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Nick Silverpen

Hauntings: Ghost Stories on the Island of Mata Nui

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Prologue: The Hauntings

There were peaceful moments in living on Mata Nui. There were times where the Matoran would sit around the fires, or wander the beaches, marvelling about the paradise they were so thankful to live in. 

But for as much as the Turaga made the island— named in honor of the Great Spirit himself— out to be a paradise, there were times when the place was a living nightmare. 

The Makuta terrorized the Matoran of Mata Nui for a thousand years. He created infected masks to control the Rahi, turning relatively docile creatures into fearsome beasts. He sent out the signals to awaken the Bohrok swarms, trying to destroy the lands the Matoran called home. He created diseases and plagues to weaken the peoples whom would not bow to his rule. He even at times took control of the island itself, to show the might of his powers. The Makuta operated from the deepest of the shadows, using his extreme tactics to keep the Matoran in their villages, around their campfires, and as far away from Metru Nui as possible. 

Not only were there threats from the Makuta. There were other things lurking in the shadows that did not come from him. 

As domineering and sinister Makuta was, there were things that were not of his origin. Many of the threats the Matoran encountered bore the signature style of the master of shadows; However, there were eerie occurrences—few and far between— the Matoran encountered, deep within their Wahi, which were from some other origin entirely. Other events the Makuta could have not possibly have had a hand in. Terrors and odd happenings that the Turaga, despite all their secret keeping, could not hide that they had no explanation for. 

Makuta was responsible for many things on Mata Nui which would live in the nightmares of the Matoran for the rest of their days. But there were other unsettling things that happened on the island that haunted them even more. 

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The jungles of Le-Wahi were dangerous, especially at night. There was always the threat of the fall from the trees, which could kill a Matoran unfortunate enough to slip from their perch. There was the marsh itself. If you fell into that, it would take more strength than that of a Great Pakari to get yourself out. There were also the plants, some of which were poisonous, and others which hankered for the taste of protodermis. And then there were the Rahi of the jungle— some wild on their own, some touched with madness from the evil Makuta. Any way you looked at it, the jungle region of Mata Nui was a hazardous place.

Kongu held tightly onto the reins of Ka as he flew through the night, each of these dangers on the forefront of his mind. The bird rode through the jungle with absolute glee as he led the Gukko Force toward their destination, gleeful for the chance to ride through the darkness. But as the Gukko flew with gleeful thoughts, Kongu glared forward, anxious about what could be between himself, the rest of the Force, and their mission. The roar of a Rahi beast could be heard in the distance, yet it was the quiet in the immediate area which made the Le-Matoran anxious.

Le-Koro was sick, many of the Matoran having fallen ill to a virus. The lethargy and illness the virus spread was felt especially in the Air village, a group of Matoran known for their vibrant personalities. The effects of it rippled throughout the village; Tuuli had not been out to trade for days, and no music had been heard from Sanso and his band in almost a week. Kongu felt rather run down himself, and had prayed to Mata Nui all week that he remained out of the virus’s infectious reach. 

No one knew where the virus came from, but Turaga Matau insisted it was the work of the Makuta. Whether it came from Makuta or not, a cure needed to be found. Matau and his cohort, Turaga Nokama of Ga-Koro, had determined a handful of plants, when stewed together, that would produce a healing aroma. The last few days and nights had been spent retrieving the necessary ingredients. All that was left now was this last ingredient, a leaf which could only be found in the depths of Le-Wahi. The leaf glowed, and could only be discerned from other plantlife of the forest by night. 

Kongu watched ahead of Ka’s beak, where he could see a glow emerging in the dark. The Le-Matoran breathed a sigh of relief as they drew closer, their goal finally within reach. 

The six of them landed. Dismounting their birds, five of their number made their way to the plants, filling empty burlap sacs they had brought with the leaves. Vira hung back with the steeds, chirping at the birds in Turaga Nuju’s language of clicks and whistles. If Makuta’s beasts were out to get the Matoran while they were on their mission, they needed eyes keeping watch out for their safety. 

“Does this look ripe?” asked Boreas. 

“It doesn’t matter,” Kongu said. “Just grab-seize as much as you can.”

Boreas nodded, working as fast as he could. 

They stuck in pairs as they ventured where the plant grew, snatching as much as they could. 

To Kongu’s pleasure, he could already see new buds starting to form as they picked the plants. 

Much of the flora on Mata Nui were like that. Kongu sensed that the rapid plant growth on the island was somewhat odd, even though he was not an expert on botany and knew life nowhere else. 

“Either way, I cannot wait to breathe-smell whatever Turaga Matau and Nokama are going to concoct-brew with all of these ingredient-pieces,” said Boreas. “The air-smells of things they stir-make make my mask tingle with life-joy.”

“This will definitely help-cure our leaf brothers?” asked Shu. 

“Have hope-faith,” Kongu replied. “The Turaga are doing what they think will work.”

They continued picking quietly, something hard for Le-Matoran to do. Soon the deed was done, with six burlap bags stuffed to the brim with the leaves. 

“Bound-tie them to your saddles, and let’s go-leave,” Kongu said, mounting Ka once more. Tying his bundles to the bird, he readied for the signal from Vira that the Gukko could fly. “Vira, did you not see-find anything?”

Vira put his sickle away, having cleared a path for the birds to launch down. “Deep-jungle is safe-empty,” the marshall signaler nodded. “Prepare-ready for take off!”

Kongu nodded, looking at the darkness in the jungle beyond with almost a sense of relief. Perhaps Makuta and his forces were not out to get them tonight. With their packages secured, he felt far better than when they had set out tonight. Grabbing the reins of Ka, he nodded to Vira. The propulsers on the bird began to fire up, and Ka took off. 

They had soared for only a few moments when Ka lurched to the side. Something big had collided with him. The bird screeched in panic. Kongu yanked sharply on the reins, hoping to straighten out, but whatever hung onto the Gukko would not shake off. 

“Ka!” Kongu exclaimed. A screech that was not Ka’s made Kongu’s heart sink. As limbs flailed, Kongu could make out the shape of a Brakas monkey clinging to the side of his companion. 

“Orkahm! Shu! Look out!” Kongu cried into the darkness behind him. “Visit-company! Of the funky monkey kind!”

Reaching into his pack, Kongu found a bamboo disc. He slung it, and it whacked the Rahi in the head, distracting it for a moment enough to stop clawing at Ka’s side. The Le-Matoran reached for another one, but the monkey leapt at Kongu, teeth and claws bared. Ka thrashed as he tried to stay aloft, suddenly supporting the weight of two instead of just Kongu. 

Before he knew it, Kongu was wrestling with a monkey in midair. The Brakas threw a punch at Kongu’s mask, hoping to dislodge it. Kongu caught the punch, struggling to maintain his balance while resisting the Rahi’s strength. Staying in his saddle as best as he could, Kongu lashed out with his free arm to throw off the wild beast. The Brakas stayed, screeching in his face. 

“Get far-lost, swamp-breath!” Kongu yelled at it. The Brakas screeched again. His eyes now having adjusted to the dark, Kongu could see the infected mask on the Rahi’s face. He could feel the rotting smell coming from the mouthpiece. The Le-Matoran retched at the stench. He threw a punch with one hand, fumbling with another to grab the reins. 

Ka crashed blindly through the branches as the fight continued. The limbs of the trees knocked Kongu in the mask, the shoulders, the arms as they tumbled through them, headed in a direction the Le-Matoran knew not where. 

The others would have helped Kongu, but were caught scraps of their own with more of the monkeys. Boreas lashed out with a knife at two Brakas on his mount, while Shu slung discs accompanied with roaring battle cries in response to the shriekers surrounding him. Orkahm tugged fiercely on his reins to try and outmaneuver the onslaught of Rahi, getting his Kewa to fly up and subject his attackers to the forces of gravity. Kongu was on his own for his fight. 

And suddenly it was quiet again. The Brakas vanished, and the Gukko force were tumbling through open air. Ka twisted and turned as he tried to straighten out. Kongu tugged hard on the reins, the world whirling past him as they plummeted downward. 

The world came up to meet Kongu, and suddenly all movement stopped. 

“Unf!” he grunted. All Kongu could feel was the blunt force of the landing rock through his form. He lay there, the wind knocked out of him, and closed his eyes, letting the pain envelop him. 

 

After what seemed like an hour, his eyes opened again. He could start to feel other things. Wet. Pointy. Muddy. Looking around, he realized he was in a marsh.

Sitting up in the mud, Kongu looked around. Little trees could be seen here and there, but most of the region out here was mostly marsh and mud. The Fau Swamp, he realized. It was still Le Wahi, but something else other than what the Le-Matoran traditionally considered their region. They did not necessarily enjoy the region, preferring the treetops where you could vine swing instead of walking. But in the full moon and clear sky that shined tonight, Kongu had to admit it was kind of beautiful out here. 

A screech from afar brought Kongu back to his senses. The Brakas were still there, in the jungle not far away. They jeered at him from the darkness, like the cowards Brakas usually were. Tough-brave Matoran survive falls from the forest, Kongu thought. Silly-weak monkeys already screech when falling to another branch. Even with the Makuta controlling them, they are still cowards.

“Is anyone out there?” Kongu called. “Ork? Boreas? Shu?”

A hand came into his vision to pull Kongu to his feet, and he could see the mask of Vira. Beyond them, Ka and Vira’s Kahu bird were uprighting themselves, ruffling their wings. 

“Hard-rough crash-landing for you as well?” the marshall asked. Kongu nodded, rubbing his back. He gave a few twists. Something popped, and suddenly his back felt better. 

“Where are the others?” 

“I spot see someone over there,” Vira pointed north, to where a Gukko was picking itself up out of the marshes. Kongu mirrored his statement, seeing another of their band to the west. Making their way over to each of their members, the Gukko Force slowly picked themselves up from their brush with the wild. 

Taiki was the last to be found. They found him closer to the forest than everyone else. He was frantically digging at the mud, his bird pecking at the mud as it tried to help. 

“Help!” Taiki cried as he saw them. A hand could be seen in the moonlight, sticking out from the mud. The five of them immediately joined in, scraping at the mud. The birds were not far behind, With a click and whistle from Vira, the Gukkos were pecking at the area with their beaks to loosen the mud for their riders. 

“There is someone buried here! Trap buried!”

“But Taiki,” Kongu said. “We are all here. Who could be buried?”

Taiki stopped digging, looking at the masks around him. Everyone else slowed as well, a sense of dread coming over the group. The hand in the mud still stuck out, motionless. 

“If we are all here…” he said, panic entering his voice. “Then who is buried?”

They all looked at the hand, and then at each other, anxiety running high through the group. Kongu swallowed hard, and strode over to grab the hand. He pulled, and was met with some resistance, but the mud broke, loosened by their digging. 

The moonlight however, did not help the Matoran as they looked at the figure. 

It was a Matoran, but at the same time, it was not. Short, wearing dark armor, if just with a different body type, the figure strongly resembled the Gukko Force members standing around it.

 But there were things off about the body. It was swollen with water, and partially rotted. But the amount of armor, the tissue sticking out. The ratio of mechanical to organic parts. None of it was right. The thing looked like a Matoran, but there was a lot of evidence to suggest it was not. And from what Kongu felt, it felt nothing like the bodies of Matoran. As if the person was made of something totally else from protodermis. 

But the most distinguishable feature that made them certain it was not a Matoran was its mask. 

“What make-kind of Kanohi is that?” asked Orkahm. 

“That is not a Kanohi,” Shu insisted. 

Could it even be a Kanohi? Kongu wondered. Kanohi usually attached to the front of a Matoran’s or Turaga’s face. Perhaps helmet was a better term. This sat on the corpse’s head more like a helmet than like a mask. Three prongs protruded from the back of it, almost snake like in appearance. The mask— if you could call it that— resembled flower and bamboo decorations which the Le-Matoran would adorn on their own Kanohi during one of Matau’s parties, in mock resemblance of a warrior costume. 

This helmet was metal, however, and definitely not for decoration. 

“What is this? Some sort of alien?” asked Vira. 

“It has to be a mutant,” Boreas said. 

“What if…” Orkahm said. “What if something lived on Mata Nui before us?” 

“No,” Kongu insisted, dismissing Orkahm’s comment. “This has to be some sort of mutated Matoran.” 

Any more guesses on the corpse’s identity were interrupted by a scream in the night. The Le-Matoran whirled to see the Brakas monkeys coming from afar, leaping across the marsh toward them. Each of the Le Matoran scrambled for their packs, whipping out discs and preparing themselves for combat. Vira whistled to Ka and the other Kewa and Kahu, which fluttered their wings in response. 

“See-look over there!” Orkahm cried. In the moonlight, there could be seen the Brakas scrambling toward the smaller Matoran— but also to the left, there was a single, larger shadow breaking the horizon. A large, tiger like animal could be seen leaping over the marshes, making a beeline for the loud and brash animals that more than likely interrupted its sleep. 

“Muaka cat-tiger!” Boreas exclaimed. 

The Brakas were so consumed with the Matoran almost in their grasp that they did not see the Muaka before it was too late. It pounced into their group, immediately breaking their formation.  A number of the smaller monkeys were scooped up into the tiger-like creature’s jaws. The rest of them were swept aside by the Muaka’s claws, scattered on the marsh just as the Gukko Force had been minutes earlier. Growls and roars emitted from the Muaka rolled over the marshes as the beast reveled in the night’s victory. 

“Mount-climb your steeds,” demanded Kongu. “Let’s fly leave of here before we are battle fighting that Rahi. Those are just quick snacks for that tiger.” 

“What about the body?” Orkahm asked. Kongu looked at each of them. 

“Whoever… whatever that is,” Kongu said. “it has been here without anyone’s concern for a while. I will discuss with Turaga Matau, but we cannot take it home tonight.”

“At least take it’s mask,” Shu insisted. Kongu frowned, but complied. 

 

They arrived back at Le-Koro in the early hours of the morning, greeted only by the night folk that guarded the village during sleep hours. 

Kongu approached the door of Turaga Matau’s hut, where a small light shined into the night. The rest of the Force had retreated to their huts to join the sleeping village. Only he remained awake in order to deliver the night’s bounty. He felt awfully tired as he knocked, more tired than he had felt in a number of nights. This was not sickness, he knew that much— this was the night catching up to him. 

The Turaga was apparently still up, for Mata Nui only knew what reason. A small grin was on the noble Mahiki at the sight of one of Matau’s favorite villagers, eager for the night’s tale.

“High Flyer, welcome,” Matau said, “What adventures did you have tonight?”

The Matoran handed over the bags of leaves, putting the helmet on top of the pile. 

“Turaga, what kind of Kanohi is that?”

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The Ship from the Far Seas 

The ship started out as a dot on the endless ocean. A simple speck far out off the the shores of Onu-Wahi, which was barely distinguishable to the naked eye. 

Midak caught sight of it a few days after it appeared on the horizon, during a walk along the shores of the Papa Nihu Reef. He was out collecting the shells that would wash up, and noticed the speck as he looked out beyond the waves. Perhaps it was one of those deep sea creatures that would occasionally break surface far out there, he supposed. The Onu-Matoran looked at it curiously as he walked, not thinking much of the sighting. 

When he walked again a few days later, he began to think it might be something other than a sea Rahi. The speck was still there, larger this day than on his last stroll. He could still not tell what it was, only that there was definitely something out on the horizon.

His curiosity kept him coming back to the beach, where he would watch for a few hours atop the ring of eight boulders. Even after days of watching, he could not make out what the speck was. But he could tell that it was something. 

After the northern winds began to pick up was when it really began to come into view. The ocean breezes which blew to the island began to carry the speck, its shape coming closer with each passing day. There were times where Midak believed he could almost distinguish an outline of the speck’s shape, and there were other times where it looked no more than a dark dot on the horizon. Either way, he knew it was something. 

The rest of the Onu-Matoran rolled their eyes when Midak marvelled about the speck coming toward the island, during a rare trip to the underground markets. No one believed him— even as the veiled and shadowed speck, whatever it was, came closer to the island each day. 

“Several centuries we have lived here on Mata Nui, Midak, and nothing has ever come to our shores before,” scoffed Onepu upon hearing about the speck. “Why would something suddenly show up now?”

“Maybe it just took time to get here,” was Midak’s reply. “It could be a very big ocean.”

“Your eyes have simply seen too much sunlight,” another Onu-Matoran insisted. “You need to not go above ground so much.”

***

Eventually the speck disappeared in the storms which the northern winds had brought. The usual serene skyline one day was obscured by clouds and rain, and Midak could no longer distinguish anything out on the horizon.

Once the storms passed it came back into sight, closer than it had ever been before. When it finally came into sight, Midak could not remember how much time had passed since he had first seen it on the horizon. It did not matter anymore. What mattered was that it was here, and he could finally glean what it really was— a ship on the horizon. 

It came to rest at the edge of the shallower seas off of Onu-Wahi, much to Midak’s glee. There were reefs out there, which most likely caught the bottom of the ship, giving it its first anchor in probably a very long time. He could immediately tell that it was not manned— the ship had drifted in haphazardly, its course directed by only the currents. 

 

“Maybe two kio out?” said Takua, estimating the distance to the ship one day when he came to visit Midak.  

“Too far to swim out to…” Midak muttered. 

“But with a boat we could easily manage to get out there,” said the Ta-Matoran, a mischievous smile coming to his mask. 

 

“It is a beautiful day out here,” said Midak as they cruised along in a boat towards the ship. “The sun seems to just come down perfect out here. It is the perfect amount of cloud cover too. Quite unlike Po- or Ga- Koro, where the sun comes down too brightly. Have you ever noticed that in your travels, Chronicler?”

Takua shook his head, but smiled as the eccentric Matoran continued to ramble on about the marvels of pure light, as he was known to do. The Onu-Matoran was obsessed with the beauty of light… but the adventuring nature of Takua was more curious about the ship Midak had brought him out here to see.

As they came into its shadow, its age and wear were apparent to them; The vessel looked ancient, rusted in most places and worn away in others. Lines of rust travelled up the seams of the metal panels that kept it together. Large bolts the size of a Matoran were equally as pitted, dried salt deposits sitting atop the surface. A small Keras crab scuttled up the side and over the deck. The waters of the endless sea had clearly not done any favors for the vessel in the years it had been out to sea. No flags or symbols stood out on the metal of the ship— perhaps they had been there once before, and worn away over time. And with the condition it was in, the two supposed it was not very well kept. Whatever this ship was and whomever owned it, they were either gone or very, very, ancient. 

“Do you think someone is on it?” asked Midak. He knew nothing of ships and boats.

“I don’t think so,” Takua shook his head as he threw a grappling hook towards the deck above. “And I hope not, for their sake. I’ve seen Marka in Ga-Koro tidying her boats…. if anyone is up there, and she gets wind of the condition this thing is in, Marka will be having a very pointed conversation with them.” 

The weight of the two Matoran climbing aboard made the ship creak, and even shift a little. Under their feet the deck groaned, breaking a sense of stillness hanging over the ship. A bird fluttered past them, spooked by their arrival disturbing the quiet of the afternoon. In some places, a few empty nests could be seen.

“Be careful of your step,” advised Takua as he walked forward. He winced, his voice seeming unnaturally loud on the quiet deck, even for him. “This metal could give out anywhere.”

Time on the ocean had worn on the ship. Rust covered parts of the deck. Links of large chains— presumably for an anchor— had clearly rusted away, leaving stains where they had laid. The remains of barnacles and the waste of birds littered the rails, creating a crusty layer of crud aboard the ship. In some spots, on the deck were clear indicators of lightning strikes which had occurred some time in the past. 

The deck was largely empty, many of the structures having most likely been blown away by the winds of the far seas. Many of the rails were rotted through. A large tower stood at the stern of the vessel, its upper half missing. A large, long cylindrical structure ran the length of the deck, to what purpose Takua had a faint inkling. A cannon? he wondered. 

They explored further, finding a portion of the deck punctured by weapons. A flagpole stood behind the tower, wisps of what may have been a flag flowing slightly from side to side in a light breeze. 

A long slender sword was stuck in the hull. Turning his attention from Takua, Midak grabbed ahold of the hilt. Wrestling it with all of his strength, the sword fell free, albeit taking some debris still stuck on the blade. Midak went to clean the blade, but a tap on the shoulder found him dealing with another, this one with the tip at his neck. 

“Fight, ye darkness crawling coward,” Takua said in a growling, gravelly mock voice. Midak turned around, swatting at Takua’s blade with the one he had shaken the debris from. The two of them laughed as they play-parried, pretending they were pirates. They jumped and slid through the narrow hall between the gunwale and the remnants of a tower. The ship creaked as they ran around, but the deck remained stable. Neither of them had ever seriously held a sword, and fumbled with the tools as they made the blades collide, but either way they enjoyed it as the metal blades came together with a satisfying ring on deck. 

“You dare challenge the mighty Captain Takua?” asked the Ta-Matoran. “Conqueror of the endless sea, master swordsman—“

Before he could say anything more the hilt Takua’s sword rotated. The blade began to ominously glow. The playing stopped, Midak immediately dropping his blade to his side as his ‘opponent’ figured out what was going on with his weapon. A greenish hue began to emit from the weapon, which caused them to look at each other with concern. 

“What is going on with this?” asked Takua, his tone somewhat nervous. 

“What did you do?” asked Midak. 

“I don’t know!” the Ta-Matoran answered, lowering the blade. 

“Don’t point it at me!” said Midak. The Ta-Matoran looked worried as the weapon glowed even brighter. 

The hilt of the sword suddenly rammed into Takua’s stomach, and he went flying backwards. Midak felt a very strong breeze puff past his mask. The kickback of the weapon sent Takua careening through the wall of the structure they had found the weapons near. He flew into the darkness within and out of sight. 

“Takua!” Midak shouted as he leapt toward the dark hole the Matoran had flown into. He tripped, however, the deck of the ship shifting abruptly. The metal frame of the vessel gave a heaving groan as everything jerked violently. The ship seemed to give, and it felt for a millisecond as if the floor was giving out and he had nowhere to stand. It lasted only a few seconds, but it made Midak proceeded more carefully.

He found the Ta-Matoran on the floor, wide eyed in shock. “Are you alright?” 

“That thing…sure packs a punch,” Takua groaned, rolling onto his side. Midak offered a hand, but Takua refused for a few moments, the wind totally knocked out of him. He them took clasp of his friend’s hand, stumbling to his feet. It was not that Takua had not been blown through a wall before. It still hurt every time. 

“Did the sword do that?” asked Midak. 

“I think so,” Takua croaked. “Something fired from the blade that I could not see… oh that hurt.” 

“What was that weapon?” asked Midak, bewildered and at the same time excited. Takua put his hands on his hips for a few seconds as he regained his breath, and thought. The pain was gradually leaving, though his stomach still hurt. “I’ve never seen a sword do something like that!”

“The Toa who were prophesied to come,” said Takua. “They are said to control the elements and with Great Kanohi and tools.”

“So maybe that was a Toa tool?” Midak asked.

“I did not think the Toa would come on a ship though,” said Takua. “The way the legends tell it, they would come to Mata Nui… more heroically is the best way I can describe it. More nobly. Some other way.”

Getting to his feet, Takua and Midak began to look around to where they were. Panels lined a wall of the room, with strange knobs and buttons and shattered screens. A few of the buttons near where Takua had been blasted into were glowing. Elsewhere in the room was a chair in the corner, half fallen apart and on its side. Beyond the chair was a doorway leading into further darkness, which Midak’s natural night vision could not glean what lay beyond. 

“Maybe it wasn’t the weapon,” Midak said. “Maybe the ship is haunted, and it was a ghost— the ship’s captain or someone who used to be on here.”

“I hate ghost stories,” Takua glowered at him.

“Just saying,” Midak said. He looked at Takua, surprised. “I never said I liked ghosts either. But wait— The explorer hates ghost stories?”

“I like the unknown,” Takua said. “I never said I liked everything I find there.” 

From beyond the doorway came the sound of multiple footsteps. The Onu- and Ta-Matoran looked at each other alarmed. They thought they were alone. Who else could be here?

“Ok, then, if it is a ghost,” said Takua his voice heavy with sarcasm, “how do we appeal to it to not fling us through more walls?”

To their relief, familiar Kanohi emerged from the darkness.Coming from behind the glow of the lightstone, two Matoran made themselves known. Takua and Midak breathed a sigh of relief. It was more Matoran.

“Chronicler!” exclaimed a purple masked Onu-Matoran. “How did you—?”

“Hello, Damek,” Midak said, waving to his fellow Onu-Matoran. The guard nodded curtly to him.

“What brings you two here?” asked Damek.

“You know me, just can’t stay away from anything,” said Takua sheepishly. “Midak and I saw the ship, and wanted to explore it. What are you doing here?”

“Turaga Whenua sent us to look this over. Onepu went to him about what Midak was saying, and the Turaga wanted a formal investigation,” Damek said. “He wanted to know what was coming.” 

“And you brought along a Po-Matoran?” asked Midak, confused at Damek’s partner. 

“A few Po-Matoran north of here saw it too,” said Hewkii. “I’m part of the Po-Koro Guard, and we protect the Koro from outside dangers. This is definitely qualifies as an outside danger.” 

Alarm had appeared on Damek’s mask. His head swiveled, and he shined the lightstone he carried into the dark hall they had come from. “Tehutti is with us too,” said the Onu Matoran, looking back into the dark doorway. “He was just behind us as we were coming—“

“You haven’t seen him, have you?” asked Hewkii. 

Midak shrugged. “We thought the ship was empty.”

Damek had backtracked into the dark hall, calling Tehutti’s name as he looked for his fellow Onu-Matoran. Hewkii however looked at the lit up control panel behind Takua. Midak slipped next to the Ta-Matoran, nudging him in the side and mouthing,“The ghost took him.” Takua nudged him hard in the side. 

“None of this was on when the three of us passed through here,” said Hewkii. He stepped up to the series of knobs and switches that glowed. He then cast an eye at the hole in the wall. “What just happened?” 

“There were these swords on deck,” Takua said, pointing to the hole in the side of the room. “Midak and I were… looking at them. Then one of them turned on and sent out some blast that sent me through the wall.”

“‘Turned on’?” Damek repeated, having come back into the control room. “How does a sword ‘turn on’?”

The two of them shrugged. “These technologies are beyond our understanding,” said Midak. 

“So you two must have been what rocked the ship,” Damek said. “This place is not stable. We cannot be on here too long. Who knows how unsteady the ship is.” 

“Wherever it ran aground on must not be stable,” suggested Midak. 

“But what about Tehutti?” asked Takua. 

“You must have hit something important,” Hewkii said, having studied the panel long enough. “and whatever that was, it made Tehutti disappear. Maybe you opened some sort of door.” The Po-Matoran turned to Damek. “Did you see any doors back there?” 

Damek shook his head. 

“Did you explore the entire ship?” asked Midak. 

“We were just heading to the lower levels before we heard the crash you made,” said Damek. Midak and Takua looked at each other with a grin. 

“Oh so we didn’t miss much,” said the Chronicler. 

“I’m not the best with mechanics and switches, but it doesn’t look like we hit anything important,” said Hewkii, stepping back from the panel. “Let’s continue on. Maybe Tehutti just went on ahead of us.” 

Damek nodded, shining his lightstone down the dark hall. The darkness stared back at him. He only hoped that Hewkii was right.

***

Tehutti was not just ahead of them, much to Damek’s concern. The group slowly walked down the hallways, finding nothing but the dark emptiness of the ship. The ship creaked and groaned around as they proceeded carefully, trying not to cause another abrupt shift.There were no doorways, nor passageways diverging from the hall they walked on that hinted at somewhere their companion could have wandered into. 

The purple masked Onu-Matoran led the way, shining his lightstone in hopes that at any step Tehutti would come into the light. He had just been by our side, Damek thought. What could have taken the miner so suddenly away from us? 

As the group ventured, Takua and Midak whispered amongst themselves. 

“You don’t think that maybe the ship is haunted? Spooked?” asked Midak. 

Takua gave him a skeptical look. “You are really insisting on this,” he said. 

Midak nodded. “Lots of miners talk from time to time about spooky sounds in the tunnels,” he said. “Tunnels that you can hear groans coming from as you walk by. You have to think about this sometimes, even a little, Chronicler— you love to explore the unknown.” 

“Ta-Matoran try to face things with courage,” Takua replied.

Hewkii frowned as he listened to the other two squabble. It seemed as if there were no immediate danger to the island, but something did not sit right about this place with the Po-Matoran. It was so unnaturally still. He did not like this one bit.

Part of him wondered who commanded this ship. The Turaga had never talked about any peoples outside of the Matoran of Mata Nui, so he had never given any thought about life beyond the shores of the island. But here was solid proof that there was someone other than them on the endless ocean. 

The hallway led them to a set of stairs descending below. Damek was reluctant, but he led the procession onward— he was worried for his fellow Onu-Matoran. 

 

They found a single room below, which extended the length of the ship. The level was largely empty, save for the wooden barrels and crates littering the perimeter of the room. At one point they had probably been stacked neatly and orderly, flush against the walls; now however, they were mostly decayed. Upon inspection, some of the more intact barrels contained pools of foul smelling substances. A few harmless Rahi crawlers whom had recently made this place home wandered through the lumber, growing accustomed to their new home.

As they explored, the Matoran continued to argue about where the hard to find Onu-Matoran had gone. 

“He couldn’t have fled,” Damek insisted as they wandered the room. “We would have seen him go.” 

“The only other place he could have gone is deeper into this ship,” said Midak. “Maybe he found something that we missed, and is following it.” 

“But why would he go without us?” asked Hewkii. There was something more about this place than its initial stillness seemed to suggest.

It made no sense to Damek. Nothing seemed to suggest that Tehutti had left. And he was not the type to disappear as a prank. Damek tried to keep himself of thinking of any alternate possibilities. Many miners disappeared in Onu-Koro, taken by Makuta’s Rahi, but there was no sign of a struggle to hint that Tehutti had been taken. The ship seemed to pose no immediate danger, he supposed just as Hewkii had. But that it made Matoran disappear did not bode well with him.

At the far end of the hall, long bundles of cloth hung from the ceiling. Hewkii strode over to one and reached with his disc throwing arm, trying to see what was within. A flood of bats burst from it, disturbed from their resting place. The Po-Matoran ducked as the Rahi swarmed over him. The bats paid him no mind, instead flying away to some other undiscovered cove in this place in which they could rest peacefully.

Something else clanged to the floor from the ceiling, to everyone’s surprise. The cloth had fallen from above, and the outline of a shape could be seen against it from underneath. With the bats gone, Hewkii lowered his arms from his mask. The others, quiet and wide eyed, looked at him but unwilling to step toward the cloth. Hewkii hesitantly strode over and slowly peeled back the cloth to see what was beneath.

The skull of a figure looked back at them, eye sockets empty and jaw hanging slack. A hand flopped toward them, pulled by the tarp.

“Ah!” Hewkii screamed, jumping back half a bio. 

A few seconds of non movement from the corpse determined it was not alive. It was a skeleton, they began to realize, bundled in what must have been a hammock. Slowly they stepped closer to examine the corpse. 

“Well at least we know now who was on this ship,” Damek said. “Even if they are odd looking,” he added. 

“This must be the sleeping quarters of the crew,” Takua said as he cast a glance around the room. 

“So this is a crew member,” Midak nodded. “But what kind of Kanohi is it wearing?” 

“It looks like a Le-Matoran party mask,” said Hewkii. “But I have never seen anything like it.”

The ship creaked, and the four of them looked up. They could hear footsteps coming from below. “Tehutti?” called Damek. The footsteps picked up in pace, until out from the staircase emerged the Kakama masked Onu-Matoran. 

“Damek?” he asked. “Hewkii? Chronicler? Midak? Oh thank goodness.”

“Where did you go?” asked Damek They clanked fists in embrace. “You disappeared into thin air!”

“I was following you upstairs,” Tehutti said. “I was with you, until I felt… something pull me backwards. Before I knew it, I was somewhere else, in some sort of control room.” 

“We were in a control room too!” Takua exclaimed. 

“There must be a lower level one we haven’t gotten to yet,” Hewkii said. “Did you find anything there?”

“Oh yes,” Tehutti said, looking at them wide eyed. “I’ve been trying to find you guys, because you need to see this.” 

***

Whereas the control room above deck was inoperable, the one which Tehutti had found was alight with activity. 

Complex systems and keypads abound glowed. Buttons and switches flashed, the panels beneath them humming. Screens, cracked in some places produced maps of the island of Mata Nui not far off— depth readers, heat signatures, information reports, all sorts of infographics— in a language the Matoran could barely discern. Regardless to however old the system was, it was still in somewhat working order.

“I would not touch anything,” Tehutti advised. Takua jerked his hand away from the keyboard he was running his fingers across. 

Tehutti brought them all to a central display, which showed the side of Mount Ihu, amongst other parts of the island. A scope built into the screen was trained on the mountain. Midak and Takua cocked their heads quizzically, but Damek and Hewkii looked at the scope symbols with alarm. 

“Is this what I think—?” asked Damek. 

“The ship has something aimed at the island,” Tehutti nodded. “There are barrels on deck and along the sides of the ship that we found when we arrived—I think they are some sort of weapons system.”

“What kind of weapons are we talking about?” asked Hewkii. 

“Definitely more high tech than Madu Cabolo,” said Tehutti. 

Damek’s eyes lit up wildly. “Explosives?” Tehutti nodded his head. “So are you telling me we are on some sort of warship, and Mount Ihu is targeted?” 

“Not intentionally,” Tehutti said. Damek stepped forward to the controls, taking a hard look at the panel below the screen. The symbols were all foreign to him, but taking some sort of stand made him feel better. “I don’t think pressing the right button would be good for the mountain,” Tehutti said as he watched. 

“We need to shut this system down, now,” said Damek. Hewkii nodded in agreement.

“But how?” asked Midak. The others looked at him. None of them knew the language the keys and panels were in, nor what switches did what. The Matoran looked at each other anxiously; they could try to switch this off, but one slip, one wrong button and they would be sending friendly fire to Ko-Koro. 

“How then do you suggest we disable it?” asked Damek. 

“In Marka’s ships, there are mechanisms below deck,” Takua piped, coming to Midak’s aid. “They control things in the boat, like the rudder, steering—“

“So we switch the ship off manually,” Midak said. Takua nodded. 

“I don’t follow,” Tehutti said. 

“If this ship operates on the same principles as Marka’s ships, there has to be a mechanical room somewhere below,” said Takua. “We just need to find that room, find the right levers, and we can shut off whatever weapons systems this rust bucket has.”

Damek looked at him skeptically. “So we have to continue further into this ship, just to find a room you think might be here.”

“Hope,” Takua corrected, trying to be optimistic.

Damek looked around as he pursed his lips. They had three options, the way he saw it: They could try to blindly figure out what switch shut off the systems. They could wait for the place to short circuit and accidentally activate whatever weapons systems were on this ship. Or they could venture further down and use a Ta-Matoran’s rudimentary knowledge of ships in a gamble. 

Damek was no engineer— he was a guard. He had not the skills to tinker. But without someone on board who knew this type of technology, he had no other options to turn to. 

“Downward we go,” he said. 

***

They ventured down multiple levels, finding more parts of the ship. But nothing appeared to be what they were looking for, simply more relics in an already ancient place. As they walked down the stairs to a the deepest levels of the ship, however, something odd came to their ears. 

“What is that noise?” someone in the back of the pack asked. Damek looked over his shoulder, eyebrows raised; upon listening closely there was indeed a sloshing and slapping sound coming from the bottom of this staircase.

“I’m not sure,” Takua said back. “I can’t see anything.”

“Wait,” came Hewkii’s voice. “Maybe my eyes have finally adjusted to the dark, but doesn’t everyone admit that they can sort of see?” 

Damek nodded to no one in particular. They still needed their lightstones, but not as much as the last few levels of the ship. It was not blinding bright, but there was a faint light coming from somewhere below. And it was not a technological light either— it seemed to be the sunlight from the outside. 

Noone seemed to move, so Takua burst through the line, taking the charge into the unknown. 

“Be careful,” Damek advised as he proceeded.

They listened for a few moments to footsteps as he continued down the steps, and then the Ta-Matoran cried out. 

“Agh!” Takua gargled. The Matoran remaining on the staircase could hear him fall, and something else— a splash. 

“What happened?” called Hewkii. 

“It is flooded down here!” exclaimed Takua. 

“Flooded?” asked Damek. 

“It must have run aground on the reef when it came in,” Midak suggested. “Perhaps the the reef cut through the bottom of the ship.”

“It’s not that deep though,” said Takua. “I am at about… knee to waist deep? Thigh deep. Definitely thigh deep.”

“Can you see where the water is coming from?” asked Hewkii as the rest made their way down. 

“No,” the Chronicler called. “But it’s not rushing by. Perhaps wherever it is coming from got plugged with debris.”

“Do you see any levers?” asked Damek. 

“I think…” Takua said. “I need more light to see. Come down, it isn’t that bad.” 

The group made their way down, sloshing through the water. Shining their lightstones, they looked down the flooded corridor. Pipes ran the length of the hall, numerous wheels and levers hanging from the ceiling. It was a narrow way compared to above, barely wide enough for a Matoran to walk with his arms extended.

“Any idea on what we are looking for?” asked Hewkii. 

“Most of the pipes are probably connected to motors,” said Takua as they made their way down the hall. “But… I think—” 

Whatever Takua thought was cut off by a splash further down the corridor. The five of them were silent for a moment.

“…That was you, right Takua?” asked Damek. The Ta-Matoran looked at him with eyes nearly as wild as they were afraid. As Takua shook his head, Damek’s expression turned to nearly incredulous.

They slowly shone their lightstones down the hall, looking at a spot where water had just splashed. Ripples were starting to still. But slowly, they could see a fin raise out of the water, circling the flooded corridor. Below the water’s surface, two orange eyes could be seen dimly shining, eyeing its new visitors. 

“Takea,” Takua breathed. 

Hewkii whipped a disc from his back, but Midak grabbed his arm. “Don’t!” he cried. 

“Oh, so you planned on being shark bait this afternoon?” Hewkii said, his voice rising as it filled with panic. “I must not have gotten the memo. Did any of you get it? Because I surely did not.”

“It’s not coming after us,” Takua said, observing the shark’s path.

“Whatever hole the water came in through, it must have come through there as well,” said Midak. “This is probably its home now.” 

“We need to get past it, and find that lever,” said Damek. “Shut off whatever valve is controlling the computers upstairs.”

“It will come after us if we go any further,” said Takua, continuing to watch the Rahi’s movements. “We are right on the edge of the territory it has claimed.” 

“So, we are just leaving the ship here?” Damek asked. “Leaving everything upstairs on, and hoping that it doesn’t go off?” 

“Given our options, we are going to have to,” Tehutti said. “There is nothing we can do here. We just have to hope… that the Great Spirit sees it in his sleep and protects the island.”

“Then let’s get out of here,” said Hewkii. “I have had enough of being where the sun doesn’t shine.” 
The group turned around, only to see something drop from the ceiling and land on the stairs. Something flew through the air, rocketing past the five Matoran and hitting the wall behind them. The wall began to creak as a corrosive substance began to eat through it.

“WHAT SURPRISE IS THIS NOW?” bellowed Damek. He was officially fed up with all the surprises he was finding today. 

“Makika!” was Tehutti’s cry. A large toad looked down at them from the steps. “There must be an infestation of them here. They must be making this their home, just like the Takea.” 

The disc Hewkii was holding launched from his hand, the Po-Matoran determined to strike before the acidic Rahi attacked again. The Rahi was struck by the bamboo, flying off the side of the stairs. “I am not going to meet my end in a ship taken down by a toad,” he grumbled.

“That Rahi is definitely angry now,” Takua said as he heard it splash into the water. “If it spits again, it may bring this whole place down.”

“We need to get out of here,” said Tehutti.

The group broke into a run, sprinting as fast as they could to get out of the creaking and shifting ship. The weight of so many Matoran moving throughout vessel that was so precariously balanced on the reef below caused it to continually rock. They hit wall after wall as they stumbled to get out, trying to avoid being pinned or left behind as the ship slowly tilted. 

“The ship is definitely going to collapse,” said Midak as they made it to the top level. 

“Shut up and keep moving!” Damek ordered as they ran. 

Bursting onto the deck, the Matoran scrambled to the gunwales, where their boats awaited on either side. The ship had definitely shifted in their frantic climb back up, the deck making its way towards being parallel with Mount Ihu. 

“At least we don’t have to worry about the cannons anymore!” said Midak as they scrambled towards the edge. 

“Our boat!” said Damek. “It’s over there, but the ship is going to crush it!”

“Go high side!” yelled Takua.

“Jump!” said Tehutti. 

“Jump?” cried a bewildered Hewkii. “That’s almost an eight bio drop! The fall could kill us!”

“No it won’t,” reassured Takua. 

“To water though?” asked Hewkii. “I’m a Po-Matoran!” 

“It’s not that deep out there!” Midak said, grabbing the Po-Matoran’s arm as he jumped. Hewkii cursed the Onu-Matoran as they fell towards the water. 

***

The five of them sat in the sand on the beaches of Onu-Wahi, utterly exhausted from the journey back to the shore. Nearly dodging death and then having to half swim, half wade almost three kios of shallow water had been a struggle for the group of them. Nevertheless they made it. They now looked out at the rolled vessel out on the reef, bleak and tired from the journey. 

“I really need to take swimming lessons,” said Hewkii. Water dripped from pockets in his mask but he was too tired to shake it out. The rest of them were covered in sand and sweat and seawater as well. 

“This is going to be one for the Wall of History,” said Takua. 

“Others better not come out here to explore it though,” Damek said. “You better put that in your writings, Chronicler. That place is too dangerous for anyone else to go out to. We shouldn’t have gone out there.”

“But we got something from it,” said Midak. 

“And what would that be?” Damek asked. “And please don’t say an adventure.”

“We at least found this,” Tehutti said, a parcel in his lap. In the setting sunlight of the afternoon he was paging through it, despite not being able to read what it said. 

“What is that?” Asked Damek. 

“Some sort of log, or a journal,” said Tehutti. “I found it in the second chamber. We will give it to Whenua, and maybe he can make sense of what it says.” 

***

Over the next few centuries that the Matoran lived on Mata Nui, the ship would disappear from their sights as it became part of the reef itself. Nature would eventually claim the ship. It would sink and become overgrown with brush and other sproutings that came from the shallows of the Papa Nihu to cover the vessel. Many Rahi would immigrate here and make it their own, finding it a safe haven from the intruding villagers whom constantly trampled over their territories. 

The affair would eventually be pushed to the back of the minds of the five Matoran, preoccupations with attacks from Makuta’s minions taking up their attention. But occasionally they would remember, and look out onto the horizon of the endless ocean. As they did so they would wonder sometimes—who else was out there on the far seas?

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Kraata Hunting 

“So what was it?” asked Matau, impatient for answers. The other Turaga looked at Whenua with similar expressions, anticipating his answer. 

“The Matoran said it was some sort of ship,” said the Turaga of Earth. 

“Like the Vahki transport we drove?” asked Vakama.

Whenua shook his head. “No— as in an actual ship. Some sort of warship. I have not been out there myself, but from the descriptions my scouts gave… definitely something used in war.” 

“What did they find on there?” Nokama asked. 

“Weapons, charts, all sorts of things,” Whenua said. He placed a parcel on the Amaja Nui storytelling circle. A series of very thin tablets, very flexible in nature as compared to what the six of them were used to. Paper. Passing it around, each of them looked through it, eyeing the peculiar text on the pages. Nuju clicked and whistled incessantly as he squinted at the contents of the parcel. Any attempt by Nokama with her mask of translation provided to be useless. None of them knew what the writing could mean. 

“Takua ranted about weapons when he returned to Ta-Koro,” said Vakama. “Something about wielding a sword with what seemed to be the power of a Toa.”

“He does not even know what a Toa is,” the Ko-Matoran Matoro said, translating for Nuju. 

“I have never whisper-heard of power-charged elemental weapons before,” said Matau. 

“What super Toa could possibly have these?” Onewa asked.

“I do not think what the Chronicler encountered was from a Toa,” Whenua said, the unease apparent in his voice. “Unless some other society south of Metru Nui that we did not know of which immigrated to the surface, it seems as if these weapons, this ship, all of it— comes from somewhere else. We may not be alone on this ocean up here.”

“I second our earth brother,” said Matau to everyone’s surprise. Pulling something from his pack, he placed a mask on the table alongside the notebook log Whenua produced. 

“What kind of Kanohi is that?” asked a bewildered Nokama. Vakama, the only one familiar with masks from the group, shook his head. The shape was totally alien to him. 

“That is the thing, teacher-sister,” Matau said. “This is definitely not a Kanohi. I can think of all the masks I have spot seen in my life—add-including the ones the Toa Mangai wore-sported— and this resembles nothing I have seen.”

“This isn’t even protodermis,” Whenua agreed upon closer inspection. “Where did you find it?”

“A Matoran brought it to me,” Matau began. “The last time Nokama and I potion brewed, when Makuta spurred a sickness upon us— I sent my Gukko Force into the jungle for one of the ingredients. They said they ended up in the Fau swamp, and found a figure buried under the mud. This was what it was wearing.”

The six of them sat in silence for a moment, each feeling uncomfortable in their own way. All were certain the figure Matau spoke of was not a Matoran. 

“This place was never on any maps of the universe, was it?” asked Vakama. Whenua shook his head.

“There could be others, south of the sea gates, who came up through the Great Barrier as well,” said Whenua. “But no language like this— to my knowledge— was ever used in the history of the universe. Skakdi, Vortixx… nothing comes to mind when I look at this journal.” 

Onewa frowned. This discussion was getting them nowhere. 

“If there is someone out there coming to this island, let them come,” snapped Onewa. “We will deal with them then. There is no need to get worked up about something that may simply come to pass. We can sit around Amaja Nui all day telling ghost stories, or we can discuss more pressing matters. There was something else you brought us together for, Whenua, was there not?”

The Turaga of Earth nodded. Reaching into his pack, he pulled out a long cylindrical container. The other Turaga leaned in, but could not identify the contents of the container. “You may want to step back for this,” he suggested to the group. 

The rest of the Turaga looked uncomfortably at each other before heeding Whenua’s advice. Twisting the lid of the stasis tube, he unscrewed it and placed it on the circle before all of the Turaga. 

A chilling hiss came from the tube as whatever was in there woke up. Onewa, Vakama, Nokama, Matau, and Nuju all peered suspiciously at the opening, only to withdraw in disgust when the creature within slithered out into the sand of Amaja Nui. 

The snake like thing peered groggily at each of the Turaga. Then it gave a hiss, recognizing what it was that stared at it. The creature coiled up and lunged at their masks. It only got its head in the air before it jerked back to the sand— if not for Whenua’s badge of office pinning the creature’s tail, it would have latched itself onto the Kanohi of one of the elders.

“Seven levels of Karzahni!” Matau swore, brandishing his Kau Kau staff. The little buzzsaw on the Turaga of Air’s badge of office began to whirl. “What is that thing?”

“Do not kill it!” insisted Whenua. Matau looked at him incredulously, buzzsaw whirling, before lowering his staff. 

“Kraata,” growled Vakama. “Where did you find it?” 

“In a mine, trying to corner one of the workers,” Whenua said. “As soon as I captured it, I knew the six of us had to talk.”

“Another ugly Rahi beast,” Matau said. He watched the Kraata scream as it tried to writhe out of the grip of Whenua’s drill. “So what?” 

“These are not just Rahi, Matau,” Whenua shook his head. 

“Remember the Rahkshi from the Fikou Web, brother?” asked Nokama. “These are what pilot them.”

“So they are Makuta spawn,” the Turaga of Air said. “Have any Rahkshi been spot-seen on the island?”

Four of the Turaga shook their heads. Vakama, on the other hand, stared at the Kraata with an empty eyed gaze, his mind elsewhere. The Turaga looked at each other, familiar with this expression. 

“No, they are not here,” Vakama said. “But one day they will be. Makuta has made Rahkshi with several Kraata before, in one of his lairs between here and Metru Nui. One of his thousand contingency plans.”

“Another vision?” Onewa asked. The Turaga of Fire nodded, frowning at the creature. 

“And that is not the only concern with these Kraata,” said Whenua. “Vakama, you brought the mask, as requested?”

Vakama nodded, producing the requested item from his own pack. Even though he did not have his forge anymore, he did still produce masks, on the off chance they did run out of the cache they had retrieved from Metru Nui. 

He placed the Kanohi within the sand circle, near the still struggling kraata. The painful screams changed as the Kraata noticed the nearby mask. Whenua looked at his cohorts, and then lifted his drill. The Kraata squirmed free, slithering in a beeline for the mask. The grey silver sheen of the unworn surface became rusted and pitted where the creature touched it, infection coming over it as quickly as a passing shadow. 

The Kraata slithered though and around the mask while it changed, the screams a moment before now gentle growls. It was almost as if it were cuddling it. The Turaga watched this happen, repulsed— the perverse affection the infectious creature had for the mask made the elders feel uneasy. 

“Just as I thought,” Whenua whispered.

“Is that—“ Matoro said, translating for Turaga Nuju as well as asking of his own accord. 

“That is how the Rahi here have come to serve the Makuta,” Whenua said. “Kraata can corrupt the masks they wear. I believe since these come from Makuta himself, it gives him the ability to assume control over the mask and the Matoran wearing it. Or in our cases, the Rahi.” 

“So what do you suggest we do?” asked Nokama. 

“Look for them in and near your Koro,” said Whenua. “I have more than enough stasis containers to store these things in.”

“And just leave stasis tubes laying around for the Matoran, or even the Makuta, to find?” Vakama asked.

“There are several caves in Po-Wahi, far enough away from where any Matoran would venture,” said Onewa. “We can store them there.” 

Whenua nodded thanks to the Turaga of Stone. “We need to find and capture these things before they infect the entire island.”

Several of the Turaga nodded in agreement, accepting their new mission. 

“Why can’t we just kill these things?” Matau asked, raising his buzzsaw in confusion. 

“Because we need to study them,” Matoro said over the clicks and whirls of Turaga Nuju. “Like Turaga Whenua just said— I am not calling him that, Turaga Nuju—we need to figure out what they can do to the island.”

“If they can corrupt Kanohi with just a touch, who knows what other havoc they can wreak on the island,” Whenua added.

“It will be messy if we do just kill them, brother,” Onewa said. “We can’t leave our mess for the Matoran to find.” 

“There is still a lot we do not know about these things,” Whenua said. “The records in the Archives exhibits were vague at best. Aside from cutting them up, how else can they be killed? Can they infect masks even if they are dead? What other powers do they have?”

“It sure seems you are skip-missing an opportunity-chance to experiment-test,” Matau grumbled, crossing his arms and nodding at the Amaja Nui circle before them. 

“The more we can capture, the more we can study,” Nokama advised.

“Matau, this is more than Whenua wanting to play Archivist,” Vakama said. “The Kraata pose a danger to us. These are the Makuta’s creatures. After all we did to escape him, his Visorak, and all the other stuff he threatened us and the Matoran with, we are just going to let another one of his creatures slip into our villages and ruin all our hard work?” 

Matau looked down at the creature. “You’re right, firespitter,” he said. “Whenua is right. We’ve collect found the Great Disks, homes for our village people; what’s another scavenger find-hunt?”

“Thank you Matau,” Whenua smiled. “May each of you go back to your villages with a sharp eye. I will have stasis tubes sent out to each of you. For now, Onewa, you can show me some of your caves on the trip back north. May your villagers be safe from the Kraata’s reach.”

“And the Great Spirit watch over us all,” added Nokama. 

***

Matau swung through the trees of Le-Wahi, grabbing vines as he travelled back to his village. 

The meeting was on the forefront of his mind, very much annoying him. But why? He had collected a lot of things over the years on this island. Various fruits, types of bark, all little knick knacks in nature that caught Matau’s attention. What was one more scavenger hunt? he thought to himself. 

This collectible you cannot leave lying around your hut, a little voice in the back of his mind told him. That was the uncomfortable part. Matau enjoyed collecting fun things… but this was business. More serious business than just an ivy that made his organics itch from time to time. And on top of all the Rahi attacks they had to look out for, this was just more than a simple challenge. 

The Turaga of Air forced himself to stop thinking for a moment and enjoy the jungle around him. Rahi could be heard in the distance, but for the most part, it was quiet. The sun shone from some hole in the jungle canopy. The day was good. 

Perhaps he would go food hunting to lighten his mood. Collect something fun, and ease into it. There had to be some bush, some tree, something around here which grew some food for him to collect. Matau swung, grabbing onto each vine as he looked around for crop… 

Look up— no one ever looks up, he thought to himself. Matau looked up, eyeing the vines he grabbed. Each line was tough and firm, but coarse, the outer skin of the vines like a hard leaf. He grabbed them skillfully and he swung through looking for fruit—

The next thing he grabbed was definitely not that. Instead of the firm, rope like texture of a vine, his hand closed around something soft and slippery. Matau’s eyes lit up with shock as he looked up to see what he had grabbed. 

You have got to be joke-kidding me! the Turaga of Air thought, as the yellowish Kraata screeched under his grip. 

The initial shock of grabbing something living made Matau jerk back, letting go. His momentum carried him forward though, and having let go of the previous vine, he fell fast toward the grounds of Le-Wahi. 

***

As a general rule, Onu-Matoran did not take well to brightness. Spending most of their time underground left their eyes weak in sunny circumstances— having adapted to seeing in the dark, daylight was almost painful.  

Their Turaga was no exception. Whenua's eyesight was terrible in comparison, if not worse than, his villagers. And having used a Ruru during his time in the caves of Onu-Wahi made his tolerance for the desert sunlight almost unbearable. 

Much to Whenua’s dismay, the journey back to his home in the Great Mine ventured through Po-Wahi. He and Onewa ventured on Mahi steeds over the desert, looking out onto the very sunny horizon.

Onewa had said there were caves he knew of where they could store the captured Kraata. Whenua was eager to see them, so they could begin this new project. The brightness did not settle well with him, but nevertheless, he followed atop a Mahi steed. The Turaga of Stone led the way, dead set with a particular destination in mind. The majority of the venture through the canyons had passed almost wordlessly. Onewa hardly stopped to check for direction or rest.

“You know Po-Wahi well, brother,” Whenua remarked. “Is this near where…?”

“No, but I first ventured out this way when I looked for a way back,” Onewa said. “There were a few spots where I wanted to settle Po-Koro. When we returned with all of the Matoran, I spent a lot of time surveying the land. Spent the better part of ten years figuring out which tunnels connected to below, and which were just caves. Helped me figure out where exactly to settle Po-Koro— far away from anywhere a Matoran might figure out a passageway to below. I know this entire region better than the Makuta knows even his own shadows.”

Ten years. Whenua raised his eyebrows. They had already been here on Mata Nui for a few centuries, but ten years in of itself…that was a long time to be cave exploring. “So this cave, for the Kraata… where exactly is it?” 

Onewa turned on his steed and smiled at his brother. He could see the Turaga of Earth’s eyes were straining in the bright light.

“Not far now, Whenua,” Onewa smiled. 

Whenua spent the rest of the ride staring narrow-eyed at Onewa’s back.

***

The Turaga of Earth was more than relieved when the canyons rose around them, shade finally falling onto their path. Whenua glowered for a bit as his eyesight adjusted, almost able to see Onewa’s smirk from behind him.

They dismounted after maybe an hour of riding, somewhere deep in the winding crevices of the canyon. The two of them looked around, seeing the empty area around them. No Matoran was anywhere close to here. Besides their steeds, no Rahi roamed around the place. This was not somewhere one would roam to by accident. Definitely somewhere where you would go to hide something, Whenua thought. 

“Not even Takua could find this place,” Onewa said, satisfaction in his voice. Petting the Mahi, he nodded for Whenua to follow him just a little further. 

The cave mouth yawned open for them, a veil of deeper shadow hanging over the entrance. Whenua nodded his approval of the place. Isolated, protected from the elements, it could be the perfect hiding spot. 

Small little lights wandered over the walls of the cave, but Onewa dismissed them. Electric spiders. Natural guards, he insisted, in case the Kraata found some way to escape their tubes. Whenua nodded, remembering his Archival days where he put Electric spiders into stasis. Even after several transformations, he could still feel the shock on his fingertips. 

Whenua took his drill and traced it along the cavern walls. Just as he did in Onu-Koro, he sensed the walls for empty pockets, places unwelcome guests could nest in. The drill, combined with his connection to the element of earth, could sense tunnels and cavities in the walls. But here, he found none. 

“Well?” Onewa asked. “Do you approve?” 

Whenua withdrew the stasis tube from his pack and set it down against the wall. He was more than satisfied with the place. Smiling, the Turaga of Earth shuffled to the entrance of the cave. Raising his drill to the canyon wall, he carved in a quick sketch of the Kraata. 

***

The sound of chiseling was practically music to Whenua’s ears. After wandering with Onewa to Mata Nui knew where in the Motara desert, he finally had a sense of where he was. The pair had almost reached to Po-Koro— and better yet, in Whenua’s opinion, a tunnel that led back to Onu-Koro.

After years of excavating for raw carving material, the area surrounding the Po-Koro Quarry was riddled with cavities, the result of years of Po-Matoran mining material for their statues. Little alcoves littered the open pit mine, as Matoran over the years would pull from anywhere and everywhere for stone to use. This had caused quarrels between carvers every so often, some Po-Matoran accusing others of toppling their greatest creations for material. (Hafu was a frequent complainer, to which a time came where Onewa was given him his own private section of the quarry-canyon.) 

The Turaga dismounted for a rest from their ride, having been traveling on the Mahi for the better part of the day. Onewa took a moment’s leave from the Turaga, going around to inspect the carvings his villagers were producing. Whenua watched as the Turaga of Stone dolled out advice to the craftsmen. He would point here or there on a statue, gesturing with his hammer to show how they could carve out the details they desired. 

Whenua surveyed it all, feeling satisfied with his day. He had traversed a good part of the island, and more importantly, accomplished something with the other Turaga. Other than the matters of the ghost ship, he felt as if they finally were competent overseers of their Matoran. Setting his staff down, Whenua smiled. 

A reverberation alerted Whenua. Looking around, he could feel something in the earth, something moving through the ground around the carvers. It was faint, it was small, but still, it was something. The Turaga of Earth looked over at his guide, whom was still occupied in teaching a Matoran. 

Another Matoran caught his eye. The carver was standing back from his creation, tools held up in a menacing manner. His carving however, looked far from finished. Whenua, curious at the observation, made his way to the carver. 

“What goes wrong with your creation?” he asked. 

“There is something— something coming out of the stone!” the Matoran said. “I was chiseling a detail on the lower part of the Kanohi, and my chisel went through the rock. Then dust came out— a lot of it— and something popped out! But it ducked back into the stone, and another hole formed!” 

Upon closer inspection, the Matoran’s confusion was clear. The carving, a larger rock, was slowly falling apart. The Turaga looked over the carving, concerned. There was something inside, slowly eating away at the rock. He placed his staff on the stone. The drill of Onua was not best when inspecting a stone removed from the ground, but it was still able to pick up some things. 

By this point, Onewa had come to the Matoran’s side, equally concerned as Whenua about the rock. Putting his hand to the rock, he nodded. 

“There is definitely something in there,” he said. “I am sorry carver, you have done wonderfully on this piece. But whatever it is, I need to do this.”

“By all means, Turaga,” the Matoran said, stepping back. 

Onewa nodded, appreciating the Matoran’s understanding, and kicked the mask. With a solid blow, it crashed to the floor of the canyon. The stone rolled over to its side, where several holes bore into the back of the statue. Whenua’s eyes lit up as he saw the tail of… some sort of creature… slither into the back of the statue. He frowned, not liking the look of what he saw. 

“Get your brothers away from their carvings,” Onewa ordered the Matoran. “Who knows what this is, and what others may be in the stone. Turaga Whenua and I will deal with it.”

The Matoran nodded, running off to his nearby cohorts. 

“It’s one of them,” said Whenua. “A Kraata.”

“You act scared of them, brother,” Onewa said, brandishing his hammer. “I can take care of them with this.” 

Onewa concentrated hard on the stone, feeling the structure of the carving. With his hands on the structure, he could feel the space inside, the stone being eaten away from the inside out. He listened to the holes, listening for slithering noises coming from out of it. 

And before he knew it, two of them popped out of the structure. Two slimy, screeching Kraata, baring their mandibles at the one who disturbed their new home. Onewa pursed his lips, bringing his hammer down on the yellow and metallic colored one. The second, sand blue one sunk back into its hole as it listened to the hammer come down on its brother. 

But the rock rang as he missed his target. “What?” Onewa asked no one in particular as he raised the hammer. No concussed Kraata was underneath as Onewa lifted the face off the carving. “My aim never misses!” he cried out angrily. 

“Try again, brother,” Whenua urged. The Turaga of Stone did not look his way, simply focusing on the holes in front of him. Hand on the rock, he felt the Kraata slithering, coming up to check if it was safe…

This time a light grey one poked its head out, before sneaking back into the stone. Onewa slammed the hammer down on the spot where it had been, completely missing the window in which the snake poked its head out. A second too slow to capture this one. 

“Your drill,” Onewa barked at the Turaga. “It can sense the changes in the stone?” 

Whenua nodded, noticing Onewa’s curt manner.

“Place it on the side,” Onewa told him. “And tell me when they are coming up. There are three of them.”

“Three?” Whenua asked, barely hiding the joy in his voice. 

Onewa frowned. “Yes, you lucky archivist you. You’re getting your Naming Day presents early. Just let me know where they are coming out. I will take care of the hitting.” 

Whenua nodded, standing to the side of Onewa with his own badge of office. He could feel the Kraata within as they forced away the stone, trying to find a new way out of the rock to avoid the hitting menace. 

“Ready?” Whenua asked. “Left!” 

“Down!”

“To your right side!” 

“Up!”

Whenua barked each time, and Onewa swung, but each time the Kraata dodged his attacks. The Turaga of Stone grew more frustrated with each miss, becoming more curt and erratic with his strikes. Soon he was not even hitting a hole, just wacking the stone at any point he could. Whenua noticed the carvers had gathered in a group not far off from them, watching the show. 

“You know what?” Onewa said, throwing his hammer to the ground after several dozen attempts. “Forget this. We are going a different route.” 

“I’m not sure if that’s—“ Whenua tried to caution. Onewa ignored him, his Komau beginning to glow. He stared at the rock hard, until almost as if on a string, each of the three Kraata slid out of the structure. Staring at them with an intense hatred, he smashed his hammer on each of them, knocking the first two unconscious. Whenua watched wordlessly, wincing as his fellow Turaga hit each of the specimens. 

The last one however, Onewa’s hammer froze just inches above. Whenua looked at his brother, then at the Kraata. 

“Why are you hesitating?” asked Whenua. Onewa gave no answer. Instead he just stood there, in a trance, hammer hovering over the creature. 

A moment passed, and Onewa brought the hammer down on the creature. The final Kraata went limp, and Onewa lowered his tool, using its staff for support. He breathed heavily.

“Are you alright?” asked Whenua. 

“The Makuta,” Onewa panted. “He has a telepathic link with these creatures. One is stronger than the others. But he can feel their thoughts.”

Whenua’s fingertips suddenly felt tingly. It was moments like these he wished he had archival tablets to write on. “What did you see?” he asked. 

“A bunch of things, things I couldn’t describe even if I wanted to try,” Onewa said. “But then I heard his voice.”

All joy from the moment before flooded out of Whenua, leaving him with a sense of dread. “What did he say?”

“He knows we are hunting the Kraata.”

Whenua swore.

***

He didn’t know how long he was out, but Matau jerked awake with a shock. Sitting up he gasped, and then immediately groaned. He was limber for a Turaga, yes, but sometimes he forgot that he was not a Toa anymore—despite how briefly he had been one— and that his current body did not take to impacts as well as a Toa did. Still getting used to this frame, even after a century or two, he thought to himself. 

As the pain subsided the Turaga of Air looked around, momentarily forgetting why he had fallen to the forest floor. He fell from vine swinging! Oh, how the Le-Matoran would laugh at him if they ever heard of this…

He had been swinging, and grabbed onto a vine. Except it wasn’t just a vine, he remembered, the incident coming back to him. There had been… a Kraata on the vine. And if he remembered correctly, the Kraata had fallen off of the vine to the jungle floor with him. 

But his mask… with a cursory inspection, Matau took off his Noble Mahiki to see that it was fine. A few dents and scrapes over the years, but it was otherwise perfectly uninfected. No Kraata had touched it. 

If the Kraata hadn’t touched it, was the creature still around?

Putting his mask back on, Matau looked at his surroundings. The snake like creature he had grabbed on the vine was a handful of hues of yellow, yet he only saw green around him. 

Picking up his Kau Kau staff, the Turaga looked around. But more importantly, he listened. The area around him was quiet. 

He could hear his breath and the sounds of the Rahi in the distance. But the sounds in between the two… There was faint breeze that blew through the jungle, and Matau stood attentive as it rolled over the plants. Yes, there it was, rustling much of the plant life, lightly but slightly… and the sound of shuffling on the underbrush made by a creature trying to stay hidden. Oh yes, it is still around. Matau smiled as the sound reached his audio receptors, his eyesight sliding towards where the sound came from. He raised his staff noiselessly to the brush, and gave a quick whirl of the buzzsaw to scare the creature. 

The Kraata shot out of the brush, frightened. In a blur, it snaked toward a tree. Matau lunged after it, swinging his badge of office at the creature. Hold on, he thought as it slid under another bush. The creature spawn I grabbed on the vine was yellow. This one… this is green? 

The Kraata had slipped through the bush, and was making a beeline for a tree a few bio away. Matau darted after it, swatting at the creature with his staff. He watched it as he chased, amazed that now the Kraata was taking on the color of the tree stump. 

Never mind what color it is, just grab the forsaken thing. 

Reaching the tree a few seconds ahead of Matau, the thing began to climb up the tree to allude capture. Matau was faster though, grabbing the thing by the tail. It hissed as it was pulled back towards the ground, the Turaga yanking hard at the creature. It hissed and looked back at Matau. 

“Get— back— here— you—slimy— piece— of—“ he grunted. 

The Turaga was unable to finish his sentence. The Kraata, not taking too kindly to the tug on the tail, forgot about its ascent on the tree and lunged at the Kanohi of the green one. 

Matau fell on his back for the second time that afternoon. The Kraata was in his grasp fully now, albeit an arms length away. It writhed and screamed whilst trying to wriggle free. The Turaga grabbed the creature with as much of a vice grip as he could, trying to keep the thing away from his mask. The Kraata refused to submit, resisting any attempts to be subdued by Matau’s hand. What was he going to do with the thing?

“Don’t you ever tire?” He yelled at it. Getting to his feet, the Kraata still thrashing around in his grip, Matau went over to the tree it tried to climb and did the only thing he could do. Giving a solid swing, he swung the thing’s head at the tree it so desperately clung to moments before. 

That did the trick. The snake went limp, suddenly stopping its struggle. The brown hue of the creature’s skin changed, until it was back to the yellowish color Matau had originally seen it bearing. 

“So, you can camouflage-change,” the Turaga of Air said. He thought back to what Whenua said about the Kraata possibly having powers. “Well, earth brother,” Matau said aloud, “looks like you were right about that.” 

 

Kongu wandered through the village square of Le-Koro, helping transport goods from one end of the village to the other. He looked very surprised when Turaga Matau came bursting from the trees, swinging in to land on the platform. For his advanced age, it was always impressive to see the Turaga performing acrobats as if he were one of the Matoran. 

“Turaga Matau!” Kongu cried, excusing himself from the transport for a moment to greet the Turaga. “You have returned! Did the council-meeting with the other elders go well-fine?”

The Turaga nodded, but there was clearly a sense of stress on the noble Mahiki the elder of Le-Koro wore. “As well fine as it could have gone, vineswinger,” Matau said. “Can you get a Gukko and a carry messenger ready? I have something to ship-send to Turaga Whenua.” 

***

Far beneath the Po-Koro Quarry, Makuta brooded. 

In the brief moment Onewa had tried to control the Kraata, he had glimpsed Makuta’s mind. In reciprocation, Makuta had sensed the Turaga’s simple thoughts, and seen what he and the others were trying to do. Now he contemplated the information he had gained.

“The Turaga wish to eradicate my Kraata from their paradise,” rumbled Makuta. “They seek to capture the seeds of my sons.”

“But Onewa,” Makuta said as he looked upwards to the ceiling of his lair. “Turaga of Stone… for being such a solid leader, your understanding of the situation is like the rocks you strike. Very hollow.” 

Makuta approached a control panel deep within the recesses of the Mangaia. The lair was his, yes, but the cavern predated him by many millennia. This panel, an ancient piece of technology, was one of the mechanisms original to the cavern. It allowed him to manipulate the island above, in ways that his powers could not yet achieve. Makuta now tapped into it, preparing to counter the elder’s plans. 

“I wish for the same things you do, Turaga,” Makuta rumbled as he activated the systems of the panel. He had great powers on his own, yes, but devices like these had power on another level. “The Kraata… they allow me to control the Rahi, and I do so in our best interest. They guard the tunnels, the ways back to Metru Nui. I keep the Matoran far away, in their villages, until the time is right— a time that I have chosen— for you to return to the City of Legends.”

The panel whirled to life, and Makuta manipulated the controls with glee. 

“So, Turaga, you wish to hunt,” Makuta said. “But how can you capture what you cannot see?”

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Ga Koro and the Fog 

The canoe slid down the beach, stopping at the water’s edge. An oar planted itself into the sand next to it, its handler observing the ocean’s conditions before her. 

Whitewater spilled onto the untouched sands of the morning. Just beyond the break, a fog engulfed the ocean. The haze hung over the water, smaller puffs of fog rolling through as a faint breeze rolled over the water. No winds blew strong enough however to clear the water for the day, and the ocean beyond the shores remained curtained.

“Can you… not go out today? Play some Kohlii with me instead?” 

Kai did not raise her Kanohi to respond, simply talking into the boat as she tied in her equipment. “No,” said the Ga-Matoran. “It could be like this on race day. I have to train through this.”

“Nokama would not allow a race to happen in these conditions,” protested Amaya.

“Yes she would,” Kai said. “It’s not even that bad out.”

‘Not that bad’?” Amaya mimicked her friend. She rolled her eyes and threw her arm to the sand around them. “You cannot even see the top of the beach, and the fog is still rolling in. How are you going to be able to see out there?” 

Kai looked out at the water, not sure if she wanted to answer Amaya. 

“Look, I know this upcoming race is your chance to beat Macku,” Amaya said. “But can you not do your long row? Practice some starts instead? That will really help you come race day.” 

There was a bitter silence as Kai tossed the decision around in her head. As she  held the stern of the boat in the shallow waters, water lapped at her legs. It seemed to urge her back onto shore, pushing at her so she would go back to the beach and leave the ocean alone for the day. But Kai really had been looking forward to this workout. Kai was someone who created a plan and stuck to it. But the more she watched the fog, the thicker she could see it rolling in…

“Fine,” she finally said. “I will work on starts.” 

“Thank you,” her friend replied. Rummaging through her pack, Amaya brought out a lightstone. “I’ll just stand here with this, so you have something to look for on shore.” 

Nodding thanks to her friend for the support, Kai jumped into the boat. 

There really was no stopping Kai and her training, Amaya thought as she watched Kai. Macku was the best rower of the village, and something just burned within Kai to outdo her. The Ga-Matoran’s hotheadedness rivaled some of the Ta-Matoran that Amaya knew. But Kai was determined more than anything to be the best rower in Ga-Koro, if not on all of Mata Nui.

Kai could not beat Macku if she did not make it back to shore though. Amaya held the lightstone as high as she could, hoping her friend could see it clearly enough. 

She had hoped Kai would have stopped before going as far as she had. But before Amaya knew it her friend was swallowed by the fog. She waited several long moments, holding the lightstone as high as she could. But after what seemed like too long, Amaya realized Kai was not going to reemerge from the fog. 

“Oh no,” Amaya managed to say as dread filled her. 

 

It seemed to Kai that she had only taken a dozen or so strokes before the shire disappeared. The fog quickly shrouded the beach from her view while she rowed out. What the Ga-Matoran could see of the jungle beyond the beach quickly disappeared behind a haze. The sight of Amaya standing on shore was quickly engulfed by the fog as well. The glow from the lightstone she held above her was lost in the mists, as if it were never there. Not even the sound of the waves lapping the shore could be heard from where ever Kai was, lost on the ocean. 

Kai stopped rowing as she saw her friend disappear, knowing at that point she had gone too far. Pulling her oars in, she let the momentum of the boat run out. She would hold water and turn the boat around so she could row back to shore. Kai listened to the boat as it ran over the water, hearing the ocean trickle across the hull. 

The boat, however, kept moving. Instead of slowing down, it seemed to be picking up speed. Kai cocked her head as she listened, then looked out at the water. She was in a rip current that was sucking her boat out to see, yes, but that did not seem to be the reason Kai heard the water becoming louder as she drifted along the ocean surface. 

The sound of rushing water was all around Kai, her boat dipping and turning violently. The ocean spun as Kai tried to get a sense of what was going on, falling to the high side of the boat in order to prevent from flipping. Anxiety grew in her mind at the change of motion, unsure of what was going on. A whirlpool raged around her, sucking in water at high speeds. The boat lurched back at forth as it spun with the whirlpool, threatening to overturn at any moment. 

Grabbing an oar, Kai thrust it into the water, using it as a rudder to turn the boat around. She grunted as she resisted the strength of the rushing water, prying on the oar with all her might.Sweat trickled between er mask and face as she held on tight, resisting the momentum of the whirlpool. If she were taken down into the center of the whirlpool sh would be a goner… 

The boat lurched, suddenly coasting over calming waters once again as it glided away from the whirlpool. Kai fell back into her seat, listening to the slight trickle of water running along the bottom of the boat. Her mind was racing, hardly believing what she had just done. 

Kai looked out of the boat, seeing nothing but fog. She could practically see Amaya’s mask looking back at her in the mist, so upset about what she had done. She should have listened to Amaya, stayed on land and played Kohlii. Now here she was, lost who knows how far off the beach. 

She could not stay here, she knew, lest the whirlpool dragged her back in. Shipping her oars back into her oarlock, Kai almost begrudgingly began to row, starting her workout. 

Where in Mata Nui’s name is land? She wondered.

***

Nokama looked out from the edge of her lilypad, watching the fog hanging over the waters of the Endless Ocean. Not much, if anything, could be seen out there. She could feel the ocean was for the most part calm, but Nokama in her wisdom knew there were dangers in calmness. She could barely see beyond a few dozen bio. She could glean nothing out there. Why Kai thought it was a good idea to go out in this was beyond her comprehension.

She turned from the water, giving up on trying to see through the fog. Amaya was still standing behind her, nervously twiddling her thumbs. 

“That was very ill considered for Kai to go out there,” the Turaga said. 

“I know, Turaga,” said a very worried Amaya. “I tried to tell her that, but she is headstrong. She insisted she had to be out there.” The Ga-Matoran looked down at the floor, almost ashamed of herself. 

“This is on Kai, not you, flax-maker,” said Nokama. “I will have a talk with her when we find her.”

“When we find her?” Amaya asked. “What are we going to do? Are we sending one of Marka’s ships out?”

“Goodness no,” Nokama replied. “I am not sending more ships, and more importantly more Matoran, out to get lost in this fog.”

“Then what are we going to do?” 

“Fog walks,” Nokama said. “It may not be at where she left, but Kai will make her way back towards land. When she does, you will be there to greet her. Gather the Guard and search the coastline. Bring lightstones. Position yourselves as you see fit from the Great Telescope to the Charred Forest. Walk together in pairs. Until the fog lifts, you are on patrol.”

Amaya nodded, making her leave. 

“And Amaya,” said Nokama, her tone softening somewhat. “Please be safe.”

***

Amaya walked down the beach, twin lightstone signalers in hand. Looking out at the ocean, she could only think of Kai out there on the water, rowing aimlessly and probably to her heart’s content. I hope you’re having fun, sister, Amaya thought. You have us all worried sick. 

“What in Mata Nui’s name made her think this was a good idea?” asked Nireta. Amaya shrugged, unsure of what to tell her. Amaya and Nireta were not the best of friends, but these were the partners that were picked amongst the group. 

“She shouldn’t have gone out at all,” said Nireta. “Fog is just too messy to take chances in. You can mess with rain and wind, but fog… that’s just something you do not mess with.” Nireta proceeded to go into one of her cartography adventures, talking about how she stayed at camp when she was mapping out some region. But Amaya was not paying attention, fixated on the ocean as she was.

They had taken up a post at one of the beach chairs off of Ga-Wahi beaches, watching the waves lap the sands. Nireta told several more stories— this mapmaker had enough hot air to keep the talkative Takua the Chronicler occupied. But Amaya was only half listening. She was more preoccupied with the fog. Her friend’s safety was really the only thing on her mind. Nireta’s stories were just noise to her. 

She looked out at the fog with her Kanohi Akaku, the telescopic lens on her mask zooming in and out as the fog rolled by. Even with the advanced sight the mask gave her, there was nothing she could see. The fog obscured all, so thick that it was. 

“I thought fogs like this burned off by the afternoon,” said Nireta after a while. Maybe she realized that Amaya was not listening, and was trying to change tactics to get her to talk. 

“I thought the same, but this must be some strong cool front to keep it here,” Amaya said glumly. 

The worst part was that it was sunny as well. High in the sky, shining through the haze was the sun, a single burning ball in the sky. Amaya watched it for a few moments, able to look at the sun without squinting her eyes. The ball of light burnt steadily, but as much as it tried, it did nothing to incinerate the fog. It just hung up there, in the middle of the sky, a white ball of useless light. Amaya glared at it, as if expecting it to say something, but it just sat up there. She glared harder. But to her frustration, a stray patch of fog floated across it, obscuring the sun even more than it already was. Useless, she thought. I give up. 

“This breeze is nonexistent,” Nireta pointed out. She was turned around, watching the leaves of the palm trees not far off. More than twice the size of a Matoran, big leaves hung in the heat of the day,  casually swinging in the air. The breeze really was nonexistent. Little puffs of fog rolled along the water, they both observed, but the mist shrouding the landscape was not moving anywhere anytime soon. 

Nireta hopped of the stand and went for a dip in the water. She took a few strokes out, and then came back in to Amaya. Even in the quick swim she took, Amaya was losing sight of her in the fog.

“I am going to see who is adjacent to us,” Amaya said as Nireta climbed back onto the chair. “And yeah, I know the way around this beach.”

It was Kotu who was stationed north of them, sitting on the sand and staring out to the ocean with her arms crossed. She sat slumped in another chair along the coastline. Kotu sat with no partner, just by herself. Amaya cringed as she realized whom she was approaching; Kotu was known not to be the friendliest of Matoran. Perhaps sticking with Nireta was not so bad. 

“This day is shot,” Kotu said. “If Kai could think sensibly for once…”

“Macku is your best friend and just as much of a competitor,” said Amaya. “Are you telling me that she never wandered into dangerous weather when she should not have?”

“Not in a manner that costed the entire village a day of work,” said Kotu. “I have Rahi to tend to. They have needs, and they power the village.”

“Everyone else is anxious too,” pointed out Amaya. “I have been worried sick. Kai’s my friend, and I told her all morning that she should not go on this row. I saw her disappear and have been anxious all day. I just want her found and this stupid fog gone.”

“I have never seen it this bad,” Kotu replied. “This fog is absurd. It’s thicker worse than the darkness in Onu-Koro or the heat in Ta-Koro!”

The two stared out into the mist, having nothing to say for a few moments. 

“Who is your fog walk partner?” Kotu said after a moment of silence. 

“Nireta,” Amaya told her. 

“Does she have a lightstone?” asked Kotu, noticing the twin handles in Amaya’s hands. 

“I’m not sure, actually,” Amaya said. She turned from Kotu to see the path of the beach she had come from the fog floated through, and the path was even more obscure than when she had left. “I’m going to head back and check on her,” she said, taking a nervous step in the direction of her post. Kotu nodded, bidding her farewell. 

It only took a few steps for Kotu’s stand to be encompassed by the fog. Amaya turned to watch the phenomenon, growing slightly more concerned than she already was. Visibility on the beach basically was down to nothing now. The fog was so thick that she could not see a few bio in front of her. Even with the telescope of the Kanohi Akaku she wore, albeit powerless, it was getting harder to see. How in the world was Kai going to make her way back to shore?

She would follow her footprints back to her post. They were still a good marker of her path. Amaya trudged back along the path she had come, tracing the relatively fresh prints that would lead her to the stand. She kicked shells as she walked back, idly curious about each one as she passed. She was trying to get out of her head, paying attention to what she was seeing on the beach rather than putting the full extent of her worry on her friend. 

Amaya spotted something on the beach that took away all worry from her friend. Her footprints were still in the sand, but a fresher set of tracks abruptly cut up the beach. 

Amaya froze, staring at the print on the sand. A singular wide track travelled up the beach, cutting directly through one of Amaya’s footprints. She froze, knowing exactly what those tracks came from. 

Tarakava.

She gripped her tools fiercely, listening as best as she could for the sound of the Rahi’s approach. The Tarakava were largely a water hunting species, so whatever had drawn it to shore was not a good sign. 

A roar came from behind her, and Amaya spun, only to be sent flying. The punch of a Tarakava had sent her flying across the beach, crashing headfirst into the sand. 

Fear enabled her to spring to her feet in no time at all. Amaya jumped to her feet, comign face to face with the Rahi. It towered over her. It remained where it had appeared, growling as its forearms grew tense. 

She could not outrun a Tarakava, Amaya knew that much. But she also knew she did not want to meet her end at the means of this Rahi. So to outsmart it? For now, she knew she could do that. But what was she going to do?

She saw her lightstones were not far away. If she could just get to them in time…

The Tarakava growled, winding up for another punch. But as it charged, the Matoran threw a fistful of sand at its eyes, throwing off its aim. The creature roared as its eyes were hit with the sand. The punch missed, and Amaya went diving sideways for the lightstone. Amaya got a hold of the mineral and chucked it at the Rahi’s gears. The Rahi tried to launch itself forward in a rage, but it could not, its gears jammed. It fell to the ground, the stone in its gears throwing the creature off balance. 

By the time the Rahi’s struggling, flailing body hit the ground, Amaya was gone running.

***

Giving one last hard stroke, Kai watched the puddles her oars made disappear off into the fog. Bringing the paddles into the boat, she sat in her seat, bent over and weary. She had completed her long row that she had originally intended on accomplishing. Secretly though, she had hoped partly through the workout she would stumble upon land and be able to call it a day on the water. No signs of land though kept her going, stroking the ocean and sending the boat deeper into the endless fog. 

Rummaging through her pack in the bottom of the boat, she produced a fruit snack that she had put in her bag that morning. The workout had depleted her of energy. She absorbed the energy from the fruit, feeling if only a little replenished. The nutrition from this small snack was not much, and would only temporarily sate her.

Yes, Amaya, I should have listened to you, Kai thought to herself. She could practically see her friend’s face in the fog as she gazed off, telling her this or that about the risk she took. Something burned in her, this desire to row to her heart’s content, and she could not think straight sometimes until after she rowed. This hardheadedness was just something inside her hardwiring, she supposed. You were right. But please, friend, I will be back soon enough. I hope you did not go to Turaga Nokama about this. 

As she ate, Kai listened to the ocean around the boat. Little ‘bloops’ in the water could be heard as the ocean rose and fell around the shell. Other than that, it was quiet. No sound of the waves crashing could be heard anywhere. There was no discerning direction out here, something Kai found odd. One moment the sea rose to push the boat starboard side. The next moment it sent her drifting towards port. On her usual rows far off the shore there was a consistency in where the waves pushed. But this overlap was far beyond her understanding.

She was out in the far seas, a long way from shore. What is it going to take for me to find land? Kai asked herself.

Grabbing the oars and shipping them back out into the water, she began to lightly pull and get the boat moving. Kai began to get into her groove once more as she began to blindly look for land.

A large thunk from the underside of the boat sent the vessel lurching upward. Kai fell backwards off her seat. The Ga-Matoran immediately crawled to the gunwhales, peering over into the water. What had she just hit?

Something drifted in the water a few bio away from the boat. Kai peered wide eyed at it, wildly speculating. It looked like a Kanohi mask, but what specific one she could not tell. The waters around it were dark, shrouding half of the shape from view. Grabbing hold of the oars, Kai paddled over to it, hoping to scoop it out of the water. 

When she reached the spot where she saw the shape, all she saw was dark ocean water. The shape had disappeared. Kai looked around, confused. Where had the mask gone? Whom had it belong to? Had she hit someone swimming? Slightly quieter voices whispered in her mind of alternate possibilities, but she shook her head, shrugging them off. 

Kai looked around again, hoping to find that the mask had drifted in the wake her boat made. Her scans produced no results. The Ga-Matoran turned her head to see the other side of the boat to see if the mask was over there, but something caught her eye. A shape moved in the fog. Kai was not sure what exactly it was, but she squinted hard at the patch where she thought she saw movement. Was that…?

It had to be her imagination. There was no way she was actually seeing a face made out of the fog, staring back at her, was there? 

The more she looked at the spot in front of her boat though, the more she could see a face coming into clarity. Two circles that could have been eyes were forming above an oval that could have been a mouth. Facial markings formed on the shape as several lines cut through the fog around the ‘eyes’ and ‘mouth’. The configuration could have been a bio or two high, but Kai was really not sure.

She had thought she was getting lost in her imagination and picturing Amaya’s mask in her mind’s eye. But the more she looked closer at the shapes forming in the mist, the more she realized that she was not simply daydreaming about her friend. This was another face entirely. 

“W-wha-t-t are you?” asked Kai, not even sure if the thing could speak. The shapes twisted and contorted as if it were speaking, but no noises could be heard. 

More shapes began to form in the fog around the ‘face’. Several long columns, twisting and contorting until Kai recognized that they were fingers, reaching out over the air, coming into the boat, looking to grab her…

A slight breeze tickled over Kai’s neck, making her scream. Looking again the area around her was blank, just shapeless fog around her. Feeling a pain in her hands, the Ga-Matoran looked down to see she had been holding onto her oars with a death grip. Letting out a rattled breath, she relaxed her grip. Kai then set up the oars, preparing to continue rowing. She had no idea what direction she would be going but anywhere was better than here.

Grabbing onto the water with her oars Kai began to row away from this spot. She hoped that the shore was close. 

***

Kotu met Amaya somewhere in the fog, having heard the roars of the beast. “What in the Great Spirit’s name was that?” asked the Rau- masked Matoran. 

“Tarakava!” Amaya yelled.

“Tarakava? On land?” Kotu repeated. Her eyes lit up wild at the mention of the Rahi beast. She cocked her head in confusion. “How did you outrun it?” 

“I jammed its gears,” Amaya explained. She panted as she caught her breath. “But that will not hold it for long.”

“What? Where is Nireta?” 

“I didn’t even get to her after I left you,” Amaya said. “We need to get to her before it does!” 

“Hold on,” the Rahi tender said, dashing back to her post. Amaya stood slack jawed and confused until Kotu came back with several ropes over her shoulder. “Let’s go,” she said, a small smile on her mask. 

Nireta met them at the remnants of a crushed lightstone, where Amaya quickly caught her up to speed. The other lightstone was nearby, but the Rahi was nowhere to be seen. Kotu kicked sand over the glowing remnants and strode over to the other lightstone, plunging it deep in the sand. “No use letting the monster know where we are,” she said. 

The tracks led up the beach, towards the Le-Wahi jungles not far off. Kotu unwound her ropes, conjuring a lasso . She cast several of her tools across the beach. Fiddling with several knots here and there, she set a trap to her liking. She stood up, pleased with her work. 

“Aren’t we following the tracks into the jungle?” Nireta asked. Kotu looked at her skeptically. 

“Tarakava are primarily aquatic creatures,” Kotu informed her. “It will come back to its home soon.”

“So we just wait now?” Amaya said, looking at the trap Kotu had set. The Rahi tender nodded. 

“Or we could lure it out, if you would rather prefer that method,” Kotu said to her. “And if you have sufficient bait.”

Amaya looked at the two Matoran, then shook the idea from her head. 

“We will wait,” she agreed. 

***

Far below Ga-Koro, Makuta smiled at the controls of his machine. He could telepathically sense what unfolded on the beach, feeling the high levels of anxiety in the inhabitant’s minds there. It honestly brought a smile to his mask. 

“That is enough for today, I suppose,” he rumbled to the machine in front of him, shutting off the controls. The natural winds of the oceans above would blow away the fog, but it would take time. He would sit back and wait, letting the rest of the show play itself out.

***

A slight breeze drifted through the trees, bringing the scent of Matoran to the Tarakava’s nostrils. It could not see them, however, as hard as the creature peered. Looking out at the beach, it glared, searching for its prey. It could not see them, but it would find them. The Makuta which controlled the Rahi’s mind wished it so, and so it would find them. 

The only thing that it did see on the beach was the fog, and the lightstone which shone on the foggy beach. It was shiny. But it was not food. The Tarakava knew that this was somewhat valuable to the Ga-Matoran. The voice of Makuta inside its head also told it that this was a trap of some sorts. The Ga-Matoran would not leave an object of value so open in the sand. It was a trap, the primal voice of reasoning in the Rahi’s mind knew. But the only way to get the Matoran to appear was to go into the trap. It would punch its way out if it needed. 

The Tarakava slowly crawled out of hiding, eyes fixated on the shining lightstone. As it crawled out, the beach remained still, and there was no sign of any Matoran. The Tarakava crawled closer, inspecting the stone’s quiet glow. 

Sand flew up, and a line appeared. The Tarakava whirled to see the line leading to the top of the trees in the jungle, where it travelled downward from a branch. But what it was connected to it could not see, as a net came up to obscure the Rahi’s vision. 

“Now!” shouted Nireta, holding as tight as she could to her end of the rope. The end was tied to the base of the tree they were hiding near, but she pulled to secure the net.The net came up around the Tarakava, and the trap was sprung. 

The Tarakava flailed, immediately throwing out its powerful forearms as it tried to escape the net. A roar came from its jaws. One forearm was stuck in the netting, and it pulled, trying to free itself. 

“It’s going to tear the net!” Amaya said, dashing onto the sand. Kotu shook her head, throwing her lasso at the beast’s forearm sticking through. The rope held, and she pulled. 

Amaya readied a bamboo disk, throwing it at the Rahi’s face where the infected Kanohi sat. It thunked against the rusted and pitted mask, knocking it askew but not off. 

“Watch yourself!” Kotu barked as she tugged on her rope. The Rahi struggled to reach for Amaya as she cautiously strode over to retrieve the disk. 

The next disk hit its target. It hit the infected Kanohi head on. As soon as the mask dislodged from the Rahi’s face, its roars dulled in ferocity, instead becoming whimpers as it struggled against the bonds the Matoran had on it. Kotu nodded, letting her rope slack. At Kotu’s signal Nireta did the same, letting the net fall from around the Rahi. 

The Rahi did not wait for the Matoran to clean it up. It went screaming away, darting back into the water from which it came. Only the discarded mask remained of it. 

“Turaga Nokama would be proud,” said Nireta. “Three Matoran, taking down an infected beast!” 

Kotu nodded, picking up the infected mask. “I will have to turn this into her upon our return to Ga-Koro.” 

“Wait a second,” Nireta said, looking out to the ocean. “Do you think the fog has let up a little?”

***

Kai had finally found land. 

She was still lost in the fog out on the water. But she knew where she was going now. After Mata Nui knew how long she had been rowing in the endless void, she began to hear the sound of the shoreline. A breeze had began to form and blow the fog away, the visibility on the water getting better with each puff of wind. She still could not see clearly, but Kai was able to see more and more with each moment the breeze continued to blow. Waves could be heard crashing somewhere and Kai knew at that point the beach was near. 

Bringing up her stroke rate, albeit as tired as she was, Kai began to sprint towards the shore. She did not care where it was she was coming in to, even if she had wandered as far north as the Po-Koro coastline. Kai was simply grateful to have found land.

The sound of the waves was extremely close now. The boat began to rise and fall, entering a small set of waves. Bringing up the rate even more, she chopped short strokes at the water, getting ready to ride any swell that might break early and bring her into shore. She caught one, and leapt up in her seat as she tilled the boat in. 

The beach came into sight, and Kai nearly wept tears of joy. She was maybe half a kio south of the village, on a beach not too far from the boatyard. Several Matoran were on shore, she saw, pointing at her in the water. It would not be that much longer of a day, she knew. 

Taking a few more strokes, she rode the wave into where the Matoran were. The wave brought her in smoothly as could be, and she was nearly grinning as the boat came into the shallows. Throwing her oar down into the boat, Kai jumped out into the water to push it onto the sand. 

As her feet touched the bottom of the shallows however, something wrapped around her ankles, and she went under. Kai screamed with alarm, but the sound did not even make it past her lips before she was underwater. 

Something held onto her, pulling her below the surface. She could feel an ice cold grip around her ankles, keeping a tight hold and keeping her on the ocean floor. Kai thrashed, fighting to break free of an invisible grip. Her thoughts initially pictured the foggy fingers she had encountered, but as she saw nothing holding her ankles her every being went into screaming to get to the surface, and get a breath of air…

She broke the surface, several pairs of hands wrapped around her torso and arms. Now able to breathe, Kai screamed, scrambling to get free. The grip of these hands much weaker than whatever held her down, she was able to get free. Scrambling onto the sand, she panted heavily. 

“Are you ok?” asked one of the Matoran. Kai said nothing for a few moments, panting heavily. Eventually she looked up to see Nireta staring down at her, very concerned at Kai’s mannerism. 

“I- I j-ust-t sl-i-pp-ped,” Kai chattered, curled up in a ball. “It’s much colder than I th-ought.” 

“Next time, seaweed brains,” came Amaya’s voice. Kai looked up to see her relieved mask. “let’s just play Kohlii.” 

Kai nodded. “I will never go out in conditions like this again,” she assured Amaya. “It was much worse out there than I thought.”

Edited by Nick Silverpen

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Posted (edited)

Whispers in the Sanctum

Matoro stared at the wall. 

It took him several moments to realize his eyes were open. So caught up in Seeking had he been that perhaps he thought the wall was simply a visualization of his thoughts. All of the images seemed to blend together, so the Matoran thought for a while that this was just another part of the process. 

Whatever findings had crossed his mind however were gone. The thing he had been seeking was now nothing more than a fleeting thought, and something else had taken over his mind. 

Something had directed his attention away from the Seeking. What particularly it was, however, he could not put his finger on. Something had permeated into his mindscape, breaking concentration. and bringing him from his meditation. 

Matoro looked around, seeing nothing out of the ordinary in the chamber he was in. The fire at the center of the room quietly crackled. Near him sat Turaga Nuju, his mind elsewhere as his mediation went on uninterrupted. His assistant however looked around, continuing to wonder what had disturbed him. Other than the few Matoran Seekers allowed to meditate with the Turaga, uninterrupted in their own deep meditative states, the room was still. 

There it was though. A sound reached his ears. A voice, calling to him. He could not hear what it was saying, the words being just out of earshot. But he could hear the voice, ominous and calling. 

He could hear it more definitively this second time, coming from the hallway beyond the chamber. Conversation was frowned upon in the Sanctum. No one would make disruptive sound like this unless it was for a purpose. Yet this voice sounded different, and it seemed Matoro was the only one to notice it. Perhaps it was part of a vision he was experiencing?

Matoro found himself walking towards the hall, drawn towards the voice. He felt as though he were in an almost dreamlike state.

Behind Matoro, Nuju opened his eyes. The Turaga had heard the Matoran rise, and came out of his own meditative state to see his translator making his way towards the chamber’s exit. Generally he would not follow, but something seemed off about Matoro’s manner. Rising quietly as to not disturb the other Seekers, Nuju followed Matoro out into the hall. 

Click, click-click. 

Matoro turned to see the Turaga, alert and on his tail. In his trance like state, it took the translator a few moments more to understand the language of the flyers that Nuju communicated in. Upon understanding the message, Matoro nodded.

“Yes, Turaga, I am fine,” Matoro insisted. “I am still Seeking. A voice is calling to me, and I can hear it leading me to the answers I Seek.” 

Nuju whistled, confusion in his tone. His assistant nodded. “Yes, a voice. It is calling to me. If I follow it, it will lead me to the part of the Wall of History which has the answers.”

Will it though? Nuju wondered. He too remembered a time when he thought he could follow a voice. His brow furrowed at the memory. His concerns were growing for his right hand Matoran. I have been warned about voices afar before, the Turaga thought. He grappled for a long moment on what to do. 

Nuju allowed Matoro to go ahead, although he followed him closely. 

***

Ehrye had been staring at the Wall of Prophecy all day. He now looked at the glyphs written on the walls with a hard squint. The sun outside was sinking into the late afternoon, making it harder to see. He should go to the center of the hall he was studying and light a fire, he knew, so he could see better. Yet he was so engrossed in his Seeking that the fading light did not matter to him. 

But none of this was why he could not concentrate. For years he’d studied the walls until his back hurt, with nothing but the glow of his eyes and heartlight to illuminate the prophecies. No, the rapidly changing lighting situation was far from what was distracting him. It was the little voice which reached his audio receptors. 

“Fire,” said the voice. 
Ehrye looked up from his translation, searching for whom had spoken. No one showed themselves. 

He should have looked back down at his work, but his curiosity was piqued. He looked around for a few moments, before lowering his gaze to his work once more. 

“Fire!” came the voice again, this time more urgent. Ehrye looked up again. 

“Fire! Fire upstairs!” The voice chirped. The Ko-Matoran set down his translation tablet, comprehending what the voice was saying. A fire? 

“Evacuate! We need to!” the voice called again. Ehrye then looked around, utterly confused at what was being said. No one spoke in these parts of the Wall of Prophecy, and if they did the urgency for them doing so had to be of the utmost importance. Seeing no one else moving, however, Ehrye cocked his head. He strode over to his neighbor, another Matoran translating. 

“Did no one else hear?” he whispered to his cohort. The Matoran looked at him, eyes wild. Talking in the Sanctum… no Matoran would break this oath unless it were urgent. 

“Hear what?” he whispered back, anxious of the dirty looks anyone within earshot might shoot at them. 

“We need to evacuate the building,” Ehrye told him. “There is a fire upstairs.”

“A fire?” the scholar asked. “Says who?”

“There was a Matoran in the hallway who called in,” Ehrye told him. “Didn’t you hear him?” The second Matoran shook his head, alarm forming on his mask. 

“We need to get out of here then!” the second Matoran insisted. 

The two began tapping the rest of the Matoran, urging them to evacuate. Without haste, they set down their tablets and began to evacuate. 

They looked odd as they trode through the Sanctum, a group of Ko-Matoran walking together. Scholars and Seekers noted them curiously as the group descended toward the main chamber, spreading word about a fire in the upper levels. 

One Matoran looked up at the oncoming commotion, far from pleased about the interruption. He listened for a moment, hearing words about a fire. Something did not sound right, so he stopped the group to understand the full story. 

“There is a fire upstairs!” Ehrye cried to him. 

“A fire?” the annoyed scholar asked. He looked towards the ceiling for a moment. “I smell nothing burning.” 

“It probably hasn’t come there yet,” said Ehrye. 

“Who told you there was a fire?” asked the scholar, rather agitated at all the fuss. 

“Someone outside our Prophecy room,” the Ehrye explained. 

“Did you see someone?” asked the scholar. 

“No,” the Ehrye said. “They probably were evacuating and just shouting a warning to us.” 

“So you did not see anyone,” said the scholar. A few Matoran in the small group began to give looks. 

“No but we need to go! Now!” cried Ehrye. 

“Go?” asked the irritated scholar. “Seeker, you are the first person I have heard talk about a fire in the Sanctum. And, icicle head, has it occurred to none of you that there couldn’t be a fire here, this place being made of ice?”

 

No fire had been found, and the only thing that had happened was that the rest of Ehrye’s peers were mad at him.The other scholars glared at Ehrye as they filed back into their chamber. 

The Ko-Matoran stood with his head hung, embarrassed at the whole scenario, not able to look anyone in the eye. He had heard a voice, he knew that much. He could not prove it, but there was a voice that had called out about a fire. Someone in the halls of the Sanctum had called into the chamber of study, and Ehrye had been the only one to get the message. 

Someone had made a fool out of him. Somebody in the Sanctum had played a joke on Ehrye, and made him look like a raving, disruptive lunatic. Crossing his arms, Ehrye only glowered angrily down the hall, furious at whomever that trickster had been.

Until the laughter began. 

Ehrye’s eyebrows raised. Laughter, in the Sanctum? The Matoran’s eyes glowed wide with shock. 

It was the trickster again, pulling some sort of prank on Ehrye that only he could hear. The Ko-Matoran set off down the hall then, determined to find this trickster. Whoever they were, they were about to get a scolding of a lifetime.

The laughter was right around the corner— but when Ehrye turned into the hall, he found no one there. How could that be? Ehrye thought. He looked around, bewildered at the sourceless noise. 

The laughing was suddenly behind Ehrye. The Ko-Matoran tensed, his shoulders raising in fear. 

But then his fear grew exponentially as his feet were lifted off the ground. 

Something had grabbed him by the shoulders, pulling him off the ground. Ehrye found himself yelling indiscernible words as he tried to bring himself back to the floor, kicking and writhing as he resisted whatever was holding him. 

A shadow passed over his eyes, and Ehrye dropped to the ground. Something clattered on the floor nearby. Feeling a drain of energy, the Ko-Matoran realized it was his mask, torn away from his face. He grabbed onto the walls as he stumbled forward towards it, feeling disoriented. All around him, the laughing continued. Whoever it was he did not care anymore. All the scholar wanted was his mask. 

Bringing his mask to his face, Ehrye felt energy seep back into him. His vision began to clear, and he glimpsed the scene outside a window as he stumbled. A forest of evergreens surrounded the clearing that the Sanctum was set upon. The afternoon light was fading rapidly as clouds began to cover the sky above Mount Ihu. And the snowbanks below looked unbroken. 

Before he was able to catch his breath, Ehrye felt a pair of hands shove him, and found himself falling out of the window. Finding nothing to grab onto, the Ko-Matoran realized he was going to find out how unbroken those snowbanks below were as he fell towards them. 

“Gravity hurts!” laughed a voice out the window as Ehrye fell. 

***

Ducking under a tree branch, Toudo stepped into the clearing. Before him stood the Sanctum, its icy white sheen standing boldly against the grey sky. Breathing a sigh of relief, Toudo brushed himself off, eyeing the building as he began to walk around the building, leaving the treeline behind. 

Toudo had been out checking his traps in the wilderness of Mount Ihu when he had sensed a storm approaching Ko-Wahi. The endless blue sky of Mata Nui had become grey, and the wind had begun to pick up. The animals had disappeared, more than likely sensing the storm and taking cover, the trapper supposed. Normally he did not mind being out in the squall, but having found so many of his traps empty he decided it would be best to head back to the village. As he walked around the Sanctum towards Ko-Koro, he looked to the sky to see a few flying Rahi flapping overhead, most likely making haste towards shelter themselves. His would follow their cue and head to his home until the mountainside was clear again. 

“Catch me if you can!” came a voice. The Ko-Matoran looked up, seeing noone around. Someone had called, but there was nobody in the area around besides himself. The area was quiet. Not even the growing winds on the mountainside permeated the natural borders that surrounded Ko-Koro. Squinting into the scenery, Toudo looked around for anyone. He even looked up to the windows at the top of the tower, but no Ko-Matoran could be seen. Perhaps it was just his imagination, he supposed. Toudo continued on his walk. 

“You can’t!” came the voice again. Toudo whirled again, trying to catch the source of the voice. “Not quick enough!” Again, there was nobody in the area except for him. 

The trapper looked around, annoyed now. Someone was playing a joke on him. He started to stomp through the snowdrifts, determined to find whoever was playing this game. No Ko-Matoran usually acted like this; those villagers who resided around these parts of the village usually studied in the Sanctum, where near silence was almost required. Toudo knew a few scholars who would have insisted on a Ko-Matoran making noise this close to the Sanctum could carry out their studies with Takua the Chronicler or one of the Le-Korans. Yet someone out here was carrying on like a Brakas monkey.

Another sound made Toudo spin, and he found himself being showered with a spray of snow as something landed in the snowbank. Sputtering the drifts out of his mask, he dashed over to see what had created such an explosion. 

The snow which had been relatively unbroken a few moments before was now scattered, something having come down from the sky to crash into the snowbanks. In the center of the crater that had formed, maskless and bewildered, was a Ko-Matoran. One of the scholars. 

“What just happened?” asked Toudo. 

 

“Did you get a glimpse of who pushed you?” asked Toudo, concerned upon hearing Ehrye’s story. The scholar’s mask had been dented in a few places, and would need repairs, but it still attached to his face. 

Ehrye shook his head. “I just grabbed my mask before I was pushed. I could barely tell which way was up before I found myself falling. That was terrifying— I could have died!” 

“Disrupting the studies of the Sanctum is one thing, but nearly murdering a Matoran is a serious matter,” said Toudo. 

“So you believe me?” asked Ehrye. The trapper nodded. 

“I heard a voice as I came out of the forest as well, mocking me,” Toudo explained. “Someone here bears us ill will.”

“We need to apprehend this person,” said Ehrye. “Before they hurt anyone else.” 

“Let us go to Turaga Nuju,” said Toudo. He will sort this out.”

***

Toudo and Ehrye made their way to the entrance of the Sanctum, where the two guards stood at their positions. They gave a nod to scholar as he approached the entrance, only to wince as he went into a wild accusation. He informed them to be on the lookout for any giddy Matoran, repeating the experience he had told the trapper. The Guards nodded and assumed their guard as the two took shelter from the storm. 

The Guards of the Ko-Koro Sanctum were known for their vigilance. Always standing at their positions outside the temple with a watchful eye, Talvi and Pakastaa ensured that the sacred place was well protected from the dangers of Mount Ihu. Many threats lurked in the snowstorms of Ko-Wahi; if any of the monstrous creatures were allowed to run rampant within the Sanctum, many prophecies of the Ko-Matoran would be lost. So the two sentries took their duty very seriously, never wavering from their task even in the harshest of conditions. 

Makuta, however, had found something rather peculiar in his observations of the Matoran. As much personality that the villagers exhibited— or in some of the Ko-Matoran’s cases, didn’t— at the very core of their being, they still machines. They worked fluidly and flawlessly most of the time, but just like any computer or lab dummy, Matoran were subject to lag. Up on the top of Mount Ihu— colder than many of the regulated environments of the Great Spirit Robot— the Ko-Matoran experienced extreme cold, perhaps more harsh than anything they were designed to withstand. Even as snow and ice formed around their Kanohi, Talvi and Pakastaa stood outside. Sometimes though, Makuta would send Rahi to get close to the two, only for them to not even react. Sometimes, they simply stopped noticing and just stared forward, still as ice sculptures, even when something clearly stared back at them from the edge of the horizon. 

It was imperative that these Matoran did not stop working, Makuta knew. They were engrossed in their studies, yes, but if not stimulated, they would cease working entirely. Sound was a good stimuli, he supposed; while he could send the vicious Muaka and Kane-Ra or any other of the larger beasts of the mountainside to frighten the villagers and keep them alert, in his experimentations Teridax had found there were much more subtler ways of keeping the Matoran moving, if not somewhat distracted. 

***

Nuju followed Matoro through the halls of the Sanctum, as the latter listened to the voices coming from somewhere ahead. Matoro insisted that they were close to the source— at almost every turn, to the Turaga’s annoyance. He was moments away from knocking the translator over the head with his Badge of Office, if that meant getting the translator to knock off the nonsense and think straight. 

Two Matoran rounded the corner though, in a fashion Nuju thought resembled his and Matoro’s. Nuju recognized the form of Ehrye, his Kanohi for some reason battered and dented, followed closely by Toudo the trapper. The scholar seemed annoyed while he walked— although he was always annoyed at something, Nuju knew— his head cocked to the side as he seemed to listen to something. 

“Turaga Nuju!” Ehrye called, recognizing the elder. The sound rang down the hall. The Turaga frowned, insistent on the silence that the scholars of the Sanctum must keep for their studies. But given what happenings were going on today, Nuju figured it may be appropriate. 

The elder of ice nodded, listening to the pair’s story and growing alarmed with each passing detail. His eyes flitted to his translator, who had been hovering a bio or two away as he listened himself. Matoro now stood next to him though, a new sense of clarity in his eyes as he listened to the story. 

“I have heard the voices too,” Matoro admitted once they were done. “I was Seeking as well, and thought they were some sort of revelation.”

“Far from it, unfortunately,” Ehrye said. “It is someone in here playing a prank. Thank the Great Spirit I found you, lest the same thing happened to yourself.” 

Toudo shot the scholar a look of scorn, but Ehrye did not notice. “So now we all know about this trickster. They seem to be several steps ahead of us at all times. They can avoid all four of us. So how do we find them?”

Something whizzed over their heads suddenly, coming from the depths of the hallways Nuju and Matoro had come from. Whatever it was passed by in a flash before disappearing down the next hallway. The four of them ducked, protecting their masks as the blur flew by them once more. 

“What in Mata Nui!” Ehrye exclaimed, holding tight onto his own Kanohi. 

Another shape flashed by, and Nuju was in the air. Toudo whipped out his bamboo disc and hurled it in the direction the blur flew. The Turaga fell, and Matoro dove, trying to catch his mentor. The Ko-Matoran ended up blocking Nuju’s body from the full impact of the floor instead, the two of them ending up in a tangled mess. 

Nuju whistled and cut through the air with his hand, utterly enraged. “Your mask is fine, Turaga,” Matoro insisted. “There are a few scratches, but otherwise you are in one piece.” 

“Scratches?” Toudo asked. “Wait a minute…” he turned to Ehrye, looking at the top of his mask. At first they looked like random scratches from the fall, but upon closer inspection the white Mahiki the scholar wore had several claw like marks on the top of his mask. “I don’t think what attacked you was a Matoran,” said the trapper. 

“Who did I hear then?” asked Ehrye. “Rahi do not talk.”

“I am not sure,” said Toudo. 

The quartet stood back to back, tense as they waited for the next attack from the creature. Nuju gripped tightly onto his pick, ready to swing; Ehrye clenched his fists. His disc unsheathed once more, Toudo watched carefully, ready to hurl the bamboo at whatever the blur was. Extending and retracting his eyepiece, Matoro looked around, hoping to get a better glimpse at whatever had just come through. No doubt it was some sort of flying creature; but it flew faster than anything Matoro had ever seen. 

The sound of Matoro’s eyepiece shutter clicking went off, and the group was in scrambles again. The bamboo disc went flying, Toudo flinging it with breakneck speed at the blur coming by. The shape went tumbling, and the creature fell to the floor. 

Nuju’s ice pick pinned down one of its bony wings, and the four of them were able to get a look at it. Its hide was white with streaks of blue, able to easily blend in with the icy walls of the Sanctum. The creature was unexpectedly bigger than they expected, its size clearly demonstrating enough strength to pick up a villager. Between its incessantly flapping bony wings two green eyes shined, its beak screeching a mix of Matoran and jumble. 

“Let me goooooo,” the thing cried. The three Matoran jumped, but Nuju kept his pick firmly on the bat’s wing, unperturbed by the voice. So this is the creature that has been causing all of the fuss, he signed to Matoro. The translator nodded. 

“What are you?” asked Matoro. 

“Your nightmare!” the bat called back, in Matoro’s own voice. 

 “That is not an ice bat,” Toudo said. 

“This cannot be the only one of them though,” said Matoro. “There has to be more of them.” 

“There were,” Toudo said. “I saw a group of flyers when I came back from the woods— I thought they were just snowbirds, but it must have been these.” 

“What are we going to do about them?” asked Ehrye. “I cannot study with all of these distracting bats around.”

“We will have to find where they are nesting in here,” said Toudo. “Then I can make some sort of net which we can put over the windows of this place.” 

Nuju nodded, agreeing with the trapper. He knew Rahi of this Koro best— he and Kualus would have gotten along well— so it would be appropriate to let Toudo make whatever he needed to trap all of these birds. 

“Now that we know what is causing the ruckus in here,” Ehrye said. “I can get back to my studies. Thank you very much Turaga.”

Toudo grabbed Ehrye’s arm, raising an eyebrow. “How about before studying, however, we go down and address the horde of angry Ko-Matoran down in the main atrium?” 

***

The main atrium of the Sanctum was in chaos. 

Matoran argued with one another,  raving about the sacredness of the place. Others, like Matoro and Ehrye, were raving about tales of voices of phantoms in the halls. Some Matoran even spat Ehrye’s name, accusing him of being the one to cause all of this disruption. 

“This was all Ehrye’s fault! The Ko-Matoran who cried fire!” 

“Just because he can’t focus doesn’t mean he has to distract all of us from our studies!” 

Pakaasta and Talvi had looked in as well at one point, utterly confused about what was going on within the building they were protecting. This was more noise than they had probably ever heard at their posts. It was not their place to question, however, they both figured as they turned away. It was only their place to guard the Sanctum. 

Matoro, Nuju, Toudo and Ehrye walked amongst the arguments, observing the chaos. Very few of the Matoran noticed them, continuing their accusations. Nuju banged the head of his Badge of office onto the ground so it made a resounding ring which reverberated through the room. All of the squabbling scholars fell silent, turning towards the Turaga. 

The Sanctum was a uniquely crafted place, but it did not echo. Certainly not the way these voices were reverberating. Above them though, voices still chattered. The gaze of dozens of masks turned toward the high ice ceiling, where the voices of the Matoran still rang about. Green glowing eyes stared back at them, the bats somehow mimicking the voices of the entire village. 

“Look!” someone cried. 

“What are they?” another Matoran nearby asked. 

“Pests,” said Ehrye. “I told you I heard something! It was them!” 

“How do you suppose we get rid of them?” Matoro asked Toudo.” The trapper pointed to Nuju, who bewilderedly looked at the trapper. Toudo then indicated the Badge of Office. The ringing that the tool had produced the bats seemed to like, so the trapper had an idea. Allowing him to take the ice pick, Nuju watched Toudo as he worked. 

“What are you doing?” asked Ehrye. 

“These appear to be creatures of sound,” said the trapper. “If I can find a frequency I can lure them in with, then it will be easier to trap them.” 

Toudo banged the ice pick on the ground, holding it up towards the ceiling as it reverberated. It grabbed the creatures’ attention, several of them flying down to screech at the Matoran. It did not maintain their attention, however, as the bats flew immediately back up to their roost. 

“It is not holding their attention,” the trapper said, dismayed. How was he going to bring them down here? He doubted the Rahi had an appetite for bula berries. “I need something else, something that can hold their attention. We need another tool.”

Nuju however, emitted a series of clicks and whistles, to which the translator shook his head violently. 

“I respectfully decline Turaga,” said Matoro. “We are not doing that.”

“What is he suggesting?” asked Ehrye. Matoro ignored him, clicking and whistling back at Nuju. 

“Please.” 

Nuju slammed the butt of his pickaxe into the ground as the two argued. Many expected the Turaga to emit a number of angry bird calls, but he simply stared at his assistant, close lipped and silent. His deep blue eyes stared menacingly at the Matoran. 

“Fine,” Matoro said. “But we are having a talk about this later.”

The Ko-Matoran turned away from the translator. The lens on his Akaku clicked as he scanned the ceiling, finding where the bats were hiding. They blended in well with the ice of the building, but if one looked hard enough, they were discernable. Matoro glowered at them, pursing his lips with dissatisfaction. 

 He assumed a bold stance, similar to how he stood when he was translating. But clearing his throat, a much different sound came from Matoro as he began to sing. 

I see your face before my eyes

I'm falling into darkness

Why must I fight to stay alive?

Snow is falling

Wake me, can't you hear me calling? 

Out of darkness, they come crawling

The Sanctum grew still as Matoro’s singing drifted over the building. The Ko-Matoran fell silent, mesmerized, never having heard Matoro sing before. It was the smooth sound of the wind blowing on the mountain peak, and the resounding of a drip of water, but it was also unlike anything they had ever heard. 

The sound of the bats overhead grew as the bats responded as well, emitting tiny little screeches. They were screaming in delight, Toudo realized as Matoro looked at him. 

“Are they… enjoying it?” he asked. 

“It seems so,” Toudo confirmed. “Keep going!” 

 

Here I am

I am lost in your land

And I hope you will be

Creeping in my soul

Shadows fall, let me out

Hear my call

And I always will be

Creeping in my soul

 

I fade away into the night

My eyes are closing in

Shadows are fleeing from the light

My nightmares can begin

Wake me, can't you hear me calling? 

Out of darkness, they come crawling

 

The bats had come down now, swarming just a few bio over Matoro’s head. They opened their mouth, bearing their fangs, but made no move to carry Matoro away or take his mask. Instead, they began to join him, singing in a chorus. 

 

Here I am

I am lost in your land

And I hope you will be

Creeping in my soul

Shadows fall, let me out

Hear my call

And I'll always will be

Creeping in my soul

 

Matoro grew silent, ending the song himself. However, the bats continued to play it back, all mimicking the Ko-Matoran’s voice. Toudo nodded to the translator, a new strategy already forming in his mind on how to capture the bats. 

“This… helps, so much,” Toudo said to Matoro, preparing a net from his pack. “Pretty soon the Sanctum will be at peace once more.” The trapper set off, his work cut out for him. 

Nuju put a hand on his shoulder, nodding his appreciation of Matoro’s voice. 

“Thank you, friend,” Matoro told the Turaga. “I wouldn’t be able to see clearly if you weren’t there for me.”

“Clearly you remember, Turaga,” growled a voice from Matoro’s mouth. Nuju jumped, completely surprised to hear Makuta somehow speaking through the Matoran. “But apparently you don’t remember enough.”

It only lasted a moment, but Nuju’s mind began to whirl. 

“Turaga… are you ok?” Matoro’s voice reached him. 

“Come,” said the Turaga, speaking in regular Matoran to his translator’s surprise. “I will help you see more clearly, as I must tell you a story about voices.”

***

Artinken sat in his hut, working on a sculpture as the storm raged around Ko-Koro. The snowstorm had come unexpectedly to the village, interrupting a peaceful sunset. The Matoran had quickly moved his workings into his hut, so he could carve and be productive while the storm blew over. Sitting on a stool, lightstones illuminating his hut, he worked, listening to the wind blow around him. 

The wind whipped and Artinken listened to it howl as he worked. The sound, the steady stream of screaming wind, helped the sculptor concentrate, and he kept an ear to the wind as he worked.

“Help!” 

He could have sworn it was his imagination, but Artinken looked up, just in case it wasn’t. Was that a voice outside his hut? 

“Let me in!” 

That was definitely a voice. Setting down his tools, Artinken strode over to the door to peek outside. Ko-Matoran were resistant to cold, but this was a particular snowstorm that he didn’t think anyone would want to be caught in. So who would be out there in a snow storm like this? 

“Help!” 

Artinken opened the door to his hut a crack, peeking out to see who was calling. Flakes poured from the sky, the scene outside his hut completely white. Being outside in the wind, he could hear how much it was actually screaming as it blew. Squinting, the Ko-Matoran could not see anyone. He pulled open the door a little more, to see if anyone there was standing off to the side. 

Seeing no one, Artinken closed the door. The wind must have been playing tricks on him. Picking up his tools once more, the sculptor resumed his carving once more. 

“Help!” came a voice above him. Artinken jumped, startled. Someone was in the room with him! But above? 

He looked up, to see a pair of green eyes and claws descending upon him. 

Review

Edited by Nick Silverpen
Minor edits, extended ending

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