Holycowit'sanupdate! Yaaaaaaay! We finally got our butts in gear and finished chapter 11!
The Good News: Update!
The Better News: We have a deadline! We want this done by May, hopefully.
The Best News: We have an outline! We know exactly what we want to happen and when it's going to happen. We never do this. Be proud. :D
The Bad News: We...only got one chapter written. But as long as someone starts checking his email more often, we should be able to write more often and update more frequently. (This means you, PB86!)
Thanks for waiting! Enjoy Chapter 11! (The title makes sense once you read the chapter)
Chapter 11: Hide Every Akilini Disk
The lens on Kopaka's mask whirred as he peered into the darkness. Nothing that he could see. Of course, he didn't have Onua's or Whenua's night vision, but he did have a telescopic lens, x-ray vision, and excellent hearing.
This hearing now alerted him that Takanuva was approaching as quietly as possible. The Ice Toa allowed him to get within about three meters, then said, "Since it is not yet time to change the watch, I assume you are here to attempt to engage me in conversation."
The footfalls stopped. Kopaka didn't need to see the youngest Toa to know that he was pouting. "How do you do that?"
Kopaka shrugged and turned to face Taka. "What do you want?"
The Toa of Light created a glow around a few rocks so they could see each other, then sat on the ground and gestured for Kopaka to do the same. He remained standing, his eyepiece widened slightly in what would be on any other Toa a raised mask ridge. Taka sighed . "Okay, what do you think of Kay?"
That was not the question he had expected. "What do you mean?"
"Do you like her? Or liiiiiiiiiiiike her?"
Another shrug. "She is...perplexing. At times she seems like you or Lewa...others, like Gali or Onua. She's just so...different."
Takanuva nodded wisely. "Ah, I see. You liiiiiiiiiiiike her." Kopaka had no idea what he was talking about, and indicated so with a slight head movement. Taka picked up on this and stood, holding his brother firmly by the shoulders. "You. Are in love. With Kay."
He almost laughed at that. Almost. "Don't be absurd," he muttered, shrugging him off. "If you came here to annoy and distract me, then you've done your job. Now go away."
Kopaka fixed his one-eyed icy glare on him. "Now."
Taka quickly obliged. But the idea had been planted, and Kopaka couldn't get it out of his head.
When I woke up, I was stiff and sore. Two nights of sleeping on hard floor/ground and two days of way more exercise than I'm used to will do that. It was barely light out, but Hahli and Matoro were already up, chatting away.
"Morning, Kay!" Matoro chirped when he saw me. I mumbled a reply and slouched over to them. Kopaka was up, too, and I couldn't help but wonder if he'd been on guard duty all night. He was standing apart from the Matoran, but he was looking at me.
Kahiki chose that moment to pipe up. "Kay, we're heading to Po-Koro, right?"
I nodded, then remembered that he couldn't see that. "Uh, yeah, I mean, no one knows Po-Wahi better than the Po-Matoran, right?"
"Hewkii's good at that!" Matoro said. "I'm sure he'd help us!"
"And Toa Pohatu!" Hahli added.
I nodded. "Well, I guess we should set out as soon as everyone's up. How long does it take to get to Po-Koro from here?"
They both shrugged. "I'm not from around here," Hahli said.
"And I don't get out much because of my job. Sorry," Matoro apologised.
I looked over at Kopaka. "Do you know?"
He shrugged. "About half a day."
"B-but it didn't take nearly that long every other time!"
"It just seemed that way because you were unconscious half the time," Taka commented, walking over. "That, or someone used a Mask of Speed."
"Not. Helping. If we want to get to Po-Koro and find the next artefact today, we'd better get going!" My stomach growled, and I blushed. "Oh. Right. Food."
"Here." Taka handed me a slightly glowing blue fruit.
"Um...thanks? Wh-whoa!" The last part was because as I held it, I felt a surge of energy rush through me. When it dissipated, I wasn't sore or hungry anymore. "Wha-what is this thing?"
"It's a Bula fruit. They give you energy when you hold them," he explained, handing one each to Matoro and Hahli. "I picked some on our way out of Le-Wahi yesterday; I figured we'd need them."
"And you didn't mention this earlier because...?"
"You never said you needed one."
"I didn't know they existed!"
By this point, everyone else was up, so we shared around the Bula fruit and headed on our way.
We'd been walking and talking for about half an hour when I brought up something that had been bothering me for the past little while. "Kahiki," I said slowly, "you don't give me powers of telepathic communication with Rahi, do you?"
"Of course not! My specialties are teleportation and strength!"
"See, that's what I thought. But then why could I hear the Kane-Ra's thoughts in Ko-Koro that time? I always assumed it was something to do with you."
"See? It's your des..." Onako trailed off. I assumed he was either remembering the events of the previous day or that my death glare actually got through for once. "I mean, that's why Kahiki could bring you here—because you already had some sort of connection with animals. It must have amplified when you and our fire brother here connected."
"I'll buy that." I clapped my hands together. "So hey, should I be, I don't know, practising my powers, maybe? Just in case anything happens? Plus, I'll need to be good at them to fight whatever's guarding the next artefact."
"Good idea," Jaller said, nodding sagely. I got the feeling he liked to act smarter than he was sometimes, and especially in front of a pretty blue-armoured Ga-Matoran who shall remain nameless (*cough* Hahli *cough*). "It's always good to be prepared." I resisted the urge to burst out laughing; I got a mental image of Scar from The Lion King with Jaller's face singing "Be prepared!"
"Jaller should know," Taka tossed back from his point near the front of the group. "As Captain of the Ta-Koro guard, it was rare to find him doing anything else when he was off-duty!"
Jaller looked hurt. "Hey, come on, I played kholii and went lava surfing!"
"Only when I dragged you away and made you."
"You make it sound like you were the responsible one. Who had to go searching for who most of the time because someone decided that he'd rather explore lava caves than record the Wall of History?"
I decided I didn't want to know. "Okay, anyway, let's see. I can't exactly practise strength, speed or teleportation, and I'm not too bad with teleportation anyway. I'd have to hurt myself to practice healing, so that's out, and Brelx's other power...wait, what is your other power?" I asked my ankle.
"Healing and summoning."
"Yes, summoning Rahi to your aid."
"Well, if you need help in a battle, you can summon Rahi to aid you."
"Not necessarily. I mean, you could end up summoning something you can't control."
"You should practise something safer first, like flying," Prolan suggested.
"Oh yes," Kahiki said sarcastically. "That is so much safer."
"Especially for someone with severe height-phobia," I added.
"That's actually called acrophobia," said Kopaka.
Everyone looked at him. I hadn't realised he was even listening. "How do you know that?" Taka demanded.
Kopaka fixed his one-eyed gaze on him. "I know everything." I blinked. Did he just make a joke? The apocalypse is nigh! Then again, this was Kopaka we were talking about. Coming from him, "I know everything" is actually pretty plausible.
"Just give it a try," Prolan pleaded. "You don't have to go very high. Come on, please?"
I sighed. "Fine. Happy?" Not bothering to wait for a reply, I took a deep breath and jumped—
And crashed right into Kongu. "Sorry," I muttered, getting up.
"No problem," he grumbled. "I'm ever-used to everything bad happening to me now."
"You have to believe," Prolan chided. "Believe you can fly!"
"Anyone got any pixie dust?" I asked sarcastically. "I suppose I should think happy thoughts and sing, too?"
"Sing? How would that help?"
"Never mind." I tried to concentrate, which is difficult when everyone's staring at you expectantly (besides Kopaka, who was watching with bored disdain). I decided to try a running start this time, and promptly tripped over a rock. "Dang it, I scraped my knee," I muttered, sitting up and rolling my sweatpants up.
"Oh! My job!" Brelx said, and the scrape disappeared.
I sighed. "Thanks. No offense, Prolan, but I think I'll wait until we're not out in the open anymore before I try this again." I could practically hear him pouting. "Stop that."
"We heading on?" Nuparu asked.
I nodded, standing up. "Let's get to Po-Koro before anything else bad happens."
Ten minutes later, we were running for our lives from a possessed evil robot tiger. Most of us were screaming. Kopaka and Matoro weren't.
See, Onako had decided that it would be a good idea if I tried using Brelx's summoning power. And of course, the closest Rahi just happened to be an infected Muaka (which was what the evil robot tiger was called). Matoro wasn't screaming because apparently he hunts these things, and Kopaka...well, have you ever seen Spock scream (besides in the third movie)? Same with this guy.
"Do something!" I yelled at the two Toa.
"Well, we can't hurt it," Taka protested.
Kopaka's response was "You summoned it, you deal with it."
"YOU GUYS ARE COMPLETELY USELESS!" I screamed.
Kongu stopped screaming long enough to shout, "See this, this is why I hate wild Rahi-beasts!"
"There's Po-Koro," Jaller panted, pointing. "We can get Toa Pohatu to help us there."
"Oh, forget it," I muttered, turning and firing a laser at its mask. The mask fell off, and I guess it singed the face underneath it, because the Muaka was still mad. "Oh, this is ridiculous!" I yelled, turning and running again.
"Brother Feren and his taming powers would be really useful right now," Brelx sighed.
"You aren't the one about to be eaten!" I reminded her. "I don't think the Muaka is in the mood for a nice juicy bit of anklet."
Kopaka suddenly turned around and fired an ice bolt at the tiger. It froze immediately, like one of those frozen mammoth things you see in museums in cartoons. Then he turned and walked away without a word.
"Why didn't you just do that in the first place?" I asked incredulously.
"I thought you would take care of it," he said icily. "I see that I was wrong."
I couldn't think of anything to say, so I just glowered at him the rest of the way to Po-Koro.
"It's okay," Matoro said, patting my arm. "He's always like that."
"Yeah," Hahli added. "He's a loner, so it's hard for him, being in a big group all the time."
I didn't say anything. I just kept up the glare.
Taka had to jog to catch up with his ice brother. "Kopaka, what the Kharzani is wrong with you?"
"If you want a fate similar to that of that Muaka, then by all means, keep talking," Kaopaka snapped.
The Toa of Light ignored that. "Look, if this is about what I said last night, then don't worry about it. There's nothing wrong with being in love with—"
Takanuva was so shocked by the uncharacteristic response that he actually stopped walking. "Kopaka, what—?"
"I said shut up," he growled, his voice low. "I am not in love with anyone—least of all her! She annoys me. She makes me feel strange, and I don't like it. She constantly insults those around her—"
"So do you," Taka pointed out.
If looks could kill, everyone within about a ten kio radius would have been frozen solid by Kopaka's glare. "And she can't even fight properly. In short, she's everything that I hate. Now go away." He stalked off.
Taka waited a moment, letting what Kopaka had said sink in. Finally, he called after him, "Why did you come along then?"
The Toa Nuva of Ice stopped for the briefest of seconds before ignoring the query and continuing towards his brother's desert home. But the pause was enough to make a smirk of victory flash across Taka's mask.
When we finally arrived at Po-Koro, we found an old guy (who I assumed was a Turaga) waiting for us. He bowed. "Hello, Toa," he greeted Kopaka and Taka. He gave the Matoran a smile and nodded at me, then addressed everyone. "Pohatu is waiting for you all at the kholii field. He says he's found something that may aid Kay's quest."
We thanked him and headed in the direction that Taka said the kholii field was in. There was Pohatu, kicking around some ball-shaped rocks with a few Matoran. One got hit in the face and flew back a few feet, but he got right back up again with a grin and a whoop.
"These guys sure are...hardy," I commented.
"They live in a desert," Taka said. "They kind of have to be."
"They're like deranged soccer fans or something."
"What's soccer?" Nuparu asked.
By this point, Pohatu had noticed us, and he came over, waving and shouting at his brothers. He was followed by one of the Matoran, who the others introduced to me as 'Hewkii.' So that was who Matoro had come to see. While Hewkii was asking Hahli about someone named 'Macku,' I turned to Pohatu.
"The Turaga guy said you had something that could help," I explained.
"Oh, right! See, I was cleaning out the Suva a few days ago, and I found this." He pulled a large and heavy-looking stone tablet seemingly from out of nowhere and handed it to me. I was right—it was really heavy. Instead of trying to hold it, I set it on the ground and squatted in front of it. There were a bunch of circles with lines and more circles inside them carved into it.
"I have no idea what this means," I said.
"You mean they don't have written language in your world?" Hewkii asked, surprised. "What kind of primitive society are you from?"
"Says the one who kicks rocks around for fun," I muttered. "We do have written language, several, in fact. It's just different from this."
"It says 'Free In Rock. Exploding Tables On Apples. Hide Every Akilini Disk."
There was a pause.
Eventually, Kongu spoke up. "What the Karzahni does that say-mean?"
"Kongu!" Hahli snapped. "Watch your language."
I wasn't going there.
"Oh boy! A riddle!" Taka said happily. He turned to Kopaka. "You love riddles!"
Kopaka fixed his one-eyed glare on him. "No, actually, I don't."
"Well, the Rock could be anything," Matoro said thoughtfully. "I mean, this is Po-Wahi, after all, which has tons of rocks. But 'Free In Rock?' What could that mean?"
"How about the Akilini Disks?" Jaller piped up. "Maybe someone's going around stealing Akilini Disks and people need to be hiding them away so they don't get taken."
Matoro shook his head. "No, that's too obvious. Plus, this stone looks like it was carved a really long time ago, so if it was about a thief, wouldn't he or she have been caught by now?"
"Maybe, but not necessarily," Jaller countered. "And what about the Apples? What are 'Apples,' anyway?"
"A kind of fruit from my world," I explained, still squatting in the dirt.
"That means that whoever wrote it was probably from your world, too," said Jaller. "Or had at least visited it."
While the two of them tried to talk it out, I started writing it down in the dirt in English with a convenient rock. (Come on, it was Po-Koro. All the rocks are convenient.) Maybe if I could see it in something I could understand, it would help me solve the puzzle. Free...In...Rock...Exploding...Tables...wait a second.
I started madly scribbling. Pohatu noticed and asked, "Kay, what are you doing?"
"I think I've got it," I said, excited. "If you take the first letter of each word, it spells something. I think that's called 'acrostic' or something."
"Well, what's it say?" Hewkii asked.
"Just a second. Uh...it says 'Fire Toa Head.'"
There was another pause. "Well what the...uh...what does that say-mean?" Kongu asked again, shooting a nervous glance Hahli's way.
"Wait." Taka turned to Pohatu. "The quarry we found the infected Comet balls in—is that still around?"
Pohatu looked as confused as I felt, but apparently for different reasons. "Yeah, but Gali's head is completely gone."
"Okay, what?" I asked.
"See, back when I was Takua, I travelled the island going on adventures," Taka explained. "One time, Po-Koro was falling under this weird plague thing. It turned out it was because of these really popular kholii balls called 'Comets,' and I kind of discovered where they were coming from by accident. Then I got attacked by a Nui-Jaga, and Toa Pohatu came and we kicked its butt."
"Technically, I kicked its butt," Pohatu said.
"Yeah, but you were blind so I had to tell you where its butt was so you could kick it. Anyway, they were in what the Po-Matoran call the Quarry, which has a bunch of statues of all the Toa's heads in it. The Comet balls were in Gali's head, which ended up being destroyed, but the others should be fine. I'll bet one of the artefacts is in Tahu's head!"
Kopaka muttered something about Tahu's head and air, but I didn't catch all of it. "Well, what are we waiting for? Which way is the quarry?" I asked, standing up.
"I know how to get there!" said Taka. "I think."
I glanced at Jaller, who shook his head. "Oh, no. I remember the last time you tried to lead me somewhere. It took me months to get that Gukko shell out of my—"
"I can show you," Hewkii interrupted. "I know the way."
"Oh, great," Jaller said, relieved. "I'm not following you anywhere," he told Taka, who stuck his tongue out at him.
And so we ended up following Hewkii along a stone-covered (in Po-Wahi? No way) pathway. About five minutes along, we came to a crossroad, with another Po-Matoran there fixing up some signs that I couldn't read. Hewkii greeted him, but apparently he didn't want to chat. "Another Hafu original," I heard him mutter as we passed.
Ten minutes later, we still hadn't gotten to the Quarry. "Hewkii," I said nervously, "no offense, but are you sure you know the way?"
"Don't sweat it! I've been this way lots of times!"
I looked back at the other Matoran. Jaller and Kongu were okay, but it looked like Hahli, Nuparu, and Matoro had seen better days. Then I noticed Kopaka, lagging behind the rest of the group. The poor guy looked like he was melting. I wandered back to him.
"Hey," I said. He looked down at me. "You okay? You look like you're going to keel over."
"I...will be fine," he panted. "I am simply...unused to the heat." He stumbled and caught himself on me. I let him lean on me. Hey, the guy saved islands for a living. He could afford to need help every now and then. Plus, he was actually really cool, and I wasn't too used to the heat either. (Sure, it's cold in Canada, but not in the summer, and it was summer when I left.)
"Hewkii," I called up to the front. "Is there anywhere cool we can take a breather?"
I half expected him to say no, but he replied, "Inside of Toa Kopaka's statue is very cool. We can stop there if you like."
I nodded. "Good idea, thanks. How long until we get there?"
We passed into a sort of valley and stopped in the shade of one of the walls. Taka had been right—there were tons of statues of heads around, but...
"Wait," I said. "I've met the Toa. They don't look anything like this."
"Oh, see, this is what they used to look like," Hewkii explained. "About half a year ago, the Toa went through a transformation, giving them the forms they have now." I glanced at Kopaka, who was still leaning on me a little. Hewkii pointed. "That one is Toa Kopaka's."
"Great," Taka said enthusiastically. I noticed he'd been giving Kopaka and me odd looks. Weirdo. "How do we get in? I needed a special key thing to get into Gali's."
"Oh, it's no problem," Hewkii said. "There's a special button around here somewhere..." He began looking around. "Now, where is it?"
I studied the masks surrounding us. Now that I thought of it, Kopaka's statue looked a lot like Matoro's mask. And there was one that looked like Jaller's, and Kongu's, and Nuparu's, and Hewkii's. I didn't know what Gali's looked like since it was ever so slightly dinged (a.k.a. completely totalled), but I had a sneaking suspicion it looked like Hahli's. That was slightly creepy. I wondered if one day these guys might be Toa. Nah, I thought. That only happens in books.
"Found it!" Hewkii called, pressing one of the circles around Kopaka's eyepiece. How he managed to get up there I'll never know. Suddenly the ground started to shake, and most of us (except Kopaka, of course) fell on our butts. The area directly under Kopaka's statue fell away, revealing stairs down to...somewhere. Hewkii scrambled down and waved us over. "Come on!" he said. "It's perfectly safe, unless some Rahi's taken up residence in there. Then we should probably run."
"Um, hello?" I said. "What part of 'Rahi Warrior' don't you get?"
"Oh, yes," Kahiki grumbled. I jumped; I'd actually completely forgotten about him and the other Toa Ihar. They'd been so uncharacteristically quiet! "Because that worked so well the last time you tried to get the Rahi to listen to you."
"Hey, I was having an off day!"
"It's still the same day," Onako pointed out.
"Shush." I ignored the snickering Toa Ihar and followed the Matoran.
Hewkii hadn't been kidding when he said the cave under Kopaka's statue was cold. For a brief moment I thought we'd been magically transported to Ko-Wahi—and at this point, it wouldn't surprise me at all. But we were definitely still in Po-Wahi; I could see the sand where it had been tracked in by visitors (namely, us). I glanced at Kopaka, who was looking much better already. He caught my eye and nodded once, then looked away again. I guess he just couldn't bring himself to say thanks, especially when he'd chewed me out before about the Muaka.
"You're welcome," I said anyway.
We spent another few minutes in there, until Jaller made a point of telling us exactly what body parts were about to fall off from the cold. Then we booked it out of there pretty fast.
"So which one is Tahu's, and how do we get in?" I asked Hewkii.
He pointed to the one that looked like Jaller's. "That's Toa Tahu's statue, but I don't know how to get in. I've never been in that one because I could never figure out how." He led us over and pointed to some indentations in the ground near the statue. "It looks like you're supposed to fit something into them, but I can't quite figure out what."
"Hey, what're we looking at?" Prolan asked. "I can't see."
I pulled the Gem out of my pocket. "How about now?"
"Kay, I don't have eyes. Describe it to me."
"Well, it's a hole, about the size of my fist, but it's not round, it's more like something with a lot of little sides to it..." I trailed off, looking at the dodecahedron-shaped Gem in my hand. "Oh, you've got to be kidding."
"What? What?" Prolan asked.
Ignoring him, I put the Gem into the hole. Almost immediately, nothing happened. "Well," Taka said, "that was—"
He was cut off by the rumble that was heard when the doorway to the cavern underneath Tahu's head fell away. (That's not a sentence you hear every day.) I glanced at him triumphantly. "You were saying?"
Taka mumbled something about smart-aleck teenagers and led the way down.
The first thing I noticed was the complete absence of any sentient beings guarding the Ring. It was just sitting there, on a pedestal similar to the ones I'd found the other artefacts on, in the middle of the room. "This is totally a trap," I said.
"Either that," Kongu said, "or whoever got the task-job of away-hiding this one was lazy-tired."
We all jumped at the mysterious voice coming from the other side of the room. A tall freakazoid who looked like a cross between a gorilla and a woolly mammoth walked across the room to the pedestal in the centre. It stopped and regarded us the same way a lion looks at a scared gazelle that knows its end is near. "I am the Protector," it said. It should've been hard to hear him because of the huge tusks coming out of his face, but his voice boomed through the cavern loud and clear. "Your task, Warrior, is very simple: you must take the Ring."
We waited, in case there was more. There wasn't. "You're kidding," I said. "That's it? Just walk up there and take the ring from the rock?"
"Well, not exactly."
"Ah-ha! I knew there was more to it!" Prolan crowed proudly.
"There is a puzzle you must solve to get to the Ring," the Protector continued, as though Prolan hadn't spoken (which, to everyone else, he hadn't). "All across this cave are invisible walls. You must find your way through the invisible maze and take the Ring. Upon your taking it, the walls will vanish and you will be allowed to leave safely, life and limb intact."
"That doesn't sound too—"
"Of course," he interrupted, "if you fail to do so within five minutes, you will die."
"Scratch that," I said. "That sounds really hard."
"And you have to leave your other artefacts with your friends at the entrance."
"Oh for crying out loud," I grumbled, removing them and handing them to Taka. "If you break them," I told him, "you are so dead."
"Yeah, yeah," he muttered as I turned to face the cavern.
I walked forward and almost immediately met with a wall. "Well, that was a complete waste of time."
It took me three minutes of my precious time to get halfway across the room. There was no way I could make it in two, especially when almost every time I turned around, I was stuck behind another invisible wall.
Then it hit me. "You're changing the maze around!" I snapped at the Protector.
"I assure you, I'm doing nothing of the sort," it said evenly. "The maze shifts and moves according to you."
"According to me?" Now I was really confused. I looked back at the entrance, but was met only with confused shrugs and stares. "Well, if it moves however I want it to..." I tried to walk forward, but was met with another wall. After a few choice swear words, I turned back to the Protector. "Any more cryptic clues or anything, you know, helpful?" I asked.
It just shook its head and smiled. Which was really creepy on its face. I mean, it was a gorilla-mammoth hybrid! What kind of twisted freak makes something like that?
I forced myself to return to the task at hand. If it moved according to me, but not my will, what else could it be? I thought and thought. Apparently, I thought for too long, because the Protector said, "You have less than one minute now, Warrior. Cross the room and take the Ring, or face death. The choice is yours."
Of course, I started to panic. I ran to the right and immediately hit a wall. It's like I'm boxed in! I thought. I turned around and immediately hit another one. And another one. And another one. I was surrounded!
And then it hit me for real. "There is no maze," I said. "It was all just a trick!" To prove it, I raced towards the pedestal. Nothing stopped me, not even the Protector. Grabbing the ring, I jammed it on my finger and whirled to face the Protector. "Ha! I win!"
My shoulders drooped. "You've got to be kidding me."
Its eyes flashed. "I don't kid. You took exactly two point six eight three seconds too long. Regrettably, you must be terminated."
We're so evil. Until next time, please review! Constructive criticism is always appreciated (but please refrain from threatening to bash our heads in, etc. if we don't update soon).