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Darth Jaller

Things Change: Fanfic Exchange '18

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My entry for the BZPower Fanfic Exchange; this story is for ArchAngelleofJustice, who wanted to read about why Jaller and Hahli stopped flirting with each other between 2003 and 2006 (and also about Nobua, who gets a cameo later on - though I had to look up who he was first!). I can't help but wonder if, perhaps, the prompt was supposed to inspire a more jokey story rather than something heavily serious - but the idea most appealed to me as a way to delve deeper into Jaller and Hahli's thoughts and mindsets, which is something I love doing. Plus, there was one particular key thing that I could imagine having a big effect on the two of them and, well... the idea spiralled from there.
 
So even if it's not quite what you were anticipating, ArchAngelle, I hope you enjoy it anyway! ^^
 

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Additional note - sorry if my writing is a bit clumsy; I'm more used to writing individual roleplay posts than whole stories, and my style maybe didn't adapt as neatly as I'd like. That said, it was definitely a fun experience; thanks for giving me a chance to play around in the heads of some of my favourite Matoran!
 

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I don’t much like this, Hahli.”
 
The Ga-Matoran who he addressed raised a single, expressive eyebrow. The statement was so vague, she couldn’t help but think, that Jaller could be referring to just about anything; and yet, she had a feeling that she could get it in one guess if she tried. She didn’t even need to know him as well as she did; the Captain of the Guard had been on edge ever since the Kolhii tournament had wrapped up… and it didn’t take a genius to trace it all back to the mask that sat, now, carefully propped up on his desk.
 
Its glow had dimmed; while the magnificent golden finish still caught the flickering torchlight, it no longer cast out the bright ray that had enveloped Jaller at the stadium, or even the warm glow it had seemed to cast as the Turaga had pored over it. Now it just looked as if it were… a mask like any other.
 
Amazing to think that it held such power, such hope…
 
And even more amazing, that it was the Matoran who she loved so much who had been chosen by it. Not that Hahli couldn’t see why; brave, smart, determined… why wouldn’t it chose him?
 
“I dunno… for a mask, it sure has good taste.” Her tone was light, teasing… just as it always was around Jaller. That was just the kind of relationship they had; while other Matoran might tire of a friendship (or something more) built around joking and flirting, Hahli wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Jaller was too busy for a full romantic commitment; and living on opposite sides of the island made it impractical – though evidently not impossible, according to Macku – to keep up anything of that kind long-term. In contrast, this? The blend of light-heartedness and intimacy… it suited them both.
 
Which was why, for a moment, she was surprised when Jaller whirled on her, his expression taught and even… dare she think angry? He didn’t immediately speak, but his brows were lowered in a glare that gave Hahli pause. Whatever this was, it really was troubling him; and Hahli quickly dropped the teasing attitude to really take stock of her partner’s mood.
 
She’d thought, perhaps naturally, that Jaller was just feeling a bit overwhelmed with the responsibility of it all. This was, after all, a different kind of task than he was used to; hunting all over the island for a mysterious Seventh Toa, rather than having a specific enemy to face, to plan and strategize against… she had imagined he’d just felt like he was in over his head, but would quickly come to terms with it. That was, after all, the Jaller she knew.
 
This, though, was… more than that. Something was genuinely bothering him; and if there was any time to drop the joking and teasing that characterised most of their interactions, it was now. Hopping up from the bed, she crossed to Jaller, took his scowling face gently in blue-armoured hands.
 
“Do you ever…” Jaller shook his head a little, his scowl softening into an expression of… what? Concern? Resignation? He just looked so put-upon by this that Hahli really felt for him. She might not have understood, but that didn’t matter; she would support him anyway.
 
A few moments later, Jaller continued.
 
“Ever feel like you were chosen for something that wasn’t meant for you?” He held up a hand to forestall her immediate answer, clearly more thinking aloud than actually asking anything. “I know a thing or two about Duty; it is the virtue of Ta-Koro, and all. But this isn’t my…”
 
He hesitated, seeming to be on the fence about giving voice to something specific; and then changed his mind, correcting himself and looking away from her.
 
“I mean, doesn’t feel like it’s mine. I know where my Duty lies, and this…”
 
“Maybe Duty isn’t that simple?” Taking his hand, Hahli led the captain back over to his bed. Jaller looked, for just a moment, like he wanted to protest; then simply allowed her. The two Matoran sat there, side by side; Hahli swinging her legs slightly where they overhung the edge, while Jaller remained stiff-backed and upright. When the silence dragged without him answering her, Hahli tried again.
 
“I know it’s not quite the same; but I had a similar feeling when the Turaga chose me for the Kolhii team. I’d never even played Kolhii before, I felt like completely the wrong choice… everyone was really supportive, even Kotu, but I still felt like I was completely the wrong choice.”
 
Despite himself, that got a snort out of Jaller. “Tell that to the fact you kicked our butts.”
 
“Exactly.” Undeterred, Hahli gave him a playful jab in the ribs, then pressed on. “See what I mean? It felt so wrong at first, but clearly it was the right choice. That’s gonna be the case for you too, you’ll see.”
 
“But I’m not--!” Jaller cut himself off, swallowing his outburst with what looked like great difficulty. There was, evidently, something that he wanted to say… and, just as clearly, he didn’t feel it was right or appropriate to do so, and as he looked away from her Hahli felt a slight pang of regret in her heart.
 
Didn’t he fully trust her? Was this the price for the unserious nature of their relationship?
 
“It’ll be okay; you know that, right? We still have each other… nothing’s going to change that, Jaller. I promise.”
 
Finally, she sensed some of the tension starting to leave the Ta-Matoran’s muscles. He didn’t say anything more; but the way he leant back against her, allowing her to support him for a little while instead of relying only upon himself, told Hahli that she’d managed to get through to him. Beneath the teasing, the joking, there was something very genuine between them; and though the moments when it shone through were rare, they were also very precious.
 

***

 
The morning dawned bright and surprisingly clear; for once, the ever-present smoke that rose from the fortress of fire seemed thin, allowing a cold dawn light to bathe the ancient stones in a colour other than reds and oranges… and, for a Matoran who’d long awaited an opportunity to see more of the island, Jaller found himself unexpectedly reluctant to finish getting ready to leave. The Mask of Light was tucked away neatly in his backpack, his trusty spear was at his side, he’d arranged whatever supplies they might need for the journey…
 
And now, he dawdled uncharacteristically as Takua and Turaga Vakama crossed the main square. Ta-Koro was his home, it was true, and Jaller told himself it was natural not to want to leave it behind for a while… but, when it came down to it, that was far from the reason he was unhappy. He’d been away from his village many times before; leading the backup force for the Kini Nui defence, then helping the other villages stand strong during the Bohrok War, not to even mention numerous scouting missions back before the role of captain had fallen to him. Each time, he’d left the village proudly, his head held high, on a task that he knew was of the utmost importance…
 
On a task that he knew was his own
 
He still had misgivings about the whole thing. Jaller wanted, more than anything, to scream to the heavens themselves that HE WASN’T THE HERALD, that it was Takua who found the mask, Takua who it had picked, Takua who had earned this duty… and yet, he couldn’t bring himself to say anything. Even last night, when his companion was the one Matoran who he cared about most in the world… he hadn’t been able to trust himself to say anything.
 
He couldn’t… wouldn’t… look like he was trying to squirm out of a duty given to him… no matter that the duty wasn’t even his in the first place. All the same, it weighed heavily upon him.
 
That, and… for the first time, he had someone in Ta-Koro who he wished he didn’t have to leave. A Captain of the Guard couldn’t let his personal feelings get in the way of his duty, it was true, but that didn’t make it exactly easy to say goodbye to Hahli. He hadn’t done so yet, in fact; he was aware of her walking just behind the three of them, but he hadn’t yet decided what he wanted to say to her. There was so much… and yet, also, so little. More than anything, he wished she could come on this quest too… but he couldn’t force that upon her like he had on Takua. Besides, she had her own home and friends and places to be; it wasn’t fair to ask her to come along on a task that not even he knew how long it was going to take, how long he’d be away…
 
Still, a little sigh escaped him.
 
Hahli, it seemed, had developed an ability to read his mind… or maybe she just knew him that well, for her voice spoke up in his ear almost as soon as his thoughts had started to wind down. “Look, don’t get mushy, Jaller. I have no time for a long goodbye.”
 
“I… was just gonna say…”
 
Turning to face her, Jaller abruptly realised that he had no idea what he had been going to say. Staring into those lovely eyes – yellow, though they appeared tinted blue behind the Kaukau’s visor – taking in every feature of her small, armoured form at a glance, he felt more emotions than he could name welling up inside him. Whatever it was he was going to say, he wanted it to be serious, meaningful, to let her know something of how much she meant to him…
 
What slipped out, therefore, was none of those things.
 
“You owe me a rematch on the Kolhii field.”
 
“Well, then.”
 
At the sight of her raised eyebrow, Jaller could have smacked himself. What had that line even been meant to be… rematch on the Kolhii field? Really? If he was honest, Jaller supposed, he’d been thrown by Hahli’s return to their usual banter, had grabbed for something that felt true to that… and had settled upon the most Mata-Nui-awful line that came to mind, apparently.
 
“You’d better hurry back.” Also apparently, Hahli was content to run with that. Placing hands on her hips, she started to saunter off, looking far less troubled by the whole situation than he was… only to pause and shoot a final parting line back over her shoulder.
 
“Because I’ll be practicing.”
 
Several minutes and a brief lecture from Turaga Vakama later, and they were off. Pewku, Takua’s trusty ussal crab, trundled easily over the stone bridge that joined Ta-Koro to the wider island of Mata Nui, carrying the two Matoran on their way; and who knew what lay ahead? Takua was leaning forward, seemingly eager to be off again; and for a couple of moments, Jaller observed his friend. For Takua, adventure was his life, the blood in his veins… being out like this was nothing new to him.
 
While, for Jaller himself… travel called to him in its own way, sure. But everything he truly loved was back in Ta-Koro, now behind them. The sturdy stone walls, the shadows of the volcano, they were his home, and it was never so easy for him to leave as it was for Takua. Even less, now, when he knew Hahli was back there… and despite all his resolve to the contrary, Jaller found himself turning to look back. He half convinced himself he could see a blue shape up high on the battlements, watching them leave… a shape that rapidly became a speck, and then nothing he could make out at all, as Pewku carried them swiftly on.
 
“Hey. You still in there, or…?”
 
Takua’s voice from his side jolted Jaller out of his thoughts. The bridge now, too, was behind them, the three travellers on the verge of entering the twisting paths of the charred forest; and Jaller quickly lifted the Avohkii in front of his face to determine which way it wanted to guide them. Even as Pewku began moving again, the Captain could still feel his friend’s eyes on him.
 
“Yeah… yeah. I just got a funny feeling. Like… I’m not gonna see her again.” He didn’t need to specify the her; his relationship with Hahli was no secret, even if all it ever amounted to publicly was teasing and banter. Takua knew, he was sure.
 
Knew, and was clearly weirded out by the direction this was taking. Rather than answer directly, the chronicler rolled his shoulders in a noncommittal shrug. “Hey, come on. You’ll be back with Hahli before you know it; the wars are over now. Nothing’s going to get in our way with that thing on our side.” He gestured vaguely at the mask, before turning his attention back to their road.
 
“Yeah. Sure.”
 
Not altogether reassured, Jaller nonetheless sat back, putting the thoughts away. As Captain of the Guard, he had great mental discipline; and now was the time to put that to the test. He’d see Hahli again, in Mata Nui’s good timing… and until then, there was no space to mope about. He had a job to do.
 

***

 
Kini-Nui, some time later.
 
She took the trail down towards the Amaja-Nui in something of a daze. Just a few weeks ago, Hahli would never have imagined treading the sacred ground of the Great Temple all alone; she’d come here just once before, with all her fellow villagers, for the Naming Day Rebuilding Ceremony. And yet… everything that had happened recently was enough to make her head spin. For a shy Matoran who’d never once dreamed of adventure, she’d been dragged clean out of her element and could see no obvious way to go back; ever since Turaga Nokama had chosen her to be Kolhii champion, things had spiralled. Some of it, she would admit to herself, was just the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time – the attack on Ta-Koro, for one – but beyond that… visiting the other villages for the Kolhii tournament, finding the sacred crystals, placing them in the temple in Ta-Wahi… none of that was exactly accidental on her part. She’d stumbled upon them almost without intention the first time, granted, but her curiosity had led her on.
 
Still, none of that had quite prepared her for being whisked away to the island’s spiritual heart after placing the last of the crystals. She was here, and… she had no idea what she was meant to do now. The horrible creatures that had destroyed Ta-Koro, she had seen heading for the temple just before sunrise; she’d also seen the giant tornado whipping around the area that – she hoped – could only have been the work of Toa Nuva Lewa; and then the eruption of light that, had she been closer, would have been blinding?
 
That had to mean only one thing, right? That Jaller had succeeded in his task, that the Seventh Toa had been found?
 
What she should have done, perhaps, was wait where she was for the Toa to find her when they left the Kini-Nui; but doing so was the last possible thing on Hahli’s mind. If Jaller had been successful, then she wanted to be the first to get there and congratulate him… and maybe, just maybe, tease him about taking so long. It had been… how long since he and Takua had set out? Hahli had honestly lost track. Of course, the island was a big place to search; but such teasing was only in the name of flirting, and they both knew it.
 
She could hardly wait to see him again… and also, it had to be admitted, she was curious to see this Seventh Toa. Where had he or she come from? Had they been hiding under the island the whole time, waiting for the Herald to return their mask? The Ga-Matoran didn’t know, but she was eager to learn all she could about this new addition to the roster of heroes. Maybe Takua would share his notes on the subject with her…
 
Scrambling over the rocky debris that littered the base of the giant Pakari statue – hadn’t that been a Toa head when she’d been here last? – words of greeting for the one she loved were already on her tongue… until the sight before her stopped Hahli in her tracks. Rahkshi lay dismembered all around. Six Toa Nuva stood solemnly by, some with heads bowed, while others watched the proceeding in silence. A seventh, golden-armoured being was walking away from them; but it was hardly the triumphant scene of victory she would have expected from the defeat of Makuta’s minions and the discovery of the island’s latest hero.
 
And then, as the golden being moved to pass her, Hahli’s eyes fell on the limp, yellow-masked form in his arms.
 
“No…”
 
The word was a whisper and it was a scream, all at once. Time seemed to stop moving at all for Hahli as her gaze traced the beloved red-armoured form; one hand rested over his still chest, while the other dangled limply out of the unfamiliar Toa’s grasp. His head, too, lolled lifelessly; while the outlines of her brave captain’s mask looked just the same as ever they had, beneath it his eyes were closed, and none of his features moved. His armour, too, looked just as she remembered it… a little scuffed, maybe, but nothing that indicated he’d died a violent death.
 
Unbidden, her hand reached out in his direction, as if trying to stop the Toa in his path, or to call him over to her, but no words came out. He might not have even noticed her; as the frozen moment seemed to pass, he continued on his way towards the shattered remains of the Suva Kaita, and Hahli felt herself sink to her knees.
 
She couldn’t take it in.
 
Jaller… he… couldn’t really be…
 
Her breath sounded loud in her own ears; her heartlight flickered rapidly, picking up pace as she wrestled with the sight she’d just seen. It wasn’t right… Jaller was supposed to return to her after he’d found the Seventh Toa… they were supposed to have all the time in the world together… not this, not THIS! She didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to process… it seemed false, unreal; and yet, at the same time, all too real.
 
Ta-Koro’s bravest had fallen.
 
She was only dimly aware that the Toa Nuva seemed to be splitting up for the moment. To each, it seemed, the burden of Jaller’s loss lay heavy on them; Matoran had died before of course, in the Makuta Wars, but that had mostly been before the Toa had arrived. None of them, she numbly supposed, had quite seen a sacrifice like Jaller’s, and each seemed to need their own time to think on it, to come to terms with what had been lost.
 
Hahli wasn’t sure she’d ever come to terms with it.
 
She didn’t sob or cry… in honest truth, she felt too numb to do anything of the sort. A massive hole had just been torn in her heart, and she ached for the fallen captain; but her emotions seemed to have shut themselves down, preventing her from feeling the true extent of grief and loss. It almost felt worse – she felt attached to and detached from what had happened, all at once, and couldn’t process any of it fully.
 
No-one seemed to notice her as, at length, she slowly picked herself up. Her mind still felt horribly blank, as if it were registering the pain in her heart but not able to properly process it or understand it, and Hahli hardly knew what she was doing as she moved to follow in the new Toa’s footsteps. His strides were long, and he had already reached the Suva; but still, she traced his steps, moving numbly through the carnage of battle. None of the other Toa tried to stop her as she reached the steps and began to climb them. Slowly; one, then another, then another… she barely registered them any further than to avoid tripping on them. With agonising slowness, the crest of the shrine came into view.
 
The Toa had been busy in the time it had taken her to reach him. He had cleared away a patch of the stone, making a space for Jaller’s body, and was preparing to place the captain’s prone and maskless form into its final resting place. His kanohi, Hahli saw – that familiar yellow Hau – hung suspended in a pillar of light over the ruined Suva; a memorial tribute to a fallen warrior. This Toa, too, seemed not to have noticed her; he knelt down, starting to lay Jaller’s body into the stone grave he’d prepared.
 
“Wait. Please…”
 
She outstretched a hand in front of her… for what reason, Hahli couldn’t quite fathom. She was just a shy little Matoran; how was she supposed to stop a mighty Toa from doing anything he wanted to? Why should some newcomer to the island even care that this, the bravest of Matoran, was loved by a little nobody like her? And yet, all the same, the Toa paused in his action, turning to face her.
 
“Hahli…”
 
It should have surprised her that he knew her name. It didn’t, really.
 
The pause was all the permission Hahli needed; in less than the space between one breath and another, she was scrambling forward, over the stones that the Toa had moved aside, to reach the red-and-yellow armoured body. Jaller… he looked so vulnerable without his mask, so fragile in death that she was almost afraid to touch him, lest the remains of his form crumble at the slightest contact. She had loved him, had loved him dearly, and looking at him now…
 
Now, she felt her eyes grown moist. She couldn’t think of any words, anything to say… just a deep, deep sense of loss and regret in the core of her being. Slowly, ever so slowly and carefully, she took Jaller’s lifeless hand in her own, clasping it between them.
 
Had the two of them ever just… held hands like this, when he’d been alive? Offhand, she couldn’t remember. Maybe that one first time, back on the beach outside Ga-Koro?
 
In fact, searching back through her memories… she found a distressing lack of genuine moments of warmth between the two of them. Just teasing, flirting, never taking anything seriously… and though it had been the very nature of their relationship, Hahli had always counted on the thought that someday they’d be able to be more than that.
 
Someday had never come.
 
“He saved me, you know.”
 
That was the Toa’s voice; heavy with grief of his own, it nonetheless carried a ring of familiarity to it that – in another time and place – Hahli might have been able to recognise. For now, though, she was so consumed with her own thoughts that it was all she could do to just acknowledge his words.
 
“Without his sacrifice… I probably wouldn’t be here at all. He showed me who I truly was, but…” He swallowed, almost stopped there, then kept going. “Such a price.”
 
And I never got to say goodbye. The thought rose, unbidden, to Hahli’s mind. Their last words together… stupid banter over a Kolhii rematch. No real goodbye – she’d prevented him from giving the sincere farewell that he’d seemed to want to… it was almost like he’d known – just more flirting, joking, not letting it become too serious. Perhaps it had been a defence mechanism for her; but if it was, it had blown up in her face, leaving an empty void in her heart, one that she had no meaningful memories to fill with. Had anything sincere truly ever passed between them?
 
She wished that she could say it had.
 
Jaller, she knew… Jaller would be proud. He’d done his duty, and if he’d died bringing it to be, then… as Captain of the Guard, Hahli supposed, he’d probably always been prepared for this day to come one day. But she’d been so certain that it never would, so convinced that they had all the time in the world…
 
Would it have changed anything, if she’d allowed their relationship to become something sincere? Maybe not… but she’d had the capacity to give him something meaningful; and had always held back. And, now that she was finally realising that… it was far too late.
 
At some length, she stepped back, releasing the Ta-Matoran’s hand. There were so many things she wanted to say to Jaller; but she couldn’t bring herself to say them to the vacant corpse. On impulse, she touched her forehead to Jaller’s; hoping that, somehow, that simple action could reach beyond the grave to convey to him all that she’d wanted the two of them to mean to each other. It was a vain hope; no-one ever came back from death, and Hahli knew that the only thing to do was trust his spirit to Mata Nui. Still, all her emotion was poured into that one single touch.
 
Slowly, then, she stepped away. Inclining her head to indicate to the Toa that she was done. Rather than watch as he again lifted Jaller to his final resting place, Hahli turned instead to look up at the mask where it was suspended, empty eye holes staring vacantly out and across the island. And, though she said and did nothing right then and there… Hahli knew in her heart that she was going to take it down from there, and carry it with her all her days.
 
A tribute to the bravest Matoran who had ever lived… and a reminder of her terrible mistake in failing to appreciate the short time given to them.
 

***

 
“Halt, little one.”
 
When so little time had passed, but so much seemed to have happened, Hahli could hardly bring herself to be surprised that the giant titan that was half Takua and half Makuta had singled her out. Between her stowaway ride down to Mangaia; appointing herself as Chronicler for the Toa of Light, who she had belatedly recognised as Takua in a new body; climbing back to the surface to summon the Turaga and Matoran on his orders; and now, playing witness to not only this final clash between Light and Darkness, but seeing the first steps being taken to awaken the Great Spirit…
 
Surprise felt like a thing of the past for her.
 
So, she slowed, turning to regard the massive being. With its one glaring eye of Makuta’s juxtaposed against the otherwise more friendly visage of Takanuva, with its mishmash of golden and rusted steel armour, it should have been a fearsome sight; but Hahli found herself unafraid. If anything, she was expecting a reminder from the Takanuva half of the being about making sure she got this down accurately on the Wall of History…
 
What came next, therefore, was a shock to even her.
 
“That mask… needs life.”
 
The Matoran’s gaze dropped to Jaller’s Hau, still clutched in her grasp. True to her earlier intention, she had indeed taken the mask down from his memorial; first, she had set it upon the front of Takanuva’s vehicle, and, when that had been abandoned at the entrance to Makuta’s lair, had carried it with her ever since. Now, she simply stared at it, wondering what the titan could possibly be getting at. Of course it needed life… but the life it needed was Jaller’s, and he was gone for good. Hahli didn’t think she’d quite be able to bear seeing the mask given to some stranger just so that it wouldn’t remain inanimate.
 
Still, when a fusion of a Toa of legend and the most evil being ever known held out its hand to you, you didn’t very well refuse it what it wanted. With some reluctance and trepidation, Hahli placed the kanohi in the being’s giant hand, watched as it set the mask down on the stones beneath their feet. She didn’t know what to expect and, quite honestly, was reluctant to find out.
 
The being stretched out its hand over the mask. Raw power seemed to flow from its form, dancing around its fingertips, coalescing in its palm. Beneath this energy, the surface of the mask shimmered, almost becoming golden as the power – light? Or something else entirely? – flowed down into it. Slowly, it tipped backwards, as if it were no longer lying flat on the ground but as if it were being worn by someone invisible who was, themselves, lying prone. The Ga-Matoran opened her mouth to speak, then closed it again, not certain what to even say…
 
And in the time it took her to do that, the ‘invisible’ body had resolved into one that was clearly visible, and Hahli felt her heart skip a beat. Jaller lay there now; his eyes still closed, his body as unmoving as when she’d last seen it, and Hahli felt a fresh wave of grief threaten to consume her. She didn’t know why the titan had seen fit to recreate the dead form of the Matoran who she loved, but… the thoughts, the emotions choked her.
 
And then—
 
Then—
 
For a moment, Hahli was certain she’d imagined it. She almost thought that, through a vision blurred with emotion, she’d seen the body blink its eyes; but of course, she couldn’t have. Jaller was dead, and the dead didn’t come—
 
A breath, half sigh and half groan, from the direction of the red-armoured body, cut that thought off even before it could finish forming. She didn’t understand it, had no idea what was going on or how the titan had managed it… but Hahli didn’t waste a moment more in reaching the other’s side. Against all likelihood, against all possibility, he was trying to get up… grasping his arm, she helped him climb slowly to his feet. He seemed confused, disoriented – though who could blame him? – but right then, Hahli wasn’t in any kind of place to form a response. There was only one thing she could think of to say, to do.
 
“Jaller…”
 
And she hugged him tightly, in a way she never had before. All the emotion of the last twenty-four hours, ever since she’d seen Takanuva carrying his body, welled up in her and she honestly wanted nothing more than to just cling to him desperately. She could hardly believe it, yet she didn’t want to risk not believing in case that somehow made it not real anymore; and if she didn’t have any flirting, teasing comments to offer him? That was because she now knew he meant indescribably more to her than they could ever convey.
 
And if Jaller wasn’t exactly returning the hug so much as just hanging off her, letting her support him? She could live with that, too.
 
Whatever they had once had, whatever they had once been… it was different now. That difference, she assumed, would become clear; but until then, all she knew was that she wanted to stay as close to Jaller as she could. In time, they would see. In time.
 

***

 
Sand was kicked up beneath his feet as Jaller trod a path along the familiar golden beach of Ta-Wahi. Familiar… and yet, unfamiliar, all at once. With all that had happened, it felt as though a lifetime had passed since he’d last stood on these shores; and maybe, in a sense, it had. The captain wasn’t sure he quite grasped the details of what Takutanuva had done for him even now, after Takua had filled him in… was he, then, back in his old body? Or had a new form been created for him?
 
If he went back and moved those stones at Kini-Nui, would he find his old one still there? It wasn’t a theory Jaller much wanted to test.
 
It certainly felt, though, like he was seeing the world through a new pair of eyes. That might have been figurative or literal; Jaller honestly couldn’t say which. But he did know one thing; he’d been dead, and now he wasn’t. And that…
 
Was a Karzahni of a lot to take in.
 
Further down the beach, he could see the Toa Nuva gathering. Turaga Vakama had promised them that, at last, he would reveal many of the mysteries surrounding the island of Mata Nui, and would tell them the truth of the underground city that Takua had discovered in the wake of Makuta’s defeat. It should have been a thrilling time, of discovery, of moving on to find where their true destinies lay…
 
And yet. Jaller deliberately stayed away from the small gathering, preferring to remain lost in his own thoughts. As momentous as the occasion was, it was still overshadowed by the many troubled thoughts that weighed upon his mind, and he wasn’t quite prepared to move on with that future until he’d at least straightened a few things out.
 
He’d died.
 
Jaller remembered that as clearly as anything. Throwing himself onto the Rahkshi’s staff to protect Takua; feeling the awful, crippling fear overwhelm his heart; the detached sensation of just knowing that he was about to die… he didn’t want to dwell long on them, but the fact remained that they were inescapably etched in his memory. Jaller had been prepared to die in the line of duty, many times before; but never before had it actually happened.
 
And now, knowing how it felt, would he ever be prepared to do so again?
 
And what kind of guard captain would he be if he wasn’t?
 
He remembered, too, his return to life. It was fuzzy, indistinct, in much the same way as waking up from a long sleep; he’d first been aware that he felt cold, that his body was stiff and achy… and then, before anything else, of Hahli grasping him and clinging to him desperately.
 
Hahli…
 
Looking back over his shoulder, Jaller could just make out her form, sitting with the Toa Nuva and Turaga. There was another piece of his life that didn’t quite feel like it fit back into place in his new perspective on the world. He didn’t love her any less than he had before, of course, yet at the same time… something was different. After he’d been revived, they’d barely had chance to exchange more than a couple of words; between seeing Takutanuva get crushed, being herded by Turaga Vakama onto their respective spots of the Three Virtues symbol, and Takua’s discovery of Metru Nui, there had simply been too much happening. But that was the way things had so often been in their relationship.
 
So why did this feel so different?
 
Even now, he still hadn’t had chance to sit down with Hahli and discuss anything. She’d been kept busy in her new role as Chronicler – and a more deserving Matoran, for the post Takua had vacated, Jaller couldn’t imagine – and he’d had far too much on his mind to seek her out.
 
He wanted to get his own thoughts straightened out, in privacy, before he talked them through with anyone else. Even her.
 
He represented Duty, Turaga Vakama had said. But even Duty needed time to come to grips with everything. His whole perspective on the world had been forcibly shifted and, while he didn’t really expect anyone else to understand… it was important to him that he came to terms with it in good time. The problem was that he didn’t know where to start; it was just too much to take in. There was a reason, Jaller figured, that the dead didn’t usually came back – and that was because the memories of that death were incredibly hard to deal with.
 
And here he was, the weird exception to that. He just couldn’t quite process it.
 
His feet continued to scuff through the sand as he walked, his path unplanned, his direction undetermined. He was just moving idly, with no thought to spare for where he was actually going; his mind was spinning in circles, like an out-of-control ussal cart. Everything seemed, from his perspective, to have changed, and it was hard even for one with his legendary discipline, to focus on any one thing for long enough to work it out fully.
 
But he could at least try.
 
First of all… his duty. It was the thing Jaller always came back to, the very core of who he was; and yet, looking at it now, he felt as though he hardly recognised it. He’d literally died in the line of duty; did that affect it, for him, in any way? It could seem, almost, as if he’d fulfilled his duty and his destiny in that moment, in dying so that the Seventh Toa could be born; and, if that was the case? Then what did the fact that he was now back mean for that?
 
Was his duty just the same as always? Or, now that his destiny had played itself out, and subsequently been ‘rebooted’, did he have a different duty altogether? Had destiny accounted for the fact that he’d be brought back to life, or had Takutanuva deliberately gone against what destiny had established by returning him? And if the latter… what did that mean for him now?
 
Was he even still Captain of the Guard? Was he still worthy of that post?
 
That was another thing Jaller found himself struggling with. In the past, sure, he’d been willing to die in the line of duty; but there was a difference between being prepared for that to happen and it actually happening. Recollecting his final moments still left Jaller cold, and he had to face the very real possibility that, put in a situation where he once again came face to face with his own mortality, he might just… freeze up in the face of such debilitating memories. And in that case, was he even fit to lead? How could he possibly ask his soldiers to risk their own lives, when the prospect of doing so himself might stop him cold?
 
Even if Vakama reassured him a hundred times that there would be no such need for an organised guard on Metru Nui, Jaller wasn’t going to be lax when it came to considering it. No such thing as too much security, especially in a completely unknown land.
 
But if he wasn’t fit to lead the guard, then…?
 
He shook his head. Questions upon questions that he had no answers for; and that he nonetheless had to work out on his own, because no-one else on Mata Nui had ever been through something like this.
 
It was with some surprise that Jaller noticed his path had led him back to the ruins of Ta-Koro. Had only a week or so passed since he and Takua had ridden out of the fortress’ gates, confident that nothing could possibly go wrong on their quest? It had never once crossed either of their minds that there simply might be no Ta-Koro for them to return to afterwards… and though Jaller felt a pang for what had been lost, it was a far more detached feeling than he might have expected.
 
His home was gone… but when everyone on the island was on the verge of leaving their homes to head to a completely new land anyway, that seemed to have much less significance. Besides, the old guard-house, the one on this side of the stone bridge, remained standing; its interior rooms had been left abandoned during the reconstruction of Ta-Koro after the Bohrok War, but never completely dismantled, and the Ta-Matoran ventured inside. The place where he’d spent many of his hours during the Makuta Wars, strategizing and planning and preparing for the inevitable day when the Makuta’s forces would try to overrun them completely. Seen from the other side of having died… it all felt like so long ago now.
 
He kept on coming back to that one thought.
 
He had, perhaps, lost track of how long he’d been standing there, lost in such musings. It was only the sound of his name being called, by a most familiar voice, that brought Jaller back to the present. Tucking away the remaining strands of thought that he still had yet to resolve, the captain stepped out of his old strategy room, raised a hand in greeting.
 
“Right here, Hahli.”
 
And there… was another aspect of his life that he needed to think through seriously.
 
“I didn’t expect you to be along so soon. The Turaga’s stories are over already?”
 
“It’s been two hours, Jaller.” Shaking her head slightly, Hahli stepped to his side, and moved to intertwine her fingers with his own. To Jaller, the contact felt more awkward than it would have before; but nonetheless, he didn’t resist her delicate touch. “Today’s tales are done, though there will be many more days’ worth to come. But…”
 
She tilted her head slightly, regarding him.
 
“What are you doing all the way out here?”
 
“Thinking, mostly.” The answer was returned instantly. It was the truth, after all; and while he didn’t feel like he wanted to go into great detail yet, Jaller also felt as though he had nothing particular to hide. It was natural, after all that had happened, that his mind would be busy. “I just needed some time to myself, before we all start work on the boats.”
 
“Thinking? Sounds dangerous.”
 
Though Hahli nudged him gently, though her tone was as lightly teasing as it ever had been… neither Matoran quite seemed fooled by it. Hahli shuffled her feet, looking like she wanted to say more but not quite knowing what, while Jaller couldn’t quite bring himself to reciprocate with their traditional flirting banter. What had, previously, always just been their way with each other felt unnatural now, empty and forced. And even as Jaller summoned a grin in reply, he had to admit he wasn’t quite sure where that left them.
 
He wasn’t sure where he stood with anything right now; Hahli least of all. What they’d been, what they had… the occurrence of his death seemed to hang like a shadow over all of it, and it felt wrong to lead her on without knowing how that affected… them.
 
“Listen, Hahli…”
 
As she turned to him, expectant, Jaller realised that whatever he was about to say was unlikely to be the same as what she was hoping to hear. He cleared his throat awkwardly, before trying again.
 
“We’re both going to be busy over these next few days. So much has happened, so much is going to keep on happening… we’re not going to have much time to spend together.”
 
“So… you’re saying…” Hahli frowned. She seemed to be of the impression that he was going somewhere with this; though, if he was, Jaller couldn’t have said where. He didn’t want to break anything off with her, but he also couldn’t just keep pretending like nothing had changed. He rubbed the back of his head, trying to piece together what he wanted to say – and unintentionally leaving it wide open for Hahli to take a guess of her own.
 
“You’re saying we should make the most of the time we have together before that?”
 
It wasn’t quite what Jaller had been leading to; but he found himself unable to think of anything better to say to correct her.
 
“Sure. Let’s go with that.”
 

***

 
She probably shouldn’t be surprised by this development, Macku reckoned.
 
Her relationship with Hewkii was, after all, no big secret. While romance between Matoran wasn’t exactly frowned upon, it was also regarded by many as an unnecessary complication; for most of her brethren, the Three Virtues were the core of everything. As many in the village contributed their own skills to work, from the flax-weaver to the rope-maker to the shipwright, so Unity was exemplified. Their dedication to all that they did represented their Duty. And Destiny… that was harder to pinpoint, for the Ga-Matoran, but still a crucial part of everyday life. Their bond of sisterhood was just one further indication of Unity; and was all that many felt they needed.
 
Relationships based around emotions such as romance were uncommon; to most, they seemed to fall outside the realm of living by the Virtues. Macku rather thought otherwise – what greater Unity was there, after all, than the bond she and Hewkii shared? Their commitment to each other could be taken as an additional Duty with which to honour the Great Spirit; and Destiny was sure a lot more enjoyable when you had someone special to share it with at the end of the day.
 
Still, such things were uncommon… so it really could be no surprise to Macku if she found herself as the go-to expert on the subject.
 
Behind her blue Huna, she struck a smile for Hahli. Her Kolhii teammate had been troubled by something for a few days now, Macku had noticed, but she’d never quite found the opportunity to say anything to her. As the inhabitants of Mata Nui had been hard at work building boats for their journey over the Silver Sea, all of the Ga-Matoran found their expertise being called on frequently as those from the other villages, who had no seagoing experience to speak of, sought their advice. Macku herself wasn’t even a shipbuilder by trade, but she knew a thing or two about handling boats; so she, too, had been rushed off her feet.
 
It was quite a relief, then, to have a quiet moment mostly to herself again. Much of the work on the boats had been completed; and while Marka the shipwright was still busy overseeing the final details, most of her fellow Ga-Matoran had retired from the scene for a while, as members of the other tribes put the finishing touches to their work. Macku had actually been planning to seek out Hahli for herself, just to see if everything was alright… but it turned out she hadn’t needed to. Hahli seemed to have had much the same idea.
 
Now, she sat subdued upon an upturned bucket that had been used to carry materials to and from the shipbuilding site. Macku, leaning against one of the few trees in this part of the island that hadn’t been stripped bare for the materials it could provide, watched her shrewdly, but kept her thoughts to herself for the moment. Whatever Hahli wanted to say, she expected it would come out in its own time, not from any prodding on her part. A little longer passed, before Hahli seemed to decide on exactly what she wanted to ask.
 
“It’s… Jaller.”
 
Of course it was. Hahli’s relationship with the Captain of the Ta-Koro Guard was no secret; so, when she’d come asking for some advice, Macku had easily guessed who it was they were going to be talking about. For herself, the athlete had never been Jaller’s biggest fan – he was too stuffy, and tended to treat everyone as though they were soldiers in his guard, whether they liked it or not – but she respected that Hahli saw something in him that she didn’t.
 
Her friend continued to elaborate. “I know I shouldn’t be surprised, after all he’s been through. But he’s distant now… he’ll spend time with me, if I ask, but I don’t think his heart is in it anymore. We used to, well… you know…”
 
“Flirt all the time?” Macku supplied with a slightly raised eyebrow. It had been a curious way to conduct a relationship – though it certainly had helped to bring Hahli out of her shell, for the first time in memory – but she also supposed that she had no grounds on which to judge… her relationship with Hewkii, after all, had started with her and Kotu playing pranks on him rather relentlessly (and, in her case, unsubtly), and had only slowly grown from that into something serious.
 
“Yeah. That.” Hahli looked a little abashed at being so blatantly called out; but she pressed on anyway. “It just feels awkward now, though. Not just because he doesn’t reciprocate anymore, but… it’s not really sustainable for a relationship, is it? I mean, you and Hewkii, you do more than flirt aimlessly all the time, don’t you?”
 
“Oh, you bet we do.” A grin touched Macku’s face for a moment, before becoming serious again. “It’s not just that though, is it? You’re really troubled by something.”
 
Hahli looked as though she was tempted to deny it; then, her defences crumbled.
 
“It’s… he died, Macku.” Her yellow-eyed gaze bored into Macku’s own. “I thought I’d lost him forever… and when I looked back on the times we’d shared and could only see moments of dumb flirting, nothing that meant anything, it was almost too much to bear. It was like I’d wasted our time together. If we’re going to pick up our relationship again, I want it to be something meaningful this time. Something that, if anything happens to either of us, we’ll have something that was worth looking back on.”
 
“Hahli…” Okay, that was heavier than Macku had been expecting. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been surprised; she didn’t know any details, but the whole island had heard of Jaller’s sacrifice at least in passing. And while Macku couldn’t exactly relate to that – while she’d come close to losing Hewkii once, during the infamous sickness of Po-Koro, it had never actually happened; she couldn’t imagine it, and she honestly didn’t much want to, either – it was no wonder that Hahli was struggling.
 
“Look… I appreciate you coming to me for advice; but this is really something you and Jaller need to talk about between you. I can’t tell you how he feels about this, or what he’ll want to do.”
 
“I know that.” Hahli rarely ever sounded impatient, but there seemed to be the barest touch of that clinging to her tone now. “And I would… if he’d even talk to me much now. I know he’s busy with work on the boats; but I even invited him along to hear the Turaga’s stories with me the other day, and all we managed the whole time was small talk together. I don’t know if I should push him to talk to me more seriously, or…?”
 
“Talking helps.” Macku nodded thoughtfully. It was, indeed, always good advice to talk through any problems in a relationship – her and Hewkii’s seemed to be mostly plain sailing on that count (perhaps a bad choice of words, as Hewkii couldn’t stand water), but even they’d had their moments. However, a second thought occurred to her, too.
 
“But sometimes... you might just need to let him have some time.”
 
At Hahli’s quizzical expression, Macku continued. “Like you said, he’s literally been to death and back… and I can’t speak from experience, but that probably gives a guy a whole lot to come to terms with. It’s easy for you, having lost him and got him back again, to want to pick up right from where you left things; but look at it from his perspective for a moment. He’s been through an experience that he probably doesn’t expect you to understand, and doesn’t want to burden you with.”
 
“I could offer to listen to him? I don’t mind hearing…”
 
“You could… but you might wind up hearing exactly what it felt like for him to die. I don’t know about you, but I’d struggle with it if Hewkii was giving me a blow-by-blow account of experiencing death, even if he was alive again now.”
 
At Hahli’s resolute expression, Macku shrugged a little.
 
“I mean, you do you, I guess. But I think the best thing to do is give him some space; let him know that you’ll still be here for him whenever he’s ready to talk, but that you’ll also respect that he maybe needs time to sort through it all himself before he comes to you.”
 
It probably wasn’t what Hahli had wanted to hear; Macku rather suspected that her friend had come to her hoping for an instant resolution… and wait until Jaller’s ready certainly wasn’t that. Macku herself knew for a fact how hard it could be to just hold back when the one she loved needed some space – it had happened between her and Hewkii before, and doubtless would again eventually – but just because it wasn’t easy didn’t change that it was probably the best thing to do.
 
“Mm.” Hahli’s response was incredibly noncommittal, and Macku wasn’t sure whether that meant the other had accepted or rejected her advice.
 
“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. If anyone knows that, it’s me… A way back now, when I still had to sneak out of Ga-Koro to spend time with him, I found Hewkii with a lot on his mind that he didn’t want to share with me. I could have followed the advice I’m giving you now; but instead, I badgered him over and over to talk about it, to let me in on the secret… I wouldn’t let it go. It kind of soured our relationship for a while.”
 
It hadn’t lasted, of course; neither of them had been able to stand things being frosty between them and, when they’d approached the matter again, Macku had been hasty in apologising. In time, Hewkii had revealed that Po-Koro as a whole had been going through a bad spot of Rahi attacks at the time, and he had wanted to keep her from getting caught up in the trouble, so it wasn’t exactly like Hahli’s case here… but Macku thought that her advice was sound.
 
Hahli seemed to be pondering this; behind her mask, Macku thought she could detect the hints of a frown on her friend’s features, but any specific thoughts went unknown to her. The athlete tapped her fingers together rhythmically, mostly for the sake of occupying herself while she gave Hahli a few moments to formulate a response.
 
“I guess you know best.”
 
She didn’t sound entirely convinced, and Macku bit back a sigh. Maybe the reason most of her fellow Matoran weren’t interested in talking relationships was that no-one would heed sound advice until they found it out for themselves… but hadn’t she been the same, back in the day, after all? Turaga Nokama had tried to offer her advice on occasion and Macku, secure in her own confidence, hadn’t listened much. When it came to talking with the one you loved, maybe there really was no better teacher than personal experience.
 
Rather than express any frustration, Macku simply shrugged.
 
“Maybe I do; but you know Jaller best.” She wasn’t even going to argue the point; partly because she already knew that wouldn’t be the way to get agreement out of the other, and partly because… for as much as good advice could be universal, it also depended a lot on the couple.
 
“I can only give suggestions – what works for Hewkii and me might not for you. Take a look at what you know about Jaller; if my advice matches, use it. If not, well…” She punctuated with a small shrug. “I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong.”
 
That seemed to please Hahli more. Macku wondered, for a moment, if she hadn’t just unwittingly paved the way for Jaller to be subjected to the never-ending barrage of questions about whether or not he wanted to talk that she’d thrust on Hewkii that one time… but it really wasn’t any of her business. In any case, if the two of them had come out of that okay in the end, then surely Hahli and Jaller would, too, and… well, it seemed likely to Macku that Hahli would approach the matter with just a little more tact than that.
 
“Thanks, Macku.” Hahli hopped up from her seat, looking decidedly happier than she had at the beginning of their conversation… such as it had been. While she was great at giving tips for sports, like canoe racing or Kolhii, not even being in a successful relationship herself made Macku really feel qualified to offer romantic advice. She was an athlete, not a counsellor, and she rather felt like that showed. But she’d at least got Hahli looking at the situation from a different perspective, so that had to count for something. In fact, the new chronicler seemed positively cheerful again now.
 
“We’ll figure it out somehow; you’ll see.”
 

***

 
At long last, the shores of Metru Nui rose into view. For many hours, the glistening spires of the island city had been visible in the far distance; far away and yet tantalisingly close, all at once. For much of that time, as the silver sea swept by beneath them, Hahli had been hard at work, organising all the notes she’d carved based upon the Turaga’s stories and sharing bits of one tale or another with her curious fellow passengers when they asked, but… even so, her mind had only half been upon her task.
 
The other half was occupied by her anticipation. Almost every few minutes, the new chronicler would sneak a glance ahead, at the slowly rising skyline that belonged to the towering metropolis she had heard so much about. A home from so many, many years ago that no-one present – save for the Turaga – could remember… and while Hahli knew that the place was going to be little more than a ruined shell, which would need a lot of work before it could truly be habitable again…
 
Could anyone blame her for being excited?
 
This expectancy had even, if she was completely honest, put most thoughts of her situation with Jaller out of her mind. Of course, she still wanted to talk to him, wanted to understand how he felt, and all… but the opportunity simply hadn’t presented itself. It had been the very evening of her consultation with Macku that the announcement had been given that all work on the boats was completed, and that they would set sail first thing in the morning; and every Matoran who wasn’t of the fire or earth tribes had hurried back to their homes to gather any possessions that they wanted to bring with them.
 
For herself, Hahli hadn’t had a whole lot to fetch. Her kolhii stick, perhaps, and a couple of more personal items… she’d planned on rushing back to the Amaja Circle to catch Jaller that very evening, but it wasn’t to be; she’d been roped in to help her fellow villagers pack – Nixie, in particular, had armfuls of star charts and had absolutely refused to leave her precious telescope behind – and, by the time morning had rolled around, everyone had been far too busy for her to be seeking any personal time.
 
She kind of wished she and Jaller had at least ended up on the same boat; this was the kind of moment that would have been perfect to share together. But…
 
At least she knew, now, how she wanted to approach him when they next did get a moment together.
 
No longer content to simply sit still, not now that they were so close to landing, Hahli packed up her stone tablets full of stories. Tucking her chronicler’s staff under one arm, the water villager carefully picked her way between the rows of still-seated Matoran, making her way towards the boat’s bow. It didn’t much surprise her to find that she wasn’t alone; an Onu-Matoran wearing a purple Hau was eagerly leaning out over the bow point, as if that little extra distance would speed their boat along faster. He didn’t seem to notice her arrival; and Hahli, who didn’t recognise him personally, had other things on her mind than conversation.
 
The city was growing closer all the time; and, to both the left and the right, Hahli could see other Matoran vessels cutting their way through the liquid protodermis. Keen eyes picked out Jaller standing proudly at the prow of another boat to her right, looking every bit the captain that he was, and Hahli gave a wave in his direction. For a moment, he didn’t seem to notice her, either; then, his gaze drifted across, and he gave a small nod in her direction. Hahli’s heart swelled at even that little interaction and, more satisfied than she had been before, she settled in beside the Onu-Matoran to wait for the landing.
 
The wait was, indeed, not much longer; within the span of maybe twenty minutes, the boat at the lead of the formation had come to rest at the shoreline, with hers following suit in a matter of minutes. The Ga-Matoran could see a group of unusual Rahkshi-faced beings, who she supposed had to be the Rahaga, rushing to greet the Turaga, helping to pull their boats ashore, while the villagers from the other boats managed themselves. Her Onu- companion, who had taken half a moment while they were landing to introduce himself as Nobua, made point of being the first Matoran out of their own boat; he struggled for a few moments to heave the vessel up the shore, before Hahli and some of her fellow experienced Ga-Matoran moved to give him a hand. Everything was busy, bustling with Matoran moving every which way as they beached the boats, disembarked and began unloading, mostly managing to get under each other’s feet a lot. Unity was not particularly obvious on display here, today, but no-one seemed to mind; everyone, Hahli suspected, was simply reeling from being in a location so foreign to them all.
 
Foreign… and yet very familiar.
 
In the middle of all the business and bustle, the chronicler slowly came to a stop. Though she had no personal memories of the ruined cityscape stretched out before them, it all felt so very… very… like she really did know it. There were no memories, but such a sense of familiarity – of homeliness, even as battered as everything was – that took her breath away. The only word Hahli could find for it was…
 
Magical.
 
Matoran were still moving this way and that in the scene of barely controlled chaos; but for a moment, for Hahli, everything seemed to still. Lowering her gaze from the skyline, she had just happened to catch sight of something through the crowd; a very familiar pair of eyes had caught her gaze, for just the barest of moments, from behind an equally familiar yellow Hau… and, whether that moment had been intentional or not, Hahli decided to seize on her opportunity. If it was now or never… then she chose now.
 
Carefully, she began to push her way through the crowd.

 

 

----- (Continued in the post below because the post cut off here for some reason!) -----

Edited by Darth Jaller
  • Upvote 3

LhikanLow.gif

"New legends awake, but old lessons must be remembered.

For that is the way

of the BIONICLE."

---

Corpus Rahkshi bio: Blizzard / Skyrise bios: Tarutu, Kastir, Littiuu

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Thank you for writing this for me. I can't believe how amazingly long it was - I thought I'd racked a high wordcount but you blew me out of the water!

 

And wow, you managed to weave so much about these two into this story. Great characterization, I loved how much of Hahli and Jaller's lives you managed to wrap into this story. Oh, when Hahli was at Jaller's funeral I almost shed a tear, it was heartbreaking.

I also rather enjoyed the mention of Hahli and her tribeswomen gathering items from their home. I suppose it's something I've normally overlooked but it was well written and added a touch of Hahli and Nixie's personalities. And Hahli's reaction to seeing Metru Nui for the first time (that she remembers) - there's so much to gush over here!

 

 

Additional note - sorry if my writing is a bit clumsy; I'm more used to writing individual roleplay posts than whole stories, and my style maybe didn't adapt as neatly as I'd like. That said, it was definitely a fun experience; thanks for giving me a chance to play around in the heads of some of my favourite Matoran!

 

 

If I may offer critique (which this board seems to encourage), I thought your writing style was wonderful but limited by some unnecessary uses of commas and very long sentences. Other than that, the heavy use of character thoughts and feelings worked very well and came together to create a very emotional and introspective story. Outside of those little technical details I've mentioned, you know what to write and when.

In any case, this was absolutely touching, and seeing Jaller pull away from Hahli, and being able to anticipate how much it would hurt her, was great. Well done on writing a character-driven story in this world. Oh, and thank you for the short inclusion of Nobua!

Edited by ArchAngelleofJustice
  • Upvote 1

Stories I wrote

 

Parts of a Whole Series: An Alternate Ending

Part 1: Fight for Freedom                        Wisps of Memory

Part 2: Army of One (In Progress)


Short Stories:
The Great Takara          
Tale of the Toa Stones          Masks

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Aah, thank-you! :D After working on it for days on end, I was starting to doubt myself; so I'm really glad you liked it this much! I really appreciate your words; both the compliments and the critique, which is always most welcome ^^

 

I'd tend to agree with you about characterization being my strength; in the years since I used to be a prolific (though not very good) writer in the comedy forum here, I've mostly learned to write through in canon-character roleplays on various sites. It's something that's taught me a lot about getting into the heads of characters who I've seen or read about, and I'm happy to hear that paid off! That, and I was constantly turning back to the canon, checking this minor detail in MNOG or that little appearance in the novels, watching the movie scenes over and over... it was a lot of fun to revisit it all again.

 

And yeah, regarding my writing style, I can totally see what you mean. I tend to have so much I want to fit into any given sentence that, like you said, they often run away with me! It's definitely something I'll keep in mind for the future, though; many thanks for pointing it out to me ^^


LhikanLow.gif

"New legends awake, but old lessons must be remembered.

For that is the way

of the BIONICLE."

---

Corpus Rahkshi bio: Blizzard / Skyrise bios: Tarutu, Kastir, Littiuu

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WAAAAAAIT, I've just noticed that the story cut off short of its end D: I didn't even notice this at the time, I'm so sorry!

 

Um... here, belatedly, is the rest of the final scene:

 

---

 

“The unloading is going smoothly, Captain!”

 

Even though Rau-wearing Matoran saluted smartly as he gave the report, it was obvious to Jaller that the guardsman was as eager to see more of their former and new home as all of his fellow villagers who were scurrying back and forth across the shore. Still, the Ta-Koro Guard was holding together well, managing the unloading of the boats – their cargo consisted mostly of items of too great personal or spiritual significance for the Matoran to willingly leave behind – with their customary efficiency. Jaller gave a nod to the excited guardsman.

 

“Right, good. Keep it up, Keahi.”

 

If he sounded noncommittal, it was only because his attention was elsewhere; Keahi seemed to realise this and hastily returned to his work.

 

It had taken a lot of thought, on Jaller’s part, to decide that he was indeed ready to resume leadership of the Guard; but, once he had done so, a lot of other things had seemed to fall back into place. The journey back to Metru Nui had given him time enough to think long and hard about everything that had happened since he and Takua had set off on their search – and, finally, to draw some conclusions from it all.

 

His Duty was to his friends and his people, just as it had always been. This world was a beautiful place, and he would protect it, and the Matoran who called it home, at all costs.

 

He would lead the Guard wherever it took him; even to death, again, if it were asked of him. He might not welcome it – but he wouldn’t run from it.

 

And Hahli…

 

He finally felt ready to talk to her.

 

He hadn’t deliberately caught her eye through the crowd; but on the whole, Jaller thought, it had been good that he had. Maybe she’d take it as an invitation to catch up with him later, once all the commotion died down a bit. That sounded like a good plan to him, and Jaller nodded to himself as he stepped around a half-demolished statue that had probably once depicted Toa Lhikan—

 

Only to feel something catch his elbow gently. Looking down at the blue-armoured hand, that had snagged him, Jaller didn’t have to guess who it belonged to… and he couldn’t really claim to be surprised, either.

 

Hahli had never been one for waiting around when she had something on her mind.

 

“Hey, Ta-Matoran.”

 

Her tone was light; but, despite her words, it was clear to Jaller that teasing wasn’t what was on her mind today. That was fair, he supposed – he hadn’t really been making himself very open to her advances recently, while he’d been working to get his thoughts in order. He regretted blowing her off in such a way, but… it had seemed unavoidable back then.

 

“Spare a minute?” she asked.

 

“For you? Of course.” Capturing her hand in his own, Jaller allowed Hahli to lead him back behind one of the pillars of the loading dock. For a moment, no further words were exchanged, and the two Matoran just stood there; Jaller, for his part, uncertain whether he should break the silence or allow Hahli to do so. Eventually, she spoke first.

 

“I just wanted to say, Jaller… I know you’re going through a lot. I guess you don’t want to trouble me with it, but…” Her yellow eyes, catching his own, were alive with compassion, and Jaller felt his heart stirring again as he looked into them. Regardless of everything else, she was such a special Matoran that he just felt very privileged to call her his friend.

 

He wondered why it had taken so long for him to learn to think that way.

 

“…if I can help, or even just listen, I want to do that for you. Otherwise…” She looked away, but continued to speak. “I just want you to know that I’ll be here for you, whenever you’re ready. If you need time, then I won’t butt in; but I hope—I hope that you won’t keep me out.”

 

“Actually…” Stepping around to be in her field of view again, Jaller met her gaze with his own. Hahli… it hadn’t really occurred to him, while he’d been wrestling with his own thoughts, but she’d been through almost as much as he had – on an emotional level, if not a physical one. She’d had to see his life stripped away from him and, given the feelings they shared, that must have crushed her.

 

He could only imagine the strength it had cost her to keep going, in spite of that.

 

“I think I just about got everything sorted up here.” He tapped the side of his mask, drawing an unwilling smile from Hahli. “I never wanted to shut you out; I just needed the time to re-evaluate everything. There’s been a lot to come to terms with – but I’ve mostly managed it, now. As long as no other big, universe-shaking changes come along in the next year, we should be alright.”

 

Hahli’s smile took on a wry edge. “I don’t think we can count on that. Even when he’s asleep, Mata Nui seems to like to shake things up.”

 

“True.” Jaller shook his head slightly as he conceded the point. Who knew what the year ahead would hold? In fact…

 

“Actually, that leads me on to the other thing I wanted to say. I think we need to reconsider…”

 

 “Us.” Hahli supplied the very word Jaller had been intending, just moments before he spoke it. He had, in fact, been meaning to ease her into the subject more gently… but, it seemed, he wasn’t the only one who had been doing some thinking.

 

“Yeah.”

 

Again, the half-awkward silence, as each waited for the other to go first. This time, Jaller took it upon himself to take the lead.

 

“I care for you a lot, Hahli; don’t ever think that I don’t. I’ve never been closer to another Matoran – even a Ta-Matoran – than I am to you. But our relationship, the way we had it… I don’t think it’s sustainable.”

 

“So…?” Hahli’s prompting was cautious, but also hopeful; and Jaller got the distinct impression that she’d been thinking along similar lines to him… but run in a completely different direction with them.

 

“So, I think maybe we should take a step back. You’re my friend, and I never want to lose that, but… our trying to make it more than it was, without committing anything, was damaging that more than helping.”

 

“We could go serious, you know.” Hahli’s interjection was quick, the words all spilling out in a rush. “If our old way didn’t work, we can try a different approach. We don’t have to give up… I don’t want to give up.”

 

“Hey. Hey… neither do I.” He was still holding her hand, Jaller realised, and he rubbed the back of it gently now. “But we’ve got no time to explore all our options right now. We’ve got a whole city to rebuild. I’d rather focus on getting to know you as a person, and as a friend; and then maybe, once all is said and done, we can go for a deeper relationship. But for now, there’s too much getting in the way.”

 

It hurt, to see the emotions dancing through Hahli’s eyes; but Jaller truly believed he was making the right decision. He was no Ko-Matoran seer, no prophet like Turaga Vakama… but even he could anticipate that unsettled times would lie ahead. Even if Makuta was dead, there were whispers that he had a whole brotherhood who may or may not want to finish what he started; and if that was the case, Metru Nui was going to be on the defensive for a long while yet. If he and Hahli were going to be snatching moments in the midst of all that, then he wanted them to be meaningful ones… not ones full of questioning exactly what their relationship ought to be.

 

“Building memories together.” Hahli’s musing drew Jaller’s attention back to her; and, at his uncomprehending frown, she elaborated. “It was something I noticed, when you were… gone. So little of our time together had really meant anything. If I want to change anything, it’s that; I want to be able to look back on the times we’ve spent, and feel like they were valuable; not just empty teasing.”

 

“Then… you understand?”

 

“I think so.” It couldn’t have been easy for her to admit, and her expression gave that away; but all the same, Hahli nodded. “We need time to learn about each other as we are, before we dive into anything involving us.”

 

She took his other hand in hers, too.

 

“And I want to learn to know you, Jaller. Not just the Captain of the Guard face; not just the empty flirting; but the real YOU beneath.”

 

“Same.” Without letting go of her hands, Jaller turned to face the skyline of the City of Legends. Around them, he knew, Matoran were continuing to work, some more efficiently than others, at unloading the boats, dismantling some of them for parts, and preparing to make their way deeper into the ruined streets; but for now, that could continue without him.

 

“I’m going to head into the city, look for somewhere sturdy enough to set up as a new guardhouse.” He smiled at her, enjoyed seeing her genuinely smile back. “Care to join me?”

 

“I need a quick word with Turaga Vakama, first. Meet you in Ta-Metru?” Slipping her hands out of his, Hahli slipped back into the crowd towards the shore again, where the Ta-Koroan elder stood aside from where many of his companions were exchanging enthusiastic greetings with the Rahaga and a giant that had to be Keetongu. Watching her go… he couldn’t help his smile growing wider still.

 

Whatever they had now was bound to be different from what they’d enjoyed before… but it was a good different, built more around sincerity and trust. Maybe it would take a while for them both to get used to. Maybe they wouldn’t be able to keep it up – or maybe they would.

 

But that was a part of the future that he wasn’t worried about. Whatever happened… it would happen. And, for as long as it took, he was glad to freely acknowledge that Hahli was, probably, going to be his closest friend throughout it all.

 

Whistling softly to himself, the captain gathered up his guardsman’s pack, and began to pick his way over the bits of scattered rubble, and into the body of the city proper.

 

Nothing in the future was going to be quite the same as he’d known up to this point; and that, Jaller decided, was the way he liked it.

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LhikanLow.gif

"New legends awake, but old lessons must be remembered.

For that is the way

of the BIONICLE."

---

Corpus Rahkshi bio: Blizzard / Skyrise bios: Tarutu, Kastir, Littiuu

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