounds and began to swim towards the source of movement and energy that was the mask. For too long, all there was was just a dark wormhole of rocks and mud. But then, they reached the end, and emerged into an empty field......“Where is it?” Ehlek shrieked yet again, unable to spot the mask still. Kalmah lifted his tentacle and pointed at the one single light shaft in the center of the field, where a golden object shimmered as it fell, blended perfectly into the illuminated water. It hit the ground, sending up a cloud of dust and dirt and sending out a ripple of breathtaking energy to all who were around......Both Barraki stared down at the mask. Now that they were within twelve feet of it, they knew that it was more than just a sunken lightstone sculpting or whatever else. The curve, the symbol, the shape... all of them hinted toward the single greatest mask of all legend. Ignika: Mask of Life......Kalmah’s arms all stiffened, and analysis of the current vicinity, what he could use against the being beside him, and all the known weaknesses of Ehlek ran through his mind in an instant. On Ehlek’s part, he was simply flabbergasted at what he was seeing, and he knew that Kalmah would probably challenge him for possession of the mask in front of them......Sparks danced on Ehlek’s back, and Kalmah’s arms all assumed an inconspicuous combat formation around him......“Well,” Ehlek said. “This is awkward.”

- - -

-Kagha

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#2 Offline fishers64

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Posted Jan 29 2012 - 10:52 PM

This is a good SS, and it deserves its repost. I feel like that there is a connection between Ehlek's strange actions and the Mask's appearance. It also explores the characters of Kalmah and Ehlek, which we admittedly did not see a lot of development on. The plot, however, seems rather inconclusive and stunted. I guess that is leaving things to the reader's imagination.
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#3 Offline Freezer Burn

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Posted Feb 03 2012 - 10:24 PM

It isn't much that the lesser-known Barraki are explored with some real characterization. In the cannon all of them tended to be just mindless killing brutes, but you actually gave them great personalities! I think your plot is good, along with how you give hints of the setting without describing it outright. I loved watching each of their personalities being explained, and all of the scenes with dialogue have a perfect amount of action strewn in as to not get stuffy. The pacing was just right, there weren't any points where I felt like the narrative stagnated, but you managed to convey the things that were happening with enough detail. Very cool topic, character choice, and story in general!
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Look at me still talking when there's science to do!

#4 Offline Kagha

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Posted Feb 04 2012 - 04:04 PM

I will admit that I did not have a directive goal for this story aside from the exploration of an average day for the Barraki prior to the Mask's arrival, and that does reflect in the writing as fishers64 said having been crippled and really incohesive around any kind of central plot.I think the main thing that I was trying to convey was the relationship of these two Barraki and the nature of their world and how both would be ultimately thrown off by the Mask's appearance. (On a perhaps unrelated note, the end part is supposed to roughly pick up by the start of the cinematic fight scene promo for '07)In any case, thank you guys both for the comments! I appreciate them.-Kagha
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