Aderia Posted November 9, 2019 Share Posted November 9, 2019 (edited) Synopsis: A stasis capsule from an era past washes up on the shore of a small coastal town, Uahi, in the north-western region of the Northern Continent. A careful Toa of Fire, the sole guardian of the region so recently desolated by the conquests of the League of Six Kingdoms, is called to investigate. This is the story about what he found that day. The Ternion Chapter 1: Salvaged “Toa Inokas!” At the shout from a quickly approaching Bo-Matoran, the Toa of Fire cut off the fine jet of his element he had been aiming at the broken joint in the Ussal cart. “Here, put these on, and hold the two ends of the joint together for two minutes. Keep a constant pressure.” He handed a pair of heat-resistant gloves to the Ussal driver he was helping, and turned and stood to face the cry that had interrupted him. “Tirpi, is something wrong?” he asked the Matoran of the Green, jogging towards the other to meet him. “No, nothing wrong, no danger,” the Matoran replied, catching his breath. “It’s just, Ixie and I, we found a huge stasis tube, we think, and towed it in. Ixie went to go get the historian, and I came to find you. It’s down on the beach, can you come take a look?” The two Matoran had been working salvaging duty that day. It had been over a hundred years since the League conquests stopped, but they were still busy as ever, cleaning their coast and waters of wreckage from the naval battles that had raged along their shores. But this large stasis tube was much older looking, and much more intact than any shipwreckage. Inokas glanced at the Ussal driver, who jerked his head toward the beach. “Of course,” the Toa said. “Lead the way.” Tirpi set off at a brisk trot, with which the Toa had no trouble keeping pace. “Nothing interesting ever happens here,” the Bo-Matoran was saying. “Like, last month, that Le-Matoran over in Dihe had to put down a wounded Kavinika wolf, but that’s really it.” “Interesting is just a matter of perspective," Inokas told him. “We’ve made pretty good progress rebuilding and reordering our villages the past couple decades, I’d say.” Inokas, Tirpi, Ixie, the Ussal driver and his Ussal, and about a thousand other Matoran lived in the northwestern sector of the Northern Continent, spread between three villages. Toa Inokas, the only Toa who permanently lived there now, oversaw the three villages - Arju, Dihe, and his own village, Uahi. After the League’s conquests had reached their port city, the inhabitants joined many other Northerners who had fled to the central city, complete with a Toa Fortress. And now, slowly, painstakingly, but steadily, villagers were moving back, rebuilding their old settlements, picking up their old trades, or starting new ones. It was almost like a new world, in a way. At first, nobody seemed to want to build anything permanent, for fear of being overrun again. Rumors that the Barraki weren’t really gone ran rampant, and disgruntled remnants of the Barraki armies remained. But as time marched onward, and no conquests ran them over again, and permanent villages began to develop again. Trade between regions was even picking up speed, to everyone’s excitement. “Toa, are you ever going to go back to the Fortress?” Tirpi asked. “No, most of the Toa there have been reassigned to the Southern Island Chains to continue liberation and restoration efforts. They have more than enough Toa there anyways,” Inokas said. “I can be of more use here.” Welding broken Ussal carts, organizing and overseeing reconstruction projects, advising trade and surveying general safety of the three villages, facilitating council meetings between leaders of his three villages to discuss development, emergency action plans, and so on. After an exhausting age of war and displacement and combat and fear, he and his villagers really were grateful for this reprieve, this time to rebuild the lives they once had but seemed like a long-past dream now. “If I signed on for duty at the Fortress, I’d have to spend at least two weeks of every month patrolling or training with them. There’s really no need for more training or anything. Not right now, anyways.” When his village, along with all the others in the region, were forced to flee to Central City, Inokas and his mentor, Toa Zoru, had both joined the ranks in the Toa Fortress, along with about one hundred other Toa from the Continent and surrounding islands. Zoru, an older, experienced Toa of Plasma, had been transferred to the giant citadel on the Southern Continent. Inokas, then a rather young Toa, had stayed at the Northern Fortress and received thorough but combat-based elemental and physical training. Zoru’s mentoring had been more of a day-to-day type deal - dealing with territorial Rahi, occasional smugglers, and so on. Unfortunately, after they returned to resettle the remains of their villages, the inhabitants of Uahi received only Toa Zoru’s mask, a Kanohi Volitak, and his combat medals in memoriam. There had also been a Toa of Stone who lived in Arju, which was then a suburb of Uahi, who didn’t return. That left Inokas, now a veteran of well over a dozen battles, to protect and help oversee the three villages. “Ixie! Vai!” The Bo-Matoran broke again into a run as he and Inokas emerged onto the sands of the beach from the town path through the sparse, sapling forest. The Ga-Matoran and Onu-Matoran were already there, scrubbing away at sea-grit and plantlife from the large object in question. “Toa Inokas!” they greeted him. “Ixie, Vai. Good to see you. What do we have here?” Ixie and Tirpi again related their short tale of hauling in the container, and turned to Vai. “Right? This is a stasis container?” “Well, it’s not like any I’ve seen, but that is what it appears to be,” said the Onu-Matoran. Vai, the resident historian, had spent a few decades on a student visa studying history and even Archiving in Metru Nui, the Great City itself. He also taught history in Central City a few months every decade or so, as well. “It’s pretty old, you can tell because of the opacity level. You can hardly tell what’s inside.” “Do you think it’s a Rahi?” Ixie asked. “It could be,” answered Vai. “Look at the size of this thing.” To a Matoran, the hexagonal container was large, yes. All three of them could have crouched inside with a bit of room to spare, although, if one were standing straight and tall, the top of the container was at about eye-level. “There are also types of stasis tubes I’ve studied that hold specimens of plant-life, or types of machinery that are prone to rust or decay. Here, work on that end,” he said, and tossed a multi-tool to Tirpi, motioning to start unscrewing the two metal plates sealing each end of the stasis tube. “Do we want to open this here?” Inokas questioned. “If what’s inside is dead, we can just sink it easily in the sea,” Ixie pointed out. “And if it’s something useful, we can just take it back to Uahi.” “And if it’s something alive?” the Toa prompted. He wasn’t particularly worried, but he did want these curious and somewhat impulsive Matoran to think through their actions the whole way. Out of all the Matoran to make a discovery, it had to be three of the most excitable ones. He thanked the Great Spirit they actually came to get him before they decided to open the container. “If it’s something alive, it probably will take a few hours, at least, for the effects of the stun gas inside to wear off,” replied Vai, wrestling with a particularly stubborn screw. Inokas smiled. He also knew that’s why he was here, in case they didn’t like what they found. “Here.” He crouched and placed a hand on the metal cap. “Watch out.” He waited for Vai to step out of the way. “Don’t damage the outer shell,” the Onu-Matoran warned. “I’m just loosening it, don’t worry,” he reassured him, resting a hand on the grimy metal. With minimal hissing and wisps of steam as the Toa heated the metal cap, it dropped to the sand with a muted thud. Vai immediately knelt to examine the stamp revealed on the underside of the cap. As he stood and walked the few paces to the other end of the stasis tube, he readied his glaive. “Tirpi, Ixie Vai, I’d like you to stand back, please. Just in case.” “Toa, do you always anticipate the worst?” Ixie sighed, but obliged. “It’s my job,” the Fire Toa said, even as the second cap dropped to the ground. “See, nothing hap-“ Inokas held up one hand to stop her from stepping back up to the container, and with the other, rested his blade on the edge of the container. A thin line of fire blazed down the center, and the two halves of the two layers of stasis tube fell away. Inokas lowered his blade slowly, and his hand. The three Matoran rushed up. “Is it dead?” Ixie asked. “No, look, it’s breathing.” Tirpi pointed. “Tirpi, could you go fetch that Ussal cart driver and his cart and his Ussal?” the Toa of Fire directed. A black-armored creature lay crumpled among the remains of its stasis tube, although they couldn’t entirely make out what kind of creature it was. There was a distinguishable tail, head, four limbs, but nothing else remarkable. “Vai, what did the inscription say? Any kind of Rahi or being?” “No, just a date. Whatever it is, it’s been in stasis for about 15,000 years. It will take a while to wake up, if at all.” The three of them took guesses as to what it was and discussed where to keep it and who would guard it and when to make the call that it wouldn’t wake up if nothing changed for long enough, until the Ussal driver arrived. Moving the limp creature to the cart, which wasn’t an overly difficult task, they found it was a vaguely feline creature. It was smaller than Inokas, but not by much. It wore no Kanohi mask, which made Ixie say it was a Rahi, but the others were pretty sure it wasn’t. “It looks like it could wear a mask,” Vai pointed out. More discussion spawned and kept the Matoran occupied as they moved the creature to the Ussal stables on the outskirts of the village. Where did it come from? How old was it? Why was it in stasis? Was it an endangered species? Was it a sapient species? Did anyone in town know what it was? Were they allowed to tell other people in the town yet? Were they allowed to tell the other towns? When they had gotten the creature settled on a clean pallet in an unused Ussal stall, Inokas said, “We’ll give it three days, don’t make a big deal out of this. I’ll keep watch tonight, and talk to one or two others who might have some insight. I can’t make any of you keep quiet, but I would really appreciate nobody making this into a big deal, until we know what we’re dealing with.” “You’ll call us if anything changes?” Ixie wanted to know. Inokas nodded. Tirpi and the Ussal driver began to wander back to their jobs, still talking excitedly, and Ixie turned to follow. “Vai, could I read over your notes?” Inokas requested. The Onu-Matoran had scribbled almost two whole tablets of notes with questions and observations on the walk from the beach. “Of course, Toa.” He handed over the tablets, and promptly didn’t move. When Inokas had finished reading over the tablets, impressed with the detail of the observations and insight of the questions, though not so much impressed with the legibility of the Matoran's hurried scrawl, he saw the Onu-Matoran still there. He offered Vai his tablets back, and asked, “Would you like to stay here with me?” “Yes, very much,” Vai said quickly. “Do you mind if I go get some materials?” “Not at all,” the Toa chuckled. And before one could say “Mata Nui!”, the Onu-Matoran was back with two scrolls, a pouch full of stone writing tablets, and a digital scanning device. “What are those for?” Inokas asked. “If we’ve discovered a forgotten species, or an entirely new species, I want to document as thoroughly as possible, and update the databases in the City as soon as I can!” Inokas nodded, sinking to the floor into as comfortable a sitting position as possible. Even when Vai was seated on a stool, Inokas sat taller than the Matoran. “I sent for Ulio so I can fill him in on events today. It might be a while, though. I think he was tied up in a meeting with some of the aspiring merchants from Dihe, and some of our own. Do you mind sharing your observations with him, as well?” Ulio, a Fe-Matoran, was the official leader of Uahi. “Of course, Toa” Vai said, although he was very busy scanning his notes into his digital files and navigating through the small holo-screens that Inokas wasn’t entirely sure he’d heard. That night, a sudden fit of coughing started Inokas to his feet. Vai’s history scroll that the Toa had been reading by lightstone fell to the floor. A clatter of stone tablets across the walkway between rows of stalls told him that Vai was now awake as well. Wasting no time, the Toa tossed his lightstone to the Matoran, took his glaive in one hand, and conjured a fire-light in the other. The Toa made his way to the stall swiftly. The Ussal crabs were chattering nervously in their own stalls now, at the sudden commotion and flickering light. After another fit of coughing, the creature, awake now and crouching on its pallet, squinted into Inokas’ fire held aloft. “Armonger? Is that you? Seja?” Its hoarse voice, unused in over 15,000 years, strained to get the syllables out. Vai arrived with his lightstone, and yanked the cover off that particular Ussal stall’s light stone. Inokas dimmed but did not put out his flame. He spoke evenly and slowly, motioning with a jerk of his head for Vai to step away. “You’re awake,” the Toa said, opening the stall gate. The walls and door of the stall only came up to his waist, but were tall enough to keep most of the Matoran out of sight of the stranger. The creature eyed the glaive Inokas held nonthreateningly but in plain view with bright green, very intelligent and very wary, non-Rahi-like eyes. It sat up straighter, and arranged its tail to drape off its pallet. To show it’s not hiding a weapon, Inokas realized, as it moved its hands into plain view as well. “Who are you?” Yet another fit of coughing wracked its frame, but when it spoke, it was a bit clearer this time, and definitively female. The caution in her voice mirrored the caution she saw in the Toa’s expression. “My name is Erylist,” she said. There was a pause, and it became apparent that she was not going to give more information unless prompted. “Where are you from?” Inokas glanced at Vai, who was still out of this Erylist’s line of sight, and busy scribbling notes, which didn’t go unnoticed by the newcomer. “Xamra.” “Xamra?” Inokas repeated. Xamra was small island just to the southwest of their continent. It was part of the early conquests of the League, taken over thoroughly by Barraki Pridak's armies as a training ground. “There hasn’t been anyone living there for over 10,000 years,” Vai spoke up. "Not since the League conquests." Erylist’s eyes darted toward this new voice, and she asked, “League?” Inokas and Vai exchanged a glance. The Toa of Fire tensed as the Onu-Matoran stepped into the opening of the gate, ready for anything. But Erylist’s only reaction was to shift her attention to the Matoran. “According to your stasis tube, the vessel we found you in, you’ve been out of commission for over 15,000 years. A lot has happened since you were last with us.” “Easy, Vai. We don’t know her intentions,” Inokas murmured. “You are Toa and Matoran. You serve the Great Spirit. I’ve worked alongside your kind before,” the stranger said. She spoke in an even tone, one that was informative, not trying to ingratiate herself to them, but not stating things in a distant, matter-of-fact. After a moment, she continued in a tone that had taken on a musing quality, "If what you say is true, and I have missed 15,000 years, then I have no way I can prove any of this to you, I’m sure. What are you going to do with me?” “Vai, would you please bring Ulio?” Erylist’s gaze shifted from the Toa’s crimson Kanohi Miru to the Matoran’s gray Kanohi Matatu, even as the Matoran scurried off. Inokas adjusted his grip on his glaive as Erylist sat back a bit, not relaxed, but not sitting laser-straight at attention. “You’ve learned about me, will I ever learn about you?” she asked him. “We’ll see,” the Fire Toa said. “We need to evaluate how much of a threat you may pose.” “Why are you so cautious?” she asked. “It’s unlike Toa and Matoran I’ve worked with before." After a moment of carefully considering his answer, he said, “We’ve been through a fair amount of troubles, these past few hundred years. We’re not eager to invite more into our lives so quickly.” “I don’t cause trouble. Not for your folk, at least,” she said. Inokas extinguished his flame, and reached slowly with his glaive to uncover the lightstone on the other side of the stall, and then brought his weapon to rest beside him. “What is it that you do, then?” One eye-ridge on his Miru raised ever so slightly in suspicion at her. Erylist took a while contemplating her answer, and was interrupted by the bright lightstone lights arriving, carried by not only Vai returning with Ulio, but also Tirpi, Ixie, and the Ussal driver. Inokas looked away for just a moment as the Matoran arrived, and was alarmed to see Erylist had shifted into a ready crouch upon her pallet in the time it took him to glance away and back. Although the defensiveness of her position was only noticeable to one trained to look for such things. Inokas steadied his grip on his glaive. “Toa Inokas, what do we have here?” Ulio nodded at the Toa in greeting, and was straight to business. “We-“ Inokas began. “I’m Erylist,” she said at the same time. Inokas let her continue, “I’m from Xamra, and I’m not entirely sure where I am, or when I am." Ulio’s expression was unreadable. “This is the Northern Continent. I’ve been told you’ve been indisposed for the past 15,000 years. It’s a very different world now. Vai says you mean us no harm. I’m sure you might say the same. In a few hours, it will be daybreak. I apologize, but even if you were a new Toa washed up on our shores, we would be following the same procedure. Tomorrow, you will accompany Toa Inokas, the historian Vai, and myself to Central City. There is a Toa Fortress there, where they are equipped to better assess your character and intentions. I assume you also have no passport or working credentials?” She shook her head. “In the city, you may apply for any credentials or papers you need to re-enter into society, if you are able, and if you so choose,” Ulio said. He spoke evenly, and assessed her coolly the whole while. The Xamran nodded. The Fe-Matoran, without turning from her, ordered, “Toa Inokas, Vai. With me. Tirpi, if you will keep our visitor company. The two of you,” he addressed the other two Matoran present, “You may return to your homes, if you wish. We will be next door.” Next door, as it turned out, was the Ussalry Driver offices, and was attached right to the stables, so they could hear any commotion that would go on. Right inside the offices, Ulio slid closed the thin wooden door, and turned to the Toa and Onu-Matoran. “Do either of you have sufficient cause to suspect this stranger is hostile or a threat?” Inokas leaned his glaive against the nearest wall, within easy reach, and knelt down in the Matoran-sized office space. About half the public buildings in the town had been constructed with Toa in mind. This was not one of them, as Toa are not typically part of the Ussalry force of a town. For the first time that night, Ulio’s stern Kanohi Komau cracked a hint of a grin, taking in the cramped Toa and the sleepy Onu-Matoran. “No, no reason to suspect danger,” Vai answered. “Although she’s not the most forthcoming with information about herself. But then again, I suppose I wouldn’t be either, had I just woken up and learned I missed many thousands of years.” He shrugged. The two Matoran turned to the Toa. Inokas said, “I don’t suspect danger. But I wouldn’t let her wander the village unsupervised. We thought she was a Rahi at first. I agree, she’s not an open book, but I don’t suspect any hidden malicious agenda.” “If the date on the stasis cap is true,” Vai piped in, “She went into a comatose state before even the League of Six Kingdoms was instantiated into power, let alone when it went corrupt and on conquest. If we’re worried she may be a warlord’s lackey seeking dominion, I think we can rule that out.” Their villages and the like had had their share of ex-soldiers and power-hungry warmongers leftover from the disbanding of the League’s armies try and stake claim on their villages and lands. Inokas and Ulio nodded in agreement. “But,” the Fe-Matoran countered, “Corruption and ill-will have been around since the creation of our universe. You know we can’t afford to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone.” “Yes, but I remember the days when we could. The days when Unity, Duty, and Destiny weren’t just virtues for us Matoran and Toa, but were virtues that anyone and everyone could and did follow. Whatever happened?” Vai seemed to be talking more to himself at this point, and talking more and more sleepily, at that. “Indeed,” Inokas murmured. “Vai, will you be set to travel to Central City with us tomorrow?” “You mean in a few hours?” the Onu-Matoran laughed shortly. “Of course. I’m always up for a trip to the city. Are we taking Ussal carts? I’m not keen on walking a whole day.” “Yes, we can arrange that.” A real smile, but a tired smile of a leader with one too many unexpected events sprung upon him, crossed Ulio’s mask. “Get some rest, brother.” Without having to be told twice, Vai doubled checked his satchel for his tablets and scrolls and various Archiving devices he picked up in the Great City, and headed back out through the Ussal stalls. “Thank you, Toa Inokas, for your diligence and caution in protecting us. I know this cold-natured approach to strangers doesn’t come naturally to you.” The Toa shrugged. “I’m just protecting my home. I’ve lived on this continent, in this region my whole life. I miss the days where we could be naive and open and friendly to anyone and everyone as well, but trial by fire has taught us better, unfortunately.” “Unfortunately,” Ulio agreed. “I know you don’t love going to the Fortress. Will you be okay?" “I’ll make do. They never ask me to join, I always just wonder if I should,” the Toa of Fire answered. “I see. Well, if they do give you any trouble tomorrow, you are free to step out.” “Thanks, Ulio. I appreciate it,” Inokas said. “No, really. They’re very professional. I just don’t do well with ranks and orders and iron schedules, at least not in a time of peace here.” “I trust you let me know if there is ever anything I can do,” the Matoran leader said. “I’ll see you back here at dawn. Get some rest, Toa.” Review Topic Edited January 1, 2020 by Aderia Quote (disclaimer: none of this banner art is original, I just smooshed it together in gimp. Torchic, Matau) Those pesky firespitters... Library | The Sculptors and the Smelters | The Ternion | Review Topic Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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