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Year 07

About Kookie

  • Birthday September 26

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  1. Powerful stuff. I really like the direction this took; it never occurred to me that these characters might have opinions on their own cancellations. I really like how you pulled it off. It felt genuinely emotional and very relevant to the community. The positivity was a breath of fresh air for sure. I really appreciated the other heroes' confirmations that just because G2 didn't rival the legacy of those that came before doesn't make it a failure. The humor is great too. The inclusion of themes like Galidor and Slizers was a great touch. (I swear I laughed out loud when Torch's head disappeared under the table!) So yeah, great work! Honestly, I think everyone on the site should read this. Thanks for sharing!
  2. I finally got around to reading all entries tonight. All these stories are really good, and I'm honored to be among them. So much fun and creativity here... I'm glad we could have this contest, if only to see the awesome stories, MOCs, and art that everyone is capable of creating. Good luck all!
  3. These are all so good... Definitely a tough decision, but my vote is cast. Well done, all!
  4. This was... epic. Terrifying. Very nicely done! The parts where things are changing and characters are disappearing... Stuff like that is pretty powerful for me. I felt genuinely disturbed at times (and I mean that as a good thing ). The concept of cycles is also a favorite of mine (Dark Souls comes to mind), and I thought it was a very plausible way of connecting G1 with G2. Picturing that end to the first world with Vakama and the Toa facing off against Velika felt super cool. Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Good luck!
  5. I enjoyed this a lot! I really like the way it fleshes out the ending a bit and also makes a believable tie between G1 and G2. I've always been a bit on the fence about having G1 be connected, but I thought this totally worked. Well done, and good luck in the contest!
  6. Thank you so much for the comment! I'm glad you enjoyed it. It was definitely a lot of fun to explore the Toa emotionally in their downtime, and the loneliness was one that kind of came to me in the middle of writing. Glad to see it worked! And yeah, I've always liked the idea of other, fully developed nations outside of Okoto. I figured that, given a long enough span of semi-peace, Okoto would be able to restart trade with such countries (who may have assumed everyone there was dead; they haven't heard from them in decades after all). Anyway, glad you enjoyed the story. Thanks for reading, and good luck in the contest! *chills* I'm very happy to hear that the story worked so well for you. I remembered seeing a post somewhere (on Tumblr, I think) about how there should have been more quiet moments in G2. I filed it away in my head, thinking I should try to write a story along those lines eventually, and this contest was the perfect opportunity. I haven't read your entry yet, but I fully intend to. I appreciate the vote, and I wish you luck in the contest!
  7. I found this super cool! Definitely has the feel of something that functions both as the basis for the line as a product but also works on its own (as it should). I would've loved to see something like this in G2. Having Mistral as both a Warden and a Hunter worked very nicely I think. I like that it feels a little more focused on the Wardens rather than the Toa. (The Toa are always great, but sometimes it's nice for a change of pace, a la Dark Destiny.) The only thing I might ask for in addition is a little more backstory for the villains, particularly Umarak. A villain we can understand is always a plus. I think the story functions just fine as is, but it would have been the icing on the cake. Have you done this same sort of outline for the other years? I would personally love to see them. Well done, and good luck in the contest!
  8. "Arika!" Lewa called. "Come on back!" The young villager looked back at him. Arika was already halfway up a tree and hesitant about coming back down. Lewa stepped up to the base of the tree. "Here, hop down," he beckoned. "I'll catch you and carry you!" The child's face lit up beneath her brown mask and she carefully dropped down to where Lewa stood. He effortlessly caught her and lifted her up to sit on his shoulders. Lewa and the group of other villagers started moving again. "We should be more careful, Lewa," Kopaka said as the Uniter of Jungle resumed his place next to him. "If we were to lose anyone out here..." "I know, brother," Lewa said. "We do need to make sure everyone is safe, but I admit... I wish we could let them have some fun." He could feel Arika idly running her fingers along the ridges of his Mask. "We're out here, aren't we? Not cooped up in the City. There's some fun in that, I think." "Sure, but the tone is all wrong. Ekimu and the Protectors refuse to allow these walks without us accompanying them. We have to constantly worry about sticking together, about staying within sight of the City. I wish that the villagers could feel free to climb the trees they want to, to explore the land as they wish." "And one day, they will," Kopaka reassured him. "But not right now. We can't risk losing any more villagers to Umarak." "I know," Lewa said. Upon her insistence, he knelt and let Akira off his shoulders and she ran to catch up with her parents. "But I don't have to enjoy it." Kopaka kept looking at Akira's family, at other families in the group. "Do you think we could ever have something like that?" he asked. "To settle down, once this is all over. To have... a family?" Lewa looked at the Uniter of Ice curiously. "I'm not sure. Perhaps, if there were more like us." "Who is to say there aren't? Maybe there are many Toa across the sea, on the other side of the planet." "I think we would have heard them. Or the Okotans would have, at least." Kopaka nodded solemnly. "Are we doomed to loneliness then?" "I'm wounded!" Lewa said, hand to his chest. "Having five other Toa around isn't enough for you?" "It's not that, I just..." Lewa laughed and clapped the Uniter of Ice on the shoulder. "I understand. I've felt it too. Being surrounded by villagers doesn't make the feeling go away. They may bear the same color of armor, but it's not the same. They aren't the same. They don't know what it's like to wield this power, to have this duty, to be this tall. That's something only we six can share." "Right..." Kopaka said, nodding. "We'll always be there for each other, Kopaka," Lewa assured. Kopaka smiled. "That's enough, I think." After a few moments of peaceful silence, he continued: "So... what do you want, Lewa? Once this is all done." "After we defeat Makuta and the island is made whole again? Hmm..." He hadn't put much thought into this. There had been so many immediate problems to deal with over the past several months; indeed, since his first arrival on Okoto, that he hadn't found it necessary to plan that far ahead. "Suppose I'd have to find something to keep myself busy. I could... do tours." "Tours?" "Like this one." He gestured to the jungle around them. "Who better to give you a guided tour of the landscape than the Uniter of Jungle himself?" he said with a laugh. "Maybe I could even take a villager or two to the skies with me. I could take my own brand of freedom and share it with whoever would like to enjoy it with me." "And this would make you happy?" "I think it could. If I am enjoying myself and also bringing happiness to others, then yes. And I could always try other things too. Why just stick with one? Maybe I could get into cartography. Few can see the island from the perspective I can." "If Tahu were here, he'd have something to say about that," Kopaka chuckled. "Which is why we left him at the docks," Lewa acknowledged. "He's stuck doing work while you and I get the relaxing task of walking in nature. Well, relatively relaxing I suppose." Lewa looked through the trees and spotted a waterfall in the distance, almost completely blocked by trunks. A deep part of him wanted to spring to it at quickly as he could, to fully gaze upon its beauty and be refreshed by it, but another part of him wondered how many places a beast or Umarak himself could be hiding between where he stood and where the water stopped its fall. How many shadows that a hunter could pop out of... "I'm glad for this walk, Kopaka," Lewa said. "It's reminded me why we fight." He looked the Toa of Ice firmly in the eye. "We fight and protect the villagers, and I am proud and happy to do so. I would never abandon my duty. But I fight so that, in the end, the villagers don't need us. They can walk the woods, enjoy waterfalls, do all the things they want to do, and do them without fear. That's what I truly want for them." ++++++++ Tahu stood next to Gali on a dock, watching the Espian trade ship pull into harbor. Strange beings that wore no armor scurried across the deck of the distant ship. Tahu wasn't sure whether to be fascinated or revolted by the sight. He decided he could find something in the middle. "What was on this one again?" he asked. "Mostly more building materials," Gali said, looking over a manifest that had been sent in advance. "Cut stones and metal fixtures. Also some of their finer foods." "I trust we will be taking only the materials," Tahu said. Gali looked sidelong at him. "You don't think the villagers would enjoy the food?" "I don't think they need the food. We have enough as it is. We should be spending our resources on things we don't already have, things we need. The villagers can have their luxuries when the danger has passed." Gali nodded and discretely hid the page that recorded her agreement to trade several fine pearls she had found underwater for a few packages of sweet litimato bread, an Espian delicacy. "And how goes the building?" she asked. "It goes well," Tahu said. "Onua and Pohatu have the made the process surprisingly easy. Pohatu is able to lift stones that would be impossible for the villagers' makeshift cranes to carry, and Onua is able to test for stability. Even Ketar and Terak pitched in by helping carry materials." Talk of the others' creatures made him wonder where his own had gotten off to. He quickly spotted Ikir sitting on a dock post, looking out to sea. The creature seemed to be eyeing fish that were surfacing in the water, but he seemed hesitant. He still doesn't like the water... He shook his head, laughing internally, and continued: "The City should be fully fortified by the end of the month. From there, we can start branching out to the old settlements again. Maybe even reclaim some of the fallen Regional cities." "And what of them when this is over? Will Okoto still need its walls?" "Don't know. Maybe someday, there will be another attack from outside the island. If that happens, having more defenses won't hurt." Gali hummed and looked out to sea. She spotted a few villagers out on the waves, surfing on boards they themselves had crafted. Oh, to be out there with them... Tahu chuckled. "Surfing on water..." he said. "It pales in comparison to the Fire Region's lava surfing. Have you seen it?" "I have," Gali said with a smirk. "It looks slow and dangerous." "That's the fun of it," Tahu said. "And it's not slow. If you can find a good tunnel, the lava flows as swiftly as any sea wave. And you should see the boards... Some of them even rival my old board. You know, before all the new gear." "Do you even know how to surf?" Gali asked. "What's a fancy board with no skill in its rider?" "Well..." Tahu shrugged. "Not exactly. I bet you don't either, though." He nudged her playfully. "I bet Enirr could teach me. They say she's the best on the island. And if I become skilled at lava surfing, just imagine how good I'd be on water." "I'd like to see you try," Gali said. "I suppose we'll both have to train hard once this dark business has passed. And when the time comes..." "An epic showdown," Tahu said. "You're on!" He bumped fists with Gali, sealing their pact of competitive camaraderie. They sat there for a while, watching as the boat was unloaded, the sun setting slowly behind it. "I traded for some litimato bread," Gali said. She looked at Tahu, waiting for his reaction. Would he truly be angry? After a moment, he looked at her and grinned. "Well, I hope you're willing to share." ++++++++ "Ready for a lunch break, Pohatu?" Onua called. Pohatu did not reply. He was far too busy using his elemental abilities to nudge a stone in the wall to that it fit in perfectly with the stones around it. It had to be perfect, flush with every other piece... "Pohatu!" "Quiet," he murmured. "I've almost got it..." He kept his eyes trained on the stone above, willing it into place. His fingertips glowed with elemental energy as he reached out to the stone block, picturing where it should be, and pushing... There! With the barest whisper of sound, the stone slid into the perfect place. One could hardly even tell that it wasn't part of a larger, single block. Onua clapped slowly. "Well done, Toa of Perfectionism," he chuckled. "Now, if you're quite finished, I'm starving." His concentration broken, Pohatu now noticed how hungry he was as well. "Sorry," he said, not truly sorry at all. "I was so wrapped in the work..." "No time for explanations, only eating!" The Toa of Earth hurried him along to the lunch tent. This one had been specially constructed with longer than usual poles to accommodate the Toa's increased height. Under shelter from the sun, they found a table with bread, fruit, and meat on it. Simple fare, but nourishing nonetheless. Pohatu was rarely so grateful for food. He felt Ketar nudging against him. "Not for you," Pohatu said, holding away his piece of fruit. "We'll find something more suitable for you later." He turned to find Onua finished feeding a slab of meat to Terak, the creature's clawed paws stuffing his face. Well then... He idly tossed the fruit to Ketar, who snatched it out of the air. He seemed to chew slowly, savoring the taste, as if he knew this was a rare treat, an exception made out of mild guilt. Ketar didn't mind, for it was delicious. "Can't wait for this business to be over," Onua mumbled, working on preparing himself some food. "All this working in the sun is a nightmare! I think perhaps there is a reason that we with black armor were meant to be underground..." Pohatu hummed as he got his food. "Do you miss your Region?" Onua gave him a curious look. "Well, of course. As I'm sure you miss yours." "Do we really, though?" Pohatu sat next to the Toa of Earth. "We only lived in them for what, a month? A month and a half? And we were so busy dealing with skull spiders and raiders that we hardly had a chance to get to know the place. Can we truly become attached to them without spending time with them?" Onua chewed and thought. "Perhaps," he mused, "it's not about whether we know them. It's more like... we're a part of them." When Pohatu said nothing, he continued. "I'm not sure if you feel the same, but when I was in the Region of Earth, I felt... at home. That's the only way I can think to describe it. It was the place where I belonged, the place of my element. Like you said, I didn't spend much time there, didn't really get to explore or anything. But I talked to the villagers. I talked to Korgot, our Protector. I fought beside them against the spiders. Those experiences... they mean something, Pohatu. I may not be as familiar with my Region as the natives, and it may not be a traditional care, but I do care. It became my home." Pohatu nodded. "Lucky," he said. "In my Region... I don't know what it was, but it never really felt like home. What was different...?" Onua leaned towards his brother. "Pohatu," he said. "You and I are not the same. You are allowed to have different experiences than I have had." "But I wish that I felt as you did," said the Toa of Stone. "You say you miss the Region of Earth. You have a passion for it, to return and save it from the shadow. But me... If I'm totally honest, I don't feel that way for the Region of Stone. Not beyond the obligatory sense of it. I feel like if I could just have had more time there, maybe it could've been home." Onua patted his shoulder. "That time will come, brother. When all this business with Makuta is finished, we can return to our Regions and settle in. You can explore, play, build, do everything you want to in your Region. It is of your element. Surely you will hear its call eventually." Pohatu picked up and eyed a fruit from his plate. "You know, I recognize this one. An utuyote. Native to the Stone Region, grows underground for some reason..." Onua punched him in the shoulder. "We'll get a love for your Region out of you yet." Pohatu grinned, split the fruit, and gave half of it to Ketar (who practically danced around with joy at his second helping). "You're going to spoil him if you keep tha--" Onua stopped as he was nudged by Terak. The creature looked expectant. Onua sighed. "Now look what you've made me do." The Toa of earth tossed another bit of meat down to Terak. "I'm tempted to give that wall an earthquake and nudge your little stone out of place again." Pohatu laughed and hoped that he was joking. ++++++++ Narmoto closed the door to Ekimu's forge gently as he stepped inside. Had he not been as acclimatized to heat as he was, he might have found the place unbearable. The Mask Maker appeared hard at work, but he could not put this off any longer. "Ekimu," he called. The Mask Maker turned to face him. "Ah, Narmoto!" he said. "Just in time. Come, help me with this. Crank that handle there. Yes, a bit more... stop! Did it get too hot...? No no, it's perfect. Aha!" Using long grabbers, he pulled a glowing hot mask from the forge. "A fine Mask of Strength this shall be. Quite popular in Derakan, I am told." "Ekimu," Narmoto said again, tone hardening. "We need to talk." Ekimu hesitated before setting aside the new Mask. "Of course," he said. "What is the matter?" "You have not told the Toa everything," the Protector of Fire said. "Regarding their destiny." Ekimu sighed. "It is better that they don't know for now. When the time comes, all will be revealed, I assure you." "You would let them continue living a lie? Even now, the Toa discuss what life will be like for them when this is finished. And surely we are close to the end now. When will you tell them that nothing awaits them at journey's end?" "We don't know that," Ekimu snapped. "Perhaps the line about the stars is... metaphorical." "Even so," Narmoto said, "the Toa have done much for us. They deserve the truth. It is the least we can offer them." Ekimu eyes hardened. "You want them to know the truth?" he said. "Go on. Go out and tell them. Tell Tahu that he won't be able to participate in the lava surfing competitions. Tell Pohatu he will never learn to carve. Tell Gali that she will never be able to explore the depths of the sea. Tell them all that the only thing that awaits them after they defeat Makuta is the cold blackness of space." Narmoto said nothing. "As I thought," Ekimu harumphed. "And who knows? If the Toa knew such things, they may lose heart." "I think you underestimate their spirit," Narmoto said. "I think it isn't worth the risk. I will wait to tell them until the outcome is decided regardless of their whether they know what is coming. That way, the prophecy will be fulfilled, Makuta will be defeated, and then Okoto will be safe again." Narmoto harumphed and readjusted his cloak, making to head for the exit. "Wise you may be, Mask Maker, but I think that of honor, you still have much to learn." "Honor will not save us, Narmoto," Ekimu called as the Protector of Fire opened the door. "You would trade the security of their success for such a simple thing as the truth?" Narmoto gave the Mask Maker one last look. "In the blink of an eye." And he slammed the door shut. ------------------------------------------ Whew, I think I made it in time. This was fun to write. I've never done something quite like it, with not much in terms of plot, just a lot of dialogue. I hope it achieved the effect I was going for. And yes, this obviously diverges from the canon in that there is a large gap of time between when the Toa lose the Mask of Control to Umarak and when Umarak starts openly ransacking everything as in the latter half of JtO. I liked the idea of the Toa having some downtime and this seemed like a good place to put it. Anyways, let me know what you thought! I always love to hear from readers. And if you don't feel like commenting, just having read the story is enough for me. Thanks!
  9. Thank you both so much for the reads and feedback! And as for the issues... *kicks self aggressively* WOW. I honestly cannot believe I missed that issue with the period. Thank you for pointing that out. You're both definitely right, this does not take place in the Dark Time. I think maybe I had originally planned the story to be in that time, then put the Toa in, and forgot to change it? Not sure. Regardless, I'll be fixing that (as well as the other notes) immediately. Again, thank you so much for pointing these things out and taking time to read the story. It means a lot to me.
  10. Fair enough. I appreciate the feedback. I admit this one is probably my least favorite as well, came off feeling a little more... sappy, I think. But I still feel like I ejoyed writing it and others might enjoy it as well. Thanks for reading!
  11. Another one! This story is the longest one yet and is definitely the shakiest so far, as I feel I took a lot of liberties here (you'll see what I mean). It was also the hardest to write; I'm still not sure I got the emotion right here. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it! -------------------------------------- Ga-Wahi, ~11 months before Mata Nui's reawakening. Hahli shoved desperately at the crowd of gathered Matoran that stood at the entrance to the mining shaft in Ga-Wahi. She had been waiting for Toa Onua to resurface for nearly two days now, anxious for him to return with news of her lost friend, Kuni. The Ga-Matoran had gone missing three days past on a trip to visit Le-Wahi. She had been last seen near this spot, and it was assumed that she had mistaken this mine for a tunnel leading to her destination. Onua had been told of the issue, and he ventured below the surface of Mata Nui, swearing not to return until he had located and rescued Kuni. Hahli had just gotten word that he was nearing the surface once again. "Move!" Hahli said, miffed that these Matoran from other parts of the island were barring her from witnessing the return of her friend. She finally burst to the front of the crowd, leaving grumbling villagers in her wake. She saw Toa Gali standing not too far off. "Toa Gali! What news?" Gali gave her a surprised look behind her gleaming golden mask, but said, "Nothing beyond the fact that my brother is nearing the exit. He should be here any moment." "And he has Kuni?" Hahli inquired. "I believe so," the Toa of water said with a smile. "The message he sent seemed to indicate that he did find her." Hahli breathed a sigh of relief. Her friend was safe, and she could relax. In mere moments, she would be reunited, and life would go back to normal. She could stop worrying... The crowd began to murmur as a black figure emerged from the earthen tunnel. Toa Onua carried another motionless, blue figure in his powerful arms. Hahli rushed to meet him. "Kuni!" she cried. "Is she all right?" Onua shook his head. "I..." he hesitated. "I am not sure, little one. We must get her to the Turaga immediately. Something is wrong, I think." "What?" Hahli said, her worry growing. "What's wrong?" "She has been groaning the whole way back, ever since I found her unconscious underground. I don't know what ails her exactly, but there is certainly something... dark in her presence." Gali approached the two of them. "I'll take it from here, brother. Rest from your task." She moved to take Kuni from his arms. When he recoiled slightly, she urged, "You must rest, Onua. You have been at this for nearly three days. Please, let me." Onua's shoulders slumped. "I... You are right, sister." He gently exchanged his precious cargo to Gali's arms. "I suppose I feel as though I am failing her somehow by not seeing her all the way to safety." "You promised to return her to the surface, Onua," Gali said. "In that, you have succeeded, and we are all grateful. I will be sure to tell you about her recovery." Onua nodded and moved aside to take his rest. "Hahli?" Gali said, looking to the Ga-Matoran. "Let us return swiftly to Ga-Koro." "Of course," Hahli said. She ran to keep up with the Toa of water, the pair of them moving through the crowd with ease as it parted before them. It took a full sprint for her to keep up with Gali's gentle jog. Within the hour, they had reached Ga-Koro and were approaching Nokama's hut. "Turaga Nokama!" Gali called from outside. "We have someone who requires your attention!" A moment later, the green door of the hut swung open and Nokama stepped out into the sun. "What is it, Toa of water?" she asked, leaning on her trident. "Is something wrong?" "It is Kuni, Turaga," Gali answered, kneeling down and cradling the Matoran's head in her arms. "She is the one who was lost a few days ago. Onua returned to the surface with her not an hour ago, but something is wrong." "How so?" Nokama asked, moving to look at Kuni's near motionless form. "She has not woken since Onua found her, and she moans in her sleep," Gali explained. "We fear something dark has come upon her." Nokama drew close, examining Kuni closely. "I see..." she mused. "Bring her inside. I must take a closer look." The trio stepped inside Nokama's hut and Gali gently let Kuni down on one of the extra beds in the room. The unconscious Ga-Matoran groaned and twisted on the bed. Hahli had never felt so uncomfortable as she did now, seeing her friend so clearly in pain. "If what I suspect is true, Kuni may be in a very grave condition indeed," Nokama said. "But to see for sure, I must remove her mask." "Are you sure?" Hahli asked. "Wouldn't that just make her weaker?" "Yes," Nokama said apologetically, "but it is the only way to prove my suspicions." Hahli nodded, trusting her Turaga. Nokama wrapped her fingers around the edges of Kuni's Kanohi Pakari and gently peeled it up from her head. Underneath lay Kuni's face, a mix of organic material and armor... and it is was stained a deep black. It started at the center and fanned outwards, even dipping into her eyes. Nokama's eyes closed at the sight, and she gave a sad moan. "What... what is this, Turaga?" Gali said. "I fear she is touched by shadow," Nokama sad, replacing Kuni's mask. "Makuta's darkness has corrupted her. We thought we had rid the island of the creatures that are capable of doing this..." "Turaga, doesn't the shadow usually appear in the mask?" Gali asked. "It does," Nokama answered, "but under the right circumstances, it can seep beyond the mask and into the body, making its effects permanent." "But she can be healed, right?" Hahli said. "There's a cure? What can I do for her?" "I'm sorry, Hahli," Nokama said, leaning heavily on her trident. "I can soothe her, perhaps bring back her mind for a while. But eventually, she will be lost. Makuta's shadow will corrupt her, just as it did the Rahi." The Rahi... No. That was impossible... Hahli couldn't imagine that happening to another Matoran. Rahi were simple beasts, easily manipulated. Surely a being as strong as Kuni would not fall so easily. But if Turaga Nokama, the most experienced healer on the island, said nothing could be done... "Take her to her hut," Nokama said. "Make her comfortable. I will visit her after I gather some supplies." As Gali picked up Kuni and exited the hut and Nokama moved to begin preparing her healing items, Hahli would not move. Her fists clenched and her eyes closed. "I can't just give up on her!" she said, louder than he had intended. Nokama's shoulder dipped and she turned to face Hahli. "Not like you. I can try, I can look for a way to save her!" "Hahli..." Nokama said soothingly. "I am very sorry about all this. I want the best for Kuni, but I have so rarely seen this condition. My experience and knowledge are limited, and the only thing I know to do is to make her passage easy." Passage. "Is there anything I can look for, anyone I can talk to, something to do to make it better?" Hahli said, on the verge of tears. Nokama laid a hand on the Matoran's shoulder. "Be there for her. She needs you now, more than ever. Really, you should be proud of her. When a Rahi is overtaken by shadow, its mind is turned almost instantly. Even mighty Toa Lewa found it difficult to resist the corruption. But Kuni... Kuni fights. Had her mind already been lost, she would not be so docile. Yes, she is in pain... but she is not lost. It is her way of fighting the Makuta." Hahli gave something between a small laugh and a sob, and wiped at her eyes. "I see. Well... I suppose I will go help prepare the hut." With a grim heart, she took her leave. -------------------------------------- Hahli rapped on the door to Kuni's hut. "Come in," came Nokama's voice from inside. "How is—" Hahli's words broke off as she looked at her friend and saw her eyes open and alive. She ran to her and embraced her. "You're awake!" "Careful, Hahli," Nokama chided gently, smiling on them. "Kuni is much stronger, but she still needs her rest." "It's good to see you too, Hahli," Kuni said with a weak smile as Hahli backed away. Hahli grinned broadly and wiped at her eyes. It was so strange... To look at Kuni now, one could hardly notice her... illness. It lay buried, hidden beneath her Kanohi. "I was so worried," Hahli said. "I... I wasn't sure you'd wake up. I thought you might be gone..." Kuni gave a wry grin. "Can't get rid of me that easily," she said. Nokama turned to the bedside table and tucked a few of her healing items in her leaf bag. "I will leave you two to talk," she said. "Don't be too long, Hahli." Hahli took a seat on a bamboo chair beside the bed as Nokama left. "What happened to you?" Hahli asked. "Down below?" "I... I can't remember a lot of it," Kuni said. "Or maybe it just feels short. I took a wrong turn and slipped down a steep, smooth surface. There was no light at the bottom... Thankfully, I'd thought to bring a lightstone with me. I lit it, but it seemed feeble somehow. The darkness of the cavern I'd come to was... oppressive. Deep." "Is that where you were when Onua found you?" Hahli asked. Kuni laughed and shook her head. "I'm not so smart as to stay in one place. I explored. There were a few other tunnels that branched off of the place I was in. I wanted to find a way out, to free myself. Of course, that didn't work. I only got more lost. And then... then I saw a creature." Hahli's stomach tightened. "A... a creature?" "Not one I'd ever seen before," Kuni explained. "Small, sluggish. Purple and black, I think." "Doesn't sound familiar." "It was weird... and disgusting. Left a gross trail of slime everywhere it moved. I remember I went to look more closely at it, trying to figure out what it was, what it was like, then... something hit me." Kuni visibly shivered at the memory. "It wasn't like getting punched or something. It didn't really have impact on my body, but I felt it... in my mind." Kuni paused, letting the information set. After a moment, Hahli asked, "What then?" "I don't know," Kuni shrugged. "That's the last thing I remember before waking up to Nokama tending to me a few minutes ago. She explained everything that happened since I got lost." "What a strange tale," Hahli said, her eyes falling to the floor. "You know, it was funny..." Kuni chuckled. "While I was lost, there was one thought I kept coming back too: 'I'm going to miss Hahli's kohlii game.'" "Aw, you don't need to worry about that. You know I'm not very good." Kuni gave her that grin again. "Oh, I know that. But I know you can be. I want to be there for you, see you play. You'll be great one day, I know it. Maybe even a champion." Hahli chuckled. "That'll be the day. And you know what I just thought of? This is just like that time when I was sick a couple hundred years ago, and you took care of me." "Yeah... except now, I'm the one stuck in a bed. I liked the previous arrangement better. Come to think of it... why am I here? I don't feel that bad. Tired, but not exactly... ill." She doesn't know. "Nokama hasn't said anything?" Hahli said, trying to keep her voice from cracking with resurgent sadness. "Nothing," Kuni said with a shake of her head. "Only that I need to rest, stay in bed. Nokama is usually so forward with me, but she hasn't said anything about my condition. Do you know why they're keeping me here?" Hahli was silent, debating with herself. If I tell her, wouldn't she be crushed? The knowledge that she is corrupted with Makuta's shadow... I don't think I could bearing knowing if I was in her position. On the other hand, to let her go on without knowing what will happen to her, for me to keep it from her... it doesn't feel right. "I... I do," Hahli said, struggling with the words. "Well, what is it?" Kuni asked, seemingly oblivious to the conflict in her friend. "The Turaga said that... that you've been infected..." "Infected? With what, a poison?" "I wish it were so simple," Hahli said. "Nokama said... you have been touched by Makuta's darkness." Kuni was silent for a long while. She barely breathed, not looking at Hahli. At length, she spoke again. "So... is it like the Rahi we have fought with all these years?" "Yes," Hahli said, choking back a sob. "So Nokama has said." "Why can't I feel it? Why doesn't my mask look different?" Kuni sat up straighter in bed, looking at her reflection in a mirror on her wall. "It's deeper than that. The corruption sank through your mask, into your body. It... it's permanent now." Kuni's eyes closed and she exhaled heavily. "So I am lost, then." "Don't say that," Hahli said. "Nokama said you were strong, that the only reason you were still with us was that you were fighting the darkness. Maybe you can make it, you can beat this..." Kuni shook her head. "I think... I think I kind of already knew. When I was asleep, I remember having... strange dreams. Dark dreams. Creatures in shadow, voices in the night. Even now, if I think about it, I think I can feel something. Something pushing at the back of my mind..." Her hands came to her head, cradling it. "I... I'm scared, Hahli." Hahli stood and moved to her friend. "I am too. I..." She grabbed one of her friend's hands. "I wish there was something I could do. If there's anything you need, anything you think will make it better, I'll do it, I'll get it for you." Kuni gave a sad laugh. "Thank you. I don't know that there's anything I can do to make it better. Just... promise me you'll take me to your game." Hahli smiled and gave Kuni's hand a squeeze. "Sure," she said with a smile. "We'll get you there." "All right," Kuni said, letting go of Hahli and lying back. "I'm getting tired again... All your drama is wearing me out." "Fine, I'll get out of here," Hahli said. "Rest up, and get better." "I'll do my best," Kuni said. Hahli moved to exit the tent, but Kuni said, "Thank you again, by the way. For telling me. I'm glad that, even if this shadow takes me, I knew about it. I go with the dignity of... facing my enemy, I suppose. Thanks to you, Hahli." Hahli nodded. "Anything for you." -------------------------------------- The days went by, and Kuni's condition worsened. It was not a surprise to Hahli, but it hurt all the same. Kuni continued to be bedridden, and Turaga Nokama kept paying her daily visits with simple healing treatments, meant only to provide comfort. Hahli continued to feel afraid, anxious, angry, and helpless. One of her best friends on Mata Nui was dying, or perhaps worse, having her mind being stolen by the Makuta. And there was not a single thing she could do about it, or even think to try. Hahli was awakened one night by a horrible screaming, a desperate cry from another hut. She rushed from her bed out into the cool Ga-Wahi night, the sea breeze brushing her mask. The screams did not stop, but she saw no signs of an emergency. Her tired mind took a moment to connect things. Kuni! She ran as fast as she could to Kuni's hut, and screams grew louder. Other Matoran were beginning to rise as well, peeking out of their doors and windows to see what was the matter. Some asked her if she knew anything, but Hahli just kept running. Finally, she burst through the door of Kuni's hut to find her friend writhing on her bed, hands on mask, screaming her lungs out. Hahli had never heard such a terrible sound in her life. She started to move to try to help Kuni, but then she spoke. "The voices!" Kuni cried. "Oh, the voices...! He is here, in here in here!" Her hands pounded on her mask. "Makeitstopmakeitstopmakestop!" Hahli ran then; there was nothing she could think to do but find help. "Nokama!" she yelled. "Toa Gali! Please help!" Footsteps behind her signaled an arrival, and she turned to find the Toa of water approaching. "What is it, little one?" she asked. "Who shouts?" "It's Kuni," Hahli said breathlessly. "She's... she's screaming, speaking horrible things, and thrashing in her bed." "Take me to her," Gali said, grim determination on her mask. Hahli ran, leading her back to her friend's hut. The pair entered again and Gali knelt beside Kuni. Kuni did not stop her thrashing in the slightest; she didn't seem to be aware that either of them were there. Gali summoned a large oval of water from thin air, large enough to envelop Kuni's entire body. She gently lowered it onto her, leaving room around her face to breathe. Light gleamed as Gali poured pure elemental energy into Kuni in a desperate attempt to stave off the darkness, to calm her mind. Slowly, Kuni did calm. She still twitched within Gali's bed of water, but the screaming had ceased. "Th-thank you, Toa Gali," Hahli stammered. "I... I didn't know what to do for her." "It is all right," Gali said, looking at her over her shoulder. "I am glad to help, no matter the hour or the situation." Her eyes turned downward. "I only wish I could do more for her." So do I, Hahli thought. And still I wonder, can it get worse than this? -------------------------------------- They decided to keep Kuni strapped to her bed; this way, if she had another fit like last time, she would not thrash about and harm herself. She lay calmly in her bed most of the time, simply sleeping. Nokama still tended to her, and Hahli still visited her every day. Kuni seemed to have less stamina each time, ending their talks sooner with every visit. Hahli's feelings of anxiety deepened until things came to a head on the tenth day after Kuni's return. Hahli had been helping Marka construct a new fishing boat when she heard a commotion from within the village. Matoran were gathering, and Hahli could hear crashes. The rustle of conversation turned to shouts. Kuni? Hahli set the rope coil she had been working with around her shoulder and ran into the village, pushing through the crowd in time to see that Kuni's hut was indeed the center of attention. Turaga Nokama suddenly came crashing through the door, rolling on the ground. Hahli rushed to her side. "Are you all right, Turaga?" she asked, helping the elder to stand. "Do not worry about me," Nokama said, voice strained. "Worry about her." Hahli followed the Turaga's eyes into the hut, where a lone figure just inside the doorway. Hahli stood slowly. "Kuni?" she said. The figure gave a wicked grin that Hahli could barely see. "Kuni is gone," it said. The being that was once Kuni flew out of the hut, running straight for Hahli. She dodged the blow just in time, rolling out of the way and instinctually pulling a disk from her pack as she rose. The crowd of gathered Matoran began to scream and disperse. The village's warning horns sounded. "Kuni, stop!" Hahli shouted. "Get a hold of yourself!" Is her mind lost? Has it finally happened? Kuni stood now at the edge of the floating platform, staring off at the waters of Naho Bay. She looked back at Hahli, and she hardly recognized her friend. Kuni's eyes were full of hatred and... was that fear? Without saying a word, Kuni ran away from Hahli, headed for the fleeing Matoran. Hahli gave chase. Kuni caught up quickly with the runners, seeming to run unnaturally fast. She tackled the first Matoran she came in contact with and wrestled her to the ground. Her victim screamed, begging for her to stop, for someone to help. She continued to struggle and whimpered as Kuni's fingers roughly grasped the edges of her Kanohi. Hahli readied her disk. "Kuni, stop this!" But Kuni did not stop. Kuni continued to pull at the downed villager's mask, but the villager struggled to keep it on. If that came off, she would be completely helpless... This is not my friend, Hahli thought as she drew her arm back to throw her disk. Don't think of her as Kuni. She is the enemy. Right? Hahli flung her arm forward, letting the disk fly with all her strength. As Kuni raised her arm to strike at the villager's head, the disk struck home, knocking Kuni's own mask askew. She reeled from the blow, falling to the ground and cradling her face. Thinking quickly, Hahli grabbed the rope from around her body and ran at the fallen Kuni. She took one end of the rope and started wrapping it around her friend, securing her arms and legs, before finally pulling it tight and knotting it. She stepped back, watching Kuni writhe on the ground, unable to move a limb. She suddenly stopped, looking to Hahli. The anger in her eyes slowly dissolved, only to be replaced with what seemed to be... smugness. Kuni laughed, a deep and unnatural sound. "I told you," she said. "Kuni is gone. Now, there are only shadows." Hahli saw the words come from Kuni, but they were clearly not of her. Makuta... "I don't believe you," Hahli said, breathing heavily. "She fights you. This is just... temporary." "I admit, she did put up quite a struggle," the shadow said. "It does not usually take this long for me to gain control. It was really only sealed moments ago, but my control was not strong enough to direct her fully. She knew my heart, though, and attacked her fellows. Not what I would have had her do, but it was entertaining enough." Hahli gaped in horror, and the Makuta laughed. That laugh would haunt her for hours to come. -------------------------------------- Hahli lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling. It had been a day since the incident with Kuni, who had now been placed in an improvised cage, a cell to keep her contained. Her body remained tied, and she sat in silence, staring at any who passed. It was unnerving, and some said they wanted her out of the village. Is that the answer? Hahli wondered. To simply toss her out? But wasn't that the fate they had been trying to save Kuni from in the first place? A knock came at the door. Hahli jerked in surprise, then sluggishly rose and moved to open it to reveal Marka. "Hey, Hahli," Marka said. "How're you holding up?" Hahli shrugged. "Fine," she answered. Marka cleared her throat. "I was wondering if you would come down to the dock, to help me finish that boat we were working on? Everyone else is busy." Work? Yes, work. That was what Matoran did during the day. But... "I don't think I feel up to it right now," Hahli said. "Thanks for offer, though." Marka seemed to deflate. "Oh, all right. Um, I'll see you later then." Hahli returned to her bed. Several more visitors came as the day went by, each with some offer for her. Nixie invited her to gaze at the sky. "No thank you." "You need to do something, Hahli. Kuni wouldn't just want you to sit around." Kai offered a leisurely boat ride. "Thanks, but I have things to do." "Mmm, all right then. I really am sorry, Hahli." Maku asked if she would help her practice kohlii. "I don't really feel like it right now." "You don't think I feel it too? She wasn't just your friend, Hahli. We all feel it. At least I'm trying to do something with myself." One by one they came and each was turned down. Hahli continued to lay and stare. With the final knock, her pent up emotions burst forth. She stormed to the door, and opened it saying, "What do you—?!" She stopped short upon seeing her visitor. "Jala? Why... what brings you here?" "Turaga Nokama summoned the Guard," the Ta-Matoran answered. "She just wants some of us to keep an eye on your friend for a bit, make sure things are safe here." Hahli nodded. "I see. Well, I hope your stay goes well. Now, I, um... I have things to do." She began to close the door, but Jala caught it. "No you don't," he said, gently reopening the door. "I've heard the others talking. You haven't done anything. You just sit in your room all day. You don't get out, you don't say much." "I'm just tired, Jala," Hahli said. "Now please, just go on." "They're worried about you, Hahli," Jala said. He laid a hand on hers. "I'm worried. I know you're losing someone dear to you, and... I'm sorry. I want to help you." "I don't want to talk about it," Hahli said, anger rising again. Even towards Jala? He was one of her best friends. This wasn't normal... Jala backed away and nodded. "I understand. If you need anything, I'll be around. And... I know it's odd, but I want you to have this." He reached into his pack and pulled out a small retractable knife, the kind he often used himself, and offered it to Hahli. "What is—?" she began, then realized his intentions. "Jala, no. I can't..." "It may not be safe, Hahli. I know it's hard, but please... we don't know what might happen. We've lost one of you to him; don't let us lose two." Hahli's sighed in resignation. Without a word, she took the knife and closed the door. Hahli lay awake on her bed that night, eyes open, but unseeing. The endless swirl of thoughts still churned in her mind, never ceasing, never letting her get any rest. The knocks had stopped coming after Jala's visit. For that, she was glad. No more distractions... Something crashed outside her hut. Hahli's eyes glanced around nervously, landing on the knife Jala had given her. It lay on her bedside table, glinting in the moonlight that came in through her window. No, she thought. It's probably nothing. Just the wind, maybe a Rahi. If it comes in here, I can protect myself. A dull groan followed by a snap came next. Hahli sluggishly moved out of bed and moved to her door. She opened it slowly. What—? Something slammed against the door, knocking Hahli back. She sprawled on the ground, catching herself with her hands. The thick leaf floor bounced with the impact. A figure slipped calmly inside the door and closed it. "It's kind of pathetic, really," the thing said. Kuni? No. Makuta. "You put me in a cage, but you think I'm powerless?" It laughed. "You forget what I can do. One blow from one of my tarakava, and it was simple to get out. So kind of you all to leave the cage so near the water." "What do you want?" Hahli said, rising carefully to her feet. "Not much," Makuta said through Kuni. "Mostly for you Matoran to stop meddling. Why can't you just stay where you are, where you belong? What is there for you below ground..." "That was a mistake!" Hahli said. "Kuni never meant to go there, let alone find you. It was a harmless mistake." Makuta chuckled. "Even so, why should I pass up such a golden opportunity to spread chaos? Perhaps end an existence... or two." It came for Hahli then, hands reaching for her neck. She caught them with her own, struggling to grapple with her attacker. "Kuni, stop!" she cried in desperation. More chuckles. It pulled back, breaking Hahli's grip, then came rushing back in a crouch. It tackled Hahli's midriff, and kept running. Such strength! It ran with Hahli over its shoulder and slammed into the wall. Hahli lay slumped against the wall of her hut, disoriented from the impact. The thing stood over her. "Part of me regrets this, Hahli," it said. "Needless loss of life and all that. But just imagine the kind of statement this will make! Matoran lost to shadow, kills her old friend. Imagine the horror, the fear... Yes, that would keep you all docile, wouldn't it?" A fist came down on Hahli's head. She grunted in pain and threw up her hands to ward off further blows. "Help..." she said weakly. She tried to move away, to reach the door, to escape. "Is that all you have left?" Makuta said, grabbing Hahli by the throat and lifting her up. Hahli could see the eyes in the moonlight now. Green. Kuni's eyes. But they were filled with hate once more, with malice. Such emotions never dared to reach Kuni's eyes. She is gone. "Go on, little Matoran," Makuta said through Kuni's mouth. "Cry for help, see if anyone comes. Or at least try." The grip tightened, and Hahli found herself gasping for air, hands clawing at the one that held her, seeking release. And she did try. Pitiful attempts at forming words were all that she managed. Hoarse squeaks that would have been inaudible outside of the hut. Is this how it ends? she thought. Slain by the hand of my friend, an instrument of fear for the Makuta... Mata Nui, how can this be? Her eyes flitted madly about the room, searching for something, anything to get her out of this. Moonlight was still streaming in through the window. It glimmered on something near. The knife. No... Hahli reached out a hand and grasped the handle. Not like this... She hit the button and extended the blade. Her lungs begged for air. Forgive me. Before Makuta could realize what was happening, Hahli shoved the blade into her attacker's chest. The eyes went wide in pain and shock, and Hahli could not help but see her friend's pain in them. Then a primal yell, louder than anything she had heard before, escaped its mouth, forcing Hahli to cover her ears as she was released. The scream was terrifying, but Hahli thought she could hear another sound, a softer voice within its depths. Makuta staggered back, staring at the knife in its chest. Hahli thought she could see something dark and wispy leaking from the wound. Makuta ripped the knife free. It growled, then screamed again, this time in rage as it lurched toward Hahli. Its energy seemed to give way halfway through the motion, though, and it stumbled toward her, arms falling low. Hahli caught the falling form, still wary. The trail of darkness vanished from Kuni's body. The body lay still for a moment, and Hahli was unsure of what to do, what to feel. She felt Kuni's head stir gently on her shoulder. Her head lifted just enough so that their eyes could meet. Kuni's eyes were empty of the rage that filled them only moments before. This was... her. The Makuta's presence was gone. "Kuni," Hahli said. Had her friend come back, only to die in her arms?! "Kuni, no, I'm so—" "No," Kuni said weakly, eyes drooping. "Do not be sorry. Thank you." Kuni's eyes closed. Hahli held her limp body close as the door burst open and Matoran peeked in, curious to see what the noise had been all about. Hushed murmurs filled the air as they saw Hahli cradling the now-lifeless body of her best friend. -------------------------------------- Hahli sat on the beach, several kio away from Ga-Koro. She stopped weaving her ropes for a moment to look out at the sea, at the waves rolling in. The tide was coming in. She heard footsteps from behind and looked to find Jala approaching. "The others said you wanted to be alone," he said, "but I had to come see you. I had to be sure... sure you were okay." "So what if I am or not?" Hahli said, returning to her weaving. "What would you do for me?" Jala was silent for a moment. "I don't know," he sighed. Hahli stood and faced him. "That's right," she said, tears threatening to rise again. "You can't help me. No one can. She's gone. And I killed her..." Hahli broke down then, falling forward. Jala caught her, and he held her, and it all came out. Stories of before, of the centuries Hahli had spent being friends with Kuni, the things they did together. Then the full tale of how this had all come to be; Kuni going missing, then found again, only to be irreversibly lost. "I'm sorry," Jala said when it was all finished. "I'm so sorry. But you can't stop living. You don't have to forget, you don't ever have to stop missing her. You just have to keep living. She was glad for what you did. She told you herself! What you did for her was... it was the only way for her. Even so... I can't tell you how much I wish it hadn't come to this." Hahli said nothing; she only stood, sobbing. Then she said, "If only I had been stronger. I could have saved her..." "Hahli..." Jala said, taking her chin and bringing her eyes to his. "You did save her. She was beyond healing, but not beyond saving. And you saved her... from a fate worse than death. You freed her, and protected yourself at the same time. You never stopped being a true friend for her, Hahli. You never left her side. Not really. At least remember that." Hahli seemed to relax in Jala's arms. Her sobbing slowed. "Then why does it still hurt so much...?" she whispered. Jala gently pulled away and looked her in the eye. "You know, they're having the remembrance ceremony tonight. The entire village will be there, even Matoran from other villages. We all feel the loss. And even though we've lost someone dear to us, we all know that we don't want to be driven back because of it. You said that Makuta meant for this to drive us back in fear? Well, tonight we'll show him. Show him that what he used to try and make us fearful will instead make us stronger and braver than ever before. We'll never stop fighting, because of people like Kuni. We won't stop fighting, and we won't stop loving each other. We remember and honor her if we keep fighting. If we keep... living." He reached down and took her hand. "Come on. Come back to the village with me. Let's remember her. Together." Hahli nodded and walked with Jala along the beach toward Ga-Koro. They spent the night with the rest of the island, not in mourning, but in celebration of a life well lived. Tales were told of Kuni's life, her adventures on the island, and the things she did for her fellow Matoran. All knew that she had been strong indeed, Hahli most of all. You will always be in my heart, Kuni. Until the very end.
  12. All right everyone, here is another story in my Matoran series, this one (obviously) focusing on Kongu! This one is quite a bit shorter, but I still like it. Let me know what you think -------------------------------------- Le-Koro, ~10 months before Mata Nui's reawakening. "Turaga Matau, Captain Kongu!" Boreas said, dismounting from his Gukko and breathing heavily. "They're here! An ever-large swarm of Nuhvok is headed this way, tearing up the deep-wood as they go!" Matau and Kongu groaned as they stood with Orkahm and Tamaru, Kongu's lieutenants, in the Turaga's hut, planning on what to do in this state of emergency. "How far away?" Kongu asked. "I'd guess they'll arrive in about two hours at the latest," Boreas replied. "They seem to be foot-walking rather slowly..." "Not enough time to loud-call for help," Matau said. "With Toa Lewa long-far from Le-Koro, we are left with few options. Kongu, do you think sending our wind-riders would help?" "No," Kongu replied grimly. "The trees grow ever-thick toward the base; our Gukko wouldn't be able to fast-maneuver well in that area. We are, unforunately, tree-bound." "Perhaps we should simply quick-flee," suggested Orkahm. "If we have no way to hard-defend the village, shouldn't we save ourselves?" "Abandon Le-Koro!?" Kongu said. "I'd just as soon choose to become a slow-thinking Po-Matoran! We are the denizens of ever-lovely Le-Koro; we owe it to her and to the Great Spirit who blessed us with life here to at least try to hard-defend it! After all, what would Toa Lewa do if he were here?" "He would strong-fight," Turaga Matau said, "and so shall we. Kongu, Orkahm, supply your soldiers with the old spears from the armory. Do whatever else you believe will help, and pray that this dark-time shall pass easily..." -------------------------------------- "I've never even held one of these sharp-spears before..." Boreas said, taking the weapon from Kongu with care. Even in the dim light of the Le-Koro armory, it was easy for Kongu to see that Boreas was nervous. "I haven't truly used them in hard-battle, but I've practiced a bit," Kongu said. He spend a few moments showing his fellow Le-Matoran the proper way to hold and handle the spear. Boreas, after getting a feel for the capabilities of the weapons, said, "Oh, what use will these be against ever-hard Bohrok? Even when we have these, they are stronger and have more reach than we will." He dropped the spear and sat down on a small stone seat, mask in his hands. "All true," Kongu replied, "but they don't have the ever-quick mind of a Le-Matoran! We may not be able to overpower them in battle, but we may be able to out-think them. Not to mention that the Nuhvok are not exactly as air-light on their feet as we are." Kongu picked up the fallen spear and held it out to Boreas. "Come. Le-Koro needs you, ever-brave Boreas." Boreas looked up, thoughtful. He nodded, taking the spear from Kongu. "May the wind be ever under your wings," he said, quoting the old Gukko Force adage. With that, Boreas left, heading to join the other Matoran who were preparing to head to the ground where they would face the Nuhvok swarm. Kongu left the armory as well, heading to speak to Turaga Matau once more before the battle began. He was glad that he'dbeen able to give Boreas new hope, but could have never admitted to his friend how right he was. I cannot let dark-despair take us, he thought. If it took hold, we would be defeated before the Bohrok even arrived. Hope will keep us fighting. And if we keep fighting, we may just be able to win. -------------------------------------- "Are you really right-sure we shouldn't just abandon the village?" Orkahm said, standing with the Kongu, Tamaru, and Matauonce more. "I firm-stand by my decision," Kongu said. "It is our duty to defend Le-Koro, so we shall stay." "And if we all die?" Orkahm said, growing visibly upset. "If every bright-happy Matoran life is cut short because you are too ever-proud to surrender? Will you be satisfied?" "Fine!" Kongu retorted. "You want to quick-leave? There's a Gukko bird with your name on it over in the pens. Go ahead, wind-fly away. At least I will not be recorded on the Wall of History as a coward." "Enough!" Turaga Matua said. "I trust Kongu. If he says we can hold against the Bohrok on our own, then I believe we can. Now, the Nuhvok will be upon us soon. Head down-tree, and stand with your brothers! For Le-Ko-!" The elder's words were cut of as a huge boom sounded nearby. He and the Matoran with him looked out of the hut. They watched in horror as one of trees that formed Le-Koro toppled over, sending Rahi birds flying and loose leaves fluttering in the air. "They're here already!" Orkahm said, rushing out. He stood close the edge of the tree's platform, looking down. "Orkahm, be careful!" Kongu shouted. "Don't stand too close to the edge!" "I can't far-see the others," Orkahm said. "Do you think-?" Another loud boom, and the tree they stood on began to shake. The tremors were enough to steal Orkahm's balance and send him over the edge with a chilling scream. There were no vines or Rahi to stop his fall. "We have to get out of here," Tamaru said, heading for the Gukko pens. "We three could still make it out!" "Right..." Kongu said, feeling conflicted. A part of him wanted to head down as quickly as he could to try to help his brothers. But after seeing how quickly and forcefully the Nuhvok had attacked, how much use could he possibly have been? "Hurry, Turaga, before the tree goes way-down!" "I'm going as fleet-fast as I can!" Matau replied, walking their way. "Go saddle the Gukko-bird!" Tamaru complied, saddling the nearest Gukko. The Rahi was clearly nervous, and probably would have been long gone if not for the sturdy rope tied around its neck. "Gukko bird saddled and ready for high-flying!" Tamaru called as he mounted the Rahi. Kongu ran up next to the bird, looking back. "Turaga, we must leave now!" The tree shook violently again and began to tilt even faster. Turaga Matau lost his footing during the tremor and began to slide down the inclined tree surface. He swung quickly, digging into the tree with the sharp teeth of his Kau Kau staff. Kongu barely had to take time to think as he mounted the Gukko, untied it, and quickly flew over to where the Turaga lay. He swung the bird sideways, bringing Tamaru close to the elder. "Grab hold, Turaga!" Kongu cried. He watched in near despair as Matau attempted to reach out and grasp Tamaru's hand. They had just made contact when a final quake rocked the tree, shaking free the hanging Turaga and sending him into the forest. Kongu cried out, and maneuvered his mount to headstraight down, trying to catch up. Wind, floating leaves, and falling branches struck his mask as he descended rapidly. He ignored Tamaru's frightened screams behind him as he watched Matau below. Just when he thought he was getting closeenough to try to save his Turaga, the branches grew too thick, the leaves in the air obscuring vision. The Gukko collided with several branches, its flight disturbed. There was no way down for such a creature, and to follow would mean to face the Bohrok alone. Kongu groaned, but perked up as he heard a voice call from down below. "Kongu!" It was Matau's voice, growing distant yet still somehow clear. "I have faith in you!" And the voice was gone. Faith... The prime Principle of Le-Koro. Kongu felt it weighing down on him now as never before. He said he trusted me to get us through this. Now look at us... He knew that, down below, the Matoran of his village were likely all controlled by krana, their minds taken over by the alien things. They were not dead, of that he was sure. And that meant that they could be saved. And Kongu would have to be the one to do it. He was the one who got them into this mess, and he would try his hardest to remedy his mistakes.
  13. Thanks all for the feedback! Glad to hear you all enjoyed the story. I'll definitely upload the others soon. I have a few others, but the series is as of yet unfinished. Hewkii's and Matoro's still need to be written, and I'll get to those... soonish. Stay tuned
  14. Thanks for the responses! That was definitely one of my favorite things in this story. When I had the idea, I knew I had to include it. I think it turned out pretty well. Thanks again for reading!
  15. This is a story I wrote quite some time ago. I had it posted on some external sites, then thought: why the heck is it not posted on BZP?! So here it is, my first story ever posted here. I hope you like it! I have a few others like this, all focusing on members of the Toa Inika/Mahri when they were still Matoran. Let me know what you think! -------------------------------------- The island of Mata Nui, ~1,001 years before Mata Nui's reawakening. Where in Mata Nui's name are we? Jala sat alone on a felled tree staring out at the nearby beach and the ocean that lapped at it. A cool wind blew in from the ocean, and the liquid that filled it was blue, which struck him as odd. The only ocean he'd ever seen, the one back at home surrounding Metru Nui, had been a deep silver. This thought led him back to his original query: where was this new place? Why was what appeared to be the entire Matoran population of Metru Nui on this island? Who had brought them here? Perhaps that Turaga who had given him his new mask would know… Jala's old friend, Takua, came running, water dripping from his armor. "What's wrong, Jala?" he said. "Afraid to go swim with the rest of us?" "Are you kidding?" Jala replied. "I'd rather surf on lava!" "Come on. Hahli's there." Jala hesitated. "S-so?" "Just get off your high… log, and have some fun for once. We've been busy building temporary huts all day, and when we finally get a break, you want to spend it sitting down?" "Sure. It helps me, ah, recover energy more quickly." Takua shook his head. "Jala, we aren't on Metru Nui anymore. There are no vahki to give you a slap on the wrist if you're slacking. Trust me, I've checked." Jala's mind wandered. Metru Nui… The name sounded familiar. My old home! he remembered. How could I have forgotten something like that? He shook off the thoughts. "I know that, Takua. It's just that… well, it doesn't feel right to me. I feel like I should be doing something important, not splashing in that weird blue ocean." Takua sighed. "I see you're just as much a stick in the mud as always. Guess I can't make you come over if you don't want to, but if you ever do decide to, you're always welcome. Or maybe you'd rather go sit with the Po-Matoran?" He gestured toward the brown armored villagers, all gathered together farther down the beach and noticeably farther from the water as well. Jala chuckled as he saw one Ga-Matoran—Maku was her name, if he remembered correctly—attempted to pull out Huki, an old acquaintance of Jala's. They'd often shared tools to help each other with their respective duties. Sometimes, Huki needed incredibly delicate shapings in his sculptures, and he'd found that the easiest way to accomplish them was by using a heat-staff, which Jala would provide. In turn, Jala would borrow one of Huki's hammers or chisels to his own detail work on… On what? Jala found that he could not recall what it was he used to work on… back in… "Thanks, Takua," said Jala. "You go have your fun. I think I need to talk with those new Turaga. Do you know who they are?" "No clue," Takua said, starting to walk away. "You know, you're right," he called back. "The color of the water is definitely weird." --- "What is it you wanted to ask me, Jala?" the red Turaga said, turning to face him. This was yet another thing struck Jala as odd: this Turaga, who was a complete stranger to Jala, knew his name. "Turaga, I—" Jala floundered. He knew there was a specific question he'd wanted to ask earlier. Something important, regarding the past… He searched his mind to no avail. "I… was wanting to ask you who exactly you and your companions are." The Turaga chuckled. "It's me, Jala. Vakama." Something extremely distant seemed to stir in Jala's mind, but he ignored it. He cocked his head. "I'm sorry. Should I… know you?" Vakama looked shocked, almost… sorrowful, but only for a moment. "Nevermind that now. I am Vakama, and my fellows are Matau, Nuju, Whenua, Nokama, and Onewa," he said, pointing at each fellow Turaga in turn. "We will do our best to lead you here on this, our new island home, which we've agreed should be named Mata Nui, in honor of the Great Spirit." Jala nodded. "I see. An honor to meet all of you," he said, bowing his head in respect. The Turaga nodded back. Turaga Nuju suddenly broke out in a series of strange-sounding whistles and clicks. He seemed to be trying to communicate a message… "Ah, what did he say?" Jala asked. The other Turaga laughed gently. "We have no idea," Whenua said. "It's something he picked up from an old friend, but he has yet to teach anyone else how to speak it as well." Can this day get any crazier? Jala thought. He cleared his throat. "Well, Turaga, I've been having some concerns lately, primarily about—" "Hey!" Turaga Matau suddenly shouted. "Get away my airships!" He ran as quickly as he could over to where some Onu-Matoran had begun dismantling one of the beached airships that Jala assumed had carried the Matoran here. "Those ones probably have the right idea," Whenua mused. "The airships would certainly be a good source of building supplies, wouldn't you say, Onewa?" "Certainly," the Turaga of stone replied. "We'll find no better immediate well of resources as those. It would be a waste to just leave them sitting there forever." "You were saying, Jala?" Vakama said. "Yes, Turaga," Jala said, praying that he wouldn't be interrupted again. "I have some concerns regarding our security." "Ah, yes. I have had some thoughts on this matter as well. Is there anything specifically that you've noticed?" Jala took a deep breath. "I believe I've seen a Kane-Ra in the area." Vakama's eyes widened. "Oh… That may pose a problem." "May?" Whenua said. "If we're camped in the Kane-Ra's territory, you can bet your mask it will try to… remove us." "Exactly," Jala said. "I was wondering if you'd have any ideas on how to secure the camp, or if, perhaps, we should move…" "Or both," Nokama suggested. "Tearing down what we have built will take some time, but would be best if a Kane-Ra is around. We'll still need some defenses to keep us safe in case it decides to attack while we're in the process of moving." "I agree," Vakama said, nodding. "Jala, recruit some other Matoran and inform them of the situation. Use whatever materials you can gather, including anything you want from the airships—even if Matau yells at you—to prepare a suitable defense." He rested a hand on Jala's shoulder. "Our welfare may depend on your success." Jala blanched, then saluted. "Of course, Turaga," he said, struggling to keep from stuttering. "You can count on me." --- "You do know we're facing a Kane-Ra bull, right, Jala?" Aft asked. Jala finished pulling off a sheet of metal off the outside of an airship. "I do," he replied. "And I have a plan on how to deal with it." "I don't see how something like this will slay such a great beast," Aft said, holding up his own sheet of metal. "It won't, but I don't intend to slay it. We only need to delay it long enough for us to get out of the way." "So… a trap, then?" "Precisely." "Using sheets of metal, long pointy sticks, and…" "Shovels. We found some in one the airship's storage garages, and we'll use them to dig a giant hole." Aft shook his head. "I can't say I see what you're doing, but… you seem like the best one to take care of this. That Turaga chose well, I think." Jala extended a closed fist toward his friend. "Thank you, for being willing to follow me." Aft bumped Jala's fist with his own. "Of course. But if you get us all gored, I may be a little upset with you." --- "The creature-beast approaches!" the Le-Matoran scout, Kongu, shouted. "Right," Jala said. "Everyone ready?" He looked to his gathered squad of Ta-Matoran. Each held a long spear whose tip had been dipped in pitch and set aflame. They appeared nervous, but determined. Jala heard heavy rustling in the trees beyond the beach. "Have courage, brothers!" he shouted. The large red bull burst through the brush, sending a group of Nui-Rama into the air as it went. Jala and his Ta-Matoran backed up, keeping their fire spears thrust out toward the Kane-Ra, slowing its charge. It roared and feigned charges at several, but always stopped shy of the flames. "Close around it and move toward the pit," Jala commanded, struggling to be heard over loud buzzing of the unsettled swarm of Nui-Rama. "Keep backing it up until it falls in!" They began the slow process of keeping the bull contained, giving it just enough space to think itself free, toward the place where the true trap lay. Aft gave a desperate cry as he was lifted from the ground by his shoulders, an orange Nui-Rama gripping him in its claws. The Kane-Ra, sensing a point of weakness, charged the opening, running through despite the fire spears of nearby Matoran. "Help!" Aft shouted from above. Jala looked up just in time to see his friend receive a brutal sting in the back from the Nui-Rama. Jala shuddered at the sight of Aft going limp in the Rahi's claws. No time to freeze, he thought. Lives are at stake. Move! "Nuhrii!" he called to another Ta-Matoran. "Take the squad and try to herd the Kane-Ra again. I'm going after Aft." Nuhrii saluted and ran to catch the bull, commanding the remainder of the guards as he went. Jala searched the air. It was full of Nui-Rama, still buzzing nervously after being disturbed. He soon sighted on the one that held Aft, and it appeared to be trying to get away, its progress impeded by its own fellow Rahi. Jala changed his grip on his spear and threw it up into the swarm, but it was knocked aside by the other Nui-Rama. Cursing, he ran forward, underneath the swarm. It was difficult to keep pace with the Nui-Rama above—the shifting sand underfoot on didn't provide a firm surface for running—as well as keeping track of it. When the creature eventually cleared the swarm, Jala took time to search his surroundings for a means of getting to it. He spotted a round piece of driftwood and a vine that looked rather useful… He grabbed the items without slowing down. This wood felt familiar in his hand. Like… like a disc. You can't have him! he thought as he swung the disc up at the Nui-Rama. It clipped the Rahi's wing, disturbing its already burdened flight. It dropped fast, nearly crashing in to the sand. Jala ran quickly, catching up to it. Gathering what little strength he had left in his legs, he jumped up onto the Rahi, swinging the vine he'd grabbed around the creature's neck. Mata Nui, what am I thinking!? he thought as the Rahi bucked wildly against him. The Nui-Rama let go of Aft, now trying to reach up and remove the Matoran on top of it. It's arms were just short enough that if Jala moved carefully, he could avoid being grabbed. That didn't stop it from trying, which distracted it enough for Jala to exert some control over the direction of its flight. He tugged with the vine, yanking toward where the Kane-Ra had gone. Jala's eyes widened as he saw what had occurred. Several tents and makeshift huts on the fringes of the camp had been destroyed by the bull. He was thankful to see that no Matoran seemed to be hurt. He could see Nuhrii and the others making some progress as the beast took time to fully dismantle a small campsite that Jala himself had set up. It rammed its head into a brown tent, tearing it up from the ground. A gust of wind blew in its face then, plastering the cloth to its snout. The Kane-Ra roared in anger, trying to remove the thing that obstructed its vision. The Ta-Matoran guards charged then, poking the beast with their spears. Jala soon reached the bull himself, still on top of the Nui-Rama. One shot at this… He dropped off the Nui-Rama and landed on the bull's back. He grabbed hold of its horns and headed it toward the hole they had dug earlier. The bull responded to his sharp tugs and ran toward the pit, still blinded. The beast lost its footing over the edge and tumbled down. Jala leapt off, barely grabbing the edge of the hole himself. He looked down to see the Kane-Ra sprawled out at the bottom. The pit wasn't too deep, only about 15 feet. Then a shadow passed over him. "Need a hand, Jala?" a voice said from above. He chuckled. "Wouldn't hurt, Hahli." He grabbed her extended hand, hoping she didn't notice the way his heartlight sped up, and was pulled out. Once he was safely above ground again, Hahli called to her fellow Ga-Matoran. They ran forward and tossed a large net down over the Kane-Ra, giving it a new obstacle to struggle with. "Nice touch," Jala said, nodding. "Once it gets through that and the tent on its head, it should notice itself in the mirrors we set up down there. The idea was that it would be distracted at the thought of another of its kind in the pit with it." "Good thinking," Hahli said. "Is it going to be… stuck down there?" "It'll be able to get out eventually, but we should be gone by then." He took a look over the rest of the camp, noticing that most of the equipment and shelters had been removed. "Thanks again, Hahli." She smiled. "I'm always happy to help out." "I have a feeling we'll need all the help we can get in the coming days…" --- Jala watched as Turaga Nokama finished tying a bandage around Aft's wounded middle. "You'll make a fully recovery in no time," she said. "Just don't get picked up by any more Rahi." The wounded Ta-Matoran nodded and lay back on his makeshift bed. "Thank you, Turaga Nokama," he said quietly. "And you, Jala, for saving me back there." "Just doing my duty," Jala replied. "Duty indeed," said Turaga Vakama as he entered the small tent. "That reminds me of something I wanted to speak to you about, Jala. Step outside with me, so we don't bother you fellow Matoran." He placed a hand on Jala's shoulder as they exited the tent. "Your display of tactical wisdom and heroic action today impressed me," the Turaga continued. "When we have established society here on Mata Nui, someone will be needed to keep order and protect what we have. I had been thinking on how to solve this problem, and thought to myself, why not Jala and his fellow Ta-Matoran? We've seen what you can do. So tell me, Jala. Would you be willing to protect this land, and to take command of your brothers to that end?" Jala stopped walking. What he'd done today had stressed him like nothing he'd ever done before. Of course, he couldn't remember a whole lot of things he had done in the past, yet he knew it to be true. The thought of taking command of others and working to protect everyone in the long-term was… daunting. "I…" he began. "Thank you, but I'm not sure I'm the one for the job, Turaga." "Most difficult tasks are uncomfortable when we first begin them," Vakama said. "Believe me, I've experienced it. But it is those tasks which are often the most important. I have seen something in you today: a gift for leadership, a heart full of courage, and a desire to protect. We need you and your mind, Jala. Over time, you will gain confidence and ability. You can learn and adapt. These are your greatest strengths. I believe in you, and your ability to succeed." "I see," said Jala, falling into deep thought. Was it true? Of course, he had done the things the Turaga mentioned. But a knack for leadership? He certainly didn't feel like much of a leader. Yet… this Turaga said he saw it. Saw potential for more. If I'm to have a place in this new land, where better than to be defending my people? "All right. I'll do it." "Excellent," Vakama said with a smile. "If you ever need me, I'll be there to give you advice. I know you'll do well. I know just what to call you, too. You shall be our Captain of the Guard."
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