Ta Koran nights were always inhospitable, especially on the northern side of the island. The region’s lack of precipitation and cool winds leaves nothing but golden grass carpeting the flatland of the north. Occasionally the flatland would be interrupted by a hill, mountain, or volcano, but for the most part the entire regions coated in golden blades of grass. That is until the sun sets. Once the sun sets, the grass’s beauty devolves into a muted tan. The region’s relative peace is interrupted by faint humming. The humming trail led to a fire, with two individuals hunched over it. Nidhiki had been humming to his heart’s content while cooking some grasses over the campfire. Krika had been hunching towards the fire to protect him from Ta Koro’s cold arid winds.
Nidhiki: “Ta da, dinner is served!”
Nidhiki passes to Krika three cooked blades of grass. Krika did not look amused.
Nidhiki: “Made them just the way you wanted.”
Krika looks insulted.
Krika: “Just the way anyone would have wanted, Nidhiki. No one likes eating burnt blades of grass.”
Nidhiki looks to his side, seeing all the blades of grass which he burnt black from previous attempts at trying to cook them. Nidhiki feels bad for the burnt blades of grass. They were cut from their roots so that they could be eaten by him, and now they lay on the floor, burnt and useless, completely inedible, or at least, completely inedible to Krika, whose word was always final. Nidhiki associates feelings with the dead blades, as if they felt bad for not being eaten as their intended duty. Food wasted, was food without a purpose, and to Nidhiki, anything without a purpose was sad. He felt like the burnt blades of grass were jealous of the perfectly cooked ones that they were gonna be eaten, which was a feeling that made Nidhiki feel bad for the burnt blades. As a result, Nidhiki throws away his perfectly edible blades of grass and picks up the ones that had been burnt from previous attempts at cooking.
Nidhiki: “Oh yeah. Well I like them.”
Nidhiki takes a bite out of a wad of burnt grass and instantly regrets it.
Krika: “Still like them?”
Krika: “Sure you don’t want any of my golden licious blades?”
Krika: “Good, Because I wouldn’t have given you any.”
Nidhiki sits in a position where Krika can’t see him clearly through the fire, and spits out all black crunchy pieces of grass in his mouth. He then goes out to find the good pieces of grass he threw away. Nidhiki tries to bring up a new conversation in order to avoid Krika saying ‘I told you so’.
Nidhiki: “Hey Krika?”
Krika: “What is it?”
Nidhiki: “Why aren’t we back on makuta nui, to you know, regroup and plan things out.
Krika begins to stand.
Krika: “Plan what out? We failed, or more specifically, you failed, but no one’s gonna see it that way when we get back home, so that’s why we’re here.”
Nidhiki: “You sure we can’t just go back for a little bit?
Krika: “We can, but why would we do that? Icarax is gonna kill us if we do that.”
Nidhiki: “To me it sounded like he was joking.”
Krika: “With Icarax, a joke could be a threat, promise, lie, or even an actual joke. Talking to him is like talking to the barrel of a zamor launcher. It doesn’t care about what you say and it goes off whenever you least expect it. Mata Nui, what would you know? You’ve lived in a clocktower your whole life.”
Nidhiki:” 'Makuta don’t kill Makuta, it’s against makuta code’ Teridax told me that.”
Krika: “Icarax isn’t Teridax, and both of them would question that code if they heard we lost to a couple of matoran and a toa.
Krika: “And I won too. That makes it worse. They’ll think I failed, but I didn’t. I did my part. Why couldn’t you do yours! What happened to you again? Mutated to having normal hands?”
Nidhiki: “That was scary.”
Krika: “Uh huh, and look at yourself now, claws and everything. That mask didn’t even permanently scar you, all it did was temporarily disfigure you, before returning you your normal claws. That mask did nothing to you and you came running to me crying!”
Nidhiki stays silent.
Krika: “Why? Why is this happening? To me, of all makuta. It’s like one day I’m just minding my own business, then ding dong, ‘you’ve been assigned to navy duty’. So I do it, then a massive light bursts into the sky, I find out the Ignika’s real, I get paired with some physically and mentally handicaped makuta rahi thing, then get sent here, beat the living protodermis out of a toa, and now I can’t go home!”
Krika lays down on the floor and begins to weep.
Krika: “Oh how I’ll miss rahi duty, the wrestling matches with Antroz, even the pranks from Gorast I’ll miss. It all went by so fast and I took it all for gran-”
Nidhiki slaps Krika across the face with one of his massive claws. Krika stops weeping and falls back in shock, he’s surprised that Nidhiki would do such a thing. Nidhiki also falls back and is startled. Not only is he shocked at what he was able to bring himself to do, but he’s also afraid that Krika would retaliate in some way. Nidhiki’s going through fight or flight, and he chooses to fight.
Nidhiki: “Umm… ok. You need to cut out your cry baby crap right now and listen. Our lives aren’t over, and even if they are, I won’t allow it. Someone’s gotta be the leader around here, and when it’s not you, it’s going to be me.
Krika, for once, swallows his superiority complex and actually listens to Nidhiki. He somewhat respects Nidhiki being tough. Nidhiki still hesitates a little before speaking.
Nidhiki: “Back home, at the clock tower, I have drawings of the mask of life all over my room. Teridax showed me an image of it in my dreams and I never forgot the way it looked after that night. So I drew it every day, melding it into the fringes of my mind. And from what I saw at that volcano, I can assure you that that mask those matoran have is incomplete. We still have a shot at stealing the mask before it’s too late. From what I saw, It looked halfway finished. Now, From what you told me, these matoran first uncovered the mask in Le Koro. And from what I saw, they got a second piece of the mask here in Ta Koro. From that we can assume that the next two pieces are either in Ga Koro or Onu Koro.”
Krika: “Congratulations! You found out something I already theorized. Don’t give me false hope.”
Nidhiki: “C’mon work with me here. You’re the brains between the two of us, think! Where would they be headed?”
Krika gives in and starts helping Nidhiki out with the plan. He looks up to the stars and thinks.
Krika: “Ga Koro’s farther, but Onu Koro’s more dangerous. From what I know, there’s only two paths to Onu Koro from which our matoran friends can go. Path A, through Makuta Nui, which they’re not gonna do, or path B, sail through Mata Nui and fight the ocean currents to Onu Koro. Technically, that would make Ga Koro easier to travel to, despite how it’s technically farther away. So Ga Koro, that’s where they’ll be heading.”
Nidhiki: “See, we have a framework to work off of. We can do this.”
Krika: “I wouldn’t be so optimistic. If you don’t recall, we left our only form of transportation way up north, deep into Icarax’s sphere of influence.”
Nidhiki: “Ever heard of stealing a boat? We just follow the beaches south and steal a boat. Those matoran won’t know what hit them.”
Nidhiki gestures to his head.
Nidhiki: “See this mask? It’s the kanohi mahiki, mask of illusion. Perfect for sabotage.”
Krika: “That’s a mask? The mahiki? That sure doesn’t look like any mahiki I’ve seen.”
Nidhiki: “Yeah, yeah that’s besides the point. Also, I’m planning everything this time.”
Nidhiki: “Yes. Look, your plan of divide and conquer didn’t work, let’s be real.”
Krika: “That’s only because you didn’t do your part.”
Nidhiki: “If we worked together, that room for error diminishes. I know this is gonna sound crazy to you, but we should actually work together. This separation crap isn’t gonna cut it. Back at the volcano, the matoran I chased after stuck together, all of them solely dedicated to protecting the bearer of the mask of life, and overall it was an effective way for them to stall my chase after them. Perhaps we should do the same. Perhaps, we’re stronger together. You know, all that unity stuff.”
Krika: “That’s the most taraga prep talk I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Are you hearing the words that are coming out of your mouth right now? Icarax would skin you for saying such words.”
Nidhiki: “Our plan earlier today didn’t work, their plan did.”
Krika: “They weren’t united.”
Nidhiki: “Oh yes they were. Only the toa went solo, and look what that brought him.”
Krika: “I did get him good didn’t I”
Nidhiki: “The matoran who fought your rahi could not have won without cohesion. On average, one rahi is worth five matoran, yet they won. Why? Probably because they worked together to kill each rahi. I know every cell in your makuta body is telling you to say ‘no’, but I implore you to do the opposite. Besides, have you got any better ideas?”
Krika thinks hard, but inevitably gives up.
Nidhiki: “We have no rahi and almost no resources, so we’re doing things subley this time, no big battles. Instead of making a dramatic entrance and fighting for glory, we do things smart. We get them when they least expect it, isolate the mask of life so we don’t have to fight anyone to get it.”
Krika: “What do we do if this doesn’t work, hmm. We just gonna come back home empty handed?”
Nidhiki: “No, we come back home with leverage.”
Note: This is the first chapter of the third part of book 1. So far, I’m looking forward to this part being my favorite to write out of all the parts. Unlike Le Koro and Ta Koro, this part has a lot more planning and overall feels more focused compared to those previous parts. The themes are more defined, character conflicts are more interesting, and the mysteries become more numerous. If book 1 was structured like a movie, late Ta Koro, all of Ga Koro, and early Onu Koro; would be like the second act. The act where the most happens.