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Memento Vivere It is a miracle that I am still alive and have found the materials to carve this message. It is a miracle that such an awful place as this exists. My name is Reysa. Until recently, I would have identified myself as an Onu-Matoran Inventor. Now, I am not sure either title fits me. Like you, I was sent here due to injury. I was developing a Heatstone-powered engine, and when it blew up my friend Gar and I were caught in the blast. Unlike you, I have seen firsthand all the horrors this realm has to offer. Nobody should ever have to see those horrors again. I implore you to read on and to leave this place. And, if you are too stubborn to do so, I implore you to reconsider. *** Zap. Whoosh. A bolt of lightning struck the boat. After what could have been an age, I awoke. When I finally came to my senses, the remains of our vessel had floated ashore and Gar, who must have waded to safety, was drenched. When I stumbled out of the wreck, he shot me an angry look. “You—you moron! We almost died when your engine blew up back home, and now look at what you’ve gotten us into!” I was taken aback. Gar was among the kindest Matoran I knew—he never lashed out at anyone. He was taken aback too. He looked down at the ground, up at me, and back down again, embarrassed. “I’m sorry, Reysa, I don’t know what got into—” “We need to find shelter,” I interjected. “You stay here and recover our supplies, I’ll try to find the settlement. I’ll return by nightfall.” He was still looking at the ground, his voice remorseful. “But the weather is worsening.” He was right. In the distance, clouds darker than the ones above us floated ever closer. They looked like they were just raring to spew out liquid protodermis. They moved with surprising speed; it wouldn’t be long before they arrived. “Which is exactly why I’m going to look for shelter,” I said impatiently. “The point is—” “The point is that I’m looking for shelter,” I spat as I stormed off. *** Karzahni. As you can no doubt see for yourself, its surroundings are completely desolate. The only thing that covers the rocky ground is sand and dust. It even seems like common logic has no effect here. While I trudged along toward the settlement, the sound of the breeze blasted like a swarm of Kirikori Nui, but it would take a De-Matoran to hear the loudest booms of thunder, if there even were any. By the time I found the canyon, it was dark enough they had placed lightstones out as if it were nighttime. On one side of the realm was a series of mysterious spires; on the other, a village. The settlement, like its surroundings, was very strange. The villagers seemed oddly short even from a distance, and many were huddled around blocks of ice as if hoping to stay warm. As I approached a group of Matoran, many tried to avoid eye contact with me. The ones that didn’t had looks in their eyes of great sadness. One among them caught my eye—a fidgety Le-Matoran who, despite his obvious fear, was trying to maintain his composure. He stared right at me. He began to jitter more and more as I grew nearer, but his glowing eyes didn’t waver. Finally, he looked down. “What do you want from me?” he asked balefully. “What could I possibly have worth anything anymore?” “I was sent here by my Turaga,” I responded. The Matoran who had avoided looking at me before were now boring straight through me with their eyes. “Where is Karzahni?” The Matoran looked back up and pondered for a moment, bewildered. “Are you mad?” I restated my question, this time more forcefully. The Le-Matoran’s eyes darted back and forth between several other villagers, but his pleads for assistance were met with blank stares. After some deliberation, he slowly raised one of his hands and pointed toward the spires in the distance. “He’s—he’s in there—” I headed off in the direction he pointed. As I did so, he called after me. The wind muted him out. *** The spires stretched up toward the sky as if they wanted to snatch the stars from it. Although the buildings appeared newly-built, they also somehow seemed indescribably ancient. A dull glow came from inside the towers, but it seemed almost sorrowful. When I entered the main building, I felt as if it wanted to devour me. The chamber was empty save for several wall-mounted torches. The only two directions I could travel were up a menacing staircase or out the door toward safety. Foolishly, I chose the stairs. After I hobbled up what felt like a kio of steps, I finally reached a landing with a large door. My legs could no longer move, and I collapsed flat on the floor. They say that Onu-Matoran have unrivaled stamina; that must be true, because I am convinced that if it weren’t for my stubbornness I would have fallen long before I did. While I was recovering, I studied the door and realized that there was no way to open it. And so I ran—or quickly limped—toward the door, hoping to alert whoever was on the other side as to my presence. However, it swung open as I was about to reach it, sending me sliding into the room it concealed. The room I was in now in was very different from the rest of the building. Although it was located in the tip of a spire, the chamber was surprisingly large. On one wall was a window looking out to nothing but fog, and on the furthermost side of the room was a stack of stone tablets covered in illegible text accompanied by the occasional scribble of a picture. Next to this mound, however, sat the strangest feature of the room: a twisted throne occupied by an even more twisted being. You no doubt know of the being. He is said to have been created by the Great Beings themselves; I can only hope that is a lie. His armor had been patched up so many times it was as if he spent his free time rebuilding himself—and he no doubt had a lot of free time, based on the amount of effort he put into maintaining his realm. And behind his hideous Kanohi sat a pair of eyes teetering on the brink of madness. I looked up at Karzahni, who was staring right through me as if deep in thought. Slowly, he contorted his face into a twisted smile. Then suddenly, he spoke. “Hello, Matoran. Do you wish to be healed?” He asked this without emotion, as if he had recited the greeting many times. I slowly nodded. It appeared there was no other option; if I tried to escape the chamber, he would no doubt catch me on the staircase. His body shuddered as he tried to hide a bout of psychotic laughter. “Very well,” he responded, standing. “This won’t hurt a bit.” He lied. *** When Karzahni finished rebuilding me, he gave me an approving smile and stared at me, admiring his handiwork. Relieved, I looked down at my body. Horrified, I looked up at Karzahni. I suddenly had the urge to run out of the rebuilding chamber and that awful realm, my fear of being caught gone. Whether the being in front of me realized this telepathically, through experience, or simply because I was looking at the exit, I don’t know. I do know that he did not approve of my plans. “If you try to run, Matoran, you’ll regret it.” I stopped looking at the door, and my eyes moved around the room before they finally settled on Karzahni. He sneered. I stared at him for a little while, and, sneering back at him, I bolted toward the exit. But before I could make it out of the chamber, reality began to twist around me. I now stood back home, in front of my Heatstone engine. I heard Gar enter the room, and he stood beside me, examining the motor. Suddenly, my hand moved, but I wasn’t in control of it; my head then looked down without my willing it, and I saw that I was holding a Heatstone. That’s when I realized what was happening. Someone—or something—was forcing me to relive the actions that had gotten me sent to Karzahni. I turned to Gar, and he shook his head in disapproval. I looked back down. Knowing what was to come, I resisted as much as I could. But despite all of my efforts, I placed the Heatstone in its conduit. The explosion was much larger than I remembered. I was blown clear away from the engine, and I lay on the ground for what seemed to be an eternity. I eventually regained enough strength to move my fingers, and was surprised to discover I was now in control of my body. After several painful attempts, I stood up. I then limped toward where Gar now lay. When I approached him, he gave me a look of disapproval. His Kanohi had been shattered, and some of its fragments were on the ground near him. I knelt down in front of him, and he grew less tense. “Don’t worry,” I told him. “You’re going to be alright.” Gar smiled, but with great effort. “You were never good at lying.” I watched in horror as his heartlight slowly began to flash. I grasped him and pleaded with him, but he just smiled and shook his head. I let go of him and looked down at the ground, and he spoke one final time. “Remember to live, Reysa.” I glanced back up at him, and his heartlight was now dark. I looked up and off into space as Matoran began to congregate around us. In every eye watching me were expressions of hatred and shame. I looked among them. I pleaded with them. I stared at Gar. I stared at the sky. I stared back at Gar. Then I was back in the rebuilding chamber. My horrible vision had ended. *** I glared at Karzahni and was about ready to attack him when he spoke. “Don’t you understand?” he asked. “Your own incompetence saved your friend’s life. In my vision, I simply fixed the flaw in your engine that made it less powerful—just like I have done with you.” It was clear that Karzahni was baiting me to see how I would react; after all, most of the other Matoran he had encountered were probably too afraid to run from him. Nevertheless, it was too much for me to bear. I picked up a gear lying on the ground and threw it at him. Karzahni walked up to me and picked me up so that my Kanohi was frighteningly close to his. “Bring it on, Matoran,” he spat. I accepted. Karzahni dropped me to the ground. I knew what to expect and braced myself. But nothing could have helped me prepare for what was to come. As the world melted and shifted around me, I found myself on the other side of the room in excruciating pain. I knew deep down that it was just an illusion, but I couldn’t think any coherent thoughts. I just lay there, hopeless. I feel if the attack had lasted much longer it, combined with the pain of actually being rebuilt, would have shredded my mind. Eventually, however, Karzahni ceased in his assault. When the vision ended, he was staring at me from the corner of the room with blank eyes. I slowly moved toward the exit. He could have stopped me again, but he did not. For reasons that I still don’t quite understand, he let me go. *** I ran and I ran, out into that cruel canyon and through the dusty haze as quickly as my new body would let me. When I finally stopped, I stood for several moments, gasping for air. I looked around at the dismal land around me, and my new, weaker legs gave out from under me. I was in the midst of a torrential downpour, and large puddles had formed everywhere. I looked down at one; staring up from it was a completely different Matoran wearing a completely different Kanohi. I felt my mask. I wasn’t hallucinating. As I sat there, watching the rain fall and the lightning strike in the distance, I planned my revenge on Karzahni. I sat there for what could have been hours, listening and watching and plotting, thinking with dread about the events that had transpired. A gust of wind blew past. But as it did, I heard it whisper to me. Remember to live, Reysa. And as I thought about those words, I suddenly understood why that realm was so horrific. It was not its dangers. It was not the awful rebuilding process. It was the fact that, through all of those tortures, even the purest being could be made into a monster. It was the fact that I was the monster, not Karzahni. If I were the same being I was when I arrived, I would have construed Karzahni’s taunts to mean it was a good thing I built the engine poorly—otherwise when it blew up Gar would have been killed. Then I would try to convince myself I deliberately built the engine that way. But I’m not the same being. I now realize I have spent my life trying to hide my mediocrity from myself with a façade of confidence and impatience. Karzahni was right, but only to a certain extent. He may have fixed a flaw in the engine, but he did not stop it from blowing up. He did something similar to me—he may have rebuilt me, but he did not curb my temper. The wind was right. I must stop hiding my flaws from myself, and instead I must acknowledge them. Only then I will be able to accomplish my Duty, fulfill my Destiny, and begin to truly prosper. Although I have lost track of time while carving this, I know it is time for me to face my fate and to live with the consequences of my actions. It is time for me to return to Gar, who has hopefully honored my request and not yet left that wreck of a boat. Then, with or without him, I must return to Karzahni, to the frightened villagers, and to that paranoid Le-Matoran. Maybe we will find a way to leave this place. Maybe we won't. Only time will tell. But your fate is still undecided. I am about to begin my journey back to meet Gar, and when I reach our landing site I will place this rock there for you to find. I hope my misfortunes will help you decide your path—whether you will leave and save yourself while you still can or if you will join me in that monster’s wasteland. But, no matter how to choose to proceed, I leave you with one simple request: Remember to live. Word count: 2,534
The Journal: Memoirs of the Dead Entry By: Click Word Count: 2,742(not including dividers) Protagonist: Reysa Reysa stared at the softly rippling airweed, appreciating its strange shape and pocketed surface filled with what some members of Mahri Nui called “Clear Gold,” or air bubbles. Then, a green Hydruka bumped it with its sharp tusks, catching the bubbles for the harvest. To any other Matoran, the pace of the Hydruka would seem painfully slow, but Reysa had worked with them for a few months, and had grown accustomed to their sluggishness. After all, if he forced them along any faster, they might stop altogether, and he couldn’t imagine many other Matoran in Mahri Nui would be happy about that. He had already learned from experience during his time underwater, which was no place for an Onu-Matoran. He always was envious of his memories of being on the surface, as foggy as they seemed. In fact, all he could remember was the faint sense he was on the surface at one point, but he didn’t know where, or when. Mahri Nui had sunk into the deeps, and only the release of these bubbles from the airweed had saved what few Matoran still remain. The Hydruka came to harvest the air for the Matoran, being their only lifeline in this hostile world, and it could only be harvested for one hour of “safety,” which seemed like a crazy notion when it was introduced, but surprisingly held true for all the time Reysa had been out here. So, to pass the time, Reysa pulled out a set of tablets. No one else knew about these, as he found them in the wreckage of his previous hut right after Mahri Nui sank. In the pandemonium that followed the sinking of rebuilding, burying, and trying to survive, he had forgotten all about them, but now, with an entire hour to himself, and little to do, he had some time to read them. Among their chipped edges and sometimes fractured corners, he could make out it was a journal of his own memories before coming to Mahri Nui. It started in a small, lonely village of a hundred or so Matoran and their Turaga all trying to survive. Earlier in his shifts as a guard, Reysa had read up to the part where the cave he was mining Protodermis in suddenly collapsed due to a huge, subterranean Rahi seeking food. He was able to be rescued, but the cave-in resulted in his right side being twisted beyond repair, and with such a small island with barely enough to get by, there simply wasn’t enough materials to rebuild him. The Turaga knew their only choice was to send him to Karzahni, the brother of Artahka, to be rebuilt. This next entry started with his journey there. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Today is the day I travel to Karzahni. These weeks of struggling around without the use of half of my body has been difficult, but a fellow Onu-Matoran, Gar, has been helping me along. He will also be accompanying me to our village's boat, and then along the long journey to Karzahni. I hear that he is the brother of Artahka, the Great Creator, and I assume he must be as good at his job. The journey should only take a few weeks by boat, and I can't imagine anything would happen during that time. We're heading out now, and I doubt I'll have time to write any further until I arrive. ------------------------------------------------------------------ I arrived in Karzahni perfectly safe, and the sailing was as uneventful as planned. I walked into a huge dome along a narrow, barren peninsula, and through a gate with a barely visible field across it. Karzahni itself is rather strange, but I suppose I won't be here for very long. It will take me a while to get used to the soft wails that come from underground with every step. I thought I stepped on a small Rahi when I first got off the boat! While waiting for Karzahni, I was also introduced to another interesting part of the island, when a tiny creature someone called a “Dust Darter” suddenly decided my ruined armor would make a nice snack. With a large amount of jumping and swatting, I drove the creatures away with more agility than I would have thought in my condition. Finally, my turn to be repaired arrived, and I carefully walked up to the door, leaning heavily on Gar. Another Matoran who was so rusted and discolored that I couldn’t tell what element he was from helped me into the operation room while my friend waited outside. To be honest, Karzahni was not the imposing figure that I always pictured. His dark red and light blue armor was horribly mismatched, and his Mask of Alternate Futures was just as jumbled, it’s spiky and seemingly random patch up looked about as unbalanced as his sanity. Various Matoran pieces littered the room, some twisted beyond repair, others from much larger or smaller beings, and every piece a completely different design and color. Obviously, not the grand genius that I had heard he was. I was strapped to a table by the Matoran who helped me in, and the “mastermind” asked “So, what seems to be the problem?”I stared incredulously. I thought he was joking, but his bad attempt at looking sincere made me realize he had actually meant it. I explained my accident as best as I could, and he suddenly seemed to notice the twisted and flattened metal down my right side. The ruined pieces were carefully taken off, and Karzahni attempted a casual conversation as he rebuilt it. The straps prevented me from looking down at his progress, but I could slowly feel my body coming back together. Something felt a little bit off, but I attributed that to the new armor pieces he was placing on me. The operation was going on as planned, with little Matoran servants helping to find the right pieces, but suddenly he started on my other side. “Um, excuse me, Great Mechanic, but I only had some damage on the right side.” He simply nodded his spiked head like he heard me giving great praises, and continued to disassemble my left leg. Finally, I gave up struggling, and Karzahni made a few finishing touches on my other arm, and undid the straps. A mirror was handed up by one of his servants, and I saw what he had done. My legs were short and squat, random pieces of armor attached all over the place and one arm reached almost to their wide toes, while the other was just about normal size. Nothing matched at all, and the armor plates didn’t even seem to fit my size. I looked up into Karzahni’s lopsided grin, which almost forced me to agree with his optimistic comments. I suddenly blurted out “It looks awful! What have you done to me?” His grin quickly vanished, and a huge scowl appeared across his mask. “Awful? Do you know what awful is? I can show you awful, you ungrateful little fireflyer! The last thing I saw before everything suddenly disappeared was Karzahni’s Olisi begin to glow, and I had the sensation of falling until I hit the table with a thud. Through blurry eyes, I looked down at myself, not even recognizable as a Matoran anymore. I tried to blurt out my objection, but all that came out was a hoarse grunt. Karzahni smiled his crooked smile again, looking like my appearance was a great achievement, getting bigger all the time until it appeared to be the grin of a mad villain who just completed his next super weapon. I threw my ungainly new body at him, but his maniacal laugh swallowed me up, and I suddenly fell onto the table again, this time bouncing off and into a pile of scrap metal. Karzahni’s mask was slowly dimming, but his grin was still in place, just as insane as in the illusion. “You…you monster!” I tried to form a coherent sentence in my state of shock. “Just look…I mean you…I thought you…” Finally, I just collapsed into the junk heap, too exhausted and surprised to say anything more. “That’s right, little Matoran, just lie down. Take it all in how you look now, because you’re stuck like that for the rest of your life, which, since I can’t have you going and ruining my little business here, will be spent happily in the Southern Continent. How’s that for monstrosity?” By that time, I was too stunned to even do anything as his rusted servants carried me out. As soon as I could think again, my first thoughts were for my cautious friend Gar. Did he escape Karzahni? Will he miss me? What will my village think? ----------------------------------------------------------------- I soon found out about him. I was sent off to the northern shore of the Southern Continent with little supplies, a small charged weapon, and a whole new, freakish appearance. In my wanderings for food, I came across a small village of other “repaired” Matoran, who had established a firm settlement and a good system of supplying their daily needs. I was welcomed in with open, while often misshaped, arms, and quickly found my place in the village. A few days later, another Onu-Matoran arrived on the shore. His long legs and arms confused me for a moment, but when I took a closer look, I recognized him as my old friend Gar. Karzahni had captured him to keep him silent, and “repaired” him while he was there, then quickly sent him off to the Southern Continent. I felt horribly guilty about him being trapped here with me, neither of us being able to see our friends ever again, and it was my fault for falling for that ruse. Gar seemed to take it pretty well though, but I could tell he was upset with not seeing through this earlier, with his cautious nature. In fact, I was surprised as well, as Gar was always the first one to question the decisions of our Turaga back home. Life was simple on the Southern Continent. We would each work to gather food, defend against the usual predators and other dangers, and then relax in our little spare time. I got back to digging a little bit with my new weapons, and my longer arms and shorter body helped in at least that regard. I found spare protodermis for the village, and mined whatever stone we needed, with Gar and a few other Onu-Matoran working alongside. I could actually begin to like it here. --------------------------------------------------------------- All of the peace of our village changed one day, when a rogue Doom Viper broke through our defenses, spewing toxic breath all around. No defenders could even get near it, especially with the six colorful heads watching in all directions and breathing whenever something came near. Many of our number died before we even realized what was happening. Gar and I had been in the mine when it broke through, and we came up to discover that our little village was now destroyed, and many inhabitants lay dead. Gar, being as cautious as he was, held me back from quickly avenging their deaths. “You are too impulsive. Stay back for a while, and we might discover a weakness.” I knew he was right, but I had to fight hard not to charge straight in while my closest friends suffocated in the fumes. So, I did the only thing that I could, and just watched, and waited, which for me, was extremely difficult. Some of my enemies in the village said that was precisely why I was caught in the cave-in that brought us into this mess. I would charge straight into a cave without checking to see if it was stable or if it was clear of Rahi nests, both of which contributed to my injury. The Doom Viper was thrashing around, whipping heads all over the place and destroying all of our hard work. Gradually, I noticed that the tail was stuck in a crack in one of the huts, and it was trying to escape. I looked at Gar to tell him this, but he obviously already noticed, and just nodded to me. I could tell he was formulating a plan right then, and hopefully it would get us out of here alive. All he told me was “Go right now and get to the tail!" I ran as fast as I could, with Gar outdistancing me with his much longer legs. The viper was too busy smashing a food storage hut to notice the two Onu-Matoran charging it. On my way there, I quickly reached into my ruined hut and grabbed my digging weapons, and Gar grabbed his as well. I reached the tail soon after he did, and braced myself to fire on it. “Stop!” Gar shouted. “You can’t attack it yet; use that only as a last resort! Your tools would simply free the tail.” He had a point, I had to admit. He was just about to tell me the real plan when the Doom Viper turned on us. The tall Matoran suddenly closed his mouth and bolted, poisonous gas following close behind. I did the wise thing and ran the other way, half of the heads following my progress as well. It could only chase one of us though, and I suppose it judged Gar the greater threat, and it gave pursuit… until its tail snagged on the broken hut again. Gar sighed in relief, and ran back to me, keeping his back turned to the viper. Unfortunately, his one lapse in caution had drastic consequences. The viper reached out a head, slowly entwining it around Gar’s huge legs, tripping him. Instantly, all six heads were on him, gas leaking out of their fanged maws. Gar managed to back away just enough for the gas to pass beneath him, but he was running out of time. I had to act fast, so I ran to the tail. A quick pulse of my weapon shattered the stone encasing it, but did little to the armored Rahi except to draw its attention, and that was enough. All six foul heads turned to me, striking at air as they charged me. I just ran to the only place I could think of, the old mine. Its narrow tunnels kept at least some of the heads away from me, and the viper moving slower than I could run. I finally reached a particular tunnel that the Matoran had abandoned long ago because of its risk of caving in. I felt it was my only choice, and as soon as those heads rounded the corner, I quickly jumped over them, swinging with my long arms to gain that extra few bio to get to the other side, firing my weapons in mid-air. The tunnel roared as it collapsed, along with the Doom Viper’s hissing, and then all was silent. I managed to limp my way back to the opening to find Gar, with a cracked leg joint, limping towards me, smiling the whole way. I couldn’t help but smile too, but then he collapsed. The fractured leg was giving him much pain, and there was little I could do for it now, so I decided to repay the long-awaited debt of carrying him back to the village. He continued to smile through his pain the whole way. Everything seemed to be just perfect. ------------------------------------------------------------- Reysa finally set down the tablets to observe the Hydruka harvest, laughing at that last line. Since his city had sunk, nothing was perfect, and so much had happened since the ending of that entry. By now, a few of the Hydruka were leaving towards Mahri Nui, their special bowl-shaped under armor holding huge bubbles of air like liquid mercury, but the rest were still working. Reysa also noticed that it was much darker now in the low light that filtered from the surface, much later than he would usually leave. He stood up to get the Hydruka moving, hurrying them along when a noise stopped him. It was probably just a tool some foolish Matoran left out getting pushed by a current. Still, at the edge of the airfield, there wasn't any sign of a tool. Reysa's eyes suddenly opened wide as a tentacle wrapped around his waist, dragging him into the depths. The only sign he had been there was his journal, now a memoir of the dead.