Chapter one - Prelude
They say that good things come to those who wait. I think it’s fair to say that this is commonly accepted to be fact. I don’t know who ‘they’ are or why they were so widely recognised that their words are spoken almost every day yet no-one remembers their names, but their philosophy still holds true. Patience is a virtue and rushing things will never let a product reach its conclusion in the intended manner.
At least that’s the idea. Sometimes I can’t help but feel dubious. Call me cynical if you must, I certainly do, but frankly waiting just sounds to me as though nothing has been planned. It sounds to me as though the phrase is simply telling people to stop complaining and get on with their mediocre existence and should something just so happen to drop into their lap then the phrase has been proven right. If it doesn’t then these people will be so unremarkable anyway that they’ll be practically forgotten in the passage of time. Good things come to those who wait, as the saying goes. Good things belong to those who received them. Those that didn’t are the unlucky ones.
These are the thoughts that went through my head just as a fist collided with my Kanohi. I staggered back, raising my arms in a meagre attempt to defend myself. This action proved to be a waste of both mine and my attacker’s time as a swift kick to the gut doubled me over and tore the breath from my lungs. I was hoping to use this opportunity to try and regain it, but it appeared my foe wasn’t interested in offering me any respite. Another fist crunched into my chin and I finally gave them what they wanted. I fell to the floor.
Almost immediately, prying hands set upon me, three pairs of them at my count. I opened my eyes and tried to get another look at my assailants but an armoured boot to the side of my head was enough to make me reconsider. The blinding pain wrenched a howl from my mouth, encouraging a mocking laughter from my three adversaries. I tried to recall what they had looked like in the few precious moments I had before they set themselves upon me but all I could recall was a red-armoured Matoran. Not a useful description in a Metru populated solely by Matoran of fire.
I suppose at this point an introduction is in order. It’s not like I have anything better to do while I simply lie there and let the satchel filled with my possessions be torn from my grasp. My name is Eyvous and I’m a Ta-Matoran. My life belongs to the fiery furnaces of Ta-Metru and I have known none other than that. Granted, my duties have required travel to the surrounding Metru’s and I have taken more than a few trips to the coliseum, but my home has always unavoidably been Ta-Metru.
Finally my attackers seemed to be done. I heard the clangs of my work tools being thrown against a wall made of metallic protodermis, followed by the soft flump of a satchel made of organic tissue once belonging to a rahi land next to my Kanohi. Cradling my head I dared to peek out at the deserted street just in time to see a crimson figure turn a corner, leaving nothing but cruel laughter in his wake.
I clutched my aching head and picked myself up from the cold floor. Gritting my teeth, I took one step forward and hissed through the pain, ready to begin the arduously long journey back home. My satchel lay unhappily down on the pavement, its contents strewn about the place as though they had been the victim of a spontaneous hurricane. Various tablets with blueprints scratched onto the surface were cracked and fractured and my firestaff lay snapped in two across the street. With a heavy sigh I set about gathering what was left worth reacquiring, noticing the absence of the few widgets that had once been in my possession. So it would appear that I had been on the receiving end of all that pain and torment for just a few coins.
Underneath my breath I muttered curses and oaths for revenge. I swore that one day I would find them and make them pay for their crimes. I would catch them unaware and though at first they wouldn’t recognise me I would make them remember and when they did, I would deliver them torment tenfold that of which they gave me. The world was so much happier in my imagination. In reality, I doubted my chance would ever arise. Deep down I knew I would never find my attackers again. They were gone now, having played their part in the play that was my life. It’s just as well. Why would they want a strong part in a performance not worth having an audience?
The district glowed in its familiar red and orange shades as I hobbled my way through its snaking innards. The ruby light swam across into every corner and crevice as if refusing to be ignored for more than a second. In part it was due to the unquenchable fires that belched out smoke from the countless furnaces that littered the city, though it would appear that there were some fools out there who decided that fire didn’t offer enough red and so found a way to artificially change the colours of lightstones, creating a uniform appearance for the entirety of Ta-Metru. The lightstones reach extended so far that even the sky conformed to the traditional colours of the Ta-Matoran. Red armour, red buildings and a red sky. Nothing ever changed in this frustratingly consistent city.
But let the fire burn and let me live my life. That was my philosophy and the one refrain that kept me going through each day. Let everything stay as it is because surely familiarity is good. Right? At least with things the way they are I can’t get injured. It was a compromise, if nothing else.
“Eyvous! I was wondering when I’d next get to grace your presence,” a voice called out, breaking my reflections. I turned to see a familiar emerald and silver armoured Le-Matoran named Levitix leaning against the walls of a factory with a smug grin no doubt concealed behind his Noble Mahiki.
“Why don’t you just crawl back into your bog, you cretinous toad?” I spat back. Okay, perhaps that wasn’t the politest retort possible but I’d been having a bad day and the recent mugging had done nothing to improve my mood. Of all the Matoran I had to stumble into on my slow march home, why did it have to be him? We had always been rivals of a sort, ever since that fateful mech-building competition. For some reason he had never trusted me since that event, as his top-class construction had been the only mech to suffer a vicious spanner beating a few hours before the final presentation. I don’t know why he thought to blame it on me though. I had only come fourth place.
For a moment, Levitix looked startled at my rather brash response. His already wide eyes bulged at the idea that I would be so bold as to strike first. That was until he tilted his head back and started laughing. “You always were a joker, Eyvous,” he tittered, clapping his hands together gently. “It’s such a pity you can’t turn that foul wit into anything remotely useful. Say, you’re not looking too good. Have you been getting into fights again?”
I rolled my eyes and stared at the ground beneath is feet, silently cursing it for not opening up and consuming him at that very moment. “I’ve been in the vicinity of one, yes,” I breathed slowly. My response only saw to call forth another burst of giggles from the unsympathetic Le-Matoran. His enthusiasm for my misfortune tightened the knot of my frustration even further. “Haven’t you got any more toys to mess around with in Le-Metru?
“Well, it’s funny you should ask because that’s why I’m here,” he grinned, at the same time folding his arms over his yellow heartlight and adjusting himself into a more comfortable position. “I can’t exactly say what I’m working on, but how about I let you in on the fact that I’ve been working on an idea that even Turaga Sadrix has taken interest in. I’m just here to pick up a few supplies then I’ll be on my way back to my workshop in Le-Metru.” He leant an arm back and rapped on the iron grey walls behind him, producing a hollow clanging sound that matched my enthusiasm for the details.
“That sounds fascinating,” I said, the last words escaping my mouth moments before I was forced to stifle a yawn. I scratched at my eye in between the narrow slits that my Kanohi permitted for vision, then turned back to face Levitix. “I’m afraid I have to be off, but I guess I wish you the best of luck with your plans.” And in a way, it was true. I couldn’t deny being the slightest bit envious of Levitix’s position, to have designed something so fascinating even Sadrix couldn’t turn his back. It was a position that I had long since dreamed of, but to see Levitix of all Matoran in it…No matter how rude it might seem I would refuse to be amongst those who praised his genius.
“Well if you must,” he said with a slight twinge of disappointment ringing true in his voice. With a sudden click of his fingers, as though emerging from a dream, he began to look conspiratorially around before leaning in closer and raising a hand to cover the area of Kanohi that sat over his mouth. “But make sure you be careful, Eyvous. After all, you know what they’re saying about the Dark Hunters.”
“The…Dark Hunters?” Unfortunately, I hadn’t heard. For the briefest moment the world seemed to turn beneath my feet and I felt a cool wave of dread wash over me like the ocean to the coast. Of course I knew what the Dark Hunters were, a vicious guild of mercenaries all bowing to one omnipotent and terrible ruler. But what they could want from such an idyllic haven as Metru Nui, tucked away safely at the end of the universe, was a mystery to me. Being the sanctuary to Mata Nui it was, surely it was blasphemy to deliberately cause any level of anarchy in its peaceful streets.
Amused at my ignorance, Levitix’s eyes seemed to light up at the prospect of being the one to reveal such apparently common knowledge. “It’s sending Toa Dume crazy. They’ve been spotted all over the island, Vortixx, Skakdi, even some creatures that can only be described as mutants. And they’ve always been hiding in the shadows, always watching something from afar. Word is they’re looking for something. Something or someone, you can never really tell.”
“Wait.” I held up my hand and took a step backwards, processing the sudden flow of information. An idea came to me and I looked up, tilting my head quizzically. “There was a cave-in at Onu-Metru yesterday. You don’t suppose they might have had something to do with it.”
The heavy jade armour of the Le-Matoran rose and fell in a careless shrug. “Probably,” he conceded. “The Onu-Matoran are being awfully quiet about it. If something’s been taken from the archives I’d imagine they would be trying to stop people from finding out as best they can. I suppose I can’t blame them, it’d be humiliating if word got out their security isn’t up to scratch. Anyway, I probably shouldn’t hold you back from your important duties any longer. Run along and keep an extra eye open…It would be terrible if you got home with any more damage than you usually do.”
I ignored the comment and left without another word. Our short conversation ran over and over in my mind, each detail falling under heavy scrutiny. The idea that Levitix had the potential to become a minor celebrity in just a few days set a small fire of envy boiling deep below the surface of my crimson armour. I knew there was nothing to do about it but it still niggled at my mind, biting away at my thoughts like an irritating insect. To distract myself I turned my focus on the news of the Dark Hunters. He had sounded quite concerned as he parted the information, but then how did I know he was telling the truth? He knew that I hadn’t heard any of the rumours so he could just have told me whatever he wanted. Perhaps he had lied throughout the entire conversation, then. Maybe he didn’t have anything useful to present to Sadrix after all!
Finally I arrived at my small, squat home, a simple metallic dome surrounded on all sides by completely identical structures. The only thing that could distinguish it from the rest was the Matoran symbol for the number 6 scratched onto the surface. I suppose it’s nothing particularly outstanding but for a single roomed residence it’s still quite cozy and most importantly it’s mine.
With a gentle shove I forced the door open and it slid open, with the hinges only protesting slightly less than usual. The air was thick and the blinding darkness swamped me, largely due to the lack of sun night presents. Only a faint red glow from outside allowed any visibility and that soon disappeared once I had closed the door behind me.
I shivered slightly in the darkness. I didn’t know why but there was something unfamiliar about the atmosphere, something that set me on edge. Groping around in the darkness I eventually reached the middle of the room and grasped a large metallic cylinder that hung just above face level from the ceiling. I turned a hatch to reveal a small window, behind which a lightstone sat snugly, clearly glowing from excitement at the opportunity to cast its radiant light over my home.
Satisfied, I turned and began to set my now significantly lighter satchel down onto the ground. Instead of the more graceful landing I had envisioned for it, it landed with a loud thunk as it slipped from my hand. Not that I had noticed, given how the noise was drowned out by the sound of my scream.
For on the far side of the room a Toa of fire sat hunched against a far wall, his head lolling weakly onto his shoulder and his eyes turned up to face me. I might have perceived him as a threat if not for the knife that sat by his side and the large gash in his chest that must have been caused by such a weapon.
I stumbled over to him, my heartlight flashing rapidly, both from the sudden shock and from the growing fear as the dangers of the situation began to seed themselves in my mind. I reached his side, my hands clasped over my Kanohi in an effort to prevent me from screaming again. It was a difficult task, I can tell you that much, especially when his ragged attempts at breath caught me by surprise.
Just from the sight of him alone I could tell that he barely even had a few moments left in this mortal coil. I looked around helplessly, trying to find some manner of assisting him all the while questions raced through my mind, distracting me from the task, all screaming for answers and yet all receiving none. I wanted, no, needed to who this Toa was, who had done this, whether I was still in danger. But I couldn’t ask. The Toa didn’t look in any condition to answer. He was only capable of staring up at me, the glow from his heartlight steadily growing weaker and weaker.
He tilted his head down to his hand and I watched as he scraped around uselessly before finally picking a fist sized rock up from the floor. He held it up to his chest and raised his other hand to greet it. I watched with an unquenchable interest, holding my breath as if the slightest flow of alien air would disturb him. Not that I even needed to as what happened next was so spectacular it took my very breathe away.
A warm glow had begun to emit from his fist and a narrow beam of light, as thin as one of his fingers, suddenly seeped out and clashed with the rock, dousing it in a familiar glow of red. His powers seeped into the stone as though it were some kind of hollow container instead of the thick, useless lump that it was. I watched in awe as he completed this task and stared at the brilliant Toa stone now resting in his grip.
The Toa held the stone out to me and stared up with pleading eyes. Never letting my gaze break with his I knelt down and plucked it from his grasp. He smiled weakly and gasped, his words the dreadful aching crone of the dying. “Give to…Turaga Sadrix…Please…My…Duty…” and with these last words, his breath slowed to a halt and the glow from his heartlight faded into the darkness.
I allowed a small moment of silence to respect the hero’s passing before I finally turned my attention to the stone now in my grasp. It was heavier than I had expected and smooth to the touch. I rolled it in my hands, examining each and every angle. Its appearance was no different than any other pebble that I might find lying around Po-Koro, only the difference here was that it now glowed a deep crimson, surrounding itself with a majestic aura that was almost warming.
I knew what I had to do. The Toa had made it perfectly clear that his intentions were to have this prestigious artefact delivered straight to Sadrix’s door. And if it was intended for the Turaga of Metru Nui, surely its absence would be noted. Perhaps Sadrix was expecting it right at this very moment, anxiously pacing around his quarters and waiting for a Toa who would never come. It was obvious what duty this Toa had delegated to me and to do anything but my task would surely be treason to Mata Nui himself.
But still…it was an awfully nice stone.
I turned it in my hands and gazed into its surface. Being nothing more than a rock it was obviously not reflective and yet in its glow I could almost see my own Kanohi staring back up at me. At least, I thought it was. There was something different about the expression in the reflection. He looked more confident, more determined. He looked happier.
And then it struck me. Why did I have to give it to Turaga Sadrix? I had never offered any loyalty to him, simply by living on his island and doing his work. I had never agreed to take this stone to him; rather I took it just as the Toa rather rudely ordered me around after breaking into my own home. What I do now is surely my own business, a business that I have every right to do what I please with.
The glow of the stone began to intensify and in its radiance I could see my dreams laid out before me as if they were stretched across a table. I saw myself as a Toa, a hero to the people, rescuing innocents from those with dark intentions. I saw myself abandoning my old life, turning away from that pathetic job in the furnace to a nobler one where I serve nobody but Mata Nui himself. I would be more powerful, more respected and taller. This was my opportunity for greatness.
They say that the good things come to those who wait. And frankly, I’m beginning to doubt that phrase. Because in my hands lay the good thing that was meant for someone else and yet my good thing was still apparently yet to arrive. But then, how would I ever know when my good thing would come? It would never come with a fanfare and a parade of Vortixx, to be given to me by Artakha himself. What if all this time my good thing had been waiting for me to discover it, lying on the street, lost in a bin or just sitting in the hands of a dying Toa? The intention had never been for it to wind up in my possession and yet here it was, mine for the taking. It was the good thing that had been for someone else but destiny had dictated it end up in my hands. Maybe sometimes good things come to those who take the good things from those who wait.
So I did what surely anyone else would have done. I took it for myself.
And if you think that’s wrong of me, if you now look down on me with nothing but contempt, please hear my words and try to understand the one thing that kept repeating itself in my mind as I took both this stone and the opportunity that came with it and hid it amidst a pile of rusting kanoka disks where nobody would think to look.
It’s said that the good things come to those who wait. But I am so sick of waiting.
Edited by The Tolerable Automaton, Mar 13 2013 - 04:42 PM.