New chapter guys! One more to go, which I’m still waiting on the yes or the no from @IllustriousVar or @Jon or any other cast member for acceptance of a male Naho leader which I put my request on a comment on the Story Bible! Basically, until then, no more History of Artakha (prologue here) (previous chapter here “The Tyrant”). So, enjoy this one for as long as you can. At least I’m fairly certain this is the longest one yet, so that’s good! Thanks for reading!
Chapter 5: The General
Kanol sat by the peaceful river, dipping his foot in to comfort it. He had it burned by the great smoke-machine in Tiro’s weapon factory. The young worker had been carrying his work to the machine so it could harden, when he got his leg stuck on the conveyor belt that ran the weapons in and out of the machine. Yanking it out, the weapon he had made crack on the ground, still weak from being recently made. He had ruined a perfectly good rock-flail, but a weapon was not worth his leg.
Pulling the leg from the water, Kanol rubbed his ankle. A sharp pain ran up his leg, and back down to the source. He sharply inhaled in pain. He dunked the leg back into the cold river. At least he got a break from this. Maybe his ankle would be broken, and he wouldn’t have to work for the next season while it healed. He wiped grime off his Kakama and rubbed his eyes underneath.
A dark form neared his leg, but Kanol did not notice. He looked up at the burning Ta-Season sun. He dreamed of the coolness of Naho, which he had visited last Ga-Season. He thought of fishermen sitting peacefully at the docks, letting their toes dip into the murky water below. They whistled happy tunes, even though they were poor and discriminated against in the matriarchal society.
A tug on Kanol’s leg woke him from his daydream. Looking down, he saw a shadowy thing underwater. He kicked it, thinking it was just a fish of some kind. Kanol grew nervous when the shadow did not scurry away. He felt something close over his injured leg. He wiggled the leg out of its grip and leaped out of the water, trying to crawl away. He was injured, however, and could not keep a pace as he tried to escape. The form rose out of the water, where Kanol could see it was an aqua-colored Tarakava.
“Ah!” Kanol yelped as it leaped upon him. It thrust him into the air, and shook him back and forth. It grew bored rather quickly and began dragging him into the water. Kanol slapped the reptilian beast in the nose, and it dropped him. The Tarakava pounced onto the terrified Onu-Matoran, and bit hard. Kanol closed his eyes, unready to die.
Kanol waited for the beast to tear him to shreds, but he felt nothing. He opened his eyes. He was alive. Looking up, Kanol saw a woman holding an emptied harpoon gun. Looking behind him, the crafter saw the Tarakava slink into the water, a spear buried in its nose.
The standing Onu-Matoran placed the gun on the ground. “Are you alright?” she asked.
Kanol nodded. She started marching towards him, but came right past the laying Onu-Matoran. Wasn’t she going to help him up? Well, Mavrah was Kanol’s boss.
Mavrah studied the river. Nothing stirred in its crystal blue depths. Mavrah prodded it with her weapon. Nothing happened. Kanol began pushing himself up, but then felt like something was missing.
“AHHH!” Kanol screamed. His right leg was now a right stub. “My leg! It’s gone!” Mavrah hurried over, comforting the young Matoran.
“Oh no, another worker I’ll have to replace,” she murmured to herself. Work was the most important thing to Mavrah.
From the caves of the factory emerged another woman. This woman, however, was much more famous than Mavrah.
“What happened?” Queen Reysa questioned. Mavrah muttered something about today of all days.
“A Tarakava attacked this worker, removing his leg,” the factory commander answered.
“Why was he out here in the first place?” Reysa wondered. Her gray Rau stared into Mavrah’s purple Pakari with an intimidating effect. Reysa was a formidable opponent, and a terrifyingly smart general. No Onu-Matoran questioned her.
“He injured himself by the heating machine. I told him to take a break to comfort himself. We’re all about safety here,” Mavrah lied. If safety made you slow, you shouldn’t practice it.
“Yes, so, you sent this worker out here to comfort his leg, and because of this, he lost it?” Reysa evaluated.
“Ironic, yes,” Mavrah agreed.
“I assume you know why I’m here?” the Queen asked.
“Progress check,” Mavrah sighed. These were her least favorite days of the seasons.
“So, with another worker down, how far behind will we be of quota?”
“Only a few dozen. This worker was but only in the hardening section.”
“Good, Naho has requested an inordinate amount of harpoons and swords, while Motara has requested rock-flails and spears.”
“Work on Naho’s order will be completed on time.”
“Good, I’d rather Tarix receive his order than Brutaka. If war does break out, we must choose the side that will have less Roporak-brained idiots.”
“I’m missing a LEG!” Kanol cried. Reysa and Mavrah turned to the shocked Matoran on the ground. Kanol was surprised the injury didn’t even hurt. Maybe the nerves in his leg were removed or something.
“You should get him to a medical facility,” Reysa suggested. Mavrah called over two workers, and gave them instructions. They nodded and carried the poor Kanol away, into the darkness of the cave factory.
“This Tarakava, it’s not native to Tiro, is it?” Mavrah realized.
“No, it must have traveled a great distance away from home,” Reysa assumed.
“Why did Kanol not scream in pain?” the supervisor wondered to herself.
“Tarakava are quite poisonous. However, the poison only dulls the nerves, creating a painless attack. It makes the prey less likely to try to squirm or escape,” the Queen told her.
“So, what of the King? What does he think of this upcoming war?” asked Mavrah, changing the subject.
“He doesn’t. I haven’t told him about any of my work. He just thinks I’m making a surplus of weapons in the case of an unexpected order. Also, he has yet to learn about the prisoners I rescued this season,” Reysa replied. Mavrah nodded. Every season, a stealthy Onu-Matoran team goes and robs a ■■■■■■■■ of goods being delivered from King Brutaka to King Tarduk. However, this season, a ■■■■■■■■ of prisoners were found. Under the watchful eye of King Tarduk’s brother, the team could not bring them back to Tiro, but brought them instead to Naho.
“He sure puts a lot of fear in to Matoran for being one who doesn’t even know what his wife’s been planning,” Mavrah comments. Reysa smiles. Reysa was not a typical Onu-Matoran, and wasn’t even a typical Onu-Matoran queen. Before she was crowned queen, she had been appointed general over the entire army of Tiro. She was a ruthless leader, driving great armies of Rahi out of the region and into the ocean with her wild strategies. She fought alongside her men, and was a grand hero to the Matoran. Soldiers often called her “the Soldier’s Heart”, as she inspired a great many men and improved morale. She always charged first into battle, and was always last to strike a blow.
Unfortunately, as days grew longer, so did General Reysa’s age. She soon could not be the heroic leader Tiro needed her to be, so she retired. Her father passed down the throne, and she was crowned as ruler of Tiro.
Even now, as she dealt with duties like Progress Check, Reysa yearned to be out on the battlefield, serving her nation as well as her own personal enjoyment.
When the Queen awoke from her flashback, Mavrah was gone. Back inside, Reysa assumed. The sky darkened slowly as Reysa watched the water, memories flooding in like dreams. The Progress Check can be completed later.
Queen Reysa studied the water, as if it was more interesting than asking whether or not weapon number had been reached or not. Of course, to Reysa it was. A harpoon floated on top of the water. The Queen hoisted it out and decided to study it. A fine weapon. Configured to fit into a launcher. One of the three prongs was slightly bent, but that could be repaired. But what was the oily liquid that covered the tip? Reysa looked back at the water.
Two red lights shone underneath the surface. The Queen watched them, confused. Then the lights blinked. In a quick movement, Reysa leaped back. The lights charged out of the water in a massive explosion. The Tarakava roared, pumping its claw into the air like fists.
The Queen may have let age beat her, but she did not let it limit her. Still in peak physical condition, she charged at the beast, weaving in and out of its swiping claws. She dodged every attack the creature made, and then retaliated back with one of her own.
She swiped at a limb with her harpoon, causing a scratch to form on its wrists. Roaring in what Reysa assumed was pain, the old General leaped onto its other arm. Propelling herself off of that limb, she slammed the creature in the face with the dull side of the harpoon. She landed gracefully on the ground, and saw the Tarakava was starting to fume with anger.
The Queen prepared to attack again, but then felt suddenly overcome by exhaustion. This is what age will do to a warrior. The Tarakava, seizing the opportunity to attack, landed its huge hand onto the Queen, flattening her underneath its grip.
“My Queen!” Reysa heard being yelled from the cave entrance. Mavrah stood, holding a rock-flail in one hand, and a lightstone in another. Charging recklessly at the beast, the factory operator was casually swatted aside by the creature. She flew into the river, clutching onto a rock to not be pulled away by its current. No matter how peaceful the river was at the edges, the middle had an undertow that would be nearly impossible to escape. Reysa watched in sadness as Mavrah struggled, and then glanced back at the Tarakava. It was watching Mavrah with its eyes, almost having an evil enjoyment of the position the two Matoran were in.
The Queen then came to a realization: the reason she fought was not for her own enjoyment. The reason was not even for her nation. It was for her people. Right now, her people needed her. Mavrah needed her. And if Mavrah was willing to charge hopelessly into battle for her, Reysa needed to do the same for the young operator.
All of a sudden, the Queen’s exhaustion seemed minuscule to her anger. She pushed up on the Tarakava’s foot with such unexpected strength that it toppled over, releasing Reysa from its grasp. Reysa surveyed the area, scanning for the harpoon, which she had dropped.
The Queen found the harpoon tucked in a growth of grass. She pulled it out, just in time to swipe at the creature’s pouncing head. It hit the beast’s head to the side, giving Reysa time to run underneath of it.
Swinging back, the Tarakava lost sight of the Queen. Searching around, the Tarakava felt something attack his stomach. Searching below itself, the Tarakava again found nothing. The creature felt something push it from behind. It turns around to see the Matoran woman attacking it. Roaring, it lunged at her, mouth open and stomach hungry.
Reysa rolled to the side. The Tarakava attacked again, and Reysa leaped back. She splashed into the water, clouding herself from the beast. She swam towards the middle. She heard the monster splash behind her. Looking back, she saw the two red lamps closing in on her. She kept swimming until she realized she was being pulled by the strongest part of the undertow.
Thrown back, Reysa watched helplessly as the beats followed her, propelled by the water flow. As it reached her, blade-like fangs open wide, the Queen stuck out her harpoon. Digging into the mud underneath, Reysa was pulled to a stop. The Tarakava flew right by her, roaring as it was swept downstream.
The Queen swung herself out of the current, losing her grip of the weapon as she emerged from the river. Gasping, she threw herself onto the bank, climbing out. Shivering, water splashed off of Reysa. Looking up, she saw a company of shocked Onu-Matoran. Mavrah stood in the crowd, wrapped tightly in a towel. Kanol sat on a stretcher with a bandaged stump for a leg.
One Matoran began clapping, and soon a sea of applause rewarded the Queen. Reysa smiled, but raised her hand to stop their claps.
“I lost the harpoon,” the Queen said to Mavrah as the last clap sounded. Mavrah laughed, wiping water off of her mask.
“Alright, we’ve got a war to prepare for!” another operator called. Matoran started sliding back into the caves, cheering.
“Mavrah!” Reysa called. The younger Matoran waited outside for the Queen. “Could you make one more soldier’s supply of weapons?”
Mavrah nodded, smiling. Overhearing, the general who had replaced Reysa approached.
“We’ll be seeing you on the battlefield when war comes then?” he asked.
“You’ll be seeing me? My friend, I’ll be seeing you. I’ll be the first one to charge, and the one to strike he last strike. Age doesn’t slow one down if they know what to fight for,” Reysa told him. The General shook his head and disappeared into the caverns. Reysa never liked him much anyways.
As soon as all had entered the cave, Reysa stayed, looking back to the waters. The Tarakava would be pulled out to sea, where it belongs. The Queen turned back and accessed the cave, rejoining with her people.
Hope you liked it! Please leave feedback, that really helps! Again, the next chapter can’t come out until further notice. Thanks!