This one was a bit more difficult as well, though more in terms of figuring out pacing and detail than the dialogue itself. This story is presenting more and more questions as I'm writing it, concerning both the G1 stories and where I imagine it going... almost as though I'm along for the ride too.
With midnight fast approaching, we made our way along the streets leading south, back in the direction of the Arena Magna.
“So, are we heading to Hahli’s place, then?” I asked.
“What do you mean, ‘eventually?’ Why not immediately?”
“I am tired, and it would be rude to show up at her door now.”
“Didn’t seem to bother you with Tahu.”
“… Tahu is different. I had… a bone to pick with him. And I was not tired yet.”
“Fair enough…” I could imagine an argument like that took a lot out of him, given his age… but the fact that he paused before answering meant something. Also, I could sense anxiety in him, which was new. He’d been completely confident and self-assured for this entire trip, but now that he was so close, I felt he was… becoming hesitant. As with everything else, of course, he wouldn’t let it show on the outside, but from what I saw now, it seemed that there was something about meeting Gali that was more daunting for him than anything we’d faced on this trip so far… What was it? I wasn’t going to get it from him here, not when we were both exhausted, but when we did find Gali, I’d be paying very close attention.
“Where are we going now, then?” I noticed we’d turned east.
“A quiet place.”
“Another park? I’ve had enough of park benches for today.”
“No. A place more private. A place to contemplate.”
“Ah, contemplation. Your favorite pastime.” Kopaka didn’t pick up on my dry attempt at humor… Was I really expecting him to? Well, he wasn’t the only one who was tired. Whatever this quiet, contemplative place was, I really hoped there’d be a good spot to lie down and catch some shuteye…
Turns out it was the beach.
Unsurprisingly, it was empty. The road we’d followed had lead us past ever more elaborate houses, and this clearly was the part of the beach where the wealthy could come to relax, if they wished. It was a wide, shallow cove, hemmed in by a seawall behind, rocky shores that grew into cliffs to the north, and more rocks to the south. I could see the silhouettes of Ga-Matoran and Water Agori huts situated beyond the rocks in that direction; many were raised on posts to protect them from the tide, and further still docks jutted far out onto the sea, with ships of various sizes moored to them.
Kopaka made his way to the north side of the beach and found himself a decently sized boulder to sit on. He sat there, looking out over the sea… his was mind sorting through Mata Nui only knows what. Something calming about the ocean, I suppose, though from the way he was adjusting his scopes, I could swear he was looking at something on the water, something well beyond my limited night vision. I could have tried to read into him more, but I was practically falling asleep standing up, so I found a nice spot of soft sand, lay down, and was out in moments.
A flash… I’m in a tunnel of some kind… is that a door opening? A dark voice thunders from all around…
“SO YOU FOUND YOUR WAY HERE, BROTHER…”
I tremble… there are others around me who do the same… another flash.
Now I’m outside. The light is blinding… something is coming towards me… something yellow… it lets out a blood-curdling screech... it’s some kind of monster! Suddenly, I see another one next to me, and a third. Their eyes glow red. They have these… these weird forked staffs that they keep trying to stab me with. I try to hold my own… another flash.
Something I recognize! Skrall! Hundreds of them… but they look different than I remember. I look around and see Tahu standing next to me… he looks younger than before, not as damaged, and he’s… shouting orders about something. It’s hard to hear him over the noise of battle commencing, as more Toa and Glatorian meet and fight the Skrall… flash again.
Now I’m on a hill, overlooking the aftermath of some battle that happened below. The yellow creatures… there’s hundreds of them, all dead. Some Glatorian and Agori are littered among them. I look up to see more fighting happening in the distance, and something… something is casting a giant shadow over the landscape. I turn too look, but suddenly my vision fills with red… I hear clashing swords, a sick, gurgling sound, then everything is black again. A voice calls to me from the distance… I can’t distinguish what it’s trying to tell me. Flash again…
Suddenly, I was wide awake. My heart was pounding, I was breathing heavily, and I was drenched in sweat. What kind of nightmare was that? I looked around, trying to get my bearings again. I was still on the beach… the sky was starting to lighten over the ocean to the east; sunrise would come soon. I noticed Kopaka was still sitting on that boulder, but slumped over. I made my way over to him. He was asleep, shut down in that position. Looking around, I could see that the beach was still empty apart from us. Then, I spotted something on the ocean horizon; some kind of island. It was too far out for me to make out anything but a silhouette in the dim light.
“You see it?” I was shocked to find Kopaka was now awake.
Kopaka pointed out over the water. “The fingers.”
“That is where the Makuta fell,” he explained. “Those islands were his fingers.”
“Oh… The battle! The Makuta fell in the ocean! I remember that!” I looked again, trying to distinguish these ‘fingers’ in more detail, but it’d have to wait until after sunrise. There just wasn’t enough light there. I turned back to Kopaka. “Were you there?”
“I was.” Suddenly, what had happened clicked for me.
“Were you thinking about that, about what happened then?” I asked him.
“Oh… were there yellow monsters with red, glowing eyes?”
“Rahkshi of heat vision.”
“So it was…” knowing didn’t really make me feel better. “I… I think that I might have picked up on some of that…”
“While you were asleep?” He sounded… surprised, perhaps even a little indignant about it, and rightfully so.
“Yes…” I felt embarrassed. I’ll admit I wasn’t the best at controlling my abilities at the time, but now Kopaka had seen it happen twice... and I could tell he disapproved. Accidentally picking up on things like that, reading minds while asleep… it showed that lack of control, that inexperience. I felt like an Agori child who’d just wet their bed. “Sorry…”
“It is fine. You will learn. You wanted to see it anyway, did you not?” Even though he said it was fine, the tone of his voice said it wasn’t. Not keen on elaborating further, he got up, pulled up his hood, and started for the stairs up the seawall that marked the end of the beach and the start of the city. I followed behind, but my mind wasn’t fully in the present; I was still trying to piece together the fragments of that memory, of that dream, especially the end. Whose voice was that, shouting at the end? And what were they trying to get across?
As we headed south along the road parallel to the beach, I started to pay more attention to the city waking up around us; on various piers I could see Ga-Matoran and Water Agori preparing their vessels for a day of fishing at sea, and a few seaside shops and restaurants were just opening up. Kopaka didn’t seem to be paying as close attention to what was around us as he usually did; he was pondering something. He actually stopped once to look around and get a better idea of the layout of the beach and everything on it, and his eyes fell on “Daila’s Dermis Shack,” a picturesque little place with a covered terrace over the beach. Apparently, it was time for breakfast, which I greatly welcomed.
A stocky water Agori who I could only assume was Daila was making preparations for the day inside the kitchen hut. We approached the hut’s front counter and proceeded to inspect a large board that showed the breakfast menu. It wasn’t long before Daila took notice.
“Well, you folks are up early,” she remarked as she approached the counter with a smile. “And Toa, nonetheless. What can I get you two?” Kopaka pointed at the third item on the menu; dermis soup. “Dermis soup, eh? Any side with it?” The Toa of Ice pointed at ‘pokawi strips’ listed under ‘sides’ on the board. “So, dermis soup and pokawi…” Daila noted, “and for you, ma’m?”
“What’s the three-gafna dish?” I inquired.
“Three types of gafna cubes on a seaweed bed,” Daila explained. “You can choose the types if you prefer.”
“Sounds nice, I’ll take it. You pick the types.”
“Will do,” Daila noted. “Any side with that?”
“Pokawi strips sound nice.”
“Three-Gafna and pokawi it is, then.” Daila concluded. “Two tickets or together?” Kopaka held up two fingers, answering that question. By this point, I was starting to find his silent of way of dealing with Matoran and Agori quite amusing to watch; he could get so much across with just a gesture or two, while they were left wondering who this weird figure was. “Separate tickets…” Diala noted down, “okay! Should be out in a few minutes!”
Kopaka made his way onto the terrace, found the one table that was Toa-sized, and took the seat facing east, overlooking the sea. I took the chair facing south, giving me a prime view of the shoreline, but that wasn’t what I was really interested in. No, I could sense that hint of anxiety in Kopaka again, coupled with that sense that he was mulling over something; for some reason he really wasn’t looking forward to this meeting. Looking around, I couldn’t find anyone within earshot of us, and judging by the sounds coming from the kitchen, Daila would keep herself busy, so I decided to try and get the reason out of him.
“So, you finally get to see Gali again,” I began. No reply. Hm… “Excited?”
“You would know if I was.” Okay, fair point.
“So you’re not.” Again, no reply. It seemed that I wouldn’t get anywhere with the indirect approach, though given that this was Kopaka that really shouldn’t have surprised me. “Mind if I ask why? Your entire reason for coming down here was to meet her again, to get her to fix that busted leg, right?”
“So, you could be better by tonight. Isn’t that exciting?”
“I suppose.” The Toa of Ice didn’t do ‘excited.’ Not on the outside, at the very least, but I quickly got the impression that even inside there wasn’t much in the way of joy left to repress; it might well have been the one emotion that Kopaka had been able to eliminate from his mind completely. That certainly would’ve explained his generally dour demeanor, come to think of it.
“I don’t know… I think I’d feel a little happier knowing I was about to get better.”
“So long as Gali still cares about duty,” Kopaka said with a hint of spite in his voice.
“I think she will.” I really did. From what I’d seen already, I didn’t get the impression that Gali was the type to give up easily on something… then again, I would’ve been pretty furious at the other Toa if I’d been in her position during the split. I couldn’t imagine it would’ve left anything but a bad mark on her, and she could still have been bitter about that. Was she really the type to let that override her concern for others, though? I concluded that she wasn’t. “And believe me, if I know anything, it’s how to read people.” I regretted making that statement the moment it left my lips.
“Of course you do. You do it even when you do not intend to,” Kopaka said critically. “Before you assert confidence in your powers, you should know to use them properly. Particularly yours.”
“Yeah, I should…” I admitted. Suddenly I felt ashamed again. “I-I’m working on it.”
“I am not talking about the lack of control,” Kopaka continued, “I am talking about your frivolous use of it. You have been reading my mind at every spare moment since we met, have you not?”
“You should consider that some things are better left hidden. Your powers were given to you for the protection of Matoran and Agori, not to satisfy your curiosity. There is a reason your kind was made female rather than male.” There was? That was the first I’d heard of it…
“Why is that?”
“Imagine your abilities in the hands of someone as temperamental as Tahu, or someone as careless as Lewa,” Kopaka explained. “Fire, lightning, stone, air… they destroy bodies. You? Your powers can destroy minds; a far more dangerous thing. In its own way, psionics is the most powerful of the elements; the great beings therefore saw fit that the more gentle of the sexes should be given custody over it.” Really? That’s why Ce-Matoran were female? That wasn’t written in our legends anywhere.
“Seems like a bit of a generalization to me.” It did, quite uncomfortably so, in fact. Then again, it was probably true to a large extent, though no one seemed to know why… Really, Matoran and Toa gender was a strange thing. At least with the Agori there were… understandable reasons for why the sexes had their associated characteristics; not so with us.
“It was not one of their smarter decisions,” Kopaka asserted, “but it is done with now. Point is, you have been given abilities whose use can have tremendous consequences for you and everyone around you, and whose use raises many questions. Use them wisely.”
“I will.” I was intent on taking his advice, but what defined ‘using them wisely?’ I’d spent a lot of time thinking about that… in fact, I still don’t think I have all the answers.
author's note: I actually spent quite some time discussing this story with an uncle of mine, and he brought up the ethical implications of psionics as a power. Given that Lis has been using hers liberally throughout this story so far, I figured a discussion on the matter would not at all be out of place, along with highlighting just how inexperienced she really is. We'll see more of Lis' story at some point. It also gave me a good opportunity to point out one of my main perceived idiosyncrasies of the original G1 story: what's the point of Matoran gender?
I'll post more chapters as I finish them. Enjoy!