I’ve finished Chapter 3, guys! That is, of my “History of Artakha” series. The previous chapter, “The Overseer,” has a link here. If you are new to the series, the prologue is here. I know, I’m using a lot of names, if you have any suggestions, just let me know. Please comment! I hope you enjoy, and have a pleasant day!
Chapter 3: The Distressed
Water leaked in the ice caverns. Kopeke studied the patterns. Mazeka, the only person Kopeke ever talked to often, was sketching strange objects on a tablet of ice he broke off.
“And… 8.4!” Kopeke exclaimed. Well, exclaimed in a monotone voice. Mazeka looked up, confused. “That’s how many clacks passed between the past two drops,” Kopeke explained. Mazeka still looked confused. “I’ve been studying this. In the past 3600 clacks, or 1 cluck, the clacks in between each drops has been reduced from 8.5 to 8.4 clacks!”
“That’s what you’ve been doing for the past cluck?! What a waste of time!” Mazeka commented.
“Look, I’ve just figured out the melting rate of the ice due to the warm weather of Ta-Season!” Kopeke argued. Mazeka looked unimpressed. “What have you been doing, then?”
Mazeka lifted up the tablet. “My job,” he answered. Strange drawing and scribbles were littered on the tablet.
“Um… I didn’t know your job was to draw like a little Matoran,” Kopeke spat, leaning away from the tablet.
“No, I’m an inventor. And an engineer. And a crafter. And a pilot. I’m basically a complete workshop package,” Mazeka told Kopeke. He had to constantly remind his fellow Ko-Matoran what he did for a living.
Kopeke stole the tablet and looked at it. “This is more of a dream than a blueprint. A flying Thornatus? Not possible. A robot that a Matoran rides in and can control? Not realisitic. And what’s this, a cannon with legs? Not practical!” Kopeke critiqued. He slid the tablet back to Mazeka, who was continuing sketches on a second tablet.
“I call it a Strider, Kopeke. It’ll redefine warfare! Imagine, not having to carry your own Zamor launcher! Or even yourself! This is for the weak soldiers, so even they can help just as much, if not more than the strong ones. Imagine it, Kopeke!” Mazeka dreamed.
“I am imagining a lot more deaths, Mazeka,” Kopeke droned.
“No, no, a lot less! It offers protection, it’ll help save the little Matoran, and take more fire than a soldier, defending them!” the inventor elaborated, still sketching on the tablet.
“But the firepower is sure to kill more people.”
“Think about it this way. If more bad guys die, then the bad guys will be closer to surrendering, and then more people live!” Mazeka exclaimed.
“That’s like removing someone’s arms, and then telling them, ‘At least your legs are still there!’,” Kopeke said. Mazeka sighed. He turned around to see the Ihuan Queen, Kylma. Her Miru stared him down, and he felt fear, which was silly. Kylma was one of the nicest Ko-Matoran you could ever meet, even if that is not saying much. She smiled, and turned to Kopeke.
“How’s my favorite Matoran doing?” she questioned. Kopeke, who’s light seemed to have drained from his eyes when someone other than Mazeka entered, turned to smirk at Mazeka before answering.
“I’m discovering amazingly important things, like the melting rate of this secret chamber due to the heat, and other such things,” Kopeke bragged.
“Wow, that’s very smart. And all without a mask of calculation! That’s why you’re my favorite!” Kylma remarked. Kopeke blushed, and made a face at the shocked Mazeka.
“And now, how about you, Mazeka?” the Queen asked. Mazeka cleared his throat.
“Well, um, just working on, some- some ideas,” the complete package answered, handing the tablet to a curious Kylma. She studied them with much interest.
“A flying Thornatus? Cool!” the Queen muttered to herself. Mazeka smiled. Kylma’s eyes stopped moving on a certain image on the tablet. She turned the ice block around and asked, “What’s this?”
“I call it a Strider. It’s a walking, controllable cannon you can ride,” Mazeka explained. The Queen’s eyes lit up with amazement.
“I love it. Make twenty-five of these as soon as possible. Your reward will be handsome,” she ordered Mazeka.
“Oh, I don’t need the money-“ Mazeka started, but the Queen shook her head and smiled.
“You have made so much that has helped our people survive wars and disasters that otherwise would have wiped us all out, and did not ask for much more than a widget. You deserve some pay, Mazeka,” Kylma told the young Matoran. Mazeka kept quiet. “So, did you make those receivers I asked for, or are they in progress?”
“Oh, yeah, I finished. They’re at my workshop, ready for delivery,” Mazeka answered.
“Oh, thank you! The Vahki will be much more efficient now that their masks will have their orders sent to them! Mazeka, you are now my favorite Matoran!” Kylma exclaimed. Mazeka’s shyness melted away. Kopeke started kicking the ice on the ground.
“So, why did you summon us, your highness?” the disappointed scientist asked.
“It is starting,” the Queen replied, her smile replaced quickly by a frown. “War may be inevitable.”
“War?” both citizen Matoran questioned simultaneously.
“Yes. King Tarduk knows it. That is why he’s allied himself with every nation on Artakha, except Naho. If war breaks out, he’ll have friends no matter where he’ll go,” Kylma replied.
“Is that why Naho refused the treaty?” Mazeka wondered out loud.
“Yes, little one. King Tarix believes that if he forms a treaty with a tyrant, his people will see him as a tyrant.”
“Why did you refuse the treaty, your gracefulness?” Kopeke questioned.
“The treaties were signed with marriage. King Tarduk has no sons, so that was my excuse for not signing it. However, Tarduk made a new treaty and forced me to sign that one, assuring that he will have supporters in the war,” the Queen answered.
“So, why did you call on us?” Kopeke asked, after a long silence had passed. Kylma turned her back to the two, staring at the frozen wall.
“Because I trust you,” she replied.
Mazeka spit out the chunks of ice he was crunching on. “What? A simple engineer and a scientist?”
“You two do what is asked of you. You never question it, and never asked if you get paid, because usually, you don’t. You do it because you believe it is the right thing to do. And I’d rather trust someone like that than someone who’s paid to tell me what to think and what to do like what that idiot Brutaka does,” Kylma explained. She turned, a sadness laying in her teal eyes. Kopeke and Mazeka did not know how to reply.
The Queen stared at the two Matoran. They avoided her gaze. Had she chosen the wrong Matoran to trust? Would they break under the pressure, like she did? Mazeka took his finger and started to scratch at the ice. Kopeke looked back at the water dripping. Kylma sighed. She had lost them. The Ihuan Queen took her silk cape and tried to throw it at a wall. It only gracefully floated onto the frozen cavern ground. In frustration, she threw herself onto the silver cloak, burying her Miru into the soft fabric. There was no hope for Ihu. Something poked her back. Thinking it was an ice shard falling, Kylma ignored it. When it poked again, Kylma turned onto her back. Mazeka and Kopeke stared at her.
“One last thing, your distressed-edness!” Mazeka said.
“Why is there going to be war?” Kopeke asked. Kylma wiped her mask, realizing tears had been shed onto it.
She stood up, and answered, “King Tarduk’s treaty calls for peace between all nations who sign. This treaty was signed by King Brutaka, King Dume, and Queen Reysa. The deal was enforced by open trade routes, and a marriage between Tarduk’s daughters and the two kings, and between Tarduk’s brother and the queen. I refused to sign the treaty, but he forced upon Ihu a rewritten treaty that does not require a marriage. Tarduk will crush anyone who does not ally with him, therefore, Naho will be attacked first. He will expect aid from all allies. Then, I will have to choose between fighting for a tyrant or fighting against my best friend.”
“Wait, King Tarix is-” Mazeka began.
“My best friend, yes. I will have to choose between Tarduk or Tarix. And I will choose Tarix. As long as Brutaka and Dume keep getting their gold and entertainment, they will stay with Tarduk. But Reysa is not a fool. She also hates Tarduk, and secretly saves those who will get executed in Kanae, behind her husband’s back. She will join Tarix and I, and the two conflicting sides will develop a-”
“Civil war,” Kopeke interrupted. The Queen was a good friend of his, and he would not be killed for interrupting. Kylma prided herself in not being Brutaka.
“Artakha is not a single nation, but six. It will be a great war, however. No matter which side wins, we will unify, whether it is Tarduk as the leader, or all six rulers,” the Queen finished.
All three Matoran were quiet while they thought. Mazeka’s eyes darted side to side, as if watching a battle occurring on the iced-over floor. Kopeke’s eyes remained still but concentrated, calculating unknown variables.
“Got it!” the two exclaimed, again simultaneously. Mazeka began first.
“We would need to take out Motara first. Kanae has built itself up as a monopoly. 75% of goods are shipped from there. If we knock it out, Artakha goes down, not just Tarduk. Mangai has built themselves a large army of Glatorian. They would take out too many of our own soldiers. But Motara just makes Kanohi masks. Brutaka has surrounded himself with artists and statues, rather than warriors and weapons. Take them out, no masks of accuracy, shielding, or stealth for them. We’d take out their supply!”
“What about our supply?” Kylma wondered.
“The mask vaults here in Ihu! We’ve held dozens of every type of mask in existence as part of Artakhan history! More than half of those have to be useful in some kind of war!” Mazeka cheered.
“So, they still have their own masks. And, what if King Brutaka ordered their making right now?” Kopeke wondered.
“Brutaka like to wait until last minute for everything,” Mazeka answered.
“And if Tarduk orders the production?” Kylma asked.
“Brutaka hates being given orders,” said Mazeka.
“Good work, Mazeka. I guess you could add ‘strategical expert’ to your package,” Kylma complimented. Mazeka blushed.
“Perhaps I should give my calculations of actions?” Kopeke asked. No one stopped him. “I have thought of dozens of ways we can act upon this meeting. If we do nothing, and there is no war, things will remain the same as they’ve been. If we do nothing, and there is a war, our chances of victory will be little. If we mobilize, chances of war escalate by 63%, but chances of victory rise 45% above if we were to not. If we mobilize in secret, there is a 89% chance Tarduk’s spies will catch us within a season, and we will have only a 15% advantage above the odds of victory if we do not mobilize. Therefore, my opinion is to wait until Naho has mobilized, and war is inevitable before mobilizing Ihu,” Kopeke suggests.
Kylma smiled. “I knew I picked the right Matoran,” she said. The Queen picked up her cloak off the ground, which she had left there since her fit of distress.
“Good luck, your Kindness,” Mazeka wished her. Kopeke nodded. As the Queen left, she turned and said, “I don’t need luck. I’ll have my two favorite Matoran beside me.”
Yay! I have Chapter 4 finished!