Unseen Light

Unseen Light

Written by ToaOfVirtues and Master Inika (on BZP)

Mata Nui, once a prosperous world of his own, was now reduced to nothing more than an empty shell sprawled out on a dry, barren landscape. The eyes that used to shine green have long ago been burrowed out, leaving his empty sockets staring off into the horizon. The very foundation that held his body together for so many decades was now rusting and withering away. Relics of a lost civilization littered the corpse, and the smell of death lingered in every corner of the once-Great Spirit. Smoke still billowed from the large cavity in his chest ripped open by an apocalyptic disaster. The sole survivor, a Turaga, pushed aside burning rubble to see what he has done to his own world, before collapsing to the ground as his heartstone faded to black.

Chapter 1

“Warning. Meltdown in Reactor Core #12 on level six. Evacuate to the Onu-Metru Archives immediately,” the old speakers shouted in the cold, narrow hallways of the Metru Nui Power Plant. Rusting pipes slowly hissed at the hordes of passing Nu-Matoran, Matoran of Radiation. Red lights pulsed and sirens echoed through the maze of underground tunnels. Even though everyone’s life was at stake, no one panicked. Almost every Matoran in the Plant had gone through this before, and for some, this had become routine.

Ralis swiped his ID card as he clicked on his respirator. Two large, heavy doors slid open, and Ralis felt a large wave of radiation hit him like a warm gust of wind. As he walked in, he saw other Meltdown Managers, or the MM’s, run to and from Core #12 like a swarm of angry Nui-Rama, struggling to get it stable. It was hard to hear anything over the loud hissing of steam, melting metal, and the shouts of Nu-Matoran ordering one another around in the large cave.

Ralis immediately went to work with several other Matoran attempting to remove the radioactive protodermis isotope powering the Core. Radioactive protodermis was unlike any other form of protodermis. Instead of being silver and smooth, Pr-135 was sluggish, green, and very corrosive. One drop of it could easily burn through most armor.

Pour. Cap. Move. Pour. Cap. Move. Ralis repeated these steps with perfect precision. If he made one little mistake, and even a drop of Pr-135 got out, it would burn through the floor as if it were butter, and might even strike another Matoran. Although it had happened in the past, Ralis didn’t let a single drop get out of line, until the pipe began to overheat. Ralis watched as the pipe he had been using began to warp, and glow a dull red.

After warning the people below him, he left his station behind and rushed to get a bucket of water. Once he got back, he noticed that the Pr-135 had already melted through the pipe and burnt a small hole in the thin, metal floor. Ralis slowly doused the pipe in water, being careful not to use too much water at once. If he had drenched the pipe in all the water in the bucket at once, the pipe would have become extremely brittle, and might have broken off.

Emptying the last of his water on the burning pipe, he tried filling another barrel. Ralis quickly retracted his hand in pain as he touched the still burning hot handle. He had once been given gloves, but they had been rendered useless long ago. Determined to do his job, he took out a pair of pliers strapped to his waist and locked it around the handle. Pulling on the pliers, he opened the pipe and got back into his routine.

The only Turaga of Radiation still alive held up his hands in the Core’s direction, doing his best to keep the radiation to a minimum. All the other MM’s were busy fitting the entire Core into a thick, protosteel shell, and filling it up with water. Metal screeched and water boiled as the cool water touched the searing hot Core. Ralis wiped the steam out of his eyes as he capped the last barrel of Pr-135, and the Core went inactive.

The Core had been unstable for too long, and was deemed too radioactive to reuse. Large tracks and pulley systems slowly moved the massive core from its usual place over to “the chasm”. The chasm was a large, seemingly bottomless pit into which all radioactive waste was disposed, very close to the core reactors. Many Matoran watched as the large, heavy ball of metal was dropped into the darkness of the abyss, never hearing it strike the bottom.

No one had ever been to the bottom of the chasm, but everyone agreed that it would be the worst place to be in Metru Nui. Nu-Matoran had been disposing toxic materials into the chasm for thousands of years, with no sign of stopping. Stories told of large, mutated Rahi waiting to feast on any “careless” Nu-Matoran who wander too far down. Ralis and his team pushed carts of barrels over to the chasm and poured out the radioactive sludge, finishing the clean-up job.

The MM’s dispersed as the usual workers flooded back into their living quarters. The halls were once again filled with the black and yellow armor of Nu-Matoran. Many of the workers grumbled to themselves, since the Onu-Matoran they had met outside ridiculed them for “being lazy” and not going back into the Plant. Anytime a Nu-Matoran found himself in the Archives, he was sure to be mocked at by a passing Archivist for doing such filthy and demeaning labor. For this, Ralis was grateful he never had to leave the plant during emergencies. Ralis clicked off his respirator as he went back to his living quarters, eager to go back to the dream which Core #12 had interrupted. He dreamt of what it would be like if he was an outsider.

1 Like

Seems a bit short for a full chapter, but it's interesting.

Chapter 2

Turaga Dume, leader of Metru Nui, looked out his balcony over his glorious city. In every direction, Matoran were hard at work, making his city more perfect.

Unwillingly, he also remembered the nuclear power plant far beneath the city, and the strange Matoran that worked in it. There were two classes of Matoran in his community. The first was the respectable surface-dwellers, the makers hard at work in the Ta-Metru forges, the thinkers contemplating the Great Thoughts in the Ko-Metru Knowledge Towers, and the teachers spreading wisdom and understanding in the schools of Ga-Metru.

The other type was a race of mysterious outcasts. The Matoran of Radiation, the laborers who sent forth from their subterranean pit the nuclear energy that kept everything running. But they weren’t like other Matoran, Dume thought. The Nu-Matoran were sullen, eccentric types. They only came up during meltdowns for safety, and occasionally for only the most important citywide events. There had to be something wrong with a race that technically ranked the Onu-Matoran with “surface-dwellers.”

The Turaga of Fire remembered that, even though he himself had rarely interacted with the strange beings, the ire of the island city’s other races made it obvious the Nu-Matoran were not to be trusted. When Dume first became a Turaga and Metru Nui’s leader, many Matoran warned him of the nature of the underground ones.

The Le-Matoran argued that the Nu-Matoran were too committed to work and depressing to be around. Initially, Dume shrugged off their concerns as typical Le-Matoran hyperactivity. However, the Ta-Matoran claimed the Nu-Matoran were antisocial and lofty. When the Ko-Matoran agreed, Dume suspected they were right.

Dume walked to the other side of his office, admiring the map of his city on the wall, as he recalled he had already ruled for several weeks when the first Nu-Matoran representative came to welcome his new leader. To Dume’s surprise, the Nu-Matoran was just as critical of the others as they were of him. Speaking on behalf of all his people, he complained that the Po-Matoran’s statues were frivolous, decadent pursuits that contributed nothing. He said that the Ga-Matoran were an arrogant elite, holding that their knowledge made them better than everyone. Dume’s patient broke when he claimed the Ta-Matoran to be perfectionists.

Dume sent the representative on his way, and the Nu-Matoran himself had seemed relieved to be able to return to his home, and that was the precedent for Dume’s dealings with the Matoran of Radiation.

As he turned around, the elevator doors opened up, and Turaga Piercur, leader of the Nu-Matoran, stepped in.

“Welcome,” Dume said blandly. “I presume the meltdown has been dealt with.”

“Indeed,” Piercur replied, “but that’s not the only reason I have come.”

Dume looked puzzled when he asked, “What other issue could there be?”

Piercur responded, “Many reactors are at risk. The truth of the matter is we are in desperate need of more supplies. The protosteel encasings have become worn. My workers need more safety supplies, like visors for their masks.”

“That’s what you’re asking for?” Dume asked, disinterested. “Aren’t you Radiation types invincible to that?”

“No, not exactly,” Piercur explained. “My people are more resistant to the detriments of radioactivity than other types, but working and living in the Plant for so long has taken its toll nonetheless.”

“I sympathize with you, Piercur, but there’s not much I can do right now,” Dume said. “There are other ways my citizens would like our resources to be allocated. I hope I’m not breaching protocol, but the general consensus is that your kind is most helpful down in your lab.”

“That’s another thing,” Piercur interrupted, raising his voice. “The Nu-Matoran have been treated as second-class citizens as long as I can remember. We contribute just as the others do. I have tried to be diplomatic with you, but the fact remains that my people are denied many of the rights guaranteed to them in the Metru Nui Constitution. We cannot travel freely to other islands or metru, our healthcare is inferior, our economic mobility is restricted by archaic –”

“The Constitution applies only to the Matoran of Metru Nui, not your petty workers,” Dume snapped. “The Metru Nui Power Plant bears this city’s name, but I hope all your isolation has not deluded you to the fact that you are a separate entity, with no entitlements to the rights of full citizens. And what do your people care of what Metru Nui thinks of them? They seem to think little of us.”

“Remaining strong-faced in the presence of the other Matoran is part of a Nu-Matoran’s manners. To show excessive emotion is impolite to us,” Piercur said, returning his voice to its previous volume. “But my people are hurt by how they are treated. The Nu-Matoran want only to be friends and equals, nothing more.”

Unmoving, Dume simply said, “My concern is only with the Matoran of Metru Nui, which, I reiterate, the Nu-Matoran are not. You will not be receiving new supplies until the time our contract has agreed to prior. I’m sure it will be no time at all.” He turned and gestured to one of the Vahki Vorzakh standing behind his desk. While the speech of a Vahki was usually ultrasonic and incomprehensible, the electromagnetic field within the room slowed it down to an intelligible level.

“The next shipment of supplies for the Metru Nui Power Plant is due in 748 days,” the Vorzakh recounted.

“See? I’m certain your current supplies will hold until then,” Dume reassured.

“But Dume, the shipments are never the quantity nor the quality we –”

“Farewell now. I don’t wish you keep you,” Dume interrupted once more. “Would you like a Vahki escort?”

The two Vorzakh standing by the elevator stood at attention as its doors slid open.

“No, thank you, Dume, I’ll be quite fine,” Piercur replied, walking into it dejectedly.

The doors slid shut and Dume heard the elevator shoot down the Coliseum, carrying the Turaga of Radiation back to his home. The Turaga of Fire shuddered as he thought of how he’d maintain the illusion of equality in their next meeting.

Chapter 3

Aruden wheezed heavily through his respirator, struggling to keep his eyes open. He felt weak, as if every muscle in his body had been taken out, and he was just an empty skeleton. Even though his vision was blurred, he could still make out one figure looking back at him.

“You’re going to be fine,” Ralis said solemnly, “Others have recovered.”

“That was in the old days,” Aruden whispered, “Those days are gone.”

“But there is still a chance,” Ralis quickly replied, “the next shipment of supplies is coming soon, you just have to hold on until then.”

Aruden shook his head in reply, too weak to speak. Ralis knew what he was trying to say, but did his best to ignore it. The next shipment of supplies was meant to arrive 35 days ago, but it never did. The entire Plant has been waiting in anticipation, but nothing ever came. The shipment was most likely cancelled somewhere along the way, but Ralis remained hopeful.

Ralis remembered the days when necrosis was not a very big issue in the Plant. Hardly anyone had been exposed to the hazardous chemicals for very long, and all the supplies to treat it were plentiful. Eventually, the equipment began to wither away from time, and the Plant became less and less safe.

“Look around you,” Aruden wheezed, "we live with the constant fear of death, if you call what we have now life."

Ralis looked around the ward, and saw what seemed like fifty Nu-Matoran sprawled out on cheap beds, suffering from either necrosis or radiation burns. The chances of any of them recovering were slim.

“We can’t go on like this,” Aruden continued, “this was not what was supposed to happen.”

Ralis heard a new tone in his friends’ voice, as if someone else was talking, and he was just the speaker. Ralis listened on, fearing the moment he would stop.

“The outsiders have forgotten us, leaving us down hear to rot.”

“Well, what are we supposed to do about it?” Ralis asked.

“Make them remember us.”

“I will.”

Aruden’s body, along with several other Nu-Matoran, was sealed inside a large, protosteel box hanging directly above the chasm. Nu-Matoran had a strange tradition when it came to the death of a worker. Even though the Nu-Matoran thought it would be chaos if someone went into the chasm, many believed that they would receive everlasting peace if their body was dropped in it. The chasm was a symbol of never-ending, since the bottom was nowhere in sight. Many Nu-Matoran claimed it was “never-ending Karz for the living and never-ending peace for the dead”.

The group of Matoran stood motionless as the coffin descended, wondering how long it would be until they were the ones inside the large, oblong box. Although many of the Matoran felt grief and sorrow, those feelings have been numbed out a long time ago. After casualties became a more common occurrence in the Plant, mourning came to feel more like a chore.

Ralis watched as the box carrying his friend was lowered into the darkness that constantly occupied the chasm. After the box faded from sight and the chain was cut, Ralis remembered what Aruden had told him to do. For the first time in years, Ralis could feel dread and loss, but it was also accompanied by rage and fury. After the ceremony was over, he stormed back into his workshop.

When Ralis wasn't working, he was inventing new ways to reuse old and defective materials. Using nothing but the scrap metal in front of him, he began working on his next contraption.

Sparks flew as Ralis welded the last piece of protosteel to his invention. He had successfully turned a pile of discarded metal into a new, unrecognizable device. He dipped the front end of it into a barrel of Pr-135. When he recalled it back to the surface, the tool carried within it a sphere of the corrosive substance. Ralis turned to the wall of his workplace and fired. The sphere flew through the air and immediately began eating through the wall once it hit. Ralis smiled in satisfaction at his new invention.

Deep within the archives, two thick metal doors marked the entrance of the Metru Nui Power Plant. Two Vahki stood on guard outside, regulating any traffic that might go through. Both Vahki turned their mechanical heads to see the large doors sliding open, only to reveal total darkness within. Naturally, they went in to investigate who had done this without permission. Upon entering, two spheres of Pr-135 were quickly embedded into each Vahki unit, melting the machinery. The Vahki were destroyed, and a horde of Nu-Matoran charged out of the doors, each carrying a Pr-135 launcher.

Every Vahki in Metru-Nui was instantly alerted when the first two Vahki went missing from the Security Net. Cameras whizzed to life around the Archives, revealing a mob of angry Nu-Matoran storming up from below. Any Rorzakh that got in the way were destroyed.

Once the mob met a crowd of Onu-Matoran, all Karzahni broke loose. Surprised at the Nu-Matoran’s sudden outburst of rage, the Onu-Matoran responded with even more rage. The two groups tossed insults at each other left and right, spawning more and more anger and hatred. The groups began to threaten each other when the Zadakh arrived. Using their Staffs of Suggestion, each Vahki fired into the angry crowd, hoping that the Onu-Matoran could persuade them to stop.

“You don’t have the gears to shoot us!” one confident Onu-Matoran shouted at the crowd.

“You nukies probably aren’t even smart enough to know how to use your own guns,” another Matoran mockingly added.

“Just try and shoot us!” the first Matoran yelled.

Aided by the Zadakhs’ Staffs of Suggestion and fueled by rage, the Nu-Matoran did just that. Pr-135 was soon flying through the air in all directions, and Onu-Matoran howled in pain as the chemical burnt through their bodies. Shouts and screams echoed throughout the large caverns of the Onu-Metru Archives. The Vahki began firing their disks at the crowd, striking down several Nu-Matoran. The ground was soon covered in a large, slimy green puddle mixed with melted Vahki and Matoran parts. The fighting continued for several minutes until the Earth below them began to rumble.

The chaos quickly came to a stop when Toa Whenua summoned a wall of Earth to rise between the two groups of Matoran. Using his control over Earth, he pulled the ground out from underneath the angry mob, and trapped the Nu-Matoran in a ditch. The sounds of breaking legs could be heard as the Matoran struck the bottom, and Whenua smiled in satisfaction of a job well done.

“They were savages!” one Onu-Matoran complained to Whenua, “It was a massacre!”

Deep in the pit, one Nu-Matoran whispered to himself.

“It has just begun.”

Chapter 4

On telescreens across Metru Nui, the somber face of Turaga Lhikan took form.

“Matoran of Metru Nui, a needless tragedy has befallen our noble city,” the Turaga of Fire reported grimly. “A brutal uprising of traitors attacked from the Metru Nui Power Plant. In their rage, 27 brave Onu-Matoran lost their lives. If not for the courageous intervention of Toa Whenua, only Mata Nui knows how many more would be dead now.

Worry not, for Turaga Dume and I are working ardently to prevent future tragedies, and the guilty have already been detained. Unfortunately, the power from the Plant has been shut off for the time being. We are working to find alternative sources of energy until the rebellious Nu-Matoran have been dealt with.”

        ----

At the bottom of the elevator to the Plant, the doors slid open. Dume and Lhikan exited, walking down the corridor to the gate where the Toa Metru waited.

“How goes guard duty, Toa of Metru Nui?” Lhikan asked.

“Boring,” Toa Onewa blurted, before Toa Vakama could give his report.

“Uneventful,” Vakama corrected, glaring at the Toa of Stone. “They have made no visible efforts to contact us or escape.”

“Is there any possibility of us breaching their barricade?” Dume asked.

“That’s what I’ve been saying all along,” Onewa groaned. “Bust in, teach those traitors a lesson, get back to the surface. This place creeps me out.”

Toa Whenua, crouched next to the gate with his hand on the edge, rose and said, “I can’t find any weaknesses in it. I don’t think we’ll be getting in uninvited.”

“And I don’t think we’d fare to well against those launchers they’ve built,” Toa Nuju added.

“In any case, there must be a better alternative than more violence,” Toa Nokama suggested.

“The Toa of Water’s idealism is truly rather quaint, but in reality, I fear we can’t mound a counterattack anyway,” Dume replied. Nokama sighed, her voice once again silenced. Dume continued, “A battle on their terms would be too dangerous, to both sides. A blast to a nuclear reactor and the fight would be over for everyone.”

“Unless we can get them out here,” Nuju said.

“Which, again, would involve us breaking this barrier, which we can’t do,” Whenua reminded.

“Have we gotten any information out of the prisoners?” Vakama asked.

Lhikan shook his head. “They’ve been . . . uncooperative. Even Vahki stun staffs only make them irritable.”

“I still can’t believe we’re trying to make deals with them. I don’t like negotiating with terrorists,” Dume said.

“In practice, it seems our only option is to wait for the Nu-Matoran to make their next move, and hope we’re ready when they do,” Vakama said.

        ----

Everywhere else in Metru Nui, the Nu-Matoran uprising was all any Matoran could think about.

“What do you make of the Archives Massacre?” Nuhrii asked his fellow mask maker, Jaller. On any other subject, Jaller would just advise Nuhrii to keep working.

“It’s insane,” Jaller replied. “Our city cooperated with them in good faith. We protected them, and provided for them, and this is how they repay us.”

“What do you think we should do?” Nuhrii asked.

“Retaliate,” Jaller responded bluntly. “Devastate them like they deserve to be.”

        ----

The Vahki Nuurakh screeched once more into Ralis’ face. The Nu-Matoran leader tried to ignore the ear-splitting sound, struggling from the stone slab he was strapped to. The Nuurakh fired another bolt of energy from one of its Staffs of Command.

Tell us what we want to know.

Tehutti, the Onu-Matoran interrogator, asked again, “Where are the escaped Nu-Matoran hiding?”

“I’ll never tell you,” Ralis replied. “You’ll just have to kill me. I will lead my people as a martyr, stronger than ever.”

Tehutti sighed and signaled for the Nuurakh to not fire another energy bolt as it was preparing to. “As an archivist, I spent a lot of time closer to your people than I was comfortable with. I lost a lot of friends in your rebellion.”

“If you kill me, fine, but at least spare me your life story,” Ralis snapped.

Tehutti shouted unintelligibly in frustration. “Don’t you realize you’ve only hurt everyone, even the people you’re trying to help? Innocent Matoran are dead now, thanks to you!”

“I ask nothing of my followers I wouldn’t do myself. When all is said and done, there will be a new era. You non-Radiations will be out of power. All will be fair and just, as it should have been from the start.”

Chapter 5

Tell us. Tell us. Tell us. Tell us. Tell us. Tell us. Tell us. Tell us. Tell us. Tell us.

Ralis struggled to keep his knowledge shielded from the Vahki, but he was getting restless. The same two words repeated in his thoughts over and over again, tempting him to obey. He knew that if he said a single word about their plan, their efforts would be wasted.

He remembered how they had planned to retreat back into the Plant through secret entrances dug out by the Nu-Matoran miners. There were several hidden passageways scattered throughout the Archives marked by empty stasis tubes, just out of sight of any security cameras. He just hoped none of the other captured Nu-Matoran told of their locations yet.

He also remembered of their plans to dig more secret tunnels to the surface in order to gather materials for their next attack. Many Nu-Matoran already nicknamed this plan the “Underground Chute System”. It was a brilliant strategy, but getting captured wasn’t a part of it.

“I’m sorry everything didn’t go as planned,” Tehutti said, “but thanks to you, we can quickly end this little rebellion.”

Ralis looked up at the Matoran, confused at what he said.

“Well, you did just tell us everything we needed to know. You seemed to underestimate the power of the Vahki’s Staff of Command. You should have seen yourself, you were blabbering on like there was no tomorrow!”

Just to rub it in, Tehutti ordered the Vahki to replay the recording of everything Ralis had said. To his horror, every little thought that came into his mind was spilled out in that one recording.

Tehutti and the Vahki left the room to show Dume the recording, leaving Ralis alone. Guilt and anger pulsed through him as he thought how he had ruined the future of the Nu-Matoran.

About one hour later, Ralis heard the familiar noise of a pick striking rock within the wall opposite to him. Back in the Plant, the majority of Nu-Matoran worked as miners, digging out the radioactive mineral essential for the entire city. Ralis had been with these miners on several occasions, since he had designed several different tools to help them in their quest.

As Ralis had hoped, a pick soon burst out of the stone wall, which was soon followed by an unfamiliar Nu-Matoran.

“Are you okay?” the Nu-Matoran quickly asked.

“No, I told them everything. I wasn’t strong enough,” Ralis said gloomily.

“You’re not the only one,” the Matoran said reassuringly, “Some of the other ones that were captured also gave in, so we came up with a backup plan. Instead of going for another attack, we will hijack an airship in Le-Metru and unite with the Nu-Matoran in the Karda Nui Power Plant. With that many Nu-Matoran on our side, we will be unstoppable!”

As soon as all the chains were cut, the two Matoran ran back into the hole in the wall, and destroyed the tunnel as they went along. On their way back to the Plant, they planned how they would take control of the airship and what they would do in Karda Nui.

“I didn’t catch your name,” Ralis said to his rescuer.

“Akten,” the Matoran eagerly replied. “It’s an honor to be talking to the leader of the rebellion. Your name has become famous below and aboveground overnight!”

“It could all be for nothing if our plan fails,” Ralis replied.

“Have faith,” Akten said. “Mata Nui is on our side.”

Ralis immediately remembered what Aruden had said to him a while back, although he didn’t know why. The words “make them remember us” echoed through his mind once more, before he turned his focus to maneuvering himself through the tunnel.

Once the two Matoran had worked their way around a maze of thin tunnels, Ralis and Akten were greeted by a large group of Nu-Matoran which quickly bombarded him with questions. But all noises from the crowd ceased when the Turaga of Radiation entered the room.

There was a moment of silence as Turaga Piercur looked at Ralis judgmentally. His face was void of all happiness when he locked eyes with Ralis, and every Matoran could feel the silent wrath of the ancient Turaga as he walked up to him.

“There were other ways,” the Turaga said in a raspy voice. “No one deserved the punishment that you put them through.”

Ralis was about to interject, but something about the Turaga’s demeanor told him to stay quiet.

“No matter what happens next, everyone loses. Matoran are dead, and you can never undo that. They couldn’t even be given a proper burial, thanks to you. You have lost the trust from everyone on the surface, and they will never treat us the same. They have confirmed their poor opinions of us based on your actions, and they will do whatever it takes to push us down lower than we already are. The only thing we can do now is hope that Mata Nui is merciful, and helps relieve us from the consequences you have brought upon us.”