The Toa of Rust

Chronicled by Gheduk of the Akutana e-Metru Nui (written by Lei).


My name is Gheduk. I am a recently appointed Chronicler, and I can assure you with moral certainty it has not been as trivial as initially expected. This information from experience presented itself in the form of a ship of unfamiliar design. It sailed with a single tattered, ribbed sail off the coast of Po-Metru, and initially appeared to have nobody on board.


Upon docking, what appeared to be a Po-Matoran showed his face from below deck. His Kanohi was unrecognizable at first glance, with only one eyehole visible, and the other covered by what can only be described as a “melted” design of sorts. But on closer inspection and through his own words, he revealed that he was a Ko-Matoran, and he only appeared this way by means of rust that had accumulated all over his mask and armor. He actually wore a Kanohi Akaku, though some sort of acid had eaten through his scope. His name was Karva.


He hailed from a small, northern outcropping in the Great Barrier, occupied by cloistered Ko-Matoran scholars who had moved out of Metru Nui centuries ago, braving the Silver Sea in pursuit of isolation. They had lived in peace, learning all there was to learn in complete solitude. That is, until a few months ago. A new visitor had arrived on the island - a Toa of Ice, or at least someone who appeared to be one, though nobody knew his name or where he came from. But an unspoken rule between them was that as long as he minded his own business and left them alone — which he did — they wouldn’t bother him either. The only thing off about the newcomer was that he didn’t really do anything. He spent hours on end staring at the Silver Sea, seemingly lost in thought. In that state, he disregarded any unlucky Matoran caught in the unforgiving waves, leaving the others to rescue their friend; and even if they couldn’t, which was rare but grim indeed, he seemed to find no reason to intervene.


It was at this point that Karva hesitated in his recounting, silent as he gathered his words — and, as it appeared, his self-assurance. He looked out of my window to the coast, as if to ensure no other ships were approaching, then turned back before continuing, setting a cautious hand on his rusted mask. He then explained that the Toa began to ask questions. They started out as simple queries, such as the geology behind the hexagonal pillars that made up the Great Barrier, but he then delved into questions regarding the Great Spirit. At first, the Ko-Matoran were happy to answer, but it soon devolved into annoyance as the Toa continually pestered them. But when the Toa received an answer he deemed illogical or incorrect, he grew frustrated and erratic, eventually to the point of insanity. He would then use his mask power on the offending Matoran.


Karva refused to speak any more on the subject, only mentioning an ‘immoral Kanohi’ and a so-called ‘Toa of Rust’ before requesting to lay down. Letting him stay in my hut for the time being, I gathered a team of two other Matoran: Sahnu, a Po-Matoran skilled at rock-scaling, and Cahan, a Le-Matoran shipwright. After asking for directions to the Great Barrier outcropping, which Karva haltingly answered, the three of us set off the next morning.


Sahnu stayed below deck for the most part, mentioning seasickness, while Cahan navigated and I manned the sail. But peril lined our sails on the two-day trip, fraught with whitecaps and a disaster near the second leg of our journey. At around noon on the second day, a storm front threw itself upon our ship just as we had caught sight of the outcropping. Wave after wave battered our hull and mast. To make matters worse, a strong gale struck the ropes out of my grip, and I was unable to furl the sails before a well-timed lightning bolt struck them, setting them aflame. It wasn’t long before a large crack told us the mast was about to fall. I managed to get out of the way in time, but Cahan hesitated for a split second, costing him his consciousness and his mask as the end of the boom crashed into him. The only stroke of luck we ever had was when, tense seconds after that very moment, we ran aground.


We spent around an hour on the rock slab shore gathering ourselves, deciding to wait out the end of the rain before making any rash decisions. Cahan regained consciousness during that time, but his mask had been dislodged in the tussle. Luckily, Sahnu had caught sight of it falling below deck, and quickly retrieved it. After the storm ended, we bundled up any belongings from the ship — which was little more than a wreck at this point — and walked along the shore, looking for a route up the cliff. Sahnu reached into his backpack before taking out a rope and six climbing picks, handing two to each of us and instructing to tie the rope around our waists. He then assisted us in scaling one of the hexagonal pillars before climbing up himself.


Time would tell what fate had in store for us. Cahan caught sight of a village shortly after we had made it to the top. It was made up of angular huts that looked to be carved out from the pillars that occasionally jutted out from the otherwise-flat plain. Sahnu was confused at first, initially seeing the inhabitants as Po-Matoran, but unlike Karva, these Matoran still had, if scarce, white patches remaining on their masks and armor. The arm casing of one Matoran seemed to have decomposed, leaving the organics and bodymetal of their arm entirely exposed.


Asking questions, I figured, would get us nowhere — the Matoran likely wouldn’t seem intent on answering anything, given the circumstances. Cahan suggested looking for the cause behind their condition, but Sahnu stated we needed to find out how to repair the Matoran first. Our options would risk either losing our lead or the safety of the Ko-Matoran. Eventually, we came to a compromise: Sahnu and I would stay to try and assist the other Matoran, while Cahan sought out the Toa.


Not much occurred within the village. The only non-Matoran sounds consisted of an occasional page rustling as someone opened a vellum scroll, or the clink of glass as someone else handled a tray of vials, the contents of which they inevitably preferred not to say. But uncharacteristic to their nature, the Ko-Matoran themselves moved loudly, their rusted armor scraping and chafing against itself as they took so much as a step. At the very least, it explained why each one was hesitant to make a move.

During our wait for Cahan’s return, I stepped into one of the huts, where I met a Ko-Matoran prone on the floor of the room. Trying to help him up, I realized his limbs were too stiff for him to move them, much less to get up. Despite this, he seemed intent on speaking: “Kanohi Leruziril. Tell them.”


Confused, but unwilling to ask him to clarify, I agreed to tell “them” — whoever “they” were. When I instead asked if there was any way I could help, he closed his eyes and made a sound of disagreement before repeating his initial request. Nodding, I left and reported my findings to Sahnu, and we both thought our options through. The Matoran had requested telling “them”, which likely referred to the other inhabitants. Since neither of us wanted to disturb the silence of the village, we went to each Ko-Matoran individually, informing them of this mysterious Kanohi — which both of us gathered was the mask of the Toa.


We decided at that point to seek Cahan — mostly due to curiosity on his whereabouts, but tinged with concern. After all, he hadn’t been back for a while, and judging by the size of the outcropping, he could have easily navigated the circumference and come back by now. Soon, we had begun to run.


By the time we had reached the very edge of the cliff, we found Cahan next to the Ko-Toa himself, incessantly questioning why the Le-Matoran came here, and what he had to do with the “big picture”. Cahan shook his head, giving a quiet answer neither Sahnu nor I could hear. The Toa’s eyes flashed, and he grabbed Cahan by his upper arm. Sahnu ran in to intervene, but by the time he had reached his fellow Matoran, the Toa must have activated his mask power. Cahan’s joints locked and stiffened. A thick coating of rust covered his once-vibrant, green armor. When he tried to struggle in the Toa’s grip, he tightened it, and a sickly, yellow-green substance formed on his arm, searing and melting through the metal. To say it was only horrifying would be an understatement to the bystanders, and an insult to the victim.


Once the Toa deemed Cahan’s treatment ‘finished’, he let him go and calmly, but firmly warned the shaken Matoran that he needed answers, and wasn’t afraid to “resort to means you would need more than an armorer to fix”. He paid no attention to Sahnu, stopping to gaze at the waves below. He would not answer to any of us, whether questions, demands, or even shouts. Sahnu tried to roughly push him, but the Toa paid it no mind.


For the next hour, Cahan remained unwilling to speak, and through a long portion of that time, we grew concerned he had lost the ability to do so. When he finally spoke, his voice scratched slightly as he recommended searching for something to fix the Matoran. We all carried the motion and returned to the village, moving as quietly as we were able so as not to disturb the volatile Ko-Toa.


Laying his backpack on the ground, Sahnu flipped through it, taking out the contents one by one. Once he had taken a small set of tools, he turned to Cahan and instructed that he remain still. The Le-Matoran obliged, albeit haltingly, while Sahnu did his best at attempting to chip off the rust. He succeeded, at least partially, and though Cahan appeared uncomfortable, he could at least move more freely. Sahnu then approached one of the Ko-Matoran, offering to perform the same treatment. Having seen how it had helped Cahan, that Ko-Matoran agreed.


Rain soon began to batter the buildings as the day passed, with Sahnu passing through the entire village and repairing the Matoran to the best of his ability. His fixes were far from perfect, but significantly better than what the Matoran had had to deal with beforehand. Thanks to Sahnu’s ministrations, their joints no longer scraped, only making light squeaks as they walked.


Upon having fixed the once-immobilized Ko-Matoran on the floor of the main hut, he rose and thanked Sahnu profusely before turning to all three of us. From there, he explained that he was a linguist who had been researching a potential name for this mask to better define the extent of its abilities. He had looked through countless references in the forms of tablets, scrolls, and even memory crystals. The conclusion he reached was that this immoral mask was a Great Leruziril: also known as the Mask of Acid. Whoever this Toa was, the only grace he gave the Matoran was having deliberately avoided the organics of the Matoran he “treated”.


You must understand that while we — including the entire village — were righteously furious at the Toa, we were all just Matoran in the end. We hadn’t brought weapons of any kind, and Sahnu wasn’t quite ready to part with his stone picks for the sake of improvised tomahawks. Furthermore, night was falling, so none of us could do much apart from organize what to do — but first, we had to know what we actually had to do. We had all gathered that this Toa had to be stopped, but the means to go about that were unclear. When Sahnu had nudged him, the Toa had taken it as nothing more than a light breeze, and treated the Matoran himself likewise.


Even if we somehow managed to capture the Toa, there was also the issue of what to do afterwards. Our ship had been wrecked from having run aground, not even counting the damage done due to the storm. Using one of the ribbed Ko-Matoran ships could theoretically work, but would there be enough to haul all of the Ko-Matoran, along with three others and a Toa? And that led back to how we would keep the Toa from escaping…


I suddenly stood up, making a connection in my head. In Ko-Metru, the Knowledge Towers originated in the form of knowledge crystals, which — under controlled circumstances — could grow into gargantuan buildings. I wasn’t aware of the growth rate or conditions necessary, but when I brought up the idea to the Ko-Matoran, they readily accepted the idea and crowded around the central pillar-hut. A single, tense minute passed before a Matoran walked out, holding up three knowledge crystals.


Perhaps we were mad, perhaps we were grasping at straws, but it wasn’t as if we had much else to do. Our plan was first to harvest liquid protodermis from the Silver Sea and purify it as best we could, which Cahan and a Ko-Matoran had taken it upon themselves to do. Next, we would all confront the Toa, with Sahnu and myself acting as a diversion so he wouldn’t target the already-injured Ko-Matoran or Cahan. Finally, the Ko-Matoran handling the three knowledge crystals would place them into the liquid protodermis, triggering their growth and hopefully trapping the Toa between the three new towers. From there, we would move to the second phase of the mission. But the time for the first phase was now.


Greeting the Toa at midnight, Sahnu and I attempted to strike up a conversation with him while the Matoran moved into position. He was facing the waves — if he had noticed the approaching Matoran aside from ourselves, he made no indication to suggest such. But with that said, he did notice the two of us, and motioned us to his side. Once close, he quietly asked what we were planning. Sahnu played dumb, while I played somewhat less dumb, informing him of the way he was acting. He appeared confused, questioning why nobody had told him. I was equally surprised to see his reaction, but at this point, the plan was already in motion. This was no time for hesitation.


The Ko-Matoran went into action as the two of us jumped backwards. They dunked all three crystals into the protodermis simultaneously, and within instants, a pillar shot off from each crystal, entrapping the Toa everywhere below the shoulders within seconds. He didn’t fight back or even react at first, bewildered. Seeing an opportunity, Cahan leapt forward and tore off the Toa’s mask, to which the latter cried out and began to struggle against the crystal keeping him in place. Running backwards, Cahan threw the mask to Sahnu, but failed to notice the edge he was rapidly approaching.


It felt like time itself had run aground. I took step after hurried step toward Cahan, trying to form a word of warning in the extremely limited amount of time. He did slow down upon seeing me, to my short-lived relief, but he found himself unable to stop. Scrambling and flailing for a second, he could let out little more than a gasp as he slipped away and off the edge. I fell prone and reached a hand to grab his, but at that point, it was already too late. He landed hard on a pillar below, unmoving. Whether he was unconscious or worse was impossible to tell from my vantage point, but the level of the pillar was dangerously close to the waves.


At that point, the Toa had managed to gather his strength. With a loud crash, one of the pillars shattered under the force of a spiked iron club. Before our eyes, he reformed the club into a pike, stepping out from the shattered space of the cage before flaring it in a circle, causing all of us to jump back in alarm. His posture was weak, and he sounded breathless, but his expression was a mix of fury and betrayal. He reached a hand to one of the Ko-Matoran and closed his eyes in concentration, but there didn’t seem to be any reaction, other than the Toa later retracting his hand, appearing confused and irritated. He stumbled forward, waving his pike at us again, but the energy had left him at this point, leaving him disoriented. Two Ko-Matoran grabbed his wrists and pulled him to the floor, while another took the pike.


He didn’t resist this time, clearly aware of the happenings around him but unwilling to move. Each one of us was in a variable degree of panic, so we didn’t question his actions — and we certainly did not complain. Sahnu, having hidden the mask in his backpack, reached back in to take out a stretch of rope, with which we bound the Toa. From there, three of the Matoran carried him back to the village.


I left the group to remain in the incidental area, taking Sahnu’s backpack and climbing tools with me. After rappelling down the face of the large pillar, I landed at the lower, partially submerged space where Cahan’s body lay. His left arm dangled in the protodermis, still connected to his body but twisted at an unnatural angle. His heartlight was dim and flickering, begging to live, and Cahan himself scarcely breathed, remaining unconscious despite my attempts to revive him. I managed to drag him to the cliffside, but failed to see a method of taking him up the cliff other than strapping him to myself and climbing, which I (to phrase it gracefully) did not have the physical capacity to do.


Judging by the rapidly-rising tide and an unforgiving wave that splashed against Cahan and myself, I couldn’t very well leave him here, even if to get help. The most I could do for assistance was call upward, but the waves drowned out my voice — and they would drown more than that if nobody arrived to rescue us within the next few minutes. The protodermis had already swamped over one half of the pillar, and I had little space to prop up Cahan.


After a few more attempts to wake him, he did eventually stir. He lacked the strength to remain conscious for long, though he could now awaken with my aid. I scanned the shrinking perimeter of the pillar, looking for anything in general. The only marginally useful encounter was a thin line of tiny pillars leading upward, difficult for even a Matoran to traverse without risk of falling backwards. But there wasn’t much else of a choice in the matter.


That was the moment in which a plan began to form. Since I couldn’t undo the rope at the top of the cliff, I ended up cutting it, and it fell in a heap at both of our feet. Fastening it to Cahan’s hip at the center of the rope section, I tied one end to a convenient pillar the width of an extended hand, tying the other end to myself.


We began our journey. The liquid protodermis had rendered the hexagonal floor extremely slippery, and Cahan could do little more than sit and edge himself along, trying in earnest but having to regain his strength every few seconds. Frankly, it was a wonder thinking this was a good idea, even given the circumstances. But at the same time, there was a fire in our heartlights that burned with a desire for survival, a fire that no amount of waves could quench.


As we ascended the final pillar, through many a slip and just as many a frightened recovery, the village came into view. A Ko-Matoran with a rusted but recognizable Rau ran to us, pulling me up, and the two of us lifted Cahan to safety. From there, we took him into one of the huts. A few bio away from where Cahan was being treated, the Toa lay in the larger main hut, where also Ko-Matoran were in the middle of questioning him and his actions. Wishing not to hinder their progress (though in hindsight I should have remembered my occupation), I decided to leave them alone while I looked for Sahnu. The Rau-wearing Matoran, whose name was Lieran, accompanied me, and after I described my want, he answered that Sahnu had led a small party of Matoran to the remains of the ship we had arrived in.


Almost as if on cue, the creak of large bones caught everyone’s attention. A moment of silence followed, then a horn sounded from below. A ship with a distinctive ribbed sail swept into view. It sailed near the outcropping of pillars a few times before signalling with its horn again. Every Ko-Matoran in the vicinity immediately began to move, with the three in the large hut carrying the Ko-Toa while Lieran and I helped Cahan get up. I wasn’t entirely sure where we were going, but the ship signalling in the distance gave me a good clue.


The Matoran led us down a similar patch of stone steps, though these were larger and less prone to slips. One of four ribbed ships, cleverly hidden and protected from the waves, waited for us as we descended to sea level. Lieran and I had some difficulty in carrying Cahan aboard, especially with the lack of an actual board, but the Matoran handling the Toa had it worse off. Once we laid the injured Le-Matoran on deck, both of us immediately had to leave him to assist the others. The Toa had become mentally lucid at this point, beginning to squirm and struggle against his bonds. But to our luck, we managed to move him without incident.


Days passed on our trip back. These ships were slower than the Metruan counterpart Cahan, Sahnu and I had used, but they had wide beams, mitigating the risk of tipping and allowing more Matoran on board. Sahnu and I stayed below deck, attending Cahan while an Akaku-wearing medic tended to his arm. He managed to get it into a cast, which was better than nothing, and gave him a few more treatments before considering his work finished. The latter wanted to get back above deck to be of some help to the sea crew, but stern words from the medic kept him reluctantly bedridden.


Not a storm affronted us — for which we are all grateful — but on the third morning of our journey south, a thick coating of fog greeted us. It created a fair amount of difficulty navigation-wise, but other than that, there really weren’t any particularly adverse conditions to slow us down. Before long, the familiar ports of Metru Nui blessed our eyes once more.


After we dropped off Sahnu (taking the Toa’s mask with us) and picked up Karva in Po-Metru, we took a detour around the city to Ko-Metru. Docking at a small port within the Tides of Uncertainty, we dropped off the Ko-Matoran and escorted them in lines to a recently-developed technology — aptly named ‘Kirhida’, or ‘regeneration station.’ Each Matoran would sit in a designated chair, where wires and other cables would attach from the large, mechanical apparatus to the Matoran’s affected armor. From there, Regeneration Kanoka would be fed into an opening within the machine, siphoning the disk’s energy into the Matoran’s armor, clearing any sign of rust and ruin from the metal, leaving a healthy sheen for good measure.


The Toa’s fate held considerably less fortune than that of the Matoran. The authorities confiscated his mask from us as well as his weapon, informing us that Turaga Dume would look over the Toa’s case and arrive at a conclusive verdict while the Toa himself lay in the holding cells of the Coliseum.


I haven’t heard from anyone regarding this case ever since the year I started chronicling. All anyone knows is that the Toa has remained there ever since: maskless, silent, and waiting.

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