Spirit Birth: Legend's Beginning
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There were three levels of masks: Kanohi, Noble Kanohi, and Great Kanohi. The vast majority of living things had simple Kanohi, which granted life and energy and were created in a forge long ago, the art now forgotten. The Noble masks granted limited special powers and were worn by only the highest up, the Turaga. The Noble masks were, quite simply, a combination of normal Kanohi masks made long ago. The Great Kanohi, however, could not be created by Matoran hands and were granted only to heroes. To Toa. All Rahi, the beasts that roamed the island of Mata Nui, all wore simple Kanohi masks. The Nui-Jaga that skittered around the canyon, their rounded feet slipping in the sand, bouncing off in another direction when they collided with one another, however, did not. Eight of the over-sized scorpions had decided to become Makuta's slaves that day and turned hostile to the Po-Matoran sculptors, now stuck high on the facets they had carved in the mountainside. Kopaka surveyed the situation from atop the closed gateway. He had, so far, sealed them into this area, but had no clue on how to further help. Each Nui-Jaga had two masks instead of the one the Matoran, Toa, and Turaga wore. To beat the scorpions, one had to knock free both masks. This was a simple task if the creatures were calm...and would be even easier if they weren't fueled by Makuta's evil. Whenever the dark God decided to cause trouble, he would take some unsuspecting Rahi beasts and replace their common, low-power masks with his own Infected Kanohi. Makuta, it seemed, had a nearly inexhaustible source of these masks, because Kopaka could not count how many he had seen destroyed. He assessed the situation from his vantage point. He could attempt to take them out one by one, most sensibly; move in and remove the infected masks. Without their power source, the creatures would fall into a weak, barely conscious state. The problem was their stingers, which hung precariously from their backside. One strike and Kopaka would find the tables turned, his own mask, the Great Kanohi Akaku, lost to the sand. Thus, he was stuck attempting to find a clear way to vanquish his foes. If worst came to worse, he supposed, they had to sleep sometime. But the Nui-Jaga had other plans, apparently. Their movements had been seemingly random, a useless and uncoordinated attempt at escape. Now, Kopaka saw, it was quite the opposite. They had been slowly creeping towards the pile of rubble that gated them in. Kopaka had felled the rocks earlier, knowing that one or two Nui-Jaga could not hope to break through it in time. But eight of them together would make short work of it. The Toa hissed and stood. What should he do? Fighting the group was suicidal, but he couldn't let them escape. He had to accept the fact that, as he was, there was no chance for victory. He needed to be stronger! It was as if the need for power was a wish, shouted to the heavens. Suddenly, Kopaka found energy rushing through his veins, a cold air begging to be released. He did not know where this power came from, but did not question it with more than a quizzical look at his palms. He drew his sword, aimed it at the beasts, and let the energy follow its path. A beam of ice-like blast cut through the air like sharp words, slicing through the beasts and bathing them in a hue of blue and white. He swept the sword over each of them, watching in a frenzied wonder as their joints became frozen, threatening to sprout blades of ice from their bodies. The force taking him over swung the sword to the sky and waved it in a circle. A storm gathered, just yards from the ground, and, for perhaps the first time in history, it hailed heavily in the desert of Po-Koro. Soon the Nui-Jaga were bunkered down, shaking in a pale confusion. Kopaka's arm fell to his side with a heavy thump. He knew he should act then, strike the infected Kanohi from the Rahi, but he was too stunned by the energies he released to move. His mind was reeling with a few golden words, chosen carefully, by some higher force. My Gift to you, my son. It was the voice of Mata Nui, he knew without knowing. This was a taste of the power Mata Nui could give, only a taste, an ant in a universe, and it was awesome. The Nui-Jaga were breaking free, their frozen exteriors crackling and droplets of ice sprinkling to the ground, glittering like shattered glass, until the ground was full of them so that you could see your full reflection, though broken, on the sands. For a second, Kopaka was staring back into his blue eyes, then the ice was gone, melted. The opportunity lost, Kopaka's mind jerked back into the action to formulate a new strategy. He should just blast them again. He aimed his sword at one of the Nui-Jaga, one that was dominantly a purple color, and redirected a stab of energy through it. The creature shied out of the way, the blast disappearing into the sand uselessly. Kopaka lurched, his balance lost to the air. One foot slid precariously to the edge of the wall. He fell to one knee and placed his sword hand on the top of the wall. The fluctuation in available energy had some side-effects, it seemed. From his weakness, some form of stupid courage returned to the creatures and they began to beat their tails at the stone wall upon which Kopaka stood. In a few minutes they would have him safely in their jaws, he judged gravely. His imminent defeat and relatively painful death was a bitter cup to drink from. Using up all his energy like that! Stupid! And soon he would pay for his thoughtlessness. Yes, a bitter cup indeed, overflowing and laced with all sorts of poisons. The wall listed inwards. For a brief moment, a lost hope flared (and died) in Kopaka's eyes briefly. Perhaps the wall would collapse on them. Then, he remembered morosely that a Nui-Jaga's skin was harder than a Po-Matoran's head. A few seconds later the wall collapsed a notch and Kopaka went sliding off in a drunken turn, the result being a twirling in the air that made no sense of direction or gravity, the only feeling a muted thud as he hit the packed sand covering the earth far below. Kopaka found his feet, widely spread, and held his sword and shield in a defensive stance. One thought had been knocked free from the fall: stay alive! But how to do it? What plan could save him? It was hard to think through the thick black veil that plagued his racked and shaken mind. Just concentrate! He could...no. He could...no. He could...yes! He could just keep them busy, make his way in a circle around them, until he could break free, to Po-Koro. It wasn't that far a run, and the guard would push the Nui-Jaga away. But how would that look? The great Toa, Mata Nui's chosen hero, running from a group of Nui-Jaga? He was, to them, the great savior, prophesized to save them from the evil Makuta! What would he become if they knew he couldn't even beat a few measly beasts? No, he could not run. It was the harshest mistress, destiny. He had to stay alive, but the people needed faith. Either way he lost one of those two things. He hefted his shield and locked his arm near his chest. It seemed much heavier than usual and his arm shook with the effort. One of them, either the bravest or the dumbest, skittered forward, jaws clicking. Its stinger tail lashed out and was caught in the folds of Kopaka's shield. They struggled for a moment, no longer, and his only defense was torn away. He held his sword with two hands now, felt it drooping. "Yee-haa!" someone shouted from behind the group. All the Nui-Jaga turned, even the one in mid-fight, to face the newcomer. It was a male, jet black, with a hunched neck that pushed forward instead of up. He was the color of a Onu-Matoran, but would have been as tall as Kopaka if his neck stood up straight. He came over the fallen wall. He reached the Rahi and grasped one firmly by the jaws in his huge claws. They became a tangled mass, the Nui-Jaga's stinger stabbing out uselessly, until the man ripped its face off in a violent roar. He immediately leaped towards a second and grabbed it by the tail as it came towards him. He towed it in and flipped it on its back. The man laughed as he spun the beast, first smashing it into another one, then letting it fly into the distance with amazing strength. The remaining three Nui-Jaga broke rank and fled, first gaining distance and then disappearing into the sand. Kopaka found his way to his feet and watched the man warily. "Who are you?" he asked. The man shrugged. "I believe my name is Onua. That's the only thing I know." Kopaka nodded, believing him. "Well, Onua, my name is Kopaka. I am a friend. Come with me, we have some things to discuss. And thanks for rescuing me." Onua looked around at the sand. "No thanks are necessary. I saw the beasts and I...I just lost it. I don't know why, but they had some kind of evil around them. Or something that I didn't like, anyhow. Just one thing, though." Kopaka raised an eyebrow as he climbed over the broken stone wall. "Yeah?" "Wherever we go, can it have shade? It's hot out here." The ice warrior nodded, grabbing up his shield and mounting it on his back, with his sword. "Yeah, we'll go in the shade." And so, with the Toa of Earth in tow, Kopaka made his way to Ta-Koro to discuss matters. As he left, several words echoed in his mind, where the fog had lifted: My Gift to you, my son.