BZPower Fanfic Exchange 2018 for Darth Jaller
Tamaru crouched low, as she sighted her quarry perched on a branch up ahead. The green Kewa was preening her feathers, but looked up as the Le-Matoran walked out from underneath the foliage.
“There you be, Kunono,” Tamaru said softly, as she started to approach the bird. “I have been search-seeking much for you today. Would you be up for a little wind-fly?”
The Kewa Kunono tilted her head slightly at the advancing Matoran. Tamaru took cautious steps forward, taking care to make no sudden movements that might startle the Rahi. Meanwhile, she maintained eye contact with the Kewa, hoping to build upon their bond. But it wasn’t enough; when Tamaru was only three strides away, Kunono suddenly cried out and spread her wings. Before Tamaru could pounce forward, Kunono took to the air and disappeared into the canopy of Le-Wahi.
“Braka-bones,” Tamaru cursed. “I got ever-close that time!”
Tamaru had in fact been tracking down that particular Kewa all day. Kunono had been assigned to her for the Gukko Force. Kewa were normally fairly docile Rahi, and many of the Le-Matoran pilots were able to quickly train them and use them in aerial combat. Tamaru had learned how to groom and feed the other Kewa, but she had never flown one before. Kongu had assigned her Kunono, saying that once she trained her they could join in practicing for the Gukko Force. Yet for whatever reason that particular Kewa was unwilling to put up with Tamaru and refused to bond with her. As such, Tamaru had decided to name her Kunono, which roughly translated to “Stubborn.”
Of course, there were other reasons why Tamaru was reluctant to take flight on a Kewa. She briefly wondered if Kunono could sense her fear of heights and if that was why she wouldn’t let her approach. Tamaru was working very hard to overcome her vertigo, but how could she improve when her assigned Kewa refused to fly with her?
Tamaru’s frustrated thoughts were soon placed aside as she heard something rustling in the forest behind her. She glanced back, wondering if it was a Rahi of some sort. However, from the sound of it, whatever was walking nearby was clumsily moving through the jungle; any native Rahi would be making far less noise, and certain predators would be nearly silent. So who was this outsider who was wandering the dangerous jungle floor of Le-Wahi?
Tamaru drew her bamboo disc and approached through the jungle. She soon sighted the source of the commotion; a short Onu-Matoran was pushing his way through the brush, looking around widely for something.
Tamaru jumped up on a log next to the Onu-Matoran. “Why are you down-tree out here?” she asked. “Ground-path is much-far away, and it ever-dangerous out here.”
The Onu-Matoran yelped out and toppled backwards. As he unsteadily got back to his feet, he asked, “Where did you come from? I swear you weren’t there earlier!”
“I am good leaf-runner,” Tamaru explained. “Make sound-no. Unlike crash-bang Onu-Matoran.” She paused, recognizing his black noble Ruru Kanohi. “You were visitor in tree-bright Le-Koro, right? Survivor of Rama hive?”
The Onu-Matoran nodded. “Yes, I’m Taipu, a digger from Onu-Koro. I’ve seen you in the village before, but I don’t think we’ve met.”
“I am Tamaru, Highfly Vinesman, Deepwood Wayfinder,” Tamaru said, introducing herself. “And I am confused why earth-digger is not in sing-song Le-Koro.”
“I really do like it up there!” Taipu said. “But the thing is. . . well, I have been away from my work for too long. I know Turaga Whenua hasn’t summoned me yet, but I should probably head back home.”
“You have been in Le-Koro for many moon-nights,” Tamaru agreed. “But ground-path to earth-city is far from here. How you up-end in jungle-deep?”
“I’m actually looking for something,” Taipu said. He bowed his head guiltily. “I dropped my pickax when I was up in Le-Koro. It wouldn’t look good if I return without it, so I’ve been trying to find it before I leave. However, the jungle is very confusing down here, so I haven’t had much luck with my search.”
“You’re looking for something you tree-dropped?” Tamaru asked, and she couldn’t hold back a laugh. “Well, you are far-off, friend Taipu. Village not up-tree from us here.”
Taipu frowned. “I was worried about that,” he said. “Le-Koro is so spread out up in the trees, and it’s difficult to tell where everything is from down here.”
Tamaru nodded. “It is ever-confusing, yes. Even some Le-Matoran orient-no when they come down-tree. When most Matoran tree-drop stuff, they deem it lost-gone.”
“But I can’t just give up my pickax!” Taipu said. “It’s sentimental to me, in a way; I used it to dig the tunnel from Onu-Koro to Le-Wahi, and it’s very sturdy, better than most. Plus, it would be very costly to replace, and Onu-Koro doesn’t exactly have the resources to get me a new one. I’d feel like I’d be letting Turaga Whenua, Onepu, and the others down if I return without it.”
“I understand,” Tamaru said, placing a hand on Taipu’s shoulder. After all, she herself felt like she was letting down her fellow villagers by not being on the Gukko Force; she knew that Taipu must be in a similar situation. “What-tell-you, I can ever-help,” she said. “Once Matau tree-dropped Kau Kau staff, so I seek-searched ground and found it for him. Turaga was ever-pleased. Maybe I can same-do for your tool.”
“You’ll help me?” Taipu asked, his spirit rising. “Thank you so much, Tamaru.”
“First, from where did you tree-drop pickax?” Tamaru asked. “Important for seek-searching that is.”
“I had it propped up on a trunk behind the band area,” Taipu described. “But I wasn’t paying attention and accidentally kicked it while dancing, and before I could grab it, it fell over the edge.”
“I know where on ground-level to go to be beneath band platform,” Tamaru said, leading the way. “Me-follow!”
Tamaru did her best to lead Taipu on the easiest route to the spot beneath the village. Taipu had in fact wandered quite a ways away from the trees that housed Le-Koro; if he had continued he would’ve gone deeper into the Fau Swamp, where he could’ve easily turned into a Rahi’s supper. However, Tamaru had heard stories of how the hardy Onu-Matoran had survived in the Nui-Rama hive, so perhaps he was not so foolhardy after all.
Tamaru shuttered at the remembrance of the Nui-Rama attack. Less than a week prior, the jungle village had been besieged by evil Nui-Rama insects, controlled by the Makuta. They had captured most of the Le-Matoran, but Tamaru and a few others had managed to escape. Kongu led a desperate attempt to rescue the others with the Gukko Force, but Tamaru had been one of the few Matoran forced to remain behind. The guilt and shame still ate away at her, even though everyone had eventually been rescued by the Toa.
Tamaru came to a halt at the edge of a shallow marsh. She gestured to a large tree growing out of the swamp, and said, “Tree-bright Le-Koro above. If tree-dropped from band platform, it should be in this area.”
“Ew, you mean it’s in the swamp?” Taipu said, making a face under his mask.
Tamaru nodded, already wading in. “It deep-not, so unless you afraid of mud-grime, nothing to ever-fear,” she said.
Taipu slowly waded in after her, and tried to feel around for something with his feet. “I thought Le-Matoran hated the swamp,” he said. “I heard stories that they fear water.”
“Water is not to be feared,” Tamaru said, reaching her hands into the swamp to search for the pickax. “But further in Fau Swamp, Rahi-beasts hide in deeper waters, and fast-attack Matoran from below. If you want to keep mask in one piece, you avoid being down-tree in Le-Wahi.”
“You don’t seem too afraid down here,” Taipu said.
Tamaru shrugged. “I am good leaf-runner,” she said. “I can out-pace all but the fastest of Rahi-beasts. I even know how to swim-stroke, although I often-not get the chance to.”
“I guess not all Le-Matoran are the same,” Taipu mused.
Tamaru nodded. “You also seem strange-odd for an earth Matoran. I thought you would not like being up-tree.”
“Oh, it doesn’t bother me,” Taipu said. “I don’t have a fear of heights; I have lots of experience with them.”
Tamaru gave him a look. “Please tell-explain.”
“Oh, I mean in the Great Mines,” Taipu said. “There are a lot of very deep drops from where we’ve dug deep pits in our search for protodermis. It’s not uncommon to look down and not see the bottom. However, in the Great Mines, we do put up guard rails along the edges so we don’t accidentally fall over; I noticed there isn’t anything similar in Le-Koro.”
Tamaru chuckled. “No, if Matoran tree-falls, they’re expected to vine-grab on way down.” She paused, and then added, “So you no-fear flying?”
“Well, that’s different,” Taipu said. “Flying is scarier, especially when you’re relying on a Rahi to keep you in the air. Luckily, I was with Toa Onua on the flight back from the Rama hive, so his confidence helped me get by.”
Tamaru couldn’t help but grin; the Onu-Matoran was a lot more like her than she expected. Together, the two continued to search through the marsh, trying to locate Taipu’s fallen pickaxe in the mud. Tamaru was the one who finally made the discovery; her hand closed down on metal, and she pulled the tool up out of the muck. “This yours?” she asked Taipu.
“Yes, you found it!” Taipu exclaimed. “Thank you so much!”
“Problem-no,” Tamaru said, handing the tool over to Taipu, who gleefully started examining it for damage. “I know source of nearby clear-water, where we can off-wash mud-grime.”
Taipu followed Tamaru until they reached a small stream flowing into the edge of the swamp. Although the stream itself was shallow, its waters were clear and ideal for a quick bath for the Matoran.
“Waters off-flow from Mount Ihu and enter Fau Swamp here,” Tamaru explained, washing the mud off her arms. “Rahi come here to drink-sip; good for far-watching.”
“You do know an awful lot about stuff down here,” Taipu said, rinsing off the handle of his pickaxe. “Are all Le-Matoran so knowledgeable about the jungle?”
Tamaru was quiet for a moment. “I know more than most,” she finally said. “Many are not tree-bound as I, so do not come to down-tree as often.”
“What does tree-bound mean?” Taipu asked.
Tamaru sighed; she never liked explaining this part to outsiders. “It means I fly-not. To tree I am bound; sky is out of reach, only for those who can Kewa-fly. For I have heights-fears, so I have trouble learning how to train Kewa.”
“Wait, you have a fear of heights?” Taipu asked, confused. “But you’re just fine up in the canopy.”
“Yes, because if I fall from tree-high, then I can vine-grab,” Tamaru said. “But when sky-bound on Kewa, vine-grab not always possible.”
To her surprise, Taipu nodded. “That totally makes sense,” he said. “But there’s more fun stuff to do on Mata Nui than flying. Maybe someday you can journey to Onu-Koro and I can show you the lightstone mines! I’ve seen a lot of beautiful sights in the jungle, but still nothing quite beats the sight of the lightstone mines.”
“Maybe one day I will journey-take around Mata Nui,” Tamaru said. “But for today, I should really back-get to Le-Koro. I can ever-lead you to the ground-path to Onu-Koro first, so you get lost-no in jungle.”
Taipu sighed. “You’re right, it is time to go home,” he said dejectedly. “Please lead the way, Highfly Vinesman Tamaru.”
Tamaru was about to lead them away from the stream when she heard a twig snap nearby. She froze, and gestured for Taipu to remain silent. Something was in the bushes nearby, and this time it was moving stealthier than Taipu had. This time, it could be a Rahi.
Tamaru drew her disc, even as her eyes scanned the jungle. She heard more sounds; whatever was approaching them was moving slowly, but she knew that the mighty Muaka would often creep up on its prey before pouncing. She waited until she saw a shadow move between the bushes, and then she flung her disc with pinpoint accuracy, hoping to strike whatever was approaching.
There was a rustle in the bushes, and in a blur the figure dodged her disc just before it would’ve struck. But it was not a Rahi who appeared from under the foliage, but rather a Ta-Matoran with a red great Pakari. “Please do not shoot; I mean you no harm,” he said.
Tamaru blinked, surprised to find another foreign Matoran in the jungle. “A fire-spitter?” she asked, confused.
“I am Kapura of the Ta-Koro guard,” the Matoran said, addressing Tamaru. “I am seeking the Chronicler.”
“How did you quick-get here?” Tamaru asked, confused. “You travel through jungle with stealth; it is odd-much for a Ta-Matoran to do.”
“I move slowly to get to where I am not,” Kapura explained. “I was in a forest of black, charred trees. There were no lush, green trees there, but then I am here, and the trees are big and healthy. I am no longer in the Charred Forest.”
“You funny-speak,” Tamaru pointed out. “Why you seek-search for Chronicler?”
Kapura shrugged. “Turaga Vakama wishes an audience with him, but as he is often traveling, it is hard to find him. I have learned how to travel great distances by moving slowly, so I was sent to seek him out.”
“I know the Chronicler!” Taipu said. “He helped me in the mines, and then rescued me from the Nui-Rama! It was quite an adventure.” He waved. “I’m Taipu, by the way, from Onu-Koro. And that’s Tamaru of Le-Koro; she really knows her way around the jungle!”
“That traveler was the Chronicler?” Tamaru mused. “I am sorry to say, but he has been-not to Le-Koro in many moons.”
“Then I shall find him where I am not,” Kapura said. “But I would like to meet with Turaga Matau before I travel on; Turaga Vakama has sent his regards.”
“I should go back to Le-Koro too, one last time,” Taipu added. “Just to say good-bye, of course.”
“Okay, then I will ever-lead you to the village,” Tamaru said, taking off. “Close-stay to me, else you might be attacked by Rahi-beast.”
“I fear not the beasts of Makuta,” Kapura said. “We have fought many in Ta-Koro, and I have the strength to contest them.”
“I’m actually pretty strong too!” Taipu said. “In fact, Onepu said that I’m so strong that I can do the work for both of us in the mines!”
As Tamaru marched through the jungle, she soon became annoyed with the Ta-Matoran. While Taipu was a bit clumsy and slow walking along the jungle floor, Kapura was unreasonably sluggish. His movements were deliberate and consistent, but extremely slow. Tamaru had met some Ta-Matoran before, and she knew they could be quite speedy in their own right, but she had never seen a Matoran dawdle as much as Kapura. She and Taipu had to pause quite a lot to wait for him to catch up. Since Tamaru knew about the dangers of the jungle, she wanted to keep moving as quickly as possible, and so the Ta-Matoran’s lack of haste was both irksome and dangerous.
“We’re nearly to elevator to up-rise to village,” Tamaru said over her shoulder. “If we could quick-hurry, that would be happy-good.”
However, she suddenly paused herself. Something was wrong. The usually noisy jungle had suddenly fallen quiet; all the chattering Rahi has ceased their calls, and Tamaru knew that meant danger was nearby. She strained her ears, trying to detect the sound of a charging Kane-Ra or Ash Bear. Instead, what she heard was a faint buzzing that originated from above the treetops.
Fear gripped her heartlight. “Rama swarm!” she gasped, and took off at a sprint. “They must be attacking the village. We must quick-return and help with defenses!”
Taipu rushed after Tamaru, and they quickly left Kapura behind. Tamaru found the main pathway to Le-Koro and raced down it. However, as they approached the great tree, she saw that the Le-Koro elevator had already been severed, and the wreckage was floating in the swamp.
“Oh no, how do we get up there now?” Taipu asked.
“There’s a vine-ladder round-back of tree,” Tamaru said. “We can use that to up-climb!”
Tamaru led Taipu around the trunk of the tree and reach the ladder, whose steps were woven into the branches of the tree. Above, Tamaru could already hear the sounds of battle; the Gukko Force must already be facing the attacking Nui-Rama swarm. Their defenses were better prepared now, but they would need every Matoran to help, and Tamaru was determined to join in. She may not be able to fly, but she could throw a disc with pinpoint accuracy. She quickly grabbed onto the ladder and shot upwards, even as Taipu struggled to climb up himself.
But Tamaru hadn’t gotten very far before she saw a dark shape descending towards her. Only it wasn’t a Nui-Rama or some other forest beast she was familiar with; rather it was a dark armored canine, and it was clawing its way down the tree trunk right towards her.
Edited by xccj, Feb 04 2019 - 04:03 AM.