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City of Legends
City of Legends
Story
Setting Mata Nui, The Endless Ocean, Nynrah
Date set In the Time Before Time
Timeline
Previous Quest for the Masks
Next Creeping in Our Souls

City of Legends is the sequel to the popular BIONICLE fanfiction Quest for the Masks. It follows the continuation of Tahu’s Toa Team as they venture to the island of Nynrah to prevent Makuta’s impending return from the Void.

Synopsis

Two years after the battle to defeat Makuta, the Toa have had a time to enjoy a great peace on their island. The world once held under the heel of the Dark Lord has had time to rebuild itself, and now peace and prosperity has come to their land.

But perhaps, the world is not as small as the Toa originally thought. And perhaps, somewhere, there are those that are working for the Makuta, aiding in his return…

City of Legends

Book 1: Voyage of Fear

Chapter 1

Tahu took a breath of cool air as he looked out across the cityscape of the new Ta-Koro.

It had been two full years since the defeat of Makuta and the reawakening of Mata Nui. In that time, the Matoran had set to work rebuilding their homes and making reparations to their lives.

However, out of all the modifications made to the other cities on the island, none could hold a candle to the sheer might of the new Ta-Koro. Instead of being built in a lake of fire like the original city, Jaller and Turaga Vakama had decided that the new location would be at the base of the Mangai Volcano itself. The city had been partially carved into the eastern face of the mountain, creating an impregnable fortress. The rest of the city was laid out within the truly massive walls, which were large enough to provide residence just as comfortable as most of the city’s homes. Outside of the walls were fields of crops, which now thrived in the rich volcanic soil surrounding the area. Even further was the Sentry Wall, which was also capable of fending off most Rahi attacks.

Tahu sighed. Even with the great relief of no longer having to fend off anything but the minor Rahi attack, Tahu felt… threatened. Not one year since he had awakened on the beach of Mata Nui had he experienced true peace. Even during the single span Makuta had promised them sanctuary, the Dark Lord had still sent his infected Rahi to attack, pillage, and destroy. The sudden lack of danger was somehow more unsettling to the Toa of Fire than the past years of war.

Tahu felt a warm hand fall onto his shoulder. He grabbed it and smiled.

“Enjoying the city, Gali?” he asked.

The blue-armored Toa of Water circled in front of Tahu, not releasing his hand. “Quite,” she said, smiling. “It’s good to know your Matoran have a place to stay. Nokama was beginning to wonder what to do with the rest of the refugees.”

The two Toa walked down into Ta-Koro’s marketplace. Gali began examining some of the latest boons of Ta-Koro’s new fields.

Tahu watched as she went through the farmer’s crop. Eventually, Tahu walked approached her.

“So, is the marketplace all you want to see?” Tahu asked.

A grin cracked across Gali’s face. “Well, I was hoping we could also check out the walls. I heard that Dezalk retired and started a bar there, and I thought…” her sarcasm trailed off.

“Well, I was hoping you’d want to see my new quarters,” Tahu said.

Gali caught what he was suggesting. “Well, I guess we could make a slight detour.”

The two headed westward across Ta-Koro’s main street. Tahu’s home had been carved high into the mountain, providing an excellent view of the city. However, it was also quite a long climb up a staircase to reach the Toa of Fire’s home. But, the pair had little trouble reaching the quite house.

“What do you think?” Tahu asked, opening the door to his home.

Gali rushed straight for the balcony. To her, the view was quite breathtaking. She could see the city’s inhabitants moving about far below. Outwards, Ta-Koro’s great fields were green with late-season crops waiting to be harvested. Beyond was the charred landscape and firepits that Ta-Wahi was famous for. Further on lied the ocean, which glistened faintly in the distance.

“It’s amazing,” the Toa of Water gasped. She removed her mask, diffusing the normally inanimate object from her face and let her hair fall to her shoulders.

Tahu smiled. “I thought you’d like it,” he said, removing his own mask. He placed it on a table next to Gali’s, and then walked up to the Toa of Water, putting his hand around her waist.

“I don’t think I’d mind spending a little more time up here,” she said, pulling away from the balcony and walking towards the bedroom. She slowly removed some of her upper body armor until all she wore was her blue tunic that was normally covered up by her armor. She hated being expected to wear that armor all the time. Just one of the burdens of being a Toa, she guessed.

Tahu followed her in. “How much time do you want to stay, then?” he asked.

Gali wrapped her arms around his neck. “As much as you do,” she said. She then kissed him. Tahu reflexively let his arms fall around her back. The two slowly started to move towards the bed…

“Toa Tahu!” Jaller yelled, bursting through the doors and startling both the Toa.

“What!” Tahu shouted, glaring at the yellow and red armored Matoran. Both he and Gali’s faces were a bright shade of red.

“Oh, uh, sorry, Toa Tahu,” Jaller stuttered, suddenly feeling the crushingly weight of the situation’s awkwardness. “I didn’t expect you to have company.”

Tahu sighed harshly, trying to control his temper. “Just… Try to knock next time.”

“I shall.” Jaller nodded. “However, I have urgent news. Turaga Vakama wishes to speak to you at once.” He looked at the Toa of Water. “You should come as well.”

The Toa quickly dressed into their armor and followed the Matoran General down into the fortress, where Turaga Vakama sat. The elder was sitting at a stone table and reading over a scroll. A worried expression dominated his features as he scanned over the paper.

“Turaga Vakama,” Tahu greeted. He cleared his throat, still embarrassed by Jaller’s interruption. “You wanted to see me?”

“Yes,” the elder said, his eyes still fixed on the scroll. “Turaga Nuju sent me this message this morning. I suggest you take a look.”

The Turaga handed the message to Tahu, who looked over it.

The scroll didn’t seem too overly peculiar. It was made of standard paper, and across was the jagged script of a stressed Ko-Matoran’s handwriting. The message detailed how a certain pattern of stars had changed positions, possibly leading to some insight towards the Will of the Great Spirit, Mata Nui. However, there didn’t seem to be much detail as to what exactly the constellation’s sudden change actually meant. Below the letter were two star charts, one showing the constellation’s normal pattern, and the other displaying the stars’ new rearrangement.

What intrigued Tahu the most, however, was the single word written at the bottom. Nynrah.

“What’s this mean?” the Toa of Fire asked, handing the scroll to Gali.

The Toa of Water quickly responded. “It means that Mata Nui wants our attention focused elsewhere,” she said. “Evidently upon some land called ‘Nynrah’.”

Vakama nodded. “Exactly,” he answered in a solemn tone.

“Where is this Nynrah, exactly?” Tahu inquired.

Vakama sighed. “Nynrah was a large city, located on an island of the same name a ways north. We used to trade with them. At least until…”

“Until what?” Gali asked.

Vakama shook his head. “A little while before you arrived, they stopped sending boats here. We never heard anything from them since.” He paused for a moment. “We believe that they were wiped out by Makuta.”

Tahu raised an eyebrow. “So, Nuju thinks that something big might be happening on Nynrah?”

Vakama nodded. “Something positively massive. The Matoran of Nynrah were experts on elemental powers. Even without their own Toa, they were able to harness the elements and bend them to their will. The items they brought here were of legend worthy quality.”

“What does Nuju believe is happening there, then?” Gali inquired.

“Well, with advancements in such power and technology as Nynrah, Nuju seems to fear that…” Vakama took a deep breath. “We have reason to believe that the Matoran there had created a portal to the Void, and Makuta may be coming back.”

Tahu and Gali looked at each other, their eyes wide.

“That’s impossible,” Gali mouthed.

Tahu turned to Jaller. “Get Kapura,” he ordered. “Tell him to summon all the Toa to Kini Nui at once!”

Jaller nodded and rushed off to fulfill the request.

“Tahu,” Vakama called, stopping the Toa of Fire from leaving the chamber. “If this fear, however far-fetched, is true, I will make preparations for you and the others to sail to Nynrah.”

Tahu nodded. “Do it,” he said. “I have a feeling we’ll be needing it.”

Chapter 2

“Well, then it must surely be a city of legends,” Lewa jested. “Since we all know that most legends are about the dead!”

Pohatu chuckled nervously at the Toa of Air’s comment about this island called “Nynrah”. Part of him thought that Tahu’s recent news was just speculation caused by the Turaga of Ice going senile, but another part of him truly feared that the Master of Shadows might be making a return from the Void.

“I think that we might want to take this a little more seriously,” said Kopaka, Toa of Ice in his usual chilled tone.

Lewa shook his head. “You need to float-lighten up, Kopaka.” He smiled. “Besides, I think I have a right to joke-tell after the last time we faced Makuta.”

“I still don’t understand why the Turaga have not told us of this ‘Nynrah’ before,” Onua said, sitting on a rock and supporting his chin with his fist.

“They probably have a reason,” Tahu said. “They usually do.”

Pohatu shrugged. “I don’t like it,” he said. “A whole island cuts off contact with here for no reason just before we arrive? I don’t think that was a coincidence.”

“Nor do I,” Onua concurred.

Tahu shook his head. “Well, I think we can all agree that, if this Nynrah exists, something terrible happened.”

The other Toa nodded in agreement.

The Toa of Fire shrugged. “Then I guess we have no choice but to go forth and investigate the island.”

“Wait,” Lewa interjected, holding up his hand. “I know that people may be in trouble-danger. But me, Toa-hero of air, water-sail? I don’t think you’ve seen a Le-Matoran swim.”

Pohatu laughed. “If you think you’re a bad swimmer, you should see me give it a try. It involves a lot of flailing with occasional bouts of drowning.”

Gali shook her head. “Fear of water or not, there are Matoran in trouble,” she said. “As Toa, it is our duty to protect them, wherever they may be.”

Kopaka sighed. “It sounds like a trap,” he finally spat. “I don’t think there’s any way Makuta could return from the Void.”

_____________________________________

Miles to the North, in an ancient land of silver and steel, an ebony-armored being walked down a darkened hallway. In her hands, she caressed a glassy shard of blackish-red stone. It was an ancient artifact, given to her years ago by one she trusted. By one she served.

She ran her finger along the stone’s edge.

“Rest…” she cooed. “Rest my Makuta, and know that as you do, I draw close to waking you.”

The stone gave off a few faint, crimson pulses of light.

The being smiled. “Do not worry. My troops are searching for the portal. Once we have it located, we simply require the six Toa you’re sending us to activate it.”

The stone pulsed once.

“He doesn’t know.” She smiled wickedly. “He doesn’t need to know. You will be back soon enough, and he will bow when you return…”

Chapter 3

The sun was setting as Toa Tahu and Turaga Vakama walked along the streets of Ta-Koro. The Turaga of all the villages had made preparations for a boat to be refurbished so that the Toa would have adequate transport to the island of Nynrah. Right now, the boat was still docked in Ga-Koro, undergoing preparations.

Tahu noticed the uneasy expression on the Turaga’s face.

“What’s wrong,” the Toa of Fire asked the old Matoran.

Vakama sighed. “Quite a bit, Tahu,” he said. “The island of the most advanced civilization in existence has gone silent, Makuta may return, and you Toa are going to investigate, leaving our land vulnerable.”

“You have your armies,” Tahu reassured the Turaga.

“So did Nynrah,” Vakama responded.

Tahu rolled his eyes. “You’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ll be back soon enough.”

Vakama gave the Toa a stern look. “Said the acid fly to the flame. You realize that something was able to cause an entire island to go silent.”

Tahu shrugged. “Perhaps they just became worried about another threat? I highly doubt they were defeated.”

“And if they were?” the Turaga asked.

“And if they were, well then we’ll take out whatever did them in,” Tahu laughed. “We faced the Makuta and won, Vakama. I doubt anything can stop us at this point.”

“You seem to have forgotten that you died to achieve that victory.”

Tahu rolled his eyes. “Trust me, Vakama. We’ll be fine.”

Vakama took a deep breath. “While I trust your abilities as a team, Tahu,” he began, “I think you may need more than your weapons and powers if anything truly dangerous happens.”

“What do you mean?” the Toa of Fire asked.

“Follow me.”

The Turaga lead Tahu through the streets of Ta-Koro, eventually taking him through the main marketplace. Matoran walked around them, barely noticing the pair other than the occasional, awed stare towards the Toa.

They finally made it into the main fortress, where Vakama lead Tahu into the Turaga’s personal chambers. The room was quite modest, actually. A desk, a bed, a water closet, and bookshelves containing whatever texts had been saved before the original Ta-Koro was destroyed.

Vakama stopped next to one of the bookshelves. “Tahu, have you ever wondered if the Turaga have more secrets than we are letting you in on?”

Tahu thought for a moment. He usually trusted the Turaga. They were the oldest and wisest beings on the island. They deserved respect. Now he was being questioned if that trust was misplaced?

Vakama took the Toa’s silence as an answer.

“When I was younger,” he said, “a Matoran, Ta-Koro’s main industry was mask-making. We used to craft Kanohi, sometimes the Great Masks that you might have used if you had arrived earlier.

“I used to be a forger of Kanohi. One of the best. Many came to me hoping that I could enhance their masks or make them ceremonial effigies. Then, the Turaga of Ta-Koro before me… he wanted me to craft a mask for him.” The Turaga paused for a moment. “Not a mask. A weapon.”

Tahu raised an eyebrow. “A weapon?”

“I’ll spare you the details,” Vakama said. “Now where is that book again?”

He ran his finger across the tops of several tomes finally letting the extremity come to rest on a book entitled Crafting Masks of Power.

“Ah, here we are,” he whispered. He pulled on the book. There was a loud, cranking noise. Then, the bookcase slowly pulled itself backwards into the wall. Then, it slid sideways behind another case, revealing an entrance to a small, braced room that was walled with packed down mortar.

“Come in,” Vakama said. He tapped his firestaff on the floor, and the stick lit up, illuminating the room.

Tahu could barely stand up in the small chamber. It was definitely not made for a Toa. He looked around. The room was completely bare, save for a single, wooden table in the center, upon which rested a small metal box.

Vakama let out a long breath. “Many centuries have passed since I opened this box,” he said. “Even when I saved it from Ta-Koro’s destruction, I did not open it to check if its contents were safe. If they weren’t… then we’d all know by now.” He slowly began to spin a combination lock on the box’s side.

“What is it?” Tahu asked.

“This,” Vakama whispered, “is the weapon I crafted so many ages ago.” There was a loud click as the lock opened. The Turaga closed his eyes. Tahu could see the memories flooding the old Matoran’s form.

When Vakama had gathered himself, he opened the box. Inside, framed by a maroon blanket, was a Kanohi mask. It was unlike any mask Tahu had ever seen. It was colored a tarnished gold, and had two long, rectangular projections that could curve around the wearer’s face. In the center was the mouthpiece, above which rested a structure resembling a ‘T’ that served as the mask’s brow ridge. The Toa could feel the power radiating from the Kanohi.

Vakama took a deep breath. He lifted the mask from the case. “Tahu, I give you the Kanohi Vahi: Mask of Time.”

He held the mask in front of the Toa. So much power… The power over time itself! Such power could easily lead the Toa to victory! Tahu reached out to grab the mask…

And Vakama pulled it back towards him.

“Tahu, do you know what this represents?” the Turaga asked.

“Power,” the Toa of Fire responded. “The power to defeat my enemies with a single thought. To turn one to dust without even lifting a finger!”

NO! ” Vakama shouted. “This is power, but like none you have ever known, Tahu. Within this mask is the power to control the fundamental force of the universe. It requires immense willpower to wield its abilities, but it also calls for great discretion.” The Turaga sighed angrily. “Tahu, promise me you will only use this mask in the most desperate of situations.”

Tahu nodded. “Alright. So you’re giving this to me in case Makuta does return.”

The Turaga nodded slowly.

Tahu closed his eyes and imagined the sheer horror of a situation that would require this mask. As soon as he began thinking about that, however, he stopped. He knew no thought could stand up to the dark god’s return. Although he didn’t want to see Makuta, he understood that the Toa would require more power than they could wield by themselves.

“I—I understand…” Tahu whispered.

The Turaga closed his eyes, and slowly handed the Vahi to Tahu.

Tahu grabbed ahold of the mask. It’s power rushed through his veins. He swore he was aging—or regressing—as he touched it. This time, however, once the Toa’s grasp was firm, Vakama let go.

Chapter 4

Lewa stood on the docks of Ga-Koro. It was the last place he wanted to be. For one, there was water everywhere, which always made the Toa of Air a little uncomfortable. Second of all, even after—what had it been, four, five years now?—he was still treated as unwelcome for destroying that fruit stand all those years ago.

He had arrived early, which was unusual for him. He had packed all his gear as soon as he returned from the Toa’s meeting. If Makuta was to return, he wanted to be first to beat the god back into whichever hole he crawled out of.

Although he knew little about boats, the Toa of Air couldn’t help but admire the leviathan that the Ga-Matoran had produced. The ship was a repurposed freighter, one of the ships that used to ferry supplies between Mata Nui and what the Matoran referred to as “the Other Lands”. Evidently there were more places on this world than anyone would tell the Toa.

Probably better that way, Lewa thought, smiling. Knowing Tahu or Gali, they’d want to go off and defend-protect every spit of sand in the world. I doubt one team could be enough. Then another thought entered the Toa of Air’s head: the idea that perhaps, just maybe, there were more Toa than just their little team on the planet. There were, after all, other places that probably needed defending from Makuta’s wrath.

He dismissed the idea. One Toa-team’s good enough, he thought to himself. Besides, with our power, an army of Toa would just take over the planet and hold it for themselves.

He heard footsteps coming from behind him. He turned around to find Gali walking towards the ship.

“Lewa,” she said, apparently not expecting the Toa of Air to be the first to reach the docks. “I thought you’d be one of the last to arrive.”

“I did too, but, upon thinking about it, I decided I wanted to be first in the cue-line for fight-stopping Makuta,” he said. “Again.”

Gali let out a short laugh. “So, were you just planning to go off and stop him from returning himself?” she asked mockingly.

“I might have,” he said, smiling.

Tahu arrived next. He was carrying to bags of supplies—probably filled with gear for the trip or spare weapons.

Knowing the firespitter, Lewa thought, one of those bags is probably an armor-polishing kit.”

Tahu set one of the cases down. “Lewa,” he said, nodding towards the Toa of Air. “Gali.”

Gali noticed something strange in the Toa of Fire’s behavior. The way he was acting seemed peculiar to her. She knew Tahu better than most of the Toa, and it was rare for him to be silent unless he was angry or had something on his mind.

He’s hiding something, she thought. But what? Perhaps it was not the best time to find out.

“You two go on board,” Lewa said, gesturing towards the boat’s ramp. “I know you need your alone time. I’ll be on later.”

Tahu smiled at Gali. He put his hand around her waist and the two walked on board the boat.

Eventually the other Toa arrived. Onua and Pohatu arrived together, both holding cases of their own. Pohatu was carrying a large barrel over his shoulder, a closed tap sticking out of one end.

“I have to ask,” Lewa began, “why the ale keg?”

Pohatu smiled. “You expect either of us to go over a month without ale?” he asked jokingly. “That’s just plain absurd.”

The two left to go put their supplies on the ship.

“Save some for me!” Lewa called out, half joking and half actually hoping that maybe they’d leave some of the drink for him.

Kopaka was actually the last to arrive. All he had on him was a small bag of goods. In it was an armor maintenance kit and one whetstone for his sword. He silently walked past the Toa of Air.

“Something on your mind?” Lewa asked Kopaka.

The Toa of Ice stopped for a moment, and seemed to ponder for a moment. “Actually, no,” he stated. He boarded the ship.

Lewa rolled his eyes and grabbed his case, heading for the ship.

When he entered the hull of the boat, he found it was actually quite a bit more roomy than the outside appeared to be. There were several small bunk areas where the Toa could sleep, a kitchen—or galley, as the seafaring Matoran would say (Lewa laughed at the fact that it sounded like their patron Toa’s name). There was also a small room that seemed like a lounge, which had a game table for cards or chess. He laid his bags on the bunk he wanted—a top bunk, too.

When he walked further into the ship, he found that the cargo area had been converted into a meeting hall of sorts. He was astonished to find that all the Toa were already assembled within, and was even more surprised when he found Nokama and Vakama talking to them.

“So you all know how to stay safe on this vessel?” Nokama asked for what was obviously not the first time.

The other Toa nodded.

“Then remember what I’ve said. Gali and Tahu can help you sail this thing, as they are both experienced. I know that Toa Onua has had his own voyaging experiences as well.”

The Toa of Earth nodded silently.

Vakama spoke up. “Then I hope you will stay safe,” he said, looking about the Toa. “There are many things in this world that we know little of, and Makuta may have many threats that still wander even without his direct control over them. Even Mata Nui knows not what he might have in store for you.”

The Toa nodded, all knowing that they could face either nothing, or some of the worst things they could even imagine.

“Now remember,” Vakama said, “keep your eyes on the horizon, and your aim true. And please, I pray that you would use your powers wisely.” His eyes fell on Tahu as he finished. Gali watched as the Toa of Fire swallowed.

The Turaga gave their parting farewells and slowly left the ship.

As they were walking down the ramp and onto the docks, Nokama turned to Vakama and asked, “Do you think they will return?”

Vakama closed his eyes and sighed. “They will most likely return,” he said. “But they will never be the same.”

As the world’s twin suns slowly began to dip below the horizon, turning the sky to a vivid orange-blue light show, the Toa set sail. The Ga-Matoran who watched did not cheer, as they worried for what awaited the Toa.

Vakama stood on the edge of a pier until the Toa’s boats light’s finally disappeared over the horizon and the chill of the night became too much to bear. He silently sent a prayer to Mata Nui, hoping that the Toa would stay safe.

Chapter 5

Two days later…

Tahu stood on the bow of the boat they had been travelling on. He had never been on a boat for more than a few days, and he would have had it amount to even less time had Gali not insisted on their first excursion. He was also getting a little tired of the water around him. Ever since Mata Nui had disappeared below the horizon all he had seen was a flat expanse of water that extended for miles in every direction except up.

He turned around. Lewa was on deck as well, dangling over a rail on the starboard side and trying to keep from throwing up. Tahu understood that both Pohatu and Onua were having similar problems, and the ale they had brought on board had barely been touched thanks to their decimated stomachs.

Kopaka and Gali were the only two who seemed unfazed by the extended period at sea. Gali, of course, was used to sailing or being in the water. But Kopaka? He was quiet. He spent most of his time sharpening his sword or experimenting with his elemental powers. Only once had he sat down long enough to have a game of Onu-Koran poker with the Toa of Fire and Pohatu. Even at sea, he remained cold and icy, hiding his weaknesses from everyone.

Luckily, the sea had one positive effect: their food stores were staying relatively well stocked since no one would touch them. Tahu had wondered why the Turaga hadn’t sent a crew of Matoran to cook or maintain the ship. Evidently they had thought that the Toa would be fine without any help.

Which will probably prove to be a mistake, sooner or later, the Toa of Fire jokingly thought to himself.

He walked down the deck, past Lewa and towards Gali, who was at the ship’s wheel. She was not steering—the water had been relatively smooth so far—and was simply leaning against the front of the wheel’s support.

“How you doing?” Tahu asked the Toa of Water.

She shrugged. “Fine,” she said. “But worried.”

“About what?”

“About what?” She laughed a little. “We’re going to a place that’s possibly under Makuta’s control and you don’t think I’m worried?”

“I didn’t say you weren’t.”

She nodded. Then she looked at the Toa of Fire. “So what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he responded.

“Don’t pull that on me,” she said. “I know when you have something on your mind.”

“I’m only thinking about the same thing you are.”

“I doubt it,” she said.

Tahu hated it when Gali pried. She knew him far too well now, which was good at times. At least he had someone who could understand him. But when he was hiding something, especially something like the Vahi… Gali’s nature could get in the way.

“Tahu, I’m only trying to help. You don’t need to lie to me.”

The Toa of Fire shook his head. “Vakama… when we left, he… gave me something.”

“What?” she asked.

“Just a Kanohi mask.”

“Then why are you so worried?” she asked. They walked to the back of the boat.

Tahu leaned against the rail. “Because… it’s not exactly a normal Kanohi.”

“Is it infected?”

“No.”

“Then there’s no reason to worry. It’s just a mask, a tool for you to use.”

That’s what I thought. Tahu turned to her. “That’s not how I’d describe it.”

Gali shook her head. “I’ll let you keep your secret then. Just remember I’m here if you do want to let it—or anything else—off your chest.”

“Thanks,” he said.

She smiled. “It’s what I do.”

“So how long until we reach Nynrah?” Tahu asked.

“I don’t know,” Gali responded. “If Vakama and Nokama’s directions are correct, then we should arrive in the next few days. But if they’re not… well, we could already be lost then.”

“We have maps, right?”

“A few, yes.” She looked across the horizon. “But they’re a little dated. Luckily, islands don’t readily change position.”

“Should we be sure about that? I mean, Pohatu and Onua could move one if they tried.”

“I don’t think Nynrah had any Toa. I mean, Vakama even said that, didn’t he? No Toa, just mastery of the elements.”

“They could open a portal to the Void, remember?”

“Yes, but I still think they’re just as fixed as Mata Nui in terms of stability.”

Across the deck, Lewa groggily looked up from the ocean. He was sick. Very sick. He just couldn’t get used to the pitching and tossing motion of the boat. Up, down, and then up again was the pattern the boat experienced. He hated it. Every moment of it.

If I ever return to Mata Nui, he thought, I will never sail-set ever again. Not on my life.

He then noticed something off in the distance. It looked like some sort of island. It was rocky, with a little vegetation on it. It was not particularly big, but it looked livable.

“Tahu! Gali!” he called. “Quick-look over this way!”

The other two Toa moved quickly to see what Lewa had spotted.

The Toa of Air pointed out towards the island in the distance. “Land!”

Gali eyed the island. “There was nothing on the chart’s about an island like that,” she said.

“We could rest there,” Tahu suggested. “I’m sure Lewa and the others would want some time off the boat.”

Lewa nodded enthusiastically.

Gali shrugged. “Perhaps. And there might be a freshwater spring there. When sailing, one’s water stores can never be too full.”

“Then we set sail for the island?” Tahu asked.

Gali nodded. “I’ll get the helm.”

She walked up to the ship’s wheel and turned the boat slightly, angling it towards the island on the horizon. They would hopefully be there by sundown.

________________________________________

While the Toa looked on, no one took notice of the Rahi below them. It was a serpent. A massive serpent, clad in blue and teal scales. It watched the ship pass over, wondering what sort of beings were mad enough to be travelling these waters. When it noticed that it had made a turn towards the island, it realized that they could be a threat. The beast swam, jetting out far ahead of the boat and towards the island. It sped through the water as fast as its fins could carry it. When it reached the island, it headed to a dock on the landmass’s south side.

On the dock was a cloak-wearing being. He was cooking a Rahi fish filet on a skillet when the serpent arrived. He saw the beast, and turned towards it.

The creature let out a few screeches in its own language.

“News?” the being asked. He had taken years to learn the beast’s language. After all, his ‘pets’ were much more intelligent than many had guessed, and it would be best if he could cooperate with them as best as possible.

The creature let out another series of screeches and caws.

“Toa?” the being asked. “The Toa are dead. They disappeared years ago, remember?”

The creature let out another screech.

“You think they’re… new Toa?” He rubbed his chin. “Where.”

The creature gestured towards the horizon. The being pulled out a telescope and scanned the horizon. Sure enough, there was a small boat heading towards the island. He could see specks moving on its top deck. They were armored, from the looks of it, and they definitely were no Matoran.

“They must be trying to capture us,” he whispered. He then smiled. “You know what, bring some of your friends and bring these Toa here alive. I want our guests to have every comfort possible.”

The Rahi serpent nodded and dove beneath the surface. There, it found several more Rahi. One was a giant, organic beast with long tentacles and four yellow eyes. Another was a serpent like itself, and it was chewing on a Tarakava.

The creature screeched at the other beasts, which also could understand it. The serpent told them their orders, and they rushed off, heading to greet the boat which was on its way.

______________________________

Tahu paced about. The Toa below deck had been notified that they were making a stop, and Onua and Pohatu were greatly relieved. Kopaka was indifferent. He just wanted to reach Nynrah and do whatever they needed. The stop, to him, seemed unnecessary.

Lewa looked towards the island from the bow. He couldn’t wait to set foot on dry land again. And the island had trees! He could finally be in his natural element once more.

Then, the Toa of Air noticed something. He swore he saw several large masses moving underneath the water. They moved quickly and silently, disappearing beneath the boat as soon as he spotted them.

“Uh, Gali?” he called out.

“What?” she shouted back from the ship’s wheel.

“I think I saw some Rahi-beasts just swim-jet under the boat!”

“Nonsense,” Gali told him. “No Rahi is foolish enough to attack a vessel this size.”

Just as the words left her mouth, something hit the boat. Hard. The boat rocked leftwards, shaking around everyone in the lower decks. Tahu heard supplies smash across the second deck’s floor.

Kopaka was first on the top deck. “What in Karzahni just happened?” he asked.

Lewa shrugged.

The boat was hit again, this time from the other side. The impact threw the Toa off their feet, sending them onto the hard, wooden deck.

It was then that Lewa saw it. A massive serpent reared its head from the waters, towering above the boat.

“Mata Nui!” the Toa of Air exclaimed.

The serpent opened its mouth. A jet of water blasted from its open maw, throwing the Toa across the deck.

“I thought you said they wouldn’t attack!” Tahu shouted at Gali.

“I didn’t think they’d be bigger than the vessel they were attacking!” she shouted back.

Tahu watched as the serpent dove beneath the surface. Onua and Pohatu were on deck now, absolutely confused and terrified by the sheer power the Rahi serpent had just displayed.

Then, several massive tentacles broke the surface, rising high into the air. Tahu sent fireballs at one of the limbs. There was a loud, muffled shriek from under the boat when the tentacle was hit. It was then that the creature wrapped the limbs around the boat.

“Alright, I wish I was the one wearing brown armor now!” Lewa shouted.

The beast slowly began dragging the boat underwater. The Toa clung desperately to the sides of the boat as it was submerged.

The Rahi serpents circled around the boat, blasting the Toa off with their water powers. Tahu watched in horror as one of the serpents opened its mouth and swallowed Lewa whole.

No! he thought. This can’t happen! We defeated the Makuta! We will not be defeated here!

He tried to activate his fire powers, but underwater, they did nothing. He was then hit with a blast of water and torn from the boat. He floated in open waters, the air knocked from his lungs. His vision slowly began to fade to black as one of the serpents closed in, its mouth open wide for the kill…

Chapter 6

Pohatu slowly opened his eyes. He felt sore. Impossibly sore, as if someone had just whacked every last muscle in his body with a sledgehammer. He looked around, and then was amazed to find he was not in the gullet of that giant serpent… thing that had just attacked. Instead, he was lying face up in a small, warm, well-lit room. He could feel a bed of dried seaweed below him, which was rather comfortable, all things considered.

He rose to a sitting position and found that the other Toa were in here too. They were each laying on their own matted bedding. Gali and Kopaka were already up, looking around wearily. Tahu slowly got up as well and stretched his arms, a look of bewilderment quickly coming across his face. Lewa awoke almost as if the whole attack had not happened, but he soon realized that something strange had just gone down when he noticed that he, too, was still alive. Onua was the last to wake up, although knowing the Toa of Earth, he could have been awake the whole time and merely observing with his sensitive ears.

When all the Toa were awake, the sound of footsteps echoed from the hallway that lead to the front of the room. Then, a grey and black armored Matoran and a dog-sized Rahi walked in. The Matoran was obviously an Onu-Matoran, judging by his armor. He wore a thin, rather stylized Pakari, similar to Onua’s mask, but grey. Two bright red eyes glowed from behind the mask. Some of his armor appeared to have been replaced due to neglect or simply the salty conditions out in the middle of the ocean. He looked rather old, as well. Surprisingly old, even for a Matoran, who’s lifespans could draw out hundreds of years. Yet, he still seemed lively, and very fit for his condition.

The Rahi next to him looked something similar to a Kavinika wolf, but it stood on two legs, its forelimbs far too small to reach the ground. It had rather large ears as well, and small yellow eyes that darted between each Toa, watching them intently.

“Who in Karzahni are you?” Tahu asked.

“Ah, forgive me, for I have not had time to introduce myself,” the Matoran said. “My name is Mavrah, and this is my island.”

Your island?” Lewa asked harshly. “When did you stake-claim this spit of land?”

“A long time ago,” the Matoran said. “But I think I should be asking the questions. First, how did you survive the assault?”

“Assault?” Gali asked. “What assault? We haven’t seen any battle in two years.”

“I find that hard to believe,” Mavrah responded. “There are no Toa anymore. They were purged, years ago, before…”

“Before what?” Kopaka asked.

“You mean to tell me you know nothing of what went on on Nynrah?” he inquired in bewilderment.

The Toa shook their heads.

Mavrah let out a quick laughed. Then again. And again. He was thoroughly amused at this point. “Well, that changes everything then.” He clapped his hands together, and then yelled “Drinks!”

A barbed, crab like Rahi emerged from the hallway, carrying a silver platter on its back. On the platter were seven glasses filled with a red-tinted purple liquid. The crab walked between the Toa, letting each of them take a glass. It then scuttled to Mavrah, who also took a glass.

When the Matoran saw the Toa eyeballing their glasses with a rather questionable gaze, he reassured them that it was safe. “Trust me,” he said. “It’s wine, made from the grapes here. Nothing wrong with it.” He then smiled. “If I did want you dead, you already would be.”

Tahu drank the liquid. It was bitter, but rather sweet as well. He could definitely taste the grape in it. It reminded him of some of the wines that Ta-Matoran served at the parties back home.

“So, I trust that the ride was comfortable?” he asked.

“Not very,” Lewa chided. “I wasn’t think-planning on riding here in a snake stomach.”

“We were sailing here anyway,” Gali added. “Why did those Rahi attack us?”

“Attack?” Mavrah said. “No, they were simply escorting you here. I don’t like having unscheduled arrivals coming to this island.”

This guy is insane, Kopaka thought.

“You controlled those things?” Tahu asked. “How?”

“Mutual understanding,” Mavrah stated rather matter-of-factly. “I helped them escape the Horde, and they in turn serve me.”

“The Horde?” Pohatu asked.

Mavrah laughed. “You really are being kept in the dark, aren’t you?” He smiled. “Well, I won’t spoil anything for you.” He raised his glass. “Well, come hither, I shall show you the island!”

The Toa looked between each other. Then, one by one, they got up and followed Mavrah into the hallway and outside.

Tahu and Gali lagged behind. Tahu looked at her.

“This guy is crazy,” he said. “We need to get out of here.”

Gali nodded. “I think he’s been alone far too long. But some of the stuff he’s said. The assault? The Horde? A purge of Toa? Perhaps we should start worrying about what we’ll find on Nynrah.”

Tahu rolled his eyes. “He’s as nuts as a Nui Jaga that’s just discovered its tail’s been cut off. Trust me, we’ll be fine. Right now, though, we need to find our boat.” He looked ahead. “Lewa!” he called, keeping his voice quiet enough to prevent Mavrah from hearing him.

The Toa of Air turned around. “What?” he asked.

“You’re the stealthiest of us,” Tahu said. “I need you to scout the island and try to find the boat.”

Lewa nodded. “Alright. That way I won’t be around if he pulls anything deadly.” Lewa looked around for a moment as they passed through a jungle. When the moment was right he smiled and then jumped into the trees. He disappeared without so much as a rustle.

Meanwhile, at the group’s lead, Mavrah thought to himself. They’re lying, he grimaced. Everything they say is a bloody lie. They’re spies. I know it. My friends know it. Servants of that bastard king that now rules my home. They’ll make their move soon. He smiled. And we’ll be ready for them. No one’s going back. Not today. Not ever.

_______________________________

Mavrah lead the Toa across the island, showing them nearly every nook and cranny. He took them through the vineyard where he grew his wine. He showed them a massive natural arch that overlooked a great, blue-green spring of water. He led them to his favorite fishing spots and even gave them a tour of his own little manor he had constructed at the island’s center.

And everywhere there were Rahi. The beasts tended all his needs. Large, lizard-like animals prowled the vineyard, picking grapes with their long, flexible tongues. More crabs scuttled through his house, cleaning the floors and dusting the shelves. At the ocean, pairs of Brakas monkeys worked nets to catch fish in the shallows.

But then there were the more monstrous of Mavrah’s ‘pets’. Massive, aquatic Rahi that made Mata Nui look like a madman when it came to his creation. There were the serpents that had attacked their boat. There were great fish that prowled the waters, hunting down prey with electric spines. Massive, octopus-like beasts wrestled with Tarakava over prey. Sharks that made the Toa’s home island Takea look pathetically small also swam through the waters. It was a nightmare.

And it was all carefully controlled by Mavrah.

He finally led them to a small dock, where the Toa’s boat had been situated. It looked virtually untouched. The deck’s had been cleaned and polished, as if the attack at sea had never happened. Perhaps the Matoran was truly hospitable and not as crazy as the Toa thought.

“Well, I hope you don’t plan on leaving too soon,” Mavrah said. “I was hoping you’d stay for dinner.”

Tahu laughed. “Well, we wish we could, but we have a mission to attend to,” he said.

“Oh, well, then,” Mavrah said. “You know, while we were on our way down here, a little bird told me—and it was actually a little bird mind you, no one else could have. Anyway, a little bird told me that one of your number had been snooping around the docks.” His friendly smile turned into a scowl. “And a simple tally shows that there are only five of you. There were six when you first arrived. Toa always come in sixes.”

The Matoran snapped his fingers. On command, two more beasts stepped off the boat. Except they were not beasts. The creatures were massive, eight-foot-tall monstrosities made of a dark grey metal. They were roughly humanoid in shape, but had very wide shoulders and thin waists. Their legs were bent a second time, like the legs on a Rahi dog. Instead of hands, they had long, prong-shaped weapons that crackled with energy. Their faces were triangular, and two prongs of metal curved downwards off their head like tusks. From their eyes and body gleamed a deep orange light. A pair of curved tooth-like structures also jutted out from their face.

Even more horrifying to the Toa was what they carried between them. In their arms was a very unconscious Lewa. His armor was dotted with scorch marks.

“You’re only here to take me back, aren’t you?” Mavrah shouted at the Toa. “Well I’m not going!”

Gali gasped. “No! We are heading for Nynrah,” she informed him. “We had no idea you were even here!”

“Liar!” Mavrah yelled. “I know what lies there, and no one in their right mind would sail to that island!” He gritted his teeth. “You know what, I’ll let you run. This is only an island. You won’t make it very far. Then my Vahki can detain you and I can hold you here until you all rot.”

The machines looked at the Toa. Several others stepped off the boat.

Those must be his Vahki, Tahu thought.

“Well, you better start running,” Mavrah said. “The chase begins,” he snapped his fingers, “now.”

Chapter 7

The Toa took off through the forest, not knowing exactly where to go. They didn’t have many places to run to. Mavrah now had their boat and one of their teammates, and the island was very small.

And now Mavrah’s control over the beasts was being showed off. Everywhere the Toa ran, it seemed that the island had turned against them. Everywhere, Rahi attacked. Strange, lizard-like creatures hissed at them from the trees. As they crashed through Mavrah’s vineyard, the Brakas lunged at them. At one point, Pohatu had to tear one off his back as it tried to pull him down. The hissing monkey’s would not let up their assault until the Toa had reentered the jungle.

Eventually, they reached a fork in the path.

Tahu looked left, then right. He didn’t know which way to go.

“What now?” Pohatu asked, facing the path behind them to make sure that they were not ambushed.

Tahu bit his lip. “We split up,” he finally said. “Gali and I will try to get back to the ship. Pohatu, Onua, and Kopaka, you try to lead those Vahki things on a wild Mahi chase.”

Kopaka nodded. “This way,” he ordered coldly, taking them on the right path.

Tahu looked at Gali. “Can you use your powers to wash away our footprints?”

She nodded. “Probably.”

“Good. Let’s go.”

Tahu and Gali ran down the left path, Gali using the water in the muddy path to flatten out their prints as they left them. Hopefully it would be enough to fool Mavrah’s metallic automatons.

_______________________________________

Mavarah stood on the docks, several Vahki still behind him. He had not given them the order to pursue the Toa. They had nowhere to run, so he figured that he’d let them where themselves out a bit.

Thunder echoed from behind him. He turned around, and on the horizon he could see a large storm building up. It would soon reach the island. He would need to return to his house soon.

But first I need to round up those Toa, he thought. He turned to the Vahki. “I want you to capture the Toa. But make sure they’re alive. I want to interrogate them. Or feed them to the Rahi.”

The Vahki looked at Mavrah, and something changed in their composure. Mavrah could not tell what exactly had changed, but his order seemed to have disappointed the Vahki. But they couldn’t be disappointed, could they? They were just machines.

His seven Vahki rushed into the forest along the path the Toa had taken and then spread out into it, making sure to leave no part of the island unturned. Only the two that still held the Toa of air remained.

Lewa let out a low, pained moan.

“Shut him up,” Mavrah ordered.

The Vahki raised their claw-weapons to the Toa’s chest, and sent a massive electrical current through his body. Again, the Toa of Air went silent.

_________________________________

Kopaka had lead Pohatu and Onua into the house. Mavrah’s rahi crab-servants had attacked them, but they posed little threat. The Toa were able to bat away the small creatures.

“We should be safe in here, momentarily,” Kopaka said. “Hopefully the Vahki will think we’d never head into his lair.”

As soon as the words left the Toa of Ice’s mouth, a Vahki smashed through the wall. It’s hollow, glowing eyes fixed themselves onto the Toa. It let out a high-pitched screech, and two more of its brethren quickly appeared next to it.

“Run!” Pohatu shouted.

The Toa quickly rushed out of the house, the Vahki pursuing them from behind. Onua was able to swallow one up into the soft, muddy ground with his powers of earth, but the machination quickly reemerged and returned to the chase.

They lead the machines to a cliff edge, near the bottom of which rested three of Mavrah’s massive, Rahi serpents. When they saw the Toa, it was apparent that they had received the message to capture the Toa as well—only capturing them was not on their mind. They rose up from the waters, towering over the Toa who stood on the cliff’s edge. One began to close in.

The Vahki emerged from the forest and caught sight of the serpents. Seeing the danger the creatures presented to their quarry, the automatons unleashed several bolts of energy on the snakes.

The bolts connected with two of the creatures, which unleashed an ugly cry of pain. One of them lunged at the Vahki, crushing the machine in its massive jaws.

The Vahki now saw the serpents as targets, seeking synthetic vengeance for their fallen brother. They began unleashing bolts of energy, enraging the massive beasts. More Rahi emerged from the ocean and joined the brawl. One of the beasts, confused in the fight, wrapped its tentacle around a serpent’s neck and strangled it.

Now the battle had turned into chaos. The Rahi were attacking each other, all the while the two Vahki tried in vain to bring to down the serpent that had killed their comrade.

“I don’t think their paying attention to us anymore,” said Pohatu, watching as three more Vahki emerged from the jungle to help subdue the offending serpent. Bolts of energy flew everywhere and only enraged the Rahi even further.

“Indeed,” Onua responded.

Then, the unthinkable happened.

One of the Vahki’s energy pulses missed its target—a large, lizard Rahi that had emerged from the forest—and sailed into the jungle. It hit a tree, which quickly ignited. A fire began to blaze near them. Even more terrified and vengeful Rahi emerged, entering the brawl.

“Let’s move,” Kopaka said. He took them down the path. Without the Vahki chasing them, he decided he’d lead them back to the docks to meet back up with Tahu and Gali. Hopefully they were having less trouble than he was.

_______________________________________

“Well, that worked well!” Gali shouted sarcastically, narrowly dodging an energy bolt fired by one of their pursuing Vahki.

“Hey, how did I know they’d just sweep the whole damned island!” Tahu responded. He shot two fireballs at a Vahki, which impacted with its metallic dermis. The creature, however, seemed unfettered, and continued its pursuit.

“I think there are more here than just the ones we saw at the dock,” Gali said, watching as two more Vahki joined the chase.

The two Toa led the mechanical soldiers down the forest path, managing to keep themselves from being hit by an energy pulse. Tahu looked into the air and noticed that the sky was beginning to turn grey. A storm was approaching. He could already feel drops of water beginning to ping against his armor.

Gali unleashed a blast of water at a Vahki. The stream was powerful enough to pull off the creature’s arm. The Vahki seemed to take little notice of its wound, though, and kept running. A strange, orange-glowing fluid fell from the automaton’s arm. As they ran, Gali watched as the fire behind the Vahki’s eyes slowly began to go out. When the liquid had stopped dripping from its missing limb, it quickly fell into the muddy path. Its body stopped moving.

At least we can kill them, the Toa of Water thought.

Tahu looked ahead. He could see the mast of the Toa’s boat peeking above the trees. Within moments, they emerged from the forest and were running along the beach path to Mavrah’s docks.

The Matoran stood there, shocked. The two Vahki at his sides raised their weapons, preparing for a fight with the Toa. Gali and Tahu quickly fired streams of water and fire at the creatures. One was blasted off the dock and into the ocean, while the other was reduced to a melted hulk of metal and fluid.

They ran onto the dock. Tahu put his arm around Mavrah’s throat and drew his sword, holding it to the Matoran’s neck.

“Make one move,” Tahu said, “and I open up his throat.”

The Vahki looked at the Toa, puzzled. Their query was now threatening the one who had given them their orders. They would now have to bring down the Toa without harming their own leader, which would prove much harder than it seemed.

“You’re not actually going to do it, right?” Gali whispered to Tahu, leveling her weapons with the Vahki to keep them from trying any moves.

“Of course not,” he whispered back. “But they don’t need to know that.”

He hoped they did not, as well.

Gali heard something from behind her. She whirled around to find the two Vahki that held Lewa were marching off the deck, the Toa of Air still grasped in their arms.

She smiled. She fired two jets of water from her hooks which passed by the Vahki’s heads. The Vahki watched as the water rushed past their faces, perplexed. It was not meant to connect though, just to distract them. While they were contemplating the blast, the Toa of Water leapt into the air, pulling a front flip and passing over the Vahki’s heads. As she went over them, she wrapped her sickles around the necks of the creatures. She quickly slid the grips around in her hands as she landed. Once her feet hit the ground, she wrenched the automaton’s heads off.

The two metallic shells hit the ground with a loud clang. Orange-white fluid poured from the places where their heads had been fastened to their heads.

The unconscious Lewa fell to the dock’s flat, wooden surface. The Vahki then collapsed as well, their bodies completely limp.

One of the Vahki in the group Tahu was still facing began to move forward, raising its weapons towards the Toa of Fire. Gali joined next to Tahu, readying for a fight. Tahu smoothed his blade onto Mavrah’s throat. Hopefully it would make them stop.

It did not. The Vahki took another step forward—

And was flash frozen by a bolt of elemental energy.

Kopaka, Pohatu, and Onua emerged from the forest behind the automatons, their weapons readied. Kopaka readied his shield to deflect any energy bolts the Vahki fired at him.

It was a standoff. The five Vahki were between the two lines of Toa. Tahu had Mavrah and acted like he was ready to kill him. The automaton’s knew that any move they made would result in a devastating battle. A lightning bolt flashed overhead, illuminating the area around them in blue-white light. Then the rain started, pinging off the Toa and Vahki’s armor. The beings stood, the Toa’s glowing natural eyes against the cold, harsh-lighted slits of the Vahki.

Then, a long, moaning roar echoed from the ocean. One of the massive serpents that had been caught in the battle was rushing towards the shoreline. Several large, sharp-spined fish were latched onto its scaly hide, and blood was oozing from its wounds. The creature rose out of the water and beached itself, flattening multiple Vahki.

The Vahki, now aware of the Rahi threat, began to attack. The hellish-looking, brown hided fish tried to attack, but barely could from the land. The machines quickly dispatched of the ugly aquatic creatures with their energy staves.

The Toa took the chance, running for the boat. The Vahki ignored them. More of the dangerous Rahi were showing up, caught in a battle with the other Vahki squad. The battle was chaos. Great aquatic Rahi lunged at the Vahki and at each other. All the while, the automatons kept trying to bring down the beasts.

Tahu released Mavrah, but the Matoran lunged at the Toa, taking his legs out from under him.

“I’m not going back there!” he shouted, a hateful fire burning in his eyes.

“We’re not taking you!” Tahu yelled. He didn’t understand what was going on with Mavrah. “Not unless you want to come!”

The Matoran was still crazed. He grabbed one of the downed Vahki’s still-sparking combat staves and swung it like a sword. “I. Will. Not. Go! ” He charged Tahu, but the Toa of Fire easily sidestepped the pathetic attack.

As Mavrah’s momentum carried him past Tahu, the Toa of Fire grabbed him by the shoulders, bringing the Matoran to a quick halt.

“Look at this!” Tahu shouted, facing the crazed Matoran towards the battle between the Vahki and Rahi. “We did not want this! We didn’t do this! This is your fault!”

“No!” the Matoran hissed. “You want to take me back there! To turn me and my friends into that dreadful Horde!”

“Your friends?” Tahu asked accusingly. “Is this how you treat your friends!”

An axe-headed, four finned fish leapt out of the water, several frightened crabs savaging its sides. One of the giant octopus-like creatures flailed as the Vahki tore at its limbs. More Vahki were joining the fight, but the Toa knew not from where. One of the serpents, its hide in shreds from countless attacks, fell to the ocean, floating lifelessly in the battle.

“They are fighting without reason! Dying, Mavrah! If this is how you treat friends, than I’d hate to see how you treat your enemies.”

A glimmer of sanity returned to the Onu-Matoran’s eyes. He looked across the battlefield. All he could see was the chaos and bloody destruction. This was not how it was supposed to be! He was to protect the Rahi from the vile Horde that now held their mutual homeland. His Vahki were supposed to aid in that protection, and instead they were eviscerating the very creatures he had ordered them to protect.

“No!” Mavrah screamed. Tears began to emerge from the corners of his eyes. “Mata Nui please, stop this! Stop this!” he shouted. He shook himself free from Tahu’s grasp and ran to the edge of the dock, pleading with the participants in the battle to stop.

One of the serpents reared its head, a Tarakava in its mouth. Several Vahki were latched onto it, electrocuting its body. It roared in anger and pain, and brought its head down upon the dark.

Mavrah and Tahu went flying. The Toa of Fire watched as blood pooled beneath the dock area, and then turned to see the Matoran hit the water. He looked back to see that soon he would fall into the ocean as well and be lost to the tides.

All of a sudden, he was no longer falling. He looked around, and realized that he was suspended in midair. The Toa could feel the cushion of air beneath him, and he looked towards the boat. Lewa had awakened, and was desperately trying to maintain the updraft that held Tahu aloft.

Slowly, the Toa of Air was able to manipulate Tahu back onto the boat. When Tahu was safely aboard, Lewa collapsed, breathing heavily. Using one’s powers after being unconscious so long was rather strenuous.

Tahu immediately rushed to the side rail, hoping to find Mavrah. He did not want the Matoran to die. Not here, anyway, under these circumstances. He would have dove back into the water had Pohatu not stopped him.

“No, Tahu!” the Toa of Stone shouted, grabbing Tahu by the arm. “He’s gone!”

“I want to make sure, though,” Tahu said, tearing himself from Pohatu’s grasp.

“I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. We don’t let Matoran die,” Pohatu paused for a moment. “But do you think he could have survived that?” He pointed to the battle. The rahi and Vahki automatons were still dueling, trying to see who could gain the upper hand in the fight. Another beast fell, and two more took its place. The Vahki quickly tore those Rahi to shreds as well.

Kopaka approached. “And anything that’s left this storm will certainly make quick work of,” he added.

Tahu sighed. “Gali!” he called in a defeated tone. “Get us out of here!”

The Toa of Water nodded and approached the ship’s wheel. She then began to summon her powers over the ocean, calming the tumult below the boat. Then she began forcing the waves to push the boat backwards and into the ocean. With a great effort, the Toa of Water was able to turn the boat and quickly bring it to the safe waters beyond the tempest’s reach. When she was finished, she collapsed, gasping from the great effort.

Tahu walked to Gali and helped her get to her feet.

“Thanks,” she gasped, still tired from her endeavor.

“You’re the one who got us out of that storm,” Tahu responded. “We should be thanking you.”

Gali nodded. She then turned to the storm and watched as it raged on. One could still see the island in the distance, blackened by the dense cloud cover above. Every now and then, lightning would illuminate the tiny spit of land.

“Do you think Mavrah survived?” she finally asked.

Tahu shook his head. “I wanted to save him, but Kopaka is right. There is no way he could have survived that fall. And even if he did, he would have to deal with the storm as well as the Rahi and the Vahki.”

Gali nodded. Slowly she moved to the ship’s wheel. She looked at a compass that she had produced from her pouch. “Well, at least we’re on course.”

“Good,” Tahu said.

Lewa walked up onto the deck. “So, how long until we reach this Nynrah-island?” he asked.

Gali shrugged. “Well, if Vakama’s old charts are to be believed, we have about a day’s more travel before we reach it. Hopefully, we can get there by nightfall tomorrow.”

The Toa of Air jumped happily. “Good! I cannot wait to set foot on solid land where things aren’t trying to kill me.”

Pohatu approached, smiled, and nodded. “I have to agree with you there, Lewa,” he said. “I do believe the worst of this voyage is behind us.”

Chapter 8

Another day passed. Another, long, boring day of seasickness and fatigue. The Toa were still recovering from the incident with Mavrah’s creatures, and the sheer boredom of travel was beginning to set in.

Lewa and Pohatu sparred on the top deck. Each countered each other’s moves with a style all their own. Pohatu attacked with brunt force, usually with his legs. Lewa, however, was acrobatic, almost flying over the Toa of Stone with back flips and vaults that the eye could barely tracked. Neither seemed to gain the upper hand in the mock-battle. After about twenty minutes of hard brawling, Kopaka entered after watching for a moment. The Toa of Ice dashed into the center of the fray, grabbing one of Pohatu’s legs and Lewa’s axe in the process. The battle halted as the other two Toa tried to figure out what happened. Then, Kopaka used his elemental power to create tendrils of ice along their armor, impeding their movement. Unable to stop it, the two Toa fell to the ground.

“Hey, no fair!” Lewa shouted. “We weren’t using elemental Toa-powers!”

“That’s because you weren’t thinking,” Kopaka said, coldly.

Tahu laughed. He had been watching the battle for most of its duration, and seeing the rather long bout brought to a grinding halt with one precise move humored him.

Meanwhile, Gali tried to combat boredom at the ship’s wheel. She counted what few birds flew overhead, and even tried the children’s game of imagining images in the clouds. However, that became impossible over time. The sky slowly began to turn overcast, and the white cirrus and cumulus clouds turned into their darker nimbus types.

She sighed… at least on Mavarah’s island, they had seen some action. Here, however… just boredom and seasickness.

Tahu approached her for the first time that day. For some reason, Mavarah’s death had shaken him rather deeply.

“How are you holding up?” he asked Gali.

She shrugged. “Frankly, I’m bored out of my mind.”

Tahu smiled slightly. “Well, we could go below deck and find something to do.”

Gali blushed. “Sorry, but not with everyone around.” She thought for a moment. “How are you holding you up?”

“What do you mean?”

She nodded towards the direction of Mavarah’s island.

“Oh…” Tahu zoned out for a second. “I still feel responsible for what happened there.”

“Well, it’s Mavarah’s own madness that—“

“It’s not just Mavarah,” Tahu sighed.

“All of it?” Gali asked, rather shocked.

Tahu nodded. “Had I not recommended we land there…”

“Stop pitying yourself, Tahu,” the Toa of Water said, shaking her head. “We all wanted to rest, and how could you have known that all those Rahi were there?”

“I guess you’re right,” Tahu said. His voice then took on a rather confident tone. “Well, soon we’ll have all this behind us anyway. Then things can get back to normal.”

Gali nodded.

Ahead, towards the bow, Kopaka stood. Lewa and Pohatu had thawed and were back at their little fight. He wouldn’t interfere this time. Instead, he used his Akaku to scan the horizon, searching for any sign of Nynrah. The overcast had made it particularly hard to make out objects at a distance.

But then he saw it.

“Ahead!” he shouted, pointing towards the horizon. “I can see it.”

Gali looked ahead, switching to her own Akaku. She could see the dark silhouette of the island resting far on the horizon. She could make out multiple towers on it, with one massive spire dominating its center.

“Well, we should be there by the end of the day,” she said, smiling.

Lightning flashed in the sky.

“Or not…”

Thunder rumbled across the ocean. Then, the rain began to fall.

“Everyone, below deck, now!” the Toa of Water shouted.

The Toa quickly began to file into the decks underneath, where it would be comfortable and dry.

Tahu remained on the top, however. He stood behind Gali.

“Why don’t you go below. I’m going to steer us out of this storm,” she said.

“No,” Tahu ordered. “We go through.”

“Why?”

“If we wait too long, then Makuta might make his return. We need to get there.”

“Tahu, navigating this storm is crazy! I’m not sure if I can—“

“I’ll help, don’t worry.” He walked ahead. The rain began to pour even harder. He eventually went below deck and got Gali a coat to help shield her from the downpour.

Winds picked up, and Gali could barely maintain control of the vessel. Even worse, the waves had started to swell, becoming massive as they got closer to the island. Every swell threatened to capsize the relatively tiny boat.

Even so, Tahu remained adamant about reaching Nynrah. The island now grew larger and within their view. Eventually, its size began to stretch across their view.

Then the wave hit.

A massive swell, many times larger than the boat, formed. The mass of water towered over them. Tahu and Gali had one moment to regard the wave with a horrified gaze before it slammed down on the ship.

Boards cracked and groaned as they tried to support the sheer force of the water colliding with the top deck. The wave knocked Gali unconscious, and Tahu, weary but awake, tried to regain control of the boat. He couldn’t.

Another swell tossed the boat into the air, and a wave dashed it against Nynrah’s shore.

Now Tahu, and all the other Toa, joined Gali in her slumber.

__________________________________

The ebony armored being smiled. The Toa had arrived. The storm was definitely a great convenience to her.

The stone she carried was now strung on a necklace, resting neatly along her chest. The shard pulsed slightly.

“Yes,” she whispered. “Sidorak will get them soon. And then we can be united once again.”

Her smile widened slightly.

Now it was only a matter of time and patience.


Book 2: Desperation

Chapter 9

A small Rahi crab slowly scuttled across the ruined shoreline of the island of Nynrah, searching the coast for food. Every now and then, storms like the one that had recently passed over flung ashore small fish and other animals or plants that the creature could feast on. Today’s catch seemed to bring no new surprises. It could only find the usual flotsam of ocean driftwood and silt that were normally cast ashore. Not even a small fish had been offered up as a meal for the crab.

Then, a glint of something caught the creature’s eye. It hurried over to what appeared to be a pile of metallic debris. It had never seen such a thing. This mass of brown, shiny material was altogether new to the tiny creature. It pecked at the side of it with its claw. Then, to the creature’s horror, the mass began to stir. The crab quickly found a few rocks and scurried beneath to avoid the terrifying creature that had been brought ashore.

Pohatu groaned. Something had been scratching his side. Then, he realized he was still alive. Quietly, he thanked Mata Nui. The Toa had had one rough ride to the shore.

He pulled himself out of the mud and scrambled to find his Kanohi mask, which had been torn off his face. He found it, half-buried in the sand. He swept some of the grains off the mask’s gold-tinted brown surface. Then he put it on. Energy filled his limbs again. Glad to know it still worked.

He looked around. The sky was pitch black, and rain was falling in a slow drizzle. Off in the distance the Toa of Stone could hear the faint rumbling of thunder. Had they really charged into a storm?

“Well that stunk,” he spat into the cold night air. He felt cold and rather worried in this new environment.

From behind Pohatu echoed a harsh cough. Slowly, a figure emerged from the fog. Kopaka waved away the cloud to reveal himself. “It appears that we seemed to have had an error in our journey,” he said in his usual cold tone. “I’d say a navigational problem.”

Lewa pulled himself halfway out of a pile of debris. He was covered in filth. “Well, we can’t point-blame Gali,” he said. “Tahu was the one doing the order-giving up there.”

As if on command, Gali emerged from the waves of the ocean. She looked beautiful in her natural element, and many of the Toa found themselves a little in awe. “No need to be critical, Lewa,” she said. “Regardless of how gracefully, we made it here.”

“Yeah, well…” The Toa of Air struggled against the wooden debris he was trapped in. “Hey, uh, could someone get me out of this mess?”

To his answer, a massive pair of claws came down and tore the wood off of him. Lewa, taken off guard, flinched. He then looked up to find Onua standing in front of him, offering his hand to help him up.

“Thanks,” Lewa said, grabbing the Toa of Earth’s hand and pulling himself to his feet.

Onua nodded silently. The Toa of Earth seemed rather content in the new, dim environment.

Gali looked around for a moment, walking onto the shoreline. “Has anyone seen Tahu?” she asked.

The others shook their heads.

Where could he have gone? she asked herself. Did he not make it out of the wreck?

“Well, what took you so long?” a confident voice echoed from across the beach.

All the Toa turned to find Tahu walking towards them. His sword cast a warm glow across the area around him.

“Tahu!” Gali shouted. “Where have you been? I was worried you had gotten killed!”

“I was scouting out the perimeter,” Tahu said. “I didn’t think you guys would want to wake up during an attack.”

“Well, firespitter, you could have just woke us up before going on your scout-mission,” Lewa hissed.

Tahu rolled his eyes. “Well, I figured I could handle the job myself. And besides, there didn’t appear to be anything around here anyway.”

Lewa made a comment about how Ta-Korans had hot gas for brains, and the two began an intense argument. Gali tried desperately to keep the two from resorting to battle.

Pohatu, uninterested in the fight between the two, turned towards the island itself. Everything seemed obscured by fog and darkness. It was rather unnerving.

Then, the clouds above began to part, and the moon above slowly illuminated the mainland. He gasped.

“Guys,” he said, keeping his eyes fixed on the sight before him. “Check this out.”

The Toa turned to see what Pohatu had pointed out. Even Lewa and Tahu quit their argument and moved to see what the Toa of Stone had found. What they saw immediately filled them with awe.

Ahead of them was a great city of metal and concrete. Massive, steel spires gleamed in the moonlight. The tops of great towers were visible over the fog, and their massive sides stared down at the Toa. Dominating what looked like Nynrah’s center was an even larger spire. Six long prongs extended from the spire’s pinnacle and trailed further into the sky, far above the clouds.

“It’s… beautiful…” Gali whispered.

Tahu looked across the skyline, not entirely sure of what to think.

Finally, he said, “Well, are we going to stand around all night, or are we going to locate that portal?”

The Toa agreed that finding the portal was probably the highest priority. They entered a wedge-shaped formation, and took their first steps into the massive island city that was Nynrah.

__________________________________________________

From the shadows of the shoreline, two pairs of eyes watched the Toa enter Nynrah’s streets. The two beings had been watching for some time. The Toa of Fire was obviously not used to hunting anything smaller than a Tarakava, as he had passed over both of them without so much as stopping to check their hiding spot.

“Should we report this?” a voice belonging to a blue-eyed female asked.

“No,” an orange-eyed male replied. His voice had a rather rasped, guttural tone—the result of a bad throat laceration from a battle long ago. “I think he’d want us to keep watch in case they do anything stupid.”

“Do you think we should pull any Visorak patrols off their trail? They’re probably being hunted already. Besides, I’m itching for a fight. We’ve been sitting here too long.”

“The last thing we need is another fight. He’d have our heads. It’s their fault if they get themselves killed anyway.” He got up. His green and silver armor flickered in the moonlight as he deactivated the stealth field his Kanohi Volitak had created. “We’ll keep watch though. When they get captured, we’ll notify the others.”

“Alright,” the female responded. Her cyan-tinted white armor glistened even brighter in the moonlight. It was a wonder how she could perform stealth operations at all. “But next time, I’m in charge of the patrol.”

The two beings ran into the city and climbed the nearest building, pulling themselves above the streets. This would allow them to keep tabs on the Toa without expending much effort. It would also let them easily evade any hazards that the Toa would have to deal with.

___________________________________

As the Toa entered the city, another pair of eyes brought their gaze down upon them. However, these were of a whole different being. Its mandibles began to salivate at the sight of new flesh, but it had a duty to perform. It watched the Toa cross the street and disappear from view. Then, it crawled along the building and onto a large strand of web.

It plucked the web several times, sending a message via vibration through the strand. Any patrol within twenty miles would pick up its communication.

The message was short, simple, and to the point:

Toa found. Possibly resistance. Send troops. Return to Sidorak after capture for M and D. Bring barbeque sauce. They look meaty.

The creature waited. A moment later, another message was sent back through the web.

Received. Keelerak patrol is inbound. No sauce. Raw will be fine.

The spiderlike creature expressed its joy in the form of a high-pitched hiss. Soon these Toa would be crushed, disposed of, and left to his kind as a victory meal.

He hurried over to meet the incoming patrol. The Visorak horde was once again on the march.

Chapter 10

The Toa wandered the streets of Nynrah, not entirely sure where they were going. Massive buildings now towered over them on all sides, threatening to suffocate them with their mere presence.

Every now and then, the Toa would hear the screech of some strange creature that was hidden from sight.

It was Lewa who was first to notice that something was amiss in the massive city.

“What’s wrong with this carving?” he voiced to the other Toa.

Kopaka shrugged. “You’re in it?” he finally snapped.

“No,” Lewa said. “I mean, really, look around you. Buildings. Habitat-structures everywhere. But what’s missing?”

Gali’s eyes widened. “There’s no Matoran.”

“Exactly,” Lewa assured. “We’ve walked-wandered down tons of streets, and have not once seen a Matoran or any other person-being.”

Tahu considered this for a moment. Where could they have gone? Matoran didn’t just leave their places unattended without good reason.

“Why don’t we take a look in one of these buildings,” he suggested. “Maybe that one over there. It looks like it could hold a few people.”

The Toa approached the building. When it appeared that there was no way in, Pohatu created a small boulder, shrugged, and threw the rock into the nearest window. The glass pain shattered with a mighty crash, and the Toa walked inside.

“It’s… empty,” Gali whispered.

“It’s like everyone just got up in the middle of dinner and left,” Onua observed, looking at what appeared to be some sort of meal tray.

“I don’t like this,” Kopaka told Pohatu as they walked down a hallway. He noticed a closed door to his left. He tried it, and it was locked. “Maybe they’re hiding in these rooms.”

The Toa of Ice froze the door’s knob and shattered it, giving him access to the room behind it.

Like everything else in the building, it was devoid of life. Things were laid about in a neat, orderly fashion. It was as if the room’s occupant had simply decided to leave and never return. There were a few other rooms with beds or toilets, but they too were suspiciously absent of Matoran.

Kopaka approached a desk. It seemed to hold the usual sort of items an every-Matoran would have. Pencils were put in a cup. There was a picture of a blue-armored Matoran, possibly a lover. Kopaka marveled at the image’s quality. It was not crafted by any artist or portrait-painter.

There was also a note lying on the desk. Kopaka picked it up, and realized that he couldn’t read it. The alphabet was similar to the one used on Mata Nui, but the words were all but alien to the Toa of Ice.

He brought the note to the other Toa. “Well, I found something,” he said, showing them the stationary. “But it’s unreadable, so I guess that doesn’t help us.”

“Here, let me see it,” Gali said.

Kopaka handed the paper to her.

Gali stared at it for a moment, trying to make sense of the paper. Then, her mask began to glow. Now she could read it.

Dear father,

I’m heading off to the Coliseum this afternoon. I’m pretty sure you heard the order. Turaga Dume had it put all over the news. He must have something big planned if he’s summoning all of us there. Well, knowing you and how much you’ve hated the Turaga since he appointed those two governors, I don’t expect to see you there. I don’t know why you hate him so much. He’s done a lot for us. Heck, he even had that big purge during the rebellion to protect us from our once-guardians.

Oh well, I don’t want to be late. I’m off. I’ll see you tonight. Or tomorrow. If it’s an Akilini game, you know how late those can go.

Sincerely, Balta.

The glow around Gali’s mask died. “It’s a letter,” she informed the Toa. “From a Matoran named ‘Balta’ to his father. Evidently they were all summoned to a place called the Coliseum, and he wanted to make sure his father knew he would be home late.”

“How’d you do that?” Lewa asked.

Gali pointed to her Kanohi. “Kanohi Rau, Noble Mask of Translation,” she said. “Nokama gave it to me before we left. She said I might need it once we arrived. She was wise to think that.

Tahu began to think about his own secret Kanohi he was carrying. He stroked the side of his mask. So much power was waiting to be unleashed. And it was all at his command.

He decided to get back on to the letter.

“I guess this Balta never came home at all,” Tahu said.

“That would be the most… logical conclusion,” Onua said.

“Do you think that they all went to the Coliseum?” Pohatu asked.

“Possibly. The Matoran said the order was placed ‘all over the news’.” Gali said. “Maybe in a newspaper or something like we have back home.”

“Then we better keep searching for clues as to why they had to go there,” Tahu said. “Pohatu, why don’t you go see if you can’t find anything else in that room.”

Pohatu nodded and went into the darkened room. He didn’t see anything that piqued his interest other than a number of strange devices lying on a table. There was also a strange, large, knobbed box that produced a fire whenever he turned a dial on it.

He moved to the bedroom. The first place was obvious—under the bed. Pohatu reached down and pulled out a number of publications. Then he was shocked to see the covers. Pictures of rather... scantily clad female Matoran were on the surface of it. He opened it, and then quickly shut it. He wished he could just unsee what was in the tiny volume.

He moved to another bedroom, probably the father’s, as it was much more organized than the other. He did the same, looking under the bed. Of course, this time, he was less worried about what he’d find.

Nothing. A few clumps of dust and what felt like a Rahi mouse, but nothing of substance. The Toa got back up to his feet and scratched his head. There had to be something that would shed light on the situation.

It was then that he noticed the letters scrawled into the wall over the bed. Seven, simple letters. Together, they made a word that rolled harsh off the tongue.

Visorak.

Pohatu didn’t know what it meant, but he thought one of the other Toa might have insight on the matter.

He stuck his head out the doorway. “Uh, guys?” he called. “You might want to come see this.”

The Toa turned and followed Pohatu into the bedroom. They poured over the word on the wall, trying to decipher its meaning.

“Perhaps it’s a warning in their language?” Onua proposed.

“Or inane babble written up by a madman,” Kopaka suggested coldly.

Gali activated her Rau, trying to figure out if, perhaps, it was another language.

As it turned out, it was—but obviously not the one native to this island. The way it felt to say was different than the flowing language on the Matoran’s letter. But the meaning the mask revealed was altogether unsettling. She stepped back, slightly flustered by the revelation.

“What is it?” Tahu asked. “What does it mean.”

She looked at him, a look of fear creeping into her eyes.

“Stealers of Life,” she whispered.

____________________________________________

From the rooftops, the two beings watched as the Toa ransacked an apartment building.

“Well, they must be new around here,” the green-armored being hissed. He cleared his throat a little, trying to get rid of its disgusting undertone. “That’s private property.”

“No one owns anything here anymore,” the white-armored female responded. She practicing with her throwing daggers on a nearby wall. Each one imbedded itself into the wall a little deeper. She was getting restless.

The green-armored being rolled his eyes. “Okay, it was private property.”

The white armored individual groaned in frustration and pulled a quick series of acrobatic flips to let off the stress. “We should just go back to him,” she suggested. “We’ve been watching these losers for too long. If we’re not going to keep a Visorak patrol off them then there’s no point in keeping tabs at all.”

The emerald-clad being was about to respond when the Toa left the building, heading further into the island. “They’re moving again,” he said.

The pearl armored female crouched next to him. Her eyes scanned the rooftops.

“And look there,” she said, pointing to a roof nearby. “Visorak, just as expected.”

The green armored individual laughed a little. “Well, they’re going to have some fun shortly. I guess we should get back to base. Let the two hot heads mull it over.”

The white armored being jumped into the air in excitement. “Finally, we’re on the move!”

The two darted across the rooftops, heading for the last site of their group’s camp. With any luck, a pack of Visorak had not forced them to move and they could quickly relate the news of the Toa to their leader.

_______________________________________

The Toa walked down the darkened streets of Nynrah. Each absorbed in their own thoughts.

Lewa was interested in how the environment changed the further into the city they got. Foliage was creeping along the sides of some buildings. Strange strands of something weird material ran between the buildings above them. At one point, they heard the strange growls and hisses of a myriad of Rahi, hidden just out of sight.

“Well, there goes the old neighborhood,” he joked.

Tahu strode confidently down the streets of Nynrah. He didn’t care about the ‘Stealers of Life” or anything at the moment. He was just glad that the streets were empty and no one was here to stop him.

I’m becoming a complete Mahi, Tahu thought. He had noticed his drastic change in behavior after the battle on Mavarah’s island. He was building on himself, concealing weakness. So much doubt—derived from the deaths on the island to the Vahi which he now hid—was now being drowned out in zealous overconfidence. He laughed inwardly. I’m becoming a complete Mahi and I like it.

Gali, too, was thinking about Tahu’s change in character. She had never seen Tahu become so confident. He was usually angry, or temperamental. But eerily prideful about all his endeavors? This was a first. She had known him for years, and seen his ups and downs. But now… she didn’t know what to think about him.

Tahu, she thought sympathetically. Whatever you’re struggling with, you’re not yourself. And something is going to give soon. This I know.

Further back in the Toa’s formation, Onua pondered the city streets. Empty, lifeless, covered in green fog. It was far too eerie. In fact, the hollow buildings and alien surroundings almost seemed like a setting straight out of a Matoran horror novel.

Then, he saw something. A large, ugly strand hanging from above the Toa. It was colored dark green, and it swayed in a light breeze.

“Look,” he voiced.

The Toa looked in the direction of his gaze.

“What in Karzahni is that?” Lewa asked.

“A web of some kind,” Kopaka said. “Maybe a large Rahi. A fikou, perhaps?”

“No,” Pohatu responded. “Fikou’s are thinner. And more silvery. This is way too different than one of those things’ webs. Besides, it’s only one strand.”

Onua finally put two and two together and gasped. How could he not have remembered sooner? The word in that apartment’s wall should have been a dead giveaway.

“It all makes sense now,” he whispered.

“What?” Tahu asked. When silence was his only answer, he said a little louder, “Spit it out!”

“I remember something Turaga Whenua showed me. It was a long time ago, in one of Onu-Koro’s old historical archives. It was a tablet about these creatures called ‘Visorak’. I don’t remember the tablet that well, but they’re some kind of Rahi spider. They spin webs, and have potent venom. They disappeared a long time ago, though.”

“And you didn’t think to tell us?” Tahu inquired, hostility crowding the edges of his voice.

Onua shrugged. “I just didn’t remember at the time,”

“Do you remember anything else about them?” Kopaka asked.

The Toa of Earth shook his head. “No. I’ll I know is they’re nasty creatures, and we might not want to get involved with them.”

“Coming from you,” Pohatu said, “that’s not good.”

“But what does it change?” Gali asked.

Tahu looked around and regained his confidence.

“We just stay true to the plan!”

“What plan?” Lewa asked.

“We enter the city, we destroy the void portal, we leave. Simple as that,” Tahu explained.

“Not much of a charter-plan if you ask me,” Lewa muttered.

“Or get pulverized,” Onua added to Tahu’s statement.

“It is a possibility,” Kopaka tacked on.

Tahu shook his head. “We faced the Makuta and won! I doubt a few crusty relics are really going to give us much trouble.” He faced the team. “Agreed?” he asked.

The Toa looked from one to the other. The Toa of Fire’s confidence seemed legitimate, but Onua’s statements still weighed heavy. They could be charging blindly into a trap.

Eventually, someone said, “Yes.” The other’s quickly followed suit.

“Then follow me!”

Tahu turned around—

And a wheel of energy slammed into his chest. Tendrils of power wrapped around his limbs and locked up his nervous system, paralyzing him from head to toe. The Toa gasped at their leader’s sudden—and ironic—incapacitation.

“Mata Nui!” Gali shouted.

Not even a second later, wheels of energy came at the Toa from all directions, slamming into them and paralyzing each one. Now they all stood as statues, some in rather unstable positions.

“Can’t… move…” Tahu growled, temper rising.

“Can’t stop!” Onua announced as he toppled forward.

“This is gonna hurt!” Lewa shouted. Onua hit him and he fell. Eventually a domino effect was triggered and all the Toa fell to the ground.

“Is everyone okay?” Tahu asked, now concerned. He had done it. He had failed.

“We’re right behind you fearless leader,” Lewa hissed. “Literally.

“Bickering won’t get us out of this, Lewa,” Gali said.

“No, but think-talking ‘bout this before letting firespitter here lead us right into a trap might have!”

“If you have something to say, Lewa, say it!” Tahu said angrily.

“I already have,” the Toa of Air responded.

The Toa’s ‘discussion’ was cut short by a screech. A loud screech. A piercingly loud screech. It was emanating from the fog ahead. The sound seemed to cut into the Toa’s very souls, sending fear throughout their being.

“What’s that?” Pohatu asked.

“We’ll soon find out,” Kopaka spat.

Slowly, from the fog marched an army of large, four-legged creatures. Each was clad in an emerald, chitinous hide. Long, serrated pincers extended forth from their jaws. Narrow red eyes assessed the Toa with a vile hunger. Acidic saliva dripped from their mandibles, which clamped open and shut, creating an ugly grinding sound.

“Visorak?” Lewa asked.

“The stealers of life…” Onua whispered.

Gali looked at the creatures, horrified. “Tahu, what do we do?” she asked.

The Toa of Fire gazed at the marching Visorak. He wanted to do something, but he couldn’t. All his functions from Kanohi to elemental powers had been paralyzed.

“I—I don’t know,” he whispered to Gali reluctantly.”

Chapter 11

Dawn was breaking over Nynrah’s skyline. The great silver spires gleamed in the early morning sunlight. It was a sight to behold.

And of course, a king should be allowed to enjoy such sights after all, Sidorak thought. The crimson-armored leader of the Visorak horde watched over the city, examining its edifices with utter delight. He now controlled it. An entire island now belonged to him thanks to Makuta’s grand scheme. And now that the Dark Lord was gone, he was in total control.

Of course, that didn’t mean he did not expect his return. But it was her job to locate the portal that would bring Makuta back from the Void. His was simply to rule and oversee the Visorak’s operations in the city.

He turned. Scattered throughout his throne room situated at the top of the Coliseum Spire were large, silver spheres. Inside, of course, rested the city’s former inhabitants. Makuta’s plan would involve them, but at a later stage. And so, they had simply been put into storage by the god’s decree. They were also among Sidorak’s count of subjects, even though they would neither obey nor rebel against his orders.

The king leaned back in his throne—a throne that had only a few years ago housed a rather malevolent Turaga.

He smiled underneath his Kanohi. Life was good.

He heard the telltale steps of a Visorak approaching. He turned in his throne to meet it.

“Keelerak,” he said, addressing the individual’s species. Visorak had no names unless they had achieved some form of greatness in battle. “It’s nothing important I hope,” the king continued, “seeing as you’re late.”

The Keelerak was nervous now. A late report was not something good to give to Sidorak. True, it carried great news, but Sidorak’s punishment for a late post-mission report could be drastic. Torture, impalement. But the worst fate a Visorak could suffer was being turned over to her.

Quickly, the Visorak warbled a mission summary to the king in its own language.

“Toa?” Sidorak asked. He was now interested. Was this some new conjuration of the local resistance? No, there were too few sentient beings still roaming the streets to conjure up a team of Toa. Besides, all of those vile peacekeepers had been purged away years ago.

The Visorak continued, reciting to him how it had located the group patrolling the streets of Nynrah. It gave him the details of the Toa’s capture.

“Hmm,” Sidorak thought, arising from his throne. “They must be here for the Matoran.” He laughed, turning towards a group of the spheres hanging from the ceiling. “Matoran that now belong to me! Since you’re telling me this without twitching uncontrollably, I assume that they’ve already been captured?”

The Visorak expressed what in its species amounted to a smile. It nodded and lead the king of the horde onto the balcony.

Sidorak followed the spider to the perch that overlooked the Coliseum’s arena, contained in the top of the spire far below. Between the six pinnacles that extended from the arena’s bowl were webs that the Visorak used as walkways. But now, several new objects had appeared: six cocoons, now struggling and fighting to get free.

The Toa had been captured. And they were helpless.

Sidorak chuckled, and turned to the Keelerak. “Drop them,” he ordered.

The Keelerak bowed and turned. It scurried off to fulfill its orders—

And was promptly stopped by her.

“Is it to be so simple, Sidorak?” she asked in a calm, snake-like voice.

The king turned to meet the gaze of a tall, lithe female warrior clad in rather revealing ebony armor. Her long, black hair trailed below her shoulders, and several strands dangled in front of her ears, held together by phosphorescent blue beads.

“Ah, Roodaka, my queen,” Sidorak greeted her, bowing.

“No, not your queen,” Roodaka said, walking towards him. “Not yet.”

“Ah yes,” the king said, flustered. “Formalities. You have something to say?”

She smiled. The Keelerak cringed. The ‘Queen’s’ presence was not easy for any Visorak. Her cruelties were known far and wide throughout the horde.

“Only that leaders are judged in time by the quality of their enemies,” she hissed. “History teaches us this?”

“The… Toa?”

Roodaka’s grin grew wider. “A fantastic adversary, my liege. And worthy of your rule. And therefor a demise that will be remembered and spoken about for all time.”

Sidorak considered the suggestion. “I suppose I could allow for the situation to become a little more… legendary.”

“I have always admired your judgement,” Roodaka said, bowing. She used the gesture to flaunt a specific pair of structures that Sidorak focused on. “Only, be sure to let your method to allow some proof, for posterity’s sake.”

“Proof?” Sidorak asked, tearing himself free from Roodaka’s distraction.

Roodaka stood up and smiled malevolently. “Bring. Me. Their. Bodies.”

__________________________________________

The six Toa dangled far above Nynrah’s surface, suspended in the air by several thick lines of webbing. Each of them was wrapped in a cocoon of webbing, which, inside, was covered in tiny barbs.

Tahu shifted in his cocoon, trying to reduce the pain from the barbs. It hurt like Karzahni no matter what position he moved to, though.

Onua watched as the Visorak fought for space to observe what they knew as “M&D”: Mutation and Disposal. It had been years since they were allowed to witness the terrifying effects of venom on a sentient being, let alone six. The spiders found it quite satisfying to watch the prey scream in horror as their limbs began to change and their minds continue down the same path.

Two Visorak, larger than the smaller, blue-armored one in between them, tossed the lesser one off the web to give themselves more space.

“Well, that’s encouraging,” the Toa of Earth muttered.

Lewa shook his head. “Well, firespitter, can’t say you didn’t show us the city,” he said in a hostile tone. “Of course, we can say you got us captured, possibly poisoned… and seeing as how we probably weren’t brought up here for the view, imminently smash-dashed!”

Pohatu said something, but his mouth was covered in Visorak webbing.

“See?” Lewa said. “He agrees.”

“This is not Tahu’s fault!” Gali shouted.

The Toa all turned to her in disbelief. Even she knew that, in fact, Tahu had gotten them into this mess. There was no point in arguing any further.

Tahu shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I tried to lead you as best I could. But, I became overconfident, masking my own worries with pride.” He let out an angered breath. “I tried to make myself something I’m not. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this, it’s that I can’t just change.”

Pain exploded through the Toa of Fire’s limbs. The barbs penetrated deeper into his armor and skin. Venom poured through his system. He felt bones crack and transform in his arm. His skin began to grow onto his armor, fusing to it. The pain was, to say the least, excruciating.

Then, a hideous, twisted limb emerged from the cocoon to his right side. Tahu gazed at it. The arm was clad in crimson armor, smooth and organic looking against its organic tissue. It ended in a hideous claw. It took the Toa of Fire a moment to realize, but the limb was his! The claw belonged to him.

“Tahu,” Gali whispered, horrified at his transformation.

Convulsions overcame Tahu as the venom began to work its way further into his system. More bones cracked and shifted as his cells multiplied and changed to the venom’s will. Tahu’s mask fused to his face, which began to shape and change. His body grew more muscle, and his armor became sleeker as well.

Eventually, the cocoon could no longer hold the Toa of Fire’s new form. The webbing snapped apart, until all Tahu was suspended by was a thin strand of web.

The Toa gasped. Gone was the Tahu they knew. His mask was elongated and now part of his face. His legs were bent a second time now, like those of an animal’s. His eyes were replaced with long, glowing reptilian slips.

The transformation was complete. What dangled before the other Toa was not their old friend, but a bestial figure that none of them recognized.

Tahu looked up, and in a pained voice, said, “I’m sorry I let you all down…”

And with that, the webbing holding him up snapped. The once-Toa of Fire fell, disappearing into the smog below.

The Toa would have been horrified, but they too began to succumb to the Visorak’s venom. Their bodies began to morph and change to the will of the poison that now coursed through their veins.

Twisted limbs, changed from their original state, burst forth from the webbing to the sight of horrified Toa. Clawed feet and hands greeted their terrified owners. Masks fused to their wearer’s faces and armor intermingled with muscle and bone.

One by one, each Toa completed the transformation and fell down. First Kopaka, then Onua, then Pohatu. Lewa exploded from his cocoon, but also dangled from the web. He looked at Gali for a moment.

“Gali,” he began. “I want—no I need to tell you. I always—“

The webbing could no longer support his weight and he, too, fell into the clouds.

Gali finally completed her transformation and tore out of her cocoon. The howling wind greeted her as she started to fall.

_____________________________________

From his vantage point on the main pinnacle’s balcony, King Sidorak watched in delight as the Toa plummeted to their doom.

Roodaka, too smiled. The stone on her necklace pulsed with a dim red light. She covered it.

Makuta, too, was laughing.

____________________________________


Further below, Tahu still had not hit the ground. He struggled in vain, trying to activate his mask of levitation, but to no avail. He writhed in the air. Above him, he could see the other Toa falling. Their bodies had changed like his, but each was unique in form. As if they were suited for different environments.

The Toa of Fire reoriented himself to face downwards. The ground wash rushing up towards him like an angry storm. He closed his eyes and waited for the darkness.

Wham!

Something collided with Tahu, tearing him from his drop just before he hit the ground. He opened his eyes, but could not get a good view of the being who had grabbed him.

Another being caught Onua. And another, Kopaka. Each Toa was being caught by another being, but they could not get a look at their faces.

Another individual caught Lewa.

“Hey!” the Toa of Air shouted. “Better not scratch my armor!”

Onua looked down. Whoever this was, they were moving across the ground at very high speed. They vaulted over debris and sprinted across the flats faster than any animal. It didn’t matter who this being was, they ran like an angry god was chasing them.

They’ve done this before, he thought to himself.

Meanwhile, Tahu struggled to break free of his rescuer’s grasp. The Toa of Fire did not enjoy being saved by someone he could not see.

He chose to look at his limbs instead. They were still the same, animalistic claws he had seen while in the cocoon. It was real, not some hallucination.

“What’s happened to me?” he asked the being carrying him.

Silence.

“Answer me!” Tahu demanded. “I am a Toa!”

The being let out a short laugh. “Not exactly,” he said. His voice sounded old and worn, almost hopeless. It was the voice that belonged to a being that had seen years of endless battle and strife.

There was no more conversation as the beings carried the Toa silently through the streets of Nynrah.

Lewa looked around. He could make out shapes that looked like ceremonial statuary and fountains around him, but the speed at which he moved made it impossible to get a good look.

Then, there was a loud bump, a bit of pain, and darkness.

The being had knocked the Toa unconscious.

Chapter 12

Lewa slowly began to stir on the street he had been dumped on. He put his hand to his head. His skull throbbed with pain. Someone had put one heck of a blow to his head.

The Toa of Air finally got up and looked around.

He then noticed that he was alone. No one was nearby. He couldn’t see any of the other Toa.

“Gali? Pohatu?” he called. No answer.

Still, the area of the city he was in was pleasant enough, though. The area seemed closer to home for him, with large edifices built from carved rock and beautiful statuary carved from a gold-tinted stone. Nearby was a small, artificial creek. Ringing the creek were several fountains shaped like some sort of avian Rahi. The fountains still poured water into the structure.

Lewa walked to the small river to get a drink of water. He knelt down over it, and prepared to get a drink when he caught sight of something in the river.

It was a terrifying creature with a long, armored, reptilian face and crimson eyes. Lewa swatted at it with his left hand, but it did not disturb the creature. Then, he realized it. He was looking at his reflection.

He looked in horror at his body. His right arm had turned into a large, claw-like blade. His left hand had warped into a strange structure with four digits—two now being his thumbs. His legs were now bent twice, like those of some Rahi animal.

Lewa cried out in frustration and terror. He turned back to his reflection.

“No,” he whispered. “This isn’t me… I can’t be… this creature!”

He then noticed another set of reflections appear in the water in front of him. Behind him approached several, large beasts.

The Toa of Air jumped up and began flailing his claw-arm at the creatures. He also yelled threats and curses at the strange new beings.

Then, one of them—the one clad in blue armor—spoke.

“Lewa, it’s us,” she said in an all too familiar voice.

“Gali?” he asked.

She nodded.

Lewa looked around. His fellow Toa, too, had been horribly mangled by whatever power the Visorak had subjugated them to. Each of their right arms was now some sort of blade-like appendage, and their masks had changed into their now much more animalistic faces. He couldn’t recognize any of them, save Kopaka, who had retained the telescopic eyepiece of his Akaku even in this new form.

“Don’t worry, Lewa,” Gali said. “It’s all right.”

“All right?” the Toa of Air asked. “You call this”—he gestured towards his body—“alright?”

“Well, it certainly beats the alternative of what those spiders wanted to do with us,” Pohatu chuckled.

Lewa snorted and muttered a curse.

“Don’t worry,” Gali comforted. “We’ll find a way. Together.”

The Toa of Air growled, and then turned to Tahu, who had stayed silent the whole time.

“I don’t hear you saying that, firespitter,” Lewa hissed, pointing in Tahu’s face. “What’s the matter? Cooking up another master plan?”

“I’m done making plans,” the Toa of Fire growled.

“Oh, well that’s the first good thing I’ve heard since I’ve been hideous!”

Tahu lunged at the Toa of Air, disregarding his usual attempts to control his temper. He put the Toa of Air under his claw-blade. A small jet of flame emerged from the end of the weapon. Lewa growled and threw Tahu off him, and then leapt at him. Tahu slashed across Lewa’s chest with his weapon, burning a streak across the Toa of Air’s torso armor. Lewa was about to carve open the Toa of Fire’s midsection with his own bladed arm when Kopaka stepped in to stop them.

“Stay this,” he ordered the two.

The two brawling Toa stilled, staring at each other with hate-filled eyes and growling and curses at one another.

“Regardless of how we look,” the Toa of Ice continued, “I think it would be wiser to use our energies to find out why we have become rather than to tear ourselves apart.”

Gali nodded. “He’s right,” she agreed. She looked at Tahu, who was still staring down Lewa with deadly eyes. He looked like an animal to her, no longer the Toa she loved. What has happened to you? she wondered. She decided to push those thoughts out of her head. It was better to focus on the situation at hand rather than wonder about the Toa of Fire’s mental state.

“We should continue into the city,” Pohatu suggested. “This time more cautiously. We need to find that portal.”

“You do know they’ll be hunting you,” a voice called out from somewhere behind the group.

The Toa turned to find a red-armored being emerging from a nearby building and onto the steps at its entrance. He wore red armor with gold trim, and a gold, stylized Kanohi Hau rested on his face. In sheathes on his back were two large greatswords that didn’t seem to weigh him down at all. Power seemed to radiate from the being’s form.

Tahu recognized his voice. This being was the one who had rescued him from the drop at the Coliseum Spire.

He shook his head like a parent watching their children do something wrong one too many times. “You really are new to this, aren’t you?”

“Who are you?” Kopaka asked. A guttural hiss edged his voice.

“You give me your names, and I shall give you mine,” the being said.

Each Toa related their name to the new individual.

“So, the legend really is true,” he whispered. “My apologies, then. For both my conduct, and for your capture. Had my brother notified me sooner we could have stopped the Visorak.” The being glared at a nearby wall. To the Toa’s amazement, a being melded out of the shadows where the golden being had laid his gaze.

This one was clad in green and silver armor, similar to the red being, but smoother. In his right hand he carried a large, smooth-bladed scythe. His Kanohi was unlike that any of the Toa had seen, with a strange, round mouthpiece and large, rectangular eyeholes. But the most astonishing feature on this being was the long scar that ran from the bottom of his jaw, along his neck, and down to his collar bone.

The green armored being shook his head in disapproval. “You shouldn’t have given away my position, brother,” he growled in a voice that sounded like he was gargling nails—the scar had left more damage than originally thought. “They could be hostile.”

“You heard their names,” the Hau-wearer said. “They’re like us. Or at least, they were.”

Wait, are they… Toa? Gali thought. But the Turaga made it seem like we were the only ones.

The gold-masked being put his hand to his chest. “My name is Toa Lhikan, leader of what few free beings are left on this island.” That confirmed it. “And my brother there is Nidhiki.”

The green-clad Toa nodded.

Another being, this one clad in white, form-fitting armor dropped from a nearby building. Despite her bright armor, none of the Toa had seen her. How she had stayed concealed was a mystery. She was rather beautiful, but threatening due to the rather large amount of knives sheathed along her left arm. Her eyes seemed like daggers as well.

She hit the ground next to Nidhiki.

“I guess we should take them to the others,” she suggested, shifting in her stance.

Nidhiki flared his nostrils. “Sorry for her lack of manners. Might I introduce Lariska.”

The female Ice-Toa nodded and smiled.

“Well, I have to agree with her suggestion,” Lhikan said. “Well, former Toa, you are now formally inducted into the Nynrah resistance. Any questions?”

Thousands of inquiries passed through the Toa’s minds. How had they not known of these new Toa before? How had they avoided the Visorak? Where they even Toa, or just some imposters playing in another Visorak trap.

None of the questions were ever voiced, though. Well, save for one.

“Do you know what has happened to us,” Tahu asked in a begrudging voice.

Lhikan nodded. “Yes, but that is a very long story. One that would take too long to tell here. We are too vulnerable. Follow me, and I’ll take you to our current camp.”

Lhikan gathered Nidhiki and Lariska and lead the other Toa away from the creek.

________________________________________

Roodaka stood in her quarters, caressing the black and red gemstone that was attached to her necklace.

“We are soon to be reunited, my Makuta,” she hissed quietly. “Even now, the Toa’s broken bodies are being brought to me, so I may drain them of their elemental powers and shatter the wretched line between dimensions that keeps us apart.”

The faint sound of a Visorak approaching shattered her mood.

“What is it?” she demanded of the creature.

The spider began to warble something in its own language.

“The resistance?” she hissed. “Why did you not capture them?”

The Visorak nervously spat out a few more words.

Roodaka’s eyes narrowed. “I didn’t ask for excuses.” She grabbed a spear from a weapons’ rack on the wall and thrust it in between the blue-armored Visorak’s eyes. The creature writhed as it died.

She walked away, leaving the spear still lodged in the corpse’s brainpan. She would have Sidorak muster patrols at once to hunt down the Toa… all of them.

_______________________________________

It had taken the Toa the rest of the day to reach the camp of this “Nynrah Resistance”.

On the way there, Gali had gravitated towards Tahu.

“Are you okay,” she asked the Toa of Fire quietly.

“No,” the Toa of Fire growled.

She looked down to the ground. “Tahu, I know that what’s happened to us is hard, but—“

“It’s not that,” he hissed. “I am a failure as a leader, Gali. I failed Mavarah on his island by letting him die. I failed all of you by letting us get captured and… changed. I failed you, Gali. I wasn’t able to protect you. Not from the Visroak, and not from myself.”

“Tahu, it’s…” she already knew her words were hollow.

“Let Kopaka or Onua lead us,” Tahu muttured. “I’m not fit for being a leader anymore.”

Gali shook her head. “Tahu, you lead us against the Bohrok. The Rahkshi. Against Makuta himself! That has to count for something.”

“That was years ago, Gali. The world has changed. We’ve changed. I’ve changed.”

Gali could see anger and sadness in the Toa of Fire’s now-reptilian eyes.

She wrapped her arms around him, but it was hard with the new weapon-like right arm.

“You’ll make it through this,” she tried to comfort him. “You have before.”

Tahu sighed. “I don’t know…” he whispered. “I just won’t be the same if I do…”

Lhikan looked at the Tahu and Gali, and then turned towards Lewa.

“Those two…?”

The Toa of Air nodded. “Quite a while, now.”

Lhikan shook his head. “I used to have a wife, you know,” he remembered.

“No kidding?” Lewa asked, trying to sound marginally interested in this mysterious being’s love life. He was too busy worrying about his latest change of appearance to care.

“She was murdered when our city’s leaders purged nearly all the Toa here.”

Lewa turned to Lhikan with a mortified gaze. “Purged?” he asked.

The Toa of Fire nodded. “Yes. There were originally twenty four of us.”

Lewa shook his head. “I’m—I’m sorry.”

The joke he had made nearly a week ago resounded through his mind. It is surely a city of legends, since, as you know, most legends are about the dead. It was a city of legends. And the legends truly were about the dead.

Lhikan looked ahead, shaking off his own shattered memories as if they were nothing. He truly had learned to deal with years of constant battle. “There’s camp.” He pointed to a small building. The Toa could vaguely see a fire glinting from inside it.

Lhikan led them inside. It was a large, open structure. The Toa ascended several flights of stairs up multiple, identical floors. Each one was an open, cement floor with a similar ceiling supported by hundreds of columns. They stopped at the sixth floor, where a makeshift fire was burning. Around the fire were several different beings, and a small camp that looked like it had been hastily set up.

There was one other Toa inside: a Toa of Water who Lhikan introduced as Tuyet. She seemed rather stand-offish and quite. Her eyes seemed to be constantly planning a strategy of attack, noting the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in the room.

Another being was a diminutive, Rahkshi-faced crimson armored elder named Norik. He reminded the Toa of Turaga Vakama. Evidently, the small being was once a Matoran that had been subjugated to the same power that had transformed the Toa. His eyes looked aged and wise beyond his years.

The third being present had also been captured and mutated by the Visorak. This one was Krekka, a massive, hulking being clad in blue and white armor. Evidently he had been a powerful Toa of Ice, but the Visorak’s alterations had rendered his powers unusable and dulled his wit. One of his eyes had been gouged out, leaving a gaping hole in his former Kanohi’s eyepiece.

After a few minutes of conversation with the resistance, learning of their individual pasts and thoughts on what was going on, a certain former Toa of Air finally voiced what all the Toa of Mata Nui were wondering.

“So?” Lewa asked, “can we find out what changed all of us now?”

Norik nodded. “You have been infected with Hordika venom,” the small being explained. “It is a potent toxin that only the Visorak generate. Its effects vary from individual to individual, rarely producing the same results. Of course, you six seem to be an exception. If it is not neutralized, then it will take root.”

“And what happens after that?” Pohatu inquired worryingly.

“After that?” Norik chuckled. “After that you become no more than a Rahi, and a Hordika you shall remain forever. Poor Krekka nearly got to that point.”

None of the Toa liked the idea of becoming Rahi versions of themselves at all.

“And how do we prevent us from being stuck like this?” Kopaka asked.

Norik shook his head. “It is different for all of us. You may be able to cure it with natural medicines, but few in this world know of any real way to reverse its effects.” His eyes darted around. “I should discuss that at another time.” He had noticed Nidhiki’s skeptical glare falling upon him. The Toa of Air was not fond of Norik’s often mystical approaches to problems.

“So what happened to this place?” Gali asked.

Lhikan sighed. “It started about ten years ago, when our Turaga Dume started becoming… strange.”

Norik nodded. “He started becoming stricter about trade at first, trying to place embargos on all other lands. He then became more… direct.”

“He ordered the purging of all the Toa on the island,” Tuyet added. “Including Lhikan’s wife. He said we were plotting to rebel against him and establish an empire, that fool. We few escaped the slaughter, which was performed by those wretched automatons—the Vahki.”

Nidhiki nodded. “Then, he placed two governors in charge of the island: Sidorak and Roodaka, the two who ordered your execution. Then came the Visorak.”

Krekka nodded. “The spiders don’t like anyone.” His voice was deep and dull.

Lhikan continued the story. “Those spiders were supposed to replace both us and the Vahki automatons as protectors of this city. The Vahki didn’t reciporocate, though, and fought. There’s patrols of them all over the place, hunting the Visorak. They provide a worthy distraction for us.”

Tuyet shook her head. “Those damned things hate us though, Lhikan. They attack anything now.” She turned to the Toa. “They’re powered by elemental energy. You can’t turn them off, not without killing them. And since their former masters turned on them they just try to kill everything in sight. Make sure to stay out of their way.”

“We encountered a patrol on our way here,” Kopaka said.

Nidhiki raised an eyebrow. “Where?”

“Some island,” the Toa of Ice responded. “This crazed Matoran was there. He seemed to have them under his control.”

“Let me guess: Onu-Matoran, about this high?” Nidhiki said, raising his hand to about the edge of his torso.

Kopaka nodded.

“Mavarah…” he hissed. “That Matoran was a lunatic. I guess that served him well if he made it off the island safely. I guess he took his Rahi with him?”

“Yes.”

Nidhiki shook his head in disapproval. “Is he dead now?”

Tahu nodded somberly. “I… I lost him during a fight. He fell into the ocean…”

“Good then,” the Toa of Air hissed coldly. “That little pile of Kikinalo dung had it coming. He was a danger to himself and others while here.”

“Wait?” Gali asked. “You said there were Matoran here. What happened to them?”

Tuyet gritted her teeth and pointed towards a window, outside of which lied a mess of Visorak webs. “What in Karzahni do you think happened to them?”

“Settle down, Tuyet,” Lariska ordered. She then leaned in close to Gali and whispered, “She can be a bit of a Kavinika at times, if you catch my current.”

Lhikan answered Gali’s question much more politely. “Our Turaga made one last announcement: all Matoran were to report to the Coliseum Spire. Nearly everyone went…”

Norik planted his staff on the ground. “I did not,” he said. “And that’s how I got like this.”

“So what happened to the Matoran?” Tahu growled.

“Sidorak unveiled these silver, hollow spheres in the central arena,” Lhikan continued, “and then segregated the Matoran into element-based groups. The first to go were the Ta-Matoran.

“He rounded them up in the center of the arena, and Visorak surrounded them. Hundreds of those spheres were then laid in the center, and the governors simply ordered them to get inside.”

“Did they not resist?” Tahu asked.

“They tried. The Visorak killed those who ran or fought. That quickly pacified the crowd. Then, systematically, they forced each population into the orbs and stored them away in the Spire.”

“That’s when they began the hunt,” Nidhiki said. “The firebombed the city using suicidal Visorak with elemental fire charges on them, destroying many of the weaker structures. Then they marched through the streets and captured and mutated anyone was smart enough to not go to the Coliseum.”

“So you’re the only ones left?” Pohatu asked.

Norik nodded. “The only ones we know of. I searched everywhere for my son, Balta, but he must have gone there, taken with the rest of our kin.”

Gali remembered the note in the apartment. So this was the owner of that room… the father who was wise enough not to trust the leader of the city.

Lewa shook his head. “I know everyone here is so engrossed in story-tellin’,” he said, “but I want to know how to get back to my old Toa-hero self!.”

Nidhiki glared at Norik. “If you start your crazy rant again I’ll…”

“Let him speak,” Lhikan said, raising a hand to silence the silver-armored Toa of Air.

Nidhiki shook his head in disapproval as Norik stepped forward.

“Keetongu,” the diminutive elder said in a mystical tone, waving his hand for added effect.

Pohatu raised an eyebrow. “The Key to Nongu?” he asked, not exactly understanding Norik’s phrase.

Norik clenched his staff and chuckled. “No, Keetongu,” he repeated. “He is a most honorable being, skilled in the ways of venoms and other poisons. And, I might add, our greatest possible ally against the Visorak horde.”

“He used to be one of the greatest scientists on Nynrah,” Lhikan said. “Or so the legends go. Evidently he began to use himself as a test subject and was… transformed. He disappeared not long after that.”

Norik nodded. “If you wish to be your former selves again, it is Keetongu you must turn to for help.”

“So,” Lewa began, “can you take us to this Keetongu?”

Nidhiki shook his head, and Lariska let out a short laugh.

“What’s that about?” Tahu asked.

“What my comrades so rudely suggest is that this will be… difficult,” Norik said. “I had spent nearly a century searching for the being, and, well, there are those that doubt his existence entirely.”

“And you?” Kopaka asked.

Norik narrowed his eyes. “I believe,” he said.

“Then so must we,” Gali stated. “We should search for this Keetongu at—“

“Whoa there, Gali!” Lewa shouted. “Shouldn’t we group-talk about this. You know, plan?” He turned to Tahu, who was beginning to produce a jet of flame from the two-fingered claw that now formed his right forearm. “What do you say, firespitter?” the Toa of Air asked in a hostile voice.


“I say,” Tahu hissed, “that we came to this island to halt Makuta’s return, not go on a safari.”

“And you have a way to do this?” Norik asked, approaching the Toa of Fire. “Can you locate the ancient portal that even we do not know its location? Perhaps using your new Hordika abilities?”

He blew out Tahu’s jet of flame.

“Powers you have yet to learn to use?”

The Toa of Fire growled. He then let out a dull roar and began to walk away, taking a flight of stairs that headed out of the building.

Toa Lhikan shook his head. “I’ll talk with him,” he said, following the Toa Hordika of Fire’s trail.

The Toa continued to converse with the resistance as Lhikan left to talk with Tahu.

Chapter 13

Tahu wandered the darkened streets of Nynrah. Night was beginning to fall, but a thick layer of clouds had already blackened out the suns.

Mata Nui, does it ever not storm in this forsaken place? he thought.

The Toa of Fire continued walking. He didn’t want to talk to anyone. It felt strangely comfortable to be alone for once—to not have the others dependent on him. He would no longer need to listen to their criticisms if he did wrong or Lewa’s awful jokes. He was happy to finally just be alone in silence.

Then, he detected something. At first, he wasn’t sure of how he had detected it, but he knew some presence was nearby. Then he realized that he could feel heat radiating from a certain point. He whirled around to meet the thermal source, and discovered a gigantic Rahi cat that had been stalking him. The creature—a Muaka Tiger—reared up as the Toa’s gaze matched its own. It let out a deafening roar.

Tahu responded with a loud roar of his own. Then, he began to feel power well up within him. A strange piece of metal on his armor raised upwards with a new, organic appendage, and aimed for the tiger. A wheel of crimson fire energy began to storm around the appendage. The Muaka was now terrified. It shielded itself from the weapons glow, let out a submissive growl, and scampered off into the shadows from whence it came.

The wheel of energy slowly dissipated from Tahu’s back as his bloodflow slowed down.

So these must be the new Hordika powers Norik mentioned, he thought. Heat-sensing and energy weaponry. Tahu smiled. He could make use of this.

“I doubt it meant to harm you,” a voice called from behind Tahu.

The Toa Hordika turned to see Lhikan approaching him.

“That was a Muaka,” the gold-armored Toa said. “They’re territorial by nature, and prone to violent displays when faced with apparent danger.” He laughed. “Looks like with that Hordika venom, there’s a bit of them in you now.”

He noticed the appendage on Tahu’s back. “Be careful with that,” he advised. “The Visorak have them, and they’re extremely dangerous tools.”

Tahu voluntarily lowered the energy launcher. “I’ll be sure to learn to make good use of it, wise one,” Tahu hissed.”

Lhikan shook his head. “And what about your friends?” he asked. “Will you help them learn to use it as well.”

Tahu thought for a moment, and then growled, “Former friends. They don’t need me any longer. If Lewa thinks being a leader is so hard, he can try it himself.”

“True,” Lhikan responded, shrugging. “But they will not succeed without you, nor you without them.”

“And how do you know that?” Tahu asked angrily.

“How do I know?” Lhikan retorted. “Because I know who you are. You and your team are the six. The firstborn of Mata Nui himself. The Six who have a single destiny. Without each other, you are nothing. It’s just like the three virtues. Unity, duty, and destiny. It begins with unity. If you want to stop Makuta’s return, then you Toa must do so together.” He stepped in front of Tahu, who had turned away. “This is something you cannot change.”

Tahu thought for a moment. At first, he nearly bought this Toa of Fire’s words. But then he remembered his fellow Toa’s comments. His inability to help them. His failure as a leader. They could succeed without him, and, with any luck, he could stop Makuta without them.

The Toa Hordika of Fire finally smiled. “Watch me,” he hissed. And with that he galloped away.

Lhikan sighed, remembering years ago when he had acted like this Toa of Fire. His team had been killed then. He silently prayed that the same would not happen to the only beings who could defeat Makuta.

__________________________________

Gali sat around the fire, listening to the others’ conversations. She didn’t speak, however. She was enveloped in her own thoughts. She couldn’t take her mind off of Tahu’s latest blunder. She had seen him get angry before, but it was rare for him to disappear for any period of great length. And it had been nearly an hour since Lhikan had left to speak with him.

Tahu, she thought, messing with the axe-like blade that formed her right forearm. What are you doing? You know I’m here for you…

The sound of approaching footsteps from the stairs alerted the group to a new presence.

“Tahu?” Gali said hopefully.

Lhikan emerged from the staircase.

“Oh, Toa Lhikan,” she corrected, sullenning her tone. “It is good you’re back.” She looked around. “Where’s Tahu?”

Lhikan shook his head. “He needs time to… sort things out. He needs to find his destiny.”

“And if he finds a particularly bad one?” Pohatu questioned.

There was a split moment of silence. No one wanted to think of what would happen if Tahu died. Or worse.

Norik finally broke the quiet. “We cannot dwell on him. He needs to choose his own path.” The elder paused for a moment. “However, we should find our own by beginning to search for Keetongu at once.”

Lewa nodded happily. “Right, Keetongu. Getting changed to our old, Toa-hero selves again,” he said. “Let’s get on that.”

“But where to begin?” Kopaka asked. “I doubt if your decades of research haven’t turned anything up, we won’t find evidence of him in one night.”

Tuyet moved from her position of observation by a window. “I might be able to help there, actually.” She headed for the exit. “Follow me,” she said. “For my fellow Toa, this will be a place you know well.”

The Toa Hordika and Nynrah Resistance followed the Toa of Water down the stairs and into the streets.

________________________

Meanwhile, further away, Tahu continued to patrol through the roads between Nynrah’s tall buildings. He was approaching the Coliseum Spire. For some reason, the structure seemed to draw him in.

I can do this on my own, Tahu hissed within the sanctum of his mind. I will show them all.

The roadway hit an abrupt halt. In front of him was a great chasm between his part of the city and the sector that contained the Spire. The gigantic tower dominated the scene, extending far into the sky. It looked menacing in the darkness of the night.

Hiss…

Tahu ducked instinctively as a wheel of energy passed over his head. He turned to face a patrol of blue-armored Visorak that had been gathering silently behind him. He noticed that they lacked thermal signatures. They were as cold as their surroundings.

He laughed at the spiders, and then taunted, “Is that your best shot.” The Toa Hordika then charged his own energy orb on his back. When it was at full strength he launched it. Another Visorak fired its own projectile, however, knocking Tahu’s off course.

The Toa of Fire watched as more of the blue-armored spiders joined the group, cornering him on the ledge. He was now trapped. He tried to fire another burst of energy, but the appendage that controlled it didn’t seem to respond to his thoughts. Pain shot through him as he tried to activate it.

The Visorak’s own attack must have damaged it.

The spiders closed in. Several spat long lines of thick, green webbing at the Toa, latching onto his arms and legs. Tahu roared and struggled against the attack, but all in vain. Eventually, the Visorak brought him down. Webs were wrapped around his body, and eventually his eyes, preventing him from seeing where the spiders were taking him. Eventually, a burst of toxin from the webs’ barbs threw him into unconsciousness.

Chapter 14

The howl of a lone, tormented animal echoed out from the pinnacle tower of the Coliseum Spire. It sounded like a wolf separated from its pack, calling into the night for a missing pack.

In a darkened chamber within the pinnacle, Tahu struggled against his bindings. They were made out of particularly thick Visorak webbing, and would not give. The Toa Hordika would give anything to have his elemental powers back.

Around that time, he also began wishing that the blasted animal that was making so much noise would just lie down and die. It was a while before he realized that he was the one making the sound.

Tahu gasped after releasing a final howl. “What’s happening to me?” he asked the darkness that surrounded him.

To his surprise, a haunting, feminine voice responded. “You are becoming,” the voice hissed.

Tahu grunted. “Yes, but what?” he shouted at the voice.

A figure emerged from the darkness. She looked something like a Toa, but also different. She wore very revealing armor, and long, flowing fabric made up more of it than metal. She did have a Kanohi mask on, but it appeared more like a piece of jewelry that framed her brow and lined her cheeks. Several strands of her long, black hair were held down the side of her face by phosphorescent blue beads.

Several thoughts, some instincts, others rational, filled Tahu’s mind. This figure was definitely not like anyone he’d encountered on Mata Nui, where everyone wore almost full-body armor.

She looked… what was the word Takua had used to describe a Ga-Matoran he had once seen?

“A friend,” she said. The figure knelt down in front of Tahu, and placed a finger under his chin. He growled and looked away.

“Or a foe,” she added. “That’s for you to decide, and why I’ve invited you here.”

“Some invitation,” the Hordika grumbled. He clawed at his bindings, which still would not come loose.

“I have a… proposal for you,” the being said.

“Suppose I don’t want to hear it,” Tahu growled. He shifted his claw-arm into a more comfortable position.

The being ran a finger along Tahu’s face. “Be reasonable, Tahu,” she said in a rather seductive tone.

“How do you know my name?” the Toa Hordika asked.

The being ran her hand down his neck and then his arm. “I know a great deal about you,” she hissed.

Her finger wrapped around the binding on his wrist. A flash of purple-colored light later, and the web was blasted into dust.

“Besides,” she said. “What harm can come from listening.”

Tahu began to think. He already had an idea who this was: one of the ‘governors’ the Resistance had described. This would probably mean she could not be trusted. Then again, working with her could help him discover the location of the Void portal, leaving him to destroy it without interference. It might also give him a chance to free the Matoran that were trapped somewhere on the island. The more he thought, the more he began to think that a pseudo-alliance would be beneficial to him.

He opened his mouth to give his answer.

_________________________________________

Dawn was breaking over Nynrah, and the sky was a canvas of brilliant oranges and pinks as the suns slowly rose over the horizon.

The rest of the Toa Hordika and the Nynrah resistance reached the edge of a long, cement bridge that conjoined an island with the mainland. From their position, they could see a structure was built on the island. It was large, cylindrical, and vaguely shaped like a Kanohi Hau.

A large gateway had the words “Great Temple” inscribed upon its surface.

Tuyet smiled and placed her hands on her hips. “Here we are,” she announced. “The Great Temple of Mata Nui.”

“Tuyet, there was nothing in here before the attack,” Nidhiki said. “We know there’s nothing here.”

“I have to disagree,” the Toa of Water responded. “Before the war, we did not have access to everything in the temple. In fact, we were prevented access from the upper levels of their library. If there is any lore pertaining to Keetongu’s location, it would be in here.”

“She’s right,” Norik said. “And luckily, it appears the Vahki are no longer guarding the temple, which means we can enter unimpeded.”

The resistance took a few steps through the gate, and realized that the Hordika were not following them.

“What’s wrong?” Lhikan asked.

Gali looked between her fellow former Toa.

“We think, given all that has happened, it would not be fitting for us to enter the temple,” she said.

“I see,” Norik answered. “We shall make haste then. Hopefully we will find something soon. Keep watch, and make sure that nothing gets in.”

The Toa Hordika nodded and watched as the resistance members walked down the bridge to the temple.

“Well, we should get a fire going,” Kopaka suggested. “And find some food as well.”

“Right,” Lewa agreed. “I’m starving.”

Several of the Toa Hordika split up, leaving only Gali and Onua to guard the bridge.

_______________________________________

Roodaka lead Tahu down a large balcony on the Coliseum’s pinnacle. A patrol of blue-armored Visorak followed behind them, watching Tahu’s movements carefully. They were ready to pounce on a moment’s notice.

The former Toa of Fire was beginning to regret accepting this ‘Roodaka’s’ offer.

“Secrecy is such a burden,” Roodaka said, walking slightly ahead of the Toa Hordika. “But Sidorak mustn’t know you’re here.”

“Sidorak?” Tahu asked. She must have meant the other governor.

“The ruler of the Visorak horde,” the ebony-clad female said. “My king.”

“And he doesn’t know you’ve captured me?”

“Not yet.”

Tahu let out an animalistic snort. “What a leader,” he chastised.

“Precisely,” Roodaka said.

Tahu was taken back at the governor’s comment. She was not loyal to her own leader? And she would voice it in front of said leader’s subjects?

“You’re not worried they’re going to tell him about this, then,” the Toa Hordika hissed, motioning towards the Visorak.

Roodaka paused in her step. In a slightly angered tone, she said, “They are loyal to me.”

“Right…” Tahu responded sarcastically. “Like you are to Sidorak?”

“…Yes,” she hissed. “They obey me because I am strong, and thus do not question my authority,” she said, taking several steps towards the spiders. The creatures cringed as she approached them, as if some aura was pushing them back.

“That is true leadership, Tahu,” she said, turning to her companion. “That is how the other Toa could treat you. Maybe then you’d receive the respect you desire.”

Tahu thought for a moment, but he didn’t see it happening. No matter how strong he was, he would never be able to hold true authority over his fellow Toa. Besides, all this being had done was make a few Visorak cringe. What kind of power was that?

“The Visorak horde is countless, Tahu. And now, they feel the weakness of their king’s voice,” she hissed. She then continued to walk down the balcony.

Tahu followed. “I trust my Toa to—“

“To do what?” the governor interjected. “Hold you back? They’re not worthy of a leader like you. You deserve an army. An island. A world, Tahu. Not some pitiful team.”

Tahu could see what she was doing, luring him with power. For a moment, he thought it pathetic, but then he also thought: why not. He had nothing to go back to. The Toa had already given up on him.

But still, the power she described was not the power he was seeing.

Roodaka shook her head at the Toa Hordika’s silence. “I see,” she said. “You require proof, don’t you.” Their walk took them to the edge of the balcony, which overlooked the Nynrahn cityscape. The ground below was obscured by fog.

She looked at the Visorak, and then pointed into the void beyond. “Throw yourselves off the ledge,” she ordered.

The patrol of Visorak bowed as one, and then quickly charged at full speed towards the edge of the balcony. When they reached it, they dove over it.

Tahu ran to the balcony’s edge, peering over to see if the spiders had somehow survived.

He watched in horror as the group vanished into the fog below. Several moments later, the harsh sounds of metal crackling onto metal sounded faintly from below.

Roodaka cracked a smile. “I know of an island you could rule,” she hissed seductively.

“And where would that be?” the Toa Hordika demanded. He was tired of listening to her now. Her mind games were… troubling him, to say the least.

He turned, and noticed that her kanohi ‘mask’ was glowing.

Suddenly, he was no longer on the balcony. He was back on Mata Nui—home. In Ta-Koro, no less. But something was… different. He looked around. The city was far more fortified, the walls higher than ever. The Matoran inside were prosperous. Market stalls overflowed with a bountiful harvest. Visorak patrolled the streets as guards, but also worked as social servants and beasts of burden for the Matoran. It was like one of the old, utopian novels Tahu had seen.

But when he turned around, he saw the biggest difference.

A statue, taller than any he had ever seen, had been carved into the face of Mangai. It was huge, and its gaze overlooked all of Ta-Koro.

But most startling to Tahu was that it was a statue of him.

The world returned to normal once again. He was back on the balcony, and Roodaka was standing in front of him, smiling. The glow from her mask slowly faded away.

“Obedience,” she hissed. “From the Visorak, and from the Matoran,” she said. “This is the first of many lessons I can teach you.”

“And this is something your king will allow?” he asked, now more interested in her endeavor.

“There is a way,” she said seductively. “One, very simple way. A golden-clad way.”

“I’m listening,” the Toa Hordika growled.

__________________________________________________

Meanwhile, in the temple, the resistance began sifting through boxes of ancient scrolls, tablets, and texts, desperately trying to find a clue to Keetongu’s whereabouts.

“This is nonsense,” Lariska complained, pulling out a tablet labeled ‘Uses for Keras Chitin’.

“What do you mean?” Nidhiki asked setting a mound of scrolls back into a case he had retrieved.

“Well, Keetongu was a scientist,” the female Toa of Ice said. “Wouldn’t he have just left notes or an itinerary or something in his lab or home rather than, say, in the Great Temple? We’re looking for a scientist, not some mystical rahi.”

“You’re right,” Nidhiki said. “But then why would Tuyet bring us—“ The Toa of Air looked around the room, and noticed that a certain Toa of Water was missing. “Where in Karzahni did she go.”

Tuyet smiled as she activated her mask power, making her body intangible. It was true, Keetongu probably left better information in his dwelling, but she had her own reasons for coming to the Great Temple. She had just needed an excuse to get inside.

She phased through several levels below the structure, deep into the ancient vaults below. There were hundreds of precious artifacts rotting in locked boxes sitting on the shelves around her, but she was looking for one in particular.

Eventually, she reached the bottom of the temple’s multi-level complex. She had to be several hundred feet underground. The room was blank, save for a ladder at one end and a black vault on the other.

She deactivated her Kanohi and walked over to the vault. This was what she was looking for. She reactivated her mask and tried to reach through the lockbox’s metal shell. To her surprise, not only could she reach into it, but it repelled her intangible hand.

She frowned and deactivated her mask again. This time, she decided a more direct approach. She raised her hand and set a laser-like, high pressure jet of water at the vault’s front. The pressure slowly cut through the strange metal around it.

After nearly ten minutes of cutting, she had created a hand-sized hole for her to reach through. She let off the beam and took several deep breaths. The concentration required for that operation was exhausting to say the least.

When she had regained her breath, the Toa of Water pulled a piece of foil made out of a strange material and reached into the box. She grabbed whatever was inside with the foil, and pulled it out. She looked at what she had retrieved.

Resting in the foil was a palm-sized, angular stone. It was colored grey, but several purple crystals were also visible in veins running along it. The veins glowed faintly.

Tuyet sighed. She had finally found what she was after. She wrapped the stone tightly in the foil and put it in her pack. The Toa then reactivated her mask and floated upward back towards the surface. She then deactivated its power and entered the view of her fellow Toa.

“Where in Karzahni have you been?” Nidhiki asked, seeing her emerge from a hallway.

“I was doing the same thing you were, looking for information,” she said. “I was just checking out the lower levels as well.”

“Find anything useful?” Lariska inquired.

“Not really,” Tuyet said. “We should continue searching for the remainder of the day.” She pushed through between her two fellow Toa.

“Who died and made her Mata Nui?” Lariska asked Nidhiki.

____________________________________________________________

Outside, night was kicking in. The suns had not long ago dipped below the horizon, and stars were beginning to show in the night sky. Creatures began their cacophonous symphony inside the city proper.

The Toa Hordika had settled in. Onua and Pohatu were talking. Lewa was roasting a bit of Rahi over a small fire that they were all sitting around. Kopaka was patrolling around the perimeter. Although, his current, four-legged gait was beginning to disturb the Toa.

Gali, however, was sleeping. Of course, she was not sleeping well. She had been tossing and turning for most of her slumber.

“You know what I miss?” Pohatu asked the group.

“What?” Lewa asked, shaking his head. He pulled the meat he was roasting from the fire and began to eat.

“A good old cup of ale,” the Toa Hordika of Stone answered. “Sweet, frothy ale, straight from the tap.”

Onua nodded and continued eating.

“So, what do you think about our new hosts?” Lewa asked the others.

The Toa Hordika of Earth shrugged. “They seem nice, over all.” He then pondered for a moment. “But, I find Nidhiki to be a little strange. I don’t trust him.”

“Why’s that?” Pohatu inquired.

“It’s in the way he moves, and the way he acts,” Onua said. “He’s always watching, like he’s planning an attack. He’s also quite argumentative with the other resistance members. He just seems like he doesn’t belong, if you catch my current.”

Lewa shrugged. “You?” he asked, turning to Pohatu.

“I don’t know about you, but if I were my old self I’d probably take that Lariska for a night on the town,” he said, smiling.

Onua and Lewa both gazed worriedly at the Toa Hordika of Stone’s statement. Even Kopaka turned from his patrol to give Pohatu an icy stare.

“What?” Pohatu asked. “Do you think Tahu’s the only one allowed to get anything around here or something?”

“Have you always been act-thinking like this?” Lewa asked. “Or is this just a phase or some poison-venom thoughts going on?”

“I’m just saying, Tahu shouldn’t be the only one getting some acti—“

“Shut up,” the other Toa Hordika hissed simultaneously, not wanting to hear his vindication of his behavior.

“Not my fault there’s only one girl on our whole tea—“

“Shut up!”

The Toa Hordika ate in silence, genuinely hoping that Pohatu’s comments were the result of the venom, and not his usual personality. Of course, if it was the venom talking, then they might begin acting like that as well.

Gali woke up with a start, breathing intensely. Her yellow eyes darted wildly between each Toa. Her short, harsh breaths sounded terrifying.

“Gali,” Lewa asked, “are you okay?”

The Toa Hordika of Water growled at the Toa of Air and lashed out with her ‘fin barb’ arm. Lewa barely dodged the attack. She got on all fours and growled like some sort of animal. Her eyes reflected the same, bestial actions she was performing.

“Gali!” Lewa shouted. “Calm down, you’re all okay-right, right?”

As soon as he finished his sentence, her eyes calmed down to their usual state. Her breathing slowed, and slowly, she returned to a more normal posture.

“Gali?” Pohatu asked.

The Toa of Water fell to her knees and started sobbing. “I’m sorry,” she cried, cuffing her face in her hands.

Lewa turned to Pohatu and whispered, “Okay, you now get second in the weirding out thing.” He turned to Gali and knelt down beside her. “Gali, are you alright.”

She shook her head and wiped a couple of tears from her face. She was regaining her composure. “It was just a nightmare,” she said. “I could see Tahu, he was… in pain. Angered.” She breathed for a moment. “He attacked us. Me, everyone… I don’t know why.”

“Like you said,” Lewa tried to comfort, “it was just a nightmare-dream. Nothing real can come of it.”

“He hasn’t shown up yet, has he?” she asked.

Lewa shook his head.

“Then what if it does come true?” she asked again, looking into the Toa Hordika of Air’s eyes. “What if he does turn into the monster I saw?”

“Gali…” Lewa said.

“Anyone hear something?” Onua asked, looking into the shadows nearby.

Kopaka shook his head. “There’s nothing. I’ve checked. I think I saw a Visorak a while ago, but it must have been a scout or something.”

Gali looked up. “Kopaka, you mind if I take guard duty now. The rest of you can rest… I—I don’t think I can.”

The Toa Hordika of Ice nodded. “Sure. I need to sleep anyway.” He headed over and found a smooth patch of cement to lie down on.

Lewa watched as Gali took the Toa Hordika of Ice’s position. He sighed. At times, he agreed with Pohatu. Why did their team only get the one female member?

He abandoned his fantasies with a sigh and walked over to a spot where he could lie down. He looked around, making sure nothing was around them one last time. He looked over at Gali. She was sobbing again. She was also muttering quietly through her tears. A prayer to Mata Nui, it sounded like. A prayer for Tahu.

For her sake, Lewa hoped Mata Nui would answer it. While he may never get the chance to tell Gali how he felt about her, Tahu could once again do the same. But only if he would come back.

________________________________________

Lariska wandered a corridor in the Great Temple, searching for her friends. The torchlights had mysteriously gone out, and she had heard the sounds of a skirmish resonating from a nearby antechamber.

She rounded the corner into the room, retrieving a dagger from its sheath on her left arm. She couldn’t see a thing in the room, other than a small area that was illuminated by a thin beam of moonlight seeping in through a broken window.

“Lhikan?” the Toa of Ice called into the darkness. “Nidhiki? Tuyet?”

“Try again,” a voice sounded from the shadows. “They’re… out at the moment.”

“Who are you?” Lariska asked the voice. “Show yourself!”

“I doubt you’d recognize me,” the voice hissed again.

“Where are you?” She asked.

“You should be concerned about your friend Lhikan,” the being in the shadows growled. “Unlike the others you mentioned, he won’t be coming back.”

“What have you done with him!” the Toa of Ice shouted.

“Nothing,” the voice hissed. Lariska heard the sound of an elemental fire being lit. “Yet.”

She then placed the voice, and realized the horror of the situation. She did not want to bring this back to Gali. It would drive her insane knowing that Tahu had come back like this.

“Tahu,” Lariska said, trying to sound calm. “Stay this madness now.”

“Give me one reason I should.”

Lariska thought for a moment. “Because your friends need you, Tahu. Gali needs you. She’s worried herself sick out—“

“Always what’s best for the others!” Tahu shouted back from the shadows. Lariska heard a tablet get smashed to bits under a clawed foot. “Never for me…”

Lariska’s eyes widened. Tahu had definitely changed for the worse. His attitude, his actions, he was succumbing to the Hordika venom.

“She was right about them, Lariska,” Tahu hissed. “She was right about me.”

“Who in Karzahni have you been talking to?” Lariska shouted. She threw a dagger towards a shadow, but the weapon simply bounced off a wall. The Toa Hordika was using the darkness to his advantage.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” he answered. “All of you in your petty resistance will. I’m counting on it.”

“I don’t understand,” Lariska said. She heard footsteps, but could not place where they were coming from.

“You don’t have to understand the message you ignorant Kavinika. Just carry it!”

“And this message,” Lariska began, “what is it?”

As soon as she finished her sentence, an arm swung out of the darkness and caught her in the chest, sending the Toa of Ice flying. She hit the wall, and the arm braced against her throat, holding her in place.

From the light of the fire that blazed within the claw, she could see Tahu’s face. He bellowed out a thunderous roar and then landed a punch in the center of Lariska’s Kanohi.

She fell to the ground, unconscious. Tahu walked away. He cared not whether she got up again at all.

Chapter 15

Gali opened her eyes and got up to stretch. The morning seemed much quieter than the night, save for the sounds of Rahi birds chirping in the suns’ rise.

She was glad Lewa had offered to take the last shift that night. A good rest definitely helped to put her mind at ease.

She turned towards the Great Temple, and looked at the gate. She then stared in astonishment when she found the Toa of Air atop the gateway to the bridge. He was sitting in a ramshackle construction of sticks and twigs that had been woven into a vaguely circular shape.

“Lewa?” Gali called. “Are you, okay?”

The Toa of Air did not look up.

“Lewa!”

He jumped back slightly, as if startled. He then shook his head and took notice of Gali.

“Why the nest?” she asked.

“I… I don’t know,” he replied. “Last night, I got bored, and then I just got this urge… to nest make!” He braced himself for a chastising remark.

But, unlike what he expected, Gali lowered her face and shook her head. “I think we’ve all had urges like this. Ever since…” Her voice trailed off, but she made a gesture towards herself and then back at Lewa.

Hordika. Lewa understood what she meant.

“Come on,” Gali said. “Let’s go wake the others.”

Lewa jumped out of his nest and landed a few meters behind the Toa Hordika of Water. He jogged to catch up to her.

“These urges,” he asked hopefully. “They wouldn’t happen to involve me, right?”

Gali acted as if she had not heard the comment and proceeded to wake the others from their sleep. Once they were all assembled, conversations began to start.

Chief among them was the question “Where’s the resistance?”

Gali looked towards the temple, but fog from the ocean was obscuring her view of the structure.

“We should go check on them,” Gali said.

The Toa agreed, and they ran down the bridge to find out what had happened to the Nynrahn resistance.

The sight that greeted them when they arrived was shocking.

Outside of the temple’s entrance, Tuyet, Nidhiki, and Norik stood debating. The Toa of Air seemed rather angry about something. The temple towered above them, but it had changed. Smoke and tongues of flame poured from the windows of the structure.

“What happened?” Gali asked, approaching the resistance members.

“We don’t know,” Norik said. “All of us were knocked unconscious by something. When we woke up, the temple was aflame. We barely escaped.”

“Where’s Krekka and Lariska? Where’s Lhikan?” Pohatu inquired.

“We couldn’t find them,” Tuyet responded. “They’re probably dead.”

The stone entrance to the temple collapsed with a rumble. Large blocks of stone fell into the opening, sealing the massive structure.

Nidhiki became more infuriated. “I’m going in,” he hissed.

“There’s no point,” Tuyet said, grabbing the Toa of Air’s shoulder. “Just accept it.”

In a blur of motion, Nidhiki drew his scythe and brought the edge of its blade beneath Tuyet’s chin. “I’ll accept their deaths,” he growled, “when I have a corpse.” He lowered his scythe.

“You and Lhikan were always such saps,” the Toa of Water said, shaking her head.

Nidhiki let out a strange, angered growl at the comment. “I’m going in.”

The Toa Hordika were astonished by the outburst. Kopaka remembered some of the arguments he would have with Tahu. Was this really what they looked like?

Nidhiki looked upwards and found a window he could leap into. From there, he could scour the fortress in search of his comrades. He took a deep breath and—

The armored form of Krekka burst through the rubble that covered the entrance. His armor was dented and covered with ash and scorch marks, but, for the most part, he appeared unharmed. In his arms, he carried the limp form of Lariska. She looked as if a building had fallen on her. And indeed, it may have.

Nidhiki took Lariska from the brute’s arms. He looked over her.

“She’s breathing,” he gasped. The Toa of Air propped her up on a piece of rubble and patted her on the shoulder slightly.

Lariska woke up. While she did not move, her eyes quickly darted around, filled with fear.

“You okay?” Nidhiki asked.

Lariska let out a cough and shook her head. Looking at her burnt and dented armor, she chuckled and said, “Been better.” Her voice sounded a little raspy.

“Can you walk?” Norik inquired.

Lariska got up with Nidhiki’s help, but quickly lost her footing. Luckily, the Toa of Air managed to catch her.

“Looks like you’ll need some time to recover,” he said.

Lariska nodded. With her friends help, she was able to walk over to a small piece of rubble and sit down.

Norik clenched his staff. Another setback was something they did not need.

“So, did anyone find anything pertaining to Keetongu’s location?” Lewa asked, irritated that the reason they were in the temple had not been addressed.

“I think a better question would be ‘why is the temple on fire?’” Pohatu said.

Tuyet shrugged. “Sometimes a gas line can burst. If armor and the right type of rock scrape, that’s all it takes. But, the temple did have fireproofs.”

Lariska frowned slightly. She knew, but she did not want to share the information with the others. It could crush the Toa Hordika. Demoralizing them would not be the best decision she could make at the moment.

Norik nodded. “We may never know, then,” he said. “But to answer Lewa’s question, I did encounter one piece of information. It referred to ‘tears reaching the sky’ or something to that effect. You know how cryptic Matoran scholars can be.”

Onua thought for a moment, but a nagging need for water seemed to be preoccupying his thoughts. He found a small stream of water flowing down the bridge and knelt down to drink.

Then, he noticed the source of the water: a burst water line that rested just beneath the right ‘eye’ of the Great Temple’s Hau-shaped structure. He smiled.

“Well, it might not be as cryptic as we thought,” the Toa Hordika of Earth said, pointing at the water.

Lewa looked at it. “Well, it’s not much, but it’s something,” he stated, shrugging in irritation. He was not a fan of vague prophecies.

“Well, we cannot set out immediately,” Norik stated. “We must give Lariska time to heal. I suggest we train in the meantime to help get you Toa used to your new abilities.”

Pohatu nodded. “Excellent idea, I guess.”

Krekka, however, seemed a little distraught. His one good eye darted around worriedly. He was searching for someone.

“Something wrong, Krekka?” Tuyet asked.

“Where’s Lhikan?” the brute responded.

Suddenly, the realization hit them. The Toa of Fire, leader of the resistance, was missing. Immediately, an argument started. Some thought he was assassinated, others thought that the Visorak had carried him off to mutate or torture for information. Then came the idea that the Visorak had in fact set fire to the temple under orders from Sidorak.

Gali sat down next to Lariska and buried her head in her hands. She could not stand the argument any longer.

“I wish Tahu were here,” she said, shaking her head.

Lariska sighed. She had to tell her. For her sake. For all their sakes.

“He… was…” the Toa of Ice responded.

Nine harsh gazes fell on Lariska’s battered form.

________________________________________________

Tahu banged on the massive, iron door that served as the gate to the Coliseum complex for the third time. He was sick of waiting. If someone did not come to meet him soon, he would simply melt his way inside and demand an audience with Sidorak.

A number of Visorak had begun to surround him. Their angered hisses did nothing to please the Toa Hordika’s angered mood. He turned around and roared at the spiders, which caused them to back away a foot or so.

“You must be confused, Toa,” a rather stuffy voice rasped from seemingly nowhere. Tahu whirled around and watched as a small light began to glow on the iron door. “I do not welcome your kind here,” the voice continued. “In fact, I exterminate it.”

The Visorak hissed in what might have been their equivalent of laughter.

Tahu realized he must be talking to Sidorak himself.

“It is you who are confused, Sidorak,” Tahu growled. “I am no simple Toa!”

“Hordika,” Sidorak hissed. Tahu noticed the light flashed in accordance to the King’s voice. “Why would you come to me, then, hmm?”

“To join you,” Tahu announced.

More laughter ensued from the spiders. Tahu hissed at them, and they went silent.

“And,” the Toa Hordika continued, “to present to you proof of my worth.” He gestured to his left.

The glow of the light turned into the direction of Tahu’s pointing. Lying there, bound, beaten, and gagged, was the struggling form of Toa Lhikan.

There was a long moment of silence. Then, the massive door slowly began to open.

“Let’s talk,” Sidorak finished.

Tahu slung the Toa of Fire over his shoulder and walked in.

Chapter 16

Written by BionicleChicken from this point on

Gali was hyperventilating. Her eyes felt as though they were pulsating in rhythm with her equally pounding heart. She felt like diving headfirst into the stream Onua had found as an alternative way to control her breathing. This made her realize that one of her mutations included the appearance of gills on her neck. The more she thought about it, the more she realized she was stalling her mind from accepting what Lariska had told her.

"No," muttered the Toa of Water. "NO! Tahu couldn't have done such a thing! Right??" Gali turned to her fellow Toa for support. When they didn't answer, Gali felt a rage bubble inside her. "RIGHT?!!" roared Gali. Everyone jumped at the Toa's sudden outburst. The remaining Toa of the Nynrah Resistance tightened their hold on their weapons as they took several steps back. As she panted, Gali realized how she sounded and began taking deep breaths. She turned to Norik, desperation in her eyes. "Right...?"

Norik approached Gali slowly, like a trainer to an especially grumpy animal. The mutated Matoran patted Gali's shoulder. "I am truly sorry, Gali," said Norik solemnly. "You are correct. The Tahu you knew would not. But he's changed, and soon all of you will, too. I fear Tahu has given in to the beast that lurks within us all. The primal parts of ourselves we like to think progress has made us forget." Norik's expression turned dark, he was clearly afraid to say the next sentence. "Hordika is its name..."

"Now is not the time to be dramatic, Norik!" yelled Nhidiki. "Lariska and Krekka were almost killed! And Lhikan is captured as well, by their 'friend'!"

"I know you are upset by your brother's predicament," Norik turned to the Toa of Air. "Believe me, I understand completely. But these Toa deserve every answer they ask for. They are unfamiliar with the going ons here and they must know as much as possible if they are to aid us."

Norik returned his attention to the Toa Hordika. They all had sad expressions on their mutated faces. "Your friend, Tahu. He has acted aggressively and confrontationally the whole time we have interacted with him. But the way you continue to plead for his innocence tells me that Tahu is a better man than he currently is. Lhikan seemed to see that. If Tahu is indeed the person you believe him to be, then he is still in there somewhere behind all the animalistic rage. We must hurry to find Keetongu, overthrow the Visorak and their leaders..."

"...Before the beast overcomes us as well," Kopaka finished. Norik nodded, glad to know that the Toa before him still had their minds and senses.

"But how can we be sure that's not a good thing?" Tuyet asked. Everyone turned to stare at her. "I mean, Tahu might be beyond Keetongu's help. Not to mention that Krekka was close to what he's become right now. But look at what a single Hordika did!" Tuyet pointed at the destroyed Great Temple. "And we have not only five more Hordika, but all of whom might be Mata Nui's firstborn themselves as well! Sidorak and his horde wouldn't stand a chance!"

"Have you not heard what I said, Tuyet?" Norik asked. "Hordika would be uncontrollable. They would turn on each other faster than those Visorak without Sidorak or Roodaka! The only reason Tahu did what he did is because Sidorak pointed him in the right direction!"

"Then we do the same!" retorted Tuyet. "Five Hordika, six if we count Krekka, with three other Toa backing them up. The Visorak wouldn't stand a chance!"

"And what about Tahu?" asked Gali.

"As I said, it might be too late for him now," responded Tuyet darkly.

"Well we have to try!" snapped Lewa. "I'm sick-tired of all your mistrust. I mean, by Mata Nui! You bicker amongst yourselves more than we do! You heard of Norik said. Sooner or later, we're all going to lose ourselves. If we're to turn-become Hordika, we're no good to anyone, especially the Matoran. Besides, we owe the fire-spitter that much," the Toa of Air sighed. "And I guess...I was little too hard on him."

"And what if you can't help him?" asked Tuyet, raising an eyebrow.

"Leave that to me," snarled Lewa, pointing the sharp end of his weapon-arm at the hostile Toa of Water.

"So!" interrupted Pohatu, who stepped in between the two glaring Toa. "Can we get on with the quest for the Rahi scientist entity before we tear each other apart?"

"Yes, let's," said Norik quickly. "As Onua pointed out, we simply follow that." Norik pointed at the water coming from the eye-shaped opening on the Great Temple's structure.

Lewa kneeled next to the traveling stream and dipped his fingered hand into it, feeling its cold yet relaxing form. "'Tears that reach the sky'?" he asked.

Pohatu went to kneel opposite Lewa from across the stream. He stared at the water and followed its flow to under the bridge that led to the Temple. "It's not much of a plan. But it is one," the Toa of Stone shrugged.

As soon as everyone collected their effects, they followed the stream to the resevoir beneath the bridge. While they walked, Norik observed the stream's path to the horizon. "If we are to save Tahu and yourselves, we must hurry," said the Matoran to the Toa.

The group hiked in the direction of the stream. Gali and Lewa walked at the very back. Gali was staring at Lewa, a pleasant surprise on her face. Lewa couldn't help but avoid eye contact, not wanting to disturb her with little hints on his feelings for her.

"That was quite a riling speech," said Gali.

"I swear-promise I didn't practice it last night," joked Lewa.

Gali laughed. The sound of it made Lewa's heart jump with both discomfort and joy. The Toa of Air wasn't sure if it was the venom coursing through his head and making it harder to control impulses or not, but he felt now was the right time to confess it all to the woman beside him. It was warranted, in his opinion. He had won her approval, and Tahu wasn't there. Admittedly selfish but still.

Lewa turned to the Toa of Water, who was wieling a lovely smile despite her deformities. He took a deep shakey breath. For a moment, Lewa thought about how it was ironic that a Toa of Air couldn't control his breathing. Lewa quickly dismissed it, realizing that his mind was trying to stall. Pushing all thoughts that warned him this was a bad idea to the back of his head, Lewa opened his mouth.

Here goes.

"Gali?" Lewa asked. Gali turned, curious to what the Toa of Air had to say. "I need to tell you something..."

"You like me, right?" asked Gali bluntly and without hesitation.

Lewa's jaw dropped. At that single second, it was as if his thoughts had put on their own little Kanohi Kakama and were currently racing around his head.

"But," the Toa of Air stammered. "How--when...?"

Gali shrugged. "Just the way you act around me gave it away. But I suppose the biggest hint was back on Mata Nui, when we were first facing off against the Makuta. In that tunnel? Remember?"

Lewa felt like smacking himself in the face with his mutated arm. How could he have forgotten? Makuta had already exposed his attraction towards the Toa of Water anyways and he had spent all this time wondering how to break the news to her. The Toa already knew each other's dirtiest most sinful secrets, desires, and thoughts that day. Now it turned out he didn't need to worry. He didn't need to break it to her at all. She knew all this time already and had moved on. The strangest thing was that Lewa felt content after Gali reminded him of that day. He felt relief. Like a beig weight had just been lifted off of his shoulders.

Gali seemed to notice and smiled. "Lewa, I'm sorry if me being with Tahu hurt you in any way. If it's any consolation to you, your speech back there had filled me with hope again. Before, I felt like giving up." Lewa remembered the other night when he listened to Gali silently sobbing. "But now, I feel like we can take on the Visorak AND Makuta at the same time. You do your people's ideals on 'faith' proud, you know that?"

"That's what's expected of me," said Lewa. "And thank you, Gali. For not out-freaking."

"It doesn't matter. Especially when half of Mata Nui seemed to have a crush on me," Gali rolled her eyes, displaying all her minor contempt for her status as a celebrity among the people of their home. "But you're very welcome, Lewa. And if you've gotten over me, I just like to say I think you and Tuyet look good together." With that, Gali jogged to the front of the group.

Lewa was silent, but glad.


Lhikan woke up feeling like his head weighed more than his actual body. It was only when he looked above him did he realize what was happening. He was hanging from a pole sticking outward from the tallest spire of the Coliseum, his entire body with the exception of his head wrapped in a cocoon. Not only that, but he was upside down.

The Toa of Fire suppressed the urge to scream and wriggle his way out in a panic and instead began taking notes on the situation. He saw that he was hundreds of feet in the air, no matter what he did, he would fall to his death if he freed himself. Thankfully, the coccoon seems to be thick enough to hold his weight. However, that also means that he can't cut or poke his way out of it. If he could, then the coccoon would tear apart at his weight. There were no escape oppurtunities. The best thing to do was to wait.

"Finally awake are we?" a familiar but sinister voice asked.

Lhikan inhaled sharply. He wanted to twist his head around to see the speaker on the balcony behind him but he needn't. He knew who it was. "Tahu," the Resistance leader muttered. "What have you done?"

"I've turned you over to Sidorak," confessed the Toa Hordika of Fire. "With you, the leader of the Nynrah Resistance, as my present, Sidorak is sure to give me the army I need to protect the Matoran. No threats would ever come out of my sightline."

"No," grunted Lhikan. "This isn't how a Toa does things, Tahu. You know this. This isn't who you are."

"You've seen what's become of me, Lhikan," growled Tahu. The Hordika leapt from the balcony and onto the pole Lhikan was attached to, shaking it but perfectly maintaining his balance on it. "Does this look like a Toa to you? No, this is the face of a failure whose friends don't even believe in him. Whose own allies mock and mistrust! What have I got to lose?"

"You don't believe that," Lhikan muttered calmly. "Your friends are actually worried about you. Gali is worried about you."

Tahu paused. His face scrunched into a confused scowl. "Gali...?" the Toa Hordika murmured. He then shook his head, his confusion replaced with bitterness. "That name means nothing to me now."

"It did once," replied Lhikan. "It can again. I know it will."

"Of course," a female voice said. Tahu snapped towards it and saw Roodaka standing on the balcony, her hands behind her back and her chin raised so she was looking down on both Toa of Fire. "It can if you want to be weak again."

Tahu growled. He turned to Lhikan and roared,"NEVER!" With that, Tahu leapt off the pole and back onto the balcony. He kneeled before Roodaka. The tall woman lifted Tahu's face with her fingers and stared into his mutated face.

Roodaka smiled. "You are everything I hoped you would be," she said softly. She released Tahu from her touch and turned towards the lift. "Come, it's time for you to meet the king."

Tahu grunted in obedience and followed her into the lift. Lhikan listened to the doors closing and the lift heading to the top floor. The gold and red Toa of Fire sighed. "Please, Tahu," he whispered. "Have faith again. We need you to."


The lift was surprisingly smooth as Tahu and Roodaka stood beside one another, waiting to arrive on the floor of Sidorak's throne room. Without so much of a jolt, the lift slowed to a stop. Through the glass of the lift, Tahu could see the King of Visorak berating one of the Rahi. The spider was shaking and backing off slowly as Sidorak leaned closer and closer, a very annoyed look on his Kanohi.

Behind the being was his throne. Tahu stared at it, entranced. Roodaka leaned over near the Toa of Fire's ear and whispered softly, "Do you see that? The throne will soon be yours."

Tahu let the thought float around in his mind as the lift doors opened. Hearing its sound, Sidorak saw Roodaka and Tahu approach. With a smirk at the female, Sidorak waved off the Visorak without looking at it. As the beast scurried off, Tahu saw that one of its pincers was broken off, most likely in some kind of battle with some other Rahi that roamed the city.

"Ah, Toa Tahu," said Sidorak. "Welcome to my--" Sidorak glanced at Roodaka with both fear and need in his eyes. "our humble abode. I want to thank you personally. Because of you, the leader of the thorns in my side will now be where he belongs. In a cage, or worse."

"It is just the beginning," interjected Roodaka. She walked over to behind Tahu and gently grasped his shoulders. Tahu noticed that Sidorak looked like an obedient dog, like he was expecting something very rewarding from someone like the female behind the Toa. "He can offer you more."

Sidorak arched an eyebrow. "Is that so?"

"It is, my king. Tahu is my gift to you. A fitting master for your horde."

"Well," stammered Sidorak, obviously flattered and flustered. "Hordika or not, Roodaka. There is only one of him."

"Which is why the other Toa are on their way, sire," smiled Roodaka. Both Sidorak and Tahu stared at her in surprise. "With Tahu leading your horde, they will be captured and trained, just like him."

Sidorak stroked his chin, making sure that he looked powerful with hist chest puffed out. "A fine offer indeed."

"Think of it as an..." Roodaka's smile turned into a grin. "engagement present."

That seemed to be enough to convince Sidorak. Tahu saw that despite all the power, what Sidorak truly desired was Roodaka by his side as his wife and queen ruling the Visorak. "Well then," Sidorak grunted. "Tahu, allow me to introduce you to the horde."

Book 3: Augmentum

Chapter 17

Before, with his Mask of Levitation, Lewa found no difficulty climbing. His mask allowed him to make it impossible for him to fall from any height. Even if he slipped and/or missed a branch, he always used his trusty mask to catch himself.

Now, it was a different way of preventing falls. His new physiology allowed the Toa of Air to climb just like a monkey would. He caught branches and large cracks on the trunk without effort using his hand and feet. If he wasn't pulling himself up, he was using the momentum he gained to swing himself upwards. There was no doubt that his mutation actually allowed him to do what he did best better. His bird-like feet helped him balance on the branches as Lewa climbed to the top of the very tall pine tree. He got to the very top. The Toa of Air hanged on as he stared across the horizon of Nynrah.

The sun was setting, and if it wasn't for the distant silhouettes of a ravaged city, Lewa would maybe call the sight beautiful without hesitation. He stared forward in the direction of the stream of tears he, the Toa, and the Nynrah Resistance had been following for what seemed to be weeks now. The group had fended off various Rahi controlled by Makuta's forces and the bothersome Visorak that patroled these woods from time to time.

Lewa looked across the sea of trees before him and scanned every nook and cranny he could. Apart from a few birds flying away, there was no indication of real threats coming their way. But no signs of any mindblowing architecture that could imply Keetongu's location either. Of course, there was the Ice region of Nynrah in the direction Lewa looked, but it would take hours to reach the border.

"Lewa?" called Pohatu from below. "See anything up there?"

"Nothing!" responded Lewa. "We still have a long way to go before we even see another kind of weather! Good news is, I don't spot-see any signs of Visorak!"

Everyone at ground level sighed in relief.

"Come on back down, Lewa!" yelled up Gali. "We're setting up camp for the night!"

Lewa sighed and began his descent. It was rather dull considering he had to be careful with his footing. Before his mutation, he could let himself fall then slow the rapid descent using his Mask. He felt dirty having to do things slowly, ignoring the fact that his mere appearance should be the one causing the feeling.

Suddenly, a branch snapped and Lewa found himself tumbling down, wood splintering as his flailing body tore through them like a very sharp spear. Finally, some vines collected around his ankle and caught him before he could meet an ironic end. Lewa yelped in fear at the sudden prospect of falling to his death without his Element or his Mask aiding him.

Sighing, Lewa calmed down and bent upwards to cut himself free. At the corner of his eye, Lewa saw something that he never wanted to be this near to: a corpse. Lewa screamed and flailed, accidentally cutting himself free. He landed on the ground with a hard thud and a cloud of dust. His friends and allies gathered around his injured body. "Lewa!" said Pohatu.

"Are you alright?" asked Onua.

"No, it hurts..."groaned Lewa. "There's also a body up there, in the tree."

The members of the Nynrah Resistance looked at each other. Considering that the Toa Hordika were not from these lands, it was clear they would need to be the ones to investigate. Nidhiki sighed and leapt into the air. A large cushion of air formed benath his feet, then launched him into the air like a trampoline. The crackly-voiced Toa of Air was missing for a while. A minute and a half later, he returned.

"I recognized him," hissed Nidhiki. "He's a Le-Matoran named Rando, one of the few that managed to evade the Visorak attacks. He must've come to the woods to hide from the horde in the trees."

"Didn't work too well for him, did it?" Lewa looked up at the tree above him, rubbing the back of his head to dull the pain.

"I'm afraid this serves as a bad omen for us," said Norik. "Who knows how many Matoran took refuge among these trees only to meet their ends? These woods were safe enough to camp once, but no longer with the Visorak taking over. This and considering the many ambushes we had to endure, I think we can safely say this is not the best place to rest."

The others groaned in unison. Norik ignored their reaction to his logic and looked around. His eyes squinted and his brow creased. "Where is Tuyet?" asked he. Everyone looked around. The mutated Matoran was right. Tuyet was missing from the group.

Just before they decided to spread out and find the Toa of Water, she came out from the bushes, putting something away into her pack. She found herself being stared down by her peers. Tuyet looked up and became confused. "What?" she asked.

"Where were you?" asked Lariska.

"Why do you need to know?" demanded Tuyet, her hands on her hips.

"Tuyet, what were you doing back there?" asked Norik, stepping forward.

"Nothing, I was just taking care of business," said Tuyet, acting as if everyone else was acting suspiciously. "What's wrong?"

"Did you know we found a dead body up there in the trees?" asked Nidhiki, pointing to where Lewa climbed.

"Oh my, there was? I didn't hear that."

"Tuyet, what do you have in your pack?" asked Norik, noticing her movements while getting out of the bushes.

"Nothing, can't someone just adjust their stuff after getting things done?" shrugged Tuyet. She began to try to walk to the front of the group, but found herself blocked by a wall of Toa. "What is wrong with everyone?"

"Tuyet, show us what's in your pack," muttered Lariska.

"Why should I? There's nothing but normal supplies in there."

"Tuyet, now."

Tuyet groaned and opened her pack, widening its opening to show her allies everything inside. Within, all saw bottles of water, some wrapped food, and maps. But beneath these, there was a glow. Lariska reached in and took out a glowing stone. It was perfectly round, thus making it a sphere. Lariska breathed shakily as she held it in her hand.

"It's so full of...power," she muttered. Around her, the air suddenly turned cold. From her body emitted an aura that resembled a small snowstorm. With a gasp, Lariska grasped the stone with her other hand, as if trying to contain the energy comging from it. The aura and the energy halted.

"Tuyet," said Lariska sternly. "What the hell is this thing?"

Tuyet sighed. "It's called a Nui Stone. A powerful artifact I took from the Great Temple. It's said to have the ability to increase a Toa's power over the Elements tenfold."

Beat.

"Why would you take such a powerful object?" asked Nidhiki, clenching his weapon tighter. "And without telling the rest of us?"

"I assumed that we can use it against the Visorak," muttered Tuyet. "Can you imagine if one of us used it against the horde? Sure, we're looking to cure these guys of the Hordika venom, but what if we failed and they lose control? We can use the Nui Stone to fix everything. Everything."

The group was silent. Norik looked down, as if deep in thought. The Toa Hordika looked at each other uncertainly. Tuyet had a point. If all else failed, they should have a backup plan. Before this, they didn't. Keetongu was their only plan and course of action.

"No, this isn't right," said Gali. "No one person should have that power."

"Then what do you suggest?" asked Tuyet. "What if you become like your friend and attack us in our sleep? What if Keetongu turned out to be a myth after all? This is the best thing we have in our arsenal right now and you're all trying to convince yourself that using this is wrong. If you have any actual arguments, then let me know right now."

Everyone was silent. Tuyet was right. There was nothing else. Nothing else as a contingency for in case everything they were doing right now went wrong.

Lariska, slowly, handed the stone over to Tuyet. The latter snatched it out of the Toa of Ice's hand and dropped it back into her pack. "Now, are we going to move on or will we continue to stand around?" snorted Tuyet.

With an awkward look at one another, the group continued to follow the stream.




The rusty gunmetal colored the corridor Tahu and Sidorak were walking through. To their left was the transparent glass panels that served as the windows. To their right was a collection of pipes and circuitry that allowed the water and electricity to run through the Coliseum. Sidorak was walking tall and proud while the Toa Hodrika of Fire was practically waddling.

"You know, Tahu," boasted Sidorak. "You and I are very much alike."

Tahu groaned and rolled his green eyes.

"That was a compliment, Tahu."

"Thank you sir," muttered Tahu, looking away.

The pair stopped at a pair of sliding metallic doors. They waited for half a second before it opened. Within was another corridor, which led to a balcony that overlooked the Coliseum Arena below. Between the duo and the balcony were scattered silver spheres. Tahu saw these dangling above Sidorak's throne but he assumed they were fancy chandeliers.

The two began walking down the hallway, which was illuminated by blue floor lights. Tahu spotted a Visorak sweeping the floor with a mechanical broom of sorts. Unfortunately, its habitual drool kept dirtying the spots it cleaned. Tahu then stared at the metallic spheres as he and Sidorak passed them.

"What's in these?" asked Tahu.

"Insurance," chuckled Sidorak. "Within each and every one of these is a sleeping Matoran. As we speak, their ability to use their Elements and their memories are being drained."

"Drained? Into what?"

Sidorak paused, a look of confusion on his Kanohi. He frowned and thought. It was like he hadn't really thought of what Tahu had just pointed out and it was only now did he think of it. Tahu had the impression that he was simply told this and immediately bought it without question. Sidorak then smiled again. "All in good time, Tahu," the King shrugged. "How is the horde?"

As Sidorak said this, they had just arrived at the balcony. Roodaka was there as well, sitting in a chair and watching all her subjects at the arena. Sidorak looked down and saw a glorious sight. His army of Visorak were training. Rhotuka Spinners were being fired on dummies shaped like Lhikan and other Resistance members in makeshift obstacle courses. Scattered across the arena floor were more Matoran Spheres, more so than the ones in the corridor. Sidorak smiled at Roodaka, who simply glanced at him without acknowledgement.

"They are following my orders well," reported Tahu. "As you can see, I am putting them through training courses designed after similar ones I went through back home."

"When will they be ready?" asked Sidorak.

"They already are," answered Tahu. "Armed and ready."


The first snowflake caught the group by surprise. A walk through the dense forest had suddenly shifted into a waddle through knee-high snow. All but Krekka, Lariska, and Kopaka shriveled up in slouched over positions, trying to keep themselves warm from the sudden onslaught of cold.

"How did we get here so fast?!" shouted Pohatu over the wind.

"So this is what it feels like to be Kapura!" yelled back Onua. The Toa Hordika were suddenly reminded of the Ta-Matoran messenger back home. Kapura could somehow travel from place to place with a technique that simply sounded absurd when properly explained. Despite walking slowly, Kapura could get to his destinations faster than a Kakama-wearer just by focusing on it. Without explanation, this managed to aid the inhabitants of Mata Nui in their battles years ago. It's still a major headscratcher for everyone who knows about it.

At the very front of the group, Norik  held up his hand before his face, shielding it from the incoming snow accelerated by the high winds. He grunted and turned to Lariska, who was the only Toa of Ice present who could use her power over Ice.

"Lariska!" the small Matoran called. "This storm won't be doing us any favors!"

Understanding, Lariska nodded and raised an arm. The wind died down in a ten meter radius, removing the low temperature slightly and allowing more visibility. And ahead, they saw it. It was a large assymetrical stone tower. Traveling upwards to the very top was the stream of "tears" the Resistance and the Toa were following.

"The tears," gasped Lewa. "They do reach the sky."

"We have arrived!" cried Norik. He waved for the group to follow. "Come then! Keetongu waits!"

Chapter 18

It was for the most part, a lovely afternoon in the mostly empty city of Nynrah. Mixtures of brown and green clouds that were most likely toxic in some way floated across the orange sky. Tahu looked at them as he sat on the edge of the balcony. In front of him hanged Lhikan, patiently waiting for something.

Tahu scowled at the bound Toa of Fire, confused at his lack of fear or concern over his predicament. "What is wrong with you?" the Toa Hordika grumbled. "You're hanging Mata Nui knows how many miles above ground and you're still calm."

"I'm waiting for when my friends and your friends come to fix everything," said Lhikan.

"Hmph," grunted Tahu. "Pointless faith."

"Do you have a problem with it?" asked Lhikan.

"Haven't you been paying attention to what's happened? With me?"

Lhikan sighed. "Tahu, anger at a misdirection is natural. Believe me, the Resistance needed to go through so many arguments to finally get along. Even now there's still large hints of the leftover mistrust."

"You weren't morphed into a monster."

"Do you think having your appearance changed excuses anything? Krekka is still one of us despite his fate. I expected better from one of Mata Nui's children."

Tahu growled and gritted his teeth. "You should be lucky I can't kill you right now..."

"Trust me, you'd actually be making a huge mistake if you did. Martyrism is a powerful thing."

The two were silent for a while. Tahu scratched behind his ear instinctively.

"What...what did you expect to be doing after you've beaten the Visorak?" asked the Hordika out of curiousity.

Lhikan took the time to think about an answer. It was hard considering he was upside down and all the blood was currently in his head. It had also hit him that he was in an odd scenario for a conversation.

After a sharp inhale, Lhikan responded with, "I hadn't really thought about that. After my wife died, all I've actually focused on was making sure my little brother was okay."

"You have a brother? You had a wife?"

"Yes," muttered Lhikan. "and my brother was one of the people who were tricked into being imprisoned here. If I die, it's not going to be before I make sure he escapes without harm."

"Admirable," snorted Tahu.

"It's a motivation," explained Lhikan. "Something I think you've lost but can still reclaim."

Tahu grunted and stood up. He walked back inside, ignoring the Toa of Fire's comment. As he traveled down the corridor, he glanced at the various silver spheres littered across the floor. A thought dashed through his mind about which of these housed Lhikan's brother. But it wouldn't matter, especially since Tahu had no idea what he looked like nor would the person in question respond to his name if the Toa called it out.

Right now, he needed to see how his soldiers are doing. If they've conquered the training courses he created, then maybe they can conquer anything Tahu pointed them at. Their work in Nynrah is a good headstart. Soon, all other Matoran would be safe. And it'll be all thanks to him.


Despite being made of what appeared to be iced over stone, the cavernous entrance to the tower that supposedly housed Keetongu was surprisingly warm. At least, it was a much better place to be in than the snowy, windy wastelands outside. Just before they entered, the Toa and the Resistance glimpsed frozen Visorak corpses buried in the snow.

"That's a cheerful thought," muttered Onua as they entered the structure. Lewa, Gali, and Nidhiki entered farther than the others, seeing if they were in for any surprises. Instead, they found long dark tunnels. They seemed to go on deeper until there was nothing but darkness.

The rapsy-voiced Toa of Air grumbled. "More traveling," he muttered. "This better be worth it, Norik."

"After the sky-reaching tears you're still doubtful?" asked Gali, trying to see if she could look past the darkness ahead.

"Nynrah was a place of miracles back in the day," hissed Nidhiki. "There was always an explanation. There's probably some kind of gravity problems or something."

"I take it you don't believe in Mata Nui or something?" asked Lewa, eyebrow cocked.

"I know Mata Nui is real. Everyone does," replied Nidhiki, who was still eyeing the tunnel before them. "Keetongu on the other hand..."

Gali stared at the Toa of Air. She had just noticed how he is unlike Lewa and the Le-Matoran are back on Mata Nui. Everyone in Le-Koro, even the elderly Turaga Matau, was lively and always looking for a way to have some fun. She didn't know if Lewa picked it up or later inspired the villagers to act this way more, but she knew that it was the nature of those that command Air to be free-spirited. Nidhiki looked restrained, like he was almost looking to ruin someone's day even when it couldn't get worse. Always cautious and serious.

The Toa Hordika of Water turned away from the pair of Air-Toa and looked back at the group, the members were either looking out into the blizzard outside or propping themselves against the entrance walls to rest. Gali eyed Tuyet, who was fondling the Nui Stone in her hands and staring at the artifact with entranced eyes.

She then looked at the most taciturn of the group: Lariska and Krekka. Gali was tempted to ask about the excessive amounts of daggers that were holstered on the female Toa of Ice's left arm. Krekka looked annoyed, and was rubbing his head as if there was something inside that was itching. Lariska was continually patting him on the back like he was a large little brother who had just tripped while playing.

Pohatu, who was nearby, asked of her, "What's wrong with him?"

"His size doesn't let him be maneuverable," explained Lariska. "I'm guessing the knee-high snow really tired him out, but the disorientation he's going through right now's a mystery."

"Maybe it's a Hordika venom," suggested the Toa of Stone. "The others and I had gone through similar things frequently ever since we were changed."

"No, Krekka got past that. This is something else. And he won't tell me," said Lariska, staring at the brutish Toa of Ice. Krekka merely groaned in response. He hadn't talked in a while, Gali and Pohatu noticed.

"Everyone!" called Norik. All snapped their attention to the small mutated Matoran, who was staring at a wall. On it was a symbol. On top was an oval of sorts, with a singular circle underneath it. Two lines hung from both sides of the circle. "This is the symbol of Keetongu. The center circle signifies his singular eye. This has been in nearly all the information we had gathered to finding this place. We are on track!"

"So into the deep-dark tunnel then?" asked Lewa, shrugging.

"It is the only passageway within," observed Norik. "No doubt Keetongu awaits down there."

"No doubt," grunted Tuyet, who continued to study the Nui Stone.

"If everyone's rested," announced Nidhiki. "Let's get on with this."

Krekka continued to groan while clutching his head. His one eye trembled.

The group then made then way down the dark tunnel, the sound of the howling winds outside and the dripping of water accompanying the noise of their careful steps. Soon, all light faded, and the group did their best to go on straight ahead, despite having no clue what could be before them.

Finally, they saw it: a light at the end of the tunnel. Ahead was Lewa, who called back to his allies, "Guys! Get over here! It's amazing! It's Keetongu!"

With brief moment of hesitation, everyone else made a run for the light. It grew into a large crystallized chamber with a small lake at the center. A hole in the ceiling shined down on it. Floating around the air was glittering dust specks that seemed to be frozen. Everyone ignored these traits of the area and looked around for some ominous or larger-than-life figure. There was none.

Confused, all turned towards the Toa of Air who shouted about seeing the being they sought. He had a look of annoyance on his mutant face. "Not," he grumbled.

A brief pause later, an awkward chuckle from Norik echoed around the chamber. He stepped forward towards the small lake. "It obviously wouldn't be that easy, Lewa," said Norik. He cleared his throat. "We are sorry to disturb your rest, noble one. But the duty of these Toa, my four allies included, requests your aid and wisdom. Please, the time is dire, and lives are in serious danger."

No response.

Lewa looked at everything within his field of vision. "Huh," he grunted.

Norik began to stammer. "Why are you not answering? We came all this way!"

Nidhiki sighed, "I knew it. We wasted time coming here."

"Please!" shouted Norik, becoming delirious. "We followed the riddle! We came all this way for your help! Everyone on this island does! Please, I am begging you! I need to save Balta! I have to save my son!"

Everyone stared at the mutated Matoran, feeling sorry for him. Their thoughts turned to the assumption that he must've become so desperate he began chasing myths to solve his crisis. That faith in the myth had now been shattered by the empty echoey chamber. Norik stood, arms outstretched and tears welling up in his eyes. "I don't understand..." he whimpered.

In an odd response, Krekka began to groan in pain again. He clutched his head and started yelling. Lariska, who was beside him helping him walk through the tunnel, backed away. "Krekka? What's wrong?" asked the concerned Toa of Ice. Krekka's body suddenly began to glow bright gold. Smoke like mist emitted from his limbs as if they were burning away into nothing. The glow grew brighter and brighter as the others were forced to shield their eyes.

Even through their hands and eyelids, the onlookers could still see the light. With an unnatural scream, the light abruptly disappeared. Hesitantly, everyone looked to where Krekka was. He had vanished. The Toa of the Resistance stepped forward in concern. They began calling Krekka's name, the most loud being Lariska and the least being Tuyet.

All of a sudden, the crystal chamber began to shake. Nidhiki tightened his grip on his weapon as he spun around, taking quick glances at various spots of the place. "Visorak!" he yelled.

"No. Visorak don't cause earthquakes. It can't be all of them at once," replied Tuyet.

A coupling of water splashing and rumbling caught the remaining's attention. They all snapped to the source of the sound and saw a rock rising from the lake. It rose and continued to rise until it was practically floating in the air, barely touching the water. On top of it, a gentle swirling mass of golden mist formed. It compressed until it appeared to be a solid humanoid sitting. The newly formed entity looked like Krekka, and yet not. Particularly, the color had changed into an illuminating gold, and from those parts rose smoke-like mists.

On the being's head was a shell-like hat, which covered one-third of his face. From the front of it, four beads hung in front of where Krekka's eyes should be. Speaking of which, neither eye could be clearly seen, not even the one that still worked. Instead, there was a glowing orb of red light that floated directly in front of the face. It was a singular eye. All of this culminated into what appeared to be a mystic cyclops made of golden mist.

The entity stared at the gathered people before him. In a whole other language that the others found themselves understanding somehow, he spoke, "Toa..."

Knowing full well who it was before them, the Toa Hordika and the Nynrah Resistance muttered the same thing: "Keetongu..."

Chapter 19

For what seemed like a safe eternity, the Toa and the Nynrah Resistance sat before Keetongu. Tuyet and Norik related their story to the cyclops that had possessed their equally one-eyed comrade in order to communicate.

"Much have changed from the days of old Nynrah, Noble one," said Norik, still amazed by being in Keetongu's presence. "Moreso in these dire times."

Tuyet and Norik told all that the Toa Hordika had been told when they were properly introduced to everyone. Along with several more specific details such as Nidhiki being Lhikan's spiritual brother only, Tuyet actually being the newest member of their team before the Visorak's purge, and Krekka and Lariska having been bounty hunters that had retired to become Toa. Pohatu noticeably became uncomfortable when he heard the latter, remembering his earlier comments about the female Toa of Ice.

The story was reaching its conclusion when Tuyet suddenly halted her recitation. She stared at Keetongu. One could see that she was half busy trying not to see him at Krekka and half wondering if he was listening. For the latter, it seemed to be true. Keetongu was staring at the seated gather of Toa Hordika, his monochrome red eye seemed to pierce right into their souls.

"Why is he looking at us?" asked Lewa nervously.

Norik's expression became just as nervous and confused as Lewa and his fellow Toa. "Keetongu, sir," he spoke. "Is something the matter?"

Keetongu slowly turned to face the mutated Matoran, his neck seemed to cause a rusted metallic sound, like ice being cracked and torn off. With Krekka's mouth, Keetongu spoke in his somehow understandable language, "These Toa. They are the Children of the Legends. The Creations of Mata Nui himself. Those destined to prevent harm to come to the Matoran and defeat the Dark Lord."

The Nynrah Resistance looked at each other in unease. "So Lhikan was right?" asked Nidhiki. "These five and their leader are really the Toa?"

Tuyet eyed the mutated heroes. "Weird turn of events, I think," she observed. "I thought the legend said they would arrive in metal shells that fell from the sky and floated from the Endless Ocean, not shipwreck here."

Keetongu turned back towards the Toa Hordika. Pohatu smiled uncomfortably and waved awkwardly. "They are of the legends and prophecies foretold by the bones of ancient times. Foreseen by the minds who are as enlightened as mine is," continued Keetongu.

"Thus you need not a physical form any longer?" asked Norik.

"Yes, Matoran," said Keetongu. "But that is not of importance. What is of importance is this--" Keetongu pointed one of Krekka's index fingers at the transformed. "You are not supposed to be here."

The room was stunned silent. It was as if Keetongu was brought in as a witness for some impromptu trial and had just accused the Toa Hordika of imprisoning Nynrah's Matoran themselves. It was like if Artakha the Archangel of Creation had blamed them for Mata Nui's past slumber.

"I..." stammered Gali. "I don't understand. Our Turaga sent us here---"

"You are not supposed to be here," repeated Keetongu. The shocked Toa looked at each other, trying to figure out what the sentence meant.

"What are you talking about?" asked Kopaka, sounding surprisingly confrontational.

"There is a great disturbance in the balance of things," explained Keetongu. "I have felt it. Your presence on this land is unorthodox. It was never meant to be and must not be. It can't be."

"So why did the Turaga order-send us here?" asked Lewa, who was starting to panic. "Did they get possessed and sent us into a trap?!"

Keetongu did not answer. He merely followed Lewa's question with: "Makuta's minions ravage the order of things on Nynrah. Their search for the portal to the Void has torn a piece out of the balance scale. These Visorak you spoke of has poisoned many things. Including the Great Spirit."

"What? How is that possible? Mata Nui just recovered from his slumber!" exclaimed Onua.

"The Great Spirit was in a slumber?" asked Norik, shocked at the news. "Were you sent here because of that then? Mata Nui's attention and health has been compromised?"

"N-no," answered Gali. "Mata Nui is just fine. But if what Keetongu said is true, then we're losing time. First Makuta is returning, then the Visorak has Matoran hostage, and now Mata Nui is poisoned. Things are going bad."

"Grand understatement, Toa Gali," said Nidhiki monotonously.

"Right now, I think we can all agree losing ourselves to Hordika is the least of our worries," said Gali. All of those on her team nodded in agreement.

Norik turned to Keetongu. "Now you know our plight," said the Matoran. "We have come not only to seek your wisdom, but to seek your full aid as well."

"I isolated myself because of what I saw. What I realized," explained Keetongu. "When I changed forever, I was enlightened. I wandered through the tundras, the jungles, the deserts, seeing all that needed to be seen by my eye. I have seen the essence of the earth itself, the ancient civilizations that Makuta terrorized before his imprisonment, and the coming of these Toa." He looked at the Hordika. "I had foreseen that I would only be a guide to you. I would not partake in your subsequent assault and plans. But I see now, a direct intervention is required."

"So you'll help us?" asked Lewa, enthusiastically.

"Yes," nodded Keetongu. "But know this: I have no interest in this island's affairs. I am aiding simply because the Children of Mata Nui requires my assistance."

"So you don't care about all those Matoran having their lives stolen from them??" asked Lariska, shocked at Keetongu's apathy. Even Norik's faith appeared to be shaken by the being's tactless comments.

"I said I have no interest in your affairs," repeated Keetongu, staring directly at the former bounty hunter. "But if there are Matoran in danger, even to this degree, I have full faith that experienced Toa like yourselves can handle it."

Lariska blinked, her mouth hanging open. It was as if this part-Rahi entity was intentionally contradicting himself and switching opinions just to mess with her and her teammates. Underneath all the golden mist, all could notice Krekka's eyes quivering in confusion.

The Toa Hordika had no idea how to feel. They didn't know whether to be flattered by Keetongu's build up of their legendary status or be uncomfortable by his confession that he did not very much care for all the lives being lost outside of his cave. "What are you talking about?" asked Onua, finally speaking out for his fellow Toa.

"I cannot say," explained Keetongu. "All that is important now is that I help you prevent Makuta's return, and we need your Toa of Fire to do so."

"Wh...how did you know about Tahu?" asked Gali, sudden desperation in her eyes.

"You are only five. All knows there are six of you. And your leader has the key to stopping Makuta's plot."

"So what are we waiting for?" said Tuyet. "We've got everything we need to defeat the Visorak and their leaders now. We're going to save those Matoran in no time."

The Toa Hordika looked at each other, discomforted by Keetongu's words. But they nodded at each other and nodded at Tuyet, confirming that they agreed it was time for action. They were ready to stop Makuta and redeem Tahu.

"What about Krekka?" asked Lariska.

"He has allowed me to possess his body," explained Keetongu. "He is wise to allow me if you wish to win properly. Do not worry, I will release him as soon as this quest is completed."

Lariska looked down and nodded, clearly concerned about her friend.

"So we're just going to attack the Coliseum straight on then?" asked Nidhiki. Nobody answered. He had a point. The structure's entrance and perimeter would be heavily guarded, not to mention all the Visorak wandering around the city on patrol.

Lewa cleared his throat. When he did, everyone turned their attention to the Toa of Air. "I think I got an idea-plan."

Chapter 20

The night sky was over them, only obscured by the green mists emitted by the Visorak webbing that enveloped the city of Nynrah. Pohatu and Lariska sat on the edge of the rooftop, looking down at the entrance to the Coliseum. True enough, it was heavily guarded by all manners of Visorak, who were scurrying about, picking fights with each other, and occasionally wrapping random things up in their vile green webbing. It's been about thirty minutes now since Lewa's plan had initiated. Now all they had to do was to wait for the other Toa Hordika's return.

Pohatu couldn't help but stare at the former bounty hunter next to him, glaring at the Visorak like a hawk would glare at a prey. Before, he would think Lariska was simply assessing the situation and thinking about how to get past them. Now that he knew of her past profession, her appearance looked sinister.

"I know how it must seem to you, Pohatu," said Lariska suddenly. Pohatu nearly jumped. "I wasn't just a bounty hunter you know, I was also an assassin, one of the best back in the day."

"Oh," mumbled Pohatu.

"It was really dangerous for me to leave where I came from, but I managed to survive with the help of Lhikan and the others. Krekka came with me for some reason and joined them with me."

Pohatu and Lariska looked behind them. There stood Keetongu, in Krekka's body, looking up at the Coliseum, as if scanning it for an evil presence. "Look how well that turned out," observed Lariska. "I was just so tired of killing people, you know? Just for once I'd like to do something that someone didn't pay me for."

"So you don't miss it?" asked Pohatu.

"No," replied Lariska bluntly. "And my former boss can rot in Karzahni for all I care."

Pohatu swallowed and became quiet for a moment. He stared back at the streets below, watching Visorak going out for patrol. Suddenly, Nidhiki appeared beside Pohatu. The Toa Horidka of Stone yelped in startlement. "Do you always have to do that?" asked Pohatu angrily.

Nidhiki shrugged. "Anyways, the others have converged a few blocks from here. Your friends are coming in a few minutes or so and they told me to tell you to get ready."

Pohatu nodded. He stood and prepared to jump off the edge of the roof to start his part of the plan. At the corner of his eye, he could see the other four Toa running down the street. Before he leapt onto the street below, Lariska stopped him. "Pohatu," she said. "Before we go through with this, I just want to say...I'm glad you and your friends are here to help us."

Pohatu smiled and nodded. "You should see what they think of me back in Mata Nui."

He then jumped down, landing perfectly on his normal hand and his feet. His Hordika mutation had its perks. At the sound of the thud, the Visorak guards snapped towards the Toa of Stone and screeched, alerting all to his presence. Behind him, Pohatu could hear the Toa coming. He leaned down, hand and weapon on the ground, knee up, and leg back. He aimed his Rhotuka Spinner and began charging it. Instinctively, he knew that he could and should charge it with elemental energy.

The Visorak charged at the stationary Toa, as the Spinner on his back glowed orange with the power of Stone. WIth a grunt, Pohatu released his Spinner. It flew like a missle towards the Coliseum's entrance. The Visorak who were trying to charge him jumped out of the way, realizing what kind of power was going to hit their headquarters' front door. As if he was in a footrace, Pohatu broke into a run as soon as his fellow Toa reached him. In a formation like a phalanx of track stars, the Toa Hordika sprinted towards the entrance.

The Spinner flew closer and closer to the front door until...

The entire gate exploded with Visorak and fire. Smoke and dust tumbled out of the newly-created hole. The Visorak who were in the arena froze in confusion and fear. The Matoran spheres surrounding them rolled away in the wake of the explosion's force. When the dust mostly settled, there were five Toa Hordika, marching into the massive structure as stone spikes erupted around them; an after-effect of Pohatu's charged spinner.

"Didn't know we could do that," commented Onua, looking at the damage as he marched.

"It comes naturally, like our use of our masks," shrugged Pohatu.

The Hordika halted their approach. Visorak from seemingly all corners of Nynrah appeared around them. If this wasn't everyone, they were surely coming after hearing their entrance.

Gali looked up at the tallest spire of the Coliseum. Amazingly, her eyesight was enhanced tenfold. It wasn't an Akaku, but it was enough to make out four figures far above her. Two of them were tall beings who were most likely the Visorak's leaders. Another was wrapped in a coccoon and dangling from a pole that was sticking out of the balcony. Finally, there was a Toa Hordika-sized person crouching on the edge of the platform.

"Tahu!!" the Toa of Water shouted at the top of her lungs.


The trio were high above the arena, to the point where all the spheres, Visorak, and any other objects below would appear to be colorful dots. However, Tahu's vision was very clear and precise. He saw that the five beings standing in formation was his former friends. However, a strange confusion flowed through him when he heard the blue one yell his name with as much force and passion and possible.

He stopped snarling at the sudden intrusion and his breathing steadied. His eyes squinted in perplexion as he stared at the one that called his name. "Gali...?" he muttered.

Roodaka instantly turned her attention to her protege. She could see that the Toa of Fire's eyes were pulsating and changing between its beserk state and calm state. "Tahu," the ebony-armored female said. "Remember. You are stronger than them combined. Do not let them drag you to their level."

Tahu's puzzled look transformed into a scowl. Lhikan, who was still wrapped and hanging on the pole, inhaled sharply, as if trying not to be horrified by Roodaka's machinations. Tahu growled and launched himself into the air. A single somersault later, Tahu had fallen several meters and landed perfectly balanced on a thick strand of Visorak webbing. The five Toa below snapped their attention towards him as soon as they saw him perched on it.

"You!" shouted Tahu, pointing his claw at his former friends. "All of you have made a grave mistake coming here!"

"We came here to save you!" shouted Onua.

"The only ones that need saving here is yourselves. You are surrounded and you have nowhere you go. You didn't even bring those Resistance idiots with you. Bow down and pledge your allegiance to me!" Tahu then heard a cough echo behind him. "...and to Sidorak!"

"And if we don't?!" asked Pohatu.

"Then ready..." Tahu raised his claw. The Visorak all pointed their spinners towards the cornered Toa.

"Uh, Lewa," whispered Pohatu. "Is our backup coming or what?"

"We left a clear-trail," replied Lewa, staring at the Visorak around him.

"AIM!"

"This better be good," said Kopaka in a deadpan tone.

Before Tahu could swing his claw forward to signal his subjects to fire upon the Toa, he halted. He let his claw fall and listened. It was rumbling. The Visorak and the Toa heard it as well. The spider-like creatures stopped their activities and stared at the arena walls around them. The rumbling was getting louder and louder.

"Get ready!" called Gali, who began charging her spinner. Her fellow Toa did the same. Above, Tahu stared in confusion. Even further abover, Roodaka and Sidorak watched with full attention. Sidorak had a look of worry on his face as he found himself hearing the noise even up there.

"Think this will work?" asked Pohatu reluctantly.

"Ask me again in a minute," replied Lewa.

The rumbling shifted into metal clanging and mechanical screeches. The rumbling wasn't some kind of quake, it was a collection of marching footsteps belonging to an entire army of automatons. The Toa Hordika had lured all the Vahki in Nynrah to the Coliseum.

"Now" shouted Gali as she heard the first Vahki enter the Coliseum. The Toa Hordika fired their Spinners into the air. In a fast move, they raised their weapons into the path of the projectiles. They instantly hooked onto them, dragging the Toa up into the air. As soon as they left the ground, the massive collective of Vahki smashed into the Visorak horde. Spinners fired wildly into the air. The Toa Hordika couldn't tell if the spiders were trying to hit them or were firing blankly in the midst of the chaos. In any case, the Toa narrowly avoided the Spinners that whizzed past them.

Finally, they let go when they reached the arena stands, landing on the seats without any harm. Their Spinners collided with the wall behind the rows, dispersing into a cloud of green energy. However, one of them didn't let go of his Spinner, and continued to fly upwards towards the Coliseum Spire.

"Catch you guys later!" whooped Lewa as he flew.

Gali stared at her fellow Toa as he went into the Visorak headquarters on his own. To think, this was the treespeaking Toa of Air that had done nothing but complain and berate Tahu a few days ago. She wondered what he would be like when they return to Mata Nui.

"Where's Lewa going?" asked Kopaka, as he ducked from a stray Spinner.

"To save Tahu," replied Gali. "I think we made a big enough distraction. Come on! Let's help them tear each other apart." The Toa of Water aimed her Spinner at the battle below her and fired.

Chapter 21

Norik wiped the glass window on the Sphere before him. He peered into it and squinted to see the content inside. Joy filled his heart and mind as he spotted the shape of a sleeping Ta-Matoran wearing a Kanohi Huna. The mutated Matoran made a happy noise and turned to his allies.

"Here! It's Balta!" he cried. The group had snuck into the Coliseum Spire's ground floor while the Hordika had brought the Vahki to the structure as a distraction. By the sound of the outside, the battle was like a raging storm of spiders and automatons. The lobby, like the arena outside, was filled with Matoran Spheres. Nidhiki ran to Balta's Sphere and and clawed at it, trying to opening it.

"Damn it all," growled the Toa of Air. "How the hell are we going to free these Matoran when we don't know anything about these things?"

He absent-mindedly placed his hand on the window. The glass glowed green as the Toa of Air stared in shock. He attempted to remove his hand, only for the glow to halt when he did. "What in Karzahni was..."

"Try it again, Nidhiki!" said Norik. Nidhiki then replaced his hand. The glow returned as energy enveloped the Sphere. The energy extended to another and another. Eventually, the energy disappeared, and the six Spheres that Nidhiki's energy had affected shot out lines of compressed steam. The surface slid apart as the Matoran within all climbed out in disorientation. Nidhiki also looked ill, as if he had just transfused blood to multiple recievers.

Norik went up to Balta, and had his son lean on him. "Balta?" asked Norik, worry in his eyes. "Are you alright? Can you speak?"

Balta stared at him. A scared look appeared on his mask. "Dad?" Balta stammered. "What happened to you?"

Laughing with tears in his eyes, Norik took Balta and hugged him tightly. "It doesn't matter," Norik exclaimed. "You're safe, and that's what's important."

The hug finally ended and Norik stared at Balta. His son turned in the direction of the arena and listened to the destructive battle outside. "What's going on out there?" asked Balta.

"A turn of the tides, Balta," explained Norik. "After you were captured and I became...this, those two governors took over everything. They had creatures in their control and made Nynrah their own. Now, we are taking the fight to them."

Balta turned back to his father and simply stared at his father. Norik's smile turned upside down and he shook his head. "No," said Norik sternly.

"Dad," assured Balta. "You know I can handle myself out there. You know I've been training to be part of the Nynrah Guard."

"Yes, but those are dangerous creatures out there! I forbid it! I'm not losing you again! Let our allies out there handle this," Norik cried.

"He won't be alone," said a voice. Norik turned to the source of the noise and saw a weakened Onu-Matoran. "My name is Garan, I'm a captain of the Nynrah Guard. If you have allies out there, then they definitely need help. Trust me, I can keep your son safe. Do what you're here to do and put an end to those two governors."

Norik tried to protest, but couldn't get a word out. He turned to his son and saw that he was not willing to obey his orders, even if it meant death. Norik wondered if something in the sphere had done something to Balta's reasoning. He looked back at Garan and saw four more Matoran. All of them had the look of wanting revenge against Sidorak and Roodaka. Lariska, Nidhiki or Tuyet must have explained what had been done to them.

The mutated Matoran looked at his son and nodded reluctantly. Balta snapped his fingers, a small flame forming on his fingers. "I'll be fine, Dad."

Norik hung his head and nodded slowly. "Be safe," he whispered.

Garan turned to the Toa of the Resistance. "Can you awaken more of us?" he asked.

Lariska turned to Nidhiki, who looked sick. "I don't know," she answered. "Nidhiki looks really weak. Waking you guys up must take up large amounts of energy."

"So you won't revive the rest of us?" asked an awakened Ga-Matoran.

"Like hell," Lariska said sternly. She slammed her hand on an opened Sphere, and sent her energy out onto it. It spread to five more until eventually the energy disappeared. Lariska nearly collapsed when she let go of the Sphere, and clutched her head as if she was dizzy. The Spheres opened and more disoriented Matoran climbed out.

Garan shook his head as he and the other Matoran went to support the revived. "I get it now," he said. "Who knows what would happen if all of you awakened all of us. I'm not risking losing our Toa."

Tuyet looked relieved. Garan looked at the eleven other Matoran around him. "Everybody, I know it's strange right now. I know we are confused. But right now, we have a job to do, even if it wasn't before this disaster. I plead any of you, come and fight with me."

No protest came from the group before him. Garan nodded proudly. He turned to the Toa. "Who do we have to help out there?" he asked.

"Five Toa," explained Tuyet. "All heavily mutated and ugly with weapons for arms. Don't hurt them."

"Also," panted Nidhiki. "Since we can't wake everyone, and Nynrah's too dangerous right now, we're going to try to get all other Matoran out of this hellhole."

"Oh yeah," remembered Lariska. "There's also several Spheres out there as well. Get them out of the way. After that, make the battle more chaotic if you can. It's actually a distraction."

Garan nodded. He signaled for the Nynrah Matoran to follow him out to the arena. With a shout that would be fitting for a Toa of Earth, Garan charged into the battle with the other Matoran at his tail. Elements burst out when the group collided with the struggling Vahki and Visorak. They weren't as powerful as a Toa's, but they were enough to fight both sides.

Nidhiki leaned on his scythe as he breathed heavily. "So what are we waiting for?" he asked tiredly. "Let's go rescue our fearless leader."

Tuyet pulled a lever that brought down one of the lifts to the top of the Spire. The trio stood, ready to face whatever dangers laid ahead. As they listened to the lift descending, they gripped their weapons tighter, thoughts racing on what obstacle awaited within the small room. Their hearts pumped, especially Lariska and Nidhiki who were trying to recover from their surrender of a fraction of their Toa power. They waited and...waited...the lift hadn't arrived yet.

"Guess we're waiting for this," shrugged Tuyet. Lariska and Nidhiki made impatient annoyed sounds.


Tahu had held on to the web strand that he had cut as it swung to the balcony Sidorak and Roodaka were still standing on. The duo watched the commotion below, as explosions of Elements, Rhotuka Spinners, and destroyed Vahki meshed together without mixing. Sidorak had a horrified expression on his Kanohi. For a brief moment, Tahu wondered what he was wearing on his face and whether or not the King could even know how to use its power, whatever it was.

"This is intolerable!" cried the crimson being as he stared down.

"The Visorak are panicking, sire," reported Tahu. "I trained them against my team and any other Toa, but I never took into account that they would even consider using those automatons against us..."

"Incompetent Toa!" yelled Sidorak, his voice trembling. "Those Vahki are wandering Nynrah day and night, afternoon and evening, from dusk until dawn! How can you even forget about those things?!" His eyes widened when he saw something enter through the massive breach that Pohatu had created. "And what is that?!"

Tahu and Roodaka stared at the being. He was golden, and glowed in a way that made him stick out like a sore thumb, even within the chaos he was walking through. Residue floated off of him, like dust. Except instead of dust, it was like glitter that was floating off of his hulking body. A body that Tahu recognized as the mutated Toa of Ice Krekka. But his head was not right. For starters, Tahu remembered the brute having a single eye, but now, he has a single eye at the center of his face. A single red orb that seemed to float in front of Krekka's nose.

"Who in Karzahni is that?" Sidorak demanded to know.

"I'm guessing that's Keetongu," said Tahu.

"What?" stammered Sidorak in disbelief. Out of all the things that seemed to go wrong today, this was the most wrong thing he had heard. "B-but Keetongu doesn't exist!"

Tahu grunted and shrug. "Obviously you're wrong," he said as he watched Keetongu effortlessly smack his way through masses of Visorak and Vahki towards the Coliseum Spire.

"Enough," Roodaka cut in. She turned to Sidorak. "My liege, I suggest we take refuge down below the Coliseum. The Resistance is no doubt using the chaos below to breach our defenses and freeing the Matoran, which explains the sudden appearance of Elemental power down there." She pointed towards the infrequent bursts of the six Elements, all of which were clearly not coming from the Toa Hordika.

"But they can't possibly reach us up here!" objected Sidorak, still staring at Keetongu.

"There are two lifts, sire," explained Roodaka emotionlessly. Sidorak's face went pale as he swallowed his pride and nodded.

"Of course," muttered the crimson being. "We shall take refuge under the Coliseum until we have gained the upper hand. The Resistance are fools to use the Vahki. They will turn on them and eventually take care of them for us."

"I doubt using determined machines is fool-hardy, Sidorak," laughed Lhikan as he watched the battle. "They're bipedal weapons, constantly firing. We just needed to point them in the right direction."

"Silence!" yelled Sidorak.

"You'd know, I mean you're using Tahu in a similar way anyways," continued Lhikan.

Tahu snarled. "You heard his majesty, Toa. Be silent."

Lhikan didn't answer, but kept smiling as he observed the fighting. Sidorak exhaled sharply before making his way to the lift, Roodaka not far behind. The ebony-armored female turned back to face Tahu, a sly smile on her face. "Tahu, stay here and watch over our guest," she ordered. "No doubt the Resistance will also want to come for him eventually."

Sidorak pulled a lever, which opened the doors to one of the lifts. Roodaka and he stepped inside, Sidorak pushing another lever within to set a destination to the Coliseum's ground level. The female glanced at Tahu once again. "And be ready," she smiled. "Everything will change soon..."

The doors of the lift shut closed. It began its descent. Sidorak sighed and looked outside. The lift was designed like some kind of jar, a glass cell with sliding doors that allowed those within to look at the once beautiful skyline of Nynrah. The crimson being rubbed his eyes in frustration. He reminded himself of how he even got in this situation in the first place.

Years ago, he had unwittingly joined a cult that worshipped Makuta known as the Brotherhood, believing it to be a simple street gang that robbed travelers that came to Nynrah. Soon, he was buried deep in the life of a cultist, whose sole purpous in life would have been to try and make Makuta's birthright of destruction and chaos come true. He was forced to swear an oath to bring down the Great Spirit and replace him with Makuta to bring an age of darkness that was promised to be glorious for all kinds of deliquents, criminals, warlords, and sinners. He never imagined that he would be chosen to govern Nynrah in his name. Hearing the prospect of such a position (not to mention the companion that would accompany him in this mission), Sidorak didn't hesitate to agree. A whole army was under his command, and a beautiful queen, stubborn and enigmatic as she might have been, was his to have. Not only that, but the apparent blessing of a Dark God was with him as well, guiding him all the way.

Sidorak snapped back to the present for a moment, the stress of the job's consequences overwhelming him. He looked at Roodaka, who appeared to be praying to Makuta by clutching the stone that hung on her necklace. She acted as if he wasn't even in the lift with her.

Sidorak then noticed that the other lift was ascending. As he watched it about to pass the lift he was in, he spotted four beings within the other. Three Toa, one of Ice, another of Air, and the third of Water. The fourth was an ugly and mutated Matoran. The Toa of Ice was the one to noticed Sidorak staring in distress. In the split second the two lifts were adjacent with one another, she smirked and waved at him. Roodaka was right. If Sidorak had waited any longer, the Resistance would have had him cornered.

The glass suddenly shattered. Sidorak screamed and went to hug the doors, which were opposite the glass side. Roodaka joined him in a less panicked manner as the both of them stared at the intruder that had forced their lift to stop. It was the entity Tahu described as being Keetongu. A hand was holding the side of the Spire while another was holding on to the lift itself. The creature did not seem to have any intention of entering the lift. Only to somehow force it to fall to a crash landing.

"You have upset the balance of all things," declared Keetongu, his singular red eye staring uncomfortably. "The Dark Lord shall not be revived until matters are corrected."

In a spark of bravery, Sidorak squeezed his left hand into a fist. He quickly concentrated on his left arm and forced a blade of crimson energy to protrude out of his forearm. He pointed it straight at Keetongu's face. "Correct this!" Sidorak shouted before opening fire.

The blast worked. Keetongu was knocked back and disappeared from sight. As soon as his hand released the lift, it shook, threatening to drop. It didn't. Sidorak, his energy blade still fired up, peered out of the hole Keetongu had created in the lift and Coliseum Spire to the ground below, expecting a golden carcass. The Crimson King's heart skipped a beat. Keetongu had somehow managed to grab hold of the side of the Spire, his fingers digging into the steel surface as if it was paper. The creature looked straight at Sidorak and growled. The way it made that noise made it clear it was rare to make this being angry. Sidorak had just become one of those rarities.

The crimson-clad being charged his blade once more and opened fire on Keetongu. However, the being had a tight grip on the wall. The blast only managed to push him slightly lower. Keetongu recovered after a beat and began climbing. "My Herding Blade doesn't work!" said Sidorak, staring at Roodaka with pleading eyes.

The female rolled her eyes. She lightly pushed Sidorak out of the way and looked down at Keetongu, who was still climbing up to the hole to meet his attacker head on. Roodaka closed her eyes. Her Kanohi began to glow.

Keetongu's eye began blinking rapidly, as if a large wind had suddenly appeared where he was clinging. Roodaka chuckled. "I know you're a mythical being, Keetongu," she taunted. "But I recognize that body. Let's see if you're still in there, Krekka."

Her mask glowed brighter. Keetongu's form suddenly began flickering. One moment, he was the powerful and mystical half-Rahi entity of legends, and the next he was the hulking mutated bounty-hunter-turned-Toa of Ice named Krekka. Roodaka laughed as she saw that her theory was correct: Keetongu allowed Krekka to maintian some degree of consciousness so he can control his body better. Even with his power, it was easier for the entity to puppet the body if the subject gave consent for use.

Roodaka thought of some horrifying images to project onto Krekka/Keetongu. One image was a massacre she remembered the former bounty hunter partook in, which he had infamously felt guilt towards not long before he became a Toa. Another image she projected was that of his former master, the leader of the bounty hunting organization he and Lariska had belonged to, punishing him for abandoning their cause while his former colleagues laughed at his cries of pain. The final image seemed to be the trick. Roodaka projected a scenario where his fellow Resistance members were all dead, lying lifelessly before a shadowy form that was unmistakably Makuta himself. Krekka appeared to be the only one alive as he knelt before the Dark God, who had formed a longsword to cut the brute's head off with.

With a deep-voiced roar, Keetongu's grip slipped and the being tumbled down towards the ground. Roodaka watched with bemusement as his landing caused not only a loud thud, but a small shockwave and crater to be created.

Roodaka nonchalantly turned back to Sidorak, who had watched the ordeal with slack-jawed astonishment. "Is he dead?" asked Sidorak nervously.

"We might as well check," said Roodaka playfully. "After all, we have time and the power, don't we?" She walked over to a panel to the left of the lift's doors. Within, the female found a handle and pulled hard on it. A crank could be heard. The lift began descending again after a jolty start.

"Oh, Roodaka," smiled Sidorak as his breathing remained heavy. "What would I ever do without you?"

Roodaka didn't answer as she simply watched the lift get closer to ground level.


As soon as the lift doors closed shut, Tahu turned his attention back to the battle below him, Lhikan watching with him as a somewhat forced witness. Tahu scanned the battlefield, primal rage building up inside him as he saw Visorak spiders get killed by the unthinking automaton enemy. Despite this, it was obvious the odds were matched.

"Was this what you had in mind, Tahu?" asked Lhikan. "This is what happens when you try to keep peace using forces like the Visorak. Nothing but resistance and destruction."

"The Vahki are not Matoran, Lhikan," retorted Tahu. "When this is all over, my horde will be the victor, and we will march to Mata Nui and keep it safe from Makuta and his monsters."

"Wait a minute," said Lhikan, suddenly dropping his partial smugness. "You...you don't know?"

"What?"

"Roodaka and Sidorak," Lhikan said. "They're--"

Suddenly, an ugly green mass leapt until the balcony. The Spinner his weapon arm was no longer hooked onto smashed onto a wall, bursting into a lime-colored mist. "Heyo, fire-spitter," greeted Lewa.

Tahu's eyes dilated. His heartbeats began drumming harder and harder in his chest. His teeth grinded to the point where he believed little bits of them were being scraped off. With a throat-rumbling roar, Tahu lunged at Lewa, tackling him and knocking the both of them over the edge of the balcony and into a free fall. Lewa struggled, elbowing Tahu in the face repeatedly until the Toa Hordika stopped his grip on the Toa of Air. As soon as Tahu let go, Lewa grabbed him by the leg. The Toa looked around rapidly, looking for something to grab onto. The result was a strand of Visorak webbing.

Lewa directed himself and Tahu towards the strand. The green Hordika hooked his weapon onto it, leaving the both of them hanging for their lives.

"Let me go!" shouted Tahu, trying to kick himself free. Lewa felt a foot collide with his side.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," answered Lewa, reminding Tahu of where they were. "Look what's happened to you! I know-realize you're reckless, but this is ridiculous! We came here to stop Makuta from returning! Not take over the world!"

Tahu suddenly paused his writhing. A look of clarity washed over his mutated face. His eyes drifted into looking into empty space, as if he was suddenly daydreaming.

"You remember, don't you?!" pleaded a desperate Lewa. Tahu didn't answer. Instead, he growled and directed a kick to Lewa's forearm. Startled by the pain, Lewa instinctively let go of Tahu's leg. Just as Lewa did, Tahu searched for a nearby strand and found himself one. He landed on it without so much as a slip. He stared up at the Toa of Air and scowled.

"I'm doing what's right! What we could never do! I have more power than any of us combined could ever have!" shouted Tahu. "An entire army to command! What did we have back on Mata Nui? Magical masks? A Great Spirit, who despite being awake right now hasn't done a damn thing to help us here?!"

"Listen to yourself! You're crazy!" shouted back Lewa. In response, Tahu charged his spinner and let it fly. Lewa, seeing the attack, swung away from the projectile just as it cut the strand he was hanging onto in half. As before, Lewa began searching for another strand of webbing to land on. However, he was met with one around his neck.

Tahu had somehow managed to reach up to Lewa with a rope of webbing to tie around the Toa's neck. Lewa choked as the webbing began to wrap tightly on his throat. He gargled as his face began to turn purple. Tahu was holding onto the rope that had Lewa in its hold. He stared apathetically at his former friend. "You are weak, brother," said Tahu sarcastically.

"You're...you're right, Tahu," choked Lewa. "I am weak."

"So at the end you see the truth," Tahu shook his head in disappointment.

Lewa then weakly reached up with his weapon and sliced the webbing at the spot just above where it wrapped around him. Gasping for breath, Lewa quickly took hold of the tip of the rope. His grip was not tight enough, however. He was slipping.

"We..." gasped Lewa. "We all make mistakes, Tahu. Even I've made mistakes back on Mata Nui. But that's what happens when you're brave enough to make decisions the other's can't. I understand that now."

"I don't believe that coming from you," snorted Tahu grudgingly.

Lewa looked down, something he was never afraid to do. But now, at the threat of his friend being the one to kill him, made the Toa of Air afraid of heights for the first time. "I'm sorry for doubting you," he said. Tahu didn't react. "Remember what the Turaga tried to teach-tell us? The only thing they kept trying to get into our heads?"

Tahu's face relaxed slightly. His scowl had downgraded to a simply crease of the brow. A thoughtful expression. "The three virtues..." he whispered.

"Unity," said Lewa. "Unity is what gives us strength. To fight-battle against Makuta and his forces. To protect the Matoran. To keep each other safe." Lewa's grip slipped another inch. "Duty. It's our duty to defend all that is good in the world. To safe-protect all that are threatened by the bad. And Destiny!"

Tahu stared at Lewa in awe. The mad Hordika within him finally calming down to listen to the Toa of Air. "It's our destiny to defeat the Makuta! To stop him from ever destroying everything! Our destiny, Tahu! Your destiny! And if there's any of the Tahu I know left..." Lewa's grip slipped further until he was only hanging on by his fingers. "He'll know what to do next."

The Toa of Fire hanged frozen, deep in thought. His expression was nearly blank if not for the confused look on his face. Clarity seemed to have finally hit him in the gut as he screamed in horror, "Lewa, no!"

The Toa of Air's hold on the strand finally ran out. Lewa fell, flailing his arms and instinctively trying to activate his Kanohi Miru, despite it no longer being usable in his current condition. Despite the height, Lewa's view of the incoming ground seemed to flash between kilometers away and only inches apart. There were no longer ropes or strands of webbing to grab onto. It was too late for him to charge his spinner to perform the manuever he used to get up to Tahu. If he tried it now, he wouldn't have time to charge before he splattered all over the Coliseum arena floor.

"LEWA!" screamed a familiar voice. The Toa of Air spun his body around to look upwards. A red glow could be seen in the distance. A figure came into view, the glow on him like a backpack. It was Tahu. He was charging his spinner as he dived towards his comrade. Forgetting where he was, Lewa cheered and laughed heartily. He could see in the fearful yet courageous expression on Tahu's face that, yes, his leader had returned to his senses.

Tahu finally reached Lewa and took hold of him. He aimed his spinner to anywhere other than down and fired. In a quick motion, Tahu swung his claw into the path of the projectile and grabbed hold of it. With a jerk, the two Toa had reversed directions and were now flying upwards back towards the Spire.

"Welcome back, fearless leader," grinned Lewa.

"Hold on," smiled Tahu. "Let's help our friends."

Chapter 22

Kopaka had barely completed his turnaround when he was suddenly beset upon by a Visorak. Shoved to the ground by the creature's weight, the Toa Hordika of Ice struggled to push it back off of him. He felt a spray of venomous spit hit his mutated mask. He struggled as he tried to hold the Visorak spider back by grasping it by the pincers. It was difficult considering Kopaka only had a single hand with fingers to properly hold anything with.

He groaned as the grinding teeth of the creature drew closer to his face, threatening to shred it right off his skull. A sphere of soil smashed into the Visorak, knocking it off of the Toa of Ice and causing it to land on a struggling pair of Vahki and Visorak. Kopaka spun his head towards the direction of the source of the attack, and saw a muscular and authoritative-looking Onu-Matoran running towards him. He placed one of his dual weapons to one hand and held out his now free hand, a sign for Kopaka to accept the hand and be helped up. Kopaka accepted and was helped up by the surprisingly strong Matoran.

"I hope I'm correct in assuming you're an ally of the Nynrah Resistance?" asked the Onu-Matoran.

Kopaka nodded in confirmation.

"Good," said the Matoran. "I'm Colonel Garan, of the Nynrah Watchguard." He spun around and smacked a charging Visorak directly in the eyes with his weapons, a pair of pincer-like daggers that sent out an air-cracking shockwave upon impact. The Visorak's face was partially buried into the concrete arena floor. "I have something to make you do and it's important."

Kopaka nodded.

"If you haven't noticed, there are Matoran Spheres scattered around," Garan gestured around him. "I know this whole thing is a distraction, but we need to get these innocents to safety."

"Where do you suggest we put them?" asked Kopaka, dodging an energy blast from a Vahki that was immediately tackled by a Visorak.

"Try to get them onto the seats," Garan pointed at the empty seats surrounding the arena. "We'll figure out what to do with them next. Try to relay to message to the other Toa."

Kopaka nodded as Garan turned around and went back into fighting. The Toa of Ice turned and ducked as the remains of a Vahki automaton was thrown over his head. A Visorak screeched and began charging at him. In response, Kopaka leapt into the air and landed on its head, hopping over its body completely as he went to search for his fellow Toa amidst the chaos.


The lift doors opened as Nidhiki, Norik, Tuyet, and Lariska stepped out, the Toa taking care to adopt a formation Lhikan had taught them as they exited. "This isn't the top floor," said Nidhiki.

"Indeed it isn't," answered Norik, at the center of their formation. "But this is surprisingly the floor that comes after the lobby. Might as well make our way up to find Lhikan."

After a few tense moments of wondering if there was any security lurking around every corner of the floor, the group finally decided to drop their formation and simply ran into the room directly in front of the lift. Entering it, they found more Matoran Spheres scattered around the empty room, which turned out to be a corridor that led to a balcony overlooking the arena. The Resistance members remembered that before the Visorak took over, the island's Turaga Dume would make announcements from there, his voice somehow amplified to talk to those gathered. The Resistance vaguely remembered his announcement of Sidorak and Roodaka's aid in his ruling of the place.

Partially ignoring the slumbering Matoran surrounding them, the Resistance quickly made their way to the balcony. Over the railing, they saw their leader, wrapped in Visorak webbing and dangling from the ankles on a pole that protruded from the balcony.

"What took you so long?" quipped the Toa of Fire.

"The lift is slow as hell," answered Nidhiki, his gravelly voice hiding whatever possibly enthusiasm he must have seeing his brother-in-bond alive and well. "Lariska, free him."

The Toa of Ice nodded and jumped on the pole, balancing herself with ease. She slipped a dagger our of a sheath strapped to her left arm and held the blade against the strand that glued Lhikan to the pole. She hesitated, realizing that she didn't have the strength to hold the golden-clad Toa when the strand is cut. Lariska turned to Nidhiki, who simply nodded in assurance. Lariska sliced the strand. Just as Lhikan began to fall, a cyclone appeared beneath. Nidhiki was pointing his scythe at a spot beneath his leader, levitating him. He lifted the Toa of Air upwards and towards the safety of behind the railing.

After Lhikan was safe, Nidhiki raised his scythe and swung at the side of the webbing. The cocoon split apart, freeing the Toa of Fire who got his feet quickly. The Hau-wearer stretched, his arms cracking as he loosened up. Lariska revealed Lhikan's twin swords, which she readily handed over to him.

"Alright, everyone," Lhikan said, twirling his swords. "What's our situation besides what I see down there?"

"The Toa Hordika are down there, fighting with all manners of Vahki and Visorak so we can distract the major forces while we look to free the Matoran, which we already did for twelve of them or so," reported Tuyet.

"Any bad news?" asked Lhikan, noticing how tired Lariska and Nidhiki were.

"We can't wake all of them up," sighed Lariska. "Nidhiki and I freed the ones we mentioned, but it drains our energy. We can't wake them all up one by one, who knows what will happen to us if we do it that way? Especially with all that fighting below."

"That's disappointing news indeed," nodded Lhikan. "Then we've got no choice. Evacuation is the only option. Nynrah isn't safe with all these Vahki and Visorak that will most likely survive this battle. I doubt this is all of them anyways."

"How do we move all these Spheres out of the city quickly, then?" asked Tuyet. "There must be tens of thousands of these Spheres in the Coliseum."

"How about the chutes?" suggested Norik. His allies stared at him. "The Coliseum is fitted with tubes that run all the way to the docks, so speedy delivery from there is possible, remember? Those tubes are big enough for these Spheres, if not Matoran. I would know, my son has gotten into trouble playing in them."

"That could work," said Lhikan. "But I have to check something first. How many Matoran did each of you manage to wake up?" Lhikan turned to Lariska and Nidhiki.

"Each of us, I think six," answered Lariska.

"Alright, that's enough for me," said Lhikan, eyes narrowed and determined. Over the balcony suddenly came a pair of mutated Toa riding a Rhotuka Spinner. The projectile impacted with the ceiling and exploded into a dusty cloud. The pair landed on the railing without even a hint of imbalance. The three Resistance members raised their weapons in defense when they saw that one of the pair was Tahu.

"Wait!" yelled Lewa, holding up his arms. "Tahu's better now! He's one of us again!"

"How can you be sure?" asked Nidhiki.

"Should I throw you over the railing and save you, too?" asked Tahu without missing a beat.

After a moment of silence, Nidhiki shrugged and lowered his scythe, as did the others, although Tuyet looked as if she was sitll cautious.

"Tahu," greeted Lhikan. "Good to have you back again. We're evacuating these Matoran out of Nynrah; we can't wake them all up."

"I don't think it's safe to either," said Tahu. "Sidorak told me the Matoran were being drained of something to something. He didn't know what, but maybe Roodaka knows."

"Drained," repeated Lhikan. "Where are the governors?" He turned to his fellow Resistance members.

"We just saw them going down. There a crash, too maybe they've gotten into a lift accident and perished," said Nidhiki.

"We have to make sure though," muttered Lhikan, his face focused.

"I'll go check," Lewa offered his services. Lhikan nodded as the Toa Hordika of Air made his way to the lifts. After confirming with Norik which lift they came in, Lewa forced open the doors that Sidorak and Roodaka went through and looked down. "The cables are still intact!" called Lewa.

"Then they're still alive," growled Tuyet.

"We can't dwell on that right now," said Lhikan. "Hopefully they're occupied by the fighting below. I need to check something. Then we'll transport all the Spheres here through the chutes Norik mentioned."

"Where are you going to take them all?" asked Tahu. Lhikan opened his mouth to say something. No words came out. His expression went from confident and determined to one of thought and conflict. He hadn't really thought of where to bring those he had sworn to rescue after transporting them. He turned to his fellow Toa. They were just as undeciding as he was. In fact, they were looking to him for answers.

"How about..." began Tahu. "How about you bring them to Mata Nui?"

"To the Great Spirit?" asked Nidhiki, confused.

"No, no, it's...it's the island where we came to Nynrah from," said Tahu. "You can bring them there for safety. It's a lot more primitive that what you have here, but I promise you, they'll be much more secure there than here. I guarantee it."

Lhikan took a deep breath and took a moment to think on the offer. He nodded approvingly. "The promised land, then," described Lhikan. "The legends said you'd be bringing us to peace. I just didn't think you'd do it literally." The Toa of Fire smiled.

"Uh, Lhikan..." Tuyet attempted to interject with something about doubts on Tahu and his team's identities as those foretold to be the Children of Mata Nui. However, Lhikan shot her down.

"No time for mistrust, Tuyet," said Lhikan. "Let's check on these Matoran. If they're not what I'm looking for, then we can get them into the chutes immediately."

"I'll show you where they are, Lhikan," nodded Norik. With their plan decided on, the Resistance and Tahu began following Lhikan in looking into each Matoran Sphere in the corridor. Lewa went to meet with Tahu.

"So what's going on?" asked Lewa. Tahu explained all that had been discussed while Lewa was checking up on the status of Sidorak and Roodaka. Lewa nodded in acceptance. "So do I here-stay or go down to help-aid the others?"

Tahu listened to the sounds outside. "I'm sure they're handling it."

Chapter 23

Much to Sidorak's horror, he saw that some of the Matoran Spheres in the Spire's lobby had been opened and emptied of its contents. The Matoran within had been freed, and most likely fighting alongside whatever enemies were out there. Roodaka remained calm beside him as she led the way outside.

It was louder than the Visorak King had expected. While there was considerable space between them and the battle in front of them, there was still the chance of something flying towards them and tearing their heads off. Sidorak slouched over, prepared to dodge whatever came his way. He jumped when the remains of a Vahki automaton crashed in front of him, the gears within exposed and desperately trying to turn. Roodaka gestured to him and pointed out what they came down for.

A large crater was there. Smoke rised out of it as if something exploded. Sidorak didn't remember Keetongu bursting into a fireball upon impact.

"Let's just get this over with," growled Sidorak. "Then we can leave this Makuta-forsaken place."

Roodaka simply made a mumbling noise that sounded like agreement. The two made their way to the edge of the large indenture. At the center of the hole was the battered and heavily injured form of the brutish Toa of Ice Krekka. Thanks to his physique, his body didn't become a stain upon landing. But limbs were definitely twisted in painful ways.

"You think if we kill the vessel, we kill the spirit?" asked Roodaka out of curiosity.

As if in response, the body of Krekka shuddered and a deep moan was heard. Armor creaking could be heard as the body attempted to rise. It didn't sound pleasant. Sidorak's heartrate skyrocketed and he suddenly felt as if breathing was one of the most difficult thing he had ever done.

Sidorak turned to Roodaka, who nudged her head towards Krekka. With a forming scowl, Sidorak summoned his blade and aimed its sharp tip at Krekka. He fired bolts of energy at the Toa, hearing bone crunches at each hit. Despite the severe damage, Krekka continued to rise, his moaning sounding even more and more enraged. Sidorak roared and charged up his blade to its fullest power. He let it fly on the Toa, sending him deeper into the ground. Krekka was still somehow alive, but clearly crippled.

Panting, Sidorak looked at Roodaka as his crimson blade dissapated. "I...I can't expend more energy," he breathed. He then chuckled and smiled. "The killing blow's all yours, Roodaka."

Roodaka rolled her eyes and groaned. With a strong arm, she shoved Sidorak back and into the crater. "You do it," she muttered.

Sidorak was shocked. "Wh-what? Why?"

"So you can do something yourself for once, my king."

Sidorak heard unnatural growls emanate from behind him.

"But I can't defeat him myself!" he cried.

"I know," smiled Roodaka. "Our lord no longer needs you, Sidorak. The Brotherhood of Makuta no longer needs you. Even when you joined our ranks you were a pawn. Goodbye."

With a wave, Roodaka turned around and walked away, her back to Sidorak. The Crimsons King was at a loss for words. Behind him, he heard something rise. Most likely the bravest act he's ever done in his life, he turned around slowly to see if it was Krekka. It wasn't.

He found himself faced by a spectre. A humanoid beast with a single red eye staring him down and growling like a lion. The spectre was transparent, but the mist like aura that surrounded Krekka was still there. It was as if the endless ocean took a bipedal shape but maintained its waves.

The spectre that was Keetongu's transcended form raised its arms. Realizing what was to happen, Sidorak screamed. It was interrupted by a thunderous crash that sent blood flying.

Roodaka heard the crash and smiled. She touched her necklace and exhaled. She was finally free of the buffoon and listened to the crystal's whispers. She listened well and heard its orders. It was time for her to enact her lord's plan. "Soon, Makuta," she whispered.

Roodaka looked up and saw a rather discomforting sight. The Toa Hordika and awakened Matoran could be seen from where she stood. They were carrying the Matoran Spheres that were scattered throughout the arena and tossing them to the safety of the seats. While this would most likely cause complications, it didn't matter.

The plan could commence now.


Tahu and Lewa followed the Nynrah Resistance as they entered Sidorak's throne room. Upon stepping into the room, Tahu looked up and pointed with his claw at the various Spheres hanging from the ceiling. The look on Lhikan's mask was one of small contempt. The golden-clad Toa turned to Nidhiki, who was breathing less tiredly now.

"Get them down," Lhikan ordered. Nidhiki did so, and the Spheres dropped safely from the ceiling thanks to catches by Tahu and Lewa, ice slides by Lariska, water sprouts by Tuyet, or small cushions of pocketed air conjured by Nidhiki. Upon landing, Lhikan inspected the large containment orbs. The expression on his face made it clear luck had struck him like a lightning bolt. The Toa pressed his hand against the Sphere and closed his eyes, his brow creasing in concentration.

Plasmic energy emerged from his hand, enveloping the Sphere he was holding and reaching out to five other Spheres closest to it. Lhikan's hand began to tremble before the energy release suddenly ceased. The Toa of Fire looked exhausted. He was practically panting when he stumbled back away from the Spheres. His fellow Toa prepared to catch him before he could fall over.

Tahu watched as the Spheres opened up, releasing compressed air most likely to maintain its pressure. Out from the shadows within the objects each came six Matoran, all small, weakened, and looking confused. But most of all, to Tahu, familiar.

The Ta-Matoran of the awakened stumbled out of his Sphere and fell over onto his knees. Despite his exhaustion, Lhikan rushed to the Ta-Matoran and cradled him in his arms, as if he has known this Ta-Matoran for a long while.

"Lhi-Lhikan?" mumbled the Ta-Matoran, looking as though he might pass out. "What...what happened? I don't remember anything. I just--"

"Don't talk," said Lhikan gently. "You've been taken hostage by the governors. But once again, I had to come rescue you." The last sentence had a sense of sarcasm and snark sprinkled on it.

The Ta-Matoran chuckled weakly. "I knew I could always count on my bigger brother," he chuckled. With a sigh, he slumped over, unconscious. Despite this, Lhikan continued to smile. Tahu noticed that this was one of pure happiness.

"So this is your younger brother, huh?" asked Tahu.

Lhikan nodded. "He's the last family I have after my wife died," the Toa of Fire explained. "You say Sidorak was draining them? You think that might explain why he's so weak?"

"He's not like this normally?" asked Tahu.

"No he's usually more work-focused," said Lhikan. "How are the others?" he asked the other Toa.

"They're just as confused as the others," reported Tuyet. "Are they in any condition to travel with us?"

"If they can, they will."

"Don't you think you shouldn't have woken your brother and these others knowing that they were being drained into Mata Nui knew what?" questioned Tuyet.

Lhikan didn't answer.

"I'll carry him," Lhikan said, referring to his brother. He scooped up the Ta-Matoran and slung his arm over his armored shoulder. 

Tahu stared at the Matoran's mask. There was something about it that seemed very familiar. The more he looked the more something unsettling seeped into his Hordika heart. From vague feelings came suspicion. He looked at Lhikan, who was about to turn around and coordinate his allies and asked, "Lhikan? What's your brother's name?"

Lhikan turned to Tahu and quickly said, "Vakama, but you'll get to know him better when we've gotten everyone to safety."

Something made everything dim. Something in Tahu's mind cracked and made him felt like his thoughts were leaking out of his head. Everything seemed to slow down and become muted. The Toa Hordika of Fire simply stood there, mouth open and unblinking eyes wide with shock and terror. As if on instinct, his sight darted around the room. His mind was trying to process everything. He wanted to make sure the room he was in was real. That the air was real. That the floor he was standing on was real.

Suddenly, his thoughts stretched back to years ago, before he and the other Toa journeyed to Nynrah. He thought of how primitive the living conditions of the Matoran were, but then remembered how contradictively incredible their engineering skills were, especially the skills of the Onu-Matoran. He remembered the Legend of Mata Nui, how the Great Spirit brought the Matoran to Mata Nui the island. He remembered how he never until now questioned exactly where the Matoran came from, since you never really question legends. He remembered Jaller's unique yellow Hau. If he didn't know any better he could swear that Lhikan's own golden Hau looked like a stretched-out, prestige version of that very mask.

Most of all, Tahu thought about how Mata Nui had been awakened for quite some time now. For an omnipotent spirit, he was certainly ignoring everything that's been happening on Nynrah, especially since it involved the physical and mental manipulation of Matoran. Why wasn't Mata Nui doing anything?

Unless this had already happened and Mata Nui can't do anything about the past.

"Tahu?" a pat on the back by Lewa snapped Tahu out of his trance. "Everything right-okay? You look like you've seen a ghost."

Tahu remained silent. Sweat was welling on his brow and dripping down his enlongated face.

"Tahu?" asked Lewa again.

"We need to get down there," muttered Tahu. "We need to get down there, find Roodaka or Sidorak or whoever, and we need to get Keetongu to cure us."

"Why? What's wrong? What did Lhikan tell you?"

Tahu took a deep shakey breath. "I have something that can fix everything, but we need to be cured in order to use it. And right now, everywhere I look, I see a reason to hurry."


Onua unleashed a beastial scream from the depths of his lungs as he slammed a Vahki he had by the neck into the eye of a Visorak spider. As soon as both enemies impacted, the automaton shattered into a hail bolts, nuts, and springs. With one eye blinded, the Visorak felt that it could do nothing but shriek at the Toa Hordika of Earth in rage and complaint. In response, Onua smacked the creature in whatever face it had. The strength transformed the body into a bent shape.

Onua growled as he took the risk of looking up for a moment. A realization dawned on him as he noticed that he could see all of his allies by simply turning around in complete circles. He also noticed that there were no signs of any more Vahki among the battlers. All thoughts within the mutant turned into one of distress. A Visorak suddenly jumped at him, the Toa of Earth barely dodging the attack. In revenge, Onua promptly kicked the creature in the teeth. However, it was soon replaced by three more Visorak, who screeched at the Toa. Onua backed up, aiming his weapon arm at any of the ones that got too close.

The Toa Hordika and their Matoran allies were being closed in by the Horde. Soon, the group was back to back, firing off Elements or Rhotuka Spinners at any Visorak they could hit. At this point, they were all tired.

"Aw no, this is it, isn't it?" asked Balta.

"I think it is," answered Pohatu. "At least nobody will know about those books under your bed."

Balta stared at Pohatu with a blank look. He then turned back to the Horde and threw a fireball at the mouth of one of them.

The Visorak army drew closer and closer, their teeth oozing with their infamous venom. The Toa and Matoran were practically pushing against each other's back by now. When unexpectedly, the Visorak stopped. A noise filled the dust-fogged air and froze the advancing monsters. After a moment of twitchy eyes, the Visorak bowed and back off. They were no longer screeching towards their enemies. They moved like robots, no free will in their movements.

"What's going on now?" asked Garan rhetorically.

Gali grimaced as she stared at the retreating Visorak. She wondered what could have easily and massively called them off when she realized the reality of the implications. She gasped when she saw that an entire side of Visorak split apart, allowing for a row free of them. For a moment she wanted to believe that the noise earlier was some kind of surrender call. The actions of the Visorak right now would be a sign for the Toa to leave and get the Matoran to safety. The light at the end of the split said otherwise.

The next thing all the heroes knew, they were struck with a powerful green blast. The force sizzled at their skin as it scattered them. They found themselves on the floor, struggling to get up as their ears rang. From the corner of her unfocused eyes, Gali could see a massive golden-clad Visorak advance on them slowly. On its head was a tall, lean female figure wearing thin ebony armor. If she wasn't disoriented by the fighting and the blast, she would find herself discomforted by the size of said armor.

The giant Visorak halted a few feet away from the scattered heroes and lowered its head. The female stepped off her pet and onto the ground. She walked confidently and arrogantly towards her enemies. She was continuously fondling the crystal that was tied around her neck.

"That must be Roodaka," groaned Kopaka, his changed body sore.

"Insightful one, I can tell," mused Roodaka as she approached them. She looked over her enemies, as if inspecting a line-up of prisoners that would spend the rest of her lives in her prison.

"Water," She looked at Gali.

"Stone," She looked at Pohatu.

"Ice," She looked at Kopaka.

"Earth," She looked at Onua. "All of you have something I want: your Elemental powers. And Fire belongs to me." Roodaka raised an eyebrow. "Hm, now where is Air?"

"Right here!" yelled a voice. Roodaka turned towards the source of the noise, as did the mass of Visorak spiders that surrounded her, the Toa and Matoran. Another wall of Visorak opened up to reveal Tahu marching Lewa, Lhikan, Lariska, Tuyet, and Nidhiki towards her. Gali felt her spirits falter as she saw him lead her allies to what could be their deaths. Tahu then shoved Lewa in the back. The strength was so much that Lewa fell on the floor and slid into the center of the scattered heroes.

As Lhikan, Lariska, Tuyet, and Nidhiki passed Roodaka to join their allies, the Visorak Queen stared each one down. Tuyet especially looked contemptuous. Lhikan simply scowled at Roodaka. Lariska and Nidhiki didn't look her in the eye. All of Roodaka's enemies had been gathered before her.

"Thank you, Tahu," smiled Roodaka. "Now about those powers..."

"You're insane, Roodaka," interrupted Nidhiki. "You can't handle all of our Elemental powers at the same time."

"You'll be sadly mistaken," responded Roodaka without missing a beat. "And besides, I only need the powers of the Children of Mata Nui."

"You want them?!" shouted Lewa. "You can have them!"

The Toa of Air aimed his spinner at the Queen and fired a very bright green projectile at her. The other Toa except Tahu followed suit. The force of the spinners were powerful enough to nearly knock Roodaka over, but the ebony Queen managed to keep on her feet. Roodaka laughed as the Elemental energy siphoned into her body, but not as pleasantly as one would expect. Roodaka's body looked ravaged by the onslaught of energy fired at her. Her veins were glowing, emitting a rainbow of colors. The Queen was practically slouching and panting at this point. She looked like she was about to be sick, but acted as if nothing was wrong.

"Fools," Roodaka chuckled.

"Okay," said Lewa. "Who fired the tickle spinner?"

"You're nothing if you're not united," said Roodaka. "I thought you would have known that already."

The Matoran themselves began to fire their own Elements at Roodaka. The blasts simply dispersed upon impacting with Roodaka. The Nynrah Resistance also began their own rapid Elemental blasts. They, too, proved useless. Tuyet then reached into her pack and took out a glowing stone.

"Tuyet, what is that?" asked Lhikan when he noticed the stone.

"Power to destroy this witch!" Tuyet screamed as she leapt into the air. From her arm sprang a water sprout. She grabbed the end of it and whipped it at Roodaka. The Queen was down on the ground, but still laughing and unaffected by the attack.

"What is that?" asked Lhikan to Lariska.

"Tuyet found something called the Nui Stone in the Great Temple," the former bounty hunter responded as she watched her comrade attempt to devastate their enemy.

"What?!" cried Lhikan. "That Stone's known to corrupt those who weild it!"

Tuyet was now attacking with a blast of water that was powerful enough to blow away the Visorak behind Roodaka. However, once more, the Queen was unhurt. Roodaka held up a hand to protect her sight as she struggled towards the empowered Toa of Water. Her mask glowed as she drew closer to Tuyet.

"I have nearly all of the Children's powers coursing through my veins, little Toa," said Roodaka. "Do you believe this oversized hose can do anything to someone like this?"

Tuyet suddenly stopped her attack. Her face was one of shock and suprise. Whatever she was seeing, it was enough for her to ignore Roodaka. Tuyet fell to her knees on the now-drenched Coliseum floor. She squeezed her hold on the Nui Stone. As she knelt, she seemed to begin to weep. The water around her was starting to rise into the air, like rain falling upwards towards the sky, only slower.

"Visorak," called Roodaka. The spiders all tensed in attention. "Tear these scoundrels apart. Enjoy your meal."

"No," said Tahu. Roodaka spun around and stared at her subordinate in shock. "All of you!" Tahu shouted to the surrounding Horde. "You're free!"

The Visorak did nothing. They stared with confused eyes. "That's an order," finished Tahu. In response, all the Visorak scurried away from the battle. In a collection of seconds, all of the Visorak Spiders that were in the Coliseum had fled, even Roodaka's large golden pet. The arena was soon empty, with nothing but the Toa Hordika, the Matoran, the Nynrah Resistance, Roodaka, and the remains of the Vahki automatons present.

Roodaka's confident facade had fallen. Her eyes were wide with rage and nearly twitching. At the top of her lungs, she screamed into the sky, "TRAITORS!!"

"You can't betray someone you're not loyal to," retorted Tahu as he aimed his own spinner at Roodaka. He charged it with Elemental fire. "I know what you're doing now, Roodaka. I know your master's plan. Draining Matoran fatigue and memories to fuel his return."

Roodaka was silent.

"You don't realize what's going to happen when you release him?" asked Tahu. "He's just going to leave you in the dust, collecting maggots on your corpse."

Roodaka was silent.

"I hope you find what you're looking for after this, because it's going to be nothing but your end," said Tahu. He fired his spinner at Roodaka. The impact created a burst of fire that quickly dispersed almost as soon as it hit. The ebony-armored female lurched forwards, her body now looking like a humanoid lamp of alternating colors. Only instead of looking pretty and intriguing, it was disturbing.

Roodaka began coughing, but wheezed out laughs. She gagged and vomited after falling over on her knees and hands. The once graceful Queen was now reduced to a sickly wreck of a body. Despite all the uncontainable power threatening to tear her from the inside out, Roodaka continued to laugh.

"The darkness shelters me," Roodaka quietly chanted through fits of coughs. "The only mission is to see the end. The only purpose is to bring the end. Life's goal is death. End of all is everything. Dark Lord, see my glory and approve. Praise and applaud your servant's work."

Tuyet's entrapment in whatever illusion Roodaka had her within halted. All the water she had forced to rise fell down in a momentary rainfall. With tears in her reddened eyes and the look of a madwoman, Tuyet roared. She stuck out her hand, from which came a directed storm of rain. It was like she was spraying the entirety of the Endless Ocean at the former Visorak Queen. Roodaka's form disappeared in the blast. The more it went on, the less of her silhouette everyone saw. Tuyet stopped her attack, all the water suddenly evaporating.

Roodaka was nowhere to be seen. Where she kneeled laid the crystal she had tied around her necklace. It still glowed red.

"Tuyet..." said Lhikan. "That was too much."

Tuyet didn't answer. She continued to kneel and clutched the Nui Stone to her chest tightly while breathing shakily.

"So it's over?" asked Garan.

Tahu and the other Toa Hordika walked over to Roodaka's fallen crystal. The Toa of Fire picked it up and looked at it as it sat in the palm of his hand. "It better be," Tahu said. He let the crystal fall back to the floor. It clattered and stayed there.

"Good work, everyone!" said a wise-sounding voice. Norik had descended to the arena floor. He had a big smile on his face as he saw the lack of Visorak, Vahki and Roodaka that surrounded him. "I have gotten all the Spheres within the Spire to safety. What shall we do about those in the seats?"

"There's a mechanism in the Coliseum designed to evacuate all attendees," explained Garan. "It'll transport all the Spheres to a secure location just in the outskirts of the City."

"That's good to hear," said Pohatu. "I was worried we were going to have to carry each of them out of this place."

"We won't," said Tahu. "Where's Keetongu?"

"I'm not quite sure," replied Norik.

"Norik, we have to get Keetongu now," said Tahu with a bit of haste in his tone.

"Tahu, what's the matter? We're in no hurry, the Visorak are defeated," said Gali, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"No, that's not the problem here," replied Tahu. "We're not supposed to be here, every second we stand around and talk about it might cause Mata Nui knows how much damage."

"Wait," said Lewa. "What did you just say-talk?"

"We're not supposed to be here, Lewa," said Tahu. "We're not in Nynrah, at least not the one Turaga Vakama sent us to."

Lhikan blinked. "Wait a minute, did you just--?"

"Lhikan," said Tahu. "I know this is going to be a bit of a problem to understand but listen to me: we're not supposed to be here...yet."

"Tahu, will you just explain?" asked Kopaka impatiently.

"We're in the past, Kopaka!" yelled Tahu. "Somehow, we've been transported to the past Nynrah, where the Turaga we knew are Matoran, we haven't washed up on Mata Nui's shores, and we haven't defeated Makuta yet!"

A stunned silence befell the entire group.

"That's impossible," muttered Gali, looking around at the arena in disbelief. "But if we haven't appeared yet, why is Makuta in the Void?"

"What do you mean, why?" asked Nidhiki. "Mata Nui defeated Makuta eons ago and trapped him there."

The Toa Hordika felt a chill run through their spines. Realization struck them like a spinner.

"We have to get back to the present," Tahu said. "Who knows how much damage we've caused to the present just by taking part in everything? I have something that I think will help us, but we need Keetongu to cure us so I can use it."

"Is it a mask?" asked Pohatu.

"Yes," said Tahu. "A powerful mask made by Vakama and given to me in case we need its power."

"Power..." muttered Tuyet as she continued to hold the Nui Stone tightly.

A clank was heard. Everyone tensed up as they turned towards what they believed to be the source. Another clank and another. They looked at Roodaka's crystal as it trembled. It was increasingly shaking, to the point where everyone present could swear they heard cracking. The crystal exploded in a cloud of electric red and black dust. It then condensed and disappeared as quickly as it appeared.

"What the--?" muttered Lhikan.

The polluted green sky of Nynrah suddenly transformed into a cloud-covered, thunder-cracked blanket of redness. Lightning crashed across it as the heroes in the arena followed the movement of the clouds to its source: the very top of the Coliseum Spire.

There, they saw a vortex of the clouds forming. It expanded until it stopped. On its side emerged two glowing red eyes that seemed to instill dread the more one would look at them. A deep sigh echoed across Nynrah and possibly the world. It was like a chilling breeze that sent everyone's spine into a tingling sensation. The sound of the wind sounded as if it was in reverse.

"I am free," announced a familiar malevolent voice. The eyes looked down. "Thank you, nephews and niece, for providing the means for both my first and second escape."

"No, NO!" shouted Tahu over the wind. "We stopped you! You can't be free!"

"It's because of you six," growled Tuyet. "It's because the six of you he's free!" The Toa of Water rose to her feet. Her grip on the Nui Stone was tight.

"Tuyet!" shouted Lhikan. "What are you doing?! They're not the enemy!"

"They might as well be!" screamed Tuyet. "You almost died because of them! Makuta is free because of them! Why should we listen to anything more they have to say?!"

"Tuyet, you're not thinking straight!" shouted Lariska. "Roodaka must've done something to you and you're just disorientated right now! Try to think!"

"Oh, I've done enough thinking, you dagger-armed hired killer!" shrieked Tuyet at Lariska. "I've thought about it since the Great Temple! Mata Nui watches over us? A Great Spirit!? A Great Joke! Where was HE when the Matoran were in danger?! Where was HE when Krekka got transformed?! It's time for a new god to watch over I think..."

"Stop this nonsense, right now!" shouted Nidhiki, drawing his Scythe. "We've got bigger problems than your ruined belief system."

"You think a silly little stick with a blade can stop THIS?" Tuyet stomped on the ground. A ball of water formed from underneath Nidhiki and surrounded him. The Toa of Air desperately tried to create air bubbles to give him breath, only to find that the water controlled by Tuyet was popping them faster than he could create them.

"No!" shouted Lhikan as he tried to tackle Tuyet. The Toa of Water simply formed puddles under her feet, using her power over them to adhese herself to the ground as Lhikan attempted to push her over. The Matoran of Nynrah joined the golden Toa of Fire as they clammered over the insane Tuyet, but to no avail; she ignored them successfully thanks to the Nui Stone's empowerment. Lariska tried to dive into the ball, only for the surface to keep her out. She tried stabbing the water with an ice spike, which shattered upon touch. The Toa of Ice could do nothing but slam her fists against the near-solid water.

Finally, Nidhiki ceased struggling and went limp. Satsified, Tuyet released the ball of water and let Nidhiki drop. Lariska ran over to her ally and checked him. She gasped. "She killed him! She killed Nidhiki!"

Tuyet threw those piling on her off of her body. One of them stuck more than the others; a Matoran, whom she promptly threw on the ground.

Tuyet looked up at Makuta, who watched with amused interest. "Makuta!" she called. "I have the Nui Stone, the greatest weapon in the hands of a Toa! You are the Dark God of Destruction! What do you think about a partnership between us?!"

Makuta chuckled, "That would be interesting. What would you desire out of it?"

"The safety of the Matoran, of course!" shouted Tuyet. "With the Nui Stone, I can guard over them better than Mata Nui ever could! If you seek to overthrow your brother, I am more than happy to help you!"

"A most fascinating offer, indeed, Toa Tuyet," said Makuta. "But I do not seek to overthrow my brother."

Tuyet was suddenly lifted into the air. It was not consensual, as the Toa of Water screamed as she was taken upwards to the sky to directly face Makuta. Everyone on the arena grounds watched as Makuta stared Tuyet right back in the eyes.

"You do not seek the safety of my brother's most treasured creations, Toa Tuyet," chuckleda clearly amused Makuta. "You want an empire to rule over. A world where you would not be Toa Tuyet, but Emperess Tuyet. You would still oppose me anyways. And besides, conquest of this world is not my goal. You should have known that."

A tendril of shadow shot out of the vortex, wrapping itself around the shocked Tuyet. "Do not panic. I will have use of you soon," assured Makuta before pulling Tuyet up to him. The scream of the Toa of Water disappeared faster than it got out as she was absorbed into the Makuta's form. The Nui Stone fell from where she had been, shattering into fragments when it met the ground.

Then, all six Toa Hordika were lifted into the air by an invisible force. They shouted and screamed as they were pulled towards the vortex. The remaining Nynrah Resistance below yelled for them, unable to do anything but watch helplessly as their allies were brought before the Dark God.

The wind at Makuta's level was unlike anything the Toa, even Lewa, had felt. It was defeaning, powerful, and felt like an onslaught of locusts were smashing into the heroes. In front of them was the Makuta. He stared at them with malevolent red eyes that somehow stuck out from the already-red vortex. The eyes seemed to be a gateway into the Void the entity was imprisoned within for a long time. 

"This is not how I wish-wanted to die!" yelled Lewa over the wind. The Toa of Air felt that even if he was back to normal, he would be powerless against his own element right now.

"Look at the six of you," boomed Makuta's voice. "Mutated beyond recognition. Turned into the animals I had sent to endanger your precious Matoran. What irony is that, nephews and neice?"

"We'll stop you right here and now, Makuta!" shouted Tahu. "We're not going to let you terrorize Mata Nui again!"

"I know you will," said Makuta. "But not now. Not here. I can destroy you now, you know. Obliterate you and leave your pieces here in the past. But you have given me what I want. I have what I want. My plans are far more grand than this, I must admit. Besides. if I end you now, where will be the fun in doing this?"

Makuta's eyes moved to set their sights at the sky. The clouds opened up, seemingly under Makuta's command, and revealed the Twin Suns above. For the first time in a while, Nynrah had the warm sun shining down on it again. "I have returned, my brother," announced Makuta. "As you can see, I have as many loyal subjects as you do. In fact, they do appear to be far more loyal than yours. The last one I consumed tasted contemptuous. I've had eons to plan for this, brother. Eons and enough gathering of power to do one single thing that can shock an entire universe. I can even do it in one word. Sleep."

The Toa Hordika all gasped as they quickly diverted their entire attention to the Twin Suns, hoping what they had just heard was not happening. Indeed it did. The Twin Suns eclipsed. Mata Nui's eyes has closed. The Great Spirit has fallen into the deep slumber of the legends. The sky was now as dim as when the Toa first arrived on Mata Nui. It was enough to see all the stars spread across the sky. They were all disappearing. The Toa watched in horor as the stars vanished until six were left.

"You monster!" shouted Tahu. "You did it again?!"

"No," replied Makuta bluntly. Tahu, along with his fellow Toa, was confused. "This is still the past, Tahu. I am both my past and present. Naturally, don't you think I should perhaps do what history had already set into stone? Unlike you, I probably remained faithful the past."

Tahu growled.

"Now, do be quiet," said Makuta. "This next part is also important."

Perplexed, the Toa Hordika looked at each other for answers, finding none. A blinding light appeared behind them. Craning their necks, the Toa saw a literal beacon of hope. It was Keetongu, without a body, but still Keetongu. He was in an incorporeal form, freely hovering towards the vortex form of the Dark God. His red eye stared into Makuta's own two eyes.

"Your eye sees all, Noble One," mused Makuta. "Then I suppose you know what is the situation?"

Keetongu nodded. "As much as it angers me how you tamper with Time for your ends, Dark Lord. I must abide and do what history has said we would do."

"Indeed," said Makuta, his tone as if addressing an old friend.

Keetongu spread out his arms. His form was like a sun, practically blinding the Toa, even with their eyes averted from the being. Makuta groaned and roared an unnatural sound. Then the light faded. The vortex had disappeared, as well as the lightning and thunder. The Toa continued to hover, thanks to the powers of Keetongu.

"That was...wow," said Pohatu, eyes wide and out of breath.

"Which part?" asked Kopaka.

Chapter 24

The glow stopped as Tahu felt his back straightening up. He opened his eyes and looked at his hands. The fingers were back, and his legs were normal again. He looked at his fellow Toa and saw that they too had been restored to their Toa Nuva forms by Keetongu. Gali smiled when she saw that her weapon arm had disappeared and embraced Tahu, happy to be normal once again.

"So that's what you're supposed to look like," said Lhikan as he watched their restorations.

"I'm going to miss being able to use my hand as a blunt object," Pohatu patted his arm.

Tahu grasped his mask and switched to the Vahi Vakama gave him. He pulled it off carefully and held it out in front of him. The Toa stared at the powerful Mask, feeling its power emitting over them. "So that's the Mask of Time," said Kopaka. "It's such an odd design."

"You said Vakama made it?" asked Lhikan.

"That's what he told me," said Tahu. "He never said when, but I assume it's when he was still a Matoran."

"Might have some questions for him when we get to--what did you call your island, again?"

"Mata Nui."

"Yes," said Lhikan, chuckling at the naming decision. "Mata Nui."

Garan stepped forward and looked at the Mask. "A Mask that can control time itself?" He said. "Imagine what we can do with that."

"Don't," said Tahu. "We've seen what something like the Nui Stone could do. It's really not worth the risk."

Everyone nodded solemnly.

"Anyways, we've decided that we Matoran are going to stay on Nynrah," announced Garan.

"What?" said Lhikan. "But this place is no longer safe for you."

"With all due respect, Toa Lhikan. We're well prepared to defend ourselves from whatever perversions had grown here," said Garan confidently. "And we feel that it might be better if someone stayed behind and kept an eye on home, don't you think?"

"They should," said Gali, nodding. "Nynrah's an invaluable ally of Mata Nui in the future, even with the dangers around."

"Fine," shrugged Lhikan. "Lariska should be back from helping Norik load the Matoran onto the ships by now. It's going to be a difficult journey without our Toa of Air and Water. But I have a feeling we'll make it."

As if on cue, Lariska came walking towards them, Norik not far behind. The elder Matoran had been restored to his normal appearance by Keetongu as well, and was walking more freely than when he was a mutant. His son Balta couldn't be any happier at the rescue.

"We've got everyone on board, Lhikan," said Lariska in a sad tone. "Shame about Nidhiki...and Tuyet...and..."

The former bounty hunter sighed and approached the spirit of Keetongu. She looked nervous about talking to the mythical entity but worked up the nerve. "Sir," she said. "What's happened to...what's happened to Krekka?"

The being paused for a moment, then gently replied, "He fell in battle. But have no fear that he died in vain. It is because of him that Sidorak is no more. He fought bravely and is a true hero, young one."

"Good" Lariska muttered, fondling one of the daggers on her left arm. "After all the garbage he got back in the...organization we both worked for, it's great to hear this was how he met his end."

"If it is any consolation," said Keetongu. "His last thoughts were of you. He loved you very much."

Lariska's mouth hung open and her eyes widened.

Keetongu turned and went over to the Toa Nuva. "If your creator can see you now, he would be proud," he said. "Are you ready to return to your time?"

"Yes, we are," said Tahu, still holding the Mask.

"Wait," interrupted Lhikan. "Before you go, on behalf of everyone I want to say thank you. We'll make sure everyone who's woken up on Mata Nui knows who you are." After hearing Lhikan say that, Tahu began to wonder if this was how it happened. Did he and his Team return back in time as they had now and inspire their own legend to be told to the Matoran of Mata Nui? They might find out when they return.

Tahu nodded and placed the Vahi on his face. The Toa gathered around Tahu and readied themselves. After nods of confirmation, Tahu took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He concentrated on the present times. Even with his eyes closed, he felt a surge of energy wash over him. It was like being underwater, only was washed into the streams of time.


When Tahu opened his eyes, he saw that it was a sunny day. The Twin Suns shined down on the Coliseum arena as Tahu switched back to his Kanohi Hau. The Toa Nuva looked around, and saw that they were surrounded by various Matoran, who were staring in awe at the sudden appearance of six silver-armored Toa. Looking around, the Toa saw that the arena had been converted into some kind of town square. Benches, bushes, trees, and fountains decorated the grounds.

Onua turned around and saw a group of statues. "Everyone," he called. The Toa all turned and saw them as well. It filled them with heartwarming awe. The statues were of Lhikan, Krekka, Nidhiki, and Lariska, all standing tall and proud and surrounded by Matoran Spheres. Lhikan was at the center of the grouping, and between his legs was the entrance into the Coliseum's Spire. From there walked out a Turaga of Fire.

He walked over to the Toa Nuva and stared at them in astonishment. "My, my," the Turaga whispered. "It's just like you came from yesterday."

"Well, we did," said Lewa. "You are?"

"It's me, Toa Lewa," smiled the Turaga. "But now I suggest you take to calling me Turaga Balta."

The Toa all looked at each other in surprise. They looked at their surroundings, full of questions to ask the aged Matoran that they saw as a young lad literally only seconds ago. 

"This is Nynrah?" asked Pohatu in disbelief.

"A dressing, I'm afraid," Turaga Balta shook his head. "Generations and children came to us, and with the need for more safety came the building of walls to block us from the outside forces of nature. But I assure you, you can return to Mata Nui without trouble."

"But what about--" Tahu pointed at the statues.

"I believe Turaga Vakama can explain it to you," said Balta. "If only my father was still alive to see this..."


Vakama mindlessly read the words in his book. In front of him was a chimney that contained a fire. The only noise in the Turaga's hut was the flames crackling. He was miles away when he heard the door to his home open and close. He heard footsteps approach but didn't bother to turn around to confirm his suspicions of who his guest was.

"Turaga," greeted Tahu in a soft voice.

"Toa Tahu," said Vakama. "How was the mission to Nynrah."

"Unexpected, to say the least," replied Tahu. "Did you intend to give me the Vahi for this journey or just for safety measures?"

"Both in some ways, Tahu."

The two were silent for a moment.

"So what happened to Lhikan and the others when they arrived here?" asked Tahu.

Vakama turned to look at Tahu in surprise. He was about to ask how the Toa of Fire knew about Lhikan and where the Matoran of the island came from, but he stopped. He sighed. "The journey was difficult. Without their Toa of Air or Toa of Water, travelling across the Endless Ocean with multiple ships after Mata Nui's slumber was nearly impossible. But we made it somehow. In some miracle, we managed to make it to Mata Nui.

"Lhikan, and Lariska sacrificed their Toa powers to revive us, but not without consequence. As it happened, the other Matoran were not as lucky as the Turaga you know now or the Turaga of Nynrah. While we only had some memories drained from our minds, the others had lost everything but their names. Lhikan and Lariska had to work hard to recompose the Matoran into a society. Even harder since the island was primitive with no hope of replicating the technology of our homeland. Even then, we didn't have contact with Nynrah.

"Lariska soon perished of old age, leaving Lhikan to solely rule and govern over Mata Nui. However, the natural Elemental class disagreements came with us here. Lhikan was forced to choose individuals from each class to act as advising leaders. I was one of them, representing Fire. Soon enough, Lhikan too passed away. The island progressed into what you know now."

"How were Lhikan and the others Toa?" asked Tahu. "I thought we were the only Toa."

"They were only Toa in name, really," said Vakama. "Out of Nynrah, Lhikan was the most powerful wielder of Elemental power. As was Nidhiki and Tuyet."

"You know about Tuyet?"

"Lhikan believed those who would be in power should learn about those who became corrupted by power," said Vakama. "As you know now, the Matoran used to have power over the Elements as well. But they were taken from us. Inspired by the legends about your coming, we named our guardians after you."

"I see," said Tahu, listening intently.

"Do you remember the tale of Lhii?" asked Vakama.

"Sorry, Turaga," Tahu shook his head. "I don't think I do or have really heard that one."

"Lhii was a Ta-Matoran Lava Surfer, whose skills were only outmatched by yours," said Vakama. "However, one day, an accident occured during his surfing and he perished."

"Lhii was really Lhikan?" asked Tahu.

"Yes," replied Vakama. "We created legends around the Nynrah Resistance so they would not be forgotten for their sacrifice. But we kept care to not tell them of where we came from. Imagine the despair the Matoran might feel upon learning that their homeland was now a hazardous shell of its former self, with miles-high walls."

"I completely understand, Turaga," said Tahu.

"I hoped so," said Vakama. "My real question is this: did you use the Vahi in any kind of..."

"Attack?" finished Tahu. "No. No, I didn't."

"But you used it?"

"Only to fix a problem. But I realized how close I was to being a corrupted monster. Literally. I saw firsthand what happened to Tuyet. She was scarred by Roodaka, sure, but from what the others had told me of her, Roodaka had only tapped a boulder teetering on the edge of a very high cliff. Makuta himself said Tuyet desired an empire rather than protecting the Matoran."

Tahu switched to the Vahi and carefully removed it. He switched to his Hau as soon as it left his face. He held it up to Vakama in offering. "I don't need this to defeat my enemies. It wouldn't do anything but ruin me."

Vakama nodded approvingly and took the Vahi. He inspected it and saw that it was barely used. Tahu turned and began to leave when he stopped. "Last question, Turaga," he said. "Jaller's mask. Is it...?"

"When he emerged from his Sphere, Jaller's mask was shattered. Without one, he would fall into a coma and most likely die. Lhikan gave up his mask to save his life. Jaller was unconscious when it happened. He doesn't remember a time when he didn't have that mask."

"Does it help you to see your brother's mask on your village army's general?" asked Tahu.

"It reminds me of better times," said Vakama. "His legacy remains and that's all that matters on the subject, Tahu."

Tahu nodded and left, leaving the aged Matoran to sit in front of the fireplace with his powerful creation.


"How much of the past do you think was changed?" asked Gali as she accompanied Tahu in their walk through the jungle, holding hands.

"I'm not sure," said Tahu. "I remember a Ko-Matoran giving me a theory that time is like a river. No matter what divergences may happen, it will always return to where needs to be. Damming it will only give it reason to find a way around to continue."

"So there's a chance we were supposed to go back to past Nynrah and help the Resistance rescue the Matoran?" asked Gali.

"Who knows, am I right?" Lewa had dropped from a tree branch above. On his face his usual enthusiastic smile.

"Lewa," greeted Gali, nodding. Lewa nodded as well, having fully accepted their relationship.

"Is everyone at Kini Nui?" asked Tahu.

"Yep, and the Koro-exclusive food you guys asked for are there, too. Speaking of which, you guys bring anything?" asked Lewa.

"We did," assured Gali, holding up a bag of Ga-Koro fish delicacy.

"Oh, I think I forgot," shrugged Tahu.

"Well, that's a shame, Fire-Spitter," Lewa's eyes rolled. "Anyways, take your time, I'll go on ahead. See you two at the get-together."

Lewa leapt into the trees and disappeared into the leaves. Tahu looked at where Lewa disappeared then back to Gali's smiling face. "What happened between you two?" He asked.

"We came to an agreement after some issues," explained Gali.

"He got over you?"

"He got over me."

Tahu shrugged and continued on the trail, Gali laying her head on his shoulder as they walked. It had been a hard journey over the last few days. As much as the Toa were legendary heroes with the power to control nature itself, a simple gathering like a picnic was needed to wash away the stress.

If Makuta had plans, no doubt they would be bigger than ever before. After the whole debacle that was their transformations on Nynrah, the Toa decided it was time to enjoy themselves to the fullest. It might be the last time they are able to.

Epilogue

The Makuta was like a walking campfire. Black smoke rose from his body as he traversed across the masive bridge that stretched over a beautiful city. His figure was a complete and great contrast to his surroundings. Before him was a large monument-like house. Everything was like solid beam of light. It shined everywhere in a golden shroud of comforting warmth. As the Makuta walked, shadowy mists swirling around his feet, he looked down below the bridge. He saw deceased heroes and Matoran looking up in fear or contempt. He was the reason for so many of their ends.

The Dark Lord simply chuckled when he recognized some of them. Eventually, he reached the end of the bridge, two statues helmed the sides of the end. Only they weren't statues. On the Makuta's left stood Artakha, the Archangel of Creation and wielder of the Staff of Artakha. On his right was Artakha's mutilated twin brother, Karzahni. His stitchwork appearance was utilized to disturb those who entered his Realm of the Damned. Being the patriarch of all things malevolent, Makuta wasn't the least bit fazed. In fact, he was amused to see the two stare him down like two guards at a museum.

"Well well well, the Twins themselves," said Makuta, smiling at them. "You must be disappointed in Karzahni, Artakha, for ruining his mirroring visage in favor of something more...colorful."

Karzahni growled. The fractions that made up his face split slightly apart as he took deep uncomfortable breaths. Maybe he was indeed blind and those horns that protruded from his eyeholes weren't there for show. Then again, the Makuta didn't care and continued on to the massive house.

"Somehow, in some way, I will see you pay, Dark One," called back Artakha.

"I look forward to it, Creation Angel," replied Makuta as he approached the house. When he neared the door, the entirety of the house disappeared like a mirage. Before him stood a female demigod. She wore light purple and lavender armor and stood guard with her shield and sword.

She glared at Makuta. To him though, it was the look of a child who had been refused a sweet bit of candy. "Hello, child," he greeted. "Is being the Nephilim of Justice still as fun as I heard?"

For once, the female smirked. "I heard more of your cult members got decimated by my cousins, father," she said with false pity. "So yes. I suppose it is still fun."

"Hm," grunted Makuta, looking over the female's form. "You're tensing up, aren't you? Can't wait for what's to come, eh, Helryx?"

Helryx frowned and continued to glare.

"Shame about that mace I made for you," chuckled Makuta as he walked past his daughter. "It suited you better than that sword."

"It's more pleasurable to stick it through your chest then beating it in," replied Helryx.

"Oh, you won't," said Makuta.

He continued into the monument, and found himself in a brightly lit throne room that one would describe as being "exterior". Makuta paused when he saw him. Not his brother, Mata Nui, sitting on his throne and slouched over like he was an old man attempting to relax, but really the being next him. His armor was like a meat suit, if flesh was made of obsidian. Even then, the armor looked like it had been looted off of a dead soldier after a heated fight. This one looked like a skeleton, especially with his infamous rictus grin that didn't seem to have lips. Yet, Makuta remembered how chatty he was despite that fact. He held his scythe like a cane as he talked with Mata Nui, his posture making it clear it was idle chit-chat. The being then saw Makuta and whispered his arrival into Mata Nui's ear.

The Great Spirit dismissed the being, who grinned at Makuta before using his scythe to slice open a portal, which closed as soon as he leapt through and disappeared. Makuta approached his brother and mockingly bowed, arms spread out like an actor at the end of a play.

"Save the theatrics," Mata Nui shook his head, his voice near wheezing.

"Why do you give him so much power?" Makuta asked about the being that had left.

"Because then you would," said Mata Nui. Makuta shrugged and and silently agreed he had a point. "So what are you doing here?"

"Can't a dark god visit his other half?" asked Makuta as he began to walk circles around Mata Nui's seated form. "So I suppose you heard about my latest scheme?"

"I have," said Mata Nui. "Well done."

"Why, thank you," said Makuta. "Respecting your enemy is always a good way to show your moral superiority."

"Your actions have done damage to Time," said Mata Nui. "You have interfered with the power source of the universe and you believe it wouldn't cause any consequence?"

"Oh, I knew full well of the consequences of manipulating time," said Makuta. "You should know by now that I always know full well of the consequences of my actions. It is my brithright isn't it? Bring about the end? Any damage I do only furthers or brings my desire closer to reality."

"You just couldn't wait, could you?" asked Mata Nui, his divine eyes looking tired.

"No, I couldn't," said Makuta. "Feeling tired? Don't know why? I thought as much. You were always an idealist, brother."

"I'm supposed to be, Makuta," said Mata Nui.

"But you just wouldn't accept the truth," said Makuta. "You couldn't accept that your little brother would maybe, just maybe, not be willing to wait until the end of time to receive his inheritance. You couldn't accept that I would be willing to create a time warp in order to return to the physical realm. In all honesty, hope is admirable. But hope is your department, really. As for me, I've had years to think. Eons really, thanks to said time warp. And I've come to a realization. One that really made me chuckle."

"And what is that?"

"That you thought falling into a coma wouldn't do anything to hurt you," replied Makuta. "People thought sending me to the Void would hinder my powers but I was just somewhere else. You were asleep for a very long time."

Makuta inched close to Mata Nui's ear as he stood behind him.

"I know you're dying."

To be concluded in Creeping in Our Souls...

Trivia

  • User BionicleChicken took over the story in 2015, and continued writing from Chapter 16 onward.
  • City of Legends is slightly based on the 2004, 2005, and 2006 BIONICLE canon, and continues the story of Quest for the Masks.
  • Lewa quotes the canon Shadowed One at the beginning of chapter 2.
  • The name of the third book, “Augmentum”, means “arise” or “(one’s) rising” in Latin.
  • In chapter ten, Tahu refers to himself as a ‘Mahi’. Mahi are Matoran beasts of burden. Tahu is using this word as a substitute for a real-world curse word derived from a similar work-animal.
  • In Chapter 17, the deceased Le-Matoran named Rando is a direct reference to Rando07. The cause and location of his death is a joking reference to his story To Ascend.
  • The story is currently the 14th longest page on the wiki.

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