This is a story I wrote for the Custom BIONICLE Wiki's Halloween Writing Contest of 2016.
They held their hands out to the fire, warming them. The flickering orange light was reflected in their Masks, glimmering. The six of them glanced from one another, taking the occasional glimpse of the dark forest that surrounded them.
The seven Matoran comprised of Kopeke from Ko-Koro, Onepu from Onu-Koro, Hafu from Po-Koro, Tamaru from Le-Koro, Hahli from Ga-Koro and Kapura and Jaller from Ta-Koro.
In the distance a night Rahi howled, a small sound, but in the near-silence of their campsite it was like an explosion through the dark, making them jump. Being in the Charred Forest alone at night had set them all on edge, even Jaller, the Captain of the Guard.
Having had enough of the frightening silence, Hahli spoke up. “We should tell a story.”
All eyes turned on her. “Why?” Onepu asked.
“Because this silence is obviously putting us all on edge.”
Jaller, who was sitting next to her, spoke up. “Hahli’s right. Let’s lighten the mood.”
Kapura looked around. “Well, does anyone even have a good story?”
“I have one,” Tamaru said. “But it’s kind of scary.”
“I thought we were trying to lighten the mood.” Onepu rolled his eyes.
“What is it about, Tamaru?” Jaller leaned forward, ignoring the Onu-Matoran.
“It’s a story Turaga Matau told us a few years ago about a group of Matoran that went missing a few months after we came to Mata Nui.”
A few of the Matoran, including Hahli, tucked their knees into their chests a little farther.
“Almost five hundred years ago, the Turaga sent four of our most highly trained Matoran to scout the island for fruit and most importantly, Rahi.
“They went out and after four days they weren’t heard from, so the Turaga sent four more to find out where they went and after a day of searching they found their remains: a few Masks, a pack or two, and a whole lot of blood.
“When they were collecting the remains, they heard something in the dark, unlike any Rahi they had heard before. Whatever it was scared them right to their cores as they ran back to the village as fast as Toa Pohatu.
“They told of what they had seen, and it terrified all who heard, but the beast was never seen or heard from again, and nobody has gone looking for it either, lest they fear they will suffer the same fate as the four Matoran.”
After a moment of listening only to the fire crackling, Kapura spoke up.
“Enough,” Jaller said. “I have a story that Takua recorded.”
“Wouldn’t we already know it, then?” Hahli asked the Ta-Matoran.
“I was actually there. Mine will be more accurate than his, as he wasn’t even in the village at the time.”
“I didn’t hear it anyway.” Hafu mumbled.
“Which one is it?” Hahli asked.
“Listen and you’ll see, Hahli.” Jaller said, before turning to the fire, the flames being reflected in the brow of his yellow Hau.
“Six years ago, I was on duty patrolling the outskirts of Ta-Koro’s wall...”
The lava bubbled and sizzled under the dark sky. The large shape of the village of Ta-Koro, which rested on an island in the middle of the lake, was outlined by the orange glow of the lava.
The yellow and red armored Ta-Matoran walked around the outer wall of the city, occasionally glancing either over the bubbling lava or the city below him. Most Matoran were asleep or going to be by this time, and with good reason too, since much work was to be done tomorrow reinforcing the villages for Rahi attacks.
He had almost completed his fifth patrol when he heard someone call out from the street below. Running to the side, he looked over and saw a Ta-Matoran standing above the body of another, utter fear in his eyes.
“What happened?!” Jaller called down.
“Captain Jaller!” the Matoran yelled at the sight of him, his eyes flashing behind his Kanohi Komau. “I just found him like this! I don’t know what happened!”
“Stay there I’ll be right down!” Jaller shouted before turning and running along the wall towards the stairs. On the way he passed a few guards who were about to salute him but he gave them orders before he could. “There’s been a murder! Come on!”
After a second of registering what their captain had said, they followed the running Matoran down the stairs and into the street where the Matoran and the body still were.
“Mata Nui.” One of the guards muttered.
Jaller came up to the body and knelt down to examine it. Upon closer inspection, he saw that there was a fast-growing pool of blood around the Matoran streaming from a massive stab wound on his chest, going all the way through the Ta-Matoran.
“He was killed by a blade, a large one,” the Captain of the Guard said. “Roughly the length of a Matoran body.”
“What kind of weapon is that long?” One of the guards asked.
“I don’t know, but it doesn’t belong to any Matoran,” Jaller said, standing up from the body. “Summon Turaga Vakama at once. He needs to see this.”
One of the guards nodded before turning and running away further into the village to fetch the elder of the village. How this had happened, Jaller did not know, but what he did know was that there was a murderer running around his village, and that he needed to stop them before another fell before them.
That was all that would go through his mind, his dark, lonely mind. He stalked through the shadows, wary not to get spotted once again. Despite liking to get his hands dirty, he did not want to be caught. Moreover, he didn’t want ''his master'' to know he had gotten caught.
He was forced to hide behind a wall as another of the natives, the ''Matoran'' came running past, seemingly in a big hurry. Had they found the body? Probably. No matter, though. Soon he would be gone with his prize.
After the Matoran had passed, he came out from his hiding spot and looked after where the villager had gone. He was running for the center of the village, most likely to get the elder.
''Maybe I could kill him, too.''
The figure ran down the pathway, keeping out of sight, although he was a little too big for that. He had to quickly take cover whenever a guard strode past. Once or twice they might’ve caught sight of him, because they looked towards his hiding spot, but moved on before investigating further.
''Just like them to be oblivious,'' he thought. ''They wouldn’t know it was the endtimes even if it killed them last.''
The figure ran down the alleyway, his feet barely making a noise as they hit the rock. His order had taught him well, he owed them for that. He also owed them for not killing him on sight. Gratefulness was not a trait encouraged by them, though, so he quickly erased it from his mind.
As he came closer to the center of the village, he saw the Turaga of the village running, or trying to, at least, down the street with a Matoran, the same one he had seen run past before. So they had found the body. Good. That would mean that the Matoran would be uncoordinated against him.
“Mata Nui...” Turaga Vakama, elder of Ta-Koro said as he saw the body. “When did this happen?”
“Not long ago,” Captain Jaller said. “I speculate he was killed no less than half-an-hour ago.”
“And none of the guards saw anything?” Vakama said, taking a closer look at the corpse.
“If anyone had they would have reported it to me. Unless we have a traitor in our midst.”
“I wouldn’t rule out that possibility, but it could have been something else,”
“Like what?” Jaller asked.
“There are legends...” the Turaga started but was cut off by yells and sounds of chaos from the center of the village. The guards tensed and Jaller readied his bamboo disk.
“Alright, we’ll deal with this later. I don’t think we’ll have to go far for the culprit.” He said, running forth, the guards and Turaga Vakama following him.
They ran under the darkened sky, their footsteps as silent as a Gukko’s wing-beat. They did not know what awaited them, but whatever it was, they would be ready for it.
The screams and destruction got louder as they approached. A few moments later they burst into the center of the village where Matoran were fleeing from some unseen monster, destruction all around, firing burning brightly.
A Matoran saw their arrival and ran up to Jaller. “Jaller! He’s attacking the city! Saying he won’t leave until he gets this ‘Avohkii’.”
“Avohkii? What’s an Avohkii?” Jaller turned to Turaga Vakama.
“I know not what it is, but whatever it is it sounds like it should be kept out of the hands of monsters.” The elder narrowed his eyes.
“So we stop and capture whoever this monster is and then we see what he knows. He’s probably the one who killed that Matoran.” The Captain of the Guard said to his men. “Let’s go.”
The Ta-Koro Guard ran forward into the center of the village, where several buildings lay, which included, but not limited to the Wall of History and Turaga Vakama’s chambers. They looked around for whoever was attacking the city, but no one was in sight.
“Where…?” One of the guards began before a blast of energy struck him in the chest and launched him backwards.
They looked towards Turaga Vakama’s hut where a spindly, shadowed figure stood, energy flowing through his body and his long weapons. His eyes glowed electric blue and seemed to look into their souls behind his dark Hau.
“Who are you?!” Jaller yelled to the figure, but he merely stood there, staring.
“Identify yourself!” He yelled again.
“What do you want?!”
“The Avohkii,” he said in a distorted voice.
“What is the Avohkii?” Jaller asked.
“My prize. My mission.”
“Who sent you on this mission?”
“What is your master’s name?”
“He is only known, and will only be known as ‘The Shadowed One’.”
“The Shadowed One? What kind of name is that?” Jaller almost laughed before Vakama cut across him.
“What does the Shadowed One want with this Avohkii?”
He said nothing.
“Speak!” Vakama shouted, rage flaming within him.
Suddenly the being’s arm thrust forward and bolt of pure energy shot forward out of one of his blades directly at the Turaga. Acting with lightning speed and dependent on instinct, Jaller tackled Vakama to the ground as a blast of energy flew over their heads and stuck the guard behind them, sending him backwards.
The rest of the guards opened fire on the being, throwing their bamboo disks at him. The disks impacted and dissolved into the being, like they had never been.
“What in the name of Mata Nui?” One of the guards exclaimed.
“Turaga! Look!” Another yelled. All of them turned to see the two Matoran who had been hit rising from the ground, energy glowing from them. They were staring at the ground, slumped.
“Agni. Keahi. Are you okay?” Jaller asked, walking towards them slowly.
They didn’t respond.
“Agni. Keahi. Report.”
Jaller came to them and put his hand on Agni’s shoulder. Suddenly he looked up at the Captain, his eyes glowing the same electric blue as the being’s. He punched him in the chest and sent Jaller flying backwards. He slid to the feet of the others.
Agni looked up as well and they both armed themselves with their bamboo disks, energy swirling around them.
“What’s happened to them?” Jaller got to his feet.
“I don’t know. I’ve only seen something similar to this…” Vakama trailed off.
“Turaga? Turaga-?” Jaller was cut off by a few more Matoran rising from the rubble, the same glow around them.
“I guess they got hit too.” He sighed.
All the possessed Matoran readied various weapons; some wielding long pieces of shattered building, others with rocks, and some with bamboo disks.
“This’ll be fun.” Muttered Kapura.
Jaller glanced in the direction of the being and saw him slipping into Turaga Vakama’s hut.
“You guards hold them off! I’m going after him!” the Captain of the Guard yelled, grabbing a disk off the ground and running forward.
“Jaller!” Turaga Vakama yelled, hobbling after the Captain. “Jaller! Come back!”
But determination had already taken control of Jaller and he was now charging straight for the doorway into the Turaga’s chambers.
The Ta-Matoran burst into the room and saw the tall figure looking into the Sacred Fire, his flickering shadow jumping across the curved wall behind him. The energy no longer crackled around him.
“Your Turaga claims that this fire gives him visions of the future, showing him glimpses of what is to come,” he said, his distorted voice blending with the crackling fire. “But when I look in, I only see the fire, the destruction that could be had.”
“When I look in I see you off my island.” Jaller said, his defiant eyes staring through the slits in his opponent’s Hau into those electric blue eyes.
“Jaller! Jaller!” Turaga Vakama hobbled into the room, huffing heavily, before looking up at the figure.
“Who are you and why have you come to my village?” Vakama said, his red eyes blazing.
“Your island has a treasure my master seeks,” the being said. “And my sources say it’s here.”
“Well they’re wrong. I’ve never heard of any ‘Avohkii’. Now get off my island, or I’ll make you get out.”
The being let out a laugh that sounded more like a weapon dragging across rock. “You really think you can beat me, Turaga? I have been trained by some of the most deadly killers in the Universe. You cannot defeat me.”
“Arrogance can topple giants,” Vakama said.
“I am Havoc, the Destroyer. I am one of the Dark Hunters, the greatest organization in the entire Universe!” The being pronounced, rising to his full height. The light from the fire showed the details in his armor, his strange build and hunched posture.
“Well it’s been very nice to meet you, but I want you do undo what you’ve done to my men and get off my island.” Jaller yelled, readying his disk.
“So unwise.” Havoc yelled.
Jaller readied to throw, and as he did Havoc raised one of his weapons to shoot the Ta-Matoran, but Vakama thrust his hand forward first and the Sacred Fire shot forth and engulfed Havoc.
“Run!” Vakama yelled and grabbed the Captain of the Guard and tugged him out of his chambers and into the courtyard again.
The ‘Dark Hunter’ screamed in rage and stepped out of the flames and broke through the doorway of the Turaga’s hut and into the courtyard after them. The other guards were still battling the possessed Matoran when they arrived.
Havoc launched blasts of energy at them, not intended to enslave, but to kill. The red energy struck around them, destroying the ground where it hit. Jaller threw his disk at the titan and it hit him in the Kanohi, knocking him backwards.
“So,” Havoc said. “You think you’re clever? You think you’re better than me?”
“Yes.” Jaller answered instantly.
“Well, you’re very wrong, then. I will have that Kanohi, Turaga!”
“I have literally no idea what Kanohi you’re even talking about! There is no Avohkii on Mata Nui!” Vakama struck the ground with his staff. “Now leave my island!”
“I will not give up that easily, wise one,” Havoc said. “I can’t give up.”
“Why? Otherwise the Shadowed One will kill you?”
“Well, that’s unfortunate for you.” Vakama said.
“No, for you.” Havoc trained one of his weapons on the Turaga and it crackled with energy. Suddenly a blast of red energy shot out. Vakama braced for impact but suddenly he was tackled to the ground again by Jaller and the energy flew over their heads and struck a large pillar behind them. It crippled the base and turned it to rubble and it fell.
The titan didn’t notice it in time and it fell directly on top of him. He yelled in anguish before he was muted by the pounds of stone on top of him. One of his blades slid out from under the rubble to the feet of Jaller. He picked it up and examined it.
“Jaller! Throw it into the lava! Quickly!” Vakama yelled to him.
Jaller nodded and in one swift motion turned and chucked the weapon into a lava pit feet from him. The weapon hit the molten rock and sizzled and sparked before disappearing below the surface.
Suddenly the glow that had surrounded the Matoran vanished and they fell to the ground before rising again, shaking their heads.
“What… what happened?” Agni said, holding his head.
Vakama put his hand on the Ta-Matoran’s shoulder. “You were possessed, but you are now free.”
Jaller stood on the sidelines while the Matoran cheered at the defeat of the titan, his arms crossed. Despite having had victory, the Captain of the Guard could not help but ponder the strange Avohkii, and why this brute wanted it. Who was this Shadowed One? And who were these Dark Hunters? Why had Turaga Vakama known who the Shadowed One was? And where had he seen the effects of those weapons before?
His thoughts were disrupted by the sound of blocks shifting before rubble shot out from the fallen pillar and the form of Havoc emerged before running off for the bridge.
“He’s escaping! I’ve got him!” Jaller yelled before running off after him, picking up a disk as he ran.
Although he was very large, he was surprising incredibly fast. He made it to the bridge long before Jaller, and knocking the guard out, he lowered the lever and raised the bride, lava rolling off its surface. After it was fully up he started across it, almost home free.
“No you don’t,” Jaller muttered. He threw his disk and it hit the lever and knocked it upwards.
The mechanism activated and the bridge began to descend back into the lava when he was only halfway across. He realized he was falling but it was far too late to do anything.
“NOOOOO!” Havoc screamed as his feet sunk below the molten surface.
Jaller watched as the Dark Hunter fell below the lava, his armor melting. He tried to struggle, but it was no use. He reached his hand out towards the Ta-Matoran, like he was asking for mercy, but there was none coming to him.
The titan sunk below the surface, his Mask coming detached from his face and laying on the surface, the heat causing it to morph beyond recognition. The eyes drooped and the slits buckled, creating something out of every Matoran’s nightmares.
Vakama and the other guards ran up to see the scene just before the Hau sank below the surface too, right after it’s owner.
“...And that’s the true story of the Mysterious Hunter.”
Most of them were silent, other than Hahli. “Why didn’t you tell Takua about this? About what really went down?”
“I don’t know. I think… I think Vakama wanted to keep a lot of what happened a secret.”
“Did he say that?” Hafu asked.
“No, but I just feel that he wanted it not to be in the light,” Jaller said, staring into the dying flames.
“I can tell why,” Tamaru said, leaning back on his rock.
“Why did you tell us this, Jaller?” Kopeke asked.
“Because… I felt it was time I stopped keeping secrets for Vakama.”
These words brought a silence upon the campsite that seemed to silence the forest around them as well. They glanced around again, the darkness creeping in.
“So,” Hahli broke the silence. “What did this Shadowed One want with this Avohkii?”
“I don’t know, Hahli,” Jaller sighed. “My impression is that Havoc was ordered to get it for the Shadowed One and then they’d keep it for themselves, but it’s not entirely clear.”
“Plus we don’t know if the Avohkii even exists,” Kopeke shrugged.
“That too. But...” the Captain of the Guard trailed off.
“What is it, Jaller?” Hahli put her hand on his shoulder.
“It’s nothing, Hahli,” he smiled, but didn’t really mean it. “Now we’d best get to sleep. We have to meet Takua at Kini-Nui tomorrow and I can’t trust him alone any longer.”
The others complied and laid down in the beds of grass and brush they had made for themselves, and as he drifted off to sleep, he couldn’t help but remember the form of Havoc’s Mask as it melted, it’s features distorting, like a monster emerging from beneath the lava.
That was all he could think about as he fell into the darkness.