And the story continues… I’m running out of things to put up here.
Back inside, I found Kopaka still watching over Pohatu. With little better to do, I decided to clean up the place a bit, since clearly no one had done so for years. I started by picking up every empty bottle I could find and stacking them by the door, for want of a container. In one of the kitchen cabinets, I found a brush and pan and set about cleaning up the remnants of the two bottles that had met their end against the walls. I was about done with the first of them when a retching noise in the bedroom got my attention.
“Everything okay?” I quickly entered to find Kopaka standing next to the bed, supporting a convulsing Pohatu in a half-seated position. He made sure the Toa of Stone’s head was over the pot, which he was holding ready. “What’s happening to him!?” Before Kopaka could answer, Pohatu hurled and vomited up the liquid remnants of his dinner into the pot. “Ew!” I turned away immediately, but it wasn’t long before the disgusting sounds ceased. I turned around to find that Kopaka had laid Pohatu back down and produced a rag, with which he wiped clean the Toa of Stone’s mouth and the spots that had appeared on his own armor.
“He was about to throw up,” was the Toa of Ice’s belated answer.
“I can see that. It smells awful,” I noted as the odor of alcohol-tainted vomit became evident in the room. Kopaka apparently agreed, because he reached down and flash-froze the contents of the pot.
“That should help,” he said calmly. I looked at Pohatu, who’d remained fast asleep through the entire thing.
“Sheesh… he really is out, isn’t he?” Kopaka merely nodded, keeping his eyes fixed on his brother as he sat back down. “So, when you asked me for the pot, did you know that would happen?” I wondered.
“It was a possibility,” he answered.
“Hm…” Somewhere, I wondered what would’ve happened had Kopaka not been here… I sighed before getting back to cleaning up bottle shards. I couldn’t do much about the stain left by the half-full one, and I was working in dim light, but by about half an hour later I’d gotten rid of most of the glass. By that point, it was well past midnight, and I was getting rather tired. Pohatu’d thrown up a second time, which Kopaka’d handled just as he had the first. The house only had three rooms: the living room with kitchen attached, the bedroom, and a small bathroom that was, if anything, even dirtier and more dilapidated than the rest of the structure. Either way, no other beds, much to my dismay, so I elected to instead watch Kopaka and Pohatu until I was tired enough to find Pohatu’s chair an appealing place to spend the night in.
The Toa of stone was still out like a light, while Kopaka spent his time as he’d done back on the train, thinking through something apparently well beyond my ability to compute. Leaning against the empty doorway, I watched for a few minutes. I noticed that Kopaka’s normally stoic expression now betrayed a grave concern; I wondered whether he was actually making as much of an effort to conceal everything as he normally did. Maybe he believed no one was watching… No, he knew I was there. Perhaps he’d come to the conclusion that, given my abilities, maintaining appearances around me was futile… but then again, he’d known about those abilities all along, and hadn’t released his grip on his expressions until now. Plus, much as I was trying to unravel the mystery that was the Toa Nuva of Ice, there was a great deal that still had me puzzled, and I think he intended to keep it that way.
“Lis?” He turned to me, somewhat to my surprise.
“How well can you read minds?” I was rather surprised to get that question from him.
“Uhm… it depends.” What exactly could constitute a satisfactory answer? “I mean, it varies based on how much you actually remember. Like, back on the train, I got a lot from you.”
“Memories, yes…” Kopaka nodded. “Would it be possible for you to look into Pohatu’s?”
“I suppose…” I remembered his talk from the morning two days before. “Are you sure that that’d be appropriate?”
“No,” Kopaka answered, “but it may be necessary.” A curious change in attitude…
“Necessary for what?”
“To find out how much of him is left.” There was as strong sense of foreboding to those words… Kopaka didn’t sound very hopeful, and given Pohatu’s behavior, I didn’t blame him.
“I could,” I replied, “but… without knowing who he was, I can’t really tell you much.”
“Okay.” Kopaka nodded again, betraying neither disappointment nor delight, and got back to watching over Pohatu. I stayed for a while longer, trying to attach some meaning to the exchange. Based on the Toa of Stone’s behavior, I understood his concern about how much of Pohatu’d changed… but the concern itself was still new, coming from him. Or was it? I remembered what Tahu’d told me before we left: Kopaka did care, but he couldn’t admit it, to himself or anyone else… except when Pohatu got involved, apparently. Why, though? What was so special about the bond between these two?
Too tired to think it through much further, I finally gave in, retreated to the living room, and settled down into Pohatu’s reclining chair. I immediately regretted not having done so sooner; old and dirty it may have been, but it was nothing if not supremely comfortable, so much so that I was out in seconds.
A mountain. I see a mountain, and I’m climbing it, leaving the tree line behind me. What’s up there, exactly? I feel like I know there’s something up there, but I can’t figure out exactly what…
A place of far-seeing.
I can’t tell where that thought came from, but it would be an apt description for this place… looking around, this appears to be the highest point for miles, and I’m nowhere near the top of the mountain yet. Also, what’s that sound? Some kind of… rumbling. Thunder? It can’t be; the sky is clear. Yet it’s growing louder…
A rocky explosion catches me, engulfs me, and momentarily knocks me out. I shake my head, blink, try to move… my legs are stuck in the rubble. Looking up, I see someone standing over me.
“Sorry about that. I was practicing.” Who is he? I should recognize him, but somehow I don’t… he’s a Toa, but that spark of recognition isn’t there. “Are you alright?” He’s concerned. I don’t need his concern.
“I would be, if you were not standing on me,” I point out.
“Let me help you out,” he offers.
“Thank you. I don’t need help.” I find and draw my sword, ready to make my own way out, but whoever this is… he’s persistent.
“Let me do it. It’ll be faster,” he insists. Ignoring him, I call upon the power of Ice and instantly freeze the rocks around me to the point where they start to crack.
“I said…” I swing my sword around, easily breaking the now brittle rocks and causing the strange Toa to jump backwards to avoid being hit as well, “…I can do it myself.”
“Yeah, well…” he smiles, “you missed one.” With that, he kicks one of the boulders hard enough to send it flying off through the air. Pointless; it was not among those trapping me. I step out and resume my trek up the mountain, thinking he will return to his ‘practice.’
The mountain’s natural slope has steepened to the point where it is impossible to make progress except by climbing on all fours. “Listen.” What? He’s following me? “I have a feeling we’re both here for the same reason,” the brown figure keeping up with me explains. “Why not team up? It might make things easier.”
“I work alone.”
“By choice, or ‘cause no one can stand you?” He sounds… cheerful. How inappropriate. I can sense great evil in this place; how is he joking at a time like this?
“All right, come along,” I relent. “After all, I might need a mountain moved… or the island lifted.” He laughs as though I’m joking… those are very real possibilities.
“Fantastic. I’m Pohatu, by the way,” he introduces himself as we clamber up a particularly rough part of the mountainside.
Everything is… bright. Blindingly so. The wind is howling around me as I feel a slight chill… my eyes are adjusting at last; I can see now. I’m in a blizzard, but I can handle those… My companion, on the other hand, is finding this weather decidedly unpleasant.
“Whoa!” a dampened thud, barely audible over the wind, alerts me to the fact that he’s slipped up… again. I keep moving… he’ll catch up just like he did the last time, and the time before that. I look up and ahead. We’re still climbing but if I focus just right… yes. A dark shape up ahead. A cave.
“Say, how do you keep your footing up here?” he asks from behind me. “I mean, I’ve got bigger feet than you, and I’m slipping all over the place.” He laughs in spite of himself.
“We are close,” I inform him. “Look ahead.” So he does, and before long we reach the cave… I haven’t seen this one before, yet I feel like I should have.
“Not bad,” Pohatu follows me in and kicks some snow off of his feet. “A place for contemplation, right?”
“Not this one.” I find that, just beyond the entrance, the cave is filled with rubble.
“Well, wouldn’t hurt to check, would it?” The rocks begin to roll down and out of the cave as though acting on their own accord… except they’re not. Pohatu’s doing it. “Hey, for all we know it could be down there,” he shrugs.
“Possible,” I agree and activate my mask, searching out our target under the rubble. Hang on… is that it!? “That way.” I point out the direction in which I saw the mask, and Pohatu focuses his efforts there. Now, he has unearthed it: the Kanohi Hau Nuva. It’s lying in a crevice, but reaching down, he easily retrieves the mask.
“Well, look at this,” he smiles, just as a rumbling sound catches our ears. We’ve both heard it numerous times; we know what it means. “MOVE!” Pohatu suddenly yells as the ground cracks, then opens up below him. He pushes me back, throwing the mask aside as boulders from the collapsing ceiling start to come down. I try to reach, to grab him, but in less than a second, he is gone.
“Pohatu!” I activate my mask again, searching for him beneath the remnants of the collapsed tunnel wall, pulling out chunks of rock as I go, but I can’t see him anywhere… what I do see is a near-vertical shaft, leading straight down well beyond how far I can see. I hear the rumbling noise again… by reflex, I look up. There’s cracks forming in the ceiling above me! I dodge to the side, barely in time to avoid being crushed myself as more of the tunnel collapses. I run, run back to the entrance… when the noise stops and the dust clears, the cave no longer exists. I’m standing in what used to be its entrance, now part of the icy mountain slope. There is no hope of getting back in there…
“Pohatu!” I call, but it I know it is in vain. If I could not find him earlier, he is… is surely gone now. My feet hit something, something metal. I look down to see the Hau Nuva lying there… It was to be his, but he threw it aside and saved me… I put it away. I must go, go and tell of what happened here.
The mask will be kept as Pohatu’s memory…
For the third night in a row, I woke up drenched… again, I’d inadvertently picked up on someone else’s thoughts, their memories… no question who it was this time: Kopaka. That moment, that had to be when he first met Pohatu; why else would they have to introduce themselves to each other? As for the second memory… it was later, after they became Toa Nuva, but when? Also, how did Pohatu survive that?
I got up out of the chair and looked around. It was still dark out, but the sky to the east was beginning to show hints of blue; sunrise was not far away. Remembering where I was, I stepped into the bedroom again, finding Kopaka still sitting there, not having moved an inch, watching over the sleeping Pohatu.
“Morning,” I yawned.
“Have you been watching him all night?” I wondered.
“Don’t you get tired?” I figured he certainly looked it.
“Not quickly.” I felt like the truth was more along the lines of ‘I pretend not to,’ but didn’t point that out. I noticed the pot was full, and frozen.
“He threw up again?”
“Five times,” Kopaka answered.
“Sheesh… want me to get rid of that?” Kopaka nodded ‘yes,’ so I picked up the pot by the handles, only realizing then that I had no way to un-freeze its contents. Instead, I took it to the kitchen and set it upside-down in the sink, hoping the contents would, with time, melt their way out and down the drain.
“You won’t need it again, right?” I asked upon returning.
“Okay…” I shrugged and waited for a minute. “So, about what you asked last night…”
“Forget it.” Kopaka said coldly.
“You’re sure?” I asked. “I mean, I saw a few things… again.” When I said that, he turned and gave me that piercing gaze…
“You did it again?”
“Uhm… yes,” I admitted. “Look, I didn’t mean to, I swear. It just… happens.”
“And what did your night visions tell you this time?” his voice had not lost any of its icy quality.
“It… it was from you. I think it was on Mata Nui, when you met Pohatu,” I remembered.
“Irrelevant,” Kopaka concluded.
“Well, there was another one,” I added. Kopaka nodded as if to say “go on.” “It was you and Pohatu again, up on a mountain,” I continued, “and you were looking for a mask.”
Kopaka’s eyes widened ever so slightly. “Which mask?” he asked.
“Tahu’s mask. The Hau Nuva.” Kopaka remained silent. “The cave… it collapsed on you two,” I continued, “did you think…”
“…he was dead?” Kopaka finished. “Yes, I did. But he was alive. I just could not find him at the time.” He sounded agitated, but wasn’t directing it at me.
“Oh… You tried, though.” Part of sharing a memory is sharing the feelings that accompanied it, and I distinctly recalled a sense of panic from when he was looking for Pohatu… never mind the sense of loss after the second collapse. I knew I hadn’t been there, but that empathy made it all the more painful.
“Of course I tried,” Kopaka said. “He found another way out. Again, irrelevant.” I wasn’t so sure about that; much as he was trying to hide it, it was obvious this particular memory triggered something in him, too. Was he dismayed at his failure to find Pohatu? Or was he just angry that I’d gotten to see one of his more… emotional memories?
“Okay…” I sighed; it was too early to push him further. “I did see some of Pohatu, though. Like, how he used to be. So, if you want I can try to look and figure out… what’s left, as you put it.”
“I doubt he would complain,” Kopaka said coldly as he turned back to watching Pohatu. It wasn’t an outright ‘no,’ but I didn’t feel like I had permission either, so I held off.
“Breakfast?” I asked, changing the subject to something more mundane.
“Later,” Kopaka replied. His gaze was fixed intently, once again, on Pohatu… looking to the Toa of Stone, I noticed he was waking up.
“Ugh…” he groaned. “My head…”
#####author’s note: after writing the last chapter, and given what I’ve planned for the next one, this one was always going to feel a bit ‘meh,’ but I’m pretty satisfied with it. Kopaka’s behavior continues to mystify Lis to a degree, and I had fun with some G1 throwbacks… Our Toa of Psionics just can’t get a peaceful night’s sleep, can she?
I’ll post more chapters as I finish them. Enjoy!