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The Shadow of This Red Rock


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#1 Offline The Dandy Automaton

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Posted Jan 01 2013 - 12:20 PM

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. 

 

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Edited by The Tolerable Automaton, Mar 13 2013 - 04:42 PM.

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Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#2 Offline The Dandy Automaton

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Posted Feb 05 2013 - 05:24 PM

Chapter two - Suspicion

 

  Interestingly enough, Toa Dume had arrived on the scene almost as soon as I sent out the alarm regarding the murder. I’m not sure whether his swiftness was accountable to him being simply in the vicinity at the time, whether he had purposefully been on the lookout for suspicious activity involving mysterious Toa or if he simply enjoyed being around corpses so much he just wanted to be the first one on the scene. Still, whatever the case may have been, I didn’t really care to find out. I was too busy trying to pass through his interrogation without looking the least bit suspicious.

 

  Dume sighed heavily and folded his arms against his chest, shaking his head as the minimal facts I had to offer weighed heavily upon his shoulders. He fixed his eyes upon a four-strong group as they wrapped the body in a grass blanket and carried it away. “You really don’t have any idea who could have done this?” he asked for the umpteenth time.

 

  “I really don’t know. Well…I do know for a fact that it definitely wasn’t me,” I said as coolly as I could manage.

 

  He turned to stare at me and, feeling the heat rush to my face, I turned my eyes downwards to watch his feet. Okay, I’ll admit that probably wasn’t the best possible response under the circumstances. But you do have to agree that it’s not exactly easy to try avoiding looking suspicious when you’re forced to check every step you take so as not to give the impression you’re avoiding looking suspicious.

 

  As the silence between us grew more and more palpable, I realised I had to shatter it and so coughed into my fist and hastily amended my statement. “I think he said it was the Hunters. I didn’t see it happen but the knife that was in his back obviously isn’t mine. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kind of design on Metru Nui before.”

 

  This had been going on for the past five minutes now, a slow and unsteady exchange of question and answer as Dume wrung me like a damp cloth, squeezing every dreg of information he could possibly muster from me. Given how at a loss I was, it was clear that he would have to be leaving as clueless as he was when he arrived, as well as more than a little frustrated than before. And frankly I didn’t care, because if we’re talking about frustration then I don’t think he’s seemed too concerned with how I feel, constantly having to give the same answers over and over as though I were stuck on a loop. No, I didn’t know who the Toa was. No, I don’t know why it was my hut he broke into. No, I neither knew nor cared why he just so happened to have been killed.

 

  “You mean the Dark Hunters?” a voice chirped up behind me, causing me to wince in surprise. I spun around with a glare to find myself Kanohi to Kanohi with Dume’s pet gremlin, Glacyel. It had pretty much become common knowledge that this Ko-Matoran was one of Dume’s favourites to be amongst the six who would one day finally take the title of Toa warrior when he would eventually choose to give away his powers. And, if rumours were to be believed, it was said that Dume had already achieved his destiny years ago. If that really is the case, then Dume would be simply biding his time, waiting for what he considered the right moment to join Sadrax’s rank as Turaga of Metru Nui. I guessed that would be the reason why Glacyel constantly followed the Toa around like a particularly unpleasant shadow. Yet still, I can’t deny he was intelligent and if I ever saw him in combat then I’ve no doubt that his fighting prowess would be impeccable. He was by all rights and purposes the perfect candidate for a Toa.

 

  Which made the fact all the more beautiful that I was the one with the Toa stone and he was the one who would have to keep going without. His good thing. My possession. His wait. My time.

 

  Glacyel’s eyes darkened like a field shrouded beneath a heavy bank of clouds as he stared at me. From the pack across his shoulder he withdrew a familiar dagger that, with its decorative patterns of vipers and jewelled hilt, I swear seemed like more of an ornament than a life-claiming weapon. It was an instrument that could compose death, not some brutal blade designed simply for cutting throats. This was, of course, the very knife that had taken a life not even half an hour ago. “Yes, I recognise this design,” he began. “It’s light but the way it’s constructed makes it firm and resilient. I’d almost have said that this was crafted by the Nynrah Ghosts, but that would have implied its user worked for the Brotherhood of the Makuta.”

 

  “Perhaps it had been acquired during a raid?” Dume suggested. “The Dark Hunters and the Brotherhood may be on good enough terms with one another to merit bargaining but that still wouldn’t stop The Shadowed One from taking whatever takes his fancy.”

 

  “In which case, surely that would make it too valuable to leave behind. If this dagger was something the Hunters would go out of their way to fight the Brotherhood over then they’d never allow themselves to lose it so easily…So the Hunters might still be waiting around for a chance to reclaim it.”

 

  “Then if that’s true then there’s a possibility that Ta-Metru is still in danger…” Dume pondered. Suddenly he turned to me. “Please Eyvous, you have to tell me if you’ve seen anything that you might consider out of the ordinary lately.”

 

  “Well…I did get attacked earlier,” I told him, wincing as I recalled the painful memories of my earlier assault.

 

  Dume’s eyes widened and Glacyel set the knife on the table. “Do you think they might have been the Dark Hunters? What did they look like? What species?”

 

  “They were Ta-Matoran. They, uh, attacked me and stole some of my possessions. I don’t think they had anything to do with the Hunters, though.”

 

  “Oh.” Dume’s interest in my predicament almost immediately evaporated. He sighed and they both turned their attention back to the knife, bouncing ideas, theories and wild guesses off of one another. My heart sank as their gaze wandered over the cold steel, completely isolating me from their discussion.

 

  “Well, aren’t you going to do anything about it?” I asked indignantly, feeling more than a little frustrated that my assault could be considered so insignificant that they could simply disregard it in no more time than the flash of a heartlight.

 

  “I’m afraid there’s nothing to do,” Dume replied, not lifting his eyes from the table to face mine. “This situation with the Hunters is too severe to ignore. Whatever unpleasant business this Toa had been dealing with, he’s now brought it with him to Metru Nui. This means that his concerns now belong to this city’s protectors. I’m going to have to consult my allies and Turaga Sadrix over the next course of action.

 

  “So there’ll be nothing done about the mugging?”

 

  “No.”

 

  “Okay.”

 

  “I’m sorry, Eyvous. I really am.  The reach of a Toa can only extend so far at one time and there’s just one of us per Metru.  From what I hear, Toa Delfix has been consulting the Le-Matoran about a city-wide force for maintaining law and order but they only seem interested in manufacturing and improving transport. I don’t suppose the Ta-Matoran might have anything in mind?”

 

  I knew the question was more of a general, external thought than one aimed directly at me. I had no authority over the decisions that the Ta-Matoran made as a people, just as much as they would take my opinion into account should I be the one to offer the suggestions. Yet I still felt the need to answer anyway, if only for the sake of filling the awkward silence between the three of us.

 

  “Our skills are in blacksmithing and forging as far as I’m aware. I don’t think we Ta-Matoran are known for our ability to invent, rather than manufacture. Give us a blueprint and we’ll follow it down to each individual detail. Give us the freedom to create anything we wish and we’ll probably end up blowing something up. That said I’m sure we’d be more than happy to supply the materials for manufacturing whatever another district can come up with.”

 

  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Glacyel roll his eyes in frustration and tut loudly. “I fail to see what any of this has to do with the investigation. Need I remind you, Eyvous, that there is a killer of Toa out there somewhere, and we have no idea what they look like or what their motive even was? In fact simply, that a Toa has just been murdered? Right outside your doorway, need I add? The least you could do is try and help us by just keeping on the right subject.”

 

  Dume said nothing and simply returned his attention to investigating the spot where the dead Toa had once lain. I could tell it was only for the sake of appearing to do something though, because whatever clues he might be searching for had probably either already been discovered or trampled on by his multiple other excursions, so many times that they must have been practically worn into the floor. I ignored him and glowered in response of Glacyel’s comment, fixing him with one of my world famous death glares. My most successful offence, this was the kind of stare that would cause any normal Matoran to turn tail and flee in completely the opposite direction. It was something of pity, then that my adversary happened to be a would-be Toa who just blinked at my expression and turned his attention back to Dume.

 

  “So then it sounds to me like you’ll be fighting against the shadows themselves once more,” he sighed with a slow shake of his head. “That is, assuming the Dark Hunters intend to fight on unequal terms as usual, of course. If they had a change of heart and decided they just wanted to turn themselves in, that’d be great. Which sounds unlikely but I’m wondering if your best chance to find them would be to hope that we’re right and they actually do want their dagger back.”

 

  “In which case we’ll have to give them what they want,” Dume shrugged, trailing his finger along a clean patch of ground, a spot of cleanliness in a sea of dust. A rock-shaped space of the floor, I realised with horror. “They want the dagger so we’ll put it out in the open and force them to leave their shadows. If the dagger’s worth so much to them then we might even be able to arrange some kind of an exchange, or an agreement. Then that’ll be it, they’ll have the dagger, and we’ll have assured safety in Metru Nui. I suppose we can only hope that might be the case, at least. ”

 

  “And what would they have to exchange that we would want?” I piped up. I was beginning to feel a little frustrated over how frequently I was being so rudely left out of the conversation and ignored in my own home.

 

  Glacyel and Dume exchanged a small glance with each other before the Toa finally knelt down until our Kanohi were level. A slight shiver wriggled through my spine as I realised our proximity and I felt compelled to take a step backwards. “You said that when you came home the Toa was still alive. Is that right?” The way he said it suggested it wasn’t a question.

 

  “I did. Only just. I mean, he only had enough strength to tell me about needing to see the Turaga and something about his destiny. It sounded like a load of needless rambling to me.”

 

  “Eyvous, please,” Dume said, fixing me with an expression free from all senses of joviality, “I need to know something and believe me when I saw that this is incredibly important. It’s far more important than you could possibly understand. Before he died, did he give you anything? Anything at all? No matter how insignificant it might have looked or how entirely ordinary or uninteresting you might have found it?”

 

  I could barely control it. My mind flitted to the pile of useless, rusted Kanoka disk and with it my eyes. To anyone else it would appear to be nothing more than a collection of waste just waiting to be disposed of. But to me, that pile meant more, so much more. Deep inside lay the kind of treasure more valuable to me than any dragon’s horde, more precious than the contents of any king’s vault. It was nothing more than a single, scarlet toned rock. From the outside it was barely anything but I, and I alone, knew that it was a rock bestowed to me by a dying Toa had who had given it the very last of his energies. All I had to do was take it to the Suva in Ga-Metru and let the hidden power be released into my body. But to do this, first I had to avoid discovery.

 

  “Nothing,” I said firmly. “He gave me nothing. He talked gibberish and then died.”

 

  I could read the doubt in Dume’s eyes but he pressed the matter no further. He sighed and raised himself to his feet, rubbing at his crimson Kanohi Kiril. “Then there’s nothing else for us here, Glacyel. I’ll need to get in touch with the rest of the Toa so that we can determine where we go from.”

 

  The Ko-Matoran nodded and dropped the dagger into his satchel, making me wonder just how safe the other contents of that bag were. I had seen just how easily that blade could bite through armour. It didn’t give me much faith for the wellbeing of Glacyel’s other possessions. He made to leave but then suddenly gave my hut one last brief scan, his gaze lingering on the Kanoka pile for longer than I was happy with. Finally he shrugged and walked through the door that Dume held open for him.

 

  “Wait! Aren’t you going to tell me what the Toa should have given me?” I suddenly blurted out.

 

  Dume paused, already halfway outside. I kicked myself mentally and then made a note to do it again a little more physically later. “If he didn’t give you anything then there’s no reason for you to know. Unless you really do have something to tell me then I suggest you listen to me when I tell you that this is a matter you’re better off staying away from.”

 

  He lingered in the doorway for a few more seconds, his eyes penetrating me with sharpness more intense than even the Hunter’s dagger. I stared back and said nothing. I don’t know how long we stayed like that, the two of us lost in this void of desolate silence, unspoken questions dancing in the air. It might have been a few seconds. It might have been forever. But eventually it all came to an end and he gave. He left, closing the door behind him and finally leaving me alone again.

 

  As soon as I was sure he was out of earshot, I let out the breath I had been holding in. I leant against the bare wall, soaking in the coolness of the metal sheet on my back. The whole interview had been overwhelmingly uncomfortable, now leaving me feeling as shaken up as a lost leaf in a hurricane. To say that I was glad it was over would have to be the understatement of the millennia.

 

  With shaking legs I began to tread hesitantly over to the Kanoka pile, desperate to hold the stone in my hands once again. At the same time, though, I couldn’t help but be fearful of what I might find, or worse, not. Glacyel had scoured my hut in a quest for incriminating evidence of any kind and even though I had kept a watchful eye on him at all times, I still couldn’t help but be concerned he might have somehow stumbled upon the Toa stone without my notice and surreptitiously stolen it during my distraction.

 

  His search had been almost threateningly thorough, with him rooting through every one of my cupboards, underneath every desk and even scanning beneath my bed at one point. It was only through some miraculous oversight that he had ignored the pile of rusting metal to the side, left carelessly to waste away. He most likely had just seen it as any other pile of scrap. If only he knew of the treasures that lay inside.

 

  I swallowed the metallic tang of fear that lurked in my mouth and held my breath as I buried my hand into the hiding place. It was there, it had to be. What would I do if it wasn’t? Hunt him down and demand it back? I’d already said I had nothing to hide, so if I just so happened to suddenly run up and beg them to return a mysterious glowing rock, indistinct from any other lightstone just lying around Ta-Metru, then I might as well just have been screaming my guilt from the top of the highest Knowledge Tower.

 

  I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and offered a silent prayer to Mata Nui, for all the good it would probably do. My heart practically leapt out of my mouth as I felt my fingers wrap around that cool, hard surface. For the second time in less than a minute I exhaled in relief and pulled the stone free, allowing a couple of disks to clatter noisily onto the floor in my haste. But what did I care? There it was, locked in my clenched fist, its vibrant red burning as brilliantly as ever beneath my fingers.

 

  The familiar warming sensation washed over me as I looked down on it, and with it came the rush of emotion that reminded of all the potential it had to offer. It filled me with both the hope and knowledge that some day I would leave Metru Nui, reborn, and travel to distant lands where I would be a hero to the weak and live out the greatest tales ever told.

 

  But that feeling of panic that I might have lost it still burnt through my mind and my heart like ice and I knew what I had to do. I couldn’t hide it in my hut forever. After a while Dume would return and he would a demand a more thorough search. It was only inevitable. I saw the suspicion in his eyes. That blatant mistrust. I read each individual mental note he wrote to himself, so that he would not forget he must later find out what I had been keeping from him.

 

  Well, I needn’t be concerned because the stone was mine and would only ever belong to me now, and I was far more than determined to keep it that way. It was my world, my life my heart! May Karzahni himself claim my life if anyone were to take it away from me! I knew that the only way I could prevent someone from discovering and confiscating it was to turn it back into its original form as a normal, completely unimpressive rock. But in order to do that, I would have to use up its powers. My only option was to become a Toa here and now.

 

  The decision filled me with an almost euphoric joy, a beautiful sensation that coiled around me and whispered idle reassurances into my ears as I scooped my bag from the floor and slung it over my shoulder. I still held the stone tightly in my fist and had to carefully coax myself into letting go of it, even for this short period of time, before I could release it into my satchel.

 

  I strode confidently and, for the first time in a long while, contentedly towards my door and was about to swing it open and face the world itself when I was suddenly struck by an awful realisation. Access to the Great Temple was restricted to all but Ga-Matoran at all times, with the exception of tourist days. It would be impossible to just walk in at any time I felt the need, let alone now that the sun had fled. It would be certainly be difficult enough explaining to furious guards, brandishing weapons why I had broken into their holy place of worship. I imagined the conditions would only have worsened if they found me holding the Toa stone of a deceased hero.

 

  No, I needed to gain entry via another way. Preferably it would be in private, without hordes of gawking tourists streaming by, watching my every move. “On your left, you will see a useless Ta-Matoran trying to apply some meaning to his otherwise dry existence”. I needed to find a way in when no other Matoran would be likely to stumble upon my activities at any given moment. But to do that, I would have to wait until sunrise. At the earliest.

 

  Dejectedly, I flung my bag down underneath my bed. It landed with a clatter and I winced to imagine the stone buried within, crumbling like glass, shattering and splitting into a thousand pieces. I checked it quickly to make sure it was safe, and then convinced myself that it would be safe enough there for now. I would sleep through the night and then in the morning I would find a Ga-Matoran ally of mine named Yuiet. She would be the one to understand my cause. She would be the one to show me sympathy.

 

  But most importantly, she would be the one to open the gates to the Great Temple.

 

 

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Edited by The Tolerable Automaton, Mar 13 2013 - 04:49 PM.

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Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock


#3 Offline The Dandy Automaton

The Dandy Automaton
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Posted Mar 13 2013 - 05:38 PM

Chapter three - Confrontation

 

  You know, it’s often said that ‘Ta-Metru is a dull ruby embedded in the surface of Metru Nui. So by comparison Ga-Metru would be a shimmering sapphire that stands brightly above the rest, basking the Matoran Universe in its radiant aura’. Just don’t ask me who said that. I think I heard it once somewhere and it seems accurate enough.

 

  And really, that just about says it all, doesn’t it? That’s what I’ve ended up with. That is my life. The scratched and nicked chunk of rock lost in the dirt whilst everyone else gathers around to admire the true beauty of the world, the one that deserves its attention. I get to stand in the crowd and gawk and marvel with the rest at the way Ga-Metru glimmers brighter than the most polished lightstone. Isn’t it so wonderful? Isn’t it so pure with the way that it’s just so much better than the little hole I call my home? Aren’t you so glad that Matoran that aren’t you live here every day?

 

  That statement wasn’t any kind of exaggeration, I should probably point out. Certainly, if there were any place more deserving of such an esteemed general opinion then it would probably be Artakha. To say it’s the closest thing we Matoran can get to constructing such a paradise, without the assistance of a guiding hand, is quite likely an apt consideration. Po-Metru would probably be a strong contender if it weren’t for the inhabitant’s insistence to clutter the place up with unfinished projects and abandoned ideas. Le-Metru could stand a chance, but the never-ending rush and tumble of the district has that rather off-putting habit of terrifying newcomers. No, the district of water is the one place most worthy of admiration.

 

  For you see, as a city Ga-Metru is simply a work of art. The city stands as a perfectly structured arrangement of canals, bridges and tall, bricked universities. Though you might think the bricks seem like an odd choice, what with the resources we have available these days, they offer the students a cosy and homely atmosphere as opposed to the more unwelcoming and heartless aesthetic of steel. The constant rush of water makes for an omnipresent soundtrack to the city, an endless whisper over the muted chatter of scholars wandering blithely to and fro, either to class or just to find a place to rest awhile and drink in the gorgeous scenery.

 

  The layout of Ga-Metru is that of some labyrinthine castle. Everything seems to be on a different level, with at least three different turns at every point. Canals intersect every path, supplying the weary traveller with an almost endless supply of bridges. At times the path you walk will simply end. Over the edge will hang a significant drop and usually a waterfall, signifying the conclusion to your journey and the necessity to find another way around. To one without a decent understanding of the district’s streets, it’s possible to take a wrong turning and find yourself lost for hours without end. As I walk I find myself having to constantly glance up at the handy signs, just to make sure I haven’t made an unwelcome detour at any point. On more than one occasion I had.

 

  I can feel the Toa stone bumping against my thigh. Each moment of contact is like a kiss, never letting me forget its beautiful existence. Its touch reminds me of every unspoken promise that lies between us. When I awoke that morning I had panicked because I couldn’t find it amongst those old Kanoka disks. I forced myself to bite back a scream as I tore the pile apart, sending metal wailing to the floor with an unrelenting insanity. On retrospect my behaviour had been erratic and unnecessary. A cool mind would plainly reveal that I had hidden it the night before in the satchel, ready to be taken to Ga-Metru. Of course I had. Nobody would have come to steal my stone. Nobody even knew it existed.

 

  My heart grows heavier the closer that I get to the school where Yuiet teaches. She will be the one who paves the final steps to my destiny, I just know it. When I can convince her to open the doors of the Great Temple for me, I will walk up to the Suva and claim my prize. I will thank her as best I can and go on my way, promising to return and improve her life in whatever way she feels appropriate. I might even be able to find a Toa stone of her very own. Maybe. Of course it’s the least that I can do for her assistance.

 

  Well, it is my destiny after all…I think. No, I’m sure. Well, slightly. I desperately want to deny it but there are questions that buzz through my mind. Unpleasant ones. What if the stone was never destined for my possession at all? What happens if an unworthy Matoran places a Toa stone into the Suva? Is it possible that I’m not meant to be a Toa at all…?

 

  But I have to be. This is what Mata Nui wanted. He would never have ensured the Toa stone ended up in my hands to begin with otherwise. How can it not be my destiny to become a Toa when the stone came to be in my ownership in the first place? The dying Toa came into my house and he gave me the last relic of his powers. There’s got to be more than a coincidence in that trail of events. Granted, he had asked me to give the stone to Turaga Sadrix but…well, I didn’t. And isn’t that what destiny also dictated? Would it be possible for me to step outside the realms of destiny? Surely everything I do is part of a path that’s already been decided for me.

 

  Am I perhaps a puppet who answers to every beck and call of his master’s strings, endlessly twisting and contorting and dancing to the beat of a drum he cannot hear nor possibly comprehend? Or am I a free spirit who soars through the skies and follows a road of his own choosing, holding all responsibility in the palms of his hands like shards of glass? Would it matter either way? Would a dawning light turn my feet and guide me away from this path of confusion or would it simply strengthen my resolve to keep going?

 

  It’s strange. These are questions that had roamed in the caverns of my mind a dozen times before and they have never weighed heavier than they do now. They occupy my mind and cry for answers to which I cannot provide. I am helpless to their demands and as a result we are both suspended in darkness. There will be no light on this path, at least not for today. For now I shall walk in the low-hanging shadows and say that this was both my path to take and the one that I took. Whether the prophets had foretold my venture or not, I would never have changed my mind. I wanted this and not even the fates themselves could prevent me from claiming my prize.

 

  So wrapped up was I in my morbid contemplation I failed to notice the Vortixx that suddenly loomed and very nearly bowled me over. We both swerved at the last second, me reaching to protect my precious cargo and him raising a curiously ornate box above his head. I bit my tongue just before I could draw a curse from my mouth and looked up to apologise to the stranger. At first I panicked and almost screamed for help from the Dark Hunters until I remembered that Vortixx were a fairly common sight in this district. Ga-Metru was home to species of all origins, after all. Anyone who wanted to learn was welcome here and the Ga-Matoran would teach them without a hint of bias.

 

  The apologies spilt from my mouth and in response the stranger simply flashed me a mischievous grin. Another Vortixx walked closely behind, bearing an almost eerie resemblance to the first, disturbing smile and all. “You’ve got good reason to be frightened of the shadows, Eyvous.” the stranger said. There was something disturbingly airy about the rise and fall of his voice that sent shivers coiling down my spine.

 

  “Though if I were you, I’d be more concerned about what lurks inside them,” finished the other. Even their voices were uncomfortably similar.

 

  Before I could open my mouth to say a word in response, they had bowed their heads and carried on their way. I watched as they disappeared into the distance, the hum of some jaunty tune left in their wake.

 

  I shook my head and frowned, utterly confused by the strange and unexpected encounter. My first instinct was to chase after them and demand they explain how they knew my name. After that they could shed some light onto their riddle that now left me dumbfounded. Who were they? Their behaviour was curious above tolerable levels and left me with the vague, grim feeling that I ought to alert Toa Aquice. Even if they weren’t Dark Hunters, there was obviously something unstable about their minds.

 

  But then, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I didn’t want to. There was something about the thought of crying for Toa Aquice’s help that made me clench my fists. Why did I have to turn to her whenever a problem arose? I’m not so helpless that I always have to rely on another’s assistance. I’m not incapable of dealing with my own issues; I just didn’t think this one worth the time of chasing up. Clouds darkened in my mind and I knew that I was sick of running in the dim hope that someone might turn out more useful than myself. Dume had done nothing but shrug in the face of my assault. No-one will react for me with more conviction than myself. What reason do they have to care? No, of course they wouldn’t be interested. But…if I were the one with their power…

  I was so lost in the storm of my reverie that my eyes had almost skimmed over the pinpricks of icy blue light that lurked in the grim shadows of the alleyway. My heart leapt and I stumbled backwards in shock. The lights danced in a similar manner, almost a perfect mirror as their possessor was clearly just as stunned by the detection as I was. They darted further backwards as I considered trying to make out the dim shape around them. Somebody had been watching me. Somebody didn’t want to be seen. So…somebody was following me?

 

  “You’ve got to be kidding me. Surely not twice in two days?”

 

  The silence was extinguished and I impulsively turned to the side. I could see Levitix strutting up the street towards me, an unfamiliar Onu-Matoran by his side. With an exasperated sigh, I turned back to the alleyway and found it empty, my stalker apparently having taken the opportunity to flee and leave the darkness whole once more. Lucky them, I thought to myself scornfully. At least they didn’t have to suffer the pain of being around Levitix.

 

  “Long time no see, stranger,” the Le-Matoran said loftily. I grunted my response and he carried on, only dimly aware that I hadn’t said a thing. He spoke excitedly, each word tripping over each other from his mouth in a bid for freedom. “It’s good to see a familiar mask around these parts. The two of us were just on our way to discuss trade with a certain Steltian and who should happen to cross our path? I’ll tell you, that system I told you about yesterday? It’s going perfectly. I still can’t let you know the details but some of the rulers of a few other islands are apparently just as interested as Sadrix was! Oh, where are my manners? Granyx, meet Eyvous. Eyvous, Granyx.”

 

  “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Eyvous” the Onu-Matoran said mirthfully, casting a sideways glance at Levitix. He held out a hand for me to shake which I hesitantly accepted. His voice had that warming tinge to it and every word drifted from his mouth glazed in the sweetness of honey. “As Levitix just said, I’m Granyx. Between you and me, I’ve always been impressed by the consistent high quality materials you Ta-Matoran can produce. It’s really inspiring to behold.”

 

  “We get the job done,” I said as bluntly as possible, put off by Levitix’s overwhelmingly positive behaviour. I knew things were going well for him, but they couldn’t have been going that well?

 

  “So what are you doing in Ga-Metru, firespitter? It’s a bit overwhelming, this place. I’d have thought all this water would turn you into steam,” Levitix asked, swivelling his head around as if he might discover my purpose written on the sky.

 

  I could feel my lips curling in distaste at the idea of having to share my secret with Levitix, although it was just as likely caused by conversing with him in the first place. Aware that I couldn’t keep leaving gaps in the conversation, I pressed on and said the first thing that jumped into my mind. “I’m on a business meeting with Yuiet.”

 

  Levitix tilted his head, looking genuinely confused. He turned to Granyx and said, “Business, huh? I didn’t know Yuiet had need of firespitters these days.”

 

  “There’s always a boiler to fix in the classrooms.” Granyx shot me a considering look that made my temperature rise. He’d barely spoken and already I figured that I had his type pinned down. That infuriatingly grating niceness he bestowed me with. The warming, casual tone he’d talk in. The false friend, the one who’ll always be pleasant to everything just to convince himself he’s perfect. So sure that all it takes to be a good person is to shoot a smile at a stranger and the job is done. He’ll raise hopes for friendship and just when you think you have an ally in your hands, he’ll toss you aside without even realising it. But, of course. Why wouldn’t he? You’re not interesting, you’re not entertaining and you’re not unique. He has enough friends of his own, all of which are just as uninterested in making your acquaintance. I’ve had plenty experience with these types.

 

  “Well, I’m there for a little bit more than a boiler,” I said indignantly.

 

  “Of course you are. Don’t worry, I was only joking,” he said lightly. “But as it is, I think we’re passing by her classroom anyway. As far as I know our associate is definitely in the same building. If you liked we could always join you?”

 

  If I liked? Oh, that was rich. Well, as a matter of fact I most definitely didn’t want them to join me, but it’s not as though I could just say that. “It’s nice of you to offer but I really should be going now,” I said quickly.

 

  “No problem, we’re just heading off as well,” he persisted.

 

  “I meant I should be going in the...uh...”

 

  Okay, this was not how I wanted this expedition to go at all. If there was one thing that I didn’t need, it was spectators, especially ones as infuriatingly grating as Levitix and his newfound friend. But surely I could handle this, even with two unwanted tagalongs. All I get to do was get to Yuiet and encourage them far, far away before I dealt with the matter at hand. By the time I showed Yuiet my stone, they would be gone.

 

  With a relenting grimace I finally agreed and we set about climbing through the last few streets until Yuiet’s university stretched far into the sky before us. As the two Matoran behind me buried themselves in idle chatter, I kept a watchful eye on my surroundings. I guess it was half out of boredom and half out of a concern for my stalker. Unsurprisingly, the figure in the dark was nowhere to be seen, but what did catch my eye was the fantastic dome of the Great Temple that bubbled up over the skyline, far above the rows of schools. Four spires bordered its magnificence, each with moss coiled around their tip. The proximity between this structure and myself made me shiver in anticipation. Perhaps I was imagining it, but I swear I could almost feel my stone heating up against my thigh. It knew where it needed to go. Soon, little one. I will take you there soon.

 

  The double doors parted before us and we climbed the stairs to my destiny. Beneath the surface, my frustration boiled as the two Matoran kept hot on my heels, lighting the silence with a casual conversation that they tried to force me into. I continually swept their inquiries aside with a polite grunt and tried to keep my attention away. I mulled their business over in my mind and with a dawning horror came to an entirely new conclusion. Did they really have something to do this way or did they perhaps know something else? What if they wanted what I did? What if they were here to steal my stone?

 

  Once we had arrived, I rapped my knuckle firmly against the door and waited. I had expected – no, wanted – Levitix and Granyx to leave me alone entirely but they simply drifted away to a room across the corridor. Why could I not just have them wink out of existence?

 

  The door slid backwards and I found myself staring at the glacial eyes of the Ga-Matoran, Yuiet. “Hey there,” I said in an awkward greeting.

 

  “Can I help you?” While I might have said that we had been friends before, what I really meant is that our paths have been known to cross. We were certainly no strangers to one another but I guess we’re not what one would refer to as ‘close’. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as distance fits the both of us just fine. Neither of us particularly enjoys close company and her educated mind’s lust for knowledge makes for a constant distraction from the petty interferences of socialisation.

 

  “Oh, yeah.” I gripped the strap of my satchel, desperately trying to think of something, anything to say which I could use to segue into the real matter. “Um, can I have a word with you in private?”

 

  “Can it wait? I was kind of in the middle of something.” She glanced back into the classroom, towards a Po-Matoran who leant against a desk with folded arms.

 

  “It’s not a problem,” the Matoran called back. “If it’s not going to take long, I can wait.”

 

  Yuiet grimaced but allowed me in all the same. Besides from the three of us the spacious classroom was empty, though littered with tablets inscribed with all manner of information. The Po-Matoran nodded at me and obligingly went to stand at the far end of the room. “I’d brought Ehyre in for a private one on one session,” Yuiet commented, not taking her eyes off of her student. “He’s one of the best I’ve taught. Determined, smart and enthusiastic. If I give him a problem to solve he’ll never rest until it’s dealt with.”

 

  “He sounds like the ideal student,” I said dumbly. How was I meant to respond to that?

 

  She sighed and shook her head. “I just don’t think he knows what he’s doing with it. He’s eager to learn and he’s never late for a lesson but there doesn’t seem to be a purpose to any of it. I asked what he planned to do after the final exams and he just said he’d return to Po-Metru. He constantly desires more but doesn’t want to let go of his old life. So I get him in every now and again to give him lessons with a practical focus, just something to help him look for something better than playing with rocks.” I hummed a response and she rubbed at her forehead. “Sorry, I lost my train of thought. What was it you wanted?”

 

  Without meaning to, my hand began to stroke the outside of my satchel. My heart struck against my chest in a frenzy and I licked nervously at my lips. What was the best way to broach the subject? “I, uh...Well, I need your help to get into the Great Temple. Not right now, of course. I mean, I can wait a little while until you’re done here.”

 

  I was about to go on when she raised a beryl hand to cut me off. “Stop there. Why the Great Temple? And why do you need me?” she asked, a suspicious glare in her eyes.

 

  “It’s nothing much,” I said, suddenly very interested in the floor beneath us.  “I just have to get in there and out again without anyone else knowing.”

 

  “You’re planning to steal something and you thought I’d help you?”

 

  “What? Wait, no! No, you’ve got the wrong idea.”

 

  “Then by all means correct me,” she said dryly. “Because I wouldn’t care about helping you into the Great Temple at the best of times, so if I suspect you’re a wannabe thief you can forget about me ever even considering assistance.”

 

  I groaned my fingers drummed nervously against the bag. The tips struck my stone, nestled deep within with only a barrier of organic tissue dividing us. If Yuiet thought I was asking her to be an accomplice in crime then there was only one way to convince her otherwise and save myself.

 

  Oh, I know I should never have done it. As far as mistakes go this was certainly amongst the worst of them. If only there were time, time to change the errors of my ways, time for a hundred decisions and revisions. But there was no time, not anymore. I grasped the stone and pulled it out of the satchel, so blinded by my own pride and self-satisfaction to feel the weight that wanted it remaining in place. The entire universe slowed and I felt every minute second pass with enhanced gravity. I was just being too reckless to heed the warning.

 

  Yuiet blinked at the rock held in my hand. “What is it?” she asked out of curiousity. There weren’t any notes of dismissal in her voice anymore; she genuinely wanted to know what I was showing her.

 

  “It’s a Toa stone,” I said slowly, my heart beating an intense rhythm in my chest.

 

  “You’re kidding,” she exclaimed. “Oh, sweet Spirit, you’re not kidding! How did you get that?”

 

  “It’s…uh…Well, it’s a long story. In short I was given this by a Toa who’s...didn’t need it anymore, I guess.”

 

  “And you’re sure it’s real?”

 

  “I saw it being created with my own eyes. If you take me to the Great Temple I can test it out for certain and then...”

 

  Yuiet brushed her hand against her forehead for the second time and reached a tentative hand out towards the stone. I yanked it away, earning a vicious glare for my troubles.  “I’m having a hard time believing that it’s real…Ehyre, come over here! I need your help!”

 

  No! On the exterior my eyes darkened and I shot a strained look towards the Po-Matoran who was now walking towards us. Inside, I screamed, kicked and pleaded. What was she doing? She couldn’t just summon other people to look at my stone! This was meant to be between myself and her! By inviting a third party she was betraying my trust, my hopes, and my dreams!

 

  “What is it?” he asked, his eyes sweeping over the stone in my hands.

 

   Before I could react, she snatched the rock from my grip and presented it to Ehyre. “I need you to have a look at this. Eyvous says it’s a Toa stone.”

 

  His eyes widened and he looked down at my stone with a renewed interest. “Could that be possible? I’ve never actually had the chance to see one before, so I guess I can’t really say for sure. But there’s a quality about it like no lightstone I’ve ever seen.” He looked up at me and his expression of intrigue faded into one of suspicion. “Where did you say you found it?”

 

  “It was…Given to me by a Toa.”

 

  “Who?”

 

  I desperately needed that stone back. With every second that ticked by I had to force myself to bite back the urge to just tear it from Yuiet’s grip and charge down the halls. “I don’t know,” I said quietly.

 

  “And why did he give you the stone?” Ehyre’s eyes began to narrow.

 

  “Because he…he was dying.”

 

  “So the stone wasn’t meant for you?”

 

  That much I knew. “No, it was!”

 

  “Then why didn’t you tell Dume and I about it when we asked?” a new voice cried from the corridor. My heart sank and I was overcome with the powerful urge to hide under the nearest table as a figure turned into the room, clad in ice-white armour. Striding forwards, Glacyel struck me with a vicious glare and regarded the stone with as much tenderness as he would an explosive set to detonate.

 

  Yuiet looked from the Ko-Matoran to myself, clearly unsure whether she wanted to dispose of this commotion corrupting her classroom or just stand back and watch the drama unfold. “Glacyel? What are you doing here?”

 

  “Investigating a crime,” he replied icily. “Specifically, the murder of a Toa and the potential theft of evidence. Oh, don’t give me that look, Eyvous. Of course Dume knew there was something suspicious about you. You’re about as subtle as a warhammer to the temple. He knew you were harbouring something but he decided to give you time to change your mind and confess. But just in case you never did, he had me tag you all the way here.” He walked over, an unbearable swagger in his step, until we were staring eye to eye. “I knew something was up but I never imagined you could have tried doing something on this scale. So tell me Eyvous. That stone – If it’s really a Toa stone - how do you know it’s for you? Did the Toa say it was?”

 

  I tried to cast my gaze somewhere else, anywhere else but into the judgemental eyes of the Ko-Matoran. Yet no matter where I turned I saw mocking eyes and cold sneers. In the doorway, Levitix and Granyx had returned, regarding the scene with bewildered expressions.

 

  Glacyel must have seen the panic in my eyes as his filled with a mixture of triumph and horror. He staggered backwards and raised a hand to where his mouth would be. “It’s true, isn’t it? Oh, you treacherous little Piraka! You actually stole it!”

 

  “It’s my destiny to have it!” I yelled. Why did nobody understand? “Why else would it have ever ended up in my possession?”

 

  “So by that logic…” Yuiet began, tracing a finger around my stone’s surface. She gazed at the radiant aura as if lost in thought, transfixed by its splendour. “By that logic, the stone is mine. Why else would destiny have placed it in my hands?”

 

  “What?” Glacyel raised a brow, momentarily taken aback. “What right do you have to the stone? If anything, it belongs to me.”

 

  “You? What do you mean it belongs to you? I thought it was evidence for this crime scene?” Levitix chimed in, stepping into the classroom. Granyx followed hot on his heels.

 

  “Of course it is. But if we have an active Toa stone in our presence, at the end of the day I’m obviously going to be the one to use it. I’m the most eligible out of all of us to become a Toa. It’s just common sense.”

 

  “Common sense? That sounds more like greed to me, Glacyel,” Ehyre snapped. “You’ll have your chance to become a Toa soon enough. None of us will ever have that same opportunity. Wait your turn.”

 

  “Ehyre, please,” Granyx said calmly. “If the stone’s going to cause so much strife between us all, maybe you should just give it to me. I’m clearly the most level-headed of us all right now, so if you put it in my safe hands, we can avoid anyone coming to some kind of harm right now.”

 

  Levitix rolled his eyes. “You think that’s honestly going to work on us, gravelhead? If anyone deserves the stone it’s me. Think about all the changes I’m about to make in Le-Metru – no, in Metru Nui itself. The privilege of becoming a Toa would be the perfect reward.”

 

  “It’s my stone! I found it! Mine!” Every word I say white noise falling upon deaf ears; a useless ambage. “You can’t fight over my stone!”

 

  They ignored me, just as they always had. My heart sank as their bickering intensified, their arguments drowning out my own, all laying claim to an object they had no right to. Everyone wanted it for themselves but none of them would see that the rightful owner was the one clamouring for their attention. They didn’t believe me when I said I was the one destined to become a Toa.

 

  And in their babble, even I was beginning to have my doubts…

 

 

 

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Chapter four - Desire

Coming soon!

Short Stories: The Commute ~ Rasinov ~ In Your Absence ~ Hunter's Game ~ Suchia (Coming soon)

Epics: The Best Kept Secrets (Chapter 27: The Shadow Walker coming soon) ~ The Shadow of this Red Rock





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