A little action story starring my own personal Matoran character, Taku.
The Siege of Ta-Koro
It was way back in the year 107 After Arrival. Ta-Koro wasn't quite the same fortress as it is today. Many improvements and modifications have been made since that time. The lowerable bridge, for instance, hadn't been added yet and instead a bridge of solid stone led to the fort.
* * *
Sharp silver light shone down from a full moon above, in stark contrast to the harsh orange glow of the lava lake below.
Masks, bodies, and weapons glinted silver in the moonlight, yet were contrastly and from below imbued with the truculent glowing light, wherever they stood in its reach.
Large stone battlements lined the top of a thick stone wall, a fortification repeated on every side of the fortress, save the front gate, where a giant stone door would impede the progress of any intruders.
Many lines of brave Matoran warriors lined the ramparts in tense readiness. Staves, throwing disks, spears, axes, even swords; many weapons glinted in the silver light above and glowed harsh orange beneath.
They knew what was coming. They were prepared to fight to the last.
This was their home. They would not let it fall.
Soon, they knew, it would begin.
* * *
The message had come earlier that day. Scouts had reported a large contingent of Rahi passing purposely through the forest, headed straight for the village. Muaka, Nui-Rama, Nui-Jaga, many different Rahi who were natural enemies were working together for a common purpose: Our destruction.
I knew this wasn't right. It wasn't natural. Nature itself should not be pitted against us like this. But a shadow lay over our land. It had for many years. The shadow turned the very animals and elements against us.
We were hard pressed just to survive.
But survive we did, and I may say very successfully at that. Our village had been attacked before by the relentless monster Rahi, and every time our tough warriors had forced them back. We were highly confident of our abilities, but we were especially tense this night, as the incoming force was larger than usual.
We'd spent the rest of the day preparing for battle: Polishing our weapons and making sure they were in good order, preparing other defenses, putting the weak or sick in a place of safety. I myself had polished my shield and bamboo staff bladed at each end to a particularly glowing sheen. The time when there's no work left to be done and all you do is sit still and wait for the coming battle is the worst part. When you have something to do it distracts your mind. But the waiting is awful. Even the actual fighting isn't as bad.
So there I stood, on the western wall, stiff and erect, many other proud fighters like me in lines on either side. Our senses were highly alert, watching for the least sign of the attack. The main gate, in the eastern wall, was the most heavily guarded, as that would of course be the main direction of attack, since it was the only way to reach the village across a stone bridge. How nice it would be if someday we were able to raise and lower our bridge. . . Well, wishful thinking. But it could be done.
Our main task would be fending off attacks from flyers like Nui-Rama, since they were the only ones who could attack from this side. Piles of throwing disks we had at our sides, each of us holding one ready to throw, some holding two. Our other weapons lay on the ground just behind us, just in case.
The horn was sounded. We heard shouts from far behind us. The attack on the main gate had begun. Our nerves became even more tense. If flyers were coming, they would come soon. Our eyes bored into the fog rising from the lake of lava. No sign of movement yet. Thank Mata Nui we had a full moon this night.
But wait. . . There! A Nui-Rama! It was coming in on my right, and the Matoran over there prepared their offense. Another one on the left! More and more began to appear, a whole little swarm. One came straight toward me. I drew back my arm and let my disk fly. To my delight, I struck a bullseye, my disk landing right in the bug's face, sending him toppling downwards to crash into the wall, then to fall to the lower portions of our little island in the lava lake.
Around me I saw many other Nui-Rama thus afflicted. A few made it over the wall to crash-land inside the village. Reserve warriors would immediately fall upon it to make sure it was disabled.
But there were so many of them, a good number made it past us. We shouted warnings to the others behind us, and I knew two of our number would head off in either direction to ask for reinforcements. The attacks on the north and south were much weaker than here on the west, Still our disks flew, as more flyers were still coming. Another of my disks lodged in a bug's wings, another hitting one in the eye.
A few of them started landing on the wall and attacking us directly. One landed on the wall immediately in front of me and took a swipe at me. I fell back, narrowly avoiding his claws, and grabbed for my staff. He clawed at me again, this time pinning me down, but I stabbed at his foot with my staff and he released me, hissing. With a shout I stood and turned on him, jabbing my staff toward him. Several other defenders came to my side and did likewise. The Nui-Rama fell back slightly and looked like he was going to fly off again. Determined not to let him get away, I leaped over his head and onto his back, slamming my staff into his wings as they began to flap. With a terrible hiss he began to fall backwards off the wall. Not inclined to join him I leaped backward toward the safety of the ramparts. I made it just in time, my free hand grabbing the very edge of the battlements. I looked down and saw the Nui-Rama plummeting to the rocky ledges below. A close call, I thought.
Several hands reached for mine and helped me return to the wall. I saw the reserve warriors within the village fighting off a few stray flyers, and though I couldn't see the battle outside the main gate I could see it was going well.
I turned to rejoin the efforts of my fellows. Fewer flyers were coming in now, and victory felt close at hand. Just then we heard shouts of dismay and horror from the Matoran farther to the right on our wall. Glancing their way, my heartlight nearly stopped flashing.
Coming out of the orange were three Nui-Kopen, far larger than their Rama cousins, but that wasn't the problem. At first we couldn't believe what we were seeing. But there it was. Those three Nui-Kopen were carrying between them the great weight of a Muaka cat.
As we watched, several more groups of the Kopen appeared in the fog, some with Muaka, others with Kane-Ra or Nui-Jaga. My moment of frozen terror gone, I shouted to the others to fight to the last. Picking up two disks, I aimed my first one carefully, aiming for the eyes of the nearest Nui-Kopen. Clouds of disks joined my own, but to little avail. Only one or two of the groups were felled. The others flew over the wall and into the village. The terrible creatures would wreak havoc if something wasn't done. Runners were sent in every direction. I prayed the battle at the gate was going well so they could send some of their number to help us.
By now the attacks on the north and south had ceased, so the fighters there were free to join us. Despite that, things were looking quite bleak within the village, with the monsters having already leveled many buildings. Much farther and they would reach the sick and injured. . .
All this was taken in by a glance behind me, and then my attention returned to the front by shouts of fear. I turned just in time to see a Muaka being carried straight towards me. I knew in a moment it would pass overhead, but with the dangling legs taking us over the wall with it. I hefted my staff and let it fly. To my incredible amazement and delight, it struck home, lodging itself in the lead Nui-Kopen's wings. With a terrible dive the three flyers and the Muaka angled down.
They were too close to slow down. They were about to crash full speed into the wall. It occurred to me in the brief space between my incredulity at my own success and their crash to wonder how much force our wall could take.
They slammed straight into the wall, and I suddenly found myself flying through the air, other Matoran and bits of stone raining alongside me. I realized the Rahi must have smashed through the wall.
I landed hard on stone. Blearily I rose to my feet, dreading what sight I must then see. They had indeed smashed straight through our wall. There was now a gaping hole in the rearside of our beloved village. The Muaka cat stood in the gap, alive and well, though enraged by the pain of being forced through a stone wall. The Nui-Kopen lay disabled about me, dead or dying. Beside me the other Matoran who had been thrown in the air were rising slowly to their feet. The Muaka stood there roaring in pain and fury for a moment, and in that moment I chanced a glance behind. All was chaos in the village. Half-a-dozen monstrous Rahi were still loose and wild, while the defenders strove desperately to fight them despite the danger. I had to admire their courage.
Turning back to the Muaka, I happened to spy my staff lying on the ground next to the Nui-Kopen whom it had felled, and a course of action immediately settled itself in my mind. I knew it was rash, foolish, stupid even, but if the other Matoran could bravely face these odds, so could I. I raced up and lifted my staff from the ground, and then by some miracle I saw my shield lying nearby as well. I grabbed it and then carried out the foolish and stupid course of action I had elected: I charged the Muaka.
Though I was but the size of the monster's paw, I gave a terrible shout and ran headlong toward it. It seemed fazed for a moment, as if unable to believe what it was seeing, then snarled and swiped at me. I ducked under my shield. I was jolted by the blow but unharmed. Hefting my staff, bladed at each end, I held it with both hands and pointed it toward the monster, screaming like a psychopath. Somehow, the Muaka seemed genuinely taken aback. To my surprised gratification, I then realized that my fellow warriors were now standing by my side, hefting spears and yelling like I was.
We pressed forward, and the Muaka inched backward, uncertainty gripping its cruel heart. Seeing that by forcing it backward we might drive it over the cliff edge, I voiced my realization and pressed forward. Unfortunately, I moved too far forward, putting me in the monster's reach, and it took advantage of the oppurtunity. Both hands on my staff, I was unable to use my shield properly, and though I tried to stab the incoming paw with my staff, I missed, and the paw caught me full on. What a terrific swipe of that creature it was, too. I was sent hurling through the air over its shoulder. Ironic, really, that I now found myself flying over the same cliff that I had been trying to drive the Muaka over.
What miracle of fortune had saved me I knew not, but Mata Nui, asleep though he was, must have been watching over me that day, for I would have died there and then but for one thing: As I hurtled through the air, I struck some airborne creature. Instantly I reacted, grasping for a hand-hold of any kind. I drove my arms around the neck of the creature, then realizing that it was a Nui-Rama.
I was no Rahi-pilot, like the riders of flying Rahi of Le-Koro, and even then I would have had great difficulty in steering a Makuta-maddened monster of nature as I now rode, but somehow my desperation and desire to live helped me gain partial control of the beast. It took many moments of soaring straight through the battle within the village to gain even that, but as we veered and soared over the northern wall I realized my will was now affecting the beast's movements. In an instinctive move, I directed the monster to move towards my left, and it did. We were now headed toward the main gate of the village, and it crossed my mind to see how the battle was going there. I didn't even have time to stop and wonder how miraculous it was that I was even doing what I was doing.
As we turned to the front of the village, I saw that the battle was going badly. A good number of Rahi beasts were advancing on the gate, with what little resistance there still was on the bridge slowly retreating. Without thinking of my own safety, I realized that forcing my Nui-Rama to crash into the advancing Rahi might somehow turn the tide in our favor. With tremendous effort, given the great desire of my steed to not crash into anything, I more or less managed to accomplish my goal of aiming our flight into the incoming mass attacking my home. We were above their level, and I aimed us in such a way as to crash right in the midst of them. To my partial and immediate dismay, instead of crashing straight into the midst of the beasts we bounced off the back of a Muaka cat and were airborne again. Truth be told, it was rather lucky that it happened that way, as otherwise otherwise I probably wouldn't still be here to tell you this tale.
Glancing back, I at least had the satisfaction of seeing the Muaka losing its balance and falling onto the Kane-Ra by its side, which would likely have some good affect on the battle. Turning forward again, I had a new idea. Fighting with my beast to move towards the west, I flew over the village and gained a good, if brief, bearing on the battle below. Despite the terrible odds, the defenders were still holding their own. Thank Mata Nui for that.
Then I checked on the situation of my fellows whom I had left with the Muaka who sent me into the predicament of trying to pilot a giant bug, useful though that was. To my pleasant surprise, I found them just as I had left them. Though the great Muaka cat was roaring furiously at them and looking desperately for an opening, their combined and intimidating strength was enough to hold him back. Without a second thought, I adopted my newly elected course of action: Same as before, I charged the Muaka, only this time, I had help.
Lucky for me he didn't see us coming or he might have simply swiped us out of the air. As it was, he didn't spot us until the last moment, and so he pulled his head back in surprise and fear. We struck him head-on, and sent him tumbling over the cliff to the rocky ledges below. I was amazed that it actually worked, and that I had succeeded in the goal, the prosecution of which had resulted in my current predicament.
A cheer rang out among the Matoran behind me, from those who had seen my tossed over the cliff. I knew not if they even knew I still lived. That is, if they could see me from my position atop a Nui-Rama, or if they were just cheering at the fall of the Muaka, but I cared not in that moment nor stopped to think of it. Thankfully the assault of Nui-Kopen and their monstrous burdens had ceased at about the same time the Muaka broke the wall, but to my dismay I saw another one coming out of the fog. I veered off to the left to avoid getting close to them, and wondered what I should do next. I turned to follow them and realized the obvious, that I should attack the Nui-Kopen.
They were nearly into the village now, and I urged the Rama onwards. To my frustration, he redoubled his efforts to thwart my control, and sent us into a vertigo-inducing and bouncing flight. I struggled desperately, as the defenders in the village could not afford to be set upon by yet another Muaka cat, and slowly but surely I induced him towards the Nui-Kopen.
The Nui-Kopen were in the village now, and were moving down to release their load. Dismay gripped me. I was already too late. Even if I forced them to drop it prematurely, it would land safey, even if well-bruised, in the village. Nevertheless I gave a mighty yell and a mighty shove of the Nui-Rama toward them. To my satisfaction, it worked. We were headed due on course. Slamming into the Nui-Kopen, the Muaka slipped from their grip, but the force of the crash dislodged me from my mount. I was flung through the air, realizing only then that there was one likely end for my mad flight.
Ah, but what a reckoning I had given first, eh?
But instead of falling a hundred feet as I had imagined, I found myself landing on something far nearer. Not even knowing what it was, I instantly reacted and got a grip, wondering that I should saved from a terrible fall twice in the same battle. Wondering at my incredible luck, I then realized I was on the back of the Muaka as he plunged toward the ground.
At least I was on top of him, so he would soften my landing, but I knew this could not be good.
Glancing below, I realized that we were headed for a second Muaka, that I hadn't even realized was there. What luck! That I should strike two birds with one stone! Er, as it were. But then, I was also about to land among the two of them. I held tight and prepared to meet Mata Nui.
We struck the side of the other Muaka and toppled to the ground ourselves. Despite my efforts to hang on, I was thrown clear, and lucky that I was, else I would have been crushed under my Muaka's back as he rolled clear over.
I struck the stone, painfully, and slowly but bruisedly rose to my feet. Every inch of me ached, and I knew that tomorrow my muscles would be more sore than they had been in a long time. That was, if I lived to see tomorrow.
I was startled out of my bleariness by a ferocious bellow coming from my left. The Muaka we had crashed into was roaring furiously at the other one. Glancing to my right, I saw the other one, who was nearer to hand than I would have liked and eyeing the other Muaka. The two of them drew closer to each other, sizing each other up.
I was caught between what looked to be a terrible confrontation between two giant beasts.
I was about to make a break for freedom when the distance between the beasts suddenly closed as the one charged the other. Evidently one or the other had somehow had their connection to the Makuta severed, but at the time the fact never entered my mind.
Before I had time for much of a reaction they were at blows above me. They swiped and clawed one another, with me caught in the middle dodging this way and that to avoid getting trampled upon. Every moment I expected to be crushed, and yet I managed enough control of my body to pursue the best oppurtunities for survival. It was a maddening experience. The ferocious roars of the beasts and the gleam of their swiping claws and thrashing limbs still give me nightmares.
Finally, I decided to make one last bid for freedom. But just as I did so one Muaka crouched down, evidently tiring of the stalemate and meaning to leap upon the other.
I turned just in time to see him crouch and leap, when his rear foot caught me in the forehead.
I toppled to the ground, ears ringing, mind somewhat numb, and then realized I wasn't dead. My second realization was that my mask was gone. My mind began to blur, as it always does when a Matoran loses his mask. I groped about, searching for it, as my thoughts grew less and less distinct.
My mask, my mask, where was my mask? But wait, there are Muaka nearby! I had forgotten why, but I knew they were near. I glanced about fearfully, and saw two great shapes wrestling a ways off. I resumed my search, groping about for- What? What was I looking for? I knew I had been looking for something. I strained my soggy mind, but a great weight seemed to press down on it.
Another moment and the weight forced its way down, leaving me comatose.
* * *
When I came to I found myself lying in a bed. At first I wondered where I was. This certainly wasn't my own home. But after a few moments of thought and a few observations of the room around me; a sheet of cloth along one side of the bed and a row of strange utensils visible in the corner; I realized I was in the Medic's hut. Then the memories started coming back, and I soon realized that there were many other injured Matoran lying in the beds around me. It didn't take me long then to deduce that the battle had been a victory, but what damage had been done I would not know until I recieved a visitor.
I reached up to my face and fingered the mask which had evidently been provided to save my life.
My body ached, and the fatigue of the battle came heavily over me. I turned my head with the intention of returning to slumber. It was then that I noticed the little table beside me, and I smiled at the item that had been placed upon it.
A brand-new, polished and shining, throwing disk sat on the tabletop. It was the sort used more for decoration, with an image of my own orange Rau engraved on it. There was an engraved message as well, just under the mask.
A Little Gift From The Ta-Koro Guard To A Very Brave,
Or Else Very Foolish Or Even Mad, But Whicheverwise Very Lucky Matoran,
Taku The Nui-Rama Rider.
To He Is Owed Much Credit For Our Victory This Day.