Water Falls

Previous Chapter

The crowd from Kokuviki sat scattered on the edge of the forest in the early hours of the morning. Celebrations had died down, and people now went to watch the purplish-black of the night sky give way to the greens and yellows of sunrise. To match this ebbing of the festival’s rowdiness, the waters out on the ocean had grown still, its only movement the little waves that fluttered onto the seashore.

The the gold of the sun eventually broke the horizon. Its light passing over the hundreds of masks as it began to climb the sky, the new sun pushed the shadows of the night down, down, down away from the forest until they slid beneath the waters beyond the island.

“Go!” came the should of Kamen from his perch on the cliff. The Toa of Stone had done his part as elder, and led the people out from the villages of the jungle to this last tradition of Kokuviki. “Go rest from this celebration, for one more day and night. But be ready for longer days, because with the new light, the days are growing longer!”

“You certainly have a fantastic culture here, sister,” Kopaka said as he rose from his seat. Looking out to the sea, his telescopic eyepiece zoomed out, and then retracted as he turned to Gali next to him. Holding out a hand, he helped her to her feet.

“It’s keeping the spirit of Mata Nui alive,” she said to him. “The way of Unity that our Turaga taught us— I want to keep that bit of home close to my heartlight.” Kopaka said nothing as they began to walk, following the other partygoers as they left the shore side.

Gali could see his mind was full as he accompanied her back to her dwelling. She no longer engaged Kopaka in conversation as they walked along the tunnels beneath the waterfalls, each of their minds exhausted from the festivities of the jungle.

The sound of coughing however brought their minds back to the caves. Somewhere around them, the sound of a violent hacking echoed, traveling the length of the tunnels. Gali looked around, unable to tell where it was coming from. Kopaka’s mask was already honing in, seeing through the cave walls to the source. “A Matoran,” he said. “Not sure if it is one of yours or mine. She doesn’t look good.”

The two found Okoth slumped against the wall, a violent cough ripping from her lungs. There were dark circles under her eyes, and she seemed to shiver, even though the cave was not that cold.

“Okoth?” Gali softly spoke. “Are you ok?”

“Turaga….” she croaked. “I am fine, I just… must… serve you today.” She was going to say more, but she had to turn around and whatever she was going to say came out as vomit.

“You need rest,” the Toa of Ice advised, sending a soothing coolness through her system.

“I will be alright for the day,” Gali agreed. “You are to go home and get rest. Toa Kopaka Nuva will escort you home.” The Turaga and the Toa Nuva nodded to each other, bidding a silent farewell as Kopaka helped Okoth to her feet.

“Was it something you had at Kokuviki?” Kopaka asked her as they began to walk.

She shook her head weakly. “I’d been feeling ill for a few days now. Sometime last night, it just got worse.”

He helped her to her bedside, watching the Matoran fight her illness. Whatever the Matoran had contracted, it seemed more than her body could handle. Offering her a bowl of water from a table, she graciously drank.

“Gali can manage without you for a few days,” he assured Okoth. “You just need to rest for her, Matoran.”

She nodded to him, slowly closing her eyes. Seeing the Matoran drift off to a fitful sleep, he let her be, turning to place the bowl back on her table. He swiped it, however, taking a sample of the water which had touched her lips, slipping it into a vial. His Kanohi’s eyepiece zeroed in on the sample, taking note of the composition of everything within it.

A virus, he thought. Kopaka’s thoughts went to the ships out on the harbor, where he knew several Utywans had refrained from the holiday, as they were too sick to attend properly. He didn’t know what they had contracted, but if it was anything like this, it wasn’t something good.

Kopaka slipped the vial into his pack. A trip to the jungle was in order.

***

The jungle was vast, but Kongu was able to give him a good guess of where most of the foods had been picked recently. Following his directions, Kopaka had made his way until he’d found dozens of Le-Matoran swinging on vines, baskets on their backs filled with fruits. The Toa of Ice was no vineswinger, but his adaptive armor allowed him to go up into the thick of the jungle with a hoverpack, allowing him to look for fruits hands free.

Most of what he found was not yet ripe, all of the full grown foods having been plucked for prompt eating. He had found a few prime fruits here and there, but according to his eyepiece, nothing he scanned matched the virus he had found in Okoth’s system.

Kopaka walked the forest as he watched the pickers swing in the branches. If not here, where did this come from? he thought, hopelessly looking at the jungle surrounding him.

“Noone told me you’d come to pick food with us,” came a voice from behind him. Kopaka turned to find Peck behind him on the trail, a picker’s pack on his back. The Skakdi nodded to his Utywan cohort, throwing him a ripe fruit to eat as they walked together.

Kopaka shook his head between bites. “One of Gali’s aides is sick, from something she ate at Kokuviki. I’m trying to find where it came from.”

“You’re on a fool’s errand, searching here then,” Peck said.

“What makes you say that?” Kopaka asked the Skakdi.

“I’m not a scientist, but I have gut feelings,” Peck told him. “and my gut is telling me the forest is clean. Some of ours are sick, and it wasn’t from Kokuviki. Nothing you have found matches the virus, does it?” Kopaka shook his head, curious as to where this was going. “

Kopaka looked at him, his eyepiece whirling. “So what do you say? Gali would have told us if she knew what it was.”

“What you’re looking for, you won’t find it here,” Peck assured him. “I’m not saying that you are being duped by the Turaga, I simply think we are looking in the wrong direction.”

“Where do you suggest then?” the Toa Nuva asked quietly.

Peck led him to the rivers where the water raged along towards the waterfall. The Skakdi cast a wary glance west, where the mountain loomed high above, but said nothing to Kopaka. Taking an empty vial, he swept it quickly through the water that rushed toward the bay. He then handed it to the Toa for him to examine.

The Toa of Ice examined the vial carefully, watching the water which had been hurtling at such a high speed settle. The water was clear, but inside its molecules Kopaka could see the virus which Okoth had contracted, bound to the water.

“So it isn’t something she ate,” the Toa surmised, “It’s something she drank. The river is full of this. What gave you the idea to look here?”

“It’s that Toa Shaktar,” Peck growled, quickly recounting his experience on the way to Kokovuki. “He has ‘banned’ Utywans for a reason— he has something to hide up there.” He looked up to where he knew Bioaku was nestled in the mountain.

“We need to see how far up the river this virus resides then,” Kopaka said, beginning the hike up the mountain.

They stayed off the beaten path to Bioaku, not exactly eager to run into any Ko-Matoran Tenpravihn on the lookout for unwelcome guests. Every few miles, they would stop to take another sample, seeing the virus still widely spread in the water supply. It was definitely less saturated here, but the presence of the virus still existed.

“It must thrive in warmth,” Kopaka noted. “Wherever it is being sent from, it must not like the environment. Warm places probably let it thrive and reproduce.”

Peck looked up at Bioaku, still far away but definitely getting closer, and the two continued their hike.

***

Shaktar glared as he looked down from an outside balcony at Bioaku, observing the Toa Nuva and Skakdi making their way up the river from the falls. He had a very good idea what they were doing, and it was time to put a stop to this.

***

“Do we go much further?” Kopaka asked. Bioaku was only a few miles away now, and Kopaka was not liking what he was seeing. The virus still lurked in the water— it was definitely coming from up here. Kopaka wanted to think that it was simple creature simply immigrating to the warmer regions, where it would be able to thrive. The only problem of this facet was that the genetic structure of this virus resembled nothing around the river. He gave Peck a glance that made the Skakdi frown. This was not good.

“I think—“ the Skakdi began, but his words were cut off by an icicle whistling through the air between them. They whirled to see Shaktar standing on a shelf above them, icy energies wisping about his hands. Kopaka’s hands went up in defense, his elemental energies at the ready.

“I thought I told you to stay away from here, Skakdi,” Shaktar sneered. “Bioaku and this mountain are off limits to all Utywans, no matter their stature.”

“We want no business with Bioaku,” Peck lied, growling through his teeth. I’d love to see what little operation you have being concocted up in your fortress, he thought.

“Gali sent us up here,” Kopaka lied as well. “One of her villagers is sick— actually a number of us have been, since Kokovuiki. We simply want to find the source and find a cure for it.”

“Kongu’s jungle is the better place to look for what you find,” Shaktar said firmly. “My jungle brother doesn’t always bring the best of foods to that song and dance. And besides, people have grown sick on this island before, and noone has thought of it as thoroughly as you have. Coming this far to trace a sickness from a party?”

“We have found what we needed,” Kopaka said, his voice cutting hard through the still air.

“Then you can remove yourselves from this mountain,” Shaktar said, silently creating an ice slide for them to go down the mountain on. “This is your last and final warning. Come any closer to Bioaku, pose any threat to the ages of knowledge we have collected here, and I will not show you mercy.”

“Who says we don’t want to join you?” Peck asked.

“Fishermen don’t wish to suddenly learn astrophysics and etmyologies,” he said. “All you barbarians want is to carve your way through what has taken thousands of years to grow, simply because you can’t find the true path.”

“We’ll go for now,” Kopaka said, elbowing Peck in the side.

***

“It was something she drank, not ate,” Kopaka told Gali as he handed her a vial of the river water. “We found this sample much further inland, on the waters heading from Bioaku to here.”

“So it came from Bioaku?” she asked, putting the sample up to the light.

“Not sure of that, but its coming from that direction,” Peck chimed in. He and Kopaka stood silently as she slipped it under a microscope, examining it wordlessly for a few moments.

“This matches perfectly with what Okoth has contracted,” she said. “We need to figure out what exactly this is capable of.”

“I need to figure out what exactly this is capable of,” Gali said. “Who knows what else it could do?”

“What can we do?” asked Kopaka, looking to help his sister.

“I fear what may happen if we let this run its course,” Gali said. “Go through the caves, find more samples of anyone you can. See how far it has reached and the extent of what it has done to everyone. The more we know about this and how it affects everyone, the better we can be at making a cure.”

***

The Matoran set down the cup in front of Peck, but he did not take it. He could see the water still shaking in the cup, even though it should have been still. He looked to the Matoran, who returned the gaze with confusion.

A boom from somewhere far off knocked the two off of their feet, sending the cup spilling. Peck rolled to his side, watching the cave shaking violently. The Matoran’s belongings fell to the ground, nothing stable enough to hold them. The Ga-Matoran looked over at the Skakdi, fear and surprise in her eyes.

“What is going on?” he shouted over the rumbling.

“I— don’t—” she yelled back, holding onto a bump in the rock floor to stabilize herself. The cool and collected manner typically held in a Ga-Matoran’s voice  was gone, replaced by utter panic. Peck wrapped his arms around her table, frowning as he waited for the quake to subside.

When it did, he slowly climbed to his feet, looking around at the mess of the Ga-Matoran’s home. She cared for none of that, making her way towards the caves outside her dwelling. “Where are you going?” he asked, but his question was lost as she joined the swarm of Matoran making their way through the tunnels.

A crowd of Matoran stood at the end of the tunnel that led to the center cavern of the catacomb, having left their caves to see what had caused the quake. Peck forced himself through to join Kopaka and Gali at the forefront of the crowd, where he could see the full extent of disaster they were facing.

The ceiling of the cavern had collapsed, water pouring in from the outside. Peck gasped in utter disbelief. It was the river from the mountain to the bay coming in, having eroded the riverbed so deeply that it completely broke through. Its path diverted, thousands of gallons were pouring in to the catacombs, slowly filling up the bottom of the cavern. Was this natural, he thought, or another result of the virus they had found?

“Our homes!” a nearby Matoran cried. “Turaga, what are we going to do?”

“The elders,” said Gali. She looked to Kopaka, tears and worry streaking her mask. “You need to get the other elders,” she told her ice brother.


Kopaka shook his head, stepping from the crowd with another idea in mind. Raising his arms, he unleashed his powers over ice into the cavern. Sheets ice began to cover the surface of the caves, reinforcing the walls all the way up to where the ceiling opened up to the sky. The Toa of Ice then focused his efforts on the water pouring in, attempting to freeze it so the flooding could be stalled.

He turned to Peck and his Turaga sister, visibly shaking with all of the effort he was putting into freezing the new waterfall. “I cannot hold it back forever. We need more power.”

“Now it is time to get the others,” Gali insisted. “Shaktar can lend his powers, and Kamen can fix this.”

***

The quake had nearly shaken Orkahm, Caamley and the rest of the jungle village out of their treehouse dwellings. Rahi birds flew off from the treetops, frightened, and the Matoran were immediately questioning what had happened.

Making their way to the jungle’s edge, they witnessed in horror the disturbance to the island. The waterfall had stopped short, disappearing into the depths where Gali’s cave village was set instead of pouring toward the bay.

“Turaga Gali! Okoth!” Caamley cried. The Ta-Matoran tugged hard on his friend’s arm. “It’s the Utywans, they’re doing something to the caves! We need to warn—“

“Would you shut up?” Orkahm burst, smacking Caamley across the mask. “You’re jumping to such a wild conclusion right now, that doesn’t making even the mildest bit of sense. For once, leave your conspiracy theories to rest!”

Caamley look at his friend in shock, the sting of the slap knocking the words out of his rambling mouth. “I’m— I’m sorry,” he said. “You’re right, I need to cool down.”

“You can do that later,” Orkahm said, feeling a wave of guilt for slapping his friend. Several other villagers had looked in their direction at the sound of the altercation. “And I’m, I’m sorry too.”

“You fools need to knock off whatever it is between you,” a villager next to them said, pointing to the  waterfall pouring into the cliffside. “There are a number of lives at stake. We need to warn Kongu.”

Kamen was too far to reach, and fortunately for the Utywans’ sake the Tenpravihn messengers were unable to reach those on the mountain. We’re in a world of disaster, Peck thought as he tried not to imagine Shaktar up on the mountain, and the consequences that were soon to follow.

“You want me to do what?” Kongu asked.

“Use your powers, put air pressure on the caves to reinforce it,” Kopaka explained once more. “If you do that while I try to keep the water frozen, we’ll be able to evacuate before this place either floods or collapses.”

“I’ve never used my powers like that before,” Kongu said. Another tremor ran through the cave, and Peck glared at the Toa.

“To Karzahni with experience,” the Skakdi swore. “You need to try, and now Toa, before this place comes down on everyone.”

Closing his eyes, Kongu extended his arms, feeling the air around him. He let elemental energy pour from him, reaching every particle of air in the catacombs to take control of it. From the breezes coming in from the bay to the air slipping through the cracks of the crumbling ceiling, he took control of every atom, and willed it to begin to

“He’s got it,” Peck said as he watched Kongu’s mask concentrate.

“Yes,” the Toa of Air grunted. “But I can feel more air slipping through the cracks in the walls. You need to get the evacuation done quickly.”

“I don’t know how… much longer I can hold on either,” Kopaka said, hands still unleashing ice on the water. A large portion remained frozen, but the continual spillage of the river from above would wear away at the column of ice. A number of slabs had already broken off and fallen to the slowly filling cavern floor. Water was already up to waist level on the Matoran whom had not evacuated yet.

“What do we do, Turaga?” asked Okoth, who had joined the group.

“You have to abandon your home, Turaga,” Peck insisted. “This place is coming down, and if you don’t leave, you’ll die.”

“We can’t leave the Toa!”

“And we aren’t going to,” Peck told her. Grabbing the smaller being, he hoisted her over her shoulder. “Kopaka,” he called to the Toa Nuva of Ice. “Your job here is done too. Come with us.”

“And leave Kongu?” asked the Toa Nuva.

“We’re not leaving him,” said the Skakdi. “Your powers will get everyone to safety. Follow me.”

“Go,” Kongu said, concentrating as he used his powers. “Get everyone out of here.”

Toa Nuva and Skakdi ran through the tunnel caves, Tenpravihn and Utywan Matoran alike not far behind. They whipped through the curves towards where Peck knew the bay lay. As they ran, they could feel the entirety of the place tremble. The waterfall must have broken the ice column, or something. Peck looked behind, wary of falling debris on the Matoran, but there was none.

They came around a bend, and there it was, sunlight from the bay shining through a hole. Splashing through puddles where the waterfall used to pour in, they came to a slow stop at the edge of the hole. They were somewhere in the middle of the cliff, the waters below Peck set Gali down and looked at the tired Toa Nuva of Ice.

“You want us to jump to our death?” Okoth asked him incredulously. Peck shook his head.

“We need a slide,” he said to the Toa Nuva of Ice. Kopaka nodded— he was utterly tired from his earlier usage of his powers, but the urgency of the villagers mattered more than his exhaustion. Letting his powers unleash once more, a slide down to the baywaters below formed before the crowd’s eyes. Frost came under their feet as Kopaka fused it to the rock, and it was ready.

He pushed Peck towards it. “Go!” the Toa yelled, pushing more Matoran to join the Skakdi. He watched them all slide down on it, each of them splashing into the bay far below.

Gali looked at her brother with a look of thanks, and grabbed his forearm. “Thank you. Now go get our brother Toa back there.” Kopaka nodded, his Akaku shifting to a Kakama Nuva as he summoned the Mask of Speed.

The tremors within were getting worse, Kopaka could feel as he sped through the collapsing caves with the Kakama Nuva. The walls and floors were cracking, widening with each moment, and sections of rock began to fall. Special abilities thanks to the Nuva version of this mask kept Kopaka safe, but he was not invincible. He needed to get to Kongu before the falling rubble found its way to the Toa Mahri.

Kongu was struggling. The cliffs were crumbling all around him, and it was getting infinitely more difficult in using his power over air pressure to keep the structure intact. He was failing, and if he had to do it any longer…. he did not want to think about that. But the Matoran needed to get out of there, and if he couldn’t hold it long enough for them to escape, it was all for naught.

A hit to the midsection took the wind out of him. Suddenly all the strain was gone from him his body, and Kongu was being pulled away.

Peck treaded water in the bay, as the crowd of Matoran swam by him to get to the beaches far away from the cliffside. Tenpravihn fishermen had come in their boats, helping ferry their fellow villagers and Utywans alike away from the danger. The ice slide had crumbled, but all those who were inside  were safe now. Peck’s eyes were now fixated on the shaking structure, treading water with baited breath as he looked for some flash of two Toa emerging.

Before Peck’s eyes, the entire cliffside came down. The place where Gali had made her home for probably centuries was suddenly no more. Time seemed to slow as he watched in horror, boulders as large as an Utywan ship falling into the bay. As they crashed into the water, waves formed and were sent hurtling towards the sea, swamping over those still in the water. Fishermen’s canoes rocked and wobbled, swamped by water. Peck was thrown under by the waves, his eyes fixated on the cliffs now seeing the black of the bay.

Someone pulled him up and into a canoe, where he sputtered for air. He tried to get up to look again for the Utywan Toa, but he could not see anything as his eyelids fell.

Not more disaster, he thought of his newfound home before passing out.

From far above, Toa Shaktar stood on an outside balcony overlooking the mountainside, Toa Kamen at his side. The Toa of Stone watched in horror. He had felt the tremors out in his region, and came before Gali’s messenger Rahi could reach him. But Bioaku was as close as he had been able to get. He now watched in horror as the disaster down at the bayside unfolded.

Beside him, Toa Shaktar was silent, his mind awhirl. So that was what the virus was capable of. Not a pleasant result, he hated to see his home harmed, but he needed to keep the attention away from his mountain. This had been the way he had seen fit to do so. The Makuta virus would not do this to those who had drank the water, he knew. Its affects were different on living organisms, he knew, but there would still be some result to see.

“What do we do?” asked Kamen, surveying the scene through a borrowed Akaku. “That is not something I can repair with my powers.”

“Go, do what you can,” Shaktar urged him. “Tend to whomever you can, and I will be shortly behind you.” Kamen nodded, knowing his aloof elder brother would find something in Bioaku that might be able to help the situation.

The Toa and the Skakdi will be on their way up here, the Toa of Ice thought. If they seek to know why, then I will show them.

Peck came to face half buried in the sand. Coughing he let out baywater, taking in a deep gulp of air. Picking himself up, Peck looked around to see crowds still in a panic. Matoran finding their companions were hugging in despair, cries filling the beach as reality set in that they could have died in the collapse. Peck frowned at all of this, feeling sympathy for the Matoran, but something else as well.

A hand on his shoulder made him look up. Kopaka stood next to the Skakdi, holding out an arm to help him to his feet.

“To Bioaku?” he asked, practically reading his cohort’s mind.

“To Bioaku,” Peck growled, stomping up the beach in anger. ns-monogram1

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