This article was written by ToaAuserv. Please do not add to it without the writer's permission.
|The Tables Have Turned|
The Tables Have Turned
|Setting||Dairuno Toa Canon|
|Date set||~87,000 years prior to Great Cataclysm|
|Next||To Be A Hero|
There once was an island far to the south of Metru Nui. Unlike that great city, this island could best be described as ‘rural’. Those who inhabited the island were few and far between, with several villages scattered all around. The island was called Ayomeii, but most simply called it ‘the beautiful countryside’.
Once, long ago, the Toa there led normal lives, or as normal as being a super-powerful defender of justice allows. That was long, long before the day that their Toa of Water, Roqini, discovered a strange liquid in a cave unearthed by a strange shaking of the earth... To understand the rest of this story, first the story of their transformation from normal Toa to concept-controlling Toa-Kal must be told.
Krakana, Toa of Earth, was still slightly disturbed as he followed the light of Fire Toa Grunekt’s torch blade down further into the darkness. He remembered the events that had brought them there. The sudden rumbling, all throughout the island... He had sensed nearby the opening of a chasm... The Toa had descended to find the cause of the earthquake, and now they heard sounds of the earth itself quivering below them, growing louder and louder with every step they took.
The chambers were lit by the magma that flowed through the area, giving the Toa just enough light to see in front of their faces. A lava rat scurried away as the Toa passed a dark alcove.
Krakana braced himself for the worst as the Toa finally rounded a corner into a large chamber. What he saw...was nothing. No giant, fear-inspiring Rahi or anything. The most abnormal thing in the entire chamber was a tiny stream of a silvery, thick-looking liquid. There were also several holes in the ground that the liquid was passing over, slowly filling them
Xironu, the team’s Toa of Plantlife, chuckled to himself. “How horrendous,” he murmured sarcastically. “So some liquid made the earthquake?”
“No...” Krakana murmured. “But the earthquake made some liquid. It must have been trapped in the earth, and it found a way out when the earthquake struck. But what is it?”
Roqini was examining the liquid carefully, using her knowledge of water to try to figure out what it was. “It’s not energized protodermis, or anything else I’ve ever seen...” Using her powers, she commanded all of the substance to pool together in the holes, filling them close to the brim.
Guutana, Toa of Ice, stuck his hand into the substance. As if it was alive, it began to flow into his hand and through his body.
The island’s Plasma Toa, Desurk, knew Guutana well and had discovered over the years that the Ice Toa was almost always right when he did something impulsive. Desurk stuck his hand into a separate pool of liquid. One by one, the Toa stuck their hands into the pools of liquid, and felt it come into their body and course through their veins, empowering them, changing them from the inside out.
When they had sucked the puddles dry minutes later, they looked around at each other and themselves slowly. Nothing externally had changed at all, but internally they felt energetic and powerful.
But little did the Toa know, they had just absorbed a substance incredibly similar to the one used by the Bahrag, far to the west of Ayomeii, to mutate six Bohrok into the Bohrok-Kal as a failsafe in the case that the queens themselves were stopped somehow. When Bohrok suits of armor were exposed to the substance, control of fire became control of electricity, control of water became control of magnetism, and so on. For this reason, although none of them knew at the time exactly why the name occurred to them, the Toa of Ayomeii renamed themselves Toa-Kal after their bath. Like the Bohrok-Kal, they too took on new powers--but beyond elements, what they had could better be described as "concepts".
Krakana received Speed. Desurk gained the ability to control Thought. Guutana became a Toa-Kal of Courage. Roqini received the power of Health. The substance gave Grunekt the power of Vision. And finally, Xironu became a Toa-Kal of Speech. Curiously, each Toa-Kal's mask power seemed to match their concept: Krakana wore a Kakama; Desurk, a Komau; Guutana, a Hau; Roqini, a Kiril; Grunekt, an Akaku; and Xironu, a Rau.
And from this point, the tale of the Toa-Kal begins...
Chapter One: The Gathering
Toa-Kal Roqini pulled herself out of the sea surrounding Ayomeii slowly and heavily, with a sad sigh. She looked out into the sea. She had once been a Ga-Matoran, years ago, and even then she was a very powerful swimmer with an equally powerful love of water. Upon becoming a Toa, she was strengthened in both of those things. But after she had touched the liquid from that cave yesterday, she no longer felt any connection to water. She could still swim alright, but it no longer provided her the joy it once did, and the waters no longer answered to her command.
Both of those things would make it seem like the transformation had hurt the Toa, having removed their elemental powers. But in place of the elements had come powers much more amazing. Roqini had discovered that she now controlled Health. Just as if it was Water, Roqini could “drain” health from the air, causing a cloud of poisonous gas to arise in the air’s place. She could inflict sicknesses in any being, or heal them. She was even experimenting with healing wounds. It was a great power, but she missed controlling the water.
She turned to see a huge white and blue figure bearing a Hau. She was startled for a split-second, but as soon as she realized who it was, she concentrated on how unafraid she was of the being. Slowly, the figure shrunk into none other than former Toa of Ice, Guutana.
“Spying on me, Guutana?” she asked, smiling and raising an eyebrow.
“Just testing my new powers,” he said, scratching his mask with his large sword. “You’ve already learned how to counter this one, I see.”
“How exactly do you make yourself all scary-looking like that?”
“I’m not actually transforming at all. To myself, I look just like I do to you now. But being a Toa-Kal of Courage, I can also be a Toa-Kal of Fear. I took away your Courage, making myself seem much larger and scarier. By concentrating on being unafraid, you stopped my powers from influencing you.”
Roqini nodded. Then she grinned discreetly and Guutana began a fit of coughing.
“Good one--” Guutana was interrupted by another fit of coughing, then resumed speaking when done-- “now heal me.” She nodded. And as quickly as it had come, the coughing subsided.
“There’s no way to overcome my sicknesses unless I want you to,” Roqini bragged.
“Anyway, Roqini, I came here to tell you that Turaga Onathei has summoned the Toa-Kal to the center of the island to discuss our new powers. He sent me to find the others, and you were the first I found. You want to help me find the rest?”
“Sure, Guutana,” came her answer. “It’s not like I have something else to do.”
The two found Desurk, Toa-Kal of Thought struggling against a blue energy hound in a clearing in the nearby forest. “Hi guys,” he called out, waving. The energy hound lunged at him, but he held his club out sideways. Instead of biting into his chest, the energy hound slammed into his protodermic club, fracturing a yellowed tooth.
“Look out!” cried Roqini as the energy hound prepared to pounce again on its unsuspecting target. Desurk twisted out of the way just in time and shoved his spear into the its side, piercing its armor and the muscle beneath. It gave a mournful bellow and promptly swatted the Toa-Kal into a tree.
Guutana, observing the battle silently, decided to do an experiment. Focusing bravery into Desurk and fear into the energy hound, he grabbed Roqini and jumped with both of them to one side of the energy hound. The Health Toa-Kal gave a cry of surprise, but was quickly silenced by Guutana’s hand over her mouth.
In the tiny brain of the hound, fear was causing its eyes to take in sights that were not there. Suddenly the single brown-and-red Toa had become thousands, an entire army of beings all with their sharp clubs aimed at the terrified Rahi. Part of it was telling it that there was no logical way for that many Toa to just appear out of thin air, and it was just seeing things. Of course, Rahi hardly care about logic. The energy hound bolted at its highest speed, hoping the Toa would not follow.
Roqini finally understood why Guutana had grabbed her: if they had not moved, the hound would have trampled them. But she was confused. How did Guutana know it was going to flee? It had given no warning!
Desurk voiced Roqini’s concerns. “What just happened?”
“I guess it just got scared of your ugly mask,” Guutana replied. Immediately he put his hand to his mouth. “I–I didn’t say that!”
A green and blue figure jumped into the midst of the three Toa-Kal, grinning widely. “Xironu!” shouted Desurk, using his power over Thought to give Xironu a migraine. The clever Toa-Kal of Speech put his hand to his head and his grin dematerialized instantly.
“I’ve been looking for you guys,” Xironu said when his headache had subsided. “Turaga Onathei--”
“We know, we know,” Roqini interrupted. “He’s summoning us to discuss our transformation. Guutana and I were looking for you and the others for the same reason.”
“Well, then I guess you’ll be happy to know that Krakana and Grunekt are already at his house. Let’s go!”
Desurk shook his head. “I still want to know what happened to that energy hound.”
“To make a long story short, I used my power over Courage to make it very, very afraid.” Guutana hardly felt like explaining exactly why the energy hound got scared. He was eager to talk to someone other than the other Toa-Kal about the transformation.
Desurk looked like he was about to press for a better explanation, but apparently decided against it and simply said, “Okay, let’s go.”
Chapter Two: The Prophecy
Turaga Onathei had–long ago–been a Toa of Plantlife, and was responsible for the existence for three of the Toa-Kal: Xironu, Desurk, and Grunekt. They had all been Matoran on Ayomeii once, as the island only actually had Matoran of Plantlife (Palif-Matoran), Matoran of Plasma (Pa-Matoran), and Matoran of Fire (Ta-Matoran). Krakana, Guutana, and Roqini had come from a different island and became Toa on Ayomeii with their own Toa stones. Still, he felt responsible for the care-taking of the entire Toa team, much like how a Rahi cares for her young. So when he learned of their transformation, the first emotion he experienced was a great deal of concern.
“Have you noticed any side-effects to the transformation?” he asked them, a worried expression worn on his sky-blue Noble Mahiki.
“Well,” Roqini began, “The sea no longer answers to me. I mean, I can’t control my element anymore.”
“That is to be expected,” Onathei replied. “Your new powers take the place of your old elements.”
“Xironu has been getting a lot more annoying since the transformation,” joked Desurk.
“And you’ve been getting a lot uglier,” replied the Toa-Kal of Speech. He used his powers to cause Desurk to agree with him, which got a laugh out of a few of the Toa-Kal. Then he caused Desurk to say, ‘For a Toa-Kal of Thought, I sure don’t have any’, which brought even more laughter. Even Onathei had to hold back a grin. But he immediately was serious again.
“Xironu, Desurk, this is no laughing matter. Perhaps that liquid poisoned you. Or worse, perhaps it turns those it touches against the light!”
“But Turaga,” Xironu said in a sarcastic tone, “it’s been a whole day and nothing’s happened yet!”
“It means nothing. When I was a Toa, a member of my team was poisoned by an offering of food from a Dark Hunter we thought had turned to our side. The poison didn’t take affect until five days later, when we woke up one morning and found her, dying...” His voice trailed off.
Guutana tried to imagine what it would be like if Roqini was ever poisoned like that. He didn't like to think about it. He finally broke the silence. “Well, there’s no way of knowing if it was poison or not until the time it would take affect comes, so there’s no use in even thinking about it.”
Onathei nodded silently. “Now then,” he said at last, “I have something important to share with you. A prophecy, in fact.” A few of the Toa-Kal moaned. The Turaga ignored them. “This one speaks almost certainly of you. Here. Read it.” He produced a stone tablet and extended it to the Toa-Kal. Krakana grabbed it and read it aloud.
“Six heroes, once split by their homes, will unite on one island, under one dome--”
Grunekt stopped him there. “That could be any six Toa. Just because we aren’t from the same island doesn’t mean anything!”
“Let him keep reading, Grunekt,” replied Onathei. Krakana nodded and kept going.
“Far below, they shall find a mysterious fluid. It’s touch will give them new powers, but of them their old ones rid.”
Grunekt interrupted again. “Never mind, that’s us.”
“Keep going, Krakana. What it speaks of next is yet unfulfilled and very interesting.”
“Then, a Plague shall come upon the land. It shan’t stop‘til all left is sand. The six will try to stop it–try but fail, and then be confronted by Death and Betrayal! To undo the prior events so sour, The heroes must sacrifice their great newfound power.”
The room in Turaga Onathei’s hut was completely silent as soon as Krakana finished reading the tablet. No one knew exactly how to respond.
Finally, Onathei spoke up, very softly. “It’s...it’s a rough translation. A few Matoran found it underground a few days ago and I haven’t been able to translate it fully yet. But I think this is the basic idea.”
“A plague...? A sickness, I wonder?” Roqini asked. “It wouldn’t last long with my powers.”
“But it says ‘Betrayal’. If you betray us, then you won’t be able to help much,” Desurk protested.
“No way I’m going to betray the team. I’d rather die first!”
“Well, it says ‘Death’ before ‘Betrayal’, so...”
Onathei saw a fight was coming and broke it up. “Now, be reasonable. It could be entirely symbolic. Perhaps it will be a famine, and without your elements of nature anymore, you would be unable to do anything about it. The death could refer to plants, and the betrayal could be the land betraying the Matoran by keeping food from them. Then, in the end, to stop the famine, you’ll need to relinquish your powers and take back your old elements.”
“Good theory,” Guutana said. “Maybe it won’t come true at all. Maybe it isn’t even referring to us, or anyone who will be alive in our lifetimes. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.”
“Anyway, it hardly matters,” Krakana said, finally speaking up after reading the prophecy. “We won’t understand what it’s talking about until it comes true. That’s the problem with prophecies. Maybe the world wouldn’t be in such a bad state, with all the Dark Hunters and such, if the prophecy writers had just done a better job of making the prophecies comprehensible.”
That got at least a chuckle out of everyone, and everyone agreed. Thus, the meeting was adjourned and the Toa-Kal were left to play around with their newfound abilities. Little did they know that the prophecy was going to be fulfilled...very soon.
Chapter Three: The Plague
Off the coast of Ayomeii, a ship was drawing near to a long-forgotten dock on the outskirts of a forest. No one saw the boat, but if anyone, anyone at all, had seen it and realized which six beings the boat carried, they would have sunk it right then and there. For those that it carried were the beginning of something to plague the island for days, and to leave a mark forever... and it was called the League of Six Kingdoms.
On deck, two of the beings were about to begin a battle. A tall, lean, blue figure stood facing a shorter, yet intimidating, dark yellow-armored being. The first one spoke, with an deep, scratchy voice. “Carapar,” he said. “We still have a good half hour before we can get onto the island, so I propose we play a little sword-fighting game. If I win, I get this island once we conquer it. If I lose...which I won’t...you can have it.”
“I accept, of course, Takadox. But are you sure you want to? It would be humiliating for you to get beaten in front of your armies, when they get here. You think they would obey you after they saw you losing so badly? I know my army wouldn’t if I lost...not that I would.”
Takadox smiled, a hideous sight. “Carapar...when did I ever say anything about the loser of the battle living to be humiliated? After this battle, they’ll call us the League of Five Kingdoms Whose Sixth Member Died Disgracefully.” Without warning, Takadox drew his sword and plunged it into Carapar’s shoulder.
The yellow being gave a cry of pain and rage and lunged at Takadox, swiping furiously. Takadox parried every last one of his attacks with ease. Takadox slowly advanced, pushing Carapar back towards the edge of the boat.
Carapar realized too late what Takadox was doing. Backed into a corner, Carapar struck out mindlessly with more power than before. Taken off guard, Takadox was cut badly on his lower left arm. He ignored the pain and kicked Carapar powerfully.
“Cheater!” the shorter being yelled as he fell to the ground. Takadox threw his sword aside and grabbed Carapar’s.
“Prepare to be slain by your own sword, Carapar.” Takadox aimed the sword for Carapar’s heartlight, and...
“Takadox! Carapar!” A tall, handsome, white being walked out onto the deck. “We need you both to be alive for this invasion. There’s supposed to be a full Toa team on this island.”
“Toa are nothing, Pridak,” Carapar said, having grabbed his sword from Takadox and stood up. “I could take on four at a time!”
“Yes, Carapar,” said Pridak. “I remember the last time you tried that. You killed one Toa and knocked out another...then the other two merged and you were calling for help. Your armor had more holes than your brain that day.”
Carapar looked like he was going to protest, and then thought better of it. He knew that Pridak, his leader, was not to talked back to. Pridak wouldn’t kill you, Carapar knew. He would never do something that could disadvantage him. Instead he would debilitate you, keeping you from doing anything without extreme pain for weeks. Carapar wouldn’t put it past Pridak to rip off a limb or cut out an eye.
“We’ll be there soon, so just rest in your cabins.” Pridak said.
“What’s our strategy again, Pridak?” asked Carapar.
“Carapar, I’ve explained it at least twenty times to you, and I’m not sure doing it again will help you understand it at all. But for the record, Ehlek will have his people surround the island’s waters on all sides, barricading it from trading ships trying to bring supplies. Then we will either have them surrender, or if we must, we will bring in our armies. Soon this island will fall to our might... the might of the Barraki.”
Krakana was the first of the Toa-Kal to notice the ship, pulling up at a long-abandoned dock with six ships sailing in far behind. He had been timing how long it took for him to do a lap around the entire island at full speed. He was about two seconds into his trip and had gone halfway around the island when a ship caught his eye and he stopped.
The dock had been abandoned for two reasons: it was dangerous and inconvenient. It was on the edge of a forest and the dock was at the edge of a small cliff. Large ships could safely empty their passengers onto the dock, but smaller ships’ passengers had to scale the cliff just to get to the dock, and regardless of the ship's size, the passengers would have to travel through the forest to get to the nearest village. Thus it was promptly deserted.
Generally, ships just meant trade; however when seven ships showed up at a dock that was no longer used, it wasn’t abnormal to be a little concerned. Maybe they just got a little confused, Krakana hoped. I’ll go talk to them.
“Hey!” he called. “Anyone there on those boats?” Krakana heard no reply, so he decided that they were too far away to hear him, and he somehow had to get onto one of the boats. It was times like these that he wished he still had his old element. He could have created pedestals of earth rising out of the sea, going to the boat.
He looked around. He was standing outside of a forest. One type of tree growing on the edge had a vine growing off of it; it was long enough to reach partway down the cliff. Krakana began to develop a plan; he only wished he had a Calix to help him carry it out. He grabbed the vine and pulled it backwards into the forest to its full length.
Using his power over Speed, Krakana dashed forward too quickly to be seen. When he reached the edge of the cliff, he jumped and immediately slowed the movement of the vine to examine things. Alone, the vine would never reach to the boat. He couldn’t stop the vine’s movement for long... Finally, he lost his hold on the speed of the vine and it swung forth suddenly.
When Krakana reached the end of the arc of the vine, he felt a breeze. He used his powers to speed up the breeze to a gale. He leaped off of the vine just before it started to swing back and the momentum, along with the wind, got him about half a bio. He ended up hanging off of the railing on the edge of one ship’s deck. He allowed the wind to slow back down and flipped up and over the railing.
“Hey!” he called again. “I know you can hear me!”
The being known as Takadox came onto the deck, having heard the Toa-Kal and been disturbed out of his sleep by his shouting. “A Toa?” he mused. “How did you get here?”
“Who are you?” Krakana already didn’t trust the newcomer. “Why are you here?”
“That, Toa, is for me to know and you to find out–if you live long enough.”
Now that Krakana knew the being was hostile, he was ready to attack. But before he could even make a move, Takadox had delivered a powerful and unexpected blow to Krakana’s head, knocking him out instantly.
The Barraki slung the unconscious Toa-Kal over his shoulder. “Sleep, little Toa. You’ll need your energy.” Takadox threw him into a storage room and slammed and locked the door.
“I need the energy, too... The conquest starts soon.”
Chapter Four: Siege
On the island of Ayomeii, Matoran held a Festival of Nature every other month, to honor their Toa and their island. It was one of the few times all of the island’s Matoran get together. They cycled through all six of the Toa’s elements a year, and this festival was the one to honor Toa Roqini. Unaware of their Toa’s transformation, it was not a Festival of Health, but of Water.
Thus, dozens of Matoran were on a beach, celebrating with food, games, and playing in the water. The festival was going perfectly well, aside from the fact that Turaga Onathei was unable to attend. His excuse, his right-hand Matoran told the others, was to decipher a prophecy that had been unearthed recently.
Of course, if he or any of the Toa-Kal had been there, perhaps that last calm moment before the next few days of horror could have lasted a little longer.
A Ta-Matoran was the first to notice, while swimming, that several green figures lurked deep in the waters, farther off shore. These slender green shapes gathered a small crowd, until finally a Matoran of Plantlife decided to check them out. He took a deep breath and dove under, while everyone else watched with anxiety.
When he reached one of the green things, it grabbed the Matoran and slashed it. The Matoran floated up to the surface. The other Matoran quickly realized their friend was dead. His chest had deep gashes, and he floated perfectly still.
The Matoran swam for their lives, but the green beings had already erupted into action, chasing down Matoran and killing them. By the time the fearful Matoran had made it to shore, at least fifteen unlucky Matoran out of the hundred or so in attendance still floated in the ocean, too late getting to land and now dead.
The survivors kept running, though they soon stopped when they realized the murderous green things weren’t coming out of the water. One curious Matoran went up to try to talk to them. “Hey! Who are you guys? What are you doing here?”
The green thing in the lead rose out of the water, and finally the Matoran got a good look at them. They bore little armor but many spikes, and their eyes glowed an eerie shade of blue. They bore large talon-like claws. They also each had a strange apparatus over their head, which, some of the smarter Matoran theorized, allowed them to breathe out of water.
But easily the most surprising thing about them was that they could speak Matoran. “You fools. We are your worst nightmare! Our coming heralds the takeover of your island. We have laid siege to your entire island. Any trade ships will end up like those Matoran.” It threw back its hand, gesturing to the several dead Matoran floating in the sea. “I suggest running to your Turaga or your Toa, so they can decide if they want to surrender now or die trying to avoid being conquered.” The Matoran who had tried to talk to them nodded slowly and began to back up.
Unfortunately for him, the beast that spoke grabbed him and slashed out his heartlight. The Matoran cried one final time as the creature tossed him into the water. At this sight, the other Matoran ran for their lives. The leader of the legion signaled to the others not to follow the fleeing Matoran. They wanted to leave some Matoran alive to conquer.
To anyone watching, Desurk was obviously asleep.
But in his mind, he was in a Matoran village with the other Toa-Kal, fighting off hundreds of strange beings of all shapes and sizes. And suddenly, six shadowy figures appeared...
Then one of the Toa-Kal disappeared. Desurk looked around wildly. Who was missing? There was Roqini, Guutana, and Grunekt... Where was Krakana?
Suddenly, Desurk felt a horrible pain and looked down. Protruding from his chest was a sword... Someone had just stabbed him in the back! It must have been Krakana; he was the Toa-Kal who had mysteriously disappeared... Then all went black... and everything got bright again.
Desurk sat up in his bed, breathing heavily. He was relieved that he had not just been stabbed, but then he was immediately troubled again. Had he just had a bad dream? Or was it a vision? If so, why had Krakana stabbed him? Desurk moaned and wished he’d never had the dream. He needed to find Krakana...
Unfortunately, Desurk really had no hope of finding Krakana, who was trapped in the cargo hold of the Barraki’s ship. He was pacing back and forth, trying to find some way out. There were no windows, the door was metal and bolted shut...
Think, Krakana, he said to himself. You control Speed. What good does it do in this situation? Krakana remembered something then that he had learned a very long time ago, back when he was a student in a small town in the Northern Continent: all protodermis was composed of tiny particles that jumped around at a certain speed. A slow speed made an object a solid. A higher speed made it a liquid. And once it passed a certain speed, it turned into a gas. Gases could be walked through.
Krakana focused a huge amount of speed energy into the door. It glowed red-hot and began to melt. Krakana tried to ignore the heat. Finally, it started to boil away, turning into a gas. Krakana hurried through the steam, as it was still unbearably hot. It condensed on his body, burning away parts of his armor. As soon as he slowed the door’s atoms down again, parts of it were encrusted onto his body and the ship, and there was no door anymore. On top of that, he felt drained of a good deal of his energy.
“Well, at least I’m out,” Krakana muttered, ignoring the burns. “Now I just need to hope whoever put me in there doesn’t do it again.”
On the deck, all six Barraki stood, preparing to leave. The green Barraki, known as Ehlek, was the first to notice Krakana.
“Hey, the Toa escaped!”
Carapar’s eyes lit up. “Can I fight him?”
Pridak sighed. “Sure, Carapar. You can try.”
Krakana hesitated. The short yellow-brown being looked almost comical. He was supposed to be able to beat a Toa-Kal? He laughed.
Carapar drew a sword and charged. Krakana slowed Carapar to a speed that a shore turtle would’ve thought was slow, and stepped out of the way before speeding him back up. Carapar charged into a wall, stabbing a large hole in it.
“What the? What kind of Toa are you?”
“I’m a Toa-Kal, my friend. I control Speed. Your speed, my speed, and that door’s speed.” Krakana gestured to the remains of the cargo hold’s door. “And what kind of Toa are you?”
“I’m not a Toa,” Carapar replied, pulling his sword out of the wall. “I’m a Barraki. One of the leaders of the League of Six Kingdoms. We’re here to add this island to our conquest. And if that means you’re going to die, we couldn’t care less. In fact, that makes it even more fun.”
“You know what would make this a little more fun for me?” asked Krakana, speeding up the molecules in Carapar’s sword, turning it to a gas. “Cheating.”
Carapar looked stunned as the particles of his sword floated away. Krakana slowed them down after they had already dispersed, causing sword ‘droplets’ to rain down on the deck. “I don’t need a sword. I can kill you without one!”
“Yeah, I know,” Krakana replied. “The smell of your breath has almost been enough to knock me out already!” Krakana lunged at Carapar with his bident, who just barely dodged.
Carapar tried to think of a witty reply, but was unable to. Instead, he just roared and charged at Krakana again.
Krakana dodged, but Carapar was quick enough to stop himself this time before hitting into the wall. “Wow, look! He learns from his mistakes!” Krakana joked.
“I never did figure out why you Toa were always so talkative in battle. Is it because you’re nervous? I bet you talk to the Rahi you fight, too.”
“Well, seeing as how I’m talking to you, I would agree.”
Carapar paused, not understanding the joke. By the time he got it, Krakana had used his powers to create a hole straight through the ship under Carapar. He fell in, and a splash could be heard far below. Krakana resealed the hole (a little messily) and made a run for it.
The other Barraki tried to catch him, but he slowed them down and sped himself up, using his powers as well as his Kanohi Kakama. He leaped off of the ship, but he didn’t have near enough momentum to get to the other side. He fell into the water below. In the distance, he could see Carapar struggling to stay above water and get back on the ship.
Krakana attempted to use his power to swim quickly through the ocean to a beach, but nothing happened. He couldn’t do anything speed-related. He had run out of elemental energy. Or perhaps more aptly, conceptual energy. He just hoped it recharged like his Earth elemental energy had.
He activated his Kakama instead, which helped him through the water, but not near as much as his powers would have. He reached a beach, and saw a sight that would horrify him for days: several dead Matoran were floating in the ocean over thousands of familiar green shapes. He realized with horror why they were familiar: they were all the same species as the green Barraki he had just seen on the ship.
Chapter Five: All Left Is Sand
“What?!” Turaga Onathei was shocked. A group of Matoran had just come to him, giving reports of aquatic green beings who electrocuted Matoran. Normally, the worst threats were Rahi. But the Matoran mentioned that the beings seemed intelligent, and spoke of taking over the island. His thoughts immediately jumped to the prophecy: Then a Plague shall come upon the land. It shan’t stop ‘til all left is sand.
“The Festival is cancelled. Go back to your homes. I will summon the Toa, and we shall take care of this.”
Fortunately for Onathei, Grunekt was already in the village. He had just hung around after the meeting, having nothing better to do. When Onathei told him the story, he immediately wanted to go to the beach to see. But Onathei insisted they find the other Toa-Kal first.
Desurk came to them, looking for Onathei for something. Grunekt told him the story and Desurk said his problem could wait. Desurk then used his powers to contact the other Toa-Kal in their minds. Guutana, Xironu, and Roqini said they would head there right away. Krakana said he was already there and had been about to leave to tell Onathei.
The two Toa-Kal and one Turaga got there fairly quickly, and the other Toa-Kal had beat them there. The green beings sat in the water, unmoving. They were waiting.
“What are we supposed to do about them?” Grunekt asked at last.
“There’s no way to drive them off,” Krakana pointed out. “There’s hundreds, and only seven of us.”
“Remember, Krakana,” Onathei said. “Quality over quantity.”
“We can try and talk to them,” Desurk suggested. “I could send thoughts into their mind. What should I say?”
“Don’t bother,” Xironu said. “They killed over a dozen Matoran, and you think they’re going to stop because a few Toa told them to?”
“Good point,” said Grunekt.
“I can try and scare them,” Guutana said. He stood very still, channeling fear into the monsters. But his fear seemed only to cause them some restlessness. A few stirred. Others acted as if nothing had happened. “No. It won’t work. They’re fearless.”
Sensing that one of the Toa-Kal had made their first move, one of the monsters exploded out of the water. Immediately, it ran for Guutana, its claws ready to slash. Guutana dodged narrowly, then lunged at it with his sword. Grunekt charged forth as well, cutting into its arm. It grabbed the Toa-Kal of Vision and slashed at him, but Toa are much harder to hold still than Matoran. Grunekt wriggled out of its grasp and took away the beast’s vision. It swung around wildly, trying to figure out why it had suddenly become blind.
Roqini took the chance to suck the health out of the air around the being, poisoning it and causing it to fall to the ground, coughing. Xironu used his power to do something he had never tried before: he forced the enemy to scream only, instead of breathing. Between its coughs, it screamed at the top of its lungs. Blind, coughing, and unable to breathe, it eventually became unconscious.
The Toa-Kal who were using their powers to hurt the beast finally relaxed. They had won. Now if only they could do that about seven hundred more times...
For a moment, there was utter silence. A fallen, wounded monster lay on the shore and six Toa-Kal and one Turaga looked into the sea and into the eyes of hundreds more like it. And no one made a noise. Finally, reality seemed to sink in to the other monsters, and they all charged onto land at once.
Krakana used his Kakama to escort Turaga Onathei home and then raced back. He still had none of his powers back, but he really didn’t feel like explaining to the other Toa-Kal why. He joined the fight, slashing at monsters with his bident. Quite a few times, he was shocked, but Roqini had put a healing mist over each of the Toa-Kal, keeping them from taking too much damage as long as she had some energy left.
Desurk was trying to put thoughts of surrender into the monster’s heads, but he couldn’t concentrate long enough to do so. One slashed him badly across his chest. He watched silently as the wounds slowly healed, thanks to Roqini. Eventually he just started melee fighting, like everyone else.
If the monsters weren’t currently lost in thoughts of surrender, Krakana was. He remembered his fight with Carapar. He had been on a equal level of power with him, and in the end only won due to being more cunning. Each of these beings had the power of a Barraki, and thus the power of a Toa-Kal. The phrase ‘quality over quantity’ really meant nothing here.
The Toa-Kal of Speed may not have been able to control Speed right then, but his mind was racing, even as he traded blows with a monster. He had defeated Carapar by outwitting him. Maybe these creature were a little dim as well. If so, a well-maneuvered attack from Desurk could hit these beings where it would hurt.
“Desurk!” Krakana called. Desurk looked positively startled, as if he expected Krakana to kill him. “Can you try to hurt these guys in their minds? You know, give them a real bad headache?”
“I already tried! I can’t work fast enough before they can attack me!”
Guutana too seemed to realize what Krakana was talking about. “Everyone protect Desurk!”
The Toa-Kal formed a tight circle around Desurk. “Now, Desurk,” Krakana continued, “Send mental pain into their minds!”
“I don’t know if I–“
“Just do it!”
Suddenly, a wave of mental pain hit the five Toa-Kal guarding Desurk. But even as they fell over, grasping their heads, monster after monster dropped to the ground, totally unconscious. Their minds were weaker and less prepared for a mental onslaught. The Toa-Kal were much more mentally skilled and thus more resistant to mental blasts.
When the Toa-Kal had recovered, Xironu was infuriated. “What was that? You attacked us, too!”
“I was trying to say ‘I don’t know if I can hit them without hitting you,’ but Krakana told me to do it anyway.”
“What do we do now?” Roqini wondered. “They’re going to wake up soon.”
“And we won’t be here when they do,” Guutana added. “We already know we can’t drive them off. So we’ll have to rest and find a better way to get rid of them.”
The Toa-Kal, only halfway victorious, fled before the monsters could recover from that mental assault. When the brightest of all the monsters were groggily waking up, rubbing their heads, the Toa-Kal were already back with Onathei and deciding to split up. And again, the monsters simply returned to the water, waiting... And then, all left on the beach was sand.
Chapter Six: War
That night, Desurk had another dream. In it, he was fighting the green things, like earlier. He saw... an energy hound? It was running through the crowd of green monsters, headed straight for him. Guutana saved him, scaring the energy hound away, only for Desurk to hear a laugh from behind him. He turned, seeing a shadowy figure...the outline of a Kakama... And then the figure stabbed him. All went dark...
“Not again,” he muttered, waking up and sitting up in his bed. He had been having this dream all night... Every time, it became increasingly obvious that Krakana was going to kill him. In the first dream, he had been the only Toa-Kal missing. This time it had been the outline of his mask. Desurk knew no one who wore a Kakama other than the Toa-Kal of Speed.
He wanted to talk to Turaga Onathei about it, but the entire island was worrying about the green monsters. Apparently, they were not only surrounding the beach but the entire island, claiming they had laid siege to it. It was very disturbing.
But what was even more disturbing was what was happening miles away from Desurk’s home, in the forest on the village.
“Alright! We gave them twelve hours to surrender, and they have not. Now is where you come in.” If anyone had returned to the forest that the four Toa-Kal had fought an energy hound in not too long ago, they would have seen the Barraki Pridak, speaking these words as he gestured out over his and the other Barraki’s armies. “Move in! Head for the central village! That’s where the Turaga is!”And his troops did move in. Thousands of beings, some banned from their homelands, others beings the Dark Hunters rejected, and others still beings who had joined the League of Six Kingdoms when their homes were invaded by it; all of these flooded into Ayomeii.
Pridak couldn’t keep himself from smiling. He loved seeing island after island fall under his mighty fist. Back when the Brotherhood of Makuta had employed him, when they had given him a small amount of territory, he had never thought it possible to rule the entire inhabited universe. But now, he and his five allies were coming so close... This island was just another milestone on his way to world domination.
Turaga Onathei woke from a nightmare only to find himself in another one: beings of power were in the central village, destroying Matoran homes, looking for him. The honorable thing to do, he thought, would be to turn myself in. But who knows what they will do then?
In the end, Onathei walked out into the open. “Are you looking for me?” he called. All of the beings turned to him.
“Why, yes...” said one, a male Vortixx replied. Obviously, he was the leader of the troop invading the village. “We are here to discuss your surrender.”
“Surrender my island to you? Never!”
“Then I suppose you have some Toa for us to fight? Or are you the most powerful thing on this island?”
Onathei tried to reply, but the Vortixx interrupted.
“I hope you are, because I am the weakest, dumbest, most pathetic life-form in the entire universe,” he said. He spun around afterwards, looking surprised at what he had just said. Suddenly, a green-and-blue blur came out of nowhere, tackling the Vortixx.
“Xironu!” Onathei chuckled.
“I thought I told you not to talk to strangers,” Xironu said, not taking his eyes off of his opponent. After a brief struggle, he knocked out the Vortixx with a well-placed punch. The other soldiers hesitated, then immediately surrounded Xironu. “Turaga, run!”
The Turaga did so, and the Toa-Kal of Speech fought valiantly, though he was incredibly outnumbered. He used his powers on soldier after soldier, ‘choking’ them on words as he had the green creatures yesterday.
Soon, Xironu’s powers began to drain and he stopped using them, but he still fought with his sword. A few times, though completely accidentally, he would stab a soldier, killing them.
“Some Toa you are,” mocked one soldier. “I thought they teach you in Toa School not to kill?”
“I thought they teach you in Villain School to watch out for swords!” Xironu cried, slicing off the soldier’s arm cleanly. The soldier fell to the ground, wincing in pain. Xironu only chuckled. “Killing you can sometimes be more merciful.” He kicked the soldier out of consciousness.
It became apparent quickly to Xironu that the crowd of soldiers was thinning. Many had been killed or knocked out, but an even greater number had simply fled. Just as he was beginning to feel overconfident, Xironu felt a sword slicing through his Kanohi Rau from behind. It cut into his head partially, but the Rau was split entirely in half. And then he felt a powerful kick in his back.
The Toa-Kal of Speech was suddenly speechless, his mask sliced in half on the ground before him.
All across Ayomeii, the armies were searching for Turaga Onathei. Having fled from his home, no one knew where he had gone. The armies attacked village after village. While they avoided killing Matoran, they didn’t hesitate at all to fight the Toa-Kal, and that they did, or else the island would have been lost.
While hardly any of the Toa-Kal knew what was happening (Krakana was the exception), all of them knew one thing. Ayomeii was at war.
Chapter Seven: Warlords
Guutana and Roqini were defending a Matoran village from the new armies, and they were having more fun than trouble. Unlike the monsters from earlier, these soldiers were generally below the level of the average Toa, since most were undertrained, and a few simply didn’t even have the potential to be better. The only thing was that there seemed to be an infinite amount, even more than the green things.
During one battle, a few Skakdi had teamed up to fight the Toa-Kal. Together, they could use elemental powers, but it was proving of no use to them.
Roqini inflicted a rare condition she had heard of once where two beings with the disease would begin to show symptoms only in the presence of each other. So as soon as two Skakdi attempted to use elemental powers, they had horrible headaches and began convulsing uncontrollably.
Guutana, meanwhile, was using his Courage powers to make the Skakdi afraid of each other, and once they were split up, the Toa-Kal finished them off with ease.
“Glad that’s over,” Roqini said when the last Skakdi fell.
“Yeah. What do you think they’re all here for?”
“I have no idea. But I’ll bet it has something to do with those green monsters we faced the other day.” Roqini noticed a wound on Guutana’s shoulder and applied a small amount of her power to it. The armor slashed away instantly reappeared, the muscle tissue was put back into place, and all former pain disappeared. Guutana smiled at her.
“Thanks,” he said. Then he paused, hearing something. He ignored it and added, “We should ask Turaga Onathei. Maybe he has a prophecy or something to help us.”
Two soldiers walked out from behind a large bush. One of the soldiers, a tall red and black armored creature accompanied by a shorter brutish blue armored one, seemed interested at the mention of the word ‘Turaga’. “You know where the Turaga is?” he asked.
“Sure,” Guutana replied. “And I can show you...” The soldier looked ecstatic, as if this was the moment he had been living his entire life for. “...when you’re leaving the island. ” Guutana rammed into the being. Stunned, he fell over and Roqini inflicted a coughing fit on him. The other soldier, trained to attack when his partner fell, leapt into action and onto Guutana.
The Toa-Kal of Courage struggled wildly as the beast pounded on his chest. And then he lay still. Confused, the beast stopped. Then, Roqini, understanding Guutana’s maneuver, shoved her sword into the unsuspecting soldier’s armor. He howled in pain, grabbed his partner, and ran.
“Thanks, Roqini,” Guutana said again. “Now... let’s go to Turaga Onathei.”
Roqini and Guutana, however, did not find the former Toa of Plantlife they were looking for. They did, however, find a former Toa of Plantlife, also known as Xironu, lying unconscious or dead in the center of a mostly-wrecked village. His mask was split in half, he was cut badly in many places, and his armor was dented slightly in the back. Several unconscious soldiers lay around as well, including a disembodied arm.
“I think the war beat us here,” Guutana muttered. “Roqini, can you heal him?”
“There’s no point in healing the dead,” she warned. “Nothing will happen if we’re too late already.”
“It’s still worth a try. Otherwise, we might as well bury him.”
“I’ll try...” Suddenly, the dent on Xironu’s back returned to normal. His cuts healed. And he groaned quietly.
“I’m alive?” he asked, pushing himself off of the ground. “What happened? Where’s my mask? How’d I get knocked out?”
“Shh, brother,” Roqini said soothingly. “You need to rest.” While Guutana explained to Xironu the recent developments, Xironu seemed to recall them. He told of how the armies were searching for Turaga Onathei, but he had gone into hiding. Meanwhile, Roqini searched for a new mask in Onathei’s hut.
She found an old Kakama with dust collecting on it. She cleaned it off and then gave it to Xironu. When he put it on, it turned a bright blue, matching the colors of his body. “I feel good,” he said. “Good enough to take on all of these armies at once!”
“Oh?” came a voice from behind Xironu. “Really?” A tall, handsome, white figure walked out from behind the hut.
“Who are you?” cried Roqini, grabbing Guutana’s arm.
“I am called Pridak,” he replied mockingly. “And who might you be?”
“Are you another one of those soldiers?” Xironu asked. “I took down dozens of you guys, and you’re alone!”
“Toa can be so foolish sometimes. Isn’t that right, Mantax?” A jet black-armored being walked out from behind the other side of the hut, emanating power and authority.
“Yes, and that makes them all the more entertaining to rip to pieces,” said Mantax.
“First of all, Toa,” Pridak said, addressing Xironu, “I was not alone. Second of all, we are not soldiers. Since you’re about to die, I suppose I can tell you three this: we’re Barraki. We’re the ones in charge of all this. And we’re looking for your Turaga, so he can surrender and we can add this land to our list of territories.”
“Wait,” Roqini said. “Barraki? We’re under attack by the League of Six Kingdoms?”
“Wow, look!” said Mantax. “The Toa is smarter than she looks. Then again, even Carapar is smarter than she looks.” Pridak chuckled at his joke, although the Toa-Kal did not understand.
“So...uh...you going to rip us to shreds anytime soon?” Xironu asked. “Or do you plan on insulting us to death?
Xironu made Mantax answer and kept Pridak from talking. “Actually, Toa,” Mantax was forced to say, “I plan to capture you and interrogate you.”
Xironu kept Mantax from saying anything else. Roqini caught on, giving Mantax a paralyzing disease so he couldn’t make any gestures to show he had not really said that. “Mantax!” Pridak yelled. “That wasn’t the plan! We were going to kill them!”
Xironu forced Mantax then to say, “Well, right now killing you would seem more appealing.”
“You dare defy your leader?”
“Leader?” Mantax was forced to chuckle. “You couldn’t lead an Ussal crab on a leash.”
Pridak, enraged, lunged at the black Barraki. Roqini allowed him to move again, but Xironu kept him from saying anything.
“Don’t you just love it when they attack each other?” said Guutana, who really had no idea what his two allies were doing. “They cut our work in half! And maybe if we’re lucky, they’ll cut each other in half too!”
The Toa-Kal slowly, quietly, left the fighting Barraki. By the time the Barraki were out of sight, they ran and hoped the two beings wouldn’t try to find them. Because they were looking for someone else entirely: Turaga Onathei.
Chapter Eight: Death and Betrayal
Turaga Onathei had no intention of being found. After Xironu had come to his aid back at the village, he had fled into the forest, where he found an oasis that not even he had known about. There was a freshwater lake, many trees and plants that concealed the area, and a large, maze-like cavern to hide in, in case the soldiers found the oasis.
He heard all around him the sounds of battle. Who knows how many Matoran have died in the past few hours–just because I hide here like a coward. My friend, the Toa of Water on my team... if she had been the lone survivor of our team instead of I, she would have turned herself in. No Matoran would have died. I... I am a failure.
But there was no use in remembering days long past. His friend was long dead; nothing could change that. I can’t change the past. Only the future. His Turaga, millennia ago when he was a Matoran, on an island not too far from Ayomeii, had muttered that once after Dark Hunters had invaded the island, stealing a precious artifact.
Suddenly, from behind him, Onathei thought he heard a noise. He turned and saw a fleeting shadow. Someone–or something–was hidden behind a tree. “W-who’s there?”
There was no answer, just another rustling sound. Onathei bolted instantly, heading for his cave. Once inside, he paid close attention to each turn he was taking. Left passage, center passage, far left, right, center, center, middle right... He reached a dead end and sat down quietly. He hadn’t heard any movement after he had began running. Unless the being after him had a Kakama, there was no way they knew which way he went.
Suddenly, the prophecy replayed in his mind. Death and Betrayal. Kakama... Krakana! His Death. Krakana’s Betrayal. Suddenly, it all made sense. No, no. That would never happen.
Onathei heard footsteps coming from the chamber just behind him. He heard a faint voice. Sure enough, it was Krakana’s. The room was suddenly lit by the glow of a lightstone. The being who stepped in spoke with Krakana’s voice. But it was not Krakana. No, not Krakana at all.
“Oh, Turaga Onathei! There you are! We’ve all been looking for you!”
“Why? Why would you do such a thing?” Onathei asked the being in front of him. “What has happened to you?”
“I suppose I could tell you, but the knowledge wouldn’t do any good. So I’ll spear you... I mean... spare you the boring story.”
“Are you going to turn me in?” Onathei asked, trembling.
“Not exactly...” And the lightstone suddenly went out as it was cast onto the ground and shattered. Onathei could see nothing, but he suddenly felt a sharp pain. He put his hand to his chest... but he couldn’t. There was some obstruction. His mind clouded in his last moments.
What was in his chest? Oh yes, a spear. Onathei moaned, and then was silent.
Mantax was waiting. He had been for several minutes. When the Toa finally emerged from behind the trees, Mantax gave him a glare and said, “You’re late.”
“Sorry,” said the Toa, scratching his head.
“Did you find the Turaga?” asked Pridak expectantly.
“Err...no. I say we split up. He’s gotta be somewhere around here.”
Pridak and Mantax gave no sign that they agreed. They simply laughed, already tasting victory.
“Hey,” Roqini said, tugging at Guutana’s arm. “Where’s Xironu?”
“Right here!” cried the Toa-Kal of Speech, running into the clearing.
“What? You aren’t making one of us say something embarrassing?” Guutana joked.
“No time! I found Turaga Onathei! But I think we weren’t the first to find him!”
“Uh oh,” Roqini muttered. “Is he alive?”
“Just barely. Hurry! Come with me!”
Xironu led them to a small lake in the forest, surrounded by many trees and other plants. Without missing a beat, Xironu headed straight for a cave near the water. He led the Toa-Kal through the darkness, having perfectly memorized the sequence of paths necessary to get to where Onathei lay dying.
When they arrived, Onathei seemed hardly relieved to see them. In fact, he seemed uncomfortable. “Oh...hello,” he muttered absently, seeming not to notice the huge hole in his chest.
“Turaga! Hold on! I can heal you!” Roqini cried. She concentrated, but Onathei put his hand to her head, slowly becoming more sober.
“No, Roqini. Do not... waste your power. You... you will soon need it. You all...must know. A traitor...among you.”
Roqini had begun to cry, and Xironu was squirming uncomfortably. Guutana propped Onathei up against the wall. “If only we had gotten here sooner...” Guutana was whispering.
“No,” Onathei said firmly, drawing in his final breath. “You cannot change the past. Only... the future.”
And with that, he went into a coughing fit. Roqini tried to heal him with all of her might, but she shook her head. “It’s too late.” Onathei’s heartlight flickered and went out.
Roqini and Guutana buried Onathei just outside of the cave. It was a beautiful place, they all agreed, but forever now it would remind them of Turaga Onathei. As they lowered the Turaga into his grave, neither could help but wonder... who was the traitor he had spoken of?
Desurk was quite sure he knew: invariably, his dreams pointed to Krakana, each time. Thus he was quite uncomfortable walking with the former Toa of Earth who had just joined him, afraid that at any second Krakana would turn around and stab him. Desurk would not take his eyes off Krakana and was bracing himself for a fight at any moment.
“I wonder where Turaga Onathei is?” Krakana said, breaking the silence between him and Desurk.
Desurk laughed nervously. “I’m kind of more concerned where the other Toa-Kal are. I’m sure the Turaga can look out for himself.”
“What’s wrong, Desurk? You’re not being quite yourself.”
“I don’t know. I guess I’m just a little stressed out. You know, from the invasion and all.”
“Yeah,” Krakana said absently. “Hey! Is that Grunekt?” He looked entirely different; he had all sorts of new armor and weapons and looked taller and more charismatic.
The red Toa-Kal was beating up a couple of soldiers. They kept running into each other. “Hey!” Grunekt called. “Wanna play with me? This is the best game I’ve played since I became a Toa!”
Krakana and Desurk jogged over. “What did you do to them?” Desurk asked.
“I’m messing with their vision. I project an illusion of myself somewhere, and they both run to it. I keep them from seeing each other, and they run into each other. Again and again. They really aren’t too bright, are they?”
Desurk attempted to read their minds. “There’s nothing going on in there,” he reported.
“I’m hardly surprised,” Krakana replied. He whacked the soldiers out of consciousness with his bident. “Finally, that’s over. More importantly than what you did to them, what did you do to yourself, Grunekt?”
“I’ve just been picking up armor and stuff from the soldiers I knock out and using it to rebuild myself. It makes me look more intimidating, I think. Plus, these weapons are useful. These throwing knifes are like boomerangs: after I throw them, they always come back.”
Krakana nodded, watching Grunekt pick up a strange launcher from one of the soldiers and mount it on his shoulder. “So...have you seen Onathei or the others?”
“No,” came the former Toa of Fire’s reply. “I’ve been looking for the past few hours, and beating up everyone I come across.”
In silence, the three Toa-Kal walked aimlessly, searching for some sign of life. All of the Matoran had disappeared, presumably hiding in the underground shelters that had been built thousands of years ago in case of a situation such as this.
And around then was when Grunekt noticed something white, something blue, and something green, far in the distance. Krakana suddenly and unexpectedly dashed away at a blinding speed.
“What is it, brother? Something troubling you? Other than the fact that Krakana has no manners?”
“Grunekt, can you keep a secret?”
“Okay. I’m going to tell you in your mind, in case someone’s listening.” Grunekt listened mentally as Desurk sent him mental pictures of his dreams, and how he thought Krakana was a traitor and was going to kill him.
Whoa, thought Grunekt into Desurk’s mind. No way to argue with that. It would explain why he’s dashing off. Let’s just be on guard. We don’t want to let him know we’re on to him.
By the time the other Toa-Kal arrived, they noticed something was very wrong. First of all, Guutana, Roqini, and Xironu were nowhere to be seen. Replacing them was a handsome white figure, a tall male blue figure, and one of the green monsters they had fought so many of before... and other than that, Krakana was lying on the ground, unconscious if not dead.
“What the...” Grunekt muttered. But Desurk was already doing something else entirely. He had always wanted to try something like this.
“Hold them off, Grunekt,” Desurk muttered. And the Toa-Kal of Thought collapsed. Neither he nor Grunekt knew exactly what Desurk was about to go through. But as Desurk’s subconscious jumped from his body and into the mind of the Barraki known as Pridak, he braced himself for what he was about to see and do.
For just as a building built on an unstable foundation could collapse at any time, so could the mind of a partially-insane warlord. And the spontaneous collapse of Pridak’s mind would without a doubt be the end of the Toa-Kal of Thought inside of it, Desurk.
Chapter Nine: Mind of a Conqueror
Desurk pushed himself off of the ground. So this is that white being’s mind. He was standing on a battle-scarred patch of land, with no vegetation to be seen. The sky was red and the twin suns shone an eerie blue above him. The world he had entered was not very large. All around it was an invisible wall, as the world stretched off into white nothingness. The parts of the world that actually existed were maybe two square mio in diameter.
And quite apparently the most attractive feature of the universe was the giant fortress, guarded on all sides, with a giant flag proudly portraying the face of the white creature. He walked towards it, already planning how he would take out the guards. They were clones of the being whose mind they inhabited, so they were about his power level...
Desurk rushed towards one and tried to use his powers to throw mental disturbances into his mind. Instead, plasma shot out of his spear, melting off the guard’s head. He was dead in seconds, but instead of falling to the ground, he simply dematerialized into nothingness. Somehow, Desurk was once more a Toa of Plasma.
For some reason, he felt strangely relieved to no longer be a Toa-Kal. Frankly he had found the new powers quite disturbing. Now, he was--quite literally--back in his element. And he liked it. He hadn’t intended to kill the guard, but he reminded himself these beings were just illusions, metaphors to show that the white being’s mind was ‘well-guarded’. They didn’t really exist.
Thus, when another guard rushed towards him to avenge his friend, Desurk ran him through with his spear, killing him instantly. No longer hindered by the principle ‘Toa don’t kill’, Desurk didn’t have to worry if his enemies would live or die. He killed guard after guard, and he imagined in the outside world, the being he was in the mind of was getting quite a headache.
After more or less all of the guards were dead, he proceeded into the fortress. And suddenly he wished he hadn’t. The fortress was filthy and crawling with bugs of all kinds. The entrance room consisted of two long stairways and one door leading straight in.
Desurk, never one too fond of heights, stayed on the ground. As he walked into the next room, he was suddenly hit with a mental assault. Pridak’s memories (he learned the name from the memories) filled his mind, making him live through all of Pridak’s life in a second. Desurk fled from that room as soon as Pridak’s life started over.
He shuddered. Desurk felt twice as old now, and though he had only spent a few seconds in that room, it felt to him like he had just wasted the last 15,000 years in there. He ascended the staircase on the left. After what felt like hours, he reached a long hallway. There was something strange about it, however. There was room for at least twenty doors, and yet there was only one, placed about three-quarters of the way down the hall on the left.
Desurk entered the door and suddenly felt himself being transformed into a bouncing missile of mental matter. Around him, everything else was bouncing around off the sides of the walls. When he bumped into one, it put a thought into his head.
I wonder if that stupid Toa of Plantlife is trying to trick us. I haven’t seen him in hours.
It was one of Pridak’s thoughts! But what could it mean? Xironu must have faked an alliance with the Barraki and now they were catching on. Desurk then heard another thought: You stupid Toa. I know you’re in my mind. Must be your mask power, huh? Wimps who rely on masks for their strength in battle aren’t worth my time.
Desurk allowed himself to become a thought, hitting into a wall and thus transferring his thoughts into Pridak: What do you know about Xironu?
One of Pridak’s thoughts replied. Oh, Xironu? Is that his name? He’s on our side now, Toa.
No way! Xironu wouldn’t betray us!
Don’t try to hide it, Toa. Being that you’re in my mind, I can read yours. You think that he very well could have betrayed you, since your other friend, the one we already killed, is going to betray you.
You...you killed Krakana? There came no response for a long time. Desurk propelled himself out of the thought room...and into Pridak.
“What are you doing here?” he asked. “How can you be in your own mind?”
“How can you be out of yours?” Pridak responded. “I’m always here, just as you are always in your mind...until you left. I’m just Pridak’s subconscious.”
Pridak drew a sword and Desurk drew his spear. He lunged at Pridak and then swerved at the last second and bolted. Pridak lost a few seconds as he had made the movements to guard against Desurk’s attack. It was all the time Desurk needed to get away. He jumped off of the balcony instead of using the stairs and landed gracefully.
He climbed up the other stairway just as he saw Pridak running down the first stairway. Launching plasma at the ceiling, Desurk caused a large portion of the fortress to fall on Pridak. That should hold him for a while, Desurk thought. There were several doors in the next hallway. He chose one and ran in.
It was some sort of control panel. There was a giant screen with flashing lights, too high up for Desurk to see all of it. Below it were two metal pedestals. Desurk rested his hands on them. Suddenly, he went blind.
He felt as if he had just been stabbed in the shoulder. His vision returned... But he was not seeing the pedestals anymore. He was seeing Grunekt, his enemy. And Ehlek and Takadox, his allies.
Suddenly he realized that he was Pridak. He probably came to that realization sometime around the moment he saw Desurk’s body on the ground. All of Pridak’s memories were his, and he saw, felt, and heard what Pridak did. He had, in other words, taken over Pridak’s body.
This is interesting, Desurk--or perhaps Pridak, thought.
Grunekt wasn’t sure exactly when something about the white being changed. The Toa-Kal of Vision had been confused enough when Desurk had inexplicably fainted. Then his confusion grew worse when the white creature began holding his head as if someone was destroying him from the inside. And when the white being started to attack his allies, Grunekt’s head was starting to hurt too.
“Grunekt!” cried the white being, tossing the stunned green monster into an overturned Matoran hut. “It’s me! Desurk! I took over Pridak’s body.”
Grunekt seemed to understand. Pridak thought so, at least. So he was stunned when Grunekt attempted to stab him in the leg. “That may be the worst attempt at getting a Toa to trust you I’ve ever heard from anyone, Pridak,” Grunekt remarked. “Honestly, I know you League of Six Kingdoms people don’t think much of Toa, but do you seriously think I’m that stupid?”
“No, seriously, Grunekt! Think about it. Why else would I have thrown Ehlek into that hut?” Pridak said, gesturing to the unconscious green Barraki. “Or would I have done this?” With that, Pridak grabbed the blue one and delivered a powerful blow to his head, knocking him out.
Suddenly Pridak seemed to have a mental struggle...and then he snarled and lunged at Grunekt.
Back in Pridak’s mind, Desurk had just been attacked by Pridak, who had escaped from the rubble. Desurk only had on-and-off control of Pridak as he and Pridak’s subconscious wrestled for the two pedestals.
Desurk shoved Pridak onto the floor and grasped the pedestals, only to be knocked aside with a powerful kick from Pridak, who was still on the ground. Desurk turned the ground under Pridak into plasma; Pridak severed Desurk’s right arm, which fell into the plasma and was destroyed. Pridak pulled himself out of the plasma, much of his armor melted off and the muscle beneath scorched thoroughly.
And then suddenly Pridak seemed to have an idea. He stopped struggling, but drew his sword. Desurk immediately took control again. But then, internally, Desurk/Pridak heard a horrible sound. He withdrew his hands from the pedestals and looked down.
Pridak had just stabbed himself.
The subconscious died within seconds. And with no subconscious, it would be quite obvious to any observers that Pridak was quickly going insane. His body, not controlled by Desurk or Pridak, dropped to the ground and twitched slightly.
And on the inside, the universe that was Pridak’s mind was starting to crumble and come to an end. The area had become deathly cold and was growing darker every second. The fortress was starting to collapse. Already the ceiling of the control room had caved in; Desurk melted through the rubble with plasma and escaped from the fortress narrowly.
The red skies had turned black, and the blue suns were dying, glowing only faintly now. The invisible walls had fallen; thus Desurk could run into nothingness if he pleased.
But it would not save him, for nowhere in a dying universe is safe. This must be what it would be like if the Great Spirit died, Desurk thought absently. Good thing that will never happen.
Desurk looked to the sky and focused on the suns. Sudden realization struck him–the suns were Pridak’s eyes! They had gone out almost totally now. He locked his eyes on the suns, and concentrated on his body; his mind.
And everything went dark.
“It’s too bright out here,” complained Guutana as he, Xironu, and Roqini stepped out of the maze-like cave. They had searched it thoroughly for any clues as to who had killed Onathei. They had only found the shattered remains of a lightstone, though that could have been anyone’s doing. Now after their eyes had adjusted to darkness, the afternoon sun was quite painful.
“I’d think you’d be used to it by now, since it tends to get pretty dark where you live: under a rock,” Xironu muttered.
“If I live under a rock, then you live with a rock in your head. You call it your brain, I believe.”
“I can’t believe you two can joke around when the Turaga of our island just died, revealing that one of us is a traitor!” Roqini cried.
“Xironu started it,” Guutana said quickly. Roqini sighed. The Toa-Kal walked in silence for what seemed like an eternity, but was only an hour or so.
Finally, Roqini broke the silence. “What are we supposed to do now? It’s five of us–or maybe even less, Mata Nui forbid it–against an entire army of beings, including one of our former brothers. Our Turaga is dead; the Matoran are in hiding. We’re the only ones standing against these guys!”
“That’s Roqini for you,” Xironu said. “Always knows how to take a situation and make it even more depressing than it already is.”
And with that, the Toa-Kal walked in upon a very interesting scene: five unconscious or quite probably dead figures (three Barraki, Desurk, and Krakana), and standing over them the Toa-Kal of Vision, Grunekt.
Chapter Ten: The Beginning of the End
Kalmah sat very still, watching the unfolding scene from behind a large bush. Pridak, Ehlek and Takadox had walked into the area he was searching for the Turaga in, and a Toa had come zooming up. Pridak made short work of him, but two other Toa arrived.
Then one of them fainted inexplicably. A little while later, Pridak looked like he was having a headache. He started attacking Ehlek and Takadox, and just when Kalmah thought he had become a traitor, he attacked the Toa as well. Then Pridak fainted as well, and the only one left conscious was the red Toa.
Most recently, three more Toa had walked onto the scene. They were conversing with the red one and Kalmah was straining to hear everything they said.
“Grunekt!” called the white one, presumably a Toa of Ice. “What did you do?”
“I didn’t do this!” insisted Grunekt, or whatever his name was. “When Desurk and I got here, Krakana was already knocked out. Then Desurk fainted for no reason, then this white guy over here went berserk and knocked out his friends, and then he fainted. Honestly!”
Kalmah saw this as a perfect time to step in, revealing himself to the Toa. “He is telling the truth. I saw the whole thing.”
The Toa turned and looked at the red and black Barraki, startled. “What are you doing here?” demanded the apparent Toa of Water.
“I thought you Toa already knew. You know, us Barraki came to take over your island? All the soldiers and everything?” The Toa looked at Kalmah blankly. “You Toa are dumber than I expected. My name is Kalmah. And you are?”
“Are you going to act charming like the others?” asked the Toa of Water. “Because I am so sick of you tyrants trying to be charming.”
“Someone’s a little mouthy this afternoon. What put you in such a bad mood? Did someone die?”
“Yes, actually,” the white Toa replied. “Our Tu–“ The green-and-blue Toa slapped his hand over the Ice Toa’s mouth.
“Your Tu... Tu what?” Kalmah thought for a moment. “Your Turaga? Your Turaga died?!” Kalmah noticed that the red Toa, Grunekt if his memory was correct, looked surprised at this news.
“Our Turaga died?!” Grunekt cried.
“Well, our friend Kalmah here wasn’t supposed to know that,” the green-and-blue one spat.
“Let me give you Toa some advice,” said Kalmah, drawing his sword. “It isn’t wise to keep secrets from Barraki.”
“You honestly believe that one of you can take down four of us?” The Toa of Water laughed.
“Make that five of us,” said the formerly-unconscious brown-and-red Toa, standing up. Grunekt looked shocked, as if he had thought his friend was dead.
“Six,” came another voice from the ground as the final Toa stood.
“So,” the Toa of Water said, “answer my question. Do you honestly believe that you can take down six Toa-Kal?”
“Not exactly...” Kalmah muttered, walking away backwards and then suddenly breaking into a run. He was haughty, but he knew his limits, and six Toa surpassed them...just slightly. Life was more important than his reputation.
“Desurk, Krakana, Grunekt!” cried Roqini. “We bring terrible news. Turaga Onathei has been murdered.” The three Toa-Kal who had not already known this gasped. “And worse, he told us in his final moments that there is a traitor among us!” Xironu cringed at the word ‘traitor’; Grunekt and Desurk looked at each other. There was an uncomfortable silence.
“Well, I think we have some catching up to do,” said Krakana at last, gesturing to Xironu’s new Kakama.
Tuitru was the lieutenant of Kalmah’s army. He was an amphibious creature, preferring the sea but able to breathe on land as well. Kalmah had long ago taken over his home island; at the time, Tuitru had been the leader of his species and fought hard against Kalmah’s conquest. In the end, Tuitru lost, and Kalmah, appreciating the being’s power, wiped his memory and forced him to join his army as a lieutenant.
Before leaving his home island, Tuitru had brought several of his friends with him: his two pet vampiric sea squids, two creatures that latched onto the squids and allowed them to breathe air, called Skwils, and a lobster-like creature known as Larzef. Kalmah had at first been reluctant to allow the pets into his army, but when he was shown the power of the squids, and the destructive tendencies of Larzef, he welcomed them.
Now Kalmah was very glad he had a lieutenant to risk his life against six Toa while Kalmah could make plans for future conquests. So far, Tuitru, Larzef, the Skwils, and the squids had all been resting in a pool of water on Kalmah’s army’s ship. Now, finally, they were going to see some action.
“Tuitru!” Kalmah called. “I bet you’re dying for some fun, right?”
Tuitru nodded slowly, having recently awoken from a hibernation-like state in the water. “Yes, sir.”
“Well, I found some Toa on this island. I challenged them, but... they ran away. So I want you to chase them down and kill them.”
“How many are there?” asked Tuitru, yawning. The Skwils, realizing that their master was going to be needing them soon, caught the squids in between their mandibles and mounted themselves onto Tuitru’s specially designed squid holders on his staff.
“Er... three,” Kalmah lied. Tuitru never dared to take on too many Toa at a time, so Kalmah had learned to under-exaggerate with his lieutenant. Kalmah took Tuitru outside. “They’re in...that direction.” Kalmah pointed in the direction he had run from, hoping the Toa were still there.
Tuitru looked unsure. Kalmah decided he would need to be more convincing. “Don’t worry. For Toa, they’re pushovers. Besides, you have Larzef to help.”
At the sound of his name, the sleeping lobster Rahi awoke and made a low growling noise. Tuitru looked indecisive, but seeing the enthusiasm of his pets, he decided to go.
After the Toa-Kal had shared their stories, they tried to determine which one the traitor was. They all agreed that it was important the traitor be found before any further action was taken, but five of the Toa-Kal were slightly disturbed by the fact that the traitor too agreed to this.
Desurk was positive that he knew who the traitor was. He raised his hand to show that he had a nomination for traitor. Krakana, the unofficial leader of the Toa-Kal, nodded. “I...I’ve been having dreams. And in them, I’m always in a battle–we all are–and suddenly something will happen. I’ll notice someone is missing; I see an outline of a Kakama...and someone stabs me.”
“And so you’re saying...” Guutana said.
“That Krakana is the traitor,” finished Desurk. The statement was accompanied by a gasp from Roqini.
Xironu shook his head. “I object. How could Krakana have killed Turaga Onathei? When I found him, he had just been stabbed; he wouldn’t have lived for too much longer and yet Desurk and Krakana were walking together.”
Guutana protested. “Krakana is the Toa-Kal of Speed. He could’ve stabbed Onathei and ran.”
“Halfway across the island? He isn’t that fast,” Xironu insisted.
“With just a Kakama, maybe not. But with his speed powers, I wouldn’t doubt it.”
Krakana had been hoping he would never have to tell the other Toa about having no conceptual power left after his conflict with Carapar, but to prove that he wasn’t a traitor, it looked like it would be necessary.
“You guys,” he said, startling the others. “I have something to say. The day Onathei read us the prophecy, I found these boats pulling up at an old abandoned harbor. I decided to investigate, but a Barraki, that one--” Krakana stopped to gesture to the fallen blue Barraki--“knocked me out and captured me. When I woke up the next day, I tried to escape. Another Barraki--his name was Carapar, I think--he attacked me. I beat him and got off the ship, but then I found out I used up all of my speed energy. It’s been two days since then and it hasn’t come back yet.”
“When were you planning on telling us this?” Guutana demanded.
“To tell the truth, I wasn’t. But if I didn’t say something about it, there would be no way to prove either way if I was a traitor or not.”
“Well, then...” Roqini started. “Desurk was wrong. Who’s the traitor?”
“I think that’s the least of your worries now,” came a voice. Startled, the Toa-Kal turned to see a tall, powerful figure accompanied by a strange Rahi.
“Who are you? Another Barraki? We’ve met enough of you guys!” Roqini cried.
“Well, I see you’ve met Pridak, Takadox, and Mantax,” he said.
“Not to mention I’ve met Carapar, and I think one was named Ehlek,” Krakana added.
“Well then, you haven’t met Kalmah. I’m his lieutenant, Tuitru.”
“Oh, Kalmah? That wimp?” Roqini asked. “We met him too. He ran at the sight of us.”
“No he didn’t!” Tuitru insisted. “Kalmah would never run from a fight against Toa!”
“Well, Tuitru, I hate to break it to you, but he ran before we could so much as draw a sword,” Guutana said.
“Shut up!” Tuitru slammed himself into Guutana. Taken by surprise, the former Toa of Ice was knocked out by the stubborn lieutenant.
Xironu looked at his fallen comrade. “Did you say ‘shut up’? That happens to be my territory.”
Xironu used a great deal of concentration to keep Tuitru from talking. Suddenly from behind, he felt a tap on his leg.
The lobster-like being, known to Tuitru and Kalmah as Larzef, was more intelligent--and more powerful--than he looked. When the Toa-Kal of Speech whirled around to see who had tapped him, he was smashed into the ground and immediately lost consciousness.
“Good job, Larzef,” said Tuitru. “Now, save Takadox, Pridak, and Mantax.” Tuitru was busy loading a strange squid-like creature into his launcher, a Skwil attached to it, and aiming it at Roqini.
She got into a defensive stance, prepared for the squid to hit her like a bullet. It instead plopped softly onto her head–and stuck there. The Skwil detached and returned to its master; Roqini felt her life-force being drained.
By the time the squid was out of breath, Roqini was unconscious. The Skwil grabbed the suffocating squid and reattached itself to Tuitru.
Grunekt was sneaking up from behind Tuitru while Krakana and Desurk busied themselves with Larzef, dragging off Pridak. Grunekt made Tuitru blind and then launched one of his newly-acquired projectiles at him. The sphere became transparent as it entered Tuitru’s body; it solidified on the other side.
But the lieutenant of Kalmah was paralyzed, unable to move. Grunekt walked around him to aid his friends.
But it was a losing battle. Larzef had an incredible amount of power and energy. He had hit Desurk so hard his armor cracked. Krakana had been thrown into the air like a Matoran’s play toy. Both were unconscious within minutes. Grunekt projected his own image onto Tuitru, having an idea.
Larzef charged at its master, then stopped. He smelled his master, but it didn’t look like his master. He turned, seeing the true Grunekt. Growling, he charged at the former Fire Toa, knocking him out. And when Tuitru recovered from his paralysis, and he and his pets left, all that was left was six unconscious Toa. For Ayomeii, that brief battle marked the beginning of the end.
Chapter Eleven: 'X' Marks The Spot
“We beat them,” Tuitru reported halfheartedly to Kalmah when he returned the next morning, along with Pridak (who seemed slightly less sane), Takadox, and Mantax.
“Are they dead?” asked the red Barraki, accompanied by Ehlek and Carapar.
Tuitru wasn’t used to lying to Kalmah, but Kalmah had lied to him. He knew so; Toa never lied. “Yes.” He walked off to his quarters, his head hung.
“So now,” Ehlek said, “we just have to find the Matoran and enslave them.”
“The Turaga is still nowhere to be found, but in hiding he won’t prove much of a problem,” added Mantax. “It looks like this next step will be the easiest.”
“This next step will be the hardest,” Guutana said to Roqini. They were the only two of the Toa-Kal awake at the moment, and were hoping that they weren’t the only two alive. Grunekt and Desurk lay still with gruesome injuries; Krakana and Xironu had been pounded half a foot into the ground by Larzef. Guutana and Roqini tried to ignore it and hope for the best.
“How so?” Roqini asked.
“The Barraki most likely think we’re dead. They may or may not know if Onathei is dead, depending on if the traitor has told them. Either way, they’ll go for the Matoran next. So our next step has to be to find the Matoran before they do.”
“What about the traitor?”
“That doesn’t matter right now. The traitor is helping us, since none of us turned to Tuitru’s side back there.”
“I’m really thinking that does matter right now,” Roqini insisted.
“What makes you think that?”
“Look behind you.”
Guutana and Roqini turned. Three Toa-Kal lay on the ground unconscious there. Desurk... Grunekt... Krakana... And Xironu was nowhere to be seen.
“You guys,” Guutana said at once as the other Toa-Kal began to stir, “Xironu is gone.”
“The traitor!” Krakana realized.
“We shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but... yeah, he’s the traitor.” Roqini replied.
“Why would he betray us?” Desurk asked.
“Let’s not worry about that right now until we know for sure he’s the traitor. For now, we have to find the Matoran.”
“I bet the entrance to the shelter is in the forest; it’s the best-concealed area,” Grunekt suggested.
And so the Toa-Kal headed into the forest.
Xironu wasn’t sure exactly what he was doing. To tell the truth, he hadn’t been sure since yesterday afternoon, when he had woken up with two Barraki standing over him. He remembered that moment so well.
“A Toa?” Pridak said. “The soldiers should’ve killed you.”
“It's actually a good thing they didn't,” muttered Mantax. “I haven’t gotten to kill anything this entire conquest.”
“Neither have I,” Pridak said. “I want to kill him.”
Xironu had then realized that he was about to die. There was no way to get out of this that he could see... “Wait! No! Don’t kill me!” he cried, startling the Barraki.
“Why shouldn’t we? Do you have anything to offer us?” Mantax wanted to know.
“What is there for me to offer? What could you use a Toa for?” Xironu asked pitifully.
“Oh, not much,” Pridak answered. “But perhaps if you knew where your Turaga was...”
“Oh, yes! I do!” Xironu lied. He had no idea where Onathei had run off to. “He’s probably just in his hut, over there.”
The Barraki walked into a nearby hut. Xironu then had every intention of running, but he couldn’t bring himself to get off of the ground. He was in a bad shape. If he only had a Kakama, maybe he could’ve crawled away at a high speed... But he hadn’t even managed to so much as sit up by the time the Barraki returned.
“He wasn’t there,” Pridak said. “Did you lie?”
“No!” Xironu said. “I thought for sure he would’ve been there. I can help you look!”
“Hold on,” Mantax said. “It looks like your buddies are coming. You pretend like you’re unconscious. We’ll hide behind this hut and come out when the time is right. Then we’ll let you beat us and get away, and you and your Toa friends can all look for the Turaga. Got it?”
Xironu, feeling utterly helpless, nodded.
Since then he had killed Onathei and lied to the Barraki about it. He had led his friends to the spot acting like he had found Onathei stabbed and dying. Now they knew that there was a traitor, but instead of letting them blame Krakana, he had shifted the blame away from the innocent Toa-Kal of Speed.
And most recently he had left his friends without warning, and Guutana and Roqini had probably noticed by now that he was gone. He had just revealed that he was the traitor to them. But I’m not really a traitor... am I? It must have been the liquid! Yes! It poisoned me, and turned me to the dark side. But in the back of his mind, even Xironu knew that he was just a coward.
He kept going. He had no idea what he was doing or where he was going, and for the time being, he would keep it that way.
As for the Matoran of Ayomeii, they knew exactly what they were doing and where they were going. They were doing nothing and going nowhere.
Ever since yesterday morning they had been sheltering in the underground network of tunnels that were built in case of a crisis such as the one going on right above them. The Matoran they had sent above ground as scouts had never returned; they had since stopped sending scouts.
Some Matoran had began digging, hoping that somehow they could dig out from under the island and get to another one. Of course, it was really just to keep away boredom and fear. Of course, with just bare hands, they hadn’t even dug a bio down yet in the hours they had been working.
They were all more or less waiting for Turaga Onathei or a Toa to come down and tell them that the bad people had been vanquished. Only a few of the Matoran had realized that it was quite likely the Turaga and Toa didn’t know how to enter the shelter.
One such Matoran, a Ta-Matoran named Auserv, had suggested to the self-elected leader, a Matoran of Plasma, that they mark the entrance somehow. But the leader had said that it could make it obvious to the enemy too, which was just what they didn’t want.
Unsatisfied with that answer, Auserv had decided to take it upon himself to find the Toa and bring them to the shelter. Before leaving the shelter, he drew a large circle in the dirt around the concealed entrance to it. Then he drew two perpendicular diameters, forming the Matoran letter ‘X’.
Walking around on the deserted above-ground was slightly eerie, although there seemed to be nothing dangerous around. Suddenly, Auserv heard a shift of movement from behind him.
He whirled around. Toa Xironu walked out from behind a bush. He bore a Kakama; his old Rau had probably been destroyed in battle, Auserv figured. “Toa Xironu! I’m so happy to see you!”
“I’m even more happy to see you!” Xironu cried. “Come on, let me show you to my friends!”
Confused, Auserv asked, “You mean the other Toa?”
“Sure, little Matoran,” Xironu said. “Sure.”
“Sure, Xironu,” Pridak said. “You expect me to believe this is the Turaga of the island? I rule enough Turaga and Matoran to tell you that this is the latter.”
“Okay, I’ll admit it. I killed Onathei.”
Auserv was now visually trembling. If only I had found Toa Guutana, or maybe Toa Desurk... Or perhaps all of the Toa have gone bad.
“I killed him! This Matoran is just some moron that the others probably sent up from their shelter to scout around... I’ve already killed a few of those too.” He flung Auserv into the wall of the ship they were on, nearly knocking him out.
“You fool! These Matoran could lead us to their shelter!”
“Just threatening them with death won’t make them betray their friends,” Xironu protested.
“I’m sure it will, Xironu,” Pridak said, grinning wolfishly. “After all, it worked on you.” Xironu looked away in disgust and grabbed the Matoran.
“Where’s the shelter?” he demanded.
“‘X’ marks the spot,” muttered the Matoran absently.
“What’s that supposed to mean?!”
“You’ll know when you get there. I’ve already told you too much.”
“Oh, if you had told him too much, a lot of Matoran would be dying right now,” Pridak said.
“You two are fools,” said Ehlek, observing the scene. “Obviously, the Matoran marked the shelter entrance with a big ‘X’, so the Toa would realize it when they got there.”
“You’re the fool,” Kalmah said. “That’s way too obvious.”
“It’s worth a look,” Ehlek argued. “After all, there’s a reason the phrase ‘sly as a Matoran’ never caught on.”
“If we want to find the shelter, we’re going to have to be sly as a Matoran,” Desurk was saying after the Toa-Kal had spent half an hour searching in the woods. “Hiding in the woods is tricky, which is exactly why they wouldn’t do it. That’s the first place someone would think to look. They’ll make it more obvious, which makes it less obvious.”
“If only what you just said was obvious...” Guutana muttered.
“I think we should look somewhere else, in short,” Desurk replied. He closed his eyes and spun around. When he was finished, he pointed forward and said, “Let’s go.”
The way Desurk took them just so happened to lead them to a set of Matoran footprints in the dirt... then they were joined by Toa footprints, and finally the Matoran footprints disappeared.
“Xironu,” Krakana said.
Desurk was the first to speak. “Exactly. But which way do we go? To where Xironu and that Matoran are, or to the Matoran shelter?”
Krakana gave a frank reply. “If we’re right about the traitor, then I suggest going to the shelter. Most likely that Matoran isn’t alive anymore.”
And that decided it. The Toa-Kal followed the Matoran footprints backwards until they reached a strange formation in the dirt. It was a large ‘X’, drawn around a slightly discolored patch of dirt.
“‘X’ marks the spot,” Desurk muttered. He ran to the discolored dirt and rubbed it away, revealing a large stone. He and Krakana grabbed the stone and lifted it, tossing it aside. Matoran yells came from below, and the other Toa-Kal were yelling for some reason too.
“Do not fear! The Toa have found you, and if you’ll just stay down there a little longer, you can come out,” Krakana called to them.
A Matoran of Plasma, apparently a self-proclaimed leader, yelled up defiantly, “Why can’t we come out now?” He climbed up and out of the shelter.
“That would be why,” Krakana breathed, gesturing to Xironu, flanked by three Barraki on either side and grabbing a squirming Ta-Matoran. Surrounding the area was what looked like every soldier of the League of Kingdoms.
“Oh, hi,” said Xironu. “Thanks for drawing that ‘X’ so big. We never would’ve seen it from the air if it had been any smaller. I guess it really is like they say: ‘X’ marks the spot.”
Chapter Twelve: The Tables Have Turned
Krakana threw the Pa-Matoran back into the shelter and put the boulder back over the entrance. “Xironu,” he said. “Put the Matoran down.”
“What do you want him for? He can’t help you against us.”
“Or you against us,” Roqini pointed out. “He’s of no use to you now either.”
“Actually, there are tons of things I could use him for. Right now, I’m using him as a hostage.” He tossed the Matoran to Pridak. “Go tie him up somewhere.”
The white Barraki looked blankly at the Toa-Kal. “I don’t remember agreeing to answer to you.” Pridak set the Matoran down, who ran over to the Toa-Kal.
“You moron!” Xironu yelled. “Oh well. There’s thousands of us, and five of you... so this shouldn’t take long, with or without the Matoran.”
All of the Toa-Kal could see it was truly a lost cause. They would be able to hold off the armies for an hour or so, but there was no way they alone could defeat every last soldier, including the Barraki and Xironu. Running was not an option either, since the Matoran shelter was just below.
“You have a good point, Xironu,” Krakana admitted. He gave Grunekt a look and a gesture, and the former Fire Toa nodded and, to an observer, completely disappeared. “But even if you destroy us today, know that you have not truly won. For you have forgotten your unity, abandoned your duty, and shunned your destiny.”
“Oh, just shut up! I don’t care about that anymore. I’m part of the League of Six... Seven Kingdoms now!”
Pridak looked at him again blankly. “Seven? I don’t think so.” He punched Xironu hard, and the Toa-Kal, unprepared, fell over and lay still. “Now, then... Attack!”
“What do you mean you want to attack them?” Grunekt demanded. When he had turned invisible and gone into the shelter to tell the Matoran to escape through another exit, they had refused and instead decided they wanted to fight. “You’ll all be killed!”
“They won’t harm us,” one Matoran said. “They want to conquer our island, not destroy us. Killing everyone on the island wouldn’t leave them anything to rule!”
“Yeah!” cried another. “It’ll be a surprise, too! They won’t be ready for a bunch of Matoran attacking them.”
“What do you have to attack with?” Grunekt said, hoping to deter them from their death wish.
“We have a stash of swords and other arms in a secret compartment,” said the leader of the Matoran.
Grunekt went with the leader to a large armory, filled with dozens of swords, explosives, and Kanoka disk launchers recently imported from Metru Nui. Matoran flooded into the room, taking weapon after weapon after weapon. Soon, there were none left.
But one Matoran, who Grunekt recognized as Auserv, could not find a suitable weapon. He could not wield a sword and the other weapons were gone. Grunekt dismounted the launcher from his shoulder and handed it to the Matoran, who gave the Toa-Kal of Vision an appreciative nod.
The Matoran flooded out of the shelter through an alternate exit, and Grunekt rejoined the battle with a smile.
Elsewhere, six beings, alone with the power of all of the Matoran of Ayomeii and their weapons, were waiting outside of the losing battle. Only two of them had names, and those were Tuitru and Larzef. The other four, two sea squids and two Skwils, were simply nameless, hanging off of Tuitru’s staff.
They were not joining the battle for one simple reason: Tuitru had regained his memory. He remembered the evil that the League of Six Kingdoms caused, the state of destruction his homeland had been left in. And then they had brainwashed him into joining by giving him amnesia. Maybe if they had just done a better job, I would be fighting those poor Toa.
Tuitru remembered his last moments before joining the League of Six Kingdoms. The armies surrounded him and his friends, and he lost all of his friends in the battle. Suddenly--even his pets could tell--something about Tuitru changed as Kalmah’s brainwashing was undone. “Come on, guys. This time, we’re going to help the Toa.”
But even as new allies rushed towards the battle, the four Toa-Kal present were quickly tiring. Roqini was striving to keep a grip on the steady outflow of her energies, healing the Toa-Kal, but this was proving difficult when soldiers lunged at her from all sides. She lunged at one soldier, a tall, powerful-looking, blue-and-gold figure. Her spear dug into his side, but he plucked it out and threw her into the air. She could already tell when she landed it was likely she would lose consciousness, and without her healing powers, the Toa-Kal would slowly die...
Suddenly a pair of strong arms caught her. She twisted around to see who had grabbed her. Guutana’s white Hau smiled down at her. “Gotcha.” Roqini watched as soldiers ran from Guutana and herself, and realized Guutana was using his powers. She absorbed the health from the air around the soldiers attacking the other Toa-Kal, and they promptly fell to the ground coughing. But she felt a horrible sensation all along: her powers were draining. Soon she would have none left.
Krakana’s powers, on the other hand, had finally returned. He had already turned part of the armor of one soldier into a liquid, burning his muscle tissue horribly. But he focused on whacking beings with his bident, as that tended to waste much less energy.
Desurk was considering entering the mind of a soldier as he had with Pridak, but he quickly decided against it, recalling that it took too long and was too risky. Instead, one at a time, he was sending a huge amount of mental pain into the soldiers. Recalling the time he tried to do it with more than one person at a time, he made sure not to hurt the other Toa-Kal.
And then suddenly, the four Toa-Kal heard a cry to the east. “Matoran?!”
And then a cry to the west. “Hey, Tuitru! Where have you–AHHH!!”
“I think the tables have turned again,” Guutana said, a grin spreading over his face.
In the midst of the fray, the Toa-Kal of Speech was moaning and getting up off of the ground. Memories poured into his mind. He had gotten cocky...and Pridak had put him in his place. His friends–well, enemies now–were no longer the only ones fighting, he noticed. Unexpectedly, Matoran had joined in as had Kalmah’s lieutenant. You should be fighting there with them, came a voice in his head, from a suffocated and near-dead part of his mind. No... They won’t accept me even if I come back.
Xironu suddenly felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see a one-armed soldier riding an energy hound with a stab in its side. “Do I know you two from somewhere?” Xironu asked.
“I’m not sure about the Rahi,” said the rider, “but I think you’re the stupid Toa who cut off my arm! Luckily for me, you cut off the arm that wasn’t holding my sword.” Xironu drew his spear and channeled all of his emotion into a powerful swipe. Caught off guard, the soldier was flung off of the hound. The Rahi was startled and charged off, trampling its former rider. Xironu assumed he was dead, and walked off before he noticed the soldier stirring.
Xironu’s anger had only been magnified, not quenched, by his apparent murder of the soldier. Another kill, maybe, will do it. Someone at my power level. Someone like a Toa-Kal.
The Toa-Kal were not the only group of which a member was about to challenge another one to a battle. Two Barraki were in battle, as they had been only three days ago.
“Let’s finish what we started the other day, Carapar,” Takadox growled, drawing his sword.
“Sure, why not? After all, it’s a guaranteed victory for me.” Carapar drew his sword as well, and slashed at Takadox, who quickly parried. Carapar still had wounds in his armor from the slashes Takadox had so kindly given him three days ago, and he was determined to return the favor.
Carapar thrust his sword forth towards the blue Barraki’s heartlight. But Takadox moved at just the right moment and Carapar’s blade slipped right in between his arm and his body. Takadox slashed forward, aiming at Carapar’s neck, but Carapar quickly parried and, putting all his strength into it, used his sword as a lever and sent Takadox’s flying out of his hands.
Carapar shoved the blue Barraki onto the ground and leaned over him, sword to his chest.
“Well, Takadox,” the yellow Barraki mused. “Last time, you almost slew me by taking my sword away. Now...the tables have turned.”
The tables had turned for just about everyone in that moment. And, for the most part, the tables were now in favor of the Toa-Kal. One of the main reasons for this had a name: it was Tuitru.
Taken by surprise, soldier after soldier was smashed into oblivion by their former lieutenant. All of his anger from the conquest of his home was coming out now. With decades of experience as a soldier of the very beings he was once fighting, he was causing much more damage than he had in his last struggle against the League of Six Kingdoms.
Larzef, rescued by Tuitru when his habitat was destroyed by the League of Six Kingdoms, also seemed to remember his home and turn against those who he had once been trained to leave alone. Now the only beings safe from the lobster creature’s wrath was Tuitru and whoever Tuitru said to leave alone.
Suddenly Tuitru heard a voice behind him that was all too familiar. His former commander. “Hey, Tuitru! Where have you–AHHH!!” The red-and-black Barraki fell to the ground. Tuitru had acted on reflex, and simply hoped Kalmah was unconscious. For if he were still awake, he would have to prepare for a fight, and if he were dead, then the other five Barraki would make sure Tuitru would quickly join him in eternal slumber.
Either way, Tuitru knew, there was no turning back to the League now.
Auserv heard a soldier cry, “Matoran?!” then cringed as a slightly more brave Matoran speared the soldier. Another soldier grabbed the Matoran and looked like he was about to tear his head off.
He noticed one of the beings who Toa Xironu had taken him to, the black one. “Don’t kill the Matoran! We want to rule them, not destroy them!”
The soldier, disappointed, threw the Matoran aside, much to Auserv’s relief. He grabbed a sword off of a fallen soldier, mounting his launcher on his shoulder like he had seen Toa Grunekt do.
He launched one of the spheres in his launcher, and to his surprise, it flew into a soldier and paralyzed him. Auserv, hesitantly, finished off the unmoving soldier with his plundered sword.
He heard a voice from behind him. “I thought Toa didn’t kill,” it said. Auserv whirled around to see the black Barraki.
“They don’t. I’m a Matoran.”
“Oh, how silly of me. I must have mistook you for another.”
Auserv stabbed at Mantax, but the black Barraki was ready for the attack and parried. Mantax smiled, knowing this Matoran could not wield a sword. Mantax slashed at him, and Auserv, knowing he wasn’t skilled enough to parry correctly, threw himself on the ground.
“You just might as well have said ‘kill me’,” Mantax muttered, leaning over the Matoran to deliver a finishing stab. Auserv squirmed in fear, and then saw Mantax flying away.
He sat up and turned to see Toa Desurk. “Telekinesis,” he muttered. Auserv wanted to protest that Desurk was wearing a Mask of Mind Control, but decided, that with all the other recent crazy happenings, it was the least of his worries.
Something made Auserv stay with Desurk a little longer, and for the rest of his life he wished he hadn’t. Auserv saw Xironu sneaking up behind the former Toa of Plasma.
“Desurk!” he cried. Xironu glared at him and ran his finger across his throat. Auserv changed his mind.
“What?” Desurk asked.
“Err... I just wanted to thank you for saving me.”
“Uh... You’re wel–oof!” Auserv wanted to close his eyes, to tear his vision away from the sight. But something forced him to watch the traitorous Toa’s spear dig through his savior.
A sickening laugh came from behind the Toa-Kal of Thought. Desurk didn’t even have to move to realize what had happened to him. His dreams hadn’t been pointing to Krakana after all. In the first dream, he hadn’t seen Krakana, but he’d never seen Xironu either. And in his second dream, the Kakama didn’t belong to Krakana. It was Xironu’s replacement mask. And Desurk had a strange thought, one of his last: a dream come true was not always a good thing.
Chapter Thirteen: As Life Ceases
Guutana and Roqini immediately noticed the fallen Toa-Kal and rushed to his aid. Xironu had since run off, leaving Desurk to die. A Ta-Matoran stood over him as well.
“Roqini! Heal him!” Guutana cried.
Roqini laid her spear down on Desurk and it glowed blue as energy flowed out of it and into the Toa-Kal of Thought. Slowly, but surely, the wound began to close up... However, before it finished, Roqini began panting and muttered quietly, “I...Now I see why Turaga Onathei said not to waste my power on healing him. Trying to heal a stab wound is like trying to put out a fire by blowing on it while someone keeps adding more fuel.” The blue energy flow faded and went out, the wound still quite large.
“What are you doing, Roqini?” Guutana demanded.
“I’m...I’m out of power,” she muttered. Desurk coughed fitfully and sat up. “I didn’t save him. But he’ll live for another few minutes.”
Desurk pulled himself up. “If I’m going to die, then I might as well take down as many of these soldiers with me. Guutana, Roqini. Tell the others to run.”
Desurk concentrated hard and waited for the other Toa-Kal to get away. As soldiers closed in on the dying Toa-Kal, Desurk let loose an explosion of mental energy. Panting and wheezing, he smiled as waves of soldiers fell over, unable to stay conscious with what felt to them like a sudden and incredibly painful headache.
“The tables have turned,” Desurk muttered.
Carapar screamed. He tried to remember what had just been happening. He and Takadox had been fighting... He had been winning. And just as he was about to kill the blue Barraki... he had gotten a really bad headache. He was struggling to stay conscious, let alone concentrated on holding his sword to Takadox’s chest
Takadox had gotten a headache too, but he was dealing better with it. He shoved Carapar off of him, grabbed his sword, and limped away. A bio later, he simply fell over, trying to get the pain out of his head.
Pridak, holding his head but not showing near as much pain as his comrades, helped the blue Barraki up. “Can we try something safer now?” Takadox asked. “Like trying to kill the Great Spirit or the Brotherhood of Makuta? These aren’t normal Toa!”
“You haven’t realized that until now? One of them went into my brain and attacked me. I haven’t been the same since. And I think he’s the same one responsible for this mass headache.”
“So let’s leave! We can make a deal with them or something for them to leave us alone!”
“Oh, come on, Takadox. It’s just five Toa. By the time the headache ends, we can finish them off.”
“Somehow I doubt it,” Takadox mumbled.
Guutana had even begun to feel the headache, though at the distance he was at, it was a minor annoyance. But it was a sign that Desurk was still alive. And that helped him enough to keep fighting.
So when the slight pain in his head subsided, he grew concerned for his friend. He grabbed Roqini. “I’m going to go check on Desurk, so in case I don’t come back, you know where to find my body.”
When Guutana got to the former Plasma Toa, he was still alive. However, he didn’t look good. Despite the fact that unconscious, or hopefully dead, soldiers lay all around him, he was hunched over and resting his weight on his spear.
“Guutana!” he wheezed. “Look out!”
Guutana whirled around and saw an energy hound, charging straight at the two Toa-Kal. He considered running, but the hound was too close and Desurk was in no state to run.
Desurk tapped him on the shoulder. “Guutana... Remember what happened three days ago?”
Guutana thought it was a strange thing to ask, but he quickly thought back to the day. Turaga Onathei summoned us to his house... He read us the prophecy... And before then, we fought... an energy hound! “Yeah, I remember. But what good does that do?”
“What did you ever do to it to make it run away?” he wondered, his voice low and raspy. The energy hound was drawing closer. It had stopped running and now approached more slowly, as if anticipating an attack.
The Rahi knew these beings, and hated them. Three suns ago, it had been hunting and had found the red-and-brown one. The Toa had stabbed it in the side. Then two of his friends showed up, one of them still accompanying him right now, and then he multiplied himself many, many times. Knowing there were too many Toa to handle, the hound had run.
Now the white one was talking to the hated one. The Rahi did not understand their speech, but tried to listen anyway.
“I channeled courage energy into you, and out of the energy hound. I made you look really scary to it, and made it think everything was scary. What’s your point?”
The red-and-brown one replied with a coughing fit. The Rahi could tell that he was already fatally wounded–he would be easy prey. “My point is that there’s a second time for everything.” His friend smiled and nodded. The hound figured that this meant they had a plan, and it prepared for a physical attack.
The white one waved his sword, which glowed white. And the energy hound suddenly noticed that where there had been two Toa seconds ago, there now stood millions. A large crowd of Toa stretched out into infinity in all directions. They were in every shape, color, and mask, and all of them wielded deadly-looking spears. The Rahi winced, remembering its last encounter with a spear.
It looked around, then turned and bolted, trampling many of the Toa in its path. The Toa simply faded away into nothingness as the beast touched them. It kept running and running through the crowd of Toa until it got to the water. There were no Toa here...
In the water, a group of beings that belonged to the same species as the Barraki Ehlek noticed an energy hound jump into the water. They looked at each other, smiling. They swam towards it, their claws ready to slash.
Takadox was relieved–the headache had finally stopped. However, most of the soldiers had felt the effects and had fallen unconscious. That included Carapar. Kalmah was nowhere to be seen, as well. The few soldiers and Matoran still conscious, among them the traitor Tuitru, had given up out of exhaustion.
And so, hardly trying to avoid stepping on the fallen beings, four Barraki and one Toa-Kal made their way to three Toa-Kal (Xironu had stabbed one of them and another had rushed to the fallen one’s aid).
Ehlek charged into the crowd of Toa and grabbed the red one and slashed at him. He gave a cry. “Why do you things always do that?!” he yelled. Ehlek grinned and drew a sword. Grunekt smiled back and reached for his launcher. Suddenly, after fumbling around for a second, it dawned on him that a Ta-Matoran still had it. So he drew his sword and charged at the green Barraki.
Elsewhere, Kalmah was stirring. Ambushed by Tuitru, he had been unconscious throughout the entire headache. He shook off the pain from Tuitru’s attack and looked around. Soldiers that Kalmah hoped were only unconscious littered the ground as far as the eye could see. Then he noticed Tuitru, his former lieutenant.
He was swordfighting with Takadox. Drawing his sword, Kalmah rushed onto the scene. He charged at Tuitru from behind, not killing him simply because Kalmah had hope that Tuitru would change his mind.
He knocked the mighty being over with an unexpected shove. “I was never too fond of traitors,” he muttered. Suddenly he felt a tap on his leg. He was about to turn around when he remembered an old technique that he had seen done a thousand times at least.
He knew that Tuitru’s pet Larzef had snuck up from behind him, and if he turned, would smash him into bits. So he stayed totally still. The tapping continued. Finally, Kalmah whirled around quickly and slashed at the monster with his sword before it could react. He didn’t do any damage but he did manage to startle the Rahi, who had flipped itself over in surprise.
He plunged his sword into the Rahi’s side, and it lay still.
Meanwhile, Desurk was also laying still. He was losing his grip on life. His heartlight was flashing more and more slowly.
Guutana bowed his head. “I can’t believe this happened... The good guys are supposed to win.”
“You haven’t lost yet,” Desurk said, softly but brightly. Guutana noticed he was surprisingly calm. “Look! The Barraki are the last ones standing, and then we win. I had to make a sacrifice and take one for the team.”
The Toa-Kal of Courage nodded, biting his lip. “But if only we could’ve saved you...”
“There’s no point in thinking about ‘if only’, because you can’t change the past.”
The two Toa-Kal smiled and said together, “Only the future.” And then Desurk coughed one last time and his heartlight went out. He died with a grin on his face.
Guutana stood up. No one would harm Desurk’s body–he blended in among the myriad other fallen beings. Now Guutana knew what he had to do. His duty now was to change the future. And he would start doing that by avenging his friend. Now where’s Xironu...?
The Toa-Kal of Speech was standing around, watching the Barraki and the Toa-Kal fight the final battle. Guutana dashed towards him, and he scurried away in fear. “What’s the matter, Xironu? You hadn’t realized that what goes around comes around when you killed Desurk? Well, I suppose I have a lesson to teach you.”
Auserv was experiencing an unusual sensation. After witnessing the death of Desurk, he had been filled with anger and sadness and a thirst for revenge. And then he had felt a pain all over his body as it stretched and changed... The sword he had picked up off of a fallen soldier changed into a strange-looking yellow staff. His launcher fell off as his shoulders expanded, displacing it. He glanced at his hand. It was yellow.
He looked down, but the ground was farther away than it had been the rest of his life that he could remember. He shook it off and redirected his thoughts to the new energy that flowed through his body.
Although he did not know why, he tried channeling the energy through his staff. Who do I think I am? A Toa? And yet, when Auserv did so, a lightning bolt jolted out of his body and into the ground.
“I... I am a Toa! I am Auserv, Toa of Electricity!”
Chapter Fourteen: What He's Become
Roqini attempted to spear her opponent, but the white Barraki was much too quick. He whirled around and sliced at the former Water Toa, slashing deep into her armor.
“You’re lucky I used all of my power trying to save my friend,” she said. Pridak laughed maniacally. Since Desurk had sabotaged his mind, Pridak had been having random periods of evident insanity.
“Shut up!” cried the Toa-Kal, kicking Pridak in the stomach and knocking him over. He laid very still on the ground, his eyes closed, and for a second Roqini was afraid she’d killed him. But then she noticed the slightest swell of his chest–he was breathing. Breathing, yes... But trying not to make it noticeable.
“Playing dead? Pretty soon you won’t have to play.” Roqini put her spear to Pridak’s chest. But she knew she was just bluffing. Roqini would never be able to kill someone on purpose, especially not the same way Xironu had killed two of her friends. Hopefully, Pridak didn’t know that.
Roqini pushed her weapon down into Pridak’s armor about a millimeter. He cringed in pain and grabbed her weapon. Roqini didn’t let go, and Pridak threw the spear to his side, bringing Roqini with it. Pridak rolled over and on top of Roqini and put his sword to her chest, digging into her armor slightly.
Pridak laughed again, which was doubly more disturbing than the pain of his weapon pushing into her armor. “Isn’t this great? Just when it looked like you were about to win, you lost!”
The Toa heard a voice from behind him. “I wondered if I would ever see you this way again.” Auserv, Toa of Electricity whirled around to see the Barraki Mantax. Suddenly, vague memories flooded back, dark ones. And Mantax was in them. But I saw him for the first time a couple hours ago!
“What’s happening? I thought you needed a Toa stone to become a Toa.”
“You do. And you did use a Toa stone, the first time you became a Toa.”
Auserv was incredibly confused. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m sure your memory will be returning soon enough. A shame, really. As a Matoran, you were one less Toa and one more Matoran in this universe, and you were blissfully unaware of it all along. Would’ve made it a little easier for everyone if you had just stayed that way.”
Auserv reluctantly used his power on the Barraki, but he seemed unfazed. "I've been preparing for this encounter," he said, stifling a yawn. "I've trained myself to endure electric shocks."
Mantax drew his sword and swung at Auserv. Long-unused skills were remembered, and Auserv countered expertly with his Thunder Staff (as he had named it; for some reason it felt right). While their weapons touched, Auserv channeled electricity into his staff. It flowed into Mantax’s sword and from there into Mantax. The black Barraki, taken by surprise, cried out in pain. Auserv smiled confidently and advanced on him, swiping with his staff. Mantax could tell it was a losing battle, but he refused to let up. He refused to be beaten by this Matoran in a Toa’s body.
Auserv struck Mantax on his head, and sent thousands of volts of electricity through the Barraki’s body. The night was lit up as Mantax’s body glowed with electricity. Mantax fell to the ground, smoke rising off of his body. He moaned, and Auserv could tell he was unconscious. Auserv just hoped he hadn’t killed him.
Xironu saw the angry Courage Toa-Kal chasing him and immediately bolted. While he had no doubt that he could kill Guutana, he would be harder without the element of surprise.
The Toa-Kal of Speech caused Guutana to "choke" on a word, make him drag out the word "breath" longer than his breath would allow. But the former Ice Toa was unfazed. Grinning maliciously, Guutana charged towards Xironu, axe brandished. For a moment Xironu was actually concerned that Guutana planned on killing him.
But he would never do that, thought Xironu. He doesn’t have the guts... right? Gagging and wheezing, Guutana charged up to the former Plantlife Toa and whacked him hard in the head.
The next thing Xironu knew, Guutana was breathing normally and standing over him... Only he looked different. His mask was twisted, black, and pitted, wearing an evil grin, and his white-and-blue armor had been replaced by smoky gray and sickly green colors. Startled, Xironu screamed.
Then he realized what was going on. “I’m not afraid of you!” he yelled. Guutana morphed back into his old shape as Xironu lost belief in the illusion.
“Then what do you fear?” Guutana asked rhetorically. His gaze became distant and Xironu felt a new presence in his mind, searching his thoughts and feelings. And then it left. Guutana smiled triumphantly, his eyes focusing on Xironu. “Your worst fear, Xironu... is what you’ve become.”
Xironu pushed himself off of the ground, taking a defensive stance and brandishing his spear. “What are you talking about?” He swiped at Guutana, who countered perfectly.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” Guutana replied. “You and I both know that you have become no better than the soldiers we face. You have joined their ranks... killing Toa and Turaga you used to fight alongside. And you can’t stand it.”
“No! Shut up!” Xironu and Guutana swung their weapons at each other as Guutana kept playing mind games with Xironu.
“In fact, you’re even worse than the soldiers. You went straight from a Toa to a deadly Rahi. You went from a defender of the light to a herald of the darkness. And no one, not even you, is happy about it.”
Xironu screamed in rage. Guutana swung, Xironu failed to counter, and as a result the axe cut deep into his armor.
“Your rage is making you careless,” Guutana said with a smile. “Is this what giving in to it gets you?” Guutana swiped again, nearly taking off Xironu’s head.
And in all this, Xironu was thinking. He’s right... But I couldn’t turn back now, after all he’s said. Or could I? Mata Nui... Help me... “Guutana!” Xironu cried at last. “You’re... you’re right. I’m terrified of what I’ve become. And I want to change back.”
As the sun began to rise on a new day, the Barraki Carapar was waking up. Stretching and yawning, he opened his eyes... to see a Toa standing over him? It was that same one he had fought around three days ago, on the ship. “I remember you...” Carapar muttered. “What’s happening? All I remember was fighting Takadox last night and then... I blacked out...”
“Hi there, I remember you too,” Krakana replied. “I’m not sure what happened to you, but I’d like to say this.” Krakana thrust his bident into Carapar’s armor, denting but not puncturing it. Carapar shrugged and sat up. With one, semi-graceful, movement, he grabbed the former Earth Toa and flung him far away.
Krakana brushed himself off and concentrated on the ground under Carapar. Slowly, slowly, the atoms making it up gained speed and began to move apart. The ground began to glow red with heat and the grass on it burned. Carapar was disturbed, and began to look around for the Toa of Fire who must be responsible. Jumping away from the flames, he never saw the gold-and-black Toa-Kal run after him.
Krakana again tried to thrust his bident into Carapar’s back. But the armor was too hard. The Toa-Kal of Speed suddenly had an idea. Carapar had not even noticed the attacker, and did not until he found himself melting.
“What are you doing?!” screamed the Barraki. Krakana let go of his concentration and let the atoms of Carapar’s armor slowly return to a solid state. This time, Krakana’s bident pierced Carapar’s runny, rubbery armor, cutting into the muscle beneath. Carapar whirled around, his sword drawn. Carapar, always a little slow, then felt the pain from Krakana’s injury.
And he went straight back to sleep.
Grunekt stabbed towards Ehlek's breathing apparatus, knowing it was his weakness. For the hundredth time, Ehlek dodged. The two, having fought for hours straight, were now only weakly stabbing and slashing at each other, their eyelids heavy and their limbs weak.
Ehlek visibly stifled a yawn. “Getting sleepy?” Grunekt teased, almost yawning himself. Grunekt blinded Ehlek for the thirtieth (he estimated) time in the battle, but Ehlek could, so to speak, fight with his eyes closed now. Thus, he rested his eyes and halfheartedly slashed at the Toa-Kal of Vision.
They were at a stalemate... until Takadox, knocked away by Tuitru, ran to Ehlek’s side. Unable to fight two Barraki at once, it quickly began to look grim for the red Toa-Kal. Ehlek knocked him over and Takadox pinned him to the ground.
Suddenly Takadox was lifted off the ground and tossed aside. Grunekt heard a familiar voice say, “I’m Tuitru, and I’ll be your ally this morning.” He helped Grunekt up and turned to Takadox. “And what can I get you, sir? Hmm... how about I start you off with an appetizer... a fist with a side of hungry sea squid!”
Tuitru slammed Takadox with a powerful blow and finished him off with one of his Skwil-mounted sea squids. When he was unconscious, he turned to Ehlek. In the meantime, Kalmah was looking for an opponent as well... and he found Grunekt.
Grunekt sighed deeply and brandished his sword. Kalmah smiled and drew his. And then another unexpected occurrence. From out of nowhere, the spheres that Grunekt’s launcher carried flew onto the scene and into Kalmah, paralyzing him. He fell flat on his face, revealing his attacker: it was a yellow Toa. Grunekt had never seen a Toa of that color, but when the being shot a lightning bolt out of his staff that crashed down on the fallen Kalmah, Grunekt was sure he knew what element he wielded.
“Hi, Toa Grunekt,” the stranger said. “Remember me?”
“Not exactly...” The stranger wore a yellow Great Huna, or at least a mask shaped like one, and carried a staff with a lightning bolt design down its sides.
“Oh, right. I’m Auserv! The Matoran you gave your launcher to. But...somehow... I’m a Toa now.” Grunekt looked slightly disturbed and very confused, but he seemed to accept it. The two Toa turned to see Ehlek fall to Tuitru. The three heroes hit their fists together.
Tuitru surveyed the battlefield. The first of the soldiers were beginning to stir, but other than that... “There’s only one Barraki left...”
“Pridak!” Roqini lunged at the white Barraki, remembering his name from Desurk’s tale. “We’ve been fighting all night. Truce?”
“You can stop fighting if you want, Toa,” panted Pridak, resting for the first time in hours. After pinning Roqini to the ground, she had cut Pridak badly and a long swordfight had ensued. “Personally, I’d rather fall asleep swinging my sword. Look! My armies are already waking up!”
“Just as you’re about to fall asleep!” Roqini had slowly been restoring her energy after she had used it all up on Desurk, and now she was sure she had just enough... Pridak fell over, snoring. Roqini smiled. She had given Pridak a sleeping sickness. He wouldn’t wake up for days now. She turned to join the other Toa-Kal, who had been joined by Tuitru and some new, strange Toa.
When she arrived, Auserv introduced himself to Roqini. Perplexed by the way Auserv had become a Toa, Roqini tried to get him to tell her more about it, but he didn’t seem to be able to. The Toa-Kal and company were making short work of the revived soldiers, quickly sending them back into unconsciousness.
So busy were they that they never noticed a white figure creeping up behind them. In a second, he had his sword next to Roqini’s neck. Through gritted teeth, he said simply, “Surprise.”
Roqini made no effort to escape. She knew the slightest movement would probably result in the loss of her head. “I thought you were napping,” she replied.
“You fool,” Pridak muttered. “And here I thought I was doing a bad job faking sleep. You didn’t do anything to me. I’m... a little drowsy. But not enough to fall asleep.”
“What do you want?” Grunekt demanded.
“Your surrender,” Pridak spat back. “And if you don’t comply... If you make even one movement against me... your friend here dies. It only takes half a second to remove her head, and no matter what you do to me, she’ll be dead before I even feel the pain.” Pridak began laughing insanely. The Toa-Kal looked around at each other, and then at Tuitru. The former lieutenant simply shrugged.
“Oh, and I’m not in a very patient mood this morning, either. If you don’t surrender in the next minute, I’ll kill her anyway.” Pridak pushed his sword into Roqini’s neck a little harder. The former Toa of Water twitched and cringed.
None of the Toa-Kal were willing to surrender, but losing another friend would be devastating. Desurk was already gone... And now it looked like Roqini would be next.
Sixty seconds passed very quickly. Pridak made a small incision in Roqini’s neck. She screamed agonizingly, but the others felt more pain than her. For they knew they would have to live with watching a Barraki kill their friend for the rest of their lives...
A white-and-blue figure suddenly rushed up to the group, swinging a sword. Everyone gasped. Roqini grinned widely. “Guutana!”
With a loud cry, Guutana swung his sword at Pridak. Too surprised to react, he dropped Roqini, who lay on the ground like a discarded Matoran tool. But the white Barraki quickly recovered and slammed the side of his sword into Guutana’s head. Unprepared for Pridak to defend himself, Guutana quickly dropped to the ground.
As Pridak grasped Roqini again, Guutana started yelling in a language that no one present had ever heard. It consisted of beeps, clicks, and hand gestures. He sounded like a bird. While Pridak and Tuitru had no idea what was going on, the Toa-Kal had a pretty good idea. And it filled them with dread. Along with being able to speak any language, a Toa-Kal of Speech could make others speak in any language as well. There was only one Toa-Kal of Speech. And he was a traitor.
Xironu dashed into the battlefield and ran straight past the fallen Guutana. Instead he was headed for another white being. His fist slammed into Pridak so hard that the Barraki was sent flying several feet before he realized what was happening. Roqini had yanked herself free and now stood before the green-and-blue Toa, her jaw dropped. “You–you saved me?” she breathed.
“Sure,” replied the former Toa of Plantlife. “That’s what Toa do.”
“But you betrayed us! You killed Desurk!” Grunekt protested.
“That... that wasn’t me. That was what I had become.” Pridak, who had somehow avoided unconsciousness, was now the one with his jaw dropped. The insanity in his eyes became frightening to look at.
“You’re still a traitor, Xironu. You betrayed me. And that will always be your legacy. Just a whole bunch of betrayals.” Pridak’s voice cracked as he had one of his less-lucid moments, giggling insanely.
“No thank you,” Xironu replied. “I’ve been on both sides of this conflict, and now I know which one is better.”
“Trust me,” Pridak pleaded. “We are the ones who will in the end gain power! Mata Nui created us as enforcers of justice, and now we–“
“Mata Nui created you to enforce justice, Pridak?” Xironu interrupted. “But look at yourself! You’re a murderous brute, striving for power! You’ve lost sight of your purpose! You're the traitor. You betrayed Mata Nui himself! And if it hadn't been for Guutana, I would've done the same thing.”
Pridak tried to talk, but Xironu used his power to keep him silent. “Forget it, Pridak,” he muttered, knocking out the white Barraki with a powerful blow to the head.
Chapter Fifteen: Only The Future
“They’re gone! They’re gone! The League of Six Kingdoms is gone!” No matter where you stood on the island of Ayomeii on that day, those words could be heard. Matoran sung throughout the island, and the Toa-Kal shouted it to the skies. Even Tuitru and his pets, (Larzef had been injured badly by Kalmah but was recovering quickly thanks to Roqini) who had decided to stay, rejoiced.
But, there was still sadness. The victory had come with great loss. Desurk, the Toa-Kal of Thoughts (still a Toa of Plasma to most of the Matoran who had not learned of their Toa becoming Toa-Kal) had been killed in the final battle. And on top of that, the Turaga of the island had also died, along with many Matoran.
Also, a few of the islanders had their doubts about Xironu, who they believed could at any moment turn against the island again. Xironu was spending all of his time alone, meditating. Of course, becoming a hermit hardly helped ease suspicions.
In a secluded oasis in the forest, deep in a cave, Xironu sat, talking to himself in a low tone. “This... is where I murdered Onathei. It was my first kill. And the one I feel worst about. He was my best friend when I was still a Matoran. If I had ever guessed I would turn back to doing good, then I never would’ve killed him.”
And then Xironu had to fight back a smile. “But you can’t change the past... Only the future.” He continued to meditate, thinking deeply. Wait... the future? Could Onathei come back to life? He shook off the thought. What--and who--was done was done.
But he thought far, far back to the prophecy. What had been the last few lines?
“To undo the prior events so sour, The heroes must sacrifice their great newfound power.”
He recited the prophecy aloud to himself. The heroes must sacrifice their great newfound power... Xironu knew of no newfound power. But prophecies never made much sense. The word ‘newfound’ could have been referring to months ago, years, or maybe just a week.
“Wait! A week? We’ve been Toa-Kal for exactly a week today!” That was the answer! To bring the island back to the state it was in before the war, they would have to lose their concepts... But how would they do that? And what would happen then? There’s only one thing to do now: tell the others.
Krakana felt at ease for the first time in the last week... a week that felt like it had taken a month to play out. A week of endless fighting, chaos, and death. Now he could finally take a nap...
“KRAKANA!” came a voice so loud Krakana thought he would go deaf.
“What? What?” he demanded, yawning. The door to Krakana’s hut opened. It was Xironu.
“I have an important theory I want to share with you, and I thought that if you were asleep, I’d need to use my powers to wake you up.” Krakana sighed and rolled his eyes. “Hey! If my theory is right... then I won’t be able to do it much longer anyway.”
Krakana sat up in his bed, interested. After Xironu had explained the theory, Krakana nodded somberly. He agreed entirely.
Summoning the Toa-Kal was not the easiest thing to do. They had found their Matoran friends and were off celebrating with them. Plus, some of them didn't entirely trust Xironu, and others just doubted his theory.
In the end, somehow, the two got all of the Toa-Kal together, meeting up at the oasis where Onathei was buried. “Who has any idea what to do?” Guutana mumbled. Xironu noticed something gray in his hand.
“What’s that?” he wondered aloud. Guutana seemed to shy away, something he was not known to do as a Toa-Kal of Courage.
“It is... well, it was... Desurk’s mask. I took it from him after the League left.” Guutana held it out for Xironu to see. The former Toa of Plantlife nodded sadly, feeling even more guilty than he had before.
“Why did they leave anyway?” Roqini said, attempting to change the subject.
“Well, we just have to hope Xironu’s words went to Pridak’s heart,” Krakana replied. “Otherwise, he just left because he knew he and his useless little army couldn't win!” A few of the Toa-Kal almost chuckled, but showing any sign of happiness seemed to them like dishonoring those who had died in the war.
“You know,” Grunekt said, speaking up at last, “I feel like we’re missing someone.”
“You are!” came a voice from outside of the area as a yellow figure jogged into the clearing, breathing heavily. “You’re forgetting me. And I may be the key to solving this conundrum. I heard about it from a few Matoran, and I searched Turaga Onathei’s hut for the prophecy you were talking about. Most of it’s in the Matoran language, but there’s a little bit at the bottom in another language that I guess Turaga Onathei never translated.”
“Let me see it!” Xironu demanded, excitedly. “I can translate it.” He looked at it for a long time, and then began to speak.
“Five must pool their energy to bring one back, Only for them their energy to finally and permanently lack. Though nothing is permanent; no, nothing at all Twelve stones can restore a form which has taken a fall. Found on an island known no longer by anyone, to the stones the seven heroes shall run.”
“Well, that’s interesting...” Roqini muttered. “Especially that last part.”
Krakana spoke next. “But the first part is most important right now. It says we have to pool our energy... to bring one back. But is that Onathei? Or Desurk?”
“Let’s just pool our energy and find out,” Grunekt insisted, fed up with rhyming riddles.
Xironu nodded. “It’s the best answer anyone’s had yet.” And so they did.
Guutana gently placed Desurk's mask on the ground and focused a beam of raw Courage energy outwards. Auserv watched nearby as the energy beams all seemed to crawl over to Desurk’s Kanohi. It began to shift and change shape... It eventually became a Noble version of itself, losing its dead, gray color for a tan color that glowed with life.
A head grew out of the mask... and from the head a body... and from the body legs... and then a being had been born. Desurk... The word went through their minds. The Toa-Kal stopped the outflow of their powers, but they felt strangely different.
The tan-and-red Turaga sat up and waved. “Hi, guys...” he muttered softly. “What’d I miss?” Roqini's eyes widened, as did her smile, and she grabbed the small being, squeezing him with a powerful hug. Tears of happiness rolled down her mask and, though more discreetly, the other Toa-Kal's as well. We couldn’t change the past, she thought, but we changed the future... for the better.
“Hmm...” Desurk hummed. “Maybe I should die and come back to life more often. But I feel... a little weird. Is there anything different about me?”
“Well, there’s the fact that.... umm... a little bit... less tall... and more wise,” Krakana tried not to offend him. But Desurk only looked confused.
“He’s trying to say that you’re a Turaga, my friend,” Xironu finished. Desurk cringed at the sight of Xironu, and suddenly got a strange look in his eye.
“What’s he doing here? I thought you guys would’ve killed him by now! For that matter... where’s the war? Why am I alive? And who’s that yellow guy?”
It took hours to explain to Desurk what had happened since he had died. So much had happened, and yet so little time had passed. Desurk took in everything and didn’t act like anything was surprising, even Xironu’s return. Later he would explain to the others that “after you die and get resurrected by the guy who killed you, then it’s hard to be skeptical about anything”.
Then, after Desurk had been caught up, Auserv had something to say. “I’ve been slowly regaining my memory. Mantax said I would. I think he has something to do with my past.”
“What are you talking about?” Roqini demanded, Desurk sitting on her lap.
“Well... The first thing I remember happened a long time ago. I was a Ta-Matoran, and I was in a fortress with other Matoran... They were–“
“They?” Krakana asked. “Who’s ‘they’?”
“I don’t know,” replied the Toa of Electricity, looking just as confused as everyone else. “Anyway, they were doing tests and experiments on us. They were changing our elements. They changed me into a Matoran of Electricity.
“Five of my friends and I escaped the fortress and found another island that was under attack from the League of Six Kingdoms. There was a Toa team there, and the whole League was trying to kill them. When we arrived, they gave us Toa stones. We used them and became Toa just as Mantax was leading an army against the village that we transformed in.
“My friends... and the Turaga who were responsible for our existence as Toa... were killed. And I was captured by Mantax. He took me prisoner, since he was not quite as good at resisting electric shocks back then as he was the last time I fought him. He showed me these twelve stones--”
This time, Xironu interrupted. “Twelve stones? Like in the prophecy!”
“Maybe.” Auserv shrugged. “Anyway, he showed me these twelve stones and he used them on me... I turned back into a Ta-Matoran. Then he did something to erase my memory... The next thing I remember is washing up on this very island in a boat.
“Turaga Onathei found me and added me into a village. I guess everyone just thought I was newly created. But that’s all I remember. But then, when I felt a strong amount of emotion, the stones’ effect was lifted. It may be the only way to undo such a transformation.”
The other Toa-Kal stared at him in shock. This Matoran had such an interesting past, and he had been concealed under their very noses for years. And now he held the key to the next part of the prophecy!
“Oh yeah, Toa Grunekt. Here’s your launcher back.” Auserv tossed Grunekt the launcher he had taken the day before. It hit him in the arm instead, landing on the ground. The spheres, all empty, rolled out onto the ground.
“Ow!” Grunekt shouted, rubbing his arm. Instinctively, Roqini tried to expend some of her power to take away the pain. Instead, a burst of water came out of her spear and hit Grunekt on the arm.
“Hey! What gives?” he demanded. “Wait... You just shot water at me!” Grunekt, hesitantly, expended some of his energy. Sure enough, a blazing fire started in the middle of the clearing. Roqini put it out with a quick rainstorm. Xironu expended some power and the plants that had been burnt grew back.
All of the Toa-Kal quickly discovered that they actually weren’t Toa-Kal. They no longer controlled concepts and again controlled elements. Even Desurk discovered that he wasn’t a Turaga-Kal of Thought but merely a Turaga of Plasma.
“So,” Krakana said, raising himself up on a pedestal of earth, “who wants their concept back?”
The Toa of Ayomeii all raised their hands, minus Auserv. Desurk even raised a tiny hand, hoping there was some way he could become a Toa again. “Maybe we could go back to that cave and see if there’s any of that liquid left,” Roqini suggested.
“It’s worth a try,” Krakana agreed.
Back in the cave, a small amount of the liquid still trickled through the cavern. The six holes that the Toa-Kal had bathed in were empty. Instead, a larger hole had opened in the exact center of the cavern, and the river of the liquid was collecting in there.
Roqini directed the liquid into the hole. When it was full at last, the river stopped. The liquid was all gone, but the large hole was only halfway full. There would not be enough for all of them, with or without Desurk. “So,” Xironu began, “who gets to become a Toa-Kal?”
“Auserv does,” Krakana said with no doubt in his voice, as if Mata Nui himself had come down and told him so.
“I do?” Auserv said, surprised and slightly disturbed.
“You do,” Krakana answered. The former Toa-Kal looked around at each other and nodded. Auserv stepped forward and eased himself into the pool of liquid slowly. The amount of the fluid drained quickly into Auserv's body. He emerged slowly with a yellow glow of energy around him.
“Did it work?” Grunekt asked.
“I... don’t know. Let’s see...” Auserv attempted to lightly shock each of the Toa present. Instead, they mysteriously became euphoric, grinning and laughing uncontrollably.
“Auserv!” said Xironu, breathing in deeply after laughing. “You made us happy! You’re a Toa-Kal of Emotion!”
“I... I am!”
“Isn’t that funny?” Krakana noted. “Yesterday, we were Toa-Kal and you were a normal old Toa. Now you’re a Toa-Kal, and we’re just normal old Toa. The tables have turned!”
“The tables must be caught in a tornado,” Roqini added, “because they’ve been turning a lot in the past week.” That caused everyone to laugh again, without Auserv’s newfound power.
One Week Later
Toa Roqini pulled herself out of the sea surrounding Ayomeii slowly and heavily, with a low but happy sigh. She looked out into the sea. She had once been a Ga-Matoran, years ago, and even then she was a very powerful swimmer with an equally powerful love of water. Upon becoming a Toa, she was strengthened in both of those things. But after her bathing in the liquid from that cave two weeks ago, she no longer felt any connection to water. She could still swim alright, but it no longer provided her the joy it once did, and the waters no longer answered to her command.
And then she had become a Toa of Water again, just seven days ago. Her connection to water was restored, and swimming provided her much joy. The waters obeyed her every whim. And once again she was at peace.
Suddenly the water around her froze solid. She grinned, already knowing who it was. “Spying on me, Guutana?” she said, whirling around to see the also-grinning Toa of Ice.
“Just testing out my new... old... powers. Anyway, Roqini, I came here to tell you that Turaga Onathei--I mean... Desurk has summoned the Toa to the center of the island. He sent me to find the others, and you were the first I found. You want to help me find the rest?”
“Sure, Guutana,” came her answer. “It’s not like I have something else to do.”
The two friends half-expected to find Toa-Kal Desurk fighting an energy hound in the forest. But they found no such thing. After gathering the others, including Auserv, they met up in the center of the island, where Turaga Onathei had used to live. Desurk had Matoran rebuild the hut, and he now lived there.
The meeting began as soon as Roqini and Guutana arrived with the other three Toa (and one Toa-Kal). “My friends,” Desurk began, lately having begun to try to sound wise (or as he put it "like a Turaga"), “I have summoned you here to tell you of an interesting development. As you know, I’ve been having Matoran search the island for any clue of what we are to do to become Toa-Kal again. And we found something very insightful just yesterday buried in the ground near the spot where our late Turaga Onathei was buried. I’ve spent hours trying to translate it. Without Xironu’s speech powers or Onathei’s knowledge, it’s taking forever... that is, it is proving difficult.”
“You don’t have to try to sound fancy in front of us,” Xironu reminded the Turaga. “But what did you find? Please say it doesn't rhyme.”
“It doesn't. It's just a bunch of writing. The tablet looks like someone carved it in a hurry, and part of it broke off and is missing. I translated what I could and rewrote it on a new tablet... this is what it says.” He held out a tablet with writing that was frequently interrupted by large dashes. “The dashes are where the text was missing or I couldn’t translate it,” Desurk explained.
Krakana read the tablet out loud. “Twelve Dairuno Stones can be found on—to the south of here. You will know it, for the sea—will be green. —only way to undo a transformation. Their effect is broken—powerful emotional disturbances in a being. When this tablet is found, the island—great peril. Move quickly.”
“Does anyone else find it suspicious that the parts we really needed to know were missing?” Xironu muttered.
“We can tell enough from it,” Roqini replied. “The twelve stones are on some island to the west. The sea around it is apparently green... Ew... The stones are the only way to undo a transformation, and their effect is broken by feeling emotional–like the way Auserv became a Toa when he saw Desurk die. And then it says something about the island being in great peril. It must mean that when this tablet is found, the island will have just escaped great peril.”
“But then why would it say ‘move quickly’?” Grunekt pointed out. “We can take our time now that the League of Six Kingdoms is gone.”
“So maybe our island is going back into peril,” Auserv concluded. “Great.”
“Well, it’s just like a wise, if cynical, being once said,” Krakana said. “‘Maybe the world wouldn’t be in such a bad state if the prophecy writers had done a better job of making the prophecies comprehensible.’ Oh, wait. I said that.”
And as had happened almost two weeks ago, the hut was filled with laughter. When the seven beings had calmed down, Turaga Desurk had put the tablet aside and stood up.
“Who’s ready for another adventure?” he cried. “And who’s ready to change the future?”
Seven fists clanked together in the center of former Turaga Onathei’s hut. And for the first time in half a month on the island of Ayomeii, in the beautiful countryside, there was peace.
|Dairuno Toa Canon|
|Part I: The Toa-Kal Trilogy||Book I: The Tables Have Turned | Book II: To Be a Hero | Book III: In the Dying Breath|
|Part II: Flashback Trilogy||Book IV: Story of the Dead | Intermission I: No More Sorrow | Book V: A Strike of Lightning | Intermission II: Honey | Book VI: The Minister of Destruction|
|Part III: Conclusion||Book VII: What If?|