Unity, Duty, Defeat
An onu-matoran approached a tent on the outskirts of his village. It was worn and tattered, and few came near it. But this matoran was the chronicler, and he had heard that the Toa within had a tale to share that few else could. He stopped outside the tent and called, “Toa, are you there?”
From within, a voice answered, “Leave, I have no wish to speak.”
“Toa Kaltan, I am Sittu, the chronicler. I am here because I have heard that you have a story no others can share. Please, help me to record it so that it may be remembered, then I will leave you.”
There was a pause, then Kaltan answered, “It should be remembered. I do not want the honor of what happened to die with me. Come in.”
The matoran entered, a bit nervously. He had heard that Kaltan was a strange Toa, that once he had been among the greatest, most fearless and most promising, but after the events that he was about to relate, something changed, and he was never the same again. As he entered, Sittu saw that the tent was dark, lit only by sunlight that entered through thin parts of the tent and by a yellow light stone in the center of the floor, which was dimmed by a cloth that had been laid over it. He could make out the shadows of a desk with a chair, and another chair which held the Toa of fire. Kaltan removed the cloth from the light stone, and the room brightened. Sittu saw that the Toa’s armor was pitted and scarred, with stains and dents in it. He could tell that once it had been impressive, with gold and red plates that made his status as a Toa of fire clear, but now it was damaged and dirty. The Chronicler wondered why he never cleaned it.
“Take a seat,” said the Toa of fire, gesturing to the chair by the desk. Sittu stepped over to it and saw a tablet with carvings on it on the desk, then turned the chair toward Kaltan and sat down.
He removed his own tablet and carving tool from his pack, then asked, “So, Toa Kaltan, what happened on that day? I don’t know much, so far I understand that it was a battle involving Dark Hunters and you were in it. But I know nothing else.”
The Toa sighed, and then began. “That day was the day that Unity, Duty, and Destiny fell.”
Sittu stared at the Toa. How could the three virtues ever fall? They were what held the matoran and their Turaga and Toa on through times of hardship, and gave them direction in times of peace; saying that they had fallen didn’t sound right. What had happened to this Toa?
“I was with a large village of matoran in the southern continent,” Kaltan went on, “about ten other Toa were there with me. The Dark Hunters had been making small strikes for about a week, stealing and once killing a pair of matoran. We didn’t know what they wanted. We were trapped with mountains on two sides of the village and the forest that held the hunters on the other two sides. We were doing our best with the patrols, and got into several rough scuffles with the hunters, but they were still slipping past, and would always fade away in the forest whenever we tried to track them. I wanted to leave two Toa as guards and use the rest to drive the hunters away…”
“Selan! I need to speak to you.” Called Kaltan.
The Toa of Ice turned toward the Toa of fire. “About what?”
“About these infernal hunters, enough of waiting!”
Selan sighed, “We’ve been over this Kaltan, what do you want me to do?”
“I’ve been thinking,” replied Kaltan, “why don’t we leave a couple Toa on guard here, maybe Kokema and Lowana, their wind and air should make a good defense, and then take the rest and go force those hunters back. I need your approval, as leader. We can’t just sit like this!”
Selan was shaking his head, “Kaltan, you know that can’t work. We don’t know their numbers yet, we might walk into a fight we can’t win. And even if we don’t, you know that Kokema and Lowana won’t be able to defend this place by themselves. We can’t just sit and be attacked, you’re right, but going on blind missions and leaving the matoran with little defense is not the answer.”
“Sometimes you need to take risks to achieve victory! We can do this! Even if we can’t defeat them, we’ll hurt them and let them know we won’t just lie down and take it.”
Selan set his hand on Kaltan’s shoulder. “Patience, Kaltan. You are brave, and quick-thinking, but headstrong. In time your wisdom will grow. Patience is the answer. Kokema has been sent to fly out over the forest to try to assess the enemy, to find their position and discern their numbers, then we will act.”
Kaltan nodded, “I prefer to attack, but if this is the better path, and it will lead to victory, then I trust your decision Selan.”
Selan smiled, “Thank you brother.” They knocked fists, and parted ways, Selan to rest, and Kaltran to head the first night patrol. The sun was setting, and soon the sky would be dark.
The next morning, Kaltan woke in his tent. He stepped outside and found the sky overcast. Lowana and two other Toa were leaving for the morning patrol. He stretched and walked to Kokema’s tent, entering and waking his fellow Toa awake.
Sleepily, the Toa of air spoke as he woke, “Oh, Kaltan, good morning. Am I on patrol this morning?”
“No, though the morning patrol is leaving now. I was wondering if you had made your report to Selan yet after your flight last night?” The Toa of fire answered.
“Yes, of course.” Answered Kokema.
“Well, what did you find?”
More awake now, Kokema sat up, “I found two camps, one to the east and one to the south, one on each side. But I saw few hunters, only two. One hulking and powerful, who I think we fought the other day. And another red one, a Skakdi, I think. I don’t know their numbers, but I have an idea of where they camp now. Selan was saying I might go back out today to find out more.”
“Alright, thank you, brother,” replied Kaltan.
“Of course, brother,” answered Kokema, who stood and went with Kaltan out of the tent.
They stood out in front of the tent for a minute, looking at the dull, despaired world created by the overcast sky. Matoran had awoken and begun their morning routines. Suddenly, they heard heavy running from the direction of the edge of the camp. Lowana and her two Toa burst around a tent into view.
“They’re coming!” The Toa of Water shouted, “Full force! Alert Selan! Defend the matoran!”
Kaltan and Kokema wasted no time. Kaltan bolted toward the edge of the village and one of the other Toa went with him, while the other went with Kokema to the other open side of the village. Lowana continued into the tribe, to wake Selan and the remaining Toa.
Kaltan and the other Toa, a Toa of stone, reached the edge of the village and spread apart, waiting for the approaching enemy warily.
Soon, the other Toa joined them, and Kaltan noticed Selan standing in position a little ways away. The valiant Toa of Fire peered into the forest, waiting for his enemies to attack. Suddenly, a bolt of energy came from the darkness straight for him, if not for his Kakama, he would have been hit, but the speed it gave him enabled him to dodge the blast. Next a Rhotuka spinner flew toward him, and he dodged it similarly. To either side of him, his comrades were being attacked similarly, one of them was hit and knocked to the ground by a blast. Kaltan retaliated by sending a short stream of fire into the shadows, setting the trees alight and revealing some of his foes. He threw a few fireballs at the two hunters he saw, a vortixx with duel swords, and another being with four arms, one of which held a Rhotuka spinner launcher, then charged to attack. The vortixx dodged the flames and charged back, and they met, crossing blades at the tree line. The other hunter was struck in the arm by one of the fireballs, but quickly recovered and followed his ally.
Kaltan parried several swings from the vortixx, then tripped him and bathed him in fire before spinning around to combat the larger being. The other hunter flung a throwing knife at him, which struck his shoulder. He grunted but was forced to react quickly as the hunter swung a large battle axe toward him. He blocked the strike, but the strength behind it shook him. He spun into a roundhouse kick that struck the being in the face, then unleashed a jet of flame from his foot into his opponent’s face. The hunter staggered back, and Kaltan turned back to the vortixx in time to be shot in the chest by an energy bolt. The blast sent him into a bush, where he lay pretending to be unconscious. The Vortixx approached cautiously, and raised one of his blades over Kaltan. With the speed of his mask power, Kaltan swung his own sword up, knocking the vortixx’s weapon out of his hand, and tripped the hunter. He stabbed the vortixx in the chest with his blade, while blasting it in the face with fire. It stopped moving and he turned to his other enemy. The four armed being had engaged another Toa, and Kaltan raced over to help. His brother was suddenly thrown back by a solid strike from the hunter’s battle axe. Kaltan leapt up onto the being’s back with a roar, slashing one of its arms with his sword while gripping its opposite shoulder as a handhold. The hunter stabbed a knife back, but Kaltan leapt off.
“Stupid little Toa!” The being roared while spinning around swinging the battle axe. Kaltan slid forward on the ground, under the battle axe, then stabbed up again into the warrior’s chest as he kicked it’s legs out.
“I don’t think ‘stupid’ is quite right!” Kaltan shouted as he blocked another swing from the falling hunter then blasted his foe with fire. “We are driven by our virtues, they are what separates us from you!” His enemy tried to sweep his legs away, but he dove onto the hunter, punching it repeatedly in the face with flaming fists. The being swung the axe down toward him, but he rolled away and the hunter’s axe buried itself in its owner’s chest. Kaltan stood to his feet and turned to view the battle. The Toa were holding the line of defense, though not easily. Suddenly, a winged being soared over the village and let out an ear-piercing screech. An explosion rang out from above, and Kaltran looked up to find an avalanche beginning at the top of the rock walls the back of the village. Simultaneously, a huge number of hunters charged from the forest with a roar.
Kaltan was shocked at first, how would they stop an avalanche, or defend against so many foes? But his fearless nature took over and he leapt into action. He sprinted toward Toven, a Toa of stone. Toven was already using his powers to try to redirect the massive amount of falling rock, was unable to focus adequately because of the new attack. Kaltan immediately began defending him, calling another nearby Toa to defend. Together, they dodged blasts from their enemies, or blocked them for Toven. Toven was straining to try to handle the enormous downpour, and had dropped to one knee. Selan arrived to join them from the midst of many flying Rotukha and energy blasts and swinging swords around them. He began to alternately combat the onslaught of hunters and create ices landings for the incoming boulders. But everything that was happening was simply becoming too much to handle. The strain of trying to deflect the boulders was taking its toll on Tovan, and some were still slipping through and crashing into the innocent village, from which numerous cries and screams emerged, which the Toa did their best to ignore. The army of hunters had hit in full force, now, and the Toa were being utterly overwhelmed. Still they fought. Kaltan found himself confronted by a grinning skakdi in red armor, wielding a weapon that ended on one side with a claw and on the other with a launcher. Kaltan easily batted aside the balls of lava that the skakdi began firing at him, and sent a jet of flame back in return. But the hunter flipped out of the way, and the next thing Kaltan knew, his mind was ravaged by a powerful mental blast sent by the hunter. He staggered, and tried to keep balance, while the skakdi launched several balls of lava at him. He barely managed to counteract most of them, and one struck his shoulder. The wound would have been severe had he not been a Toa of fire, but his resistance to heat protected him. Then, beams of light shot from the skakdi’s eyes to the ground beneath him, and the ground turned to magma. Selan tackled him away before he could fall, then created an ice shield to defend them as more spheres of fire flew toward them.
“You alright?” Selan panted.
Kaltan moved to his knee, recovered, “Yeah, let’s take him out. You go out to the right and I’ll go left.”
Selan nodded, then dashed out from behind the cover, flinging daggers of ice toward the skakdi, who now stood on a boulder that had landed nearby. The daggers were turned to steam by his opponent’s eyebeams, which then turned on him. He created a shield of ice, which quickly began to melt as Kaltran suddenly appeared running toward the hunter. The skakdi noticed him, and fired more lava toward him. Kaltan deflected them and leapt up onto the boulder. The hunter switched to his claw instantly, and caught Kaltan’s blade with it, while at the same time sending a fist toward the Toa of fire’s face. Kaltan spun, disengaging his sword from the claw and dodging the fist, and ended by tripping his foe. The skakdi began to fall, but fired eyebeams toward Kaltan, making him dodge aside. As the hunter turned his fall into a roll and returned to his feet, he saw Selan returning to join Kaltan. He split the rock in half, landing easily on his feet as it fell, while the surprised Kaltan landed in a roll. Before he could return to his feet, the skakdi was running to meet Selan. The Toa of ice swung his sword and launched an ice spike at his foe. But the hunter melted the spike with eyebeams, dodged the sword, and kicked Selan back. Kaltan ran toward them. Selan leapt toward the skakdi, but was hit midair by a powerful mind blast, making him drop his sword.
“No!” Shouted Kaltan, and threw a fireball.
The crimson skakdi caught the falling Toa by the neck with his claw and dodged the fireball before firing his eyebeams at Kaltan who, still running, was caught in the chest by the beams and thrown onto his back on the ground. He sat up quickly, ignoring the pain, in time to see the skakdi turn and smile at him, then turn back to Selan and crush the Toa’s neck.
“NO!” Kaltan launched a huge beam of fire toward the hunter, who tried to block the blast, but it’s strength sent him tumbling backwards onto the ground. The Toa of fire launched himself upright and dashed toward the fallen Toa of ice using his mask of speed. He knelt over his friend, watching the light in his eyes fade.
“Selan,” He almost whispered.
“Not your… fault,” Selan answered in a raspy strained whisper, “unity, duty, destiny.” Then his eyes and heartlight faded to black, and his head fell. Kaltan wanted to mourn his brother, but experience told him to fight. He leapt up and blocked another blast of the skakdi’s eyebeams, absorbing the heat with his blade. He dashed forward, using his mask of speed. His enemy fired a few balls of lava but he dodged and batted them away. Predicting another mental blast, Kaltan threw two fireballs before reaching his foe and swinging his sword. The skakdi dodged one, and blocked the other, but was left open to attack. Kaltan’s blade struck his side knocking him back, and before he could recover another fireball struck his chest. He fell but fired his eyebeams at the Toa of fire, who blocked them and blasted a jet of flame in return. The skakdi rolled aside at first but was met in the chest by the flames as he tried to stand. Kaltan walked toward his fallen enemy, who sat upright, then glanced to the Toa’s left, firing his eyebeams powerfully. The Toa spun, and found a helpless matoran thrown violently into a small hut that was destroyed a moment later by a falling boulder. Kaltan spun back around, but his opponent had disappeared into the throng of combat, which had now become more of a slaughter as the tired and overwhelmed Toa were overcome by their enemies, and fleeing matoran were attacked and killed by their relentless attackers. Kaltan felt something inside him begin to fall. His hope, his faith, that the three virtues would protect them was crumbling. Everything that was happening, how could this end in anything other than terrible defeat? But he shook off the doubts, resiliently determining to keep fighting and hoping for the best, believing in the virtues that drove him. He let out a ferocious battle cry, then ran and leapt off a nearby boulder, firing a huge blast of elemental flame toward some hunters below, then swung his sword down on another attacker as he landed. The battle went on and on, and Kaltan fought like a wild rahi, swinging, slashing, dodging, blocking, shooting, running, flipping, rolling, spinning, tiring. He stabbed another hunter, spun and blasted another, dodged an incoming spinner, then shot fire back. He fought on and on, and noticed that the sun was beginning to set again. He realized that he hadn’t seen any of his comrades, and began to look around more intently as he fought. Suddenly, he realized that he was the only one left standing. His heart fell, but his anger and determination rose, blocking out his grieved feelings. He continued to fight, slashing and shooting, rolling away from a strike and rising to give another. How long could he last? He saw, farther back, some large hunter hurl a boulder up into the air toward him. He slashed again, then dived away as it fell. That momentary opening was enough for one hunter, who shot him in the side with a ball of lava as he flew. He hit the ground, rolling away but another one hit him before he could react, then another. Wounded, he stopped on the ground. Heat beams hit him in the chest, burning through his armor painfully and winding him, then a mental blast struck his mind. As everything faded to dark, the smiling face of a crimson skakdi came into view above him, then a kick to the head completed his journey to unconsciousness.
He awoke the next morning, the world was blurry. The sky above was still overcast. He tried to stand and groaned in pain, his muscles were sore, and his wounds were bad. The lava balls had not melted through his resistant armor, but had damaged them a little bit. The tissue beneath was scarred and scorched. The heat vision had ruined a chunk of his chest armor and disintegrated some of the tissue beneath, leaving a charred patch visible. He forced himself to stand. The hunters were gone, and the world was eerily quiet. He climbed slowly onto a boulder beside him, maybe the one that had been thrown. Standing tall, he surveyed the damage.
The entire village was destroyed. Fallen rocks were scattered throughout, some with matoran protruding from beneath them. Any houses that had not been crushed by boulders had been destroyed by the hunters or burned. Bodies lay everywhere, few of them belonging to dark hunters. Matoran corpses lay everywhere, bodies busted and cut, a few even with severed limbs or decapitated. All of their faces bore expressions of terror, despair and fear. One in particular struck his heart. It was a matoran who’s body was laying chest down on the ground, but who’s head was snapped back so that it was looking up directly at him. The look of horror and brokenhearted sadness drilled into him, as if the matoran was asking him from the grave how he could ever have let this happen. He turned away. How had this happened? The three virtues were supposed to guide and protect them, but they hadn’t. Instead the matoran had been massacred. He looked at the battlefield, where his brothers and sisters lay, dead. The Toa and matoran had relied on the three virtues for strength. But now they were all dead. The three virtues had failed.
He stood, shocked taking in all of the death. He looked at Selan’s body, lying where he had died, faithful to the fallen virtues. There was nothing, no one left. He didn’t know why he had been spared, but it had not been a kindness, it had been a punishment. He hopped off of the rock and made an awkward landing, and walked into the forest. He walked away, far, far away. He left behind all the destruction and death. He had lost everything he loved and protected, but more than that, he had lost what he believed in. His perspective of the world had gone from a bright, solid, meaningful place, to shattered fragments of a fatal mistake, surrounded by darkness.
He walked away from the carnage and death, and walked away from his beliefs. Months later, he would stumble upon another village, where he would make it clear to its matoran inhabitants that he was not there to defend them, and camp away from the rest of the village, where everyone only reminded him of all those who had died, and the three virtues that had fallen with them.
Sittu looked into the broken Toa’s eyes, shocked and sympathetic to the being’s deep sorrow.
“I’ve been here a hundred years,” finished Kaltan, “I never repaired my armor, in memory of that day, and everything and everyone I lost. So put that in your records, and remember my story the next time you tell someone to have faith in the three virtues.”
Sittu nodded, coming back to his senses, and stood. “Thank you, Toa, I… I don’t think I have ever heard a story like that before.”
“And I doubt you will again,” Answered Kaltan. Sittu nodded, and walked out of the tent, shaken to his core.
NOTE: I have a sequel written that concludes Kaltan’s story, but I feel like, although in some ways it works for the story, a different kind of ending would also work, and maybe work better, so I’ll post both the one that’s already written and another one together later.