Updated: Mar 22, 2020
You can read part two of Keyaji's recount here.
by Keto Keyaji, Akutana e Metru Nui, recorded 85,024 a.A.
At dawn on the next day, we got up and made ready to leave our Mistress’ chambers. As Mistress Yandra led us down all the stairs we had climbed up just the day before, back into the fortress’ lab complex, Visca was hardly able to suppress his excitement at getting to see a proper Makuta laboratory. I told him multiple times that he had been working in one for thousands of years in Inoatra, but he wouldn’t listen, insisting that the special equipment they had available here would make a huge difference.
The circular lab complex that formed most of the fortress’ Inner Ring was a massive five story structure, each story containing a total of twenty laboratories. For such an important building it was almost eerily silent, however. All I heard on our way to our Mistress’ personal lab were a pair of hushed voices coming from down a hallway and a set of footsteps climbing another stairwell. The main hallway went in a circle around the inner wall of the complex, so that we could see the Tower of Guidance through the windows at all times. The other wall of the hallway held the great doors to the labs – each one big enough to fit a Kane-Ra, the spaces in between decorated with Brotherhood banners, polished weapons, suits of armor and more gemstone-eyed Rahkshi statues.
Eventually we reached the door to our Mistress’ lab, although like all the others it was more a gate than a door, unadorned and made from solid Protosteel. Visca gasped as it opened and I have to admit that even I was impressed by the sheer size of the room behind it – no, not a room, a hall, big enough to easily fit two hundred Matoran workers had not most of the space been filled with all kinds of machinery and equipment. The inner wall was taken up entirely by a dozen large vats the smaller likes of which Mistress Yandra had used in Inoatra to create Rahi in, while the ceiling was covered in pipes of various sizes and colors that led to different pieces of equipment. Closer inspection revealed that unlike Visca had predicted there wasn’t anything major in this lab we didn’t have access to in Inoatra, however. Only the size and capacity of everything meant we would be able to work far more efficiently and save a lot of time – which was exactly why we came to Destral, as it turned out.
Our Mistress unrolled a large scroll she had been carrying with her and placed it on a set of tables for us to see. On the small interlinked Protodermis plates was written in tiny letters a list of what experiments we were going to conduct. Months of work in Inoatra from what I quickly gathered while scanning over the list, but with Destral’s resources only a matter of a few weeks of hard work. Mistress Yandra hadn’t been joking when she told us the evening before to get some sleep while we still could.
It is not the purpose of this text nor is there space enough to go into detail about all the experiments we conducted. For most of our stay on Destral our Mistress’ lab became not only our workplace, but also the place where we lived. We learned to take naps whenever an experiment allowed us to wait for an hour or two before continuing, and took our sustenance right from a pair of valves built into the lab’s wall just for the exact purpose that whoever worked here didn’t need to leave. Only our Mistress was coming and going during that time, retrieving information from the library, fetching viruses and taking away the few Rahi she created during this time to oversee their testing.
In my memories these weeks of frantic work are mostly a blur, but I remember clearly the relief we felt as we reached the last column on our list, then finally finished the last distillation and filled the product into a storage container. After that I think we both passed out, for the next thing I remember is raising my head from our Mistress’ to-do list and seeing Visca sitting on the floor with his back to a drying chamber and still fast asleep. I have no idea how long we had slept, but Mistress Yandra certainly had noticed, for when she entered the lab soon after and found me awake she mockingly remarked that if we were finished lazing around we could get started with cleaning up. Shaking Visca awake, that was what we did, while Mistress Yandra sorted through the carefully written down results of our experiments and checked the various storage containers we had filled. She discovered a flaw or two which she made clear meant certain experiments needed to be repeated, but overall looked pleased with our work. Sensing an opportunity to get to see more of the fortress than just this lab, I asked our Mistress if we could have the afternoon off. She looked at me for a long moment, until I was sure she was going to decline, but then shrugged and said she’d arrange for someone to accompany us, but that she expected us to do equally good work over the next days. Then she left the lab while Visca and I continued cleaning up.
When we were finally finished we left the lab to properly stretch our legs for what felt like the first time in forever, but not a second after we got out the door we were intercepted by a Toa. My surprise quickly turned to joy as I recognized Hailari, the Toa of Water who had welcomed and escorted us to the fortress at our arrival on Destral. Hailari told us she had volunteered when Mistress Yandra requested a chaperon for us. I had expected some bored mercenary, or worse, a Rahkshi, so I almost couldn’t believe that I would have the chance to talk to a Toa Hagah for an entire afternoon! Visca, however, was less enthusiastic, telling us he’d rather spend his free time catching up with sleep in our Mistress’ quarters than stumbling through the fortress’ hallways. This surprised me at first, after all we just got what I assumed must have been an entire night’s sleep, for I felt thoroughly refreshed, but then I noticed Visca’s drooping eyelids and the slightly flickering glow of his heartlight. From what I dimly recalled he had been cleaning the flasks we had used to extract the sap from Bonu Cefatu plants. He must have had inhaled some of its residue.
Hailari was concerned when I told her we had to take Visca to Mistress Yandra’s quarters, but I explained to her there was no need to worry. I couldn’t see any signs that he got into direct contact with any other potentially problematic chemicals, so some time to recover was all he needed.
Visca’s steps were a little unsteady, so while Hailari led the way through the fortress and up the various stairwells I made sure to stay behind Visca to keep him from tumbling down the stairs if he stumbled.
On the way I asked Hailari how she could afford spending so much of her time with two Matoran that weren’t even working for the Makuta she was assigned to. Indeed she looked a little uncomfortable as she thought about her reply. Finally she told me that she wasn’t even sure why her Master kept a Hagah team, as he was a scientist and spent most of his time on Destral. The leader of their team shared his interest in science and assisted him, but the others, Hailari included, were basically left without orders, only occasionally being sent on missions for other Makuta who didn’t keep a Hagah team. Hailari closed with a remark that it was a strange position to end in for a hero of Metru Nui.
We had reached the door to our Mistress’ quarters by then, but I paused on the last stair. Hailari’s last words had me suddenly recall carvings I had seen at the Great Temple in Ga-Metru on one of my visits to the city. Confused I looked up at the Toa – her mask had a different shape, as did her armor, but wasn’t it said that Toa Hagah received new ones upon entering service with the Brotherhood? And didn’t the carvings mention names?
Hailari had noticed me staring and turned around with a smile, spreading her arms in a half-serious gesture of grandeur, telling me that yes, indeed, she had been a member of the Toa Tahakh-Aki once, the mythical team of heroes who defeated the Kanohi Dragon in Metru Nui near the beginning of our timeline. I have to admit I was at a loss of words at that. Hailari Wavebreaker, the Silver Shield, a hero to this day remembered and celebrated throughout Metru Nui stood right in front of me!
While we talked, Visca had already proceeded to the door and opened it, vanishing inside. As my mind still was occupied with Hailari’s revelation, I didn’t even notice anything strange before I nearly walked into him. I at first thought he maybe had fallen asleep while standing up, in which case he might have inhaled more of the Bonu Cefatu extract than I had figured, but then a calm, but serious voice asked us what in the name of Mata Nui and the Three Virtues we were doing here. It dawned on me that instant that Visca in his drugged state hadn’t opened the door leading to our Mistress’ quarters, but instead the one opposite that led to the quarters of some other Makuta!
The room we found ourselves in on the first glance looked a lot like what I had seen in Mistress Yandra’s quarters – only tidier and furnished in a way that clearly said that this Makuta spent far more time in them than our Mistress did in hers. Shelves filled with stone tablets dominated large parts of the walls, the few free spaces they left being covered by large carvings depicting Rahi or islands. A display case in one corner held a necklace fashioned from what looked like teeth decorated with ornate carvings. What mainly caught my attention at that very moment, of course, was the Makuta clad in black and white armor who occupied one of the three chairs in the room. He was holding a tablet that he must have been reading and examined the two of us with a gaze that made clear he expected an answer.
Hailari rescued us. She stepped into the doorway behind us so that the Makuta could see her and saluted, proceeding to explain Visca’s state in a few words and that he just confused doors, offering apologies for the intrusion.
When he heard we were Mistress Yandra’s assistants the Makuta put down his tablet and got up. He seemed genuinely interested when he asked us how we came to serve our Mistress, given that she was rather picky with who she employed.
I had recovered enough by that point to tell him that Visca originally simply was a local chemist whom our Mistress recruited when she first arrived in Inoatra as a guide and informant concerning local things. I on the other hand had met another Makuta years earlier while studying the flora of Kahra and he had suggested me to Mistress Yandra who was searching for another assistant with knowledge of plants and medicine – a post suited for a Keto.
The Makuta nodded to himself, then went over to one of the shelves and pulled out a tablet. He once had known another Keto, he remarked, one who became a Toa and fought in the Prosecution. He had been a Toa of Iron who always rushed wherever the battle was fiercest to pull out wounded comrades and care for their wounds. The Makuta’s voice had a strange tone as he continued, asking if it was more noble to save those that needed saving, or to sacrifice a few lives to save a thousand others. If the true heroes were those who achieved change for what they thought was the greater good, or those who managed to preserve what would otherwise be lost.
It obviously was a rhetorical question, so after a pause I cautiously asked what happened to the Toa, as I had never heard of him. The Makuta slowly shook his head, putting a finger on a line of text on his tablet, reading out a simple number of casualties: 46 Toa dead, 89 wounded. In some battle in the south the enemy had received unexpected reinforcements that fell the Brotherhood forces in the back, trampling the wounded and those who cared for them under their cavalry charge.
Seemingly lost in thought, the Makuta kept staring at the tablet, so Hailari took the opportunity to tug at my shoulder. I grabbed Visca’s hand and we left to finally enter Mistress Yandra’s quarters, where Visca stumbled to his sleeping mat and lay down. I quickly checked on him to see if everything was alright, then, seeing that it was, rejoined Hailari. Looking in the direction of the other Makuta’s quarters, I asked her if she knew him. She told me she had seen him a couple times, but never really had talked to him. All she knew was that he watched over Phaidua, the mountainous northern region of the Northern Continent.
Seeing as other parts of the fortress awaited us, I left it at that. Philosophy never was my area of expertise.