Knowledge Is Power: Part 2
Read Part 1 of Knowledge Is Power here.
The twin moons still hung in the night sky as Paravhiki headed into an inconspicuous building in one of the more mundane parts of Le-Metru. The door had a rather small sign that had “drinks” etched into it, the only hint as to what the nature of the building was. Paravhiki opened it and was greeted by a familiar scene of a Bo-Matoran tending a bar with various juices and berries behind him, with eight others as patrons who sucked down colorful cocktails of these flavors expertly blended together. One patron was sitting at the bar, a Le-Matoran with teal accents and Great Pakari - this was his contact. Paravhiki sat down next to him, placing some widgets down on the counter for a drink. The bartender scooped them up and placed down Paravhiki’s usual in front of him, a Gala Parbola. The detective took a long swig before addressing the Matoran next to him. “Did you find what I needed, Demak?” “Yes, I did, but you know Turaga Bomupar has forbidden the Akutana e-Metru Nui from obtaining and distributing information regarding other Matoran in Metru Nui.” Demak took a sip of his Rangimelon Juice. “I do.”
“So then you know I can’t tell you that the crew that’s working at Dock 451 was authorized by another Ko-Matoran scholar, who’s had them sporadically work at that dock over the last few months.” “Of course.”
“I couldn’t even tell you his name is Idek either, as that’d be a breach of privacy.”
“Sorry you couldn’t be more help, Demak,” Paravhiki smirked as he took another drink. “My hands are tied, old friend,” Demak couldn’t suppress his grin.
“I’m sure I’ll figure something out on my own.”
Demak’s face fell slightly, “Do you really think you can trust her?” “I don’t trust her,” Paravhiki corrected. “She’s simply a means to an end.”
“You know she sees you the same way?” “It’s the only reason I’ve gone this far with hearing her out; as long as I’m useful to her, the information she gives will be useful to me.”
“What do you think she’ll do with you when you’re not useful anymore?”
“By the time that happens, the leverage she has on me won’t have the weight it does now.” He finished his drink and left a tip for both the bartender and for Demak. “See you next week.”
Paravhiki headed out the door, taking in the brisk night air to prepare himself for the cold of Ko-Metru once more.
It was just at the break of dawn when Paravhiki arrived in Ko-Metru, orange sunlight bleeding onto the snow and through the ice. There was a peaceful silence to everything, no Rahi were awake and there wasn't a hushed bustle of Ko-Matoran. It was the calm before the storm. The detective silently made his way to the area in the Towers of Reason that had been a crime scene hours ago, though by now, it had no indication as such. He climbed up the spiraling steps, floor after floor, until he was at the one which had the office of the Ko-Matoran scholar Idek; the same floor where the murder had been commited.
Scholars and astronomers of Ko-Metru practically lived in their offices in which they studied and wrote down their findings. Idek was no exception, as he opened the door to his office upon hearing Paravhiki knocking. Idek was surprised to see the Task Force Official on the other side of the door.
“Oh! You’re from the Metru Nui Task Force...I thought that everything that had happened here had been taken care of?” “Not quite, Idek,” Paravhiki answered coolly. ”I have some questions to ask of you, may I come in?” Idek hesitated. “Really? I had already given my statement to the other Officials, I was in my office when -” “Then this should be quick then, shouldn’t it?" Paravhiki took a good look at the scholar. His mask was a sand blue Noble Matatu, clean and well-cared for. The armor on the rest of his body, conversely, was littered with deep scratches and pockmarks. The scholars in the Knowledge Towers usually had the cleanest armor in Metru Nui, even after the war. To have a mask so pristine but the rest left with wear and tear was odd, to say the least. Paravhiki repeated, “May I come in?”
Idek was silent for a few moments before relenting, his voice tight. “Yes, of course.” The office was well-kept; however, many things looked as though they had been untouched for some time, including a table - strewn with crystalline and glass tools used for examining star charts and looking for constellations - in the center of the room. Something Paravhiki noted was the large telescope wasn’t pointed at the stars, but down lower and pointed towards Le-Metru. A telescope powerful enough to make a star look as big as his thumb used to look at a Metru this scholar could easily visit.
“So, Idek, tell me why you -” Paravhiki’s sentence was interrupted at the sound of shattering glass and crystal. Idek had kicked up the table to fling everything on it towards the detective.
Instinctively, Paravhiki pulled his cape forwards to cover his body and face, the tough, durable fabric shielding him from the glass and ice. He moved through the flying shards, jumping onto the table to give him extra height as he leaped forward, kicking Idek in the mask. Idek fell backwards and hit his head against the wall as the table tipped back onto four legs from Paravhiki’s weight. Paravhiki advanced and reached for his baton. Idek unsheathed a knife hidden in his thigh armor. The blade glinted in the light with a toxic green hue, slashing towards the detective. He grabbed Idek’s arm as the other Matoran thrust downwards, using the momentum to flip him over and onto the table with a loud crunch of residual shards still left on it. Idek’s arm was bent in a way it definitely wasn’t supposed to, loosening his grip on the knife.
Paravhiki grabbed the knife and stabbed the weapon into the table next to Idek’s intact arm, the blade pointed towards his flesh should he try to move from where he lay. Paravhiki held the broken arm in place with one hand, hitting the record button on the data pad latched to his hip with the other. “You’re not really Idek, are you?” “I’ll have you put away for abusing an innocent Matoran!” ‘Idek’ spat. ”There’s witnesses!”
“And what they’ll see is a Ko-Matoran who has unkempt armor uncharacteristic of who he says he is, who ruined an office he should care more about than his own heartlight, carrying a knife coated in - what is that, Rockworm venom? Not something carried by a scholar - that’s usually something carried by the top-ranking members of the Kopen Stingers, right?”
The Ko-Matoran grimaced. “You might as well take that knife and use it on me, ‘cos I’m not telling you a thing!”
“If you really felt that way, you’d have turned it on yourself the moment I found you out.” He tightened his grip on the fake Idek’s arm, causing him to wince.
“You killed an innocent Matoran and put the blame on his apprentice.” Paravhiki unlatched the datapad and brought it towards ‘Idek’s’ mask. “So you’re gonna tell me what happened into my datapad here and give a nice confession for everyone back at HQ.” ‘Idek’s’ eyes went wide with fear. “N-no! He’ll kill me if I do that! I can’t -”
“I thought you’d rather die anyway?” Paravhiki shot back. “If you confess, I can give you protection as a witness. And if there’s some way they have an ‘in’ on the Task Force, you can tell us before they can do anything to you. Does that sound better than being left rotting on the ocean floor like old Rahi bones by your buddies?”
“FINE! Fine...” He relented. “My name is Zanten, and I’m a hitman for Rudavi.”
“Rudavi? You mean the Le-Matoran that’s on several councils and owns businesses in manufacturing parts of machinery and construction?” Paravhiki said in mock surprise; Rudavi’s connection to the Stingers as their leader was known, but had never been proven with admissible evidence. “He’s the one in charge of the Stingers?” Zanten grunted in frustration. “Yes, that Rudavi. He had me kidnap the real Idek and pose as him to get close to Totahri. These Dermis Turtles have their attention so focused on the sky they never noticed the difference. I told him whatever he wanted to hear to make him think he could be better than his teacher, then persuaded him to give me the information to access the Knowledge Crystal storage and have a cut of them shipped to Xia on a boat that had some of its cargo swapped out. By the time the little Cliff Bug figured out what was going on, he had to keep playing along or wind up missing.” He gave a pained chuckle. “It was so easy too, he was such a b -”
He suddenly cried out in agony; Paravhiki had twisted his arm. “Keep going...”
“I...I had to poison his teacher when he started noticing the discrepancy in the numbers of Crystals loaded in storage versus the crystals pulled for use. Totahri couldn’t squeal without getting heat from us, so he should’ve taken the fall and that would’ve been that as we made our final shipment and cut our losses. But you had to stick your mask in it, didn’t you?”
Paravhiki flipped Zanten onto his chest, away from the knife, as he cuffed him. “That’s my job, and I think I did pretty good work too. Now let's get you down to HQ; I’m going to have to fill out a lot of tabletwork because of the mess you made.”
The events following Zanten’s arrest seemed to fly by. The criminal’s confession was confirmed in writing with the promise of protection by the Task Force for his valuable testimony, and the Task Force made an announcement to the public shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, the smuggled shipment of Knowledge Crystals was found on the ship and seized, then brought back into storage. The members of the Kopen Stingers who were posing as laborers were also quickly arrested thanks to the information about which shift of workers were signed off by Zanten posing as Idek. Idek himself was shortly found unconscious at a small hideout in Ko-Metru, and was soon well enough to participate in Ehtoro’s funeral with the recently released Totahri.
Following all this, the Le-Matoran Rudavi was quick to deny any affiliation with an individual who had been a publicly-seen bodyguard of his for some time. “I promise a swift and thorough investigation of those in my employ, and to root out anyone who may falsely implicate others of wrongdoing,” he said, addressing the droves of Matoran who tore into the scandalous affair with vigor at the public meeting he gave shortly after the news came out. Despite the evidence pointing towards Rudavi being the leader of the Kopen Stingers, he wasn’t removed from the positions of power he had attained, and instead put on a probationary period as he was investigated by various groups and officials. He may not have been completely stripped of influence, but his every move was now under the scrutiny of the public and the law - a position akin to Karzahni for a group like the Kopen Stingers, and would hinder many operations for months if not years.
It was a bittersweet victory for Paravhiki; not just because the Kopen Stingers hadn’t gone out of business because of this information, but because if it weren’t for the tip from Nanohi, he wouldn’t have figured out the case before the shipment made it off Metru Nui. Totahri would have been falsely convicted, and the Kopen Stingers would have succeeded in fooling the justice system once more. He thought about all this as he sucked down another glass of juice at his usual go-to spot in Le-Metru. He heard the small bell chime at the front door; he expected to see one of the handful of regulars or even Demak come to cheer him up. Instead he saw Totahri, who looked rather happy to see Paravhiki. “Oh good! You’re here! I’ve been trying to find you!”
“Totahri? Is everything alright?” Paravhiki hadn't expected to see the Matoran so soon, or to see him this excited after everything that happened.
“O-oh yes, quite alright! I-I actually came here to thank you, but had a bit of trouble finding you. I asked around and I was pointed here, almost didn’t even see it. I suppose that’s the point of it, though.”
Paravhiki didn’t hide his surprise as Totahri sat next to him. “Thank me? It’s been a while since anyone has done that for any of the cases I worked on.“ “Why wouldn’t I? You were the only one who was willing to believe me when the local officials were ready to write me off as the culprit with such certainty. You brought justice to the Matoran who was responsible for Ehtoro’s murder and gave closure to those who knew him. Matoran like you are the reason the Task Force does its job so well, and I wish more of them were like you.” Paravhiki was silent; it had been a long time since he had been shown gratitude like this. It reminded him why he took this job in the first place. Not for any glory, not for petty politics, but to directly affect others lives and help them cast aside hangups about each other. A Ko-Matoran scholar was talking to a Ta-Matoran at a Le-Metru juice bar. If you told that to most Matoran, they’d think it was a setup for a joke at one or the other's expense. Finally, Paravhiki was able to let out the words, “Thank you”, without choking up. “That means a lot coming from you.”
Totahri smiled beneath his mask, then had a look of realization. “Oh! I almost forgot: a Ga-Matoran who said she knew you wanted me to give you this. Don’t worry, I didn’t peek at it.” He handed Paravhiki a small note on thin, folded metal. It was easier to transport than stone tablets, but not as durable. They were often used for personal notes like the one he’d been handed. Totahri got up before Paravhiki could ask about the note. “I’m sorry to leave as abruptly as I arrived, but I need to get back to the Towers before the scholars get upset that I’ve been gone too long. Thank you again! If I’m ever in trouble again, I know who to look for!”
The Ko-Matoran made his way out of the bar, the small bell chime signalling his departure. Paravhiki was left alone with the folded note, which had his name on it. He unfolded it and read the contents.
“Thank you for all you’ve done. I know you may not agree with my methods, perhaps you never will, but I hope you know I stand for the same things you do. I have discarded the information regarding aspects of your past; if you choose not to believe that, I understand. Just know I do not wish to seek your help from any sort of obligation from here on out - only if you trust my information. You make a difference, and I want that to be a positive one. Thank you, until we meet again.”
The note didn’t have a signature of any kind, but it was obvious who the sender was. Paravhiki tucked the note away and sipped on his drink, wondering how long it would be before they met again, and if he would know it was her when they did.