I'm mostly pretty happy with this one. Some of it I'm not too sure about, but...eh.
Thanks to levelupleafeon, Midori Hotaru, InTheLight-Hija, TigerToa, MN#1F, Rocketfist, Neelh, Ed, SamanthaMaxisLover, SouleiLuna, and precious92 for reviewing. :)
Disclaimer: We've been through this.
A.J. moaned as she woke up from her nap. Turaga Matau would not let her move or do anything to help pass the time, so all she could do was let her mind wander, and sleep. She looked up and saw that it was just starting to get dark.
Outside, a Matoran announced that Toa Lewa had returned. A.J. sighed and sat up slowly.
"Another human, Toa?"
She scrambled to her feet and staggered to the doorway, where she clung to the side of the door and cursed the Turaga for not letting her walk around a little more often. Toa Lewa was walking through the village carrying something that looked like a limp human in his arms. All AJ could make out was that it seemed to be female, and she hadn't been changed like Jason had.
As the Toa walked past, she cried out, "Wait!"
Lewa paused and looked at her in surprise. "What?"
A.J. took a deep breath. "I'm a physician. I can take care of her. Let me go with you."
Lewa paused, eyed her for a moment, looked down at the girl, then nodded. "Alright-fine. Come on."
A.J. followed the Toa to his hut, where he laid the girl on his pallet. She stepped forward and checked the girl's pulse and breathing. Faint, but she was alive. "What happened?"
A.J. looked down at the bruised, scarred form. "From what? A tree?"
"Yes," the Toa answered in a strangely small voice.
AJ glanced up at him, then returned her attention to the girl, carefully testing her limbs for injuries. "How did she get up in it?" she asked, more out of curiosity than any real need to know.
"Well, she was run-fleeing from this...human-thing."
"Well, he used to be all human...but then he disappeared, and now he's..."
A.J.'s throat closed. "He's what?" she barely choked out.
"Well, he's still human, but...half not."
A.J. gasped. Jason. It had to be. She shook her head and returned her attention to the girl. "You didn't answer my first question."
"Oh, I left-put her in the tree. I thought-believed she'd be safe there."
"But she wasn't."
"He climbed the tree. She was trying to get away." Lewa looked away. "Do you thinkknow if she'll be okayfine?"
A.J. sighed. "She'll probably live. I don't know if her brain is damaged or not, but her pulse and breathing are good, and none of her bones are broken."
Lewa blinked and nodded. "Um...good."
A moment of uncomfortable silence passed, then Lewa finally blurted something about meeting others and left before A.J. could say anything.
A.J. sighed again and sat on the edge of the pallet, looking at the girl. This had to be Linda. She was certain of it.
Loud voices rose above the constant chatter of the Matoran. One was Lewa's, in conversation with someone with a slightly deeper voice.
"Where is she? Is she alright?"
"Ah...the human-lady said she would be, but-"
"Oh, I found another human in the jungle. She hit her head on a rock, and..."
His voice faded into the background as A.J.'s mind wandered. A blue-masked Matoran peered in, saw her, and hesitantly stepped inside. "It's alright," she murmured. "I won't bite."
The Matoran walked over to the pallet and looked at the girl. A.J. observed that the rest of his body was mostly red and wondered when he had come to the village. He dropped a bag on the floor next to the pallet and started to walk out before turning and asking, "Is she going to be okay?"
AJ paused, then nodded, "I think she will."
The Matoran smiled and left.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the entrance of Lewa and two other figures his height, one red and broad-shouldered, the other blue and slender.
Tahu stopped and stared at the new human. She was fully grown, wearing clothes much like Linda's without all the rips. Her hair was a lighter color, with a fringe of it dangling over her eyes and the plant-fiber bandage wrapped over her brow. She turned away, focusing on Linda, and Tahu turned his attention to her as well.
She appeared to be sleeping peacefully. Tahu sighed and turned to leave. Gali followed after a moment, while Lewa stayed inside with the two humans.
Tahu paced with his arms crossed, scowling. "It doesn't make sense," he muttered. "Why would he go after Linda? He's probably never even seen her before."
Gali shrugged. "Maybe he's not the one who wanted Linda," she murmured. "Maybe it was..."
"Makuta?" Tahu finished uncertainly. "He's serving Makuta?" That explained a lot, like how he had suddenly gotten so strong and where he had gotten the armor. "But what could Makuta want her for?"
Gali frowned and looked back at the hut. "I don't know..."
The night passed slowly for the Toa and human. Lewa officially introduced A.J. to Gali and Tahu, but there wasn't much to be said otherwise. The Toa took shifts between watching Linda, keeping watch for the shadow cyborg or the other Toa, and resting, while A.J. cleaned and bandaged Linda's wounds before succumbing to sleep, resting her head on her folded arms on the side of the pallet.
Lewa was enjoying a peaceful dream when Tahu shook him awake and wordlessly pointed him toward his own hut. Lewa reluctantly took his post by his pallet and watched as the two humans slept.
He noticed Linda's eyes darting beneath her eyelids. What are you dream-seeing? He wondered. Maybe she was dreaming about her past, whatever had happened in it. Maybe she was dreaming about the Matoran, or the Toa. Maybe she was dreaming about the human-thing. He felt another wave of guilt at the thought. He liked the girl, and hated that he hadn't been able to prevent her getting hurt. He tentatively reached out to touch a lock of Linda's hair. To his relief, she gave no sign of feeling his touch, and he started to fiddle with the strange substance between his fingers. It had lots of knots and tangles, and in the sparse light, he could see that clumps of mud from the swamp clung to it. He couldn't really see the purpose of it, besides the fact that it looked nice.
Humans were such bizarre creatures, Lewa mused, with their flesh-covered bodies, their insistence on covering themselves with cloth, and their liquidlike, glassy eyes that didn't glow. The memory of the first time he saw the first human still sent chills through him. But Linda...maybe it was just that he'd gotten used to seeing humans in general, or that he knew she was on their side and had never had any intention of harming the Matoran, or anything else, but Lewa actually thought Linda was...kind of pretty. For a human, at least.
Linda let out a weak moan. She was exhausted, and her body hurt. She shifted slightly and heard a faint rustle.
Where am I? It can't be Ta-Koro, there aren't any plants there, and besides it's not hot enough here.
She opened her eyes to see sunlight shining through what looked like a cloth woven from vines. Eyup. Definitely not Ta-Koro.
She pushed herself up onto her elbows and took in her surroundings. She was in a large hut made of plant matter, furnished with a few wood carvings of the Toa and what she assumed was Mata Nui wildlife, a fine net hanging from the ceiling and holding some sort of glowing bugs, and a bed, which Linda was lying on.
"Linda? Are you awake?" The girl jumped slightly and turned to see a woman sitting on the edge of the bed. Linda's heart leaped into her throat and she sat fully upright.
"A.J.?" she gasped.
A.J. smiled. "Yes, it's me."
Linda let out a squeal and threw her arms around her friend's neck. "I missed you!"
A.J. returned the embrace. "I missed you, too. I'm so glad you're alright." She pulled away, set her hands on Linda's shoulders and suddenly frowned, "What happened to your face?"
"Wha-? Oh," Linda felt the claw-marks on her cheek. "I ran into a... an ash bear the day I, uh, left." She turned to look her friend in the eye, and noticed something...off. "Are...are you alright?"
A.J. blinked, and Linda noticed that her eyes seemed to stare at something over her shoulder and were in a constant slight squint. "Is something wrong with your eyes?"
A.J. sighed and gave a nod. "Yes...I think there is."
A.J. turned away and faced the door. "I went out looking for you a while ago, and... I banged my head on a rock. It knocked me out, and when I woke up...I couldn't see as clearly as I used to. It...hasn't gotten much better."
Linda felt a strange stab of emotion and shifted uncomfortably. "So, uh...how long have I been out?"
A.J. shrugged. "Toa Lewa brought you here last evening, and I think it's about mid-morning now. So I would say about twelve hours."
"Hn," Linda grunted, staring at the floor. Then she looked up at A.J. "I'm just curious, but do you know about the...other human?"
A.J. hesitated for some time, then nodded. "Yes. Lewa said he was protecting you from him."
"Have you ever...seen him?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"I'm...just curious, I guess. So have you?"
"...Yes, I saw him. Spoke with him, actually."
"Really? What did you say? What did he do?"
"He...kept trying to get me to leave him alone. He seemed to be afraid of something. And I was trying to get him to let me take care of his injuries. I wanted to help him."
"He...changed suddenly. I still can't understand it. One minute he was more frightened and vulnerable than I'd ever seen him, the next, he was a monster. He picked me up and threw me aside, and that's when I hit my head."
"Wait...more frightened than you'd ever seen him?" Linda repeated. "You knew him?"
A.J.'s voice quivered as she answered, "He was...He's my little brother."