This article was written by Kopakamata97. Please do not add to it without the writer's permission.
|Battle for the Mask of Life|
Battle for the Mask of Life
Battle for the Mask of Life is a rewrite of 2007's Mahri Nui canon according to Kopakamata97.
Chapter 1: Attack on the Gulor 109
Silence. Utter silence. It almost seemed as if the ocean were an endless expanse of water with no life whatsoever. How could anyone live in such a desolate, underwater wasteland? That question ran through the minds of all six of the exhausted Toa Mahri, who had been through quite an ordeal on Voya Nui.
The unrelenting Piraka had worn them out with such intense attacks during their bid for the Kanohi Ignika. With the Voya Nui onslaught over, they now had to handle things near Mahri Nui, a city beneath the ocean surrounding the island they had just come from.
To add to their physical and mental fatigue, their bodies had been suddenly changed into water-suitable beings, enough to tire anyone out, let alone a Toa who had just come from a terrible ordeal like the Mahri had.
Over the course of the past two days, they had been traveling in a large Gulor-class crawler outbound towards Liagaona City, a separate city near Mahri Nui. Days seemed even longer than the preexisting 24 hours onboard it. This was particularly because of the lack of scenery from the windows, and the idea of being trapped inside with Nuparu, the Toa of Earth who got his kicks from making unhumorous jokes that could only amuse the simple-minded.
Luckily for the Toa, the crawler had been equipped with comfortable bunks for the team to rest their sagging eyelids for at least some period of time, however brief. There was a downside, though, as there were only three bunks for six Toa. At least they were roomy, and could provide accommodations for three in each if they so desired.
In order to provide the team with as much comfort as possible, Jaller, the Mahri leader, suggested that they sleep in pairs. It was a good enough arrangement, but Hahli found it to be “immature” that all of the boys ganged up on her and forced Nuparu as her bedmate, which she called “a sick joke”. Jaller tried to convince them otherwise, but they wouldn’t hear it, and he just gave up on the fight.
The destination, Liagaona City, was a large trading hub and a formidable fortress widely renowned as a stopping point between multiple cities. Travelers, adventurers, and chroniclers had all dubbed it “the Portal to the Barraki” due to its proximity to the Pit, which was located virtually right outside the walls of the city.
There, the Barraki were imprisoned for unspeakable crimes such as murder, theft, and betrayal to those they were most loyal to.
The city had been established over 1,000 years ago by an explorer widely accepted as “Kladex”. Many settlers looking for a new life became very well adapted to the watery environment, mysteriously transforming their lungs into subaquatic gill-like breathing structures.
These Matoran went on to evolve into Triangos, beings that were capable of breathing water instead of oxygen. Over the years, kings came and went. During the reign of King Criplar, the Barraki lived as nobles within the city, bringing knowledge to those who sought it.
After the alleged natural death of King Criplar, the nobles grew outraged when they discovered that one of their own, Kalmah, was not eligible to become the new king, even despite the fact he was the rightful heir to the throne.
It was then that they massacred the population, reducing it to 45% of its original glory. Whkishava took the throne and banned the Barraki from the city. With nowhere to put them, laborers began work on a large prison known as the Pit, a name quite literal to its appearances.
Many escape attempts took place, with the guards often too weak in comparison to the brute strength of the prisoners. Inventors began designing robots called Maxilos to kill anything that escaped, even if it was another robot who just left his post without orders.
Energy hounds, organic beings, were also used in the guarding of the Pit, their masters being the Maxilos robots. Everything had been supplied by the Order of Mata Nui, a highly religious group who followed Mata Nui and his teachings to their most literal meanings.
The crawler continued to sway back and forth in the water, its sleek metallic exterior gliding through it like a knife through a sarn berry. A clean silvery-grey interior made the ride boring for most of the Toa, as the most color they had seen in the past two days had been each others’ brightly-hued armor.
The seats were crafted with a Protosteel frame, a highly-efficient and well-made metal, and they were covered with the most luxurious Rahi leather that the Voya Nui craftsmen could afford. It had been gifted to the Toa Mahri by the Turaga and Matoran of the island, who had spent days working on it.
Gulor-class crawlers were designed to be more useful and comfortable than other kinds. Not only were they crafted for luxury, they could also serve as combat vehicles, the case of this situation. One of the abundant benefits of the vehicle was the fact it was powered by the surrounding water rather than fuel, saving the Toa precious time and widgets that didn’t need to be spent.
If desired, the crawler could travel at speeds as fast as one kio an hour, but it was much too dangerous to attempt such high speeds. They had been keeping it at a steady two hundred and fifty bio an hour. Additionally, the crawler had two interfaces: one that would allow it to swim and another that could allow it to “walk” along the seabed, though the latter of the two was significantly slower. For this reason, the second mode provided a much better experience for explorers or paleontologists.
This particular model that the Toa Mahri had acquired was custom-made by the humble villagers of Voya Nui. Turaga Elrak, a castaway who had arrived on the island from Mata Nui, was the inventor of the vehicle and its counterparts, and had profited millions of widgets with his invention.
One day, he decided to test the new Gulor-960, which was supposed to provide extremely fast transport to any location desired. He soon realized that it was impossible to maneuver and it burned through fuel at an alarming rate, deserting him on Voya Nui.
Contemplating life as a castaway, Elrak wandered the island for days trying to keep himself alive. The Matoran of Voya Nui, so desperate for a leader, deemed him “Turaga”. Only a few years after being elected, the Piraka arrived, causing mayhem amongst everyone who lived on the land mass.
Thok, the cold-heart Piraka whose armor was as colorless as his soul, banished Elrak into an icy region of Voya Nui, causing the Turaga to freeze. It was not long after that the Toa Inika arrived.
Toa Jaller eventually found the ice-covered Elrak and thawed him out with heat from his palms. In return for saving the island, the villagers and Turaga Elrak worked to build the Toa one of the most luxurious models of Gulor crawlers - the 109.
After receiving such a magnificent gift, Elrak had the Inika undergo training and tedious demonstrations of the piloting, repair, and cleaning of the Gulor 109. Though grueling, it was a necessary evil in case something should go terribly wrong.
Once the vigorous education came to a close, a test to determine the active pilot was to be completed in order for the training to officially be over. Jaller came out on top, his tough, focused mentality earning him the position. Even though his intimidating red and orange Kanohi Arthron didn’t articulate it, he was actually a kind, compassionate warrior who did what he had to in order to ensure his team and the world were safe.
Despite this, he hated his current disposition. Being in water was literally out of his element, being that he, the Toa of Fire, was familiar with flames and magma - things that couldn’t even touch the very substance he was surrounded by. Every time he felt extinguished by this, he thought of Hahli, the Toa of Water, his romantic interest.
He had never confessed his attraction to her - how could he? Nobody knew if they would be alive a day later, let alone another hour.
Jaller kept his hands fixed on the steering wheel, his eyes almost fixated onto the horizon. Every few minutes, he would glance down at the GPS navigation system to ensure everything was on target. Seeing that their destination was within 15 minutes, it was almost time to drop. Above his head was a compartment in which he popped open. Inside it, there was a microphone.
“We will be at Landing Point Jark within the next fifteen minutes. Prepare to land. This is rough territory.” he announced into the radio system.
The Mahri began to feel anxious, gripping their weapons tighter. The moment that they had been waiting for was finally here. After two long days of confinement, they would have exposure to the outside world - but it wasn’t all pleasant. It would be a “hit the ground running” mission.
“I’m not getting out. There’s just no way that I’m gonna risk my life for some kind of stupid mission. Hey, if Mata Nui gets weak one more time, I’ve had it. I mean, get your own Kanohi, man. Stop ordering the little guys to do it! I was just an average Matoran livin’ out my life on an island named after the guy until POW! The guy needs a Toa and sends me to do it. No thanks.” retorted Nuparu, the edgy Toa of Earth with a sense of humor as strong as the muscles of a dying rat.
“Nuparu, I wouldn’t say you were a ‘normal’ Matoran...besides, I’m not going to stand for anyone saying inappropriate things about Mata Nui. I’d rather break you neck - my fellow Toa’s neck - than disrespect him. We thank our existence to him.” Hewkii responded, anger lining each word.
Nuparu was often regarded to as “the strange one”; he was the kind of guy who could get a kick out of anything...the kind of guy who was obnoxious and disrespectful just to entertain himself with whatever kind of reaction he’d get out of it.
In the words of Jaller, Nuparu’s jokes were “not even funny, and the punch lines were like being told you were about to get a hit to the gut”. Even though the Toa of Earth was generally kind to others, nobody cared because of his inappropriate behavior.
On several occasions, he had wished for a friend that shared his sense of humor and found his jokes to be funny. Unlike the others, he believed in luck, wishes, the supernatural, myths, and superstitions.
Before long, Hahli realized that Nuparu was staring at her, sitting still with his eyes focused on her blue Kanohi. She bit her lip to prevent any unwanted words to slip from the tip of her tongue. It wouldn’t be much longer before the “Toa of Immaturity” let off a joke.
“Hey...hey Hahli.” he chimed in.
“What is it?” replied Hahli through grit teeth.
“Guess what? I’ve got a joke for you!”
“Mata Nui, preserve me…” she said under her breath.
“How ae who?”
“Not that good...can you stop the crawler?”
Hahli used every ounce of her being to restrain herself from smacking the life out of Nuparu. Maybe sitting next to him wasn’t such a bright idea after all, but it couldn’t have been helped. When she initially sat down, everyone else had already taken their seat. She felt extremely tired, both physically and mentally, as Nuparu enjoyed waking up during the night to talk, as he was obtain most of his rest during the day with naps. With so much sleep deprevation, Hahli felt like an insomniac with extreme rest-deficit issues.
For the past few weeks, she had envisioned herself back on Mata Nui as a Matoran hiring a bounty hunter to kill him off, but it was against her values as a Toa. At least it was something to think about.
Hahli’s Kanohi Faxon was beautifully carved; its color a rich navy blue. It protected her flawless, unscarred face. Her silver wings were folded behind her back, and she was still learning how to use them. Most of the Toa found the mission extremely stressful. At least it was different compared to their last task. Hahli was actually a bit excited, as it was finally something she was familiar with - water.
With every turn, the crawler made the surrounding water disperse into the hydromic engines, creating the sound of a loud stream. Thanks to the oxy-splitter in the engines, the crawler was provided with fresh oxygen for the Toa to breathe. A small kanoka fruit plant was located inside the passenger bay to provide more refined air as well as a delicious treat.
Kongu, the Toa of Air, had always enjoyed the natural levels of humidity found in his home village of Le-Koro, but found the element of water to be generally displeasing. As a Matoran, he experienced vivid nightmares involving drowning, which made his anxiety elevate while on the mission. Additionally, he had intense seasickness, which he discovered on a fishing trip with now-former friends. Now he was worried that his last meal could reappear on his lap at any given time.
Similarly to Kongu, Hewkii also disliked the water. Having never learned to swim as a Matoran was now catching up to him rapidly; he also suffered from hydrophobia. The Toa of Ice, Matoro, had a great amount of respect for the water, knowing that it had claimed many innocent lives, washing them away like the tides that brought the waves back to the ocean.
“Landing Point Jark is now ten minutes away…we’re going to have some slight turbulence, as I’m going to increase the speed.” Jaller broadcasted.
Shortly after the announcement, the crawler lurched its speed up by seven bph. Kongu felt his stomach grow very queasy, and it soon progressed into nauseousness. Putting his palms on his belly, no one could tell if he was turning green from the sickness or if it was his already emerald armor. Quickly, he became dizzy, nearly collapsing onto the floor unconscious. Swiftly, he grabbed his head to make the room stop spinning. He and Hewkii exchanged glances.
Jaller’s consistently smooth piloting had lost its edge, and the ride was now becoming bumpy and unpredictable. Each of the Toa gripped onto the steel seats hard, some of them digging their nails deeply into the arms of the chairs. Again, Hewkii glanced at Kongu; when he did so, he felt the Toa of Air’s escalator of emotions pour out onto his face, like a wave crashing onto the sands of Po-Koro. The compassionate Hewkii placed his hand on Kongu’s shoulder.
“You’re going to be ok, Kongu. I hate the water, too…hate it even more than all of Nuparu’s jokes.” Hewkii joked, getting a grin out of Kongu.
“Hey! I heard that!” snapped Nuparu.
The two Toa laughed. Meanwhile in the cockpit, Jaller grinned almost deviously, anxiously anticipating the attack where he could finally blow up some of Makuta Teridax’s minions. His face was painted with excitement even in spite of his dread of the water.
Kongu’s condition was worsening with each passing moment, as he forced himself to restrain his vomit three times. Even though it was unlike her caring nature, Hahli’s sadistic humor kicked in, and she was beginning to feel some enjoyment out of Kongu’s sickness. Her enjoyment, however, was extremely mild compared to Nuparu’s hysterical laughter aimed at his teammate’s suffering.
“I’ll be in the bathroom.” exclaimed Kongu, clearly feeling the effects of seasickness.
Somehow, he managed to make it into the restroom, and every grueling and disgusting sound could be heard. With the tension of the mission, it allowed the Toa Mahri to let loose for a moment and laugh. Just as it appeared as if the Toa of Earth was about to tell another horrifyingly terrible joke, Hahli placed her hand over his mouth. The jokester shoved it aside rudely, his saliva still on her palm.
“Wow. It looks like Kongu has really thrown up since he was a little Matoran? Get it? ‘Cause he’s grown up, and now he’s thrown up! Ha!”
“That’s not even close...you’ve just outdone yourself for the worst joke ever.”
Before long, Kongu came out of the bathroom with vomit dribbling down the corners of his mouth and on his chin. Hewkii gestured to him that there was some residual on his face, and Kongu quickly returned to the bathroom and got some water from the basin to wash it off. Thankfully for his sake, there was virtually just minutes until they reached Point Jark. He returned to sitting down.
“Um, Kongu...you’ve got a little somethin’ on your nose.” said Hahli, almost giggling.
“This is Jaller again. Please equip your Cordak Blasters now. We have two minutes until we land.”
The Toa arranged themselves in a single-file line. Hahli was first, and she was clearly having trouble picking out which one to take. Kongu’s foot was tapping quickly, obviously feeling very impatient over her slowness in such a simple task.
“Hahli, I’m just going to make this ever-simple; just grab a Cordak blaster and go! Any one of them. I don’t care which one! They all work fine-well, ok?” he snapped as he exposed his thick Le-Koro speech patterns.
The Toa of Water rolled her eyes behind her dark blue Kanohi Faxon. She and Kongu didn’t really like each other much, and those feelings were amplified under the stress and pressure that they had been experiencing with their cabin fever.
Eventually, Hahli picked out a blaster she liked, and Kongu felt his muscles becoming more and more relaxed. The Toa of Air grabbed two blasters - it was his signature weapon arrangement. Where everyone else had one Cordak Blaster and one handheld weapon, he doubled up on the gun. Jaller, having parked the crawler, came out to join them.
The Gulor began to slow down and rumble, and the faces on the Toa were nervous but excited. Eventually, the doors to the transfer chamber opened, and everyone fled inside. Now locked in a small, confined room, the air was extracted from the chamber, only to be replaced with frigid, bone-chilling waters.
Matoro remained silent as usual. He was intelligent and well liked by his team, and he never acted inappropriately like Nuparu. Because of his resilience to the cold waters, he was a great asset in many ways.
“Jaller, how are we going to make this work? If we break up, we’re way more vulnerable. It would be like spreading kara ants in front of an angry pergon bird. We’d stand no chance.” Matoro commented.
“We’re going to break off into units of two. Hewkii, you’ll be working with Kongu. Matoro, you’re with Nuparu. Hahli, you’re with me. Understood?” Jaller barked back in response.
Matoro said nothing in protest against his pairing with Nuparu. Duty came first, especially in war time. Jaller was clearly choosing the pair so he could build his relationship with Hahli, and maybe even get her to love him.
“I’m so excited to blast these Monsters. Makuta’s a beast.” Hewkii exclaimed.
“Hah...funny...I just noticed something.” Hahli, blurted, laughing lightly.
“What?” asked Jaller.
“The way you paired off everyone. You and I produce steam; Kongu and Hewkii make erosion; and, needless to say, Matoro and Nuparu make a miserable combination.”
“I actually planned it that way. In reality, though, Matoro and Nuparu make black ice.”
“Are we ready to go, sir?” asked Hewkii.
“Give it a second...ok. Now go ahead and let us out.”
The front door lifted in front of them, and they were now ready for battle. Scanning around the area, nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary. It was completely silent, a noise worse than anything else. It meant there was a possibility of an ambush, something waiting to spring on them and kill them. Kongu looked up, only to see two red-hued lights.
“Uh, Jaller, I wasn’t going to mention-say, but is that a Rahi coming towards us?” murmured Kongu.
“Yeah. I’d say that’s the scout that we’re waiting for…” gulped the fiery Toa.
Hahli almost shrieked, which was unlike her normal cool, composed self. Jaller put his hand over her mouth to silence her. The twin red lights became brighter, closer, and larger; they were most certainly the eyes of one of Makuta’s scouts. The vicious fish-like creature swam towards the Toa, willing to kill them. It’s body was possessed by Teridax himself, swerving back and forth in an uneven manner.
As it moved effortlessly through the water, Jaller ordered the Toa to begin firing. Before long, the possessed shark sunk to the bottom of the seafloor dead. In order to save on supplied, they approached the creature to remove their ammunition from its bullet-ridden body.
“Makuta never sends just one.” stated Hewkii.
Hahli tried to keep herself calm this time, even though she couldn’t have been any more disturbed by the abrupt appearance of the enemy than she just was. Another creature swarmed into the area, with it terrorizing Hahli and shrieking at the top of its lungs. The shark released a pod of kriinas, small worms that could potentially consume all of a Toa’s worth into nothingness, eating away the flesh of its host - something Hahli narrowly dodges.
“Um, guys? I nearly got hit by that shark’s tridon explosive pod. Watch out...they contain kriinas.” Hahli explained.
“Seriously? Be cautious, everybody.” announced Jaller.
Two more of the terrible creatures swooped in on the Toa, screaming and hissing ferociously. This time, they were more fish-like, with sharp teeth jutting out of their jaws like knives. These ones had piercing blue eyes that shot through the Toa like laser beams. Repeating over and over again, they swooped down, then back up, and back down again. Matoro nailed one in the head, and it stopped dead in its watery tracks.
For almost thirty minutes the skirmish raged on, and the Toa grew more and more fatigued. As usual, Nuparu was goofing off and not focusing on the actual conflict. He was too “busy” laying around by a small seaweed plant, twirling his index finger around it and tugging. He seldom joined in on fighting because he wanted to relax and do his own thing.
“Seems like these creatures won’t stop!” shouted Nuparu, still relaxing and focusing on what he was doing.
“Like you’d know, plant-boy!” responded a frustrated Hahli.
“What do you expect? Makuta’s a terrible being that oughta be sought out and destroyed. He’s not going to send merciful beings.” Jaller commented.
On cue, a shadow squid hit Jaller on his read and orange Kanohi Arthron. Back on Voya Nui, both the Turaga and Matoran alike had warned him about this species. They had learned that Makuta had found and manipulated all of the squid in the species, using the toxins as a weapon against anyone they came in contact with. In general, they were blue or green, depending on the amount of poison inside their hideous bodies.
“Jaller, you ok!? I saw you get hit-struck!” Kongu shouted.
“I feel...strange. Really weak…” responded the weakened Toa of Fire.
Within moments of responding to Kongu, Jaller fell limp to the ground paralyzed. His eyes rolled back into his skull, and there was a possibility that the Toa would never be able to walk again. Rushing to his side, Kongu shoved the dead squid with a stick to get it off of his teammate, who was now moaning uncontrollably. When he tried to speak, all that came out was gibberish complimented with an assortment of words with no connection whatsoever.
“Jaller, stay with me. Don’t close-shut your eyes. If you do, you’re not going to the end-finish of this mission. You’ve got to keep them open!”
“You’ve gotta go on without me….you need to...do it…” Jaller managed to choke out.
As soon as he finished speaking, his body fell totally limp. It began to seize wildly, his limbs now moving about like propellers. Kongu looked on helplessly as his leader died in front of his eyes. Nobody knew of a cure that could revive him. Tears fled to Hahli’s eyes. Memories of the journey filled everyone’s minds. Just half an hour ago, he was alive, piloting, and fighting - now he was on the ground, either dead or dying.
Even in the light of the tragedy, Matoro provided the Toa Mahri with cover fire, shooting the oncoming creatures. Nuparu was still completely unaware of what was going on in his own surroundings. Soon, the area was cleared of all of Makuta’s scouts, and Matoro could now tend to Jaller.
“I don’t think he’s dead - I still feel some energy coming out of his body...we need to find him a cure. Back in Ko-Koro, the doctors would use the blood of a shark to attempt to save those poisoned while swimming. It’s risky, but we’ve got nothing to lose at this point. The side effects include permanent paralysis and the loss of ability to speak.”
“Stop standing around, then! Do what you’ve got to do!” shouted Hewkii.
The white-clad Toa of Ice sprinted towards one of the deceased sharks and sliced it with his ice claw, collecting the blood as it dispersed into the ocean. He had to be extremely cautious not to ingest any of its bacteria. When he returned to his injured comrade, he forced the blood into his weakened body.
Minutes passed with no reaction. Time seemed to take so much longer than normal, with every passing second feeling like decades. The limp body of Jaller Mahri didn’t respond. Was the blood doing anything? Was he even alive? Paralyzed? Dead?
“We’re too late...we’ve lost him.” Matoro said somberly.
Now noticing that the action had stopped, Nuparu ran over to the group of Toa sitting by Jaller. He was curious to see what was so interesting about the Toa of Fire. He sprinted to see what was happening, being that he was such a natural runner - it was a shame, too, as he sat around a lot on missions.
“Looks like the Toa of Laziness finally got up.” commented Hewkii. “I may as well fill you in, lame-wad, that Jaller was killed by a shadow squid.”
For a moment, it appeared as if Nuparu were distraught and upset by the death of his leader.
“Hey, I guess he was dying to fight some creatures. Am I right?” laughed Nuparu.
“Very, very inappropriate, Nuparu.” Hewkii snapped in rage, raising his fists in an attack position. “Bring it on.”
The two began to brawl, exchanging powerful hits to each others bodies. Kongu lept in between them and broke up the fight as Hahli burst into tears, wrapping her arms around the dead body of Jaller. Nuparu’s words stung her worse than those pesky wasps that had infested Voya Nui.
“It was all my fault-crime…” cried Kongu. “We should’ve stuck together.”
“No, I should’ve stayed by his side.” Matoro objected.
“Actually,” said a third voice. “It was neither of you.”
“Jaller!?” exclaimed Hahli, looking into Jaller’s now life-filled eyes.
Tears of joy trickled down her cheeks as she could not contain her new-found excitement. Speechlessness overcame her. The Toa Mahri rejoiced over their leader’s return, all except for Nuparu, who slouched in the back over the fact he told a bad joke.
“Thanks for saving my life. Now I can live on to fight another day.”
“And ruin my joke…” mumbled Nuparu under his breath.
“What?” asked Jaller.
“Hey Nuparu, you like doin’ favors?” challenged Hewkii.
“Yeah, sure...just as much as the next guy, I guess.”
“Then why don’t you do us one now and just shut up?”
“No thanks, man.”
“Earth-digger, smart Toa don’t go around messin’ with an air-surfer like Toa-hero Kongu Mahri. Jaller nearly poisoned-died from that shadow squid, and you made a joke-laugh out of it. You were distracted while everyone was fighting-attack in the battle. You were…” Kongu was cut off.
“Distracted!? I was workin’ my mask off!”
“WHAT!? I hardly think twirling your finger around a bit of seaweed is work!”
“I think you’re the one who’s distracted, dude. You were distracted by my astonishingly good looks.”
With a wave of his fist, Kongu threatened to hit Nuparu in the jaw, only to have it cast aside by the gentle Hahli Mahri. Even though the two weren’t friends, the Toa of Air enjoyed having her around to ensure his temper never got int he way. She never got into fights, and she kept the guys in line.
“Well, alright...I guess you’re right.” muttered Nuparu.
“Of course not!”
“Ugh...if neither of us were a Toa, I’d throw you off an edge-cliff.”
“It’s a shame, isn’t it?”
Ever since the two Toa met, Kongu had planned to deliberately hurt Nuparu, the jokester who enjoyed making highly inappropriate nicknames for each other, the non-vulgar ones including “Firepants” for Jaller, “Lil’ Sweetie” for Kongu, “Cuddle Me Sweetie” for Matoro, and “Happy Stream” for Hahli.
Jaller helped himself up onto his feet, brushing off the dust that had settled on him. He and the others all looked to the right, drawn to the glow of a large, elegant city in the distance, with an expensive-looking road leading to it.
“What a beautiful city. I had no idea Liagaona was such a successful place.” exclaimed Hahli.
“Succesful? Hardly.” Kongu replied, pointing to an old beaten path to the right of the road they were looking at. Behind it was an unattractive city. “That was Mahri Nui you saw...we’re going down this road.”
It was a worn down looking thing, probably forged by underpaid labor or slaves who had such low-quality of lives that they were done away with after their job was done. The road was so filthy that even a manas crab would find it disgusting. By the looks of it, the path was probably untouched by civilians since the Barraki slaughtering that left the locals too afraid to leave the comfort of the city walls.
“I can’t wait to tell Onepu that I’m actually going to the Portal to the Barraki!” shrieked an excited Nuparu.
Onepu was his best friend back on Mata Nui, and he actually enjoyed the Toa’s lacking-in-quality jokes. When he was a Matoran, Nuparu had heard tales about the glorious Liagaona City from Turaga Whenue. Both he and Onepu had always wanted to visit the place, but were too terrified of drowning in the depths of the ocean.
Unlikely as it was now, Nuparu still wanted to become friends with Jaller, as he secretly respected his skills in fighting. The leader of the Toa Mahri had actually promised to train the reckless Toa once the mission was over, provided that they make it out alive.
“Hey guys, I think we need some ammo.” commented Hahli.
“By the looks of our blasters, I’d say we’ll need some for the journey ahead of us. Hahli, how about you fetch us some of those bags out of the crawler, eh?” commanded Hewkii.
She nodded her head firmly, then retrieved sacks of ammunition. Inside each of the bags were gear, ammunition, and personal belongings that each of the Toa had brought with them. Each of the warriors grabbed their corresponding bags and slung them over their shoulders like backpacks after they loaded up their blasters. Jaller took in a long, deep breath as he set his right foot on the path.
“Well, here we go...the Portal to the Barraki...Liagaona City.”
Chapter 2: The Path to Liagaona City
The old beaten path lay straight ahead of the Toa Mahri as they looked on at the city. There were notorious legend surrounding Liagaona City, making them more nervous, as they were all stories of gore and violence. The whole area seemed relatively flat compared to the large buildings along the horizon.
Matoro’s eyes gazed at the beautiful and glorious place in awe. It was stunning in its own way. In the spur of the moment, Nuparu decided to burst into song.
“The Mask of Life, I risk my life for. I waste my time and energy! Yah-na-na-na-yah-na-na-na! The Mask of Life, oh yeah. I risk my life for this hunk of metal, but why? Need I try? Will I die? It’s all for lazy old Mata Nui, the guy who complains all day! HEY HEY!” sang Nuparu in an upbeat melody.
“Nuparu! Don’t be so profane about it! That mask determines if Mata Nui lives or dies!” Hahli cried.
“Pfftt! Who cares? Not me, that’s for sure.”
Kongu’s rage grew similarly to a blaze that had begun in a long stretch of dry, dead grass. He was visibly scowling even through his Kanohi. It appeared as if Nuparu was going to be experiencing a log of pain shortly. Kongu grabbed the Toa firmly.
“Listen, Nuparu, one more inappropriate small-little…blurb...and you’ll be in a lot of hurt-pain before you even know what’s happened.” the Toa of Air explained firmly.
Nuparu said nothing, not wanting to provoke any kind of fight. The team began walking down the long, treacherous path slowly in order to be more careful.
“Hey, hey guys, I’ve got a joke for you.” Nuparu blurted about three minutes later.
“Oh Mata Nui no…” sighed Jaller to himself.
“Alright. What’s dumbest? The Mask of Life, Mata Nui, or Matoro?”
“What did I say earlier!?” called out Kongu, tackling Nuparu.
On the ground, Kongu pinned his teammate and delivered several blows to his face. The squirming Toa of Earth began to cough up small amounts of blood.
“Stop!” yelled Matoro, who was usually more reserved.
Nuparu was able to prop himself back up.
“Sheesh, man. What’s your problem?” the bruised Toa asked the warrior who beat him.
“When you disrespect Mata Nui, you’re disrespecting me. So I suggest you shut-close your mouth before I smack-hit your face!” Hahli helped the hurt Toa up as a gesture not out of support for his joke, but of her kind nature. They all proceeded down the worn road. To their right, there was a sound of plants rustling. Jaller ordered everyone to assume defensive positioning near the large rock next to them.
The noise evolved into a growl. Jaller knew exactly what that sound was, but he couldn’t get the words out of his mouth. He lifted his Cordak Blaster, hoping to alert the Toa in some way. There was no response to his signal, but he managed to get the word out in time.
“Gadunka…” he muttered.
It seemed that the other Toa heard him this time, preparing to fight to the end. Nuparu seemed to be humming some sort of tune, one unrecognized by the others. But, at that moment, Jaller realized that the obnoxious Toa was going to break into song.
“Oh! Gadunka, Gadunka, don’t kill me! Just don’t hit me, I’ve had too much to drink and now I must p…”
“Not time for that, Nuparu!” Jaller cut off.
The large Rahi loomed over the group, its saliva dripping onto the Toa as it let out a noise originating from its gut. Hahli was ready to scream, but she knew she had to hold herself back. Every movement from here on out needed to be subtle so that they wouldn’t send the Gadunka on a rampage. Surprisingly, Hahli managed to summon up the bravery to hit the creature and taunt it away from the group.
In attempts to frighten the large creature, they fired a few rounds of ammunition at it to no prevail. They started hurling large stones at the beast, which did the trick in eradicating him. The Gadunka ran off.
“That should do it. Move along.” Jaller stated in an almost monotone voice.
It was hardly even ten bio away when they were swiftly ambushed by the infuriated Gadunka. Matoro signaled to Jaller that he had an idea. Knowing that the team would surely be dead if nothing happened, questions weren’t asked as the Toa of Ice mounted atop the angry creature.
The enraged Gadunka tried viciously to buck Matoro off, but he held firm. It was a Creature vs. Toa rodeo, just like the events that he used to see back in Ko-Koro. Trying to be like Kopaka, his old idol, Matoro increased his bravery level up a notch and began kicking the Gadunka in the sides with his heals, making the beast more and more angry. Before long, the brave Toa’s left foot got snagged on one of the creature’s sides.
Gadunka continuously tried to swing the Toa back and forth. With his foot completely caught, he felt it twisting and cracking uncomfortably. Eventually, Matoro hit the beast so hard with his claw that he was bucked off entirely, and the creature was in so much pain that he ran off into the distance.
Jaller, Hewkii, and Hahli rushed to Matoro’s side to ensure he was alright. His ankle was in a very beaten state, and it looked broken. As usual, Nuparu was unfocused and didn’t even care about the whole ankle incident. However, if the tables were turned and he had the broken joint, he’d complain about it all day and be a victim about the entire situation.
“Well, that proves it,” Nuparu began.
“Proves what, dare I ask?” snapped Kongu.
“That Matoro’s dumber than the Mask of Life and Mata Nui.”
“That Gadunka looked starved-hungry. If he returns, you’re going to be his next food-meal.”
“Uh, didn’t you ever hear that the Gadunka don’t like eating handsome Toa?”
“Exactly. That’s why you’ll be the sole casualty.”
“He prefers to eat green Toa…”
“Don’t push it.”
Matoro looked up at the three Toa who had come to help him out. Attempting to rid of the pain, he rubbed his ankle, but it only made things more agonizing. Luckily, Nuparu wasn’t nearby, so there were no jokes made about it. Kongu held the jokester back to prevent teasing.
“I think it’s broken. There was a lot of cracking, twisting, and spraining when I was on that monster. I’ll do what I can to continue, but don’t wait for me.” Matoro stammered in a voice that signified he was in a lot of pain.
“I can rig up a splint. I’ve got the supplies in my bag.” Jaller added.
Matoro nodded his head, but couldn’t summon up a smile. He respected Jaller and his authority. The leader quickly applied the bandage around the icy Toa’s ankle, which was most certainly broken, as indicated by the high amounts of bruising.
The Toa noticed two guard-like figures marching up the pathway. They donned similar Kanohi that didn’t entirely cover their faces. Known as the Death Patrol, they were scouts from Liagaona City that would kill anything that moved besides their own people.
Luckily, a huge rock to the side of the pathway was available for the Toa Mahri to hide behind. Quickly, they dove behind it so they wouldn’t be noticed by the patrol. Being to hurt to move anywhere, Matoro played dead, quick-thinkingly placing a bullet from his Cordak Blaster on his chest to make it appear he had been shot.
Although there were only two guards and they were considerably smaller than the Toa, the Mahri knew that they couldn’t kill the guards, as it would raise awareness in the city that the Toa were hostile. Eventually, they both passed, no problems entailing.
“Now that the guards are gone, we’ve got some time to plan out our next move.” explained Hewkii.
“You’re right. I think we should lie to the king so the residents don’t compete with us for the Ignika.” suggested Jaller.
“That is a logical statement, but Toa never lie to anyone.” corrected Matoro, who managed to drag himself over to the others..
“We could get the king to side-join with us, and we could somehow get through the city and stay the night-stars.” Kongu added.
“That’s a good idea for starters. Let’s just go along with it. If things go wrong, improvise.” Jaller concluded.
They all got up from behind the large rock and decided to continue down the long path. Hewkii and Jaller had Matoro resting on their shoulders as they progressed towards the city. Everyone reloaded their weapons from the Gadunka attack, having salvaged but a few bullets.
When they arrived at the gate, the guard put out his hand, trying to get the six heroes to stop. His four legs were spread out, and it was no wonder why he had been nicknamed “the Visorak Guard” by travelers from Metru Nui.
“Halt!” he barked. “Show me your identification! No ID, no entrance.”
The Toa looked at each other, equally unsure of what to do for their next move.
Chapter 3: Entering Liagaona City
The four-legged guard looked extremely serious at the moment. He was a trained guard with a hardened core, and he didn’t let anything slip through the gates. By the looks of it, he had never known compassion, and he certainly never felt emotion throughout his entire life.
The Toa left the gate and returned to the rock they had hidden behind earlier. Looking at the city for a brief second, they had to plan something. None of them had any form of identification with them, only making the entrance more difficult. On top of that, there was no way around the city without encountering Death Patrol.
Liagaona City had never been left unguarded, even though the place hadn’t been under attack for nearly two centuries. King Whkishava was an advocate for peace, safety, and happiness in the underwater cities, so there had been no combat for a long time. Even despite this, he had a well-trained military force should the day ever arise that he needed them.
Whkishava was very tired from his latest endeavor. He and his troops had just recently returned from the village of Carlir on a mission. Despite the fact he prefered peace to war, the king was a warrior, knowing that it sometimes took combat to end conflict.
Unlike Matoran, the Triangos varied in height, being either tall or very short. There was an inconsistent cycle of growth for them. In addition, they lacked having elements, and there were two or three chroniclers at any given time.
Circa 1,000 years ago, when the city was established, the entire place was just a stopping point for travelers, emigrants, and soldiers. In simple terms, it was a glorified fortress barricaded with low security. When wars began taking place at the force, the guards became better trained, and soldiers eventually inhabited the city. Toa were completely unheard of. Three days before today, King Whkishava had been injured while fighting in Carlir, and his wound had become infected. All of his guards feared that the king would die. Hopefully, the Legend of Vartor, a tale made by one of the chroniclers from several hundreds of years ago, would come true. The tale stated that a team of young heroes would arrive to save a king in troubled times.
Rummaging around in his bag of belongings, Nuparu pulled out a stone tablet recreating of the legend that he had purchased on Voya Nui. He scanned it over for useful information, its images and carvings leaving him in awe.
The Legend of Vartor stated several events, such as the death of certain travelers and Triangos. Most of the legend had already come true. In one of the sections, it mentioned that six elemental heroes would come into the city, and their leader was to be wounded in a fight against evil. Being that the legend was carved in Liagaona City generations ago and that the villagers had no knowledge of Toa or elements, it was certainly legitimate to what was going on.
“Jaller,” Nuparu started. “Take a look at this tablet I bought. It’s kinda freaky...I mean, it’s got all kinds of predictions, and so far they’ve all been right.”
Jaller took it from his fellow Toa’s hands to inspect it, looking it over carefully.
“Remember that little Matoran shop back on Voya Nui where I bought this?” asked the Toa of Earth.
“How could I forget it? That’s where you burned through half of my widgets.”
“Yeah, well, forget that. This legend mentions us!”
“The Legend of Vartor? It’s the most famous tales amongst the ocean-dwellers. Even villagers along the coasts of islands would know this by heart.”
Once more, Jaller read the tablet, reading every word. Like Nuparu said, it was all true - everyone was mentioned, though not by name. The legend stated the injury of both Jaller and Nuparu. He couldn’t read anyfurther, suddenly stopping.
“It’s best not to read about our fates.” Jaller commented, tucking the tablet back into the bag.
Kongu peered over at the gate guard; he was donning a mask that looked like the eye of a Kohrak back on Mata Nui. On the side, there were carvings in Triangoan that read “KRGF”. The Toa of Air approached Matoro, who was looking at the Liagaona City Informational Tablet.
“Hey Matoro...what does KRGF stand for?”
“Let me see…” replied to icy Toa coldly.
“I’ll take that.” blurted Nuparu, snatching it out of Matoro’s hands. “It stands for ‘King’s Royal Guard Force’. Oh, no surprise...big cities always have lazy people in command with tons of security.”
The Toa of Earth chuckled at his own lame joke, obviously expecting it to be funny. The others didn’t have the same humor he did, which was for the better.
The Toa Mahri approached the gate once more, the guard remaining serious. However, he did seem a bit intrigued by the Toa’s return. A couple of rude Triangos cut infront of the warriors and got to the gate before them. The guard inspected them for anything dangerous, and their sole possessions were Rahi to sell. They were allowed to proceed.
Most of the guard’s hardening came from the Battle of Uruqa, which was a tragic conflict that involved in the loss of several Triangos lives. He had served as a general, the Barraki had destroyed much of the city during the Pit Escape. Obviously, it had taken a toll on who he was.
“I see you’re back.” he said. “Who or what are you, anyways?”
“We’re the Toa Mahri. We’re trying to get to the Pit, and the only safe way there is through the city. Basically, we’re here to provide your people with protection.” Hahli explained gently.
The team said nothing of the Kanohi Ignika. Knowing that the Triangos were treasure-lusted beings that only cared about their own welfare, it would be a fatal blow to the mission. If it got into the wrong hands again, Mata Nui would stand no chance of survival.
“I’m not sure I understand. You don’t look like anything I’ve ever seen before.”
“Please understand us. We’re only here to do good. You’re city has never been exposed to any being with an element other than those mentioned in the Legend of Vartor...we’re those warriors.”
“How can I know that you’re them? Anyone can impersonate them, but I need evidence as to who you really are.”
“Our leader, Jaller, the Toa of Fire, was injured shortly after we arrived here. One of our team members, our Toa of Ice, broke his ankle while wrestling a Gadunka.”
The guard raised his left brow in suspicion.
“Interesting, but anyone can put on an act. You are either the real thing, or you are simply very familiar with the legend.”
“Shall I demonstrate some of my powers?”
“That would definetly be a step in the right direction. It would prove that you are the elemental warriors that you fortold of. I presume you are the...whatever you said you were...of water?”
“Correct. My comrades and I will demonstrate for you.”
Hahli briefly excused herself from the guard’s presence and retrieved the other Toa. Matoro leaned on Jaller and Kongu so he wouldn’t have to put any pressure on his injured joint. They all hoped that Nuparu wouldn’t mess anything up.
“Demonstrate.” he ordered without emotion.
Matoro froze part of the surrounding water, turning it into pure ice. Meanwhile, Hahli manipulated water currents, switching the once-still water’s directions. The utter power of the warriors amazed the gate guard.
“You’ve proven yourselves to be the Warriors of Vartor. You may proceed.”
As they entered through the large gate, Kongu canned the area, being rather paranoid of the Barraki attack s in history. The Triangos looked at the tall warriors in a stiff curiosity. Several pairs of eyes stared at the team.
“The Warriors of Vartor! Did ya hear him? What an awesome name, right!?” Nuparu pronounced to Kongu cheerily, only to be hushed by him.
A grey and green armored Triango approached Hahli, looking enviously at her blue Kanohi Faxon, the Mask of Kindred. She began to feel awkward as his little yellow eyes pierced at her. Believing that such a small being wasn’t dangerous, Kongu only shrugged.
Soon, the villager drew out a knife and pressed it to Hahli’s heart. She gulped, now worried. Why would such a puny little being attempt such a thing while being surrounded by equally large and strong warriors.
“Hand over that Kanohi before I cut’ya to bits. Is ‘dat understood? Is ‘dat clear in those ears of ‘yars?” his voice bellowed.
“Back off!” she cried.
“I’m givin’ ya a fair chance. Hand it over, ‘cause the knife’s gonna be planted in ‘yar heart pretty soon.”
“Don’t make me fire!” cried Hahli, aiming her Cordak Blaster directly at the villager’s head.
“Um, no need to shoot, now, is thar? I mean, I didn’t do nothin’ to be deservin’ of that, eh?”
“If you don’t back off, I’ll kick you to oblivion. You’ll feel every one of your bones cracking. I used to play Kohlii back on Mata Nui, so I’d like to think I know how to kick things hard.”
The Triango tried to make a break for it, but Jaller snagged him and lifted him into the air. He was very protective of Hahli, and he did everything he could to keep her safe.
“Leave her alone...or I may have to give you a personal treatment to death. Enjoy Chaos.”
Another Triango approached the scene just as Jaller freed the pickpocket assassin, who was now fleeing. He, too, examined Hahli’s Faxon. Sighing, the Toa of Water hastily readied her blaster, fixing it on his skull.
“Apologies for what just happened. That was Gerix - he’s a sociopath. You see, Kanohi of such quality are very rare around here, and they are of great value these days. It’s lucky if a guy can find ten regular ones in a year, let alone one like yours. They sell for a great profit - we’re talking about a 5,000 widget profit here. When traders come by, they always have something like that. They sell those things very cheaply, so you’ve got to wake up pretty early in order to get them first. Gerix, being the lunatic that he is, always fights to the death for the best Kanohi. And, quite frankly, you’ve got an excellently carved one that would run for almost 20,000 widgets, maybe more.”
“I’m sure I should be taking that as a compliment, but somehow I’m not…” she said sternly.
Hahli still looked a bit confused, though he did have a valid point worth believing. The Traingo stood roughly the same height as Gerix earlier. However, this one had a handsomely carved mask on his face, though it lacked the same character that Matoran and Toa had.
“Tha name’s Unoi. I’m a chronicler and a merchant in this city.”
“Can you take us to King Whkishava?”
“I can lead you there, sure, but it’s up to the guards to tell you whether or not you’re granted entry. And who will I be taking to see His Lordship?” asked Unoi.
“We’re the Toa Mahri, the hero-good guys from the Legend of Vartor.” Kongu stated proudly.
Unoi shut his eyes for a moment.
“Toa, you say? I think I’ve heard of them before. I’ll tell you more some other time. We must go now.”
It seemed odd that a Triango villager knew of the Toa. It was just impossible for that kind of information to seep in through such an isolated community of villagers. Hahli felt herself become a little bit anxious, unsure of how to address the king that had been so ignorant to the outside world for so long.
“Tell us.” barked Hewkii.
“Fine, but you are to tell no one. I’d surely be exiled to the Pit. During my time as a traveler, I got a hold on some information about a group of warriors called Toa. As of now, you are the only ones who know about this. I’m still an adventurer to this day. To make use of my day, I’d plan what I was to do during the late hours. But now the Death Patrol forces us to stay inside in order to prevent an unnecessary and unlawful death of the king.”
“So...you’re a chronicler? That’s what I did on my island when I was a Matoran.” Hahli chimed.
“I used to be until I got promoted to being an adventurer. I guess I’m just used to introducing myself with that title...anyways, what’s a Matoran?”
“Matoran are villagers living on islands. Your people are practically Matoran, though you are a bit different in size.”
“So...now that you’ve exchanged your life stories by blabbing your head off, can we find this stupid king already!?” Nuparu commented bluntly.
“Nuparu! Have some respect!” snapped Jaller.
“That’s Nuparu - he’s always being disrespectful for attention. I’m sure the Legend of Vartor didn’t state that wonder of a being…”
“Haha...not that I can recall. Anyways, the king is in that tower. I’ve got a map to carve. It has been pleasant speaking with you.”
Chapter 4: King Whkishava
The Toa approached the tower, which stood significantly taller than them. It had to be at least four or five times the height of Hewkii, the team’s demolitions and weapons specialist. The riches of King Whkishava had to be enormous, as all of the stone used in the tower was quite expensive. The Toa Mahri explained their connection to the Legend of Vartor to the guards, and they allowed them to proceed through the doors. There, they were welcomed by an enormous fleet of stairs.
“It’s probably going to take us an hour just to scale these things.” stated Hewkii.
“Who cares? There is a elevator right outside.” snapped Nuparu, pointing to the device.
Everyone walked towards it. It looked like a basket attached to rope, and it certainly wasn’t designed for comfort. The device was, after all, made to lift cargo up to the king. In order to reach the top, a pulley system hoisted up by a Triango was used. The current villager working on his shift looked at the Toa in pure shock, knowing he’d have to lift their heavy bodies up.
The Toa Mahri piled in. The entire way up, the elevator swung back and forth, forcing the Toa to hold on tightly to ensure they didn’t fall out. At the top, they were greeted by a platform and a door that led to the throne room.
Inside the large room, there was a throne at the back end in which the injured king sat, his body slouched in a way that he looked like a propped up deadman. To Jaller’s surprise, the room lacked any guards. As he approached King Whkishava, the ruler propped himself up.
“Who are you and why are you here?” asked his majesty.
“We’re the heroes from the Legend of Vartor, your highness.” started Hewkii.
“We need to get to the Pit to dispatch the Barraki. Rumor has it they have plans to destroy the city within the next week.” the Toa of Stone lied in order to cover up the quest for the Ignika.
“Alright. I shall order my guards to open the back gate for you then. But you must first do me a favor, as the legend states.”
“And what would that be?”
“Would it be giving you a new brain? Oh wait...my mistake...I said a new brain...but you never had one to begin with!” laughed Nuparu, thinking his joke was a hit.
The King and the Toa Mahri looked at Nuparu in disgust.
“Nuparu! You know better than to behave like that, especially in front of His Lordship King Whkishava!” scolded Hahli, frustrated.
“One of you must stay behind to become king. It is in the legend, and as it turns out, I’m dying. For obvious reasons, the blue warriors may not become king. And I believe I shall remove the black one’s eligibility as well for his disrespect towards me.
“I’m sorry, but we’ve got a mission to fulfill.” Jaller apologized.
“Yeah, and we hate kings...especially you.” snapped Nuparu rudely.
Hahli gave the Toa of Earth a glare, as if saying “shut up you idiot!” with her eyes.
“Imposters! Guards, pulverize them!” shouted King Whkishava.
The guards entered the room, having just returned from Death Patrol. They bowed beside the King to recognize his command. Baltax, one of the two guards, had a solid and strong body, gaining his muscle mass from many large perpetrators in his time. He was the king’s most loyal guard, and he would do anything to protect him.
“These imposters claim to be the heroes of legend, but refuse to become king! I want them to be torn apart! Fight them to the death!” he cried, infuriated at the events of today.
“Yes sir!” both guards said in unison.
Jaller instantly flung into action, pumping rounds of ammunition into his blaster and readying it on one of the guards. When he began firing, the king’s security member dodged every shot. Jaller didn’t fear death; he just wanted to prolong it for the sake of his teammates.
One of the guards jabbed Jaller in the gut with his Parik claws, instantly stopping the Toa of Fire in his tracks. The entire team was in the fight. Kordak was dueling the other guard viciously. Other members of the Toa Mahri aimed their Cordak Blasters and fired cautiously, trying not to hit the Toa who were dueling.
“The name’s Mogatha...you remember me? Voya Nui? You Toa said you’d keep my people safe. Yeah, just another lie that you ‘heroes’ tell us.” said the guard Kongu was fighting.
“What the Karzahni? What happened?”
“I drowned to the bottom of the ocean. I called for help from you worthless jerks, and nobody came. I somehow transformed into a Triango, and now I work for His Majesty where I always will”
When the Toa had met Mogatha on Voya Nui, he was a small and compassionate Matoran, and was very grateful after the Toa Inika had rescued him from a near-death experience with Hakann, a Piraka. After the fight with the Skakdi was over, he had promised the Toa that he would always be loyal to them...a promise he failed to keep.
Thoughts and memories flashed through Kongu’s head as he fought Mogatha. It was a high possibility that the Toa of Air would wind up dead, or something near it, in just a few moments. Nuparu, noticing Kongu was in danger, tackled the guard and started punching him repeatedly, trying to knock the wind out of the opponent.
“Thanks, Nuparu.” Kongu blurted, sound out of air himself. “I didn’t know you had it in you.”
“Yeah...you never know.” the Toa of Earth commented back.
The king looked enraged by the fact his guards were losing. Both Mogatha and Baltax were struggling to stay in the fight.
Nuparu slammed Mogatha against the wall and repeatedly thrusted him there. In a sudden burst of rage, he flung him to the ground. The guard died on the spot after snapping his neck. Baltax followed in his fellow guard’s footsteps, falling dead at the hands of the Toa.
“You’ve killed my guards, I see.” started the king. “How about you take on me?”
“Why not? We’ve got nothing to lose...just your life.” Jaller snickered, almost cocky.
“One by one, you’ll fall like soldiers in the front of the battlefield...lined up, ready to fight. You think you’re in the right mindset, but when the bullets fly, you realize you’re not.”
King Whkishava’s scowling, cold face shot through Kongu like a bullet. His heart seemed to sink three levels in his chest. It almost seemed as if Whkishava was manipulating his fear, as Kongu began to tremble weakly.
“Guys, form two groups. Three offense, three defense.” Jaller whispered.
The king got out of his throne, his feet now shuffling across the marble floor. Hahli, Kongu, and Nuparu were on defense in front of the other three on their knees. Hewkii, Matoro, and Jaller stood behind them on offense duty.
“Don’t fire until he’s in range.” spoke Jaller softly. “Wait until I give the signal.”
Whkishava slowly approached them, his scepter in his hand. Jaller whispered to Matoro to begin firing at the king’s torso. In a spur of the moment, Nuparu lunged at King Whkishava, knocking him to the ground. Over and over again, the Toa of Earth pounded his fists into the king’s face.
Eventually, the ruler’s body became weaker and weaker, becoming more limp as time went on. At last, it ended. King Whkishava, ruler of Liagaona City, had died. Hahli approached the king’s dead body.
“Apologies, Whkishava, that such a simple request ended up with such harsh consequences.” she said.
“Good job, Nuparu. If you keep your mind to it, you’re one of the best warriors here.” complimented Hewkii.
“We don’t tell the Triangos about this. If they find out we killed their ruler, we’ll have to fight off all of them and we don’t have time for that. Just get the verification key for the gate.” Jaller mentioned.
Hewkii went to go look for the key. It was right next to the throne, right where he expected it to be. The entire team left the same way they entered, this time trying to look inconspicuous. When they reached the ground, they headed towards the gate, which had two guards next to it.
“His Lordship granted us exit by means of the back gate.” Hewkii stated.
“Have proof?” asked the leftmost guard.
“Yes. He gave us the verification key.”
Without any argument, he swiped the pass through a panel on the left side of the gate. The sounds of creaking metal and clockwork gears filled the Toa’s ears. All that stood in front of them was a small path that would lead them to the Pit and away from the safety of Liagaona City. They stepped outside the gate as it closed behind them.
“I’m not so sure about this…” Jaller muttered to himself.
“Lil’ Jaller afwaid? Hmm? Lil’ Jaller want to go see Tuwaga Vakama and have him give you a big kissie to make it aw betteh!? Hmm?” Nuparu teasingly provoked.
“And I had such high hopes for you…” Jaller retorted.
Kongu had it. He clenched his fists and punched Nuparu square in the jaw as hard as he could, several times to each side. The heat of the moment got to him, and the Toa of Earth started protecting his face. The Toa of Air lunged at Nuparu, knocking him to the ground. Hahli screamed.
“Sorry,” she said. “It slipped.”
Matoro pulled to two apart. “Hey! We’ve made it this far. Let’s not kill each other. We need to focus on surviving this path, the Pit, and whatever lies ahead after that.”
The two combatants nodded, then shook each others hands. Jaller took in several heaves of filtered oxygen, trying to cool himself down. He wasn’t totally sure he wanted to wander down such a notoriously dangerous path, but it was part of his sworn duty to Mata Nui. Taking in one last deep breath, Jaller set foot on the path for the first time.
Chapter 5: Journey to the Pit
Jaller’s unusually cold eyes sank into his face like a rock placed on the water’s surface. Even despite his normally high amount of bravery, his hands trembled in fear. His outlook on the others was icy. His body tensed as his face shuddered uncontrollably. It felt as if a current of frigid water had surged over him.
A rustling broke the silence, forcing it into the sound of fear itself. A shudder of emotions swept over each of the Toa. It seemed as if it were the end, something like Gadunka. The moral of the group seemed to be dwindling by this point in time. Two eyes peered over the aquatic plants, followed by another pair. Kongu and Hahli panicked, but the Toa of Water tried to remain cool.
“Is it a Gadunka?” asked Hewkii.
“I don’t know.” stammered Kongu.
Questions flew through Matoro’s mind...memories of his ankle snapping...the instant pain...the suffering. Then an image floated through his head...something from long ago...a snarling face of...of what? Then it came to him. It was a Piraka. Which one? he thought. The image began to clear up more in his head. Vezok. But what did it have to do with this? All they could do was sit and find out.
“Sorry for the scare, Toa.” said a green figure. “We didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“Huh?” asked Jaller.
“Oh, I’m Defilak. This is my friend, Deakr. We were just in the Fields of Air harvesting and decided to return through this trail.”
“I suggest you go through Liagaona City. It’s the safest place here...or at least it used to be.” replied Jaller, feeling a wave of relief course through his body.
The two Matoran nodded, heading back to Liagaona City. Jaller smiled. He loved being around Matoran. They had a certain innocence that you lost when you became a Toa. Kongu, still a bit shaken, now felt more relieved.
“Sometimes I wish I were a Matoran again.” commented Jaller.
“Don’t we all?” Hewkii responded, his arms folded neatly across his broad chest.
When the Toa neared the Pit, signs were everywhere. Warnings of dangerous criminals lined the path now, along with “beware”, “do not enter”, “enter at your own risk”, and “no trespassing”. A shadow of evil fell upon the Toa, covering them like a warm blanket.
“You guys sure you want to go in?” asked Jaller.
“We have to. It’s our duty. If we don’t risk our lives, we’re risking the universe.” the cool headed Matoro answered.
- Battle for the Mask of Life was turned into a movie once, but it was terrible
- BFTMOL is the promotional title of the movie remake.