Prologue“When does being a hero start to be glamorous?” This particular thought kept creeping its way to the front of Takua's mind as he labored through the dense jungle underbrush, taking care to avoid the many thorn vines that promised a harsh bite if he became too careless in his hike. He had been trekking through the thick and wild terrain since the first light of dawn, just as he had done the previous day. And the day before that… and the day before that. This latest in a long series of difficult journeys was actually one of Takua's shorter expeditions, but the tremendous sense of importance he carried with him on this particular trip had eaten away at his normal state of perseverance, leaving only a bitter sense of impatience at his meager rate of progress. As he stumbled over a rotting tree branch, Takua believed he might be on the verge of understanding why his fellow Ta-Matoran rarely cared to leave their rocky home of Ta-Koro. Yet before the thought could begin to take root, he caught a glimpse of something ahead, beyond the trees. Energized by the sight, Takua quickly forgot the weariness in his muscles and servos as he crossed the last few steps of jungle, emerging from the shadowed, leafy canopy and stepping into the grand clearing that surrounded the enormous shrine of Kini-Nui. Shrugging his pack half off his shoulder in anticipation, he hurried across the expanse of grass that separated him from the majestic yet simple temple. The most revered location in the entire land, Kini-Nui was a place where villagers of every tribe felt at home. Nestled in a valley where the lush jungles of Le-Wahi met the looming peaks of Ko-Wahi, the great round structure stood in dedication to the Great Spirit and his virtues. Takua trotted past the expansive pool of sand, where the leaders of the island would gather to share the stories and legends of their people, every step causing the great stone face carved in the distant mountainside to grow larger in his view. When Takua finally reached the sloping base of Kini-Nui itself, he bounded up the nearest set of steps until he reached the structure's flat peak. In the center of the plateau, surrounded by four towering spires, sat the Suva. The simple looking hemisphere of a shrine was not a new sight to Takua, since every village on the island was home to one much like it, but the one atop the Kini-Nui had always felt different to Takua… and today he was going to make use of it to attempt something very different indeed. He knelt, panting, beside the Suva, and let his trusty plant-fiber satchel and its precious contents slide to the ground. He starred at the Suva, itching to begin the task that had brought him to Kini-Nui in the first place, but something else required his attention first. Settling himself against one of the grand spires of the temple, he pulled a thin sheet and a pick from his bag, and began a quick carving: It looks as if my latest quest is nearly over. Only my duty as Chronicler has made me stop to record the recent events that, until now, I have been too busy to properly document. After my latest blunder in Ta-Koro, it seemed that leaving for a while was the best choice for everyone. I went to Onu-Koro, which is where I first heard the shocking news. Apparently, the Makuta had sent his Rahi to capture Turaga Whenua himself. The entire village was too stunned to respond, both because of this unprecedented level of wickedness and the lack of Whenua’s leadership. I took it upon myself to find and rescue the Turaga, who’s always been kind to me. During my time searching in the caverns I found an oddly carved stone, and I kept it with me until I was finally able to bring Whenua back to Onu-Koro. As he examined the stone for me, he got the same twinkle in his eye that I see sometimes in Turaga Vakama. He told me that it was a Toa Stone. Imagine, Toa! After all these long years of waiting, to say that I was excited to hold in my hands a relic of the Toa would be an understatement. But if he knew anything else about the purpose of the stone, he wouldn’t tell me. Instead, he confided in me his suspicion that the other Turaga had been captured just as he had. He encouraged me to give them the same help I'd given him. Many days later, I had helped rescue the other Turaga and gathered the five other Toa Stones along the way. Even Turaga Nuju seemed impressed. I can’t explain why I found them all so close together, or why nobody else has stumbled across them in all these centuries. But Vakama told me to bring them here, to the Kini-Nui, so that’s what I’ve done. Now we’ll see what happens. I will record more details and place a proper entry on the Wall of History when I return to Ta-Koro.Takua sat his tablet on the ground and turned his gaze back to the Suva. His heart began to beat faster. For so long, every village on the island had been waiting for the Toa to come and drive away the evil that pervaded the land. And right next to him sat a bag holding six Toa Stones…He could wait no longer. He took a deep breath, picked up the sack and approached the Suva. Tentatively, he reached into the bag and drew out a blue stone carved into the stylized likeness of what he guessed was a Toa. He paced around the Suva, examining the various grooves and slots for some indication of where this particular stone belonged. He found none, and finally decided to simply set it down in the slot closest to him.When the stone touched the shrine, a jolt of energy leapt up Takua’s arm. He jumped back, startled by the sensation of the discharge on his servos, but when he saw the faint glow around the Toa Stone his excitement came rushing back to him tenfold.He ran around the Suva, his blue mask mirroring the broad grin suddenly spreading across his face. One after another he fitted the Toa Stones into the shrine, each one adding to the crackling energy and the radiant glow. Finally, he placed the sixth and final stone on the Suva, and took a step back.For a moment, nothing happened. Then the ground began to shake.Violently.Takua had no time to react as a huge column of energy shot skyward, taking him along with it, higher, and higher…
* * * * *It was another sunny morning on the island of Mata Nui. Shining rays of light glimmered down through the sparse canopy, illuminating the humble orange figure that leisurely ambled along the dirt path. The forest he strode through was quiet; one might even call it peaceful. Peaceful – except for the fact that the trees were nothing more than blackened husks, and that very few living things chose to call this place “home.”Vakama sighed. “This is not the best of times,” he thought wearily, stepping out onto the empty beach and leaving the old battleground that was the Charred Jungle behind him. Even the sunlight that fell on his face, warm and soothing as it should have been, was only a mockery, simply a taunting reminder of the shadows that permeated the land.A short distance ahead lay that which Vakama sought. Beached on the shore and half buried in the sand was a large foreign object unlike anything Vakama had seen in ages. Gentle waves lapped against its smooth, stone-like surface. Its design was elegant and simple, although he suspected that in reality, the object was anything but.Turaga Vakama craned his neck, unhunching his shoulders as he ambled toward it. The large canister was twice as tall as he, and double that in length. It was cylindrical, and hollow, with one end open. The interior was devoid of substance, except for a small puddle of seawater that had splashed its way in. What appeared to be the lid of the great cylinder lay several bio away, as if it had been hurled by a great force. Black scorch-marks dotted its perimeter.After a long moment of thought, he pried his eyes away from the empty container and scanned the nearby area. Most everything seemed normal; Taku birds preened their mechanical wings as they floated on the surface of the vast sea; tiny Ussal crabs scuttled along the foamy shoreline. Nothing but the canister itself gave any clue that things on the island once naively called “paradise” were about to drastically change.Nothing, that is, except for a set of large footprints in the sand that began near the pod and lead directly into the shadows of the Charred Jungle. Whatever had been sealed in the capsule had gone in that direction, and Vakama fervently hoped that it had been what he was expecting.Hefting his firestaff – his badge of office, and impromptu walking stick – he began his return to the mass of burned Madu trees. From the corner of his eye, he saw a small shadow at the base of a stump detach itself and slither quickly into the forest. Centuries of experience told Vakama that he had not just spotted some harmless Rahi, but one of Makuta’s most vile spies.An instinctive ember of hatred flared deep within him at the thought of the evil and cowardly overlord that had plagued the island since times untold.To his slight surprise, the angry ember cooled rather quickly on this day. “Yes,” he thought, looking back to the mysterious canister. “Let him see this sight.”Vakama had been the Turaga of the village of Ta-Koro for a very long time indeed, but compared to recent events, he could not recall once in all of his years on the island Mata Nui when Makuta had taken such direct and offensive action against the peaceful inhabitants. The Master of Darkness had always kept them living in a state of constant fear with attacks from his Rahi beasts, but serious injury or catastrophic damage was considered a rare occurrence. After all, the Makuta did not wish the destruction of the Matoran people, but rather something far more insidious; their complete loyalty and devotion.This lack of permanent consequence had lulled the villagers into something of a false sense of security, and as such, they were completely unprepared when their six leaders had vanished, spirited away during the night. Despite their considerable intelligence and resourcefulness, the Matoran were at a loss at how to rescue their Turaga until one brave Matoran, named Takua, took action into his own hands.Takua was very different than the rest of the Matoran. Although he was a Ta-Matoran by heart, he chose to wander from village to village, having no true home on Mata Nui. This behavior was very strange by Matoran standards, and others often kept their distance from him. Villagers were supposed to stay at home and do their work; that is the way things had always been, farther back than most could imagine. But Takua wandered far from the molten lava pits of Ta-Koro. He had been nearly everywhere, from the caverns of Onu-Wahi in the south, to beautiful Lake Naho in the north. He even abandoned the traditional red, black and yellow masks the rest of the Ta-Matoran wore, and sported a very out-of-place blue Kanohi. Few understood Takua very well because of his differences, but Vakama had always shown him kindness, knowing that one day he would have a special destiny, and indeed he had. He had found the Toa Stones, after all, and Vakama was sure that this occurrence was what had lead to the sight he had just seen.When Vakama finally reached the ruined jungle and peered into the depths of the ebon husks, he saw broken twigs and rustled dirt. A fresh pathway had been trampled.Vakama sighed, this time with a hint of relief. Surely, it had to be them. At long last, they were here. He hoped with all of his heart that they would truly be the heroes that they were meant to be.The Toa had arrived.
Edited by jimmybob83, Feb 09 2012 - 01:26 AM.