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The Crusade - Part I

A Su-Matoran Chronicler; a Vortixx dancer; a Ta-Skakdi convict and a Fa-Skakdi smuggler; a Ko-Toa medic; a Bo-Toa rogue; a Vo-Toa mechanic; and a Ta-Toa sentry. This ragtag band of outlaws, heroes and misfits found itself trekking across the freezing tundra of Ko-Wahi, headed for the region's Koro. And so far, it hadn't been a fun journey.

Jakura, Toa of Fire and leader of the group, folded his arms tightly across his broad, armored chest. His deep red, weather-beaten cape that flowed in the harsh wind provided little warmth or protection against the bitter ice storm currently raining down upon the party. The flurry of hail and snow clouded the Toa's vision greatly; and unfortunately, Ensilus, Toa of Ice who supposedly knew the region better than any of them, didn't have the heart - or the interest - to lead the way. Sure, Jakura could make him - but that defeated the purpose of the team. So instead, Jakura grumbled angrily to himself and continued to trudge through the drifts. 

"Hey, Jak, how much longer?"

Jakura turned against the wind to see the normally cheerful Nyli, Toa of Electricity, trembling with cold. Jakura sighed and slowed his pace until the two were walking side-by-side. Chivalrously, the Ta-Toa removed his cape and wrapped it around his freezing friend. She smiled gently, and he saw the warmth return to her cheeks. The worn piece of cloth certainly covered more of her frame than his.

"Thanks, captain," she said. "Seriously, though - when do we get to Ko? It's been almost two days."

He grimaced at the reminder. The storm - and a few other interruptions that Jakura decided to think about - had severely messed up their schedule. They would be arriving in Ko-Koro an entire week late, which could certainly hurt their business. Jakura could only hope their client would be understanding...

Realizing that she was still waiting for an answer, Jakura looked at Nyli and said, "Yes, I know how long it's been - believe me, I haven't lost count. Unfortunately, though, we still have a ways to go. Though, if a CERTAIN TOA OF ICE WAS UP HERE LEADING THE WAY - ," he raised his voice and glared behind him at Ensilus, " - we might get there sooner!"

Ensilus scowled and retorted, "I'm a doctor, not a navigator, sir. The directions I've given you is the best I can offer." 

Jakura growled. "Well, your elemental powers could be useful right now! As in, perhaps you could slow this storm?" 

Ensilus smirked and said sardonically, "I already told you, firespitter - my powers aren't enough to halt the storm, or even put a dent in it. You'd need about three or four of me."

Jakura turned away from the other Toa and muttered, "I doubt I could handle more than one."

"Would you two just shut up?" The Skakdi of Fire, known to the group only as "Marauder", crossed his arms and scowled. He was obviously weak from the cold, despite his attempt to appear at full strength. "Some of us are trying to concentrate on the objective ahead."

Nuka, the Skakdi of Magnetism, laughed out loud at his brother Skakdi's discomfort. Jakura shot a warning glance at him, which immediately shut him up.

"Watch yourself, Nuka," the Toa said threateningly. "I would hate to have to leave you here in the blizzard."

The being sneered and said nothing more. Jakura rolled his eyes and turned back around. He was weakening, too - any being of fire would be by now. The below-zero temperatures could kill the mightiest Toa of Fire in a mere few days. Jakura was confident they would reach the village before that happened. But then again, he was a Toa of Fire - they were known for their overconfidence.


*    *    *


After another few hours of wading through the deep snow, Jakura's thoughts returned to that of the team. So far, he had had no problems from the Toa of Jungle and thief, Kaama, who was busy cleaning his daggers as he walked, or the Matoran of Sonics known as Jurok, who was silently recording all that the team said and did. It was his job as a Chronicler, and Jakura took a certain pride knowing that his squad was famous enough to have it's own. One day, when he was old and battle-worn and bored out of his mind, he'd like to sit down and read through those Chronicles...

Jakura caught the sole Vortixx of the group, Kiisha, fiddling with her long hair-cords silently as she looked off into the distance. He almost felt sorry for her - she was away from her job, away from her home, and away from any of her family. He had no clue why the dancer had joined his team, or when she was going to tell him, if ever. She had already gotten into a fight with Nuka, which ended with a dislocated shoulder and bent spine from the Skakdi and not a scratch on her own frame. As Ensilus did his best to repair the enraged Nuka, Jakura had questioned the Vortixx on how she had beaten him so soundly. She had simply shrugged and said, “I know how to fight.” 

The Toa shook his head. He missed his days as a blacksmith and Guard of Ta-Koro - only Mata Nui knew why it had fallen on him to lead this team, or even why he had become a Toa. But he felt, deep in his heartstone, that he was meant to do so. For whatever reason, better or worse, it was his job to -

Before he could finish the thought, Jakura heard the voice of Kiisha shout over the roaring wind. Turning to the Vortixx, he saw her tall form peering into the distance and pointing excitedly to something in front of her. Following her finger, the Toa cupped his hands over his eyes and saw a light in the distance, barely visible in the storm. He smiled and motioned for the others to follow quickly. 

They had finally reached the village of Ko-Koro.

TO BE CONTINUED

More information on these short stories can be found here. 

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