Those we cannot save

Porek fit the pieces of the Revival Staff back together, hoping that this was the way they were supposed to go. For the millionth time, he raised the staff and touched it to the biomechanical hand on the table in front of him, and activated it. There were a few clicks, and then… nothing happened.


Porek set the Revival Staff back down carefully so as not to break it. The he stood up, turned around, and slammed his fist into the wall behind him, knocking a hole in it.

“Whoa there. What did that wall ever do to you?”

Porek looked up to see Opell, the Toa of Plantlife, standing in the doorway. “Nothing,” he said, turning away from the wall. “I’m just frustrated.”

“With the wall, or yourself?” Opell said, gesturing at the hole in the wall. Slowly, the wooden wall began to grow and regenerate, filling in the hole. Opell looked at the pile of parts on Porek’s table. “You still trying to fix that thing?”

“Of course I am,” Porek said. “And I’m not going to give up until I succeed.”

“You know as well as I do only Karlan knew how that thing worked,” Opell said. “For all you know, a crucial piece of it got lost and is still in the jungles of Voya Nui, and that thing won’t work without it.”

“Well, I have to try,” Porek snapped. “Karlan told me that that staff doesn’t lose its memories of those around it until the next time it scans. It still has memories of Karlan from the last time he used it. All I need to do is figure out how to bring those memories back to reality.”

“And what if it doesn’t?” Opell replied. “What if the memories that staff held are what’s damaged, and that’s why it won’t work? Have you thought of that?”

“I’ve considered every possibility,” Porek said. “And I’ve decided that if there’s even a chance that it might work, I have to try. I can’t give up hope. That’s not what Toa do.”

Opell thought for a long time, carefully considering his words before he spoke again.

“Karlan wouldn’t want this.”

Porek turned to face the Toa of Plantlife. “What?” He said, confused.

“Karlan only ever thought about others,” Opell said. “That’s why he had a Mask of Healing, and why he made that staff in the first place. That’s why he used the Mask of Life to save Mata Nui, even knowing it might cost him his own life.” Opell paused for a moment, knowing this would not be easy to say or easy for Porek to hear. “And you’re dishonoring his memory. You’re a Toa. You have a duty, an obligation, to protect others, to save lives. And here you are so hung up on one life that you’ve forgotten all the rest. In fact, I can tell you that if you keep at this, at least one person will die.”

“Who?” Porek said.

You. You won’t stop trying, and maybe you will finally succeed. But more likely than not, you’ll fail, and each time you fail, you’ll get more frustrated, until you break something more than that wall. If you don’t die, you’ll never be the same again.”

Porek stared at Opell, and though the Toa of Plantlife did not have a Mask of Telepathy, he could all but see the war of emotions going on in Porek’s mind. “If I give up on that staff, I’m giving up hope,” he said weakly.

“No,” Opell said. “You’re doing something more powerful than hoping. You’re admitting that sometimes there are those you cannot save.”

Porek glanced back at the pile of parts, at Karlan’s hand, the only piece of the Toa of Plasma that remained. His muscles tensed and his hands clenched. Then, suddenly, he threw back his head and let out a scream, a cry of anguish and pain unlike anything Opell had ever heard. Then he collapsed against Opell, pressing his mask against the Jungle Toa’s chest, crying.

“What do I do, then?” Porek said.

“We’ll leave the staff with someone who actually knows something about technology like this,” Opell said. “We can’t tell them what it does, though; only that it doesn’t work. Then we move on. And maybe one day that staff will work again, and Karlan will be brought back to life. But if that day never comes, at least we won’t have lost another Toa to this mission.”

Porek didn’t say anything else, just continued crying against Opell, as if he’d only just now admitted to himself that Karlan was really gone. Opell wrapped an arm around him and led him outside. The other Toa were there, having heard Porek’s scream. Lotill started to speak, but a glance from Opell silenced the Toa of Gravity.

Finally, Porek stood up and stepped away from Opell. He glanced around at the other Toa. Then, to their surprise, he drew his sword and raised it toward the sky.

“In honor of Karlan, we serve.”

The other Toa got the message. One by one, they each drew their own weapons and followed Porek’s salute for the lost. It was a long time before Porek lowered his sword.

It was time to move on.


To help with your writing, try and stay in the active voice. It doesn’t really impact your story very much, but by cutting down on the word ‘was’, you’ll get a diverse usage of words.

Quite a good read, a touching description of a powerful moment in what I imagine must be a much larger story. Pretty well written, too, though if I may impart some advice, there’s two little things that I think would improve the quality of your writing:

  1. Keep a thesaurus handy. There’s a lot of conversation in this piece, which is fine (I’m no stranger to that), but when almost every line of dialogue is followed by “:insert name here: said”, things quickly get quite repetitive, and it misses on opportunity to describe how exactly the conversation proceeds in more detail. People don’t just ‘say’ things, they ask, they wonder, they question, they answer, they declare, they announce, they berate, they seethe, they comfort… etc. Really, the fact that the dialogue is there already tells the reader that things are being said, so why not throw some meaningful detail in when you designate who exactly is doing the talking? It would also animate the characters more, which really drives emotional scenes like this one home, I think.

  2. It’s a bit cliche, but “show, don’t tell” is actually pretty valid advice, as I’ve found in my own writing. In particular, it describes how you convey the emotions of the characters to the reader. For example, it’s easy to say someone is hurt, tired, happy, angry, or feeling whatever they are, but the scene would be a lot easier to picture and more powerful to read if you instead described how the characters looked to each other, and how they expressed those emotions. At one point, you mention Porek is confused, which is perfectly understandable given what Opell just told him, but what if instead we were told that his eyes widened and that his mouth dropped open slightly at Opell’s statement, that he locked eyes on his friend and held still for a moment before hesitantly (or indignantly, depending on how he took the statement) asking what the Toa of Plantlife meant by it? That paints a much more vivid picture.

Other than that, I think it’s written well and that it’s clear that there’s a lot of story behind this moment. Good job!

Oh, one more thing…

I think it’s supposed to be “then he stood up,”… Well, I’m nit picky like that. :grin:

The characters here are supposed to be the other Toa on Jovan’s team, after they saved Mata Nui.

Yeah, I don’t like using “said” repetitively either. In fact, I did swap it out a few times early on in the story, but then I kinda forgot about it in the excitement of the latter half. I think that may be my fatal flaw of writing: getting too attached to one word without even realizing it (I once used the word “control” 20 times in three paragraphs).

Hmm… I’ll keep that in mind and see what I can do.

And fix Typo too.

Thanks for the critique! :slight_smile:


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