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Highfly Vinesman, Deepwood Wayfinder - Review TopicStory Topic This is my entry for BZPower Fanfic Exchange 2018. I'm writing for Darth Jaller, who's prompt was to write about "the members of the Chronicler's Company, working together to do their bit to resist Makuta's control of the MU." I've decided to tell a side story involving some of the Company's quirkier members, Tamaru, Taipu, and Kapura. (I later realized that the prompt could be interpreted as happening in the post-Makuta takeover of the Matoran Universe... but I prefer MNOLG stories, so I set it there and decided not to change. Hope that's still acceptable, Darth Jaller!) Because my story ended up being a little too long, I decided to split it up into a mini epic. I have the first three chapters written, and plan to extend it out into seven chapters overall, although I'm still working on the middle and ending. I hope to get the rest up in a timely manner, but gosh it has been hard trying to find the time to write! A couple of notes about the story:Yes, Tamaru is written with female pronouns. There was a fan theory going around a few years ago that Tamaru was trans, so I wanted to write her that way, although that specific identity will not be a major focus of the story.I am aware that certain Rahi like the Burnak are not deemed native to Mata Nui. My story assumes they're an uncommon Rahi but a few did make it up to the island.The story takes place shortly after Takua's adventures in Le-Koro in the MNOLG, but before he embarks on his journey to put together the Chronicler's Company.Critique and criticism is appreciated, so please leave a review. Hope you enjoy the story! Thanks!
Highfly Vinesman, Deepwood WayfinderBZPower Fanfic Exchange 2018 for Darth Jaller Tamaru crouched low, as she sighted her quarry perched on a branch up ahead. The green Kewa was preening her feathers, but looked up as the Le-Matoran walked out from underneath the foliage. “There you be, Kunono,” Tamaru said softly, as she started to approach the bird. “I have been search-seeking much for you today. Would you be up for a little wind-fly?” The Kewa Kunono tilted her head slightly at the advancing Matoran. Tamaru took cautious steps forward, taking care to make no sudden movements that might startle the Rahi. Meanwhile, she maintained eye contact with the Kewa, hoping to build upon their bond. But it wasn’t enough; when Tamaru was only three strides away, Kunono suddenly cried out and spread her wings. Before Tamaru could pounce forward, Kunono took to the air and disappeared into the canopy of Le-Wahi. “Braka-bones,” Tamaru cursed. “I got ever-close that time!” Tamaru had in fact been tracking down that particular Kewa all day. Kunono had been assigned to her for the Gukko Force. Kewa were normally fairly docile Rahi, and many of the Le-Matoran pilots were able to quickly train them and use them in aerial combat. Tamaru had learned how to groom and feed the other Kewa, but she had never flown one before. Kongu had assigned her Kunono, saying that once she trained her they could join in practicing for the Gukko Force. Yet for whatever reason that particular Kewa was unwilling to put up with Tamaru and refused to bond with her. As such, Tamaru had decided to name her Kunono, which roughly translated to “Stubborn.” Of course, there were other reasons why Tamaru was reluctant to take flight on a Kewa. She briefly wondered if Kunono could sense her fear of heights and if that was why she wouldn’t let her approach. Tamaru was working very hard to overcome her vertigo, but how could she improve when her assigned Kewa refused to fly with her? Tamaru’s frustrated thoughts were soon placed aside as she heard something rustling in the forest behind her. She glanced back, wondering if it was a Rahi of some sort. However, from the sound of it, whatever was walking nearby was clumsily moving through the jungle; any native Rahi would be making far less noise, and certain predators would be nearly silent. So who was this outsider who was wandering the dangerous jungle floor of Le-Wahi? Tamaru drew her bamboo disc and approached through the jungle. She soon sighted the source of the commotion; a short Onu-Matoran was pushing his way through the brush, looking around widely for something. Tamaru jumped up on a log next to the Onu-Matoran. “Why are you down-tree out here?” she asked. “Ground-path is much-far away, and it ever-dangerous out here.” The Onu-Matoran yelped out and toppled backwards. As he unsteadily got back to his feet, he asked, “Where did you come from? I swear you weren’t there earlier!” “I am good leaf-runner,” Tamaru explained. “Make sound-no. Unlike crash-bang Onu-Matoran.” She paused, recognizing his black noble Ruru Kanohi. “You were visitor in tree-bright Le-Koro, right? Survivor of Rama hive?” The Onu-Matoran nodded. “Yes, I’m Taipu, a digger from Onu-Koro. I’ve seen you in the village before, but I don’t think we’ve met.” “I am Tamaru, Highfly Vinesman, Deepwood Wayfinder,” Tamaru said, introducing herself. “And I am confused why earth-digger is not in sing-song Le-Koro.” “I really do like it up there!” Taipu said. “But the thing is. . . well, I have been away from my work for too long. I know Turaga Whenua hasn’t summoned me yet, but I should probably head back home.” “You have been in Le-Koro for many moon-nights,” Tamaru agreed. “But ground-path to earth-city is far from here. How you up-end in jungle-deep?” “I’m actually looking for something,” Taipu said. He bowed his head guiltily. “I dropped my pickax when I was up in Le-Koro. It wouldn’t look good if I return without it, so I’ve been trying to find it before I leave. However, the jungle is very confusing down here, so I haven’t had much luck with my search.” “You’re looking for something you tree-dropped?” Tamaru asked, and she couldn’t hold back a laugh. “Well, you are far-off, friend Taipu. Village not up-tree from us here.” Taipu frowned. “I was worried about that,” he said. “Le-Koro is so spread out up in the trees, and it’s difficult to tell where everything is from down here.” Tamaru nodded. “It is ever-confusing, yes. Even some Le-Matoran orient-no when they come down-tree. When most Matoran tree-drop stuff, they deem it lost-gone.” “But I can’t just give up my pickax!” Taipu said. “It’s sentimental to me, in a way; I used it to dig the tunnel from Onu-Koro to Le-Wahi, and it’s very sturdy, better than most. Plus, it would be very costly to replace, and Onu-Koro doesn’t exactly have the resources to get me a new one. I’d feel like I’d be letting Turaga Whenua, Onepu, and the others down if I return without it.” “I understand,” Tamaru said, placing a hand on Taipu’s shoulder. After all, she herself felt like she was letting down her fellow villagers by not being on the Gukko Force; she knew that Taipu must be in a similar situation. “What-tell-you, I can ever-help,” she said. “Once Matau tree-dropped Kau Kau staff, so I seek-searched ground and found it for him. Turaga was ever-pleased. Maybe I can same-do for your tool.” “You’ll help me?” Taipu asked, his spirit rising. “Thank you so much, Tamaru.” “First, from where did you tree-drop pickax?” Tamaru asked. “Important for seek-searching that is.” “I had it propped up on a trunk behind the band area,” Taipu described. “But I wasn’t paying attention and accidentally kicked it while dancing, and before I could grab it, it fell over the edge.” “I know where on ground-level to go to be beneath band platform,” Tamaru said, leading the way. “Me-follow!” Tamaru did her best to lead Taipu on the easiest route to the spot beneath the village. Taipu had in fact wandered quite a ways away from the trees that housed Le-Koro; if he had continued he would’ve gone deeper into the Fau Swamp, where he could’ve easily turned into a Rahi’s supper. However, Tamaru had heard stories of how the hardy Onu-Matoran had survived in the Nui-Rama hive, so perhaps he was not so foolhardy after all. Tamaru shuttered at the remembrance of the Nui-Rama attack. Less than a week prior, the jungle village had been besieged by evil Nui-Rama insects, controlled by the Makuta. They had captured most of the Le-Matoran, but Tamaru and a few others had managed to escape. Kongu led a desperate attempt to rescue the others with the Gukko Force, but Tamaru had been one of the few Matoran forced to remain behind. The guilt and shame still ate away at her, even though everyone had eventually been rescued by the Toa. Tamaru came to a halt at the edge of a shallow marsh. She gestured to a large tree growing out of the swamp, and said, “Tree-bright Le-Koro above. If tree-dropped from band platform, it should be in this area.” “Ew, you mean it’s in the swamp?” Taipu said, making a face under his mask. Tamaru nodded, already wading in. “It deep-not, so unless you afraid of mud-grime, nothing to ever-fear,” she said. Taipu slowly waded in after her, and tried to feel around for something with his feet. “I thought Le-Matoran hated the swamp,” he said. “I heard stories that they fear water.” “Water is not to be feared,” Tamaru said, reaching her hands into the swamp to search for the pickax. “But further in Fau Swamp, Rahi-beasts hide in deeper waters, and fast-attack Matoran from below. If you want to keep mask in one piece, you avoid being down-tree in Le-Wahi.” “You don’t seem too afraid down here,” Taipu said. Tamaru shrugged. “I am good leaf-runner,” she said. “I can out-pace all but the fastest of Rahi-beasts. I even know how to swim-stroke, although I often-not get the chance to.” “I guess not all Le-Matoran are the same,” Taipu mused. Tamaru nodded. “You also seem strange-odd for an earth Matoran. I thought you would not like being up-tree.” “Oh, it doesn’t bother me,” Taipu said. “I don’t have a fear of heights; I have lots of experience with them.” Tamaru gave him a look. “Please tell-explain.” “Oh, I mean in the Great Mines,” Taipu said. “There are a lot of very deep drops from where we’ve dug deep pits in our search for protodermis. It’s not uncommon to look down and not see the bottom. However, in the Great Mines, we do put up guard rails along the edges so we don’t accidentally fall over; I noticed there isn’t anything similar in Le-Koro.” Tamaru chuckled. “No, if Matoran tree-falls, they’re expected to vine-grab on way down.” She paused, and then added, “So you no-fear flying?” “Well, that’s different,” Taipu said. “Flying is scarier, especially when you’re relying on a Rahi to keep you in the air. Luckily, I was with Toa Onua on the flight back from the Rama hive, so his confidence helped me get by.” Tamaru couldn’t help but grin; the Onu-Matoran was a lot more like her than she expected. Together, the two continued to search through the marsh, trying to locate Taipu’s fallen pickaxe in the mud. Tamaru was the one who finally made the discovery; her hand closed down on metal, and she pulled the tool up out of the muck. “This yours?” she asked Taipu. “Yes, you found it!” Taipu exclaimed. “Thank you so much!” “Problem-no,” Tamaru said, handing the tool over to Taipu, who gleefully started examining it for damage. “I know source of nearby clear-water, where we can off-wash mud-grime.” Taipu followed Tamaru until they reached a small stream flowing into the edge of the swamp. Although the stream itself was shallow, its waters were clear and ideal for a quick bath for the Matoran. “Waters off-flow from Mount Ihu and enter Fau Swamp here,” Tamaru explained, washing the mud off her arms. “Rahi come here to drink-sip; good for far-watching.” “You do know an awful lot about stuff down here,” Taipu said, rinsing off the handle of his pickaxe. “Are all Le-Matoran so knowledgeable about the jungle?” Tamaru was quiet for a moment. “I know more than most,” she finally said. “Many are not tree-bound as I, so do not come to down-tree as often.” “What does tree-bound mean?” Taipu asked. Tamaru sighed; she never liked explaining this part to outsiders. “It means I fly-not. To tree I am bound; sky is out of reach, only for those who can Kewa-fly. For I have heights-fears, so I have trouble learning how to train Kewa.” “Wait, you have a fear of heights?” Taipu asked, confused. “But you’re just fine up in the canopy.” “Yes, because if I fall from tree-high, then I can vine-grab,” Tamaru said. “But when sky-bound on Kewa, vine-grab not always possible.” To her surprise, Taipu nodded. “That totally makes sense,” he said. “But there’s more fun stuff to do on Mata Nui than flying. Maybe someday you can journey to Onu-Koro and I can show you the lightstone mines! I’ve seen a lot of beautiful sights in the jungle, but still nothing quite beats the sight of the lightstone mines.” “Maybe one day I will journey-take around Mata Nui,” Tamaru said. “But for today, I should really back-get to Le-Koro. I can ever-lead you to the ground-path to Onu-Koro first, so you get lost-no in jungle.” Taipu sighed. “You’re right, it is time to go home,” he said dejectedly. “Please lead the way, Highfly Vinesman Tamaru.” Tamaru was about to lead them away from the stream when she heard a twig snap nearby. She froze, and gestured for Taipu to remain silent. Something was in the bushes nearby, and this time it was moving stealthier than Taipu had. This time, it could be a Rahi. Tamaru drew her disc, even as her eyes scanned the jungle. She heard more sounds; whatever was approaching them was moving slowly, but she knew that the mighty Muaka would often creep up on its prey before pouncing. She waited until she saw a shadow move between the bushes, and then she flung her disc with pinpoint accuracy, hoping to strike whatever was approaching. There was a rustle in the bushes, and in a blur the figure dodged her disc just before it would’ve struck. But it was not a Rahi who appeared from under the foliage, but rather a Ta-Matoran with a red great Pakari. “Please do not shoot; I mean you no harm,” he said. Tamaru blinked, surprised to find another foreign Matoran in the jungle. “A fire-spitter?” she asked, confused. “I am Kapura of the Ta-Koro guard,” the Matoran said, addressing Tamaru. “I am seeking the Chronicler.” “How did you quick-get here?” Tamaru asked, confused. “You travel through jungle with stealth; it is odd-much for a Ta-Matoran to do.” “I move slowly to get to where I am not,” Kapura explained. “I was in a forest of black, charred trees. There were no lush, green trees there, but then I am here, and the trees are big and healthy. I am no longer in the Charred Forest.” “You funny-speak,” Tamaru pointed out. “Why you seek-search for Chronicler?” Kapura shrugged. “Turaga Vakama wishes an audience with him, but as he is often traveling, it is hard to find him. I have learned how to travel great distances by moving slowly, so I was sent to seek him out.” “I know the Chronicler!” Taipu said. “He helped me in the mines, and then rescued me from the Nui-Rama! It was quite an adventure.” He waved. “I’m Taipu, by the way, from Onu-Koro. And that’s Tamaru of Le-Koro; she really knows her way around the jungle!” “That traveler was the Chronicler?” Tamaru mused. “I am sorry to say, but he has been-not to Le-Koro in many moons.” “Then I shall find him where I am not,” Kapura said. “But I would like to meet with Turaga Matau before I travel on; Turaga Vakama has sent his regards.” “I should go back to Le-Koro too, one last time,” Taipu added. “Just to say good-bye, of course.” “Okay, then I will ever-lead you to the village,” Tamaru said, taking off. “Close-stay to me, else you might be attacked by Rahi-beast.” “I fear not the beasts of Makuta,” Kapura said. “We have fought many in Ta-Koro, and I have the strength to contest them.” “I’m actually pretty strong too!” Taipu said. “In fact, Onepu said that I’m so strong that I can do the work for both of us in the mines!” As Tamaru marched through the jungle, she soon became annoyed with the Ta-Matoran. While Taipu was a bit clumsy and slow walking along the jungle floor, Kapura was unreasonably sluggish. His movements were deliberate and consistent, but extremely slow. Tamaru had met some Ta-Matoran before, and she knew they could be quite speedy in their own right, but she had never seen a Matoran dawdle as much as Kapura. She and Taipu had to pause quite a lot to wait for him to catch up. Since Tamaru knew about the dangers of the jungle, she wanted to keep moving as quickly as possible, and so the Ta-Matoran’s lack of haste was both irksome and dangerous. “We’re nearly to elevator to up-rise to village,” Tamaru said over her shoulder. “If we could quick-hurry, that would be happy-good.” However, she suddenly paused herself. Something was wrong. The usually noisy jungle had suddenly fallen quiet; all the chattering Rahi has ceased their calls, and Tamaru knew that meant danger was nearby. She strained her ears, trying to detect the sound of a charging Kane-Ra or Ash Bear. Instead, what she heard was a faint buzzing that originated from above the treetops. Fear gripped her heartlight. “Rama swarm!” she gasped, and took off at a sprint. “They must be attacking the village. We must quick-return and help with defenses!” Taipu rushed after Tamaru, and they quickly left Kapura behind. Tamaru found the main pathway to Le-Koro and raced down it. However, as they approached the great tree, she saw that the Le-Koro elevator had already been severed, and the wreckage was floating in the swamp. “Oh no, how do we get up there now?” Taipu asked. “There’s a vine-ladder round-back of tree,” Tamaru said. “We can use that to up-climb!” Tamaru led Taipu around the trunk of the tree and reach the ladder, whose steps were woven into the branches of the tree. Above, Tamaru could already hear the sounds of battle; the Gukko Force must already be facing the attacking Nui-Rama swarm. Their defenses were better prepared now, but they would need every Matoran to help, and Tamaru was determined to join in. She may not be able to fly, but she could throw a disc with pinpoint accuracy. She quickly grabbed onto the ladder and shot upwards, even as Taipu struggled to climb up himself. But Tamaru hadn’t gotten very far before she saw a dark shape descending towards her. Only it wasn’t a Nui-Rama or some other forest beast she was familiar with; rather it was a dark armored canine, and it was clawing its way down the tree trunk right towards her. Review Topic
Masks: BZP Fanfic Exchange
ArchAngelleofJustice posted a topic in Short StoriesAuthor's Note This fic was written for the BZPower 2018 Gift Exchange. This story is for Dane, who requested a story set on Mata Nui about the Chronicler's Company. Not every member of the Company makes an appearance and some are more prominent than others, but I hope Dane enjoys the story anyway! Masks It was to be a two-pronged attack. Nuparu and a squad of Boxor-mounted Matoran would challenge the Nuhvok, the Bohrok of Earth, in the plains outside Le-Wahi. Their plan would remove the advantage the Nuhvok maintained by fighting in enclosed spaces, like the dense jungle. Onepu would lead a second squad into the jungle and attempt to drive the Lehvak out of Le-Koro itself. Taipu felt safer being a part of Onepu's three-man squad. He didn't know the third member of their group very well, but Onepu trusted Kaj and that was enough for him. Taipu was on high alert. The heavy footsteps of the three Boxors sounded like pickaxes striking metal but he could still make out the sounds of distant rahi fleeing through the underbrush. Despite not being a member of the Onu-Koro Ussalry, he had been given a Boxor to pilot on Onepu's order - Taipu had not only helped build the prototype Boxor, but he was also one of only a handful of Onu-Matoran familiar with the Le-Wahi jungle. Taipu felt honored to be chosen to be a member of the Ussalry Captain's team - even if they were best friends. They marched between a dozen enormous trees that had fallen, the earth beneath their roots eroding away. The destruction of the beautiful jungle caused Taipu's heartlight to ache. The vivid flowers of Le-Wahi had once filled him with joy. Now they were trampled into the ground, their petals gone and their color faded. Their group climbed over a hilltop, only to witness more devastation. Below them, a dank swamp slowly ate away at a tree. A single leaf fluttered into the swamp. It shriveled, sizzled and in moments, was gone. "This is the doing of Lehvak," said Onepu grimly. "They are surely nearby. Be on the lookout for them." Taipu felt a chill run down his spine. The Lehvak were said to be the most dangerous of the Bohrok types, and he was hardly a proper warrior. Taipu longed to return to the safe, comfortable mines of Onu-Koro. But they weren't safe nor comfortable anymore, they were caved in and flooded. Taipu looked to his leader. Onepu was ahead of him, bravely heading on to protect the Matoran despite the danger. Taipu forced his fears down. He would be brave like Onepu as well. They continued on, leaving the acrid smells of the pool behind as it consumed the foliage. Onepu held out an arm, motioning them to stop. "Quiet!" he hissed, stopping in his tracks. Taipu listened, only hearing the insistent flapping of kahu bird wings. He focused harder, trying to detect whatever had caught Onepu's attention. There! The pitter-patters of metal on earth could just barely be heard, too light and fast to be the result of Bohrok. "Matoran?" asked Kaj. "It must be," whispered Onepu. "If they are being controlled by the Krana, we should strike swiftly and free as many as we can." Soon they might be fighting against their own kind. "What if we hurt them?" Taipu asked. Onepu clenched his fist for a moment. "They will be better off sore and free than controlled by the Krana." Taipu took a deep breath of the thick jungle air, soothing his nerves. Onepu always knew just what to say. "Kaj," commanded Onepu. "If we get into a scuffle, you move to the right and I'll circle to the left. Taipu, you will face them head-on. This way, we can hem them in for a sound victory." Onepu led them further on, seemingly unphased by the potential danger. Within moments they came to a small group of Le-Matoran scuttling through bushes and cutting into enormous trees. These Matoran did not wear the beautifully crafted protodermis masks that Taipu had come to expect. Instead, their faces were covered by Krana, masks made of flesh instead of metal. Taipu had heard that wearing the Krana made a Matoran enslaved to it, in much the same way that Makuta's infected masks allowed him to control Rahi. Taipu swallowed hard as Onepu boldly strode forward in his heavy Boxor. "Fine villagers of Le-Koro!" Onepu shouted. "I know you can still hear me! End this ceaseless destruction now! Remove your Krana and take up arms against the Lehvak who order you to defile your homes!" The Le-Matoran turned to face them, their eyes narrowed and determined. One stepped forward. "Greetings, brothers," he said in a calm, yet commanding tone. "We wish for you to join us. Step down from your machines and help us clean this land of impurities." Behind half-burnt bushes stirred a half-dozen emerald-green Lehvak, moving to investigate the disturbance. When they noticed the trio of Matoran not wearing Krana, they raised their claws in anticipation of a struggle. "The Great Spirit would not want to see his paradise destroyed like this!" shouted Taipu, hoping that he might get through to the Matoran before the Lehvak attacked. "This is madness!" "'Madness' would be trying to prevent the Bohrok from completing our task," said the Krana-Matoran. "Why do you insist on preventing us from completing our duty?" Taipu noticed two Lehvak rolling to his right. Three more moved to block any escape to the left. Taipu checked to see if Onepu had noticed, but the Captain showed no sign that he had. "This wanton destruction cannot possibly be your duty," insisted Onepu. "Remove the Krana from your faces, or we will do it for you." Hissing, two Lehvak suddenly lurched forward, the scissor-like shields on their arms snapping open and closed. Taipu stepped forward to meet the closest one, ready to take the attack head on and anticipating the range of powers the Bohrok had at their disposal. In melee combat, he had the advantage of the Boxor's long reach, but between the Boxor's slow movements and the way it left the pilot undefended from frontal attacks, Taipu felt terribly vulnerable. Taipu's hand trembled at the controls, but he forced himself to wait for the right moment. The foremost Lehvak finally came into range, and Taipu jammed the left lever forward and the Boxor's hooked claw swung out, catching behind the Lehvak's faceplate perfectly. Taipu pulled back on the lever and ripped the faceplate open. The Lehvak stopped moving as its Krana fell helplessly to the ground, the Lehvak dropping a moment later. Taipu turned to find another target just in time to see another Lehvak slipping out of Kaj's reach, too focused on its opponent to be aware of its surroundings. Taipu pressed forward, ready to rip the Bohrok away even as he heard the sound of another Bohrok plate being ripped open nearby. Something fell on top of him, and two hands clawed at Taipu's face. Taipu yelled in shock as he clutched his mask, holding it firmly in place. A pair of angry Matoran eyes behind a Krana squinted back at him. The Matoran's grabbing hands tried to pry his mask free but they were no match for Taipu's strength. With one hand still holding his mask in place, Taipu snatched at the bright crimson Krana, but fumbled and missed. The Matoran moved to pin one of his arms against the cockpit of the Boxor. Taipu pushed against the attempt, grabbed ahold of the Krana-Matoran, and threw him to the ground. The Matoran scrambled back to his feet, backing away. Taipu moved to chase after him and – "Taipu, watch your left!" Onepu's voice shattered his focus. Taipu turned as he heard the slurp of acid being launched. The acid splashed over his mask, sizzling as it touched metal. Taipu coughed from the fumes as he pulled the mask free, feeling his fingers begin to tingle. He threw his mask to the ground. His hands felt like they were on fire, and he wiped them clean of the acid against the Boxor controls. He began to feel tired, his energy escaping without his mask. He glanced to where he had thrown it. The mask was already eroding, the eyeholes widening, giving it a sad, misshapen appearance. He barely had time to notice the Lehvak rushing him and it was all he could do to push his control forward to throw a punch from the Boxor. The Lehvak slipped to his left, reared up and prepared to launch its Krana at him. A Boxor claw appeared out of nowhere, striking the Lehvak to the side. Onepu marched forward, sending out a flurry of strikes aimed to quickly rip the Bohrok's Krana out. Taipu felt someone's arms unstrap him from the machine, but his vision was blurring and it was becoming difficult to keep his eyes on. "I've got you," came Kaj's voice, but Taipu found himself drifting away. "My mask…" he muttered as the world went dark. "My mask… my mask…" Taipu blinked the sleep out of his eyes. His hands moved groggily to check his mask. It was there. Of course it was there, he wouldn't have woken up if it wasn't. He relaxed for a moment, brushing his hand over it. Something about it didn't feel quite right. It felt bigger, it came down further beyond his chin, and in the corners of his eyes he could see it was tinted green and not black. "What happened to my mask?" "It was lost," came Onepu's voice. "Do not worry! I have procured you a replacement." Taipu pulled himself up. The sun was now high overhead, the brightness forcing him to squint. The Lehvak were lying in the mud, helpless and inactive, and there was a faint smoky scent in the air. There were no more masks on Mata Nui, not that Taipu knew of. The Toa had collected their Masks of Power, and every powerless mask left belonged to a Matoran. "Where did this one come from?" Onepu grimaced for a moment, his eyes sliding towards a bubbling lake nearby. "Best you put it out of your mind. Are you ready to continue?" Taipu pushed himself up from the dirt, and kicked his legs out to test them. "I feel good, I think." In truth, he felt awful and he couldn't stop touching the mask that wasn't quite right, but they were deep in Lehvak territory now and he wasn't about to let Onepu down. "I am glad to hear it. Mount your Boxor, we shall move out at once." The thought of the Le-Koronans remaining under the control of the Krana spurred Taipu on. As soon as he was back in control of his machine, they once again set off towards Le-Koro. Nearby, birds he didn't know the name of sang sweet songs. He hoped their homes wouldn't be destroyed like his had been. He reached a hand up to touch the edge of the strange mask, wondering where it had come from. Perhaps Onepu had taken it from a Le-Matoran's hut. Taipu had heard of villages that handed out trophy masks to particularly skilled athletes, and he remembered the ceremonial golden mask that Lewa had been granted when he and Onua had rescued the Le-Koronans from the Nui-Rama swarm. The more he thought about it, the more Taipu was convinced that it must be some sort of ceremonial mask the Le-Koronans used. Perhaps someday he would be able to return this mask to its rightful owner. "What happened to the Matoran we fought?" he asked. "They fled like cowards before we could liberate them from the Krana," answered Onepu. "Once they saw that we were defeating their Bohrok, they knew they stood no chance against our might." Taipu heard a stifled laugh from Kaj, and wondered for a moment what he could find so funny. "Thank you for saving me." He stroked his new mask one more time. "A Pakari?" "The Pakari - the Mask of Strength," answered Onepu. "Now our masks match, and you look just as strong and brave as I do!" If Taipu had to wear a new mask, he was glad it was this one. In Onu-Koro, Masks of Strength were a symbol of bravery, and were worn by both Onua, the Toa of Earth, and Onepu, the High Commander of the Ussalry. As such, the mask carried a lot of prestige. Of course, this mask only bore the shape of the Pakari - it held no real power, and a Matoran wouldn't be able to harness the abilities of a Mask of Power even if they wore one. Taipu still felt a pang of regret for the loss of his Ruru. As they got closer to Le-Koro, the chirping of birds disappeared, and the stench of burning and decay grew stronger. When they finally reached Lake Kanae, spread out below the village of Le-Koro, Taipu saw a dozen Matoran lying maskless in the dirt, moaning uselessly. A squad of Boxors furiously traded blows with a group of Lehvak while Matoran wearing Kanohi grappled with Matoran wearing Krana. "Onward!" shouted Onepu. "We must defeat the last remnants of the Lehvak and free the Le-Koronans!" He rushed forward, showing no sign of fear. Taipu's heartlight swelled at Onepu's bravery. He pushed his Boxor forward, following behind him into the furious melee. The battle was soon over. Taipu climbed out of his Boxor to help the defeated Matoran. Without their masks, the villagers were helpless. Taipu walked past the empty hull of a Bohrok to pick up yet another mask half-buried in the dirt, abandoned like so many others when the Bohrok used their Krana to control the minds of the villagers. No-one looked at the mask that he had borrowed, nor asked for it back. "Sir!" someone shouted, trying to get the attention of a captain. "Sir!" A hand grasped his arm, and it was then that Taipu realized that it was him the Matoran was shouting at. The Onu-Koronan looked at the mask Taipu was carrying. "Sir, there's a Matoran here who could use that mask!" Still clutching Taipu's arm, the Onu-Koronan led him into thick ferns. "I'm not a captain," Taipu said feebly as he pushed the leaves out of his face. "You don't need to call me 'sir'." "Oh. Sorry, I just assumed with the mask. You know what it's like." Taipu hadn't thought about it much, but he knew some Matoran would make assumptions about other Matoran based on the mask that they wore. A Mask of Strength didn't just signify that a Matoran was physically strong - it was common to assume that a wearer of the Pakari would be courageous as well. In Onu-Koro, Matoran with Pakari were often members of the Ussalry. Maybe that was the same for Le-Koronans as well. He wondered what the original owner of the mask was like - perhaps he was a heroic Kewa flier who had been knocked out of the sky. If that was the case, had Taipu really earned the right to wear this mask? He was no hero. Not really. What had he actually done, after all? He hadn't even tried to help fight the Bohrok invading his home. He hadn't been able to save Onu-Koro. No, real warriors joined the Ussalry, and his penchant for exploration didn't translate much to fighting. A real warrior wouldn't have walked face-first into a burst of acid. Did Nuparu have to deal with people assuming he was in the Ussalry too? A moment later, Taipu was shown a fallen villager struggling to stand, and Taipu placed the mask on his face. The Onu-Koronan nodded to him. "Stay here until he gets up," he suggested before running off, perhaps in search of more Matoran who needed help. While Taipu waited for the glow of the villager's eyes to appear, he caught sight of the ugly flash of a red Krana nearby. He walked over to pick it up. It was disgusting. Soft. Like muscle, but muscle without armor. Spongy too, and flexible. Not like leaves or flowers, which might show off their beauty as they swayed in the breeze. It wasn't natural for flesh to be exposed like this. A thought came into his mind, that he should take off his mask and put this one on, and he wondered how such a horrible idea could have come from him. "What are you doing?" Onepu's voice came from behind him. "That's still dangerous! Throw it on the ground, I will deal with it." "I just wanted to look at it." Taipu dropped the Krana anyway. Onepu grabbed his throwing disc and slammed the edge it into the flesh-thing three times. The Krana faded from an angry red to a gross-looking gray as a strange type of liquid began to leak out. "There. If a rahi accidentally got caught in that, it might have caused trouble. Don't you fret, I won't let the Krana hurt anyone else." Taipu supposed it was for the best. "Have you found any more Kanohi masks?" "The Le-Koronans have been finding lost masks in the treetops, so it shouldn't be long before we find a mask for everyone." Onepu watched with smile in his eyes as two Le-Koronans dropped out of a tree carrying three masks, and vaulted over a log to each place one on a maskless Matoran's face. "We've done great work here. We saved the Le-Koronans! Just look at all the villagers we've rescued." "What about the mask I'm wearing? Doesn't it belong to one of them?" Onepu's eyes drooped. "I told you not to worry about that. Wherever he is, it's probably far away from here." "Do you think Nuparu will have found him?" "Perhaps." Onepu's voice was commanding, but he didn't look at Taipu as he spoke. "I expect he's found another mask of his own. You don't need to worry about him anymore, that mask is yours now." They watched as more Le-Koronans slowly converged nearby, one wailing over the destruction of their home by their own hands. "But where will we go now?" asked Taipu. "Onu-Koro is flooded, Le-Koro is destroyed, and the Bohrok will return." "There are other villages," answered Onepu. "Surely they will take us in." "Ta-Koro," said Turaga Whenua. "It is heavily fortified, maintains a militant defense force, and most importantly, is nearby. Vakama will welcome us all into his protection. Onepu, Taipu, please gather the Matoran so that we can soon march to Ta-Wahi." Taipu nodded in agreement. "Of course, Turaga." They stood on the plains of Le-Wahi, where Nuparu had led a squad of Boxors against the Nuhvok. Even now, Nuparu was hard at work directing some helpers to build a new Boxor from the remains of their enemies. Two villages worth of Matoran filled the field. "Whenua, I would like to take Nuparu to Ga-Koro." Takua spoke to the Turaga with a familiarity that most outsiders wouldn't be comfortable with. "We haven't heard from the Ga-Koronans since the Bohrok emerged. They might be able to make use of a Boxor if they're in trouble." Whenua took a moment, as he always did when answering such questions. It was not his way to respond hastily. "I should have known you wouldn't return with us to your home, Chronicler. Take Damek with you as well. One Boxor may not be enough to make a difference, but two might - and Nuparu has already built enough for us to be able to spare a few!" "Thank you, Whenua," answered Takua with a gleam in his eyes. Their group soon headed off again. Onepu led the march with a group of Boxors, but Taipu had given his to one of the victims of the Bohrok attacks who had not entirely recovered from a splash of acid to his foot which made walking difficult. Taipu didn't mind. He relished the opportunity to really appreciate a walk through the Le-Wahi forest. Although the lush greenery and thick air served to remind him that his underground home was gone, it comforted him to know that the curious creatures eating the fruit in the treetops still had a home in the jungle. The Toa would find a way to stop the Bohrok, but in the meantime he knew he would have to work to protect the island. It wasn't just home to the Onu-Matoran, or even the Matoran in general. Hundreds of species of wild rahi nested on this island. At first, Taipu had marched alongside Onepu, but he soon fell back in the hopes that he might find someone who would recognize the mask he now wore. But all Taipu received from the normally chatty Le-Koronans were pained eyes staring back, their voices too weary from the loss of their homes to hold a conversation with a stranger. Eventually, he spotted a pair of familiar eyes. "Tamaru!" He waved, shouting excitedly. "Tamaru! Hello!" Tamaru glanced up and down at Taipu. "Hello, ground-walker," he answered. "Need help with something?" "I just wanted to say 'hello' to you." "Didn't know I was so far-famed," said Tamaru, sounding embarrassed. "Who are you?" Taipu almost growled. "I'm Taipu!" "Oh. Oh! Forgive but I knew not who you were! Fresh mask you have, wondered what earth-dweller wore such a color!" Taipu crossed his arms, feeling his frustration rise. "Just because I'm wearing a new mask?" "Never seen an earth-dweller wearing tree-bright colors," said Tamaru. Taipu clenched a fist, but said nothing. Regardless, the two walked quietly together for some time. Taipu tried to not let his bitterness over not being recognized get the better of him, and before he knew it the jungle smells had put him at ease and his anger was forgotten. Even so, the endless weight of sadness pressed down upon him. Up ahead, Taipu could still see Onepu and the rest of his squad keeping a watchful eye out for any sign of Bohrok. So far they hadn't encountered any. "Good to be long-walking with you again," said Tamaru. "It is good!" answered Taipu, with an enthusiasm he didn't feel. His eyes drooped to the dirt path. After a moment, he mumbled, "Both our villages are gone." "But Matoran long-live," said Tamaru. "Ground-walkers saved Le-Koronans, so Le-Koro lives on. Even in dark-time, Matoran have unity." Tamaru's optimism was infectious, and Taipu nodded in agreement. "You're right. There is still hope for our island, so long as we can work together." "Perhaps in peace-time Onu-Koro will be rebuilt." "I think so. We have always been miners and diggers, and so we will mine and dig again." Taipu took care to climb over a fallen tree branch. "And Le-Koro, too, perhaps, will be rebuilt." Tamaru's eyes lit up for a moment. "Jungle always grows. Many-years it takes, but Le-Koro is not ever-gone." He pointed to what looked like a clearing a touch to the right of their path. "Lake Pala coming up. Many-time been but not recently. Will show, if you allow it." Tamaru darted off the path. Taipu followed, cutting off a Matoran riding an Ussal crab. He barely registered the angry shouts that followed after him as he tried to catch up to the much faster Le-Koronan. Tamaru was already sitting at the waterside when Taipu got there. For a moment, Taipu thought he must be at the ocean. The lake seemed to go on and on forever, with trees only tiny little dots in the distance. Little birds drank from the lakeside and a strange creature with a mask covering its back slowly drifted across the surface of the lake. He thought there was enough water here to flood Onu-Koro a hundred times over. The reflections of leaves and branches caught his attention and when Taipu looked down, he saw a Le-Matoran staring back at him from the water's surface. It took him only a moment to realize that it was his reflection. His mask looked so different from the way he was used to seeing it when he looked into the waters in the Cavern of Light. If he didn't know who he was, then how would anyone else? He closed his eyes and wished that when he opened them that everything would go back to the way they were. His home drained of water, his mask back to normal. When his eyes came back on, the Le-Matoran was still staring back at him. Lush trees gave way to rocks and hillsides, revealing their destination. Ta-Wahi was all jagged edges and flat plains, and rising smoke marked where open flows of lava streaked down from the Mangai Volcano. However, despite the region's history, there was still greenery here. Groves of trees bore berries and fruits, and Taipu could hear the bleats of Mahi goats as they munched on grass. They soon passed through what must once have been a thriving forest, now dead and desolate. Taipu knew about this place. Once this forest had provided an abundance of food to the Ta-Koronans, but the Ta-Koro Guard had set it aflame to stop Makuta's beasts from attacking the village. Would this happen to the rest of Mata Nui as well? If the Toa couldn't stop the Bohrok, what would? Life on Mata Nui would end. "Almost there," Tamaru panted as they marched up the slopes. In the distance, Taipu could make out the stone tops of a great fortress. "Oh, heat-dry Ta-Wahi is leaving me mouth-parched!" Ta-Koronan guards with their bidents and shields shouted out a warning of the approaching Matoran. As they approached, Taipu could see the bubbling lava stream to his right. The glowing oranges reminded him of the magma in Onu-Koro - dangerous, yet beautiful. Perhaps this was a small part of his home that had survived. They passed through a majestic stone building that would put the Po-Koronan carvers to shame, and Taipu laid his eyes on the familiar Lake of Fire that Ta-Koro rose out of. Four guards carried the husk of a defeated Pahrak over to the edge of the lake. In a coordinated movement, the guards hurled the Bohrok off the ledge to be consumed by the lava. There was a shout from a nearby guard tower. A moment later, great stones began to rise from just above the lava. The air was sweltering - already he could see Tamaru panting - but the sight of the lake of fire filled him with a sense of awe. Taipu carefully placed a foot onto the stone bridge. Despite having just risen from the molten moat, it was surprisingly cool to the touch. As the caravan reached the other side of the stone bridge Turaga Vakama, the leader of Ta-Koro, stepped out onto the platform to greet them. Taipu spotted his friend Kapura standing at Vakama's left hand. The refugees piled into the fortress. With so many Matoran in Ta-Koro's courtyard, some were forced to climb up on ramps and steps, while others gathered around Toa Tahu's Suva. Turaga Whenua and Matau approached Vakama, and the three spoke in hushed tones that Taipu couldn't make out. Taipu remained silent, but murmurs began to spread throughout the group of survivors. Suddenly, Vakama thrust the end of his fire staff into the ground, and raised his hand. "The Village of Fire welcomes its friends from the Villages of Earth and Air," he said. "Our dwellings may be limited in number, but as long as the Bohrok threaten your homes you will find safety within these walls." Despite his enthusiasm, it took a long time for Vakama to organize shelter for everyone. Storage sheds had to be repurposed, and Ta-Koronans had to make room in their homes for the newcomers. Grumbling Matoran carried tools and furniture for the refugees as everyone tried to make room in a village in which the population had tripled in a single day. Taipu slipped away from the long, tedious discussions. He walked back over the stone bridge, down the staircase carved into the stone itself and to the very edge of the lava flows. A Ta-Koro Guardsman watched as Taipu reached the edge of the river, but said nothing. Taipu's throat was incredibly dry, and he had to work to hold back a cough. If it was hot inside the fortress, it was scorching down here. He reached down to pick up a pile of ash. His hand felt like it might burn, but he smeared it over his mask anyway, trying to turn it black. He couldn't be sure he had spread it evenly without a river to peer into, and he accidentally breathed in some of the ashes, coughing uncontrollably for a moment. His hands were covered in soot, but he grabbed for more ash despite his hands feeling like they were on fire. "What are you doing?" Taipu nearly fell over. He turned around to see Kapura watching him. "How did you get here?" "I saw you leaving the village, so I followed. Ashes do not make for good paint - not unless they are mixed with water." Taipu felt his face get even hotter. "I wanted to see what it would be like." "You can buy paint in Ta-Koro, if you wish," answered Kapura. "Will you take me there?" asked Taipu. "I will, but we will have to be quick. I am to head to Ko-Koro to bring word of them to Vakama." Kapura squinted as he carefully looked over Taipu. "Who are you?" Taipu almost couldn't believe his ears. He felt a sob catch in his throat as he realized his efforts were for naught. "It's me, Taipu!" "Oh. New mask." Taipu seethed as they walked back up towards Ta-Koro. Not just one, but two of his friends had failed to recognize him. His hands balled up into fists, and his palms throbbed with pain as he realized they were burnt. He drew a deep breath, and coughed from the ashes. "I can't believe you didn't recognize me," complained Taipu. "Neither did Tamaru. No-one knows who I am anymore." "Then you should put your old mask back on. Then we will know who you are." "It's gone," Taipu uttered. "Oh." Kapura finally made it to the top step, and they set back off under the gate. Taipu followed, thinking of all the things he could do. Paint might help him feel a little bit more normal, but he really needed to get a Ruru. Although there were hundreds of Matoran in Ta-Koro, he worried that they would be too busy to trade masks. Who would want to worry about masks that at a time like this? "Taipu," said Kapura. "Would you like to come to Ko-Koro with me?" Ko-Koro meant snow, something he had only ever seen a handful of times. It was lovely there, even if the Ko-Koronans didn't say much. "Oh, yes! I would love to!" His anger was forgotten, but Taipu still thought about it for a moment. "Can we paint my mask first?" "Yes. You will have to be quick. I will pack supplies, and then we will head off." His mask had dried, leaving it black and scaled. With a bamboo disk in his hand, Taipu prepared to set off. Kapura met him at the gate - along with Tamaru. "I'm coming too!" exclaimed Tamaru. "With the three of us together again, it will be like when we ground-walked to Kini-Nui with Takua!" "We do not have very far to go, but we should set off," said Kapura. "Should we bring a Boxor?" asked Taipu. Kapura shook his head. "We will be going by cable car. Vakama has asked Onepu to travel to Ko-Koro with two Boxors, but they will have to take the long way. We will reach Ko-Koro first." "Cable car?" asked Tamaru. "The most direct way to reach Ko-Koro is by the cable car that spans over the Tren Krom Break," explained Kapura. "The Bohrok have not yet reached it." The guard at the cable car stepped aside as soon as he saw Kapura, but Kapura flashed his symbol anyway. One by one, the Matoran fastened themselves to the cable that spanned over the lava flows. Eyes wide, Tamaru shivered when he reached the opposite ledge, but Taipu helped him to his feet and the three adventurers set off again. "Do you think that Ko-Koro is still there?" asked Taipu, as they trekked through the snow. Kapura's eyes drooped for a moment. "If Ko-Koro is unharmed, it will not be for long. Ko-Koro is well protected by Mount Ihu, but it has fewer guards than Onu-Koro or Le-Koro. That is why we are providing support." "But then why are you the only one being sent?" asked Taipu. "Vakama could send an army!" "Ta-Koro lost many members of the guard when we fought against the Makuta's beasts," explained Kapura. "Vakama has already allowed Jaller to travel to Ga-Koro. If more of the guard leave then there will be none left to protect Ta-Koro." The path to Ko-Koro ran through numerous narrow passageways of ice and rock. Cold winds blew through the ridges. Kapura shivered, but sternly marched on at a steady pace. Taipu marveled at the sights. Despite being so exposed to the wind and elements even as they walked by enormous outcroppings, he wasn't about to let the cold spoil his enjoyment. The snow glistened in the sunlight, painting Ko-Wahi with a white sheen. They got closer and closer to Ko-Koro, beginning to pass by entire cliffs that looked as though they were carved out of the ice. Distracted by the beautiful peaks, Taipu forgot to take care with his footing until he felt his feet begin to slip. He overcompensated and fell, knocking his head on the frozen lake beneath him. It only stung a little, but as he pulled himself up, he saw his reflection in the ice. The obsidian-colored mask looked less jarring than the bright green he last saw himself in, but he still cringed at the appearance of the Mask of Strength. He supposed it should fit him. He had often been praised by his fellow miners for his endless strength and stamina, and he had long admired Onepu and the Ussalry. Yet, despite having modeled himself after Onepu's bravery, he didn't really think he had earned the right to wear a mask of a warrior. He was only a miner, after all. It was silly, he knew - Matoran wore masks that didn't match their personalities all the time, and very few ever chose to trade them. Still, each mask had a meaning behind it and Taipu couldn't help but think about how that reflected on himself. Those that wore the Ruru were thought to be like Turaga Whenua, offering wisdom and shining a light forward in the darkness. As Taipu was the Left Hand of Whenua, he had always tried to emulate those traits. He still had a long way to go, but he felt he had made some progress, and what he lacked in sagely advice he made up for in enthusiasm. Regardless, he was proud of wearing the same mask as the Turaga of Onu-Koro. "Don't worry about ice-admiring," said Tamaru, holding a hand out to help him up. "Close to Ko-Koro now, let us hurry over-snow to reach it!" Ko-Koro loomed in the distance. Taipu hurried on, trying to keep up with Tamaru and Kapura's pace until they passed through the crystal-like gates. Chaos awaited them, the once peaceful village bursting with frenzied activity. A trio of warriors rushed up the stairs to the largest building, the Sanctum, where more shouts were echoing from. Two Matoran huddled near a hut carved out of ice, their whimpering loud enough to cut through the clanging from the soldiers' armor. A villager peered from a dwelling, before sneaking around the side, a knapsack bursting with trophies and tablets clutched in his hands. Without breaking his stride, Kapura continued on into the Sanctum. Taipu and Tamaru exchanged glances, and hurried up behind him through the enormous archway. To Taipu's surprise, the Sanctum was full of dozens of guards, each grasping a pickaxe. Lantern flames danced around the chamber, providing enough light to read the writing that covered every inch of the stone walls. To the left, guards ran in pairs into a tunnel had been bored into the wall of the Sanctum itself.
Third rock from the Cavern of Light - Review topic
Geardirector posted a topic in Short StoriesThe topic for reviewing my story Third Rock from the cavern of light This story sprang out of the straightforward desire to write a story featuring one of my favorite oddball characters in Bionicle, and also to set something in the nostalgic first three years of the saga, so here's a story about Midak (well, technically I guess Taipu is the main character but you get my meaning), straight out of how I first percieved him when I met him in the MNOG.
Third Rock from the Cavern of Light
Geardirector posted a topic in Short StoriesTHIRD ROCK FROM THE CAVERN OF LIGHT «Alright, someone get me a status update» the foreman grumbled in between elbowing his way through confused miners, struggling to take stock of the situation. Dust and grime clouded his senses as his night vision made out the contours of the cave-in slowly coming to rest before him. Distressed miners and their Ussal steeds were already scrambling to move the rubble out of the way, but the unusual volume of debris made it clear that this would take a long time to clear out, maybe too long. “Please tell me everyone made it out” the foreman asked of a nearby miner, who shook his head with a glum expression. “No, sir, there was still one miner left at the edge of the tunnel when the cave-in came, I’m not sure he even noticed that the tunnel was collapsing” “Spirits,” the foreman exclaimed in distress as he ran closer to where the miners were shuffling away parts of the debris, “did anyone see who was left inside?” “I did,” came a cry from one, “it was Taipu, he was just swinging his pickaxe like he always does, didn’t look like he had room for anything else in his head” “Great Spirit bless him,” the foreman muttered, “if anyone could survive in there long enough for rescue, it’s him. MOVE IT, people” Taipu had at least noticed by now what was amiss. His first clue came when the lights were unexpectedly turned out, leaving only a single lightstone embedded in the roof to light the way for him as he swung his pickaxe with the same resolute motions as he always did. For Taipu was still digging, still chipping away at the rock before him, before bending down to pick up and toss loose rocks out of the way before continuing. He was trapped, but he was certain help was on the way. In the meantime, all he could do was keep digging, it’d be a real shame if all this work was going to be set back because of a lousy little cave-in. Onepu had shown him how to dig for two Matoran for a reason, right? So he pressed on, shoveling aside bigger and bigger loads of dirt and soil as the ground in front of him became looser. He didn’t think much of it, he just wanted to help get the service tunnel finished while he was here anyway. After a while, Taipu was beginning to feel the fatigue creeping into his limbs, and his movements were growing more and more sluggish. The wall of soil and dirt before him was a sea he waded through… he assumed, he’d never actually seen the water, he liked staying in the tunnels, and the world around him was growing darker by the second, so dark that he started fearing he was digging his way into The Makuta’s realm itself. “I really hope… Toa Onua… will save me” he thought to himself, with what was probably his last thoughts. He felt something give way before his shuffling hand, and he fell unconscious just as his eyes were filled by a bright light… When Taipu came to his senses, the light seemed to still be there, the roof above him was visible clear as day, and there was no lightstone in sight that provided that visibility. He looked around, and what he saw was the interior of a small hut not unlike his own or Onepu’s, but something about it looked different. Taipu soon realized what the difference was: the hut was brown. In fact, everything around him looked distressingly brown and dusty, and he could spot blue sky through the window… was he in Po-Koro? He knew that place had sand. But then, a figure appeared in the door, a completely black Matoran, with the trademark green eyes of an Onu-Matoran, he was even wearing the great Toa Onua’s Mask of Strength. A wilting growth of some kind that Taipu couldn’t identify was clenched between his teeth, and waddled slightly as the unknown Onu-Matoran stepped closer to him. “You’re awake, how ‘bout that”, the stranger mumbled as he passed Taipu by on what the miner assumed was the stranger’s own bed (now he felt embarrassed), and started rummaging around in a nearby cupboard. “I… where am I, who are you?” Taipu eventually managed to stutter, the strange Onu-Matoran’s face furrowed slightly as he brought a bowl of something warm to Taipu’s mouth. Taipu didn’t protest as he accepted the stranger’s care, the warmth spreading through his body helped him think clearer, and some of the pain he still felt in his sore limbs dulled. “Name’s Midak,” the stranger finally introduced himself, “and this is my little Ussal pen right at the main road to Onu-Koro. Not much to look at, true, but the view is irreplaceable.” Taipu managed to summon the strength to sit up, and looked at the Matoran who’d introduced himself as “Midak”, he’d heard that name before… “Now I’ve seen that mug a few times before,” Midak replied, “you’re thinking ‘wait, this is that crazy feller who lives on his own right in the sunlight’, and I’m sure you’ve heard far less dignified versions of that account, too, but yeah, that’s me.” Midak stepped back cordially to give Taipu room to get out of bed, the miner tried to struggle to his feet, but once he stood upright, he was overwhelmed with a throbbing pain in his head, and fell over backwards onto the bed again. Midak tsked, and put away the bowl before coming over to Taipu, “no, no, this won’t do at all. Whatever it was that got you stuck in the cave wall must’ve done a real number on you” “Stuck in the… what?” was all Midak managed to ask as he was reseated on the bed. “I found you sticking out of the cave wall like an unusually animate rock, was worried for a moment the Kofo-Jaga had gotten a bite out of you, the way you were just hanging there.” “I… I just remember a big light, and then nothing. I was just busy digging a service tunnel, and wanted to get some extra work done while waiting for the cave-in to be cleared away” “You kept digging a tunnel by yourself while trapped behind a rockslide?” Midak asked in genuine shock, Taipu nodded. “I just didn’t want all that time to go to waste…” he said simply “Well, you’re one dedicated Matoran, I’ll give you that,” Midak replied, “now look, you just get some rest until you’re ready to stand up straight, and I’ll make sure you get back to town in good health, alright?” Taipu nodded, and laid down on Midak’s bed to get some sleep. When he opened his eyes again, he found the hut empty and quiet, with no sign of Midak anywhere. The world around him looked clearer to him now, and his headache had receded significantly. Taipu decided to make another attempt at getting to his feet, and this time he succeeded. Taipu shook of the remaining feelings of sluggishness, and made for the hut’s entrance. He blinked several times, hard, when he peered out at the bright sky and was taken aback by the bright sunlight washing over him, nearly searing his eyes and bathing his body in uncomfortable heat. With one of his hands shadowing for his eyes, Taipu was able to make his way over to where he saw the bent over figure of Midak hunching next to a dozing Ussal Crab. Midak rose to his full height upon hearing Taipu’s steps, facing the miner with a mildly surprised look. “Didn’t expect you to crawl out of bed so soon. How are you feeling?” He asked. Taipu blinked through the bright daylight, until he managed to grunt forth “Alright, I guess, expect for the light… how can you stand it?” he asked. Midak’s face fell into bemused folds, his eyes suddenly twinkling with an unusual spark as he put a hand on Taipu’s shoulder. “You see, I like to live my life right under the ceiling the Great Spirit already gave us, and what an interesting ceiling it is.” Midak gestured across the blue vista that stretched into the horizon, and Taipu gave him the due courtesy of looking at what he was describing as Midak disappeared into his own deliberations and wasn’t paying as much attention to Taipu anymore. “It’s got character, there’s life happening up there, the clouds streaking by, the stars that easily outshine lightstones in the sky at night, but most of all, the sun is His light, it’s a reminder that he always watches over us, and when it peeks out from behind a morning cloud, I can look at it and remember that even when The Makuta’s out to get us, The Great Spirit and his Toa are gonna be there to give us a hand, just when we need it the most.” “Besides, fresh air is hard to come by in Onu-Koro, and my Ussal Crabs like them some fresh air to frolic in, ‘specially Puku here” The Ussal Crab in question chirped excitedly at Taipu, and seemed to try to reach him with its claws. Taipu quickly recoiled, withdrawing his hands, wich seemed to sadden the Ussal Crab, who gave a more somber chirp. “Aww, don’t let old Puku scare ya, girl’s just wondering how you’re doing, she was with me when I found you” Midak reassured Taipu. “Puku?” Taipu asked, “isn’t that Onepu’s old racing crab?” Midak patted one of Puku’s claws with a nostalgic smile, “sure is, took the title three times with him, if I remember rightly. She’s a bit long in the tooth now, but still mighty fast when you need a ride." Taipu’s interest in the prospect of meeting his friend’s old racing mount overcame his fear, and he offered his hands to Puku, who gave them a gentle squeeze as a kind of hello, apparently she’d observed Matoran shaking hands and taken cues from it. Taipu smiled at the gesture. “Well,” Midak said, “if you’re feeling better, best not waste any time getting you back home, someone’s got to be worried sick about you back there if they think you’re trapped in a rockslide somewhere” Taipu nodded “yeah, and it would be too bad if they wasted too much time looking for me” “Alright, then. Puku, let’s saddle up” Midak told the crab, with an enthusiastic chirp in reply. The ride back to Onu-Koro was fairly uneventful, aside from the fact that Taipu and Midak got the chance to get a little more acquainted with each other. Midak was just as intrigued by how incredibly well Taipu’s eyes were adjusted to the darkness as his own were used to bright light, even more so than most Onu-Matoran he ran into. “And there it is,” Midak could finally say, pointing at Onu-Koro in the distance, with its usual cluster of lights and candles lighting the massive cave it was placed in. Taipu’s spirits lifted considerably at the sight. At the entrance, there was quite a bit of commotion happening, when the two Matoran came within earshot, it was clear that Taipu was the source. “Alright, men, you know your mission, comb these tunnels, rock, soil and mud after that Matoran, and Great Spirit willing you’ll bring him home safe and sound” an authoritative voice ordered towards a group of Ussalry members. “Well, isn’t that a bit excessive, Onepu” Midak called behind him, “I’d wager just looking behind the third rock from the Cavern of Light would do the trick” Onepu turned around, his face in an annoyed expression, clearly intending to set straight someone who didn’t recognize the gravity of the situation, but it evaporated the second he spotted Taipu in the middle of climbing off of Taipu’s back. “Here I am” he said simply, walking up to his friend, “Midak here found me and kept me safe while I got some rest” There were a few of the Ussalrymen who’d been shooting Midak less-than-kind looks, but those changed to surprise and wonderment upon hearing Taipu’s account. “Midak, we owe you great thanks for taking care of the Koro’s most valued digger” Onepu courteously declared with a slight bow, his men followed in turn. “Aaah, don’t mention it” Midak waved it off, “Puku and me here wouldn’t dream of leaving a stranger in need to the Kofo-Jaga” Puku supplanted the statement with a confident chirp of her own, and Onepu gave the crab a warm smile. “Always such a dependable girl” he said affectionately, “and that goes double for you, Midak. Turaga Whenua will hear about this” “Much obliged, cap’n,” Midak replied with a salute, “and Taipu, take care of yourself now, eh?” “I will, plus I have Onepu to help me, I’ll be fine” Taipu replied. “So long” Midak bid goodbye, before prompting Puku to get moving with a light brush of his hand against her backside. As Puku scuttled away, and she and Midak disappeared into the dark tunnel, Taipu threw one last glance in their direction, thinking about what he’d been through. Something about the way Midak had seemed so comfortable with his unsual lifestyle had left an impression, and Taipu realized how little he’d actually seen in his life of Mata Nui’s great works. Someday in the future he’d like to go and see more of them. For now, though, it was time to get back to work, back in the tunnel, Taipu retrieved his pickaxe and started digging for two once again. THE END
Zarohum posted a topic in Bionicle-Based CreationsYes, folks. That's right. Let's travel back 10 years to the good ol' days of Bionicle. I give you what I think to be the first complete set of all six members of... THE CHRONICLER'S COMPANY Now, remember, a lot of these pieces were never made in the right colors. I did what I could with what was there, including tacking down a misprint red ruru for Kapura. I spent over $50 to make these guys, and I don't regret it. Individual pics:KapuraTamaruKopekeHafuTaipu Hope you enjoy!