Yeeeeah, I need to start uploading things here more often...
This chapter has been up on devianART for almost a month now. The moral of the story is to check dA if you want to see anything with any kind of frequency.
I have recently been thinking of leaving because I never go on here anymore, spending most of my time on dA instead. Should I officially decide to leave the site, I will give notice, mark all my stories as completed, and leave my work here with a link to my dA page on my profile. If you don't have a deviantART account, you can still access the site, you just won't be able to comment. Besides, my dA account has a whole bunch of other cool stuff on it, like a comic version of the first chapter and a half of this very story (it will likely never be continued, but whatever), character designs and other art for Metru Uni, and a Pokemon comic (currently about 18 pages long). If I do leave , it will likely be shortly after posting chapter 15 of Metru Uni. Like I said, I don't go on this site much anymore, deviantART lets me do more than just fanfiction, and to be honest I hate 's posting, reviewing, and messaging systems.
Big long ranty paragraph aside, please enjoy the next chapter of Metru Uni. It's taken a lot longer than I meant for it to, but hey at least it's done right?
Thanks for your patience and understanding.
~A Girl Named Ed
*I don't own Bionicle, but character designs, OCs, etc all belong to me. You can use them if you ask first, though.*
Chapter 14: Challenge
Vakama mumbled something about ocelots and rolled over.
Vakama, listen to me.
The redhead opened his eyes and found himself in a forge of some kind. He looked around, confused. He knew that he knew the forge, but he couldn't place from where. Then it dawned on him. This is the forge I saw when Lhikan was taken, he thought.
It was the voice of an old man, the same old man that Vakama had been hearing in his head since the first Morbuzakh attack. Turning, he saw a red robot, different from the other two he'd seen—shorter than the tall one, taller than the short one, hunched over, old-looking, and carrying a staff. He was about the height of Vakama's waist.
He looked calmly up at Vakama with glowing gold eyes, eyes that were tired and time-weary. "Do you know who I am?" he asked.
Vakama nodded slowly. "I...I think so. I wasn't sure at first, but some of the things you've said...'our' transformation. 'I don't know her.' 'The first time.' I've thought about them, and I think I've figured it out." The robot looked at him expectantly. "You are the first Toa Vakama."
"Well," the robot chuckled. "It certainly has been a long time since anyone's called me a Toa. But yes, I am the first Vakama. I am Turaga Vakama."
All the frustration that Vakama had been feeling over the visions and strange voices bubbled over and spilled out. "Why?" he shouted. "Why are you torturing me like this? I don't want these visions; they make me feel like a freak! Please, stop doing this to me!"
Turaga Vakama shook his head. "I know exactly how you feel," he sighed, "and I would stop them if I could. But I cannot. They are not my doing."
"But then how are you—"
"How am I here?" He smiled. "We have a link, you and I. It was weak at first, but it has since grown stronger so that I may now contact you in your dreams, rather than only during your visions."
"Stronger? How? I don't understand."
"I don't either, really," the Turaga admitted. "You are my first incarnation that I've been able to contact at all, the only one I've even been aware of, in fact. All I know is that we have this link, and we should make use of it."
Vakama shifted uncomfortably. The thought of sharing head space with an alien robot from the past (or was it the future?) was disturbing, but there was no denying that it could be useful to know what had happened originally. "Well...where do the visions come from, then?"
Turaga Vakama shook his head. "That I cannot say. The reason may be different from the reason for my own visions. They may be messages from the Great Spirit, or a trick by someone who wants you dead, or they may just be signs of madness. It's difficult to tell." His form flickered briefly, then solidified again. "Ah, I believe it is time for you to wake up."
"Wait! There's so much more you need to tell me! Where is the Morbuzakh? Who were Nidhiki and Krekka hired by? Why has Dume been so obsessed with the Vahi?"
"The future can only share so much with the past," Turaga Vakama said, and things started to get fuzzy. "One thing I can tell you, however, is that you should be careful who you trust." Vakama started to ask what he meant, but then his head started spinning and he fell backwards...
Vakama thrashed around and pulled himself out from under the covers. He was on the floor, tangled in his bed sheets. He looked groggily at his alarm clock. There was still about an hour until the Toa Metru were supposed to meet up to go after the Morbuzakh, but he didn't have time to go back to sleep. He had plans to go over and things to think about. Why had the other Vakama said that he should be careful who he trusted? What did he know that he wasn't telling him? And most importantly, how much should he share with the others?
Onewa stretched and looked around. The six of them were gathered just outside the residence doors, doing a last re-check of their equipment. The sun was just starting to peek over the skyline of Metru Nui. He knew that the only people up now besides them were people working early morning shifts, drunks nursing hangovers, and crazy runners training for marathons. His younger brother Pohatu was one such runner, and Onewa found himself wondering if he was up yet. He and Pohatu had never really gotten along, but they were still brothers, and given the dangers they could face when going to find the King Root, he couldn't help but wonder if he'd ever see that annoying goofball again.
The Toa of Stone happened to glance at Nuju as they boarded the Ta-Metru bus. He looked apprehensive, which surprised Onewa. Nuju was very calm and collected, never outwardly showing any emotions. "What's up?" he asked. Nuju didn't answer—he was off in his own little world. "Hey, Nuju." Nuju shook himself out of it and looked up at Onewa. "What's wrong? You look worried."
He shook his head. "I just have this...feeling. I just feel like something really awful is going to happen."
"With the Morbuzakh?"
"No, not with that. It's different. Almost like we've overlooked something."
Whenua overheard them and leaned back to join the conversation. "Well, we've triple-checked that we have all the disks this time, so everything should be okay as long as we don't run into Nidhiki and Krekka or the Vahki." He looked at Onewa. "Any idea why they told you to take the disk for them yet?"
Onewa shook his head. "None. If they're supposed to be just law enforcement drones, what could they need the Kanoka for?"
"Never underestimate robots," Whenua warned. "My friend Onepu really likes science fiction books and movies, and robots keep turning evil in them. Maybe there's something wrong with their programming."
"Or maybe whoever data-programmed them in the first place is secretly bad-evil," Matau interrupted. "They could be the ones who hired Nidhiki and Krekka and are using the Vahki as a backup in case they lost-failed—which, of course, they did."
"Don't be too sure we've seen the last of them," Nokama warned. "They'll be back, I'm sure of it."
Nuju's frown deepened. "I don't think it's really them we have to worry about. They're just lackeys. Powerful lackeys, yes, but still only lackeys. The one we need to concern ourselves with is their employer."
Vakama had been very quiet all morning, but he finally spoke up. "I think," he said quietly, "that we need to be very, very careful who we trust." The others looked at him, and he raised his gaze from the floor to look at each of them in turn. "It could be anyone. Even someone close to us, someone we'd never expect."
"Like who?" Matau asked.
"I don't know. But we should...we should just be careful, okay?"
Nokama studied his face carefully. "Vakama, did you have another vision you aren't telling us about?"
Vakama looked back at the floor. "No, I just...it's weird, okay? I don't want to talk about it."
Onewa rolled his eyes. "You're not the only one with problems, you know!" he snapped. "We're all worried here!"
The Toa of Fire just kept his eyes trained on the floor and remained silent for the rest of the ride as the others traded theories about who was behind it all.
Whenua looked around. He didn't know this section of the city at all, having only been to Ta-Metru a couple of times. It looked mostly like abandoned factories. "What is this place?" he asked.
"This is where most of the Ta-Metru Morbuzakh attacks have occurred," Vakama explained. "Arisa told me that most of the workers and residents have been evacuated, except for the people working in the Great Furnace. Other than that, this whole section's been shut down. It seems like as good a place as any to start."
"The Great Furnace?" Onewa asked. "What's that?"
"It's just the local nickname. It's actually called Farshtey Fuels or something, but no one ever calls it that. It's basically a giant furnace that gives power to almost eighty percent of the city. Great Furnace just sounds better."
"So basically it's probably the biggest source of heat in Metru Uni," Nuju said. The others looked at him, and he shrugged. "If I were a plant that thrived on heat, where better a place to hide?"
Whenua nodded. "Especially if there are so many attacks around here. It's probably protecting its home territory."
"Uh, guys?" Everyone turned to look at Matau. He looked worried. "If this is the Morbuzakh's land-turf...does it already know we're here?"
Vakama squirmed uncomfortably. "Arisa once told me that if the Morbuzakh knows you're looking for it, it comes looking for you. This thing is probably smarter than your average city-destroying plant...so I'd say yes. It probably knows we're here already and is just waiting."
"Either to see if we're a threat or not or to spring for an ambush," Nokama added. "We should go check out this furnace thing then. But everyone, be on the lookout. There's no telling where the Morbuzakh could attack from."
Vakama switched to Toa form and readied his disk launcher, the others following suit with their own weapons. "Let's go," he said, pointing. "The Great Furnace is this way."
The streets were eerily quiet as they approached the gates of the Great Furnace. It was a tall brick building that looked like it had been standing for centuries with wrought iron gates built into a brick wall surrounding it.
Since they were in his home Metru, Vakama took the opportunity to play Tour Guide. "The Great Furnace is one of the oldest buildings in the city. For smelters and ironworkers all across Canada, this is considered the cream of the crop—the best place to work. Some say it was originally a prison that was gutted and turned into a power plant in the early 19th century, but it's never been confirmed."
Whenua looked around nervously. "Guys, if this really is where the Morbuzakh's King Root is, why was it so easy to get here? Shouldn't it be guarding its hideout?"
"It probably thinks the easiest way to eliminate us is to allow us onto its territory so it can spring a trap of some kind once we're inside," Nuju replied. "We must assume this thing is capable of intelligent thought and be extra vigilant."
Onewa pushed open the gate quietly, half expecting something from a horror film to jump out at him, and led the way towards the front door. Tools and personal belongings were strewn across the front lawn. "I thought you said this was the only place in the district that hadn't been abandoned," he called back to Vakama, who was acting as rear guard.
Vakama frowned. "I did. That's what Arisa had told me, anyway."
"Well, call me crazy, but this place looks pretty abandoned to me." He tried the doorknob. "Locked. Who locks the door to a smelting plant?"
"Power plant," Vakama corrected quietly.
"Most factory-plant doors are kept locked and only open with a key of some kind," Matau explained. "Sometimes it's a regular key, but oftentimes it's a card key or numbered punchcode, something easier and cheaper to duplicate. I had a summer work-job in a canning factory-plant once, and all the doors required a different punchcode. You had to resort to carrying a cheat sheet most of the time and it was so annoying—"
"Focus, please," Vakama said, pointing. Vines had started to grow up out of the ground behind them, but they weren't making any move to attack.
"They're blocking off our escape route," Nokama said. "Herding us inside."
"We've beaten these things before," Onewa replied, cracking his knuckles. "I say we take 'em."
"We're on their ground now, though," Nokama explained. "They might just re-spawn immediately after we beat them, or hell, even multiply faster than we can kill them. We're going to need to step into their trap, then either beat them at their own game or fight our way out."
"Or die," added Nuju. "There's always that option."
"Always the optimist, eh?" Whenua grumbled. "Vakama, the door's made of wood. Can't you just burn it down?"
Vakama nodded and summoned a fireball, quickly burning the door down. They stepped inside, looking around warily in case of an ambush. They seemed to be in some kind of short hallway with a couple of doors on each side and one large door at the other end.
The door to their immediate left led to a staff kitchen of some kind, with a fridge, table, and sink. The fridge had been left open and the sink was overflowing as water continued to pour into it from the tap. Chairs were strewn about with food and personal belongings left everywhere. Whoever had been in there last had left in a hurry.
A little down the way were a couple of bathroom doors. Onewa checked the men's room, but aside from some damage to the sinks and urinals, there was nothing to report. Nokama opened the door to the women's room and screamed, stumbling away from it. Vakama caught her by the arm and held her steady while the others looked to see what had scared her.
Lying twisted on the floor was the body of a young woman, probably in her thirties. She looked like she'd had her torso crushed and was splayed out on the floor, her head and limbs all at odd angles and a look of sheer terror and pain on her face. Nokama was crying into Vakama's shoulder. He was pale, but tried to put on a brave face. "It's...it's gonna be okay," he told her. "Come on, let's get out of here."
"What happened to her?" asked Whenua, looking sick.
"My best guess," Nuju said, gently closing the door, "is that the Morbuzakh attacked this place so their King Root could set up here. Most of the employees managed to escape, but she wasn't so lucky."
Nokama straightened and wiped her eyes on her sleeve. "We've got to stop this thing from killing anyone else," she said quietly.
Vakama nodded. "And we will. We just have to find the King Root and destroy it, and then the trouble will be over. I'm sure of it."
"Right," Onewa said, opening the door at the end of the hall. "Let's go kill the shit out of it."
Nuju grimaced as he walked through the door. It was very hot in the next room. There was no obvious heat source, but the Great Furnace was a giant heat-powered energy source for most of the city, so it was a given that it was going to be warm. Vakama seemed to be the only one who wasn't affected by the heat.
The room they were in now seemed to be some kind of prep room before entering the furnace itself. Lab coats and heat-resistant suits were hung on hangers in the closets lining the walls, as well as scattered across the floor and few pieces of furniture. Either some people had been coming off-shift when the Morbuzakh attacked, or the fleeing employees had knocked over some of the clothes. Nuju picked up a heat-resistant suit that looked like it might fit him and started putting it on.
"What are you doing?" Whenua asked incredulously. "That doesn't belong to you!"
"No one seems to be using it," Nuju retorted. "Besides, if it's this hot in here, one can only imagine what it's like in the actual furnace."
"It's a good idea," Vakama piped up. "Better safe than sorry, right?" That said, he was the only one who didn't put one on, being the most resistant to heat anyway.
They looked at the door at the other end of the room. "Is everyone ready?" Vakama asked.
No one replied. Finally, Nokama, still visibly shaken over finding the body in the bathroom, spoke up. "No. I don't think we're ready." The others stared at her. Nokama was their voice of optimism and encouragement. If she didn't think they were ready, how could they be?
Then she drew in a shaky breath. "But we don't have a whole lot of options." She looked up at Vakama. "Let's go."