Well, lookie who's decided to do something for once /shot
This has actually been up on deviantART for almost a week now; I ran out of time to post it here and I am so sorry. Things have been hectic lately (graduation, job search, job get, and now the search for a car I can afford), so this is sort of short and vignette-y. Again, I apologize, but real life is more important to me at the moment (sadly) and the next update should not only not take as long, but actually have a point! Remember when this story had one of those?
So yeah, vignettes and stuff. Please enjoy, even if you don't like this style of chapter! Thank you all for being so patient, and especially to my brother PurpleBanana86 for all his help.
Thanks for reading, and please review! Constructive criticism is always highly appreciated.
*I don't own Bionicle, but character designs, OCs, etc all belong to me. You can use them if you ask first, though.*
Chapter 13: Prepare
Arisa hung up the phone with a heavy sigh. Nixie looked up from her star charts, concerned. "Grandmother?" she asked. "Are you alright?"
The old woman shook her head as another sigh shook her thin body. "I don't know how much longer we can keep this up, my dear."
Nixie frowned, confused. "What do you mean?"
"I just got off the phone with our police contact in Po-Metru," Arisa said, indicating the phone. "A large section of his business district was just destroyed by the Morbuzakh, and he needed a convincing cover story to steer the investigation towards." Her shoulders drooped. "I didn't have one for him."
Her granddaughter's eyes widened. "Then—"
"If this continues much longer, I don't know how much longer we'll be able to keep it covered up. I've seen this coming, but I don't know how to stop it. Even if the Toa do eventually defeat the Morbuzakh, there will always be others. We still don't know where the Morbuzakh came from, if someone created it or if it's just some sort of mutation. We don't know if there's more where it came from. And that's not to mention that the Dark Hunters are still out there somewhere, struggling to gain a foothold in the city. If they continue to be thwarted, I fear they won't continue to be so subtle." The old woman put her head in her hands. "It can't happen! Everything we've worked so hard for...centuries worth of Matoran working their entire lives to keep Toa and Mata Nui a secret...it can't become undone now!"
"Then the Toa will simply have to triumph," Nixie said matter-of-factly.
"I fear we ask the impossible of them," Arisa replied morosely. "One inexperienced Toa team against a far more experienced world...even the other cities can't send us more Toa now; they're all facing their own crises, and the earliest we can expect help is in two weeks. We must rely on the Toa Metru, and I fear that if they can't beat two Dark Hunters then they may be in serious trouble."
Nixie rose and crossed the room to her grandmother, wrapping her arms around her shoulders in a hug. "It will be alright, Grandmother. You'll see."
Arisa shook her head again. "No. If this is not resolved quickly and quietly..." She paused, drawing a shaky breath. "Toa may need to reveal their existence to the world, if only to save it."
Onewa sat propped up in bed, his arm still in its sling, trying to type an essay with one hand. Damn that Nidhiki, making him miss even more class! He was never going to graduate at this rate!
There was a click, and the door to the hallway opened partway. Sidorak stuck his head inside, as though he was a teenager sneaking home after curfew and he was making sure his overprotective parents weren't waiting up for him.
"Hi, Siddy," Onewa called with a grin. Sidorak hated being called Siddy.
But instead of glaring at him like usual, Sidorak just about jumped out of his skin, snapping his head around to look at him with wide-eyed fear. "H-h-h-hello," he squeaked. "What're you doing here?"
"In case you forgot, I do actually live here," Onewa retorted. "What's the matter with you?"
"N-nothing." Sidorak dropped his gaze to the floor, shuffling into the room with his right hand behind his back. "I'm just tired. That's all." Raising his head, he finally noticed Onewa's sling. "Onewa!"
Onewa started at the sudden change of voice. "What?!"
"Yes, I have two, just like you."
"No, it's...it's broken!"
Onewa sighed. "No, it's not. I just dislocated my shoulder playing baseball."
Sidorak looked relieved. "Oh. Good. Well, not good, but—"
"What's behind your back?" Onewa interrupted. Sidorak was still hiding his right hand.
The pale youth immediately clammed up. "Nothing."
"Oh, come on. I promise not to laugh."
Sidorak drew himself up to his full height. His brown eyes seemed to flash red dangerously as he glared at his roommate. "I said nothing!" he bellowed.
Onewa flinched a little as Sidorak stalked into his room and slammed the door. What's with him? the brunet thought. In the few months they'd been roommates, that was the first time he'd raised his voice or shown any sort of backbone. It was almost like Sidorak had become an entirely different person.
In his room, Sidorak took his bandaged right hand from behind his back and cradled it gently. How did Roodaka and Keelerak make creating Rhotuka spinners look so easy? Roodaka had said that cuts magically opening on hands were normal for someone not used to the "art of Rhotuka" and that he would get better with time and practice. But Sidorak didn't have time. He had to be worthy of leading the Visorak now, before they decided he wasn't the right one after all. Before Teridax decided to get rid of him for good.
Vakama stuck a glass towards his roommate. Whenua looked at the bright red juice, then back up at Vakama. "No."
"No! That bula stuff is gross! Besides, I'm fine."
"Nua, you got thrown into a door."
"I've been worse."
"You got trapped in an energy web twice."
"It just tickled a little."
"Yeah, and that's why you were screaming blue murder."
"I don't need you to nanny me, Vak," Whenua snapped. "I told you, I'm fine. I used to box, okay? I've been worse."
"Don't care. Doctor's orders are bed rest and bula juice, so that's what you're going to do."
"But I have class—"
"You only have Introducing Libraries today, which you hate anyway. Besides, missing one class because of your health—"
Vakama paused. "What?"
"I missed Cataloguing and Circulation yesterday and the day before because we were off looking for the Kanoka. Vak, I seriously can't miss any more classes or I'm gonna be behind in three for my four courses!"
"Wait, you only have four courses?!"
Whenua couldn't help but grin smugly. "Advanced standing. I have a university degree, remember? I get to skip anything I already took at a higher level, like English."
"Don't be jealous. Anyway, I wouldn't stop you from going to class if this happened to you."
"Yes you would. You're such a mother hen it's not even funny."
Whenua scowled. "I am not."
"Yes, yes you are. Don't make me get someone up here to babysit you while I'm in class. I'll do it, you know."
Reluctantly, Whenua picked up the glass of bula juice. "Ass."
Vakama flashed him a smug grin as he headed out the door, binder under his arm. "Don't be jealous."
Lhikan screamed as pain wracked his body. As the energy web faded and the pain subsided, he looked up at his tormenter from his place on the floor. Nidhiki smiled coldly at him. "Now, Lhikan," he said patronizingly, "we've talked about this before, haven't we?" He shot another web at his captive, who cried out again. "If you don't try to escape, I don't have to punish you. You're just making this harder on yourself, you know."
The Turaga gritted his teeth against the pain. This was the fourth time he'd tried to escape and the fourth time he'd been caught, dragged back, and tortured. The first three times Krekka had just punched him into oblivion, but this time Nidhiki had taken it upon himself to inflict the punishment personally. The web faded again. "If you hate me so much," Lhikan panted, "why not just kill me and get it over with?"
Nidhiki was on him in a second, grabbing him by the throat and forcing him into the ground. "Don't think for a second that the thought ever leaves my mind," he snarled. "I want nothing more than to see you dead and Metru Nui in ruins. But my employer, for whatever reason, thinks you're valuable, and so if I'm to keep up my contract I can't kill you. Rest assured, though, that once he's pried whatever secrets he wants from you, I will kill you. And I will enjoy every minute of it."
He released Lhikan's throat. "Remember this pain for the next time you think about escaping," he ordered. "It will be doubled if you ever try again." He stalked off, slamming and locking the cage door behind him. "Krekka! Come!" he barked, and Krekka silently trotted off behind him, leaving Lhikan alone with his pain and his thoughts.
The Morbuzakh retreated into the hole it had come from and a group of Matoran rushed in to disguise the hole and keep anyone from falling into it. Nokama sighed and stretched out her back. "How do you think the others are doing?" she asked Vakama.
He shrugged. Two Morbuzakh attacks had sprung up at the same time, one on the outskirts of Ga-Metru and one near a power plant in Le-Metru, so he and Nuju each led a team of two to the attack point. He'd made sure that both groups had either an ice wielder or a healthy supply of freeze disks, since ice was the only thing that seemed to have any effect on the vines whatsoever.
"I'm sure they're fine," he said. "They would've called for backup if they—"
Vakama's cell phone went off. Nokama politely turned away while he answered it. "Hello?"
"Where the hell are you?!" Nuju sounded ticked. "I've been trying to call you for the past ten minutes!"
"We sort of had our own problems," Vakama snapped back. "What's—" He stopped short at the sound of something exploding on the other end of the line. "What was that?"
"Nothing. Whenua had to blow up part of the street."
"You blew up—!? Why—never mind. I don't want to know."
"Let's just say it's been a long day." In the background, there was the sound of tires screeching and a large crash. "We've set up a detour so people will think it's just construction, but we could use a little help here!"
"We'll be there as soon as we can," Vakama promised.
"Good. I don't think the Matoran will be able to cover this up as a student film again if it goes on much longer."
"Where exactly are you?"
Nuju gave him the street name and he hung up. "Slight change of plan," Vakama told Nokama. "Guess who gets to fight evil plants in Le-Metru now?"
Nokama sighed. "Joy."
The Water Toa froze and turned slowly. A girl a little younger than her was standing behind her. She had a short brown bob cut and was wearing jeans and a puffy blue vest over a long sleeved pink shirt. "What're you doing here?" she asked.
Nokama grinned weakly. Crap, she thought. It's not like we can turn back to normal mode now! "Hi, Gali," she said. "Vakama here and I were just...uh..."
"We're LARPing," Vakama explained.
Nokama gaped at him. "We're what now?!" Vakama shot her a look that said "I'll explain later."
Gali grinned. "Cool! I didn't know you were into that, Kama!"
"Neither did I," Nokama muttered. "Gali, this is my friend Vakama. Vakama, this is Gali, my little sister."
Vakama gave a small smile. "Nice to meet you."
"Ditto. So are you almost done your LARPing for today or what?"
"Actually, we have to go meet the rest of the team in Le-Metru," Vakama explained. "Something came up and we have to move; you know how it is."
Gali shrugged. "Not really. I just have friends of friends who LARP. Anyway, it was great seeing you, Kama!" She gave her sister a hug. "Come home soon, okay? Dad's driving me up the wall with you gone!"
Nokama nodded. "I'll try. See you later."
"Okay, okay, bye already. Nice meeting you, Vak!" With that, Gali took off in the direction of the closest mall.
"We'd better get over to Le-Metru quickly before someone else comes along," Vakama said.
"I know a shortcut. Now you'd better explain what the hell 'LARPing' is. It better not be anything perverted, Vakama."
The Fire Toa turned a lovely shade of dark red. "N-no! Nothing like that, I swear!"
By the time the two of them had arrived at the attack point, Matau and Onewa were helping out as well. "What are you two doing here?" Nokama asked.
"Doc Zemya gave us both a full bill of health," Onewa grunted, fending off a vine with his new weapons, "but that's not important right now! We're having some slight difficulties here, in case you hadn't noticed!"
Vakama loaded a freeze disk into his launcher and shot it at the base of one of the vines. It froze, but only partway up, and the end of the vine continued to swing wildly. Matau flew past it, holding something metal, and the unfrozen part suddenly fell to the ground, twitching a few times before laying still.
Matau landed next to Nokama, who was using a wall of water to block attacks. He brandished his new weapons—twin blades about the length of his arm. "Pretty cool, right?" he grinned. "I call them aero slicers!"
A vine came up from behind, grabbed him, and tossed him into a building. "Sure," Nokama muttered with a smile as she threw up another wall. "Pretty cool, all right." She reached down and pulled out her own weapons—a pair of fan-like blades attached to elasticized steel wire handles that she'd discovered in the Ga-Metru battle earlier. She cast one at the vine that had thrown Matau and it sunk into it, holding it in place while she chopped at it with the other.
Whenua and Vakama stood back to back, surrounded. Vakama was rapidly running out of freeze disks, and after the incident at the Ta-Metru Meltdown Centre he was worried about the consequences of using other types of disks on the Morbuzakh and hadn't brought any. Whenua, on the other hand, was still going strong. Having discovered his own weapons a few days ago, he was using the two large handheld drills as bats, swatting at the attacking Morbuzakh and chipping away at them in the process.
Nuju was exhausted, having drained most of his energy earlier in the fight. Onewa was covering him while he tried to regain some of his strength, and Nokama was coming in to help, but so far Nuju was still pretty tired. He wasn't sure how much longer he could keep this up.
There was a flash from just down the street, and a giant suddenly lumbered into view. It was slightly blue in colour, carrying a club and wearing nothing but a loincloth made of skin. Nuju stared. "Matau?" he called. "Tell me that's you."
The giant grinned at him, swatting a vine casually with his club. "None other! Guess what I am!"
Nuju didn't spare a moment for thought. "A Jotun from Norse Mythology."
"Nope! A Frost Giant from Thor!"
"They're the same thing!"
Ignoring him, Matau drew in a deep breath and blew it out across the battlefield. Most of the vines froze solid instantly, and the ones that didn't quickly withdrew. Matau shrank to regular size and looked like himself again. The others hurried over to him, Whenua getting there first and catching him as he collapsed. "Did we win?" he mumbled.
Onewa nodded. "Yep. Good job, man."
"I never thought I'd be saying this," Nuju sighed, "but thank you, Matau."
Matau grinned weakly. "Today is a great victory for Stinky Loincloth Man! And Friends."
"Are you okay?" Nokama asked. "You look exhausted."
Matau sat up. "I think it takes more energy to transform into big stuff. I'll be fine."
"Good," Vakama said. He smiled. "We can't have you laid up in bed again so soon after getting out. And I think it's about time we took the fight to the Morbuzakh's home turf."
The others looked at him. "What do you mean?" Whenua asked.
"Nokama and I were talking on the way here," he explained. "If the Morbuzakh hates the cold but fire has no effect on it, then where is it most likely to set up shop?"
"Ta-Metru," Nuju said.
"Exactly." Vakama's eyes hardened. "This craziness has gone on long enough. We're going to find where it's coming from and beat it at its source. We move out tomorrow morning at dawn. And bring the Kanoka. Dume said they'd stop the Morbuzakh—let's see if he's right."