Ta-Metru was quieting down for the night, with only the few dedicated and obsessed crafters still at their forges. The realm of the mask makers was one of the oldest sectors of the city - a fiery industry of tools, disks, and Kanohi. The Nuurakh were designed to ensure Metru Nui had a workforce of forgers, but when a Ta-Matoran returned home was at his own discretion. Mirzova had made his usual walk home, taking the usual route and passing by the usual sight of other workers retiring for the evening. His was a life of routine, a fact he enjoyed very much. When life was scheduled, there were never any surprises. Mirzova didn't care much for surprises. He was actually quite satisfied with the topaz Hau he'd been wearing for as many millennia as he could recall. He stepped into his house and shut the door behind him, grabbing the news tablet before climbing the stairs. It was delivered early in the morning each day without fail and, most every day, Mirzova would absentmindedly leave it behind when he left for work. If nothing else, Mirzova always had a bit of new reading waiting on the table after a long day of shaping Kanohi.
The Ta-Matoran gently pushed open his bedroom door and took a seat at his chair near the window. When reading became tiresome, Mirzova would sometimes just stare down at the streetlamps and listen for the distant sounds of the machinery hard at work within the Great Furnace. He scanned the tablet, looking for anything particularly interesting. There had apparently been an incident in the Archives earlier that day. Mirzova shook his head in disapproval. While Onu-Metru had a few skilled minds such as the Matoran who invented the Vahki, their fixation on the past was generally looked down upon by the Ta-Matoran populous. Mirzova moved on to the next article, regarding a Ga-Metru teacher's study of the Great Temple and its importance to the city.
Mirzova suddenly heard a soft creaking sound and glanced up from the news, listening closely. Was someone in the house? He hadn't heard the door open. He slowly glanced over each shoulder, finding nothing out of the ordinary. Mirzova was about to return to reading when something caught his attention out the window. A lone Nuurakh. Mirzova set down the news and stared down at the mechanical enforcer, their gaze only separated by a clear layer of glass.
He was rather familiar with this particular Vahki, assigned to patrol the local area. Like all Vahki, it was part of a squadron, but due to a malfunction sustained at some point, this Nuurakh had been acting erratically for a few months. Mirzova and his neighbors were accustomed to seeing it ambling about on all fours, with no intention of pursuing lawbreakers. Mirzova had even watched a rather bold Ta-Matoran attempt to engage the Nuurakh in battle, pointing and aiming a loaded Kanoka launcher at it. The Nuurakh made no attempt to subdue or apprehend the Ta-Matoran, instead turning and leaving in a manner abnormally casual for a Vahki. Why the other squad members hadn't reported the Vahki was beyond Mirzova, and the Kanohi crafter wasn't concerned enough with a pacifist machine to file a report at the Coliseum. True, Nuparu was always more than happy to repair glitches or errors in his Vahki, but a trip to Onu-Metru was even further than one to the Coliseum.
Mirzova felt very uncomfortable about the Nuurakh staring up in his window, looking on with an ominous watchfulness, as if in anticipation. He hadn't broken any laws that he knew of, so what was the problem? Nervously, Mirzova returned to reading the news, eventually falling asleep in his chair. He awoke several hours later, gradually sitting up. His eye immediately caught an article in the news tablet about Great Furnace productivity, but Mirzova didn't have time for that. He set the tablet aside and adjusted his mask into place. Work would be starting soon.
Mirzova walked in to his crafting chamber later that morning, prompt as always, and got straight to work. A few hours into his shift, one of his superiors stopped in for a moment. There was a tap near the doorway and Mirzova whirled around.
"Nuhrii," he said, smiling. "How is everything this morning?"
"Never better," Nuhrii replied, returning the smile in his crimson Ruru. "Did you read the news yesterday? Productivity in the Great Furnace is higher than ever!"
Mirzova paused. "Yeah, I read that…this morning, actually. I dozed off trying to keep an eye on this weird Nuurakh last night."
"Won't attack lawbreakers? Travels alone?" Nuhrii wondered.
Mirzova tilted his head a bit. "How do you know?"
"Another one of the supervisors was talking to me about a crafter that lives near you. He went to the Coliseum and intended to take up the issue with Turaga Dume, but the Turaga has been awfully busy as of late. After a repair worker successfully tested the Vahki's motor skills, it was decided that the order-enforcer was still able to perform its role in the city. Besides, what's one Vahki among dozens that doesn't have its head screwed on right?"
"I think you'd feel differently if it had been staring into your window," Mirzova replied.
Mirzova came home that night as he always did, taking the news tablet up to his bedroom. He sat down in his chair and relaxed, taking in a deep breath and slowly letting it out. Just as he was about to read an interview about a Ko-Metru scholar, Mirzova heard the creaking sound again. It was the same as the night before and once Mirzova looked up, the Vahki was already there. Despite their purpose as law enforcers, Mirzova felt entirely uncomfortable with a Nuurakh staring blankly up into his home. The machine was behaving so bizarre, the fear of it killing him vastly outweighed the fear of it arresting him for some unknown crime. As Mirzova looked into the glow of its emerald visual receptors, he could tell it wanted something. It was on a mission of some kind and Mirzova wanted nothing more than to end it.
The Vahki continued to show up for several more nights like clockwork, gazing, waiting until Mirzova was fast asleep in his chair. Each morning when Mirzova would rise, the Vahki was always long gone. It had shown no signs of intending the Ta-Matoran any sort of bodily harm, but after a week of becoming increasingly worried over the robot's unwanted company, Mirzova had enough. He decided to arrive for work earlier than usual—when the supervisors showed up—making his way to Nuhrii's forge and tapping on the doorway.
Nuhrii glanced over his shoulder, setting down a couple tools when he spotted his guest and raising an eyebrow at the sight. "Come in, Mirzova. You do know you're early, right?"
Mirzova laughed nervously. "Is that a crime now?"
Nuhrii took a cautious step toward Mirzova, clearly disturbed by Mirzova's behavior. "In the centuries you've worked for me, I have never once seen you come in early…or late for that matter. It's just a little odd."
"I need to ask you a favor," Mirzova said quietly, closing the space between the two Matoran. He suspiciously looked around, making sure no one else was nearby. Confident they were alone, he added in a hushed tone, "I need to borrow your shock blaster. Just for tonight."
Nuhrii's eyes widened at the request. "Mirzova, I keep my blaster here in case any criminals attempt to steal Kanohi, mask making tools, or other forge equipment. I've never seen a shock blaster kill a Matoran, but they have quite a kick to them. I don't think it would be wise to let you just take one home. I'm sorry. I think you should go home now, take the day off to clear your head."
"The Vahki," Mirzova muttered, his tone sounding slightly deranged. "There's something wrong with that Vahki I told you about."
"That's what this is all about?" Nuhrii asked. "One of our mechanical protectors has you all frantic? Listen, I hardly think"-
Mirzova pulled the disk launcher on Nuhrii and took a few steps back. "That's a mid-level freezing disk I have loaded in there. Give me the blaster or you'll be the one taking a day off."
"Mata Nui!" Nuhrii exclaimed. "Think about what you're doing, Mirzova!"
Mirzova fired the disk immediately after, instantly encasing Nuhrii in crystalline ice. Putting the launcher away, he began searching through Nuhrii's belongings. Within a few minutes, Mirzova stumbled upon the shock blaster, hidden beneath an imperfectly crafted Ruru. A small silver weapon, it had enough potency to put down a rogue Vahki - precisely what Mirzova wanted. Keeping the blaster close, Mirzova hurried home before the work day began and quickly closed the door behind him. Leaning against the door, Mirzova slumped to the floor and took a moment to catch his breath. He had just stolen city property and froze his boss. Mirzova tried not to think about what the consequences of those actions would be, opting to head upstairs for a while. The Ta-Matoran only took a few steps into the house before stopping short in absolute horror.
Crudely carved into the wall by what Mirzova assumed was a Staff of Command was the word "run." Mirzova felt as frozen as Nuhrii, the icy chill of fear locking him in place. Only his hands had movement, trembling as they held the stolen blaster. The house had been torn apart while he was away, items and furniture haphazardly strewn about the house. Mirzova rushed upstairs with the blaster ready to fire and looked around. His entire bedroom was eerily untouched. Mirzova approached the bedroom door and locked it, deciding to stand before the window for a while. If and when the Vahki returned that evening, the Ta-Matoran would be ready.
Mirzova nervously paced the room that entire day, checking the window often, jumping at the slightest sound in the house. In his frantic impatience, he had created a second problem by freezing his supervisor. The other workers would surely find Nuhrii once the work day started, thawing him out and expecting an explanation. If Nuhrii chose not to trust Mirzova with the shock blaster, his house would have more than one Vahki coming to see him. The Ta-Matoran tried to push that thought out of his mind, walking around the room as often as possible. When he walked, it drowned out the quieter sounds in the house. He wanted to be ready for anything, but at the same time, Mirzova was getting tired of being scared by every little sound. Even the low rumble of the Great Furnace was beginning to frighten him. Was the sound really even coming from the massive forge, or was a large squadron of Vahki coming to take him into custody? Mirzova was panicking and the worst part was that he knew it. When nightfall was on its way, he was a wreck - his gaze set out the bedroom window. The Nuurakh arrived as it had in the nights before, standing carefully before Mirzova's home and commencing its nightly watch.
"Enough of this," Mirzova growled, charging the shock blaster up.
He rushed to the bedroom door and unlocked it, storming down the stairs to his front door. Blaster at the ready, Mirzova threw the door open and took aim at where the Vahki had been. He quickly pointed the weapon the other way, searching for any sign of the robotic enforcer. With no Vahki in sight, Mirzova's short-lived bravery vanished and the fear set in once more. It was only until he narrowed his eyes on a distant streetlamp that Mirzova could see the Vahki heading off into the night. By coming outside, Mirzova had somehow driven the Nuurakh away. That wasn't enough to make him feel safe again though.The Ta-Matoran hurried after the Vahki, stalking it from the shadows. He was reluctant at first, knowing how powerful a Staff of Command was and well-aware that the Vahki could very well catch him by surprise. The Nuurakh finally stopped for a moment, standing beneath another streetlamp and scanning the surrounding area. Mirzova took his chance and lined up the blaster with the Vahki's chest plate, pulling the trigger with a bit of hesitation. The Vahki took the blast directly, screeching out momentarily before collapsing to the ground. Mirzova moved in slowly, quietly prepared to finish what he started. The Nuurakh was twitching under the light, violent spasms erupting from its limbs every few seconds. Mirzova fired a second time, this burst going directly into the Vahki's head. The machine became still, its eyes dimming out to a dark, dead gray.
Mirzova curiously examined the Vahki, careful not to touch it and get an unwelcome jolt. It appeared to be as normal as any other, so what did it want from Mirzova? He wasn't sure, but he was confident his nightmare with the Nuurakh was over. Mirzova returned home in silence, never crossing paths with a single Vahki along the way. Nuhrii chose to fault the early morning freezing on personal negligence, believing Mirzova wasn't a serious threat to the city with a little zapper. Without Nuhrii's trust, Mirzova would've been spending the night under Vahki control.
The Ta-Matoran tossed the blaster to the floor when he got inside the house, locking the door and heading up to his bedroom with the latest news tablet. He took a seat before the window and set the tablet down, releasing a soft chuckle as he looked out the window. Explanations for his actions could wait until morning. For the moment, Mirzova was satisfied with getting in a bit more reading before bed.
During his week living in fear of the Vahki, had Mirzova been paying more attention to the news, he would've been more informed about the missing Archives creature. He would've read about its high intelligence, nocturnal behaviors, its mastery of stealth and silence, gleaming red eyes, and rows of sharp teeth. He would've realized the Vahki was concerned with the silhouette of something hovering over the Matoran each night, patiently, noiselessly waiting for the moment to strike. With that malfunctioning Nuurakh laying broken in the street and nothing left to keep the creature at bay, that moment had finally come.
Edited by Cederak, Jan 26 2014 - 02:21 PM.