Jump to content


Recommended Posts

Chapter 22: Going Down the River of Shadow

Akuna was having difficulties moving her oar because of its weight. She had to lift it up, turn it around, and then pull it back to keep it going at the same speed as the rest of the oars, although she could tell that her friends were having an equally hard time moving theirs.

The bottom of the ship where the oars were was quite large. It looked like it could hold at least twenty Kra-Matoran villagers, all of whom were supposed to row the oars. But since it was just these four Toa with only their raw strength to move it they found that they had a hard time getting it moving, since the oars seemed to weigh about a ton each and the ship seemed even heavier.

Still, they were making progress at least, and that was what mattered most to her. As long as they kept rowing the oars and as long as Barilo and Nastan kept a watch out for any Kra-Matoran, she was sure that they would be getting out of Wyoko very soon.

A new thought popped into her bran as she rowed her oar. Why did Addis put Nastan and Barilo on the surface? Doesn’t he know how distrustful Nastan is of Barilo? she thought as she rowed. Maybe he is trying to get Nastan to trust Barilo so we will have true unity. After all, they do have a major trust issue going on and they will have some alone time up there so they can talk it over, hopefully.

They had been rowing the ship for hours upon hours, with Nastan or Barilo occasionally coming down to give a report on where they were headed. They had already gone down several forks in the river, each way directed by Nastan or Barilo so that they would be heading toward The Door, which seemed to be getting closer according to the two watchers.

It seemed to Akuna that there weren’t any villages near the river, otherwise Barilo and Nastan would have told them. So perhaps that meant that they would get to The Door with little to no mishaps, which was a relief to Akuna. She didn’t want to have to fight any villagers on their way to The Door because she wasn’t so sure that they could win, especially if they had to fight on the river.

Suddenly, the ship lurched sharply to the left, then to the right, and then to the left again. Akuna and the others tried to keep it steady, but it kept shifting itself all of the time and they had no way to stop it at all. Addis gave up try and looked over his shoulder at his three friends and he said, “Okay, who’s rocking the boat?”

All of them shrugged, indicating that they weren’t doing anything and that they hadn’t a clear idea of what was happening, either.

“Maybe we got caught in a current,” Nonzra suggested.

“I hope not,” Addis replied as the ship lurch again, this time more aggressively than before. “It may have swept us off course toward The Door.”

All of a sudden, they felt something brush against the side of The Endless Shade and then the wall burst open as a giant squid tentacle and water-like shadow came gushing in, causing the four Toa Shika to get knocked off their feet, and the next thing that Akuna knew she saw the squid tentacle coming toward them menacingly, ready to kill them all.

That is what caused the shifting, Addis,” Nonzra said as he looked at the appendage in surprise and fear.


A few minutes ago. . . .

Nastan and Barilo were sitting on deck, looking over the dirty, run-down ship and over to the shoreline, where they didn’t even see so much as a Rahi walking along it. Why weren’t there any villages or animals? They could see roads, but none of them had any Kra-Matoran traveling them.

Ah well, Nastan thought as he watched. Better to have no Kra-Matoran than a hundred, eh?

Both of the two Toa had been quiet the entire time, barely speaking to each other. Nastan was feeling rather angry at Addis for pairing him up with Barilo and Barilo didn’t particularly like Nastan, either. Occasionally they went down below deck to tell the others the progress of their journey but other than that they tried to keep out of sight as much as possible in order to avoid being detected by any Kra-Matoran.

In the distance they could see The Door coming closer and closer as The Endless Shade sailed smoothly over the surface of the dark river. They were getting closer, and that was what mattered most to Nastan at the moment rather than some personal grudge that he had against Barilo.

No, it’s not a just ‘some’ personal grudge against Barilo, Nastan thought. It’s a real issue, one that I honestly am thinking we’ll have to deal with eventually.

He remembered his little talk with Akuna about his trust issues with Barilo, but he wasn’t so sure that he was ready to talk with Barilo. After all, the Toa of Gravity tried to kill him once before and what if he tried it again when Nastan tried to talk to him? So he simply sat there and listened to the sound of the river rushing by him.

Barilo looked a little uncomfortable, too, and didn’t seem to want to talk. But then suddenly, he said, “So. . . . How’s life been treating you?”

“Horribly, I guess,” Nastan replied. “Can’t say I like being stuck down here in this weird place, but hey, at least Akuna is with me, so I’ll be okay.”

There was silence again and then Barilo said, “Nastan, I don’t think we should keep dodging the issue.”

“What issue?” asked Nastan, though he thought he already knew.

“The trust issue,” said Barilo. “If we’re going to be working together from now on, we have to trust each other.”

Nastan seemed slightly surprised by this, but he answered anyway, saying, “Well, to be frank, Barilo, I don’t trust you as much as the others and I don’t know if I can trust you. I mean, I trust you over the Shodios, certainly, but among us, well, I just don’t feel comfortable around you because of what you tried to do to me in the past. It’s hard to trust someone who almost killed you, you know?”

“I understand,” said Barilo, nodding. “I would lose trust in a person, too, if he tried to kill me.” He paused, as if lost in thought, then said, “Well, how can I earn your trust? I realize the mistake of what I did in the past and now I want to rectify it. I just want to trust all of my teammates and since you’re on the same team as I, I think that we should trust each other, you know?”

Nastan was surprised. Barilo really wanted his trust? That seemed an odd thing for Nastan to hear him say. But then, Nastan thought, maybe Barilo really had seen his mistakes and really wanted to become friends with Nastan again. But something inside the Toa of The Green was holding back that forgiveness for some reason. What if it were all a trick? He knew just how ridiculous and paranoid that would have sounded to anyone else, but he knew that Barilo was certainly capable of fooling others.

“I don’t know,” Nastan said slowly. “I mean, I don’t know what you should do to regain my trust. Save my life, maybe? It isn’t easy to mend one’s wounds so easily just by saying ‘I forgive you.’ “

“So there isn’t a way to regain your trust?” Barilo asked, sounding slightly disappointed. “Why can’t we just be friends?”

“Because, Barilo, when someone tries to kill you, you don’t usually forgive them just like that.” Nastan snapped his fingers. “It isn’t something you forget easily.”

“Oh, okay,” said Barilo. “I understand.” Although he didn’t seem to really understand it at all in Nastan’s opinion.

All of a sudden, however, the ship lurched to the left, then to the right, and then to the left again. Barilo stomped his foot on the ground and shouted, “Hey! What’s going on down there? Are you guys trying to throw us off or something?”

He heard no answer. Instead, there were a few more abrupt shifts and then they heard a loud crashing noise like someone had burst through a wall and then they heard a loud scream. Nastan recognized the scream as Akuna’s, and it sounded horrified.

“What’s wrong?” asked Barilo, looking at Nastan with a worried face. “Was that Akuna who screamed?”

“Think so,” Nastan replied, jumping to his feet and running to the lower deck.

Just as he got to the door, it burst open and the other four Toa came running out of it, their armor drenched in shadow, followed by what sounded like a crashing sound below. Addis, Akuna, Chimoy, and Nonzra looked like they had just been swimming, for they were wet and were panting hard but had their weapons out just the same.

“What happened?” asked Nastan. “Why are you guys wet?”

“Giant squid,” Addis answered. “Attacked us. Nearly killed us all. . . .”

“Giant squid?” Barilo repeated, walking over to them, his gravity axe out. “You’re sure?”

“Positive,” Akuna replied, now standing up straight as a rod. “It broke through the hull and is now going after us. We barely got out in time!”

Just as she said that, several giant tentacles shot out from the shadow around them, surrounding the ship immediately. Nastan drew his bow and shot off several arrows into one of the tentacles, each one hitting on target because he was using the power of his Kanohi Sanok, the Mask of Accuracy. That tentacle went down back into the shadow, but just as it did that, a giant beak broke through the floor of the ship, breaking The Endless Shade into hundreds of pieces, sending all six of the Toa Shika flying into different directions.

Barilo landed on the shadow and floated there for a bit before the squid reached out with a tentacle and grabbed him, holding the Toa of Gravity high above the river. Barilo was hitting his axe against the squid’s tentacle, but it kept bouncing off its soft, squishy surface, although he saw that it was still doing some damage. He could see the squid looking at him with one of its evil red eyes, a sort of hunger in its gaze.

In the river itself, the rest of the Toa Shika were trying to fight and swim at the same time, but were having no luck. Addis was trying to fire plasma balls but kept missing and instead they went into the shadow, while Chimoy and Nonzra had been captured by the squid like Barilo had been and were attacking the tentacles, trying to cut them off. Akuna and Nastan, meanwhile, were both holding onto a large piece of debris, shooting lightning bolts and plant life at any tentacles that came too close.

“How are we going to get out of this one?” Nastan asked as he used his powers to create a thick vine around one of the tentacles, causing it to start flailing around in order to get the tight plant off. “It’s got more tentacles than we have Toa!”

“Maybe I should electrocute the shadow, see if it will get knocked out,” Akuna suggested as she expertly stabbed an appendage with the sharp point of her staff.

“Akuna, the idea is good, but you might hurt the others,” Nastan replied as he hit one of the tentacles with a well-aimed punch. “Also, you shouldn’t worry about knocking it out. If we’re going to survive we’re going to need to kill it, at least.”

“But isn’t it in the Toa code not to kill our enemies?”

“Yeah, but Rahi are the exception,” Nastan answered. “Although I admit, being a Toa of The Green, the idea of killing an animal, even if it tried to kill us first, seems a little disgusting to me.”

“But you are right,” Akuna said as she shot another lightning bolt at a tentacle. “I may need to kill it, although I don’t know how I can do that without hurting the others.”

“Just shot it in the eye,” Nastan said, temporarily letting his guard down.

Because he wasn’t paying attention, a tentacle shot forward and smashed into the Toa’s mask, knocking him out and sending him falling deep beneath the shadow.

“Nastan!” Akuna shouted worriedly just as a tentacle wrapped itself around her body and lifted her out of the water. “Nastan! Don’t be dead! Nastan!”


The Door to The Light was an ancient relic, said to have been designed and crafted by Artakha himself. It was made out of extremely thick protosteel and was the only thing that was keeping the Shodios, Turaga Krashadi, and the entirety of the Kra-Matoran Empire from escaping and restarting their conquest of the universe. It was a sight universally hated by all Kra-Matoran, yet also revered as well, for no one had been able to destroy it at all during the 100,000 years that they had been in Wyoko. Even when all of the Shodios had teamed up and used their powers as one upon The Door, its Toa Seal that had been created by the Toa Avha had merely deflected the attack.

Now it was open for the first time in over 100,000 years, although the Shodios weren’t going to leave just yet, despite the fact that they were all there in the forest of shadow that surrounded the place. Instead, they were waiting for the Toa Shika to arrive, planning to kill the six Toa once they appeared there.

They were not alone. With them were at least 50 well-armed Kra-Matoran and Turaga Krashadi, too. No one thought it odd that a Turaga wanted to participate in what was sure to be a quick and bloody battle, for Krashadi always got what he wanted.

Currently that Turaga was examining The Door, his hand upon its cold, hard, old and smooth surface. He had seen it many times in the past, yet now it looked new to him, since it was open now, but it still emitted that strangely electric blue light that always reminded him where to look for The Door whenever he needed it.

I sincerely hope that the Toa Shika get here soon, Krashadi thought as he ran his hand along its metallic surface. I have waited 100,000 years, maybe even more, for this day when I would be free. If those pathetic Toa are going to dwindle and never arrive, then I will personally hunt them down.

Nearby, Teivel was leaning up against a tree, his mutilated eyes closed. None of the Kra-Matoran soldiers were near him, for they thought he looked weird and scary and so therefore they didn’t want to bother him, even after they had heard the explanation as to why he looked the way he did now.

Tikcah and Ira were sitting nearby, talking to each other, though it wasn’t very loud and it didn’t sound interesting whatever it was they were conversing about, though Tikcah kept shooting worried glances over to Teivel for some reason. Rhatara had his chain length out and was casually waving it in the air, although he looked quite impatient and mad. Jero, meanwhile, was sitting up against a tree, apparently studying some notes.

All of the 50 Kra-Matoran that they had brought with them were talking, comparing weapons, and tending to their Rahi that they had brought with them. The tone of the forest was one of excitement and seriousness, for they were all excited for the chance to be some of the first to leave Wyoko forever, but they also knew that they had to be quiet so the Toa Shika wouldn’t hear them if they were nearby.

Yes, it was true. Krashadi and the remaining Shodios had already decided that, after they killed the Toa Shika (which they were sure would be a quick battle), they would take this group of Kra-Matoran and leave Wyoko at once and secure Shika Nui. After that they would send some messengers back to Wyoko, gather the remaining villagers, and then take them back to Shika Nui. Then their conquest of the universe would begin anew once they set up a fortress on the island and got some ships built.

All we need now is for the Toa Shika to arrive, Turaga Krashadi thought. They will be the final piece to the plan, and once they are out of the way for good, no one in the known universe will be able to stop us.


Little did Krashadi know, however, that right now that the Toa Shika were all probably going to die at the tentacles of a beast.

Addis didn’t think any of them would survive. Akuna, Nonzra, Chimoy, and Barilo were caught by the behemoth and trying and failing to get out of its grasp, while Nastan was unconscious at the bottom of the river somewhere. He himself was holding onto a piece of driftwood while viciously firing plasma everywhere to scare the squid’s tentacles off, but they were started to get braver and he was starter to get more tired and he didn’t know how much longer he could hold onto the debris and shoot plasma.

It seems almost pointless, Addis thought tiredly. Practically all of my team is out of commission and I myself am almost ready to kick the bucket. Is this the end for us? Were we all destined to die at the hands of a giant, ugly squid?

Even as such undesirable and miserable thoughts entered his mind, he suddenly saw, several hundred feet above him that something big was flying down from the dark sky of Wyoko. It was swooping so fast that it was almost a blur, but he thought he recognized it.

A . . . Cracko? he thought, puzzled. Why’s a Cracko coming down here? Is it friends with the squid and wants to help it eat us?

As it turned out, however, the Cracko wasn’t very interested in eating them. Instead, the giant bat-like creature began clawing and screeching at the squid with its sharp toes and wings and the squid, Addis forgotten, began to swat at it with its tentacles. The rest of its slimy appendages, the ones that had been attacking Addis, all quickly began trying to hit the Cracko, but the flying rodent was moving too fast for it to hit, frustrating the river monster even more, though it still wasn’t letting go of the other Toa.

Now’s my chance! Addis thought, aiming his plasma cannon at the squid’s tentacles.

He shot off four balls of plasma, each one striking one of the tentacles that held the other Toa, dropping his friends into the shadow and causing the squid to shriek with pain at the same time. He saw the rest of the Shika break the surface and begin swimming toward him and away from the frightening beasts that were beating the stuffing out of each other.

“Nice shot, Addis,” Barilo said as he grabbed onto the same piece of flotsam as Addis. “Although it was really hot and I nearly got my mask melted off.”

“Well, it’s good that you guys are still safe,” said Addis, nodding. “By the way, anyone have any idea why that Cracko suddenly decided it would be fun idea to pick a fight with a giant, hungry squid?”

“That was me,” Nonzra replied, sharing a piece of wood with Chimoy. “Thought I’d use my Zatth and see what happened. Either that, or it was a stupid Cracko, though I’m betting that my mask had something to do with it.”

“Did you go for Nastan?” Akuna asked, also sharing the same piece as Barilo and Addis. “He’s under the shadow you know!”

“No, I didn’t,” Addis admitted. “I was more concerned for you guys-“

“Then I’m going after him,” Akuna replied, pulling out her staff. “And I’m going to rescue him.”

“Akuna, no!” Barilo shouted, but the Toa of Lightning had already dived beneath the waves and was gone from view in seconds. “Mata Nui, what’s up with her?”

“Love must make people act stupid,” said Nonzra. “She loves the guy and wants to save him, although it is a rather stupid thing for her to do in my opinion.”

“No, it’s not stupid,” Chimoy said, shaking his head. “It’s what Toa are supposed to do. Not only do we save others, but we should save ourselves.”

“Sounds like something Nastan would say,” Addis remarked. “But you’re right. Akuna may need help under there. Who wants to go and help her?”

“I will,” Barilo volunteered.

“Then go!” Addis barked, pointing at the shadow. “If the Cracko or squid try to get us we’ll let you know by having Nonzra send a wave of sound down, okay?”

Nodding, Barilo took a deep breath and then dove under the shadow.

It was a very black and dark world underneath the surface of the river. If he thought that Wyoko was the epitome of shadow, then he was wrong. This shadow made Wyoko look like the core of the universe it was so deep. He could not see more than an inch ahead of him and he had no idea where Akuna and Nastan might be. Worse yet, it really did feel like he was underwater, since he could see bubbles everywhere he moved his limbs and he could feel the cold creeping into his body.

Please let Akuna have her mask on, Barilo thought hopefully as he swam. If she doesn’t then I won’t be able to find her or Nastan!

It was also very cold under the river, almost cold enough to make him want to retreat, but he didn’t. Still, more than once he had to rise up and get a quick breath of air before continuing his seemingly-fruitless search.

Finally, after what seemed like hours of swimming and searching, he saw a small point of light ahead, though he thought it was the most glorious and beautiful he had ever seen after having seen nothing but shadow and darkness everywhere for the last few minutes. So he picked up speed and swam faster, his eyes fixed on the light.

He finally arrived at the light to find Akuna swimming a few feet above Nastan, who was unconscious. Akuna, despite being a strong Toa herself, was having a hard time lifting Nastan up, who seemed to have become nothing more than deadweight now. When Barilo swam into the light, Akuna first thought he was some kind of sea creature and tried to spear him with her staff until she recognized him.

They could not talk, for if they did they would let shadow into their lungs and lose air and drown. So Barilo communicated with hand gestures to her until Akuna finally figured out what he was telling her what he was going to do. The Toa of Gravity grabbed Nastan’s other arm, while Akuna still clung to the other. Now it was time for Barilo’s plan.

He activated his gravity powers and focused on Nastan, lightening his personal gravity until he began to float upwards very fast, but not fast enough. So he extended the field of light gravity to himself and Akuna until they were moving so fast that Barilo was afraid they might fly straight out of the shadow. Akuna was looking upward, her Mask of Night Vision still on.

It was then that Barilo realized that he was beginning to run out of air and by the look on her face, Akuna was, too. He couldn’t decrease their gravity anymore and he wasn’t sure if they would make it up to the surface in time or if they would end up drowning. So he and Akuna began kicking their legs to increase the speed, although it was obvious that it wasn’t really helping much, if at all.

But finally, just when Barilo had given up any hope of surviving, the three Toa broke the surface of the river of shadow and Barilo cut off his gravity power, allowing them to float gently on its surface. Akuna and Barilo were gulping for air, but he thought that they were both okay. He looked around wildly until he spotted Chimoy, Nonzra, and Addis swimming toward them, the squid and Cracko nowhere in sight.

“Help us!” Akuna shouted, her voice sounding hoarse as she coughed out shadow. “We gotta get Nastan to the shore!”

Nodding, the other three Toa quickly grabbed Nastan and the five Toa Shika began pulling the Toa of The Green to the shoreline until finally they reached it and hauled Nastan onto the sand, flopping him face up. He did not look good at all.

“He’s not breathing!” Chimoy shouted. “Somebody needs to get air into his lungs now!”

Without so much as volunteering, Akuna bent down and put her lips to Nastan’s, putting air into his mouth. Then she stopped and began pumping his chest very hard with her hands, hoping against hope that he was still alive. This went on for some time as the other Toa watched helplessly, hoping that Nastan was not dead. Finally, after several long minutes of Akuna pumping his chest and giving the Toa some more air, Nastan sputtered and coughed and Akuna pulled back, looking surprised that he had woken up so suddenly.

He was coughing up shadow as if it was water and he was breathing very deeply. He opened his eyes but did not sit up. Instead, he looked around at them with a weak expression in his orbs.

“What happened?” Nastan muttered in a hoarse voice. “Did I drown? Is this Paradise?” He looked around at the wet Toa, the debris of The Endless Shade out on the river, and at his own dented armor and then asked, “Why does Paradise look so much like Wyoko?”

Akuna merely happily smiled at him, and then, for the second time in 24 hours, hugged him tightly although this time he hugged her back without hesitation. They were like this for while, until Addis, now feeling slightly impatient, said, “If you two are done, we’re very close to The Door now. We can probably walk the rest of the way there.”

“Oh, yes,” Nastan said, quickly separating from Akuna and looking up at Addis. “Yes. Let’s do that. I am sick of seeing shadow and darkness and death everywhere, although I suppose it isn’t all bad. . . .” He looked at Akuna in the eyes as he said that.

So the two lovers quickly got back up to their feet (Nastan had a hard time balancing properly because of how weak and tired his limbs were) and then they rejoined their fellow Toa and soon they were walking again, this time toward The Door, which was within walking distance as Addis had said. They could see the forest of shadow, sitting at the foot of The Door to The Light, the trees silently shaking in the cold wind. They all knew that they would be returning home very soon and that thought, more than any other, gave them the courage and strength and encouragement to keep going. What they did not know, however, was what was waiting in the very heart of the wood itself. The remaining five Shodios, Turaga Krashadi himself, and about 50 well-armed and well-trained Kra-Matoran were all awaiting the Toa Shikas’ eventually arrival, ready to kill them and restart their conquest of the universe as they had done 100,000 years ago.

But even if the Toa had known that, they would still have confidently walked on to The Door anyway, preparing to meet their destiny.

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 23: A Destiny Fulfilled, a Life Lost

In the forest of shadow, a small Kra-Matoran quickly dashed out of his hiding place and into the camp, his eyes scanning the place for the Shodios. Once he spotted the five Toa, all of them huddled together and talking to one another, he dashed toward them and, bowing quickly, said, “Honorable, wise, and awesome Shodios, I have spotted the Toa Shika walking toward this very forest. They seem to have emerged from the lake, for they look very wet.”

Teivel smiled a sort of twisted and evil smile that sent shivers up even the Kra-Matoran’s spine. “Good job, villager. If they have been swimming (although why they would I have no idea), surely they must be dead-tired and thus be easy targets. Gather the rest of the troops and hide them in strategic places to wait for the arrival of the Toa Shika. Then we strike as soon as they enter this clearing.”

“Yes, Master Teivel,” said the soldier, solemnly bowing at the Toa of Shadow’s feet. “Today the Kra-Matoran Empire shall rise again!”

With that note of pronouncement, the villager ran off and began congregating with the rest of the Matoran soldiers, helping them all clean up the camp so as to make it look like that they had never been there and showing them good places to hide, for this villager had lived in a village near the forest and therefore was knowledgeable about the wood and its many hiding places.

While that was going on, Turaga Krashadi walked up to the five Shodios and told them, “I do not wish to hide. I will be out here to face them, which I know will throw them off guard. After all, if they see I, a feeble, old Turaga, is their only opponent that they must pass to get to The Door, surely they will become overconfident and cocky enough for your squad to finish them off?”

“It sounds like a good idea,” said Jero, nodding. “But I do not expect the Shika to fall for it easily, however. They have had dealt with our treacherous dealings far too often not to be expecting a trap.”

“And we can’t trust that you won’t kill them first,” Ira added. “We’ve all have been waiting for an equal chance to rip off their heads and mount them on poles outside of Castle Kra. If you kill them first, then it would rob us of a joy we’ve all been patiently awaiting.”

Krashadi’s dark, black eyes flashed at Ira and when he next spoke, his voice sounded like that of an earthquake about to start.

“Ira, my dear friend,” Krashadi began. “I understand your desire to eliminate the light spit, but they have already proven themselves more than capable of escaping our clutches without much effort. We will have to kill them efficiently and quickly. The downfall of many beings is their inability to simply kill their foes quickly, instead jabbering on about their secret plans or gloating over their triumph. That is a mistake we will not be repeating today, I can assure you of that.” He paused, and then added, “And you will attack on my signal, meaning when I begin my own attack, not before, and not after.”

“Then let’s take positions already!” Rhatara said irritably. “If we stand around all day they’re going to see us and we’ll lose the element of surprise!”

So the five Shodios quickly hide in the thick bushes and dark trees of the wood, none of them moving even slightly. Turaga Krashadi decided to stick with his original plan and stood right in the middle of the clearing, already preparing for his own assault. He would strike without mercy, and if he killed a few Kra-Matoran as a result, so what? Better a few Kra-Matoran die than have the entire population locked up again.


“So, what happened to the squid and Cracko anyway?” Nastan asked as the Toa Shika walked toward the forest. “I was unconscious and didn’t see what happened.”

“I am eager to know as well,” Akuna said in agreement. “Barilo and I were under the shadow river at the time, saving Nastan, so we don’t know what happened.”

“Well,” said Addis. “When you guys dove under for Nastan, the squid and Cracko’s fight started to get closer to us. We were afraid they might hit us, so Nonzra and I used our own elemental powers to keep them away.

“The squid got burnt by my plasma and went back under the shadow again to get away from us, while the Crack could not take the super loud noise that came from Nonzra. It flew way back up and we never saw it again.”

“Not as epic or awesome as I thought it was going to be,” Nastan said with a chuckle. But then he suddenly became serious and said, “Wait, Akuna. Did you say that Barilo actually helped you save me?”

“Of course,” said Akuna, nodding. “In fact, had it not been for his lightening up your personal gravity, we probably would never have made it to the surface alive. But I helped light the way with my Ruru.” She added as an afterthought.

Nastan seemed impressed by this and he asked Barilo, “You really risked your life to save mine?”

“Yes,” said Barilo, nodding. “Does that mean we’re friends again?”

Nastan paused, as if thinking. For a minute Barilo feared that Nastan would say no, but then the Toa of The Green smiled and said, “I guess you’ve earned my trust again, since I think saving my life counts for that. Unless you really just wanted to be the one to kill me and didn’t want to get beaten by shadow or water or whatever that stuff was.” He added with a sly smile.

The six Toa laughed, but it was short, for Addis quickly shushed them up, saying, “I just saw a Kra-Matoran run into the forest. Coincidence? I think not. Methinks the Shodios are waiting in there for us and that Matoran was probably their watch dog to tell them when we were coming.”

“They always seem to be one step ahead of us, don’t they?” Nastan asked.

“Not necessarily,” said Chimoy, shaking his head. “If they were, we would be dead. Teivel and Jiki wouldn’t be dead and we wouldn’t have survived for as long as we have. Perhaps it is we who are one step ahead of them.”

“Either that, or just plain dumb luck,” Nonzra added.

“It comforts me to know that we can outsmart 100,000 year old Toa who’ve probably got loads more experience at this than we do,” Barilo said with a grin on his face.

“Shhh!” Addis snapped. “The more we talk the more we let ourselves known! We need a plan if we’re going to enter the forest without getting caught.”

“What kind of plan?” Nastan asked. “Does it involve running headlong straight into the trap with nothing but our weapons and armor?”

“No,” said Addis, shaking his head. “I’ve already thought a plan up. Here it is. . . .”


Turaga Krashadi, despite being a patient Turaga, had to admit he was getting rather impatient at the moment.

The Toa Shika hadn’t arrived yet for some reason, even though the scout had clearly reported that they were on their way here. He knew that they should have been here by now. Had they stopped to make a plan of action? They may have seen the scout who had been posted at the edge of the forest, although he hoped that they didn’t. If they did, that would mean that they would need a new plan to take them down.

Get a hold of yourself, Krashadi, he told himself. The Toa Shika can’t have any sort of plan. They do not know we are here, and by the time they do, they will be dead. It is nothing to worry about.

Suddenly, he heard the soft sound of crunching leaves, indicating that someone was walking up the path. He braced himself for battle, but then saw to his disappointment (and confusion) that only one Toa entered the clearing. It was Barilo, who had his axe drawn and was looking grim, yet also determined at the same time.

“Barilo!” Krashadi said in a mock-excitement. “Come to leave Wyoko, have you? Where are you friends? Did they abandon you?”

“You know they haven’t,” Barilo snapped. “Your scout saw us on the way here.”

“Then where are they?” Krashadi demanded, his body now glowing an extremely dark shadow of black. “It will be quite boring to dispose of just one Toa instead of six, you know . . . “

Barilo noticed that Krashadi’s body was glowing strangely black and his voice was getting darker and heavier. In fact, it seemed as though the shadow of the area was being sucked straight into the Turaga of Shadow’s body, but Barilo took a step forward just the same, with a determined expression on his face. Yet he was also wondering what Krashadi was doing, since normal Turaga can’t do that. Was he going Nova, like Teivel had back in the volcano?

Don’t lose your cool, Barilo, the Toa of Gravity thought calmly. Remember the plan!

“Today, Toa Shika, you shall face the wrath of the true shadow!” Turaga Krashadi bellowed as he disappeared in a ball of shadow. “Now my Shodios and Kra-Matoran . . . Attack!”

Just like that, 50 Kra-Matoran plus five Shodios seemingly popped into existence from the trees, hurling bolts of shadow and spears at Barilo. There was no way Barilo would be able to dodge the attack, and the Shodios, Kra-Matoran, and Krashadi were perfectly aware of it. Yet despite knowing that, Barilo was merely calmly standing around as if he wasn’t getting attacked by over 50 soldiers and was merely enjoying the breeze.

The reason for his calmness appeared just as quickly as the Shodios had. A huge, thick wall of protosteel shot up around Barilo, blocking the projectiles easily. Then lightning bolts and plasma balls began to strike the ground, Krashadi (though he merely absorbed the hits), and the Kra-Matoran and the Shodios, who all began to try and get out of the way of the sudden attacks.

“What’s going on?” Teivel shouted angrily as a lightning bolt nearly fried him.

“Up there!” Rhatara bellowed, pointing up at the sky.

Several hundred feet above them, Akuna and Addis, riding on a Cracko, were shooting blasts of lightning and plasma furiously, while Chimoy was hovering near them, using his power over metal to weaken the weapons and armor of the Kra-Matoran, which was working perfectly because of how old their equipment was.

Turaga Krashadi, however, was ignoring them and slowly eating away at the huge protosteel wall that was protecting Barilo, but the Toa of Gravity managed to get himself out of the way by executing a superb jump, landing awesomely on the ground. As he landed, he used his power over gravity to uproot some of the large, old trees of the forest and hurl them into Krashadi’s true shadow, but they didn’t do anything except get absorbed by the transformed Turaga.

Meanwhile, during the chaos of having their armor and weapons disintegrate before their eyes, along with the lightning and plasma falling from the sky, Tikcah and Rhatara had somehow managed to get out of the way of the attacks and were now shooting shadow at the three flying Toa, but were mostly missing because Addis, Akuna, and Chimoy kept flying out of the way, although they broke Chimoy’s concentration so that their equipment would stop rotting.

At that moment, Nastan suddenly appeared atop one of the trees and then reached out with his power over plant life to make several tree branches extend from their usual length and capture many of the Kra-Matoran tightly in their grasp, causing the villagers to drop their weapons in shock.

What should have been a quick ambush had suddenly turned into the most violent battle in the history of Wyoko. Shadow, lightning, and plasma bolts flew every which way, trees squeezed villagers, a giant ball of shadow was absorbing everything in its path, including Matoran, and to add to all of this it was extremely dark out as well.

As much as Teivel wanted to keep fighting, he knew this must be a distraction of some kind, for all of the Toa Shika was moving toward The Door, although if you hadn’t been paying attention (unlike himself) you wouldn’t have been able to tell. Taking precious cover behind a tree, he counted only five Toa. Where was the sixth, Toa Nonzra?

That question was answered when, amid all of the fighting and explosions, he saw Nonzra, the sixth Toa, sneaking through the shadows toward The Door.

Hmm, seems like we’re not the only ones who do the sneaking around, Teivel thought. And then another thought struck him like the lightning bolts of Akuna. He’s going to open The Door for the rest of the light spit! It makes sense! While the other Toa Shika distract us, he is silently sneaking toward The Door, and once he’s reached it everyone else will abandon whatever it is they are doing and rejoin him! What fools we’ve been taken for! I must stop him, no matter the cost.

He drew his shadow blade, which looked heavily melted from the lava but still strong enough to stab through the armor of a Toa, and he began to advance on the Toa of Sonics, raising his blade higher and higher as he tried to dodge all of the fighting.

Barilo was slamming trees, rocks, dirt, dropped weapons, and anything he else could find into the true shadow, but none of it was working. It was absorbing everything and he didn’t have any new ideas to use against Krashadi.

This guy’s a monster! Barilo thought as he backed up against a tree. He’s like acid, destroying everything that goes in him without mercy! What the Karzahni should I do?

As it turned out, his friends were also beginning to pull back. Now the that the initial shock of the surprise attack by the Toa Shika had worn off, the Shodios and the Kra-Matoran that hadn’t been eaten by Krashadi’s true shadow were regrouping and mounting attacks, particularly on Akuna, Addis, and Chimoy, who were still flying in midair. The Cracko that had been summoned by Nonzra’s Kanohi Zatth was beginning to tire as well and wasn’t moving nearly as swiftly or quickly as it usually did.

Nastan, however, was still doing fairly well, taking advantage of his power over plant life to capture their enemies, although the Shodios and Kra-Matoran were starting to get smart and were beginning to dodge or destroy any trees that came in their way (although Barilo noticed Jero get caught by one from behind and squeezed into unconsciousness).

Nonzra was at his position, though, Barilo noticed. He was standing in front of The Door, trying to pull it open. The original plan had at first been that they would attack the Shodios and scatter them and then in the confusion of the battle they would all regroup and help Nonzra get through The Door. Now, it seemed, with the Shodios and Kra-Matoran recovering and with Turaga Krashadi’s new form that came absolutely out of nowhere destroying everything in its path, they would have to make a new plan or they would all die. Maybe one of them should go Nova and hope to stop the Shodios?

No, too risky, Barilo thought as he quickly jumped out of the true shadow as it shot a beam of darkness at him, destroying the tree that he had been standing in front. Could kill us all, especially if Addis has to be the one to do it.

But another new thought had entered his head at that moment, a new, creative thought: Should he try to use his gravity powers and lighten or increase the gravity of Krashadi? It might work and it was most certainly worth a try, but at the same time he was hesitant. Krashadi had turned into pure shadow; what if he didn’t have gravity? After all, shadow has no weight or anything like that. For all he knew it would be futile effort.

Better a futile effort than no effort at all, Barilo thought as he dodged another attack by the transformed Turaga of Shadow.

The Toa of Gravity landed on his feet and turned around to look at the ball of shadow, which was moving toward him very slowly but threateningly. He took a deep breath and concentrated really hard on Krashadi. Please let this work . . . he thought as he aimed to make Krashadi as light as a feather.

The true shadow stopped for a minute, as if feeling too tired to move, but then it tried to proceed further until it realized it could not move any further at all. In fact, it noticed that it was actually flying up, higher and higher, faster and faster, until it was almost beyond the clouds. The strong, clever mind of Turaga Krashadi was panicking. Gravity wasn’t something he could fight. Gravity was not a physical force that could simply be absorbed or destroyed. It was a part of nature, a natural thing that no one could fight or control unless they were a Toa of Gravity, and he instantly knew that Barilo was behind this, but he couldn’t do anything about it.

In fact, he was so shocked by being so high in the sky that he lost concentration and then the ball of shadow shrouding the Turaga disappeared instantly, revealing a tiny old man who was shaken and unconscious. Barilo managed to see it happen just in time, though, and then decreased Krashadi’s gravity, watching the elder sink slowly toward the ground until he was well-beyond the trees, which he had floated behind somehow.

One down, Barilo thought triumphantly. Time to help the others.


The Cracko that Addis and Akuna were flying on got one of its wings shot off by an expertly aimed shot by Rhatara and it crashed into the trees, but fortunately Akuna and Addis managed to jump off before it made contact and the two Toa swiftly landed on the ground, hurling lightning and plasma at the Shodios and the few Kra-Matoran that were still alive.

“Die, Toa!” Rhatara shouted as he threw his chain link around a tree. With a loud grunt he ripped the tree off of its roots and then tossed it at the two Toa.

Addis melted it in half with a plasma ball, however, and the two parts went flying behind them and hit the two Kra-Matoran villagers that had been sneaking up behind them.

“Nice,” Ira said in a sarcastic voice. “Try this!”

She suddenly disappeared into thin air and for a minute Akuna wondered where she went until she heard the unsheathing of Ira’s knife and whirled around as the Toa of Shadow brought it down upon her. Akuna, however, managed to pull up her staff just in time and block the blow. But Ira was now moving incredibly fast and within a few minutes kicked Akuna very hard in the midsection, sending the Toa of Lightning falling down, moaning in pain.

“Akuna!” Addis shouted, temporarily taking his eyes off of Rhatara and Tikcah to make sure she was all right.

But those precious few seconds were all that the two Toa of Shadow needed to attack, for within minutes they shot off half a dozen shadow bolts and they all hit Addis, knocking the Toa of Plasma down, his red and brown form barely moving because of the pain.

“I think it’s time to finish you annoying, idiotic Toa once and for all!” Rhatara shouted, whirling his chain over his head as he shouted those last few words.

Addis managed to look up and saw the chain swinging toward him. He had no time to dodge it and he knew that once it hit him he would most likely die. So he closed his eyes and gave a quick prayer of hope that somehow the others would survive and defeat the Shodios . . .

Suddenly, he heard the sound of something flying overhead and then he heard lots of shouting and then he heard a noise that sounded a lot like something exploding out of the ground and grabbing someone, plus a person’s shout of protest in reply. And then there was silence. He didn’t know what to do since he didn’t feel dead, so he decided to open his eyes and check things out to figure out what had delayed his inevitable death.

When he finally opened his eyes, he saw Tikcah and Rhatara wrapped up tightly in some newly formed plants that seemed to have come from nowhere, and, judging by the expressions on their faces, both of the evil Toa were shocked by this sudden turn of events. The remaining Kra-Matoran soldiers had also been caught by plants as well and were struggling to get free, just as the Shodios were. He wondered where the plants had come from for a minute until he realized that Nastan was bending over Akuna, who was lying right next to him. The Toa of The Green had a look of worry in his eyes as he helped Akuna up

“Are you okay?” Nastan asked, more to Akuna than to Addis.

“A little dazed, but I’m fine,” said Akuna, quickly giving Nastan a big hug before letting go again. “Thanks for saving me, although I could have done it on my own.” She added slyly.

“Right,” Nastan said with a slight smile on his face.

Above, Chimoy dove down and landed next to Addis, helping the leader of the Toa Shika back up onto his feet. Addis thanked him, looked around quickly, and saw that Ira, too, had been captured by plants, and she, like Rhatara and Tikcah, was struggling to get free but having no success whatsoever. Addis noticed that Nastan was now looking over at the captured Shodios with an expression in his eyes that looked far too much like the one he wore back when he had been a Toa of Shadow, and when he next spoke to them he sound extremely angry.

“So, you tried to kill my girlfriend, is that it?” said Nastan, his eyes glowing even brighter than before as he spoke, although it wasn’t a nice glow.

“Yes,” Rhatara spat, still trying to get free. “And we would’ve killed you, too. Besides, these plants can’t hold us forever! We’ve gotten out of worse traps than these, and we’ll get out of this one, too!”

“Agreed!” Tikcah shouted as she struggled. “For Teivel’s sake, the universe shall fall before us once again!”

“No,” said Nastan, shaking his head. “I don’t think so.”

With that, he held out his hand and forced the plants binding the Shodios to squeeze the three evil Toa so hard that they actually began to scream in pain. His eyes looked dark and hollow, as if he wasn’t aware of what he was doing, and he was wearing that same crazy grin that he used to wear as a Toa of Shadow.

Akuna seemed to notice this, though, and was horrified by it. She grabbed Nastan’s arm and shook him roughly as she said, “Stop it! Stop killing them! Nastan! You’re better than this! You’re not evil anymore! Suppress your evil!”

It was not clear if it was her pleas of protest or if shaking him did it or both, but either way Nastan suddenly sunk back into reality, and shook his head as if awaking from a daze. The plants had stopped squeezing Tikcah, Rhatara, and Ira now and they were unconscious, their heads hanging limply on their chests.

Nastan, however, was still troubled by this and looked down at Akuna, with a terrified sort of look in his eyes as he said, “I looked a lot like I did when I was a Toa of Shadow, didn’t I?”

“Yes,” Akuna said through an emotion-filled voice. “It was terrifying, especially since you seemed to have been enjoying it.”

“Interesting, isn’t it?” a voice said from behind them. The four Toa whirled as one and saw, to their surprise, that Jero was now walking toward them with his claws raised high as shadow energy began swirling in his palms. “Despite the fact you are now ‘cured,’ you still have those same violent tendencies that you had as a Toa of Shadow. Which reminds me, how did you go back to normal anyway? I thought the process was irreversible!”

“That’s none of your business, Jero,” said Nastan. “All I know is that I am no longer evil anymore and I will never again be like my old, evil side. He is gone forever.”

Jero laughed a cold, insane laugh as he said, “Gone forever? I think not! You still have shadow in you, do you not? And as long as you have shadow, that evil, ill-tempered side of yours will always be there. He is waiting for just the right opportunity to reveal himself to the world again and bring more evil, chaos, and discord and disunity to all.”

Nastan didn’t want to admit it, but Jero was right. Nastan might have been normal again, but he still could do evil, still could kill without mercy just as the Shodios could. Nastan admitted to himself that he still had a hard time fighting the evil shadow inside of him, the side that wants to kill, lie, and do all sorts of other bad things, and that even then parts of it leaked through in his speech and actions. So, instead of answering the Toa of Shadow, he merely glared at him, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he could torment Nastan by planting that thought into his head.

“Now I’ve noticed that you’ve knocked out my brother and sisters,” said Jero, gesturing to the unconscious Rhatara, Tikcah, and Ira. “But you know what? I am not going to let any of your get me. I am charging up a shot so powerful that I calculate that once it hits you four it will kill you all instantly and painless . . . maybe. It will move so fast that none of you will get a chance to counter. So don’t try to move or anything. . . . “

Nastan noticed that one of the trees behind Jero was beginning to sway ever so slightly, so slowly and quietly that Jero did not hear it moving until he heard a loud crack and then, looking over his shoulder, he saw to his horror that a giant, 50-foot-tall tree was falling toward him so fast that he had no time to move out of the way. In mere seconds the large shrubbery landed on him with a sickening thud, and then there were no more traces of the sadistic Toa of Shadow except for the sounds of his screams of pain as they died out into the wind.

“Who did that?” Akuna asked, slightly shaking. “Who killed him?”

“Me,” answered Barilo, walking out from behind the tree. “I used my gravity powers to uproot the tree and then make it fall. I was the one who killed him.”

Nastan stared at him with a sort of angry look in his eyes as he said, “Why’d you kill him? Toa don’t kill! He was just-!”

“But Nastan, don’t you see?” Barilo asked as he walked over to his comrades. “There was nothing else I could do. He would have killed you guys in a second if I had tried any other way. Killing him was the only option, although that doesn’t mean I liked it. On the contrary, I feel just as bad about as the day I killed Iroko back on Shika Nui, and I felt very bad about that deed.”

Nastan was still staring at him distrustfully, but he said, “Okay, I guess. I still trust you, Barilo, but I do not think you should be killing our enemies like that anymore. It reminds me too much of my shadow self, of the evil I used to be, even if I never actually killed anyone.”

“Well, anyway, looks like the battle is over, doesn’t it?” Akuna asked, trying to veer away any sort of argument between Barilo and Nastan.

She was right. The battlefield was empty of any fighting Matoran. Most of the villagers were dead, some killed by Addis and Akuna’s earlier attack, some by Krashadi’s true shadow form. Others were unconscious, knocked out by being captured by trees that Nastan had commanded, some knocked out by accidentally hitting each other.

The trees were all melted or burned by the plasma and lightning of earlier. Some of them had been ripped off of their roots and quite a few were still burning ever so slightly, illuminating small areas under their glow, giving the place an eerie look that made Nastan feel uncomfortable.

All in all, the place looked like a war had happened, with all of the dead bodies, burnt trees, and the scarred ground covering every inch of the place. The scene did not fill any of the Toa Shika with any sort of pride. They all felt equally frightened and sick of the place.

But then Chimoy, who had looked over at The Door for a minute, gasped and said, “Teivel is about to kill Nonzra!”

The five Toa all whirled around and saw, to their horror, that their friend really was about to be killed by the Teivel, who was now standing over him with his sword raised high, Nonzra clutching a wound in his stomach, looking as though he had been stabbed. Although it was a mystery to them all how in the world that Teivel was still alive when they knew that he had died in the eruption just a day ago, they had no choice but to go and rescue their comrade from the evil Toa. And that they did, running toward him with their weapons raised, yelling at the top of their lungs, ready for to defeat Teivel once and for all.


A few minutes earlier. . . .

Nonzra blocked Teivel’s blow with his sword, but he was still surprised at the identity of his attacker.

“Teivel? How did you survive the eruption of those mountains?” asked Nonzra. “Weren’t you killed? Did you come back as a ghost or something?”

Teivel gave a cold, harsh laugh and said, “Could a ‘ghost’ do this?”

With a single stroke of his sword he sliced the tips of Nonzra’s fingers off, causing the Toa of Sonics to drop his weapon, and then reared back and stabbed his blade into Nonzra’s stomach, causing the Toa to cry out in pain and fall over. He was huddled up on the ground now, his hands clutching his exposed stomach as blood bleed out.

“Or this?” Teivel asked as he kicked Nonzra in the face. “I think not!”

But suddenly, Teivel felt a large metal block hit him in the side and into The Door, making a loud clanging noise as his mutilated body made contact with it. Pain shot through his form as he looked up to see who had done it and saw, to his surprise, the other five Toa Shika walking toward him, weapons aimed at him. All of them looked angry at him, but he noticed that Chimoy was bent over Nonzra, apparently trying to make sure that he was okay. Looking behind the five standing figures he saw that Krashadi was nowhere to be seen, Tikcah, Ira, and Rhatara were all unconscious, all of the Kra-Matoran was either dead or unconscious like the other three Shodios, and underneath a fallen tree he saw something that looked remarkably like one of Jero’s arms.

Teivel cracked a huge, ugly smile and said, “So, you managed to defeat Krashadi, all of us Shodios, and our 50 Kra-Matoran? And none of you got seriously wounded aside from your dying friend here? I am impressed. You six are just like the Toa Avha, never giving up even when the odds were totally against them.”

“And the Toa Avha succeeded,” Nastan said with a grim look on his face as he stood up. “So will we. Now you either get out of the way or we’ll make you move!”

Teivel laughed. “Oh really? And why should I move when I am so close to freedom that I can practically taste it? Even if you do destroy my body, heroes, I will simply reform as I did before. And then I will come back and open The Door, as I have already killed your friend, Nonzra.”

“I am not dead,” Nonzra gasped, still clutching the wound in his stomach. “I . . . will help my friends lock The Door for good!”

“But, Toa, are you so sure that you wish to return to Shika Nui?” Teivel asked in a voice that sounded much more like a growl that sounded oddly familiar to Barilo.

“Why wouldn’t we?” Nastan asked defiantly. “Sure, the Dark Hunters are there, but if we managed to beat you guys, we will figure out how to beat them, too!”

“I said that because, before I reformed my body, I was truly one with the shadows, barely what you would call ‘alive,’ but one with them nonetheless,” said Teivel. “And, before I recreated my body, I took a quick peek of Shika Nui, just to see my home one last time before killing you all. . . . And let me tell you, Toa, it is not pretty at all.

“It is vile, almost as bad as this place, perhaps even more so in some cases. I saw that strange creatures are roaming your land now, Toa Shika, ones that not even I have seen before. Your island is a ruin of what it once was, of what it could be, and had I not been waiting 100,000 years for this moment, I wouldn’t want to return there. But I would rather take my chances with the creatures of your island, Toa, than live for 100,000 more years in this vile place!”

With that, the Toa of Shadow seemingly-activated his Mask of Shape Shifting and suddenly a large beast stood where Teivel had been standing before. Now a hulking behemoth with dull, blue armor and hundreds of tiny, sharp-looking teeth in its large mouth stood before them and its endlessly black eyes focused upon them. It looked just as melted and dead as Teivel, but despite its mutilated appearance Barilo instantly recognized it from his dream.

“The Graalo!” he shouted suddenly. “That is what the mysterious figure in my dream meant when he said ‘The Graalo is closer than you think’!” Then he stopped, as if suddenly realizing something. “Then . . . does that mean. . . .”

The Graalo/Teivel laughed, which sounded like rocks being ground to dust. “Of course this is what I truly am, Barilo. Or, really, this is what I am now.”

“What do you mean?” Barilo demanded, his axe drawn.

“What I mean is, before I was exiled to Wyoko, I encountered a Graalo on the southern continent,” said the Graalo/Teivel. “I shape shifted into it, fought it, and killed it, but I discovered one secret ability that the monster had: The ability to transfer its physical appearance to shape shifters.

“From then on, this Graalo has been my true form. My Toa form is now a shape shifted form, not truly my real form as it had been previously. I have to constantly keep my mask power on, or else I will end up as this creature forever. Somehow I knew that, but how, I cannot say for sure. Perhaps it is because I know how shape shifters work, how they discover their true forms. . . . And that is when I learned that I had changed into this Graalo forever.

“Only Ira ever learned that I was really a Graalo and I forced her to keep it a secret. Even then, however, it had become too painful to stay in my Toa form for too long because my body yearns to be like that of a Graalo, like that of its true form. So I occasionally retreated to the Shahada Desert and turned into my Graalo form for a while.”

His voice seemed to be slightly quivering, but he continued on just the same.

“And now, Toa Shika, I shall eliminate you once and for all and become king of the universe once more!”

He reared back and then jumped with surprising agility, aiming straight for Barilo! He was coming too fast, his claws were too long. There was no way that he could dodge Teivel and he knew that once the Graalo’s sharp claws made contact with his body it would kill him. . . .

But then suddenly a large ball of plasma hit Teivel’s Graalo head in the side, melting his already disfigured face and making it look even worse. The attack was apparently strong enough to hit Teivel off course, because he slammed into a large gathering of burning trees, knocking them over onto him, crushing his body and setting it aflame.

Barilo was breathing very hard and very fast now, and then looked over to see Addis, who was holding up his plasma cannon, which he had shot at Teivel. He had a scared, yet brave, look on his face as he watched the unmoving form of Teivel.

Then the Graalo, despite being almost dead, lifted his head up and was, to Barilo’s horror, actually smiling, which looked extremely ugly on his mutilated face.

“That attack may have killed me now, Addis, but you do realize that I will just come back, don’t you?” Teivel growled in the low voice of the Graalo. “That is the special power that Mata Nui gave me, a power which will bring me back as king of the universe some day!”

“That may be so,” said Akuna. “But you’ll never escape this place. Ever. We’re going to lock The Door to the Light and even if you do come back, you will never be able to leave this place again!”

“Then I will use my shadow abilities and leave this place!” The Graalo/Teivel shouted. “Watch, my enemies, and learn with an all encompassing fear as I leave this place for good!”

With that, his head flopped in a dead way onto his side, the red eyes of Teivel showing no light in them. But suddenly, a being of shadow that looked remarkably like Teivel emerged from the Graalo’s body. It resembled a ghost similar to how Wanderer had looked, although it was completely and utterly black and it looked down upon the six startled Toa Shika with cold, dead eyes.

“Today, the Kra-Matoran Empire shall rise once more!” Teivel shouted as he shot toward The Door to the Light.

“No!” Barilo shouted, but he was too late. Teivel’s ghost laid one hand upon The Door and then grinned triumphantly.

But the grin only lasted for a few seconds, for a huge burst of light enveloped The Door and, by extension, Teivel’s now-horrified-looking ghost. The Door glowed so brightly that it became impossible to see it or Teivel’s ghost. However, they all heard Teivel’s loud, long, and painful-sounding screams coming from somewhere in the all-consuming light.

When the light finally passed, there was no trace of Teivel. Only The Door remained now, and it looked just as normal as ever. The six Toa Shika merely looked at The Door in awe. None of them were celebrating. All of them looked at The Door to the Light with puzzled expressions on their faces, wondering what just happened.

Akuna gathered the courage to voice her question, the one question that all of the Shika were thinking but were too afraid to ask: “Is he dead?”

“Maybe,” Barilo said in a voice that was barely more than a whisper. “The light must’ve destroyed his spirit completely.”

“But why?” Nonzra wondered, still clutching the wound in his stomach. “Why did The Door shine so brightly when Teivel’s ghost touched it?”

“Perhaps . . . . Perhaps, whoever made this door, knew that Teivel could never truly die,” Chimoy said, but he sounded as though he were thinking it in his mind, rather than saying it out loud. “Maybe they knew that if Teivel were to accidentally die, he would realize that he could escape and somehow open The Door from the outside. Maybe they fueled it with light like that to destroy him if he attempted it. Maybe the light was so pure, and so good, that if a being’s spirit was full of evil and darkness like Teivel’s, it would destroy them totally. The reason it didn’t destroy him or the others prior to this, even though they’ve probably touched The Door several times over the years, was because they had their physical bodies to protect their spirits from total annihilation.”

There was silence now as the other five Toa all reflected on Chimoy’s theory. It made sense, but none of them knew if they were glad to see their worst enemy’s spirit destroyed. What lay beyond death? What happened to spirits that got destroyed? Would any of them ever suffer such a horrific fate? Those hard questions and more all buzzed through their heads and none of them had the answers for any of them.

Addis didn’t want to have to think over these questions, however. He had to deal with the now and then and the now was that they were merely inches away from leaving Wyoko forever. So he said, in a small, quiet sort of voice, “We ought to get going now. No point in staying here to wait for the other Shodios to wake up and get us, right?”

The others quietly agreed, all of them secretly deciding that those questions were worth thinking about later, and then Chimoy helped Nonzra up to his feet, though the Toa of Sonics was still clutching his wound painfully.

“Are you okay, Nonzra?” Akuna asked in a concerned tone.

“Yes,” said Nonzra, though he didn’t sound okay. “I think I can make it past The Door all right.”

“Then let’s get going,” said Addis. “Chimoy, open The Door.”

Nodding, the Toa of Iron raised one hand, concentrating his power over metals on The Door, and then the large protosteel door gradually creaked open until the black, lightless tunnel that lead up to Shika Nui was revealed. And then the six Toa Shika, taking one last look at the land of Wyoko behind them, moved as one beyond The Door even as Chimoy closed it. They had finally left Wyoko, this land of shadow, and although they had only been inside of it for less than a week, it had felt likes years to them, and now they were truly going home.

Finally, they crossed the threshold into the dark tunnel and The Door closed behind them with a loud bang. And then they turned as one, all six of the Toa Shika raised their hands and shot off narrow beams of each of their respective elements at the same time at the barrier that lead into the land of the exiled, Wyoko.

Lightning, plasma, sound, plant life, iron, and gravity energy all sped toward The Door to The Light. As they flew, straight and true, to the very middle of the enormous gateway, they met at the same point and were all transformed one beam of solid protodermis that hit The Door. And when it collided with the barrier, protodermis, pure and strong, instantly began icing over The Door like ice on a wet tree in the middle of winter. In minutes, the entirety of The Door was covered and a Toa Seal appeared over it to finish it off as they heard a loud clicking sound that signified the locking of The Door.

For the second time in 100,000 years, Wyoko was sealed away, a true disaster, averted by six brave heroes who did not want history to repeat itself.

The Toa all dropped their fists and were now panting, since that one act had taken a lot of skill and power out of them. But once the reality of it sunk in, that Wyoko was locked up and that the Shodios and Kra-Matoran weren’t going to be terrorizing the universe again, almost all of them broke into grins and began cheering and laughing. They had gone to Wyoko and survived! They had entered what might have been the worst threat to the universe and had survived! Now they were to return to their home at last, this time returning as true heroes. They were willing to take on all of the Dark Hunters now, even if they died as a result.

And yet, not everything for the assembled Toa Shika was cheerful. Nonzra, who had been looking very weak since Teivel had stabbed him, immediately fell to his knees and began coughing up blood. Shocked, the other five Toa ran over to try and help him up, but he waved them off, saying, “It’s no use. Don’t waste your time on me.”

“Nonzra, you can’t die!” Chimoy shouted. “You can’t!”

“It’s happening, Chimoy,” Nonzra coughed as he lowered himself onto his back. “Teivel’s blow had been fatal. I am going to die, right here and now, and I will never see Shika Nui again. . . .”

“Don’t talk like that, Nonzra!” said Nastan, the fear in his voice evident. “You went through too much not to be able to come back with us!”

“Sorry, guys,” said Nonzra, his voice becoming so low that they had to strain to hear him. He gave them a weak smile and said, “I’ve had a lot of fun with you guys. Being a Toa was amazing, and I understand why Nastan likes it so much.” He coughed again, but continued on as if he were struggling to cling to the last drops of his life to deliver these last few words. “But my time in this world has come and gone. I may not have been the most philosophical guy while I lived, but even I understand that something great awaits me beyond death. I do not know what it is, but I am prepared to meet it head on, whatever it is.”

He coughed once more and then finally said, “Tell Jokao and Joha that I said good bye. . . .”

And with that last breath, Toa Shika Nonzra, Toa Shika of Sonics, good friend of Chimoy and of the rest of the Toa Shika, gave one last cough and died, his heartlight fading away slowly until it was completely colorless. The five remaining Toa Shika still stood there, looking down at his dead, cold body, and then they all realized that they had not only lost a teammate, but also a good, devout (if a little snarky at times) friend.


  • Upvote 1

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Nonzra’s dead body just lay there, stiff and cold as the snow of the mountains of Wyoko, with no life inhabiting it anymore. Barilo wasn’t looking at anything else but the lifeless carcass that was lying before him. It was as if time itself had frozen as he considered the fact that he had been confronted with death of a close friend for the very first time in his life. Oh, yes, on Shika Nui he had seen countless disobedient Matoran killed by the Dark Hunters, and in Wyoko he had killed Jero and seen Teivel die, as well as other Kra-Matoran in the final battle. But never before in his entire life had he ever encountered the death of a loved one, and he wasn’t sure how to take it, really.

Beside him, he could hear Akuna sobbing into Nastan’s chest, and he could also hear Addis and Chimoy sobbing as well, surprisingly. And then, to his amazement, he began sobbing at the death of his friend, too, and he felt a little angry as well.

Why did Nonzra have to be the one to die? Barilo thought angrily. Why hadn’t it been me? He should have lived, not me. He never killed anyone, and I’ve killed two people already. I’m not the one who should live, not me. He shook his head, however, and reminded himself, Get over it. He is dead. There’s no way to go back in time and redo it again. No need to blame yourself at all.

Regardless of these thoughts he was having, he saw his tears hit the floor of the tunnel and for a while there he was both sad and mad, mostly at himself. And then he looked up and saw Addis bending down and taking Nonzra’s Kanohi Zatth off of the corpse’s face, a serious and grim expression on his face as he looked at the mask that he was clutching in his hands. Barilo could still see the tears in Addis’ bright red eyes, although the Toa of Plasma wasn’t sobbing anymore.

“My team,” Addis said, looking around at them all seriously while trying to hold back the emotion in his voice, but he was failing for he had a slight quiver in his voice as he spoke. “Nonzra died a hero, and for that he will be remembered. He may not have done as much as some of us, but I must remind you all that, if he were still alive, he would not have liked to see us crying like babies about his death. He would have wanted us to continue on and remember his name in gratitude of his brave deeds. For that I will take his mask back with us to Shika Nui and later, once we free our home of the Dark Hunters, we will return for his body and give him a proper funeral to honor his life and his sacrifice.”

Nastan and Akuna had stopped sobbing, but they were still in each other’s arms now, looking over at Addis. Chimoy was quiet again, too, but looking at Addis with sober eyes.

“You’re right,” Nastan said, wiping the tears out of his eyes. “He would want us to continue on. I know he would. Once we return to Shika Nui, I say we give him the hero burial that he deserves!”

“Yeah,” said Akuna, nodding and sniffling slightly at the same time. “I agree, a funeral is what he deserves.”’

“Yes, that is right,” Chimoy said quietly. “We should return to Shika Nui. No point in crying over him now that he is dead. It is disrespectable to his memory to do that, when he would have wanted us to continue on, regardless of what happened to him.”

“Then let’s get going, guys,” Barilo said, now with a new tone of determination in his voice. “Onward to Shika Nui. . . . onward, I say, to freeing the Matoran of their 25,000 year old enslavement by the Dark Hunters!”

The other four Toa Shika all agreed, and, after paying their respects to Nonzra for what they knew would be the last time for quite a while, they turned as a group back up to the surface with expressions of determination underneath their masks. Each one was ready and willing to take on whatever the Dark Hunters (which would be no doubt waiting for them at the end of the tunnel) had to throw at them, confident that whatever it was, they would be able to take it as a team.

Yet, despite this feeling of renewed encouragement, Barilo couldn’t help but look over his shoulder at the unmoving corpse of Nonzra, and wonder, Will that be one of us next? Will one of us die, like Nonzra? It doesn’t seem like any of us are safe anymore. I used to think that since we took on a Makuta and won, that we would never get killed. But maybe we aren’t as invincible as I thought. If so, we’ll all have to be careful from now on.

Even as they walked up to the surface, none of the Toa noticed a ghost-like hand scrawling one lone word into the ceiling of the cave, one that they would all know very well soon:


Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Book Three: An Unlikely Alliance

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: A Forgotten Enemy Says Hello
Chapter 2: Unpleasant Revelations
Chapter 3: Revelations & Explanations
Chapter 4: Discussions & Suspicions
Chapter 5: Possession
Chapter 6: Assignments & Missions
Chapter 7: A Familiar Place
Chapter 8: Only One Way to Go
Chapter 9: Battle & Pain
Chapter 10: Tunnels
Chapter 11: New Ambitions
Chapter 12: The Loss of Life
Chapter 13: Tamers
Chapter 14: Speculation & Conspiracies
Chapter 15: More than Meets the Eye
Chapter 16: A Visitor
Chapter 17: Expedition
Chapter 18: Truths & Falsehoods
Chapter 19: Of Insanity and Betrayal
Chapter 20: He Escapes
Chapter 21: Target Locked
Chapter 22: Renewed Determination
Chapter 23: Deals & Conflicts
Chapter 24: Underneath
Chapter 25: How to Save a Life
Chapter 26: The Clash of Shadows
Chapter 27: No More
Chapter 28: Reunited at Last
Chapter 29: A Hero’s Sacrifice
Chapter 30: In Memoriam

Chapter 1: A Forgotten Enemy Says Hello

Despite the bright glow of her Mask of Night Vision to illuminate the place, Toa Akuna, Toa of Lightning, could still not see very far ahead. The shadows in the tunnel were thick, with the possibility of hostile Dark Hunters hiding in wait ahead, ready to ambush her and her friends at any moment. She was not very afraid of that, however; merely cautious with a budding hatred of the shadows. All she wanted to do was get out of here as quickly as possible, because though she was unafraid, the darkness still made her feel uncomfortable.

One reason she was not particularly afraid was because she had been through quite a bit in the last few days, much more than just walking down a seemingly-endless dark tunnel. She had fought beings that controlled the shadows and that were relentlessly cruel and evil towards all who were not from their tribe. She and her friends had managed to beat them and escape their wrath, though not all of her friends had made it alive, she reflected sadly.

Another reason for her confidence was the fact she still had most of her friends, who had been with her through thick and thin. She felt that she could take on whatever might be lurking in this tunnel or on the surface with them at her side, especially Toa Nastan, Toa of The Green, who was walking beside her, his bow at the ready, aiming straight into the darkness ahead.

She glanced at him as they walked. Nastan was normally a more lighthearted, optimistic and slightly idealistic kind of guy, but he seemed to be more serious now, if a little more cynical and less easily trusting of others. This was no surprise to her, since she remembered what he had experienced personally during their adventures in Wyoko, all of which contributed to his change in personality.

Of course, we’ve all changed, Akuna thought, glancing over her shoulder at the others behind her. Ever since we left, ever since Nonzra’s death I think we all matured. Perhaps even before; certainly, one could not go through what we did without at least experiencing a little change in personality.

Her brief glance over her shoulder had shown her Toa Addis, Toa of Plasma and leader of the Toa Shika speaking in low tones with Toa Barilo, Toa of Gravity and deputy leader of the team. She had also seen Chimoy walking just a little bit behind them, looking even more quiet and serious than usual. Akuna knew Nonzra’s death had affected him the most, since he had been very close with the Toa of Sonics before Nonzra died. All of them, in fact, were looking more serious than before and were all, she knew, feeling sorrowful about his death.

However, Addis had not let Nonzra’s death stop him from devising a plan for the rest of the Toa Shika. Since the tunnel they were traveling went straight into the heart of the Dark Hunters’ fortress on Shika Nui, simply walking through it casually would be impossible, since they weren’t exactly the best of friends with the Hunters.

So the plan was that, once they had reached the surface, they would run as fast as they could through the many corridors and hallways of the fortress, beating back any Dark Hunters they came across, until they would eventually find a way out (or make their own, if that proved impossible). They then would reunite with Turaga Joha and Jokao, a Ta-Matoran, two friends of theirs who had stayed behind to rally the local Matoran slaves into rebellion against their Dark Hunter masters.

Though she did not mention this to Addis, Akuna felt the plan was a little too risky. For one, how were they supposed to make it past the hundreds of Dark Hunters when they themselves were all wiped out from their battle with the Shodios? She could barely walk, let alone battle Mata Nui-knows how many Dark Hunters as well.

Secondly, what would they do if Joha and Jokao were dead? That was a very distinct possibility, since, though Joha had been a great fighter in his days as a Toa, he was no longer as physically fit as he used to be and therefore would likely be an easy target for even the weakest of Dark Hunters. Akuna worried greatly for the safety of their two friends. She didn’t know what she would do if she learned that both Joha and Jokao were dead on top of Nonzra’s own death as well.

Aside from that, she was bothered by something else. Despite the fact that The Door to the Light had been unlocked the entire time during their journey, no Dark Hunter had ever entered it, so far as she knew. She didn’t know why. After all, what kept the Dark Hunters from entering their own fortress, going down the tunnel, and through The Door to Wyoko?

Of course, that’s if they even know we’re down here, she thought as she remembered how distracted the Hunters had been when she and the others had first escaped them into this tunnel, not too long ago. For all they know, we could have gone straight through the fortress and out the other side. Maybe they’re still searching for us on the surface. If so, then maybe our chances of escaping will be a little higher than I thought. Just a little, though. Not by much.

Another thing that she was wondering about was the shadowed entity they had faced prior to entering Wyoko. He had been a guardian of The Door, created by the Dark Hunters to keep intruders out, but had been defeated by the Toa Shika, thanks to Addis’ Suletu. Unless Addis had actually killed it, she wondered why it was not attacking them now, why their journey was progressing so easily with no obstacles. It didn’t make sense, but she was glad for that and merely assumed the shadowed entity was dead. That was one thing they didn’t have to worry about, at least.

Of course, there were still the Dark Hunters themselves, and they were no walk in the park. Their first encounter with seven Dark Hunters had wounded up with them on the losing end of the battle. What if they went up against eight or nine or ten or twenty, even? True, they were a great deal more experienced than before going to Wyoko and might be able to survive a scuffle with more Hunters, but she was still worried quite a bit.

She glanced at Nastan again. He was merely staring straight on and did not seem to be wearing much of an expression on his face. She wondered if he was thinking the same thing as her, or if he was thinking about something else. Anyway, she was glad he didn’t look frightened; she felt a lot braver with him by her side.

She then noticed a small light ahead at the end of the tunnel, which was growing steadily closer as they approached. At first, she wondered what it was, having not seen such a thing in a long time. But then she realized what the little glow ahead was: pure, simple sunshine. Having been in Wyoko for so long, she had forgotten what real light looked like and immediately felt her spirits soar. She was about to go home . . . she was about to be back in the light, where she would be able to see the mountains and the proto forest and everything that she had known and loved about Shika Nui. The emotions she was feeling right now nearly overwhelmed her, but she held them back. She needed to keep a level head here otherwise she would be running straight into the Dark Hunters themselves and end up dying early. Still, her paced quickened anyway, her eyes and attention focused solely on the light at the end of the tunnel.

She looked at Nastan, who was actually smiling a little now. He seemed to have noticed the light too, and, based on the expressions on the others’ faces, they had as well. Addis looked eager, pointing it out to Barilo, who looked excited; and Chimoy, though usually reserved, seemed to have gotten some of his energy back and was walking faster than the other Toa and soon was ahead of Akuna, even.

In fact, all of the Toa were now walking so fast they were nearly running. The presence of the light – even from such a distance – had given them renewed energy and vigor. None of them had seen such beautiful light since they had went to Wyoko, the land of shadows, and they did not want to lose it ever again.

Akuna was beginning to feel impatient. Despite running fairly fast now, it seemed like the closer they got the farther the light became. She simply wanted to reach it now, or else she didn’t know what she would do with herself. She hadn’t realized before how much she had taken light for granted; she decided to never take it for granted again for as long as she lived, remembering the dark, sunless land of Wyoko.

What is taking us so long to get there? she wondered as she ran. Why does it feel like . . . like I’m moving, but not making any progress at all?

She glanced at her feet. They were moving, all right, but it seemed like they were running on the same stretch of dirt and stone as before. Though she was no Toa of Earth, even she realized that she was simply running on the same spot, over and over again, with no discernable differences. This puzzled her greatly.

What’s going on? she thought, still running. Am I in some type of time loop or what? Or is it something else entirely?

She was starting to feel disoriented now. Running in the same place for this long, adding to the pain she was already experiencing from their battle with the Shodios not too long ago, was beginning to get to her, making her wish she could just stop and rest.

But she couldn’t; she just couldn’t stop, no matter how many times she told her legs to halt. They weren’t listening to her and now she was getting worried. Would she and the others keep running and running forever, never reaching the tempting light that they so wanted? Were they destined to just keep going and going, not stopping for even a minute? Would they never reach Shika Nui again?

“Hey,” said Nastan, who like her was running fast without making any real progress. “Am I the only one who notices that we’re not any closer to the light than we were about five minutes ago?”

“I noticed that,” Addis said, who was now beginning to look quite tired. “Must just be our imagination, I think. This tunnel is just really, really long, that’s all, and we’re just really tired.”

“Then why can’t I stop?” asked Akuna, unable to hide the panic in her voice. “I’m really tired, but I can’t stop my legs at all.”

“Let me try,” said Addis. She looked over her shoulder and saw Addis running slower, but he was not stopping. His face had a look of extreme concentration on it, but he finally gave up. “You’re right, Akuna. I can’t stop, no matter what I do.”

“Then are we going to be stuck like this forever?” asked Barilo, who also sounded slightly panicky. “Why? Who or what is doing this?”

“I don’t know, Barilo,” said Addis, frustrated. “Maybe it’s some kind of new security system that the Dark Hunters installed while we were gone.”

“Or just an old one seeking revenge,” said a dark, hoarse voice from somewhere within the shadows. Akuna felt a sudden cold fill her body as the tunnel appeared to get a little darker.

“Who’s there?” demanded Nastan as he ran, looking all around the cave but seeing no one and nothing. “And what do you mean ‘an old one seeking revenge’? Are you the one responsible for this?”

“You have forgotten me that quickly, then?” said the voice with a sarcastic chuckle. “Your memory must be faulty. Don’t you remember the shadowed entity you had faced before you passed beyond the wall? Don’t you remember how you defeated him by simply overwhelming him with mental energy, an attack he had not been prepared for?”

Akuna gasped, though it was more because she was out of breath than because she knew who it was. “Is that you? The one who had guarded The Door? The shadowed entity?”

“The very same, my friend,” said the shadowed entity sinisterly. “I am still alive . . . alive, and seeking revenge on those who had defeated me for the first time in my 25,000 years of existence. Your very name brings uncontrollable anger to me, one that has been smoldering inside me since you escaped me beyond the ancient wall of protodermis long ago.”

“What do you plan to do to us, then?” asked Nastan in a slightly breathless voice. “Kill us?”

“Oh, not just yet,” said the shadowed entity. Akuna did not like that the entity did not have any apparent physical form. It just made him all the more dangerous. “Because of the illusion I have trapped you in, you will simply run on and on forever and ever, until your legs break and your lungs burst into a million little pieces. And I will simply watch you die, one by one. I noticed that the Toa of Sonics died back there; soon, you shall join him in the afterlife.”

“Well, if this is an illusion, we can just break it if we try hard enough, couldn’t we?” asked Barilo. “All we got to do is-“

“I would like to see you try,” the shadowed entity laughed. “Your weak Toa minds are incapable of breaking this illusion. Even if you somehow manage to do, I will simply kill you anyway. You have no way to fight me. You shall all simply die here, from the powers of my superior mental abilities, just as I was instructed to do.”

“What, too frightened to actually fight us?” asked Addis aggressively. “Before you were okay with attacking rookie Toa, but now you’re just happy to see us run until we can’t run anymore? No wonder I was starting to forget about you; you’re utterly pathetic.”

The shadows around them seemed to bristle with anger as the entity said, “Do not test my temper, Toa Addis. I was designed specifically to deal with intruders like you. Besides, why waste my energy killing you myself when I can simply make you kill yourself?”

“And then what, shadow spit?” said Addis in a mocking tone. “Have your Dark Hunter masters come and drag our corpses away, or will they simply keep them here until they rot, leaving you to tolerate the stench?”

“Quiet, Toa, or I will-“

“Or you’ll what?” Addis taunted. “Curse us? Threaten us with empty threats? Admit it, ‘shadowed entity.’ You’re nothing more than shadow; no form, no substance, nothing. I don’t even know why I feared you before. Guess I was just intimidated by the darkness, wasn’t I? Well, I no longer am, after what we’ve all been through, so I’m not afraid of you anymore, either.”

“I could kill you now, Toa, if I wished,” the shadowed entity said angrily. “And maybe I will, just to prove my point.”

“I’m not afraid of death,” said Addis, without a hint of fear in his voice. “Nor am I afraid of the shadows anymore. I have . . . I have conquered my fear of the shadows after Wy . . . Wyoko . . .” His voice sounded ragged and weaker now; it was obvious the strain of running and speaking at the same time was getting to him.

Akuna didn’t blame him. Her legs were beginning to feel like lead and her lungs felt close to exploding, just like the entity said. She glanced at Nastan, who looked just as worn out as she felt. Barilo and Chimoy both looked equally tired, Chimoy looking close to collapsing even. She knew it wouldn’t be long before at least one of them stopped and fell.

Or can we stop, even if we fall unconscious? she wondered, despite her mind being too tired to do a lot of hard thinking. This illusion is so strong that I don’t think I’ll be able to keep running for long. We’ll just keep going and going, unless we stop him. Perhaps Addis will use his Suletu again?

As though he were somehow reading her mind, a bolt of shadow lanced from out of the darkness and hit Addis squarely in the face, causing him to cry out in pain as his mask shattered into pieces, though he didn’t stop running.

“Now I remember how you defeated me last time, Toa Addis,” the shadowed entity hissed. “And I won’t allow you to do it again. Now there is no escape. You are incapable of beating me. You could melt the walls, fry the dirt, or do whatever it is you Toa can do, but none of it will be any good. Your pathetic lives end here, Toa Shika. My masters will be plea- ah! No! Stop!”

The shadowed entity’s cry of pain caused the illusion to abruptly shatter and all five of the Toa Shika stopped running and fell to the ground in exhaustion. Akuna looked around, but did not know what was happening. The shadows were swirling all around them like water while shrieks of pain and anger came from every direction. Panting hard, she glanced at Nastan, who was lying on the ground in exhaustion and seemed to have lost consciousness.

“Stop! What are you doing?” the shadowed entity screamed, so loud that Akuna had to cover her audio receptors to protect them. “Who do you think y-? Gah! This. . . . I can’t. . . . No. . . .”

“Wh-what’s going on?” asked Barilo, who was on his hands and knees and panting hard. “I don’t-“

“No!” the shadowed entity bellowed loudly. “Get out of my- Stop it! No . . . I can’t . . . I won’t . . . die . . .”

And with one last, prolonged shout of pure pain that was like a blast of cold wind, the cavern became as silent as the dead. The shadowed entity, it seemed, was gone.

Akuna, however, could care less about what happened to him. Her mind was dazed, her body ached all over from the hard running she had done, and she was just about ready to fall asleep right here in this dark cave. She didn’t know or even cared who had saved them. She merely fell face forward onto the ground and into unconsciousness, though right before she fell asleep she thought that she had seen two beings silhouetted against the light shining from the exit. She didn’t know if they were friends or enemies; but it didn’t matter, for at that moment she fell fast asleep, as though someone had hit her hard on the back of her head with a heavy stone.

Review Topic

Edited by TNTOS

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 2: Unpleasant Revelations

“Akuna . . . wake up, Akuna . . . C’mon . . . Get up . . .”

The voice speaking to her sounded distant and faraway, as though being spoken to from the other side of the island. Yet at the same time she recognized it as belonging to Nastan, as it had the same concerned tone he used when speaking to her if she was hurt or if he was worried about her. She didn’t know what he was talking about; why should she wake up? She hadn’t got a good night’s sleep in a while and didn’t really feel like waking up right now.

Her body, however, disagreed with her on that. The aching in her joints was hurting her and making it impossible for her to sleep any longer now that she was aware of it, even though that was all she wanted to do. She tried to ignore it, but that seemed to make it worse in her opinion.

She opened her eyes a few inches and saw Nastan’s face, which seemed to be a mixture of worry and excitement, staring into her own. How long she had been unconscious, how much time had passed, she didn’t know, but she wasn’t going to ask him, mostly because her head was starting to hurt badly and she didn’t think she could ask too many questions right away at the moment.

So in a tired voice, she asked, “Nastan? Where . . . where are we?” She tried in vain to sit up, but failed miserably.

“Are you okay?” he asked her, helping her into a sitting position on the hard, rock floor. She did not fall over, fortunately. “Do you still need to sleep?”

“No, I’m okay,” she answered, quickly hugging him before letting go and looking around, rubbing the back of her head with her hand as she did so. It was quite dark; she could barely see her hand, despite the fact that her eyes were now adjusting to the darkness. “Thanks for asking, though.” She winced at the pain she felt in her joints, but tried her best to ignore it anyway. “Anyway . . . um, what is going on, Nastan? Why aren’t we dead? Or are we?” She added worriedly, looking at Nastan with slightly fearful eyes.

“No, we’re not dead,” said Nastan, whose face was now breaking into a smile. “We were saved, Akuna. We were rescued from the shadowed entity by – you’ll never guess – Jokao!”

“What?” Akuna said, looking at the Toa of The Green in surprise. “But Jokao’s a Matoran. I mean he’s a tough guy, but he’s still just a Matoran and if we couldn’t beat the entity, how-?”

Nastan laughed, which sounded slightly painful, as though he was still experiencing some pain, though he didn’t complain about it. “He’s not a Matoran anymore, Akuna. He’s actually a Toa!”

“You’re pulling my leg,” she said in disbelief, shaking her head. “There’s no way-“

“He’s over there if you want to see for yourself,” said Nastan, pointing behind her somewhere into the darkness. “He’s also got a new friend, apparently, though he hasn’t introduced her to us yet.”

Akuna twisted around to look in the direction he was pointing and was surprised to see a small fire lit about ten or fifteen feet away, where she saw Barilo, Addis, and Chimoy sitting with two other Toa, Addis speaking to them. One wore crimson and orange armor that had fiery designs on them, while the other wore black armor which was almost the exact shade of black as the shadows, making it difficult to distinguish between her and the shadows. She didn’t know who the other Toa was, but the red one’s Mask of Spirit did look very familiar to Akuna. She wondered for a moment why she hadn’t noticed them before, but decided that she must have been too distracted by the pain in her head to have taken any notice of them.

“See?” said Nastan with a chuckle. “Our Jokao, a Toa now! Man, I remember when he barely reached my waist. Now he’s the same size as me!”

“But how did he become a Toa?” asked Akuna, now thoroughly confused. “Why is he here? How’d he save us? And how long have I been asleep?” She was too puzzled and tired to put all of her questions in any kind of coherent order, but Nastan didn’t seem to mind.

“You’ve been asleep for a few minutes at most,” said Nastan gently. “As for the other questions . . . I don’t know. Addis and the others might, though. I’ve been trying to get you up the entire time and haven’t been talking to him. But how’s about we go speak to them now? Do you feel good enough to walk over to them?”

“Yes, I do,” she said, slightly embarrassed by how he was worrying about her like this. “You don’t need to worry, Nastan. It’s just a few feet away.” She smiled at him, which seemed to reassure him slightly.

“Okay,” said Nastan, though he did not sound entirely convinced by her words. “Here, let me help you up.”

He took her hand and lifted her back to her feet. Akuna cursed very softly under her breath at the pain, but managed to stand just fine, though her balance was a little off and she had to lean on Nastan for support, though he did not seem to mind too much.

So they began walking towards the other five, who all turned to look up at approaching couple. She looked at all of them as she and Nastan sat down around the fire. Chimoy and Barilo looked tired, though okay, while Addis looked like the worse. His eyes were dark and tired-looking and he was wearing his Suletu, which seemed to have been repaired by Chimoy, though rather hastily in her opinion. She wondered briefly why he was not simply wearing Nonzra’s Kanohi, but then she decided that the Zatth had been worn by a corpse earlier, so it might not be entirely healthy for a living being to wear. That, perhaps, and maybe it would have been disrespecting Nonzra’s memory to wear his Kanohi so soon after his death, though she personally couldn’t think why.

She looked at the red Toa, who wore a Mask of Spirit and flame-styled armor, giving him the look of a Toa of Fire. She really couldn’t believe that was Jokao, despite the fact that Nastan had assured her it was. However, she could see why he might be Jokao, because aside from his mask (which was the same as Jokao’s, except in Great Kanohi form) he had the same, apprehensive eyes Jokao usually wore, though they also looked slightly more confident now.

As for the black Toa who sat next to Jokao, Akuna had absolutely no idea who she was. Her element was a mystery, too; she didn’t look like a Toa of Earth or any other elements commonly associated with the color black. She had unique-looking armor and seemed like a very quiet and shy person. Her mask looked different, too, though Akuna thought its design seemed familiar, but she could not place where she had seen it at the moment.

“Are you all right, Akuna?” asked Addis grimly, who was not smiling.

“Yes, I am,” said Akuna, slightly exasperatedly, rubbing the back of her head with her left hand as she spoke. “But you don’t look too good yourself, Addis.”

He nodded. “My mask doesn’t work anymore, either. Got to get a new one sometime, I think.” He paused, then added brightly, “Oh, Akuna, look who saved us . . .” he pointed at the Toa of Fire, who merely looked at Akuna for a moment before staring back into the fire, “. . . it’s Jokao! He and his new friend here saved us from the shadowed entity! We were just talking about it right now, actually.”

“Thank you, um, Jokao,” said Akuna, somewhat awkwardly. Fortunately, Jokao was still not looking at her, or any of the others, for that matter. “And you, uh . . .”

“Oggakia,” the black Toa replied quietly. “But you can call me Oggak for short if you want. Everyone else does.”

“Er, right,” said Akuna, nodding. She wondered why the name Oggak sounded so familiar to her, but like Oggak’s appearance she could not put her finger on it. “Thanks.”

“Well, it’s great to see you again, Jokao,” said Nastan, who had put an arm around Akuna now. She found this slightly uncomfortable, mostly because her shoulders happened to be hurting quite a bit right now. However, she ignored the pain to focus on the conversation instead. “We missed you quite a bit when we were in Wyoko.”

Jokao suddenly looked up at Nastan and snapped, “You obviously didn’t miss me enough to want to return, did you? Maybe you thought I’d stop you from pulling even greater heists than before. After all, that was one of the first things you told me when we first met. You wanted to become greater thieves than ever before, didn’t you? And how else could you accomplish that but going to other lands? Clearly, Shika Nui was much too small for your tastes.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Nastan in surprise. Akuna was surprised by this outburst, too. Jokao had never snapped at them like this before; was there something bothering him?

“Don’t play dumb with me, Nastan,” Jokao said angrily, his fists clenched in fury. He sounded as though he had wanted to say this for a while. “You know exactly what you did. You and your friends simply abandoned us to our doom. Right when we needed you the most, you simply disappeared. Ran away like the cowardly thieves that you are is what you did. Didn’t even stop to think of the consequences of your actions, did you? Didn’t even stop to think that maybe we needed your help?”

“Jokao, we have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Addis firmly, leaning forward and looking at the Toa of Fire with a mixed expression of confusion and seriousness. “We didn’t leave Shika Nui by choice-“

“Oh, yes, you did!” Jokao yelled, which caused the fire to expand widely and heat the area up to uncomfortable temperatures before shrinking back to normal size and cooling off a little. He pointed at Addis and continued, “You knew about the Tuikas; knew that they were under Shika Nui, sleeping and waiting for their day of destruction. You’re nothing but a lying, dishonest little thief who does not want to face the consequences of his actions! You’re all like that, actually!”

“I’m telling you, we didn’t leave Shika Nui willingly!” Addis replied in an annoyed voice. “We were forced in and could not escape!”

Jokao laughed hollowly. “Oh, that’s good. ‘We were forced in and could not escape!’ Where you were taken? Why couldn’t you escape? Or are you simply trying to justify your cowardice?” He looked around at them all, and then added, “And where is Nonzra? I count only five when I know six left. Perhaps you simply left him behind? Or maybe even killed him because you didn’t want to split the loot?”

A shout of anger was the only warning Jokao got, for the next moment Chimoy had leapt to his feet and sent a devastating punch at the Toa of Fire, which connected and sent him flying away from the fire, landing hard several feet away on the rough dirt ground. Akuna, alarmed, looked up at Chimoy with the others and saw that he looked extremely angry. This was surprising, for Chimoy was more reserved than the others and rarely displayed emotions of any kind. To see him now looking as though he would be willing to commit murder frightened Akuna even more than nearly being killed by the shadowed entity earlier.

“Chimoy . . .” said Akuna in a pacifying voice. She didn’t think it would be wise for Chimoy to get into a fight with Jokao, especially in his current state.

“Don’t you ever accuse us of killing Nonzra,” Chimoy said quietly, though threateningly, to Jokao, who was still lying on the ground and moaning in pain. “I would never . . . We didn’t do it. It was Teivel. He killed Nonzra.”

Jokao sat up and wiped some dirt off his mask. “Teivel? Who-?”

“Teivel, a Toa of Shadow and leader of the Shodios,” said Oggak promptly.

Everyone looked at the black-armored Toa in disbelief and shock. Akuna wondered, in amazement, how Oggak had known that. No one else knew about the Shodios or, indeed, the Kra-Matoran tribe in general, except perhaps for the Order of Mata Nui, which the Shodios had mentioned to them back in Wyoko. So how did Oggak know this? That questioned buzzed through her head like a Nui Rama swarm, but she had no answer to it.

“How’d you know that?” Nastan asked her in confusion. “Nobody else knows about the Shodios but us. Can you read minds or something?”

Oggak looked at Nastan and Akuna realized just how red her eyes were. Almost the same shade as Teivel’s, really . . .

“Because, Nastan, I know who Teivel is because I was once a . . .” Oggak said, though her voice trailed off and Akuna, suddenly remembering where she had heard the name ‘Oggak’ before, was beginning to put two and two together. The conclusion she was coming to was nonsensical, yet at the same time seemed to be the only explanation that did make any sense.

“Because you were what?” asked Nastan eagerly, leaning forward a little to listen better. “Did you know him? Are you a member of the Order of Mata Nui?”

Now Oggak looked uncomfortable and glanced at Jokao, who had now rejoined their group. The look she gave him was almost like she was asking him something. He returned the look with a reassuring nod, and Oggak smiled slightly and nodded back.

Turning back to Nastan, she said softly, “Because I was a Kra-Matoran, Nastan. That is why.”

“Wait a minute,” said Nastan slowly as he looked from Oggak to Jokao, a look of dawning comprehension upon his face. “But if you were a Kra-Matoran, then that must mean-“

“That I am a Toa of Shadow, yes,” said Oggak reluctantly.

Suddenly, all five of the Toa Shika moved backwards and looked at Oggak suspiciously. Though she had heavily suspected it and frankly would have been surprised had she been wrong, Akuna was still shocked to it hear Oggak confirm it and even felt a little angry now. Why was Jokao hanging out with a Toa of Shadow? Akuna didn’t even want to be in the presence of a Toa of Shadow. After what she and the other Toa Shika had been through, after nearly been killed time and again by the Shodios and their Kra-Matoran servants, after Nonzra’s death, she had a deep mistrust of anyone who was associated with the shadows. Akuna now began to question Jokao’s sanity, because really, who in their right mind would ever willing ally themselves with a Toa of Shadow? It was almost as bad as being a friend of a Makuta yet at the same time somehow even worse.

Addis tentatively leaned toward Jokao and, doing his best to avoid Oggak’s gaze, said, “Jokao, did . . . did you know this?”

“Yes, I did,” said Jokao. He seemed surprised at the way they were reacting to learning Oggak’s element. “It was one of the first things I learned about her. So? What’s so bad?”

“But, Jokao,” said Addis exasperatedly, glancing at Oggak for a moment before looking back at the Toa of Fire. “She’s . . . she’s a Toa of Shadow. They’re evil. A Toa of Shadow actually killed Nonzra, you know.”

“Evil? She’s not evil,” Jokao said, shaking his head in disagreement. “She’s just as good as any Toa I’ve ever met, though I supposed that isn’t saying much, since the only Toa I’ve ever met are a bunch of cowards like you!”

“I thought we made it clear that we are not cowards?” Chimoy said quietly. “Do you even care that Nonzra died to save us from . . . from her people?” He pointed at Oggak, who was no longer looking at any of them and was instead staring into the fire, as though hoping they would somehow forget about her.

“Of course I care!” said Jokao angrily, his eyes glowing. “But just because the others are evil doesn’t make her evil!”

“Jokao, I don’t know what you’ve been doing, but you can’t honestly trust her, can you?” said Nastan indignantly. “She’s a Toa of Shadow, and shadow, as we all know very well, is evil. I should know more than any of us ‘cause I was a Toa of Shadow myself at one point, for Mata Nui’s sake! I know how seductive it is, how it eats away at any attempts to do good and makes you think otherwise. She’s probably nothing more than a manipulative little-“

“Now who is the one making false accusations here?” Jokao said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “You know absolutely nothing about her and yet you’re already jumping to conclusions? Totally not hypocritical, eh?”

Nastan actually looked unable to respond to this and merely shook his head helplessly, muttering something about the Shodios and Oggak. Akuna realized - though she really wanted to deny it - that Jokao had a point. Nastan was jumping to conclusions, though that did not make Oggak instantly trustworthy, did it? Then again, Jokao did seem to trust her, so maybe . . .

No, Akuna thought. She can’t be. The Shodios were evil, cruel, and downright rude at times. They saw other living beings as merely obstacles that should be dismantled. Why would she be any different? She might be tricking Jokao, which I wouldn’t put past a Toa of Shadow.

She glanced at Oggak, who had remained completely quiet during this entire argument. The Toa of Shadow did not look particularly threatening or even evil, but she knew all-too-well how easily it was to disguise one’s evil, as she and the others had learned when an entire village of Kra-Matoran had fooled them into believing that the villagers were actually good but turned out to be just as foul as their Shodios leaders.

Barilo, who seemed to have been trying to stay out of this argument, said quietly, “Well, I don’t think there is much else to discuss, is there? Can’t we discuss this subject, er, later? I mean,” he looked pleadingly at the other Toa Shika, “am I the only one here who wants to see pure sunshine again? The only reason I’ve tolerated this place for as long as I have is because I wanted to talk to Jokao. So can we please leave now?”

“Okay,” said Jokao, who was still glaring at Nastan, who looked defiantly back at him. “Come on, then. We’ll be safer back in the village.”

“Yeah,” said Barilo, nodding, as he rose to his feet, leaning on the cavern wall for support. “What if the Dark Hunters come in here? In fact, now that I think about it, how did you get past the Hunters anyway? Must’ve taken some skill to get past them all, since there were like what, three hundred of them or something like that?”

Jokao rose to his feet and then helped Oggak up. He looked back up the tunnel, from which a bright light was shining, and said, without looking at Barilo, “We . . . we didn’t need much skill to get into this place. Not much at all, I’d say.”

“What? Did you just blast them apart or something?” Barilo asked curiously.

Jokao turned to look at the Toa Shika, all of whom were on their feet now. He looked extremely grim. “They are all dead. That’s why it didn’t take much effort; no one was there to stop us in the first place.”

Akuna was thunderstruck by this revelation. All of the Dark Hunters are dead? It didn’t make sense, but she could tell that he wasn’t joking or lying. Yet how could it be true? There were at least 300 Dark Hunters on Shika Nui before – possibly even more – and most of them had been quite alive last she checked.

She glanced at the others, all of whom looked just as shocked as she felt. Barilo actually looked frightened, and she couldn’t blame him. If there was something lurking on the surface that could kill all of those Dark Hunters, then what chance did they have at surviving for longer than a few seconds? Unless whatever was the source of the killing had left, Akuna felt as though she would rather be back in Wyoko, facing the wrath of the Shodios, than out there with whatever it was that might have slain the Hunters like that.

But she didn’t turn and run. The light ahead, though small and rather insignificant, tempted her greatly. She wanted to keep going until she reached the light, and if it meant facing those things, well, that was just how things would have to be, even though fear was creeping up her spine. Her desire to be in the light overrode her fear of whatever might be out there.

“But what killed them all?” asked Addis, who began walking slowly towards Jokao. Akuna noticed he had a limp now; whether it was from the shadowed entity or acquired from their adventures in Wyoko, she did not know, for she hadn’t been paying that much attention to what kinds of wound were inflicted on the others before. She’d been too distracted by her own. “What could possibly have enough power to wipe out a small army of Dark Hunters like that? You’re joking, right?”

“He is not joking,” said Oggak softly, speaking suddenly without so much as a warning, which irritated Akuna. “They were killed weeks ago.”

“Weeks?” said Nastan, frowning. “We’ve been gone for days, not weeks.”

“You must not have been keeping track of time, then,” said Jokao shortly, rolling his eyes at him again. “You’ve been gone for weeks, and that is a fact. But to answer your question, Addis,” he said, addressing the Toa of Plasma now, “the Tuikas are responsible for the Dark Hunters’ deaths.”

“Just what are Tuikas?” Addis demanded impatiently. “You’ve mentioned them before but have never-“

“Tuikas are, to put it simply, living nightmares,” Jokao said. He pointed at his shoulder, which had a bad wound on it, something Akuna had never noticed before. “They make the Dark Hunters look like saints, basically. We’ll tell you more about them later, though; right now we have to return to the village. Turaga Joha may be worrying about our absence.”

“Joha?” repeated Nastan, with a slightly more interested voice. “He’s still alive? How’s he doing these days? I’ve missed him quite a bit since we left.”

“Overworked, doesn’t get enough sleep, and nearly ready to collapse into teeny tiny bite-sized pieces,” Jokao answered curtly. The seven Toa had now begun walking up the tunnel towards the exit. “He’s been working night and day to make sure that the Matoran are kept safe and that the Tuikas do not breach our walls. Otherwise, he’s ‘okay,’ if you want to even use that word.”

Nastan, evidently offended by Jokao’s tone, shook his head and whispered to Akuna, so that no one else could hear, “Geez, what’s his problem? Ask a simple question and he just snaps.”

Akuna, who didn’t know how to answer, merely shrugged. She thought perhaps Jokao sounded overworked himself, though she did not say this aloud. She simply wanted to get back to this village Jokao mentioned, which would surely be in the bright, pure sunshine of Shika Nui, which was something she had sorely missed. Though she was still surprised by the fact that the Dark Hunters were all dead, she did not weep for them. They were, after all, her enemies and had been cruel to her and her friends for over 25,000 years, so their deaths did not bother her much, if at all.

However, as they drew closer to the glorious light, she did notice one odd thing. The light up ahead began to look less natural, more like the bluish glow of the light stones instead of the yellowish sunshine of Shika Nui. She decided that that was because there were going to be inside the Dark Hunters’ fortress, not actually on Shika Nui itself. She felt slightly disappointed by this; she had been looking forward to emerging into the sun.

At least we won’t stay in there forever, she thought as she walked. We’ll have to go outside eventually, where the village obviously is. It is probably bathed in sunshine. Personally, I think I’ll spend all of my time lying in the sun, though if these Tuikas are as bad as Jokao says, then I don’t think I’ll have a whole lot of time to relax.

All of a sudden, a silhouette appeared at the top of the tunnel. The figure looked small, about Matoran-sized, and seemed to be looking at them. Akuna, who had been taken by surprise far too many times in the past few days (most of them by lethal and evil beings), whipped out her staff of lightning, ready to fight whoever it might be, but Jokao put his hand on her weapon and gently lowered it.

“Don’t attack,” he whispered. “The Matoran up ahead is a friend.” He then looked back up at the figure at the entrance and shouted, “Hey, Reesha! We’ve found friends! Look! New Toa!”

The Matoran up ahead titled her head, as though trying to get a better look at them, and then disappeared. Akuna was surprised that there was a Matoran here at all. Wasn’t it dangerous to take a Matoran with them to here? It seemed irresponsible to her. What if the Matoran got hurt or even killed? This tunnel did lead into the Dark Hunters’ fortress; what if there was still something lurking around in there?

But as they approached the exit, she heard hundreds of voices jabbering up ahead. She could not tell what they were saying, but their tone sounded both frightened and excited. She then felt disappointed with Jokao again.

First he allies with a Toa of Shadow, and now he’s brought along hundreds of Matoran, too? What the Karzahni is he thinking? What if they all get hurt or killed somehow? she thought, annoyed. Maybe there’s more to this, but this seems awful irresponsible to me at the moment. They ought to be in a village, safely protected by its walls and defenders, not here, in this unsafe place.

It did not take long for them to finish their journey; after a short walk (though it felt long to Akuna), they reached the very top of the tunnel and were right at the exit itself. Akuna, exhausted, took one glance into the chamber before them, shrieked in pain and took a step back into the darkness, her hands over her eyes. Her eyes were so used to the darkness that the light was actually quite painful to look at and judging by the stumbling she heard all around the others must have been affected the same way.

But her audio receptors still worked as fine as ever, and the sounds of Matoran talking was so loud and near now to be almost uncomfortable. She was almost longing for the quiet darkness; somehow the light and sound seemed too much for her now, despite that being what she had wanted in the first place.

Once her eyes stopped hurting so badly, she lowered her hands slowly, and realized that the light no longer irritated or hurt her eyes, much to her relief. She then opened her eyes – for she had had them closed behind her hands – to enjoy the light, but what she saw was too shocking for her to do anything more than gasp, for words failed her at the moment.

Hundreds of Matoran of various tribes stood near or around the entrance, all chattering and looking over the heads of their neighbors to see the new arrivals. They were all crammed into the hallway that the tunnel ended in, the cracked walls looking like they were straining to not burst open and pour all of the villagers out.

Jokao took a step forward, turned around, and said to the Toa Shika, spreading his arms wide, “Welcome to Koro Nui . . . the last remaining Matoran settlement on Shika Nui.”

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 3: Revelations & Explanations

It looked as though all of the remaining Matoran of Shika Nui were here, which was probably the case, Akuna thought as she and the others walked through the rapidly parting crowd, lead by Jokao and Oggak. There didn’t seem to be as much as she originally thought, though; possibly only a couple of hundred, from what she could tell. The hallway didn’t seemed to be as cramped, either, though it wasn’t exactly wide open. The Matoran were all quiet now and staring up at her and the others with a mixture of expressions that she couldn’t quite identify, for her eyes were still adjusting slightly to the light. All of the Matoran were in the hallway of the Dark Hunters’ fortress, which seemed to be lit with old light stones that were growing fainter and fainter each minute, or so it looked to her, anyway.

As for the Matoran themselves, they looked as though they had been fighting some kind of war. Many wore mismatched armor, as though they had had to replace broken pieces with whatever they could find instead of simply creating new armor from protodermis. Most seemed to have been wounded in some way, for they wore bandages wrapped in many places all over their bodies; some had blood smeared on their armor. Akuna, horrified, wondered what had happened to them. Perhaps these Tuikas that Jokao had mentioned had something to do with it? She knew she would probably learn soon enough, but she was still frightened just the same.

Jokao and Oggak, after explaining to the Matoran villagers who the Toa Shika were and where they would be taking them, had begun leading the Toa towards the throne room, where Joha was supposed to be. Akuna didn’t mind; all of the Matoran staring at her made her feel extremely uncomfortable. It wasn’t that she disliked it, per se, but she just wasn’t used to being looked at with awe and wonder instead of fear and hate like she had been by the Dark Hunters and the Shodios, and judging by the expressions on the faces of the others, they weren’t, either.

“What happened?” asked Addis, who was still limping beside Jokao, but managing to keep up quite well. “Why is Koro Nui the last village on Shika Nui? I don’t understand.”

“The Tuikas mercilessly destroy the rest of them,” Jokao replied grimly as they winded their way through a crowd of Matoran, who all looked up at the Toa as they passed, without uttering a single word at them. “Survivors managed to make it here or were rescued by Oggak and me. We sometimes make trips outside of Koro Nui to see if we can find any survivors who need shelter and protection. We’re usually successful, though sometimes we are ambushed by the Tuikas or we don’t find anyone at all.”

“Or worse,” added Oggak, “we find people, but then they . . . then they get killed by the Tuikas, or get heavily wounded. Sometimes we just find corpses and nothing more.”

“But why choose here, of all places?” Addis demanded. “This is where the Dark Hunters lived. It has been a physical representation of our people’s suffering and enslavement ever since it was first erected 25,000 years ago. I can’t imagine any of us wanting to live in here unless we absolutely had to!”

“Addis, you just answered your own question,” Jokao replied as they turned down a corner, passing a few Matoran on the way. “We have no other choice. This is the most secure place on the entire island. Every other village was exposed and undefended, which is part of the reason they fell so easily to the Tuikas. Thus far, we’ve managed to protect it fairly well, but at the cost of many Matoran. Joha concluded it was the only reasonable place to stay in, hate it though we may. Besides, it isn’t such a bad place once you get used to it.”

“Why didn’t you just leave the island, then?” asked Nastan incredulously. “Aren’t there some Dark Hunter boats docked at the harbor you could have hijacked or something?”

“All ships were sunk and destroyed by the Tuikas,” Jokao said shortly as they walked down a long hallway. “Some Dark Hunters did try to escape via warship, but it was sunk and . . . let’s just say that what the Tuikas did to them wasn’t pretty and leave it at that.”

Since no one else said or asked anything after that, Akuna let her mind wander and began looking at the hallway all around them. She had been in this fortress only once before, and that had been when they had attempted to escape through The Door. She remembered seeing dead Dark Hunters, Visorak, some broken Rahkshi armor, smashed furniture or statues, and at least a few rooms had been blocked off.

It looked slightly better now, as though they had cleaned it up a little. Many of the broken statues had been moved away and there did not seem to be any kind of decoration in the hallways at all, probably to make room for the Matoran that now inhabited it.

Yet it also stank of death, as though it were imbued into the stone itself. Parts of the ceiling and walls were ripped off or destroyed and had been replaced with bits of metal or stone that obviously didn’t match the rest of it. She figured the Tuikas might’ve been responsible, though she didn’t know for sure having never seen what a place looked like when the Tuikas were done with it before.

Finally, after a more few minutes of walking, they arrived at a large stone archway, which Akuna recognized as the entrance to the throne room. They passed through it and soon found themselves inside a huge, stone chamber, its only occupants three beings that stood at the very end of the room, apparently in conversation with one another.

The room looked pretty much as she remembered it: Four entryways split off the sides, most likely leading into other parts of the fortress, though again she noticed the absence of the furniture and carvings, save for the throne itself, which seemed to have been repaired during their journey. The suits of armor that had been here previously seemed to have been moved out to make room for dozens of empty makeshift beds, with a straight line down the middle that lead to the throne itself. The beds were probably for the Matoran, since despite its immense size there didn’t seem to be enough room in this massive fortress for all of the villagers.

But she wasn’t paying much attention to that now. No, she was now paying attention to the three beings that were standing at the end of the room, near the throne. One of them she identified as Turaga Joha, the only remaining member of the original Toa Shika team that had predated her team by about 25,000 years, who was sitting on the throne. She was happy to see him again, but she was surprised and even a little angry to recognize the other two as she and the others followed Jokao and Oggak towards the throne.

The two beings in conference with Joha were two Dark Hunters whom she knew very well from her past encounters with them. The first one, an orange and green colored being of about Toa-height, with a short horn on his head, was Kigin, a nasty Hunter who had lead the squad that had been ordered to kill her and her team in the past. He looked up at them as they approached and Akuna saw an expression of dawning recognition and hatred rising on his features. He seemed to remember them, too.

The second one wore gold, spiked armor and was named Death, another Dark Hunter who had hunted the Toa Shika in the past. Though he was a lot quieter than most Hunters she knew, she still was not thrilled to see him, but when he looked over his shoulder to see them his expression was that of surprise. He had evidently not been expecting them, though she didn’t blame him, since no one had been expecting her or any of the other Toa Shika to return, if the reaction of Jokao was any indication.

Joha, meanwhile, looked thunderstruck as the seven Toa approached. He looked from one Toa to the other with his mouth hanging wide open. Akuna noticed he looked quite tired, just like Jokao had said. His eyes were darker and his lids hung heavily over his eyes, while he sat slumped in the throne instead of sitting straight. She was quite surprised he was managing to stay awake for as long as he was.

Then again, he did survive in the mountains all alone for 25,000 years as a Toa, she thought. This must be nothing to him, if that is the case.

“Turaga Joha, Oggak and I have found the Toa Shika,” said Jokao as he bowed with Oggak. “They were coming up the dark tunnel back there and were nearly killed by the shadowed entity. But Oggak managed to absorb him and saved them, fortunately, but they are still quite tired.”

“We thought you would like to see them again, Turaga,” Oggak added in her usual soft voice. “They are old friends of yours, are they not?”

“Why this . . . this is incredible,” said Joha, who sounded as though he was not sure how to react. “What a pleasant surprise. For a moment there, I thought you six would never return, but I’m glad you did, since we are in desperate need of new warriors to aid in our fight against the Tuikas.”

Addis stepped forward with a grim expression on his face as he said, “While I am thankful to meet you again, I should tell you that not all of us made it back here alive, sir.”

“What?” said Joha, his eyes widening even more than before. He counted them again and said slowly, “You’re right. I don’t see Nonzra. Where is he?”

“He is . . . dead, sir,” said Addis bitterly, looking down at his feet. “He died just as we escaped Wyoko.”

“Wyoko?” repeated Death curiously. “You know, I think Oggak has mentioned that place before, but I’m not sure . . .”

“Yes, because that is where the rest of my people are currently imprisoned,” Oggak answered. “I have already explained my past to you, so you should know what they are talking about.”

“But how did Nonzra die?” asked Joha, who sounded shocked and sad. “Did one of the inhabitants of Wyoko kill him?”

“Yes,” said Addis, nodding, and he then explained, as briefly as possible, what the Toa Shika had found and done in Wyoko, from their capture by Ira and Rhatara all the way to their final confrontation with the Shodios and eventual escape.

Once Addis finished, Joha looked at Oggak, who nodded, as though confirming their words. Then he said, pointing at them, “So, Nonzra was killed by the leader of the Shodios, Toa Teivel?”

“Yes, sir,” said Addis. “That’s what happened. We only brought his mask with us because, well, we didn’t think we could bring it with us and get past the Dark Hunters at the same time. Too heavy for us to both carry and fight the Dark Hunters, is basically what we thought.”

“Of course you couldn’t,” Kigin answered before Joha could say anything. “If the Hunters were still alive, you wouldn’t have survived longer than a minute against us, much less so if you had been dragging a corpse with you!”

“Enough, Kigin,” said Joha sharply. “You will be working with them in the future, so you ought to learn to hold your tongue unless necessary.”

“Whatever,” the Dark Hunter said, shaking his head. “Just saying . . .”

Nastan, who had been surprisingly quiet during Addis’ tale (which had included Nastan’s transformation into a Toa of Shadow), suddenly said to Joha, “But sir, forgive me if I sound ungrateful or rude, why are you allying yourself with Dark Hunters and Toa of Shadow?”

Joha shifting uncomfortable in his chair, said, “We need as many fighters as we can get, Nastan, to protect the Matoran, whatever our differences may be. The Tuikas are-“

“But we can’t trust them!” Nastan protested, taking a few steps closer, his eyes focused entirely on Joha. “They’re nothing but no-good-“

“Scumbags? Liars? Traitors? Torturers? Slavers?” Death offered with a slightly annoyed-sounding voice. “Is that what you think we all are?”

“That, and a lot more colorful names I can think of, too,” Nastan snapped at Death.

“This is not the time or place to discuss this,” Joha said sharply, breaking up their argument quickly. “We have far, far more pressing matters to deal with at the moment.”

Akuna, though just as annoyed as Nastan that there were apparently a few Dark Hunters working with them, was nonetheless amazed at the way Joha managed to break up their argument so quickly. Nastan, who heavily respected Joha, quieted at once, though he looked rather annoyed; Death, too, became silent and merely looked questioningly at Oggak, who shrugged. The Toa of Lightning didn’t know what that was all about, though she assumed Death must have been asking her if she was sure about the Toa Shika, though why her and not someone else, she did not know.

After making sure neither Nastan or Death would start another argument, Joha looked at Addis again and, upon noticing his hastily repaired mask, asked, “Addis, what happened to your Kanohi? Was it damaged by the Shodios, too? If so, we’ll have to get you a new one.”

“Not the Shodios, no,” said Addis, who seemed slightly taken aback by Joha’s sudden business-like behavior. “The shadowed entity destroyed it so that I wouldn’t be able to use it against him. Chimoy repaired it as best as he could, but he’s no Metru Nui Ta-Matoran mask maker, so it doesn’t work anymore. No offense to you, Chimoy,” he added.

“None taken,” the Toa of Iron replied. Akuna realized Chimoy was holding his left arm, which seemed to be hanging limply at his side, though it didn’t look like it was permanently damaged, fortunately.

“Well, like I said before, we need to get you a new mask pronto,” said Joha. “I know we have some extra masks, but I’m not sure if any of them are Great Masks . . .”

“That’s fine, Turaga, but we’re still confused,” said Addis, gesturing with his hands at the chamber all around them as he spoke. “I mean, we just got back here. We don’t know who or what the Tuikas are, or what Shika Nui’s current status is (besides being apparently uninhabitable), or who Oggak is, or . . . well, a bunch of other things, too. An explanation would be nice, sir, because we’re totally lost.”

“What was that?” said Joha, shaking his head as though to clear it of water. “I am sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.”

Addis sighed, slightly exasperated, and repeated his request for an explanation, this time more slowly.

Once he finished, Joha nodded and said, “Of course, if you have been gone for all of these weeks-“

“Days,” corrected Nastan automatically. “We’ve been gone days, sir.”

“We told you, you’ve been gone for weeks,” Jokao snapped, glaring at the Toa of The Green. “You must have lost track of the time.”

“No, I’m definitely sure we haven’t,” said Nastan defensively. “Of course, it is kind of hard to tell the time in a place that doesn’t have anything that looks even remotely like a sun, but still, I think I’m right.”

“Actually, it is possible that both of you are right,” said Oggak calmly, causing the two arguing Toa to look at her in surprise. “Time in Wyoko goes by differently than here, at least from what I know of the place. So it is possible that it looked like days had gone by to them because days had gone by, while for us it seemed like weeks and weeks really did go by.”

“That explanation makes my head hurt more than it already does,” Nastan muttered, turning away from her to look back at Joha.

“However long you’ve been gone – whether it was days or weeks – does not matter,” said Joha, slightly raising his voice, as if making sure they could hear him speaking. “What does matter, however, is that you get your explanation. Unless you wish to rest up a little first? You look as though you have been through a war, my friends.”

Akuna glanced at the others. Joha was correct; they did look like they had been through a war. There were cracks running through their armor, some of it broken off or smashed completely, and all of them had an injury of some kind, some more obvious than others. For example, Addis’ limp was far more pronounced than Barilo’s bleeding shoulder, and Akuna herself didn’t feel exactly perfect, either, so the idea of sleeping for a long time, possibly on a soft, cozy bed, sounded quite appealing to her right now.

But Addis shook his head vigorously and said, “No, Turaga, we can rest later. If we’re going to be fighting the Tuikas, then we need to know as much as we can before we laze around.”

“You do not care about your physical well-being?” asked Death, and much to Akuna’s surprise, he sounded genuinely concerned about them. She could not think of any reason why a Dark Hunter would seem worried about any Toa, especially Toa he had personally helped hunt down in the first place.

“We care, but I think information on our common foe is more necessary at the moment,” Addis replied, almost defiantly. “That’s all.”

Death seemed to not understand him completely, but did not pursue the subject any further.

So Joha said to the Toa Shika, “I’d say, then, that the time for explanations is now.”

Akuna smiled. Tired though she was, she had almost as many questions as Addis, if not more, and was glad to hear that answers were coming at last.

“But it will not be me who explains,” Joha continued. “Oggak shall explain to you. She was the one who first told us what the Tuikas really were and I think she will be able to explain it much better than I ever could. Oggak, dear? Will you please tell them what you told us a while ago?”

Oggak? Akuna thought quizzically as she and the others turned to look at the Toa of Shadow, who now looked very uncomfortable that everyone was paying so much attention to her. How could she know anything about the Tuikas?

Oggak was shifting her weight from one foot to the other. She obviously did not like being the center of attention, but she managed to look at them all anyway with her red eyes that reminded Akuna so much of Teivel. Akuna also noticed that the Toa of Shadow really didn’t look like she wanted to be there at the moment, though Oggak did not complain or do anything to suggest she disliked the attention besides looking a bit nervous.

The Toa of Shadow took a deep, long breath and said, “Well, I suppose it all began with the Order of Mata Nui, a secret organization that is dedicated to carrying out the will of the Great Spirit himself in secret. Until a couple of weeks ago no one knew about them – now, I guess everyone does.”

“The Shodios mentioned the Order,” said Barilo, who was now leaning up against one of the walls. “We didn’t know who they were, though. Didn’t bother to elaborate.”

“The Shodios hate the Order,” Oggak replied. “You probably already know that, though, so I suppose I’ll just continue on:

“Anyway, it, er, actually begun with the Brotherhood of Makuta about 50,000 years ago. For whatever reason, they decided that they would need to create more powerful Rahi than they had ever created before. So, using the skills and talents of all of the Brotherhood’s best scientists they created the Tuikas – naming the individual members Skik, Kidah, Arija, Koya, Zoil, and Draza, respectively – which were supposed to be the most powerful Rahi they had ever – and would ever – create. They succeeded and began studying their new creations in order to find out how to duplicate the process and make a whole army of powerful, Tuikas-level Rahi. However . . .”

“However what?” asked Nastan, who despite himself seemed actually interested in her story.

“The Tuikas escaped,” she continued, with a slightly more confident-sounding voice than before. She seemed to be on a roll now. “They broke out of their cages on Destral, which was situated at the northern continent at the time. They rampaged on the northern continent for a long while and the Brotherhood just couldn’t capture them, no matter what they did. So the Brotherhood merely gave up, believing the Tuikas’ natural lifespan would run out eventually and they would just die, since the Tuikas were designed with a short lifespan in case something like this would happen.

“So the Order of Mata Nui took action instead. Some of our best agents were sent to the continent, where they managed to subdue the Tuikas and faked the monsters’ deaths so the Brotherhood wouldn’t go looking for them. To make sure that the Tuikas would not escape again, the Order hid them underneath Shika Nui in stasis tubes, which put them in stasis, obviously.”

A memory suddenly stirred in Akuna at these words. She remembered a large cavern and six stasis tubes . . . and she also remembered Nonzra wiping dirt off the surface of one of them to reveal the name Tuikas, a Matoran word meaning ‘fear.’ She hadn’t thought about them at all until now. She then came to a sudden realization.

Mata Nui . . . she thought, horrified. Did we . . .?

It seemed as though the others were making the same connection, for she could see expressions of comprehension dawning on her friends’ faces, except for Barilo, who had not been with them when they had first discovered the Tuikas under Shika Nui. Nastan actually said, “Wait, we saw some Tuikas under Shika Nui, so does that mean-?”

“Yes,” Jokao answered shortly. “The Tuikas who we found and the ones Oggak mentioned are indeed one and the same. In fact, it was all because of us that they awoke, wasn’t it, Oggak?”

“From what I can tell, yes,” said Oggak quietly, nodding. “The Tuikas had remained in stasis until you visited them and they managed to reach the surface shortly after you went to Wyoko. They totally wiped out the Dark Hunters and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Matoran. They’ve been a threat ever since.”

“We unleashed that?” asked Barilo, who sounded horrified. “But we didn’t mean to-“

“I know,” said Oggak gently, though without a smile on her face. “I doubt any of you meant to do it. No one would ever want to knowingly unleash the Tuikas, especially upon an island of innocent Matoran and . . .”

“And not-so-innocent Dark Hunters,” Death finished for her.

“Er, yes,” said the Toa of Shadow, nodding again. “I guess so.”

“So let me get this straight,” said Nastan, who sounded slightly confused. “The Brotherhood of Makuta made the Tuikas, which escaped onto the northern continent but were stopped by these Order of Mata Nui guys. And then the Order of Mata Nui locked ‘em up here for . . . some vague reason that I don’t know. It sounds incredibly far-fetched, in my opinion.”

“Yet it is true,” Jokao said to Nastan with a hint of impatience in his voice. “Oggak wouldn’t lie. Besides, it’s the only explanation that makes any sense. We all know that the Brotherhood just loves making bigger and more dangerous Rahi as a hobby; it makes sense that they would try to make super Rahi or whatever just to see if they could.”

“Well, that still doesn’t explain where she came from, though!” said Nastan, pointing accusingly at Oggak. “We know that all Kra-Matoran were locked up in Wyoko. I mean, if there were still some out there we would know, wouldn’t we? So how is she here?”

“Because she wasn’t locked away, of course,” said Akuna, now clearly remembering what the Shodios had told them about a Kra-Matoran named Oggak back in Wyoko. “That’s why. The Shodios told us that, remember? They said something about a traitor named Oggak, I think.”

“You’re correct, Akuna,” said Oggak. “Because of my services to Mata Nui’s will – which is a nicer way of saying that I had betrayed my people –“ she sounded bitter here, as though the words she spoke left a bad taste in her mouth, but continued on normally, “I was given freedom and allowed to live outside Wyoko. But on one condition: That I live on Daxia, the Order’s island headquarters, day in and day out, never to visit any other lands or see anyone besides those who worked for the Order. They did that because there would be a lot of unnecessary questions asked if someone saw a Matoran of Shadow walking around when there aren’t any others, especially since that was a time when the Order was trying to make sure that nobody remembered the Kra-Matoran anymore. So for all intents and purposes, I didn’t exist for about 100,000 years. Depressing, I know, but I managed to live with it.”

“Okay, but then why are not you still on Daxia or whatever it was called?” asked Nastan, tapping his foot impatiently. “Why’d they let you come back here?”

“Because, Nastan, the Order of Mata Nui is now at war with the Brotherhood of Makuta,” she replied, but paused suddenly when Kigin made to leave. “Where are you going?” she asked, looking inquiringly at him.

“Leaving,” the Hunter answered, already at one of the exits. “I’ve heard all of this already. Besides, I don’t like being in the room with Toa I don’t like for a prolonged period of time anyway, especially these Toa. I’ll be in my room if anyone needs me. Good bye.”

He then left, and Oggak looked somewhat uncertain for a moment, as though she had forgotten where she was. Akuna thought it was rude that Kigin simply left like that while Oggak was still speaking, but then she remembered that Kigin was a Dark Hunter. If Hunters were not above stealing and killing, then it should have came as no surprise to her that Kigin, a Dark Hunter, would rudely leave like that.

“Um, where was I?” asked Oggak, slightly nervously, shaking her head as if to clear it of unnecessary thoughts. “Ah, now I remember. Er, um, the Order of Mata Nui is at war with the Brotherhood of Makuta now, so almost everybody knows about our existence. As for why I’m here . . . the Order’s forces, while strong, are not nearly as numerous as that of the Brotherhood and so they need as much allies as they can get. The Dark Hunters have already made an alliance with the Order, after the Shadowed One agreed to our offer. The Order then sent me, along with about a dozen other agents and a few Hunters, to this island to inform the Dark Hunters here about the alliance. I came along because Helryx, the leader of the Order, thought that you Toa Shika would be more likely to listen to a fellow Toa such as myself than some strange beings of an Order you had never even heard of until now, or the Dark Hunters, who we correctly guessed you hated and wouldn’t trust or listen to.”

“Got that right,” Nastan muttered angrily. “We don’t like you, either.”

“Watch it,” Jokao snapped, waving his mace threateningly at the Toa of The Green. “Or I’ll weld your mouth shut for you.”

Ignoring these two, Addis asked Oggak, with more than a hint of surprise in his voice, “So the Order knew about us? When not even the Dark Hunters were aware of our existence until we took out Tyu and Kigin?”

“The Order knows a lot more than you’d think,” Oggak replied. “Anyway, the Order thought you would be valuable allies against the Brotherhood. Originally, they didn’t want to send me, since they thought it would be too risky. But I was getting restless – living on a secret island for 100,000 years without ever even being allowed to leave even so much as once a year does that to you – and when I heard that some agents would be sent to Shika Nui, my home, I asked Helryx if I could go and, after some persuading, she agreed. She thought that, since the Order’s public now, my existence couldn’t stay secret forever and that it was only a matter of time before someone learned of me. So she sent me with everyone else.”

“We were shocked to see Oggak when she first arrived,” Joha told the Shika. “We were as skeptical as you were about her being a Toa of Shadow-“

Not skeptical, just annoyed, Akuna thought angrily, but she kept her mouth shut and let Joha continue.

“-but she has proven her courage, strength, and heroism these past few weeks as we fought the Tuikas, protecting the Matoran alongside Jokao and the Dark Hunters,” Joha continued. “We are all very grateful for her, especially since she knows so much about the Tuikas. Why, it’s almost frightening, how much she knows, really. She can describe any of them without hesitation and is quite capable of strategizing against them. Almost like she was right there when they were created, really.”

For a moment, Akuna thought Oggak had glanced at Joha with horror in her eyes before quickly resuming her reserved, mostly emotionless face. Akuna thought that was odd, but then, Oggak was a Toa of Shadow and, if she was anything at all like the Shodios, then perhaps being a little odd was one of her better qualities.

“So why hasn’t she left, then?” asked Nastan loudly, who now seemed to be ignoring Oggak. “Why didn’t she just leave Shika Nui when she realized we weren’t here?”

“She couldn’t,” Jokao said, looking at Oggak with surprisingly gentle eyes. “When she and those Order agents arrived, the Tuikas eliminated them and she barely escaped alive. The ship she had come in was destroyed, too, along with every other ship on the island, so she was stranded. She’s been with us ever since. Not that I am complaining, of course,” he added hastily.

“Well, okay, then,” said Nastan restlessly. Searching for a new question, he suddenly asked, pointing at the Toa of Fire, “That explains her, but what about you? How the Karzahni did you end up a Toa, when last we saw you were a Matoran barely taller than four feet?”

Jokao shrugged and said, “That’s the odd thing about it, actually. You see, when Joha and I retreated to my home village, Ironos, we were shown the recent discovery of a small old wooden chest that the Matoran in Ironos had found in the mines. The chest contained six Toa stones, with a note from Turaga Ujat explaining what they were. They had apparently been left there by him, but we have no idea why he had buried them in a chest like that, nor what he had planned to do with them, since the note had been very vague about their actual use. But when I picked up one of the stones, I was actually transformed into a Toa, surprisingly enough, and soon after, I met Oggak. I’m still not as good as her, elemental powers and mask power wise, but I’ve been learning fast, otherwise I would have been killed by the Tuikas a long time ago.”

“That’s another thing that is bothering me,” Nastan snapped. Even Akuna, who mostly agreed with Nastan’s suspicion of Oggak, thought he was stretching the point a little too much now. “Why do we even trust her? She’s a Toa of Shadow! They’re evil! They’re cruel! They’re-“

But they never got to figure out exactly what Nastan thought Toa of Shadow were (though Akuna could guess), for Jokao bellowed in rage and punched Nastan so hard in the face so fast that it was almost a blur. Nastan stumbled backwards as Jokao advanced, breathing deeply and looking quite enraged, waving his mace in the air rather faster than necessary.

“Jokao! Nastan! Stop your fighting!” Joha shouted firmly, actually standing up and slamming his staff on the ground hard. “Now!”

Neither of them listened, however, and now were circling each other, looking almost like two Muaka cats getting ready to tear each other apart.

“Nastan, I am your leader and I command you to stop,” Addis ordered, limping forward and grabbing the Toa of The Green firmly on the shoulder. Nastan tried to shrug him off, but Addis held on tightly. “Fighting Jokao won’t get you anywhere.”

“Get off me, Addis!” Nastan snapped angrily, trying to make Addis let go but failing again. “He’s being stupid! They’re all being stupid, trusting a Toa of Shadow like that! After all we’ve been through-”

“She’s a good person,” Jokao responded shortly. Akuna noticed with a slight tingle of fear that fire energy was crackling in Jokao’s hands. Experienced though he may be, Akuna knew that in a fight, Jokao’s fire would beat Nastan’s plants every day. “It’s just bigotry, it is. You’re being intolerant and insulting. You haven’t even gotten to talk to her much yet you’re already assuming she’s worse than Karzahni himself!”

You didn’t see what the Shodios did to us, or tried to do to us,” Nastan snarled, now ignoring Addis completely and focusing his whole attention on Jokao. “They tried to kill us at nearly every opportunity, without mercy or remorse. And they succeeded, too; they got Nonzra. They killed him without reason, just because he resembled some guy named Ukio or something like that, one of those Toa Avha they mentioned, when he never did anything to them at all!”

“And you hate Oggak just because she happens to be a Toa of Shadow, like them?” Jokao said. “You’re being very hypocritical. It’s wrong for them to hate us but right for us to hate them? Really logical, Nastan.”

Nastan was apparently at a loss for words and instead merely grunted angrily. He seemed to calm down somewhat, but Addis was still gripping his shoulder as a precaution. Akuna walked over to Nastan and said quietly to him, “There’s no reason to fight him, Nastan. If what they said is true, then the Tuikas are our true enemies. We don’t really need to fight among each other, not now.”

“Akuna is right,” said Joha with a nod. Before either Jokao or Nastan could say anything further, he continued, sitting back down on his throne now that everything was under control, “I believe we have told you everything there is to tell. You may rest in one of the many rooms within this fortress. Addis, we shall get you a new mask very soon. I’ll have one of our Matoran send one right up from our spare mask pile.”

“Thank you, Turaga,” said Addis, letting go of Nastan’s shoulder for a second to bow. “Come on, guys. We need our sleep if we’re going to be fighting the Tuikas soon, eh?”

“I agree,” said Barilo, who seemed to be quite relieved that the argument was over. “My back is sore; in fact, my entire body is sore and I can barely stay awake.”

“Good to hear that you agree, Addis, Barilo,” said Joha with a smile. “Igici, will you please escort them to the big room on the 12th floor?”

It took Akuna minute to figure out who “Igici” was until Death said, “Yes, sir.”

I suppose Death isn’t his real name, she thought. Must’ve just been a code name he used or something. Think I remember hearing about how some Dark Hunters use code names. I guess ‘Death’ was Igici’s code name.

“Igici will take you all to the biggest room on the 12th floor, as you already know,” Joha told the Toa Shika. “There should be about five or six beds for you all to sleep in. They may not be the most comfortable beds ever, but I hope you enjoy them anyway.”

“Thank you, Turaga,” said Addis again, with yet another bow. “We haven’t slept in real beds for a while now, so this should hopefully be nice.”

“Follow me, then,” said Death, who was walking toward the door, gesturing them to follow him. “I think the Matoran are already going to sleep, so the hallways shouldn’t be too crowded. Let’s go.”

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 4: Discussions & Suspicions

It took them several minutes to reach the 12th floor, mostly because all of the Toa Shika were very tired and hurting, though they managed to make it anyway. By the time they made it all of the Toa were exhausted, even more than they had been before. Akuna felt just about ready to collapse as Death led them to the room at the very end of the stone hallway, near the stone staircase that led up to the top floor. He opened the door for them and stood back to let them enter.

Akuna’s first impression upon entering the room was that it was, indeed, large. The ceiling was very high above them, while the walls stood many feet apart. Evidently this place had been used as some kind of storage facility, for she noticed a bunch of spare tools, masks, armor, and other assorted things scattered about the floor, though they all looked broken or damaged in some way as to be totally useless.

And then her eyes landed upon five beds that sat in a corner, all alone, and she heaved a sigh of relief. True, the beds looked rather old and moldy and probably were not as comfortable as she thought they might be, but she was too tired to care.

I just want to rest, she thought as she and the other Toa Shika began walking over to the beds. Like, right now.

“We use this room for storing our broken or damaged tools, masks, armor, and anything else,” Death explained, still standing in the door way as he gestured at all of the garbage. “The Dark Hunters used it as a storage place, too, though they had put treasure and other things inside, since it was a fairly heavily guarded room before the Tuikas came.”

Nastan, who was already pulling one of the beds towards the middle of the room, asked with more than a hint of annoyance, “Is there any reason you’re telling us this or is it because you’re trying to bore us to death?”

He smirked, apparently amused by his own joke.

“I merely thought you would be curious about the place, so I decided to inform you of its previous and current uses,” said the Dark Hunter with a shrug. “That’s all.”

Addis, looking around with a little bit of a greedy expression on his face, asked, “Where is this treasure you spoke of, Death? You said the Hunters had stored some up here before. What happened to it?”

Akuna smiled to herself as she pulled her bed next to Nastan’s. Though now a Toa, Addis had been a thief as a Matoran and so still seemed to carry a vestige of the greed that came with the job, even now. But Akuna, too, was curious about what happened to the treasure, for surely they would not toss it all out, would they? If this room was heavily guarded, she thought as she glanced around the room, then throwing it all out like that seemed foolish unless it was absolutely necessary.

“Most of it was being transported off Shika Nui when the Tuikas attacked,” Death explained. “The Tuikas flew out to sea and sunk the ships, including the treasure. So right now it is all probably sitting at the bottom of the ocean where no one can get it . . . at the moment, anyway.” He paused, and then added, “I should be leaving now. You all need your rest and you cannot get it if I stand here and give you a history lesson. So good bye and good night, my friends. Hope to see you at the front lines soon.”

With that, Death left the room, closing the door behind him as he left. Akuna fell down onto her bed – which wasn’t very soft, but better than sleeping on the ground, at least – and was just about ready to sleep when she heard Nastan snort.

My friends . . . what a joke. A Dark Hunter, thinking of us as friends?” said Nastan disgustedly. “I’m not buying it. Nor do I believe Kigin or Oggak is trustworthy, either.”

“Well, what can we do about it?” asked Barilo with a yawn. Akuna looked up and saw he was lying on his bed, too, with some old blankets stretched out over his body. He seemed relaxed. “I mean, I don’t like them much, either, but as far as I can see, they have been helping protect the Matoran from these ‘Tuikas’ or whatever they’re called for the past few weeks and both Jokao and Joha seem to trust them. So I don’t know . . .”

“I agree with Nastan,” said Chimoy in a quiet voice. He was not lying on his bed; he was sitting up, looking at them all. “It was a Toa of Shadow that killed Nonzra . . . and now we have one, right in our midst. I don’t like it; it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”

“Not to mention the Dark Hunters aren’t too friendly, either,” said Addis, who was sitting on his bed and rubbing his leg. “Ow . . . Dang leg won’t stop hurting . . .”

“Well, I think we should just let the Tuikas have the Dark Hunters and Oggak!” said Nastan, punching his old pillow with a lot more force than was necessary. “We can’t trust any of them.“

“That sounds a bit extreme, Nastan, even for Dark Hunters or Toa of Shadow,” said Barilo with a frown. “I mean according to the others, the six Tuikas slaughtered the vast majority of Dark Hunters and Matoran quickly, easily, and mercilessly. It would be just too cruel to hand them over to the Tuikas like that, in my opinion. However, I agree we can’t trust them, even if Jokao and Joha are convinced they’re trustworthy. How do we know they really are good? That’s what I want to know.”

“It isn’t a matter of whether they are ‘good,’ I think,” said Akuna, propped on her elbows. “What matters is if we can trust them. I don’t think we can, really.”

“It seems rather amazing that after we’ve been enslaved by Dark Hunters for 25,000 years, chased, attacked, and nearly killed by Toa of Shadow, that Joha and Jokao expect us to trust them!” Nastan said indignantly, shaking his head. “I mean, I respect Joha and all, but I think he’s going a little senile in his old age. After all, he’s spent the last 25,000 years warring against the Dark Hunters by himself, never giving up once. So I find it very hard to believe that he really, truly trusts them.”

“No one said he did,” said Chimoy with a hint of coldness in his voice. “Perhaps he really doesn’t trust them and only tolerates them because of the fact that they protect the Matoran. If so, then we shouldn’t trust them, either, I think.”

“Yeah, that makes sense,” said Addis, who was now lying on his back with his covers over him. “If he doesn’t truly trust them, then I doubt we can, either.”

“Maybe the same goes for Oggak, too,” said Nastan, visibly seething in anger, lying down on his mattress. “I mean, I know she’s a Toa, but as we all learned in Wyoko, not all Toa are good, and the Shodios are the prime example. Maybe she’s just tricking them into believing she’s good; that would make sense, since the Shodios and Kra-Matoran were masters of deception and falsehood too.”

“Probably,” said Akuna as she snuggled up next to him. “But we can’t prove it. And it seems to me, at least, that we should try to work with them anyway. I know I don’t want to do it, and no one else does, but if you realize our current situation, fighting them rather than the Tuikas would be very stupid.”

“I guess . . .” Nastan grumbled as he put one arm around Akuna and pulled her close. Their beds were right next to each other, so making physical contact was easy. “Maybe you’re right, Akuna, as you usually are.”

Akuna smiled at him and said, “You’re right sometimes, too, you know.”

“Er, perhaps we should go to sleep now,” said Addis uncomfortably. Akuna wondered if he was feeling nervous at the way she was outwardly showing her affection for Nastan like this, though she found she didn’t care much. “I’m just too tired to talk any longer. Let’s get some rest, and maybe, if there’s time later, we can continue our discussion. Good night.”

“Good night,” the others said in unison.

Akuna fell asleep quickly, her head on Nastan’s chest and her arms around his body. She felt a little happier now, lying in Nastan’s arms like this, and felt slightly safer, too. She felt like she would be able to sleep well tonight at least, even though every bone in her body was aching badly.


Barilo was sleeping, but his mind seemed incapable of shutting down for the night. He kept replaying Nastan’s words over and over in his mind, “not all Toa are good,” again and again until he pretty much had them down pat. For some reason they kept grabbing at his conscience, even though he had no reason to feel guilty anymore, not after making peace with Nastan back in Wyoko.

A while ago, Barilo, in a fit of rage, had tried to kill Nastan but failed and as a result had been kicked off of the team for a while. Though the others eventually forgave him and allowed him to rejoin, Nastan hadn’t, and it was only until after Barilo saved his life in Wyoko that the Toa of The Green forgot all feelings of enmity and had rebuilt their friendship. So there was no real reason for Barilo to feel guilty about something he had done so long ago, not anymore, especially since Nastan wasn’t upset about it anymore.

That was why the words hit him the most, he thought as he rolled over in his bed. He had not been a ‘good’ Toa before. In fact, he had been very greedy and arrogant and cared little for the wellbeing of others. He was more Toa-like now – and for that he was thankful – but there was still a little voice in the back of his mind that kept reminding him about his mistake, no matter how hard he tried to stifle it.

You had nearly killed your friend, the voice said. Barilo imagined the voice belonging to some shadowy figure, standing high above him, pointing at him accusingly as though he, Barilo, were on trial. Sure he has forgiven you, but tell me, do you feel forgiven? Doubt it. Your conscience will gnaw at you for the rest of your life until you are finally driven to the point of suicide. Guilt can do that to a being, you know, especially a self-proclaimed ‘hero’ like yourself.

“No . . .” Barilo muttered, swatting at thin air as though an invisible bug was annoying him. “It’s not . . .”

Suddenly, he was flying through a white, empty space, so fast that he almost felt sick. He had no idea where he was, what he was doing, but he seemed to have a very specific destination in mind. He concluded he must be in a dream, which would explain why he also seemed incapable of speaking, try though he might.

He flew for a while, before his feet abruptly hit the floor. Now he felt disoriented. He had been sure he had been flying forwards, yet if he hit the ground that must have meant he had been flying backwards, even though that made no sense. He concluded yet again that, since he was in a dream, it didn’t have to make sense, though he still felt confused and disoriented just the same.

Where should I go? Barilo thought, looking around the vast empty space of white. He could see absolutely nothing for miles around in every direction. North, south, west, or east? Or some other direction entirely?

Suddenly, he felt another presence in his mind . . . a darker one, one that definitely did not belong to him. It was very familiar, yet at the same time, it made no sense for it to be there. He was dead, which was a fact; Barilo had seen the Dark Hunters killing him before he and the others left for Wyoko. There was no way he could still be alive, and moreover, inside the Toa of Gravity’s own mind. But the presence was unmistakable; it belonged to him, all right, and he seemed to be hiding somewhere in the darkest depths of Barilo’s mind. Barilo didn’t know why he hadn’t sensed him before, though he supposed his enemy must have been cloaking his presence from detection somehow.

“Makuta Hajax! Show yourself!” Barilo shouted, stamping his foot and glancing in every direction. “Show yourself, or I’ll-“

All of a sudden, a cloaked figure, floating cross legged in midair, appeared fifteen feet in front of Barilo. That cloak didn’t fool Barilo, though; he immediately knew it was Makuta Hajax, ex-Makuta of Shika Nui. How he was still alive, Barilo didn’t know, but he knew that this being that floated in front of him was not some mysterious entity of unknown origin. He was dangerous; a threat to not just Barilo, but to his friends and very possibly the universe itself, too.

“Or you’ll what?” asked the figure with a hint of sarcasm. “Kill me? Expel me from the confines of your mind? I think not. You do not have the power nor will to kill me, and trying to force me out will simply make it easier for me to take over.”

“So you are Hajax!” Barilo said, pointing at the cloaked figure. “Or are you just a figment of my imagination?”

The cloaked figure merely shrugged and his coat disappeared, revealing a hulking, blue and yellow armored figure with a long tail wrapped around his waist, looking almost bored at the Toa of Gravity. Barilo recognized that form as the one the Makuta had taken during the battle between the Dark Hunters and Hajax’s own forces, and it wasn’t any better than his previous form, either, Barilo thought.

“I am not of your imagination, Barilo,” said Hajax. “I am just as real as this place.” He looked around the dream world, and added, “Bad example. Perhaps it would penetrate that thick skull of yours if I tell you that I am as real as yourself. I am alive and well, Barilo, and ready to take a new body for myself.”

Barilo whipped out his gravity axe and got into a battle stance, eyes locked on Hajax, sensing a fight coming.

“I don’t believe you,” said Barilo, his axe never wavering. “We all saw you get slaughtered by the Dark Hunters. I doubt even your essence could have survived that, Makuta, since it looked pretty brutal from what I saw.”

“You are quite right about that, my annoying little Toa friend,” said Hajax, with a grin of triumph and superiority on his face. He leaned forward a little and whispered, almost too quietly for Barilo to hear, “I am dead.”

Barilo frowned. How could someone be both alive and dead? He figured Hajax must be playing mind games with him, but he wasn’t going to fall for it. He was smarter now; Hajax couldn’t fool him like he had in the past.

“Your trickery and mind games are pathetic, Hajax,” Barilo snapped, pointing at the Makuta with his axe. “You can’t be both alive and dead. You’re either alive, or you’re dead. No exceptions.”

Hajax chuckled. “Perhaps I should have been clearer, my friend. What I meant is that my original self is dead – and I am now born anew in the deepest, darkest corridors of your mind. Isn’t that amazing? Even I sometimes surprise myself with my own genius.”

“You were . . . born anew . . . in my mind?” said Barilo slowly, confused now. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Obviously, it means that I planted a part of my soul inside your mind, which bloomed when I ‘died,’” said Hajax, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. “You see, when I lived, I discovered ‘soul splitting,’ a technique that allows me to split my soul into as many parts as I see fit and to put any part wherever I want, whenever I want. I could put parts of my soul in physical objects, such as a stone . . . or inside the mind of another being. As you can see, I chose the latter and you will be my new host now. Isn’t that exciting?”

“Wait, you put yourself in my mind?” Barilo asked, temporarily forgetting to hold his axe up. He put his free hand on his head in wonder. “But how-“

“When we shared a mental connection, I knew that I had a high chance of possibly dying,” Hajax continued, as though Barilo hadn’t spoken at all. “I did not want to die, since I had cheated death once before. So I split my soul and put part of it deep in your mind, buried under your most forgotten memories. That way, you would not discover it before I needed you to otherwise your friend Addis could have easily extracted it with his now-destroyed Suletu.”

“Well, why haven’t you tried to attack me before?” asked Barilo, who had regained his battle stance. “I mean, there was that one time you visited me in Wyoko-“

“I was weak back then,” Hajax replied. “You see, I still needed time to grow, otherwise I have no doubt in my mind that you would have killed me fairly easily. But now that my original self is gone, I need to act. That is one of the unfortunate side effects of soul splitting: if the original soul dies, then the other pieces will, too, unless they activate beforehand and take over their hosts, which will give them enough energy to survive for as long as their host lives.”

“So let me get this straight,” said Barilo. He was telling himself to move, to strike Hajax now, while the Makuta was still distracted, but for some reason he couldn’t. Maybe it was part of the dream, or perhaps Hajax was doing it to him, he didn’t know for certain. “You split your soul, put part of it in my mind, and when your original self died you woke up and have been growing steadily more powerful ever since. Correct?”

“One hundred percent, my friend,” said Hajax, who was no longer floating; he was standing on his feet, his sword suddenly at his side. “But you will not live much longer to enjoy it, Barilo, because in order to claim your body I will have to kill your soul.”

One moment, Barilo had been standing upright; the next moment, he was sent flying and smashed into a stone wall that had appeared out of nowhere. He slid down it, dazed and hurting, and glanced up in time to see Hajax, moving faster than anything he had ever seen before, bearing down upon him, sword raised high above his head, perhaps unrealistically so, though because this was a dream he didn’t think about it much.

The Toa of Gravity hesitated for a split second before rolling out of the way of the sword, which split the wall behind him in half, causing the two halves to fall in opposite directions and smash into pieces, filling the air with dust that Barilo could barely see through.

But he could hear Hajax running towards him and knew that the dust must not be affecting the Makuta’s range of vision the way it affected his. So he raised his axe just in time to block a stunning blow from Hajax, which actually sent him falling through the floor. He landed with a thud in another white room and saw Hajax hurtling towards him. Barilo once again rolled out of the way and Hajax, moving too fast to stop, crashed headfirst into the ground so hard that he did not get back up. Nor did he move much, either.

Barilo, having rolled a significant distance away from Hajax for his own safety, got painfully back to his feet and looked around. He watched Hajax’s unmoving body tentatively. Had he died? Or was he simply stunned? Barilo didn’t know, but he doubted it was the first; Hajax was a Makuta and had survived much worse in the past than simply hitting his head on the ground too hard.

Yet he wasn’t moving at all. As far as Barilo could see, Hajax did not even move a finger, though he didn’t dare let his guard down. He knew just how tricky Makuta could be, and wasn’t about to relax just because Hajax wasn’t moving. It was almost too easy, in his opinion . . . far, far too easy.

Hajax faded out of existence so rapidly that Barilo barely had time to register what happened. An armored hand, with thick, long nails closed around the Toa of Gravity’s throat without warning and squeezed, causing him to flail his arms and legs madly, trying to hurt his attacker but failing miserably, for Hajax was holding Barilo well away from his body to avoid getting hit.

“Too easy,” Hajax said with a laugh. “You Toa are always like that, always letting your guard down just when you think you’ve won. How stereotypical you are, Barilo.”

Barilo would have corrected him, but since there was a hand tightly squeezing his throat he could not get out much other than some incomprehensible grunts of pain.

“Now, time to finish you, Barilo,” said Hajax. Barilo felt extremely weak at that moment, as though his very life was being sucked right out of his body. “Don’t panic, don’t protest. It’ll be all over in a few minutes, and when the deed is done, I shall be the new owner of your body, Barilo. Count on it."

Review Topic

Edited by TNTOS

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 5: Possession

If what Hajax said was indeed true, then Barilo knew there was nothing he could do. Despite this, he was still flailing his arms and legs like a madman, struggling to free himself. He heard Hajax tut disapprovingly behind him.

“There’s no reason to prolong your death, Barilo,” the Makuta said without a hint of compassion in his voice. “Really, you’re just making things worse for yourself.”

Barilo’s mind ran through many different ideas and plans of escape, each one just as unlikely to work as the last. He had to agree with Hajax; it looked like he wasn’t strong enough to beat him after all. Despite everything he had been through, the Toa of Gravity was still not strong enough to defeat Hajax. And with that thought, he gave up all hopes of freeing himself and stopped flailing. There was no reason to continue; the Makuta had won.

With one final surge of power, Hajax tossed the weakened Barilo aside. Though not dead, the Toa of Gravity no longer posed a significant threat to him anymore. Hajax considered finishing him off, but decided against it. As appealing as it sounded, that was another side effect of the soul splitting process: The original soul had to stay alive, at least for a while, during the replacement period, otherwise Hajax would just end up killing himself in the process, since Barilo’s soul was still too tightly connected to the rest of the body to make killing the Toa immediately a wise decision.

So instead, he turned to face Barilo and said, “Be gone, pathetic Toa! Get out of my sight – now!”

Instantly the floor opened up beneath Barilo and sucked him inside. Within minutes Barilo’s limp form was gone, and Hajax smiled. He had done it; he now had a new body. He would be able to continue his legacy, to rebuild his forces and strike at his former brothers and sisters, who had all betrayed him many years ago.

Of course, he realized that he could not merely announce his presence to a room full of Toa immediately, weakened though they all may be. That would be suicide; he would first have to work alongside them for a while, and learn the truth about the Tuikas, something that the Toa of Shadow named Oggakia had apparently decided to keep a secret from the rest of them.

The Tuikas being creations of the Brotherhood was a laughably simple story, he thought, amused. Ever since the Great Cataclysm Toa and Matoran had begun making up lies and stories to make him and his race look bad. True, he did not think much of his former brothers and sisters anymore, but the story of the Tuikas’ creation was so stupid he wondered why the Toa Shika and the others hadn’t seen right through it immediately, as he had.

Then again, these are Toa and Toa are very gullible beings, he thought with a smirk. Besides, no one has offered an alternative explanation, so they don’t see any reason not to believe her. I knew lesser beings were stupid, but these people just fell to a brand new low of stupidity.

As he knew very well, the Tuikas were not creations of the Brotherhood; nothing like them had ever been created by the Makuta, last he checked. Of course, there could have been changes since the last time he had visited Destral, but he knew for certain that the Tuikas, at least, were not Brotherhood creations.

As a matter of fact, he did not know anything about the Tuikas, for the library of forbidden knowledge on Destral made no mention of them in any of its records, except for one very obscure, off-hand piece of text he remembered reading a while ago. The words suddenly appeared in his mind as clearly as though on a tele-screen like the kind found in the city of Metru Nui:

Among some of the strangest tales of this universe are those of the Tuikas. Of course, they are also the most mysterious and little - if anything - is known about them, save that they are supposed to be hidden underneath some faraway land. Their purpose is unknown, but it is clear that they are important to the universe in some way, shape, or form.

Now onto the legends of the southern lands . . .

That had been where the text had ended.

No wonder I didn’t remember it until now, Hajax thought, annoyed. It’s so vague to be almost unimportant. However, I know the Tuikas exist for real now; if they didn’t, then the Toa, Matoran, and Dark Hunters wouldn’t have had to relocate into the fortress. But what is the truth about them? Oggak must know, otherwise she wouldn’t have lied. And if she knows, then I will have to get that information out of her myself, though I do not know why she lied in the first place.

It was decided. Though at some point he would have to reveal himself to the Toa, take over Shika Nui, and wipe out the Tuikas and others who would stand in his way, he had to be patient. He did not want to act until he knew exactly what the Tuikas were, what they were doing (or thought they were doing), what they were capable of doing, what their purpose was, who put them there, and why. He would have to be subtle about it, but he was sure that, with his amazing skills of persuasion and cunning he would be guaranteed to get the information out of her soon.

Sometimes I love being myself more than I already do, Hajax thought with a smile. But I shouldn’t be celebrating too soon; it would make me overconfident and cocky, both of which are the pitfalls of cunning and persuasion, among other things.

So, slowly lapsing into unconsciousness, he decided that, however long it may take, he would learn the truth about the Tuikas, whether Oggak wanted to share it with him or not.


Jokao slammed the door to his room shut, seething, as he sat down on his makeshift bed. He looked around for something to smash, to relieve his anger, but there was nothing in this little room save for his bed (which he needed to sleep on), a small chest (which held his weapon and a few other objects he needed), and a lightstone embedded into the ceiling, which was the only source of light in here. So he merely punched his other hand with his fist and cursed under his breath.

Why would anyone think Oggak’s evil? he thought angrily, as he made a fire ball appear and disappear in his hand, merely to release his frustration and annoyance in a non-violent way. She’s never done anything bad to any of us. Those Shodios may have been evil, but just because they’re evil doesn’t make her evil, does it? She even betrayed them when she was a Matoran because she was disgusted by their evil ways! If that isn’t good, then what is?

He quite understood what the others had gone through; he thought that perhaps he would have had the same attitude as they had he experienced what they did. But it was still frustrating, since they hadn’t even asked him if she had done anything good. They could even ask any of the Matoran if they didn’t believe him, who would probably tell them about how she’s fought the Tuikas, saved many Matorans’ lives during many journeys across the island, and on more than one occasion saved Jokao’s own life. He could not see how any of that could be seen as ‘evil.’ Personally, he thought they were being paranoid.

Lying down on his bed, he thought, Maybe after they’ve got to know her better they’ll like her a bit more. They’ll learn she’s not evil, nor cruel, nor sadistic, nor any other negative words that you could use to describe someone. She’s good, and that’s that.

He heard a soft knock on the door just then and said, without sitting up, “Come in.”

The door opened and looking up he saw Oggak enter, looking a little concerned at him. Jokao wondered what she was here for, though he wasn’t very surprised by this visit. Since he and Oggak had been the only two Toa on Shika Nui for the past few weeks, they had grown close and were good friends. It was not unusual for either of them to come meet each other like this, and in fact Jokao often enjoyed these visits from her.

“Jokao, it’s your shift,” Oggak told him as she closed the door behind her. “Mine just ended a few minutes ago.”

“Oh, yeah,” said Jokao, sitting back up and looking at her. “I forgot. Sorry.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Oggak, shaking her head. “I understand that what the Toa Shika said about me has been affecting you. You probably forgot it was your shift in your anger.”

“How’d you know that?” asked Jokao, amazed, as he leaned forward.

“You didn’t make much of an effort to hide punching Nastan earlier,” she replied as she sat down next to him. She was smiling slightly at him. “Nor did you try to conceal your defense of me, either.”

“Er, I guess I did overreact a bit,” said Jokao sheepishly, scratching the back of his head. “But I just don’t like what they were saying about you. All of it is untrue.”

“It doesn’t matter,” she said, shaking her head again. “I know that if my best friend had been killed by Toa of Shadow I probably wouldn’t trust them, either, but seeing as I am a Toa of Shadow, I suppose that’s kind of a moot point.”

“So none of what they say bothers you?” he inquired, getting up and walking over to his chest, intending to retrieve his weapon before taking on the night shift. “Nothing?”

“I won’t lie and say it doesn’t,” she admitted, watching as he held up his fire mace and closed his chest. “Because a lot of their words aren’t kind. However, I’m not going to worry about it. What they’ve been through has probably given them a bad mental picture of a Toa of Shadow – one that more resembles, say, Teivel than me – and it will likely be a long time before they will even think about trusting me. I won’t bother them about it and I don’t think you should, either.”

Jokao shook his head in amazement. “See, this is the reason they’re so wrong. If you were as bad as those Shodios, you wouldn’t be saying something as wise as that, in my opinion.”

“Thank you, Jokao,” said Oggak as she stood up and followed him to the door. “But I don’t want you punching Nastan or any of the others again, even if they do say bad things about me, okay?”

“Okay,” said Jokao with a nod, though he privately wondered if he would be able to resist, depending on how bad they talked about her. “See you later, then.”

“All right,” said Oggak, hugging him tightly before letting go. “Hope you survive.”

Jokao smiled grimly. Guard duty, especially at night, was always a tense and often dangerous job. One never knew if the monstrous Tuikas would be the last things you ever saw, if you even saw them coming from the shadows in the first place. Jokao knew many Matoran guards had been killed in past attacks without ever seeing more than a claw or a blast of energy before dying. Both he and Oggak knew the high stakes involved with the job, but it was necessary, otherwise Koro Nui would have fallen long ago and Shika Nui would have been totally leveled.

So the two Toa left the room and separated in the hallway, Oggak heading towards her room, Jokao towards the towers.

The halls were empty tonight. All of the Matoran were asleep in one room or another. Few Matoran had a room to call their own. They had to share, which often made living conditions dirty and crowded. However, there was no way to expand the fortress or relocate the villagers to the outside, both of which would simply allow the Tuikas the chance to kill more innocents, something they had been desperately trying to prevent these past few weeks.

Still, the Matoran were used to this by now. All of them knew where they had to sleep, for they had been sorted to make sure that no one room had significantly more Matoran than the others, and whenever he and Oggak brought new villagers back home with them after a rescue mission there was always more sorting and relocating. It used to take a long time back in the old days, when the Matoran were still new to it, and had been quite chaotic, too. But now it didn’t take nearly as long and was much more organized.

Jokao, personally, was looking forward to the day when the Tuikas would be vanquished, since that would mean the Matoran would be allowed to go and reclaim Shika Nui. It would, at last, be the property of the Matoran again, since it had been in the ownership of the Dark Hunters for the past 25,000 years or so. True freedom was so close, he thought, yet at the same time so far away.

But enough thinking about things that might come, he decided. He had to focus on the here and now, not the then and before, or the soon and coming. He knew all too easy what would happen if you did not pay attention when battling the Tuikas. You get killed, as he had seen happen to many unlucky Matoran over the past few weeks. He was determined that would not be his final fate.

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 6: Assignments & Missions

Akuna woke up the next morning feeling much better than she had last night. Though she was still slightly hurting, her back ached less and her legs did not feel like lead anymore.

She also felt a little bit more cheerful, too. She didn’t know why, but perhaps it was because she had slept so well she was happier. It might also have had something to do with the fact she had slept on a real bed for the first time in a while.

Of course, she was still a little sleepy, and almost thought about sleeping in when Nastan softly nudged her and said, in a quiet voice, “Wake up, Akuna. Aren’t you hungry? They’ve given us breakfast.”

Despite the fact she was warm and comfortable where she was, she realized that she was extremely hungry now. She had forgotten that she hadn’t eaten a proper meal in a few days (or weeks, depending on who you asked) and opened her eyes slowly to see Nastan staring down at her.

“Good morning, Nastan,” she yawned, stretching her arms and legs a little as she did so. She raised her head a little and asked, “Where is breakfast?”

“Over there,” said Nastan, pointing in the direction of the door.

She glanced in the direction he was pointing and saw a small table had been put on the right side of the door, where Addis, Barilo, and Chimoy were currently sitting, eating and drinking without talking much. Lying down, curled underneath the blankets with Nastan, she could not tell what kind of food it might be, but she was so hungry that she thought she could’ve eaten whatever it was, even if it was just stale bread and dirty water.

Nastan got up and helped her out of bed. Akuna, with Nastan at her side, walked hungrily over to the table and sat down on one of two unoccupied chairs, the second one which Nastan took. She noticed that the food was indeed stale bread and dried up berries mostly, while the water in the jug looked surprisingly good, though it was not necessarily crystal clear. Still, she was quite hungry and began to absorb the energy from the food with one hand, while at the same time drinking her water a little too fast, causing her to choke a little.

Addis noticed this and said, “Hey, don’t drink too fast, Akuna. Don’t want to accidentally drown yourself, eh?”

Akuna, swallowing the rest of her water, looked sheepishly at Addis and said, “Sorry, I was just-“

She stopped midsentence when she realized that Addis looked different. At first, she could not place what was so different about him exactly, but then noticed that he was wearing a different mask. He no longer wore a hastily rebuilt Suletu; he now wore a gleaming red mask of a shape she could not place at the moment, which was slightly dented in some places, as though it had been handled roughly.

Evidently noticing the expression on her face, Addis pointed at his mask and said, “Like it? It’s a Tryna, Mask of Reanimation. It’s the only Great Mask that they could find in the Dark Hunters’ old loot, though they think there may be more hidden somewhere. Joha says one of his original teammates, Serixo, used to wear a Tryna and thinks it’s the same one, but he doesn’t know for sure, though he’s letting me keep it anyway. They brought it here this morning with the breakfast.”

“Cool,” said Nastan, who had finished taking a huge swig of water from his cup. “So what does it do?”

“I think it reanimates dead things,” said Addis with a shrug. “Not bring them back to life, per se; I just will them to live. Haven’t tried it out yet, but maybe I’ll get my chance soon, if the Tuikas are as bad as everyone says they are.”

“I hope you never do,” said Chimoy quietly, drawing the attention of the others towards himself. “Because you know what that would mean, if you ever got to use it . . .”

Akuna was at first puzzled by this statement, but then its implications sunk in quickly and abruptly. Horrified, she glanced at Addis, who seemed to have reached the same conclusion that she had, judging by his shocked face. Nastan looked confused, but Barilo, bizarrely enough, did not seem to have noticed what either Addis or Chimoy had said and was merely eating and drinking as though nothing had happened.

“That’s not what I meant, Chimoy,” said Addis, sounding slightly shaken. “You know I would never wish for that to happen. You’re right. I don’t ever want to use my Tryna. I shouldn’t have said that. Sorry.”

“What is there to apologize for?” asked Barilo unconcernedly. He was drinking rather strangely; it was almost as though he were not used to it, the way he was holding the cup, with water dribbling down his chin a little. “I see nothing wrong with wishing to test out a new mask. Personally,” he added, leaning back in his chair with a yawn as he put his cup back on the table, “watching reanimating bodies dancing would liven up this rather boring place.”

For a moment, there was nothing but stunned silence as they all looked at Barilo, who was still leaning back in his chair as though enjoying the way they were looking at him.

Then Addis said indignantly, “What the Karzahni are you talking about, Barilo?”

“Er, nothing, nothing,” said Barilo suddenly, changing his expression from one of smugness to that of fear, so quickly that Akuna almost missed it. “I was just . . . joking. Yes. That was all. Just having a laugh, though I suppose the joke wasn’t the most appropriate for this situation, was it?”

“You bet it wasn’t,” said Chimoy. “Why would anyone want to seriously see dancing corpses? It’s morbid and disgusting.”

Akuna was taken aback by the way Chimoy was acting. He was usually very quiet and reserved and rarely spoke up except when necessary. To see him speaking as loudly as he was now, and with as much emotion in his voice, was rather unsettling to her.

Maybe Nonzra’s death hit him harder than he would like to admit, she thought. He was always closest to him, after all.

“I agree, Chimoy,” said Barilo, who now looked unconcerned again. “But must we worry about the past and the dead? There is no reason to when we have our own present to worry about. The dead can worry about themselves; we can only worry about ourselves. So relax, and take life easy for a change, my friend.”

Chimoy looked like he did not know what to say, so he merely shook his head, muttering darkly under his breath, and continued eating. Barilo merely smiled in a strangely satisfied way and continued his breakfast, too.

“So,” said Addis, who was clearly relieved to see that the encounter was over, looking from one Toa to the other. “I don’t know what we’re going to be doing today. I think Jokao or one of the others will probably come up here and tell us what to do. Or we could just go down and talk to them ourselves. I don’t know. Depends on how everything works around here, I guess.”

“So long as it isn’t one of the Dark Hunters or Oggak, I’ll listen,” said Nastan.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Barilo. “I wouldn’t mind it if Oggak came up here. I would like to . . . get to know her better, if you know what I mean.”

“No,” said Akuna, feeling rather uncomfortable as she watched Barilo crush a dead berry in his hand and toss it away. “I’m not sure if I want to know.”

“Of course, I did not mean anything inappropriate by what I said,” Barilo continued. “If we are going to be working alongside her, we might as well become . . . allies, should we not?”

“Barilo, you must be insane,” Nastan said, staring at him in disbelief. “She’s a Toa of Shadow! I would rather die than become friends with her.”

“I never said become friends with her,” Barilo snapped, looking angrily at Nastan. “I just think that we should not act extremely hostile towards her. We are all Toa here, aren’t we? So maybe we should give her a chance, if you will.”

“I’m not following you, Barilo,” said Nastan, shaking his head. “You’re saying we should give a Toa of Shadow a ‘chance’? Don’t you remember what the Shodios tried to do to us? What they did to Nonzra?”

“I do indeed,” Barilo said, more calmly now. “But if you don’t want to know her, then I will. I am just more open-minded than you are, I guess.”

“Open-minded or foolish?” countered Nastan. “I can’t tell the difference at the moment, to be honest.”

Before Barilo could respond, there was a quick knock at the door and Addis, sitting closest to it, said, “Come in.”

The door opened almost before he had finished speaking and a small Ce-Matoran entered, looking a little nervous. She wore pale gold and blue armor, with some other pieces of armor in different colors slapped on in various places, which made her look as though she had splattered many colors of paint all over herself without much thought to aesthetics.

“Hello,” said the Ce-Matoran with a quick bow at the five Toa, who were now all looking at her. “M-my name is Reesha, the Chronicler of Koro Nui. I have been sent to deliver orders to the Toa Shika.”

“Well, hello, Reesha,” said Addis as he turned in his chair to face her. “What, er, did you just say?”

Reesha took a deep breath and said, “Orders. Turaga Joha has sent me here to give you your assignments. Joha says that now that you are here you will have to help defend Koro Nui like everyone else.”

“Well, obviously,” said Barilo, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “There’s a surprise.”

Reesha seemed taken aback by Barilo’s attitude, but Nastan told her, “Don’t mind him. He’s been acting weird lately.”

“Uh, okay,” said Reesha, though she was still staring at Barilo warily. “Right. Well, Turaga Joha has told me to tell you that some of you will stay here to protect Koro Nui and that the rest of you will be sent on an expedition around the island to search for any survivors of the Tuikas’ attacks.”

“Which of us will do what job?” asked Addis curiously.

“Um,” said Reesha, pulling two tablets out of her bag and looking at them. “Toa Addis, Toa Nastan, Toa Akuna, and Toa Chimoy will assist in protecting Koro Nui, while Toa Barilo will be going on an expedition with Toa Jokao and Toa Oggakia later today.”

“Is that all?” asked Addis.

“Yes,” she said, bowing. “Er, I’ll be leaving now, since that’s all I . . . all I have to say. Good bye.”

Reesha then turned around and left, though she was still looking at them over her shoulder as she went. Akuna wondered why Reesha was staring at them like that, before remembering that the Matoran of Koro Nui had only ever known two Toa, Jokao and Oggak, and so were not used to seeing five other Toa living in their village with them like this.

“Why is Barilo getting to go on an expedition?” Nastan said, snapping Akuna out of her thoughts. “Not that I want to go with that piece of shadow spit, but I don’t really want to be locked up here all day, either.”

“I don’t know,” said Addis with a shrug. “Maybe Joha thinks he can help somehow.”

“Well, I see no reason to complain,” said Barilo with an odd grin on his face. “If this means I can speak to Oggak privately, then I will merrily go along.”

“Right,” said Akuna, casting the Toa of Gravity a wary look similar to the one Reesha had worn earlier. “Well, guard duty sounds a little bit safer, in my opinion, and after all the danger we’ve been through, I’m not sure if I want to openly expose myself to the enemy like that.”

“Probably necessary, though,” said Addis as he finished his breakfast. “There may still be some Matoran out there who need help. If so, they need to be saved, and who better to do it than Toa heroes, who are supposed to protect and keep them safe in the first place?”

“Besides,” said Barilo, rubbing his hands together rather eagerly. “I can easily crush the Tuikas – literally.”

“What-?” Nastan said, before the door flung open again and Jokao entered without, looking a little tired as he approached them.

“Good morning,” said Jokao, rather drowsily, to the five Toa Shika, who all stood up immediately and greeted him in return. He then shook his head and continued in a much more brisk voice, “The only reason we let you sleep in late like this is because you guys obviously needed the rest. But now that you’ve finished your breakfast, time to do your jobs. I assume Reesha has already filled you in?”

“Yes, she has,” said Addis, nodding. “So Barilo goes with you and Oggak, while I and the others stay behind to protect the village from any Tuikas attacks?”

“Right,” Jokao confirmed. “You’re supposed to start your shift now. And Barilo, we’re leaving soon, so get your weapons and armor ready.”

“You’re . . . right,” said Barilo through gritted teeth. It was almost like he didn’t like to admit that Jokao was right, despite the fact that Barilo had never shown such reluctance before. He pulled out his axe and eyeing it with disgust added, “I’ve never been much of a fan of axes anyway. Er, I mean,” he said hurriedly, upon spotting the questioning look on Akuna’s face, “my axe is getting old, you know. It may be time for a new weapon. Perhaps a sword would do, like our dear old friend Nonzra had.”

“Perhaps,” said Jokao, nodding, though Akuna noticed he had a slightly confused look on his face. “A new weapon might help better you than your old damaged one. Come on, then,” he added, turning around in the doorway, “we’re late. Also, I’ll be showing you guys where you’re supposed to be and what you are supposed to do if you spot any of the Tuikas coming.”


The Toa Shika were separated and put in the four towers that extended from the fortress’ main body. Akuna was placed in North Tower, Nastan in South Tower, Addis in West Tower, and Chimoy in East Tower, while Barilo and Jokao left to go meet Oggak on the ground level, in the courtyard.

Before leaving, Jokao had told all of the Toa what they were supposed to do in case of a Tuikas attack. If they saw any Tuikas coming or any sign of them, they would have to raise the alarm immediately and without hesitation. According to Jokao, those precious few seconds when the Tuikas were still out of range of the fortress could mean all the difference in everyone living or dying, since all of the Matoran knew what the alarm meant by now and knew exactly where to hide in case of an attack. Other things they had to do were attack the Tuikas with whatever they got and to make sure that no one got hurt badly, though that last one, Jokao had told them, was nearly impossible to pull off and told them not to worry too much if someone did get badly hurt, because that was to be expected if you fought the Tuikas. He had said nothing about what to do if someone was killed, which worried Akuna a little. Perhaps he figured that they would react the same way as someone getting badly injured, but she wasn’t so sure since she had never dealt with allies dying in battle like Jokao might have. Well, except for Nonzra, obviously. She still didn’t know how she would react to it, however, which was what worried her most. She didn’t want to be distracted by someone’s death and get herself killed because she wasn’t paying attention to her opponent’s moves.

So Akuna now sat in the highest room in the North Tower, with two other Matoran guardsmen who carried swords and shields that were slightly too big for them. Huge Cordak blasters were mounted on the windows, aiming towards the sky, which was where the Tuikas always came from, according to one of the Matoran guardsman she was stationed with.

The tower itself looked as though it had seen a few battles during the past few weeks. Large chunks of the walls, ceiling, and even the floor had been hastily repaired with various bits of metal and stone that were surprisingly firm, though Akuna was still worried that the floor could fall in underneath them if it was hit hard in the right spot.

There wasn’t much in here, either. Aside from some stools, the aforementioned Cordak blasters, and some light stones for when it got dark, there really wasn’t any kind of furniture or decorations. Akuna assumed that was because, if they had a lot of furniture up here and the Tuikas attacked, that would mean a lot more unnecessary cleanup work for them. And there wasn’t a whole lot of room for anything else anyway.

Her fellow guardsmen were two Matoran. One was Dusa, a Ta-Matoran who acted a little bit like Nastan, though slightly more serious. The other was an Et-Matoran named Ferha, who was more like Chimoy, in Akuna’s mind: quiet, rarely speaking except when necessary, but a reliable person all around.

“What is it like when the Tuikas attack?” asked Akuna as she examined her staff, which was a little bent near the top. She wondered if it would affect her fighting style much. She hoped not.

“Death and chaos reign,” Ferha replied, manning one of the Cordak blasters. She was not looking at Akuna; instead, she had her eyes focused entirely upon the sky. Akuna understood that Ferha was one of the best gunners in Koro Nui and therefore never took her eyes away from the sky for even a moment if she was at work, just in case the Tuikas were hiding somewhere in the clouds overhead. “Things get smashed and people die or get hurt badly. It’s not pretty.”

“She’s summed it up pretty well, in my opinion,” said Dusa, running one finger along his sword’s edge. “There is really nothing more to add except that if you survive, you usually feel extremely guilty about being a survivor. You have lots of questions; like, why did I survive? Why did everyone else die? Stuff like that. You usually forget about them, though, when the next attack comes ‘round and you need to have your wits about you to just survive. Have you ever felt that way, Toa Akuna?” He asked that without looking at her. He seemed unused to the Toa of Lightning, which was probably the case, since he hadn’t known any other Toa besides Oggak and Jokao before the Toa Shika.

She considered his question. She had never really felt that way before, since no one she knew or had been close to her had ever died while she survived. But then her thoughts drifted towards Nonzra. He had died and she had survived. She had never thought about why she or the others had lived while Nonzra had died back there. Nor would she have time to worry about it. She had plenty of other things to think about at the moment; no need to worry about why she was the survivor, since she didn’t know why and doubted she ever would, though she did miss Nonzra quite a bit.

“I’ve never really felt that way before,” she said slowly. “I mean, Nonzra’s died and I survived, but I’ve never really questioned myself about it, even now.”

“Well, good,” said Dusa, who was now done with his sword and was also looking out the window with Ferha. “That means you can focus on something else, like the Tuikas, for example.”

“Uh, right,” Akuna said, though she wasn’t sure if that was a good thing. “Well, how long have you been a guard, then?”

“Ever since we first took this place as our home,” Dusa replied. “Fortunately I’ve survived every attack, but that doesn’t mean I’ll always survive. Some day – maybe even today – I’ll be too slow or make a wrong move and bam,” he punctuated this by slamming his fist into his other hand, “I’m dead.”

Akuna was amazed by Dusa. Despite being a Matoran, he was already displaying the attitude of a Toa, or how a Toa should act, anyway.

Guess these Matoran have had to learn to be strong to survive, she thought, now glancing out the window with the other two. They’ve already accepted death as part of their life. Dusa, at least, doesn’t seem horrified or even slightly frightened at the prospect of death. Then again, these Matoran have been through the cruel enslavement of the Dark Hunters and the wrath of the Tuikas. Perhaps they learned to be strong a long time before I even noticed.

Her staff leaning on her shoulder, she decided not to think about it at the moment. If what Dusa said was true, then she would need to keep all of her attention focused completely on the sky, where the Tuikas were likely to strike from. She didn’t want to die like a fool, unaware of her surroundings, allowing a much cleverer enemy to strike her down when she least expected it. That would be stupid, especially considering all she’d recently been through.

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 7: A Familiar Place

Hajax stumbled over some rocks and cursed. He was still adjusting to his new body, which reminded him there were some things that even a Makuta had a difficult time relearning. His arms ached, his legs were tired already, and he needed to stop for breath, though Jokao and Oggak, who were already well-ahead of him, did not seem to have noticed and were continuing without slowing down to even let him catch up with them.

I had forgotten what it’s like to need to do things like rest, Hajax thought as he continued walking, rubbing his aching thighs. Or how to drink, or sleep, or, indeed, do anything the average biomechanical beings needs to do every day. A necessary evil, I suppose, for the chance to have a body again, however frail and weak it may be.

They were currently at the western end of the island, which was rocky, with thin gray clouds floating above them. Hajax knew this region well; he had used it to hide many ex-Brotherhood minions in the old days before launching a full-fledged attack on the Dark Hunters. It wasn’t exactly this spot, of course, but it had been near here in a hidden cavern where he had kept his soldiers. Whether the Tuikas had destroyed it yet, he did not know, but hoped they didn’t. Perhaps some of his old minions had taken refuge around here, though he doubted that they were waiting for him, since he was still technically supposed to be dead.

Up ahead, Jokao and Oggak had stopped to survey the hillside, while Hajax struggled to climb the steep incline. If he had been inside his normal body, he thought angrily, this would have been no problem whatsoever. But since he was so unused to having a normal physical body, just walking was sometimes torture. Still, he had to ignore it for now. So long as nobody noticed that Barilo was acting strange, his true identity was perfectly safe.

“Do you see any Matoran, Oggak?” asked Jokao as Hajax approached, now quite out of breath. “’Cause I don’t.”

“No, I don’t, either,” she said, shaking her head. “But we should keep looking. They may be hiding somewhere.”

“What . . . makes you think . . . there are any Matoran still alive besides the few in Koro Nui?” asked Hajax in between gasps for air, unable to keep the fatigue out of his voice. “I doubt the Tuikas . . . would leave any of them alive . . .”

Jokao nodded grimly. “A lot of the time we’re unsuccessful, especially in recent days. We keep searching and never find more than about a dozen or so at a time, and sometimes not even that much. The bigger problem is transporting all of them to Koro Nui without the Tuikas killing them first. But there’s still that hope that some are still alive, and that hope is what keeps us going even in the darkest hours of the night.”

While Jokao looked away, Hajax rolled his eyes. More Toa naivety. . . . He could not wait until the time came to stop pretending to be Barilo, which he thought he was doing a rather poor job at, though no one said anything to him about it. Once that time came, he would rid the world of Toa. They were pointless; but perhaps not totally pointless, he thought as he eyed Oggak, who was pointing down the slope towards some unknown destination.

“Maybe we should look in that cavern,” she was saying to Jokao. “It looks safe, so maybe the Matoran decided to hide in it.”

“Worth a try,” said Jokao with a shrug. “Barilo?”

“Yes?” said Hajax, quickly adjusting his face to look curious, rather than annoyed. “What is it?”

“Oggak thinks there’s a place the Matoran could have hidden in,” said Jokao, pointing in the same direction as the Toa of Shadow. “Down there, near the sea. Looks a little dangerous, though, but if there are any Matoran in there they are probably safe.”

Hajax got onto the same level as the other two and looked at where they were pointing. He stifled a gasp; it was the cave he had used before, except it looked slightly more flooded now and someone – perhaps some Matoran, perhaps some of his old minions, or maybe someone else – had evidently tried to build a blockade at the exit with a waist high pile of rocks, which were in danger of being knocked over by the violent waves that beat against them.

“Ah, yes, that place . . .” said Hajax without thinking. “I remember it well . . .”

“What was that?” asked Jokao curiously.

“Er, I mean,” said Hajax hastily. “I remember it well from my days as a . . . as a Matoran! Yes, that’s where I remember it from. Ah, yes, my friends and I used to hide our treasure in there all the time. Those were the good old days . . .” He grinned unnaturally at the Toa of Fire, who tilted his head in confusion, then shrugged and began climbing down the slope with Oggak, who was already a few feet below them.

Too close, Hajax thought as he began climbing down with them. Almost gave myself away. Got to be more careful from now on, I should, though I can’t go making up memories forever, since someone is bound to contradict me at some point.

The cold wind blew against Hajax’s face, causing him to shiver. Cold was something else he was not used to. Another sacrifice, though he still didn’t like it. He would never understand how the Toa and others managed to live with these kinds of physical limitations and pain. He supposed they just ignored it most of the time, but he wondered how they could ignore it for so long like this without complaining even slightly.

Perhaps they’re stronger than they looked, Hajax thought. He slipped a little and nearly fell, but managed to hold on. He cursed. I guess that raises them in my eyes . . . a little, maybe. Not much, if at all.

After some minutes of climbing and unsteady walking, the ground began to level out and they were now walking towards the shore. Hajax glanced nondescriptly at the sand ahead; no footprints or tracks, though considering the fact that the tide was in, any tracks or footprints that might have been there had probably been washed away now. That was good; he didn’t want Jokao and Oggak to think there may be some unfriendly strangers inside there and make them want to turn back.

“We’re going to have to wade,” said Oggak, pointing at the water, which looked even colder than the wind, Hajax thought. “There’s no other way in.”

Jokao groaned, and Hajax privately wanted to do the same. “You sure, Oggak? We can’t just find another way in?”

“As far as I can see, the only way in is through the cavern mouth,” she replied. “There’s no other way.”

“Okay,” said Jokao reluctantly. “Let’s go, then.”

Oggak took the first step into the water, but did not seem to shiver at all. Perhaps the water wasn’t as cold as Hajax thought, but then, when Jokao stepped into it, he cursed under his breath and shook fast, which confirmed the Makuta’s worst fears.

“Stupid cold water,” Jokao muttered as he waded over to Oggak. “Why does it have to be cold?”

Oggak laughed playfully. “You’re not afraid to take on all six of the Tuikas with a broken knife, but you’re afraid of getting cold and wet?”

“Whatever,” Jokao said, disgruntled. He shivered and turned to look at Hajax, who had yet to join them. “What’re you waiting for? You weren’t put on this mission just to stand around and look stupid, you know!”

Hajax’s anger burned deep inside him. So he looked stupid, did he? He wanted to lash out at the Toa of Fire, attack him, tell him off for daring to insult a Makuta. But he managed to hold it all back. It would simply get him into trouble, and trouble was the last thing he wanted, at least at the moment.

“Er, coming,” said Hajax awkwardly as he waded in after them and violently shivered. Jokao was right; the water was cold, but he didn’t complain about it as he drew closer to the two. He did not want to display weakness in front of them.

Once Hajax had joined them, Oggak lead them towards the cavern, which looked a lot smaller than Hajax remembered it being. Oggak kicked aside the makeshift wall as they walked, which fell apart quite easily. Hajax was disappointed at that. If his minions really had built that wall, then they had done a lousy job of it. Must be Matoran, then, he decided.

The tunnel itself was dark, though Hajax did not care. He loved the dark and could see quite easily, even with Barilo’s weak eyes, but they were still knee-deep in the cold water, which made it much less enjoyable than he would have liked. But the thought of the sandbank up ahead, where they could get onto dry land, kept him wading with Jokao and Oggak all the way.

“I’ve never been in here before,” Jokao remarked. A sudden flash of light startled Hajax, causing the Makuta to fall backwards into the water with a splash. He looked around and saw, with a jolt of anger, that Jokao had conjured flames in his hand so that he could see his surroundings easier.

“Barilo, are you okay?” asked Oggak, stopping and looking down at him with a slightly worried expression on her face. “Did something startle you?”

“If Jokao would have warned me about what he was going to do before he did it, I wouldn’t have fallen in,” said Hajax, glaring at the Toa of Fire as he rose to his feet, now visibly shivering as he wrapped his arms around himself to keep in the little warmth his body still had left.

“Sorry,” said Jokao. “Has being in Wyoko for all of these weeks made you forgotten what real light looks like?”

“No,” said Hajax angrily, pushing his way past Jokao to continue. “I know full well what real light looks like. Yours is just too bright. Douse it with this water or something.”

“It isn’t that bright,” Jokao muttered.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Oggak as she caught up with Hajax. “We’ve got to keep going. If there’s only this cold water in here, the Matoran might be freezing to death.”

What a tragic loss that would be, Hajax thought, though he kept these thoughts to himself.

They walked for a long time, occasionally stopping to examine part of a sword or a piece of armor sticking out of the water. Although Jokao and Oggak were puzzled by the smashed armor pieces and broken weapons they found, Hajax was not, though he pretended to be. He recognized them as belonging to his minions, though they seemed to be fairly old, which gave him hope that perhaps some were still alive deep within this cavern.

“Hello?” Jokao called down the tunnel. “Anyone down there?”

His call echoed off the walls, but there was no answer. Jokao looked discouraged, but Hajax was not. He had specifically trained his minions to never answer the calls of anyone but himself. Since none of them had leapt out of the darkness at them, he figured their training had paid off.

After walking for a few more minutes, Jokao stopped and said, “You know what? It doesn’t seem like there are any Matoran here, or even any Dark Hunters that might have survived the slaughter. Perhaps we should head home.”

“There’s still some ways to go, though,” said Hajax, who had not stopped. “Just up ahead, there should be a sandbank we can get on. I’m sick of this water already.”

“Okay,” said Jokao as he continued walking, though he sounded like he still wanted to go back.

Their shadows danced along the walls from the light of Jokao’s flames and in less than a minute they reached the sandbank Hajax had spoken of. They quickly walked onto it. Hajax then immediately glanced around, but saw no sign of his minions. He was crestfallen; this would make taking over Shika Nui that much more difficult a task than it already was.

“What’s that?” asked Jokao, pointing into the darkness. “Looks like armor . . .”

“It’s an Exo-Toa,” said Oggak as they approached it, “though badly damaged. Don’t think it works anymore.”

She was right. Slumped against the stone wall was the metallic suit of armor known as an Exo-Toa. It was, just like she had said, damaged; its chest had apparently been ripped open and one leg was totally smashed. Its lifeless red eyes flared in the light of Jokao’s flames, but it was definitely not in any working condition anymore. Hajax didn’t particularly care; he never liked Exo-Toa in the first place, so he didn’t see this as much of a loss, though he did wonder who or what had done that to the armor in the first place.

“Where’d this Exo-Toa come from?” asked Jokao with frown. He turned to Hajax and asked, “Barilo, did you and the others put this Exo-Toa here? You said you used to use this place to hide your treasure, after all.”

“I did?” asked Hajax, confused, before hastily correcting himself, “Oh, yes, I did tell you that didn’t I? But we didn’t get to use it for long; the Dark Hunters discovered it and scared us away. I believe they used it to store destroyed Brotherhood weapons, armor, and sometimes minions, though I don’t think they ever found our treasure.”

“I see,” said Jokao, nodding. “That explains the bits and pieces of armor we’ve been seeing here.”

There was sudden movement up ahead, catching their attention immediately. Oggak pulled out a long sword and stood up straight, her eyes squinting into the darkness, while Jokao whipped out his flail and swung it a few times. Hajax unlimbered his new spear. Before leaving the village, Hajax had replaced his old axe with this new spear, which apparently had been highly prized by the Dark Hunters before the Tuikas arrived. The spear was supposed to be a “mind harvester,” meaning it could take the thoughts of its user and transform them into pure energy, though at the cost of sometimes making the user a little dazed or confused for a few minutes after use.

“Who’s in there?” asked Jokao. “Oggak, what do you see?”

Oggak, being a Toa of Shadow, could see in the darkness better than Jokao, and answered, “I can’t tell, Jokao. Even with my night vision it’s- Ah!”

A bolt of darkness struck the ground in front of Oggak, who stumbled back in shock. Then a blast of heat vision nearly hit Jokao’s head (A shame it missed, Hajax thought), and Hajax dodged a Rhotuka spinner that melted the area he had been standing on earlier, now angry at nearly having his feet melted off.

Three beings – two tall, humanoid ones, and a small, spider-like one – leapt out of the darkness, hissing and growling at the three warriors. Hajax recognized them immediately; the first one was a Rahkshi of Darkness in black-red armor, the second a heat-vision Rahkshi (recognizable by its distinctive yellow armor), and the third a green Visorak Keelerak. All three of them looked crazed; the Keelerak was snapping its pincers hungrily, while the two Rahkshi took aim with their staffs.

Well, I’ve found some of my old minions, Hajax thought as he took a step back in surprise. But they don’t quite seem to recognize me, unfortunately.

Darkness, heat vision, and an acid Rhotuka spinner went flying towards them, but they managed to jump out of the way of the combined attack just in time. All three projectiles hit the spot where the party had been standing, which created an explosion that rocked the floor

Jokao’s flames had gone out now, plunging the cavern into total darkness. This was no problem for Hajax and Oggak, who could see very well in the shadows, but Jokao was not used to it – which would probably lead to his death, Hajax knew, unless the Toa of Fire was very good at improvising. This thought did not make him sad at all.

The heat-vision Rahkshi tried blasting the Makuta, but he easily deflected it with his spear, which he swung into the Rahkshi’s face. The Rahkshi stumbled, stunned by the blow, which gave Hajax the opportunity to send a mental note to the armored slug via telepathy. He did not want to fight and possibly kill his own minions when they could be of use to him in the future.

It is me who you and your allies are fighting, pathetic Rahkshi! he shouted in the Rahkshi’s mind. I am your master, Makuta Hajax, though in a different body than you might remember. If you dare fight me further, I shall personally see to your immediate demise. Understood?

The Rahkshi, incapable of verbal communication though it might be, could quite clearly understand its master. It bowed humbly, but he scolded it via telepathy at once.

Don’t bow now! Hajax snapped, looking around to make sure that Jokao and Oggak were too busy fighting to notice that him and the Rahkshi were not fighting. Hear this order; I want you and the other two to leave now. Abandon this fight and I promise that you shall live to see another dark day on Shika Nui. In due time I will call you to rejoin me, but for now, I want you to find refuge elsewhere. Understood?

The Rahkshi stood up immediately, and, without giving even the slightest hint that it had heard its master’s orders, tore off into the darkness past him. Based on the sounds of more metallic feet clanking against stone and dirt, the other Rahkshi and the Keelerak were leaving, too. He felt relieved; he now had three of his old minions back under his control, though it would probably be a long time before he would call them again, he knew. He hoped they would lay low for a while, just so they wouldn’t end up getting themselves killed before he needed them.

“Hey, where’re they going?” Jokao shouted in confusion, from somewhere within the darkness. “Why’re they just running away like that?”

“I don’t know,” Oggak answered, who was standing a few feet away from where Hajax stood and looked just as confused as Jokao sounded. “I really don’t know.”

“Obviously,” said Hajax, walking over to her as Jokao joined them. “They realized that they would not survive an encounter with the three of us – most especially, me – so they took the wise option and ran for it. What we really should be worrying about,” he added, on a spur of the moment, “is that they don’t attack Koro Nui. Wouldn’t it be just simply tragic if dozens of Matoran died just because of our carelessness?”

“I doubt two Rahkshi and a Visorak could give the others that much trouble,” said Jokao, shaking his head. A ball of flames ignited in the Toa of Fire’s hand, illuminating his puzzled, tired-looking face. “But the Tuikas . . . it’s them I’m most worried about. I always get this worried whenever we leave the fortress, even though there are more defenders now.”

“I know what you mean,” said Oggak. “The Tuikas are easily more than capable of demolishing Koro Nui if they want to. But this job is important: No Matoran should be left behind, especially if we can do something about it. It’s something we got to do, no matter how many times we may fail.” She looked around, and added, “Perhaps this would be the best time to go back. I doubt there are any more friendly beings in here. If those Rahkshi and that Visorak were hanging around, I doubt that any Matoran would risk trying to live in this place.”

“Guess you have a point,” said Jokao with a shrug. “Although I must say that I am amazed that those two Rahkshi and the Visorak managed to survive so long, considering the fact that many more better trained Dark Hunters went down extremely fast.”

“Maybe the Tuikas didn’t think they were worth destroying,” Hajax suggested. “Anyway, I do agree with Oggak: It would be best if we head back to Koro Nui. We’ve been gone long enough; the others might, ah, ‘miss’ us. Or at least me, anyway.” He looked at Oggak as he said that. He had no doubt in his mind that none of the Toa Shika would shed even a tear for Oggak if she died on this mission.

“Well, I’m sure the Matoran at least will be wondering where we are,” said Jokao reasonably. “We have been gone pretty long, though. We ought to return.”

So, with one last look down the tunnel, the party of three turned away and began walking towards the exit, Hajax secretly making plans to have his minions strike Koro Nui later on, once he felt safe enough to reveal himself to the others. He wondered for a moment how strong the Tuikas really were, but decided that the Toa were probably overestimating them. Though he did not plan to underestimate them – a flaw that he, unlike Makuta Teridax, did not possess – he did not think the Tuikas could stand even five minutes in a fight against a Makuta such as himself. Of that, he was certain.

Review Topic

  • Upvote 1

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 8: Only One Way to Go

There was only one word that Nastan could have used to describe guard duty at the moment: Boring. Boring, boring, boring, and even more boring. All he did was sit around with two Ko-Matoran (who did not seem to be very interested in talking to him) and watch the sky all day, which he realized, for the first time in his life, was probably the most boring thing in the entire universe. All that he ever saw in the sky was clouds, the sun, and maybe some birds – that was it. No Tuikas or anything else like that.

Why did they have to put us all in separate towers? Nastan thought, glancing out one of the windows, which was aimed at North Tower, where Akuna was stationed. Why couldn’t they put me and Akuna in the same tower? It would be a lot more fun and less boring if we were together. Besides, we’ve never had much time alone together ever since we got back from Wyoko. Maybe Oggak just doesn’t want us to plot behind her back while she’s away, which would make sense, since she is a Toa of Shadow after all. They love to plot against others but hate it when others plot against them.

Nastan knew how his prejudice came across to Jokao, Joha, and anyone else who was convinced of Oggak’s innocence, but he didn’t care. He had seen what Toa of Shadow were capable of doing – and he had literally experienced some of it himself, back when he had briefly been a Toa of Shadow. That had been a dark time, and according to his friends he had been extremely menacing and cruel. After that, he was unconvinced that anyone who associated with the shadows could be even slightly good. He stuck firmly to that opinion and was not going to allow anyone to change it, not even Joha, whom he admired greatly.

I’m glad the others agree, but I just wish that Joha and Jokao would see the light, at least, Nastan thought, toying absentmindedly with his bow and arrows. I mean, they have a Toa of Shadow and Dark Hunters working with them! I mean, what the heck is up with that?

He especially didn’t know what Joha was thinking. Joha had been the worst enemy of the Dark Hunters of Shika Nui for over 25,000 years. Nastan expected he would be vehemently against allying with any Hunters, even if it was for the greater good. Yet Joha was compromising the Toa’s code (at least in Nastan’s opinion) by even just letting them walk around armed! What if they tried to kill him, or one of the Toa Shika? Or even tried to harm the Matoran? It was ridiculous and he could see no logical reason for allying with scum like that.

I’ll never understand Turaga, he thought angrily. But I understand how Toa of Shadow think perfectly well, and I know that they aren’t even remotely good.

He glanced out the window again. Still no Tuikas . . . . Now he was beginning to wonder if the Tuikas really existed or if everyone was just being paranoid. Then again, he remembered seeing the beasts locked up in the stasis tubes underneath Shika Nui, so he supposed that they really existed. But were they as bad as everyone said they were or was it just another Dark Hunter or Toa of Shadow trick?

He scowled. He had no answer to that question and decided the only thing to do was to wait. Perhaps he would ask his fellow guardsmen here for stories regarding the Tuikas, the Dark Hunters . . . and Oggak, too. He wanted to know what everyone thought of her; whether she was trustworthy, honest, and a good Toa, or if she was exactly what he thought she was: scum.

“Hey, Kerja?” said Nastan casually, addressing one of the guards, who turned around silently to look at him.

“Yes, Toa Nastan?” Kerja replied. “Did you want to ask me something?”

“I was just wondering what you think about Oggak,” he continued, in the same casual tone as before. He was starting off small; later he might ask Kerja or another Matoran about the Hunters, but for now, learning more about Oggak interested him a bit more than learning what the Hunters were doing. “I mean, is she nice, or good, or honest, or trustworthy, or anything else? I don’t know her very well yet, but she seems to be . . . trustworthy, I suppose.” He did not want to describe her negatively, at least not yet, so Kerja would not get suspicious.

“She’s good,” said Kerja. “She’s been protecting us from the Tuikas for weeks now. She’s kind of quiet, but she’s trustworthy, and I am sure she is honest, too. I wouldn’t trade her for any other Toa in the world.”

Nastan sighed inwardly. It looked like Oggak was considered a hero by some of the Matoran or at least by Kerja. How was he supposed to get the dirt on Oggak now? There had to be something bad about her . . . something that made her unlikable, something to justify his prejudice. Maybe if he pushed her a little she would tell him something bad about Oggak.

“Okay,” said Nastan, slightly annoyed now. “But has she ever been unkind or dishonest or something to anyone, besides the Tuikas? Ever said something strange?”

Kerja frowned. “Why would you ask that? She gets stressed out like everyone, you know. Protecting an entire village of Matoran, with the possibility of dying horribly every day, is enough to make anyone a little annoyed and angry at times. But to answer your question, I don’t think she’s ever been unkind or dishonest towards anyone. She’s told us all she knows about the Tuikas, and I believe every word of it.”

“Er, okay,” said Nastan. He was now starting to reach the conclusion that Kerja was incapable of saying anything bad about Oggak, even if it happened to be true. He decided to ask another, less loyal Matoran later on. Maybe one of them would tell him something about the Toa of Shadow that would make her look bad. “Well, I-“

“But now that you mentioned it,” Kerja continued, as if uninterrupted. She glanced out the window again, then turned to face Nastan and said, “Sometimes, when she seems to think no one is looking, she looks kind of guilty and sad. But I’ve always dismissed it as me imagining things, since she always goes back to looking normal a second later.”

Nastan leaned forward a little at that. Now this was interesting. Oggak looking guilty and sad when she thought no one was looking? Now why would she do that? Was she hiding something from everyone else and was beginning to feel guilty about it? What could it be?

Probably something sinister, Nastan decided, feeling a thrill of excitement course through him. I knew it. She’s done something or is about to do something that she will regret. I gotta stop her . . . wait, what if she’s really in charge of the Tuikas? What if she is their master and is using them as a distraction for her own sinister needs? That would explain why they keep attacking again and again . . . they aren’t aiming to eliminate us, just distract us, from her real goals.

He disregarded the fact that she apparently looked guilty and sad. She had nothing to be guilty or sad about and he doubted she was beginning to regret whatever she wanted to do. He was now convinced that the Tuikas were working alongside Oggak, but what were they aiming to achieve? World domination? Gaining all the riches and spoils of Shika Nui?

He didn’t know what Oggak was after now. But he knew one thing; once she, Jokao, and Barilo came back, he would have to confront her. If he could get her to reveal her true motives – preferably in front of dozens of Matoran and Turaga Joha – then he would be the savior of Shika Nui. That way, they could figure out how to stop the Tuikas for good, and it would be all because of him.

I hope they get here soon, Nastan thought as he strode over to the wind and peered out it, now looking at the ground several feet below. Because soon I’ll be a hero. And Oggak will be where she rightfully belongs; in prison, where all shadow spit ought to be.


Hajax, Jokao, and Oggak were walking quietly and with caution down the cold, ankle-deep waterway. Hajax was quite happy with himself; he had just secured three of his old minions, and if he could keep going on these missions like this, he was certain he would be able to rebuild at least a part of his old forces. Once that was over with, Koro Nui would fall to his power, he would naturally learn the truth about the Tuikas, and, after smashing the Tuikas into fine powder, he would begin conquest of the universe, to set right what once went wrong, and so on.

His only regret was that he had not yet gotten a chance to interrogate Oggak. Of course, there was still the rest of the journey home, but he doubted he would gain any alone time with her so long as Jokao was still with them.

When we get home, maybe I’ll just interrogate her in her room, he thought. That might work, depending on whether I feel up to it or not, though I will have to if I am to succeed.

That was yet another problem beings with physical bodies had; exhaustion. Though he did his best to hide it, he felt exhausted and wanted to actually go and rest a little. He knew it was idiotic, but he could not tell his body to not be worn out. Maybe, just maybe, when he got home he would take a quick nap and then interrogate her. Just a quick nap; maybe a few minutes long, that’s all. Long enough to regain most of his strength, at least.

Finally, after walking for several more minutes, they reached the exit. As they left, Hajax noticed for a split second that some of the rocks had been smashed into pieces, before being hit very hard in the chest back into the cavern with Oggak. He splashed into the cold water face first with Oggak and struggled to his feet, looking up in time to see six strange beings that he didn’t recognize flying towards them, while Jokao stumbled back in, clutching his arm, which seemed to have been damaged.

“Tuikas!” shouted Jokao, raising one hand towards the ceiling. “They’re . . . they’re here! Get back!”

“Tuikas? Here?” asked Oggak, though Hajax thought he caught a hint of expectancy in her voice mingled in with the fear, but he didn’t know what that was all about. “Now?”

“Watch out!” Jokao shouted, firing off half a dozen fire balls at the ceiling. “I’m sealing off the entrance before they can get in!”

“What?” Hajax shouted in shock, ducking underneath a bolt of lightning that had been shot by one of the Tuikas. “But that’s crazy!”

“It’s the only thing we can do!” Jokao replied, still firing blast after blast at the ceiling. “Three Toa aren’t strong enough to take on six Tuikas alone!”

The Tuikas were closing in fast. Hajax doubted that Jokao would be able to bring the entrance down before the Tuikas could get in . . . on his own, anyway. Should he help Jokao? After all, he wanted to live at least a little while longer, which he doubted the Tuikas would allow him to do if they got any closer.

But it seemed like Oggak had gotten the idea first; she had jumped to her feet and began firing shadow blasts at the ceiling while simultaneously flinging bolts of shadow at the incoming Tuikas, who had also increased the ferocity of their attacks. Hajax rose to his feet, intending to help Oggak and Jokao. While he cared nothing for the two Toa, he himself was not going to die, not today.

So he focused Barilo’s gravity powers on the same spot Jokao and Oggak were attacking, increasing the gravity of the archway tenfold until it finally collapsed, cascading tons of rocks and dirt down upon them. A cloud of dust billowed over them, blinding Hajax and sending him falling into the now-muddy water with a loud splash. The entrance was now effectively blocked, though Hajax now wondered if all of the mud and dust was really worth the effort.

“Is everybody okay?” Oggak called from somewhere within the dust cloud. “Hello?”

“I’m . . . fine,” Hajax coughed, managing to get into a sitting position and rubbing the dust out of his eyes. “Wasn’t hurt too badly, I think. Just very dirty is all.”

“My arm . . .” Jokao groaned. He sounded like he was lying in pain somewhere nearby. “My legs . . .”

Hajax so dearly wanted to blow the dust away with a cyclone so that he could see, but doing that make Jokao and Oggak ask questions, as he was pretty sure that Barilo did not have the ability to summon cyclones in a cavern. So he merely groped around in the darkness, looking for Jokao and Oggak as best as he could, but the sticky mud and thick dust cloud made it nearly impossible to move or see well. It made him feel weak, which was something he hated feeling, but he had to deal with this weakness for now.

“Where are you?” Oggak shouted. “Jokao, where are you?”

“At the . . . at the entrance,” Jokao called, and Hajax, following the Toa of Fire’s voice, realized that he was indeed by the now-blocked off entrance. “Follow the fire . . .”

A bright ball of flames appeared within the sand cloud, which drew both Hajax and Oggak towards its source. Once they were within view of Jokao, Hajax saw him lying half-buried underneath a wall of debris blocking the entryway, with one arm up in the air holding a sphere of fire within its grasp. Jokao looked hurt; his right arm was bleeding and had a bad burn on it, while his legs were completely buried underneath a ton of rock and dirt. His mask appeared to be in one piece, however, though it looked rather muddy to Hajax.

“Jokao!” said Oggak, crawling over to him and cradling the upper half of his body in her mud-encrusted arms. Jokao’s flames illuminated her red eyes, which were wide with fear and anxiety. “Please speak to me. Can you still feel your legs?”

“Right now I wish I couldn’t,” Jokao groaned, keeping his ball of flames well away from Oggak.

“Good, that means you may still be able to walk,” she said, slightly calmer now. “But we’ll still have to get you out of there, or else you might not be able to feel them at all anymore.”

“No,” Jokao muttered quietly. Hajax gleefully noticed that his flames were starting to die out. “Leave me here. You and Barilo try to find another way out.”

“That sounds like a good idea to me,” Hajax agreed, looking up at the mountainous pile of rock and dirt that stood before them. In his present condition, he wasn’t so sure he wanted to play Onu-Matoran miner at the moment. “Really, he’s got a-“

“No,” Oggak said fiercely, slowly lowing Jokao back into the dirty water. “We’re going to save him. We might not even have to dig all that much; you’re a Toa of Gravity, right? So why don’t you just lift the rocks off him and I drag him out?”

“Er, good idea, Oggak,” said Hajax reluctantly. He would have to do it; to go against her would look suspicious, and looking suspicious was what he was trying to avoid at the moment. “Stand back, then.”

Oggak slid backwards on the mud a few feet away, though she was still looking at Jokao with worried eyes. Jokao, meanwhile, put out his flames by dousing his hand in the water and then put his hand on his head, as though to protect it from what was to come.

Hajax rose unsteadily to his feet, the mud clinging to his armor. He was annoyed, uncomfortable, and tired, so with one flick of his finger, half a ton of rock and dirt went up into the air, well above Jokao. Oggak slid forward on the mud and rose to her feet as she reached Jokao. She bent over and grabbed him around the chest and began heaving him out, with some assistance from the Toa of Fire, who was pushing himself along with his one good arm rather feebly.

Once he was free, Hajax dumped the debris back to the ground, creating yet another, slightly smaller cloud of dust that blinded them for a few minutes until it settled. The Makuta turned and saw Jokao and Oggak were holding onto each other very tightly and closely, muttering to each other in tones that were too low for him to hear.

He glanced at Jokao’s legs and what he saw nearly made him, Makuta Hajax, wince. Jokao’s legs looked to be broken; his left leg was twisted at a weird angle, while his right leg looked as though it had been detached from its socket. His red armor was barely visible underneath the thick layer of mud, dust, and dirt that now lay upon it. Hajax wondered if Jokao would ever walk again, but then decided that that would be for the better. It would be one less obstacle for him to deal with in the future, after all.

“Jokao, are you okay?” asked Oggak as she glanced at his legs and winced. “Can you walk at all?”

“I don’t think . . . I don’t think I can,” said Jokao, flinching as he tried to move his left leg. “May need someone to hold me if we’re all going to get out of here.”

“Okay, okay,” said Oggak soothingly, patting him on the back, while holding him even closer to her body. She looked up at Hajax, then at the debris, and back at him again before asking, “Barilo, can you-?”

“I could,” said the Makuta shortly, glancing at the debris that covered the entrance. “But I’m afraid that our old friends may still be waiting out there for us. It may be wiser to continue on until we find another exit.”

Is there another way out?” asked Oggak. “You said you’ve been here with the other Shika when you were Matoran. Surely you thoroughly explored the place before using it to hide treasure?”

Hajax shrugged. “No, we didn’t. Like I said before, we didn’t get to use it very long before the Hunters scared us out. I really have no idea what’s down there, to be honest.” He smiled in a rather fake way at Oggak, who did not look any more reassured than before.

But he had told her the truth; despite hiding his minions in here, he hadn’t thoroughly explored the place yet. He had sent some of his men down the tunnel in the past, but they never came back. The farthest he had ever gone was this fork where the tunnel branched off, but that was it. Beyond that, he didn’t know what else was down there. Maybe another exit. . . . Or perhaps just a dead end. Regardless, they had no other choice but to go forward now. He didn’t like the idea much – who knew what could be waiting for them down there? – but he couldn’t see any other options.

“Maybe there’s another way out of here,” said Oggak, glancing over her shoulder down the tunnel. “And if there isn’t-“

“Then we take our chances with the Tuikas,” Jokao finished for her. He coughed loudly, and said, “I’d rather die fighting the Tuikas than die in some muddy old cave like an animal.”

“Well, if we are going, why not just go?” asked Hajax, who was getting a little sick of standing around in the dust and mud. It felt extremely uncomfortable. “Oggak, you can help Jokao walk. I’ll lead.”

“But how?” asked Oggak, puzzled. “You can’t see in the dark.”

“Oh, er, you’re right,” said Hajax hastily. “Maybe I’ll carry Jokao, while you lead.”

“I don’t know,” Oggak said, again in the same worried tone as before. “What if-“

“Just shut up and let’s go,” Jokao snapped suddenly. “I’m tired of sitting around and doing nothing.”

“But would it be wise to move you in your present condition?” asked Oggak, in a surprisingly harsh voice, as she pushed him away from herself so that she could look him straight in the eye. For a moment, Hajax thought he saw the short temper of the Shodios in her eyes as she looked at Jokao. “I’m no doctor, but even I can tell that you are in no condition to move much, if at all.”

“But we can’t just sit here all day and wait until help arrives,” Jokao argued, his voice surprisingly strong despite having just been buried under a ton of rocks. “Sure, they know where we are, but we’ve been gone a long time in the past, too, so they may think we’re just doing the same thing as before and won’t bother to come get us!” He had coughed various times throughout his speech, making it slightly hard to understand at times, but Hajax was sure that Oggak had gotten the gist of it.

“Well, do you feel good enough to move?” asked Oggak impatiently. “If you do-“

“I do,” said Jokao firmly, grasping her shoulder reassuringly with his good hand. “I really do.”

“Then let’s go,” she finished. “Come on, Barilo. Help Jokao, will you?”

Hajax complied, and soon the party of three was walking slowly down the tunnel again, Hajax privately wondering if he would ever manage to live long enough to learn the truth about the Tuikas now.

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 9: Battle & Pain

Akuna was leaning on the window sill of North Tower, feeling rather bored. She had just finished a lengthy discussion regarding life in Koro Nui with Ferha and Dusa and, with nothing else to discuss, they were simply staring out the windows now, watching for any signs of an enemy Akuna was sure would never come. She had seen neither hide nor hair of the Tuikas all day, and the sun was starting to set, too. She was now starting to wish she was curled up back in bed with Nastan, sleeping comfortably. But she knew that she wouldn’t be getting much sleep tonight, not if she was supposed to be keeping an eye out for the Tuikas, anyway.

She was also worried about Jokao and Barilo. They had been gone for hours now and there hadn’t been a single sign of them. She had shared these worries with Dusa, who had told her that sometimes Oggak and Jokao were gone for days at a time on these expeditions, so it wasn’t unusual for them to be gone long like this, though it did make everyone feel tense just the same and usually the two tried to avoid being out for longer than was necessary.

It wasn’t that she was afraid they wouldn’t survive in the wilderness out on their own. Barilo, along with the others, had had to sleep in the wild in Wyoko for several days without the comfort of a real bed, and she was confident that both Jokao and Oggak had some experience in wilderness survival, too. It was just that the Tuikas might be out there, hunting them down and killing them. Barilo and the others didn’t have the safety of the village to protect themselves; they could only hope that the Tuikas wouldn’t know where they were, which didn’t make Akuna feel any better about it at all.

Dusa yawned widely. “You know, I think my shift is over. It’s about time that Niham takes over. Is your shift over yet, Ferha?”

“Not yet,” she replied, looking just as sleepy as Dusa. “Just a couple more hours and I’ll be free to rest until my next shift.”

“Are you going to change shifts with anyone, Akuna?” asked Dusa, as he mounted his sword and shield on the wall.

“I don’t think so,” said the Toa of Lighting with a shrug. “If I was, nobody told me. Maybe I’m supposed to do an all-nighter tonight.”

The Ta-Matoran nodded. “Makes sense. A Toa would be have an easier time dealing with the Tuikas than a couple of Matoran, right? Well, good night.”

“Good night,” said Akuna. “See you in the morning.”

But before Dusa’s armored hand even touched the doorknob, Ferha, who had been watching the skies the entire time, suddenly screamed, “Tuikas!”

“What?” Akuna said in surprise. She leaned out of the window and scanned the skies but didn’t see anything. “But I don’t see any-“

“Down below!” snapped Ferha, aiming her cannon towards the ground. “They’re trying to breach the gates!”

Akuna glanced down and saw a group of six monsters already in the courtyard – the Tuikas. It looked as though they were already in combat with the guards below, for she could see blasts of energy and hear metal clanging against metal even from her height.

“Fire!” shouted Dusa as he rushed to the window and looked out of it with Akuna. “Hit ‘em with everything you got, Ferha!”

“But I can’t,” said Ferha, who sounded frustrated, though she was carefully aiming the blaster at the Tuikas just the same. “What if I hit the others? These Cordak missiles pack a punch, you know.”

“She has a point,” said Akuna, before Dusa could say anything. “The guards are too close to the Tuikas to risk firing. Not to mention that you may just harm the rest of the fortress as well if you misfire.”

“Then what do we do?” asked Dusa angrily. He was clearly upset at the fact that he was losing control of the situation so quickly. “Sit back and let our friends die?”

“No,” said Akuna, shaking her head and grabbing her staff of lightning. “You and me will go down there and fight the Tuikas ourselves. Ferha, you stay here and try to shoot any Tuikas that attempt to escape, all right?”

“Yes, Toa Akuna,” said Ferha, still aiming her cannon downwards. “I’ll do my best.”

“Get your weapons,” Akuna told Dusa, though the Ta-Matoran did not need to be told that, for he already had both his sword and shield and looked ready to fight. “Okay. Let’s go.”

“Wait, I see a Toa’s down there already!” Ferha shouted suddenly, pointing towards the gates. “He’s right in the thick of the battle!”

“What?” Akuna said, though she was not necessarily surprised. After all, if they noticed the Tuikas, then surely the rest of the guards did, too, though she didn’t know who exactly might be out there. “Who is it?”

“Hard to tell from up here,” Ferha replied, squinting at the battle below. “Has blue-ish green armor, from the looks of it, though I can’t say for sure . . .”

“Nastan,” said Akuna, a small smile creeping onto her lips. She thought it might be him. “He’s always the first one to enter a fight and the last one standing.”

“Well, I just hope he doesn’t go and get himself killed,” said Dusa as he and Akuna dashed towards the door.

As Akuna wrenched it open, she replied, “Nastan’s a good fighter. I’m sure he’ll survive.”


Nastan ducked to avoid a vicious slash from the scorpion-like tail of the Tuikas he recognized as Kidah. He shot an arrow at her, but all it did was bounce off her spiky pale brown armor and annoy her even more.

Earlier, Nastan and his Matoran guardsmen had noticed, from the South Tower, that the Tuikas were trying to break into the fortress. Telling Kerja and the other Ko-Matoran to stay where they were and shoot any of the Tuikas that attempted to escape, Nastan had rushed down the tower and into the courtyard, where he had joined the guardians of the gate in their battle against the Tuikas.

So far, the battle hadn’t gone very well. Five Matoran were dead already and a good deal of damage had been dealt to the walls, though fortunately none of the Tuikas had yet managed to break into the fortress itself, so distracted with the fight they were.

But he now knew why the Tuikas were so feared: They were unrealistically fast, with enough strength to send someone flying halfway across the courtyard if they made a direct hit (something he had seen happen to an unfortunate Matoran near the start of the conflict). They also looked like something from the nightmares of the most evil, insane, and cruel of Dark Hunters, as though they were unnatural abominations that had crawled out from the deepest, darkest, and filthiest parts of the universe.

He had no time to think about this any further; Kidah hissed and fired twin beams of lasers from her eyes. He ducked, and the beams blasted a fair-sized crater in the ground behind him. He reared back and punched her with all of his strength, but the blow accomplished nothing. It did however seem to make her even more enraged, if possible. Kidah pounced, but he managed to get out of the way in time and she merely sprawled in the dirt before leaping back to her feet, growling in anger.

“Come on, ugly,” said Nastan, panting hard. He knew how stupid it was to taunt an enraged foe, but angry people were also stupid people, and Kidah was definitely an angry person right now. “You’ve wiped out 300 Dark Hunters, but can’t catch up with one speedy Toa? Are you just getting slow or-“

Nastan didn’t even feel Kidah’s stinger piercing his shoulder until he felt her horrible-smelling breath on his face and saw her hollow black eyes boring into his. Once he realized what was going on, he screamed loudly, but could not get her stinger out of his shoulder. He felt something hot and uncomfortable coursing through his arm, numbing it, making him feel sick and dizzy . . .

Kidah punched him hard in the stomach, with enough force to send him sprawling in the dirt, the Tuikas’ stinger now free of his shoulder. She growled again and advanced on him, holding her stinger high above her head, ready to strike again.

But Nastan didn’t think she would need to kill him off like that. The unforgiving pain he was feeling in his right arm was causing him to scream and sob in pain as he lay there on the ground. This pain was nothing like he had ever felt in his entire life; it felt as though his arm was shriveling up on the inside from the flames that were now burning brightly within his bones, if that made any sense.

Right before Kidah struck, however, a ball of plasma went flying through the air between her and Nastan, just close enough for the Tuikas to back away from the extreme heat but not close enough to actually hit her in the face. Nastan, fighting down the urge to scream, looked up in time to see Addis exiting the bottom of West Tower, with a few armed Matoran behind him. Plasma cannon still smoking from his last shot, the Toa of Plasma scanned the battlefield before him with a mixture of determination and fear.

The courtyard was in utter chaos. Several Matoran were trying to drive Skik and Zoil back, but weren’t doing too well from what he could see, while Draza was in combat with Death and a badly damaged-looking Po-Matoran who Addis didn’t recognize. He glanced towards the gate and saw Arija, another Tuikas, battling Chimoy and Kigin, who were amazingly working together fairly well. Meanwhile Koya, nearer the North Tower, was taking on several Matoran at once and was obviously winning, though the villagers were putting up a worthy fight. Energy and elemental blasts went flying back and forth between sides, illuminating the darkened courtyard and the Matoran corpses that littered the bare, grass-less earth beneath their feet.

Addis, horrified though he was at the chaos all around him, decided to help Nastan, since he was the most helpless and closest at the moment. He also doubted that Kidah would want to leave him alone after his near hit. And sure enough, the Tuikas leapt at him, hissing loudly while clawing at the air as she landed in front of him. He took a step back in surprise and nearly tripped on the Matoran behind him as the tip of Kidah’s stinger buried itself in the stone where he had been standing before.

He tried to aim his cannon, but his leg suddenly started hurting again and he cursed. His limp still hadn’t healed, even with a full night’s sleep. Thus, he was a little slow to dodge a swipe from Kidah, which sent him falling to the ground. He gasped as he slammed into the rough dirt, and he realized, from the sharp jolt of pain coming from his lower area, that he had fallen on a sharp piece of metal, which had pierced his armor, causing blood to come oozing out.

Ignoring the blood bleeding from his side, he looked up and saw the two Matoran guardsmen that had been stationed with him were trying to hit Kidah with their swords and spears. But the Tuikas, with amazing speed and agility, was dodging all of their blows easily. With one swift swipe had killed Asah, a Ba-Matoran, and then with a devastating kick had sent the other Matoran, Gorkor, flying into the stone wall and actually smashed through it upon impact. Addis then glanced at Nastan, who was apparently trying to rise to his feet, though whatever Kidah had injected into him seemed to be taking its effect, since he seemed barely capable of even the slightest movements without grunting loudly in pain.

Gotta do something fast, Addis thought as Kidah advanced on him, her stinger tail slowly rising above him. Can’t lift my cannon . . . too heavy . . . can’t move . . . too weak . . . But what about my mask?

Addis had been thinking about his new Kanohi Tryna quite a bit ever since he had gotten it. It was supposed to have the ability to reanimate dead things, but he had never used it before, and didn’t really want to know what it would look like to have an army of the dead at your command. He knew the Tryna wasn’t a particularly good mask, morality-wise, but if he didn’t do something quick he would just be one more name to add onto the likely-vast list of Kidah’s victims.

Mata Nui protect me, Addis thought, concentrating hard on his Tryna, forcing it to work.

He looked desperately around for some sign that his mask was working, but did not see any of the corpses being reanimated. They were just as dead-looking as before, if not more so, somehow, as more villagers fell to join their comrades in the afterlife. His heart fell. Why wasn’t his mask working? Was it defective after all?

He looked up in time to see Kidah’s stinger coming right at him, but it never did make contact with him. Instead, something burst out of the ground underneath him, sending the Toa of Plasma flying out of the way of Kidah’s attack. He landed hard on the ground, pushing in the piece of metal lodged in his side even deeper upon impact, but he managed to look up just in time to see the corpse of the Dark Hunter Tyu standing where he had been lying a few seconds earlier, with the tip of Kidah’s stinger tail lodged firmly within his decayed skull.

Despite the darkness, Addis could see Tyu’s undead form clearly, though it was just barely recognizable as Tyu. One of his arms was missing; the other still-attached arm had had much of its armor and organic tissue burnt off to reveal the bare bone underneath. Tyu’s legs looked okay, but his chest had apparently been ripped open, yet had no organs or anything inside it. All that was left was an empty black hole, and, as Addis watched the newly risen Hunter pry the stinger out of its head, a disgusting-looking insect crawled through one of its hollow eyes.

“What the Karzahni?” Nastan exclaimed as his eyes widened in exactly the same way as Kidah’s at the undead form of Tyu. “What’s going on here?”

“It’s my mask!” Addis shouted over the sounds of battle. “My Tryna reanimated his corpse!”

“Cr-crazy!” said Nastan, who was now lying completely still on the ground as though he could not move. “I never imagined the Tryna’s power to look like that!”

“Doesn’t matter,” Addis replied, rising to his feet as he watched the undead Tyu smash its thin bony fist straight into Kidah’s face, sending the Tuikas tumbling backward. “What we’ve got to do is- Ow!”

The pain in his side from the shard of metal lodged in his side intensified all of a sudden. He looked down and saw that it was a long, thin piece of iron sticking out just underneath his armpit. Without thinking, he immediately removed the shard from his side, a decision he soon regretted, for it caused him great pain as blood poured out of his wound. With a shout he fell to the ground in a pool of blood, the wound so bad he couldn’t get up.

“Dang it,” he muttered, trying to stem the flow of hot blood by covering it with one of his hands. He then looked back up at Nastan, who looked horrified and frightened. Addis, however, continued speaking normally, ignoring the intense bleeding with some effort. “As I was saying, we’ve got to do something.”

“How?” Nastan asked as a bolt of energy flew over his head, which surprised him and made him yelp, though the bolt did not hurt him. “I’m almost completely paralyzed. And you’re in no condition to fight yourself, Addis.”

Without answering, the Toa of Plasma looked back towards the fight and saw that, despite all of her fierce blows, Kidah had yet to down the reanimated Tyu, which just kept coming back again and again. Though he was grateful for the fact that his mask had saved his life, it was more than a little unnerving to acknowledge that he had brought that thing back to a semblance of life. He wondered if perhaps there were any other, less brutal Great Masks lying around that he didn’t know about, when he suddenly fell onto his stomach, causing him to scream in pain as even more blood flowed without end.

“Addis!” shouted Nastan, who sounded extremely frightened. “Addis! Don’t die!”

But Addis wasn’t sure if he was dying, or simply falling unconscious. The blood loss was starting to take its toll; it was becoming harder and harder to retain consciousness every minute. It seemed as though every second was simply a battle to remain awake until, unable to take any more loss of blood, he fell unconscious, his body as stiff as a rock and just as living.

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 10: Tunnels

Hajax, Jokao, and Oggak walked slowly and carefully down the dark, ever-deepening tunnel, Jokao still having to lean on Hajax in order to walk. Thus far, they had not met anyone or anything. All they had found were more scraps of armor, broken or damaged weapons, some more dead Brotherhood minions, and an Exo-Toa or two. None of them had voiced any concerns or worries about where they were going, though Hajax was privately starting to wonder what would happen if they ran into a dead end. He cared very little for the two Toa, but he did not want to die in here like vermin. He was better than that, but as far as he could tell this tunnel simply went on forever and ever, without an end in sight.

Is that the punishment I have received for all of my crimes in my previous life? Hajax mused, as Jokao, breathing heavily, walked with him. To simply wander underneath Shika Nui with these two fools for the rest of my life? Or am I simply being too dramatic? Most likely the latter.

Hajax glanced at the tunnels and frowned. There was something about them that seemed familiar. They didn’t look natural; it was almost like someone had dug them out with giant spades. Where had he seen these before?

That was when it hit him. He remembered many years ago when Makuta Mutran had told him about the blade burrowers and had even shown him some of the tunnels. If he remembered correctly, the blade burrowers could cut through rock and dirt as though it were water, making almost unnaturally smooth tunnels that went in seemingly random directions. He also remembered that Shika Nui was home to a particularly large nest of blade burrowers. All Hajax hoped was that they didn’t end up in combat with them; he wasn’t afraid of a bunch of dumb Rahi, but in here, where they ruled, he felt his odds weren’t all that great, not especially because of having to lug Jokao around with him, too.

“What’s that?” said Oggak suddenly, stopping and point up ahead.

Hajax stopped, and Jokao did, too. The Makuta peered down the tunnel and for a moment saw nothing but two gaping dark holes, which he soon realized were actually two smaller tunnels branching off the main one they were currently traveling in.

“What do you guys see?” asked Jokao breathlessly, glancing up in the direction they were looking. “Some kind of danger?”

“A fork,” Oggak replied. “Two tunnels. We can only go down one.”

Hajax so dearly wished he knew which tunnel lead out and which one lead deeper in, but as he had no way to know he could not properly plan ahead, which frustrated him greatly.

“I think we should go right,” said Oggak, walking a little ahead of them to peer into the twin tunnels, “though I really don’t know for sure, since I’ve never been down this deep under Shika Nui before.”

“Why don’t I just use my Iden?” asked Jokao, gesturing at his mask with his good arm. “I could just go down both tunnels to see which way leads out.”

“I don’t think you should, Jokao,” said Oggak warningly, looking at him with concerned eyes. “You’re already weak enough as is. I don’t know if you have the strength to use your mask without overexerting yourself too much.”

“Don’t worry about me,” said Jokao with a smile. “It won’t take long for me to scout ahead. I’m perfectly fine.”

“If you were ‘perfectly fine,’ you wouldn’t need to be using me as a walking stick,” Hajax muttered quietly, unheard by the others.

“Well, okay,” said Oggak reluctantly. She then gestured towards the tunnels. “Just be quick, though. I know you can’t be hurt in spirit form, but I don’t want you to leave and then have us get attacked. Your body might get damaged, or even destroyed.”

“Whatever,” Jokao said, tapping his foot on the ground impatiently. “I can do it. In fact, I’ll do it now.” He winced from the pain in his legs, but looked determined just the same. “Hold on, Barilo. My body may suddenly go limp . . .”

Jokao’s body suddenly slumped in his arms and Hajax, caught off-guard, nearly dropped it before redoubling his grip on the Toa of Fire’s now-uninhabited body. He lowered it slowly to the ground, grateful that he wouldn’t have to support the heavy Toa at least for a few minutes.

“I just hope he’s all right,” Oggak muttered, looking at Jokao’s body with the same worried eyes as before.

“Doesn’t matter to me,” said Hajax with a shrug, without thinking. “One Toa more or less doesn’t make a difference.”

He was suddenly slapped hard across the mask and looked up to see Oggak standing over him, one hand raised, looking far more angry than he had ever seen her in his life, though he had only known her for a few hours or so. But even he recognized that she wore an expression unlike herself; an expression of rage, almost hatred, contorted her normally calm and collected features.

“What was that for?” asked Hajax angrily, rubbing the side of his face as he rose to his feet and stared her hard in the eyes. He was not afraid of her, though he did not particularly want to get into a fight with her at the moment.

“For . . . for treating Jokao like he’s an expendable nobody!” Oggak snapped, her red eyes almost burning. “’One Toa more or less doesn’t make a difference’ . . . I thought he was your friend? Why would you even say something like that?”

Hajax was about to open his mouth to retaliate when Jokao’s body suddenly began stirring. Abandoning her anger at him, Oggak bent down even as Jokao’s eyes flickered open. The Toa of Fire looked up at them both and, based on his excited expression he had evidently found something good . . . something very, very good.

“Left tunnel,” Jokao said as Oggak wrapped an arm around his body to help him sit up. “It ended in a very bright place; but I didn’t get to see much, since I ran out of energy and had to return to my body right then. Still, I am convinced that I saw Shika Nui’s surface, so it must be the way out!”

“Really?” said Oggak eagerly. “Are you sure?”

“Positive,” Jokao replied. He hugged Oggak tightly before suddenly letting go with a slightly sheepish expression on his face. “Er, right. Well, like I said, I’m positive that the left tunnel is the one we should go down. Most definitely the left.”

“Great,” said Oggak, who looked just as embarrassed as Jokao did. “Hey, Barilo, want to help him up?”

“All right,” said Hajax, pretending to sound just as happy as they were. “This is . . . great.” He forced a smile as he bent down to help Jokao up. “What could be better than the light? But we mustn’t celebrate too soon; we don’t want to go walking down the tunnel too wrapped up in our own success, do we?”

“I didn’t see any monsters or anything like that down there if that’s what you mean,” said Jokao with a shrug. He winced as he put his full weight on his legs. “It looked pretty safe to me.”

“Of course, if the Tuikas are out there, we may be totally boxed in,” Hajax continued in that same false happy tone. He had no particular reason at the moment for wanting to worry the two of them; he simply wanted to see them become fearful and thus easier to manipulate. “That is, if they don’t decide to kill us first.”

“It’s a chance we’ve got to take,” Oggak said determinedly. “I want to return to Koro Nui as soon as possible. What if the Tuikas attack the fortress in our absence?”

“I doubt it, Oggak,” said Jokao as the party began walking down the left tunnel. “Don’t you remember what everyone keeps telling us whenever we come back? About the fact that the Tuikas never attack while we’re gone? And remember how the Tuikas always come after us when we’re on a rescue expedition?”

Oggak shrugged, looking slightly uncomfortable. “Yes, but just because they’ve done that in the past doesn’t mean they won’t do it now, Jokao.”

Jokao nodded, though he did not look as though he believed her and did not pursue the subject further.

Hajax, however, was listening carefully. He found it odd that the Tuikas never attacked the fortress while Oggak was gone and always went after her and Jokao when they were out. He thought that might be a clue as to what the Tuikas were really up to, but so far he had no conclusion other than the Tuikas might be after Oggak, perhaps. Why they would be after her, he didn’t know for sure, but he intended to find out.

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 11: New Ambitions

When Akuna and Dusa finally managed to reach the courtyard, Akuna was momentarily stunned and horrified by all the chaos around her. She had been in the midst of huge battles before, but this was so much different than those of the past. Dark though it was, she could see corpses littering the ground; saw the shapes of many different beings fighting in the shadows, few of whom she could identify, and blasts of power being shot to and fro all over the courtyard. She heard a loud scream from her right, but did not know who it belonged to. All she knew was that she had to both beat the Tuikas and find Nastan, the latter whom she could not see in the night.

“What’s that?” asked Dusa in surprise, pointing towards the West Tower as a ball of lava and ice exploded in midair, momentarily lighting a dreadful sight that Akuna would never forget.

Addis was lying on the ground in a deep pool of blood and was not moving an inch. She saw Nastan lying on the ground near the fallen Toa of Plasma, though he seemed to have been paralyzed somehow and looked to still be alive, fortunately. She also saw an unidentifiable corpse lying near Addis, but she had no idea where it had came from or who it was. However, she suspected that Addis’ Tryna may have had something to do with it.

Regardless of where the corpse had come from or how it had got here, she knew she had to act. Kidah was now stalking away from Addis and Nastan, apparently going to join Skik and Zoil, who were already giving the few Matoran still fighting them much trouble. Akuna decided to get Kidah while she was distracted.

“Dusa, you go help the others fight Koya over there,” said Akuna, pointing towards the North Tower. “I’ll take on Kidah, okay?”

“Don’t need to tell me what to do,” Dusa muttered, but he obeyed just the same, running towards the North Tower with his sword raised high above his head.

After watching him go, Akuna leapt forwards and, upon landing on a bare piece of ground, shot off three bolts of electricity at Kidah. None of them hit, however, because Kidah whirled around and deflected them off her tail, sending the bolts ricocheting away into the darkness and striking the stone walls that protected the village.

The Tuikas then dashed towards Akuna with shocking speed, though the Toa managed to jump out of the way in time to dodge the attack and landed, unfortunately, on a Matoran’s corpse, which she quickly slid off in disgust and fear. Kidah, unable to stop herself, crashed straight into the door of North Tower, breaking it off its hinges and sending her tumbling into the darkness of the unlit hallway. She did not emerge from within.

Akuna, panting hard, crawled over to Nastan amidst the fighting to make sure he was okay. Though she knew she should probably be fighting with the others, Nastan’s safety was a higher priority for her at the moment. She wanted to make sure he wasn’t too badly hurt.

“Akuna?” said Nastan in surprise when she came into his view. “Is that you?”

“Yes, it’s me,” she replied, ducking under another blast of energy that went soaring straight into the wall behind her. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, just a bit stunned,” said Nastan. “Whatever Kidah’s got in her stinger’s enough to stun even a Toa. But enough about me; why aren’t you helping the others fight?” His tone suddenly became snappish and impatient and Akuna felt slightly hurt. Didn’t he care that she had stopped just to learn whether he was still breathing or not?

But she didn’t bring it up, and merely answered, “You’re right. I should be fighting with them.”

“Then go do it,” said Nastan, his tone impatient still. “Stop wasting your time worrying about me and start wasting it fighting the Tuikas!”

Akuna nodded, slightly irritably, and jumping back to her feet, ran back into the thick of the battle, ignoring her own hurt feelings from Nastan’s anger. She decided not to take it personally; considering Nastan’s current situation, she thought she would be pretty irritable and angry, too. That didn’t mean she liked the way he snapped at her, though. Anyway, thinking about this would distract her, and if she let her guard down for even a second, she had no doubt in her mind that she would be killed.


The tunnel, Hajax noticed, seemed to be a lot longer than Jokao had described it. Though the Toa of Fire had only went up and down it in a few seconds, it seemed to be taking them hours to walk and they still hadn’t seen any sign of the bright light that Jokao had mentioned. Not that Hajax was complaining, of course; he preferred the dark over the light any day, but he knew that he would never succeed in his dreams of universal conquest if he kept walking down an endless tunnel forever.

So to pass the time, he thought about his own dreams and ambitions and future. His goals had changed much since he had first met the Toa Shika many weeks ago. Originally, he only wanted to depose of Makuta Teridax and put the Brotherhood of Makuta back in its rightful place as makers of Rahi beasts for the good of the Matoran. True, his methods may have been a little questionable, but he always believed that the ends justified the means, regardless of what other, lesser beings such as Toa may have thought.

But now? Well, he was now playing around with the idea of becoming king of the universe himself. After all, the Brotherhood still held absolute power, and if he replaced Teridax, he would be in control of whole armies comprised of Rahkshi, Visorak, Exo-Toa, and whatever else his brothers and sisters may have added to their forces during his absence.

The universe itself would likely be in need of a strong, decisive leader after the Brotherhood of Makuta/Dark Hunter war was finished, especially since Mata Nui was still asleep and could only be awoken by the Toa Mata. And as far as he could see, those beings were no closer to completing their destiny that he was to completing his own.

And who else in the universe, he decided, would be better to lead than himself? He was strong, charismatic, clever, good at making others do what he wanted; all the qualities of a true king, in his opinion.

My brother Teridax relies too much upon complicated plans and schemes, Hajax thought as he dragged Jokao along, without bothering to make it even slightly comfortable for the Toa of Fire. He thinks he factors in every little faction, group of people, or simply powerful beings that may pose a threat to him. He thinks he has learned everything there is to know about them; how to stop them if they pose a problem to the Plan, what to do if they try to interfere, and so on.

But one thing he doesn’t know about is me. And that may someday be the death of him. I certainly hope it will be.

He half-glanced at Oggak, who was in the lead and seemed to be the most determined to reach the surface, based on the fact she had voiced her concerns about how undefended Koro Nui was in their absence and was walking faster than either of them. He had tried to read her mind earlier, to see if he could figure out the truth of the Tuikas that way, but was prevented from doing so by some kind of mental barrier that protected her mind from intrusion. Where she had learned to do that, he had no idea, though he wondered if this ‘Order of Mata Nui’ she had mentioned (an organization he had never heard of until recently) had trained her to protect her mind from any unwanted detection. If so, then he would also have to force her to tell him every little thing she knew about this Order or break her mental barrier. Clearly, if this Order trained its members to protect their minds from Makuta, it would obviously be a threat to his future empire.

Besides that, Hajax also wondered about the tunnel itself. With his ability to see in the dark, he had seen many strange symbols and words inscribed on the walls, though since it would be suspicious if he stopped he had not been able to stop long enough to study them. From what he could tell, though, they seemed to be depicting giant, green-scaled dragons being tamed by beings that looked like Matoran. What that meant, he had no idea, though he assumed it must have been carved by some villagers a long time ago depicting an epic battle between good and evil or some crud like that. He didn’t know and honestly didn’t care. Though Makuta were keepers of history as well as scientists, he had never personally been interested in that sort of thing.

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted when Jokao shouted, “Hey, look! I see light up ahead!”

Hajax glanced up and saw that he was right. Though it was very far away, there was indeed a small, yet bright light not too far up ahead, which looked to be the exit, just as Jokao had described. Hajax was excited and disappointed; excited that he would now finally be able to continue his plans, and disappointed because he had been starting to really enjoy the darkness.

“You’re right, Jokao,” said Oggak, who had began walking faster now, her eyes focused directly on the light. “I see light. That means we’re nearly free.”

“Oh, I really want to get home now,” said Jokao, who urging Hajax to walk faster, though the Makuta ignored him and kept at the same pace as always. “I just want to rest on my bed for a few weeks at most.” He groaned, obviously from the pain in his legs.

“All I hope is that we make it out in one piece,” said Hajax, scowling. He did not appreciate the way Jokao was spurring him on, trying to make him go faster. It annoyed him greatly. “I mean, have you seen the paintings on the walls? Those dragons looked . . . dangerous, to say the least.”

Oggak glanced at the walls as she walked. “I see them. But I see no reason to worry about them. We haven’t found any evidence of those beasts here.”

“Oggak’s right,” Jokao added. “We’ve got our own problems to deal with right now anyway.”

“I was just giving an example,” Hajax snapped. “I don’t believe they are an actual threat. I was just saying we should be more careful and watch our own moves a little bit more diligently, my friends.”

“You’re right, to an extent,” Oggak admitted, without looking at him. “Rushing recklessly into danger is almost always what gets people killed in the end. But like I said before I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. We’re nearly free – and once we are, we can return to Koro Nui immediately.”

“Agreed,” said Jokao as they approached the light, which was getting larger and larger as they drew nearer and nearer. “We’ve got nothing to worry about. Well, except for the Tuikas, but we’ve survived long enough against them and know how to deal with ‘em if we have to fight, don’t we?”

“Right,” said the Toa of Shadow with a nod. “We do.”

Finally, after several more minutes of walking in silence, the exit was nearly upon them. Hajax was no great lover of the light, but a feeling anticipation was filling his being as they drew near. He was getting a little tired of the dirt and rocks, the scent of dampness, with nothing to liven up the place. He was getting restless and so actually began walking a little faster now, though he reminded himself it was because he wanted to do it, not because Jokao was spurring him on and not because he wanted to be in the light again.

And with one more burst of speed, the trio reached the exit and were bathed a bright, almost blinding light that hurt Hajax’s eyes. He shut his orbs to protect them as Jokao shouted, “We’ve made it! We’ve-!”

A wave of heat, hotter than anything any of them had ever experienced before, suddenly swept over them, hitting them to the ground with enough force to knock the breath out of their lungs. Hajax tried to get back to his feet, but suddenly the whole world seemed to be tilting back and forth and he just could not stand up, no matter what he did. He was confused, disoriented, and did not know how to balance himself properly, even when he was just lying down.

Something heavy suddenly smashed into his body, sending him rolling into Jokao and Oggak, who seemed to be just as confused as he was. He tried to untangle himself from their limbs, but was unable to and, after receiving yet another blow to the head, went down completely, his mind drifting into unconsciousness, his body limp.

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 12: The Loss of Life

“Die, you dang beasts!” Kigin shouted, swinging his mace at Arija. “Die, die, die!”

The mace made contact with the tan-armored Tuikas, sending her tumbling into Chimoy, who immediately sent her flying over the wall with a well-aimed hit from his hammer. Kigin didn’t even think of celebrating, though, for the next moment Arija came leaping over the wall again, screeching angrily as she landed on all fours and fired two blasts of solid sound at them.

Kigin had been expecting this, having fought the Tuikas for so long, and jumped out of the way. Chimoy managed to dodge it, too, but just barely. He had obviously not been expecting the attack, Kigin thought, which made the Dark Hunter smirk. Though he knew how valuable the Toa were as allies, he still didn’t like them all that much and wouldn’t mourn their deaths if they happened to get killed in combat.

However, now was not the time to think about such things, for the next moment Arija tackled him to the ground. He managed to rip her off himself, however, and threw the Tuikas away. Rolling back to his feet, he unleashed a sonic scream at her. While his ability to accurately copy any sounds he heard may not seem as powerful as some powers, such as fire or shadow, at times like this it came in very useful, in his opinion.

Suddenly, Chimoy darted at Arija with his giant hammer, evidently seeking to get her first. But since he had moved too soon, both he and Arija were hit by Kigin’s sonic attacks and were both sent flying. Chimoy landed hard on the ground a few feet away, while Arija collided with the wall. She looked too stunned and dazed to move.

“You fool!” Kigin snapped at Chimoy, who was starting to get back to his feet with a hand on his head, looking a little dazed as well. “Didn’t you see my attack? I have no idea how you Toa have managed to survive for as long as you have with brains like yours!”

“Sorry,” Chimoy replied angrily, shaking his head in frustration. “I didn’t notice it. You should have warned me.”

“It doesn’t matter, Toa,” Kigin said, glancing at Arija, who was already back on her feet and snarling. “We’ve got to deal with this Tuikas here. Got it?”

Chimoy didn’t reply, but merely glared at Kigin before transforming his hammer into a sleek sword and slashing at Arija, who blocked the attack with her claw. Kigin, taking advantage of the distraction, swung his mace and struck Arija hard, causing the Tuikas to collapse underneath his weapon with a cry. She did not get up, though she didn’t look dead yet.

“Is she dead?” asked Chimoy, panting as he took a step backwards in surprise.

“No,” Kigin replied, raising his mace again, the ball in his other hand. “But she soon will be.”

He swung his mace at her again, this time with more force than before. He struck her hard enough to make her stop moving. Now on a roll, he kept striking her in savage triumph. He smashed his weapon onto her corpse again and again, channeling all of his fear and anger onto this one beast. He cared not that she was already dead; he would pulverize Arija’s corpse into a million little microscopic pieces and scattered them throughout the known universe like grains of sand in a desert if he had to.

“Kigin, what are you doing?” asked Chimoy in a raised, slightly scared-sounding voice. “She’s dead. Mindlessly smashing her corpse into oblivion isn’t-“

“Shut up, Toa,” Kigin snapped, halting his attacks to glare at the Toa. “You have no idea what it was like to watch the entire Dark Hunter army of Shika Nui fall to these . . . these monsters! To see them all die before my eyes . . . it is indescribable. To kill even one of these beasts is a great victory, reminding me of the days when we Hunters ruled this island with an iron fist. So either get out of the way or I’ll-“

A sudden rush of wind cut him off and, looking over his shoulder, Kigin saw in surprise the five other Tuikas now flying towards him and Chimoy at full speed. He guessed that they had seen him slay their fellow Tuikas and were now going to try to avenge her death. He readied his mace and swung it over his head like a warrior, when the Tuikas did the most unexpected thing that he hadn’t thought they would ever do; they merely kept on flying and flew right over him and Chimoy and over the walls, without even sparing a glance towards the two as they soared.

“Where are they going?” asked Chimoy, watching the Tuikas fly past them, bent slightly as though he had ducked. “Why are they retreating like this?”

“No idea. But I’m not letting them get away!” Kigin replied as he swung his mace at the retreating Tuikas in an attempt to hit them as they fled, but he did not hit even one of his targets. And within seconds the Tuikas had gone over the walls out of sight, much to Kigin’s frustration and annoyance.

“Well, I’m glad they’re gone,” said Chimoy with a shrug. “I don’t think I could have fought much longer, personally.”

“I could have,” said Kigin, though in reality he felt very tired as he stowed his mace away, seeing no reason to keep it out any longer. “But I doubt they could have, which is most likely why they fled tonight. They did not wish to face my wrath after watching their ally go down easily.”

“Right,” said Chimoy, who sounded unconvinced. “We should go check on the others, I think. Maybe they know why the Tuikas have retreated, since I’m pretty sure they were winning, weren’t they?”

Kigin turned around and scanned the battlefield. It was dark out, but his species had fairly good night vision, though he had never used it much before. His species, the Amakans, had two different eye visions: one for day, and one for night. They automatically switched between times without any conscious effort on the Amakan’s part, though he knew some who had learned how to control it, but he had never seen much use for being able to control it, really. As far as he knew, it was mostly for bragging rights, since it was a difficult thing to learn to do, something he had never been particularly interested in doing.

As he looked around, he saw that there were quite a few corpses dotting the courtyard, though there looked to be less than usual, or so he thought. Great chunks of the walls had been blasted out and the North Tower’s door and part of the wall had been blown clean off. All in all, he thought it looked slightly better than previous attacks, though he knew it would still take a long time to clean up, and clean ups were never fun or enjoyable, in his opinion.

But there did seem to be one unusual sight he spotted: Several beings – mostly the Toa, though he noticed Igici among them as well – were crowded around something he could not see. From what he could tell, they wore expressions of sadness and shock, though he did not know why that could be.

Chimoy, though he did not possess night vision, seemed to have noticed them, too, for he asked, “What’s everyone else doing over there?”

“Are questions all you ever ask, Toa?” asked Kigin harshly. “Or are you just stupid?”

Chimoy glared at him. “Just because we’re supposed to be allies doesn’t mean I have to like you, Kigin. And if I had my way, we wouldn’t be . . .” his voice trailed off, but then he shook his head and said, “Never mind. That’s what Nastan would do, not me. Anyway, let’s go see what they’re doing. That’s really the only way to find out for sure.”

“I know, Toa,” Kigin snapped as they began walking towards the group of beings. He noticed how grim and solemn the mood around everyone seemed to be. He thought something bad must have happened. “I . . .”

His own voice trailed off as they approached the group and as they did so, Igici, glancing over his shoulder, apparently noticed them and separated himself from the group to go meet them. Kigin noticed his eyes looked grim and sad, but he didn’t know why. True, they had lost a lot of Matoran in the fight based on his observations, but it was significantly less than last time and the Tuikas had retreated much easier than they usually did, too. So he saw nothing to be particularly sad about.

Then again, he thought, stopping with Chimoy as Igici approach, his eyes still looking sorrowful. This is Igici I am talking about. He’s one of those Dark Hunters who was blackmailed into joining the organization based on his position of power and what would happen to him if he said no. Those kind are always the weakest kind of Dark Hunters; the kind who go along with our plans and missions until they try to pull off some valiant rebellion that almost always gets crushed and always results in their deaths.

“What’s the problem, Death?” asked Chimoy tentatively, looking over Igici’s shoulder as he said that. Kigin noticed that the Toa of Iron was keeping his distance from Igici; that made sense, since none of the Toa Shika cared for or trusted the Dark Hunters much. “Did someone get hurt?”

“Worse, Chimoy,” said Igici, sharply thrusting his thumb over his shoulder at the group behind him. “Your leader, Toa Addis, is . . . He is dead.”

“What?” Chimoy said in shock and disbelief. “What do you mean he’s dead? Addis isn’t dead. He can’t be dead. You must be mistaken-“

“We’re not,” said Igici, shaking his head. “He was killed. Lost more blood than he could take and. . . . Well, you should see for yourself, I think.”

“Let me through,” said Chimoy, his voice heavy with disbelief. “Let me see for myself.”

Kigin stepped aside as Chimoy ran past them to join the small crowd of beings looking at what he now knew to be Addis’ corpse. Igici turned to join Chimoy, then asked Kigin, without looking back at him, “Are you even going to bother look?”

“No,” said Kigin, shaking his head. “I see no reason to weep over a Toa’s death, much less a Toa I hate.”

“Heartless,” Igici muttered, shaking his head as he walked away to rejoin the group. “Much like the Dark Hunter you are, my friend.”

That insult did not bother Kigin. He had never liked Addis, so he saw no reason to be sad over the Toa’s death. Death was something you dealt with daily if you happened to live in Koro Nui. If you happened to fight the Tuikas like Addis and the others did, you would be staring death in the eyes every day. If they didn’t get over that fact soon, he would then know for sure that the Toa were indeed as weak as he thought they were.

He was also disgusted at the way Igici was sympathizing with them. True, Igici had never liked being a Dark Hunter, but this was just downright disgraceful, in Kigin’s opinion. Where was the Dark Hunter pride he should be displaying? Was Kigin the only one who now identified as a Dark Hunter anymore?

Just because we are the only few alive does not mean the organization itself has fallen, Kigin thought, shaking his head dismissively. As far as I know, the Dark Hunters are still going strong, even if they have lost Shika Nui. Someday, maybe soon, when the Tuikas are dead, I shall be waiting on the shores of this island to greet any reinforcements that will obviously arrive. And when that day comes, I shall be given honor above all other Dark Hunters and maybe even be put in charge of my own island base, which would be very nice.

But, as he glanced around the dark, corpse-strewn courtyard, with the scent of death and decay filling his nostrils, he realized that that probably wouldn’t be for a very long time. In the meantime, he would have to work with these Toa and Matoran in order to survive. That, at least, was something he understood, though he didn’t quite like it.


Jokao’s head was hurting. His legs were hurting; in fact, his entire body was hurting all over, like he had been hit with a particularly large sludge hammer that had been swung by a giant. Though he was used to this sort of pain (if you fought the Tuikas, you would have to learn to live with it), it still felt uncomfortable and painful and he wished it would stop. His head felt like it would explode any minute and his legs felt like they would fall off from the sheer pain he was experiencing.

For a moment, he also forgot where he was or what he was doing here, and didn’t particularly care until a flood of images and memories filled his mind. He now remembered what had happened; he, Oggak, and Barilo had been just about to exit the tunnel, when some kind of heat wave had hit them, and then something really heavy smashed into him. That would explain why he had a burning sensation in his muscles, too, though it did not explain why he felt like he was lying on rock rather than grass, since he was sure he and the others were now on Shika Nui’s surface, not beneath it anymore.

His first thought was that they had been attacked by the Tuikas, though he dismissed that idea almost instantly. After all, none of the Tuikas had heat wave powers, though he had to admit many of them could have been equally strong enough to knock him silly with just one blow like whatever had hit him before. Still, something about the way he had been hit told him it was no Tuikas that did it. He didn’t know why, but thought it might have had something to do with how he was hit, perhaps. There seemed to be a difference between the way that the Tuikas hit things and how whatever had hit him hit things, but again he didn’t really know, since he was too busy worrying about the pain in his body to try to analyze that sort of thing. Not to mention he didn’t know a whole lot about how any of that worked, anyway. He was no Toa of Kinetics.

His next thought (besides wishing he wasn’t hurting so bad) was to find Oggak and see if she was still alive. Everything was black; he knew it had to do with the fact that his eyes were shut closed and nearly impossible to open, so weak he was. So he felt around instead and felt somebody’s hand to his right and gripped it. He heard a moan that sounded like Oggak, and felt relief wash over his mind. At least Oggak was safe, he thought.

He wondered where Barilo was and began feeling around for him, too, but could not find the Toa of Gravity, no matter how hard he felt. So he merely sat back up, which was difficult because of the pain though he managed it anyway, and tried to open his eyes now, for he had the distinct feeling that someone nearby was watching them.

With a great effort he wrenched his eyes open and was immediately blinded by bright light, which resembled the kind given off by the sun. He lifted up his free hand to block it, since his eyes had begun to water in pain. He heard what sounded like a faint sniffing noise and lowered his hand to see a pair of giant, yellowish eyes staring at him straight in the face.

“Ah!” Jokao shouted loudly, instinctively recoiling. “Back away, you . . . you thing!”

He reached for his fire mace, but for some reason it was not on him. So instead he conjured a ball of flames in his hand, but evidently the mere appearance of the fire was enough, for the strange pair of eyes quickly backed away. But as it walked back, Jokao realized it was more than simply a pair of large eyes. It had green armor and a head, with a long snout that had smoke rising faintly from its nostrils, and two large, plated wings that were folded on its back like a beetle. He gasped in fear as he realized what it was: A dragon. A monstrous dragon that, while around the same size as himself, looked far more lethal and powerful than he ever would hope to be. He had no doubt that it could kill him in one hit from one of its monstrous claws, or from its long, spiked tail that swept the ground behind it.

Beside him, Oggak’s eyes flickered open and she looked around for a moment, asking, “Jokao where are-?” before her eyes rested on the large dragon before them. She instantly tensed at the sight of the beast and Jokao saw, out of the corner of his eye, her hand reach for her sword, but she didn’t seem to have it on her, for she cursed softly under her breath as her hand dug around her pack with no success.

“Oggak, don’t move,” said Jokao, never taking his eyes off the dragon, which was still looking at them rather intently. “We don’t want to unintentionally provoke it now . . .”

“It looks as though it’s already provoked,” Oggak commented, though she remained very still just the same. “Its legs look like its weak point. Maybe if we move fast-“

“There won’t be any fast moves around here, my visitors,” said a voice off to Jokao’s right.

Jokao and Oggak glanced in the direction of the voice and at first, only saw Barilo, who was lying unconscious near them, still alive from what they could tell. Then Jokao noticed a Matoran wearing rust-colored armor standing on a raised stone platform before them, his hollow orange eyes staring back at them with as much intent as the dragon, several large, yellow light stones in the ceiling above him; the source of the sun-like light Jokao had seen earlier. Jokao had never seen this Matoran before and wondered where he had come from.

“Ramoth, step back and give our guests some breathing room,” said the Matoran. At first, Jokao had no idea who ‘Ramoth’ was until the dragon took a few steps back, obeying the command, its huge eyes still focused on the three Toa. He then realized that this Matoran, whoever he was, was the master of this dragon. It wasn’t a very comforting thought. “Good Ramoth. Here, have a stone rat.”

The Matoran lobbed a particularly large-looking dead stone rat into the air, which the dragon, named Ramoth, caught in its mouth and began to chew up greedily. It was a disgusting sight, so Jokao tried to keep his eyes focused on the Matoran, who looked satisfied now as he climbed down from his stone platform.

“Ramoth means no harm,” the Matoran said as he stopped about twenty or so feet away from the Toa, gesturing towards the dragon, which was still eating its meal. “He is merely . . . curious, as we haven’t had so many visitors in such a long, long time. Though I must say, if he gets angry, his wrath is something to behold. But even when enraged he always awaits my commands before doing anything.” The Matoran’s eyes narrowed and he asked, in a much harsher voice, “Now who are you and give me one reason as to why I shouldn’t have Ramoth eat you for desert.”

“We’re Toa,” said Oggak hurriedly. She had moved a little closer to Jokao now, her eyes never leaving Ramoth, who had finished his stone rat and was looking at the three Toa again, this time with a glint of hunger in its wide orbs. “My name is Toa Oggakia, Toa of Shadow. This is Toa Jokao, Toa of Fire, and the one lying unconscious over there is Toa Barilo, Toa of Gravity. We mean no harm and only came down this way because we could find no other way out.”

The Matoran frowned, as if thinking hard. Then he said, “Ah, yes. I remember your kind well, Toa of Shadow. They enslaved those who were weaker than them, including myself. Why, it was a most glorious day on Shika Nui when they got what was coming to them. I personally oversaw their imprisonment, you know.”

Jokao had the distinct feeling that this Matoran was a rather prideful type, since his tone was that of a braggart. But he kept quiet; if he voiced any of this aloud, he did not doubt that the Matoran would order Ramoth to eat him immediately.

“But,” the Matoran said, his eyes narrowing. He had taken a few steps forward and was now holding a dull rusted blade that looked even older than its owner. “How could you have escaped from Wyoko? The Toa Avha, the great heroes of old who so righteously fought for the freedom of this universe’s inhabitants, fought against the evil Shodios and Kra-Matoran, locking the Door forevermore. Nobody could get in . . . and nobody could get out, either.”

“I was never imprisoned,” said Oggak quickly. Her eyes were still on Ramoth, which was sitting very quietly now, almost unnaturally so in Jokao’s opinion. “I had betrayed my people during the war and for that I was granted freedom by the Order of Mata Nui. But I have been hidden on another island, isolated from the rest of the world for all of these years so that no one would ever know the Kra-Matoran ever existed. I am on your side, Matoran, and on the side of anyone who fights for Mata Nui’s will. Please believe me.”

The Matoran snorted, sheathing his dagger as he did so. He evidently didn’t think they were much of a threat, thought Jokao, or perhaps planned to have Ramoth eat them. He hoped it was merely the former.

“On my side? I am on my own side, shadow spit,” the Matoran told her harshly. “I am the only surviving member of the Tamers. No one has ever thought to find me . . . I fled down here, years ago, with Ramoth once we proved, ah, unpopular.”

“Watch your mouth, Matoran!” Jokao snapped. “She’s not shadow spit. Take that back, you nasty little-“

“Jokao, please,” said Oggak, tightening her grip on his hand more firmly than before. “Don’t insult him. He could order Ramoth to kill us anytime, you know.”

“The shadow spit is wise, my friend,” the Matoran said with an evil smile. “It would be wise not to get smart around me, wouldn’t it? Don’t want Ramoth to bite your head off, do you?”

Jokao wanted to yell at the Matoran some more, but after looking at Ramoth – who looked very hungry still – he decided against it and merely glared at the villager with as much hatred as he could muster.

“Good Toa,” the Matoran cooed, as though they were mindless beasts like Ramoth. “Maybe you can become new pets. True, the Tamers always used Rahi, but Rahi get boring after a while. Rahi have to be trained, but Toa come pre-trained. Don’t they, Ramoth?”

The dragon merely nodded, though Jokao suspected it had been trained to do that and likely didn’t really understand what its master had just said.

“We’re not pets,” said another, harsh voice from behind them. Jokao looked around and saw Barilo, still lying on his stomach, glaring contemptuously at the Matoran. “We are Toa. It is you who should be our pet, villager.”

The Matoran’s features contorted with rage almost instantly. “Ramoth! Show him who is in control around here!”

Ramoth dashed forwards, one claw raised, but Barilo, moving faster than Jokao had ever seen a Toa move before, was already on his feet before the Matoran had even finished his order and, with one casual flick of his finger, sent Ramoth flying into the wall on the other side of the chamber. Ramoth crashed into the rock wall hard and slid down slowly, apparently unconscious from the impact, leaving an imprint of his body on the spot where he had collided with.

“Now who was it that you were saying was in control around here?” asked Barilo, his tone flat, though he conveyed his point quite well in Jokao’s opinion.

The Matoran looked from Barilo to Ramoth for a moment before taking a cautious step backward, his eyes now on Barilo. “Who do you think you are, Toa?” He paused, looking Barilo up and down, and then shook his head and said, “You are no Toa. A spirit inhabiting this Toa’s body and dominating his original soul but a foreign spirit just the same. That’s what you are.”

Jokao thought he saw Barilo flinch before the Toa of Gravity snapped, “You’re an insane liar. I am me – that is to say, I am Barilo, and always have, always will be. Even if I was being possessed, how could you tell?”

“Easy,” said the Matoran, snapping his fingers for some reason that Jokao could not guess, other than to perhaps surprise them or something. “Yours is a spirit that is far too violent to be a Toa. But then again, the Shodios were about as violent and evil as Toa get, so I could be wrong. Or not.”

The Matoran went flying off his feet and into the stone platform that he had been standing on earlier. He kept repeatedly slamming into it, with more force every time, seemingly all by himself. It took Jokao a moment to realize that Barilo was using his gravity powers to smash the Matoran into the platform. And, friendly villager or not, he realized that what Barilo was doing was wrong.

“Barilo! Stop!” Jokao shouted, rising to his feet with Oggak. He winced, for his legs were still wounded badly, but he ignored it, leaning on Oggak for support now. “You’re going to kill him if you keep that up!”

Barilo did not seem to hear him at first; but then the Matoran suddenly fell to the ground, breathing heavily as he lay there. Oggak took a step forward towards him, her eyes filled with concern, but the Matoran shouted, waving his now-unsheathed dagger at her, “Get away from me, shadow spit!”

Upon these words, a wave of heat, stronger than the last, slammed into the assembled Toa, knocking them off their feet and scattering them around the stone chamber like leaves in an updraft. Jokao hit the stone wall on the other side of the room hard and fell to the ground with as much force, his head spinning and legs aching worse than before as he glanced up to see Ramoth back on his feet, looking at them all with fiery rage in his eyes.

“A little trick I taught him,” the Matoran was saying, and he walked into Jokao’s line of sight, with a malevolent grin on his face. “Snap my fingers and he’ll be up as soon as I say so, even if he has been knocked silly. He’s very well-trained like that, isn’t he?”

“I don’t care,” said Jokao, struggling to get back to his feet. But then his world started spinning; he was feeling disoriented again, and, without the ability to balance, merely fell on his face and cursed. He was starting to think that Ramoth had some sort of confusion ability, since he doubted the Matoran had anything to do with it. “I . . . just . . . want to . . . to . . .”

“To do what?” said the Matoran with a laugh. “Kill me? Toa don’t kill; that was something established very early on. But we Matoran don’t have to follow your silly old code; we can kill whomever we please, whenever we like, in whatever way we want. So say good bye, my friends. Ramoth hasn’t had this much fresh meat to eat in a while; I dare say I’m spoiling my favorite little pet. He will be full for a week, I bet.”

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 13: Tamers

Hajax lay on the ground of the brightly lit cavern, his body aching all over as he watched Ramoth bare down upon Jokao. He did not care much for the Toa of Fire’s life, but he was currently burning in anger at the Matoran villager, whoever he was. This Matoran had dared to order his dumb beast to attack him, Makuta Hajax, and had succeeded in landing a blow. He would have to pay dearly, the villager and his stupid pet.

That is if I can even get up in the first place, Hajax thought as his body ached all over. I nearly forgot what it felt like to have to deal with a weak, frail thing like this physical body. Something I will have to deal with at some point, but for now I must force myself to get up, however difficult that may be.

But, as it turned out, he didn’t even need to move, for half a dozen bolts of shadow struck Ramoth’s behind, stinging it and causing the dragon to roar in pain. It whirled around to face Oggak, its attacker, who was back on her feet despite having been hit as hard as he and Jokao had, her red eyes flashing in anger as shadow energy trailed from her hands. Hajax noted that the Toa of Shadow was apparently stronger than she looked, which would make any future interrogations harder to accomplish, he decided.

“Don’t you dare touch him,” she said quietly, though Hajax caught the threatening tone very well and so did Ramoth, apparently, who was looking at her in rage. “Or I’ll make you pay.”

“Ha! You can’t kill Ramoth,” said the Matoran, who Hajax noted, with some satisfaction, had moved himself well away from them. “You don’t have your sword, for one, which I took from your bag when we first captured you. And two, Ramoth’s hide is thick enough to take whatever you throw at him. Trying to kill him would be like trying to stop a stampeding herd of Tahtorak; it just isn’t happening and you’ll end up dead sooner or later. So give up, and maybe I’ll have Ramoth kill you before he eats you whole.”

Oggak laughed, a harsh, cold laugh that reminded Hajax, now accessing Barilo’s memories, of whenever a Shodios laughed, particularly Teivel. Not so different from them, then, is she? Hajax thought as he got onto his hands and knees and shook his head to clear his vision, which was still a little fuzzy from the hit he had taken.

“Your dragon may be stronger than me, true, but if you know what’s good for you, you will call him down. Now,” she added, and Hajax noticed shadow swirling around her hands. He thought he knew what was going to happen, but wondered if Oggak was really going to do it or if she was just bluffing.

The Matoran snorted. “Are you threatening me, Toa?”

“No,” she replied simply. “I am warning you.”

“Warning me? Ha!” the Matoran laughed. “I think you forgot-“

Suddenly, bonds of shadow appeared around the Matoran’s body and constricted, even as the villager yelped in pain. Hajax recognized those; the chains were of the same kind used by the Shodios and Kra-Matoran back in Wyoko. He had no idea that Oggak was capable of it, though he supposed upon reflection it made sense. Try as she might to disassociate herself from her own people, she was still just like them, in powers and personality. Hajax then realized that he wasn’t much different from Teridax or any of the other Makuta that had followed him, but did his best to push that thought out of his mind. He was different; smarter, for one, and much better at manipulating people, too, among other things. No similarities at all, he told himself, besides being of the same species, which was something that he couldn’t help.

Ramoth took a couple of steps forward, snarling at Oggak, but then without warning a cage of raging flames sprung into life around it, the bars of which were so hot that it actually yelped when its thick armor came into contact with them. Hajax glanced to the left and saw Jokao, though still lying on the ground, had one hand raised and aimed directly at Ramoth. Hajax then looked back at Ramoth, which had apparently burned itself again, for it had screeched loudly in pain.

“You don’t mess with Toa and get away with it that easily,” Oggak told the Matoran coldly. She pulled her hand back and the Matoran’s shadow chains began floating towards her with the captured prisoner in its grasps. The Matoran tried to break free, but it was clear that the energy sapping ability of the shadow chains was at work, since he was having no success at all in his endeavor.

“Y-yeah,” Jokao gasped, wincing. Hajax remembered that Jokao’s legs were broken, which was probably the reason for his wincing. That and the fact that it was likely taking a lot of energy out of him to keep the cage in existence for as long as it was. Hajax thought that the Toa of Fire must be stronger than he appeared.

I will have to keep an eye on him, too, the Makuta decided as he rose to his own feet, now feeling rather sick. He found himself thinking almost fondly of his bed back at Koro Nui, where he could rest his battered body and refresh himself, but he pushed those thoughts away. He had to concentrate on the here and now, which his body apparently wasn’t very interested in at the moment.

“Now tell me,” said Oggak, calmly and quietly, once the Matoran was within arm length of her. She had her attention focused solely on the villager now, and her eyes, which had been burning in anger earlier, were now calmer, though somehow that looked worse to Hajax than the anger. “Does your name happen to be . . . Kavi?”

“Yes, it is,” the Matoran replied indignantly. “I am certain the name is much better than your own, shadow spit.”

The chains constricted again and the Matoran yelped in pain as Oggak continued quietly, “I knew it.”

“What did you know, Oggak?” asked Hajax, in what he hoped was a curious-sounding voice. “Do you know Kavi? Have you met him before?”

“I’ve heard of him,” said Oggak not paying attention to Kavi anymore, who was now looking rather weak and was no longer struggling to escape his bonds. “On Daxia, the Order kept Shika Nui under surveillance after the Kra-Matoran were exiled into Wyoko. As a result, we probably know quite a bit more about Shika Nui’s history than even its own inhabitants do.”

“The Order is still active?” asked Kavi interestedly. “I thought-“

“No one cares what you think, Matoran,” Hajax snapped, mostly out of habit. “Or-“

“Barilo, stop insulting him,” said Oggak firmly. “You’re just enraging him for no reason.”

“Ah, yes, I forgot,” said Hajax with a fake shrug. “Of course, I can’t possibly insult him, now can I? But you, of course, can sap him of his energy with those shadow chains . . . the very same, I may add, that the Shodios and Kra-Matoran used on me and my friends back in Wyoko. Totally makes sense.”

He smirked at Oggak, who did not reply. He had effectively pointed out her hypocrisy so well that she could not respond. He loved it when he did that.

“Um, guys?” said Jokao, whose voice sounded strained. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep Ramoth at bay. This cage won’t last forever, you know.”

“Right,” said Oggak, nodding. “Now where was I? Oh, yes, that’s right. Well, you see, Shika Nui was then inhabited by many Matoran, who came from places all across the universe after the Kra-Matoran were imprisoned. Because the universe was still in a state of turmoil, Shika Nui needed protection, much more than the six new Toa who had come in being when the Toa Avha had turned into Turaga shortly after completing their destiny. So the island’s new inhabitants began to tame some of the native dragon-like Rahi that lived in its lower depths, which are called Frykes. Matoran who tamed these creatures were known as Tamers and eventually, after a few years, an organized group of Matoran emerged, which was comprised primarily of the most famous Tamers at the time, as well as a few trainees who were to follow in the footsteps of their elder Tamers.

“The Tamers did quite a bit in Shika Nui’s early days, ranging from protecting the Matoran of Shika Nui from dangerous Rahi to helping make certain parts of the island more habitable for the new settlers. In essence, the Tamers and their Frykes acted like Toa, except much less noble, with no such code against killing, for example. They also worked alongside the Toa of Shika Nui that were active at the time and were often associated with the heroes. Some Tamers were even hired by the leaders of other islands to do work for them they were so successful and well-known. And for a while everything was goi-”

“We were looked upon as heroes!” Kavi interrupted, speaking up suddenly. “We were loved by all and given special honor during Naming Day ceremonies! We did all the work, but we were disbanded and replaced by the Toa Shika, who had grown strong and experienced enough to defend the island on their own without our help. And there no need for us after the island was completely settled, either! Did we gain recognition for our work? No! The Toa replaced us. The Toa . . . they . . . I . . .”

The bitterness in his voice surprised Hajax a little, though at the same time, he could almost feel himself sympathizing with the villager, or as much as a Makuta could sympathize with another being, anyway. He remembered how jealous the other Makuta had been when they had learned that the Matoran gave all of their thanks and praise to Mata Nui, rather than to the Brotherhood, which had worked tirelessly every day to ensure the safety of the villagers. He had always suspected that jealousy had played a large part in Teridax’s creation of the Plan. So in a way, he understood Kavi’s apparent anger, bitterness, and feelings of betrayal that he felt towards other Matoran.

“What does he. . . . What does he mean, Oggak?” asked Jokao weakly. He did not seem like he could stay conscious much longer, based on his tone.

“He means that the Tamers were indeed replaced, though he has distorted some of the facts,” Oggak said, after throwing a surprisingly irritated look at Kavi. “You see, though the Tamers were indeed respected, they were also feared. Their Frykes, like Ramoth, were strong and had very bad tempers. Even the slightest, most insignificant annoying thing would be enough to offend them, which would almost always result in the death of whoever was stupid enough to offend the Fryke in the first place. This culminated when, about ten years after the Tamers were formed, several Frykes which were supposed to be under Tamer control went berserk and went on a destructive rampage all over Shika Nui before the local Toa team managed to stop them. Combining this attack with the growing fear of the Frykes was enough to force the Turaga at that time, Turaga Omira, to disband the Tamers for good.”

“I remember that day all too well,” Kavi muttered, more to himself than anything. “It wasn’t our fault that some moron angered our Frykes enough to go on a rampage. They simply weren’t as well behaved as Ramoth. Isn’t that right, Ramoth?”

The dragon, still in its cage of flames, merely growled softly in reply, its yellow eyes never leaving Oggak, who continued her explanation.

“Since the Tamers were disbanded, the Toa Shika of that time period were given the status of Shika Nui’s main defenders and peacekeepers,” she continued. “Former Tamers, while still allowed to live on Shika Nui, were feared and sometimes hated by their neighbors, causing some of them to leave the island to find work elsewhere. A few left just to avoid all the hate they attracted on the island. Even then, however, news spread of the accident, which caused the inhabitants of other islands to reject them, for fear of having their cities and towns decimated like what had happened here.”

“My people had to retreat to the southern islands,” Kavi added bitterly. “I was the only one to stay here, the only one who chose to hide beneath the earth, never to see the light of day ever again . . . never to be seen as a hero to the Matoran . . . always feared and hated . . . always-“

“Shut up,” Hajax snapped, looking around for his spear. “What’d you do with our weapons, Matoran?”

“Why should I tell you?” asked Kavi angrily. “You, who have intruded upon my home, who have captured me and my harmless pet-“

Hajax snorted. “’Harmless’ is not the word I would use to describe your dumb dragon, Kavi. ‘Lethal,’ though, fits much better, in my opinion.”

“So,” said Oggak, ignoring Hajax. “You went under here, Kavi? You didn’t want to go with your friends because-?”

“I do not need to explain my intentions to any of you, especially to shadow spit like yourself!” Kavi shouted, struggling against his shadow bonds again. “Your people, I might add, slaughtered thousands of innocent beings, including some of my friends, and-“

“Kavi, I don’t care if you think I’m just as bad as the Shodios or not,” said Oggak firmly. “All I want to know, however, is why you have never returned to the surface. That interests me more than anything, since not even the Order knew you were down here. We thought all of the Tamers retreated to the southern islands like you said.”

“I didn’t return because my people hated me, shadow spit,” Kavi snapped. “Returning would only remind them of the old times, and they would likely force me off Shika Nui. But I just can’t leave . . . this is my home and . . . and I can’t go anywhere else . . .”

He suddenly, without warning, started sobbing very hard, much to Hajax’s surprise. This Matoran had showed defiance in the face of three beings who could easily eliminate his worthless life, and yet was now showing such an undesirable weakness as crying? Hajax didn’t understand him, but then, he had never understood Matoran very well. That was Antroz’s sort of thing, not what he specialized in.

“Ever since the accident . . . I could never be forgiven,” Kavi sobbed. “I cannot take anymore rejection and hate . . .”

“It’s okay,” said Oggak kindly and gently. “Nobody remembers what you or the Tamers did all those years ago. You can come back to the surface with us, you and Ramoth. We need help against the Tuikas, Kavi, and I think you can redeem yourself if you come with us. Your help would be greatly appreciated.”

“Never,” said Kavi through gritted teeth, though tears still rolled down his face. “I would never ally with shadow spit such as you. I’m too good for that. Just go away, back to the surface, and never bother me again, got it?”

All of a sudden, the chains of shadow that had been binding his limbs together disappeared. Kavi fell on to the ground with an expression of shock on his face as he looked up at Oggak. Hajax was alarmed by the Toa of Shadow’s unexpected decision. Why did she free him? True, he was not much of a threat without Ramoth, but still, Hajax recognized he was a clever little brat who ought to be chained up for their own safety.

“Jokao, let Ramoth go,” said Oggak to the Toa of Fire, who along with Hajax immediately began protesting.

“Oggak, that’s crazy!” Jokao said in a shocked voice. He was still lying on the ground and was looking weaker and weaker every minute, though he managed to keep the cage of flames alive and well just the same. “Ramoth’ll kill us all the minute I let him go.”

“Jokao is right, Oggak,” said Hajax coolly, stepping in between Ramoth and Oggak and looking at the two. He had no doubt that he could eliminate Ramoth’s mind with a simple mental blast in case he needed to, but since doing that would raise a lot of questions he wished to avoid, he was worried. “Ramoth is a menace that ought to be put down immediately. If you want me to, I could kill-“

“No!” Kavi shouted suddenly, running to get in between Hajax and Ramoth. “Don’t kill him! He’s my only friend. Please don’t kill him, whatever you do. Kill me instead, if you have to. He’s the only living thing that doesn’t hate me anymore.”

“We’re not going to be killing anyone or anything,” Oggak replied. She looked back at Jokao and said, this time more firmly, “Release Ramoth from his cage. You can rest a bit if you want afterwards.” She glanced at Kavi and said to him, “I want you to order Ramoth not to attack any of us. This way, none of us have to get hurt or die. If you do not comply, we may just be forced to kill him, even though I would rather we don’t.”

Based on the expression on his face, Kavi seemed to be fighting with himself. Hajax knew what he was going through; if Ramoth was released, then he could order the Fryke to kill them all. Yet if he obeyed a Toa of Shadow – which he hated – and she did as she promised, then that would mean there would be no senseless killing or fighting that could injured himself or Ramoth. Hajax also suspected that Kavi was starting to doubt Ramoth’s own strength; what if he were to get killed in battle?

Pathetic worries and fears that I have since discarded, Hajax thought derisively. Though I suppose, for him, it is hard to decide. Personally I would not give into the threats of some puny Toa. I am a Makuta and to do that would be incredibly embarrassing and disgraceful.

Finally, Kavi said reluctantly, without looking up at Oggak, “Okay. I promise not to order Ramoth to kill you all, or to even attack you. I’ll . . . I’ll do as you say, if you uphold your part of the deal.”

“Good,” said Oggak, nodding. She glanced at Jokao and told him, “Let Ramoth out. Kavi’s agreed to the deal.” Jokao looked doubtful, so she added softly, “Don’t do it for him – do it for me.”

“Okay,” said Jokao, lowering his hand abruptly to the ground. “I’ll do it for you, Oggak.”

The cage of flames immediately ceased to exist and Ramoth, now free, reared back to strike Hajax, who was nearest, before Kavi ordered, “No, Ramoth! Don’t attack them. Keep your ground and stay where you are, got it?”

Ramoth halted and stood back. Though its body was obeying, Hajax noticed how it was eyeing Oggak and himself very carefully, as though awaiting further orders. Hajax wanted so very dearly to knock it out now, or perhaps kill it, but since that would be counterproductive he decided against it.

Oggak walked around Ramoth to Jokao, who was now lying very motionless on the ground behind it. She bent down and helped him to his feet, speaking in words too soft for Hajax to hear. He assumed she was asking him how he was doing, how he felt, simple, trivial and uninteresting things like that that he could care less about. So he glared at Kavi, who stared defiantly back.

“What else do you Toa want?” the Matoran demanded, never flinching even slightly at Hajax’s stare. “I have already chosen to spare your lives. Go and leave now; I can’t be bothered to tolerate your presence any longer.”

“I simply wish to know where our weapons are,” Hajax told him, the barest hint of a threat in his voice. “After all, it would be most unwise of us to leave unarmed, in case we were to be attacked by the Tuikas once we reach the surface.”

Kavi looked at him suspiciously. “What’re Tuikas?”

“Monsters that look like the things that come out of your worst nightmares,” Hajax replied. Truth be told, however he had never seen the Tuikas up close himself so he didn’t really know if they were that bad-looking or if it was just an exaggeration. “Killing machines that make your pet look harmless. In short, it’s as if every evil, vile, and disgusting thing in the entire universe has taken on the form of six beasts that all want to rip and tear for no reason other than for the pure and utter joy of it. Now where are our weapons?”

“Over there,” said Kavi, pointing towards the wall where a mace, a spear, and a sword were propped. “I took them away from you so you wouldn’t try and use them on me or Ramoth if you awoke.”

“Thank you,” said Hajax, sweeping over to the weapons and picking up his spear, which he examined to make sure it hadn’t been tampered with. “You are a most gracious person.” He had said that last sentence very sarcastically.

“And you, in turn, are ‘gracious,’ if that is the word you wish to use,” Kavi shot back.

Once Oggak and Jokao (now leaning on Oggak for support) had collected their own weapons, the Toa of Shadow turned to look at Kavi and asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to come with us back to the surface? Ramoth in particular would help greatly in our fight against the Tuikas.”

“No,” said Kavi, in a forced, would-be calm voice. It was clear that he was beginning to regret the deal immediately, but at least he was making some effort to be polite towards her. “The surface world holds nothing but contempt for me. Besides, why should I fight and die for people who I hate, and for people who no longer remember me? It would be pointless. I have lived under here for 100,000 years and will live another 100,000 before I ever even think of accepting your proposal, shadow spit.”

“Good,” Hajax muttered. “I don’t know if I would be able to live in the same building as you for more than five minutes anyway.”

Jokao asked, “So you aren’t going to come back to the surface ever?”

“Perhaps . . . maybe at some point I may visit,” said Kavi, turning away to walk over to his stone platform, which he sat on and then looked up at them. “I have lived under here for 100,000 years. I sometimes get bored, but if those Tuikas are still active, and if they are as bad as you say they are, I won’t be coming to visit you anytime soon. Not especially if you have shadow spit like her infecting the surface,” he added nastily, looking at Oggak with hate.

“Well, it was nice to meet you, Kavi,” said Oggak quickly, before Jokao could retaliate. She looked around and added, “Could you please point us a way out of here? The way we came in was blocked and we’re not sure we should try to dig our way out in case the Tuikas are waiting on the other side.”

Kavi reluctantly pointed behind them. “There’s a secret passageway that leads to the surface behind that segment of the wall. There are a lot of those passageways hidden underneath Shika Nui. I don’t know what they were made for, but Ramoth and I use them a lot for exploration. Some may even lead to other lands; I don’t know, I’ve never bothered to do much exploring. All I know is that you can reach the surface if you keep following that tunnel straight, and that you should never return here, ever. If I want to see you again, I’ll come after you myself. Got it?”

“Fine,” said Oggak, nodding. “Thank you. Let’s go, guys,” she added, turning around with Jokao towards the wall, which slid away to reveal a dark tunnel that extended far beyond Hajax’s range of vision. “We’ve got friends awaiting us on the surface. Let’s don’t make them wait any longer.”

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 14: Speculation & Conspiracies

Grief, perhaps, was the only word that could have described the feelings that Akuna, Chimoy, and Nastan were feeling, standing over Addis’ newly buried grave, which they had just filled themselves.

The cause of Addis’ death was of no surprise to them. Anyone who lost that much blood so fast would have been a medical miracle if they had survived. It was more the fact that it happened, that he was dead, that he had actually been killed was what filled them with grief and sorrow.

It was late at night that they were holding this double funeral for Addis and Nonzra, the latter whose corpse they had removed from the tunnel earlier. It had taken them about half an hour or so to dig out two graves, which they had then deposited the corpses in. They were also alone, having asked the others to give them some privacy. Even Turaga Joha, who had known Addis and Nonzra before, was not present, for he had respected their request and was currently, as far as Akuna knew, overseeing the burial of the Matoran that had died in the last attack. Akuna was secretly glad that only she, Nastan, and Chimoy were here; she didn’t feel like the others would understand the feelings they were sharing as they looked at the gravestones of their two friends.

Will a third soon join them, though? Akuna thought, watching Chimoy writing on the rocks that they used for headstones. Barilo, Jokao, and Oggak have been gone an awful long time . . . what if something happened to one of them?

Though she had been reassured by the other inhabitants of Koro Nui that it wasn’t unusual for Jokao and Oggak to be gone for this long, she still was worried. The Tuikas were out there and were quite capable of murder, as they proved when they had killed Addis and all those poor Matoran. If dozens of Matoran, four Toa, and three Dark Hunters had had a difficult time with the Tuikas, then she thought it would be a miracle if Barilo, Jokao, and Oggak returned in one piece.

She glanced at Nastan, who looked extremely serious now. She knew what he was thinking. He was probably blaming himself for Addis’ death, since he had been paralyzed by Kidah’s stinger and had been helpless to save Addis or at least do something to ease the Toa of Plasma’s pain. He had actually seen Addis die right before his eyes. She wondered how much that had hurt him. Though all three of them were feeling sadness and grief, she knew that Nastan, having personally witnessed Nonzra’s death along with the others, was most likely feeling emotions of such sorrow that she was surprised he had not simply fallen on Addis’ grave crying his eyes out like she would have expected him to.

Guess he’s a little bit stronger than that, Akuna thought, gripping his hand reassuringly. He looked at her and she smiled slightly, to show him that she was with him and that she understood his feelings.

But oddly enough, he did not smile back or do anything to show that he had understood what she was trying to get across. Instead, he looked back at the tombstones with the same serious expression he had been wearing for a while now. Akuna, crestfallen, looked down and saw that Chimoy had finished writing the memorials to Addis and Nonzra. They read, respectively:

Here lies Toa Nonzra, Toa of Sonics, who had been a good friend and ally in battle, giving his life to save the Matoran of Shika Nui – and the universe – from the threat of the Shodios. He shall be remembered forever.

Here lies Toa Addis, Toa of Plasma, who had displayed leadership and loyalty to his teammates at all times and gave his life to protect the Matoran of Shika Nui – and his friends – from the wrath of the monstrous Tuikas. He shall be remembered forever.

They weren’t much, but somehow Akuna didn’t think much more needed to be said than what was written on those tombstones. She could actually feel tears welling up in her eyes as she read the memorials again and was unsure if she would be able to make it through the eulogy, which they had decided would be presented by Chimoy.

The Toa of Iron looked at Nastan and Akuna, then at the graves, and back again. He seemed to be wrestling with himself for a moment before he finally said, “Nonzra and Addis were great Toa and even greater friends. They both displayed bravery, loyalty, and courage in the face of the greatest threats they had ever faced. They were heroes of a higher caliber than we could hope to reach and will always be remembered by their friends who survived.”

Once he had finished, Nastan had one arm around Akuna, tears pouring silently down her face. She had already accepted Addis and Nonzra’s deaths before, but now, seeing their graves here, it was more final. Death was, of course, always final, but now she absolutely knew for certain that they were both dead and were never coming back. She had never fooled herself with thoughts that they might still be living, but occasionally she had thought it was all just a bad nightmare and that she would wake up to find that they were both alive and well with her and the others, that their deaths had never happened and that they would all be happy.

What a foolish way to think, she thought, shaking her head. But I guess that’s just how I think, I guess. I don’t know.

Chimoy looked up at the moon, which hung high in the sky overhead, shining through the breach in the tree branches overhead, and cursed under his breath. Akuna assumed it was in frustration and sadness that he had cursed, before Nastan suddenly muttered, “I know how you feel, Chimoy, and I blame her and them.”

“What?” said Akuna curiously, wiping the tears out of her eyes as she looked at Nastan. “Who do you blame?”

Nastan looked at Akuna with a completely serious expression on his face and said to her, “The Dark Hunters. Oggak. They’re responsible for this. Nonzra would still be alive if Oggak’s people hadn’t tried to take over the universe 100,000 years ago . . . and Addis wouldn’t have died if the Dark Hunters had been . . . well, they were just there when he died and gave no indication that they cared whatsoever.”

“Not entirely true,” said Chimoy, whose eyes were still on the moon in the sky. “Death actually showed some concern over Addis’ death and wanted to help with the burial. But Kigin didn’t care at all, so I agree that the Hunters weren’t very helpful.”

“I don’t know about Oggak, though,” said Akuna slowly. It was clear that Nastan was on a roll and she didn’t really want to get him angry at her. Still, she had to say something, since rushing to conclusions like this didn’t seem quite right to her. “Teivel did kill Nonzra, but she really had nothing to do with it, once you think about-“

“Shut up, Akuna,” said Nastan, who had taken his arm off her and was standing a few feet away. “You don’t know what you’re saying. Those Toa of Shadow. . . . They’re all the same. She’s one of them and, though she didn’t directly kill Nonzra herself, she helped make sure that everything went that way, whether she knew it or not.”

Akuna was shocked by the way he had snapped at her and said, a little angrily, “You don’t need to snap at me, Nastan. I know her history and Wyoko’s history, but I am just saying it seems a little bit like a stretch to say that Oggak was directly responsible for Nonzra’s death. That’s all.”

Nastan laughed harshly. “Right, because Oggak’s betrayal of the Kra-Matoran, which lead to their exile to Wyoko, and which lead to our entering Wyoko, didn’t cause Teivel to kill Nonzra? It was because of their hatred of us that he killed Nonzra. An irrational hate that blinded the Shodios to the truth: that they’re evil, lying, miserable villains who deserve Wyoko.”

“Are you being much different, Nastan?” asked Akuna bluntly. “You’re jumping to conclusions on Oggak just to hate her, like the way the Shodios and their people hated us just, well, just because? I admit we’re not nearly as evil as the Shodios, but-“

“The Shodios hate us because of what our ancestors did to them,” Nastan replied sharply. “And we hate them because they hunted us down, gave us an unfair trial, and killed Nonzra to boot. What they did to us is far more personal than being locked away in some physical representation of Karzahni. That is why I deserve to hate Oggak; that is why we deserve to hate her.”

“And are you accusing us of being as bad as the Shodios, Akuna?” asked Chimoy pointedly, who was no longer looking at the moon and was now staring at her with cold eyes. “We’ve never been nearly as evil as the Shodios and never will. We’re the heroes; they’re the villains. Hate, perhaps, isn’t always justifiable, but based on the things Nastan listed – and several more that I can think of – hating and distrusting Oggak may not be entirely irrational.”

“That isn’t what I meant,” said Akuna, kicking a nearby stone in frustration. She didn’t like being ‘teamed up’ on by these two like this. “I was just saying- well, look! You two are sounding almost exactly like the Shodios. You may not be willing to do the things they did, but the way you say we deserve to hate her is just . . . I don’t know if I can support that kind of thinking, even if it is true. It just doesn’t sound right to me. It just doesn’t sound like something a Toa would say. Not that I actually trust or even like Oggak, but I’m just saying that this kind of thinking, well, frightens me, especially coming from you, Nastan. I thought you were better than that.”

“I’m better than her people, if that’s what you’re saying,” Nastan replied. He reared back and punched a nearby tree hard, as though to release his anger. Or maybe he did it for no reason at all. Akuna couldn’t tell. “You know how I feel, Akuna. You know what we’ve gone through . . . what I have personally experienced. I was one of them for a while, Akuna, remember that? I know how they think and what makes them tick, and it’s not good, or fun. It’s evil; pure and utter evil. And if Oggak is a Toa of Shadow – which she is, something she doesn’t even bother to try to deny even – then I can’t see how she could possibly keep herself pure from the evil influence of shadow. It’s impossible, isn’t it?”

“From what I can tell, yes, it is,” said Chimoy, nodding in agreement. “The Makuta went evil when they embraced the shadow, and so did the Shodios and their people, the Kra-Matoran. I share Nastan’s skepticism. If shadow is evil, as we know it is, then how could Oggak possibly be even slightly good? It just doesn’t make any sense, don’t you see?”

“I- I guess so,” said Akuna with an uncertain shrug. “I really haven’t seen any truly good wielders of shadow. Maybe you are right, though I don’t really like the way you put it.”

“Glad to see you agree,” said Nastan, with a triumphant look on his face. “When Oggak, Jokao, and Barilo get back, we’ll confront her.”

“Confront her?” asked Chimoy, who sounded just as surprised as Akuna felt. “About what? We’ve got no proof she’s ever done anything wrong or evil before. All we can accuse her of is being untrustworthy and, considering she’s been fighting alongside the others for several weeks against the Tuikas and has saved many lives while risking her own at the same time, I doubt that accusation would hold much, if any, water.”

“True, we really don’t have much to accuse her of doing,” Nastan admitted, but after glancing at the graves of Nonzra and Addis, he looked up at Chimoy with an odd grin on his face. Akuna thought the smile he now wore on his face looked frighteningly like the one he had worn as a Toa of Shadow – and whenever he wore that, he had always been about to do something dangerous and evil. “But I’ve been thinking. We don’t really know why the Tuikas have been attacking us, do we? I mean, why haven’t they just left Shika Nui for an island with bigger prey? There’s like what, a few hundred Matoran and a handful of Toa, plus a couple of Dark Hunters and a Turaga here? With the power that the Tuikas have, surely they could be off conquering other lands or something like that?”

“But the Tuikas are Rahi, Nastan,” said Akuna hurriedly. She did not like the expression on his face and wanted to try to divert Nastan’s attention from his own plan quickly before it became something monstrous. “You can’t usually apply logic and reasoning to Rahi, Nastan. They may just be too stupid to understand or know that there are other islands out there to find bigger prey. Besides, I seriously doubt that a bunch of powerful Rahi are much interested in conquest in the first place. They aren’t Barraki, you know.”

“I know,” said Nastan conspiratorially, his smile widening as he went on. The expression really didn’t match the rest of his face, in Akuna’s opinion. “But here’s my theory; what if they are working for Oggak, instead of against her? What if, while we are busy fighting the Tuikas, Oggak is doing something behind our backs that none of us know about?”

“What could she possibly be trying to accomplish behind our backs, Nastan?” asked Akuna in disbelief. Distrust Oggak though she may, Akuna didn’t think the Toa of Shadow was up to anything secretive at the moment.

“Maybe she wants to free her people and bring about a new age of the Kra-Matoran Empire,” Nastan suggested, looking from Akuna to Chimoy with a crazed expression in his eyes. “I know, she says she betrayed them, but she could have changed her mind since then. Maybe she wants to free them now and lead the empire herself. I’m sure she thinks ‘Supreme Empress of the Universe Oggakia’ sounds good.”

“You don’t really have any proof of that, though,” said Chimoy, shaking his head. “It’s all just speculation, Nastan. For all we know, there could be no connection whatsoever between Oggak and the Tuikas, which I doubt there is. As much as I distrust her, I don’t think she’s planning anything malicious, even if I do think she’s no good.”

“And Nastan,” Akuna added quickly, before Nastan could retaliate, “you’re starting to sound an awful lot like you did when you were a Toa of Shadow. Your smile and eyes look almost like they were when you were evil. I mean, what’s next? When you were a Toa of Shadow, you actually tried to harm and kill us. I don’t want you to get into a fight with Oggak on the basis of some wild mass guessing that might be false.”

Nastan rounded on Akuna and, grabbing her shoulders roughly, shouted, shaking her, “What if I’m right, though? Am I going to have to just sit back and watch her get away with it?”

“Nastan!” said Akuna, shocked, struggling to break his grasp but failing. “You’re hurting me . . .” He really was. He was gripping her too hard and shaking her too fast.

Chimoy threw his arms around Nastan’s waist and managed to pull him off her with a supreme effort. He pulled Nastan away, who was now looking almost savage, wrestling to break free of Chimoy’s iron grip on him but failing, while Akuna walked as far back as possible from Nastan’s outstretched arms. The fear she was feeling towards Nastan now vividly reminded her of how she had felt when he had been a Toa of Shadow, which was exactly how she felt right now.

“Let go!” Nastan shouted, flailing his arms and legs but failing to free himself from Chimoy’s hold on him. “Let me go, or I’ll-“

“Or you’ll what? Kill me?” asked Chimoy sharply, holding Nastan with surprising ease. “Nastan, listen to yourself! You nearly hurt Akuna and are starting to sound like how you did when you were a Toa of Shadow! Snap out of it! If you want to prove you’re better than the Shodios or Dark Hunters or Tuikas, then act like it!”

At first, Chimoy’s words did not seem to have pierced Nastan’s head. Indeed, Akuna thought he was going to eventually rip his way out of Chimoy’s grasp considering how violently he was thrashing his arms and legs about.

But then suddenly – very suddenly – Nastan stopped, almost as if he hadn’t been doing anything at all. He was now looking at Chimoy with an expression of fear upon his face. Akuna had seen him look that way before, back in Wyoko, when she had managed to snap him out of insanity shortly after his phase as a Toa of Shadow. She had thought she would never see the helpless, scared expression on his face ever again, the one that seemed to always contrast with how she thought of him. Still, it was much better, she decided, than the crazed, violent expression he had worn earlier. At least he didn’t look frightening to her now, she thought.

“I . . . I’m sorry,” he said, his head hanging on his chest, not looking at either of them. His voice was quiet now. “I was just . . . I wasn’t thinking right. I didn’t mean to harm either of you two, especially you, Akuna. It was my shadow side, I think. Ever since Wanderer cured me, my shadow side has been stronger than before my transformation. I’ve been trying to fight it, but it is sometimes too strong for me to take on alone, and it isn’t always obvious, either. It’s subtle and tricks me into false thinking and makes me want to hurt people, even people I love and care for.”

“But I don’t think that quite excuses what you almost did,” said Chimoy, who had relaxed his grip on the Toa of The Green, but still held both hands on him just in case. “While neither of us hate you, Nastan, next time I think you should try harder to resist the shadow within.”

Nastan glared at Chimoy and growled, “Do you think I don’t try? I- well, okay, I sometimes don’t because I forget about it. But when I do know it’s there, I try to stop it and I sometimes succeed. It isn’t easy. It’s like my dark side suddenly became more powerful after I was cured; like I wasn’t made completely good after all.”

Akuna took a tentative step forward (she still had no idea if Nastan would go berserk and try to harm her again, so she thought it best to keep her distance) and said to him, in as gentle a voice she could muster, “No one is completely good, Nastan. We all deal with our evil sides every once in a while, some more than others. I still love you, even if you did try to hurt me, though I admit I was a little shaken up by it. I’m also, however, willing to help you. No one can do it alone, and we need unity in this time, as cliché as that may sound.”

“Precisely,” Chimoy added, letting go of Nastan, who was now on his knees and staring at the ground in shame. “Unity is of utmost importance right now, though I admit, I don’t particularly like our new allies. Still, it would be better to keep these thoughts to ourselves, at least for now. Driving us apart will simply make it easier for the Tuikas to smash us into a million little pieces.”

“I guess so,” Nastan muttered, getting back to his feet with help from Akuna. “I . . . I don’t really think Oggak’s got anything to do with the Tuikas anymore, not for real. But I still don’t like her,” he added, looking around at them defiantly.

“Whatever,” Akuna said with a smile, feeling less fearful around Nastan now that he was back to normal. “I think we ought to head back to the fortress now. The others might be worried about our prolonged absence.”

“Yeah, that sounds good,” said Nastan in agreement. “I was getting a little tired, though I doubt I’ll get much rest.”

“You’re telling me,” said Chimoy jokingly as they began to walk back to Koro Nui. “Joha gave me a word before we left to bury Nonzra and Addis. He told me that I should use my powers over metal to reinforce the walls, towers, and anything else that got heavily damaged in the last attack. I’m going to be up all night and for much of tomorrow morning, I suspect.”

“Well, somebody has to do it, right?” said Akuna. “You’re the best person for the job, probably.”

“Yeah, my powers are useful for the rebuilding, I guess, but I’m not much of an architect,” said Chimoy with a shrug. “It may not hold up well against the next attack.”

“Maybe when Barilo returns he can help you with that,” Nastan suggested. “Like, use his gravity to move debris, you know? Be useful for once.”

They all shared a chuckle at that. Though she was enjoying this greatly, Akuna knew this lighthearted behavior would only last a little while. She had no doubt in her mind that soon they would all be mourning Addis, more so than before, as well Nonzra. It seemed likely to her, too, that when Barilo got back and learned of Addis’ death the mourning would get even worse.

But for now, she was determined to enjoy this moment of happiness with her two friends, however brief it may be.

Review Topic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

A Writerly Blog

The Tasty Library of Sugary Goodness

(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)

{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)

(In the End Completed 09/01/14) (Review Topic)

The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chapter 15: More than Meets the Eye

After following Kavi’s instructions, it did not take long for Hajax, Oggak, and Jokao to reach the surface. They simply went straight ahead, as he had told them, and made no detours. After what they’d just been through, none of them were in the mood for unexpected surprises, though Hajax kept his spear out just in case. He did not want to let his guard down again.

Upon reaching the surface, they soon found that it was around midnight, based on how dark it was. So they decided to camp out for the night, near the cavern mouth. Should the Tuikas find them again – which seemed likely, for the Tuikas apparently did not sleep, according to Oggak – they would retreat into the tunnel and find another, safer way out.

Oggak and Hajax took turns keeping watch, while Jokao slept. He was still in far too critical to stay up for long periods of time, so it was up to the two of them to make sure no one tried to kill them while they slept. Oggak expressed worries that Hajax – who she, like everyone else, still thought was Barilo – would not be able to see any incoming foes in the darkness and therefore was in danger of being killed much easier than her. Hajax had reassured her that after his experiences in Wyoko he was quite capable of discerning what was hiding in the darkness, regardless of how deep the shadows were, which seemed to satisfy her. The truth was, of course, that he was a Makuta and so therefore could see in the darkness far better than any Toa of Shadow could, though again since no one knew this he saw no reason to blow his cover and tell her the truth.

Of course, unlike her, I have a reason for keeping my secrets, Hajax thought as he sat on the edge of the campsite, glancing over his shoulder briefly at Jokao and Oggak, who were both sleeping quietly, and then looked back into the dark countryside. Just what is her reason for hiding the truth about the Tuikas? Whatever it is, I will find a way to get it. A Makuta always gets what he wants, and I am no different.

They continued their journey at dawn, avoiding any wide open spaces, for it would have been too easy for the Tuikas to spot them if they didn’t have cover of some kind. So they mostly passed through ruined villages and kept low to the ground the entire time, moving slowly because of Jokao, whose legs had yet to heal, occasionally stopping to let him rest for a few minutes before continuing on. After about an hour and a half or so, Koro Nui’s huge outline appeared on the horizon, easily recognizable for being the only building still standing for miles around.

“There it is!” said Oggak, pointing above the dead, rotted trees of the proto forest towards the fortress. “We’re nearly there.”

“Good,” said Jokao. He took a deep breath and continued walking with some assistance from Oggak. He hadn’t gotten any better overnight; his legs were still badly damaged and his arm was hanging limply from his side, though he seemed to be mostly ignoring the pain. “When we get home, I just want to sleep all day long and maybe tomorrow, too. Might take a little longer than that, considering how bad these wounds are, though.”

He gestured at his legs, which were dragging limply along the ground. “That’s if they heal at all.”

“They will,” said Oggak reassuringly as she helped Jokao down a steep hill they were going down. It and the proto forest were the only obstacles between them and Koro Nui now, though it seemed to be taking a long time to get through them in Hajax’s opinion. “At least I hope they will.”

“What I hope for is that we reach Koro Nui as fast as possible,” said Hajax, tripping over a small rock. He staggered forward a few steps and, regaining his balance, cursed. He looked at the bottom of the hill. There were several sharp rocks down there that looked as though they could be fatal, though if they continued their current pace they would be able to walk right around them. It would be so easy to push one of them and make it look like an accident, Hajax thought as he continued walking carefully, but he would have to help with the cleaning up and he wasn’t so sure he wanted to waste time doing that. “I’m tired, hungry, and sick of this cold weather.”

“It’s the middle of winter,” Oggak said as she and Jokao carefully walked around the many rocks littering the ground. “Of course it’s going to be cold.”

“Doesn’t bother me,” said Jokao. “I guess I am a Toa of Fire, though, so I suppose it’s to be expected. Besides, Koro Nui isn’t much better. There are dozens of small, covered up holes that only have the thinnest layers of rock or metal covering them. It gets pretty chilly, especially at night.”

“Also,” Hajax added, ignoring Oggak’s and Jokao’s comments, “I dislike being out in the open like this. The Tuikas could be anywhere and aren’t too picky about where they decide to fight. I say we move as fast as possible, without stopping.”

“If we walk too fast, we’ll fall and die, or at least get seriously injured,” Oggak answered. She gestured to Jokao with her head and added, “Jokao can’t go too fast with these injuries anyway. They would just get even worse. Though I agree, I don’t like being out in the open like this, either. There aren’t a whole lot of places to hide in or run to.”

“Then let’s keep going,” said Jokao impatiently. He groaned in pain as Oggak picked up the speed. “Carefully now, though. Don’t want to lose the feeling in my legs, even if it would bring relief.”

So, after a few more minutes of careful maneuvering, they finally reached the bottom of the incline and walked around the sharp rocks. Hajax glanced curiously at the boulders as they passed. He thought it was a strange place to put giant, sharp rocks like that, though he thought it was an excellent spot to execute someone. Perhaps, when he was ruler of the universe someday, he would put it to use and slay his enemies on those rocks. It was worth thinking about, anyway, he decided.


The sun rose slowly in the west, its light reflecting off of the newly added layers of iron that now coated the walls around Koro Nui, courtesy of Chimoy. The courtyard had been cleared of all corpses and debris, the door on the North Tower fixed (again, thanks to Chimoy), and any broken weapons or pieces of armor found were taken to be repaired or added to other things later on.

But, as Chimoy surveyed the courtyard, standing on one of the newly refurbished walls, he did not feel joy or pride at his own handiwork; merely relief and exhaustion. He had been up all night, as he had predicted, both with the metal working and the cleanup projects. Despite the fact that the courtyard was no longer filled with the corpses of Matoran, it still stank of death and the imprints of all of those bodies – along with those of Arija, Addis, and Tyu’s reanimated corpse – seemed to be stuck in his eyes, no matter how hard he tried to get them out.

He sighed and then grabbed his head with one hand. His skull was throbbing and felt like it was about to burst open any minute; his arms and legs ached and felt as though they were about to fall off, and he was not sure how much longer he would be able to keep his eyes open. He felt as though every single part of his body had been smashed with a sledge hammer several times in rapid succession, wielded by a giant of Tahtorak proportions with twice the physical strength of said Rahi.

His thoughts then drifted to the Dark Hunters. He had been surprised to see Death and Kigin helping with the repair and cleanup. Though the other Toa Shika had pitched in to help (which he had expected them to do), he hadn’t been expecting to see the two surviving Dark Hunters aiding with their own powers and great strength. Not that he was complaining, of course, since they had been a huge help in clearing the bodies and debris away, though he still wondered about it just the same, despite the pain that washed over his body like the waves in the sea.

He, like the others, had always seen the Dark Hunters as cruel, ruthless, and greedy beings, caring little for those outside of their group and possibly even less for each other. Thus to see them working alongside Toa and Matoran like that felt a little disconcerting to him.

Maybe they think that if they don’t help that we will leave them at the mercy of the Tuikas, Chimoy thought as he turned to walk down a staircase. If so, I agree with them. I know that I wouldn’t like to have to survive all on my own in the wilderness with the Tuikas out there hunting me down like dogs.

He wanted to sleep now, though he had to check up on a few last things and then he would get to sleep all day. As long as the Tuikas, of course, did not decide to attack later on.

At that moment, however, there was a sudden loud ringing noise that startled him, though he realized what it was instantly: It was the Tuikas alarm, the one designed to warn the rest of the village in case of Tuikas attack or if one or more was spotted nearby, to help the defenders get into position and to aid the villagers in finding good hiding places before the inevitable battle that was soon to follow.

So the sound of the alarm must mean that the Tuikas had been spotted, he thought as he whirled around, long, thin sword in hand and at the ready. He hoped that it was a false alarm, though; he still hadn’t completely healed from the injuries he had sustained from the last attack and he wasn’t sure how long the new walls would last if the Tuikas were to come barging in immediately like this. He had made the barriers as best as he could, sure, but they were still new and he wasn’t particularly confident about his abilities at the moment.

But as he scanned the skies overhead with alert eyes, he saw no sign of any Tuikas in the sky, which was lit by the morning sun now. This puzzled him. The alarm, he knew, was supposed to never be set off for anything but for a definite confirmed sighting of the Tuikas, and nothing else. This was done so that no one would frighten the villagers for no reason other than a mistaken sighting and, while there was no true punishment for setting off a false alarm, whoever did that was usually looked down upon by the other villagers and would lose a lot of respect, generally. At least, that was what the Matoran guards he had worked with in the East Tower had told him, though he could understand if that was true.

He was about to dismiss it as a false alarm when he abruptly saw three beings stagger out of the nearby woods. It took him a moment to realize the identity of the three: It was Oggak, Jokao, and Barilo, all of which were looking tired and, in Jokao’s case, very badly wounded.

Chimoy sighed in relief as he put his sword away. It was only those three; he had thought that a guard in one of the towers must have seen them and mistook them for the Tuikas. He was glad to see them all alive in one piece. He had been worried that the Tuikas might’ve got them.

Looks like they might’ve fought with ‘em, though, Chimoy thought as he waved at the approaching Toa. He was basing this on the fact that all three looked damaged and wounded, particularly Jokao, who looked as though he had been buried alive with all of the mud and dirt on his armor.

Ignoring the pain in his legs, Chimoy sprinted down the metal steps into the courtyard, where Akuna, Nastan, and the Dark Hunters were already gathered, Kigin and Death pulling the thick, heavy gates open as Oggak, Barilo, and Jokao approached.

“Barilo!” said Akuna in surprise, watching the Toa of Gravity, who looked rather disgruntled, helping Oggak bring Jokao in, who looked even worse up close. “I was so worried-“

“Save your sympathies for later,” Barilo snapped in an uncharacteristically harsh voice. “I don’t need them.”

“What happened to Jokao?” asked Death, looking concerned as he and Kigin shut the gates closed again. “His legs look like a giant sat on them.”

“We’ll explain once we get Jokao back to his room,” Oggak said to them all, heaving the Toa of Fire, who looked rather weak and sickly. “He’s in serious condition, though he’s been hanging on fairly well for a while.”

Nastan moved to help support Jokao, and once he had laid hands on the Toa of Fire, Barilo immediately let go, saying, “Glad to see you’re actually being useful for once, Nastan. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go-“

“Go? Go where?” asked Kigin, who was standing in Barilo’s way as Oggak and Nastan began dragging Jokao through the courtyard, followed by the others. His eyes darted from Barilo’s dented, scratched armor, stained with mud and dirt in many places, and commented, “Then again, if I were in your situation, I do not think I would wish to remain looking like that any longer. However,” Kigin added, moving to the side as Barilo tried to side step him, “it would be quite rude of you to go and take a bath while Jokao is in such critical condition, wouldn’t it? Your friends might think less of you, though I assure you that you cannot lower yourself in my eyes any more than you already have, Toa.”

Barilo looked as though he wanted to snap, but instead said, in a forced calm voice, “Ah, yes, I see. In all of the excitement, I had forgotten that it would be rude of me to go off to, ah, take a bath, as you said. I shall go join them and see to my friend’s injuries, as any good friend would do.”

“Then go,” Kigin snapped, pointing at the retreating backs of the others. “Or else I’ll make you go. Got it?”

Barilo looked defiantly at Kigin for a moment before replying coldly, “Of course I get it. I’m no dumb brute like your large friend Byki had been.”

Kigin glared at Barilo, but said no more as the Toa of Gravity turned and began walking in the same direction as the others. The Dark Hunter soon followed, keeping a careful eye on Barilo as they entered the village.


Jokao was taken straight to his room once they had reached the fortress, where the village doctor, a Po-Matoran named Telka, was instructed by Turaga Joha to keep a watch over him and make sure he got better. Meanwhile, Oggak and Barilo informed the others of their adventures, explaining how Jokao got hurt, why it had taken them so long to return, and so on. Everyone was much surprised to hear about Kavi and Ramoth, though Joha seemed to recall hearing something about the Tamers sometime ago. And almost everyone was happy to see that Oggak, Jokao, and Barilo had managed to make it back alive at least.

Upon hearing of Addis’ death, Oggak had seemed surprised and almost sad, while Barilo, much to Akuna’s astonishment, acted unaffected by it and merely shrugged the news off as though it wasn’t important to him. This was surprising because Barilo had been the closest to Addis before his death, so the fact that he was acting as indifferent as he was made her feel confused. She, Nastan, and Chimoy had been greatly saddened by Addis’ death, and were still sad about it, yet Barilo did not seem to be bothered in the slightest. She decided that Barilo, tired out from his expedition with Jokao and Oggak, hadn’t processed the news in his mind yet, though she was still worried about him just the same.

She didn’t know how Jokao reacted to the news, since he had been told about it privately in his own room, where he would have to be for a while, according to Telka, since he would need some time before his injuries were fully healed. She thought he must be sad, since he had been a friend of Addis, too, but beyond that she could not know what he felt upon hearing the news.

When the news of Jokao’s terrible injuries became more widespread, the villagers seemed to take it even worse than Addis’ death. That was perhaps because Addis had not been as loved or as well-known as Jokao had, though it still annoyed Akuna. While she did care for Jokao and wished him to get better, she knew that he would heal up, eventually, while Addis had died and would never come back. She also thought that the Matoran ought to remember Addis’ own accomplishments, but she decided not to bring it up. She couldn’t get the Matoran to change their minds or opinions and it would be pointless to even try.

Since they had nothing else to do that day, the remaining Toa Shika all gathered in their room on the 12th floor to rest and talk. Or they tried to talk, but since Barilo was sleeping deeply, there was not much to talk about it other than what they already knew about the expedition. They avoided talking about Addis for obvious reasons.

“Are you sure we can’t just wake him up?” asked Nastan, glancing at the sleeping Toa, who had pulled his blankets over his head, his body rising and falling gently underneath the covers. “I mean, we’ve been through a lot more than him, haven’t we? Shouldn’t he stay up at least a little while longer and give us more details on the expedition or something?”

“Well, if what they say is true, he’s earned his rest,” said Akuna as she rubbed her legs, which were still sore from all of the fighting and running she had done last night. “We shouldn’t bother him. He needs rest just as much as we do.”

“I suppose so,” said Nastan with a shrug. “I just want to know more about the details, specifically about what Oggak did.”

“Haven’t you given up your obsession with her yet?” asked Chimoy with a yawn. He was getting ready to sleep, too, though he seemed to want stay awake a little while longer and partake in the discussion. “Don’t you remember what we talked about last night? At Nonzra’s and Addis’ graves?”

“I’m not obsessed with her,” Nastan protested. “And I remember exactly what we talked about, brother. It’s just that I am still suspicious of her. Aren’t you?”

“We’re all suspicious of her to an extent, Nastan,” said Akuna with a shrug, examining her newly-fixed staff of lightning. During last night’s battle, her weapon had been snapped in two, though Chimoy had fixed it after the funeral. “Just not as suspicious as you are. Anyway, why not go ask her yourself if you’re so curious? I’m sure she’d be willing to talk about it.”

“Well, if she did do something wrong or whatever, she’s not likely going to tell me about it, is she?” asked Nastan, annoyed as he sat cross-legged on his mattress. “Barilo’s likely to be a lot more honest about her mistakes than she is. That’s why I want to talk to him.”

“Well, there’s not much we can do about that, then,” said Chimoy, pulling his own blankets over himself and closing his eyes. “Barilo’s sleeping, so you can’t talk to him, and you don’t want to talk to Oggak herself because you think she might lie. The best you can do for now, Nastan, is wait until Barilo wakes up. Now be quiet. I need to rest.”

Chimoy then turned to face the wall and immediately began snoring, indicating that he had fallen asleep already. Nastan looked at Chimoy for a moment with a disgruntled look on his face and then shook his head and looked at Akuna, who had put aside her staff and was now lying on her back in bed. She herself was getting sleepy now and wanted to rest for a while.

“What do you think I should do, then, Akuna?” asked Nastan. “I mean, I want to know the truth, but if Barilo won’t wake up and tell me . . .”

Akuna yawned and said, “Maybe you should just forget about it for a while, Nastan. There’s really nothing you can do about it until tomorrow. Anyway, I wouldn’t worry about it, if it were me, at least not as badly as you.”

“I am not obsessing about it!” said Nastan again. “I’m just-“

“Please be quiet now, Nastan,” said Akuna irritably. “I’ve had enough of your ranting for the day, all right? Just sleep and we can talk about it tomorrow.”

“No,” said Nastan, arms now folded in defiance. “I am not going to drop it. Nor do I want to sleep.”

“Well, I do!” said Akuna, slightly louder than she had intended. She got out of bed and began pulling her cot away from Nastan’s. “You can stay up all night worrying about it if you want to, but I want to sleep, okay? I’ve been through a whole lot and don’t have the energy to worry about what Oggak may or may not have done on that expedition.”

“Wait, no!” said Nastan, reaching out towards her but failing. “I didn’t mean-“

“Good night, Nastan,” Akuna replied abruptly, stopping once she had found a reasonable distance from Nastan. She hopped onto her bed, turned onto her side, and pulled the blankets over her head. “I am going to sleep and don’t want to be bothered anymore tonight. Got it?”

“Fine, then,” said Nastan, with more than a hint of anger in his voice. “I’ll just . . . I’ll just go to sleep, too, then! And then, I won’t have to bother you!”




“Quiet!” came another, more hoarse voice, catching both Nastan and Akuna off-guard. “Some of us are trying to sleep here, you know!”

Akuna looked around until she saw Barilo, his eyes wild and angry, glaring at them from his own bed with such ferocity that she was almost frightened by it.

“If either you says anything else, you’ll both sleeping on the ceiling tonight!” Barilo snapped, pointing upwards as though they had not understood him. “Understand?”

“Er, yes,” said Nastan, with such timidity in his voice that Akuna had never heard before. “We’ll, um, not be loud-“

“Good,” Barilo said shortly, before turning around in his bed. He pulled the blankets over his head again. “And remember the ceiling!”

For a moment, there was an awkward silence between Nastan and Akuna, before the Toa of Lightning said, “Well, um, I guess we ought to go to sleep then, shouldn’t we?”

She was thinking about the ceiling. She knew Barilo, being a Toa of Gravity, could probably carry out his threat if he wanted to, and the ceiling really didn’t look too appealing a place to sleep to her at the moment.

“Right,” said Nastan, who seemed to be thinking along the same lines as her. “Well, good night, Akuna. Hope you sleep well.”

“And, uh, you, too, Nastan,” said Akuna, somewhat awkwardly. “Good night.”

Nastan lay down on his bed and closed his eyes as Akuna did the same thing, though she wasn’t necessarily asleep just yet. She had been a little unsettled by Barilo’s tone, but she understood it. Based on what Oggak and Barilo had told them that last expedition must’ve taken a lot out of the Toa of Gravity. Still, Barilo’s voice had sounded different when he snapped at her and Nastan and it wasn’t just the tone, either, though she could not place what was so different about it right now.

She decided not to worry about it too much. She herself was tired and wanted to get some sleep before tomorrow morning. She figured there would be a lot of work to do, even with the courtyard and walls cleaned and fixed up and she needed all the energy she could get.

So she soon drifted off to sleep, her mind still troubling over Barilo’s voice, whatever she had decided otherwise.

Review Topic