The Folly of the Toa II - Chapter 50

Was going to be the last chapter, but… well, it isn’t, because as Queen so aptly put it: the show must go on. :grin:

Chapter 50

It was still completely dark out when we stepped onto the platform and once again crossed the bridge leading onto Onu-Koro-Nuva’s main street. Kopaka’d purposely waited a few minutes to allow the rest of the disembarking passengers to head into town before taking to the street himself.

“I will be back here at five,” he informed me.

“I’ll be here,” I confirmed as he turned and headed down the street. In spite of Onu-Koro-Nuva’s round-the-clock schedule, above ground everything was as calm and still as it would’ve been anywhere else at this hour; the Toa of Ice calmly and resolutely made his way down an empty main street, heading for the entrance to the underground city, still showing signs of a slight limp that no doubt he was trying to suppress. I still wondered what business he was going to attend to, but between an assurance that I would come to know in time and the fact that I had business of my own, I couldn’t follow him now. Instead, I decided to wait out Jahlpu and the others in the lobby of the hotel where they’d been staying. I figured it was preferable to disturbing them in their rooms, and busied myself with the breakfast part of the place’s ‘bed and breakfast’ mantra and absentmindedly flipping through a few channels on the lobby telescreen. It took a good hour before, at last, Jahlpu appeared on the second floor balcony.

“Lis!?” he called down just as I was about to doze off again in one of the lounge chairs facing the telescreen. I got up as he quickly made his way down the stairs. “Well, you weren’t kidding when you said back as soon as possible…” he commented as he crossed the lobby to my position.

“It was only two stops,” I explained, hoping that that was all the detail he would ask for.

“So I take it your friend has left town?” he unfortunately continued, putting a particularly sarcastic emphasis on the word “friend.”

“He will soon,” I answered, “but I’ve got a few hours until then. Figured I’d at least drop by to show you I’m alright.”

“And thank goodness you are,” Jahlpu concluded as he took one of the seats, prompting me to retake mine. “Honestly, you really gotta tell me when you go running off like that.”

“It was kind of an emergency,” I admitted. “Didn’t have time to drop by.”

“Emergency?” Jahlpu looked at me curiously. “What in the world were you doing after that tour, sis?”

“Actually, I went and saw Nuparu,” I recalled. “We talked for a while, then the emergency arose and I had to head back to New Atero pronto.”

“Pronto, huh?” Jahlpu nodded, clearly not quite convinced. “Right… oh, speaking of New Atero, did you hear about what happened?”

“About Pohatu?” I figured that was where he was going. “Yeah, I heard… sad, really.” An understatement, given what I knew.

“No kidding,” Jahlpu agreed. “He must’ve been hurting pretty bad after that injury.” Oh, he didn’t know the half of it. “Well, at least he died peacefully. We’re all going to see the ceremony, by the way, whenever it is. You should come, too.”

“Don’t worry, I intend to,” I confirmed.

“Good…” Jahlpu trailed off, his attention drifting to the catering set up across the lobby. “Be right back.” He got up to fix what would have to pass for a breakfast while I turned back to the telescreen, now turned to the news channel that I knew Hahli’s Chronicler’s Report would appear on before too long. At present, promotions for the big fight of the night were filling up the airtime, providing more background on the Porcupine than I was interested in or would’ve watched voluntarily were it not for the promise of what was to follow. Luckily, the appearance of Lerome and Kirall soon distracted me.

“What up, sis?” Lerome’s voice could be heard through the lobby, though it lacked just a little of its usual enthusiasm, no doubt an effect of whatever he was hung over from. I looked up to find the green Toa standing on the second floor balcony, accompanied by Kirall.

“Ah, look who’s back,” the Toa of Water sarcastically observed.

“Since when do you guys get up early?” I jokingly replied as they made their way down. Lerome did so quickly, holding himself in that light, carefree way I was used to, but my attention was on Kirall, whose movement just seemed a little off before she even reached the stairs. As she made her way down, it quickly became clear what had changed; Kirall had already undergone at least one of the series of questionable procedures that she’d been planning, and was now sporting a… let’s say generous pair of hips that’d significantly altered her gait in a way she clearly wasn’t used to yet. It was just a bit too tightly controlled, lacking the smooth grace she usually practiced, betraying the fact that she was expending a lot more effort than normal in maintaining a poise and posture. No doubt the heels were no help… Had it not been for the events of the last few days weighing on my mind, I would’ve struggled not to laugh at the spectacle; as it was, my reaction was more along the lines of exasperated sigh. Vain as ever, Kirall clearly noticed she had my attention, and upon reaching the bottom of the stairs she struck a pose.

“Well?” she enquired. “What’ya think?”

“Progress, huh?” I replied unenthusiastically.

“That’s one way to put it,” Lerome commented sarcastically as he turned to join Jahlpu at the breakfast counter.

“Oh, they do seriously good work here,” Kirall ignored him. “Quality parts, nothing less.”

“Must be expensive,” I noted.

“Oh, not at all,” Kirall smiled as she settled on one of the seats, facing me. “Toa discount.”

“Of course…” I sighed. I’d seen plenty of questionable uses of the goodwill towards Toa by my teammates, but this took the cake.

“We’re starting work on my shoulders today,” Kirall continued. “Lotta stuff to be done there, but I can’t wait to see the result.”

“Yeah, neither can I…” In reality, I was fast losing interest in her antics, and I was picking up increasingly frustrated vibes from Jahlpu, no doubt because he disapproved even more of the modifications than I did.

“And neither can every Glatorian from here to New Atero,” Lerome quipped as he entered the half-circle of furniture facing the telescreen and planted himself on one of the couches, earning a snide look from Kirall as he did so. Following closely behind with a plate and glass, Jahlpu completed the set.

“So, what’ve you been up to?” Kirall posed the inevitable question to me.

“Uhm… had to run back to New Atero.” I attempted without much success to spin up a story. “Friend had to run an errand, I went along.”

“Two days on a train for an errand?” Lerome questioned. “Must’ve been an important one, then.”

“It was,” I confirmed.

“I take it this friend was the same one as last time?” Lerome deduced.

“He was,” I nodded, trying to pass myself off as though nothing had happened even though inside I was begging for the clock to speed up so Hahli’s Chronicler’s Report would come on and divert their attention.

“Ooh, traveling with company,” Kirall’s eyes widened. “Is there something more we should know, sis? Running off with the mysterious hooded stranger…”

“No.” I shut that down immediately. “I’m not you, and either way, I’d prefer not to talk about it.”

“Uh-huh…” Kirall nodded before casting what for her passed as a knowing glance to Lerome, who replied with an eye roll.

“I mean, she is right: she’s not you,” he repeated to Kirall.

“Too bad,” the latter leaned back in her chair, turning back to me. “Seriously, you should have some fun every once in a while. Like you used to.”

“That was different, and no thanks.” So I found myself once again defending past actions and remembering why I hadn’t exactly been jumping up and down to meet my teammates again. Not beyond putting Jahlpu at ease, at least. Of course, the Toa of Earth had nothing to add to the largely insubstantial banter, but there was no doubt in my mind that he was far more interested in what I’d been doing than our brother and sister were. Either way, Kirall’s attention soon turned to describing the procedure she’d planned for the day; I mostly nodded and pretended to listen, but in reality my mind was elsewhere, and no doubt the same could’ve been said of my brothers. Thankfully, it wasn’t long until the intro theme of Hahli’s Chronicler’s Report started playing and all eyes turned to the telescreen. Both Hahli and the mood of the program had clearly recovered compared to the day before, even if the first item on the docket was the formal announcement of Pohatu’s memorial service. Hahli mentioned that part two of the special on the deceased Toa’s life would come on air shortly after the Chronicler’s Report, then led into a segment focusing on Hewkii as, in spite of recent tragedy, he and his teammates were still preparing to play in a Kolhii game to be broadcast during the afternoon. The game, Hewkii explained, would be dedicated to Pohatu’s memory. Following that, Hahli passed on the spotlight to Aliesi and the weather. Apparently, New Atero would experience an overcast but otherwise dry day, while we could expect significant rainfall and the residents of Ko-Koro-Nuva had to look forward to thunderstorms.

“Mountain weather,” Jahlpu dourly observed. Looking out the windows, we could already see the dark clouds gathering.

“Well, I’d better be off, then,” Kirall began as she got up. “Promised I’d be there early. Wanna come?” She directed the question specifically at me.

“No thanks,” I declined.

“Aw, c’mon,” she continued. “Aren’t you the least bit curious? It’s really cool how they actually do it.” Like I hadn’t seen my share of surgery.

“Forge new parts, open you up, replace parts, close you up,” I laid out the steps. “I’m fine just seeing the end result, thanks.”

“Well, later then,” Kirall replied somewhat indignantly, then quickly made her way out.

“Good call,” Lerome commented with our sister out of earshot. “I watched when they did her hips, and I don’t want to see anything like that ever again.”

“It’s disgraceful,” Jahlpu grumbled under his breath as he got up to put his empty dishes away.

“You actually watched?” I asked Lerome. I found that quite surprising; not like him to sit still and watch something for hours unless the thing in question was a Kolhii match.

“Not much better to do around here,” the Toa of Air complained. “These Onu-Matoran aren’t much for parties, and neither are the Rock Tribe Agori. Plus their Glatorian are always pissed about something… so, yeah, I’ve been pretty bored.”

“At least you’ve got a Kolhii game to watch later today,” I reminded him.

“No kidding,” he sighed. “I need my fix. Anyways… you got plans?”

“Not really,” I admitted. “Not much besides watching the special on Pohatu, really.”

“We’re gonna see his memorial,” Lerome noted. “You should come.”

“Jahlpu told me, and yes, I’m planning on it,” I replied.

“Speaking of, he’s found a place,” Lerome informed me, gesturing at Jahlpu as the latter returned to our company.

“You actually did, eh?” I remembered him talking about it over the phone the night before, but back then it’d just been tentative.

“Yup,” Jahlpu confirmed as he took his seat again. “Pretty nice place, actually, and close to a mine entrance. Dirt cheap.” Whether intentional or not, the pun on his element elicited a slight chuckle from me and another eye roll from Lerome.

“Sure the cheap part isn’t because it’s right next to the mine entrance?” I wondered.

“No doubt, but hey, I’m going to be working in there, so all the better for me,” Jahlpu shrugged.

“Fair enough,” I conceded. It didn’t sound like a place where I’d want to live, but being Jahlpu he’d surely thought it through.

“I can give you a tour later if you want,” he offered.

“Later, sure.” Why not? Not like I had anything better to do with my day.

“All this talk of domesticity,” Lerome complained. “Settling down already? We ain’t even seen half this planet yet.”

“We all must sometime,” Jahlpu replied in a much more serious tone.

“Speak for yourself,” Lerome dismissed. “Were it not for our sister, I’d have blown this dump long ago.”

“This dump, as you choose to call it, provides half the raw material needed to keep this planet going,” Jahlpu shot back, clearly offended by Lerome’s disparaging characterization of the place. “I happen to think that I can do something useful by being a part of that.”

“Yeah, like they need the help,” Lerome grinned as he leaned back and used his control over air to cause the up until now motionless ceiling fan to turn. “It was all going downhill until the arrival of the Toa-hero miner… who showed them how to go downhill even faster.”

“Very clever,” Jahlpu acknowledged sarcastically, but I could tell his mood was rapidly turning to anger, something which his following words only confirmed. “But hey, what was I expecting? Not like you to actually try to make something out of yourself, or to understand those who are, right? You’d prefer to just recklessly, no stupidly hurl yourself through life.”

“Reckless and stupid is fun,” Lerome flippantly pointed out, “and I’ll prefer that over losing my mind in boredom, kinda like what’s happening now.”

“Boredom arises from lack of purpose,” Jahlpu countered. “How fitting that you are the bored one, then.”

“C’mon guys, cool it,” I spoke up before Lerome could reply. “Don’t tell me I came back just to see you two hurl insults at each other.” For a moment, neither replied. “Part two of the special on Pohatu’s on in a bit,” I continued, “and I’d like to think that the spirit of unity that he represented still holds some meaning. So, please, can you put imaginary differences aside?” Jahlpu sighed, then nodded. Lerome shrugged.

“Whatever.” The Toa of Air turned his attention back to the telescreen, and pretty soon Jahlpu and I did the same as part two of the special began. It picked up where the first left off, with a quick recap of the Toa Nuva’s visit to Voya Nui, which definitely wasn’t the most successful chapter in the team’s history; it was best summed up as a series of misunderstandings and miscalculations that led to them being defeated twice, almost killed, and at one point fighting the very Matoran they’d sworn to protect. Apparently, though they acknowledged it had happened, the team had done much to downplay the events in years after, leading to the common misconception that they hadn’t actually done much of significance on the island at all and had instead just handed the baton to the Toa Inika upon their arrival. Either way, while the new Toa tasked themselves with actually going after the Mask of Life, Pohatu and the Toa Nuva set about preparing to use it. The events of Voya Nui’d taught them a lesson, though; while the team’s adventures before Voya Nui had often seen them splitting up and going off in all manner of different directions, they now actually stuck together, largely on the insistence of Pohatu and, unsurprisingly, Gali. Their quest to retrieve the Staff or Artakha, while not valiantly remembered, was one of their more cohesive and well-executed missions, even if it still nearly resulted in the death of all of them at one point; they were saved only by a last-resort Nova Blast on the part of Gali, an event that I’d seen quite vividly some days before.

Another defining moment, or at least defining as the program presented it, was Pohatu’s handling of the Toa’s visit to Odina. During negotiations (if that was what they could be called) with the infamous Shadowed One, he largely stuck to the background, preferring to let the official leader of the team do the talking even if he didn’t necessarily agree with Tahu’s attempts to negotiate with a being so unapologetically evil. Instead, when they left the Dark Hunter fortress without anything resembling a deal, he used his ability to set timed stone traps to cause the place to collapse shortly after the Toa’s departure, ensuring the safety of his team while still dealing a serious blow to the organization. It also gave rise to the other Toa’s famous characterization of Pohatu’s tactics in the form of the phrase “pulling a Pohatu,” which Tahu (who’d come on the program both to talk about Pohatu and to boost ratings in light of his appearance in the arena later that day) described as “smashing things and making sure you and your friends are somewhere else when it all goes boom.” It was a phrase that, in a lot of ways, really seemed to define the Pohatu the program was painting into the world’s memory: a Toa who got things done, one with a no-nonsense approach, a preference for simple, proven ways to deal with problems, and a particular emphasis on the virtue of Unity.

Having made his appearance first to explain the events on Odina, Tahu was subjected to a further live interview with Hahli before the program moved with the history of the Toa to Karda Nui. Seated across from the Toa Mahri of Water in the studio, he looked to have recovered almost completely from his injuries from the week before, his armor and mask polished up to the point where they looked new. By and large, the Toa Nuva of Fire (if he still deserved that title) was asked in bits and pieces to offer some personal insight into parts of history the program’d already covered. Apparently, though, he was there to stay for a while longer, ‘cause as Hahli moved along into discussing Karda Nui, he remained to offer some commentary regarding why the Toa Nuva opted to tackle the challenges in the core of the Mata Nui robot in the way that they did, and into the role that Pohatu played in the process. They’d split up into two groups, apparently to more effectively root out the keystones, and Pohatu joined Lewa and Kopaka essentially to search the ceiling of the place. Pohatu distinguished himself several times over in the events of the following days, being alternatingly the mediator and savior of the “Toa Phantoka” as they became known to the local Av-Matoran population. In particular, the way he recognized and stopped his allies from fighting the Toa Ignika was very reminiscent of the way I’d seen him and Gali come between the Toa and Glatorian during the parties’ initial, chaotic encounter during the battle for Bara Magna, and his subsequent rescuing of Toa Nuva Lewa from having his light drained at great risk of having the act performed on himself instead also cemented the image of the Toa Nuva of Stone who would lay down his life for his allies at the drop of a hat.

Pohatu’s tendency to level-headed reason and fair negotiation even in the face of conflict showed itself again upon the return of Takanuva, whose partial light drain led to others questioning his loyalty; were it not for the fact that the “Toa of Twilight” had revealed himself to Pohatu and Gali first, chances were he would’ve gotten himself blown out of the sky by his allies. The Karda Nui history concluded with a retelling of the events of what was then considered the final battle, which culminated for Pohatu in his acquisition of a high-speed flying vehicle, which along with two others ensured the Toa Nuva could safely escape the core of the universe as storms caused by Mata Nui’s awakening tore everything inside apart. The way Tahu described the battle was vivid, displaying in the Toa of Fire more than a hint of that gift for telling legends that old Turaga Vakama had been so renowned for. However, it was the question on which Hahli ended the interview, and its answer, that became the most memorable part of the program for me:

“First off, thank you for coming here to give us all so much better a look at who Pohatu was,” she began, leaving no one in doubt that the end of the program was impending, “and you’ve already mentioned that you’ll be giving a more prepared eulogy at the ceremony next week, but in summary, how would you describe the Pohatu that you came to know through the events we’ve covered so far?”

“Well…” Tahu began as he gathered his thoughts, “he never proclaimed to be the strongest, the smartest, or in any way superior to anyone, but he was always ready and willing to serve and sacrifice everything for those we swore to defend. We saw that today, and you’ll see it again tomorrow, I’m sure, and on top of it all he did it with a sense of humor that made even Kopaka like him; now there’s an achievement.” The Toa of Fire’s rare attempt at humor elicited some chuckles from Hahli and himself. “But, in all seriousness,” he continued, “he embodied the virtues better than pretty much anyone I’ve ever known… As close to a perfect Toa as anyone’s ever been. That’s about all I can say.” Honestly, while it seemed highly hypocritical for Tahu to talk of anything like a perfect Toa, there was a humble sincerity to the way he described Pohatu at the end that was a world removed from the overbearing, larger-than-life personality that the old Toa Nuva of Fire was known for. Apparently, that public personality was carefully crafted for arena fighting, and it was a personality that I wanted to hate, but the Tahu I saw now and that I’d seen that time when Kopaka and I had visited him at home after his last battle was deserving of far more respect than either of us was willing to give him. If anything, the contrast underscored just to what lengths Tahu had had to go to carve out a place for himself in this world, or rather, the lengths that he’d been willing to go to.

“Well, looks like that’s it for today,” Jahlpu remarked as he got up and stretched. Looking up, I noticed the clock was closing in on eleven as Hahli informed us over the broadcast that this part of the special, like yesterday’s, would be re-run on a different channel a few hours later.

“Part three tomorrow,” Lerome noted as we followed our brother’s example.

“…and we’ll be reporting live tonight from his big fight with the Porcupine,” Hahli finished the broadcast, segwaying into yet another promotion for the fight of the night. At this point, I turned the telescreen off.

“I’m sure that’ll be fun to watch after the Kolhii match,” Lerome commented. I considered responding, but decided to spare him my lecture on why I considered it entirely inappropriate for the Toa of Fire to be fighting in the arena. “Speaking of which, pre-game stuff will be starting soon.”

“Oh boy…” I sighed. “They don’t even leave you time for lunch, do they?”

“Actually, I’ve got some time,” Lerome explained, “so I’m going to run out and grab something now.”

“Good idea, actually,” Jahlpu agreed. “What’s say I show you my new place afterwards?” he turned to me.

“Yeah, sure.” I actually was kind of curious.

“Well, that settles it, then,” Lerome concluded. “We grab something, I come back here, and you two go check out your little mining hut. What are we waiting for?” With that, he headed for the door. Jahlpu shook his head, I shrugged, and we followed.


#####author’s notes: oh, the heady days of last month when I honestly believed I might be able to close things off on a nice 50 chapters… as always, the twists and turns the story inflated the word count of chapters well beyond something I could reasonably fit in a single post here. Not that I mind that much in the end, so long as there’s some rhyme and reason to it, and I think that’s still the case. :sweat_smile:

I’ll post more chapters as I finish them. As always, post any questions, comments, and/or observations below. Enjoy!


great job as always!

######why do I get the feeling that tahu won’t survive the next duel