Challenged myself to write something in under an hour in order to help counter the bout of writer's block I got smacked with. This is what my brain tossed out.
Not really canon compliant - this is obviously not exactly how the actual event took place, but whatever. It feels nice to write something from start to finish for once without getting stuck at random intervals.
Disclaimer: I don't own jack squat, it all belongs to LEGO. You know the drill.
Summary: "Please don't make me lose him again, Kopaka. I can't bear it."
By: Saya Moonshadow
The world is collapsing around him, and he's too busy trying to calm the terrified Matoran around him to pay much attention to his own wellbeing.
They are the heart of Metru Nui - the world, really - and he must protect them because while he is a Toa no longer, he was once one and the old instinct to protect remains within him. Without them, he is nothing, even though once upon a time many of these same Matoran mocked him and condemned him to a dark, lonely cell under the Coliseum of this very city.
It's not Nuju's job to judge. They had every right to doubt him and his brethren; the ones who'd taken the beloved Toa Lhikan's place so suddenly with only a few paltry disks to show for all their hard work. Even if those disks had ended up saving all their lives in the end...
"Get to the shore!" he shouts over the noise of the collapsing world. "Get into the boats - work together! Stop shoving and MOVE!"
He's still not used to speaking in Basic - having spoken solely in the avian language for ten centuries, Basic feels heavy and unpleasantly foreign on his tongue. Every now and again he messes up a sentence, but there is absolutely no time to worry about that, especially not right now. He has to protect the Matoran no matter what.
A piece of debris hits him in the shoulder, and Nuju goes down hard with a cry of pain. Damn it all, but if that didn't break it then he'll be surprised. He can't move his arm at all.
As he's lying there, half buried under a piece of fallen Knowledge Tower, Nuju begins to laugh bitterly. His body hurts, but it's a welcome pain - it reminds him that he's still alive. He hasn't felt pain like this since he was still a Toa, over a thousand years ago, and he almost relishes in how alive it makes him feel. For too long he's been complacent, forced to let others do the work for him, and now, being injured once more in the line of duty, he feels like perhaps he's actually doing something worthwhile again.
His head snaps in the direction of the great courtyard, where a stone monument stands - one that he had commissioned months ago after that - that horrible event, the event he still can't think about without a painful lump coming to his throat.
There wasn't even a body to bury. That is how far gone his faithful friend is, and how utterly alone he has been since then.
Nothing left. Nothing. Nothing.
Was your sacrifice so worthwhile now? he wants to scream at it. You let yourself die for this world, and now look at it! It's breaking down anyway!
He has to save that monument, even though it's little more than a stone slab with some words and the image of a mask carved into it. To him, it's so much more than just a stone slab; it is quite literally the only thing he has left of Ma- of him, and he will be damned if he lets it be destroyed by anything.
Some odd burst of strength borne of pure determination lets Nuju push the fallen piece of Knowledge Tower off of himself, and though his broken shoulder aches with enough force to freeze him in his tracks for a moment, as soon as it ebbs enough for him to think clearly he is off like a shot, determined to reach it before it is destroyed.
He has no plan, which is a first - he has never not had a plan, and some hidden part of him asks cynically how he intends to save that monument when it's bolted down and cannot be moved, but he is unable to stop himself from moving. He is nearly crushed several more times by more falling debris and by the surging, panicking Ko-Matoran that he has all but forgotten about when a certain someone intervenes.
Nuju is no longer the resident Toa of Ice. That job has long since fallen to Kopaka, who, despite having a demeanor as cold and silent as the element he commands, genuinely cares for each of his charges. Nuju is no exception, and it honestly scares the Toa Nuva of Ice to see his normally composed Turaga rapidly fleeing towards the breaking city rather than away from it.
A cursory glance is all it takes for him to understand what Nuju is after, and though the reminder hurts him greatly as well, he has no other choice.
There is simply no time to save that monument, the one that Nuju has spent hours in front of each day since it was first built and set up in the middle of their Metru.
He grabs Nuju around the waist, mindful of the obviously broken shoulder the Turaga sports, and blocks more debris with his shield. His Akaku informs him that others are still in danger, and he uses an enormous amount of power to form a thick icy ceiling along the pathway that his Matoran are fleeing down. They are no longer in immediate danger of being crushed, though he is forced to stop and free at least five who have been trapped and he can see cracks already forming in the ice.
"Let me go." Nuju's voice is shaky, but not at all the panicked mess Kopaka had expected.
"No," he replies.
"Let me go." This time, Nuju's voice is stronger, but still shaking. He is obviously trying very hard to remain calm and composed, but Kopaka can see beyond that to the frenzied interior - Nuju is not calm, not by a long shot, and his own heart aches to see him like this. "I have to - to save him, Toa Kopaka, please, you have to let me save him."
"He's gone, Nuju," Kopaka replies, sidestepping a large piece of rubble and shooing some panicking Matoran ahead of him. That should be all of them, he knows; he can see the rest up ahead at the icy shore, already crowding into the ships that are waiting at the docks. Thank Mata Nui for those ships; without them, they would die along with this island. "He's been gone."
For the first time since Kopaka has known him, Nuju's voice takes on a note of fear.
"Don't make me lose him again, Kopaka. I can't bear it."
It kills him to say his next words. "I have to."
He's fairly sure he just saw the last vestiges of hope go out of Nuju's eyes, and he has to turn his face away. Using his Akaku, he focuses on the monument through the ruined buildings of Ko-Metru. His ice ceiling has given way to the weight above it, and he is just in time to see the precious stone marker crushed under a particularly large piece of debris.
A lump forms in his throat, but he swallows it down and runs up the ramp to the nearest ship, immediately setting the Turaga down and ordering someone to take him to the captain's cabin for safety and to have his broken shoulder set. And then he has no time to think of anything else but the survival of his people, and he nearly dies in the process of making sure they don't do the same.
Even through the resulting battle and the miracle that is Mata Nui finally coming to their rescue, and through the horrible pain that is his shoulder being re-broken in order to set it properly, Nuju does not make a single sound.
AN: Was going to be longer, but the time limit ran out so I ended it as best as I could even though I'm afraid it probably sucks.
Matoro's death has never really affected me in the way certain others' did (notably Jaller's in MoL), but I honestly can't imagine Nuju being anything less than utterly devastated about it. Kopaka, too, really, since losing someone he was supposed to protect has to be the most painful thing in the world.
I had RED's "Hymn for the Missing" playing while writing this. It fits Nuju's situation really well in my head.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed.