The Crusade - Part III
Kaama ran. His legs flew at a blurring speed, his Kanohi Kakama working overtime to get him away from danger. As his mind raced to figure out a solution, memories of the incident surfaced.
They had been sabotaged.
After a few hours talking to somebody in the back of the bar, Jakura had returned with a grimace on his face. He had told his "team" that they had been rejected - no mission for them, as originally promised. All of them, particularly Kiisha and Kaama, had been frustrated over it. Jakura had promised them, though, that they would find a quicker way back to their homes - and that Marauder, Kaama, and Nuka would learn to enjoy their comfy new cells in Le-Koro.
Despite the fact that he didn't necessarily like the idea of bunking with a reptilian scoundrel or two, Kaama had decided it was far better than trying to escape. He had heard enough rumors of what Jakura did to prisoners that tried to escape - most of them involving a frightening hunt, being burned alive, and dismemberment upon recapture. Because he quite liked his limbs, Kaama chose to stay with the others. At least, until he was in his cell, so he could safely break out of that.
That night, the majority of the group had slept soundly in a rented hut, purchased with the last of Jakura’s widgets. Kaama, though, chose not to sleep - he didn’t do well in the dark. Instead, he had watched the others sleep, noting their unique patterns and quirks.
Jakura was relatively silent - he had a heavy blanket pulled over him, to protect his cold-sensitive body from the freezing temperature that managed to creep into the room. The way he grasped it tightly around his body seemed to point to a lust for comfort, of physical contact. He snored lightly underneath his covers.
Nuka, on the other hand, snored quite loudly from his place on the rug. Drool pooled out onto the floor from his yawing, oversized jaw, and his limbs were splayed out like that of a starfish. He muttered incomprehensibly every once in awhile, and let out random giggles. Obviously, he was having quite a fun dream.
Ensilus and Jurok, who were much more similar then either realized, both lied stock still on their hammocks, each breathing at a calm, steady rate. Kaama could just make out Jurok’s Chronicling tablets underneath his arm - a sign of insecurity among his teammates, which Kaama could easily understand. Ensilus, too, had his arm dangling over his med-pack; however, unlike with Jurok, this seemed to indicate a readiness to act at a moment’s notice, which was an admirable trait - especially in a medic.
Kiisha sat in a chair surprisingly close to Jakura, her head propped up on her fist. The fact that she had fallen asleep in this position proved that she was more than she seemed - she, like Ensilus, was prepared for anything. It was a very ideal position if someone were to immediately attack them. All the Vortixx would need to do is sit up and draw a throwing knife from wrist-bandolier, and the fight would be over. Her steady breathing, though, indicated a deep and heavy sleep, meaning she must not have slept for a long time. Kaama could just make out her other arm, resting heavily across Jakura’s lower leg...
Nyli was probably the most relaxed of them all, save for Nuka. She had cuddled up into a little ball on her mattress - Jakura had insisted on giving the women the most comfortable beds, though Kiisha had politely declined - and clutched her pillow like a young Matoran’s stuff Rahi. She let out a quiet, happy groan every once in awhile, and hugged her sheets tighter. She was obviously very trusting, a questionable trait in this team. But despite her happy-go-lucky attitude, she was also very intelligent, perhaps demonstrating that the reason she slept so quietly was because she believed she had nothing to fear. Admirable, but perhaps foolish.
Marauder, on the other hand... he wasn’t asleep as Kaama had originally thought. Instead, he sat in the corner right next to Jakura’s cot, his hands and ankles chained together. Obviously, Jakura didn’t trust him as much as he did Kaama and Nuka - probably because Marauder was more the murderous type, whereas the other two would just run for it. The Skakdi sat with head down, his bright yellow-green eyes shining brightly in the darkness as he looked down at his clawed hands, as he mumbled to himself - barely audible over the roaring wind from outside. What he was saying, Kaama had no clue - and it only furthered the mystery of this being. Where he had come from, what he had done to become like this was beyond Kaama’s knowledge. According to Nuka’s “sources”, Marauder had once been a mighty warrior, before being subjected to experiments that caused him to go insane. He was let loose to cause confusion and anger among the mercenaries, who hated the demented misfit. One day, out of sheer luck, Marauder happened to come under the care of Ensilus, who was, at the time, a healer for the Outsiders. Over a series of months, Ensilus managed to cure Marauder of his insanity, though a great amount of power had to be drained from his Mask of Healing in order to allow this.
Whatever the case, he had never been the same, and Ensilus refused to talk about it. Marauder had been caught in a merc raid on Onu-Koro, and was pressed into service on Jakura’s team until his imprisonment. The fact that this expert saboteur and arsonist hadn’t tried to escape yet was proof that he was looking forward to being jailed - it would allow him the peace he so desperately desired.
Kaama turned away, his eyelids growing heavy. All this thinking had worn him out, and he was ready to sleep. And so, he lied down to do so...
Whether by luck or by Mata Nui’s grace, Kaama had not yet fallen asleep when a sound was heard from the doorway. Leaping from the counch he had been sleeping upon, the Toa of Jungle saw nothing in the darkness, until a dart whizzed through the air and in front of the lightened window - and into Nyli’s neck. The sleeping Toa immediately awoke and cried out in pain, before slumping back to the ground.
Kaama shouted in terror, his call waking the others. Jakura and Kiisha leapt from their beds, weapons drawn, and prepared for the worst. but neither saw the darts coming, nor had time to react when they felt the needles pierce their necks. Both fell, but not before Jakura could utter the words, “Everybody, get out of here!”
This is how Kaama found himself running for his life through the snow, arms pumping furiously, as he headed for the Ko-Koronan authorities. Whoever - whatever - had just attacked them had had a plan. Jakura had been set up, and it was up to Kaama to save them. He swore on his life he would.
When he rounded the corner of an ice-hut, he found himself face to face with a group of Ko-Toa, spears held defensively. The desperately relieved Ba-Toa stopped, leaning on his knees to catch his breath. But before he could say a single word, he felt something cold bash him against the back if his head.
Everything went black.
TO BE CONCLUDED
More information on these short stories can be found here.