Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Other groups

Year 05

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
  • Interests
    Bionicle, Strategy Games, Writing Fanfics, Drawing

Contact Methods

  • Website URL

Recent Profile Visitors

620 profile views

Scorpion_Strike's Achievements


Toa (11/293)

  1. 7 - I-Kini-Koro-a Ou Rongala Ku-Koro baked at high noon. Bone-dry air blew along the face of the rocky escarpment the town was carved from. There was little activity; even the Su-Matoran took it easy around this time of day, while the heat brought their less adapted companions to a near-shutdown state. The few Matoran out and about kept to the shadows of rocky outcrops, alleys, and verandas. Hunters, their tents pitched around the base of the escarpment, checked their tools and vehicles at a leisurely pace while the rhythmic clanging of a smith at work rang out over everything. Some talk could be heard from inside the Halfway Cave Saloon, where many sought refuge from the heat. A Vo-Matoran riding a buggy with trailer rode in from an eastern trail. She parked at the base of a stairway leading into the town proper, got out, and cast a scowling glance over the hunters’ encampment. The hunters in turn eyed the contents of the trailer, where a collection of chitinous body segments and two large, blue fangs told tale of what she’d caught: azemi-fen, a giant burrowing spider. Some impressed murmuring attested to the difficulty of tackling such a creature alone, but she paid it little heed. Turning to head up the stairway, she spotted two nuvatoran playing in the shade. They’d been carving something into the wall, but now appeared captivated by the visitor in her elaborate white-and-blue getup. She smiled at them, a sharp-toothed grin conveying not so much friendliness as haughty intimidation. They shrunk back as she passed before watching her march up to the town proper. Ilani didn’t mind the attention; it came with the reputation she maintained. Reaching the lowest ledge of the town, which played the role of town square, she made straight for the largest shop around: the butcher. Ku-koro subsisted on the creatures hunted on the surrounding plains, and hence the shop, carved deep into the rock face, never had a shortage of work. On entry, she immediately attracted curious looks from several of the working Matoran. The most senior among them made his way over to the shop counter. “You’re back,” he greeted with a gruff voice. “What’s in the wagon this time?” “Spider,” she answered curtly. “Size?” “Full car, left the bad stuff behind.” The butcher assumed a skeptical expression. “I’ll have to check it.” “What, have I lied to you?” She flashed a momentary grin. The butcher took a moment to consider the matter. “No, ’course not.” “I know what you use and what you don’t. Yours for seventy, else I’ll carve it up myself and take it to Gol-Rui. They’ll pay me double.” “Full spider, then,” the butcher unlocked a drawer and produced the requisite widgets. Ilani swept them into a coat pocket. “Pleasure doing business.” The butcher gave a nod of understanding. They’d done this plenty of times. She vacated the shop without another word and made her way back to the edge. Looking down, she could tell the precious cargo hadn’t been tampered with. Not that anyone would dare to, but it was good to check all the same; other hunters had been eyeing it enviously before. She was in no position to pay for repairs or a lost catch; the spider was impressive, sure, but pickings had been meager lately and her kit needed repairs. To that end, she made her way to the shop from which the clanging sounds were emanating. Inside, a Fe- and Su-Matoran appeared to be on break while a second Su-Matoran was hammering a red-hot piece of armor back into shape. The Fe-Matoran got up at her appearance. “Welcome,” she greeted. “Need something made?” “Fixed,” Ilani corrected. “Chain tensioner.” “Alright, let me take a look.” The smith held out her hand. Ilani pointed her thumb over her shoulder. “It’s at the base.” “Well, bring it up here, then.” Ilani rolled her eyes and reached into her pocket, audibly running her fingers through the widgets contained within. Suddenly, she scowled and slammed a couple of them onto the counter with a loud crash. The Fe-Matoran recoiled in shock. Both Su-Matoran looked her way. “You can carry your tools,” Ilani sneered as she pointed to a toolbox on the shop floor. “Get down there, take it off, fix it.” She turned to head out but paused halfway and looked back to the widgets. With a quick grunt, she reached into her pocket again and pulled out two more. She flicked them onto the counter; both landed perfectly among the others. She flashed a smile to the astonished Fe-Matoran. “Get it done by tonight.” With that, she was out the door. “We’ll get to it if we can!” Ilani made her way across the square again. Yeah, they’d get to it. She knew they didn’t get eight widgets for such basic repairs every day, even if she had to drive that point home with a bit of showmanship. Two of the butcher’s assistants were already busy unloading the various parts from the trailer to take into the shop; they knew how to get things done on time. The perishable nature of their working material required it. On the west end of the square, carved stairs led up to the next level, from where a wooden set led up to the Halfway Cave saloon. Carved from a natural cave about halfway up the escarpment and built out with a wooden façade, it was the central hub of Ku-Koro in more ways than one. She made her way in and headed straight for the bar. “He gave me the runaround for three days, Paimat. Guess I owe you.” “Well-disguised burrow?” the Su-Matoran tending bar questioned. “Very well,” she confirmed as she placed a ten-widget coin on the counter. “I’m pretty parched, too.” Paimat was already on it, pouring a mug from a barrel set into the stone wall behind him. “Rotten luck, but you can earn it back tonight. We’re bringing out the kanoka. Lots in town with lots to bet.” “You don’t say…” Ilani cast a glance over the room. Half a dozen Matoran were scattered about the premises, some eating midday meals, others apparently just escaping the heat. Paimat unlocked the coin drawer. Ilani pulled out two more widgets and, just as he opened the drawer, flicked them over to it. Both landed nicely in the single widget partition. Paimat nodded approvingly. “Not bad, but I’ve seen you do better.” “I’ll get more to practice with tonight,” she assured him. “Got a feeling luck’ll be on my side for a change.” --- “Welcome back.” Letono glanced up at the station clock. It wasn’t accurate per se, but he knew Telzin’d been gone for close to half an hour. “Took a while to find ‘m,” she explained. “What did they want?” “Ehm…” Well, he knew about its existence already anyways, right? “You know that thing I found on line 2?” “The glowing stick?” “Yeah. I did some asking around, and they wanted to check it out.” “They know what it is?” “Eh… not really.” Garta and Tykal had stressed secrecy, she remembered. She’d already decided not to tell Letono that she’d dropped by Turaga Florei’s place on the way back to ask him about Toa Stones. The Turaga wasn’t home, nor was his assistant. They hadn’t even left a note to say where they were. Thankfully, Letono didn’t press the point further. “Well, now that you’re here, you get to take part in morning checks.” He slid a checklist across the desk. “If anything gives you trouble…” “I’ll fix it.” Telzin picked up the list, scanned it for a moment, then put it down and got on with it. Who needed a list? She knew the station forwards and backwards, including every bodge she’d made to keep it running. Everything prone to failure had failed several times over in her few years here, and everything else was as bulletproof as she could make it. Moving parts were the main concern, but apart from a few squirts of oil needed nothing seemed amiss. All engines started and ran fine. The elevator was slow as always but reliable. All this she confirmed in no time. She reported to Letono, who insisted on the checklist being filled out all the same. Important for the daily documentation and all that. With that, the long wait began. She watched the signal board for a while, but the lightstones stayed down. Though the sounds of industry from up north and city life from the south and east could readily be heard, station 8 was an island of tranquil inactivity. Absent anything else to take her attention, her imagination was running wild around the Toa stone again. By this point, most of the scenarios she could think up involved the appearance of monsters from stories whose names she could only vaguely remember… Vuki? Prika? Her inability to recall anything specific about them did little to put them out of her mind. Wearily she strung up the hammock again. She wasn’t expecting to get much rest, but comfort and some distraction from the goings-on at ground level could help kill time. Below, she could see lots of Matoran moving about, buying, selling, making, and moving things. At one point she spotted one with a bright, glowing object, but realized moments later that it was just a regular lightstone. How disappointing. And just like that, her eyes were cast to the distance and her mind on the Toa Stone again. She was out for a while after that, out enough that she wasn’t sure what time it was when some movement in the canopy caught her eye. Looking southwest, she could just see the halfway station of line 2. Few places were more pointless to visit, yet there was someone there now. Telzin couldn’t tell who at this range, though their stature was Le-Matoran and their colors indicated a plain sense of fashion. She watched for a minute as the Matoran picked over the platform from top to bottom, especially around the engine. Was it a surprise inspection? Surely she’d have been told if anything was to be checked. Best to check for herself. She climbed back to the station proper and sought out Letono. “Hey, are we getting an inspection?” He glanced over his schedule. “Not that I’ve heard… why?” “Someone’s snooping around line 2.” Letono looked out the window in the direction she pointed but saw nothing. “Where at?” Telzin moved outside to get a clearer view. “The halfway station…” Her voice trailed off when she got a clear view. The Matoran was gone. Letono joined her at the doorway. “I don’t see anything.” “It was just a minute ago…” She moved towards a bridge to get a better look, but still nothing. “You sure?” “I’m certain. There was someone there. Le-Matoran, definitely. Was checking it pretty good.” She scanned up and down the line and the ladder to ground level from the platform. Still no sign. “I’ll look into it.” Letono headed back inside. “Maybe I missed something.” He sounded far from convinced. Telzin looked for the mystery Matoran for a bit longer, but they seemed to have vanished completely. She had no idea how they got away so quickly; the space around that halfway station was empty, and outside of the long-disused ladder and the rail, here were no obvious ways to get to it. Nor was there anything of interest there… She gasped with a sudden realization. There was nothing of interest there now. Quickly, she made her way back to the station’s lower levels and checked the backpack she’d stowed there. The Toa stone was safe inside. There was no doubt in her mind now. There’d never been anything of interest on that platform except the Toa stone. That Matoran had to be looking for it. Who were they? What did they want it for? Already the possibilities were bubbling up in the back of her mind. Maybe they wanted to steal it? Good thing she’d kept it with her rather than leaving it at home… Come to think of it, would they search there next? Good thing for once that there was nothing there either… She caught herself before pushing that line of thought any further. This was silly. Maybe that Matoran was looking for the Toa stone, but she had it and that was final. And maybe they were actually just checking the station. Surprise inspections did happen, though not often… Letono would figure it out. --- Following a coast now dominated by dark, jagged cliffs, Garta spotted the Kini-Kofo from miles away. Perched on top of a rocky outcrop at least sixty meters above sea level, it was every bit as impressive at first sight as had been described to him. Its name, “Small Temple,” was only true in comparison to the Great Temple of legend; this was a monumental structure in its own right. Its center section, a truncated ellipsoid, was as large as any building in Gol-Rui, not to speak of the six towers connected to it by flying buttresses. Polished metal inlays on the walls shone bright in the afternoon sun, making the temple a beacon even in daylight. Even the grandeur of the snow-covered peak of Ino-Urui in the background was muted in comparison. As he sailed closer, more of the town came into view, or as least as much as one could see from his low vantage point. Most of it was behind the cliff, but the thatched roofs of some huts were visible close to the edge. More important was the harbor, built some distance east of the temple at a spot where partial collapse of the cliff allowed easier travel up the shoreline. Though the few fishermen that lived in town had likely all returned already, Garta had no difficulty finding a good spot to tie up his boat with some help from a quiet Ce-Matoran harbormaster. With the rod stashed safely in his backpack, he proceeded up a long, winding set of stairs built over the rocky rubble. A gate with prominent inscription at the top marked the entrance to the town proper. I-Kini-Koro-a Ou Rongala Beyond the gate, a small square offered a good overview of the eastern half of the town. A winding, cobblestone road led from the square to a park that divided Kini-Koro in two, right in front of the temple. Arranged somewhat haphazardly around it were huts of all shapes and sizes, only similar in their framed wattle-and-daub construction. Some had small rahi pens attached to them, others had awnings under which the Ce-Matoran were working on one thing or another. Garta followed the road, occasionally replying to the odd look or gesture with a restrained nod and smile of his own. This was a very different place than Gol-Rui, more relaxed, more open. He could walk from one end of that city to the other without anyone paying the least bit of attention, but here the new arrival seemed cause enough for everyone to take a moment to acknowledge it. He was glad that the park, the last bit of his journey to the temple, was mostly devoid of huts or their residents; the temple was the center of the town, sure, but the town kept a respectful distance. The temple’s doors, built of heavy timber and easily four times the height of a Matoran, were wide open to receive visitors. Stopping in the doorway, Garta took in the interior. The core of the temple had two levels, the lower taking up the whole footprint of the structure and the upper a wide walkway supported by pillars and the wall. Metal fixtures around the room held a constellation of candles, but the bulk of the lighting was provided by a large opening in the center of the roof, shining like a spotlight pointed down on a large table set in the center of the temple. A Ce-Matoran was tending to the candles while another moved about the walkway; both acknowledged Garta’s arrival with warm smiles before getting back to the tasks at hand. Uncertain of where to look for a suva or anything like it, Garta decided to start with the centerpiece. The table was a work of art in itself: a thick, circular slab of black volcanic glass several meters across, it was gorgeously engraved with a symbol that Garta readily recognized: the outline of the great robot, the Matoran Universe, standing with arms wide. Arrayed in circles behind it was a huge collection of astrological symbols, few of which he could identify. Only one, the red star, as signified by a red gemstone set into the table right above the great spirit’s head, jumped out at him. Smaller gemstones studded other parts of the table, but what they were meant to signify escaped him. The arrangement was bordered by an inscription that circled the whole table. Ar-isira ai i-atukanomai aorok-ko, ar-vebarra ilavase-i ikarla-ko, ar-fugnika i-aki vuata-ko. Mata Nui’i no moni ana’i rohi-o vunseya, ai avoter-ko. O maya-su ki i-kai-a ai ako yiya. O maya-su ki ai ako terya ki o lhiya. O maya-su ki ai ako ikarya ki o va-o mayiya. “… to achieve our destiny.” Garta whispered as he finished reading. The temple was so quiet that he could hear a faint echo of even that. He took a step back to get a view of the whole table. Its surface rested on six legs, stone pillars composed of three distinct segments stacked one on top of the other. The symbol of the three virtues was carved into each middle segment. Beyond that, there was little to note. Sure, the table occupied the same spot in the temple as the suva had in the diagram of Metru Nui’s, but it showed no signs of any function beyond looking impressive. Slightly disappointed, Garta looked around for other objects of interest. There were many: the walls were heavily engraved with a wide variety of symbols, maps, and other icons of legend. The other prominent thing was an elaborately carved stone pedestal positioned opposite the entrance. Set on top of it was a mask that he readily recognized: the Kanohi Ignika. Well, a replica of it, but a very intricate one, no doubt the work of the most skilled of smiths of the Tahai. Surrounding the pedestal was an ornate display of flowers and greens, well-kept in pots set on small pedestals of their own. The wall behind it played host to a painted engraving of the Great Spirit in the form of a giant robot bringing life to barren lands. Carved underneath was a short description of the events, along with the name of the carver: Pulata. Garta’d never heard of her, though the inscription mentioned that she was a Po-Matoran and that the Great Spirit had guided her hand in the making of the carving. Somewhat sectioned off from the rest of the temple by pillars supporting the walkway, the pedestal and its surroundings appeared a cozy shrine within the larger temple. Surveying some of the other sections, which featured sparse coloring and replica artifacts but no less detail in the carvings, Garta found the temple as much a monument to Matoran history as to the Great Spirit and the virtues. He read each description and at times found himself transfixed by one carving or another. Nearer the entrance of the temple, farther from the shrine, dark times such as the Matoran Civil War, Great Cataclysm, and Reign of Shadows were depicted. Closer to the shrine came the hopeful and triumphant moments, the victories of Toa teams and the Great Spirit. Some he’d read about recently, others he’d only heard of long ago, back on the Old World. Now much of it was flooding back, in this monument to all that Matoran were and could be. “Not bad, is it?” Caught up in a collage depicting events on the island of Mata Nui, Garta was shaken even by the soft, gentle voice that posed the question. Turning around, he found another Ce-Matoran had entered the premises and was regarding him with keen interest. “Forgive me, I didn’t mean shake you.” The Matoran raised his hands. “No, not at all.” Garta shook his head and gestured back to the collage. “Just looking up some things.” “Of course.” The Ce-Matoran stepped forward and cast his eyes to the carvings. “Ah, yes, the island of Mata Nui, one of the more relevant pieces.” “Relevant?” Garta gave him a questioning look. “Many visitors have compared it to our own situation. A handful of Matoran stuck in a paradise they don’t know much about. Parallels are easily drawn.” “I could see that,” Garta nodded. “Do you work here?” “I used to, but no, I’m just checking in.” The Ce-Matoran reached out with a fist. “I’m Celan,” he introduced himself. “I run the inn.” “Garta.” They bumped fists in greeting. “Welcome to Kini-Koro. Long journey here?” “Two days, with decent weather.” “A pleasant trip,” Celan smiled. “If you’re interested, dinner’ll soon be served at the inn.” “Ah…” Garta looked past Celan out the entrance. The sun was setting. He’d been checking out the temple for a good hour or two without even realizing it. “Dinner would be nice.” “Come with me, then,” Celan invited. “This will all still be here in the morning.” Garta looked back to the mural for the moment. With how long he’d been in the temple, he’d inadvertently searched a fair bit of it in great detail and found no sign of anything that might work with the Toa Stone. Before long he’d be searching by candlelight only. Perhaps it was better to call it a day. He motioned for the doorway. “Lead on.” --- “Ka’ifa!” Ilani’s call was accompanied by a ‘clack!’ sound as six dice in front of her suddenly flew towards each other, impacting into a small pile in the center of the kanoka disk. Unity of Magnetism had been achieved in three rolls, a very quick round. It was not well received by the rest of the table. “I swear you’re doing it on purpose,” Avtaki grumbled. “Three was a low bet and you know it.” He’d bet on six rolls and didn’t stand to gain any of the stash of widgets on the table from it. “Told you I was lucky tonight,” Ilani grinned as she swept what remained of the stash her way and started counting the contents. “Luck? Vatra!” Avtaki got up. “New dice or I’m out.” “Again?” Mavyal, who stood to gain at least something from her bet on four, counted out a few widgets of her own. “Good luck getting a third set from Paimat.” She had a point. The saloon was packed for the evening with a bunch of roaming hunters that happened to all be in town at the same time. With such a confluence came Ka, the gambling game that consumed a solid chunk of their earnings. Five tables were going; most of the die sets that hadn’t been through the group yet were already in use by another. Avtaki surveyed the space momentarily before sitting back down and downing a big gulp of Bo-Matoran brew. “Nowhere near enough in the stash,” Ilani announced. “I’m taking donations.” “How much over?” Mavyal enquired. “Thirty-seven.” Only part of a big win. Ilani leant back in a clear display of satisfaction. “So much for my winnings.” Mavyal slid nine widgets Ilani’s way. Reluctantly, Avtaki counted out the same amount. Silent throughout the exchange so far had been the fourth member of the table, Kor, who’d struck out farthest with his bet on nine rounds. His silence did not go unnoticed. “You’re on the hook for nineteen, Turaga.” Ilani stacked the widgets into small piles. “Yeah, that I am,” Kor sighed and raised his hands. “More than I’ve got on me.” “I’ll call Paimat…” Mavyal got up to look for the proprietor. “Not so fast,” Kor said, getting up as well. “I said I didn’t have nineteen on me. I’ve got more at home.” “Much good that’ll do you,” Ilani grinned. “No leaving ‘till after the game’s paid out.” “Sure, that’s the rules,” Kor nodded, “but only with whoever I owe. Which means you’re coming with me.” Ilani shot him an incredulous look. “…and leave a winning streak behind?” “As Turaga, I’ll have to insist.” Kor’s tone had lost its conviviality. “It’ll be worth your time, promise.” “Well… a Turaga’s promise’s gotta be worth something,” Ilani shrugged and swept her earnings into her coat. Though she was loath to leave the table now, Kor wasn’t known to make promises or stand on his authority as Turaga. Something worth playing along with, most likely. “Alright then, after you,” she pointed to the door. Kor made his way out with her close behind, Avtaki shooting her a dirty look as she passed. They proceeded directly towards the Turaga’s hut, located on an outcrop with a near-perfect view of the whole town. Location aside, though, there was little to indicate that this was a Turaga’s residence. A small cobblestone hut with a leather roof, it was no larger than the town’s average home. Its door was always open when Kor was there, or so he advertised, but Ilani’d never seen the inside of the place. There wasn’t much to it, little more than a crash pad with some token nods to his official position. The Turaga spent most of his time hunting with friends, and as such his badge and stole of office were stored largely unused on a chair in the corner. A couple of crates contained some tools and a few documents. There were three rooms, but the two not containing the entrance were barely big enough to lie down in. Ilani’s field tent had almost as many amenities. “The great Turaga’s home...” she remarked as she looked around. “I must say I expected more.” “It suffices,” Kor replied as he rooted around under the bed in another room. He returned with something wrapped in numerous layers of parchment and handed it to Ilani. “Here you go.” “Don’t look like widgets,” Ilani observed. “Unwrap it.” She shrugged but obliged, easily pulling apart the parchment to reveal a faintly translucent rod. “A dead lightstone?” “Not dead,” Kor said as he reached out and put a finger on the rod, which suddenly lit up in bright orange. He pulled back, and the glow faded. “Very much alive, with the right trigger.” “Now there’s something…” Curious, Ilani put her own finger on the rod and watched it glow bright yellow. She pulled back immediately. “Weird... What is it?” “Not sure,” Kor admitted. “Got it from the barraki in Gol-Rui two weeks ago. It’s worth a lot.” “You don’t say…” Ilani mused. Her eyes remained focused on it. No doubt it was worth a lot, much more than a measly nineteen widgets. “This your payment?” “Yup. You know it’s worth what I owe you and then some.” “Probably…” Ilani kept it cool, but she knew this was something else, worth a lot more. She could feel it. “He said I should make sure it ended up in the hands of someone I trust.” “So, you’re saddling me with a mystery?” Ilani wrapped the rod back up. “You can figure it out in Gol-Rui, I reckon. That or someone will pay you through the nose for it. I know I can trust you to do either, don’t matter much to me.” Ilani pretended to mull over the offer, then gave a nod and stuck the rod in her pocket with the other winnings. “Alright, your debt’s done for. Pleasure doing business.” “I’ll say.” Kor gave a wry smile. “I’d better catch something good to make up for all the business we’ve done.” “If it helps,” Ilani returned the smile, “I know at least two hunters who lost big this evening. They’re probably up for a ride.” “Get out.” She wasted no time doing just that. Keeping her composure was part of the act, but inside she was fit to burst. Kor didn’t know much about this thing, but he was right on one point: it was valuable. Hundreds of widgets perhaps, as much as she could make out here in a month or more. There was no time to waste: she had to get it to Gol-Rui and appraised properly. As for what she’d spend the money on… Gol-Rui offered many possibilities. --- “Wrench.” Tykal reached out. Scorzen picked the tool from the fender and placed in his friend’s hand, then turned his attention back to the small pot over the fire. The stew wasn’t going to make itself. They’d made good progress, following a winding path south through the Maduni region. The heat and humidity trapped under the canopy had slowed them early on, but respite had come with sunset. Now night had descended, and while Tykal busied himself with rather invasive field maintenance on the buggies, Scorzen had set up the camp. Camp amounted to a tent pitched between two giant roots of a tree just off the path. It wasn’t much, but it was more than he’d had on his way north ten years before. He could just hear the waves break on the shore not far away. They would soon bring the fog with them. He could feel it in the air already. “You know,” Tykal mused as he emerged from under the buggy, “If I took this lightstone and fixed it to the front, we could keep going overnight.” “Why travel at night?” Scorzen wondered. “You think we won’t reach Ga-Koro tomorrow?” “No, that’ll be easy. But the day after, you know? If we leave early, we could reach Kini-Koro an hour or two after dark, a day early.” “That’d be pushing it…” “Maybe, but the Turaga did say that it was important.” Tykal held the lightstone over various places on the front of his buggy, gauging the range of light it emitted. For driving, it wasn’t much. “Maybe in a lantern,” Scorzen pointed out, “so you’re not looking right at the lightstone.” “Yes, that’d be better…” Tykal opened the cargo crate strapped to the back of the buggy and started rooting around for some scrap metal. He soon found a piece thin enough to bend by hand and held it behind the lightstone. That was a little better. “I think I’ll fix it up when we get to Ga-Koro,” he decided. Scorzen turned to stir the soup again. He knew what to expect, and sure enough Tykal couldn’t let the idea go. Within a few minutes he’d broken out more tools and was trying to fit the lightstone on the spot. The noise of him beating the sheet metal into shape with a hammer and a rock echoed through the jungle. Scorzen was used to the sound of his friend at work to some extent, but this was painfully loud. “Can’t it wait?” he finally asked. “Eh, why should it?” Tykal inspected the work piece, which was slowly taking on the shape of a lampshade. “Is dinner ready yet?” “Almost. Just… it’s really loud.” “Oh, right…” Tykal realized with some disappointment. “Yeah, it can wait ‘till tomorrow.” “Thanks.” Scorzen sighed under his breath. He didn’t like reining his friend in, but he would’ve gotten a splitting headache otherwise. Tykal spent some time inspecting both the piece, the lightstone, and the front of the buggy afterwards, no doubt still considering ways to mount the former to the latter, but finally put it down and took a seat across the fire. Scorzen passed him a bowl of the stew, but he made only slow progress. “Still thinking about it?” Scorzen asked. “Hm, what?” “The light.” Scorzen gestured to the buggy. “Eh, that and more.” Tykal gulped down a spoonful of the stew. “Good stew, by the way.” “Thanks.” Scorzen set his empty bowl aside. “What’s the more?” “Toa Stone.” “Me too. Can’t get it out of my head. Do you think it’s a bad omen?” “Bad omen?” Tykal looked up, surprised. “A sign of destiny and a bad omen, the Turaga said.” “Eh… no idea. Could be anything. Could do anything. I just want to get it to the temple quick, so I can see what it is.” “Hence the light?” “Hence the light.” Tykal took another spoonful of stew. “Let’s hope it does something.” “The light?” “The Toa Stone.” “Why wouldn’t it?” “Well, do you know what it actually does? We’re just here because the Turaga said it was important, but he could’ve told us anything he wanted.” “I guess…” Scorzen hadn’t considered whether Florei’d told them the truth or not. “You think he’d lie?” “Who knows why the Turaga do things?” Tykal shrugged. “I just wouldn’t believe everything they say without question, you know?” “Then why are we here?” Scorzen gestured to their dark surroundings. “Well, if what he said is true, then we could be at the center of something really big, maybe so big that the chroniclers will tell our tale forever. Turaga wouldn’t be involved if it was something small.” “And if it’s not true?” “Then it doesn’t mean anything, I get a trip under the Turaga’s authority to the amazing temple I’ve heard about, you get to visit home, and we go back when we feel like it. But the chance to be there when something big goes down? I’ll gamble for that.” “You would…” “I am.” Tykal finished off the last of his stew. “What about you?” “Me?” “What do you think of it?” “… worried, I guess,” Scorzen admitted. “About what might happen. The Turaga said there’d be trouble.” “Maybe that’s just to make it feel more urgent.” “Doesn’t it already?” Scorzen gestured to the backpack resting against the rock Tykal was sitting on. Tykal looked at it too. “Yeah, there’s something to it. I’ve felt that ever since I found it.” He sighed. “The way I see it, we’ll know two days from now. Not much use worrying about it before then.” “I guess, yeah…” Tykal got up. “I’m gonna shut it now, make it an early morning. You should do the same.” “Will do,” Scorzen nodded. With that, Tykal retired to the tent. He took the backpack with him; Scorzen noted that he’d kept it within reach pretty much since the moment he found the Toa Stone. Clearly there was a fixation, whatever the stone did, but fixations were nothing new to Tykal. Scorzen could feel it too, just a little, but while Tykal seemed able to put all that out of his mind at a moment’s notice, Scorzen couldn’t. His mind kept circling back to that same idea. A bad omen… of what? He couldn’t imagine anything specific, yet it instilled mounting unease all the same. He knew from experience that shutting down in this state was all but impossible, so instead of joining Tykal in the tent, he got up and retrieved the dikorda from his buggy. Taking the lightstone, he made his way to the shoreline, far enough away that he wouldn’t bother his friend. He found a comfortable seat on some rocks at the water’s edge. In the moonlight, he could see the beginnings of the mist forming in the distance. Even that, a perfectly normal event, now had an ominous hint to it. He raised the dikorda and started playing a simple Ga-Matoran tune. It was one of the first he’d learned during his nuvatoran years in Gol-Rui. No beat, just a flowing melody to soothe the senses. It always calmed him, and tonight was thankfully no different. He followed it with a selection of others, all soothing melodies that he’d picked up over the years. At first, he worried whether he’d wake up Tykal, but once he was sure that was not going to happen, he lost himself in the music entirely. The worries faded into the background. It was a beautiful night. He couldn’t wait to see the Komo again, to experience its bliss, but this was the next best thing. No, it was better. He tuned into the rhythm of the waves breaking on the shore, the rustling of leaves in the treetops, the distant chorus of insects. It was an elemental symphony, and the dikorda fit in perfectly. He never wanted to stop playing, but after a while, he noticed that the insects had fallen silent and the wind had picked up. Over the Komisi, the fog had dissipated, and clouds were starting to form. Curses, it was going to rain, if not tonight then certainly tomorrow. And there was something else, a gut feeling at first, but then a sound so faint as to be barely audible, even to him. It was a low, droning rumble. It took him some time to recognize its likeness: the sound of the mines under Gol-Rui, machines slowly grinding their way through solid rock. But this was too far away from that city, and it wasn’t quite the same. Gol-Rui’s soundscape had become familiar and comfortable, this was unnerving. He set the dikorda aside and put his ear to the ground. He could hear it just a little more clearly, not well, but it was something. It was gradually fading away. After a minute, he couldn’t pick it up anymore. Disappointed, he got up and looked around. Clouds were still gathering off the coast, gradually robbing him of moonlight. Time to seek shelter in the tent.
  2. 6 - Kewa-Kofo, Ou Kolya-su “Okay, so here’s how it’s gonna go,” Tykal explained as he and Scorzen followed the border path to the nearest tree with Madumei access. “I don’t want people to know that I’ve got this thing until I can get my idea on how to use it out there, so we can’t let her know that we have it. Just ask her about what exactly she’s looking for, and maybe if she knows whether anyone else has one already.” “What if she wants to know why we’re asking?” Scorzen pointed out. “Eh, no particular reason.” “I don’t think Fe- and De-Matoran just go to the Madumei for no reason…” “Okay then, maybe we’re asking for someone else, or maybe we’ve heard of something like it being found… no, then we’d have to point her somewhere. Ah-ha! We’ll say we’ve lost something like it!” “That would mean that you had it. Isn’t that what you don’t want people to know?” “Okay, fine. You come up with an excuse, then.” Having reached the base of one of the giant trees, Tykal started making his way around it, looking for a ladder. “What if I just say I’m interested in looking for it too, but need to know what exactly it is?” Scorzen suggested. “I mean, I hear lots of rumors in the market. I might be able to look for it that way.” “You’re a De-Matoran,” Tykal mumbled under his breath. “You hear everything.” “I do,” Scorzen said quickly as if to underscore the statement. “That’s how I could help. I mean, why would she be asking if people’d seen one of these things if she didn’t want help looking for one?” “Checking the field, probably for the station mechanic,” Tykal answered dryly. “Ah, over here.” He spotted and made his way quickly to the rope ladder hanging from the east side of the tree. “I think she was the mechanic… Maybe she just had one and lost it?” “That could be… still, that means there’s another one out there.” Tykal started the climb. “Well, what if she accidentally dropped it and it ended up in that scrap pile where you found it?” Tykal stopped. “You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how it got there. I doubt any Ta-Matoran would’ve thrown it out, but a Le-Matoran losing it? I could see that.” “We should probably give it back, then…” “Finders keepers,” Tykal declared as he proceeded to climb the ladder in vigorous fashion. It was a long climb, and neither of them spent their breath on continuing the conversation until they reached the platform not far below the canopy. Tykal kept up the brisk pace all the way, leaving Scorzen well behind. He surveyed the platform while waiting for his friend. It was a small one, linked to three others by rope bridges that swayed visibly in the wind. Two woven branch huts with roofs made from large leaves were suspended by vines from the branches above. It was still quiet. “Which way?” Tykal asked when Scorzen appeared at last. “I’m not sure…” Scorzen scanned the canopy in sight for any sign of the station. “Someone should get the Le-Matoran to put up signposts,” Tykal suggested. “How do they find anything up here?” “I think I see it.” Scorzen pointed along the north-eastern bridge, much to his dismay also the longest one linked to the platform. “Just around that branch.” Now Tykal spotted it too and immediately headed in that direction, taking to the bridge without second thought. Scorzen followed with considerable trepidation. As they made their way along the bridge, the station loomed ever clearer ahead, its three levels setting it well apart from the smaller platforms scattered throughout the rest of the canopy. Above the entrance, a sign identified it as the west Tahai station. “Morning!” Tykal loudly exclaimed as he marched into the station’s top level through the open door. “Eh, good morning,” came the surprised reply from a stocky Le-Matoran behind a desk. He quickly recovered himself. “What can I do for you?” “My friend here has a question for you.” Tykal stepped aside and motioned for Scorzen to step forward. He did just that as the Matoran behind the desk turned his stern gaze on him. “Hi… uhm, I’m looking for Telzin?” “Telzin?” Again, the desk pilot betrayed some surprise. “She’s not in at this hour. Never is.” “Ah, okay…” Scorzen slunk back a bit. “Do you want her to send something from here? If so, I can help.” “No, it’s just, eh, about something she asked me yesterday.” “I can tell her you dropped by,” the Le-Matoran offered as he pulled up a piece of parchment and a quill. “Names?” “Tykal, Scorzen,” Tykal answered quickly. “Very well, I’ll let her know,” the Le-Matoran gave a nod as he noted the names on the parchment. “From my experience, she’ll be in by noon at the latest.” “Thank you.” Tykal gave a quick nod and headed out the door, followed closely by Scorzen. He stopped at the entrance to the bridge. “Well, that’s not much help.” “It is early…” Scorzen pointed out. “Yeah, yeah… well, so much for the Madumei.” “Back home, then?” Scorzen gestured to the station. “There’s a ladder in there.” “I suppose…” Tykal started that way, then suddenly stopped again. “Actually, while we’re here, we could ask the Turaga.” “Turaga Florei?” “No, Turaga Duzan,” Tykal said sarcastically. “Of course, Florei. His place is somewhere up here, right? Might as well see if he’s around so we didn’t make the climb for nothing.” “But he’s the Turaga of the Bo- and Le-Matoran…” “You’d rather visit Duzan, then?” “No,” Scorzen quickly answered. He was well aware of the Onu-Matoran Turaga’s formidable reputation. “Alright then.” Tykal walked back to the entrance of the station and called inside: “hey, where’s the Turaga’s place?” “South-west, four platforms over,” the Le-Matoran responded. Tykal gave him a nod and marched back to and onto the bridge. Scorzen followed hesitantly, dismayed that he hadn’t seen the last of the bridges yet. “What are you going to ask him?” “Whether he’s heard of anything that glows when a Matoran touches it. If there’s more of them out there, you bet he’ll have heard through one of the parties that they’ve always got up here.” “I’ve never seen him at the parties…” “Well, he’s a Turaga. He should know what’s going on one way or the other. I’d be surprised if Duzan doesn’t know about what we’ve got already. He’s got eyes and ears all over… I wouldn’t have brought it with me if he didn’t.” Tykal glanced over his shoulder at his backpack. Scorzen thought to point out that Tykal’s paranoia of the Earth Turaga was getting to him but decided against it. A short walk later, they found themselves in front of Turaga Florei’s hut. Occupying the better part of a large platform on the western tip of the Madumei, it was a three-level structure made in much the same way as the other huts they’d come by, though larger and composed of several distinct ‘units’ that were woven into each other. The door was open. “Greetings!” Tykal once again announced their arrival loudly. Entering into the hut, they found themselves in a small welcome room. A desk, topped with a variety of scattered papers, almost divided the space in two. Seated behind it was another Le-Matoran, who was clearly surprised by their sudden appearance. “Welcome. I’m Toku. Can I help you?” “Tykal, Scorzen,” Tykal gestured to himself and his friend, “and we’d like to see the Turaga. Is he busy?” “I’ll check. Wait here.” Toku got up and left the room through a doorway leading deeper into the structure. “That was easy…” Scorzen quietly remarked. “He’s a Turaga,” Tykal explained in a low tone. “He’s not going to turn us away just because we’re not of his tribes. Besides, I’m pretty sure Florei doesn’t keep a busy schedule. I mean, do you ever hear about the guy doing much?” “Fair.” Scorzen nodded. From what he’d picked up, Florei’s name wasn’t often mentioned outside of Bo-Matoran circles. Before long, Toku reappeared. “The Turaga has some time. If you’d like to follow me…” with that, she turned right and headed down a short, curved hallway, followed closely by the visitors. “In here.” She motioned them into a large, vaguely semicircular room. A large desk with chairs scattered in front of it took up center stage, cabinets lined the interior wall, and wide balcony allowed in plenty of light to help two small lightstones illuminate the space. On one side of the balcony a sizeable cage was home to several small, colorful bird rahi. Standing next to it was Turaga Florei, looking little different from any other Bo-Matoran absent his stole and badge of office, both of which were lying on the desk. “Welcome,” he greeted warmly as they entered. He took a few steps inside, stopping short of the desk. “What brings a Fe- and De-Matoran to my office?” “Tykal,” Tykal gestured to himself as he stepped forward, then pointed to Scorzen. “My friend here, Scorzen, recently heard a rumor that someone found a weird stick that glows when Matoran touch it. Now, as an inventor…” he stopped when he saw the Turaga’s surprised reaction to his mention of this ‘rumor.’ Florei took a moment to recover himself. “Do go on,” he invited. “Okay, as an inventor, such a device is very much of interest to me. So, I’ve come to ask if you’ve heard of these glowing sticks and where they might have been found.” “Glowing sticks?” Florei slowly nodded. “That sounds like something you would’ve brought up from the mines.” “I don’t work there,” Tykal quickly pointed out. “Not anymore.” “Obviously…” Florei scanned Tykal’s squat frame up and down before taking a seat behind his desk. “Still, this sounds like something you should ask Turaga Duzan about. He keeps tabs on the mines.” “Oh, I know, but I happened to be in the area and figured I’d ask you,” Tykal explained with a slight edge to his voice. “That he is…” Florei nodded again, then looked to Scorzen. “Where’d you hear about this glowing stick?” “Uhm, the market,” Scorzen answered shakily. “The market… and did you hear where it was found?” “The Tahai.” Florei leant back in his chair and looked back and forth between his visitors. Any surprise in his face was gone now, replaced by a more detached expression that hid whatever he was really thinking. Tykal folded his arms and matched the poker face with his own while Scorzen stood by awkwardly. The Turaga broke the silence: “Which one of you found it?” “Which one of us?” Tykal’s poker face was instantly replaced with a shocked expression. He quickly glanced to Scorzen, who echoed the look. “We didn’t…” “It’s in your backpack.” Tykal was about to protest but paused and then thought the better of it. With a tacit nod, he confirmed the Turaga’s assertion. “May I see it?” Florei reached a hand across the desk. Tykal considered for a moment, but then took off the backpack, opened it up, and reached inside. A flash of bright orange light heralded the appearance of the rod, which he set on the desk. “There,” he said coldly. Florei looked at the rod intently, placing his finger on it. It lit up with a warm, green glow. He nodded approvingly. “How did you know?” Tykal demanded. “You’re in my office, not Duzan’s,” Florei said calmly. “Maybe I don’t much like Duzan.” “Clearly.” Florei slowly moved the rod with small taps of his fingers, letting its glow decay between each one. Tykal sighed. “Fine. What is it?” Florei turned it one last time. “It’s a Toa stone.” “A what?” “A Toa stone, and it’s very important.” “Important how?” Tykal stepped forward to pick the rod off the table but hesitated when Florei put his finger on it again and held it there. “It’s a sign of destiny… and a bad omen.” “Destiny?” “Yes. It means there’s trouble ahead. It also means that you will be one of those who will save us from it.” Tykal’s eyes widened in amazement. He looked back to a worried Scorzen, then to the Turaga again. “Save us from what?” “I can’t say, but Toa stones don’t show up for nothing.” Tykal took a moment to absorb it all. Did this mean he was going to be at the center of something important, something groundbreaking at last? “Where’d it come from?” Scorzen asked. “I… I’m not sure,” Florei admitted. “I didn’t… expect to ever see one.” He turned back to Tykal. “But now that it’s here, there’s a something I need you to do with it.” “What is it?” Tykal asked eagerly. “You need to take it to Kini-Koro.” “Kini-Koro? Why?” “The Toa Stone needs to be brought to the temple,” Florei explained. “That’s where it will do its work. You are its bearer now, so you need to get it there.” “That’s, what, two days’ travel?” Tykal asked Scorzen. “Seven on foot,” the latter answered. “Seven!? Hmm… by cart?” “Four.” “Four days, I can do that…” Tykal nodded, then suddenly stopped. “Wait, I’ve got an order I need to work on before then, it.” “What kind of order?” Florei asked. “Farming tools for your Bo-Matoran.” “I am their Turaga. I can make sure they get their tools,” Florei offered. “Right now, it is imperative that you get this to the temple. This stone means business.” “Okay!” Tykal snatched the stone off the desk and stuck it in his backpack. “Scorzen, you ready for a trip?” “Uhm, I was going to work the market…” Scorzen objected but got no further. “That can wait,” Tykal declared. “Do you have any gigs lined up?” “Ehm, no…” “Then come with! You heard him, this is important!” “I’m not sure I can just… leave like that.” “Oh come on…” Tykal pulled the rod out of his backpack again. “This thing here, this is a sign of destiny. Something important is about to happen, and you can be there for it!... Besides, it’ll get you away from the noise of Gol-Rui for a while.” “That would be nice…” Scorzen tacitly agreed. Tykal turned back to the Turaga, who’d gotten up from behind his desk. “We’ll be on our way as soon as we can.” “Very good,” Florei smiled. “I will send word to Turaga Elya that you’re on your way. Check in with her when you get to Kini-Koro.” “Will do,” Tykal gave a nod as he started for the door. “And one more thing…” Florei said, stopping Tykal in his tracks. “Remember, this isn’t just about destiny. It’s a bad omen, but we have no idea what it’s warning us about or when it’ll show up. I’ll work with the other Turaga to figure it out, but until then, please don’t tell anyone about this. Things are… tense as is, and I know my fellow Turaga would not be happy about people losing their heads over bad omens.” “Mouths are shut,” Tykal said as he made a closing zipper motion over his. Florei looked up to Scorzen, who gave a quick nod indicating he understood. “Fair travels, then.” “Right. Thank you!” With that, Tykal was out the door, with Scorzen following right behind. Florei waited for them to clear earshot before moving back to his desk and dropping into the chair with a big sigh. Toku appeared in the doorway. “Everything alright, Turaga?” “I think so…” “What did they want?” Florei sighed. “They found one.” Toku gasped. “Where at?” “The Tahai.” “Great Spirit… did you send them to Galesh?” “No…” Florei answered as he pulled a sheet of parchment from under the desk. “I just sent them straight to Kini-Koro. Best to… get them out of here fast.” “Of course. Do you want me to send a message to Elya?” “No, I’ll do it.” Florei picked up a quill and dipped it in a small jar of ink in the corner of the desk. “You let Galesh know.” “Will do.” Toku paused a moment as Florei mulled over how to start the message. “Do you think the Fe-Matoran will tell Duzan?” she asked. “I don’t think so. He doesn’t seem to like him much.” “Yeah, I could see why…” Toku hesitated to say more. Florei nodded discretely. “I’ll get word to the Galesh.” With that, Toku departed. Florei turned his attention back to the letter, nearly starting it several times only to think the better of what he was about to write. Eventually, he just settled on jotting down a quick summary. I-Tahai-a Tykal-fe paki-Toa elya-pa-fa. Ou-ai vya-pa. Konu-o ha. - Florei Satisfied, he tore off the piece of parchment he’d written on, rolled it up, and placed it into a small metal capsule. He picked a red bird out of the cage on the balcony and tied the capsule to one of its feet. “Hurry, little bird,” he whispered as he released it. It took off immediately, wasting no time to gain altitude and start heading south. Praying that it would reach its destination safely, Florei watched until it disappeared through a gap in the canopy. --- Telzin took a deep breath before finally resigning herself to the fact that it was morning. Light was streaming in through entryway of her hut, little more than a small woven nest at the top of the canopy with a broad-leaf roof. No point trying to shut down now. “Fine…” she mumbled as she got up from the mattress. Outside, she could see that the sun had cleared the eastern horizon, but not by much. She tried a series of stretches to get rid of some of the rickety feeling that came with going near-sleepless for a second night in a row, but it didn’t help much. Neither did breakfast, dry leftovers of a meager dinner that the small icebox had failed to keep cool because she never bothered to actually put ice in it. She considered cooking up something better, but the firepan had sat unused for lack of fuel for a while now. Beyond that, the only thing the hut had to offer was a view of the canopy all around. Having spent a minute or two admiring it, Telzin picked up her backpack, took a quick glance at the carving of a kanohi-mask nailed to one of the roof supports, and headed down-tree. Lithely she climbed, leapt, and swung her way down through the vines and branches to arrive at the small platform just below the canopy. The journey always left her feeling energized and ready to face the day, but today the effect was muted by the same thing that’d occupied her all through the long night: the would-be Toa stone. She’d spent hours doing little more than staring at it, then hours trying to sleep in spite of it while one scenario after another of what its presence might mean had played out in her head. Garta hadn’t told her anything specific about what danger might be expected, but she figured that, by this point, she’d run through just about every possibility out there and had inadvertently sacrificed two nights to do so. The long work day would probably be dominated by much of the same unless Station 8 was suddenly swamped with traffic… so yeah, work would be dominated by much of the same. At least there was a good festival planned for the evening: another station was celebrating its fifteenth year of continuous operation just before shutting down for weeks while being fitted with the same upgrades Station 5 had celebrated recently. Station parties were the biggest and the most fun, since the staff of each one was competing against the others in both daytime and nighttime activities. Station 5 had earned major kudos for its latest installment… Station 2 would be looking to top it tonight. Looking south towards that station as she crossed a bridge on her way to her own post, Telzin could all but hear the music already. Then she spotted something else: two ground-Matoran crossing another bridge some distance away. The first, an extremely short Fe-Matoran, hurriedly picked his way along, not even slowing down when a notable gust of wind visibly shook the bridge. This was much to the consternation of the second Matoran, who Telzin readily recognized as Scorzen, the De-Matoran from yesterday. Halting once she got to her own platform, she watched with some amusement as they negotiated the rest of the bridge. The Fe-Matoran reached their platform first and looked around while waiting for Scorzen. He spotted Telzin quickly. She smiled and waved; he responded with a restrained wave of his own, then turned his attention back to his friend. The latter arrived on the platform moments later but was given little time to breathe as the Fe-Matoran quickly made his way to the ladder to ground-level and started the climb down. Scorzen followed. Telzin chuckled at the clear awkwardness with which the ground-dwellers made their way through the Madumei, but once they’d disappeared under a lower branch, it was time to move on. Two bridges later, she arrived at Station 8, much to Letono’s surprise. “You’re early,” he voiced said surprise before quickly adding: “Well, early by your standards.” “Boring night,” Telzin shrugged. “Uh-huh…” Letono was clearly unconvinced. “You don’t look like it.” “Ugh, I know…” “Well, good that you got here quick…” he began as he shuffled through some papers. “Two Matoran came by earlier. They were looking for you.” “For me?” Letono found the piece he was looking for. “Fe- and De-Matoran, names: Tykal and Scorzen.” “What?” Telzin looked at the sheet. “I saw them, like, just now! What did they want?” “Didn’t say,” Letono shrugged. “Just wanted to ask you something about yesterday.” Telzin’s mind was already racing through possibilities. “I, I saw them climbing down over there,” she pointed. “Can I go for a minute? Maybe I can still catch ‘m!” Letono nodded in the affirmative, and with that she was out the door and all but running down the bridge to the southwest. She didn’t know a thing about this Tykal, but Scorzen? She’d never met him before yesterday, and now he was asking about it? She could imagine a number of reasons, but one stood out above all. She couldn’t let him get away before she got an answer. Reaching the first platform, she looked down over the edge. Her eyes rapidly traced along the Tahai paths on the ground, looking for the two Matoran. No sign of either. She raced to the next platform and did the same. This one was lower than the last, closer to the rivers, and offered a wider view of ground level. Tracing the roads again, she spotted the two Matoran making their way westwards along the border path. “HEY!” she yelled down. Tykal continued on his way, but Scorzen looked around, clearly having picked up on something. “SCORZEN! UP HERE!” This time, Scorzen stopped and turned around, looking up towards the Madumei. Telzin waved, but he clearly had more trouble seeing than hearing her. “HOLD UP! I’LL BE RIGHT DOWN!” she called again. For a moment, she caught a dirty look from a Le-Matoran in one of the huts right above the platform who’d clearly been asleep until just now. She didn’t care, dashing over to the ladder and all but jumping down it. She bounded down the ladder and leapt out to catch a vine about halfway down, which she rode to the ground. Running along the border path, she soon caught up with Scorzen and Tykal waiting for her, the latter with clear impatience. “I heard you asked for me.” “Eh, yeah…” Scorzen nodded somewhat hesitantly. “Yeah, that we did.” “Was it about the glowing things?” Telzin pressed on. “No!” Tykal responded before Scorzen could get a word out. “No idea what you’re talking about. Now, if you’ll excuse us…” he started down the road again, but Scorzen didn’t follow. “Oh… you sure?” Telzin asked disappointedly. “Nothing?” “Glowing things…” Scorzen said pensively, looking back and forth between Tykal and Telzin. “Uhm, how many do you think are out there?” “At least two,” Telzin answered. Tykal stopped in his tracks. “Two!?” He turned around and marched back towards her. “Who’s got the other one?” he demanded. “Other one?” Now Telzin looked back and forth between the other two. “You mean, you know of another one?” “No, we don’t,” Tykal quickly answered, then realized his mistake. “Well, uhm…” While he considered, Telzin dropped and opened her backpack. Reaching in, she pulled out the rod, much to their shock. Its bright green glow was clear even in daylight. “Do you have one of these?” She asked. “Put that away!” Tykal all but leapt forward and pushed the rod and her hand down towards the backpack. “We can’t let anyone see that, not out here.” Telzin resisted while keeping her eyes locked on him. “Fine,” he nodded quickly. “Yes, we have one. Now put it away.” Satisfied, Telzin dropped the rod into her backpack. “Okay, so I guess there’s at least three…” “Not out here,” Tykal said in a hushed tone as his eyes scanned up the slopes of the Tahai. “Quick, this way.” He motioned for her to follow as he started west down the path. He led Telzin and Scorzen along the path until they reached a somewhat ramshackle brick hut on the southwestern edge of the Tahai. Scrap metal littered the area around it, but it was nothing compared to what Telzin saw when she followed him inside. There was hardly room for three Matoran to stand amidst everything piled about the common space. Scrap metal dominated the floor, but Telzin readily picked out a large variety of well-worn tools scattered throughout. Tykal checked out both windows before finally seeming to relax a bit. “Right…” he sighed, opening up his backpack and showing its contents to Telzin: a single, roughly carved rod looking much like hers. “There it is. Picked it up in the Tahai. Where’d you find yours?” “The Madumei,” Telzin answered. “Under an engine.” “Okay…” Tykal nodded as he closed up the backpack and set it on the table. “Do you know anything about it?” “A bit, yeah,” Telzin nodded. “I met a Ga-Matoran who also found one. He thought it was a Toa stone.” “A Ga-Matoran?” Tykal looked to Scorzen, who shrugged in response. “His name’s Garta,” Telzin added. “Where is he?” “On his way to Kini-Koro. He thinks that’s where he’ll be able to figure out more about it. Actually, he asked me to keep an eye out for more of these things. He wants to know how many there are.” “Okay…” Tykal nodded slowly. “He said he’d come back soon to check in with whoever else found one,” Telzin added. “So… you guys aren’t planning on going anywhere soon, are you?” “We’re actually about to head to the temple ourselves…” Scorzen noted. “Yeah,” Tykal chimed in. “Your friend was right. These are Toa Stones.” He gestured at the backpack. “We’re about to take this one to the temple.” “We could meet Garta there,” Scorzen suggested. “Of course. You said Ga-Matoran?” “Yes,” Telzin confirmed. “Pretty tall, little worn around the edges. Old-world.” “We’ll look for him,” Tykal assured her. “Can’t be that hard to find a Ga-Matoran a town of Ce-Matoran, right?” “There’s some Ga-Matoran in Kini-Koro…” Scorzen pointed out. “Okay, fine, we’ll ask around. Either way, we should get packing.” Tykal looked around the room, then turned back to Telzin. “Can you come with us?” “Eh, not really. I’ve got a job up there, for one, and Garta did ask me to keep an eye out here just in case there’s more…” Scorzen was about to say something, but Tykal got there first. “Yeah, keep doing that. If you hear about any more being found, tell the Matoran who found them to go to Kini-Koro too. We’ll get a message back to you once we get there.” “Alright, will do.” Telzin gave a thumbs-up. “I should get back, then…” “Sounds like a plan,” Tykal smiled and reached out with a fist. Telzin bumped it in return. “We’ll be out of here as soon as possible. Did your friend tell you to keep quiet about the Toa stones, by the way?” “Yeah, he did. Didn’t want to cause panic.” “Let’s stick to that,” Tykal suggested. “Will do.” Telzin headed for the door. “Good luck and say hi to Garta for me.” “We will,” Tykal assured her. Scorzen gave a nod. With that, Telzin made her way out the door and started for the Madumei. Tykal closed the door after she left. “Right, do we have supplies for four days?” “I picked some up,” Scorzen pointed to the ice box, “but I think we can manage two days at best.” “We’ll pick up more in Ga-Koro, then.” “How are we going to bring it all with us?” “The delivery cars,” Tykal gestured to behind the hut. “They’ll get us to Kini-Koro a lot faster than walking.” “The things with the pedals?” Scorzen remembered the pedal cars quite well. Tykal poured months into developing them, then nobody bought one because they were useless to maneuver in the city and no better than rahi carts outside of it. He figured Tykal had disassembled all the ones he’d built for parts by now… and even if he hadn’t, the long-term performance record of his inventions was hardly stellar. “What, you don’t think they’ll last?” Tykal all but read his friend’s mind. “You underestimate me! I sold a couple to Ku-Koran hunters years ago. They still use them on the plains of the Bonupo and have never had any problems!” Tykal spent the next twenty minutes all but digging two mostly-intact pedal cars out of the scrap collection that had accumulated behind the hut, and another hour finding replacements for the missing parts. Scorzen packed food, blankets, camping gear, and his dikorda into the trunk of the larger one while Tykal packed the other with an assortment of tools and spares to keep them going. Before long, all was packed and ready to go. As Scorzen remembered, the cars were indeed a pain to maneuver up and down the narrow, winding streets of Gol-Rui, but as soon as they were clear of the southern slope of the Golyi district, the going got smoother. Soon they were making quick headway south through the Bomo. He still had his reservations, but as the city and its noise faded behind them, he started to feel a little more comfortable. Tykal’s enthusiasm helped; his near-maniacal drive was locked in on this ‘project,’ and nothing and nobody was going to stand in his way. Even the rain, which began to fall not long after they left, didn’t dampen his spirits any. Scorzen let himself get carried away with it as best he could, but couldn’t quite get one worrying thought out of his head: if the Toa stone was a bad omen, what did it portend?
  3. 5 - Ua-nga Urlohi-oi… Carrying a basket of fresh t’samor fruit, Scorzen picked his way carefully along the steep path that marked the border between the western Golyi and Tahai districts. Lightstones made navigation easier near the city center, but out here only faint light from the forges up the slope illuminated his way. He spotted his hut sooner than he expected; the lightstone inside was already uncovered. Unusually, the cacophony of workshop noises that usually emanated from the hut around this hour was absent. Maybe his housemate was away? He wasn’t. Tykal was sitting at the table, around which the virtual scrap pile that dominated the living space had been cleared to some extent. “Hit a snag?” Scorzen asked as he set down the basket in the kitchen. Tykal looked up, apparently surprised. “Snag? No, nothing of it. I picked up a bunch of things today.” “Anything good in the scrap piles?” “Absolutely!” Tykal gestured over several curious objects scattered about the table. Scorzen moved in to take a closer look. Tykal pointed out a strange, warped piece of metal opposite the table from him. “I’m pretty sure that was meant to be a kanohi of some kind, but the smith made a mess out of it. Still, that’s probably hyper-pure protodermis, very valuable stuff.” Scorzen picked up the mask and turned it around. Its form was a little crude, but he recognized it all the same. “You’re sure it’s not supposed to look like this?” “Don’t look like any mask I’ve ever seen. Looks amoral.” Scorzen turned it in his hands. “I think I saw a De-Matoran with this mask once… same shape.” “Ah, you guys buy all the weird stuff.” “It’s cheap. No one else wants it.” “Yeah, and with good reason,” Tykal smiled. “Guess it’s better for the smith to sell than to melt it down and re-forge it into something good.” “Why didn’t they do that to this one?” Scorzen wondered. “Maybe it’s a test piece, meant to get the shape down… , that means it’s probably not even protodermis to begin with…” Tykal sighed. “And here I thought I’d found two great things in one haul.” “Two?” Scorzen put the would-be mask down. “Oh yeah, and this other one is definitely valuable.” Tykal drew back and picked up another piece on the table, a crudely shaped metal rod at first glance, which was all Scorzen caught of it; as soon as Tykal picked it up, it lit up in painfully bright orange. “This,” Tykal explained, “is something that I’ve never seen before. I found it in the scrap pile, all wrapped-up in parchment.” Scorzen squinted at it. “Wrapped up? Who wraps up their scrap metal?” “No clue, but this is something special. I just don’t know what exactly.” “Lightstone’d be my guess.” “No, working lightstones are valuable…” Tykal said with a pensive look on his face. “No, someone thought this was fine to throw away for some reason.” “Can I see?” Scorzen reached out and Tykal handed him the rod. Its glow changed to white, to the surprise of both. “Holy spirit!” Tykal exclaimed. “It can do different colors!? Whoever threw this out’s an idiot!” Scorzen placed it back on the table, where its glow rapidly faded. Tykal picked it up immediately. “Imagine what we could do with this! I mean, I can’t think of anything right off the top of my head, but still… I can tell when something’s got potential. This thing does!” “That’s good,” Scorzen nodded apprehensively. Both looked at the rod for a minute before he broke the silence again. “Anyways, I helped out with an early t’samor harvest. Brought some home for dinner.” “Very good, very good…” Tykal responded absent-mindedly. His eyes remained locked on the rod, and no doubt his mind on the possibilities it presented. Scorzen turned and headed to the kitchen side of the room to start up the fire pit for dinner. Over the course of the next half-hour, he put together a considerably better stew than he’d concocted in the morning. All that time, apart from the occasional mumbling and moving of the rod with accompanying flash of light, Tykal didn’t so much as move a muscle. His mind was off somewhere, eventually to return with the idea that he would spend the next few weeks or months trying to realize. Scorzen knew well to enjoy the silence while it lasted. --- “I can fill most of this with water to keep the ruki as fresh as possible,” Ario explained, “and the boat doesn’t mind one bit. On a good day, we catch enough to feed the whole village for three!” “Pretty impressive,” Garta nodded as Ario concluded the tour of his fishing boat that followed the tour of Ga-Koro which in turn followed the excellent Ruki dinner. They were standing on deck, looking down into the vessel’s now-empty cargo hold. “Much better than lashing cages to the outside.” Ario moved towards the bow. “We spent months building this one to spec, but every second was worth it.” He sat down on a supply chest and leant back against the bow railing. “I know it’s been a while, but… you can still be a part of it.” “Yeah, I suppose…” Garta gave a slight smile. “… but?” Garta sat down on the chest opposite his friend. “You know I wouldn’t just leave Gol-Rui.” “Old duty’s still got you occupied?” “Something like it, yes.” Ario shook his head. “You know, the early days are behind us. Just because we worked our fingers to nubs to keep everyone alive back then doesn’t mean we still have to catch everything for them now.” “And yet I’ve still got customers.” “You’ve not changed a bit.” “I hope not...” Ario looked at him for a moment, his expression changing with the mood. “You okay?” “Mostly,” Garta quickly nodded. “A little worried, maybe.” “What about?” “Just… what you said about Kayalan.” Garta cast a glance towards the village. “Yeah, I should’ve sent a message when it happened,” Ario admitted. “You were close. Just, once it happened it happened so quickly, you know? Cascade. The Great Spirit showed him mercy.” “He deserved it.” “Hear hear.” Silence fell over the boat for a minute. Ario eventually broke it. “Are you worried you might be next?” “What makes you say that?” Ario took a moment to consider his words. “I know we’re getting up there, but the Garta I knew was imperturbable. Whenever there was a storm, none of us dared go out there on those rickety excuses for boats, yet you sailed and came back two days later with enough fish to make up for all our lost time. You wouldn’t let anything stand between you and your duty, yet here you are now, away from it. Showing up without prior notice to boot. Make no mistake, I’m glad you’re here, but I’m wondering what you’re dealing with that made you come.” “Well, Gol-Rui won’t fall to pieces if I’m out for a few days,” Garta smiled meekly. “Hey, that’s why I’m here.” Ario gestured towards the town. “Figured it wasn’t much use staying after the Bo-Matoran took over the food supply. I did my part to keep us alive, now I get to enjoy retirement in beautiful Ga-Koro.” Garta shook his head. “I’ll never get how you do it.” “Enjoying retirement?” Ario laughed. “By looking back and being satisfied with what I’ve done.” He turned serious again. “Never been your approach, I guess.” “No, I find satisfaction in a good day’s work.” “There’s your problem,” Ario pointed out. “You’ve never really left the Old World.” Garta shot him a questioning look. He explained: “I mean, I was with you there for a long time, taking it day by day, same duty, same plan. All part of a big machine, that’s how it worked. But this isn’t Spherus Magna, and it sure isn’t that big robot of the legends. At some point, you’ve got to be able to look back and say that you’ve done well and can leave well enough alone.” “So you keep inviting me,” Garta nodded slowly. “Exactly! We worked great together! Still do. I’m telling you, you’re wasting your time up there… you know, we don’t have all the time in the world anymore.” “Yeah, that’s what I’m worried about... I can’t waste it here.” Ario sighed. “Look, you’ve done your duty longer than any of us. If anyone should be able to step back and be happy it’d be you, but you worry too much. I mean, look at me. I was terrified when we found out what lay in store for us, but now I’m not worried about it anymore. Kayalan wasn’t either.” “Kayalan was livid,” Garta recalled. “At first, yeah,” Ario admitted, “but he got over it. After he passed, we found a note of his saying that we should celebrate what he did, not mourn that he wasn’t here to do it anymore. He was satisfied with his legacy. I am with mine. You should be with yours. Join us.” Garta mulled it over. “One day, maybe. When Turaga Galesh retires.” Ario shook his head. “She’ll never do that, and you know it.” “You never know. Last I heard she was considering raising a Nuvatoran. Maybe she’ll retire from being a Turaga to focus on that.” “Maybe she’s considering her legacy too,” Ario mused. “I mean, Kayalan called Nugatu the best thing he left to the world, and I wouldn’t dispute it. I might have to raise one myself.” “You? Raising a Nuvatoran?” Garta asked incredulously. “Well, with Eyres,” Ario quickly added. “I know it’s not a one-Matoran job.” “I guess, if she’s up for it. Where’d you pick her up anyways?” “I didn’t. She came through town a couple of years ago on her way to Gol-Rui. Was gonna work in the hospital there, but she stopped and picked up a couple shifts at the inn.” Ario pointed to a wooden structure on the nearby shoreline. “Loved it so much that she didn’t want to leave, but she couldn’t take up room there forever. I had space to spare, so she moved in with me.” “Just like the early days,” Garta nodded. “Ah, yes, when we were crammed dozen-a-time into little leaf huts. Got room? Sure, we have half a square meter. Come on in and stay a while!” Ario reminisced with exaggerated enthusiasm. “Anyways, I’m not planning on going anywhere in the next thirty years or so, and neither is she, so why not? We’ve got plenty of experience to impart on a young one and plenty of time to do it with.” “Eh, I don’t know about the experience…” Garta quipped. Ario laughed. “I’ve got as many years on the water as you do, pal. But hey, if you’re worried that I’m gonna miseducate a little one, you can always come over here to be… what did the Agori call it?... An uncle? Someone they look up to who can set ‘m straight if I lead ‘m wrong.” “I could drop by occasionally, just in case.” Ario leant back against the railing. “You should. You might even come to appreciate it.” “We’ll see…” Garta cast a glance over the village again. Admittedly it was an appealing prospect. “Anyways, it’s great catching up, but I still don’t know exactly why you’re here,” Ario reminded him. “So what is it?” Garta sighed. “Okay, but I’m hoping to keep this quiet.” “Nobody’ll hear a peep from me,” Ario assured him. “Good.” Garta nodded before continuing in a lower tone: “you see, I fished this weird thing out of the Komisi a few days ago…” With that, he explained to Ario what he’d found and how he’d figured out what it was… well, what he suspected it was. “So the temple’ll tell you whether you’re right or wrong?” Ario asked at the end of it all. “That’s what I’m hoping, yeah.” Ario thought on it for a minute. “You know, you might ask Eyres about it in the morning. She used to work there.” “Temple hospitality?” “No, cleaning and maintenance. All the Ce-Matoran in Kini-Koro work in the temple at some point. Their duty under orders of the old Turaga. She might’ve seen something while she was there.” “It’s possible” Garta admitted. “Are you sure she can be trusted?” “Without a shadow of doubt,” Ario answered immediately. “She works at the inn, talks with Matoran traveling between Gol-Rui, Kini-Koro, and even Shunikhi all the time. If they don’t want what they say to travel any further, it doesn’t. She makes sure of that.” “I guess it wouldn’t hurt,” Garta looked to the inn on the shoreline. “Is she working there now?” “Yup, holding up the fort overnight.” “I should go and grab a room, then.” Garta got up. “No need,” Ario assured him. “You’re my guest, and with Eyres working overnight, I’ve got a room to spare. No Ga-Matoran should spend the night off the water if they can help it.” “That inn’s practically on the water…” Garta protested. “Nonsense!” Ario declared as he got up. “You’re staying with us!” Garta was about to protest further, but then thought the better of it. Ario wasn’t one to take argument on matters of hospitality, and Garta was tired from the day’s trip anyways. In the end, he didn’t regret giving in on it. He soon found himself back in the big hut, letting its gentle rocking on the waves guide him into a much-needed shutdown. --- “A signal… a self-conserving light… a tribe-tester…” Tykal mumbled under his breath as he paced around the table. “Elemental dowsing rod… Lightstone starter…” “Still going?” Scorzen’s voice pulled him out of the zone. Looking up, he could see the De-Matoran standing on the stairway. “Yeah, off and on,” Tykal replied quickly. “I’ve got ideas, lots of ‘m. This thing’s gonna be something big, I can feel it.” “Of course…” Scorzen surveyed the room, quickly picking up on the contraption on the table. “What are you doing with that?” “That?” Tykal pointed to the device, which amounted to little more than a battery and switch to which the rod was hooked up. “Oh, I was testing it.” “For what?” “Responses.” “… responses to what?” “Something besides Matoran,” Tykal hurriedly explained. “We know it gives of light of different colors when different Matoran touch it, but I’m trying to figure out what about us it’s responding to. That’s really important if we want to use it for something.” “If you say so…” Scorzen nodded slowly. “Like… for example,” Tykal picked up a warped piece of scrap on the table, “protodermis. This isn’t particularly pure, but neither are our fingers.” He pressed the piece against the rod, which did not respond. “No effect. So I know it doesn’t respond to us because of what we’re made of. That’s unfortunate, ‘cause if it did respond, it could be the core to a protodermis detector. Imagine how useful that’d be! We’d be rich!” He tossed the protodermic scrap aside. “Oh well. Now, electricity…” he flipped the switch, and nothing happened. “Again, nothing. It doesn’t respond to electricity either.” “I don’t know, I think I saw a spark…” “That’s the setup, not the rod.” Tykal flipped the switch back to ‘off’. “Okay, what else are you testing for?” “Well, I need to get a hold of lubricant. Fresh stuff, not just leached from any old Matoran. And muscle fibers that haven’t been part of a body for a while.” “Where do you get those?” “Nuvatoran forges. It’ll probably cost me too…” Tykal shook his head, then suddenly slammed his fist on the table. He pointed frustratedly at the rod. “I’ll figure you out, just you wait.” “Maybe it’s broken?” Scorzen suggested. Tykal shot him a dirty look and put his finger on the rod. It lit up immediately. Scorzen shrugged in response. Tykal stepped back, hopped onto the chair, and leant against its backrest with a long sigh. “I swear, it’s like it’s taunting me. What are you, weird glowstick?” “Weird glowstick…” Scorzen quietly repeated. Tykal looked up at him. “What, do you have any better ideas?” Scorzen shook his head. “No, I just…” Suddenly his eyes lit up. “Someone asked me about weird glowing things yesterday.” “What? Who!?” Tykal all but leapt out of the chair. “A Le-Matoran up in the west Tahai station,” Scorzen answered. “I was just shepherding some stuff through there, but right before I left she asked me if anyone had found any weird glowing things.” “Really? Why would a Le-Matoran be asking… have you heard any rumors of it at the market?” “No, nothing.” “Oh, that could be bad. Real bad…” Tykal began pacing again. “If people with no reason to know are asking, that means there’s more out there.” “Maybe she knows something?” Scorzen suggested. “Maybe!?” Tykal stopped and pointed at the rod again. “Think about it! I found that in the Tahai scrap piles. Why would a random Le-Matoran be asking you about Ta-Matoran garbage?” Scorzen shrugged. “No, the only reason why anyone outside the Tahai would be asking is that there’s more out there…” Tykal tapped his finger in the air. “Whatever she knows, we need to find out.” He started for the doorway. “West Tahai station, you said?” “Yeah, but…” Scorzen got no further before Tykal reached and opened the door, where he was greeted with pitch darkness. He turned around. “What time is it?” “I was gonna say, it’s like three in the morning.” “Three?” Tykal looked outside, then back to Scorzen. “When does the Madumei open up?” “Five.” Tykal gave a frustrated grunt. Two hours? Also, had he been up almost all night? “I can show you where she was later,” Scorzen offered. “Just… get some rest before then.” Tykal sighed. “Fine. Don’t expect me to shut down much.” “Never would.” Scorzen shook his head and turned to head back up the stairs. Tykal turned back to the rod and accessories on the table. He was accustomed to running late into the night on his projects, sure… when you’re in the zone, why would you jump out of it for something as mundane as sleep? But this thing… this was something else. He’d tried to shut down. Thrice. Once he’d managed it for a bit, but every time he couldn’t get his mind off of this darn rod. What was it? He sat down on the chair and gazed at it intently. “What are you?…” he shook his head. Best to try and shut down one more time before sunrise. --- “Well, I can’t say that you’re wrong…” Eyres closely inspected the rod, which Garta had set on the table between them. It lit up bright yellow whenever she touched it. “Do you know much about Toa stones?” “I read up on them before I left,” Garta explained. “I know what they’re supposed to do, but not how one could possibly have ended up here. It’s more of a gut feeling.” “Well, I can tell it’s doing something.” “Doing what?” “I’m not sure, but it has an effect…” Eyres mused. “It’s got a natural draw to it. I can feel it.” “I got that too, the way it… grips you. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. The librarian in Gol-Rui suggested that might be a sign.” “I’d call it a solid guess that we’re dealing with a Toa stone of some kind, then” Eyres leant back. “As for how it got here… I can’t say I know more about the subject than you do.” “I figure there’s not that much more out there on the Toa stones themselves,” Garta shrugged, “but there is something else that you might be able to help with. Ario told me that you worked in the temple for a while.” “I did,” Eyres nodded. “Cleaning, mostly, and touching up the murals. Got to know the place pretty well.” “Good,” Garta smiled with some relief. “You’d probably know, then: does the temple have a suva?” “A suva?” “It’s a… thing that looks like a dome of some kind, and it’s supposed to work with the Toa stones. The temple of Metru Nui had one. It was in the center, like the whole temple had been built around it.” “I didn’t see anything like that in there.” Eyres shook her head. “We’ve got a big table in the center of the Kini-Kofo.” “Hm… did it have any weird spots, or markings, or something like that? Any mechanisms in it?” “Not that I saw. It’s got a big carving on the surface. I dusted and polished it plenty of times, never ran into any hidden mechanism or anything. I wasn’t really looking for that.” “Okay…” Garta sighed. “Maybe something’ll come up when I bring this in.” “It could be a key, I suppose…” Eyres nodded slowly. Both looked at the rod on the table. “You know,” she began again, “there’s a fair bit of mystery surrounding the Kini-Kofo as it is. I wouldn’t be surprised if something is hidden in there.” “You think? I heard rumors, but they were just that: rumors.” “Well, Turaga Galaza and some of the older Matoran built it almost completely in secret,” Eyres explained. “That kind of invites rumors. Only when the temple was finished did the Ce-Matoran even move out there.” “I remember that. Well, I remember hearing about it.” “Right, you were around back then. A bit before my time, I’m afraid.” “It was a big deal for a while,” Garta recalled. “Everyone wondered what the Turaga was doing down there for years. They were still asking questions about it after she passed.” “I do wonder why she kept it so secret,” Eyres admitted. “Or why she built it so far away from Gol-Rui. I mean, it’s supposed to be there for everyone, but most Matoran have to travel four days to get there, and those of us taking care of it don’t even know how it was built.” “Would make sense if you’re hiding something important…” Garta pointed out. “Yeah… or maybe they just wanted an impressive location,” Eyres suggested with a smile. “You ever been there before?” “Not yet.” “You’ll see it when you get there. It’s something to behold.” “What is?” Ario entered the room still looking a bit groggy. “The Kini-Kofo,” Eyres quickly informed him. “Ah, the temple!” Ario nodded quickly as he bumped fists with Garta. “Beautiful place, that is. A bit out of the way, but whoever decided to build it on that cliff really knows how to make a place stand out. It’s a lighthouse and temple in one!” “I won’t have trouble finding it, then,” Garta remarked. “Not if you’re half the navigator I remember,” Ario said as he looked to the ceiling. There, dial connected to a windvane on the roof of the hut pointed resolutely south. “Hey, and with this wind, you won’t have any trouble getting there quickly either.” “Yeah, late afternoon, maybe sooner if the weather holds.” Ario turned his attention to the window. It was a gray, overcast morning, though the Komisi’s trademark fog was relatively light. “Looks a little grim out there, yeah.” “I’d forecast light rain for the morning at the very least,” Garta added. Eyres nodded in agreement. “You could stay a while, see if it clears up.” Garta got up. “Thanks, but I would prefer to be on my way soon.” “In that case, you should take some supplies with you,” Ario suggested, making his way to the kitchen before Garta could offer any opinion on the matter. Eyres picked up the rod. “Well, I know you don’t want too many people knowing about this yet, but when you get to Kini-Koro, show this to Celan.” She handed the rod to Garta. “Celan?” Garta stuck the rod back in its box. “He runs the inn there and hears all sorts of stuff from people coming through,” she explained. “Plus, he worked the temple for decades. He knows the place a lot better than I do.” “I’ll keep that in mind.” “Actually, for that matter, if you can’t find anything in the temple, I’m pretty sure they still have the construction plans in Shunikhi.” “Shunikhi?” “Yeah, in the Akutai-Nui. Celan knows more about it, but he told me once that the plans they used for the temple are still being kept in secret by the Ko-Matoran.” “Wouldn’t be out of character for Ko-Matoran…” “Well, Celan likes to tell stories,” Eyres admitted, “but if you’re willing to pursue this to the end, there’s no better place I can think of than the great library. If anything more is known about this, you can bet it’s there.” “I’ll consider it,” Garta nodded. The prospect of traveling to Shunikhi, the frozen fortress high in the mountains of the Inona, was not something that he was too excited about. “You’re sending him up there!?” Ario questioned loudly from the kitchen. “That’s days away from the Komisi! No place for a Ga-Matoran!” Eyres smiled and called back: “No, I’m just saying there might be answers there if they aren’t in the temple!” “Well, then I’m praying to the Great Spirit that they are!” Ario called back. Eyres chuckled. Before long, Ario reappeared with a set of ‘seasoned ruki slices’ as he described them. Garta stuck them in the box with the rod before heading out. “You know, you can hitch a ride with us,” Ario pointed to his boat as he and Eyres followed Garta out of the hut. “We’re going to be fishing south-east of here today anyways, so we could easily drop you off at some point along the way.” “Thanks, but I do have my own boat,” Garta reminded him. “Plus, I wouldn’t want to cut into your catch for the day.” “So much for the old days,” Ario shrugged. “Either way, you’ve got to stop by on your way back. I can’t match Eyres’ ruki, but I can still cook up that mean keras.” “I’ll definitely come back for that,” Garta said as he surveyed the weather, “but for now, the wind’s blowing south and it’s bringing the clouds with it, so I’m gonna take advantage.” “Fair sailing then, old friend,” Ario reached out with his fist. Garta bumped it, then climbed into his boat and stowed the box away. Ario untied the mooring lines, and Garta maneuvered the boat clear of the platforms with the oars, then raised the sail. It quickly caught the wind, and with one more wave to Ario and Eyres back on the platform, he was off. Rain began to sprinkle ever so lightly from the increasingly dense clouds and the wind picked up a bit more. Today’s trip probably wouldn’t be as pleasant as yesterday’s, but at least it’d be quicker.
  4. 4: Puo-Onuna “You said it was close,” Telzin protested. She’d been following Garta to his place for a good ten minutes after he’d convinced her that it would be better to discuss these ‘Toa stones’ in private. She’d agreed on the condition that it’d be quick but at this rate, she wouldn’t get back to the festivities for a while. “Almost there.” Garta had kept up a quick pace as they descended from the high end of the Golyi district to the marshy Garo district, where they were now following its winding walkways north along the shore. “Right here,” he pointed. Following his finger, Telzin’s eyes fell on a small, isolated hut on the northern edge of the Garo, facing the Komisi. Built on a platform that hugged the base of one of the giant trees standing right on the water’s edge, it was quite isolated from most of the district. A small fishing boat was moored to the walkway that led to the hut’s entrance. “Cozy,” she remarked as she followed him in. The hut only had two rooms: the larger living room and a smaller storage space and kitchen, and in both the expected furniture had to share the space with a variety of fishing supplies, from nets and rope hanging from the ceiling to wooden planks, cups with nails, and an assortment of tools stowed against the walls. It would barely make a comfortable home for one Matoran, and certainly would have no room left over for even a small pet rahi. “Let me guess: you fish,” she said sarcastically. The smell of the water rahi was thick in the hut. She’d picked up a light fishy odor from Garta on the way over, but it was nothing compared this. “I do,” he replied dryly as he quickly improvised a small bench from two wooden crates and a plank beside the table. He motioned for Telzin to sit down while he uncovered a dim lightstone and took the only chair. Both rods were set on the table between them. He opened with a question. “Do you know anything about legends from the Old World?” “The Old World? Not much,” she shrugged. “Ah…” he paused for a moment, betraying a hint of disappointment. “Well, back then, there were taller Matoran called Toa. They were guardians of the other Matoran, called for when the Matoran were in danger.” He paused again, watching her face for a sign of recognition. “Go on…” she beckoned impatiently without showing any. “You’ve never heard of Toa?” “I don’t know… maybe?” The term did ring a bell for her, but it was a distant one at best. “Well, I saw a museum about them when I was a nuvatoran on the Old World. They had Toa stones there.” Telzin pointed at the rods. “They look like these?” Garta nodded. “Something like them, yes. I remember getting this… feeling from them, and I’m feeling the same thing now, with these.” She looked at the rods again, but whatever he was describing, she wasn’t feeling it. “I mean, they’re cool to look at, but you said they’re dangerous. How?” “It’s not the stones themselves,” he explained in a low tone, “but what they mean… You see, after I found mine, I wasn’t sure what it was or what to do with it. I went to the library and read a bunch of legends, looking for something like it. There’s lots of Toa in those legends, and a lot of them became Toa because they were given a Toa stone as Matoran, or they found one. That’s what Toa stones do, they turn Matoran into Toa, somehow.” She raised an eyebrow and looked at the rods again. “They don’t seem to be doing much of that now…” “No, they had to take them to a temple,” he quickly pointed out. “All the stories are the same: the Matoran entered the temple with their Toa stones and somehow came out as Toa. Then they fought whatever evil was threatening the Matoran.” “Pretty exciting legends, hm?” Her tone conveyed little excitement of any kind. He sighed. “That’s the problem. In these legends, Toa stones only show up when evil threatens the Matoran.” He picked up one of the rods, which cast bright blue light and stark shadows all through the room. “If these are Toa stones, who knows what might be about to hit us? We could be on the brink of disaster.” “Disaster? From these things?” she asked in disbelief. “Disaster foretold by them being here.” “Hm... sounds like you should tell someone we’re about to have a problem.” “Maybe, but what if I’m wrong?” Garta put the rod down. “I’m not going to run around prophesying doom when I don’t even know whether these things are Toa stones or not. There’s no reason why we should have any out here at all. It takes Toa to make them, and we’ve never had any. There shouldn’t be Toa stones here.” “So… they can’t be Toa stones?” Some frustration began to creep into her voice. “I’m not sure,” he admitted. “They could be anything. It’s just this lingering feeling…” “And you dragged me all the way down here for a feeling?” “A feeling, yes, but there’s big implications…” She interrupted before he could get any further. “I’m missing what could be the event of the year for this. Or… at least the event of the quarter.” She got up. As she grabbed one of the rods from the table and stuck it in her backpack, he got up too. “Look, I know it sounds a little out there, but that feeling is real. Don’t you get anything from these things?” “Eh, nope.” She shook her head. “No toa-feelings, no sense of doom, nothing.” She turned for and opened the door but paused before leaving. “Look, good luck with your legends and your temples and your… Toa, but I really do have places to be. If you figure out anything for certain, you can tell me about it then.” With that, she stepped out onto the platform. “Hang on… Wait!” He followed her out but stopped in the doorway. “You… you were made here, right?” She stopped. “Yeah, I was,” she turned and shot him a questioning look. “Tahai-forged, Madumei-raised. What of it?” “Well… you weren’t there,” he sighed. “You haven’t seen Spherus Magna. You weren’t there when the Toa used to give these amazing displays of elemental power. I saw them on the telescreens. Trust me, it changes the way you see the world, what you think is possible.” It took a moment before she replied. “That was the Old World. You said there couldn’t be Toa stones here.” “Yeah, I know, but I could be wrong. Maybe they can be here. No one knows for sure. I checked.” “Or maybe you’re just the first to fish up a new lightstone,” she suggested. “Or maybe… you know, age is getting to you?” That suggestion had an immediate effect: he recoiled slightly with an unnerved expression, but quickly regained his bearing. “Yeah, that could be…” He looked down, then turned to the Komisi. “But… what if I’m right? I can’t afford not to look into this. If I’m right, we could be in big trouble.” Telzin watched, wanting to say something but not sure what exactly or whether he was really listening. His mind now seemed miles away, his eyes locked on the horizon, and she readily recognized a bad sign when she saw it. Suddenly his senses seemed to return to him. His eyes widened and he quickly turned back to her. “Hang on, where’d you find yours?” he asked with a new sense of urgency. Taken aback, it took her a moment to answer. “Mine? It… it was lying on a midway station, under an engine.” “How’d it get there?” His question caught her off guard. How did it get there? “It could be that I’m just the first to fish up this new thing,” he pressed on, “but how could one have ended up under an engine in the trees without anyone finding it earlier?” “I mean, I don’t know how it got there, but can’t have been long...” “There you go. There’s something more going on, I’m telling you. Toa stone or not, there’s something to these things.” His voice was clear of any doubt now. She nodded slowly. “I guess, yeah… So what, are you gonna tell a Turaga about it?” “No, I’d like to keep this quiet for now,” he continued quickly. “I don’t know anything for certain yet, and I don’t want ideas to get out in the meantime. I mean, what if news gets out that we might be in big danger because I found this weird rod and people panic, then we figured out that it was all for no reason? That’s a mess I do not want to be a part of.” “Okay, but you said you gotta do something.” “Yes. That’s why we’ve got to go to the temple.” “The Kini-Kofo?” “Yes! That’s where it always happens in the legends. I’ve got a boat,” he pointed at the small fishing boat. “With that, we can get to Kini-Koro in two days, easy. Then we’ll see whether there’s anything there that… works with these things.” “Uhm, we’ll see?” Telzin gestured up to the Madumei. “I’ve got a job up there. I can’t just up and leave.” Garta took a moment, quickly considering alternatives. “Alright, I’ll go on my own, then. And you… what do you do up there?” “Maintenance, station 8.” She pointed in the station’s direction almost by reflex. “A transport station? You must hear a lot from Matoran shipping things through there, right?” He asked with much greater excitement than she figured the station had any right to evoke. “Uhm… yeah,” she nodded quickly. “All sorts of stories and gossip come through with all the… things that we ship out.” “You can keep your ear to the ground, then,” he suggested without missing a beat. “If other Matoran find more of these things, sooner or later it’s going to get out. We’ll need to know when it does so we can track down that Matoran and tell them what we know.” “That… yeah, I can do that. I mean, if it really could be that important…” “Absolutely,” he said with full conviction. “Matoran could die.” Both were taken aback by that assertion. Quickly he added: “From what I’ve read, at least. Things could get really dangerous if I’m right.” Telzin nodded slowly but maintained a worried expression. “Okay, well… I really should get back.” She turned to head south. “I’ll let you know if I hear about anything.” “Very good.” He reached out with a fist, which she gave a slightly hesitant bump with her own. “I will leave at dawn. I should be back in no more than five days’ time.” “Alright, good luck.” She adjusted her backpack and started to move away. “The same to you,” he said. As she headed back down the path, he called after her: “and keep quiet about this, just in case!” “Right, no causing panic!” Quickly, she followed the dark, wooden path over the marsh back to the Golyi, then headed for the closest tree with a ladder leading up to the Madumei. The party wouldn’t be over yet by a long shot, but she’d probably missed the best part of it. Before climbing up, she felt the base of her backpack. The rod was safe inside… Maybe it really did signal that something big was about to happen. It did kind of feel that way, somehow, now that Garta had pointed out the vibes that he was picking up on. Maybe she’d have to go down to the library to look at some of these legends herself… “Nah,” she smiled as she climbed up the ladder, already feeling more at home. When they started a library up in the trees she’d consider it. She was never very comfortable on the ground, even when it wasn’t swarming with the taller ground-Matoran. As for Garta… was he going mad, or was there more to these things? He was clearly on the older side and quite isolated on top of that, neither of which were good signs. Then again, these were very weird rods… “Don’t think about it,” she mumbled to herself and shook her head. At this rate she’d end up as crazy as he was. Never mind that; in the distance, she could see the lights of the party. --- Still groggy, Tykal picked his way down the stairs in complete darkness. He wasn’t sure what time it was, but it was definitely too early. It was still dark out. Light from downstairs barely illuminated his path. His housemate was already up somehow, and Tykal thought he could smell a t’samor stew brewing. It wasn’t the smell that bothered him, though; it was the music. Even the comparatively gentle melody he could hear now had been enough to wake him up. “Scorzen, could you cut that out?” he called down. The music ceased immediately. He stopped halfway down the stairs, within line of sight of the De-Matoran sitting on the stool in what passed for a kitchen. “Oh, sorry…” Scorzen put his instrument, a combination wind and percussion device of Tykal’s construction dubbed ‘dikorda’, down on the ground next to him. “I was just passing time until the stew’s done.” “Yeah, I know… just not before sunrise, okay? Long nights over here.” “Of course,” Scorzen nodded and stirred the stew slightly. “It’s almost done, if you’re interested.” “Later.” Tykal shook his head and headed back upstairs. Scorzen surveyed the room before turning his attention back to the stew. Though the room occupied the entire ground floor of their small hut on the west side of the Tahai, was small enough to be adequately lit with one well-placed lightstone. Its light revealed a mass of scrap metal and scattered tools that dominated much of the space, all of which had been collecting there over the last ten days or so. Somewhere amidst the scattered pieces was the prototype of whatever Tykal’d been working on past midnight. Scorzen’d been kept up by the noise of that as much as Tykal was apparently kept up by his music, but he’d elected not to say anything about it. Best to let Tykal run at full speed when he was onto something. The stew was middling at best; it wasn’t really the time of year for t’samor yet. At least it’d keep him going for a while. By the time he’d finished as much of it as he could stomach, he could see the first signs of daybreak outside. Time to head out for work. Unlike most Matoran in Gol-Rui, Scorzen didn’t really have a set job, assigned or otherwise. Most would readily find something based on their tribe’s role in the grand scheme of things, but he was the only De-Matoran in town, having arrived a little over ten years before… had it been that long? He remembered the day the rest of the tribe asked him to leave the Komo like it was yesterday, especially when Tykal asked him to stop playing. He didn’t do that often, mind; Scorzen found plenty of time to rehearse for the occasional Madumei gigs that paid their bills alongside the nearly endless supply of odd jobs that he picked up in the market every morning. There was always someone with use for an extra pair of hands and a widget or two to spare. “Ah, just the one I was looking for!” Amati, a Bo-Matoran weaver and one of his regular ‘customers’, called out to him as he reached the square. Case in point. --- “Not heading out!?” Garta looked up to see where the call came from and quickly spotted three Ga-Matoran sailing out onto the Komisi on a large fishing boat. He knew that the voice belonged to the middle one, but he didn’t exactly remember what his name was… Jisoro, maybe? “If you ever want a real catch, you can come with sometime!” the Matoran invited, though his tone was less than sincere. “I’ll manage!” Garta called back. “Been out already!” The sailing Matoran shook their heads, and Garta went back to moving the keras cages from his boat to his hut. Maybe they thought that they were out ahead of him for once. The joke was on them; he’d already gone out, lifted all his cages, and made it back. Furthermore, one of the cages had clearly been in the path of a migrating patrol of hahnah crabs, as he had managed to pluck five of the little things out of it. They weren’t much of a threat, and he could keep them in a partially submerged cage at the rear of his boat as a fresh food supply for the trip. Not a bad start for a big day. Before long, all was packed up and he was ready to leave Gol-Rui for the first time in… how long? He couldn’t remember exactly. The second thing that’d slipped his mind today… was that something to worry about? Admittedly, his nerves had seen better mornings. Excitement about the possible Toa stone, worry about what might be going on if that’s actually what it was, and worry about how exactly to go about figuring that out mixed to form a stomach-churning cocktail. He could add iffy memory to the list of worries if this kept going on. Latching his hut’s door, he mentally reviewed his travel plan. Get to Ga-Koro by nightfall, stay there overnight, and then get to Kini-Koro by the end of the following day… not exactly a complicated plan, especially since all he really had to do was to follow the shoreline, but he felt a little better for having it securely in his head all the same. He untied the mooring lines and jumped aboard to the sound of some chittering of the hahnah crabs behind the boat. With little wind, he elected to row out onto the open bay before raising the sail. Before long, the wind picked up and propelled him gently southwards as his thoughts turned to Ga-Koro and an old friend. --- Telzin had some trouble keeping her eyes open on approach to Station 8. She’d hardly slept and, on top of that, was looking forward to what promised to be an exceptionally boring day. No parties planned anywhere after last night’s big event, and there was little hope of action at the station. Still, she had to be here, and at least it was somewhere to go. “Do I even need to say it?” Letono said exasperatedly as she entered on the administrative floor. “No, but I won’t stop you,” she shrugged. “Hey, half past eight isn’t the worst I’ve done.” “It’s also well after opening time.” She set her backpack against the wall. “And has anything happened between then and now?” “No, but something is about to come in on line 3.” He pointed at the signal board set into the station wall. A pink-red lightstone for line 3 was raised up. “A shipment from central? Guess I’m actually right on time,” she smiled. He didn’t respond to the joke. “Would you please just get down there to pick it up?” She was already on her way, using the rope ladder on the tree trunk that the station was built around to descend past the engine floor to the cart floor. This was where the rails and hence the cars suspended from them entered and left the station. Before long, a wire running back to the central station pulled and started the line 3 engine, pretty much in sync with those further along the line. Telzin’s eyes followed the rail as it wound its way between the tree trunks, looking for the incoming car. It didn’t take long for it to appear. Squinting, she could see that it definitely wasn’t overflowing with cargo, but there was a passenger on board: a Matoran in odd, light-gray armor with black and red accents, looking more than a bit uncomfortable. Telzin thought she recognized him from somewhere. “Welcome to station 8, west Tahai!” she announced with enthusiasm as the car crossed the threshold into the station and she cut the line’s engines. “Thanks,” the passenger replied in a soft tone as he reached up and pulled a small lever on the car to disengage it from the drive cable. “You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” Looking in, she could see that the cargo consisted of three large, cylindrical objects sealed in canvas sacks. “A few rides.” He nodded and climbed out of the car. “Never to here, though.” “Not much comes through here, which means I can provide excellent personalized service. I’m Telzin, by the way.” “Scorzen” He produced a cargo manifest on a clipboard. “I bring textiles from Amati to be sent to Ku-Koro with… Vikuto.” Telzin wheeled the station’s turntable around to line 3. “Going down under, then?” Scorzen nodded in the affirmative. Together, they pushed the car forward onto the turntable rail. “So, you work for Amati?” She asked as she climbed onto the car and locked it to the turntable. “Eh, sometimes.” He replied with some hesitation. “I do odd jobs, make some music.” “Ah, that’s where I know you from! You play up here sometimes, right?” She leapt down by the side of the car and motioned for Scorzen to join her. “This side.” He moved in beside her. “A few times, yeah.” Both pushed the car to turn the turntable to the elevator on the other side of the station. “Well, you wouldn’t have anything lined up for tonight, would you?” She asked as she unlocked the car. “Nothing tonight. I think it’s pretty quiet.” “Unfortunately, yeah.” Together, they pushed the car onto the elevator rail, where Scorzen climbed back in and locked the brake. “Should be something tomorrow, from what I heard.” He took up a spot in the center of the car while she moved to check out the elevator brake. “I’ve heard too. Anyways, Vikuto’s usual spot is just west along the road down there,” she informed him. He replied with quick thumbs-up, then placed both hands on the rim of the car, holding on quite tightly. She was about to loosen the elevator brake for descent but stopped before pushing the lever. “Oh, by the way, have you heard of anyone finding any… strange things lately?” “Eh, what kind of things?” came the nervous-sounding reply. “Just, uhm… weird glowing things?” She wasn’t sure how to describe it without giving too much away. For that matter, how much was too much? Would he put things together just from that? “Haven’t heard of any. Why?” “Eh… nothing. It’s fine,” she smiled and quickly pushed the brake lever to send the elevator down. She watched as it sped past height markers on a rapid descent and pulled the brake lever as it was about to reach the ground. The car slowed down and landed a little harshly, but a wave from Scorzen indicated that everything was okay. She waved back. Hopefully he didn’t suspect too much… or was that just paranoia talking? She wasn’t sure, but she had to ask him about any news while she had the opportunity; how else could she figure out if anything odd was found down there when the station was dead quiet so much of the time? That problem had gradually dawned on her over the course of the previous evening, and she hadn’t been able to put it out of her mind since. She made her way back to the administrative level, where Letono was already filling out a form concerning the shipment she’d just handled. “Textiles from Amati for Vikuto,” she told him, knowing exactly what he was about to ask. He dutifully noted it down. “Anything else scheduled for today?” she asked. “Nothing much, and everything checked out this morning,” he replied as he filed the form away. That wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear. “Alright,” she shrugged. “I’ll be on the lower level. Holler if you need me.” He gave a nod of approval, and she grabbed her backpack and made her way down to the cart level of the station. Opening the backpack, she found the rod still safe inside. Good. She didn’t have much of a safe place to keep it at home, but after last night she was constantly worried that she might lose it… it had been one of the things that had kept her up long after the party had died down. The more she thought about it, the more it seemed like there was something unnaturally captivating about these things that she wasn’t sure how to deal with. Memory wasn’t normally her strong suit; she could forget about anything she wanted to. Yet this was something more that she couldn’t just put out of her mind, and that nagging feeling that she couldn’t really keep track of news on the ground as well as she’d suggested to Garta wasn’t helping. Hopefully nothing much would happen, or maybe she’d hear about it at a later party. There just wasn’t one tonight. She caught herself about to nod off again. Thankfully, she had just the thing for that: a hammock stashed away on the engine level. She retrieved it and made her way to the edge of the cart level, where one of the tree’s lowest sizeable branches jutted outwards in the direction of the city center. She leapt down onto the branch, rigged up the hammock, and clambered into it. From there, she had a clear view over much of the Tahai and western Golyi districts, where the late morning activity was in full swing. No doubt it was busy down there, but it was all soothing to watch from up high, and the dry heat of the Tahai forges made it all the more sleep-inducing. Before long, she finally managed to shut down for a much-needed nap. --- At last, Garta could see Ga-Koro up ahead. Not remembering exactly where along the coast of the Galonu region it was, he’d gotten worried that darkness would make it all but impossible to find before he got there. This was just on time. He set a course directly for the village and before long could make out its floating timber platforms and the walkways connecting them in detail. Tying up his small boat to one of the multitudes of available spots, he stepped onto a platform and made his way to the nearest hut. Built in several sections, it was rather large by his standards. A small wooden sign was posted at its entrance. Rukima-Ario – Ferei’i-Eyres Just who he was looking for… well, one of them was. He knocked on the door and waited, looking over the village as he did. A dozen or so thatched huts were distributed over six large platforms with a variety of watercraft moored to them: a Ga-Matoran enterprise through-and-through. There was something incredibly serene about it. Small lightstones illuminated windows in all but one of the huts, but there was no outside activity, none of the hustle and bustle of Gol-Rui. “Can I help you?” A voice from the doorway startled him. Turning around, he saw that it came from a diminutive Ce-Matoran with a kind smile. “Evening,” he greeted somewhat awkwardly. “I’m looking for Ario?” “Oh, he’s still on the boat.” She pointed to a mid-sized fishing vessel moored next to two smaller ones to next platform over. “Thank you.” Garta gave a quick nod, turned and made his way there, not keen to field any follow-up questions. The boat seemed quiet, but once he got to the gangplank he could just hear someone walking about inside. Moments later, a familiar Ga-Matoran appeared on deck and noticed him almost immediately. “By the great spirit!” Ario exclaimed. “I never thought I’d see the day…” He quickly marched down the gangplank and bumped fists enthusiastically with Garta. “You’ve finally made it out here!” “So I have.” Garta cast a glance towards the rest of the village. “It’s… it’s not bad.” “It’s perfect!” Ario declared as he stepped around him and gestured over the village. “This, my friend, is where we should’ve been from the beginning.” “No place like home?” Garta smiled. “No place like this, that’s for sure.” Ario took a deep, satisfied breath. “Fresh air, peace and quiet, plenty o’ fish. You wouldn’t believe the wealth that the Galonu sends into the Komisi every day. You’re not still fishing off Gol-Rui, are you?” “I’ve got the Golyi,” Garta countered. “I can get by.” Ario crossed his arms. “Oh, I’m sure you do. But let me tell you, once you see what I’ve caught today, you’ll wish you’d been here all along. Oh! You’ll have to meet Eyres first.” He started for the other platform and motioned for Garta to follow. “Eyres!” he called out before even reaching the hut with his name by the door. “We’ve been honored with a visit by a friend!” “Have we now?” The Ce-Matoran called from inside in a slightly sarcastic tone. “Who is it?” “Garta from Gol-Rui!” Ario called back as he marched in and headed straight for a side room. Garta stopped in the doorway. Eyres entered the common room from the opposite direction. She flashed a quick smile to Garta, then called after Ario: “I didn’t know he was in town!” “I didn’t know he was coming!” Ario’s reply was accompanied by some clattering of wood against wood. Eyres made her way over to Garta, wiping her hand with a kitchen rag, then reached out with a clean fist that he bumped in greeting. “Welcome to Ga-Koro,” she said and motioned for him to come in. As he did so, she closed the door and continued in a subdued tone: “I hope he hasn’t talked your ears off yet.” Garta gave a slight smile and shook his head. Ario reappeared, carrying a chair which he promptly placed at the table that occupied the center of the room. “Ah, you’ve met. Very good!” “A pleasure,” Garta confirmed. “Oh, you’ve not seen anything yet,” Ario assured him. “Wait ‘till you see what’s on the menu tonight.” “Yeah, I should get back to… preparing the feast for the occasion,” Eyres heartily chimed in, then disappeared in the same direction from which she’d entered. Ario motioned for Garta to take a seat while he settled on the couch. “I caught a great one today. A product of the summer bounty, I’ll say, and as fresh as you’ll ever get it.” “Sounds excellent.” Garta took the new chair. “Oh, it will be. Eyres here has a fantastic recipe down. Taste-tested by hundreds, including the discerning taste of yours truly.” “Come now, that’s a little much!” Eyres called from the kitchen. “Has anyone at the inn ever complained about it?” Ario called back. “Not that I heard!” “My point stands.” Ario turned back to Garta, who couldn’t help but smile. His friend was the same as ever. “Did that little boat get you all the way here?” “Just in the nick of time, yeah,” Garta nodded. “Calm waters today.” “You picked a good day. Wind’s been up and all over the place since that storm hit your town. How’d you get through that, by the way?” “Wasn’t too bad for me. It mainly hit the city center, and I’m north of there. I had to push my boat back into the water and pick some driftwood out of my roof, but that was about it. Checked the hull while I was at it.” “When life throws you avubolo…” “Exactly. I see you’ve upgraded since you got here.” “Absolutely. We built that boat by hand once we got here. Crew of three, and I get to call myself captain. Just like the early days.” “You’re still working with Kayalan and… ehm…” “Imsiha?” Ario remembered immediately. “Imsiha’s around, yeah. She’s two huts down. Kayalan…” he sighed. “We lost him a while ago.” Garta knew immediately what took him; time was not kind to the Matoran of Misira Nui. “He raised a daughter, though,” Ario pointed out. “Nugatu’s a fine sailor. One day that boat’ll be hers.” “One day…” Garta nodded slowly. Thoughts of the future now brought profound uneasiness with them. “Hey, we’ve got plenty of years left,” Ario assured him. “I mean, nothing’s falling to pieces yet.” His eyes scanned Garta up and down. “Not that I can see, at least.” “Yeah, yeah. You look fine too.” Garta gave a slight smile. Ario gestured to the west-facing window. “Open water and clean air, my friend, are why we’ve seen so many sunsets. We’ll see many more. Of course, daily fresh ruki doesn’t hurt either.” “Speaking of fresh ruki, it’ll be ready soon in here!” Eyres called over. “It won’t make the table if there’s nothing to serve it on, though!” “Ah, that’s my cue.” Ario got up and made his way to the kitchen. Garta looked out the window, where light clouds, pink and gold in the evening light, slowly coalesced over the dark Komisi. He’d seen many sunsets, sure, but something about recent events made every sign of time more threatening now. All through the day’s trip, a realization of his age had been playing with his nerves on top of the possible Toa stone and its implications. Something about Ario’s attitude made him feel more equipped to face it, but the unease remained. Before long, though, a large, well-prepared ruki was set on the table and took his mind away from all that.
  5. 3: Avoye-Ghekui Rahn sized up the pile of scrolls that had just appeared on his desk. “Already?” “Yup. Finished ‘em,” Garta said with just a hint of pride. “I will put them away.” Rahn moved to take the pile but stopped when Garta raised his hand. “Another question, actually. Do you have any documentation on Toa stones?” “Toa stones?” The Ko-Matoran’s face took on a curious expression. “Yeah. I have some… suspicions about that rock I found.” “There have not been any Toa…” “… I know,” Garta interrupted the librarian, “but it’s the only thing I’ve found so far.” A short silence followed, ending with a nod from Rahn. “This way,” he beckoned as he moved into the forest of scroll racks, followed closely by Garta. They stopped in front of one labeled ‘mythical objects.’ After a minute or so of pulling out scrolls and checking their titles, Rahn found what he was looking for. “Toa stones. What we have on them here should be in this one. Would you like to take it with you?” “I’ll just go through it here,” Garta said as he took the scroll. “Very well.” Rahn left for the front desk. Garta set off in the opposite direction, soon finding himself by the sitting area among the scrolls of the old legends, where he placed the small wooden box he’d brought with him on the table. Time to compare. The scroll opened with some background on Toa stones that he’d already picked up on from what he’d read about Metru Nui. This was followed by several illustrations of the things, including one of the six in the museum that he’d visited so long ago. Between the illustrations, one thing became clear: the shape of the Toa stones could vary wildly. Some looked like exquisite gemstones, while others appeared as little more than regular old rocks, were it not for their glowing quality. The rod was somewhere in between, a mundane but finely-honed shape. Following the illustrations was a list of known appearances of Toa stones, which Garta quickly skimmed through to arrive at what he was actually looking for: a description of the stones’ behavior. The Toa stones respond to the presence of destined Matoran, those capable of being transformed should the need arise. Responses vary with the form of the stone, but can include changes in temperature, color, movement, and the emission of pulses of light. “Pulses of light…” Garta smiled; it seemed a confirmation of what he was already thinking. He opened the box, revealing the rod inside, and touched it to see it light up again. The energy that drives this behavior, as well as the subsequent transformation, has been termed “Toa Power,” though it is little understood beyond that it drives the ability for Toa to heal wounds and awaken Matoran. Given that Toa are not absolutely required to activate Matoran, however, it must be concluded that Matoran either intrinsically possess some degree of Toa Power or that an alternative mechanism provides for this ability. The implantation of enough Toa Power in an inanimate object creates a Toa stone. It is believed that only Toa have the reserves of Toa Power needed to create Toa stones, though exact details on the process have not made it down to us. There was that condition again, albeit not with complete certainty. Unfortunately, the post-Transport recording of Matoran history was often short on details, or at least on details that none of the transported Matoran had any business knowing about. Toa Stone creation clearly fell into that category, as that was the end of the scroll; the rest was a bunch of empty space, reserved perhaps for jogged memories of a distant past or for new discoveries on the subject, if they were ever made. “Not our best work, I fear.” The sudden reappearance of Rahn shocked Garta out of his thoughts. The librarian was carrying the two armfuls of scrolls he’d just returned. “Uhm, yeah… I think it’s missing a couple of things.” “A lot around the subject of Toa was lost,” the Ko-Matoran mused as he placed the scrolls back in their locations on nearby racks. “We have plenty on everyday jobs, on all manner of simple devices, on geography of the Old World and the new, but headlines aside, lots of information concerning Toa is not well-remembered here.” “From the headlines, I figured there would be more. We owe our existence to the Toa.” “You and me alike.” Rahn paused his re-stocking. “Is that it?” he asked, pointing at the rod in the open box on the table. “That’s the mystery stone, yes.” “May I?” Rahn set aside the remaining scrolls. Garta nodded and the Ko-Matoran reached into the box pick up the rod. He was as taken aback by its response to the touch as Garta had been; at the moment of contact, its dull glow became a bright white. “Curious indeed,” he remarked as he withdrew his hand and watched the rod’s glow fade. “Hang on, that’s different,” Garta said. “Touch it again.” Rahn obliged. The rod glowed white again. “Different from what?” “From when I touch it.” Garta leant forward and put his own finger on the rod. It glowed blue this time. “Different in color,” was Rahn’s astute observation. “Changes with the Matoran touching it, it seems.” Garta pulled back and both Matoran looked at the rod, its glow fading again. “You believe this to be a Toa stone?” Rahn asked. “I’m not sure. Some signs point to it, but at the same time, no Toa could’ve made it here. On the other hand, this scroll doesn’t say for certain whether a Toa is needed or not.” “Just enough Toa Power, right?” “That’s what it says.” Both pondered the idea for a bit, then Rahn spoke up. “You want it to be a Toa stone.” “Hm?” Garta looked up, roused from his thoughts again. “You want it to be a Toa stone,” Rahn repeated. “It could be anything, something of this world that we had yet to encounter until you found it, yet you want it to be this.” “Yeah, that’s probably right,” Garta admitted, “but it’s making me feel something that I haven’t felt since I last saw actual Toa Stones. I can’t really place it, but it’s there.” For the first time, he noticed Rahn’s expression shift from his usual dry neutrality as the Ko-Matoran gave a slight smile. “Have you considered destiny?” “Destiny? What about it?” “The scroll mentions the stones’ response to destined Matoran, if my memory serves.” Rahn sat down and looked at the open scroll, scanning some of its contents. “It does,” Garta confirmed, “but I’m not much for destiny.” “How come?” Rahn’s eyes were back on Garta. “You know the history better than I do, but Mata Nui isn’t with us anymore, right? He fulfilled his destiny, and the Matoran with him. I remember that much, and I’m pretty sure that’s all the destiny we had.” “A fulfilled destiny does not rid us of its mechanisms,” Rahn pointed out. “You may not call it destiny, and I would be inclined to agree, but you are experiencing an undeniable pull from this… fancy rock. A mechanism of our former destiny, perhaps. An instinct.” “That’s the problem,” Garta sighed. “Instinct’s telling me this is a Toa stone, yet that should be impossible, and I’m not sure what to do with it. I was hoping for more here.” Rahn paused in thought before replying. “If you are looking for advice, I would suggest you go with your instinct.” He gestured at the scroll racks around them. “I have spent most of my life here collecting, reviewing, and archiving the sum of Matoran knowledge on this world. There are many lessons for us contained within these walls; the first of them is that there is a great deal that we do not know. Our ancestors on the Old World knew much that has not come down to us, and even they still had many frontiers to explore. It is at those frontiers where our instincts must guide us. What you have in that rod is a frontier, and your instinct is telling you something about it. Follow it.” “Proceed like it is a Toa stone, then,” Garta concluded. “That is what you have already been doing.” Garta nodded; Rahn had a point there. “Well, in that case, I think I have a trip to plan.” He got up and rolled up the scroll on Toa stones. “All the Matoran in those stories were told to take their Toa stones to their temples. I suppose I should visit ours, see if it has a suva… and maybe some instructions on how to use it.” “A good starting point,” Rahn agreed as he got up and began to put the remaining old legend scrolls back in their place. “Having been there myself, though, I should point out that I have never seen any structure resembling a suva there. Then again, I never brought a potential Toa stone through the doors.” “Let’s hope that makes the difference, then… Though, just in case, could you keep this quiet for now?” Garta asked somewhat sheepishly. “Certainly.” Having put away the final scroll, Rahn picked up the Toa stone scroll and headed for the rack from which he’d pulled it earlier. Garta followed. “Thanks. Just in case I’m wrong, I don’t want to have to answer too many questions. I kind of feel like I’m making a fool of myself already.” “You are not,” Rahn assured him, “but it is not primarily for your concern that this should be kept quiet. The implications of news of Toa stones could be significant and unpleasant.” “Unpleasant how?” “There’s a historical pattern,” the Ko-Matoran explained as he stuck the scroll back in its place. “Did you not pick up on that in the legends? Toa stones, one way or the other, always show up when needed, when Toa are needed.” “…and Toa are needed whenever the Matoran are in danger…” Garta’s voice trailed off at the realization. Suddenly, the rod’s presence had taken on a darker meaning. “Exactly. If news gets out and announcements are pinned to the trees tomorrow saying that even a possible Toa stone has been found, some old Matoran might put two and two together: Toa stones herald the arrival of Toa and announce the presence of great danger. Once that idea takes hold, everyone will be on edge over something that may not even be true. We would all be primed for panic.” “Nothing good could come of that,” Garta concluded. “You’re right, best to keep it quiet.” Rahn nodded in agreement, then turned to head back to the front desk. “Goodnight, then,” Garta called after him, “and thank you.” “Good luck,” the Ko-Matoran replied. With that, Garta grabbed the rod and the box and left the librarian to his duty. Night had fallen outside, leaving him to navigate the city streets by the light of a few lightstones alone, but he moved with a quick and excited step. Already significant, the implications of his discovery had now multiplied themselves. If his instincts were right, his journey could be one of life or death for the Matoran of Misira Nui. If he was wrong… well, that’s why he was going to keep it on a need-to-know basis. --- The colored lights with which Station 5 was decorated for the occasion could be seen from the next station over, and the music could be heard from almost as far away. Arriving at last after having been made to wait out an unusually long shift by Letono, Telzin could feel the excitement in the air. The open platform above the station, normally home to much of the station’s staff, was decorated in the same manner and played host to the majority of festivities. Down below, those interested could tour the new, overhauled engines and engine floor. She’d definitely have a look at those. Eventually Station 8 would be due to get the same treatment, though it was unlikely to be anytime soon. The platform was already packed with at least half the population of the Madumei and a number of Matoran from below, most of whom she recognized. Food and Bo-Matoran brew, among other things, were being served. Just as Telzin got herself some Gani juice, a slow start for the night, a figure well-known throughout the Madumei took to the stage: Toku, assistant to Turaga Florei and on many occasions such as this one, his spokesperson. The band stopped their number and the sudden absence of music was rapidly followed by silence falling over the crowd as everyone’s attention turned to Toku. “Good evening, everyone,” she greeted. “The Turaga wished he could be here tonight, but unfortunately other business has him occupied.” A couple of knowing glances were exchanged among the audience. “Nevertheless, he did have a couple of things to say. First off, what has been done here over the past few weeks is a major step forward in our transport system, and for that, we’d especially like to thank our friends from down under.” She gestured over to a small group, some Ta-Matoran and one Fe-Matoran, who’d installed the new engines. The crowd applauded, to which they responded with restrained nods, smiles, or a slight wave. Toku smiled at them and said, “I know that being up at this altitude is a bit out of your comfort zone, but thanks for being here all the same.” The crowd laughed, and again the installation team remained calm under the spotlight. “We may need your services again soon; if these engines keep performing as well as they did under testing, every other station will be in line for an upgrade.” The installation team responded with smiles, albeit slightly nervous ones. “And for everyone else here, we have lots to look forward to, and a lot to celebrate. At every meeting of the Turaga council, Turaga Florei gets praised for the excellent performance of the Madumei transport system. Just as the chute system of our forefathers was the pride of the City of Legends, so we up here are the pride of Gol Rui! So enjoy the complimentary food, drinks, and music. We’ve all earned it today!” The crowd needed no encouragement. The band struck up immediately as cheers erupted, and Toku hardly made it off stage before the festivities were in full swing again. She was on her way back to the Turaga’s place shortly afterwards. Having finished her gani Juice, Telzin ordered what would no doubt be the first of many complimentary mugs of Bo-Matoran brew. Mug in hand, she surveyed the scene and spotted three members of the Station 5 maintenance crew, who’d occupied a table near the edge of the platform. “Ah, the crew of the night,” Telzin said as she walked up and took the empty chair. “How’s it hanging?” “Eh, good,” Kirano, the head of the group, answered after a slightly awkward pause. “At least, as far as the cables are concerned. We’ll see about the engines.” “They replaced the cables with the engines?” “Didn’t just replace ‘em, they tensioned them too,” Vo-Matoran Uko added. “The pulleys were practically jumping off the lines. You’d think Ta-Matoran would have a bit more mechanical sympathy, you know?” “Their day jobs are to beat workpieces into the right shape with hammers,” said Amari, the third member of the group. “I think they’re more about blunt force.” “Is it working yet?” Uko asked an imaginary entity behind him as he mimed some enthusiastic use of a hammer, earning laughs from everyone around the table. As the laughter subsided, he added: “Really, though, their engines are fantastic.” “No doubt,” Telzin smiled. “Hopefully I’ll have some of my own to play with soon.” “We’ll take good care of them, don’t worry,” Kirano said. “They’ll be well run-in by the time they get to Station 8.” Again, laughter did the round of the table, though this time Telzin felt less compelled to join in. Everything at Station 8 was a hand-me-down of one kind or another; it simply wasn’t a priority for anyone, and she often had to make improvisatory repairs to make sure anything could be shipped through it. “Yeah, yeah… I’ll keep ‘m running,” she said before quickly taking a gulp of the brew. Another awkward silence followed. “So, what do you think the Turaga’s doing this time?” Uko wondered. “Something in the Bomo, I guess,” Amari said. “He’s always moving dirt with his people down there.” “I heard he was meeting someone from the Bora.” Kirano’s statement met with some incredulous looks from the rest of the table. “One of those nutjobs came stumbling out of the jungle?” “Apparently. No idea what they wanted, though. Seemed agitated from what I heard. Wanted help with something.” “Oh, it must be terrible for them to leave their precious patch of jungle on the hill to visit the Turaga down in the big city…” Amari overplayed fake sympathy. “Since when do they want help from us? They left against the Turaga’s wishes, let them deal with the consequences.” “Hear, hear,” Kirano echoed Uko’s sentiment. “I hope they find what they’re looking for out there,” Telzin chimed in. “Immortality. Good luck.” Again, Uko’s statement met with agreement from the rest of the table, followed again by some awkward silence, which Telzin eventually broke. “Can I get you some stronger stuff?” she offered, gesturing at the empty cups on the table. “Yeah, sure,” they all nodded. Telzin made haste to the bar and back, but by the time she returned with four fresh mugs, a fourth member of Station 5’s crew, Leruku, had taken her place at the table. The crew took the mugs gladly while Telzin went back to get another for herself. Returning to the table again, she found the group already engrossed in conversation, debating the merits of some of the changes made with the new engines. Telzin elected to take up a position at the side of the table that faced away from the platform, leaning against one of the posts marking the platform’s edge, and wait for an opportune moment to join in. It didn’t take long for one to arrive. “I mean, I like the new covers alright, but it ain’t gonna stop every leaf,” Amari explained, “and tuning the engine timing is going to be much more of a pain with those covers on.” “Eh, we’ll probably take ‘em off,” Kirano waved off the concern. “Speaking of the timing,” Telzin chimed in, “I was doing some of that on one of your old engines earlier today. Bit of a breakdown.” “Not from overuse, I suspect.” Kirano remarked wittily, earning some chuckles from his crew. “Probably not,” Telzin admitted, “but I did find something interesting under it. Check this out.” With that, she pulled the brightly glowing rod out from her bag and set it on the table. “A green lightstone?... oh.” Amari stopped in surprise as Telzin let the rod go and the light faded. “Yeah, I thought that too,” Telzin explained, “but it’s a bit weirder than that.” She poked the rod several times, showcasing its response to much amazement. “Check it out! It’s a party light!” “You don’t say…” Kirano reached out and touched the rod, which immediately glowed green in response. He touched it again. “Okay, that is weird.” The stone was passed around the table into the waiting hands of both Amari and Leruku. “Ain’t never seen anything like it, but… oh, hang on.” Uko just had the rod passed to him, and it was no longer green; it glowed bright blue, almost white in the Vo-Matoran’s hands. He passed it back to Leruku; as soon as changed hands, it went back to green, and when passed back to Uko it returned to blue-white. “Okay, that’s new,” Telzin pointed out. “Reacts differently to different Matoran, I guess. Hey, catch!” Uko tossed the rod across the table to Kirano, who caught it; the catch was accompanied by a flash of green light. Kirano tossed it back; Uko’s catch was accompanied by a flash of blue-white light. “Imagine if you had Kolhii balls that did that,” Leruku suggested. “You could make them flash every time someone scores!” “If you had someone willing to catch a goal shot with their bare hands,” Kirano said. “Catch!” Uko tossed the rod back to Telzin, but she was anything but prepared to catch it right in the middle of taking a swig from her mug. She got close, but only succeeded in changing the rod’s course, sending it flying in Kirano’s direction. “Get it! Ooooooh!” Kirano reached but failed to catch the rod, which landed right near the edge of the platform. Telzin dove for it, but its momentum carried it rolling over the edge before she could stop it. “Oh, come on!” Within moments, Telzin was looking down over the edge the rod had just vacated. “Eh, sorry ‘bout that... That might’ve broken it.” Uko’s apology hit on the fate of most items dropped down from this high level; Telzin couldn’t see anything of the rod on the ground, just a large patch of thick foliage near the base of the tree, right between two huts. Standing next to the foliage was a single Matoran. “You dropped something!” he called up, no doubt frustrated; tools being dropped from the Madumei were a regular complaint down under. “Be right down!” Telzin called back before quickly grabbing her bag and downing the last of her mug. “Be back in a bit,” she assured the rest of the table. She made her way to where the tree-trunk came up through the platform. A ladder led down to the levels of the station below, where in turn another, much longer ladder got her the ground. The Matoran, a Ga-Matoran, was still there, now knelt down and peering under the bushes. “Landed in here, I think. You guys really need to…” “Yeah, yeah, be careful, we know.” Telzin cut him off as she moved for the bushes herself. Rather than look in from the outside, she made her way right in among the foliage. Though she could push branches aside, the darkness and cover of the bushes meant she was feeling around with her feet as much as looking for any hint of light with her eyes. “Okay, you are not going to find anything in there now, not like that. Even if it survived.” The Ga-Matoran got back up and pointed out the lightstone embedded in the forehead of his mask. “I couldn’t find anything in there, even with this.” Telzin surveyed the bushes around her; having made her way into the center, it was as though she was standing up to her neck in a sea of leaves. “Shouldn’t take too long,” she said hopefully. “Yeah, good luck,” came the sarcastic reply. “And watch yourself next time.” The stranger turned to leave. “No, seriously,” Telzin called after him. “I just gotta watch for the light. It’ll light up when I touch it.” Much to her surprise, the statement stopped him in his tracks. “You dropped something that lights up when you touch it?” He turned back, his expression of disdain replaced with amazement. “Uhm… yeah. Lit up all bright green,” she explained as she continued feeling the ground for the rod. “What did it look like?” The Ga-Matoran marched back to the edge of the foliage and tried to peer into it, not that he could see much. “Kinda like a lightstone, about… yea big.” Telzin mimed the rod’s length. “Okay, we have to find this thing.” Overcome with a sudden urgency, the Ga-Matoran dropped the box he had been carrying and resumed his search in a much more hands-on way, all but diving into the foliage. Now both were rooting through the dense layers of large-leafed plants and occasional bamboo chute. “So, what’s so exciting about this all of the sudden?” Telzin asked as she slowly moved forward, sweeping arcs with her feet to try and catch out the rod on the ground. “It’s important!” came a slightly muffled reply. He was looking under the bulk of the plants on hands and feet. “Important how?” she asked, but just then a flash of light between the leaves signaled the end of the search. “Got it!” “Sweet!” Telzin quickly made her way out. It took a little longer for her partner in the search to reappear, though she could readily make out his progress from the blue light shining out from underneath the plants. “Blue for you, eh?” she said just as he emerged. “Blue for me, yeah,” he confirmed. “You said it was green?” “For me, yeah. I’ll show you.” She reached out and took back the rod. As soon as it switched hands, it switched colors and she smiled. “Look at that. Le-Matoran green!” “Le-Matoran green…” he repeated. Telzin nodded, but the Ga-Matoran’s eyes never left the rod. “So, uhm, you said this was important?” she asked. That seemed to shake him out of it. “Oh! Yeah, it is important… Well, it could be. It’s…” he stopped and looked up and down the path. “Go on…” Telzin beckoned. “We shouldn’t talk about it out here,” he said. “It’s… not safe. Maybe.” “Not safe? Nothing about it seems dangerous to me.” “No, it’s not the rod itself…” the Ga-Matoran fell quiet as he finished scanning the road. Apparently satisfied, he turned back to Telzin and introduced himself. “I’m Garta.” “Telzin.” “Right, Telzin…” He turned to pick up the small box he’d left by the side of the road. “You see, that rod, I’ve got one too.” He opened the box. Looking in, Telzin could see a rod very much like hers. “May I?” she asked, reaching into box. Garta nodded. As soon as she touched it, the rod glowed bright green. “Wow… Where’d you find yours?” “I caught it,” he explained, closing the box again. “A Keras crab in the Komisi had it. Probably found it on the bottom.” “Cool…” Telzin smirked at the idea of a Keras crab exploring the dark sea floor with a glowing rod. “What is it?” “That’s the thing…” Garta’s eyes quickly darted for another glance up and down the road. All quiet. He leaned in closer and whispered, “I think that it might be a Toa stone.” “Ah, okay…” Telzin nodded, quickly glanced up and down the road as well, then leaned in and whispered in return: “What’s a Toa stone?”
  6. 2: Huharu “You’re late. Again.” Letono tapped a pen on his desk. His sole mechanic had just arrived for work. “Again? Aw, snap!” Telzin rolled her eyes. “...and I’m guessing that you’re still hung over from last night,” he continued. “Getting better, actually. I’m keeping a positive attitude.” Letono’s expression momentarily showed indignation, but he quickly got a hold of himself. “You know, it’s almost midday. That’s just not acceptable. Keep this up and I’ll have to petition for a replacement.” “Yeah, you always say that, but hey, no one knows this place like I do. Besides, it’s not like there’s anything that needs to be done. No traffic, no maintenance.” “That may be,” he grudgingly admitted, “but as it happens, there is something in your wheelhouse that needs doing right now.” “No way!” she feigned surprise. “What needs fixing?” “Do contain your excitement, please. Line 3 was running slow this morning.” “For who?” Her boss’s lack of immediate response spoke volumes. “Oh, right, you were just testing it, ‘cause it’s been so long since anyone’s actually used it.” “Spare me the condescension. Just check it out, will you?” “Aye aye, sir!” Telzin playfully saluted before all but diving down the ladder to the engine deck of the station. There, between two of the large engines that pulled the cable cars along their tracks, she dug into the tool chest containing pretty much everything she needed for routine maintenance. Most of these were hardly used; maintenance was a busy job on some of the larger stations, but station 8 over the west of the Tahai was the least used by far. Periodic lubrication of the engines and pulleys had to be done, sure, but on most days the station was eminently quiet and demanded nothing of its maintenance staff of one. Apathy was therefore the normal order of the day, but it was events like today’s that kindled what enthusiasm Telzin had for the job. Slow-running cables meant a problem with either pulleys or engines and offered an opportunity for her to practice her favorite activity: rail-running. Having quickly gathered the requisite items and stashed them in a backpack, she moved to the southern edge of the platform, where the rail for line 3 departed. “You in the car!?” Letono called from above. As if she intended to ride the cable car along its path. “Don’t need it!” “Don’t you dare…” before Letono could protest further, Telzin launched forward and ran down the narrow, suspended rail towards the first pulley on the track. Ignoring the rapidly fading calls to stop, she reached it within seconds. Rail-running was far quicker than riding the sluggish cars, and crucially, it was so much more fun. Dangerous as well, sure, but with danger came thrill, something that her bookish manager had no appreciation for. The checking procedure for the pulley was second nature to her by now: lift off the cable, free-wheel the pulley, apply oil if necessary, and re-thread the cable. The first pulley passed with flying colors, as did the next one down the line, which brought her to her last stop: the midway station, a partially covered platform housing another engine that helped to pull the cable along. If the problem wasn’t here, it was either further down the line and the responsibility of Station 3’s mechanics or with the engine back at Station 8. Yeah, sure, she could’ve checked the engine at the station first, but had the problem been there, she wouldn’t have had gotten to have any fun on the line. The midway engine had seen better days; a giant tree branch had fallen over it during the monumental storm that ravaged Gol Rui earlier in the year, and though the block was undamaged a number of still-bent fuel lines attested to the impact. The engine had continued to work fine, at least up until now, and there’d been little reason to fix what was only bent, not broken. At present shut down, the engine showed no sign of issues. Ordinarily, it would be started by running the line, but for maintenance it was equipped with a long starting rope which any one Matoran had to use their whole body weight to operate. Telzin climbed up to a higher branch. “And three, two, one… Rev!” Holding on to the end of the rope, she dove off the branch, pulling the rope over it with her whole body weight and riding it down to the platform below. On the opposite side, the rope turned over the engine again and again. Right when Telzin’s feet touched the platform, the engine caught. Br-br-br-br-br-br-Brum-BRUM-BRUM-BRUM-BRUM… Telzin gave it some time to settle into idle while she wound up the starting rope and put it away, but she could already tell that something wasn’t quite right by the large, black smoke plume and thick odor of fuel oil coming out of the exhaust. Brum-brum-brum-BANG! A sound of a loud backfire startled her. Brum-brum-brum-BANG-brum-brum-brum-BANG! She to cut the engine. With one last “BANG!”, it stopped. “Why the celebration?” Telzin mused. “It’s a job. No need for fireworks…” She’d have preferred the problem to be somewhere other than engine itself; now, rather than oiling some slow pulleys, she’d have to do a top-down inspection of the engine. On top, everything seemed fine apart from the pervasive fuel oil smell; she continued her cursory inspection at the front of the engine. Peering between the blades of the large cooling fan, she noticed a piece of string dangling from one of the timing belt wheels. It wasn’t supposed to be there, but when she reached in and pulled it she found it stuck fast. “That’s gonna have to go…” She wasn’t much pleased at the discovery, as doing any significant work around the timing belt meant that she’d have to remove the cumbersome fan and the cover installed specifically to keep sticks or leaves from getting caught. The process only took five minutes, but felt much longer. However, with the timing belt laid bare, the source of the problem became obvious: wrapped around the crankshaft drive wheel was a layer of ground-up, compacted material. No doubt this was messing with the careful timing of valve and cylinder movements that the belt was supposed to maintain. Telzin tried picking at the stuff with her fingers, but the highly tensioned belt had already pressed it into the grooves of the wheel firmly. She tried again with a knife and finally managed to make some headway. Inspecting the removed detritus, she soon realized what it was: paper and string. Neither belonged on a midway station, but to get wrapped around the crankshaft wheel, they would’ve had to come from underneath the engine. Lying down and peering under the engine, she found neither paper nor string left, but there was something else: lying under the oil pan was a vaguely translucent rod. She reached over pulled it out from under the engine; to her surprise, it lit up like a bright green flare in the process. Even in direct sunlight, it was so bright that she had to lay it down on the platform to be able to look at it directly. Under closer inspection, it looked like some kind of crystal or coarse glass, but she knew of nothing that responded this way to the touch. Yet it was fascinating, a toy, a lightstone on demand. She touched it a couple of times, watching as its glow intensified and dimmed in response to the touch. Whatever it was, it didn’t belong under or in the engine, which still needed fixing. She tossed the rod into her backpack; there’d be plenty of time to play around with it later. It took a while before Telzin finished cleaning up the wheel and corrected the engine timing, but when she finally started up the engine again, it ran without a problem. Satisfied, she re-fitted the fan, gave the bearings of the line drive wheels a few drips of oil, and made her way back to Station 8. Letono was already waiting. “Telzin, what did I tell you about…” “Spare me the lecture,” she cut him off. “I found your problem. Junk got caught in the timing belt.” “You mean leaves? Twigs?” “Nope. Paper and string. No idea how it got there. Whatever it was, the fan probably ate the rest of it.” “What’s the status now, then?” He pulled a form from a stack in one of the drawers of his desk. “Fixed. Also lubricated everything, as usual.” “Very well.” He proceeded to fill out the form. Telzin waited as he wrote up the incident, then remembered what she’d found. “Oh, I also found something else,” she said as she took off her backpack. “A problem?” Letono was already reaching for another form. “No, you won’t need a form…” She rummaged around the tools in the backpack without looking up. A sudden flash of light from inside indicated she’d found it. “This!” she pulled out the rod and set it on the operator’s desk. “A green lightstone?...” he trailed off when he saw its glow vanish after she let it go. “Yeah, I know. You touch it.” He did. It lit up bright green as it had for her. He drew back, then touched it again. “What is it?” “Beats me. Either way, I found it, I’m keeping it.” She snatched it from his desk. “It’s gonna be a great party piece tonight.” “Yeah, it would be…” he agreed, but his mind was already elsewhere. “Imagine if we had more of these. We could send signals to other stations through colored light instead of through wires…” Telzin raised her hands. “You think on that,” she said as she took a step back and put the rod back in her backpack. “I’m gonna grab lunch.” “Oh, before you do,” he quickly turned back to finish the form, “could you… get this… and these…” he gestured at a small stack of forms on the corner of the desk, “...back to Central?” “How do you amass that many forms in a week when nothing happened?” She already knew the answer, but he reiterated it anyways. “Daily check-outs, line tests, that one collection of tools we shipped to Station 4 on the seventh…” “I know, I know,” she rolled her eyes. “Just give me the forms.” In some ways, the station operator’s dedication to his job was admirable. However, in a location as underutilized as Station 8, it had rapidly gone from comical to exasperating. She could miss work half the time to no effect, yet he insisted on filing six forms even on days when literally nothing was shipped through the station. She stashed the tools she’d taken out, leaving only the rod and the forms in her backpack, then set off along higher-level bridges and platforms in the direction of the central station. All manner of food was brought up from ground level around there and served to cable car station workers; it was the only meal Telzin usually got in the day and, having had nothing to eat since leaving the party the night before, she was ready for it. Mealtime was also when she usually picked up the schedule regarding impending festivities, but for tonight she already knew she was set: Station 5 had finally finished overhauling its engine floor and the grand re-opening of the station was tonight. No doubt everyone would be there: the perfect place to bring the light show. --- And so, at the end of Takanuva’s fight with the Makuta, the gateway was opened for the Matoran to return to Metru Nui. Garta put down the scroll. That was the last of the material he’d gotten on the island of Mata Nui, material that he’d been reviewing all morning. While there were lots of details about the activities of the Matoran and the Toa on the island, – Garta marveled that so much had been remembered by someone in such great detail post-Transport – there unfortunately was no mention of anything that resembled the rod was now sitting at the other end of his table. The surface between him and it was littered with scrolls he’d already read through, just over half the pile he’d brought home with him. Still stacked in front of him were the ones he hadn’t gone through yet; the scrolls on the City of Metru Nui. He sighed; he didn’t mind reading through history per se, but not finding anything like what he’d been looking for was profoundly discouraging; he needed a break. Stepping outside for a minute, he noticed the first of the fishermen that had sailed out onto the Komisi that morning were returning. Garta’d sailed out early himself, but only to check the Keras traps, which he’d found empty. After spending over four hours reading through one scroll after the other, though, he wished he’d stayed out there for a bit longer. It was too late to go fishing again now; by the time he’d get back to town with something to sell the day would be all but over. Still, that same sense he always got when not fishing for the day was nagging in the back of his mind, that feeling of “I should’ve been out there.” It was his job, after all. He put the thought out of his mind; the world could do without him fishing for a day… In fact, it could probably do without him fishing on his own altogether, but that was also not something to dwell on. He’d be out there again tomorrow regardless, and in the meantime he had a bunch of scrolls about Metru Nui to get through. He headed back in, poured himself a drink, then sat down again at his table and picked up the first of them: a summary scroll describing the layout of the city. Garta’s only working knowledge of the City of Legends came from the frequent comparisons made between it and Gol Rui, but as soon as he saw the map of the city that topped the first scroll on the subject he found it hard to believe the comparison was warranted. By all illustration, Metru Nui was a technological metropolis; by comparison Gol Rui was more like what one would get had the Matoran on Mata Nui attempted to reconstruct it with the extremely limited resources at their disposal. Gol Rui’s frequently soot-covered kolhii field between the Golyi and Tahai districts played the Great Colosseum, a haphazard system of cable-cars running on rails suspended from the giant trees of the Maduni played the chute system, and Misira Nui’s temple, the Kini Kofo, wasn’t even in Gol Rui to compare to Ga-Metru’s Kini Nui. The overview featured illustrations of key locations like them along with a description of each. The Kini Nui caught Garta’s attention in particular; for one, it had been under his tribe’s watch, while the Kini Kofo was maintained by Ce-Matoran. He’d seen the latter only once, back when it was at last completed, and from the illustration of the Kini Nui in front of him now it was quite clear where the architectural inspiration for the Kini Kofo had come from. Included for the Kini Nui was a rough diagram of its internal layout, where everything was clearly centered around a hemispherical structure in its center labeled “suva.” An accompanying description informed him about the structure’s role in storing Kanohi belonging to Toa and, when presented with Toa stones, turning Matoran into Toa. Another sidebar in turn quickly explained the concept of a Toa stone: objects of power created by Toa to ensure that, after their passing or turning into Turaga, new Toa would rise in times of trouble. The stones, it was noted, glowed faintly with the energy embedded in them and responded in proximity to Matoran containing the same. “The Toa stone responds to contact with a destined individual.” Garta read the last sentence of the description again out loud, then looked up to the rod on the other side of the table. He reached for it; with the touch of just a finger, it lit up again. It certainly qualified as a response, as perhaps did the significant sense of wonder that it automatically seemed to instill in him every time he saw it. Then again, Toa stones were supposed to be created by Toa, and Misira Nui had never seen any. Garta contemplated the idea for a bit. It’d certainly be amazing if he’d somehow found a Toa stone, but he couldn’t get around the impossibility. He sighed; the first thing he’d come across that seemed to have a possible connection to this rod, and immediately it was shot down. He returned to the rest of the overview scroll, but none of the other diagrams and descriptions of structures rang any bells. The idea of the Toa stones stuck with him, though, not least because of the content of the remaining scrolls. All of them, barring one on the Matoran Civil War and its effects, described the rise and fall of the various Toa teams that had defended the city of legends over its existence. Having been engrossed in the stories of the Toa of Mata Nui through much of the morning, Garta found himself just as captivated by these. By now, he was picking up on the pattern; several Matoran would be chosen by old Toa or Turaga – typically guided by Destiny, or so the scrolls said –, turned into new Toa, and set about saving the Matoran from whatever they needed saving from. The city had seen a wide variety of threats over the years and just as varied a group of defenders, all of whom had to leave their former lives, whatever they were, for their new duty. Yet for all the variation, there was one constant in all these tales: every one at one point or another featured a line like “the chosen Matoran journeyed to the Kini Nui, where their Toa stones made them Toa.” The Toa stones, whoever had them, were always the mechanism. Some ascribed the identity of the chosen Matoran to destiny, others to the good taste in choosing by the individuals who provided them with the stones, but all featured the stones in one way or the other. Every time he read about them, Garta found himself looking up at the rod again. If only it could be true. The last scroll was entitled “Rise of the Toa Metru.” It opened in much the same way, describing how the last remaining member of the previous team to guard the city of legends, a Toa of Fire by the name of Lhikan, sought out six Matoran and presented each with a Toa stone. They met at the Kini Nui and became the team known to history as the Toa Metru. Garta recognized their names; they were the Turaga of Mata Nui, the island he’d read so much about that morning. More than that, he’d seen their statues, their museum in the Old World so long ago. Then something clicked in him. That feeling he got every time he looked at that rod, he’d definitely felt it before. He’d been merely a Nuvatoran at the time, a child being shown around that museum to get an idea of the history of his people. There’d been stuff from a bunch of different Toa teams there, but the most significant and heavily guarded artifact was a set of six Toa stones. Even though they’d been placed inside a thick glass display case, he distinctly remembered getting the same feeling from them back then, that sense of wonder, of being naturally drawn to them. He’d never felt it again with anything else, at least not until now. With this rod, he felt it again, and with that, it almost had to be a Toa stone, right? Yet how could it be? Part of him wanted to believe it, but it should be impossible… well, impossible according to the information he had, which wasn’t much. He needed more information, some way to confirm or put to rest the idea, ‘cause now it definitely wasn’t going away on its own. With sudden determination, he got up and headed for the door. Just outside, he checked the nail he’d driven into the top of a post as a sundial. It was around the 14th hour; he’d have to call it in another two hours or so. Back to the library it was. This time, he knew exactly what he was looking for.
  7. 1: Umakoahi The first slivers of sunlight appeared on the horizon over the Komisi. Garta savored the sight, not least because the fog for which the bay was named usually obscured it. He was the only Matoran up at this hour to witness it; glancing up and down the network of wooden walkways that made up the Garo district, he picked up no activity from his fellow Ga-Matoran. Most of them would come shambling out of their huts in an hour or so. Garta’d been up for about as long already, checking his kit and preparing his little boat for departure. He loved fishing; it was a time-honored occupation for a Ga-Matoran, and though it wasn’t as lucrative or essential to Matoran life as it used to be, he still took the enterprise seriously. Every line, every net, the sail, and the winch were meticulously inspected for damage. Though the equipment was far from new, meticulous maintenance kept it in fine condition. Concluding that everything on board was ready for another day’s work, Garta rowed out onto the bay, then raised the sail and set off in the direction of sunrise and the first item on his checklist: checking the Keras traps. Garta hardly remembered what the Old World’s Keras crabs had tasted like, but as with most of Misira Nui’s wildlife, the more organic crustaceans found here were generally considered a fine if bland-tasting substitute. He’d marked his spot for catching them with a small buoy, from which cables led down to each of his four traps. The job of checking them normally required two Matoran, the standard method being to tie each trap’s line to the winch on board and crank the winch to raise the traps to the surface one after the other; one Matoran cranked while the other checked the traps. Lacking a partner for the endeavor, Garta’d devised his own method: he’d purposely placed his traps in relatively shallow water so he could swim down to check them on the sea floor, saving himself the hassle of hauling up a cage unless there was something of value in it. After dropping anchor and securing the buoy to the side of his boat, he dove overboard and located the line leading down to the first trap. He swam down, following the line. The water grew darker with depth and limited his vision to what the glow of the lightstone embedded in his mask could reach; usually he couldn’t see much of the inside of a trap until he was right up against it. This time was different, however; the trap became visible much sooner than usual, the bars of its cage-like structure silhouetted by some kind of light… light coming from inside it? By the time he reached the sea floor, Garta didn’t need his own light to see what he’d caught; a large, healthy looking Keras, clear signal to swim back immediately and haul this cage to the surface. Yet Garta’s eyes were not on the crab, but on what it held in one of its pincers. A white, crystalline, faintly glowing rod, the likes of which he’d never seen before. Transfixed for a moment, Garta suddenly realized he was running out of air and quickly turned to head for the surface. The trap and its contents would follow him there shortly. Back on board, Garta detached the trap’s line from the buoy, hooked it onto the winch fixed to the mast of his boat, shifted some weights to allow the small vessel to more easily cope with the soon-to-be lopsided load, and started hauling the trap up to the surface. It was hard and tedious work, but thankfully he didn’t have to do it too often; most days he’d only find something of value in one of the four traps, and it wasn’t uncommon for all of them to be empty, the cost of not placing the traps in more fertile, deeper grounds. Sometimes he’d catch a lot of the much smaller Hahnah crabs, which he could safely pluck out by hand. Keras were a very different matter; monsters by comparison, a big one could weigh twice as much as the trap itself, making them all the more difficult to bring up to the surface. Much expended effort later, Garta had raised the trap up high enough for its top bars to clear the water and latch onto two hooks on the side of his boat. There it would stay, keeping the crab mostly submerged, alive and fresh until his return to shore. At this point, Garta’d ordinarily move on to check if any other cages had to be winched up, but first he turned again to what this crab was holding. Unfortunately, the crab was in no mood to cooperate, waving its large pincers in as much of a defensive display as the limited room in the cage allowed. “It’s your little treasure, isn’t it?” Garta quietly remarked. He well understood that, though as good as dead to rights, the crab could still cost him a hand if he just reached into the cage. There was a solution to that, though; by dropping a rope through the cage inside of the crab’s free arm, he managed to tie its open left pincer to one side of the cage. With the crab suitably restrained, Garta reached in. Grabbing its right pincer to hold it steady, he inspected the object it held. Other than its white glow, it looked like any other crystal, much like a lightstone carved into a cylindrical shape, yet no lightstone ever subjected a Matoran to so palpable an attraction. Mesmerized, Garta put a finger on it. At the moment of contact, the rod lit up bright blue, causing him to quickly pull back. It returned to normal in response. Garta repeated the experiment, touching it several times, feeling no shock or anything else unpleasant that he might have been expecting; it just somehow glowed when he touched it. Whatever it was, it was of no use to the crab; he wanted it. Grabbing it tightly, he tried to dislodge it, only to find that it was stuck in the pincer. Small wonder the crab had held on to this object, even though it probably had no use for it; it could neither let it go, nor crush it as it was apparently trying to do. Even pulling with all his strength, Garta couldn’t get it out. Undeterred, he resorted to opening the top of the cage and reaching in with both hands; restrained through its other pincer, his catch was in no position to take advantage. Bracing his feet against the side of his boat, he put all his strength and weight into pulling the rod out. Suddenly it came loose, sending him tumbling backwards into his boat. He landed on his back and had to take a moment to come to his senses, but then quickly scrambled to close the trap again; now that its right pincer was free, the crab was already trying to cut the rope tying the other to the side of the cage. “Clever, but not today, sunshine,” Garta mumbled. Satisfied that the cage was secure, he sat down on a thwart and picked up the rod, which had landed in the bottom of the boat. Its intense glow made it hard to inspect while being held, but still he couldn’t help the curiosity; just what was this thing, and why did he feel so drawn to it? He’d never seen anything like it, sure, and it certainly didn’t seem like any natural object to find lying around the bottom of the sea, but still it gripped his attention in an almost unnatural manner. It beckoned to be investigated. However, realizing that he had neither the time nor the resources to figure out much on his small fishing boat, Garta finally decided to put it away for now. A wooden box under the thwart would have to do; it’d be safe for the time being, and he had three more traps to check and some ruki fish to catch. He found next two traps empty, but the fourth one contained a smaller, younger Keras. It might have fetched a small price on the market, but Garta decided to let this one go; he already had a good catch for the day, and perhaps the smaller crab could grow up to be a better catch for him another time. Left with another four hours easy before midday, he caught a decent supply of fish, too. By half past nine, he’d unloaded his catch back on shore and was setting up his stand on the waterfront. Having set off earlier than most of the fishermen left in the city, he was also one of the first back to have his stand up and running in a small market square on the border of the Golyi and Garo districts. His punctuality was always appreciated by his small but regular set of customers who typically showed up around noon. By the end of the afternoon, most of his catch had been exchanged for a decent number of widgets. The large Keras had fetched a higher price than anticipated; so much so that, if he wanted to, Garta wouldn’t have to go fishing again for a day or two. Normally, he’d spend the rest of the day fixing whatever had been found damaged in the morning in anticipation of the next day’s trip, but with no equipment in need of repair it promised to be an easy evening. Except… he hadn’t been able to focus on anything but that rod all day. It buggered him with questions that he had no answers to. What was it? Where did it come from? Why was it in the water? As he packed up his stand, he mulled over possible answers and ways of finding them. He could ask the Turaga, but she surely had no shortage of other business to attend to. There wasn’t really anyone else who he’d readily approach about something like this either, at least not in Gol Rui. Perhaps he’d find something in the library run by the few Ko-Matoran still in the city. He hadn’t visited it before, but then he’d never had a reason to; his own resourcefulness had provided most of what he needed for his job. A quick stop by there couldn’t hurt, though it would have to wait until a little later; for now, he quite literally had other fish to fry. --- “Hey, uhm, how… how are you doing?” A hesitant wave and adorably nervous smile accompanied the greeting. Telzin couldn’t help but smile in return; clearly this boy was new to the Madumei party scene. A tall but lanky Bo-Matoran, he was probably barely out of his child-home. He sporadically looked down at his feet to avoid eye contact. Telzin had met Matoran like him a million times before. They were so much fun to tease. “I’m doing just fine,” she replied, leaning closer and drawing out the last two words. “Uhm… great,” came the nervous reply. “Would you… I mean, if you don’t mind, with me… like, have a drink?” “A drink?!” she exclaimed far louder than she figured he was comfortable with, “I’d love to have a drink!” The enthusiastic reply caught the already fumbling Bo-Matoran off guard. He barely managed to open his mouth again before Telzin cut him off: “C’mon! This way!” She was already heading for the other side of the platform, where a bar had been set up. She’d had a few drinks already, but who wouldn’t turn down another one, especially if someone else was paying? Having reached the bar, she clambered onto one of the stools, leaned forward, and whistled to get the bartender’s attention. “One moment,” the bartender coolly replied as he reached below the counter to deposit widgets from the last sale. “Hey, my friend here’s got an order for ya!” Telzin loudly proclaimed while she pointed at the boy, who’d only just caught up. He was looking more out of his depth by the second, but she nodded insistently towards him all the same. “C’mon, say something,” she encouraged. “Yes, I’d… uhm… I’d like two drinks, please,” he asked in a shaky voice. “What kind?” the bartender inquired. “Those!” Telzin wildy gestured in the direction of one of the tapped barrels behind the bar. “I always have that one!” Luckily for her companion, this bartender was well familiar with Telzin’s usual order, and without questioning further he pulled two mugs out from under the counter. Satisfied that she’d gotten her order across, Telzin turned to her new friend. “Widgets. You’re paying, right?” again she smiled and drew out the last word for emphasis. The boy dutifully reached down to a small pouch on his belt. The bartender returned with two mugs, each filled to the brim. “Six widgets,” he said flatly. As the boy produced the payment, Telzin was already gulping down the content of one of the mugs: thick Bo-Matoran brew. By the time the transaction in front of her concluded, she’d all but finished it. She slammed the mug down on the counter. “Fill’r again!” she demanded. The bartender rolled his eyes, but obliged. The Bo-Matoran pulled out a few more widgets, dropped them on the counter, then grabbed his mug and took a sip. His face contorted into an expression of distaste; he clearly wasn’t used to the strong flavor of his people’s drink. The bartender returned with the refilled mug which Telzin practically seized from his hands. She immediately took a swig while the bartender collected the extra widgets, but went a bit slower this time. The sight of the Bo-Matoran trying to down his mug against his distaste was highly amusing, but eventually she decided to put him out of his misery. “C’mon, let’s dance!” she invited as she somewhat unsteadily made her way towards the center of the platform. He didn’t follow, but she barely noticed, already losing herself to the rhythm among numerous other dancers. It wouldn't be long before she’d lose track of him altogether; parties such as these were an almost nightly occasion in the treetop network of platforms, walkways, and Le-Matoran homes known collectively as the Madumei district, and Telzin made sure to be there every time. So what if she never saw that Bo-Matoran again? Up here it was life in the fast line, and as far as she was concerned there was no need to slow down for those who couldn’t keep up. As if to confirm her point, the band started playing a faster, upbeat dance tune called “Up Here in Paradise.” This was what she suffered through the daily doldrums of work for. This was the life. It would take hours for the festivities to die down, and Telzin would be one of the last to stagger home to her little hut, high up in the canopy of one of the titanic trees that were the hallmark of the Maduni region. Dozens of meters below, the rest of the city of Gol Rui would already be dark and quiet for the night. Well, dark and quiet except for the workaholics that kept the Tahai district running. Perhaps she would stop for a bit as she passed over them, looking down on the mesmerizing spectacle of Fe-Matoran working like ants to feed the monstrous forges with coal. Their heat could be felt even in up in the Madumei, a pleasant sensation in the otherwise cold nights, particularly in winter. Telzin would then reach her humble home, probably well past midnight, collapsing either onto the floor or one of the two pieces of furniture. Morning would surely find her hung over, possibly sore from sleeping anywhere that wasn’t on the bed, wishing that work could wait a little longer and quickly deciding that indeed it could. No doubt her boss would complain again, but what did it matter? Life was short and to be enjoyed to the fullest, and it was on nights like this one that she felt most alive. --- “Excuse me?” The Ko-Matoran looked up from the scroll he’d been reading. If he was surprised to see a Ga-Matoran in the library, never mind at this late hour, he didn’t show it. “Are you looking for something?” he asked. “I am,” Garta replied curtly. “Anything you have on strange, glowing rods.” Rahn had been working in the library of Gol Rui for years, having started back in the day when it was still the Akutai Nui, and in all his years he’d never heard of a request quite like this one. “You are serious?” he asked. “Of course I am,” Garta replied somewhat indignantly. What did he mean, ‘serious?’ Granted, Garta would’ve had more credibility if he’d brought the rod here with him, but he wasn’t keen on walking through the city with what amounted to a beacon in his hands; no need to attract attention. “I found this glowing rod about this long,” he mimed the rod’s length. “I’m not sure what it is, but I was wondering if you knew anything about what it could be.” “Hm… you are sure that this is not a lightstone?” Rahn questioned with more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice. “Yes, I’m certain,” Garta insisted. “This thing only lit up when I touched it; you know of a type of lightstone that does that?” “Alright,” Rahn gave in. “I can tell you there will not be anything recent on whatever you found; I certainly have not catalogued anything like it. Chances are that we will have to search through older documents. Legends, perhaps.” “Legends?” Though he had faint memories of the Old World, Garta didn’t consider himself very knowledgeable about history. If he had to search through scrolls of ancient legends, he could be busy for a while. “That’s all you’ve got?” “Most likely,” Rahn admitted. “I can certainly take a look myself if you are willing to come back tomorrow…” “No, that’s fine,” Garta dismissed. “Show me what you have on these legends. I’m sure there’s a couple of scrolls I could look at.” “Very well, this way,” Rahn invited as he exited the area behind the desk and led Garta through a narrow path between several ceiling-high scroll racks until they reached a sitting area situated among them. “These four contain scrolls about history from as long ago as the age of Mata Nui,” he explained as he gestured to four racks covering the wall to the side of the sitting area. “I have not reviewed them personally, but then I have not encountered anything like what you described in what I have reviewed, so this is the best that I can point you to.” “Thanks,” Garta said without really meaning it. These racks were easily three meters tall, about as wide, and filled almost top to bottom with scrolls, any or none of which might have useful information. Combing through all of them for information would take days. “If you would like to check them out, just bring them to the front,” Rahn said. Garta nodded, after which the Ko-Matoran headed back to the front desk. Daunted by the quantity of information in front of him, Garta spent a minute or two skimming the racks, pulling out some scrolls to see if any of them took his fancy. None did until he came up on one entitled “The Events of the Island of Mata Nui: an Overview,” transcribed as accurately as could be remembered from a scroll originally written by one Takua the Chronicler. Garta wasn’t familiar with the contents of the scroll specifically, but Misira Nui and the situation of the Matoran on it shortly after the Transport were quite frequently compared to that world… so why not start there? So he did, and over the next hour or so found himself introduced, or likely re-introduced, to the world of Mata Nui, its regions and some of its more notable residents. Though not offering much detail, the scroll did describe the major events that happened on the island: the coming of the Toa, their gathering of Masks and subsequent fight with one “Makuta,” the invasion of insect-like swarms of “Bohrok,” the Toa becoming Toa Nuva… All these things, it was noted, were described in more detail by Takua’s other chronicles, culminating in his account of his own quest to find a Toa of Light. By the time he finished the overview, Garta’s interest was piqued. However, the hour was late and he felt it. Then again, thanks to today’s great catch, he wouldn’t have to go fishing tomorrow… as good a time as any to delve deeper. He could take Rahn up on his offer to take several scrolls with him, but which ones? More in-depth information about the events on the island of Mata Nui would at least be interesting, so any other scrolls by Takua the Chronicler on the subject had to come along. Beyond that, anything that seemed even vaguely familiar would have a reference point for him to start with; he had little enthusiasm for just diving into long-winded descriptions on places and events that he’d never heard about. A similar scroll to Takua’s by one Hahli the Chronicler about the great city of Metru Nui caught his eye; the City of Legends was referenced frequently in the Turaga’s descriptions of Gol Rui. That would come along too, along with one or two of its more detailed accompaniments. After spending about half an hour looking up and down one of the scroll racks for anything related to Mata or Metru Nui, Garta found himself with a stack of fifteen scrolls on the table; enough to keep him busy for a day. Shortly thereafter, he was carrying them home, along with half-hearted assurances by Rahn that the library staff would review more material for signs of what he had described to them. Drawn to learn about this mysterious object, Garta was now more determined than ever to find out just what he was dealing with.
  8. [url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/topic/26817-the-misira-nui-chronicles/]The Misira Nui Chronicles[/url] (PG-13) by Scorpion_Strike [url=http://www.bzpower.com/board/topic/26818-the-misira-nui-chronicles-review-topic/]Review Topic[/url]
  9. Well, it's taken a while, but I'm finally getting back to writing the fanfic that I started development on before I even started my previous epic. This one started off when I got a heavy dose of inspiration from NickonPlanetRipple's "Nova Orbis" epic, and the first version could justifiably be described as a rip-off of that idea. However, it's gone through a lot of iterations behind the scenes since then and I'm finally ready to present it. The plan is to post a new chapter at the beginning of every month. So, without further ado... {Review Topic} Prologue Five-hundred years ago, the same number of Matoran and one Turaga were going about their daily lives. Once, their sole purpose of existence had been to work and maintain an enormous construct, a machine of staggering dimensions with one mission: to re-form a shattered planet and ensure that the events that had destroyed it would never occur again. This plan was nearly foiled on several occasions, but after thousands of years, the planet of Spherus Magna was whole again and the Matoran left the now broken machine that had been their universe. As they met those who had been left behind, their cultures interacted, mixed, and though conflict was far from absent, they eventually could hardly be distinguished from one another. Matoran spread across the entirety of the reformed planet, founding cities with Toa protecting them. New generations were constructed and raised, thriving on this paradise world. Eventually, some would even leave the planet entirely, searching for new worlds to settle as progress continued its relentless march forward. Now, five-hundred Matoran and one Turaga were to become its victims. An inventor was about to test his life's work. His creation was a potential miracle, a device that could enable Matoran to travel enormous distances in the blink of an eye. He'd kept it secret, not wanting this power to fall into the wrong hands, but if this test was successful he felt that it would at last be ready to be revealed to the world. However, the test did not go as planned. One variable unaccounted for, one component incorrectly calibrated, one calculation in error and the inventor found himself unable to control his creation. The gate it created was unstable, drawing more and more power as the machine surged beyond what any of its instruments could measure, culminating in a monumental explosion which destroyed the machine and all but killed its inventor. His work was ruined; it would be years before he could possibly rebuild the machine and discover his error. As he lay unconscious, he could not have known that his creation, in its one brief moment of operation, had single-handedly caused the greatest disaster to befall the Matoran in thousands of years. Only weeks later, when he woke up in a hospital bed, a nurse informed him of the catastrophic consequences of his experiment: five-hundred Matoran and one Turaga had vanished in an instant from their homes, their jobs, their lives… and no one knew where they were. No one on Spherus Magna had even the faintest idea of what had happened to them, or if they were even still alive. As far as anyone could tell, they were there one moment and then gone the next. They had all disappeared at the exact same time, shortly before this explosion destroyed what had, until then, appeared to be a normal Fe-Matoran workshop and several others around it. When the inventor's work was made public, the Matoran sadly concluded that their missing friends and colleagues were most likely dead, sucked in and destroyed somehow by this monstrous machine. The inventor was imprisoned, forbidden to ever attempt to construct such a device again, and a city mourned the loss of so many of its inhabitants and one of its long-time leaders. A memorial was erected, ceremonies performed, and life slowly returned to normal. No one knew or could have known that those who had vanished were not in fact dead, though they certainly were lost. While the fires were still being put out and the inventor still lay half-buried under the rubble of his home, five-hundred Matoran and one Turaga found themselves standing among titanic trees in a fog-shrouded land, wondering where they were. --- Pale moonlight illuminated the thin veil of mist that hung over the tranquil Komisi bay. A faint orange glow coming from inland outlined the trunks of giant trees and the rooftops of Gol Rui on the shoreline; even now, in the middle of the night, Matoran in the Tahai district were keeping the forges hot and ready for the morning shift. By contrast, the shoreline district of Garo was dark and devoid of activity; the Ga-Matoran had no reason to work through the night, their fishing boats safely moored to wooden piers jutting out into the bay. A small speck of light appeared from within one of the city streets and proceeded to make its way along the waterfront. It was a lantern, carried by a hunched-over Matoran clad in a heavy cloak. Shuffling along slowly and using a cane to steady herself, she passed two piers that each played home to several large vessels. She proceeded down the third pier she reached, though it was much smaller than the previous two and featured one vessel, a small craft moored at its end. Though little more than a rowboat with a small mast able to host a single sail, it would have to do; the Matoran clambered into the boat, untied it from its moorings, then rowed out onto the bay. It was a slow journey, not helped by her having to stop to recuperate every few minutes. Still, half an hour after she had set off, the city, shoreline, and even the light of the Tahai had all long vanished into the mists. She withdrew the oars into the boat and looked around. There was nothing but water and fog in every direction. Satisfied in her isolation, she reached into her cloak and pulled out a package. After taking another look around, she proceeded to unwrap it. Two layers of papyrus later, its contents were revealed: a small note, which she laid down into the boat, and a cylindrical rod about 20 cm long that gave off a faint, white light. However, its glow intensified to a bright blue at the very moment when her finger touched it, illuminating the Matoran, the boat, the water and the mist all around. In spite of the bright light, she studied the object for a minute, turning it in her hands in contemplation. Then, suddenly, she reached out, suspending it over the water in her hand. She hesitated; one, two, three seconds passed, and then she drew back just as quickly. Again she inspected the rod, watching it intently as though it would provide answers on its own. None were forthcoming. She shook her head. “We do not need them,” she muttered. With those words, a sudden resolve overtook her. In one quick motion, she tossed the rod overboard. With a muffled ‘ploomp’ it fell into the water, which for a moment seemed to light up all around the boat. Yet that resolve faded almost immediately; within moments, she ducked for the edge of the boat and reached towards where the rod had landed. But it was already too late: its glow in the water diminished as it quickly sank, and within seconds the Komisi appeared dark once again. She continued to peer over the edge of the boat, straining her eyes for the faintest sign of light, but there was nothing left to see. Eventually, she pulled back and sat down in the boat’s thwart. There was now turning back now. Either she was right, or the Matoran of Misira Nui were doomed.
  10. {Main Story Topic} Pretty self-evident, I think. Questions, comments, reviews, all is welcome.
  11. LEWA! Could you stop playing Pokemon and help us out of this!?
  12. The cavalry is coming, Kemosabe. I hear the thunder of a thousand hooves.
  13. Onua: "Is now a good time to practice my yodeling?" Pohatu: "NO!"
  14. I probably would've made Macku lean up against him just a little more; the space between them right now is kind of awkward. Very nice looking and unique style, though; I love the details in Hewkii's armor and spine in particular, and the high-contrast shading really works well.
  • Create New...