IC: Onaku - The Far Shore
Chapter 1 - Expectations
Onaku wasn’t sure what to make of his trip to the place he found himself in, a desolate wasteland of rock and gravel with lightning arcing across the heavily overcast sky up above. But what he remembered of it felt like falling through a kaleidoscope of starscapes, landscapes, and abstract visualizations, the strangest sights whizzing him by as he fell for what felt like an eternity. Then, suddenly, he was here, in the wasteland, underneath a churning sky full of light and fire in between the darkened cloud cover. In the distance, a building of metal and stone, the only discernible feature in an otherwise dreary and monotonous landscape.
With the sky above churning with electric bolts looking for any excuse to hit the ground, Onaku knew he was like a lightning rod standing out in the middle of the rocky plane. He had to hurry and get to cover, and other than the jagged mountains skewering the sky from beyond the horizon, the only place he could see that might provide him with it was the building. Thus he began his sprint, huffing and puffing as he kicked up the gravelly dust lining the uneven ground, making good headway toward the building.
Momentarily, his thoughts turned to what might lie ahead. Perhaps he would find a Makoki stone fragment in there? Or perhaps another unfortunate soul who’d gotten lost in the far shore? In any case, it was the only path forward that Onaku had before him, though he did wonder if it was a bit too obvious an answer. His thoughts were cut short at the strong taste of metal in his mouth, distinct from his usual mouth taste in how sharp it felt. Compounding it was the feeling of prickling across his form, and the crackling noise in his ears. He only had a second to realize what this meant before the whole world went blinding white.
Onaku found himself thrown to the ground with extraordinary force, twitching and flailing helplessly as he felt the raw energy pulse through and burn him from the inside out. He wanted to scream, but the once-Toa found himself robbed of the ability to articulate even his vocal cords, his nerves feeling as if they were literally on fire, untamed electricity sparking violently through his system and making his muscles twitch, stiffen up, and spasm uncontrollably. His eyes flew wide while pulses of pain coursed through his body erratically, and his heartlight flickered with dangerous irregularity while breath eluded him for what felt like ages
With every ounce of strength in his body, Onaku managed to force a gulp of air down into lungs, just barely managing to avoid passing out as he painstakingly inflated his chest and deflated it with every bit of manual control he could exert over it, his every breath shallow but just sufficient to stave off blacking out completely, as much as the sweet embrace of unconsciousness tempted him at that moment. Though the spasms continued along with the electricity coursing through his body, Onaku managed to roll over onto his stomach before he began dragging himself forward with his twitching, numbing arms, his determined focus locked on the building up ahead as he slowly continued his journey to it.
It was only half-way from where the lightning had struck him to the building that he finally managed to stumble back to his feet without falling over again, making the rest of the trip on his feet without further electric incidents. Noting at arrival that the building’s smooth wall of a front door had no discernable way to open it up, with no hidden switches he could find on or around it, nor any response to him pushing on it with all his might, Onaku began to circle the building, finding only further smooth walls along its side before finally rounding the corner to the back.
Rather than more of the same smooth impenetrable walls, Onaku found a large sparking gash in the building’s exterior, the metal red hot and the stonework molten slag around a hole large enough for him to fit through if he was careful not to touch the still glowing material. Looking around for any signs of who might have made this hole and finding no one, the once-Toa gingerly moseyed inside through the hole, finding himself in a smooth metallic corridor with red glowing crystal fixtures on the ceiling that cast the entire space in a deep sanguine hue.
Making his way inside, the roaring ambient of the outside atmosphere was soon replaced with a quiet mechanical hum that permeated the entire space. Onaku soon found himself at a junction, with labels above each corridor offshoot in letters he couldn’t understand but could discern were distantly related to matoran. One corridor’s label was distinct from the others, as rather than letters there was a symbol, a humanoid figure with its arms outstretched to the side and upward, its legs spread at shoulder width. It seemed eerily familiar though he couldn’t quite place it. With no other real lead, he decided it was worthwhile to check down that corridor first.
It wasn’t far down the corridor that Onaku began to notice dents in the smooth metallic wall panelling, sometimes enough to crack the plating and reveal the damaged stonework underneath. Heading further down the corridor, turning a few corners along the way, he began to pick up on a distant, rapid clanging, one that grew louder and louder as he made his way around one corner after the other, until finally he found himself looking at a cloaked figure wielding a large jackhammer-like tool against the smooth metallic wall, apparently trying to hammer it open.
Cautious of this stranger, Onaku remained near the corner in case he needed to duck into cover, waiting for the figure to stop hammering the wall before finally raising his hand in greeting and speaking out. “Uh, hello! Would you happen to know where I am currently?”
The figure jumped slightly, turning to Onaku and leveling the jackhammer at him before lowering it. “Oh my! How unexpected, a visitor! And one with a sense of humor, no less.” The being responded, their voice soft and a little high-pitched. Onaku furrowed his brow, stepping a bit closer. “Are you one of the people who entered into the Far Shore?”
The figure cocked their head to the side, gazing at him from under their hood with obvious curiosity despite their features being obscured. “Yes, the Far Shore. Quite the trip!”
Onaku nodded and sighed with relief. “Alright, well, I’m here to get you out then. My name is Onaku, I-” The figure raised a hand, interrupting him. “Ah, I’m afraid I can’t leave quite yet. Still have an… important item to retrieve. You know how it is. Can’t leave half way through the job.”
The once-Toa perked up, nodding with understanding. “The Makoki Stone fragment... you’ve found it?” The figure paused, then nodded in return. “The Makoko fragment, yes, I’ve found it, and I’d be most grateful if you could help me retrieve it. I know it’s hidden somewhere in here, just not sure where, the architects were most unhelpful in how they designed this place.”
Onaku stroked his chin thoughtfully. “Well, what’s at the end of the corridor?” He asked, looking down the winding hallway. The figure shrugged. “The end of the corridor? I don’t know. Why do you ask?” The once-Toa furrowed his brow at this, a confused expression on his features. “Because… wouldn’t the Makoki Stone fragment, if it’s being kept in this place, be stored at the end of the hallway?”
The figure’s high pitched cackle caught Onaku off guard, with him wincing as it cut into his ears. “You really think they’d keep such an important item as the Maaakoko Stone at the end of the hallway? Where anyone could find it? Surely you can’t be THAT naive, Toa.”
Onaku sighed, shaking his head and crossing his arms. “How can you be sure it’s not there if you haven’t checked?”
The figure paused, looking at the several dents they’d drilled into the walls with their jackhammer tool, before looking back at Onaku. “Well… when you put it that way, it does sound pretty sensible.” They then moved down the corridor a bit, raising their tool up against a smooth spot on the wall. “Which is why it most assuredly isn’t the answer. You feel free to go and check up ahead, though. Just know I’m not afraid to say ‘I told you so’ when you come back empty handed.”
Shrugging, the once-Toa began making his way down the corridor again while the figure started hammering away at the wall. A few rounded corners later, Onaku came upon a chamber with a large vault door at the end, with several mechanisms surrounding the door. “Oh yeah, too sensible that it’s at the end of the corridor.” He muttered to himself, shaking his head as he approached one of the mechanisms.
“Alright, lets see how this works…” Fiddling with the mechanisms methodically, he determined that the mechanisms were all connected in some way, concluding that it would require at least two people operating it at the same time to make it work. It looked like he’d need the cloaked figure’s help with this. Sighing to himself, Onaku turned around and headed back down the corridor, quickly finding the figure hammering away a few corners away, waving for them to stop.
“Ahah! Told you s-” “I found a vault door, guy. It has a mechanism that requires two people to operate it, so we’ll have to work together to open it.” The figure seemed slightly taken back. “... A vault door? Really? Hah, the architects really lacked imagination, it seems.” Slinging the jackhammer tool over their shoulder, the figure began making their way down the corridor past Onaku. “Unless of course it’s a decoy vault, which I wouldn’t put past them… still, can’t take the chance that it’s the real vault and pass it by. I’ll help you out, then, mister, but only because you asked nicely, and because I need a break from hammering at these walls all day long. Really killing my entire bone structure with the vibrations, I gotta tell you.”
The once-Toa sighed and nodded, following after the cloaked individual as they continued rambling on and wincing as a painful jolt travelled up his arm, reminding him of the agonizing lightning strike he’d suffered earlier. The two figures arrived at the vault chamber quickly enough, with the cloaked figure darting around and inspecting the mechanisms with interest. “Interesting, fascinating, a good distraction if this is the decoy vault.” Onaku shrugged, making his way to the other end of the room and taking his place at the mechanism, grasping it. “Alright, you grasp that lever over there and on the count of three, yank it as hard as you can down and to the left, okay?”
The cloaked figure inspected the lever, before nodding and grasping it. “Sounds simple enough. I can’t imagine how you could think this would work.” Onaku grunted irately. “Alright, get ready now. One… two… THREE!” In unison, the two beings worked their mechanisms, and as Onaku had predicted, the resulting chain of mechanisms joined up to meld together in unison, working the Vault’s opening mechanism. The massive door groaned and slid forward, before lifting up to reveal a bright glowing chamber within, bright enough to blind him.
“Alright! Maybe not a decoy after all! I guess we’ll see. Come come! Lets check insi- hey, wait for me!” While the figure had been rambling, Onaku had already made his way to the vault opening, peering inside and making his way in. In the center of the vault seemed to be a pedestal, something sitting on the top of it that had a bright aura around it that obscured its features.
“Did we do it? Did we find the Makoki Sto-” As his eyes adjusted to the light level, Onaku quickly realised that the item on the pedestal was no stone fragment at all, but a mask of a strange design he felt was familiar, though he still couldn’t place it, a design on the front resembling the vitruvian symbol he’d seen at the junction earlier. “This… isn’t the stone. Maybe you were right, maybe this was a decoy vau-”
Turning around, Onaku was too late to react as the hooded figure had raised a Zamor blaster and fired, the sphere knocking the once-Toa back. He fell down next to the mask, his hand grazing against it with a bit of static traveling between them before he hit the floor and coughed, feeling the taste of blood in his mouth as he realized he felt something eating into his chest.
“Sorry about the acid sphere, guy, but I was going to have to kill you sooner or later anyway, so I figured I’d at least do it at the most convenient moment while you were distracted. Thanks for the help, though, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.” The figure said, their tone turning to one of reverence as they approached the mask, gazed upon it with hands hovering hesitantly on either side of it. Onaku coughed up blood, crawling back away from the pedestal and up against the wall, feeling the acid eat away at his lungs. He tried to speak, but found that his voice only came out in a raspy wheeze.
“Oh, I guess I should tell you before you die.” The figure remarked, turning to Onaku and pulling their hood down, revealing a gaunt silvery skakdi face that looked at him with vacant red eyes and a thin toothy grin. “The name’s Vezon. Pleasure killing you, Onaku. We really should do it again some time.” He chuckled to himself, and slowly the once-Toa’s vision turned blurry and dark as he felt the life drain out of him. The last thing Onaku saw was the grin on Vezon’s face as he looked his way, before turning around and walking away.
Then, there was nothing.
Onaku was dead.
Onaku gasped for air as a powerful jolt shot through his entire body, the once-Toa shooting upright from his position lying against the wall and looking around frantically in utter confusion. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he quickly realized he wasn’t in the vault any more, but in a dark and grimy corridor of far less refined metallic construction than where he'd been before, resembling the foundries in Ta-Metru. Standing up, he had very little time to make heads or tails of what had happened when he heard a noise from behind him, multiple heavy steps upon the metallic floor approaching him rapidly.
To be continued...