The Voyager. Not sure if anybody will read it, nor do I expect much feedback, but I enjoyed writing this and wanted to share it. To those who read it, I hope you enjoy.
The Ta-Matoran dove to the floor, against the howls and screams of the raging storm above.
Again, the boat lurched drunkenly as the currents tossed it around like a ragdoll. As he slid this way and that on the water-soaked deck, the Ta-Matoran’s hand found a loose line of rope, which he clutched desperately with slippery, blistered palms. The lightning crackled again and with it came the ear-splitting thunder.
The Matoran screamed again, though the angry storm covered his terror with its own thunderous melodies. Suddenly, he heard a horrible hissing noise and he screamed even louder. Though his heart and mind told him not to, his instincts forced him to turn to confront his attacker. What he saw was something that would haunt him until the day he died.
Staring back at him was a pure monstrosity, a blend of a thousand different nightmares. The skin was scaly and alien, its body, though disproportionate, was muscular and strong, and its beak-like mouth housed thousands of sharp, jagged teeth. The moonlight made the colours of its body seem oily, as if they were melting into each other. But worst of all, within its crimson-red eyes lay hate.
Pure and unrestrained hatred.
This thing had a name too. It was called a Zyglak,a species so terrible and hideous that its creators had dismissed them as failures and accidents. They were the embodiment of rejection and bitterness. And they made their plight known.
“Sssssssleep,” it whispered eerily as its clawed hand came in to cover the Matoran’s mouth. The sailor whimpered in fear.
“Sssssleeeep,” it repeated.
Suddenly, as the lightning crackled furiously once again, [[Sonitous|a figure]] charged at the Zyglak, battering it aside with a [[Echo Shield|mighty shield]] that forced the monster off the sailor. The two opponents made no contact as they pushed against each other's weight. The Matoran scurried and hid behind one of the nearby cargo crates, looking on as he watched the figure and the monster circle each other menacingly.
The one who had saved him was a symbol of safety and protection. Warriors like him were legends of night time myth and song, legends that were very much needed in the unending darkness of today’s world. He was a Toa.
The Matoran did not know him by name; the crew had simply nicknamed him ‘''The Voyager'',’ but he remembered when he had joined him. Several days ago, the captain of this ship, a veteran Ga-Matoran, had convinced him to join her crew. They were to take a shipment of goods from their island and trade them with a small village on the eastern coastline of the Southern Continent.
There had been eight crew members at the beginning of the journey. Emphasis on the ‘''had''.’
The Toa had turned up shortly before they left the island and had agreed to protect their ship in exchange for safe passage to their destination. The captain had accepted without a shadow of a doubt. She was now dead.
The Toa slammed his hands together and a wall of sound, one that could not be seen but heard, went flying towards the Zyglak. If the wall was meant to have any effect on its target, it certainly wasn't visually spectacular. The Zyglak's resistance of the elements was impressive. The monster then lunged forward, screaming as it swiped it claws savagely at the Toa. He responded by raising his great shield, using it to keep the monster and his claws at bay before battering it away in one move.
The Zyglak snarled again and began to back off. The Toa attempted to charge at it, but as he started moving the boat lurched violently, making him stumble to the ground. Using this to its advantage, the Zyglak pounced onto the Toa, batting his shield away and gnashing its teeth nastily as it came in closer and closer. Desperate, the Toa broke his arm free and punched the Zyglak in the face.
As the fight continued, with the sea and the storm as the spectator, the Matoran tried to remember how this had all happened. From what he could recall, the Zyglak had climbed out of the water at the beginning of the storm, slithering aboard like a Doom Viper. From there, it had proceeded to hunt down each individual crew member one by one until only he was left. The Toa was swiftly alerted, though the Zyglak was too quick and had knocked him out before he could stop it. It was meant to be a killing blow.
The Toa dealt another fist to the Zyglak’s face, then another then another. On the fourth hit, the voyager hissed through clenched teeth. His fists weren't used to such rough work and he was definitely no Toa of Iron. Seeing its adversary’s momentary distraction, the Zyglak scrambled forward and raked the Toa across the face, who screamed in agony. Despite the dark, the moonlight clearly illuminated three deep scratches on the Toa’s left cheek.
The Zyglak didn't stop there, however. Grabbing him from both sides, the Zyglak wrestled the Toa down onto the port side of the ship and began rip into him without hesitation, slashing at him with its monstrous claws. The attack was a vicious as it was inelegant. The creature itself was an oddity for its kind; each clawed attack against the Toa or the crew on the ship had been harmless. Everyone knew the legends of the Zyglak's disease, which could eat at the tissue within their victim's bodies just through physical contact. It was very strange that this one didn't have the right touch. Perhaps he was some form of degenerate, or perhaps the Toa was just a figure so righteous and benign that the plague simply could not affect such a goodly being.
The Ta-Matoran froze, as if some supernatural force had locked his body in place. He didn't know what to do. He didn't know how to help. This was a fight between a Toa and a Zyglak. How a Matoran could stand a fighting chance was anyone’s guess. He just didn't know how he could be of aid. He had no helpful skills, no combat training and he didn't exactly have a history of luck being on his side. He was utterly useless.
Suddenly, something glimmered in the dark, something that inspired a small but viable amount of hope. Lying in front of him, between him and the beaten Toa, was a glistening shield. In an instant, the Matoran knew what he had to do. Though he felt too scared to do it, the Ta-Matoran forced that fear down and made a run for it, trying his best to ignore the strength of the wind and the rain.
Between the pain and the slashing, the Toa looked over and saw what the Matoran was doing, and as a sign of acknowledgement, subtly outstretched his arm. His eyes were urgent. Though the sea continued to toss the ship about, the Matoran's courage remained true and he staggered over to the Toa’s shield. Placing both hands on it, the Matoran pushed the weapon towards its owner, allowing it skid across the wooden deck and into his open palm as the port side of boat swayed downwards.
When his weapon of trade slipped into his hands, the Toa called upon all his remaining strength and began batter the Zyglak off of him. Once, twice, thrice...
Though the aggressor was trying its best to cling on, another violent swerve of the boat dislodged it and a fourth hit from the Toa’s shield toppled the creature off completely. The Zyglak wailed as it fell overboard, crashing down into the churning waters below as the waves claimed it for good. The storm covered its screams.
The Matoran didn’t sleep. How could he after all he had seen last night?
He had huddled himself up at the front of the boat, curling up into a ball as he tried to banish the horrible memories of the night from his mind. When he finally moved again, he had found it was the middle of the morning. The water was calm and still, the hum of Razor Whales could be heard in the distance and there was nothing but clear blue sky for as far as the eye could see.
Despite the tranquility, the Matoran of Fire did not accept it. And he knew he never would ever again.
Many of the sailors on this voyage had been his friends, his brothers and sisters in arms. And by morning, they were all lying dead on the deck. The Toa had recovered all their mangled bodies, and as a sign of respect, he had cast them into the ocean. But the sea had not claimed their lives. Their fates were far worse. It was the monsters that had stolen their lives, the monsters of the cold and the dark. For all eternity, his friends would lie in watery graves. They deserved better.
The Matoran looked up at the Toa, who had positioned himself in the center of the ship, next to the steering instrument. Despite his injuries, he had been commandeering the vessel since the incident with the Zyglak, and though the boat had been left an absolute wreck, he had somehow managed to navigate it through the worst of the storm.
The Matoran wasn’t sure what was on his mind. He had promised to defend a crew of eight and seven of them were now victims. He had given them his word and he had failed them. But there had been at least been one small victory that night. One life had been saved.
The Toa himself seemed calm, collected and in control. By contrast, the Matoran survivor was already beginning to feel the guilt of being the only one left. The Toa shot him a look. It didn’t feel pitying nor did it feel unwelcoming. Rather, it was a look that conveyed a sense of understanding, an unspoken phrase that said he could comprehend what he was going through, as if all his emotions could be condensed into a single utterance. It was compassionate.
The Matoran looked at the three scratches on his mask. They would fade in time, but for now, they were deep and pronounced. But if one dared to think about it, perhaps those scratches told the Zyglak’s secrets. The Ta-Matoran had heard many stories about them and had heard many grisly tales of their abilities. Zyglak prided themselves on their ability to spread a contact-based virus that could eat through a Matoran’s organic flesh. They were plague carriers, no better than overgrown vermin. But this one seemed to lack that power.
Each time it had struck at the Toa with its claws, nothing had happened to him. Each time they made contact, the Toa would still be standing. Perhaps this Zyglak was an outcast, even amongst its own people. Perhaps they viewed it as an inferior for his defection and had exiled it. After all, Zyglak usually did attack in numbers. Why would only one dare to board alone?
Suddenly, the boat came to a stop. Was there a leak? Were they sinking?
The Matoran looked over the side to see they had hit shallow water. They must’ve reached the continent now. He slowly brought his eyes up to see what lay in front of him and almost smiled. They had docked on a beautiful golden beach, which lay in front of a dense tropical forest. He knew this area well. They were not far from the village the crew had meant to be trading with.
The Ta-Matoran turned back to look at the remnants of the vessel. Less than half of the cargo had survived the journey and he wasn’t even sure if their contents were intact. Plus, this vessel was not even remotely seaworthy; it was a miracle that the ship had not sunk yet. However, he knew the villagers around here and he knew they would be willing to help him out. They’d offer him a new ship and possibly a new crew for the return trip, if he ever dared to take the risk.
The Toa jumped over the starboard side of the boat and into the water, trudging his way towards the beach as he returned to his own particular journey. He had already rummaged through the boat to find anything valuable and had placed all his findings on the main deck. He had done his part and it would be better if they both parted ways. Before he arrived on the coast, he turned back one last time and looked at the Ta-Matoran.
He didn’t say anything. Were words needed to summarize what had happened during the night?
The answer to that question was ‘no’ it seemed, and instead, the Toa simply nodded to him. It was a respectful gesture and one that wished the Matoran good luck. Then he turned and resumed his own journey.
The Ta-Matoran hadn’t asked for his name, but he supposed that didn’t really matter. He was the sort of individual who could not easily be categorized. Toa were often described as many things at once. They weren’t always the heroes who beat the bad guys at the end of the day.
This Toa was a variety of things: a hitchhiker, a warrior, a savior, and a protector. And like many before him, he defied the idolized and stereotyped image of what a great Toa should be. It would shatter any Matoran’s faith to see them so vulnerable, but at least these types of Toa were honest at heart. They didn’t hide behind bluster and bravado, they didn’t rise to meet the status quo and they didn’t try to become larger-than-life figures.
And in a world as dangerous as this one, perhaps that was the kind of hero that one really needed.