Mar 17 2009, 04:17 PM
Group: Premier Members
Joined: 29-May 04
Member No.: 23494
The night over Onu-Metru was peaceful. Soft-edged clouds waltzed slowly on a sky of deep royal purple. Humming streetlights cast faintly flickering cones of light on the sleeping avenues. A light breeze ruffled the day-old newspapers clinging in the gutters and carried the sweet aromas from a nearby landfill across rows of residential blocks.
Somewhere in the district, something large and metal clanged, followed by a series of crescendoing thumps, a loud and complicated crash, another, longer crash, and the sound of a Matoran cursing.
“Ow, ow, ow…” muttered Kirga as he dragged himself up the remaining rungs on the fire escape ladder. “Did we really have to meet on a rooftop?” The alley below him was now a mess of trashcans and overturned crates.
“It’s a matter of principle, Lancer,” said Instar.
“Couldn’t principle have been a bit more forgiving on my legs?” Kirga whined.
“More to the point,” continued Instar, completely ignoring Kirga’s complaints, “This means that we’re all here! Is everyone suited up and ready to begin the patrol?”
“Er, excuse me,” said Janai, “But what exactly does this patrol entail?”
“Don’t you know?” said Instar. “All heroes go on patrol! It’s quite easy. We just systematically make our way through this district of the city, looking out for any trouble, and intervening if we find it.”
“Sounds simple enough. What if we don’t find any trouble? Call it a night?”
“My dear Ga-Mystic, don’t be silly! There’s always trouble afoot, somewhere!”
“What shall our method of locomotion be?” asked Dekimu. “Just walking along the streets hardly seems fitting.”
“Nor practical!” Instar agreed. “Therefore we shall move about the city on the highway in the sky!”
“What, the chutes?” said Akiro. “I don’t think the chutes…”
“No, not the chutes! I’m talking about the lofty platforms that see all!”
“Hang gliders?” ventured Kirga.
“The rooftops!” said Instar. “That’s why I called the meeting here in the first place!”
There were a few seconds of silence. Then Kirga stepped slowly and deliberately towards the edge of the rooftop. He mimed shading his eyes and staring at the roof of the building across the street, and gave a low whistle.
“Yup,” he said. “Sounds like it’s going to work. Leaping the width of a street should be no problem, after all.”
“I’m glad you think so too!” said Instar. “I knew the plan was sound. If that’s the case then, you can go first!”
Akiro and Janai hid their laughter as Kirga gawked.
“But—but I didn’t seriously—”
“Now come on now!” said Instar, giving Kirga a hearty slap on the back. “Don’t tell me a heroic member of the Matoran Defense League is getting cold feet!”
“It’s not cold feet I’m worrying about! It’s broken feet! And legs. And arms. Probably internal injuries too.” Kirga paused for a moment. “That line didn’t work as well as I’d hoped.”
“Come on, Lancer!” said Instar encouragingly. “Show us that you’re worthy of being a member of this team!”
Kirga surveyed the gap between the two buildings helplessly. He gulped and took a deep breath. He turned and looked at Instar, who was wearing an expression of confident encouragement; to Janai and Akiro, whose faces both said, “Sorry it had to be you, glad it ain’t me;” to Dekimu, who was examining fractal patterns in the stone texture on the rooftop.
Giving the other building one last look, he said in a shaky voice, “Okay. I’ll give it a try.”
Acting as if each step brought him closer to his grave—likely not an inaccurate sentiment—Kirga stepped away from the edge of the roof. He turned around.
Took another deep breath.
Tensed his legs.
Clenched his teeth.
Started to run with all his might toward the edge of the roof and the abyss beyond.
Mere steps from the edge, Kirga suddenly changed direction. He shifted his momentum into a U-turn, came back running the other way, dashed past the other four Matoran, and charged right through the door of the stairwell.
About half a minute later, light spilled out onto the street below, and the other members of the Matoran Defense League watched as Kirga ran across the street and entered the other building. Thirty more seconds and the stairwell door on the roof of that building was flung open, and Kirga stumbled out, breathless.
“There!” he shouted across the street, still panting from the exertion. “Th… there! I… I did it!”
Instar seemed to hesitate a moment before shouting back, “You certainly did! We shall join you there shortly! Come, Matoran Defense League.”
Akiro shrugged as they headed toward the stairwell. “That was easier than I expected.”
When they made it to the other rooftop, the Matoran were all exhausted, except for Kirga, who had caught his breath.
“Good… good work,” gasped Instar. “This… this sort of… problem solving… is what defines… a true member of the Matoran Defense League…”
Akiro sat down, winded, but managed a chuckle. “Still, a week ago… a week ago I probably would have collapsed on the second flight of stairs.”
“I guess we have changed some since that old Toa guy started teaching us,” agreed Janai.
“Hey,” said Kirga, “Are we gonna be doing this rooftop ritual for every single building in the district? I think that’d be tiring, to say the least.”
“What do you mean, Lancer?” said Instar. “We’re just traversing the rooftops.”
“Er…” said Kirga.
“Wait,” said Janai.
“Is anything the matter?” asked Dekimu.
Janai was squinting up at the sky. She pointed.
“There… look… what is that?”
The other Matoran joined her, staring at the spot in the sky she indicated. Distant, dark shapes were moving there, and getting closer.
“Rahkshi!” exclaimed Instar. “No doubt come to wreak more havoc on innocent civilians! Come, Matoran Defense League! Mobilize!” Instar motioned toward the stairwell door.
“Er, should we not first ascertain the Rahkshi’s destination before chasing after them?” said Dekimu, eyeing the stairwell with apprehension.
“Yes, very good,” said Instar. “Wait and see where they’re headed. And then mobilize!”
The Rahkshi were now clearly visible. There were at least a dozen variously colored creatures descending upon Onu-Metru.
“It looks like they’re going to be landing over there,” said Janai, pointing. “What do you think they’re up to? Another newsstand raid?”
“Probably,” said Akiro. “They don’t do much else these days.”
“Or perhaps not! Even worse, they could be raiding a Matoran’s home!” said Instar.
The other four Matoran gasped.
“If that’s the case, would their purpose not be to destroy the entire collection housed there?” said Dekimu.
“That would suck!” said Kirga, wide-eyed with astonishment. “Seriously!”
“Indeed!” said Instar, as the Rahkshi began to circle low over a building, like vultures. Except vultures don’t exist in the Matoran Universe. “Such an act would be even worse than the destruction of a newsstand! Think of all the out-of-print issues and the years of devoted collecting that would have gone into such a stash!”
“That’s terrible!” said Akiro. “Practically blasphemous!”
“Argh!” groaned Kirga. “I can’t take this anymore! It makes me so angry!” Glaring at the descending Rahkshi, Kirga shouted, “Hang in there babies! I’m comin’ for ya!”
And with that, he charged at top speed in the direction of the Rahkshi and, hollering a warcry, leapt off the edge of the rooftop.
He promptly plummeted like a rock. A few seconds later, there was a loud crash from the street below.
The Matoran on the rooftop exchanged glances.
“Anyone down with taking the stairs?” said Janai.
“Yeah, I’m good with that,” said Akiro.
“Concur,” said Dekimu.
“Let’s get going, then,” said Instar.
They found Kirga sprawled in a dumpster once they got back down to the street. He was unharmed, and had gained the superpower to cast a repulsive field around himself that would cause most living beings with a sense off smell to give him a very wide berth.
“Onwards!” commanded Instar, and the regrouped Matoran Defense League barged down the street towards the place where the Rahkshi had landed.
After several minutes of silent, tense running through the dim streets of Onu-Metru, Instar came to a halt and held up his hand.
“I think they landed around here,” he said, pointing at the building next to him.
Dekimu nodded. “That conjecture is in line with my observations.”
“Okay,” said Instar, putting a finger in front of his mouth. “Now, team, we must be very quiet. Ga-Mystic, can you cast a cloaking field around us?”
“Eh?” said Janai. “Uh… sure, I guess?” She held up her hands and wiggled her fingers uncertainly, feeling a little ridiculous, but Instar seemed satisfied.
“Excellent!” he said. “Now, let’s go, and remember, stealth is of the essence!” Pointing at the fire escape on the building, Instar motioned for his team to ascend.
Leading the way, Instar carefully placed his foot on the first step of the metal staircase. A loud clanging sound issued forth, echoing off the walls of the nearby buildings, and the entire structure of the fire escape vibrated.
Turning towards the Matoran behind him, Instar hissed, “Shhh!”
Turning back again, Instar took another slow, careful step.
Whirling around, he gave another urgent “Shhh!” to his teammates. Kirga rolled his eyes.
The Matoran Defense League continued to ascend this way, carefully, stealthily, one step at a time, each footfall sounding like trashcan lids being banged together.
About halfway up the first flight of stairs, Kirga threw up his arms, said, “Screw stealth, darnit!” and took off up the stairs at a run, shouldering past Akiro and Instar.
“Wait!” shouted Instar. “The leader goes first!” And he too began to run up the unsteady metal fire escape as fast as he could, shouting at Kirga along the way.
The remaining three Matoran looked at one another, then at their teammates, who were already several flights of stairs ahead, shrugged, and also started taking the steps at top speed.
A veritable cacophony of clangs, thuds, rings, and shouts echoed through the Onu-Metru night. Lights in both the building the Matoran Defense League was climbing and the building across the street began to flick on. Grumpy Matoran slid open their windows and shouted groggy indecencies at the costumed noisemakers.
“Sorry!” shouted Dekimu, meekly. “Sorry! On a mission here! Sorry! Urgent business! Have to save a comics collection!”
“Quit yer yappin’!” roared Kirga from up ahead. “There’s Rahkshi up there what needs teaching a lesson to!”
“That sentence was not grammatical, Lancer!” called Dekimu.
“Do I look like I care!?”
“Here!” bellowed Instar, above the racket of the fire escape and the complaining civilians. “The Rahkshi are on this floor!”
He swung himself over the railing of the balcony, but before he could issue further commands, Kirga charged past him, yelling, “Outta my way!”
He careened around the corner to find a pair of Rahkshi guarding the open door of one of the apartments. His eyes widened and he stood in frightened shock. Suddenly, all the confidence drained from him. He felt completely unprepared in the face of actual opponents. For all his lazy nonchalance and brashness, he was still just one Matoran against two of the spawn of Makuta himself. Kirga became painfully aware of the fragile beating of his heartlight, and how easy it would be to end it.
The Rahkshi, too, were momentarily stunned by the sight of a hollering, oddly costumed Matoran hurtling around the corner. However, they quickly recovered. One of them hissed and swung its staff horizontally at Kirga.
Reacting quite suddenly and on reflex, Kirga rolled and ducked, pulled a knife from his belt, and slashed. The attacking Rahkshi screeched and hopped back, a shallow cut on its leg.
The other Rahkshi leapt forward and brought its staff down towards Kirga, who quickly protected his face. The staff made contact with a skilled forearm block and bounced off.
Kirga drew in his breath sharply and flapped his arm, moaning, “Ow, ow, ow, ow…” The Rahkshi hesitated, momentarily disoriented. It hadn’t fought many foes that paused to nurse minor bruises in the middle of a battle. It turned to the injured Rahkshi and gave a confused gurgle. The other Rahkshi shrugged.
Kirga glanced up, saw the Rahkshi’s distraction, and sprang, burying a knife in his opponent’s abdomen. He then whirled around and shoved a knife upwards through the other one’s head.
Both armored minions collapsed, motionless.
Kirga stood up, shaking and breathless, as the other four Matoran finally caught up with him. At the sight of the fallen Rahkshi, Akiro gave a low whistle. “Wow, you really pulled it off.”
“Yeah…” panted Kirga. “Yeah, I… I guess I did! Would you look at that?”
“No time for celebration yet!” declared Instar, pointing dramatically at the open apartment door. “More challenges await us within! Onwards!”
“Yes, sir!” said the other Matoran in unison. Amid the continuing catcalls of the awakened neighbors, the Matoran Defense League charged into the apartment.
Inside, it was almost completely dark. The five Matoran halted as their eyes adjusted to the lighting. The room was small and square. Tall, colorful stacks of comic books lined the sides and corners of the room. One by one, pairs of glowing orange eyes became visible.
“There a lot of them…” said Janai, sounding nervous.
“But we can do it, can’t we?” said Akiro. “Look at how Kirga took down the two guards outside!”
The Rahkshi seemed to be still observing the intruders, curiously. A few of them had started to advance. With a start, Akiro noticed a Matoran-shaped shadow hunched in the corner of the room.
“Of course we can do it!” said Instar. “Who do those Rahkshi think we are? We’re the Matoran Defense League! Nothing can stop us! Now… attack!”
And, heedless, headlong, the five Matoran dashed forward.
Akiro found himself confronted with a sparking Rahkshi of chain lightning. He dodged aside as a bolt of electricity crackled through the air. Darting forward, he managed to land a couple punches on the Rahkshi before dancing backwards once more.
Across the room, Dekimu was grappling with another Rahkshi’s staff, the Rahkshi’s hissing face mere inches from his. No matter how hard he concentrated, none of his mental attacks seemed to work. Deciding that he should use his Brain Wave Amplifier somehow, Dekimu bashed his heavy head into the Rahkshi’s, and the Makuta spawn immediately fell to the ground, unconscious.
Kirga nimbly turned away as a staff swished by, then whipped out a knife and stabbed the wielder through the arm; then another knife, and another, and another, until he reached for his belt and found it empty.
The Rahkshi looked down at its body, which was now bristling with knife hilts. Somehow, every single one had managed to miss a vital area. It lifted its head and shrieked in Kirga’s face.
Kirga kicked upwards, sharply, and the Rahkshi’s head snapped back.
Janai skidded to a stop in front of another hunched minion. Just as she was about to engage, Instar ran in front of her.
“Leave this to me, Ga-Mystic!” he said.
“Get out of my way!” growled Janai. Grabbing Instar by the arm, she shoved him aside. Sliding forward, she kicked low and swept the Rahkshi’s legs out from under it, then smashed her fists down on its flank as it went down.
Akiro brought another Rahkshi to the ground with a flying kick. “This is no good!” he said, pointing at the door. The two guard Rahkshi were back on their feet already, and none of the other Rahkshi were showing any signs of tiring.
Janai gave a grunt of frustration and tackled another Rahkshi. Both of them tumbled into a nearby stack of comics, which collapsed in a storm of flying paper.
Janai pushed herself up from the ground and looked around, bewildered.
“Wait…” she said. “What the…” She grabbed at the papers swirling through the air. “Blank pages!” she said, waving a fistful. “All stacks of blank paper, with just one genuine comic book on top!”
Akiro stared at the swirling papers in disbelief for a moment, then suddenly seemed struck by something. He darted to the corner of the room, where the shadowy Matoran was.
“It’s a dummy!” he exclaimed. Shaking the hunched shape revealed it to be a sack with a pot on top.
“A dummy?” said Kirga. “And fake comics? The heck is going on…”
The Matoran backed towards the center of the room as the Rahkshi lifted themselves off of the ground, surrounded them, and hissed menacingly. For a few seconds, nobody made a move. Each side seemed to be waiting for the other to act first.
Suddenly Dekimu gasped, nudged the other Matoran, pointed out the window, and whispered, “Look!” In the distance, a swarm of flying shapes was approaching. It was quite clear that the apartment was their destination.
The Matoran’s eyes widened. “Reinforcements?” said Instar, his voice rising. “Don’t tell me… no. No! It’s a trap! Matoran Defense League! Get the heck out of here!”
All five Matoran turned tail and fled out through the apartment door. Taking that as a signal, the Rahkshi leapt into action as well, shrieking and charging at the door. Since Rahkshi are significantly bigger than Matoran, and the door was Matoran-sized, they probably should have seen it coming when they got stuck.
“Run run RUN!” bellowed Instar, as the Matoran dodged past the guards outside the doorway.
“You don’t need to tell me twice, Captain Obvious!” Kirga yelled in return, ducking under a Rahkshi’s arm and making a break for it.
Akiro and Dekimu made for the fire escape, while Kirga and Instar ran for the stairwell. Janai vaulted herself over the railing and swung onto the balcony of the next lower floor.
Behind them, one of the Rahkshi crowded into the small doorway finally had the bright idea of firing something random from its staff. The doorway exploded (as did a couple of its comrades) and the Rahkshi spilled out.
“Hurry, hurry!” urged Akiro, as he descended the fire escape. Above him, Dekimu was unsuccessfully trying to keep his Brain Wave Amplifier from clonking against the staircase each time he moved. Akiro looked worriedly at the approaching shapes in the distance. They were much closer now, and he could start to make out some details. Something about them seemed strange, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Suddenly, there was the shock of an impact and the entire structure shook violently. Akiro whirled around and found himself looking in the face of a Rahkshi.
The Rahkshi screamed. Except not in fear. It was an intimidation tactic. Primal instinct, you know. Just to make that clear. Rahkshi are afraid of nothing except their master and in some cases each other.
Akiro dodged aside as the Rahkshi made a wild grab at him. He tried desperately to descend farther, but there was no way to get past the Rahkshi. Hissing, it began to climb towards Akiro, who hastily retreated back up.
“Dekimu!” he shouted. “Get back! There’s one down here!”
“I’m afraid that would be impossible!” Dekimu replied shakily. “There’s one coming at us from above as well!”
The two Matoran retreated until they were back-to-back. Akiro made a frantic attempt to punch at the Rahkshi coming from below, but the Rahkshi’s hand shot out and caught Akiro’s wrist in an iron grip before he could land the blow.
With its other hand, the Rahkshi raised its staff. The end of the staff began to glow. Akiro found himself shaking uncontrollably. He tried with all his might to tug his arm out of the creature’s grasp, to no avail.
Suddenly, the fire escape was flooded in a bright artificial spotlight. The Rahkshi shrieked and shrank from the light, letting go of Akiro’s arm in the process.
Akiro turned, shading his eyes from the glare, and saw that the light was being cast by one of the flying things that had been approaching. And now he realized why something had seemed strange. It was not a Rahkshi at all.
With a flicker, an elongated, hooded shape began to glow. A mechanical voice rang out from it.
“YOU ARE HEREBY UNDER ARREST FOR CAUSING A PUBLIC DISTURBANCE AT NIGHT!”
The Rahkshi glared at the source of the voice and hissed resentfully. The glowing hood turned to face the Rahkshi’s direction.
“THESE MATORAN HAVE BREACHED LOCAL ORDINANCES. THEY ARE UNDER OUR JURISDICTION. ALL RAHKSHI, PLEASE STAND DOWN.”
The Rahkshi looked defiant for a moment, but the flying shape cast the blinding floodlights on the Rahkshi, and, still hissing, it reluctantly leapt into flight mode and retreated into the night sky.
Akiro looked around in wonderment at the scene about him. The flying shapes were hovering around the other members of the Matoran Defense League as well, casting their bright floodlights. All of the Rahkshi were gradually drawing back and departing from the scene.
Something stiff and metallic gave Akiro’s arm an urgent tug. Akiro turned, and found himself looking into a pair of cold, mechanical eyes.
“YOU ARE UNDER ARREST FOR CAUSING A PUBLIC DISTURBANCE AT NIGHT! PLEASE COME QUIETLY OR WE WILL RESORT TO FORCE!”
Akiro nodded, still stunned, and followed.
Yes, I plan to advertise this until my account rots, seeing
as it's basically my best work that I've ever posted here.
|Lo-Fi Version||Time is now: 22nd May 2013 - 02:41 AM|