(A/N: Things didn't exactly go as planned for Moana the last time she tried to escape, so now she's decided to fight back. But how can a mere human fight against a corrupt star? Read on to find out.)
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Chapter 8: Moana's Last Stand
Moana wiped the sweat from her forehead as she finished the finishing touches. She had worked tirelessly for hours on end, not stopping to eat or sleep. Pua and Heihei had helped, as much as they could anyway, and now it was finished.
She turned her eye to the forest. She knew that Hika was somehow aware of her presence, likely due to the circumstances of Te Kā's wish, and he would reappear to stop her if she tried to leave the island again. As long as she didn't make any escape attempts, he seemed content to leave her alone.
Well, she hadn't been making any escape attempts, not yet anyway. That would come later, after she had dealt with Hika. Truthfully though, she doubted much, if any, of her plan would work at all, but she couldn't stand to just sit around and do nothing. Now, as crazy as this was, it was time to put her plan into action.
"Ok," she told her two pets as she placed them out of harm's way, "you two stay here. I'll come back if this works."
Pua gave a worried squeal as she began to walk away, but Heihei began to follow her. "No, Heihei, you stay here." The rooster just looked confused, like always, and went after her again. "Heihei, no, bad rooster." She picked him up and set him down beside Pua. "Stay. Staaaay."
He did at first, but as she started walking away, he followed after her again. Moana sighed and picked him up. She laid him down on his side, then picked up Pua and sat him down on top of the rooster, affectively pinning him down. "Stay."
Heihei cocked his head to the side as she walked away. Pinned down on his side, he began moving his legs in an attempt to walk, and seemed confused as to why he wasn't going anywhere. Moana paid no more mind to the rooster as she made her way down the beach.
Taking a deep breath, she got ready. "Ok, lets go."
She took off, running full speed to the ocean. It must have looked as if she were making a dash for the water in another attempt to be carried away. However, it was a ploy. She knew there would be no escaping Hika this way with the power he had over the ocean, but that was not her plan; this was just an act to draw him out.
Right on cue, she heard it, the sound of the fallen star crashing through the trees. He burst out onto the beach and went after her, the ground shaking with each impact of his starfish-like limbs.
"You were warned!" he thundered. "You were warned!"
Yes, she was, and it was apparent that he would reach her before she got to the water, and so she changed direction, heading instead for the area of the beach where large rocks stuck out of the sand. Hika was right behind her, closing in fast. Good, that was just what she wanted.
Up ahead, there was a long plank of tree bark she had peeled from a tree. It now rested at an angle over one of the rocks. She jumped up and came down on the end of the plank sticking into the air. The plank acted as a seesaw, its other end shooting up as Moana's weight brought the other end down. The pile of sand and broken shells she had placed on the one end shot up from the momentum, throwing the entire pile into Hika's face.
The star stopped and roared as he began shaking his head violently. A sigh of relief escaped Moana. The trap had worked. She had actually been afraid that the plank would snap in half when she jumped on it due to the weight of the sand, even after all the times she had tested it out. It also seemed that Hika could actually be harmed physically after all. She remembered how her people's weapons had simply passed straight through him, but it seemed that he had to make the conscious effort to make that happen.
But this was just the first stop. There was more to come, and she quickly made her way to the next location.
Hika was seething. He hadn't expected her to try something like that. She was a clever one indeed, but she would pay for it. He had given her the option of doing what she wanted as long as she did not try to escape, and he had warned her of what would happen if she tried. This, he considered to be an escape attempt.
She was running from him, heading for the trees. Did she think she could hide from him? There was no hiding from a star. He would see her wherever she went, especially due to the circumstances of the wish.
He stormed after her, quickly closing the gap. Then, suddenly, the ground collapsed beneath him. A surprised cry escaped him as he dropped into the very glass crater he had stuck her in earlier. He couldn't believe it, she had actually laid down long sticks across the top, placed palm tree leaves over it, and then covered them with sand, and lured him over it.
Had that been the purpose of giving him a face full of sand? So she could sneak around the crater without him seeing her do so? Not that it would slow him down for long; he was too big for that. The crater was nothing more than a little hole that he stepped into.
Still, it allowed her to get ahead of him and disappear into the trees. He could still see her through all the trees, and he went after her.
Moana had familiarized herself with the area. She was coming up to the next trap she had set, and she got in position. Her eyes darted up to the large log hanging in the air from several vines. It had taken a long time to get that up there, and she had been exhausted when the job was done, but it would be worth it. Or so she hoped. She might even be able to knock him out.
Well, here was the moment of truth. Hika was closing in. As soon as she was in position, she kicked the stick that was wedged between two trees, releasing the vine that had been tied to it. Without its support, the log fell free and dropped down towards the star.
She miscalculated. The log came rolling down, nearly hitting Hika's head, but in the end, it missed its target. Hika still came to stop though, looking at the fallen log in surprise, then back at Moana.
"Nice try, child, but you missed."
That one, perhaps, but Moana had other tricks up her sleeve. As Hika got closer, she kicked another support stick. From up above, a giant net made of vines crudely woven together dropped down, falling over Hika. The star roared in annoyance and began tearing himself free, but Moana was already making her next move.
Grabbing a vine hanging down, she gave it a yank. From up above, a series of tree branches that had been tied together came free. An avalanche of coconuts she had gathered that had been held back by the branches came falling down. They bounced off Hika's head, but seemed to be more of an annoyance to the star than anything.
"You are playing on my last nerve," he growled angrily.
"Then… how about… this…"
Moana had crawled up into the trees. There was a reason she had chosen this place to make her stand. A large tree had fallen over, and was resting against the one she was currently in. She had placed herself between the two, and was now pushing against the tree that was still standing to try and shift the fallen tree. Her face turned red from the effort as her legs pushed against the fallen tree.
A creaking was heard as the tree shifted, and finally fell free. Hika roared as it fell, coming down right on top of him. Moana wasted no time. As soon as the tree had begun to drop, she was climbing down. She jumped down the last few feet and rushed to another tree. Here, a thick tree branch had been pulled back to the point of snapping, and tied in place with a vine.
Moana took her position and called out to the star. "Hey, Hika!"
Still stuck beneath the tree, Hika turned to her. She grabbed the vine holding the tree branch and bit through it. The tree branch snapped back to its original position, striking Hika in the face so hard it broke. Moana was off again, heading for the beach, and her last trap.
"ENOUGH!" Hika roared.
His body broke down into a shapeless mass of darkness and rose into the air. He began flying over the trees after Moana as she headed back to the beach. She put on a burst of speed as she made it clear of the trees. Now out in the open, Hika came back down and reformed. He was done playing nice, and roared loudly.
Gravity shifted, and everything in the vicinity was suddenly drawn towards the star, including Moana. She clawed at the ground, her fingers digging into the sand, but there was nothing to grab onto as she was dragged along by an unseen force until she was lifted off the ground entirely and pulled towards the star.
A tendril of darkness shot out of Hika's body and wrapped around Moana. The gravity suction dropped as Moana was brought up to the star. He was furious, and Moana knew she was in trouble as the light shining from Hika's eyes sockets shined on her, and she had to squint to see.
"You bit the hand that feeds you, child," Hika snarled at her. "I was very generous to you, and you attack me?"
Holding up a hand to block the light, Moana glared at him. "You expect me to be grateful that you're willing to let me do whatever I want before you kill me, after you kidnapped me, and trapped me on this island. Bite the hand that feeds me? More like bite the hand that caged me."
Hika growled. "It could have been much worse. I could have made these last few days very unpleasant for you."
"I'm not going to just wait for you to kill me, no matter what free reign you give me."
The star's eye sockets narrowed. "Well, that freedom is at an end. I tried to be nice, but my generosity is at an end. I warned you what would happen if you tried to escape again."
"Technically, I didn't try to escape."
"Silence! You had your chance. Now you will know the darkness that has consumed me. You may actually want to die by the time your demigod gets…"
His expression changed, and his head turned to the ocean. He stared at the crashing waves for a few seconds before his eye sockets narrowed. "Maui…"
Moana was dropped as the star's full attention focused on the ocean. Ignoring him completely, she too turned her attention in the direction Hika was looking. She searched the sky, but saw no trace of the giant hawk that Maui favored. She wondered if he had instead opted to take the form of a sea creature to sneak up to the island, and instead began searching the waves.
That's when she saw it, a small speck on the horizon approaching the island. It was a boat; she could just make it out. Maui had finally come. She didn't know how he managed to find her, but he was here.
A chuckle escaped Hika. "It looks like you got lucky, child. Or maybe your luck has run out; your time certainly has. Either way, I suggest you start praying to whichever gods you worship, because, very soon, you're going to meet them."
Polaris had not let him down. The vile of light had led him right to Moana. He could see Hika from here, and his fists clenched in anticipation for the upcoming fight. Without his hook, this would be a tough battle, one he hoped he would be able to win.
No, he would win. He had to. Moana's life was at stake. No matter what happened to him, he would make sure she survived. "Ok, coconut, you keep Moana safe while I fight the big guy."
Wapapalu said something in his language, but Maui paid no mind to it. His fingers played with the vile of light he had tied to his grass skirt. He just had to get close enough to use it on Hika. Then the darkness that had consumed him would disperse. After that, they just had to survive long enough for Hika to kick the bucket, which shouldn't be too long without Te Kā's power fueling him. At least that was the outcome Maui hoped for. Whether he could pull it off or not was the real question.
"Hook, no hook, I'm Maui," he told himself reassuringly. He glanced down at Mini-Maui. Even for a sentient tattoo, the little guy looked nervous, and Maui gave him a smile. "You ready to add another tat, buddy?"
Mini-Maui looked up at him and grinned, giving his counterpart a thumbs-up. Maui nodded back before preparing to bring the boat ashore. Hika was waiting for him, as was Moana, standing beneath the fallen star.
He jumped off the boat the moment it hit the beach, landing several yards away from the other two. He had his warrior face on now, doing his best to look intimidating.
Hika did not look intimidated, or impressed. "So, Maui, you've come at last."
Maui glared up at him. "Was there ever any doubt?" He gave Moana a nod of acknowledgment. "Hey, kid."
She smiled at him. "Hey, yourself. You're late." Then she frowned. "Um, where's your hook?"
"M'na!" Wapapalu cried, charging forward towards Moana.
She blinked in surprise. "Wapapalu?"
Hika roared, and a shockwave erupted from his body, sending the Kakamora tumbling backwards. He retracted his arms and legs into his coconut and ended up rolling back over to Maui.
Moana looked back at the demigod. "Why'd you bring him?"
"I didn't. He stowed away. Said he wanted to save you. By the time I realized he was onboard…"
Moana nodded, having had a similar experience with a certain rooster. "Right, I get it." She smiled. "At least it's nice to know you're both getting along."
Maui shifted uncomfortably. "I wouldn't be too sure of that."
"Nor should you be sure of yourself," Hika growled.
Maui returned his attention to the star. "I know everything, Hika. I know what you are, what happened to you, and why you're doing it."
"Then that will save us some time."
Maui sighed. "Listen, big guy, I understand you have to do this, and I'm sorry it happened to you. But, if you give me a chance, I can make it so we all win. Moana and I can go free, and you can cross over. No one has to get hurt."
Hika lifted his head up higher. "I appreciate the offer, demigod, but I'm afraid it's not an option for me, even if I wanted to accept. You should know how a wish bonds a star to it."
Maui nodded, his hand slowly moving towards the vile of light. "Yeah, I had a feeling you'd say that."
"Then lets not delay this any longer." His eye sockets narrowed. "And I can't help but notice that you didn't answer the girl's question. Where is your hook?"
A sigh escaped the demigod. "It's gone. No more hook. I traded it away."
Moana's eyes widened. "Traded it away?" she whispered. "But, Maui, why?"
Hika seemed surprised by this as well. "How interesting. You wouldn't trade it away unless it was for something really important." He chuckled. "You must have really love this girl if you gave up your precious hook. But tell me, how do you hope to stop me without it?"
"Who says I need it?" Maui replied. He grabbed the vile of light and held it up. "I've got this!"
The vile flashed brightly. A beam of light struck Hika, and he recoiled from it, a gash now present on his smoky body where the light had touched him. It didn't last long though, as the darkness of his body shifted to close up the injury.
"I recognize that light," he hissed. "All stars know the light of their brethren. That is the light of Polaris. So that's how you found us. I wondered how you would. You traded your hook for his assistance, didn't you? Unless granting a wish, no star would get involved with matters down below unless it was for a high price."
Maui wiggled the vile around almost tauntingly. "You guessed it. I don't need my hook to beat you as long as I've got this. Moana, come over here; he can't hurt you while I've got this."
Moana made a move to go to Maui, but Hika slammed a limb on the ground in front of her, cutting her off. "She's not going anywhere. It doesn't matter if you have the light of a thousand stars, I will still grant Te Kā's wish."
Maui held the vile up higher. "You sure about that? You're going to die either way. Either you grant the wish and die, or I purify you with Northy's light, and you still die, but fail to grant Te Kā's wish. Why not be a good star and just let me use this on you so no one else gets hurt?"
Hika growled. "It seems that not even you understand a star's bond to a wish. Your proposal is not even an option for me. I have no choice in the matter. And not even that little flicker of light can save you."
He opened his mouth, and a beam of plasma shot out. Maui leapt away as he prepared to fight the star. "So much for the talking things out approach. Guess we're going to have to do this the hard way."
"Maui!" Moana shouted to him. "It's not you he wants, it's me! He's not allowed to kill you, just crush your spirit and make you feel as if it's hopeless to defeat him."
The demigod smirked. "Thanks for the info, kid."
"It won't help you," Hika hissed. "I may not be allowed to kill you, but I will still break you. And once you realize that you will never be able to save her and have given in to the despair of utter hopelessness, you be forced to watch her die, just as Te Kā was forced to watch her heart disappear into the depths of the ocean, forever out of reach."
If this was meant to intimidate the demigod, it failed, as Maui's smile just became more arrogant. "Then there's nothing to worry about since that's never going to happen. The only thing that can stop me from trying to save her is my death. And since you can't kill me, well, problem solved."
Hika roared and broke down into a dark mass, flying at the demigod. Maui leapt away as the darkness crashed into the ground. He kept a firm grip on the vile of light, knowing he would only have one shot at this. He had to wait for the right moment.
Hika reformed and roared again, sending out a shockwave. Maui was thrown back before he even managed to stick the landing. He skidded across the sand, getting a nice brush-burn in the process. Moana ran over to him, kneeling by his side worriedly. "Maui, are you ok?"
He groaned as he sat up. "Don't worry about me, kid, I've had worse."
Hika unleashed another plasma beam at the two. Maui pushed Moana away, shouting for her to take cover. He crab-walked away from the beam as it followed after him before doing a backwards cartwheel and leaping away.
On his feet again, he charged at the star. Hika fired another beam, and Maui leapt over it. His hand closed over the vile of light as he closed in, ready to throw it. Then Hika surprised him by firing, not a beam, but a ball of pure plasma. Maui dodged it, and it exploded against the ground, blasting Maui away. He groaned as he lifted himself up, and realized he had dropped the vile. He spotted it several yards away, and made a break for it.
Hika fired another plasma ball, and Maui dodged. This was repeated several times, and Maui realized that Hika was trying to keep him from getting to the vile. He briefly wondered why Hika didn't simply destroy it, and concluded that doing so would unleash the light. Perhaps that would be enough to purify Hika. Maybe he didn't need to get as close as he thought. Now if only he could get to it.
Moana didn't entirely understand the situation, but she understood that the vile of light Maui was trying to get to would somehow help him defeat Hika. And without his hook, he needed all the help he could get. Perhaps she could be of assistance.
It briefly occurred to her that she could use this opportunity to get to the ocean and use it to escape while Hika was distracted, but she quickly dismissed the thought. Even if Hika wasn't allowed to kill Maui, she wasn't going to just run away and leave him behind.
With her mind made up, she ran to her previous destination before Hika had pulled her into his gravity field. The palm tree she came to was bent over to the ground, held down by the vine she had lassoed over the top in order to pull it down. Resting on the top was a large piles of coconuts netted together with more vines. And a few feet away was a fire that burned brightly.
Moana took up the burning branch and dragged it over to the pile of coconuts, setting it ablaze. She looked back at the battle between Maui and Hika. The star wasn't moving much, and he wasn't in position. He needed to be a little more to the left, or her trap would miss.
"Come on, come on," she quietly urged the star. Her eyes darted to the netted coconuts. One of the vines snapped as the fire burned, and the coconuts loosened. In hindsight, she shouldn't have ignited them yet.
Her eyes went back to the fight, and she saw something that made her stomach drop. Heihei was walking cluelessly out in the open, getting caught right in the middle of the battle between Hika and Maui. "Heihei!"
Maui saw the rooster and made a lung for him. He snagged Hiehei and threw him away from the battle. Heihei landed headfirst in the sand, and ended up buried up to his mid-section, his legs still moving as if he were trying to walk. Hika pounced at Maui, but the demigod managed to jump out of the way.
He was in position, Moana realized, and grabbed the vine holding the palm tree down, biting through it. The tree acted like a catapult as it snapped back up to its original position, flinging the flaming netting of coconuts. It flew through the air like a giant fireballs, and struck Hika in the side of the head.
The star snarled as he was hit by the flaming load. It didn't do the amount of damage that Moana had hoped, but it succeeded in getting his attention. Maui used the distraction to his advantage and made a run for the vile of light. He snatched it up and pulled off the top, and the light inside began to flow out.
"Lets brighten things up," he declared, and threw the vile at Hika.
The star's attention shifted back to Maui, and he saw the vile coming at him. With a snarl, he backhanded the vile, hissing as the light seemed to burn his darkness.
"No!" Maui cried as he watched the vile fly through the air. It soared out over the ocean, disappearing from sight. A few seconds later, there was a massive eruption of light in the distance. It was large and intense, and Maui cursed himself for not simply crushing the vile in his hand the moment he had stepped on the beach; that amount of light would have lit up the entire island and been more than enough to purify Hika.
A rumbling chuckle escaped the star as he towered over Maui. "Well, well, well, it looks like your last hope has failed you."
Maui was still staring out at the ocean as the explosion of light died down. His eyes slowly narrowed in determination as he turned back to Hika and cracked his knuckles. "Guess I'll have to do this the old fashioned way."
Hika roared with laughter. "You expect to defeat me as you are? You're but a stronger than average human."
"Stronger," Maui agreed, "faster, more durable. Bring it."
Hika's amusement gave way to irritation. "You fool. You couldn't even beat me with your hook. Without it, you're nothing."
Maui's gaze shifted to Moana, and he smirked. "Wrong, I'm Maui."
He let out a battle cry and charged at Hika, fully intending to fight the star with his bare hands and feet. He leapt through the air, throwing a punch… and was knocked away as Hika backhanded him the same way he had the vile of light. Moana winced for him as he hit the water, skipping across the surface like one would skip a rock. A few seconds later, the ocean returned him to the shore, and he blinked in surprise. "Lets try that again."
He charged forward, and this time Hika rushed to meet him. Hika swiped at him, and Maui jumped up, punching the star in the face. Hika unleashed a shockwave, knocking Maui back, and then fired a beam of plasma. Maui rolled away, and then had to act quickly as Hika snapped at him. He caught the star's upper and lower jaws, using his demigod strength to keep his mouth open. He was vaguely aware that Hika could simply fry him right now with another plasma beam, but remembered what Moana had said about the star not being allowed to kill him.
He somehow managed to prevent Hika's jaws from closing down on him as he let go and did a flip in the air. He came down on Hika's head, and began pounding his fists down on him. Hika shook his head, trying to knock Maui off, but the demigod held onto the spike sticking out of the top of the star's head.
"Ha! What's wrong? Getting a headache? Take this! And that! And this! And that! And-" Hika's body suddenly began intangible, and Maui fell through it and landed on the ground. "Oh, come on, that's not fair!"
Hika knocked him away. Maui went flying through the air, and Hika's body became a shapeless mass of darkness and flew after him. He grabbed hold of Maui, and began slamming him on the ground and dragging him across the beach.
"Maui!" Moana called out worriedly. She knew that as a demigod, he could take much more than a normal human, but just how much could he withstand?
Hika slammed Maui on the ground one last time before releasing him. He took form again and looked down at the demigod in victory. "It's over. You failed to save the girl. This was a hopeless rescue attempt from the beginning." He leaned in closer. "So how does it feel to have what you love most not only torn away from you, but to know that despite your best efforts, you will never be able to get it back?"
A pained groan came from Maui as he forced himself to get up, wobbling about in a daze. "First of all, she's not an 'it'." He shook his head, regaining his senses. "Second of all, who says I failed? I haven't failed. I can't afford to fail. As long as I'm still breathing, I haven't failed."
This was apparently not what Hika wanted to hear, and he snarled at the demigod. "Just give up!" he raged, and Moana almost thought he sounded desperate beneath his anger, almost pleading. "Accept that there's nothing you can do and give into despair!"
But the demigod refused to back down, and he flashed the star an arrogant smirk. "I'm still standing."
The two stared at each other. Hika's expression slowly shifted to one of anger, and he roared furiously. Maui roared back, and charged at the star. Hika unleashed a shockwave, and Maui was thrown backwards by it. He hit the ground face-first, skidding across the beach, receiving another brush-burn and a mouthful of sand in the process.
Sitting up, he spit out the crunchy mouthful and began grumbling to himself. "I know I said that, but I'm at a bit if a loss here." He looked down at Mini-Maui. "I don't know how we're going to pull this one off, bud."
From up above, a light shined down on him. He flinched, thinking it was Hika, almost expecting a beam of plasma to fry him. But no, this was not the red color of the dying star, this was the pure white color of a star in its prime.
He looked up, squinting at the light, and saw something coming down at him. No, not coming, falling. It landed in the sand right in front of him, and Maui blinked in disbelief. His hook was lying on the ground in front of him. It was definitely his hook; he would recognize it anywhere, and magical hooks made by the gods weren't exactly a common thing.
He looked up again, and the light from up above faded away. The North Star shined brightly in the sky, and Maui smiled up at it. "Thanks, Northy."
Grabbing his hook, he stood up and turned back to Hika. The fallen star's gaze shifted to the hook in Maui's hand, and he growled at the demigod. "I thought you said you traded that away."
Maui just flashed him an arrogant smirk. "Guess he didn't want it anymore." He tossed the hook from one hand to the other. "I hope you're ready, big guy, 'cause it's Maui time."
(A/N: So it looks like Polaris wasn't so bad after all. Come on, you didn't think I'd make him lose his hook indefinitely, did you? Well, maybe I will; maybe it'll get destroyed in battle. The real fight is about to start now. And speaking of a real fight, wow, Moana held her own pretty well against Hika until the star's power got the best of her. Like I said, she's no damsel in distress. We're getting to the big finish now, so stay tuned.)