Episode 7 – Into Darkness
"On another note,” Rhialtus was saying, “I assume you noticed the carnage on the way over here?"
“Of course,’ Unit replied carefully, “I was trapped in the city when it happened. I saw it all. I’m sorry, Turaga,” he bowed his head in a feigned display of respect, “Daenerys is dead.”
Although Rhialtus couldn’t see it, Unit was smiling.
“What? No… no. It can’t- she’s can’t be.”
“She is.” Behind his back, Unit’s hand inched towards the sheath of a small knife. Now was the moment to strike, when she was weak and vulnerable. Ko-Koro could finally be his.
“Daenerys,” Rhialtus rasped, and Unit heard a dull thud, accompanied by the clatter of the Turaga’s teacup shattering across the floor.
He glanced up, still smiling, to see Rhialtus sprawled on the ground, her tear-filled eyes wide and blank and staring. She’d died of heartbreak. He stared at her for a few moments, pondering the divine providence that had paved the way for his ascension. Matoro and Nuju had died by his hand, but that was the only blood he bore. The others had met their ends through means that had been entirely beyond his control.
Laughing delightedly, Unit slid his knife back into its sheath, stepped over his predecessor’s corpse, and sat down in the throne he’d coveted for so long.
Smoke Monster, Ehksidian, Fractyl
"I will freely turn myself over for whatever crimes I've committed.” Smoke snarled, “AFTER the island population has been saved from itself. Now I'm going to go into those tunnels up ahead, and anyone who tries to stop me will have to deal with these Boxors. Are we clear?"
After staring down the group for what felt like an eternity, the Captain of Onu-Koro turned his back on her persecutors, and with his guards and Boxors at his back, he descended into the dark of the tunnels.
Fractyl glanced at Ehksidian, a questioning, uncertain quality in her gaze.
"Ugh. Fine. Whatever," Ehksidian muttered, defeated by frustration. She should’ve known that someone like Smoke wasn’t going to just give up and turn himself in without putting up a fight. "There's not much we can do. I'm not risking my life over this. Po-Koro's had enough casualties as it is."
This journey had been a waste of her time.
"Oh, the Bohrok are the threat. They're like locusts; they exist solely to devour living things. What they cannot eat, they'll simply destroy with their powers. But these krana," Tuyet indicated the fleshy thing behind her mask, "Were created by Makuta and Mata Nui to control the Bohrok's minds. When the Bohrok were sent here to destroy Ga-Koro, I seized control of them, and halted the attack before it had even begun."
"And what do you plan to do with them?" Azalea demanded.
"Defend this village from the rest of the swarms," Tuyet replied smoothly. It felt strangely gratifying that someone was finally seeking her out, demanding answers to the questions that were hidden in plain sight, "A futile effort, to be sure, but it might buy us some time."
"And this is to buy us time for survival or for some master plan of yours?"
"A little of both. Makuta's influence is not to be underestimated. There are others, like me, working in his name to keep this island alive." And some who don’t even know they’re doing it… She kept that last part to herself.
"Then, thank you for your time and information." Azalea bowed. "I have to get going now as I have other tasks to complete now. Good bye." With that, she turned and left the greenhouse.
"I... uh, goodbye." Confusion fluttered through Tuyet, but she didn’t nothing to prevent Azalea from leaving. She turned back towards the mask on the altar, and resumed her vigil.
That one does not understand the stakes. She’s loyal to her village, and herself. Came her master’s voice, There are others, closer to the truth, more invested in the cause, that you could use instead. Telling Azalea anything was a mistake.
“I disagree,” Tuyet hissed back, “Anyone who takes the time to hear what we have to say is an asset. Besides, it’s not like she can make things any worse.”
"Our water supply was poisoned. Half of our village has been killed..." Onaku blanched, trying not to linger on the memories, "... Erihapeti and Iaredios didn't make it."
"Who... why...?" Whenua tried to rise, but his weary limbs failed to support his weight, and he collapsed again.
"I don't know... Come on, let me help you to bed. I don't know what I can do about that poison, so my advice is stay in bed. I'm honestly astonished you're still alive. Astonished and relieved."
After helping Whenua into bed, Onaku assigned two guards to watch over the former Turaga’s bed (although he wasn’t sure if those guards could be relied upon to stay there), before setting off towards the heart of the village. With Iaredios and Erihapeti dead, and Smoke Monster gone rogue, Onu-Koro was in desperate need of organisation and leadership… and that was exactly what Onaku intended to provide.
“My people!” He called, dispatching a summons for all surviving Onu-Koroans to gather together for a meeting, “It’s time for us to vote on a new leader.”
Unfortunately, arranging a meeting wasn't as easy as he'd hoped. Of those who survived the poisoning, many were still sick, and some of them bore injuries from the other incidents earlier. They were all in desperate need of medical attention and clean water. Worse still, the guards were being entirely uncooperative. With the village's leadership in question, some had deserted their posts to care for friends and family members, while others refused to budge from their current stations without orders from their Captain.
Cursing Smoke Monster, the guard’s stubbornness, and the universe in general, Onaku abandoned his plan and tried to help where he could.
There was nothing more he could do.
Before beginning his descent, Kaathe sent one final message back to Po-Koro:
Task in Onu-Koro Complete.
Brown Bohrok in Ko uncontrollable.
'Queen' has fire bohrok. Was in Ko. Purpose unknown.
Heading below Kini-nui. Do not know what I will find.
Kohrak fear below. Fear Rusted Hau.
He wasn’t sure if or when he might return home, so he felt it best to warn Pahrak and the others of what might be coming. Tying the message to the leg of his Kahu, he ordered the bird to return to Po-Koro, then set off with his Kohrak into the tunnel beneath Kini-Nui.
The walls of the tunnel were ragged and uneven, curving and twisting with no apparent purpose or pattern. The scorched black rock was partially vitrified in places, the sheer surfaces glistening like black glass. Faded, blood-hued lightstones were inset into the walls at random intervals, barely enough to light the way forward for Kaathe and the Kohrak.
As he descended further, the sunlight gleaming in from the surface was soon lost from view, and the tunnel began to grow cold, a chill that had nothing to do with the abundance of Kohrak around Kaathe. He pulled a lightstone from his satchel, providing a little more illumination. Trying to ignore the unnatural chill in the air, Kaathe turned his mind back to the Krana on his face. He projected various feelings to the krana, followed by images of the location ahead of them, trying to discern how the Krana felt about the current location.
In stark contrast to the fear he’d sensed from the Bohrak, the Krana exuded something akin to... affection. A fondness, a warmth, a sense of belonging. Nostalgia? Love? Gratitude? It sent Kaathe jumbled flickers of memory; this time he saw other krana, grown out of a puddle of green-black sludge, shaped by tender, careful hands. Memories of creation, memories that the Krana seemed to be lacking when he’d asked it about its origins earlier.
Whatever it was that waited for him at the end of this tunnel, the Krana seemed happy.
He was bringing it home.
To say Kaathe was not a bit unnerved by this turn of events would be a fallacy. A being the Bohrok fear, yet the Krana loves? Hidden away in the location the supposed Toa last entered. What in the name of Karzahni am I walking into? Kaathe thought to himself, feeling truly uncertain for the first time in a long time.
The Po-matoran shook his head as he continued forward, a sense of resolve powering his movements. I've come too far to cease now. The island is doomed as is, nature herself seeks to cleanse us. I'd rather die exploring the unknown than by the hands of Nature's Fury.
Before him, the tunnel began to level out, the surfaces becoming more even, the lightstones becoming brighter. Up ahead, it looked like the passage opened out into some kind of chamber.
The chamber was similar in size to a kolhii field, with deep indentations in the centre of the floor forming the shape of the symbol of the Three Virtues. It looked as if the indentations might have once been pools, but whatever liquid was in them has long since dried up. The chamber was high, so high that in the darkness, the ceiling was lost from Kaathe’s sight. The room's only other notable features were six mighty pillars, hewn from rock and a strange, glassy substance. Shards of the green-tinged, glass-like material littered the floor, along with minuscule fragments of what looked to be armour, masks and weaponry, bearing the colours of all six elements.
In the centre of the chamber lay a crumpled shell of empty armour, streaked in haphazard shades of black and brown and crimson by rust. As Kaathe’s eyes settled on the familiar shape of the pitted, cracked Kanohi Hau the armour's owner once wore, he felt a pang of... something that felt like sorrow... from the Krana on his face.
"Hmm. No sign of bodies." Kaathe muttered to himself as he looked over the miniscule remains of what he could only assume to be the Toa's armor and tools. He knelt beside the corpse of what was surely Makuta, picking the Hau up with his gloved hands. He stared deeply into the empty sockets of the mask, his mind elsewhere entirely.
It was said the Toa went below to fight Makuta. This is what remains of him. And if the Krana feels sorrow over what remains of the Makuta, I can assume he created the Krana... Which means he was likely the voice I heard when I first put it on... He's not dead. Entirely.
Still staring into the eyes of Hau, Kaathe shouted into the darkness "What remains of you! I want answers Makuta! You would not save my sanity from what I saw if you did not wish for me to fulfill some purpose!"
The mask in his hands shuddered slightly, growing warmer in his grasp. Motes of red light danced briefly in the empty eye sockets, flickering weakly. Use the Krana... the voice came from everywhere and nowhere, a weary whisper without any clear origin. Protect the Matoran... Stop the Bohrok... Kill the Queens...
"I'll do what I can." Kaathe spoke towards the armor, though really speaking to it's prior owner. He slipped the Hau into his satchel. With that out of the way, Kaathe turned his attention back to the chamber he was in. His focus shifted to one of the intact pillars, hands pressed against it as he tried to peer beyond the strange glass at what might reside within.
Through the translucent surface, he could make out a shrivelled, emaciated shape - scraps of withered flesh clinging to the dull, cracked bones of a long-dead creature.
Whatever this being once was, it was now just as dead as its creator, perhaps more so.
This whole place was dead.
Azalea, Elittra, Nahaki
A large ship arrived at the Ta-Koro docks, bearing Azalea and fifty Ga-Koroan marines. The sight that greeted them was a strange one - in the distance, the gates of Ta-Koro remained firmly sealed - closer, columns of Tahnok were in the process of tunnelling below the lava moat - closer still stood Nahaki, Elittra, and several Tahnok-Va.
Azalea and her troops disembarked, and began cautiously approaching where Elittra and Nahaki stood. As they drew close, the Bohrok withdrew from their digging, forming up a defensive position around Elittra.
"You will remain silent," Elittra snapped to Nahaki, "or we shall see just how much pain a traitor can withstand."
"It appears I've come at a rather bad time." Azalea said, rather flatly.
"Why are you here?" Elittra asked.
"I was... responding to a distress signal of sorts. There was a chaotic mess of a situation in Ta Koro, I heard." Azalea responded. She paused before continuing, "Hey. Are you that 'former' Ta Koro Turaga with the fleshy mask? I would have thought you and your Bohrok left for Ko Koro supposedly. Haven't you already caused enough damage to this village?"
"I would think twice before you continue to insult me," said Elittra. "The village has thrived under my rule. I have conquered our foes time and again. One traitor spreading lies does not change that."
Unfazed by the Elittra’s threat, Nahaki interjected, "She kidnapped, tortured, and murdered Vakama, and killed countless more. She is deluded enough to believe that Ta-Koro is an extension of herself, that her enemies are our enemies - enemies that she antagonised. She is the true traitor, and herself a liar."
"Says the traitor responsible for this mess," Elittra said. "You will cease your attempts to sabotage our relations with other villages, or I will be forced to silence you."
"Is that why you went off to Ko-Koro and no doubt sabotaged our relations with them?" Nahaki challenged.
"That 'lying traitor' could be right." Azalea offered them a letter she’d received:
"Ta-Koro needs help. Since Nahaki's visit to Ga-Koro, I believe we have found something related to the disappearances of Matoran - large, round insectoid creatures with power over the elements. We have also found Turaga Vakama in our former Turaga's basement, where he was killed by said former Turaga. He was discovered to have been wearing a strange fleshy mask-like creature, one that as soon as he died, Ta-Koro was assaulted by these insectoid creatures. Our former Turaga then put this fleshy mask on, and went off to Ko-Koro. I fear that Ko-Koro may be no more. I fear that other villages will soon follow, but right now, Ta-Koro is in trouble."
Elittra took the letter, scanning over it quickly. "There are several falsehoods here," she said. "The first part of the letter is mostly true. While we haven't found any evidence to outright confirm it, in truth, I believe only the Tahnok - the insectoid creatures mentioned - could have been responsible. We discovered another variant in the remains in Le-Koro, which would suggest that these creatures have spread across the island. If other villages have been suffering strange events, they might be why."
She pointed to the line about Turaga Vakama. "Here is where the falsehoods begin. This is the situation most easily misconstrued by an outsider, so I'm not surprised that this is where Nahaki began lying to you. I had become suspicious of Vakama awhile ago, you see. Matoran were disappearing one by one, and he was doing nothing to stop it. I tried to corner him once, to question him - only for him to flee." Elittra sighed, rubbing at her temples as she handed the letter back. “We captured him later, of course, myself and a few loyal guards. I was certain of his involvement in the disappearances - he had all but confirmed it himself - but had no proof to present to the village. So I locked him in my basement, hoping to put together a testimony. Only... Matoran continued to disappear."
She pointed to her own face, where Azalea would be able to see the hint of a fleshy mask behind her own. "During the questioning, I noticed he was wearing this," she explained. "So I summoned my, at the time, most trusted advisors. My trust was clearly misplaced; one has since tried to overthrow me, and another tried to murder me." Elittra shrugged, "I am digressing. I revealed to them the fleshy mask - and Vakama finally confessed his involvement. We executed him for his crimes against the village and I removed the fleshy mask - the Krana - from his face. It was then that the Tahnok began attacking; the connection between the two was obvious, and so I put the Krana on myself, and took command. I don't know why Vakama thought the best idea was to feed his own villagers to them one by one; I have certainly seen no point in that."
She then pulled out a letter of her own:
Dear Turaga Elittra
I suggest you send a delegate to Ko-Koro. A deal could be made of your interested.
"I received this from Ko-Koro shortly after," she said. "The Tahnok were ravenous, so I decided to meet with them myself. I fed them along the way - they were perfectly happy to feast on plantlife and Rahi. Unfortunately, as you can probably guess by the nature of the message... the meeting was meant to be a trap. Luckily for me, I was not alone - and Ko-Koro's General was... less than intelligent in how she sprung it. With the Tahnok's help I defeated her, and as compensation, was given supplies to bring back to my village... where I found that Nahaki had used my absence to try and overthrow me."
Indeed, many of the Tahnok Va around them were still holding the supplies from Ko-Koro. "I have my General attempting to re-establish order and correct the misunderstanding at the moment, but until then, I am content to wait here," she said. "Truthfully, neither side needs your assistance. If they remain hostile to me, they have enough guards and defenses to easily defeat me if it came to a battle, but I cannot enter until the bridge is raised anyway - and if they truly do not wish for my presence, then I shall find somewhere else to live."
"She is an insane, lying narcissist!” Nahaki exploded, “I saw her kill a messenger just for entering her house! Vakama confessed nothing, she tried to make me kill him! I almost did... but I refused."
Elittra sighed. "That is twice you have spoken out of turn, traitor. Including your initial betrayal, I have now given you mercy three times. There will not be a fourth. Cease your attempts to destabilize the village."
"Don't harm that traitor yet. They might still be... useful to us." Azalea said. Behind her, her troops were cautiously edging forward, weapons at the ready.
The Tahnok moved forward as well.
"Return your troops to your ship. They are not needed," Elittra said, decidedly unimpressed, "Since you have done very little to convince me that you do not have hostile intentions, I'll give you... ten seconds."
Azalea flinched. She wanted to save the Nahaki, but at the same time, she knew the Bohrok would fry her and the troops the minute she got closer. She didn't want to die stupidly on foreign soils. Not yet. Not for nothing.
"Fine. We'll be taking our leave then.” Azalea responded. She bowed, turned, and she and the marines made their way back to their waiting vessel. Sorry…
As he stared out at the crowd before him, Grav hesitated. He’d wracked his mind for some excuse, some contrivance, that would allow him to declare Elittra’s innocence to the people of Ta-Koro. But there was no lie that could hide the kind of monster that she’d become.
"All of the allegations against Elittra are true!” Grav roared, “And, were time permitting, I would add numerous instances of her sadistic and twisted behavior to them. However, Nahaki is too spineless to rule this city; she is out there with Elittra, having already confessed her betrayal, and begging her forgiveness. Ta-Koro needs a strong leader, and one of sound enough mind to competently lead.”
He hesitated again. There was no turning back now. His next words would ensure Ta-Koro’s end, or the beginning of a new era for the village.
“As of this moment, I declare myself Turaga of Ta-Koro."
-End of Episode 7-
End of Game
As discussed previously, due to the gradual dwindling of the playerbase and an upswing in inactivity from those that remain, the game will be ending here. I’m sincerely sorry that it had to end without reaching a more satisfying resolution, however, I think that loose ends we’ve been left with could definitely be worked into a viable sequel.
If people are still interested, I might attempt to create a second game, but that wouldn’t be until much later in the year, after other upcoming games have been given ample opportunity to run their course. During the interim, I might reach out to certain players to discuss whether they intend to return with the same characters, and how certain situation left at the end of this game could be resolved between seasons.
Regardless, I hope you’ve all elicited some measure of enjoyment from this game, and I once again apologise that it had to come to a premature conclusion.
Thank you, everyone, for playing.
Edited by Roman Torchwick, Jan 25 2018 - 08:58 PM.