Posted Apr 30 2012 - 08:43 PM
-----His feet slapped the ground, meeting the earth below with solid footsteps, footsteps that sounded of confidence and of achieved merit. He had nothing to be particularly proud of, nothing to be confident about, nothing but his own strong and effervescent personality to sustain him at this late hour. He was going back to Kini-Koro, his current village, soon, and after that … well, he wasn’t the type to plan especially for the future, but he was practical and hard to change from his set ways, habits, and patterns – as all Ba-Matoran were, at least to some degree.-----The sky and trees above seemed to rustle above him, shaking some loose droplets of water onto his square mask, droplets that were left over within the folds of the various leaves from the drenching that they’d received earlier in the week. In fact, this portion of the road was still a little damp, and he could feel it around his feet. They weren’t muddy, but they were a littl—-----A purple flourishing whoosh emanated from the vicinage behind him.-----Startled, the Ba-Matoran whirled around, backing up at a steady clip. He’d never heard any stories of particularly dangerous Rahi out here, out in this region (one reason for its newfound popularity), but one could never be certain. After all, the first story had to come from somepla—-----Another whoosh came and went; another startled whirl from the Matoran.-----“Hello?” he called aloud, trying to assume an air of normality, but his voice unmistakably revealed his inner trepidation at this frightening turn of events – and really, who could blame him?-----He whirled around once again, in time to catch something in the corner of his eye, something that was lightning-fast and most shockingly purple. He couldn’t get a real good look at it, though …-----Scared thoroughly now, he tried talking to this thing again. “Kagga? Is that you?”-----There might have been a response, but that might also just be the rustling of the brush, rustling due to the chilly wind that just picked up and now blew inwards at a steady clip.-----“Come on … this isn’t really funny …”-----Another whooshing sound … but was it the leaves? Was it the sea, a few kio beyond? Was it himself? Was he going crazy?-----“You stupid prankster,” he muttered under his breath, determined to get back to Kini-Koro. If he could ascertain that Kagga was responsible, then he would have to employ something from his own encyclopedia of practical jokes.-----He heard the brush behind him rustle once again, but not due to wind or any of the naturally occurring elements that controlled the environment. Turning around, a purple and translucent mass hurled itself unthinkably fast upon him.-----Even if he had the time to scream, it wouldn’t have done him any good.
*-----*-----*-----“Another one?”-----“I don’t know. Give me another minute or so.”-----Two Toa stood – one with crossed arms, another akimbo – beside another Toa, who was on one knee so as to examine the body of a Matoran. Gently, he flipped the dead Matoran over, running his hands over the cold biomechanics of his back.-----“To Karzahni if I knew,” he said at long last, running his left hand over the front contours of his Arthron while standing up. Looking down at the dead Matoran, he sighed. “I have the answer to that question, though. He’s dead, but with not a single mark on his body, so definitely like all the others. That makes, what … eleven?”-----The gunmetal and orange Toa of Iron whirled around suddenly, violently kicking a tuft of wispy grass. The fact that the grass didn’t go very far only added to his frustration. “Twelve, actually,” he said.-----“Well,” the third Toa, a black-armored Toa of Stone, said. “What all do we know?”-----“They’re all 100% random. We knew that,” the Toa of Ice spat back, disgusted at himself, the murders, and the general lack of getting anything useful done amongst the three Toa. They had been on the trail of a mysterious killer for the past three weeks or so, a killer that left all of its victims dead in the same manner as this Matoran was.-----“… and there’s no pattern with the elements of the Matoran that are getting slaughtered, either,” the Toa of Iron continued.-----“Exactly.” At this point, the Toa of Ice felt like he’d be better off on his own – but then again, maybe he wouldn’t be. That’s what he really didn’t like – a sense of indecision due to a lack of knowledge. If he knew more, he’d be able to calculate the best course of action – but this killer wasn’t revealing any leads.-----“Names … no. We’ve ruled that one completely out. We don’t even know half of ‘em.”-----The Toa of Ice groaned. “Sumiki … you’re just going over things that we already know. Are you driving at a point?”-----Sumiki was well too lost in thought to heed Cantai’s criticism. “So … what haven’t we looked at? There’s no pattern based on who they are, so that would indicate random killings. I thought for a little while that it might be a strange epidemic, but none of the victims – as far as we know – know each other or have been in contact, so that’s out. The utter lack of marking is in and of itself a disturbing trademark of the killer … so, again: what haven’t we thought of?”-----“I thought we’ve thought of everything.”-----“There’s always a pattern. Always. We just have to look deeper.”-----There was silence between them for long, dragging minutes, with each Toa lost in his own individual trains of thought. All three began to unconsciously pace in a circle, orbiting the lifeless Matoran below.-----“What about location? Like, where they were when they were killed,” the third Toa, Carraig, piped up.-----Sumiki stopped, snapped his fingers, and pointed them at him. “Idea, right there. Cantai, the map please?”-----Cantai obliged, pulling his sack over his right shoulder and fetching a rolled-up map from its sparse contents. Though still disgruntled, he was cautiously thrilled that this novel thought, this brain wave, might lead somewhere – but if not (which is what he was realistically expecting), he didn’t know what he’d do.-----Sumiki and Carraig carefully unrolled the map, laying it down on the ground next to the body of the unidentified Ba-Matoran. This portion of the Northern Continent was mostly a hilly, wooded region, but small settlements cropped up everywhere – including in places where one would least expect a community to thrive. This particular death occurred on a winding dirt path between two minor villages, and just by happenstance did the three Toa stumble upon the body.-----“So … we’re right here,” Cantai said, pointing at the road.-----Sumiki fetched a few small pebbles from a nearby stream, and placed one of them on the place where Cantai was pointing. “Alright, and the last killing was in Kini-Koro, with that Le-Matoran. That’d be here.” He marked that place with another pebble.-----“The killing before that was … that Ko-Matoran, Crallin. Here.”-----Another pebble went down.-----“I’m sensing a pattern,” Carraig said, with just a hint of trepidation. After all, this could very easily end up as a fluke …-----He had no reason to be so pessimistic; his stated hunch was correct. The pebbles kept coming down on the map, all of them in a straight line. Small aberrations occurred, of course, but the majority of the killings occurred within the line.-----As the last pebble went down, denoting the first reported incident of this untraceable killer, Sumiki grinned. “Looks like we found something.”-----Cantai jumped up. “Alright, let’s work off of it,” he said. “Based on this, we might want to see if we can intercept this thing. It’s only targeted Matoran so far, but is that just luck?” Cantai began pacing again, trying to stimulate his cogitations.-----“Targeted?” Carraig asked. “I’m not sure they’re being targeted, to be honest. Isn’t it a possibility that this … thing … is waiting in a certain place, then trapping whatever comes along?”-----Cantai stopped his pacing. “Valid point there, Carraig. No, I don’t think we can be sure of anything, save that there’s a pattern here, and it’s taken us much too long to figure it out.”-----“Hold your Kikanalo for a second. ’fore we start moving out, this thing seems to be focusing its efforts upon whatever settlements or paths cross its predetermined, straight line path,” Sumiki added, bending over to consult Cantai’s map. Murmuring to himself, he eventually nodded tersely. “There’s a road right next to a beachfront settlement here.” He poked the map with his right forefinger, making a crinkling but not long-lasting indentation in the material. “If there’s no sudden change, and our extrapolations are accurate, that should be the site of the next attack.”-----“Let’s get there, then,” Cantai said, rolling up his map and placing it back in his sack.-----“I hope we’re not going to be too late getting there,” Sumiki added, softly.
*-----*-----*-----The trio of Toa made good time along the paths, winding their way through small settlements and shortcutting through small tracts of previously untraversed land. Only occasionally did they have to consult Cantai’s map of the region, and only occasionally did they have to alter their path based on the land, so as to reach the beach in a shorter time frame. The distance from the site of the Ba-Matoran’s death to the beach settlement was not an exceedingly long one, so the only real time-consuming aspect of getting from point A to point B was found in following the system of pathways and roads, which were dictated by major settlements, which in turn were dictated by the terrain.-----As they walked, the three postulated bizarre theory after even more bizarre theory on the nature of their antagonist, stopping occasionally to comment on something around them, be it a colorful Rahi or a dark cavern, its maw yawning upwards, greeting day with pitch black.-----On the last leg of the trek, the path went from rocks and sparse tufts of grass to pure sand. The beachfront settlement – only about twenty buildings and a few piers with trading ships docked to them – was now visible out in the distance. The only interesting things about the tableau in front of them were enormous rocks, scattered about the beach helter-skelter, with fewer of them the closer one got to the pure, gently lapping waves of water.-----“Alright. According to our previous calculations, the second rock over there should be the site of the next attack.” Cantai rolled up the map again, stashing it in his sack. The rock in question was the ostensible end of the long trail that they had been on for quite some time now.-----“I sense a trap,” Carraig said.-----“We have two options,” Sumiki said, brooding. “Option one: we go over there and see if our killer comes out at tries to pull something on us. If it does, we’ll be more ready to take care of it than any Matoran could be, because we have powers and we know that something’s going to be coming. Option two: we wait near there and see if it’ll attack something else.”-----“Something else? Like … a Rahi?” Cantai asked.-----“It hasn’t yet, to my knowledge. I didn’t know if a Matoran might be willing to help us out.”-----“Are you crazy? We’re supposed to serve and protect the Matoran, not sacrifice them just to see what we’re up against!”-----“I am fully confident in our collective ability to destroy or sufficiently distract our adversary.”-----Cantai sighed. “Honestly, I’m not sure if either one is a smart idea. Now, if there was a possibility of reverse-trapping it …”-----“Like a net?”-----“Precisely, though it could just as easily get out of it if it has the wherewithal – or skill – to kill Matoran in its trademark fashion.”-----“Hmm.”-----“Guys?” Carraig said, pointing over to the rocks. “I think the problem is answering itself …”-----Sumiki was the first to break into a sprint, followed closely by Carraig and Cantai. A Ga-Matoran was walking up the pathway, towards them, and now was evidently shocked at the sight of these three Toa sprinting towards her.-----“Get out of the way!” Sumiki yelled – but the stunned Matoran just stood there.-----Something purple flashed around the rock. The trap had been set, now the kill could commence.-----Sumiki dove, knocking the Ga-Matoran over and tumbling her over into the sand. Sliding feet-first to slow his frame down, he willed his Toa tools to snap to his hands. His two Toa tools – rapidly spinning disks – immediately jumped off of his back and began to spin around his hands. Clambering up, he studied the rock, waiting for the next flash of purple around or on it. He didn’t need to wait long.-----“Did you see that?” Sumiki asked his two fellow Toa. They both nodded nearly simultaneously.-----Another purple flash, except this time it emanated from behind him. Whirling, he hurled one of his disks at the area – but it just whooshed harmless through empty air, bouncing off of another rock and returned to twirling above the hand that it had left.-----"I was almost thinking that this’d be something normal,” Cantai said almost wistfully.-----“What … what in the name of sanity are you three doing?” the Ga-Matoran uttered, spitting out granules of sand every few words.-----“Just saving your life,” Sumiki said, jumping over her and landing on the flat top of the rock. Did he see something purple on the other side, or was that just …-----Again, it moved too fast for the eyes to track, but it was most definitely a transparent purple … something. It was now rapidly orbiting the rock, seemingly torn between going after Sumiki and going after the Ga-Matoran.-----It paused, as if torn by utter indecision, for the briefest of moments – and in that moment, they saw what their adversary was: a beautiful, terrible, nocuous, purple flame, a translucent fireball that darted from place to place, a horrible miracle darting in the air as if controlled by a lumpish puppeteer.-----Without any words, and with only the briefest of pauses to take in the odd beauty of this thing, Cantai attempted to freeze it solid, but his valiant efforts were either a second too late or the purple flame was able to sense and evade the deadly elemental blow, diving down towards the scrambling Ga-Matoran.-----Without thinking, only reacting, Sumiki dove down off of the rock, swatting at the purple flame with his spinning disks. Instinctively, the purple flame went after him instead.-----Rolling over, he saw the flames eating into the patchwork armor on his chest. A horrific feeling of emptiness engulfed him … it felt as if this thing was trying to work its way into his soul to eat him from the inside, trying and succeeding at its job.-----A crack, then a blast, then a cold fury of ice and snow and sleet and hail came from the side, blasting and assailing his inchoate assailant, smacking and dispersing it up against the rock, the great monolithic stone cracking under the force of the ice hitting it. As soon as he felt like he could, Sumiki rolled over and slowly got to his knees, grimacing.-----“Are you alright?” Carraig asked, bending over.-----Sumiki coughed out some sand along with a few wisps of the peculiar purplish plasma. “I think so.”-----“What was that thing?” the Ga-Matoran asked as she lifted herself from the fine sand.-----“That’s what we were trying to find out,” Cantai said, running around the rock to see if the purple flame was gone. “It’s been killing Matoran around here for a few weeks.”-----“Is … is it gone?” Sumiki asked, staggering uneasily to his feet.-----“I don’t think we’ll know for certain. I hit it pretty hard, though,” Cantai replied.-----The flame had indeed dispersed, but it was still in existence, reforming itself out over another rock just a little farther yonder. Cantai had indeed hit it hard, but he did not hit it hard enough.-----“Oh, I still see it,” Carraig said, clasping his hands into fists. It tried to trick us, and it’s now running away. “You gave a laudable effort, Cantai, but it’s still over there.”-----Sumiki staggered forward, nearly collapsing. Winded from that tiny exertion, he leaned against the rock. Cantai and Carraig began to run towards it, but the purple flame was still too fast, darting into the tiny village on the beachfront ahead-----“Thanks for saving my life, by the way,” the Ga-Matoran said to Sumiki.-----“All in a day’s work,” the Toa of Iron responded, grinning.
*-----*-----*-----Cantai and Carraig sprinted into the small beachfront settlement, evading the occasional Matoran that got in their way. There was one street, made from wood planks, mounted on top of regularly spaced wooden poles that extended into the sand below and the water beyond. Attached to this long street were three even longer piers, two of which were currently being utilized by various merchant ships, loading and unloading goods from different lands. On the other side of the street were a series of houses/shops, each of which looked at first to be the same, but on closer inspection were each different and unique.-----The purple flame did not care for this, and had not the capacity to care. It flashed along the streets, then took a hard left turn and raced along the easternmost pier. It showed no sign of slowing as it whipped itself around a boat moored to the pier, before hurling itself out over the open ocean, racing towards the horizon and whatever land lay beyond.-----Carraig and Cantai skidded to a halt at the far end of the pier. All they could do now was watch, as the adversary they had dogged for so long had now anticlimactically escaped over the open ocean. It speed and color accounted for how well it blended into the wavy contours of the sea, and it took all of their efforts to keep an eye on its rapidly diminishing form.-----“Who are you? And what was that?” a Kakama-wearing Ta-Matoran asked, hopping off of his boat and onto the pier.-----“I’m Carraig, and this is Cantai. We’ve been tracking that thing, and we’re as much in the dark as you are with regards to what it is.”-----“What was it doing?”-----“Killing Matoran. Without a trace, I might add, which made it rather difficult to track.”-----The Ta-Matoran swooned slightly. “I feel like I’ve just had a near-death experience, then.”-----“Just be glad that it was in a hurry,” Carraig said, smirking slightly.-----“Still … if it keeps on its path …” the Ta-Matoran turned. “You do realize where that thing’s headed, don’t you?”-----There was a short pause as the two Toa realized what the Matoran trader was getting at. “Metru Nui …” Carraig breathed. Cantai silently anathematized himself; he still felt that he had many chances to get the thing, and blew it. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.-----“That’s where I hail from,” the Matoran continued. “I was just dropping off some cargo here, and then going to bring some other goods back. Now … I don’t know if I’ll have a city to go back to.”-----“Oh, we’re going to track it down,” Cantai said, with renewed vigor and a hint of darkness in the timbre of his voice. “We’ll track it to the very end of the universe, and then we’ll destroy it.”-----Carraig shifted slightly. “You mentioned that you were going to go back. Would it be possible for us to catch a ride on your boat?”-----“Most certainly, and free of charge as well. By the way, my name is Vohon. Epigo, Myrmi, and Ignaam are my assistants on this trading voyage.” As he pointed out his various aides, they briefly stopped what they were doing and waved to the Toa. “Just you two?”-----“No, there’s a third member of our team, Sumiki,” Carraig explained. “He got a little laid up back there when that purple thing tried to eat him.”-----“How soon can we depart?” Cantai asked, jerking the subject back to a topic that he considered far more important. A second wasted could mean the difference between a Matoran being alive and dead, and that difference meant a lot to him.-----“As soon as this last shipment of dried Madu gets loaded,” Myrmi, one of Vohon’s two Rau-wearing associates, said.-----“What all did I miss?” Sumiki asked, walking slowly down the pier, the wood planks of the pier creaking faintly beneath his feet.-----Carraig hopped into the boat and leaned back against the mast. “Pack your bags, Sumiks. We’re going to Metru Nui.”
Edited by Sumiki, May 05 2012 - 08:02 PM.