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Gali walked with her arms spread to either side, caressing each branch and leaf and frond with her fingertips. Kopaka followed behind her, keeping his arms to himself and holding his sword close.
"I can think of nothing I ever had to do as a Toa," said Gali, "that was more difficult to do than unleashing the Bohrok on our island."
"It wasn't for us to choose."
Gali stopped and Kopaka tensed. He relaxed as Gali kneeled and reached out slowly to a small beast, some kind of winged rodent. Kopaka stepped around her and took the lead.
"Now Mata Nui is beautiful and alive once more," said Gali, standing up, and the creature scurried away. She hastened after Kopaka.
"We left Mata Nui a long time ago."
"And now we have come home, brother. "
"It's changed too much." Kopaka shook his head. "This isn't our home."
The Toa emerged from the trees onto a promontory overlooking a deep valley. The land fell away steeply and far, until the ground below faded in clouds of mist. Vegetation sprang up out of the sand blown in by the years. Trees and brush and grass turned the ground green and billowed with the wind. But at intervals, where the sand and verdure became sparse, a glimpse of a sheet of rusted metal revealed the true nature of this strange land hidden beneath its lush facade.
Gali watched a flock of Taku nestled together in a high tree far below. Kopaka focused his telescopic eye on a Burnak devouring an unsuspecting Jungle Fox. He looked away.
"This used to be Naho Bay," Gali said. "The falls were probably there"--she pointed--"and the village would have been there"--she pointed. "In the gardens below, the sea was full, and alive--there were Ruki and Takea and seaweed and coral and underwater caves. My people lived here and swam here for thousands of years. I lived here less than one. And still I call it home, Kopaka. My first memories were walking these beaches and swimming these waters." She spread out her hands. "This is where it all began. Our battle started here. We fought the Makuta here for the first time, before we knew he had a name, before we knew there were Toa who came before us. We saved the Rahi from his control and faced him, and we thought we destroyed him."
"We thought that many times."
Gali sighed. "And every time, we were wrong."
Kopaka shrugged. "The battle didn't start here. It started in Metru Nui long before us. Maybe before that."
"That was a different battle. One that the Toa and Mata Nui lost. The Makuta won for a time. This island is where our battle began. Together, we won it. The shadows we all fought for so long died here, in these eyes." She peered down into the valley. "We won this battle. . . ."
"The question is," said Kopaka, "was it the last? Was it the end of the shadows?"
Gali looked at him over her shoulder. "No," she said.
They looked at each other a moment longer.
Kopaka turned to follow the rim of the valley. "Come. Let's finish our mission."
"Yes, of course. . . ."
* * *
The Great Coliseum lay in ruin. Three spires were fallen in different directions. The fourth had vanished into scattered rubble. The stands and walls were collapsed, in some places crumbled to powder. In the Coliseum's place, a jagged mountain of rock loomed into the sky, towering above the Great City. It was a souvenir left by the moon that had killed the Makuta who had once been guardian over the island.
"We killed an evil-bad Makuta with an ever-big rock, and all we got was a smaller ever-big rock that's pointier and ever-ugly?"
Onua clapped dust off his hands and smiled at Lewa, who was standing nearby on a pile of debris and frowning up at the grim steeple. Somehow, Lewa always focused on the worst side of things, and made it into something comical.
"We won a lot more than that, brother," Onua said.
"Oh, that's right, how could I quick-forget!" Lewa gave his Kanohi an overdramatized slap. "We won the big happy-prize! We get to here-stay with a bunch of wild-mad Rahi-people!"
Onua frowned. He understood his brother's feelings. Migrating from Mata Nui to Metru Nui with the Matoran had been one thing. Onua remembered it as a time of stress and confusion. Their unity had seen them through then, but a sense of destiny, a feeling that they were returning home, had made it easier. Leaving the Matoran Universe and everything they had ever known behind them, to live in a strange land none of them had ever even dreamed could exist, was much, much harder. Five years had passed since the Falling, and they were still struggling to cope.
"It is nice to be back in Metru Nui again," he admitted aloud.
"True-said, brother."
"Give me a hand with this protoblock, would you?" Onua grunted. "It's 'ever-heavy.'"
"I thought you were the power-strong one," Lewa gibed.
Lewa flew to his side and together they heaved the brick into the airship. They went about their work in silence for a while, collecting any undamaged materials they could salvage from fallen buildings. They had already rummaged through the ruins of Le-Metru, Ko-Metru, and Onu-Metru, and now they were scouring Po-Metru.
When they had successfully loaded a life-size stone carving of a Kikanalo on the airship, Lewa swept his brow with his hand and said, "I'm beat-tired! Are we done in this dry-bald wasteland yet?"
"Not yet. We should check the protodermis warehouses first."
"Then can we quick-take a rest-break? We've been hard-working all day!"
Onua agreed to this. He lay down on a bed of rubble while Lewa perched on a broken Gukko statue beside him. Onua looked up at the sky, where whatever artificial light had given them their sun had died into a flickering, dusk-like glow. That made it difficult to see what they were doing without Ruru, but on the bright side, it meant they didn't have to work in the heat of beating daylight.
"Hard to believe this trash heap used to be our home," he sighed.
"And now we live in a mystery-land of know-nothingness," said Lewa.
"We'll get used to it."
"In the old-age, when we were out brave-fighting and getting in ever-trouble, no matter the dark-luck, I could dream-think of the stories we used to tell in Le-Koro, like the 'Far-Wanderer.'"
"Is this anything like the one about the three Matoran and the Manas and the--"
Lewa whistled and laughed and shook his head. "No, brother, not a chuckle-good humor-tale! The Far-Wanderer was a tree-brother who vast-explored far-away lands. He got into risk-hazards and had many heart-thrilling adventures, but he always home-came to Le-Koro at the story-end." Lewa's eyes became hazy and distant. "And I used to dream-think . . . wherever I far-wandered, whatever the trouble-bad, as long as I could home-come to Le-Koro, everything was happy-fine." He rocked back and forth and smiled. "I had to home-come to Le-Koro. I couldn't fall-die, because I had to home-come to Le-Koro. No matter what, I just couldn't fall-die." He closed his eyes and frowned. "Now Le-Koro is ever-gone . . . there's no heart-home to home-come to, not anywhere."
"I miss the island, too," said Onua. "But it's the people that matter, and we'll always have them to go home to, won't we?"
"Well true-said."
Onua sat up and leaned on the Gukko statue, tilting his head back to look at Lewa. "We've been through a lot together, brother. You and me, the team, our people. We've been through dark times. That's over now. I don't know where we're going now, but it's like Turaga Whenua used to tell me. The future is like a tunnel--you may not be able to see far ahead of you, but as long as you keep going, you will end up in a better place." Onua put his hand on Lewa's shoulder. "As long as we stay together, we can handle anything Spherus Magna throws at us."
Lewa's gaze raked over the desolation of Po-Metru. Onua looked over his shoulder and frowned at it.
"Quick-come, then," said Lewa, leaping up with a resolute smile on his mask. "Let's get back to hard-work."
* * *
Tahu stood with Turaga Vakama inside the gates of the Coliseum, at the foot of the towering moonrock.
"This is where the Makuta cast Mata Nui into slumber," said Tahu. "This is where you and the other Turaga defeated him, and where you defeated Sidorak and Roodaka and the Visorak horde. This is where you saved the Vahi. The scene of all our greatest victories, destroyed."
"Destroyed for our greatest victory yet, lest you forget," said Vakama. "The Great Spirit did what he had to do to save Spherus Magna. Perhaps it was the right time for what we knew as our world to come to its end."
"So we could live in a world where we do not belong? A world unprepared for our coming? So we could share the homes of a people who do not want us here?"
"You are their hero, Toa Tahu," said Vakama. "They will not soon forget that."
"It's a lot to ask of them, even if I did help save their lives."
"It is a big change for them," Vakama agreed. "It is a big change for us all. None of us chose this path, but we must all cope with it now."
"But we were never meant to live there, Turaga. The very Great Beings who created us wanted to keep us out if it. They tried to destroy us."
"And yet the Great Spirit, whom they created to reunite the world, their broken world, was the one who saved Spherus Magna. He saved it for the people who lived there, as well as his own. I do not know about you, Toa, but I have more faith in a hero like that, and the destiny he gave us, than in any creator, no matter how powerful they are nor how knowing they claim to be."
They moved on, strolling in circles around the broken field of the Coliseum.
"We've never dealt with anything like this," said Tahu. "We have always had some darkness to defeat, some enemy to stop, but this is so different from anything we have ever had to do."
"You are more than the leader of a team now, Toa Tahu. You and your brothers are the leaders of a new world in its infancy."
"There have been many times when we could hardly keep ourselves together. The people of our old universe couldn't even get along. How can we keep two universes united?"
"I do not know all the answers to your questions." Vakama sighed, pulling thoughtfully at the chin of his mask. "Destiny has changed. Once we looked to the Great Spirit to guide us. Now he is more difficult to see. Our world has become more complicated." He turned to Tahu and twitched a finger. "Come here."
Tahu kneeled beside the Turaga. "Yes?"
"Look back on all the times when you have come to me in the past, Toa, when your mind was troubled with doubts for the things that had to be done. Think how hopeless things seemed then. Every time you faced one challenge, a newer, and harder one would take its place. That is the way of things, it seems. But listen to me. Destiny has always been ours to carve. It is our choices, and the things we do, that decide it, nothing else." He shrugged. "None of us expected what has happened, and yet I believe as time passes we will find we were better prepared to face the future than we realized. The Great Spirit is still with us. Times have changed and they will change again, but the heart of our people will not. You will see, Toa. We will have a say yet in what comes next."
Vakama nodded his head once, twice, thrice, and turned and hobbled on again. Tahu followed.
* * *
So while everyone else is off gathering building materials and studying geology and taking nostalgic strolls down memory lane, I'm running back and forth across an endless desert, thought Pohatu. Scenery that all looked the same whizzed past in blurs that all looked the same as he sped across the desert at full speed. He was returning from the newly founded city of Matero with his precious package strapped securely to his back
In a deep, gravelly voice that didn't sound nearly as much like Vakama as Pohatu liked to think it did, he said, "You are the fastest and the most gullible. You are the obvious choice to do this most biggest, most important, most boring task that nobody else wants to do."
He imitated Tahu next. "You know it's not safe in Matero. There have been too many attempts to steal it already, and even though we kicked each sorry rear that tried it, we must go to the exaggerated and unnecessary lengths of burying one of the most powerful artifacts in all the universe someplace where we'll never be able to get at it again."
Pohatu's voice rose shrilly. "We must all do our part, brother, because I'm the goody-goody conscience of the team, something about unity and duty and destiny, something weepy and dramatic about hope!" Gali was the worst of his imitations.
He made his voice airy. "Go-run wind-fly-quick with-having ever-speed, good-great-noble Toa-hero-warrior-guy!"
He made his voice stiff. "Get your rear to Matero before I freeze you where you stand with my icy eyes because I'm so cool I'm frigid."
He made his voice very deep. "Ummm, what're we talkin' about?"
Pohatu's hearty laughter echoed behind him into the desert.
* * *
The months crawled by, until at last, the new Kini-Nui was finished.
Gali and Kopaka had scouted out the location of the original Kini-Nui, above the entrance to Mangaia, beneath which still lay the abandoned Maze of Shadows and the tunnels that descended to Metru Nui. Lewa and Onua had been able to salvage a wide variety of materials, not only allowing them to rebuild the temple itself exactly as they remembered it, but also leaving plenty left over to work with in the engineering of defenses.
By design, it resembled the 777 Steps of Voya-Nui. Chamber after tunnel after tunnel after chamber, armed with traps and tests and puzzled to impede thieves, descended into the Maze of Shadows, where any thief who had somehow made it this far still had to face the almost impossible challenge of navigating the maze to its heart, where one final security measure protected the innermost vault. All entrances from below had been collapsed or blocked or otherwise closed at regular intervals, leaving the Kini-Nui as the only possible point of access.
Now, the package had been placed within and the traps had been set, and the Kini-Nui was waiting to be sealed. All that wanted now was the arrival of the volunteer who would dwell in Mangaia as the guardian of the universe's most prized artifact. Since before construction had started, finding this volunteer had been Takanuva's task. The six Toa Nuva, together with the six Turaga, waited atop the temple.
"You didn't forget to activate the chutes in the third chamber?" Tahu checked.
"True-certain, sir Toa-Leader," said Lewa.
"And the furnace in the fourth chamber is ready?"
"Check," said Onua.
"And the--"
"Calm yourself, brother," Gali interrupting, chortling. "Nothing has been forgotten. Every smallest detail has been carefully prepared. We are ready."
Vakama hobbled between the two Toa. "You have all worked long and hard for this moment, and naturally, we are all nervous," said Vakama. "But there is nothing left to be done now other than the sealing of the temple, and for that, we have only Toa Takanuva to wait for."
"And until then," said Nokama, "we have nothing to worry about. No precaution has been spared, and until the temple is sealed, we have the six of you here to guard its entrance. The Mask of Life will be safe now for all time."
There was a moment of silence to appreciate those words. Inevitably, it was Lewa who broke it.
"So deep-safe," Lewa added, "that even if the Makuta were to back-return from the old-bone, not even he could take-snatch it!"
Pohatu groaned. "Please, brother, don't even joke. The Makuta has returned from the dead enough times."
A moment later, Lewa cried, "Wind-flying sky-ship! Our brother is here-come!"
Cheers erupted on the Kini-Nui, and whooping and shouting Lewa took to the air. He flew up to meet the approaching airship and flitted around it in playful circles. Moments later, before the airship had even come close to the ground, Lewa returned to the temple and landed beside his brothers wide-eyed and silent.
"I--I quick-took a look-see in a window," Lewa stuttered, and in spite of further questions he said nothing more. But as they waited in suspense for the airship to land, a smile grew on Lewa's mask.
Takanuva came first. He was greeted warmly and patiently, but he could sense the tense anticipation of his brothers and sister and elders. With a strange grin, he announced, "Well, you asked for a volunteer, and I've brought him. He's an old friend from my dimensional travels." He turned to the airship and called, "Come out, brother!"
A tall, brawny figure clad in radiant white stepped out of the airship. Most of the Toa and Turaga stared in silent shock, or gasped out loud. Pohatu cursed, and Lewa nearly broke his mask laughing.
"Friends," said Takanuva, "welcome the new guardian of the Mask of Life--Makuta Teridax."
* * * * *
Unless you've skipped here to the end (in which case I refer you to the beginning of the story where you belong), you have just finished the first in a new series of short stories collectively entitled "The Tales of Matero," a series I am co-writing with two of the most horrible people on BZP (AKA two decent buds who can actually write kinda goodly). The purpose of these short stories is to usher in an epic we are currently working on getting written. Keep reading for another paragraph and I'll tell you a little bit about it. Almost there. Just a little further.
The story is set some 100,000 years after the Fall, that is, the F.A.L.L., the "Foiling of the Antagonist via Lame Lunar-rock" (love you anyway, Greg). Mata-Nui has been gone for millennia, and even the Great Beings are gone, and the world has changed. In the city of Matero (Mat[a] + [At]ero, not to be confused with that beloved guy who died) a new hero will rise, and some stuff will happen, and people will do things, and there will be some ties to earth-shaking attempts at world conquest, and some memorable characters will make appearances and there will be drama and feels and lots of exciting literary devices and suchlike to engage your interest. So if you like stories and epics and drama and emotions and characters and awesomeness and all things BIONICLE, you may or may not enjoy our epic (we'll let you be the judge of that). And you may or may not want to keep an eye out for it (you can judge that, too), which may or may not be coming soon (unfortunately we reserve the right to be judges of that).

tl;dr - You just read a 3,000 word epic, and you can't read two paragraphs? srsly?
Vale :smilemirunu:
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When I know I can't live without a pen and paper, when I know writing is as necessary to me as breathing . . .


I know I am ready to start my voyage.

A Musing Author . . . Want to read my books?

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An enjoyable piece, to be sure. In general, I'd say you did a good job of capturing the characters we've come to know and love over the years.
Of particular note, for how little he was present in the story, I like what you're doing with "Light Teridax". That loose end in particular has always been one that drove me nuts and I like the idea of him protecting the Ignika.
I look forward to reading more of these.
In closing:

Takuma Nuva

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If The Good Lord had intended us to walk

He would not have invented roller skates.
-- Willy Wonka

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The beginning of this one feels a bit patchy on the second reading - I guess I never really pictured Gali as the "angsting" type - that doesn't really fit. The rest of the other ones, though, are evocative and hit all the right notes - Ta-Koro's noble grace and emotional depth, Lewa's happy-go-lucky bouncing off of Onua, and Pohatu's sequence fits him well. 


Even though I knew about Alt. Teridax, the last sentence still surprised me and gave off a creepy vibe. It's going to take a while for that name to become un-associated with "ultimate evil". :evilgrin:

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