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Jerbraz and the Mask of Charisma

Master Inika

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Jerbraz and the Mask of Charisma

Part I of III: The Favor


            “Trinuma!” Jerbraz cried, banging on the door to his comrade’s dwelling place. “Trinuma, I know you’re in there! Open up!”


            The nine-foot-tall warrior, unable to mentally block Jerbraz’s incessant cries any longer, shouted out his window, “For the last time, the answer is no!”


            “But Trinuma!” Jerbraz whined. “I need to borrow the Mask of Charisma! It’s a matter of utmost importance!”


            “Jerbraz, the last time you ‘needed’ to borrow my mask, and said it was ‘a matter of utmost importance’, you just wanted to use it to play a prank on Toa Helryx!” Trinuma objected.


            “But I really, really need it this time!” Jerbraz insisted. The invisible warrior had spent the better part of the hour outside Trinuma’s house, trying to persuade Trinuma to let him use of the Great Kanohi Mask of Charisma. The mask had the ability to subtly influence a target’s beliefs to align with those of the user. The mask had served Trinuma well on a variety of missions throughout his long life. It had been used to turn enemies into allies, convince the most ardent of prisoners to surrender valuable information, and accomplish other tasks which no doubt saved countless lives. It was not a toy to be used in meaningless pranks!


            Still, Trinuma knew he would never get a chance to return to his meditation unless he at least heard Jerbraz out. He took a deep breath, cracked open his door slightly, and asked, “What’s so important that you need to borrow my mask, brother?”


            “It’s just terrible! And the Mask of Charisma is the only thing that can stop it!”


            “Out with it, brother!” Trinuma demanded.


            “So you know that Johmak has a huge secret crush on Tobduk, right?” Jerbraz blurted out.


            Trinuma couldn’t decide if he was more confused or enraged. “Jerbraz, what in Mata Nui’s name is a ‘crush’, and why do I get the feeling it’s not a matter of life or death?”


            “You know, a crush!” Jerbraz repeated. “Like, when a Ta-Matoran looks at a Ga-Matoran and just… wants to go for a walk around the Destiny War Museum with her, or buy her a frozen dessert from New Iconox… but really just be with her and make sure she’s safe and happy.”


            “So Johmak has one of these ‘crushes’ on our brother Tobduk?” Trinuma asked, opening the door more. Though Jerbraz was invisible, Trinuma remembered approximately what level his eyes were compared to his, and looked in that direction.


            “Yes!” Jerbraz shouted, exasperated, as if his brother was finally beginning to wrap his mind around a deep, liberating truth.


            “And… you have one of these ‘crushes’ on Johmak?” Trinuma continued.


            “Well, duh!” Jerbraz said. “Who wouldn’t? She the slickest chick in the Order of Mata Nui! She makes Roodaka look like Gorast! And alas… she makes me feel completely invisible. You know, more than usual.” His voice trailed off sadly, and Trinuma imagined he was looking forlornly at the ground. Then his vocal level swung back up as he concluded, “So I need the Mask of Charisma, to make her realize I’m the right one for her, not that Sanok-wearing son of a Makuta!”


            “You better be talking about Hewkii Inika,” a low, rumbling voice said from behind Jerbraz. It was Tobduk, the massive beast of a soldier from the island of Visorak. Of course, Trinuma had seem him walk up clearly as if Jerbraz wasn’t even there.


            “Tobduk! Oh, um, hi!” Jerbraz whimpered. Quietly, to Trinuma, he asked, “Why didn’t you tell me he was standing right there?”


            “You told me to ignore it when I see things happening through your body, remember?” Trinuma said. “You said it makes you feel self-conscious, or something like that.”


            “So, what are you two losers talking about?” Tobduk asked.


            “Oh, just… the weather,” Jerbraz said. “A bit chilly lately, isn’t it? Of course, not that a little wind would bother a big, strong tough guy like you.”


            “Stop talking,” Trinuma ordered with a strong jab to Jerbraz’s side.


            “Yeah, I guess,” Tobduk said. “A couple Agori spotted some untamed Visorak dangerously close to the Museum. You guys up for some target practice?”


            “Sorry, Jerbraz and I just killed some Visorak yesterday,” Trinuma lied. “We’re still trying to wash the smell off. We’ll take an energy storm check.”


            “Oh. All right, I get that. Smelly, gross little spiders,” Tobduk said. “I’ll see what Johmak’s doing.” With that, he turned and walked off, his heavy feet leaving imprints in the dirt.


            When Jerbraz looked back at Trinuma, to his surprise, the Mask of Charisma off his face and in his hand, which was extended out toward Jerbraz.


            “Go ahead. Take it,” Trinuma insisted.


            “Wait… why?” Jerbraz asked, hesitantly taking the mask. To an outsider, it appeared to float mysteriously in the air.


            “That punk bad-mouthed the Visorak,” Trinuma said, seething with anger. “Why does everyone hate those cute little guys so much? Once you find the right one, get them house trained, they’re as friendly and cuddly as Ussal Crabs!”


            “Wait a minute… Trinuma, you’re not doing what I think you’re doing…”


            Slowly, Trinuma opened the door all the way. Hidden from view the entire time was a small Visorak Keelerak with a pink collar around her neck, who looked up at Jerbraz, somehow sensing the invisible being’s eye level, with big, open, loving, blood-red eyes.


            “Her name is Kollorak, and she’s my new best friend,” Trinuma declared. Kollorak rubbed up against Trinuma’s leg, scraping her metal jaws together to produce a vaguely pleasant noise. “I call that a purr,” Trinuma added.


            “Trinuma, this is crazy! If Helryx found out you had a pet Visorak—”


            “It would be no different for me than it would be for you if she found out you were using a Great Kanohi Mask to get a girl to like you,” Trinuma countered. “So the way I see it, we’re even. As a great Toa, when he was just a Matoran, once said… take the mask and go! Mata Nui’s speed, friend.”


            Trinuma closed the door, leaving his friend alone with his thoughts. Hesitantly at first, then with great conviction, Jerbraz placed the Mask of Charisma on his face. As he did, the mask turned invisible, as he was. With newfound purpose, he started off in the direction of Johmak’s dwelling. If he was lucky, he’d find he before Tobduk lured her off slaying Visorak instead of on a joyous date with him.


Jerbraz and the Mask of Charisma continues on Friday, December 27, in Part II of III: The Contest!

Edited by Master Inika
  • Upvote 2

"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
-- Turaga Nokama


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Part II of III: The Contest


            Jerbraz traversed the terrain of Spherus Magna with newfound purpose. Crossing another hill, he spotted the Museum in the background, where Tobduk and Johmak were taking turns blasting at the Visorak nearby. Relying on his invisibility, he moved closer to them and listened to their conversation.


            “We’ve been doing this all day,” Johmak said, disinterestedly firing a Cordak missile at a Vohtarak.


            “Come on, let’s just finish this pack, and next time we’ll do something you like, I promise,” Tobduk said, lifting a Boggarak and tossing it hard at another one.


            Yes! Jerbraz thought. She wasn’t having a good time with Tobduk! He couldn’t have been happier.


            “Hey!” the voice of Toa Tahu cried out. Leading a squad of Toa and Glatorian, he said, “You know the drill, Tobduk. Visorak are to be reported directly to us to be captured and released back into the Wastelands.”


            “These monsters would just be back next week,” Tobduk said, holding up his spear and charging it up for another blast.


            As the blast fired, Gresh ducked forward and held out his shield. The blast bounced off and struck Jerbraz in the chest, sending him flying into the wall of the Museum.


            “Jerbraz?” Tahu shouted. “What are you doing here?”


            Everyone’s eyes were on him now, invisible or not. “Well, you see…” he started, but Tahu cut him off before he could even think of something else to say.


            “Never mind. We have work to do,” Tahu said. “Team, let’s get these Visorak onto the transport.”


            The three Order of Mata Nui members walked away from the site, wondering what to do next. In the distance, they heard a well-known Agori showman, Tarduk, shouting about a competition and prizes. "Beat your opponent and win a romantic evening for two! Perfect way to show up your romantic rival!" The trio wandered over, making their way through the crowd to Tarduk standing on a stage with three small tables, each with a small box on top.


            "We would like to compete!" Jerbraz shouted. The crowd gasped, and Tarduk pointed his clawed finger in Jerbraz's general direction, and shouted, “Who said that?”


            “I did! My name’s Jerbraz, and I’m invisible!” he shouted.


            “I’m Tobduk, and I’m angry all the time,” Tobduk said.


            “A true Takanuva and Makuta battle!” Tarduk said. “Now, I’m guessing by your diametrically opposed styles of masculinity, there’s one woman between the two of you who hasn’t decided on one or the other?”


            “That would be me,” Johmak said. Looking from Tobduk to Jerbraz and back again, she said, “Look guys, let’s just get this over with. I like both of you as friends, and it’s annoying watching you glare passive-aggressively at each other while I’m sure you’re engaging in soulful inner monologues about me. So let’s just settle this, I go on a date with the winner, and we see what happens from there. Deal?”


            “Deal,” two men said together, and the crowd cheered.


            “This contest,” Tarduk said, “is divided into three portions!” He opened up the first box and read a small stone tablet inside: “The first contest is to retrieve the Stone of Retrieval, and ancient artifact hidden somewhere in the city. And just to make things interesting, to even the playing field, Tobduk must wear weights to inhibit his strength, and Jerbraz must wear a visibility charm so he cannot use his invisibility as an advantage.”


            Tobduk added heavy weights to his wrists, and Jerbraz took the charm and wrapped it around his waist. He was still invisible, but the charm did not turn invisible as all other items on his person did. Tarduk counted down from three, and the two rivals went off in opposite directions.


            Johmak used her power to disperse into a cloud of black shards and flew through the air, checking in on the two men intermittently. They searched many locations, but each, seemingly at the same time, thought the same location: Tarduk said it was an ancient artifact, so it must be at the museum!


            The two races through the museum, down the hallway to the ancient artifacts exhibition. Jerbraz was in front. Spotting him by his charm, Tobduk swung his arm back and hurled one of his weights at Jerbraz, knocking him to the floor. Now with less weight, Tobduk easily overtook him and seized the item.


            “I win!” Tobduk declared.


            “Not exactly,” Tarduk said, walking in through a hidden door on the wall. “You cheated by getting rid of one of your weights, plus you used it as a weapon against your opponent.”


            “So, I win?” Jerbraz asked.


            “Nope! You still got knocked in the head. A real winner would have had the foresight to dodge it,” Tarduk explained.


            “What?” Jerbraz said. “That doesn’t make any sense!”


            “You know, I gotta agree with Jerbraz on that one,” Tobduk added.


            “No winner!” Tarduk insisted. “Back outside for contest two!”


            Tobduk followed Tarduk out, but Jerbraz noticed on the floor a small black shard. He picked it up, and when the other two were gone, the shard flew into a cloud of others like it, which reformed into Johmak.


            “Hey. Nice try with that search,” Johmak said.


            “Thanks,” Jerbraz said. There was a quality about the space between them and the silence of the moment he could not explain. Somehow, having beautiful Johmak in front of him, standing there sweetly as if waiting for him to say something, the whole contest just seemed… stupid. He finally remembered why he wanted the Mask of Charisma in the first place.


            “Hey, Johmak?” he asked.




            “I know we agreed on Tarduk’s three tests, but… now that you’re here like this, I’ll just ask, do you want to go out with me?”


            Johmak smiled deeply and looked up at him. “I thought you’d never ask.”


            Once again, Tarduk emerged from a hidden door, clapping slowly.


            “Congratulations, Jerbraz! You passed the second test!” Tarduk read from the stone tablet: “’Realize these tests are stupid and just ask the girl out.’”


            “That’s it?” Jerbraz asked. “Was there even anything in the third box?”


            “Let’s find out!” Tarduk said. He produced the third box from behind his back and peeked in. “Oh, so there’s where I left that Manutri sandwich!” he beamed. “I’ve been looking for it for almost a month now.”


            Johmak and Jerbraz almost gagged as Tarduk began feasting on his meal. It seemed that all of them got something they wanted that day.


            “So…” Johmak said, returning her attention to Jerbraz.


            “So, what sounds good? Dinner, a performance, both?”


            “It sounds lovely.” Johmak offered her arm, and Jerbraz led her out.


Jerbraz and the Mask of Charisma concludes on Monday, December 30, in Part III of III: The Date!

  • Upvote 1

"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
-- Turaga Nokama


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Part III of III: The Date


            Jerbraz and Johmak dined at Chateau de Strouneé, the finest restaurant on Spherus Magna. As Jerbraz led his lady up the stairs, he asked, “Have you ever eaten here before?”


            “No, I have not,” she said.


            “Do you know the story behind it?” he asked. When she said no again, he said: “Oh, it’s amazing! There was a Rock Tribe warrior named Stronius. He did a lot of terrible stuff during the war before Makuta was defeated, fighting for Tuma and enslaving his enemies. But afterward, when he tried leading his own Skrall holdout, it was disastrous for him. His forces were overwhelmed by the Toa and Glatorian in just a few days. When his Skrall were imprisoned, though, they had only one complaint: the food Stronius cooked for them was so much better than their prison food. The government was curious, so they tasted some of it themselves, and it turns out he’s an even better chef than he is evil conqueror! So, they got him to agree to stop pillaging his enemies in exchange for a full pardon and his very own restaurant.”


            “That’s really cool,” Johmak said. “I love turnaround stories like that.”


            A Skrall waiter led them to their table. “Welcome to Chateau de Strouneé,” he said in his gruff voice. “Tonight’s special is Blood of Thy Enemy: a well done Sand Stalker patty with extra ketchup and red pepper with a side of strawberry Thronax stew.”


            “I’ll take one,” Jerbraz said.


            “Make that two,” Johmak agreed.


            As they waited, the two looked and smiled at each other a few more moments, both aware of who should talk first. Finally, it was Jerbraz.


            “When did you get the Glitch?” he asked


            “It was during the Destiny War,” she said. “I was fighting a battalion of Rahkshi off the coast of Karzahni when I noticed their commander, a Skantang, was… handsome. I didn’t know how I knew what the concept meant, I just knew he was it.”


            “I don’t suppose he caught the Glitch too,” Jerbraz joked.


            Johmak laughed. “Guess we’ll never know. I delivered the fatal blow before I could ask if he was single,” she said. “How about you?”


            Jerbraz shrugged. “I don’t think it happened in me until after we reached Spherus Magna. When we were fighting those Skakdi in the Dune Sea, I just glanced over at you and noticed something I never noticed before.”


            She smiled and sighed. “So, I’m your first one?”


            Jerbraz shrugged. “I guess you are.”


            “It seems like only a few of us ever got the Glitch before we reached Spherus Magna,” Johmak said. “Maybe it’s being around all these Agori and Glatorian who just naturally think that way. Romance and marriage and all that.”


            “I never had any concept of it, and as far as I know neither did anyone else I knew.”


            “I once knew a Toa who, now that I think about it, had it,” Johmak said. “He always seemed nervous around me.”


            “So I have competition aside from just Tobduk?” Jerbraz said. Johmak laughed and put a reassuring hand on him.


            “You have nothing to worry about,” she said.


            Then, music began playing in the restaurant. They turned to see a Skrall band playing their instruments.


            “Good evening folks, my name’s Branar and I’ll be providing your live entertainment tonight,” the lead Skrall said. His rocky, raspy voice limited the musical selections to songs more of the heavy and metal variety. Still, he made it work, and many couples were getting up and dancing. Jerbraz held out his hand, and the two of them danced together. Though they hadn’t danced together before, they fell right into a good groove, and it wasn’t until they finished that they noticed they were the only ones. Everyone else had been so captivated by their natural skill that they had just stopped and watched, and now that it was over they cheered. Stronius walked out, clapping as well, and handed them an envelope.


            Wiping a tear from his face, he said, “That was the best dance I’d ever seen! Dessert on the house for you two loveshrikes.”


            The two went outside to sit under the stars, tired from their meal and dancing.


            “This feels like a great dream,” Jerbraz said. Beside him Johmak put her head on his shoulder.


            It was getting late. Jerbraz walked Johmak back to her quarters.


            “I had a great time,” she said.


            “I’m glad,” Jerbraz said. “We can do it again sometime soon?”


            “Definitely,” she said.


            Jerbraz gave her a quick, PG-rated kiss on the cheek, and they parted. Before he went home, though, he stopped at Trinuma’s house.


            “Trinuma?” he said with a knock on the door. When it opened, he said, “Trinuma, I just had the best date ever! I--what are you wearing?”


            Trinuma had on a matching sleep cap and bathrobe set in black, covered in miniature Brotherhood of Makuta symbols.


            “What?” he asked, petting Kollorak who was purring at his foot. “I found it on Destral after Makuta died. I figured, you know, since he wouldn’t be using it now…”


            “I just wanted to return this,” Jerbraz said. As he removed the mask, it become visible once more.


            Trinuma smiled. “Keep it, brother. After all…” He pulled something from behind his back. “This is the real Mask of Charisma!”


            “Wait, you mean…” Jerbraz said.


            “That’s right, brother!” Trinuma beamed. “You were wearing a false mask the whole time. You already had everything you needed. I hope you learned a valuable lesson tonight.”


            “I did!” Jerbraz said. “Deception is morally acceptable in certain circumstances in pursuit of a greater good!”


            “Well…” Trinuma said. “I guess I can’t tell you that’s wrong. I hope you learned two lessons.”


            At home, before he went to sleep, he placed the false mask on his nightstand. “Goodnight, placebo mask,” he said, patting its forehead. “You’ll be quite a story for the grandkids someday.”


            The End

  • Upvote 2

"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
-- Turaga Nokama


Click here to visit my library!

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