Vohon, Toudo, and Makani ran as fast as their legs could go, away, away from the horrific beings that were chasing them. Behind them, the tall, silver one spoke in his terrifying, mechanical voice. “THERE IS NO ESCAPE, LITTLE ONES. YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED INTO OUR COLLECTIVE. THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT IT.”
The smaller, round ones following it echoed eerily, “ASSIMILATE. ASSIMILATE.”
These words spurred the little Okotans onward, filling them with a fresh wave of fear.
The nighttime forest was filled with the sound of a thousand thundering footsteps. And they were getting closer. Within moments, their pursuers would be upon them. There was no point in continuing to run, but still, Vohon, Toudo, and Makani ran. Ran for their lives.
Toudo tripped. He couldn’t regain his footing in time. They were upon him in an instant. The last thing he remembered was feeling the tall, silver one grabbing his face, seeing his red eyes glow, and hearing the smaller, round ones chanting, “ASSIMILATE. ASSIMILATE.” Then the world faded to black.
“Toudo!” Makani shouted, watching her friend’s head being torn off of his body by the tall, silver one. She reached out to his fallen body, tears streaming down her face. She was vaguely aware of Vohon tugging at her arm and saying something. Reluctantly, she tore her gaze away from Toudo’s body and ran on.
Toudo’s capture had only delayed them. They quickly resumed their pursuit with increased vigor.
“LITTLE ONES, STOP RUNNING. THINGS WILL BE SO MUCH EASIER FOR YOU IF YOU JUST GIVE UP AND ACCEPT YOUR FATE.”
The city gate was within sight now; the guards posted in front of it were motioning for them to run faster. Just a few more moments and they’d make it. But at the rate they were being pursued, they’d be overrun before they could get through.
In a gesture of bravery, Vohon stopped running. He turned around to face the oncoming creatures.
“Vohon! What are you doing?!” Makani screamed frantically, glancing behind her as she continued to run. “They’ll kill you! Don’t stop! Keep going!”
As the beings overwhelmed him, Vohon shouted through the chanting, “Go, Makani! Go, while they’re distracted!”
The tall, silver one grabbed Vohon’s face, his eyes glowing red in the night. As he faded, he murmured, “Save yourself…”
Makani fulfilled Vohon’s dying wish. She put on another, final burst of speed past the guards, who were also retreating into the city, through the open gate. Together, they slammed it closed and barred it with the heavy stone plank. She sat down, panting, with her back to the gate, and let the tears flow freely. She was safe now, but her friends weren’t; they had been “assimilated” into that horde of awful creatures.
They were gone.
A sudden pounding on the door snapped her out of her grief. Those things were trying to get into the city. Makani panicked for a moment, then relaxed a bit. The creatures were strong, able to break through entire tree trunks with ease, but they could not penetrate thick stone; at least, not that she had seen. Still, though, she put distance between herself and the door, to get as far away from them as possible.
“COME OUT, LITTLE ONE. YOUR FRIENDS HAVE BEEN ASSIMILATED INTO OUR COLLECTIVE. DON’T YOU WANT TO JOIN THEM?”
She sat against the city wall and stared into space, tears rolling down the cheeks of her mask, ignoring the guards that were trying to comfort her, wishing that she could share this safety with her friends.
Exhausted and grief-stricken, she fell asleep to the pounding and chanting.
Makani did not live to see the morning.
No one in the city did.
Few Okotans know of the legend of the Mangai. Perhaps it is because there are so few records of the legend; or perhaps it is because it is not a legend that many enjoy hearing.
In the time before the Mask Makers, the Mangai were a trinity of beings that walked among the stars. They were not Toa, not by any measurement, but they did control elements, like the Toa. The elements of the Mangai, however, were elements of the spirit. Krakua, Master of Intelligence; Varian, Master of Loyalty; and Dume, Master of Courage. With these elements at their command, they performed feats of valor and might, and the Okotans worshipped them as gods.
But in his heart, Krakua grew haughty and arrogant. He believed that he was the greatest of the Mangai, that he controlled the most important element. After all, he reasoned, only with Intelligence can one determine who deserves Loyalty, and when to show true Courage. He alone deserved the worship of the Okotans, not his fellow Mangai.
Dume and Varian tried to turn Krakua away from his decision, but he refused. He tried to force the Okotans to praise him and him only. But instead of worship, all he received was fear.
Desperate for acolytes, Krakua created the Bohrok, unnatural creatures, designed to carry the severed heads of Okotans, which followed him and worshipped him ceaselessly. He descended to Okoto and began murdering the Okotans, placing their heads inside his Bohrok. He now had the praise he craved, but it was not the same as natural worshippers. Outwardly, he paraded the fact that he had more followers than his fellows, but inwardly, he had never felt more jealous of them.
The temple was what caused him to snap. The Okotans constructed a temple dedicated to Varian. Krakua was incensed. How dare they show honor to the master of an inferior element! In a rage, he and his Bohrok attacked and slew Varian, slicing her in two. Angered, Dume cast Krakua and the Bohrok down from the heavens to Okoto. Like crashing meteors, their impact shook the earth.
To honor Varian’s memory, Dume placed the two halves of her body in the sky, and they became the two moons that are visible every night.
And so, the Mangai were broken.
Thousands of years have passed since then. No one who knows the legend has ever found Krakua. And no one believes that anyone will…
“Are you sure we’re digging in the right place, Vohon?”
Toudo stood up to stretch his back; shoveling for four hours really did not agree with his spine, especially if that shoveling for four hours was done in the same place. He leaned up against a nearby tree in the small, forested area that he and his friends were digging in.
“Yeah, Vohon, I’m not entirely sure we’re in the right place,” Makani piped up. “We should have hit something by now.”
Vohon looked up from his journal at his two archaeologist friends. “Of course I’m sure we’re digging in the right place! I’ve studied everything there is to know about the legend- all the different retellings, all the theories, all the previous expeditions to find him- and this is where he landed. Krakua is here, in the Region of Jungle!” He put his nose back in his journal.
“Yeah, well, he could have had the courtesy to mark his landing spot more clearly,” Toudo sneered, as he bent back down to continue digging.
From behind his journal, Vohon said, “You forget, the legend says that Krakua fell from the heavens thousands of years ago. Dirt and stone tend to shift over that much time. Any crater caused by his fall would be covered with sediment by now.”
Makani paused and surveyed the horizon; the sun was almost completely below it. “If we don’t find anything soon, we’ll have to head back to the city. Nighttime would sure be a bad time to unearth a malevolent being.”
Vohon visibly stiffened. “Head back to the city?” he asked, a note of incredulity in his voice. “When we’re this close to validating a legend that’s been forgotten by civilization? How could we? This is our chance at getting our names in the history books, Makani, and I’m not abandoning it! If it gets dark, we’ll just put up some torches.”
“Here’s an idea,” Toudo said, standing up again. “How about you go ahead and get out the torches, instead of standing there rambling about getting your name in the history book?”
Makani shook her head. Toudo was always complaining about something; why Vohon let him come on this dig, she had no idea. But he had a point this time; Vohon could stand to help out more in his own dig.
These thoughts were dispelled as her pickaxe hit something. That something wasn’t dirt or stone; neither of those made a metallic clanging sound. “Guys! I think I found something! Over here!” she called.
Vohon and Toudo hurried over to where Makani had struck the foreign object. Vohon dusted the dirt away, put on his spectacles, and gasped. “By Dume’s iron codpiece, you have found something, Makani!” He looked at his fellows. “Well? Get digging! This could be it!” As they sprang into action, he grabbed a shovel and started digging himself.
After several minutes, the archaeologists had unearthed what Makani had discovered. It was a small, round, bipedal… thing, with a large head covered by a smooth, silver plate, stubby limbs, and clawed hands. Vohon looked excited, Toudo’s expression was unreadable, and Makani was puzzled.
“Is this Krakua?” she asked.
“I thought he’d be taller,” Toudo quipped.
“No, it’s not Krakua,” Vohon said, “it’s a Bohrok. But it’s a good sign! Look here, at the symbol on its headplate.” He knelt down and pointed out an odd, circular emblem embossed on the Bohrok’s headplate. Consulting his journal, he continued, “This is the symbol of a Za, a leader variation. Other expeditions have reported digging up either generic or scout variations, never a leader. The leaders always kept close to their master. Which means that we’re on the right track! Krakua is near! Toudo, put the Bohrok over there. We’ll keep digging around here. This is so exciting!”
Rolling his eyes, Toudo scooted the newly-excavated Bohrok to the point that Vohon had specified, then broke out his shovel and started digging in a new place. He failed to notice that when he removed his hand from the symbol on its headplate, it was now glowing…
Nighttime had now fallen. The dig site was now lit with torches. More holes had been made with shovel and pickaxe. Vohon, of course, was still doing nothing. Toudo was still complaining. And Makani was still digging.
“Screw this,” Toudo said, after heaving up a particularly heavy shovelful of dirt. “I need a break.” He threw down his tool and walked over to where he had put the Bohrok. He leaned against it…
And fell through thin air onto the ground.
He looked behind him, and saw a distinct lack of Bohrok. “Uh, guys?” he called, his voice shaking. “The, uh… the Bohrok vanished.”
“What do you mean, it vanished?” Vohon demanded, storming over to where Toudo was getting up. He stopped, and stared at the space that had been occupied by their unearthed treasure. “Toudo, what did you do with it? It was right here a second ago!”
“I didn’t do anything, I swear! I tried to lean on it, and it was gone! It was there before I turned around!”
“Look,” Makani said, pointing to strange markings in the dirt that led away from the indentation that the Bohrok had left. “What do you suppose those are?”
Vohon joined her in examining the markings. He stiffened. “Oh dear,” he said. “I do believe that… those are… the Bohrok’s footprints.” He opened his journal and examined a sketch of a Bohrok on one page, glancing at the markings every now and then. “Yes,” he said after a few moments. “Those are its footprints.” He had to fight to keep the shakiness out of his voice.
Toudo grabbed his shovel and slung it over his shoulder. “Yeah, I’m out,” he said.
“Where are you going?” Makani asked. She tried to stop Toudo from leaving, but he shoved her away.
“That thing just got up and walked away!” he said, trying very hard not to shout. “And last I checked, it had been dormant for thousands of years! It’s creepy! I don’t like creepy!” He shoved Makani away again, and continued, “I don’t know why I decided to go dig up a malevolent entity and his cronies. It was a stupid idea. Have fun dying.”
He made a move to leave…
And bumped into a Bohrok.
It took a few seconds for Toudo to register just what had happened. When it clicked, he uttered a cry of mixed shock and fear and scooted back as far away from the Bohrok as he could. “It’s back! Why is it back?!” he cried.
Makani was starting to get scared, too. She pointed to the Bohrok’s headplate and said, “I don’t think this is the one we found first…”
Ever the studious one, Vohon approached it and consulted his journal. “No, it isn’t. This is a Ja, a scout variation.” He stepped back; his hands were shaking. “This is… highly unusual. Nothing in my research ever suggested something like this could be possible.”
“What? What wasn’t suggested to be possible?” Toudo asked.
Vohon dropped his journal.
“The Bohrok are reactivating and resurfacing… autonomously, it would seem.”
Makani wrapped her arms around herself to keep them from shaking. This whole thing was getting creepy. She turned around, and bumped into another Bohrok. She jumped back, leaned forward to examine it, and said, “The one we found is back.”
In a quavering voice, Toudo said, “That’s not the only one that’s back…”
There was another one behind him.
“Where are they coming from?” Toudo asked, to no one in particular.
“From the ground, you dolt,” Makani retorted, in a last-ditch attempt to fake bravery.
All of a sudden, the three Bohrok began to walk over to a previously untouched patch of land. The three Okotans huddled together in fright, unsure of what the creatures intended to do. The Bohrok proceeded to use their mouths and clawed hands to dig in the dirt.
“That new one’s a Vu, a generic variation,” Vohon muttered. “All three variations.”
“Thanks for that,” Toudo quipped nervously.
The Za, Ja, and Vu finished their digging. What they dug up was not another Bohrok. Vohon gasped, Toudo quaked, and Makani tried to stay brave.
The Bohrok had unearthed a tall, bipedal being. In form, it resembled one of the Toa in the stories that had fueled their imaginations as children, though significantly burlier. Its face was covered by a silver mask, with five protrusions on its edges, making the mask resemble an upside-down star. Ornate patterns were carved into its breastplate, gauntlets, and boots, with the same upside-down star shape echoed in the middle of its chest.
“Is that him?” Makani whispered.
“It is,” Vohon replied.
The three Bohrok stood by Krakua’s head and began to make strange whirring sounds. Aside from that, nothing too astounding happened. Then the Za stretched its neck and tapped the top of Krakua’s head with its snout.
Instantly, Krakua’s eyes lit up, a deep, burning red. He inhaled deeply, and with much creaking of joints unused for millennia, he stood up, scanned his surroundings, and locked on to the three Okotans. He squatted down to get a better look at them. In a mechanical voice rusted with age and lack of use, he spoke to them.
“WHO ARE YOU, AND WHY ARE YOU NOT ON YOUR KNEES?”
Vohon dropped to his knees immediately; his friends did the same. “Exalted Krakua,” he began, “I am Vohon, and these are my friends Toudo and Makani. We are archaeologists, on an expedition to uncover your resting place.”
Krakua smirked. “YOU SEEM TO HAVE DONE THAT QUITE ADEQUATELY, LITTLE ONE. TELL ME, WHY WERE YOU LOOKING FOR ME?”
“There are those among us, Exalted Krakua, who doubt that you exist. We wished to find you in order to prove them false.”
“IT IS GOOD THAT YOU WOULD DO THAT,” Krakua rumbled. “THEIR DISBELIEF WILL BE SHATTERED, AND THEY WILL WORSHIP ME AGAIN, AS THEIR ANCESTORS DID BEFORE THEM.”
In a moment of sheer stupidity, Toudo found enough courage to pipe up, “Our ancestors never worshipped you! You tore off their heads and stuck them in your Bohrok! Who’d want to worship that?”
Krakua’s eyes burned as he looked at Toudo. “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?” he asked, his voice barely concealing anger.
“Nothing! Nothing!” Vohon said, attempting to cover for his friend. He elbowed Toudo in the ribs.
Krakua stood up. He raised his arms to shoulder level. The ground began to quake and split. Bohrok of all three variations began to crawl up from the fissures that rent the ground. Within a minute, a horde of them stood gathered around Krakua and the Okotans. Toudo’s stomach couldn’t take this much fear; he vomited on the spot.
Crouching back down, Krakua said, in a dangerously quiet voice, “YOUR ANCESTORS DID INDEED WORSHIP ME, LITTLE ONE. BECAUSE I DESERVED TO BE WORSHIPPED. INTELLIGENCE IS THE SUPERIOR ELEMENT; WITHOUT IT, YOU WOULD ALL BE NOTHING. THOSE WHO OPPOSED MY DOCTRINE AND RESISTED CONVERSION WERE TAUGHT A LESSON. IF YOU WISH TO BE TAUGHT THE SAME LESSON, THEN BY ALL MEANS, REPEAT WHAT YOU JUST SAID.”
Toudo remained silent.
“THAT IS WHAT I THOUGHT. NOW, LITTLE ONES, YOU HAVE FOUND ME. TAKE ME TO THE NONBELIEVERS AMONG YOU, THAT I MAY CONVERT THEM.”
“I… I’m not so sure that’s a good idea,” Makani said quietly.
“AND WHY NOT? DO YOU NOT ADVOCATE THE CONVERSION OF ALL OKOTO INTO ONE UNIFIED RELIGION?”
Krakua stood up. “I AM A GOD. I AM YOUR GOD. I WILL BE WORSHIPPED, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. ALL SHALL BE ASSIMILATED INTO MY COLLECTIVE OF WORSHIPPERS, FORCEFULLY, IF NEED BE.”
In response, the multitude of Bohrok chanted in voices of iron, “ASSIMILATE. ASSIMILATE.”
“Should we run?” Toudo whispered.
“I think we should,” Makani answered in kind.
“Let’s,” Vohon agreed. Together, they slowly backed away. But Krakua’s sharp eyes saw their motions, shrouded as they were by the low light of the forest. He made a gesture. The Bohrok moved to encircle them. Escape was improbable. Makani’s knees knocked together in abject terror.
“WHY ARE YOU LEAVING, LITTLE ONES?” Krakua asked, almost mockingly. “DO YOU WISH TO PASS UP THE OPPORTUNITY THAT I AM GIVING YOU?”
“What opportunity?” Vohon stammered.
“WHY, TO BE MY FIRST CONVERTS OF THIS AGE, OF COURSE.”
“ASSIMILATE. ASSIMILATE.” The Bohrok drew closer. Krakua reached his arm out toward Vohon…
“Run! Run, you fools! Run!” Vohon shouted. The Okotans turned tail, forced their way through the wall of Bohrok, and put on as much speed as they could.
A look of anger contorted Krakua’s features. “FOLLOW THEM,” he intoned, before breaking into a run himself, chasing his prey. “THEY WILL JOIN OUR COLLECTIVE.”
Vohon, Toudo, and Makani ran as fast as their legs could go, away, away from the horrific beings that were chasing them…
Hoo boy, this was a doozy to write.
As evidenced by the title of this story, this is my entry to the writing portion of The Legend Continues contest. I wanted to go for something outside my comfort zone for the contest; that meant no adventure story, no romance story, none of that. This one's a horror story, and to be honest, I think I did pretty good for my first attempt at writing horror.
This story has several references to G1 in it. Some are glaringly obvious, while others may require a quick trip to BioSector01. See if you can spot them all!
As always, comments and criticisms are welcome.
Wish me luck in the contest!