#####(Quick note: my understanding of the literature rules is that Posting chapters of a multi-chapter story as they’re written is okay. If that is not the case, feel free to let me know.
Six cloaked figures, hoods obscuring their masks in shadow, stood in a circle, humming softly. Their hands were raised in front of them, each glowing a different color – red, green, blue, white, black, brown. The colours of the six elements: fire, air, water, ice, earth, and stone.
In the center of the circle stood a Matoran. At first glance, one would be hard-pressed to determine his element. His torso and arms were coloured red and yellow, the colours of fire; but his legs were a mix of various shades of blue, the colours of water; and his mask was white, a colour usually reserved for those of the ice element.
If you were to ask Takua what element he was, he would’ve said fire. And it wouldn’t be a lie, not on his part at least. As far as he knew, he was simply a fire Matoran with strange colours, and everyone else he knew thought the same thing. He knew nothing of his true nature, nor what it meant for what he was about to do.
Not that he really knew what he was about to do, either. In his arms, he held six stones, each coloured in a different elemental colour. The six cloaked figures now surrounding him, the Turaga, had told him to collect these stones and place them in a circle here, in the temple at the center of the island. “This will bring our salvation,” they said. They didn’t explain how placing these six rocks in a circle, while the Turaga used their powers and hummed like some kind of creepy cult, would solve the problems facing the Matoran of this island, but he had learned not to question the Turaga.
Takua had to admit, however, that the Turaga were really freaking him out with this one. Twice, he dropped one of the stones as he moved between the spots the Turaga had marked. He wished he had simply left the stones in one spot and carried two at a time to their assigned spots, rather than carrying them all at once. Whenever he dropped one, he imagined one of the Turaga staring at him disapprovingly. He hoped the stones didn’t break.
Finally, he set the last stone in its spot. All six stones started to glow, and a ring of light formed on the ground connecting the six stones. Then, they each shot a beam of energy into the sky. Takua stood, watching these events transpire, not a clue what all this meant.
“Get out of the circle!”
Transfixed by the light show taking place, Takua didn’t hear the harsh whisper from one of the Turaga.
“Takua, get out of the circle!”
This time, Takua heard. It took him a moment to figure out what the Turaga meant. Finally, it dawned on him that he was still standing inside the ring of light, where he’d been standing when he placed the last stone. Abruptly, it occurred to him that being in the center of this light show might be a bad idea, and he moved to leave the circle.
He was a second too late.
The pillars of light from each stone abruptly curved outward, shooting toward the outskirts of the island. Unseen by any Matoran eye, the beams travelled long past the borders of the island, flying over the endless ocean, until finally, they struck six metal canisters floating in the ocean, their energy connecting to the sleeping inhabitants of those canisters.
At the same time, the stones shot another beam of energy inward, all converging on a single target: Takua. Takua stumbled and fell as energy from six stones poured into him. The Turaga stopped humming and began murmuring, confused by this turn of events.
Abruptly, it ended. The energy faded, the lights disappeared. The six stones turned grey, their power spent. Beyond the borders of the island, the six canisters continued to drift aimlessly, their occupants remaining asleep.
As for Takua, he lay on the ground, unmoving, surrounded by six confused Turaga. Dimly, he was aware of the voices of the Turaga as they tried to figure out what had just happened. But he also heard six new voices, voices he had never heard before, that also seemed confused, but for a different reason.
Salvation had indeed arrived… but not in a way anyone had expected.
Chapter 1: fire
Jaller, Captain of the Ta-Koro Guard Force, right hand of Turaga Vakama, ran for his life.
Behind him, a swarm of Kofo-Jaga skittered across the ground, slowly gaining ground. The scorpion creatures wouldn’t normally have attacked Matoran unless they felt their nests were threatened, but these scorpions bore Infected Masks, placing them under Makuta’s control. Jaller could probably handle a few of them – as a fire Matoran, he had a natural resistance to the burning sensation caused by their sting – but the dozens pursuing him now would overwhelm him.
He and his Guard had been out hunting in the Charred Forest, checking on one of their Rahi traps, when they had been ambushed by the scorpions, crawling down from the trees. Caught off guard, the Matoran had barely been able to escape. One of them hadn’t been so lucky, and had fallen to the scorpions. Jaller could still hear his cries. His fellow warrior’s heat resistance would delay his death, which would only make it worse for him.
Jaller was about to suffer the same fate. He’d split off from the other two Matoran in his crew, hoping the scorpions would follow one group while the other could head back to Ta-Koro for back-up. The scorpions had chosen to follow Jaller, and he led them deeper into the forest. But he’d been travelling all day between various locations, delivering messages, and his endurance was quickly wearing thin. Behind him, the scorpions were gaining ground.
Jaller stumbled over a tree root and fell, but picked himself up just as quickly and kept running. The momentary hesitation allowed the scorpions to gain even more ground, now just barely behind him. If he fell again, he was doomed.
Something glowing flew out of the treetops and landed on the ground behind him, and the scorpions screeched. Jaller risked a glance behind him, and saw that the object was a lightstone. It had caused the Kofo-Jaga to hesitate, allowing Jaller to get further away.
His distance was short-lived, though, as his momentary glance backward caused him to stumble again. The fiery scorpions quickly scurried toward their prey. Jaller struggled to his feet, but he knew it was over.
Another lightstone slammed into the ground from above, bringing the Rahi up short once again. A moment later, someone dropped from the treetops right next to Jaller. A strong hand grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet, and he found himself mask-to-mask with Turaga Vakama.
The Turaga gave a low whistle, and a large crab Rahi emerged from behind a tree. Vakama tossed Jaller onto the Ussal crab, then turned to face the scorpions, which were advancing again. The Turaga’s staff glowed, then flared brightly, causing the Rahi to screech and retreat just a bit.
When the light faded, Vakama was gone. But his voice suddenly sounded out of the darkness: “Ta-Koro needs you! Go!”
A few of the scorpions scurried toward the sound of the Turaga’s voice, but he was no longer there. His mask of concealment had allowed him to go invisible, and his shadow would be nearly impossible to see in the low light of the night. The scorpions would not be able to find him easily.
Instead, they went for Jaller, but the Ussal crab dashed away, at a speed no Kofo-Jaga could’ve matched, carrying Jaller back toward the safety of Ta-Koro.
Ta-Koro wasn’t so safe, not right now. The village of fire was under siege.
On the east side of the village, a group of fire Matoran used their spears and shields to fend off a large Muaka tiger, keeping it at bay, but not driving it off. A few times, it extended its neck abruptly and slammed into one of the Matoran, knocking them back, or grabbed a Matoran in its jaws and tossed him aside, and the Matoran were forced to retreat toward the village a bit more.
On the west side, the gates had been closed and fortified, but they wouldn’t hold long against the Kane-Ra bull repeatedly ramming its horned head into them. Attempts to dissuade the bull from its mad charge with thrown disks or spears had met with failure, and the infected mask driving it refused to be dislodged. One brave fire Matoran had tried to attack it directly, and the Rahi had nearly killed him. It undoubtedly would have killed him, had it not turned its attention back to ramming the gates.
Upon seeing the two-pronged attack upon his village, Jaller felt a momentary sense of guilt. He should’ve been here, helping to protect the village, instead of going out to check a Rahi trap that hadn’t even caught anything. Then that guilt turned into determination. He had to drive these Rahi away from his village. He started running toward the village.
Jaller halted abruptly and turned toward the sound of his name. He instantly identified the Matoran running his way as Takua, and groaned under his breath; Takua was probably the last person Jaller wanted to see right now, aside from maybe the Makuta himself.
“I have a plan to stop the bull, but I need your help to do it,” Takua said quickly.
Had his village not been under attack, Jaller would’ve laughed. “YOU have a plan?” he responded incredulously. Takua was not known for making plans. Stupid ideas, maybe, but not plans.
“Trust me!” Takua said. “If you want to save your village, you need to trust me, now.”
Jaller wanted to ignore Takua and head to the defense of his village, but his limbs still ached from over-exertion, and he wasn’t really sure what help he could be. Maybe Takua’s stupid idea just might work. “Fine, but tell it to me quickly.”
Takua waved for Jaller to follow him back to the trees. Jaller reluctantly followed. “I need you to help me use these trees to launch someone onto the back of that bull,” Takua quickly explained.
“Are you nuts?!” Jaller exclaimed.
“It can’t hook you with its horns there, and in its current enraged state, it might not even notice someone on its back,” Takua continued. “That’ll give you an opportunity to pry off the mask with a guard spear.”
“I don’t have a spear,” Jaller pointed out. He’d left his spear leaning against a tree near the Rahi trap, and the sudden ambush of the Kofo-Jaga had left him with no chance to grab it.
“I do,” another voice said. This came from another fire Matoran in the woods, who was currently trying to bend back a giant tree limb. Jaller recognized him as Keahi, one of the strongest members of the Guard force.
“We can use this to launch someone onto that bull,” Takua explained, “but I’m not strong enough to hold the limb back, and there’s no way I could stay on that bull for any amount of time. That’s why we need you.”
“You want to launch me onto that bull?” Jaller said.
“No, to help launch me,” Keahi responded. “I can ride that thing long enough to knock off its mask, easy.”
Keahi’s courage was unrivaled among the Ta-Koro guard. He’d been the one to attack the bull directly earlier, only for it to slam him to the ground with its charge. His left leg was badly hurt, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him, and would’ve gone in for another attack had Takua not found him and explained his plan. Riding a bull and using a spear to dislodge a mask from its shoulder was just the type of plan Keahi was perfect for.
Jaller wanted to protest, but he knew Keahi was determined to do this. Summoning all his remaining strength, he helped Takua hold the limb in place while Keahi got on. Then, the two let go, and the limb snapped back to its original position, sending Keahi flying.
The aim was perfect, and Keahi landed on the bulls hindquarters. Takua was right: driven to smash down the gates, the bull didn’t notice him. It would soon, though; Keahi had to act fast. He extended his twin-pronged Guard staff toward the Rahi’s shoulder and hooked it under the infected mask.
The mask was wedged tightly into place, which had prevented the Matoran from knocking it off with thrown disks, but Keahi’s strength, combined with the leverage from wedging the staff into the small gap under the mask, allowed Keahi to pop the mask off with relative ease.
Abruptly freed from Makuta’s control, the Rahi halted its charge, confused. Then it noticed Keahi on its back, and started trying to hook him with its horns. Keahi needed to get off the bull, but there was no way he could get away without risking getting gored by the horns.
The bull turned to the noise, and saw Takua waving his arms and yelling. The bull pawed at the ground, about to charge.
A disk smacked it in the side of its face. “Over here, you big cow!” Jaller called out, then threw another disk. The bull turned toward Jaller, who dashed back toward the trees.
With the bull’s attention off him, Keahi was able to get off, but his wounded leg caused him to stumble, and he cried out. The Rahi’s attention turned back to him, and it was about to charge when something else slammed into it, grabbing its neck: the Muaka tiger.
While Keahi had been struggling with the Kane-Ra, a lucky shot by one of the guard members had managed to knock off the Muaka’s infected mask, freeing it from Makuta’s control. Without Makuta forcing them to work together, the Muaka tiger and the Kane-Ra bull were fierce enemies. The two Rahi struggled violently, while the Matoran took the opportunity to get safely behind the walls of the Ta-Koro fortress.
Ultimately, the Muaka was the victor, finishing off the Kane-Ra bull and dragging the beast away to feast upon. The threat to Ta-Koro was over.
Shortly after the tiger left, Vakama returned. He brought Jaller, Takua, and Keahi into his hut, while the rest of the guard went to work repairing the gate and collecting the weapons strewn about.
“Takua and I ran into Kapura in the Charred Forest, and he told us of your plight,” Vakama explained to Jaller. “It was Takua’s idea to use lightstones and my firestaff to save you from the Kofo-Jaga.”
“Kofo-Jaga really don’t like light,” Takua pointed out.
“But these were under Makuta’s control,” Jaller said. “Their dislike of light shouldn’t have been an issue.”
“Not normally, no,” Takua replied, “but Makuta’s control has its limits. A sudden bright light right in front of them made their natural hatred of light override Makuta’s control, at least for a moment. Sometimes, a moment matters.”
“How’d you know that would work?” Keahi asked.
“Well, you see–”
“Never mind that,” Jaller cut in. “Turaga, you told me Takua’s quest was supposed to bring powerful warriors to save us. Are they on their way?”
“Well, uh…” Takua paused, trying to find the best way to explain the weird events that had transpired earlier that day.
“The warriors – the Toa – are here… sorta.”
#####Expect to see chapter 2 tomorrow. Unless the world ends or something.