Keddik's Bargain

Written by KDNX & Yossarian

Illustration by Sandia_head

From the desk of Kodan, Chronicler of Metru Nui

The following is a series of excerpts from a journal recovered from the Tren Krom Peninsula. Written by a Bo-Matoran named Keddik, it is believed that the Toa of Air mentioned in many of the journal’s final entries is Toa Nidhiki, Metru Nui’s Toa of Air. The journal was found in a partially-collapsed cavern, alongside evidence of former habitation. The area appears to have been deserted quickly. None of Keddik’s other personal effects were able to be located. The journal seems to be around seven to ten years old. For brevity, sections of the journal have been omitted. The original copy will be retained at the Wall of History for recordkeeping purposes.

Day 571

Today, the Makuta visited us again.

The last time she was here, she fought off a horrific beast. The sight hasn’t left my mind. That sickly pink form, oozing as its halves slid apart, split by the Makuta’s vicious battleaxe. The Mistress of the Acid Falls, they call her, and for good reason. It was almost elegant. I watched her sling the great fleshy lumps into the falls, which hissed and blackened as they dissolved under the flow.

Makuta visited us today for a different reason. Her appearance cast a deadly pall on the village - work seemed to halt, and all eyes were trained on her… and me. She had come with a proposition.

She knew that there were more beasts that could threaten my village and our operation.  She was also careful to point out that as the village leader, it is my business to know the  comings and goings of the area around the acid falls. So, in return for her protection, I would furnish Makuta with regular and detailed reports on the state of the area, and turn in any Matoran who would oppose her. With so many looking to me to keep the village safe, it was impossible to refuse. 

Satisfied, she flew from the cavern like some sort of sick insect. I shuddered at the sight. She left a trail of black smoke that hung in the air.

Later the same day, I saw something truly out of the ordinary. Here, where the general consensus is that the Great Spirit has forsaken us… a Toa? Couldn’t be. And I needn’t call her back this soon on what is only an unsubstantiated sighting. Nevertheless, there will be more guards near the entrance tonight.

Day 575

This morning, a Matoran came to tell me about a party who would endeavor to leave the Peninsula. At first, I was utterly relieved. Finally, I could escape this wretched, stinking spit of land. But the relief was soured by a pit in my stomach when I thought of my village. Here is where I had to stay - where we all had to stay.

I asked her to show me the boat. It was a small, hastily-assembled craft, with space for about six Matoran. Good Ga-Matoran craftsmanship went into it, and its hull was shored up by Fe-Matoran steel, perfect for the jagged, rocky shores of the Peninsula. It was the best these Matoran could do, but it would get the job done.

I feigned hearing one of the monstrous Rahi, and ushered the Ga-Matoran back to the village. Once she was out of sight, I drew Makuta’s sigil on the beach’s sand and crushed a lightstone in my palm, scattering its dust into the shallow lines I carved. I lit a flame in its center, which caught on the lightstone shards and erupted into a low green flame. The shadows suddenly grew thick around me, and the Makuta appeared so abruptly I was startled. She visibly fumed as I explained the escapees’ plan.

That evening, I told the Ga-Matoran I could not accompany her away from the Peninsula. “It’s my duty to our village,” I had said, “but I will send more along when I can.”

I watched from afar as she, the Fe-Matoran, two Po-Matoran, and a Ce-Matoran boarded the small craft and embarked. They made it about two bio from the shore when a black mass burst from beneath the waves, capsizing the boat. I watched the Matoran of Water and Matoran of Psionics swim for their lives as the Makuta lifted the Fe-Matoran. The two Po-Matoran did not resurface. I could not bear to watch what she did next.

A quiet head count later that night revealed to me that none returned.

I’m faced with the possibility that this is my fault. Is it right to trade their lives like this? It must be. A whole village for the cost of a few… traitors? It’s a dereliction of Duty, not to mention Unity. But I still have reservations…

It’s nothing. It had to be done.

Day 577

I saw the Toa again today, skulking around near the village. I know him to be a Toa for certain, a Toa of Air wearing what seems to be a Mask of Stealth. He was stalking a Rahi wearing an infected Kanohi. I watched him kill and feed on it mercilessly. He seems to be as desperate as we are.

I’m weighing my options. Do I contact Makuta again? Do I bring the Toa into our fold? This would be a prize indeed for the Makuta, but am I willing to give up a Toa for… for what?

My villagers are starving. Some have gone a very long time without food, but the work must continue. If I can get this Toa into the village, he can help us gather supplies, and sustenance. But, what would I get from the Makuta for turning him in?

I will have to sleep on it tonight, I think.

Day 578

This morning, I contacted Makuta, and informed her of a Toa in the area. She was characteristically severe. My orders are to keep an eye on him, so keep an eye I shall. In fact, as I write, I’m preparing to hunt the Toa. At the right moment, I will strike from the shadows and bring him to our village. I will update this entry when I return.

My plan was rebuffed. The Toa caught me as I sprang upon him, and demanded to know my intent. Apparently, I hadn’t been the best at remaining unheard.

I told him my name, and my position as leader of Ul-Koro. He only offered me what I already knew: his element. Despite my prodding, he wouldn’t tell me his name. He did agree to accompany me back to the village, though.

My people were awed by his physique and powers. The Toa grinned with pride as they begged him to demonstrate his elemental abilities again and again. I could feel a sliver of hope growing among them.

That only makes this that much harder.

Day 580

I went with the Toa on a hunt today. We moved through the treetops, searching for bird Rahi to bring back to the village and eat. Sure enough, I pointed out a nest to the Toa, and we moved in.

The four Gukko in the nest sprang into the air as we approached. I leapt and grabbed onto the tail of the smallest as they took off. The Toa followed quickly, lifting himself on a column of air.

Clinging onto the Rahi for dear life, I braced to feel the rush of the wind against my mask, prepared to hold my breath as the bird reached top speed. However, no such thing happened. In fact, I pried my eyes open to see the Gukko struggling to keep its speed up, its three brethren vanishing over the canopy ahead. Its chest heaved as it laboriously breathed.

Suddenly, the Gukko dropped from the air. I braced myself and gripped the bird’s back tightly. The Rahi and I fell, landing on branch after branch, before hitting the ground hard. I stood and dusted myself off as the Toa floated down on a gust of wind.

The Gukko was clearly ill. Its eyes were dull, and its breathing was loud and ragged. The Toa paid it no mind as he killed it.

“This isn’t a place for mercy,” he told me. “It’s eat or be eaten here.”

Sure enough, a creature came along to turn the two of us from eaters to eaten. One of the gelatinous horrors of the Peninsula crashed through the trees, nearly crushing the Toa of Air with a falling log. In an instant, the Toa dashed off, leaving the Gukko’s corpse. I was stranded.

I yelled out for his help as I dragged the Rahi’s body, but I couldn’t even hear myself scream over the sound of the creature’s roars. A pink tentacle slammed me onto my back.

All of a sudden, the clearing went quiet. I looked up, and saw the Toa atop the creature’s back, scythe buried in its brain. He dragged it carelessly from the gooey flesh of the monster, stepped off of its back, and dispassionately helped me to my feet.

“Sorry,” he muttered tersely as he left me to drag the Gukko home.

Day 583

The Toa has been living outside the village ever since I brought him here. I have to pray to whichever legend will listen that he’s still in his hut when I go to see him in the morning. Mata Nui? No. Artakha? Maybe. Karzahni? I can’t imagine a place worse than this.

Our village has been prospering since I introduced the Toa. He has been keeping us alive. I haven’t had much of a chance to express my gratitude, though. The Toa keeps us at arm’s length, doing what he must and never more. That might be a good thing. I don’t want to be too attached when the time comes for Makuta to return.

Today, I was at my post by the acid falls. It was my turn to collect the burning green liquid that poured over the cliffs and bring it to the bottling station. A couple weeks back, our village was shaken when one of our number went missing as he worked.

Lost in thought as I was, I barely had time to react as I took a false step, the cliffside crumbling away beneath my foot.

The corrosive acid falls had carved a series of holes in the ground by their path, forming a system of caves, cliffs, and bridges. It was near the top that the acid bottling station was located, and it was a short walk to push the collector along the cliff to the falls. As I slipped, I grabbed onto the collector, tipping the vat over and pouring its contents onto the acid-logged dirt. Narrowly avoiding burning myself, I swung my body back as the acid fell into the chasm.

My hand was losing its purchase. I was certain that I was about to be the next victim of the falls.

In an instant, I was swept from the cliff’s edge, winded by a powerful force. It was our resident Toa of Air, who had seen my plight and rescued me at the last moment. We landed on an adjacent cliff. I watched the collector plummet from the cliffside, slam loudly into a bluff, crumpling, and finally careen into the pool of acid at the base of the falls.

“It’s just a tool,” the Toa commented. “It can be replaced.” It seemed like he was trying to comfort me.

I had better make arrangements for another collector to be sent to the village.

Day 585

The Toa still won’t tell me his name. Today, I stood firmly at the door to his hut and demanded he tell me his name, by order of Keddik, leader of Ul-Koro. He simply laughed, saying a Matoran held no sway over him. He pushed past me to leave, grabbing his scythe as he did.

Despite my warnings that today would not be a safe day to hunt, he entered the wilderness, and I found myself tailing him. The guards had spotted wild Rahkshi in the woods last night, and I knew that even one had the potential to match a Toa.

We did see a Rahkshi, sure enough - a Rahkshi of Plant Control, one of the worst breeds one could expect around here. The Toa kept us out of sight. I did my best to camouflage my blue-and-green armor amidst the foliage, but he had the power of a Mask of Stealth at his disposal. Cloaked, we watched a Muaka spring from the trees to consume the Rahkshi, eager for its favorite food.

The wilderness suddenly came to life, branches reaching out to ensnare the Muaka and constrict it. The Toa’s hand over my mouth kept me from screaming in terror as thorned vines tore into the cat-Rahi. Once the Muaka ceased breathing, the Toa of Air picked up a small stone and tossed it in the opposite direction of the village, keeping it aloft for a time on a wind gust before it audibly dropped to the ground. The Rahkshi turned its head in the direction of the sound and stalked into the treeline, on the hunt for its source.

I turned, and saw the Toa shaking in fear. When I asked, he pretended not to know what I was talking about.

Day 589

The Toa has had a single mind about the Rahkshi for the past few days. He says it’s unsafe to let it freely roam the Peninsula. I’ve tried to tell him that these things are normal, but he won’t hear it. I can’t tell if he is still afraid, or if he has begun to genuinely care about our safety. He left this morning, trying to track it. I would have followed if not for the telepathic contact I received from Makuta. She was angry.

She demanded to know about the status of the Toa. Turns out, in the past couple weeks, I had forgotten to keep her updated. Not that it mattered, because she had been probing my brain crystal. She didn’t like what she saw. I tried to tell her that she could come do what she wished with the Toa, but she wouldn’t direct her fury away from me. I stopped hearing her voice in my head a few moments ago and I’ve been writing hastily since. Now, I must go alert the village guards and have the gate closed. Makuta will be here soon and we are in danger.

I can only hope that the Toa will escape her wrath.

From the desk of Kodan, Chronicler of Metru Nui

This journal seems troubling - if it truly describes our Toa Nidhiki. I have heard stories of the horrors of the Tren Krom Peninsula, but never how they affected those who live there. The wanton killing and cold cowardice is unbecoming of a Toa. In addition, this Keddik’s moral character is complicated, to say the least. And it is nothing if not interesting how he justifies his decisions. I suppose I can say I’ve learned about life on the Peninsula, at least.