Author's Note: Well, in explanation of the horrendous delay, I can only say this. I was hit by a drunk driver a while ago, and I've been in and out of the hospital, infected with flesh-eating bacteria, and swarmed by relatives who came to make sure I was alright. So yeah, not much time for writing. Then I had to catch up at work, because my boss is a jerk who thinks that almost dying in a car crash is not a good enough reason to take some time off work. Fortunately I am now mostly recovered, and back to catching up on some of my WIPs, thanks to my slowly returning inspiration. That, and yet another viewing of Mask of Light. I love that movie way too much for a twenty-four-year-old, it's truly unbecoming (or so my friends seem to think!). I'd lost track of my plans for this thing, and I was floundering, so I watched the movie again, and bam - it came right back to me. So, here we go: next installment, about two months late. Believe me, I understand your probable wrath - heck, I would hunt me down and kill me for this kind of delay. Just please, put down the pitchforks!
Shay Moonsilk: Why thank you! I'm glad you like it! I know how hard it can be once you get one pairing stuck in your head, and then you can't write anything else. I'm glad that everybody seems in-character, I wasn't sure if I'd hit the mark on that (especially Pohatu). I kind of got the vibe that Gali was flirting with Tahu all along - that stuff about 'unity' and all that... and even though it wasn't really shown in the movie, in the novels and comics, there was definitely a period after he was subjugated by the Bohrok Swarm when Lewa was a lot more serious and deep thinking. I figure he's still capable of that, he just chooses not to show it... most of the time. *wink* And frankly, no matter how much of a pain in the neck he can be sometimes, Kopaka's gotta have a considerate side, right?
I love all yaoi: Glad you're enjoying it! I do strive for originality, always nice to hear that I've succeeded.
TinkotheWolf: Well, now it's been a whole additional while since you've read a Bionicle story, but I'm glad to hear you're enjoying my work anyway...
A.N.2: Chapter title is from the song North Pacific Graveyard by Kent Fiddy. Probably no one reading this will have heard of him - he's mainly popular on the lower west coast of BC, he's a local folk singer. There's a video of NPG on Youtube, though, and it's chillingly beautiful in my opinion. He came and sang in my class at school quite a few years back, and I've loved the song ever since.
Chapter Three: Locked In The Hands Of Fate...
After a brief conference, the Toa decided to split up and return to their individual Wahi, searching for signs of the Rahkshi. The conference itself was strained and uncomfortable, the latter mostly for Gali: Lewa didn't revert back to tree-speak even once, and he never moved more than a few inches from Tahu's side. The Water Toa seemed very ill at ease around this new, more serious Lewa: Kopaka found himself grudgingly impressed, observing the discussion aloofly, only contributing when necessary. They'd glimpsed this seriousness in the lighthearted Toa of Air after his possession by the Bohrok Swarm, but they had assumed that it was gone forever by now. Perhaps they had deeply underestimated their jocular comrade.
"The villagers of Le-Koro are more than capable of searching the jungle for the Rahkshi." Lewa was saying firmly. "I will go with Tahu to check Po-Wahi. Gali and Kopaka, you should go to your own villages - I left Jaller and Takua on the edges of Ko-Wahi, and we ought to make sure they are all right. If the Rahkshi are searching for the Mask of Light, then they will be hunting the Herald as well."
Gali started to protest, but Tahu cut her off. "An excellent plan, Lewa. We should get going."
He turned and started in the direction of Po-Wahi. Gali pouted, and turned toward her own home - only to find herself pinned by Lewa's citrine gaze.
"I need a word with you, sister." Lewa's voice was flat and tense. Gali shifted nervously, a bit intimidated, though she would never admit it.
"Alright, Lewa. What is it?"
Lewa took a step closer, his yellow eyes narrowing. "Stop flirting with Tahu at every possible opportunity, all right? He's under a lot of stress right now, he doesn't need that as well." Leaving his sister Toa speechless, Lewa turned and hurried after the Toa of Fire. Gali looked over at Kopaka, completely bewildered.
"What in the world was that all about, brother?"
Kopaka shook his head, his blue eyes bright with a level of amusement that the taciturn Ice Toa rarely showed. "Something far beyond mortal comprehension, dear sister. I think we have just discovered a snake in the grass, Gali - or a Muaka in the jungle, as the case may be."
He turned toward Ko-Wahi, smiling slightly at the completely baffled look on Gali's face. Taking pity on her for once, he shook his head. "I'm sure they will explain it in their own time, sister. For now, let us focus on defeating the Rahkshi."
Tahu stalked north toward Po-Wahi, scowling. Gossiping idiots. They couldn't manage to keep their mind on the task at hand for more than a minute, even when the task at hand was defeating three of the sons of the Makuta! How in Mata Nui's name did he end up with such fools for comrades?
Well, aside from Lewa, that is.
Lewa caught hold of his lover's arm and pulled him to a stop. They were out of sight of the others now, safely screened from the meeting place by a thick stand of trees. Tahu spun around, his orange eyes hard and fiery.
"What?" he snapped.
Lewa pulled the Fire Toa closer and crashed their lips together in a fierce, eager kiss. Pressing himself against his bulkier lover, Lewa felt Tahu's arms wrap around him and smiled into the kiss. Drawing back gently, he smiled up at the dazed Toa of Fire and said softly, "I'm still here, alright? You don't have to fight this battle alone, love."
Despite the burning sensation from the seeping gash in his mask, Tahu's expression softened instantly. He drew a deep, steadying breath, smiling wanly at Lewa. "I know."
It never ceased to amaze Tahu how Lewa always, always knew. He just knew, somehow, when Tahu was trying to make a point and when he was feeling genuinely hurt, when he was exploding to let off steam and when he actually felt like no one was listening to him. In truth, that was why it seemed that Tahu was so hard on Lewa: the Toa of Air could recognize those times when Tahu was nearing the breaking point far sooner than the others, and so he did his best to draw Tahu's wrath on those occasions, letting the Fire Toa vent in a way that wouldn't hurt the others. Tahu's barbed words had ceased to sting long ago: since the two Toa had admitted their feelings for each other during the Bohrok invasion, Lewa had also learned how to read true insults from false. Tahu never meant what he said, he was only letting off steam, so Lewa let the words roll off of him like water off a Ussal crab and did everything he could to compensate for the pressures of leadership that weighed so heavily on his lover.
Tahu understood what Lewa did for him, and he was always grateful, no matter how difficult it was for him to express that. Tahu wasn't good with feelings, his specialty was action - but he made the effort, if only for Lewa. After all, that was how a relationship worked, wasn't it? No two people were ever truly made perfectly for each other: they were only compatible, and the rest was up to them. Tahu was determined that no matter what happened, he and Lewa would make this work, because the thought of losing Lewa...
Tahu glanced sideways at the lithe green Toa walking beside him, his movements an odd juxtaposition of fluidity and awkwardness on the flat ground, and his heart swelled with such emotion that the burning in his mask all but vanished. Suddenly, the destruction of Ta-Koro seemed just a little easier to bear.
Lewa had been praying to Mata Nui all day that he would have enough time in Po-Wahi to have a long talk with Tahu, time enough to try and soothe the invisible wounds that had been inflicted by the destruction of Ta-Koro, but it was not to be. In a perfect example of the typical luck of the Toa Nuva, hardly had they arrived before a Matoran messenger tracked them down and told them that the Rahkshi had been spotted near the tunnels of Onu-Koro.
There was an upside, though it was not something most people would rejoice over. The only good aspect was that because of that message, they were already almost to Onu-Koro when word reached them that the village was under attack.
They arrived on a scene of chaos. The Rahkshi were wreaking havoc through the underground village: in the center of the plaza, Onua and Pohatu were trying to hold them at bay, but they were fighting a losing battle. What really shook Lewa, though, was the color of their opponents.
"Tahu, these are different Rahkshi!" he exclaimed. His hands went instantly to his katana, as he saw a red-shelled Rahkshi advancing on the Chronicler.
"I'll help them, you get Takua!" Tahu shouted over the chaos, already running toward the fight. Lewa didn't bother telling him to be careful: he knew his lover too well for that. Tahu would be ask careful as he knew how, for a time - and by the time he lost that caution and succumbed to the fever of battle, no paltry warning from Lewa was going to do an ounce of good.
Summoning a strong gust of wind through the stale caverns, Lewa shot forward, carving a graceful arc and swooping down at the Rahkshi and Matoran from the side. Just as the red Rahkshi brought its staff down with a furious hiss, Lewa shot past in a streak of green and silver, snatching the Chronicler out from under the creature's talons.
"Toa Lewa!" Takua exclaimed, shocked by the sudden rescue. "How did you get here?"
"Later, Chronicler." Lewa admonished gently, landing and setting the little Ta-Matoran on the hard-packed earth. "Find Jaller, warn him!"
He would have stayed to watch the Matoran's escape, but at that moment, he heard a roar of anger from Tahu and his heart turned over. Spinning around, Lewa saw that somehow, Gali and Kopaka had gotten word of the attack: however, the Toa of Air had eyes only for Tahu.
The red-armored Toa was battling a white Rahkshi, but even as Lewa watched, a blast of energy from the creature's staff struck him and sent him flying backward. "Tahu!" Lewa yelled, launching himself into the air once more - and watching in horror as the Fire Toa turned on Gali.
No, no, not this... how is this happening?
Even as he raced back toward the battle, Lewa's mind was racing faster. The green Rahkshi had had some kind of venom in its staff, enough to poison the very ground on which it stood. The blue creature had made things crumble away at a touch: the brown one caused things to shatter explosively. The red one seemed to wield pure fear. This red one... anger?
Mata Nui. The sons of the Makuta - and imbued with all the powers of shadow. The Great Spirit only knows what the black one can do. But if the white one's power is anger - I might be able to calm Tahu down, at least long enough for the others to come up with a plan. What did he tell me that time after the Muaka attack? That just the sound of my voice was enough to calm any creature's rage...
Gali had managed to knock Tahu off his feet with a blast of water, but the Fire Toa was only down, not out. He was already clambering back to his feet, eyes blazing a sickening green as he growled, "You cannot defeat me, Gali!"
Green. The poison in his mask is spreading. Mata Nui, help me...
Lewa released his power and dropped, landing catlike on his feet, directly between the exhausted Gali and the infuriated Tahu. He dimly heard Gali shout for him to get out of the way, but his entire being was focused on Tahu, who had stopped and was staring at him as though confused.
Lewa dredged up a smile, hoping with all his might that this would work. "Tahu. You recognize me? You remember who I am, right?"
"Of - of course." Tahu said, the growl almost gone from his voice as he blinked, confusion deepening. "How - could I not?"
"Right." Lewa's smile was a bit more genuine now, hope welling inside him. Chaos raged around them, but he kept his eyes locked on Tahu's. "You're wounded, dear-heart. I need you to just rest for a moment, all right?"
Tahu's eyes flickered, and Lewa actually saw the venomous green flare and spread. Tahu's expression hardened, and his angry roar returned. "I cannot be wounded! I cannot be defeated!"
The Fire Toa lunged: somewhere behind him Gali cried out for him to defend himself, but Lewa knew that realistically, he stood little chance against Tahu in an outright battle. Instead, he followed his instincts as he had always done, and trusted in his lover's strength.
He dropped his katana.
The clang of metal on stone, and the sight of his perceived enemy surrendering, was enough to jar Tahu back out of his trance. He blinked, skidding to a halt, his muscles tense with the effort of fighting off the venom's control. "Lewa? What-"
"Tahu." Lewa's voice was still soft, but it had steel underneath. He took a slow step forward, leaving his katana lying abandoned on the ground, ignoring Gali's alarmed gasp from behind him. At least she had the sense not to try to get between him and Tahu. "Listen to me. The Rahkshi venom in your mask is poisoning your mind, trying to control you: you have to fight it!"
From the corner of his eye, Lewa saw Kopaka gesture, and a knot of tension uncoiled inside him. The Ice Toa was ready: it would be best if Lewa could talk Tahu back to reason, but if he couldn't...
Lewa never finished that thought, because at that very moment, Tahu's eyes flared completely green.
"Kopaka!" Lewa yelled, diving aside as the red Toa lunged. There was a roaring sound as another stream of water burst from Gali's hands, drenching the Fire Toa - then a jet of wintry cold froze the water solid, encasing the raging Toa in solid ice.
Lewa scrambled to his feet, heart heavy. He had hoped that Tahu would be able to fight off the venom, but he could hardly blame his lover for failing to do so: after all, it had taken the most drastic of circumstances to allow Lewa to fight off the influence of the Krana, and that was only attached to him. The poison was actually in Tahu, and Mata Nui knew that the Makuta was even more powerful than the Bohrok.
There was no time to dwell on the matter, though, because a thunderous explosion shook the cavern and Lewa saw the ceiling start to give way. Snatching up his katana, he turned swiftly. "Kopaka, help me carry Tahu - we need to get out of here, now!"
As they fled toward the exit, Tahu's frozen form a dead weight between them, Gali cried out over the noise, "What of the Chronicler?"
Lewa glanced back, and smiled. The red Rahkshi was still clawing in helpless fury at the stone where the vent's shaft disappeared into the solid rock.
"On his way to rejoin Jaller!" Lewa called back.
As they fled the ruins of Onu-Koro, Lewa resumed his silent prayers. Hold on, Tahu. Hold on just a little longer, my love.
Alright, there's Chapter Three - next update will be along soon. By 'soon' I mean sometime in the next week or two, not month. Rest assured. I will update soon. Barring injury, plague, or sudden death. ;-)