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This article, Whispers in the Dark, was written by Matoro1. Please do not add to this fiction without the writer's permission.

Whispers in the Dark
Whispers in the dark Logo.png
Setting Fractures Alternate Universe
Date 1,002 AGC
Previous Ghosts of the Past
Next To be Revealed

Whispers in the Dark is the first story serial in Matoro1's 2011 Storyline. It followed Ghosts of the Past in the Deserts of Death Universe arc.
It is also the first serial in a brand new future story arc.


Chapter 1[]

The Toa of Air flew across the room. Immediately he wished his flight had been from his own control and not that of the Rahkshi that had thrown him. He smashed into a Stasis Tube with an almighty CRASH then fell into the glass shards. He winced, like a Matoran who had just fallen off his first Hover-Cycle. It felt like he’d been doing that a lot recently.
The Toa’s name was Orkahm. He hadn’t been a Toa for very long and didn’t particularly like the experience so far. Why he had been picked to become one was beyond him. He deserved the extra responsibility no more than the next Le-Matoran and actually wanted it even less. Being a Toa was hard, especially when the rest of the world wanted you dead.
Orkahm felt a strong arm wrap around his waist. He felt himself being pulled back to his feet and dragged aside by the last remaining member of his Team; Vhisola – The Toa of Water. Their group had originally consisted of eight Toa: himself, Vhisola, Nuhrii, Ehrye, Tehutti, Ahkmou, Saran, and Nuju. However, despite all of their glory from the modern day propaganda, the group had faced problems since its formation. Toa Ahkmou had quickly revealed his true colors and took the life of Toa Nuhrii before escaping the island. They doubted he would have gotten far. The Universe was teaming with all sorts of enemies, just waiting for a Toa to fall into their grasp.
Following Zakaz being invaded by Visorak, the Toa had been informed of an old peace treaty between the island of the Skakdi and Metru-Nui – Which meant that in the event of Zakaz being invaded, the City of Legends would supply as group of Toa to help them defend their island. Toa Tehutti had volunteered to be dispatched with several of the remaining Toa Inika to provide aid for the survivors. Their bodies were yet to return to Metru-Nui.
Worse still, the second the Brotherhood of Makuta had invaded Bara Magna, Toa Saran - the Team’s only Toa of Light – and Toa Ehrye had rushed off to the Southern Continent to help the Av-Matoran escape the slaughter. No word had arrived concerning either of them.
With Toa Nuju having been abducted only a week ago by Brotherhood spies in the city, only Orkahm and Vhisola remained from the original team. It was hard to believe that they had only been Toa for three months. Orkahm was just grateful that he was alive. This world was hungry. Every sleepless night he prayed that it would develop an appetite for something other than Toa.
The Toa of Air wheezed as Vhisola brushed the glass shards from his armor in an older-sister fashion. The two Toa limped out of the Chamber and towards the back of the corridor they had entered, managing to escape the Rahkshi. Vhisola dropped Orkahm behind one of the broken display cases. The Toa moaned from the roughness but he knew it was no use telling Vhisola to be gentle. The last Matoran who tried that had ended up with a broken arm. Now she was a Toa she’d probably tear his arm off.
“How’s your leg?” she asked. Her voice was full of concern but Orkahm knew it wasn’t for his safety. She only wanted to know whether or not she would have to carry him out after she finished pummeling the Rahkshi.
“I can still walk on it, but being smash-thrown across the Archives isn’t exactly heal-helping.” Orkahm muttered in his native Le-Matoran Slang. He had gotten his leg trapped in the machinery of a Ta-Metru Furnace a month ago while chasing a Rahkshi of Heat Resistance through the city. He had survived but his leg was still under stress from the burning. A dangerously high number of nerves had been damaged in the experience.
“Whatever,” grumbled Vhisola as she stuck her Mask above the display case. She grunted and retracted immediately. A crude dagger sailed past them and implanted itself in the wall opposite the two Rookie Toa. They both exchanged a confused frown before Vhisola snatched the weapon out of the wall and examined it. It was made from a simple thing, made from bone and flint. The type of weapon that wouldn’t seem out of place in the primeval section of the building they were witnessing the destruction of. They both immediately knew what it meant: Zyglak.
Before Orkahm could open his mouth to speak, a beam of Dark Energy skimmed over their makeshift-trench. It singled the wall and left a crisp black mark. The Rahkshi were following them.
“Where are the Onu-Matoran?” grunted Vhisola, her fists wrapped around her Water-Forks.
“Either messy-splattered across the walls or they somehow miracle-escaped.” replied the Toa of Air. “And it’s look-seeing like we’ll be the fashion-new wallpaper too if we don’t quick-run out of here!”
Vhisola nodded solemnly, as if mulling over a plan in her mind. Orkahm fell silent and watched as the cogs rotated in her head. An idea was definitely forming itself in there, but knowing Vhisola it was probably going to involve Cordak Blasters, Explosions, Guns, and other weapons that they did not have.
“When I count to three we run towards the wall then duck. If we’re quick the Rahkshi might be able to make a hole in it this time.”
“And if not then I’m not-never being your Toa-Battle ram.” Grumbled the Toa of Air. Neither of the Rookies were in a good mood. The fact they had both been up every night for the past week fighting Brotherhood spies across the Island was not helping either.
“That’s a double negative,” chuckled Vhisola.
“Shut up.”
“I’m starting to count now.”
“Oh well done, do you want-need a prize-medal?” sneered the Toa of Air. The sleepless nights were starting to eat away at his patience.
“Well at least I know whether or not I’m putting my foot in a machine in a Foundry. Honestly, how can a Toa of Air even do that?”
“My Jet-Boots weren’t function-working!”
“Whatever, we’ve got to get out of here.” Sighed Vhisola. It must have taken a lot of self control for her to simply drop the argument and focus on saving their lives. “When I get to three.”
Orkahm nodded and pulled out his Wing Slicers. The two Toa readied themselves to jump forwards.
“One,” The Toa bit his lip and tightened his grip on his Weapons. He didn’t want to die, not yet. He was too young. There was so much he had not experienced in life. It seemed like he was about to lose his chance to live through all of that. He could just as easily die as he could survive. As much as he hated to admit it, Vhisola’s plan really depended on the Rahkshi. If they actually hit one of them then there would be one less Toa in the World.
“Two,” Orkahm took a deep breath in and flexed the muscles in his legs. He was ready to pounce then fall flat on his face. He had done it a thousand times as a Matoran when his Speeder malfunctioned. He tried to convince himself that this was no different.
“Three!” The two Toa jolted forwards, jumped into the air and let themselves skid to the ground. Immediately the room ignited in a flame of Rahkshi Powers. Lasers sizzled through the open chamber and struck the wall. More had obviously united with the original three Rahkshi and Zyglak Tribe. That was not good for the two Rookies.
Orkahm stayed on the ground. He heard explosions and what he imagined to be rubble scattering across the Display Room, but there was something else. The Toa raised his Kanohi Matatu, amazed by the gentle warmth. He nearly laughed when he saw Light. A perfectly circular hole had been cut into the wall… and it was pulsing with energy.
The Toa of Air frowned and squinted at the circular hole. Ripples of Electrical Energy surged across it, cutting across the diameter and making it vibrate. This was not a hole. This was some kind of portal, the kind of thing he imagined to be in place at a Ko-Matoran Science Convention. His eyes widened as a shape materialized in it.
A dark figure burst through the Light and screamed. He was a Shadow Matoran wearing a Kanohi Tryna and sporting an unusually large pair of wings and claw. He immediately recognized the Shadow Matoran as Tollubo, a wanted criminal all over the Matoran Universe. On Stelt the wearing of a Tryna was considered illegal because of this particular Matoran’s actions. While all Immoral Kanohi were now banned in Metru-Nui, Orkahm doubted he’d see this Matoran behind bars any time soon.
The Matoran stretched and winced, shaking the steam from his armor and beaming at the Rahkshi. “Oh it’s good to be home.” He chuckled dryly. “Oh, by the way, if you see a couple of Toa chase after me, tell them to book an appointment with my secretary, I’m very busy.”
Orkahm frowned and turned back to the Portal. No shapes were materializing yet but Tollubo was taking advantage of the absence of ‘the Toa’ and made a break for the exit. The Rahkshi ignored him, sensing the mark of the Brotherhood on him, and returned their focus to the portal. They aimed their staffs at it and began firing beams of energy.
The Rookie Toa’s first thought was to duck for cover and hide. He probably would have done that if he had already lost everything that made him a Toa. Reacting on instinct, he clenched his fist and activated his Air Powers. A chair; which probably would have been used by a security guard, was caught up in the wind and headed towards a Rahkshi of Density Control. Sensing the threat, the Black and Green Rahkshi activating its powers and made the ground beneath it intangible. The Rahkshi slipped down into the ground only to realize that its fellow Rahkshi had followed it. As the ground disappeared beneath their feet, the Rahkshi were literally absorbed into the concrete ground. Acting quickly, the Rahkshi of Density Control deactivated its powers and made the ground solid again: big mistake.
The second the ground became solid again, the Rahkshi were torn in half. They had materialized in concrete, which meant their legs could not form and left them fused to the ground. They screamed and hissed before beginning to claw at the ground, unable to move themselves. Staffs clattered to the ground as the Creatures desperately battered away at the concrete. That only left the Zyglak.
There was another flash of light and two more figures appeared. Orkahm raised an eyebrow when he noticed their height. They were just about the tallest Toa he had ever seen and were both clad in White and Gold Armor; indicating that they were both Toa of Light. The first one carried a strange three-bladed Lance and wore what looked like a Kanohi Huna. He was the sleeker of the two but was still twice as muscular as Orkahm. Feeling intimidated, the Toa of Air eyed the next figure. He wore a Kanohi Tryna; something he did not expect for a Toa let alone a Toa of Light, and carried a sturdy-looking Sword. He was stocky built and stood larger than the portal he had just emerged from. He also had a nasty-looking chunk of flesh missing from his chest. However painful it was, the Toa showed no sign of the pain Orkahm would have been if he were in the Toa’s position.
The Toa of Air glanced at the portal again to see a parade of Matoran and Agori flood into the room. He opened his mouth to protest only to realize that the Rahkshi were all but out of action. Had he just crippled an entire platoon of Rahkshi? Orkahm hadn’t even meant to do anything, he just wanted to distract the Rahkshi by blowing trash, dust, and lose papers in their faces. He was still struggling to use his powers to move objects. This had to be one of the best Rookie moves he had ever seen!
Orkahm smiled for a second, thinking of his accomplishment. His grin disappeared when he felt a cold shudder creep up his spine. Vhisola suddenly swore and rolled forwards, thrashing out an arm and yanking him after her. Standing behind the table – which they had backed up against again when the Portal opened – was the largest Zyglak Orkahm had ever seen. It growled in frustration as the table dissolved beneath its Protodermis-Eating infection to reveal its prey had escaped. That explained the cold shudder, but now the tables were turning… Quite literally.

Toa Tollubo, Toa of Light, glanced at the sight in boredom. He could only guess that he was in some kind of museum. There were tables, glass displays, and two terrified Toa. He didn’t think much of the Rahkshi-extension to the floor either. When he realized they were real Rahkshi he cracked a smile. He liked seeing the Beasts being put in their place. Perhaps he should clean up before Agitarahk lumbered through the Portal and saw the scene. But something told him the Rahkshi wouldn’t mind... or at least it could be persuaded not to. Perhaps with his fists.
Tollubo’s smirk disappeared the second he saw the Zyglak. It was a brute, complete with spiky armor, claws, daggers, and eyes that would make any sane Toa think twice before engaging in a battle. It had been a long time since a sane thought had entered Tollubo’s mind.
The Toa’s smile grew as he turned toJollun, his fellow Toa of Light. “Do you want this one or shall I?”
“Be my guest.” Smiled the Toa. “Just keep it clean for the Matoran.”
“I’ll try.” Laughed Tollubo as he aimed his Sword at the Creature. The gash in his chest stung but he ignored it. He could honestly say he’d had worse. He tried to remind himself that as he blasted the Zyglak in Light. It hissed and screeched in a voice that sounded far too much like a Rahkshi’s for Tollubo’s liking. He grunted before raising his other hand and sending a thin beam of Light at the Zyglak’s thick head. The concentration of Light was a lot higher this time, effective resulting in a laser beam striking the Zyglak’s ugly face. The flash of light sparked, blinding the Creature instantaneously. The Zyglak screamed and thrashed its arms around its head, clawing at the flesh in an attempt to bring its sight back. Tollubo wondered whether or not he should put the monster out of its misery. It didn’t take him long to decide that a life without sight was better than death: That was the easy way out.
Tollubo’s satisfaction was short lived. When he looked up he noticed roughly a dozen pairs of blood-red eyes staring back at him. He nudged Jollun and pointed. “Now it’s your turn.” He chuckled.
Jollun smiled slyly before raising his Light-Prong. He aimed the weapon and focused a beam of Light. Tollubo watched as it flared into life, sending a burst of Light energy towards the pairs eyes. Before any of their observers could move, the beam of Light struck the wall, illuminating the dark half of the chamber long enough for them to see their viewers. The rest of the Zyglak Tribe.
The Toa of Light had been right with his first count. There were in fact twelve Zyglak standing in the corner of the chamber. Twelve angry, disgruntled, and likely hungry Zyglak. Two Toa against twelve monsters was a figure that neither Toa liked.
The Toa was about to throw his Sword aside and resort to whatever his Mask Power was when he saw a Kanohi Komau pop up from behind a table. He frowned and examined it. He wasn’t particularly surprised to find that it was attached to a head, but what surprised him was the fact it was a Toa of Water. Back when he had been in the Order of Mata Nui, he had discovered that his organization kept open tabs on every single active Toa – Which wasn’t hard considering the fact there were barely 30 remaining in his Universe. He had spent many a boring evening studying such Toa and, as much as it embarrassed him to think about it, he considered himself an expert on the females in particular… He had been bored.
Needless to say, this Komau-Wearer did not match any description that he knew of. If he was in the Archives, in Metru-Nui, in an Alternate Universe, then it was highly probable that she was some sort of ‘Toa Metru’. He had heard of Toa by that title in the past of his Universe. Perhaps there was some difference in destiny in this Universe.
Tollubo only took into account the fact that Jollun and himself were not the only Toa in the room when he saw the second new Toa. This one was a Toa of Air – Not a specimen he knew much about. He had a badly twisted leg, wore a Kanohi Matatu, and carried some weird Scaly-Swords. The Toa of Light suddenly understood the odds had slightly improved and that he had forgotten about their presence. Perhaps he would have discovered something else had the Zyglak not picked that moment to throw their swords. Tollubo swore before Jollun slammed into him, sending the two newly-formed Toa falling to the ground. Regardless of how gracefully they handed, neither of them had been impaled by the knives. Tollubo grunted as Jollun rolled off of him. The two Toa crawled across the floor as more daggers whipped through the Air. They both rolled aside to take cover behind a display case, which had been smashed open during the battle. Tollubo yelled for the Matoran and Agori to follow suit and take cover. They did as they were told and dived for the ground. Much to his annoyance, Lothorna stayed standing and brandished her blade. Her eyes blazed with rage as she attempted to perform a run-up then throw her sword. However, Glonor threw his arm out to grab her, causing the Ce-Matoran to trip and fall flat on her Kanohi Ruru. Tollubo winced and turned away, not wanting to see what the Warrior-Matoran would do to Glonor for embarrassing her like that. Instead he turned to find Betak crawl to his side then press her back against the display case.
“I don’t think much of this Universe’s Welcoming service.” She muttered. “What are those things anyway?”
“Zyglak.” Answered Tollubo as he raised his Mask above the display case. He lifted a hand to brush away the remains of an ancient stone display. “They’re what we call ‘Rahi’.”
“Actually,” interrupted Jollun, “They’re not Rahi. Rahi tend to leave scraps when they attack.”
“I know,” muttered the Toa of Light. “But I didn’t think there would be any this far North.”
“Maybe that’s true in our Universe, but this is a completely different Reality.” Answered Jollun. “According to your Alternate-Buddy, Teridax never existed in this Universe. Who knows how that can affect the World.”
“True,” nodded Tollubo. “But we’ve still got to stop about twelve of these things, and from what I hear Zyglak like killing Toa almost as much as they hate them.”
“Well I guess they’re going to have to skip lunch today because I’m not on the menu.” Smiled Jollun as he clenched his fingers into fists. His hands started to hum as sparks of light began to converge around his knuckles. When two orbs of Light materialized from the sparks Jollun rose above the display case and crossed his fists over his chest.
Tollubo’s first thought was that his friend had lost his sanity. No sane Toa would stand up, in front of a hail of knives, and provoke a Zyglak. The chances were that the creatures would take one look at him then make their goal in life to tear his head off. The Toa of Light could only let his jaw drop and marvel at his friend’s tactics.
Jollun tore his arms from his torso and let them fly out above his head. Light blasted from his fingers at different angles. Light bounced off of the walls, striking the display cases with Lasers. The raw Light Energy rebounded off of the surface and struck more display cases. Jollun’s Kanohi Huna became darkened as his frown deepened through concentration. Making sure that the numerous lasers didn’t strike one of their allies was hard. Bending a speeding Laser Beam was harder still.
Finally, after the Light Orbs had bounced across nearly every surface in the room, one of them struck a Zyglak in the chest. While the Light had been dense when it bounced off the glass it had suddenly become hard enough to knock the Zyglak to the ground and burn a hole in its armor. The creature screamed as the intensity of the ray seared away it is flesh. Tollubo watched in awe as more Lasers struck the other Zyglak. Armor was scarred, eyes were blinded, and flesh was burnt. A total of four Zyglak fell to the ground screaming and thrashing at themselves in hopes of easing the pain. Whatever number of wounded creatures remained quickly tucked their tails between their legs and limped off, back into the Shadows, dragging their fallen brethren with them.
Silence hung in the chamber for a long moment as Jollun remained tense. After a short while, Tollubo laughed and began to clap his hands. The Toa rose to his feet then stepped forwards to pat his friend on the back – Partially because he deserved it, but mostly because nobody else was clapping with him.
“This is the best way to see museums. It gets it over with so much quicker!” he chuckled. Jollun allowed Tollubo to pat his back only to brush his friend’s hand off and extend a fist. He cracked a friendly smile. Tollubo followed suit and clanked his best friend’s fist. It was hard to believe that he had once tried to kill Jollun when they first met.
It was only then that Tollubo remembered he had once again forgotten about the other two Toa as they emerged from their hiding place stiffly, as if they both expected another knife to come flying through the air. When they were certain that was not the case, they turned to face Tollubo and Jollun. The Toa of Water spoke up first, the Toa of Air seemed too shy.
“Right,” she sighed “Although that would be considered ‘Breaking-and-Entering’ in this city, I’ll overlook that and welcome you over here.”
“And where exactly is ‘over here’ supposed to be?” pressed Tollubo as he stepped forwards. Both of them easily towered over the Toa of Water and Toa of Air.
“Let me guess, different dimension?” she snorted. Tollubo was impressed.
“Pretty much.” He muttered as he inspected the chamber. “And this would be… hopefully nothing important?”
“Relax.” Sighed the Toa of Water. “It’s been wrecked for months. Nobody really cares to be underground during a bio-quake again.”
“You should get a Toa of Earth around here then.” Shrugged Tollubo. “I hear they’re good with stopping those.”
“Well, Toa aren’t exactly available by order anymore. As far as I know all of the Toa of Earth are dead now.”
Tollubo raised an eyebrow then glanced at Jollun. He looked just as surprised. The two Toa of Light decided to stay professional and returned to the Toa of Water. “Exactly how many Toa are left in this Universe then?” asked Jollun.
“That we know of? About… six.”
Tollubo decided to throw being professional aside and let his jaw snap off of his Kanohi Tryna. “There are only six Toa left alive?” he spluttered.
“Please tell us that we’re not included in those six.” gawped Jollun. The Toa of Water shrugged, as if it was something that she heard every day.
“You have a lot to learn, but you could become a useful ally.” She paused before circling the two Toa of Light to inspect their armor, muscles, and weapons. When she had finished two complete circuits of the two massive Toa she nodded slowly then turned to the Toa of Air. “What do you think Orkahm? Do you think the High Council will be impressed with these two?”
The Toa of Air nodded slowly before Tollubo realized that was his name. Orkahm shifted and gestured towards the Matoran. “Please forgive me, our Universes are obviously very weird-different, but your Agori friends may fall-run into some bad-trouble here.”
“And why’s that?” snarled Tollubo as he stepped forwards to intimidate Orkahm. The shy Toa of Air backed off and raised his hands.
“I’m just speak-saying, most of the Agori in this Universe were imprison-captured and mutated by the Brotherhood. We still managed to save-protect a few but a lot of Matoran are start-beginning to dislike them. I’m just warn-giving you a head’s up.”
“Noted.” Growled the Toa of Light before relaxing. Orkahm was no threat, he was just trying to warn them and, frankly, Tollubo was beginning to grow bored with Agori-Hating Societies.
An awkward silence hung before Jollun stepped forwards and broke it. “So what’s your name?” he asked the Toa of Water. Tollubo rolled his eyes and snorted before nudging his fellow Toa of Light in the chest.
The Toa of Water ignored the gesture and kept her Komau void of emotion. She had obviously had some sort of military training to develop a face as neutral as that. “Toa Vhisola.” She stated. Tollubo half expected a salute but Vhisola knew they were all Rookie Toa. They all ranked about the same and he doubted she’d care to confirm that.
“Well, my name’s Tollubo and this is – ” The Toa of Light was surprised to see Vhisola’s eyes widen in shock. He trailed off to see her glanced at Orkahm. He looked like he had just seen a Muaka Bull charge at him. The two Rookie Toa exchanged a quick glance then made their tackle. They rammed into Tollubo with a force that both winded him and sent the three of them crashing to the ground. Orkahm made a grab for his wrists while Vhisola ended up pinning him down. Before Tollubo could move the Toa of Water had fastened a chain around his wrists. When he continued to struggle she snarled and landed a punch right in the middle of the gash in his chest. The Toa of Light buckled and swore before he rolled onto his side, shielding his wound from further battering.
“Toa Tollubo, you are under arrest for mass-murder.” She snarled. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used as evidence against you. Any resistance will be noted. Do you understand these rights?” She spoke clearly and she didn’t say any of it from a card. It seemed like Vhisola knew what those words meant when she said them and also that she had arrested people before. She seemed very much in control. Tollubo was about to change that.
“Honey, if you wanted me on the ground like this all you had to do was ask.” chuckled Tollubo as he brushed Vhisola aside then rolled to his feet. “Now listen to me, you’ve got the wrong Toa… or Matoran in this case.”
“Tollubo is quite a famous name over here.” Snarled Vhisola as she whipped out two Tridents. “There was a Tollubo who was charged with assassinating Turaga Jovan, a Tollubo who torched an entire Stelt Port, and a Tollubo who is suspected in the murder of Toa Tahu, Toa Varian, and the disappearance of Toa Watak.”
“Like I said,” sneered the Toa of Light as he gritted his teeth and forced his arms apart, breaking the chain and freeing himself. “You’ve got the wrong guy. Plus, as a whole lot of dead Makuta can tell you, don’t make an enemy out of me.”
Vhisola held her ground then glanced at Orkahm. He looked doubtful. “We should at least take him to the High Council first. That way we can just dump him and leave him as their problem.”
Vhisola nodded slowly before putting her Tridents away. “Very well, we’ll take you to the Coliseum to meet the High Council. We’ll let them decide your fate. You can’t be too different from… yourself.”
“Really? Another Coliseum? How clichéd.” Snorted Tollubo as he packed his Sword away. “All right then, lead on. I’ve always wanted to see Metru-Nui.”
“You talk too much.” Grunted Vhisola.
“Well duh! How else do you think I stay sane?”
“I’m Jollun by the way.” Implored the Toa of Light. “Don’t suppose I’m in any trouble am I?”
Again Vhisola and Orkahm’s eyes widened. “Quite the contrary.” Muttered Orkahm as he gestured towards the corridor, indicating they should move. “Half of Metru-Nui worships you.”
“Well it’s about time.” Laughed Jollun as he nudged Tollubo. The two Toa of Light grinned before returning their attention to Vhisola and Orkahm.
Tollubo was about to say something when several Matoran spilled into the chamber. There were about fifteen of them in total, about ten were Onu-Matoran while the rest were other types. They all carried harsh flash-lights which stung his eyes. He hadn’t stood sunlight in over two months. Walking in the street was going to hit him like a brick wall.
From the newcomers, one of the younger Onu-Matoran – who wore a Kanohi Mahiki - rushed forwards to face Orkahm and Vhisola. He took one look at the dead Rahkshi then shuddered. “I guess we’re a little late then?” he shivered, unable to look Vhisola in the eye.
Memel! I gave you specific orders to evacuate. At no point did I tell you to form a rescue party!” she shouted. The Onu-Matoran flinched and took a step back. Tollubo half expected the Toa of Water to grab him by the audio-receptor and drag him off. He wasn’t far off.
From what he had seen so far, Tollubo doubted he would be blamed for thinking that the Fractures Universe was somewhat strange. He had probably decided that the second he entered it to find a welcoming party of two scared-stiff Toa, a platoon of Rahkshi, and a tribe of Zyglak. Perhaps it was going to get better from now on. It had to. Now that he had left his own Universe he no longer had a place in it, none of them did. They couldn’t just go back, they were trapped. They were stuck here, in the midst of a war. There was no longer a place for any of them back in their own world.
But Tollubo knew that he would only be endangering the Matoran and the Agori if they stayed here. Yet that didn’t change the fact that he had a duty to fulfill but it meant that they would have to face the danger. War was a terrible thing. All the Toa of Light wanted was for his friends to survive it. Even then he knew that didn’t seem likely.

Chapter 2[]

The first thing that Tollubo noticed when he stepped out of the Archives was the city of Onu-Metru. However, what he felt was very different. He had always thought of Metru-Nui as an island full of Matoran who were oblivious to what was happening in their Universe. They just seemed to continue their lives and shrug when he would be out, running for his life. One day he would be trying to outrun a mutated three-headed Rahkshi, the next it would be a Visorak Swarm, it didn’t really seem to matter. The Matoran of Metru-Nui knew nothing of what he had to go through to survive. They were happy living in their idealistic bubble of a city, watering plants and waving at neighbors while confident that the worst part of their life would be falling behind in taxes. Nobody ever thought to attack such a peaceful place. That was probably because Tollubo managed to stop them before they got passed Stelt. Perhaps he had just been jealous.
Yet what Tollubo saw before him made him cringe in guilt. He could see sand bags piled high around huts and dwellings. Pieces of Rahkshi Armor were littered across the streets. Cordak and Nektann Blasters were mounted to towers. Blood-Stained Barbed Wire lay scattered with the occasional unfortunate Visorak tangled in it. Onu-Matoran stood to attention, brandishing Electro-Cannons, knives, Combat Staffs, Kanoka Disk Launchers, and axes. They wore thick but battered armor that was pitted and scarred from constant exposure to other blades and burns. Even the Agori behind them silenced and crowded in closed, anxious of the sinister Agori-disliking soldiers.
The Toa of Light was almost impressed. Onu-Matoran were masters of inner-strength and patience. He always imagined them as artists. Some of the Universe’s greatest painters were Onu-Matoran. He held a great respect for the Matoran of Earth. The fact that there were no more Toa of the Element saddened him.
The Toa of Light stole another glance at the fortifications. They were truly impressive. Somebody had obviously planned the renovation of the city into a fortress a long time ago. Judging by the use of concrete and the alignment of the sandbags he could tell it was a typical Order defense. It looked like he had missed the Order emerging from secrecy to become a concrete distributer.
Tollubo turned to look at Jollun. The expression on his Kanohi Huna was unreadable but his eyes were alive with knowledge. He had never asked Jollun about what it had been like to be a Toa in the early days of the Matoran Universe. From what he had seen in the Archives Jollun was definitely well trained, if a little rusty. It would seem awkward asking his friend to train him but it seemed like it was inevitable. If Vhisola was correct, and there were only six Toa left in this Universe, then finding a trainer was going to prove difficult.
Something began to pester the Tryna-Wearer, something about his surroundings. He tried to lay a finger on what it was. He decided to widen his gaze and re-inspect the Onu-Matoran. The Toa was surprised to find that the Matoran were becoming more relaxed as they moved deeper into the city. Several Matoran were already beginning to pack away the sandbags, roll up the barbed wire, and move the dead bodies. Although the sky remained grey, the Matoran appeared to have brightened the mood. One particularly adventurous Onu-Matoran even approached the group to shake hands with Shylock then pat him roughly on the back before running off and cheering about victory.
“What’s going on?” asked Tollubo. “We’re in the middle of a war, why are they packing everything up?”
Vhisola grunted before grabbing one of the cheering Onu-Matoran and ordering him to spread a rumor about some Rahkshi army attacking Artahka. Shaken, the Matoran nodded before disappearing into the crowd.
“They hear-think that the war’s over.” Answered Orkahm. “We haven’t suffer-had a Rahkshi-Beast attack in a while-time. They’re ready to finish-stop with the battle-fighting.”
“Has anyone given them orders to do that?” frowned Jollun.
“Nope.” Muttered Vhisola. “We’ve had to rely on spreading lies about Rahkshi armies invading other islands. But it’s not working. Metru-Nui and Artakha are the only two islands in the Universe that haven’t been breached by the Brotherhood’s armies. We’re doing everything we can to keep them focused. We’re manipulating the media, publicizing spies being captured, and spreading rumors about Rahkshi attacks. We’re even controlling the weather to stop them from celebrating too much.”
“That explains the clouds.” Frowned Tollubo. “How are you doing that?”
Vhisola snorted. "That’s something even a Matoran who had spent the last century in a cave, on Artidax, with their eyes closed and hands over their ears would know. Metru-Nui’s sitting on top of the Core Processor, which is the central processing unit of the entire Matoran Universe. Push a few buttons down there and half of the Southern Island Chain goes up in smoke. The least we can do is make it cloudy, even Orkahm and I can do that.”
“So you’re letting the Matoran live in fear?” pressed Jollun.
“If it works.” Shrugged Vhisola.
“I’m pretty sure there’s something about this in the Toa Code.” chuckled Tollubo. Nobody laughed. Seeking to break the silence with another question, Tollubo spoke up. “So where are you taking us to anyway?”
“To our local Turaga.” Answered Vhisola. “Plus we thought you might want to see what happened to you, Toa Jollun.” Tollubo frowned and glanced at his fellow Toa of Light, unsure as to why she was speaking to him when he had not been the one to voice the question.
“And where am I in this Universe?” asked Jollun anxiously.
“In the Coliseum.”
“Is that where I live?”
“Not exactly,” smiled Vhisola sadly. She slowed down before pointing towards the building in the distance. “I guess it’s your tomb.”

Metru-Nui’s Coliseum was one of the most magnificent buildings Tollubo had ever seen. It towered over the city’s skyline, its sleek metallic structure slicing through the sky, like a sword. It dwarfed every other building in sight. From what the Toa had learnt while in the Order of Mata Nui, this very building sat atop the Core Processor. That make it a type of crown, an idea that sounded fitting considering it was Jollun’s Tomb. Tollubo doubted his final resting-place would be much bigger. When he died he wanted to be left in the ground to decay, to return to the elements he had been born against. He doubted he would ever be able to chose how he died, that would defy the whole point of being killed – which was probably how he was going to die in the end.
Today had not been a good day for Tollubo in terms of grasping the obvious. It had only just struck him that he was actually inside the building when a pair of lift doors shut before him. The maximum-weight signs made him feel uneasy. He had to wait for all of the Matoran and Agori to ascend with Orkahm and Vhisola before him and Jollun were allowed in. Not something that did wonders for his self-esteem.
“So what do you think of this place?” asked Tollubo as he turned to his fellow Toa of Light.
“I think that we were meant to be led here.” Answered Jollun, his voice as cold and serious as death.
“How so?”
“If we weren’t then we wouldn’t be here. Why do you think the portal opened exactly at the point when you were about to gut –” Jollun trailed off. Tollubo knew what he was going to say. The eyes of both Toa widened as a sudden thunderbolt of realizing what they had overlooked struck them both. Tollubo swore. “He escaped!” groaned Jollun. “Almost like his return was planned.”
The mood sunk as the two Toa tried to think of something other than their failure. They had just let the most wanted Matoran in the Matoran Universe escape. Vhisola had told Tollubo that he was wanted for mass-murder in this Universe. What was to stop his Counterpart from taking more innocent lives as they spoke? Tollubo tried to take his mind off of the subject by studying the screen above the lift directory. The numbers meant nothing to him. He only noticed that there were a lot of them, too many for him to care about.
“But we can still find him.” Suggested Jollun, trying to raise the mood as the lift began to slow down as it reached the top of the building. “It’s possibly why we’re here. Plus he can’t have gotten far.”
Tollubo stared at Jollun as the doors opened. “I seriously doubt that.” he grunted before stepping out into the chamber.
Having both had experience in barging into throne-rooms uninvited, the two Toa began their stride into the room. The Matoran and Agori were chatting amongst themselves quietly. Some of the Av-Matoran were pointing at two Toa – who were standing in the room. Tollubo recognized them both immediately: Toa Lhikan and Toa Hagah Kualus.
The two Toa of Light continued walking until they were mask-to-mask with Lhikan and Kualus. Tollubo sensed an aura of professionalism as they approached yet was disappointed to find they were only slightly taller than Orkahm and Vhisola. Lhikan wore sleek yet dull red and gold armor. Kualus was slightly more bulky and muscular wearing traditional white and silver armor. Both Toa appeared to have seen better days. Their eyes were dark and their brows were creased in a way that one could only achieve after years of worry and doubt. Neither of the two Toa seemed happy about being there. They would probably have been dragged over to the chamber from other assignments. It felt good to have such an audience.
Aside from Lhikan and Kualus, Tollubo was surprised to see so few new Masks among the crowd of Matoran and Agori who he had brought with him. Memel was present, as were Orkahm and Vhisola. They seemed to be talking to each other on the other side of the chamber. When he glanced at them they immediately looked away.
The Toa turned his attention back to Lhikan and Kualus. They were running their eyes over him and Jollun. Unlike the two Rookie Toa, they did not turn away when Tollubo looked at them.
“A Tryna?” muttered Kualus darkly. “They’re supposed to be illegal.”
“Got a problem with my face?” grunted Tollubo as he flexed his muscles. Kualus only shrugged, his eyes remained dull and unfocused from lack of sleep. He probably had more threatening nightmares in the little time he had to sleep in.
“Depends if you call that a face.” muttered Lhikan. He too looked exhausted. Both Toa seemed resigned, as if their moment of action had come and gone. Tollubo grunted and accepted Kualus’ point. He hadn’t seen himself in a mirror since he had become a Toa but he knew he’d be heart-broken if he had lost his devilish good-looks.
“Two Toa of Light.” murmured Kualus as he tilted his head back. “What we would have given for you to be here two days ago when we actually needed you.”
“What happened here?” asked Jollun. “… Aside from the war.”
“You happened.” answered Kualus. “You died yesterday in our reality, giving your life to lock the Matoran Universe. Anything south of Metru-Nui is just burnt ruins.”
“Well, we had our own problems.” answered Tollubo in a sigh. “So why have we been brought here? Vhisola mentioned a Turaga.”
“He likes to be fashionably late.” groaned Lhikan. “He’s got a meeting with a representative of the Matoran Resistance of the Northern Continent. They want to pull out of the war and violate an Alliance Treaty that he put in place.”
“Isn’t the war over now that the Brotherhood’s locked out?” frowned Tollubo.
“Do you think a couple of layers of metal are going to stop the entire Brotherhood of Makuta?”
“I thought that Metru-Nui and Artakha are the last two resisting islands. You said everything else was torched.”
“That’s why they’re not a very strong resistance.”
“Exactly why we skipped the negotiations and shredded the Treaty.” added a familiar voice from the other end of the room. Tollubo recognized it immediately but couldn’t be sure. It was riddled with age and was hoarse from centuries of speaking. The four Toa snapped their heads towards the direction of the voice. Tollubo saw three smaller beings enter the room. The first was a Le-Matoran guard. He carried a long grey staff and wore a green Komau. He appeared to be some sort of guard.
Behind him were two Turaga. Similarly to the two Toa before them, one was a Turaga of Fire while the other was a Turaga of Ice. From Tollubo’s knowledge of the Matoran Universe, he was able to tell that the Turaga of Fire was Turaga Vilnius, the former leader of the Tren Krom Peninsula in his Reality. He was famed for his fiery temper and crooked nature. More than a dozen Matoran had been banished to Karzahni in his first few months in office, something that had once shocked Tollubo seeing as it was common knowledge by that time that the Matoran would not return from the realm. Tollubo glanced at the Turaga’s Noble Hau and Hook-Staff. Many legends stated that the Turaga’s weapon had been fashioned out of a Muaka Bull’s Horn, a creature who he had killed as a Toa. Looking at the Staff now, he could easily tell that it was a fake. The Turaga probably had no idea about the legends, meaning it would probably be what was left of Vilnius’ Toa Tool. Tollubo almost preferred the legend.
The final being was not one who he recognized as a Turaga. However, his name came straight to Tollubo’s mind and he cracked a smile as he saw his old friend. Turaga Matoro.
“Matoro!” laughed the Toa of Light in surprise. His joy disappeared when it dawned on him that he had never met Matoro in this Universe. If he had the Turaga would probably have been killed. Instead of answering the Turaga of Ice leaned on his staff and listened to Vhisola as she explained the situation to him.
After about a minute of details as to why he wasn’t going to be torn to shreds by the Toa of Light in front of him, Matoro nodded and turned to Vilnius. “It appears two Toa have just arrived in our Universe, one of them being an Alternate Tollubo who claims to be on our side of the war. Any ideas Oh-Great-Advisor?”
The Turaga of Fire glanced from Tollubo to Jollun, which disappointed Tollubo. Matoro was clearly talking to his advisor. The fact Vilnius responded to that title meant he was of lower status that the Turaga of Ice. He had respected Vilnius in the past. Seeing him as an underling was almost painful.
“It seems that he knows you as a friend in his Reality. Even so, I don’t think we should take the chance.” grunted Vilnius as Tollubo’s Heart-Light dimmed. “We just came out of one war, he’ll probably drag us back into another. If other resistances were to learn we were housing the Brotherhood’s most renowned killer then they’d sever support and cut us off.”
“Remind me not to get you anything for Naming Day.” grumbled Tollubo, trying to disguise the lump in his throat. The fact Vilnius had spoke of him like that made him feel guilty, as if it were his fault that his Alternate Self had become evil. They couldn’t be that different at heart, meaning Vilnius had a point.
“What do you two think?” Matoro mulled the question over in his mouth before glancing at Kualus and Lhikan.
“I think this is either a joke or a distraction.” answered Lhikan. Luckily for him his arms were crossed – Tollubo probably would have torn them out of his sockets if they hadn’t. “What are the chances they’d appear exactly one day after we lock the Brotherhood out?”
Matoro sighed. “Lhikan, how many times do you have to be told? There cannot be any more distractions. The entire island is fortified and, in case you haven’t noticed, we’re an island that’s probably sticking out of Bara Magna’s atmosphere. Even if the Brotherhood manages to get inside this metal juggernaut the other islands would be able to spot an attack force. The last thing these two are going to be is a distraction.”
“So do you want to wait for the High Council to assemble before you decide their fate?” asked Kualus.
“We don’t need to wait for a bunch of Matoran.” grunted Matoro. “Carnac, fetch me my Kanohi Rode.”
The Le-Matoran guard nodded before turning to leave the room. He eyed Tollubo darkly before exiting. A few moments later, he returned carrying a white Kanohi Rode. The chamber must be some sort of ‘Kanohi-Closet’. Tollubo wouldn’t mind owning one of those himself.
Matoro thanked Carnac then handed the mask to Kualus. The Toa of Ice took off his Mask of Rahi Control and donned the Rode before glaring at Tollubo. “How did you get here?” he demanded.
“Well, you’re really asking two questions there.” sidetracked Tollubo. He didn’t like Kanohi Rodes. Makuta Karabak had worn one and ruined the whole ‘truth’ effect the mask had once had on him. “The first question being the circumstances of us leaving our original Universe, the second, assuming the entire thing was in my control, how I arrived.” Kualus remained silent, his eyes staring directly into Tollubo’s. “Anyway, I have no clue. One minute I’ve freed a species of Matoran and saved the enitre Universe, the next a portal appears, I have to chase my Counterpart through, and some unfortunate Matoran has to cancel my ‘Thank-you-for-saving-the-Universe!’ party. I don’t know who made the portal, I don’t know why. I can only assume it was to get my Counterpart back here.”
“Your ‘Counterpart’?” frowned Kualus.
“He was already in my Universe. I witnessed him come through about a week ago. I assume I can blame that on you guys?”
“Don’t digress.” mumbled the Toa of Ice. Tollubo could feel the presence of Kualus’ mind as he scanned his own.
“What can you tell?” asked Matoro, genuine concern in his voice. The Turaga appeared torn.
“He’s got a mental shield and he’s also telling the truth” grunted the Toa of Ice, as if Tollubo speaking the truth was secondary to the fact that he could not read his mind as easily as the next target. “However he came here, he doesn’t know. Plus, if he’s been trained by the Order to have mental-shielding, then I’ll bet he was on our side in his Universe.” The Toa of Ice took another look into Tollubo’s eyes then turned back to Matoro. “I think we should trust him.”
“Good enough for me.” muttered the Turaga. “If he’s not a threat then he can stay.”
“Who says he’s planning on staying?” asked Vilnius. Tollubo glanced from Matoro to Vilnius to Kualus; who had taken the Rode off and handed it back to Carnac.
“Well I haven’t exactly got a Universe full of un-destroyed places to head off to.” snorted the Toa of Light. “I’m staying here to help you guys catch my Counterpart. So – knowing how great I am at hide-and-seek – could take a while, which means I’ll need a job, and it sounds like you need all the Toa you can get right now. Why can’t you hire me to protect the city while I’m here? Give me one good reason.”
Matoro and Vilnius exchanged glances. Vilnius addressed him. “What is your name, Toa?”
“Exactly. If the Matoran hear that they’ll run for the hills. There would be riots in the street, we could lose our jobs, and word will spread about you.”
“Okay then, two good reasons.” sighed the Toa of Light. “Give me two good reasons.”
“We don’t know anything about you.” answered Matoro in a lighter tone, like a game of good-cop bad-cop.
“No?” frowned Tollubo. He suddenly felt an adventurous gleam appear in his eyes as his reckless nature kicked in. Words began to form in his head as he spoke. “Okay then, I’ll start from the top. My name is Toa Tollubo, I’m dimensionally displaced from a Universe where a Makuta called Teridax corrupted the Brotherhood a long time ago, I was trained by the Order of Mata Nui, I once had both of my hands cut off by a Makuta, I am a bearer of the Kanohi Ignika, I hate competitive sport, and my favorite food is this type of battered fish they only sell on Stelt.” The Toa paused, partly for breath but mostly to see the startled faces of the four beings in front of him. Even Jollun seemed unnerved. He was just getting started with his list of strange self-facts.
“I don’t understand Chemistry – What is chemistry? I prefer Stelt to Xia, I’m terrified of diseases and of gravity suddenly switching itself off, I once got Toa Zaria’s autograph, my first proper relationship was with a Matoran of Lightning named Chiara, I absolutely hate the Kanohi Kau Kau, and I have never visited Nynrah. I’ve been stabbed more times than I care to remember, I once punched Makuta Tridax into a tree, I’ve never met a Toa of Plantlife, and I’ve spent the last week thinking I was about to die.”
Lhikan and Kualus exchanged nervous glances, worried about the sanity if the Toa before them. Vilnius’ eyebrows rose in concern. Matoro looked intrigued. “What’s your favorite color?” shrugged the Turaga of Ice sarcastically.
“That would be burnt-sienna.” answered Tollubo. “It’s a kind of orangey-brown that I think has a funny name. But that’s not the point. I know that this is probably going way too fast for a sane person to deal with but I am sick of moving slowly through life, I want to put myself out there and do something that people will remember me. I don’t want people in this Universe to think of me like my Counterpart, I’m nothing like him and I think I deserve the right to clear my name.” Again, Tollubo paused for breath, this time genuinely because his lungs were burning. “So what do you say? Can Jollun and I get jobs here?”
There was a length of silence. Tollubo felt Kualus, Lhikan, and Vilnius staring at him awkwardly. Matoro seemed to be smiling. “I’d give you the job if it meant you’d shut up.” chuckled the Turaga, as if it were a private joke. He suddenly grew serious and businesslike. “But still, as much as you deserve the right to clear your name, Vilnius does have a point. At the first sound of the name ‘Tollubo’, Matoran will panic.”
“Can’t you just make a public address to them and explain I’m different?”
“That’s what I’m going to do.” muttered Matoro.
Lhikan suddenly tensed and turned to face the Turaga. “Are you sure that’s a good idea, Turaga? We don’t need him here, we’ve won the war! Why don’t we just ask Artahka to make him an Olmak and send him on his way?”
Matoro opened his mouth to answer but Tollubo silenced him by raising his hand. “Let me answer that one.” grunted the Toa of Light as he took a step further towards Lhikan. The Toa of Fire only glared defiantly into his eyes. “Firstly, you do need me here. After every conflict there is turmoil. The Brotherhood will still want the war to continue, you locking them out hasn’t ended anything. You’ll only be making them angry. The first thing they’ll do when they get inside the Matoran Universe is head for Metru-Nui. If they invade that then they can control the entire Matoran Universe and use it in their future empire – Which is what I’m assuming they want. Am I correct?”
“As far as we know.” answered Matoro. Lhikan’s eyes grew darker with anger.
“Secondly, I think there’s a reason I was brought here. I don’t know what it is yet but I‘m willing to bet my sword that it’s to capture my Counterpart. Therefore, I’m not leaving until I’ve done that. If you came to my Universe and found out you died over a century ago then what would you do?”
Lhikan fell silent. He continued glaring at Tollubo for several agonizingly long seconds then nodded slowly. “I’ll let you know right now that I don’t trust you as far as I could throw you, but I suppose that if we can’t trust a Toa of Light then we can’t trust anybody.”
“Was that a reference to my weight?” snarled Tollubo. The Toa of Fire’s eyes widened and he stepped back as Tollubo growled. After a brief moment of watching Lhikan quiver in fear, Tollubo extended an arm and patted the Toa on the shoulder. “Kidding.” he chuckled darkly.
Before anyone could comment on Tollubo’s behavior, the conversation was interrupted by the lift doors. The room fell silent as an Onu-Matoran entered. There was nothing particularly special about him. He wore a Kanohi Komau, had a short axe strapped to his back, and – similarly to Lhikan and Kualus – had an aura of professionalism. The only difference was that he seemed cheerful and upbeat. He strode forwards with energy and a spring in his step.
The Onu-Matoran took one look around the room, as if searching for others, then addressed Matoro. “I’m guessing I’m early?”
“You are the first one to arrive.” nodded Matoro. The Turaga turned to Tollubo and Jollun. This is Dessal, the Chief Archivist. He literally owns the Archives. He is Onu-Metru’s Representative in my High Council.”
Tollubo nodded towards the Matoran. Jollun followed suit by nodding in a similar fashion. Neither of them intended to shake hands. That would involve them both having to bend over or literally sit on the floor to reach Dessal’s height. Not good for their image.
After learning the others had not arrived, Dessal turned to leave. Tollubo felt like he was alienating the Matoran. He didn’t like doing that – or at least he didn’t think so. Perhaps he had changed a little through his transformation into a Toa. He had intimidated both Orkahm and Lhikan in the few short hours he had been in the Universe. Did he really need others to quiver before he could feel good about himself?
“So you never joined the Brotherhood in your Universe?” asked Kualus as he cocked a questioning eyebrow.
“I was forced to.” lied Tollubo. “But I quit shortly after I learnt they went corrupt. Then I joined the Order.”
“Which would explain the mind-shielding.” added Matoro. The Turaga of Ice was definitely on his side of the argument.
“So you’re an Order agent?” pressed Vilnius. Tollubo could tell that the Turaga of Fire had also had a change of heart. While he obviously remained skeptical, some of the heat had been taken from his question.
“I was a servant because I was a Matoran back then.” corrected Tollubo.
“What happened in the War in your Universe.”
“We lost.” shrugged Tollubo simply. “Everyone lost. The entire world went up in flames at the claw of an insane Makuta.”
“But you just said you saved the Universe.” grunted Lhikan. “What was all that trash about having a party?”
“Not the Matoran Universe, I barely made it out of that one. I meant the actual universe. We stopped an insane Makuta from converting Matoran into Makuta and using them to conquer entire civilizations. Basically, we’re heroes.” chuckled Tollubo as he patted Jollun on the back.
“Who was this insane Makuta?” asked Matoro.
“Karabak.” answered Tollubo. He didn’t expect a reaction, the Makuta had been imprisoned by Jollun shortly after the Matoran Universe was created. He didn’t even know him until a few months ago. The Toa of Light was confused as all four of the beings in front of him tensed. “Do you know him?”
“That doesn’t matter.” grunted Vilnius, his brow creasing.
“We don’t speak about him anymore.” added Matoro. “If you defeated that monster then you are welcome here as heroes.”
“What exactly did he do here?” asked Jollun. The two Toa of Light glanced at each other in confusion. Tollubo was unsure what Karabak’s presence meant. Somebody else must have freed him or Jollun must never have imprisoned him. That meant the Matoran of Tethys wouldn’t exist in this Reality. A shame, but not something that would worry Tollubo too much.
“He murdered Toa Helryx.” answered Kualus. “He tore her apart and tortured her. Her feet and hands were pulled off but still connected to her. He nailed them across a wall then left her to bleed. Then he hacked her chest open and poured acid into her circuits. He kept her alive for three days, letting her bleed to death slowly before he finally slit her throat. I saw the scene when she was found a week later… Her blood had turned black by then.”
Silence hung in the room. The only disturbance was the gentle hum of the lift as another of the late High Council members hurriedly pressed the button and began descending. Tollubo nodded grimly at the thought of Helryx’s murder. “That sounds like something… he would do.” he muttered softly. “When did that happen?”
Kualus made a noise as air escaping from his mouth. “A couple of years ago. I think it was here in Metru-Nui. Could have been in Xia. I don’t remember exactly. That was back when I had a team. Feels like a lifetime ago.”
The mood remained cold. Silence hung once more until Matoro finally spoke up. “I suppose you will be needed places to stay? The other Toa live here in the Coliseum. That way they’re never on the other side of the island when there’s a Rahkshi attack and I can summon them easily.”
“Here works for me.” grunted Tollubo. Jollun nodded as well. “I’d also like to get Betak and Eselox helping me with tracking down my Counterpart.” continued Tollubo as he gestured to the two Agori. Neither of them were listening but he was sure they would both be pleasantly surprised when they found out.
“And, speaking of Eselox,” added Jollun. “We managed to capture her Counterpart as well.” The Toa of Light nodded towards the other side of the chamber where Kran stood holding the mutated Agori in chains. “Have you guys figured out how to undo the effects of a Shadow Leech yet?”
“We’ll see what we can do.” nodded Matoro. “I’m happy to have you both busy tracking down … this universe’s Tollubo, but I still want you to answer to some of the attacks and accept missions like the others. They need a break.” The two Toa nodded in agreement. That was evident. “Do you have any other questions about Metru-Nui?”
“Where are you getting you fuel from?” asked Jollun. Tollubo frowned in confusion then recognized the Toa of Light’s point. If the Matoran had declared war on the Brotherhood then they would have experienced a technological breakthrough in weaponry. They would have had to adapt to keep up with the Brotherhood’s armies. With Metru-Nui and Artakha being the only two resistances remaining to be undamaged, that meant places such as Xia, Stelt, and Nynrah would not be able to supply them with technology and fuel.
“Le-Metru.” answered Matoro. “We had almost the entire city torn down and planted trees, hundreds and thousands of trees. Doesn’t look great but we can easily chop them down and use the wood.”
“Trees grown to be cut down.” remarked Tollubo.
Matoro shrugged. “It’s either them or us.” he answered. “We’ve been trying to get this Toa of Plant life whose stationed on Artakha to come over and give us a hand.”
Something clicked in the back of Tollubo’s mind at the mention of a Toa of Plant life. Like he had said while trying to explain his life to Matoro, he had never met a Toa of Plant life and knew little about them. He knew at least two had been Toa Hagah and that there had been one who played a significant part in ending the Great Disruption. However, although he had never met a Toa of Plant life, he had once travelled to a settlement for Matoran of Plant life. They were a strange specimen, living nomadically in jungles and rainforests in the fertile soils of the Southern Island Chain – the harshest terrain in the Matoran Universe.
Tollubo suddenly noticed that the others had turned around to face the lift. It must finally have arrived from when he noticed it begin its climb. He didn’t particularly care who exited the shaft until Jollun nudged him sharply in the side. Taken aback, Tollubo sent a questioning glare at the Huna-Wearer only to see blind shock present in his friend’s eyes.
“You’re not going to believe this.” muttered the Toa of Light. Tollubo shifted his expression into a deep frown before he turned around. He saw a Ga-Matoran enter the room. She carried a Combat Staff and a Kanoka Disk Launcher. She was lean and sleek yet appeared to have considerably large muscles for a Ga-Matoran – the types of things that were the result of countless games of Kohlii and training. The breath was stolen from Tollubo’s lungs as his mouth hung open. His eyes could have rolled out of his Kanohi Mask and bounced off the floor. He tried to utter her name but couldn’t bring himself to saw it. He swallowed hard then looked at Jollun. The two Toa stood in stunned silence before Tollubo finally brought himself to utter her name.

Chapter 3[]

The Ta-Matoran stumbled forwards, trying to regain his balance. Dark shapes swirled around in his eyes, blocking his vision. The Matoran tried to speak but his words were drowning in more chemicals. He tried to howl, to cough the foul liquid back up but his two captors held him firmly until he swallowed the substance.
His eyes had stopped working several gallons ago. Only his nose and audio receptors still weren’t drowned in the thick malt and all that he could sense was the smell of his own vomit. There was a howling in his audio receptors that he recognized as laughter.
He zoned out again. When his senses returned to him he was being dragged down an iron staircase. The two voices were arguing, they echoed painfully through his throbbing head.
“Watch out…” A sudden flash of white light burned into the Matoran’s eyes as his head hit a wall. Laughter.
Fresh air. It was cold and salty. It cut him like a knife. The stale air began to wake him as he sucked oxygen into his sore lungs. He felt powerful. Energy pulsed through his circuits for a moment as his eyes plunged in and out of focus. Then it began to disappear. The energy disappeared as soon as it had come. He passed out again.
The Ta-Matoran was dreaming. Confused memories swirled around in his head. Objects rushed at him, causing him to flinch in the claws of his captors. Every inch of his body ached. He tried to concentrate. He had to hold back more vomit. He didn’t manage.
“AGH!” yelled one of the captors in a deep voice. He was a large red and yellow armored Skakdi. “The Matoran just threw up on me!”
“Well you can’t complain, you’re the one who poisoned him!” grunted the other captor. He was a green and black warrior who the Matoran could no longer picture.
The Ta-Matoran flopped like a plush doll as the two beings lowered him into a small boat. He knew he had to fight. Fight to stay conscious. Fight the poison in his body. Fight these two murderers. “I have to fight.” he repeated as he fought his drunken state.
“What did he say?” demanded the Skakdi.
“Nothing, he’s just rambling.” answered the green and black blob. That was all the Matoran could make out as the green blob knelt forwards and started shaking him. “That’s right, you stay awake now.” he chuckled. “This wouldn’t be any fun if you fell asleep on us now would it?”
“Get a move on, you know I don’t like boats.” complained the Skakdi.
“It’s not my fault you never learnt how to swim.” replied the green blob.
“Let’s just get this over with so we can get back to dry land.”
“Cast us off then.”
“Can’t you do it? I might fall in.”
There was a moments silence. The Ta-Matoran could imagine the green warrior staring at the Skakdi in disgust then sighing. “As usual, I have to do everything.”
The whine of the motor began to ring in the Matoran’s audio receptors as he struggled to concentrate. What did that mean? Were they going to dump him in the water? He could barely sit up, let alone swim. He could feel the bile that had stuck to his mask. It made him want to throw up again.
“Not so fast.” pleaded the Skakdi.
“Shut up, I know what I’m doing.”
“Come on, it’s dark and it’s dangerous. We shouldn’t be out on the water at night.” The green warrior ignored the Skakdi and continued steering the boat.
The Ta-Matoran had never felt so helpless in his life. His own body wouldn’t obey him. When he tried to raise his arm his leg moved. When he tried to sit up he threw up. When he tried to speak he coughed and belched. Even his brain was deserting him, confusing him with swirling images. Despite his helplessness, he reached deep within himself and told his mind to focus. He dropped to his hands and knees. His muscles screamed at him and his joints ached. The pain only made him concentrate. It would help him to stay awake. If he felt pain then he knew he was alive.
“What does he think he’s doing?” growled the Skakdi. The green warrior didn’t reply. The Matoran was too busy trying to crawl to let the Skakdi stop him. Soon he forgot the pain. About a second later he also forgot why he was actually crawling. All he remembered was that he had to keep going or he would die.
The Ta-Matoran’s mask knocked against something hard and cold. His senses screamed at him that it was the green warrior’s leg but he couldn’t tell how he knew. Desperate not to let them dump him overboard, the Matoran grabbed hold of the warrior’s leg.
“Get off.” snapped the green armored warrior as he kicked the squirming Matoran, knocking him back a couple of feet and leaving him dazed.
But, the Matoran didn’t give up. He crawled back and regained his grip. This time the green warrior put an armored foot directly in the Matoran’s face. The Ta-Matoran was thrown about a meter back where he landed heavily on his side. He blacked out.

Toa Tollubo sighed and returned his attention to the wall in front of him. He had been studying it for hours and all of the words were starting to mix together meaninglessly. He was, of course, in the Onu-Metru Archives – for the second time since arriving in the Fractures Universe – reading the Wall of History. Beside him were Toa Jollun, Betak, Eselox, and Mesa. The four dimensionally displaced beings had been scrolling the walls for hours trying to make sense of how their universe differed to this one while they used Mesa to help them when they were confused. It had taken much longer than it needed to but he was pretty content with what had changed.
Little had actually changed in the Universe until after the Toa/Dark Hunter War. Prior to that event Makuta Karabak seemed to have taken on Teridax’s role and had overthrown Miserix. Jollun had also noticed how the Toa/Dark Hunter War had ended was different. Where the Toa had forced their enemies out of Metru Nui in their Universe, The Shadowed One and some Turaga called ‘Tuyet‘ had settled an armistice. After several painstaking treaties, the Hunters agreed to an alliance with the Matoran to fight the Brotherhood, which had begun to invade the Matoran Universe by that point. As the Order of Mata Nui emerged from secrecy, the Universe began to drift into different alliance systems. The Matoran, Dark Hunters, Vortixx, and Order made up one half, the Brotherhood, the Skakdi, and several other rebels made up the other. After about a year of war, the Mata Nui Robot had returned to Bara Magna only for the Brotherhood to spill out and invade the planet. However, as only Artahka and Metru-Nui were left standing by that stage, some of the survivors had argued over what to do. In the end, most of the Toa had travelled to the Southern Matoran Universe to fight off the Brotherhood while Jollun’s Counterpart had managed to seal off the Matoran Universe.
The Toa of Light held back a yawn. They had heard all of this before from either Matoro or his own Counterpart so they were all just skimming. He was surprised when Betak raised a finger to point at one of the sections on the Wall of History.
“What does marriage mean?” she asked. Tollubo and Jollun exchanged glances and shrugged.
“Not a clue.” muttered Tollubo. The four of them turned to Mesa.
“Marriage means to get married, surely you’ve all heard of that?” When nobody responded Mesa shrugged. “Well, it’s a bond between a male and a female. When they fall in love they can get married and become husband and wife. You would usually live together and Matoran usually do it to show how much they love their partner.”
“Who in their right mind would think of that?” frowned Tollubo. Jollun looked equally confused. The Toa of Light was about to press Mesa on for more but the others turned back to the wall, dismissing the idea. Instead, he decided to ask the Av-Matoran a question – a question that had been itching at the back of him mind since he had met her again. “Why don’t you recognize me?”
Mesa looked at him and blinked. “Should I? I don’t know many Toa of Light.”
“I mean as a Matoran, when we were in the Core.” Mesa stared back at him blankly then smiled sadly and shook her head.
“I’m afraid I simply don’t know you.” she replied. “You seem like the kind of person I would remember, but I don’t. I’m sorry.”
Tollubo nodded slowly. He knew for a fact that Teridax’s absence hadn’t affected the Time Slip, which meant he still would have given her his Keystone and her memory would have been wiped. Perhaps that was why she didn’t remember him.
Tollubo’s thoughts were interrupted by Jollun as he pointed towards a particular section of the wall above Eselox’s head. “Is it just me or is there something strange about Helryx’s death?” mused the Toa of Light.
“Like what?” asked Tollubo as he leaned in. The three females leaned in closer too. They were alone in the Hall so the silence had allowed them all to hear Jollun’s point.
“It’s different to what Kualus said.” Jollun raised a long, white finger and pointed towards one of the words. Tollubo squinted and focused his eyes. The section was lengthy and dull but Tollubo managed to find the particular entry about Helryx’s Death. There was no date to give him a reference of time but the Toa of Light managed to decipher that the Toa of Water’s death had happened about a year ago.
Worse still – despite the numbers of fatalities experienced on the Metru-Nui Home Front – Toa Helryx appeared to have disappeared. After a city-wide search several of the Toa Metru managed to locate a body, which was identified as the corpse of Toa Helryx. After analysis of the crime scene, pathologists and local law enforcement were able to confirm that her hands and feet were stretched across and impaled by four iron stakes. Shortly after this act was committed, Toa Helryx’s chest was sliced open and acid was poured into her torso, which corroded several of her vital organs and circuits. Again, Tollubo found himself fighting to contain a yawn. One night ago he had been attacked by four Makuta in a cramped straw hut. He had not slept in over a week from stress and fear of Karabak and travelling to this Universe had not helped his head ache. So instead of reading the rest of the passage, he decided to skim to the bottom.
When he was content that he had overtaken the others, he began to read the writing. A total of seven Civil Witnesses attended the crime scene. The three Toa who discovered the crime scene –Toa Hagah Norik, Kualus, and Varian – shared the duty of an acting Toa Presence while Turaga Kapura provided Turaga Presence.
“What does acting presence mean?” frowned Tollubo. The others glanced at his section before Jollun shrugged.
“Should we ask that guy?” asked Eselox as she pointed towards the twisted being at the other end of the wall. He was small, about the height of the two Agori and a lot frailer. He had small claws and a pair of tiny orange eyes. Tollubo had not noticed him until now but the tiny being appeared to be continuing the latest section of the Wall. Did that make him the Chronicler?
Without thinking, the Toa of Light took a step towards the scribe. “Excuse me.” he grunted. The walls made his words echo and amplified his voice in a way that made the peaceful creature flinch. “What does this mean?”
The Being glared at him for a moment with his tiny orange eyes. Eventually he made a quiet grunt and stepped forwards to inspect what the Toa was misunderstanding. “What do you mean?” he growled in a frail and weak voice.
Toa Presence
“Well, that’s simple. Before the War started, when a Toa was found dead an investigation would have been launched to identify their murderer. However, in order for the investigation to begin one would need both a Toa’s Presence and a Turaga’s Presence at the scene of the crime. When the death has been fully evaluated then the investigation can begin.”
“What do you mean before the war?
“Well, with Matoran dying every day it seems unfair on them to pull Toa out of the field for any reason.” replied the being.
“How about this?” asked Jollun. “Toa Kualus told us that Helyrx was tortured then nailed to the wall for three days before she was killed. This thing doesn’t mention a time frame or the fact that she was tortured before it all.”
The tiny-eyed being shook his head. “Look, I wrote down what the detectives and investigators told me happened but I’m not a pathologist. Ask someone else. I think Turaga Kapura’s still around.” With those parting words, the creature crawled away and commenced his work on the section he had been scribing away at before Tollubo had spoken to him.
“Who was that?” asked the Toa of Light.
“That was The Recorder.” answered Mesa. “I think he used to be Makuta Miserix’s personal scribe… or was it The Shadowed One? I forget.” Tollubo grunted in response then turned back to face the wall. There was nothing left of interest to him.
Out of boredom, the Toa of Light looked up at the glass ceiling. He had long since been aware that the sunlight had all but disappeared and been replaced by dull grey clouds. Eselox took a glance at him then followed his gaze. The Agori gasped when she saw the black swirling mass above their heads. Tollubo shrugged casually.
“We should probably be getting out of here.” remarked the Toa of Light. “My armor doesn’t look good when I’m wet.” The Agori nodded and drifted off towards the door. Betak and Mesa peeled away after her, leaving Jollun staring at the wall. Tollubo stepped closer to him. “Is everything alright, brother?”
Jollun didn’t answer until the others had left the room and even then he seemed uncertain. “Do you remember why Kualus brought up the subject of Helryx’s death?” he asked calmly. Tollubo had to admire his friend’s self control. He had something to say and if Tollubo was in his position then he would be blurting out everything in unsorted chunks of randomness.
“Because I mentioned Karabak?”
“Well this thing doesn’t mention Karabak.” muttered Jollun as he pointed to the wall. Tollubo frowned and scanned through the entry only to find that Jollun was right. The Huna-wearer continued. “In fact, right after we mentioned his name two hardened Toa and two veteran Turaga flinched. That’s four people who believe that Karabak murdered Helryx.”
“So what’s wrong with that? They said they didn’t speak of him anymore. Maybe they just banned The Recorder from referring to him because they didn’t want to mention him.”
“But they mentioned Karabak before when he took over the Brotherhood.” muttered Jollun as he raised a questioning eye brow. Tollubo glanced at the wall then shrugged, letting out a loud breath. To be honest, he had no idea why Kualus’ story differed to The Recorder’s. If Kualus was making that sort of an accusation then he must have proof. Perhaps that meant he had found something at the crime scene and not told anybody. Perhaps Karabak had contacted him. Neither seemed likely but it was all Tollubo could come up with.
The two Toa stared at each other for a moment. Jollun’s eyes were cold and focused. Tollubo didn’t really care how he looked. Jollun was his oldest and closest friend, he wasn’t going to hide anything from him. Not anymore.
“Like I said, we should probably get going.” muttered the Tryna-Wearer.
“Where to? The Coliseum?”
“We might as well. If we’re going to find my counterpart we might as well do it there.”
Jollun nodded then gestured towards the sky. “Like you said, we’d better get a move on if we’re going to get anything done at all today.” The Toa of Light turned to leave the chamber leaving Tollubo alone. He took one last look around the room then decided to follow the others. Every sense in his body was scratching away at the inside of his head and he felt ill. Perhaps he had been right before. Perhaps he was just tired.
Even so, Tollubo could tell even then that something bad was about to happen. He could feel it.
He was right…

The two Toa strode forwards through the busy streets of Ga-Metru. All around them Ga-Matoran were standing to attention with weapons at the ready. Due to the extensive military training – which had been imposed on the female Matoran more than the males – the Ga-Matoran were among the most dedicated, patriotic, and well trained soldiers in Metru-Nui. While many other cities were beginning to try and break away from the war effort, the Ga-Matoran were staying strong. Something that both Toa were admiring as they searched for the Ta-Matoran.
They were – of course – Lhikan and Kualus two of the most respected beings on the island. Just last week the duo had cooperated to stop an insane Vortixx from using Xian-made explosives to destroy the Great Temple. In exchange, the Ga-Matoran around them were more than happy to step aside and let the Toa through.
The Matoran who they were searching for was named Harma. He was a simple Ta-Matoran who had lost interest in industry and moved to Ga-Metru. Preferring the quiet life, Harma had taken up fishing in the canals – which meant a lot of complains were reaching the audio receptors of the Toa. Despite the fact Metru-Nui was supporting the ruined island of Zakaz in the fishing industry, this Ta-Matoran had started his own business catching fish in Ga-Metru then illegally selling them. Worse still, the Matoran had illegally fashioned his own scythe and started chopping hedges without a license. Lhikan had already visited the Matoran a month ago to confiscate both his fishing rod and scythe. Now it seemed the Matoran was in more trouble than usual.
The two Toa found the Ta-Matoran where they expected to find him – selling fish in the remains of an abandoned market square. Before the war had started the Ta-Matoran had sold fish in the very square that they were standing in. Now that Zakaz was supplying fish nobody was interested. He would be surprised to see anybody that day.
The Matoran of Fire froze when he saw the two Toa, unsure how to react. He looked down at his stall and tried to ignore the fact that it was overflowing with crates and buckets full of illegally caught fish.
“So, what trouble have you gotten yourself into this time, Harma?” asked Kualus. Neither Toa had their weapons drawn. They doubted they would need them anyway but they didn’t want to frighten the Matoran.
“I think you damn well know.” scowled the Ta-Matoran. His Kanohi Kaukau creased as he crossed his arms. The reason they had come was long and complicated. Neither of the Toa knew the full reason but they had heard snippets of information.
Early in the morning, a Ga-Matoran had opened her door to find Harma on her doorstep. He had clearly been poisoned. After throwing up several times he had been rushed to a hospital only to have broken out and urgently tried to establish contact with Turaga Matoro. He had made many phone calls to the reception desk of the Coliseum claiming that he had learned of several Brotherhood spies. According to the Kaukau-wearer, the spied were planning to stage an attack that would bring Metru-Nui to its knees by sunset. Cautious about what Harma knew, Matoro had ordered Lhikan to divert from his usual patrols to question the Ta-Matoran. However, when Harma called again and claimed that he was being followed the Turaga decided Lhikan may need backup. As a result, the two Toa had been told to abandon whatever they were doing, question Harma, then drag him back to the Coliseum for safe-keeping.
“Cool it.” growled Lhikan. “You can either calm down and tell us what they’re planning or we walk away. Your choice.”
Harma glared from Lhikan to Kualus then sighed. “Look, I can’t tell you, alright? At least not here. If I say a word to you two about what I know then I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up tomorrow with a Muaka’s head in my bed. Besides, these guys are serious. They have Cordak Blasters, Skyblasters and a whole lot of sharp things. You can’t stop them and I don’t want to get anybody hurt.”
“Don’t play games with us.” grunted Lhikan. “Don’t ever, ever think you are capable of doing that. You called us out here because you are being stalked and because you had information of the Brotherhood attacking Metru-Nui today. Either you start talking or a whole lot of Matoran are going to be killed.”
“How many spies are there?” asked Kualus in a different tone. The Toa of Ice’s eyes were tired and heavy. Lhikan guessed his own would be too. He didn’t usually snap at Matoran like that but he was exhausted.
Harma swallowed, clearly shocked by Lhikan’s outburst. “Two Glatorian, some Skakdi, a Vortixx, and some others.”
“Now can you tell us what they are actually planning?” snarled Lhikan. His patience was stretching.
“I can’t.” whined Harma. “They’ll kill me.”
Lhikan took a long sigh then turned to Kualus. The two Toa exchanged tired expressions. Harma wasn’t cooperating because he was scared. That meant these spies still had the upper hand. Perhaps they had spoken to Harma before the Toa had arrived and ‘convinced’ him not to say anything. Perhaps Harma was already dead and they were talking to some other Ta-Matoran who had been threatened to act like him. Maybe he had simply changed his mind since making the communicator call. Whatever it was, Lhikan wasn’t liking it.
This wasn’t the first time Harma had gotten into trouble. For a Ta-Matoran living in Ga-Metru he managed to get into a lot of fights and had angered a lot of powerful Matoran in his time. The Toa of Fire had been called down to dig him out of trouble before so he had taken the liberty of using the Coliseum data base to research the Ta-Matoran fishing enthusiast. He had few friends and quite a lot of enemies. As far as a number of sources were concerned, Harma was more trouble than he was worth. He was unhelpful, disobedient, and had a habit of getting himself into messes like this. Lhikan was also beginning to discover that he was getting cheeky. That was the problem with Matoran these days: they have no respect for their elders.
As Lhikan turned back to face Harma he saw something flash through the air above his shoulder. As he turned to look at the space it had been the wooden crate exploded. Harma screamed and ducked for cover instantly, sending fish and buckets tumbling over. Lhikan glanced at Kualus, alarmed. Both Toa had been around long enough to know what had just happened. Somebody had just fired a Cordak Rocket at them.
They spun around and drew their weapons. Behind them they saw only a darkened alleyway. Pieces of ragged, torn cloth fluttered from the roofs of the abandoned stalls, blocking their view. Although they were simple material, they were still white and reflected all light – not that there was much light with the storm that was rolling into view.
“Show yourself.” yelled Lhikan as a ball of fire materialized in his palm. He flicked his wrist and sent it hurtling towards one of the stalls. The ball of Heat Energy was too hot to start a fire. Instead it incinerated the wooden frame and reduced it to ashes.
Another Cordak Missile flew through the air. This time the shooter did not miss. The rocket struck the crate that Harma was hiding behind and sent him hurtling backwards. The Ta-Matoran landed a couple of feet away from the charred remains of the wooden container and sagged to the ground. His chest was torn and bloody but he was otherwise alive.
“If you wish.” The voice came from the shadowy area behind the stalls. “But beware – I have drop-dead good looks... quite literally.”
“Don’t worry,” snorted Kualus. “I’ve seen some pretty ugly things in my day.”
There was a dry chuckle before the two Toa realized the mysterious being had fired his Cordak Blaster again. This time, a total of three missiles struck the stone wall behind them. Both Lhikan and Kualus flinched as pieces of rubble flew clear from the blast zone and fell. The rocks weren’t going to hit the two Toa because they were too far away. However, Harma still lay sprawled unconscious in the ground – directly below the falling rocks.
Without thinking, Lhikan forced his two Fire Greatswords together and ran towards the avalanche of rock. He heard Kualus yell after him as he dived for the Ta-Matoran. He didn’t have time to activate his Kanohi Hau. That took concentration and he couldn’t exactly focus his mind in the split second where he jumped into landslide of falling rock. Instead he decided to do it the old fashioned way and get buried in the process. As the first of the rocks hit him in the back he decided that he was going to regret it. Then he felt the pain as he was crushed.

Kualus watched in sheer horror as Lhikan disappeared from sight. The Toa of Fire’s gleaming red and gold armor was engulfed by the rock slabs in less than a second, like he had just been swallowed up by the dull grey stone that had once been part of a building. He could only hope that his ally had managed to shield Harma.
Kualus growled and turned to face the shadow before him. He watched as the mystery Cordak carrier stepped out of the shadows slowly. First his right leg appeared then he paused, as if considering whether or not to actually step out into the light. Eventually he decided it was too late to change his mind and eased the rest of his body out of the darkness.
Instantly, Kualus began evaluating the being. Harma’s attacker was a lot taller than the Toa of Ice and far stronger. He wore green and black armor and had a pair of scaly green claws. Strapped to each of his wrists was a Cordak Blaster. One of them was nearly empty so the being tossed it aside. The weapon made a dull CLANK as it struck the ground and didn’t bounce. Kualus could tell instantly that it had been modified from the weapon he had trained with. That told him something about Harma’s Stalker.
As he continued his analysis, Kualus noticed that the being also had a Rhotuka Launcher strapped to his arm and that he also had a mace tucked away. He wore an oddly shaped Kanohi Felnas and had a pair of emerald-green eyes that seemed to pierce right into Kualus’ soul. The Toa of Ice refused to show any emotion. He didn’t want to give the attacker any advantage. Instead he decided to take a different approach and let the attacker speak first.
It seemed that the Felnas wearer was thinking the same thing because an awkward silent hung in the alley. Kualus doubted there was such a thing as an ‘easy silence’. It was like watching paint dry… or like watching dust settle around a rock pile that had just crushed a Toa and Matoran of Fire.
“I know who you are, Kualus.” sneered the Felnas wearer menacingly. “But you don’t know who I am.”
“Enlighten me.” snarled the Toa in response. He gripped his Sub-Zero Spear even harder as he aimed it at where he thought his enemy’s heart-stone was.
“Well, my name is Restac.” grunted the Felnas-wearer. “But I haven’t used that name in a long time.”
“So tell me what name I can put on your tombstone.”
‘Restac’ cracked a smile. “You will call me by my codename, like everybody else does. As far as you are concerned, my name is "Terminator" because that was my job. When I was a Dark Hunter I was responsible for killing people. Now that the Dark Hunters are disbanded, killing is my hobby.”
Kualus didn’t respond. He could think of words to say but he didn’t want to provoke the ex-Dark Hunter into a fight just yet. He wanted to listen. “So you’re a Dark Hunter who chose to join the Brotherhood?”
“I work freelance.” replied "Terminator". “When somebody wants an annoying Toa picked off I stick my hand up and volunteer. I don’t have anything to do with those foolish Makuta.”
“So you’re a bounty hunter?”
“I’m an assassin. There’s a very big difference. Bounty Hunters kill people for a couple of widgets, assassins do it because it feels good.”
“And yet you can’t even silence a quiet Ta-Matoran?” grunted Kualus. “He’s alive under there. Do you want to dig him out?”
“Why should I bother?” shrugged "Terminator". “I’m not here to kill him. He did what we wanted without even knowing.”
“And what would that be?”
The former Dark Hunter stared at Kualus in disbelief then chuckled. “You mean you have no idea? Honestly, if you had any idea how many months of careful planning my people have put into planning this attack. Every night somebody’s saying that the Toa are watching us. We’re going to get caught. The stakes are too high. They’ll kill us and the truth is that you don’t even know that we exist?”
“Well we know now.” replied Kualus. “And we’re quick learners.”
"Terminator" continued to chuckle until he realized Kualus was being serious. “But you’re not very imaginative, are you? Try and guess what our plan is.”
Kualus didn’t answer. He only glared at "Terminator" from behind his Mask of Rahi Control. Instead he asked a question. “What did you mean when you said Harma did what you wanted without knowing?”
"Terminator" smiled darkly. “He dragged two Toa out of the Coliseum for us. My… allies intend to attack it while you are out. Tell me, who’s going to be standing at the gates to kick them out when we storm over there? The-almighty-Toa-Orkahm?”
“So that’s your plan? Invade the Coliseum?”
“No.” snarled "Terminator". “Our plan is much more complex than that. Storming through the Coliseum is only the first box on out doomsday checklist. It’s a shame you won’t be around to see it get ticked off.” Kualus frowned as the Felnas-wearing Dark Hunter raised his remaining Cordak Blaster and aimed it at the Toa of Ice’s head. It seemed like his enemy had just switched from telling him about his plan to aiming a weapon at him. That seemed awfully sudden.
“I’m going to kill you now Kualus… just in case you couldn’t tell.” taunted "Terminator". “I’m going to blow your head off then kick your corpse until all of your circuits are scrambled. By the time I’m finished with you it’ll look like somebody dropped a bucket of red paint on snowman.”
Kualus glared at him. He still had his weapons at the ready, he could still lift his Rhotuka Launching Shield up to protect himself. But that would probably damage the device. His Toa Hagah weapons had been built centuries before the Cordak Blaster had even been thought of. Would his shield even hold against the missiles that had brought down a stone wall? Kualus could only hope as "Terminator" pulled the trigger.

Half-crouching, Tollubo ducked into the doorway that made the public entrance to the Coliseum. He shivered then shook his armor dry as Jollun, Betak, Eselox, and Mesa followed him in. They had thought the storm every step of the way with rain drilling into their masks. While he had been blinded by the storm, Tollubo was certain that he had walked into at least three Matoran then tripped over a sandbag.
The Toa of Light let out a relieved breath then turned to look around. The reception of the building was full of Matoran shouting and arguing. From what he could hear there was something about them losing control over the weather generator in the Core Processor. He cracked a smile. That explained the storm and also meant that the Turaga couldn’t change the weather to keep the Matoran fighting anymore. He almost wanted to see how this turned out.
Once again Tollubo and Jollun approached the elevator. The two Toa of Light exchanged glances. The last time they had used this elevator they had travelled together because of their weight. Now it was time for them to split up.
“I’ll go first and take Betak and Eselox. You go with Mesa.” muttered Tollubo when he was certain the females wouldn’t hear.
Jollun frowned. “Is this because she doesn’t remember you?”
The Tryna-wearer nodded. “Yes, plus I am convinced that you are heavier than me.” The two Toa smiled then clanked fists.
“I’ll see you at the top.” smiled Jollun. Tollubo nodded then turned to herd Eselox and Betak into the elevator shaft. He tried not to look at Mesa as they waited for the lift doors to shut, although he doubted she was particularly interested. He wouldn’t be.
It seemed like an eternity before the doors finally shut. When they finally did Tollubo had to keep himself from breathing out loudly. Instead he glanced at the ceiling then down at the two Agori. Although he didn’t want to admit it, Tollubo felt that he was moving further and further away from them both.
Now that he was three times Betak’s size, Tollubo was beginning to believe that his relationship with her was in danger. It was as if invisible walls were building up between them. They hadn’t even spoken properly in what felt like ages.
Worse still, the same thing seemed to be happening with Eselox. Over the past week he had become close friends with the female Agori of the Fire Tribe. Despite the fact their friendship had begun with a somewhat rocky start, he was already feeling that it could only get worse. The Fire Agori had been finding excuses not to talk to him or look at him recently. She couldn’t look him in the eye either – and Tollubo knew enough about females to know what that meant.
“You two holding up here?”
The two females nodded. “For the moment.” muttered Betak. “But we are going back right?”
“As soon as we find the guy who brought us here.” answered Tollubo. He glanced at the screen to see that they weren’t even halfway up their descent.
“Where exactly are we going to now?” asked Betak, an energetic gleam shone in her eyes. Tollubo half-smiled. He could always trust Betak to be bubbling with energy.
“To see Matoro again.” he answered. “I have a couple of questions still about what happened to the other Toa… and the Agori too. I’d sleep a lot easier at night knowing that you lot will be safe here.”
Betak nodded, mulling his response through her mind. She pulled a face and the Toa of Light could see the cogs rotating in her mind. He took another glance at the screen then finally let out his sigh. Silence

When the doors finally opened, Tollubo waited for the Agori to exit first. Betak strode out first and was followed by Eselox. When both Agori suddenly stopped dead in their tracks Tollubo knew something was wrong. Without pausing to think, he leapt forwards, grabbed them both by the wrists, then yanked them aside. They were not in Matoro’s council room. Instead they were in a sort of armory. Tollubo spotted an upturned desk and ducked towards it, pulling Betak and Eselox along with him. When they reached the other side the Toa of Light raised an eyebrow. Plastered across the wall behind the desk was the corpse of male receptionist. He was an Onu-Matoran but Tollubo couldn’t tell anything else about him. Half of his head and been blasted away by some sort of projectile. The force of the attack had left the Matoran pinned to the wall. The Toa of Light frowned and extended a finger to touch the tip of the Onu-Matoran’s armor. As soon as his finger touched it a chemical reaction took place and the armor disintegrated. For a second Tollubo wondered what would have happened had they arrived a minute earlier. The Onu-Matoran had been shot in the Mask with a vat full of acid.
The Toa nearly flinched when he felt a hand slap his shoulder. He shuddered then realized it had been Betak. “The first thing you decide to do is touch it?”
“Well, I was going to lick it first but I wouldn’t look good with half of my Mask burnt off, would I?”
Betak cracked a smile at Tollubo’s response. The Toa and Agori grinned for a long moment before Eselox tapped him on the shoulder and pointed towards another upturned desk. The Toa of Light squinted to focus his eyes. When they converged on the desk he realized Eselox was pointing at Toa Orkahm. The Toa of Air was crouched under the desk, waving frantically at them. Tollubo doubted Vhisola would be far away. That was supposedly a good thing.
The fact that he had not been shot with acid when he entered the chamber was another good thing. The Onu-Matoran had been shot at point-blank range. If the killer was still in the room then he too would be dead. Seeing no reason to be afraid, Tollubo rose to his feet and strode over towards the Toa of Air.
“Toa Orkahm?” he gasped sarcastically. “Fancy seeing you here! We have to stop meeting like this.”
The Toa of Air ignored Tollubo’s joke and started looking around. “There were five of them.” spluttered the Matatu-wearer. “They didn’t see-spot me but they captured-imprisoned Vhisola. I think-believe they’re in the vault.”
“Right.” nodded Tollubo. His facial expression suddenly became serious as his brow furrowed in concern. “Describe them to me.”
The Toa of Air frowned then thought deeply. “Two Glatorian, a Vortixx, a Skakdi, and a Steltian Laborer.”
Tollubo nodded again then pulled out his Light-Sword. “Well then, I guess somebody’s going to have to take out the trash.”
The Toa of Light almost anticipated the three shouts from the others. “Are you joking?” Eselox half choked and half gasped as she asked him. “I don’t know what three of those things are but it’ll be five against one. They’ll rip you to shreds!”
For the first time in centuries, Tollubo stopped to think. Eselox had a point. He was inexperienced and outnumbered. The people who had done this were carrying some considerable weaponry – the Onu-Matoran’s head was a testament to that.
Yet, on the other hand, he had no other option. There weren’t exactly Toa-on-demand at the moment. Lhikan and Kualus obviously weren’t in the building, Jollun was still in the lift, and Vhisola was captive. It was down to him to do something – and that something wasn’t going to be just sitting around looking pretty.
“Well then,” he sighed before puffing his chest out heroically. “Maybe we can sneak in. Is there another entrance to the vault?” Orkahm shook his head. “Ok… is it just the one chamber?”
This time Orkahm opened his mouth to answer. “No. It’s split-categorized into three separate-different sections of item-artifacts that we victory-won in the war. One contains-hold Kanohi-Masks. One is for Weapons. The other is for ‘other’. I think-recall they mention-said something about a Kanohi.”
“That’s strange.” remarked Tollubo. “What were they? Glatorian, Vortixx, Steltian, and Skakdi?” Orkahm nodded again. “Then they can’t use masks. Why would they want to steal one?”
Orkahm shrugged then pointed towards the door. “I don’t-not know but I’m suppose-guess we’re about to find out.”
As if on cue, the iron door at the end of the room swung open. Tollubo’s heart stone leapt to his mouth as a figure stepped forwards into the light. He was a large, red and yellow armored Skakdi, carrying a saber and what looked like some sort of Energy Blaster. His wicked white teeth shone as he giggled then stepped back into the room. His blaster began to hum as he edged nearer.

Chapter 4[]

There was nowhere to run. There was nowhere to hide. Toa Tollubo was staring into the blazing eyes of a Skakdi with two vulnerable Agori and a rookie Toa of Air beside him. Normally two Toa would be enough to overwhelm the crimson armored figure, but he wasn’t getting any positive vibes from the Magma Blaster his enemy was carrying. He was no expert but that thing looked like it could melt a hole in a Protosteel wall.
The Skakdi growled, it’s eyes glaring right into Tollubo – as if they were burning him. It took a step forwards then – to Tollubo’s utter astonishment – it turned away. Four mouths hinged open as Tollubo, Betak, Eselox, and Orkahm gawped at the Skakdi. It was walking away. It hadn’t even noticed them.
Immediately Tollubo sensed something was wrong. They all did. It was common sense. Skakdi were savage and brutal creatures by nature. If they were guarding a vault then they wouldn’t choose to simply ignore a potential threat, especially a threat like two Toa. Tollubo was almost insulted.
The unspoken question was answered without a word, rather by the sizzle of a beam of Light. The burst of energy spat from behind Tollubo’s head and struck the Skakdi square in the chest. His yell was drowned behind the sizzle of the energy burst as it scorched his armor. He fell to the ground in a clatter of heavy armor.
Had he been a Matoran Tollubo would have immediately turned around to greet his savior. The Toa of Light could imagine his mouth hanging open lazily as a younger version of him span around gleefully in his imagination. He knew all too well that there were now only eight Toa in this universe and that two of them were Toa of Light. If he hadn’t fired the beam of energy at the Skakdi then there could only be one other person who could have.
Toa Tollubo finally turned around to face his fellow Toa. Surely enough, standing beside the elevator, was Toa Jollun and Mesa. Their lift must have crawled up to their level while they were busy studying the dead Onu-Matoran and shaking sense into Orkahm. The Toa of Light breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of his brother Toa – if that was what Toa still called each other these days.
“I’m not one to complain,” smiled Jollun “but next time you want me to hide you from a Skakdi, give me a warning first. I’m a busy Toa.” The Toa of Light winked at Tollubo only to see the confusion in his eyes.
“How did you-?” muttered Tollubo. He trailed off, leaving Jollun to finish the sentence himself.
The Toa frowned then realized the source of the problem. He cracked a smile as he reached up and tapped his Kanohi. “Didn’t I mention?” chuckled the Toa of Light. “This is a Huna Nuva. Let’s me conceal myself and anyone else I choose.”
“Guess I owe you one” snorted Tollubo. The two Toa of Light smiled before Jollun started swirling his Light Lance between his fingers.
“So, what have I missed and why do the Coliseum staff have a sudden craving to use Onu-Matoran as wallpaper?”
Tollubo shrugged and turned to Orkahm, directing the question to the Toa of Air. The Matatu wearer swallowed then started speaking. “That doesn’t important-matter. All you need to think-know is that there are inside-within the lock-vault.”
“And that thing’s holding just about every powerful Kanohi, weapon, and Karzahni knows what else that any Toa has ever stumbled across.”
Jollun’s eyes switched between Tollubo and Orkahm as he began processing the new information. When he had finally caught up to speed he nodded again then glanced at the Skakdi. “So do they know we are here? They obviously sent him out here for a reason. If we walk in there we could have four Cordak Blasters pointing at our heads.”
“You could always think-use your fancy Huna-Mask and make us all hidden-invisible again” suggested Orkahm. “Besides, they left-kept Vhisola alive.”
Tollubo and Jollun glanced at each other again. The Tryna-wearer tried to make himself look like he was voicing Orkahm’s strange treespeak as a command. He didn’t think it would work against Jollun but the Toa finally gave in. “Fine” he sighed. “But just us Toa. This place is too dangerous for the others. They’ll have to turn back.”
“And where are we supposed to go?” implored Betak as she crossed her arms and raised her eyebrow. She looked so much like a Matoran in that moment.
“Go find Kualus and Lhikan” muttered Tollubo. When the blue Agori continued to stare at him questioningly he sighed and kneeled down to her height. “Look, Betak, I know what you’re like. Running away is the last thing that you want to do. To you it’s almost an insult. But please, just this once, I need you to get out of here. The four people I care about the most are in this room. If you were to die, if they were to take you prisoner, it would destroy me. You remember what I was like when I last lost somebody, don’t you?”
Mesa frowned then nudged Eselox. “Who was that?”
Tollubo’s eyes narrowed. In his Universe he had watched Mesa die. He had mourned and grieved her for weeks then blamed himself and now, just as he thought he was getting over her death, he met her counterpart – a counterpart that didn’t even know him – he did not know how to react. Part of him was enraged, screaming at him, torturing him for ever loving her in the first place. The other part felt like it had been torn right open. He could feel his insides churning as she spoke.
“Nobody you’d know” he growled at the Faxon-wearer. With those words he rose to his feet, drew his Sword, then nodded to Jollun, raw fury blazing in his eyes. “Let’s gut the monsters.”
The Toa of Light’s eyebrows rose as he tried to read Tollubo’s sudden change in emotion. When he realized what was about to happen he nodded. There was no stopping Tollubo now. He was angry, he was untrained, he was unstable. Betak and Eselox grabbed Mesa and started running for the elevator. They both knew what was about to happen. Tollubo was about to go into a power fit.

Breaking into the vault wasn’t particularly difficult for the three Toa. Orkahm knew the combination and was able to give them access. As the cold, metallic grey door began to slide open Jollun activated his Huna Nuva to shield the three of them. The three Toa marched forwards as one, which was strange. Tollubo had not expected to be able to see his two fellow Toa. Perhaps Jollun’s Kanohi was more than just a Kanohi Nuva. Mata Nui knew how it had been adapted… literally.
After passing a short row of empty shelves and broken Kanohi the trio saw the first of their enemies. The first thing that Tollubo noticed about the figure was his height. The black and silver armored giant was crouching beneath the ceiling, making him only slightly larger than Tollubo himself. Secondly, he noticed the cursing and clumsiness and he tripped over Kanohi and thrashed about at the racks. Clearly he was in a rush.
But that wasn’t all. The Toa of Light continued his assessment to notice the figure was a Vortixx with a face that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Muaka’s backside. The male Xian was hideous. His teeth were crooked and loomed forwards over his jaw in a massive under bite that made him look like he had both the brains and the looks of a Po-Matoran. The Toa of Light also noted his weapons, a Cordak Blaster and a blade. He obviously wasn’t the killer of the Onu-Matoran outside.
Tollubo felt a tap on his shoulder and nearly flinched. When he realized it had been Jollun he wanted to slap his fellow Toa of Light. He scowled at himself as the Huna wearer pointed through the metal to an opening. The Toa of Light squinted to follow his gaze and found his eyes focusing on Toa Vhisola.
The Toa of Water was in a terrible state, and that would be a compliment. Her armor was pitted with dents from punches she had taken. One of her eyes was swollen and her hands and feet were chained behind her back. Her weapons and Kanohi Komau had been confiscated and now she was lying on the ground, maskless and defeated. There was a single Steltian Laborer looming over her, his fists wrapped around two different types of weapons. There was every likelihood that the bruiser could have killed the Onu-Matoran, but Tollubo doubted. Committing a murder took brains, something the species was not well known for. Judging by how he was fooling around with a silver Kanohi Sanok in his right hand left Tollubo thinking he was no exception.
“We have to get-reach to Vhisola” hissed Orkahm before realizing the Huna did not mute his voice. Tollubo and Jollun immediately turned to shut him up only for Tollubo’s arm to connect with an untouched rack of Kanohi. There was an almighty clatter as dozens of silver Masks plummeted to the ground and landed with an individually yet painfully loud each. Jollun closed his eyes and held back a sigh while Tollubo tried to stop himself from swearing. Vhisola’s brutish captor dropped the Sanok and started looking around frantically. The Vortixx stuck his ugly head up too. When he saw his blue and white armored ally thrashing around he shook his head and muttered something before returning to his work.
“I doubt they would have heard us anyway” muttered Jollun, his voice hidden beneath the clatter of Kanohi.
“I was hoping to hear something more along the lines of a plan” grumbled Tollubo as he stared at the powerless Toa of Water.
“Well that’s your job” shrugged Jollun. “You led us through the Battle of Tethys pretty well, can’t you think of anything for now?”
“This is a brand new body for me” grunted the Toa of Light in response. “Stealth is a little out of my league right now.”
“Couldn’t we just quiet-sneak up to Vhisola, take out the guard, then get her a Karzahni-damn Kanohi-Mask?” whispered Orkahm angrily. “The longer we stand-waste here talking about tactic-plans the more of her life-power is draining.”
Jollun nodded. “True” he muttered. “I’m sorry Tollubo, but we don’t have enough time for our usual bicker today.” The two Toa of Light smiled before Tollubo pointed towards the Vortixx.
“What about him?”
“Leave him for now” answered Jollun. “When he notices the missing hostage and unconscious guard he’ll run to his leader. That’s what we want.”
Tollubo nodded then whipped out his sword, very nearly hitting another rack. “Then let’s do this.” Jollun and Orkahm flinched then turned to leave, not wanting to be near the clumsy Toa of Light when he hit something and attracted more attention to himself.
The trio managed to find their way through the racks of Kanohi easily enough. Their enemy remained oblivious right up until Tollubo landed a punch across his face. He grunted and tripped backwards, where Jollun managed to grab him and restrain his hands. It was then that the brute went wild. He still couldn’t see his attackers so he panicked. He began kicking and thrashing about. He saw his weapons being wrenched out of his hands then float in mid-air and the invisible Toa held them. When it finally occurred to him that his mouth still worked he began to shout for help.
Cobarox!” he yelled as Tollubo tried to hold his legs down. “Help me!”
Tollubo growled as he wrapped his left arm around their captive’s leg and moved further forwards, trying to punch the brute in the gut. When it dawned on him that he couldn’t reach he turned to Orkahm. “Do something!” he growled in frustration.
The rookie Toa of Air panicked. His eyes widened then he twitched. He wasted a good few seconds wondering whether Tollubo was addressing him or not before taking action. When he finally did he raised his Cyclone-Swords and summoned his Elemental Powers. The Air in the room suddenly seemed to change. Tollubo could feel his captive squirm as a vacuum formed around his head. The white and blue armored brute tried to growl, to lash out at Tollubo or Jollun, but he did not have any air. His lungs were emptying fast and his muscles were weakening as he suffocated. Eventually, he gave in. His body sagged as he slipped into unconsciousness.
No sooner had the guard passed out, Orkahm lost control of his Elemental Powers. He had struggled to control the vacuum and now he simply couldn’t. The rookie yelped as the vacuum expanded then shot towards one of the emptied racks. It rattled before being blown off of its support and clattering to the ground.
This time the Vortixx was certain something was wrong. Tollubo swore as he saw the hideous face of the black and silver armored figure several rows away. He saw the confusion in his eyes as he tried to locate his ally and the Toa of Water. The same thoughts ran through Tollubo’s head as the Vortixx thought them. There are intruders.
The Toa of Light swore to himself as the Vortixx whipped out his Cordak Blaster then made a run for the end of the aisle. He fired a shot at the shelves, bringing down an avalanche of shattered Kanohi Masks. Tollubo swore again as his enemy disappeared from view.
“We’ve got to follow him” muttered Jollun.
“I know” sighed Tollubo. “But what do we do with Vhisola?”
“We can’t dump-leave her here” implored Orkahm as he knelt beside the Toa of Water.
Jollun took one glance at Tollubo then turned towards Orkahm and the unconscious Vhisola. “Who said we’re planning to?” he grunted as he tucked his Light Prong into his pack and slung Vhisola over his shoulder. The Toa of Light spun around and scanned the racks of Kanohi for an exit. Tollubo watched as his Kanohi Huna Nuva reactivated and the four Toa became invisible once again.
“Let’s move” muttered Tollubo with a smile as he drew his Sword out.

Today was simply not a good day for Turaga Kapura. Firstly, he had woken up to find that he had overslept through the signing of an important defense treaty with the Matoran resistance of the Northern Continent, then he had been informed that the infamous Tollubo had somehow become a Toa of Light, and now he was being held hostage in the War Vault... by a female.
Sure enough, his captor was a female Glatorian. She was clad in sharp green and black armor, armor that looked like it had been torn off of some poor Toa’s corpse. Worse still, there was a total of five Krana plastered across her plating – clearly some kind of victory token to mark the killing of a couple of Bohrok. And as if Mata Nui wasn’t making his day disastrous enough, he now had a strange Thornax Launcher pressed against his back. He did not know much about the weapon but what he did know was that it fired Thornax Fruit, and the glowing green orbs that were wedged into the Launchers were clearly not fruit – at least not any kind that he would want to eat, not if he wanted to keep his face.
“Move faster” ordered the female. Kapura grunted in response and continued moving at the same pace. His captor’s name was Juulant, not a name that he personally recognized but still one he doubted he was going to forget after today’s events. The Glatorian had sprung out of nowhere and pressed her Acid-Launchers against his Kanohi Pakari. She had ordered him to lead her to the Ignika and that was exactly what she was still forcing him to do. The Turaga of Fire had tried every trick he knew to try and throw her off. He had told her it wasn’t being kept in the War Vault, that he had forgotten where it was, and that only Turaga Matoro had access to the Ignika but Juulant had not listened.
“We’ve walked past this part before” grunted the Glatorian. Kapura raised his head then shrugged. She was correct. He had been leading her around in circles while he tried to throw her off the trail. The truth was that he did not know what to do. The Jungle Glatorian obviously wasn’t going to lose interest and he could no longer overpower her. Had he been a Toa their skirmish could have ended very differently, but Destiny had other plans and Mata Nui was a cruel and stubborn old Mahi.
“What’s that?” demanded Juulant as she pointed towards a metal safe in the wall. Kapura winced. They had in fact walked past that exact same safe three times but he had no intention on bringing it to her attention. He was claiming that he didn’t know where the Ignika was when the mask was in fact behind the doors of that very safe, and Juulant had finally noticed it.
“Ah, is that the safe? I didn’t see it” he muttered before hobbling towards it, the green orbs of acid still pressing against his back.
“Open it” ordered the Glatorian. Kapura paused then sighed. It was no use. Nobody was coming to help him. Either he was going to hand over the most powerful artifact on the island to an insane Glatorian or he was going to have his face melted off by acid. He had no choice.
The Turaga began typing numbers into the keypad of the safe. The seven-digit-code was something that he had spent hours memorizing back when he had first become a Turaga. The Ignika had been in the hands of the Toa ever since Toa Jovan and his team brought the Mask to the island after the Great Disruption centuries ago.
The code was accepted. There was no reason why it shouldn’t be. The safe ran on an independent power supply to other appliances in the Coliseum, as did the elevator and the door to the War Vault. Kapura was seriously wishing that wasn’t the case as he wrapped his fingers around the handle and pulled the door open, praying it would just stay shut.
The Ignika was inside, obviously. There were hidden cameras and motion detectors within the safe. Upon opening the door an alarm had probably sounded downstairs in the reception area, not that the Matoran down there could do anything. Kapura sighed again and he reached in and grabbed the mask. He was, of course, not one of the Kanohi’s destined bearers so he would be cursed upon touching it. He hoped it would not be permanent but, once again, he did not have a choice and a simple curse was the least of his worries at that moment.
“Put the Mask on the floor, Turaga.” This time the command did not come from Juulant. Kapura frowned and turned his head to see another Glatorian stick his head out of the shadows. Juulant tensed almost instinctively then relaxed and stepped back, lowering her weapons in the process.
“Go to blazes” growled the Turaga of Fire and he raised his Hammer-Staff and stepped back, transferring the Ignika to his left hand as he did so. “This Kanohi is worth far more than my life. If you had any idea how many generations of Toa have given their lives to see that it would stay protected from decrepit freaks like you then you would probably do the same.”
“To be honest I don’t care about the lives of Toa” yawned the new Glatorian. Kapura still couldn’t see all of his body. Only his head was sticking out of the shadows of the Vault.
“Well you’ll have to pluck it from my cold, dead, hands” growled Kapura as he glared defiantly into the male Glatorian’s eyes.
“If you wish” he muttered in response as he eased out of the shadows.
The Turaga of Fire was struck by the spray of bullets like a tree being hit by a Tahktorak. They sliced through his Kanohi, his chest and his arms like he was a plush doll. The Turaga was torn to bloody shreds as his body exploded in a fountain of blood, circuits, and splintered armor. Spent cases flashed as they clattered to the ground, rolling into the shadows and disappearing, bouncing and skidding across the metal floor. The noise created by the Glatorian’s weapon shattered the silence of the Vault. Kapura went down in a mist of blood, dead before he hit the ground. He sagged lifelessly then made a large THUMP that only dead flesh could make. There were bullet holes in his chest big enough for the newcomer to fit his fist into.
Neither of the Glatorian spoke for a long moment. Juulant didn’t speak because she was stunned at the carnage, her fellow Glatorian stayed silent to savor the kill. Finally, he leaned forwards and plucked the Ignika from the Turaga’s hands – his cold, dead hands.
His name was Mudro. He was the leader of the Brotherhood strike team known as the Cult of Darkness. In his hands was possibly the most deadly Machine Gun ever created in Xia. It spat out cartridges like they were weightless. The grinding noise it made was a symphony to the Glatorian’s audio receptors. A smile slipped across his Helmet as he looked at the Ignika, his prize, ignorant to the curse it was placing upon him as he stood there.
“What now?” asked Juulant. “We have the Ignika, that’s what we came here for. Shouldn’t we run for the hills now?”
Mudro was about to answer when the silence was broken by the arrival of another member of the group. The Glatorian immediately recognized his lieutenant, Cobarox, as he blundered through the rows of Kanohi to meet them.
“Mudro,” panted the Vortixx as he stopped for breath. “The Toa are here. One minute I look up and see Bukach fooling around with a mask, the next he’s gone.”
The Glatorian nodded then shoved the Ignika into his pack. When he was sure it was secure he reached for his communicator. The Glatorian strapped the device to his helmet then began to speak. “Ignis? This is Mudro. What is the status outside the vault?” There was a crackle as the radio waves from outside the container were received, but there was no reply.
“So they took out Ignis and Bukach?” frowned Juulant.
“So they’re defiantly inside” grunted Cobarox.
“Of course they are you fool” growled Mudro as he tore his communicator off, threw it at the ground, then crushed it with his armored foot. “Do you really think Ignis would miss a chance to act like an idiot over a communicator line? He’s either dead or unconscious. Either way, he won’t be waking up again when I get my hands on him.”
There was a sharp clank as a Kanohi clattered to the floor. Mudro’s audio receptors pricked as he heard a muffled curse. His head snapped to the right and he raised his weapon. “Show yourselves you spineless cowards!” he roared before pulling the trigger. The Machine Gun spat out bullets and Kanohi were blasted from their shelves.

Tollubo swore again then ducked for cover. Jollun and Orkahm followed him closely. The three Toa hit the floor as the bullets screamed past them. When he looked up he was pleased to see that the blue and black armored Glatorian had been firing at a rack slightly to their left. He still didn’t know where they were.
“I think things just got worse” grunted Jollun as he rubbed his shoulder before hoisting Vhisola back over it.
Tollubo frowned, wondering how in Mata Nui’s name things could get any worse. The answer dawned on him when he saw the Steltian Laborer lumber forwards, rubbing his throat and coughing painfully.
“I suppose-guess we didn’t knock-hit him rough-hard enough” muttered Orkahm.
“You could hit his kind with a building and they’d still get back up again” growled Tollubo as he rose to his feet and looked around. The four Toa were still hidden from sight so there was no chance the lead Glatorian could shoot him.
Aside from the hundreds of racks of Kanohi the Vault appeared to be bare. Most of the Masks were now covering the metal floor and the shelves were nearly empty.
The Toa grunted, his patience wearing thinner and thinner. There had to be something else in the room, there always was. He didn’t realize what until a flash of lightning illuminated the chamber. It struck Tollubo as odd. He had assumed the Vault would be behind layers of metal and walls. The presence of lightning meant that there was a window, which led the Toa of Light to ask himself where the lighting was coming from. He knew that the Coliseum’s power supply had been damaged in the storm so what little light was in the chamber was coming from outside. He scanned the walls until he found his desired window.
It was an ancient thing. It looked like it had been ornamental even for the actual building. Tollubo could see brass and rusted railings holding the glass together. It was a wonder the frame was holding against the force of the storm.
Tollubo watched as the Steltian Laborer struggled forwards, blocking his view of the window. The Glatorian with the Machine Gun started shouting at him but Tollubo wasn’t listening to him. He heard his voice but refused to listen to the words he said. The Toa of Light had seen his chance.
He waited for the blue and white armored brute to reply to the Glatorian then turned to Jollun. The Toa of Light frowned, sensing something was wrong. When he finally realized it was too late. Tollubo smiled sadly then broke into a run. He charged forwards, smashing directly through one of the metal rack, sending broken Kanohi shards plummeting to the ground. All four intruders flinched at the sudden noise, including Tollubo’s target. He trailed off then turned to watch as the rack fell directly behind Tollubo. The Toa of Light gritted his teeth and willed himself on. The reaction time for the average member of the Laborer’s species was considerably slow but he wasn’t about to misjudge an opponent. That was what Makuta did, and he was no Makuta – he was the next worst thing the white and blue armored brute could have running towards him.
The brute realized what was happening about a second before Tollubo slammed into him. He yelled as he rocked backwards and fell to the floor, just short of the window. Tollubo felt himself becoming visable again as Jollun struggled to maintain the effect of his Kanohi Nuva over the distance. He was out of range. Tollubo ignored the thought of bullets tearing into his back as he pulled his foot back and struck the laborer in the chest, with every ounce of strength he had.
It was a kick that even Toa Pohatu would have been proud of. Tollubo’s armored heal struck his unfortunate victim square in the chest. He coughed and gasped for breathe as he rocketed backwards, directly into the window.
The effect was spectacular. The frame was crushed as the glass smashed, bringing the screaming Steltian Laborer with it. For a long moment he seemed to hang there, in mid-fall through the shattered window frame, his ugly face stricken with fear. Tollubo watched as the blue and white armored brute was swept away and whipped out of sight by the storm.
The Vault suddenly began to howl as the storm surged into the room. Pieces of broken Kanohi were swept across the room, pelting everybody in the Vault. The storm howled through the broken window as Tollubo struggled to stay on his feet.
There was an almighty CRACK as the thunder finally echoed through the room. The entire Vault seemed to shake as Tollubo turned to face the three remaining members of the group that had attacked the Coliseum. The lead Glatorian snarled and tried to aim his gun at the Toa of Light. After spending a few precious seconds trying to hold the weapon steady over the force of the wind he gave up. A wise choice.
Tollubo growled then whipped his sword out of his pack. There was blood in his eyes as he began to charge forwards towards the struggling Glatorian.
Then, out of nowhere, a fist flew through the darkness and connected with Tollubo’s Kanohi Tryna. He grunted then stopped dead in his tracks. He wrenched his eyes shut then put his left hand to his Mask. When he pulled it away he was shocked to see blood.
Angered, Tollubo swung his sword through the air in frustration. As his body swung with his sword, he caught a glimpse of his attacker. It was a female Glatorian clad in green and black armor. That caught him off guard. Fighting Glatorian wasn’t something he would usually bat an eyelid over, he had met dozens of members of the species on his travels. But the fact he was fighting a female was just wrong, morally wrong.
He didn’t think females were any weaker than males, not by a long shot. Something just felt wrong in the pit of his stomach whenever he started a fight with a female. Usually he would just suck it up, puff his chest out, then get on with the fight but now he couldn’t. Probably because his opponent wouldn’t let him land a single blow.
She dodged and weaved away from him, ducked under his swipes, twisted her body away from his fists, then managed to propel herself through the Toa’s legs. The Toa grunted and leaned forwards only to discover that she was already on her feet behind him. His ignorance earned him a sharp kick up the backside and a strangely painful jab in the chest.
Tollubo grunted, shrugged the pain off, then turned to reface the Glatorian. But he couldn’t. Another jab cut into his left thigh and his entire leg caved. The Toa cried out as he crumpled to the ground, his leg completely paralyzed. He swore then tried to land a punch on the Glatorian only for her to grab his arm, bend it backwards painfully, then jab him in the throat.
That was Tollubo’s breaking point. The pain was greater than he could possibly have imagined. It couldn’t have hurt that much. It shouldn’t have. He didn’t understand what was happening. How had she paralyzed him by jabbing him in the leg with her fingers? Why had the jab to his throat hurt him so much.
There was a burst of Light and the green Glatorian hissed, reeling back to tend to her singed armor. At first Tollubo thought it had been the lightning but the fact that Jollun was now at his side made him rethink. The Toa of Light wrapped his arm around Tollubo’s shoulder then hoisted him back to his feet. The Toa felt a familiar tingle as Jollun’s Huna Nuva activated and they both disappeared from sight once again. He chuckled silently as the two Glatorian and the Vortixx began panicking, wondering where they had disappeared to.
Jollun didn’t speak until they were hidden safely behind one of the few untouched shelves. “Are you alright?” asked the Toa, his voice as quiet as a grave.
“No,” spluttered Tollubo as he struggled to breathe. “That damn Kavinika jabbed me in the throat.”
“Can you still fight?”
“I don’t know” grunted Tollubo in response. “Everything feels fuzzy and unfocused.”
Jollun’s eyes closed as he wrenched them shut. Unfocused was like a buzz-word to Toa. A Toa needed to focus in order to use their Elemental Powers. If they could not concentrate then they could not make the link between their mind and their body that was needed to use their powers. “Try making a beam of Light.”
Tollubo shrugged and raised his hand. He tried directing his focus to his hand then imagining a beam of Light sparking from it. When nothing happened he looked at Jollun fearfully. “I can’t. The link’s broken.”
Jollun nodded slowly then glanced at the three remaining intruders. “We can’t let them get away with the Ignika” he muttered.
“Can’t you just walk up to them and snatch it off them?”
“You mean touch it? You know I’m not a destined bearer. Haven’t you heard that legend about the Great Being who touched that damn mask?”
“But they have guns” grunted Tollubo as he eyed the lead Glatorian. He appeared to have finally regained his stance and was holding his Machine Gun with two hands now. The Ignika must be tucked away in his pack. There was no way he could miss a shot.
“Well we have to do something” replied Jollun, his tone icy and definite. “We can’t just let them walk out of here with the Ignika.”
“I know” sighed Tollubo as he rubbed his head. He breathed in deeply then breathed out again before speaking. “What’s to stop us just walking up to him – concealed by you mask – slit his throat, then take the Ignika back off of him?”
Jollun stared at Tollubo as if he had just suggested letting them walk away with the Mask. “The Toa Code? You never kill your opponents, that’s the first thing you ever learn as a Toa.”
“Well I must have missed that class” grunted Tollubo as he eyed the Glatorian again. “Well, can it work?”
Jollun paused then shrugged. “Not sure I agree with killing him but yes, it should work.”
“Whatever” sighed Tollubo. “You don’t have to kill him. Maybe just hit him with a laser or something.”
Jollun sighed then clicked his fingers. Almost instantly there was a scream and the lead Glatorian fell to the ground, dropping his chain gun as he crumpled to the ground. There was a neat burn mark across his right shoulder.
“Why couldn’t you have just shot a couple of lasers at their heads?”
“Because that would be murder” answered Jollun, his eyes burning as he glared at Tollubo. “Toa don’t kill. We’re not monsters, simple as that. We’re meant to stop people who kill.”
The Toa of Light shrugged then slipped past the rack, leaving Jollun behind. He approached the blue and black armored Glatorian slowly. Only then did Tollubo notice the blue Hau Nuva that he was wearing as chest armor. The Toa wondered how many Toa this Glatorian had killed to find the correctly colored mask.
The rookie Toa of Light slipped past the Vortixx and the female Glatorian as they backed inwards to circle their leader. He wanted to laugh, to land a punch in the female’s face for embarrassing him earlier. He wanted to do a lot of things in that second. He wanted to snatch the Vortixx’s Cordak Blaster off of him and spray all three intruders with Cordak missiles. But he chose not to. Jollun was right, Toa don’t kill. If they did then their souls would be as dark and twisted as the monsters they battled against. He would fight against himself every time he looked in a mirror, and he looked in the mirror a lot.
Tollubo stepped over the blue and black armored Glatorian. He was lying face-down and that was the way he was going to stay when Tollubo was finished with him. He wanted to pull out his sword and hack the monster to bloody shreds. The blood lust was boiling in his heart-stone, throbbing through his head, pumping dark thoughts through his brain. He wanted to kill them.
But Tollubo never got the chance, the second his hands wrapped around the Glatorian’s pack it burst into flames. The Toa of Light yelled then stumbled backwards, he hand burning. The Vortixx and female Glatorian turned to face him. When their eyes widened at the flame he realized he was still invisible. They were merely stunned by the floating fire.
Tollubo didn’t have time to put the fire out. He wasn’t sure how his hand had suddenly become alight but that didn’t matter. He shrugged to himself then grabbed the Vortixx’s ugly head, pressing his burning hand against his flesh. Cobarox yelled as the burn suddenly appeared on his face then bent over, trying to nurse the pain.
The female Glatorian, on the other hand, wasn’t as slow. She couldn’t see Tollubo but that didn’t stop her from pummeling him. The Toa was immediately overwhelmed by more jabs, kicks, and punches. He growled as he started thrashing his arms out, trying to strike the contortionist of a Glatorian to no avail. Where was Jollun? Was he still visible? Tollubo didn’t know the answer to either question but he needed Jollun in that moment and that was all his understood.
Another punch landed on Tollubo, this time it struck him directly in the center of his belly. He gasped as the air was pounded out of his lungs. The Toa swore then flung his fist wildly at his attacker. She didn’t even have to dodge.
Luckily for the winded Toa of Light, the fight was interrupted by an almighty CRASH. Lightning tore through the sky and Thunder caused the Vault to shake. When the chamber had been illuminated there was another crash and a new door opened, a door that he had not seen before. As the metal parted the hunched figure of Turaga Matoro appeared. His Noble Iden became creased and threatening as the Lightning blazed.
The Turaga hobbled forwards as the fighting stopped and everyone in the room turned to face him. “You fools” he muttered while shaking his head. “You think you can simply walk away with the most dangerous artifact in this Universe?”
The female Glatorian snorted then stepped forwards. “And you intend to stop us, Turaga? What are you going to do? Hit us with your stick then send us to the naughty corner?”
Thunder boomed and the chamber shuddered once again. Tollubo nearly lost his footing and narrowly missed falling over. Matoro cracked a smile. “The Ignika will do that for me for it is not yours to steal. The Mask will curse you for taking it away from here. That’s what makes it so dangerous.” The Turaga paused to chuckle then grew serious again. “It has a mind of its own. It feels things. It thinks of new ways to torture you, and it will destroy you.”
Tollubo swallowed then glanced at the three intruders. Suddenly they didn’t seem so threatening. They had broken into a Tower to steal a Kanohi, a Kanohi that they were afraid of. They did not understand what power the Mask possessed, all they knew was that they were to transport it to their masters. Matoro was right, it was going to destroy them.
Silence hung in the chamber only for it to be interrupted by the Thunder. The sky seemed to crack as Lightning sparked in the heavens. Finally, the lead Glatorian decided to stand up.
“Well then” he muttered. “We’ve come this far, I think it would be a waste of an opportunity if we turned around and headed back now.”
“What do you mean?” warned Tollubo as he took a step closer to the Glatorian, ready to throw himself in front of the gun if it meant he had a shot at ripping the Ignika out of his hands.
The Glatorian smiled wickedly then gestured to his two allies. The female Glatorian nodded then swung her leg and kicked Tollubo square in the Mask. He grunted but held his ground before the Vortixx threw himself on top of Tollubo, sending him tumbling to the ground.
“To go down in history” answered the Glatorian with a sly smile. “To be the ones who stole the Ignika from a team of Toa – “ his smile widened as his gaze fixed on Matoro. “And be the one who carried out the assassination of Turaga Matoro.”
To Tollubo’s horror, the Glatorian raised his Machine Gun with one hand, aimed the muzzle at Matoro’s head, then pulled the trigger.
Tollubo closed his eyes and looked away. There was a solid THUMP as Matoro’s lifeless body hit the floor.
He had failed.

Chapter 5[]

It was another one of those sink or swim situations that Kualus was finding himself in these days. Either he would sink by not reacting and would get blown apart by a Cordak missile to the head or he could swim by raising his Rhotuka launching shield to save his life.
He chose to swim. The Toa of Ice hoisted his shield into the air in a perfect arc. He heard sparks and the sizzle of energy as the Cordak rocket was blocked. It had worked. He had survived the shot.
The Toa’s brief moment of relief was cut short when he realized that the sizzling sound had not ceased. Frowning, he raised his shield to examine it. To his horror, Kualus’s eyes rested up the Rhotuka launching mechanism. The small device within the shield had been heavily damaged from the force of the projectile. He shook it vigorously to see how stable his century-old Rhotuka launching shield was only for half of the device to fall to pieces in his hands. The Toa of Ice grunted then threw the broken weapon to the ground. It was useless now if it couldn’t fire Rhotuka, and he wasn’t exactly going to test it – not if he wanted to keep his fingers.
“Why do bad guys always hide behind guns?” growled the Toa of Ice as he swung his Sub-Zero spear, his last remaining weapon, at the advancing ex-Dark Hunter.
Before Kualus could swing his weapon back around for a second possible shot at striking his enemy, one of "Terminator"’s claws wrapped around his throat. The warrior’s fingers cut into Kualus like knives. The Toa of Ice grunted and struggled as he tried to breath. "Terminator" only laughed.
“Because guns tend to help me kill Toa” he answered with a wicked sneer. “Not that I would need any if I were to kill you” With a flick of the warrior’s wrist Kualus was hurled into the air an impossible force. The former Toa Hagah tried to yell but wind rushed into his mouth, blocking him from shouting as he hurtled towards one of the disused market stalls. Kualus landed with an almighty crash. Splinters of rotten wood and nails showered the alleyway as the Toa felt a nasty bruise developing on his back.
Kualus barely had time to return to his feet before a Cordak struck him in the left shoulder, blasting a piece of his armor off. He gritted his teeth and winced, determined to ignore the pain of his singed armor.
"Terminator" edged closer, a sick and twisted smile seemed to be stitched across his Kanohi Felnas as his mace swung in his claws. Kualus couldn’t think of words to describe how much he wanted to tear that smile off of his ugly Mask.
The Toa of Ice took one more look at the advancing assassin then activated his Kanohi. He did of course wear a Mask of Rahi Control, not a Kanohi that most other Toa would have much interest in, but still an handy trick to have at one’s disposal, particularly if you knew about the Rahi you were controlling – that could make it a very useful mask indeed.
Kualus closed his eyes and concentrated. He felt his mind scrape against the mind of a bird. It was flying with others of its kind far above his head. His frown deepened as he released the Rahi of his control then scanned the area. There were no other Rahi at his disposal in the area and the Archives did not stretch into Ga-Metru. Reluctantly, he let his mind return to the bird and used his Kanohi to summon it to his aid.
Moments later, a brilliant flash of color as the creature flitted past "Terminator". He grunted then stopped to look up. Kualus smiled slyly as he raised his hands, as if he were steering the bird. He did not need to use his hands but the Toa of Ice always felt that it helped. He could feel the creature turning in the air, he could feel the rush of the air against its wings as it spun around then fell into a dive, its beak pointing directly at "Terminator"’s head as it descended.
But the Rahi never managed to strike "Terminator". The former Dark Hunter took one step back then flailed his arm forwards. His mace sliced through the air then connected with the bird in mid-flight. To Kualus’ utter horror blood splattered across "Terminator", the alleyway, and the mace. The connection was severed as the bird screamed in pain. Its broken wings flapped while its twisted claws twitched. The wound was fatal. The Rahi was doomed.
"Terminator" showed no mercy. He took another swipe at the bird that was destined for death. More blood splattered across his armor as the bird twitched then lay still. But that wasn’t enough for "Terminator". He wasn’t satisfied. The warrior sneered as he rested an armored foot on the creature then booted it aside. The Rahi tumbled forwards then rolled to a stop near to the alley wall. "Terminator" chuckled darkly as he raised his remaining Cordak Blaster and fired at the creature until the barrel was empty.
The Toa of Ice swallowed as he stared at the corpse of the blood-soaked bird. Had he been several centuries younger he would have remained sprawled across the broken wooden stall to mourn the unfortunate bird. He would have felt guilt bite into his heart-stone for getting the creature involved. But he didn’t. The war had hardened him. Now he did not make mistakes. He had stopped growing attached to people a long time ago. One less Rahi in the world wasn’t going to drag him down when Matoran had been dying every day for a full century.
Without a word, Kualus sprung to his feet and pointed his Sub-Zero spear at "Terminator". In the time it would have taken for his enemy to blink two blocks of ice had materialized around his feet, rendering him immobile. The warrior frowned then wriggled, trying to break free of the ice to no success. When he realized that he couldn’t kick his way through the frozen barriers, Kualus’ enemy smiled then glanced at him.
“Did you really think a couple of ice cubes could stop me?” he chuckled darkly. Kualus didn’t reply. His brow creased into a frown as he tried to work out what "Terminator" was doing. The Ex-Dark Hunter had no Cordak bullets left in his blaster because he had used them all on the unfortunate winged Rahi. His Mace wasn’t exactly a long distance weapon either. His enemy was in no position to be teasing him. “How wrong you are” giggled "Terminator" as he swung his Mace.
The spiked weapon struck one of the blocks of ice and reduced it to shards. The sound of glass shattering flooded the alleyway as the rock-hard ice splintered. "Terminator" took a second swipe at the same block then wriggled again and let his armored foot burst out of the solid ice. He broke the other ice cube with one clean swing then turned to face the startled Toa of Ice.
Kualus was expecting him to advance. His enemy was armed with a mace, an empty Cordak Blaster, his claws, and a Kanohi Felnas – all close ranged weapons. Even the empty Cordak Blaster was heavy enough to do some considerable damage in hand to hand combat. But "Terminator" surprised Kualus. Instead of charging forwards he raised his left arm and opened out his clawed fingers. A small mechanism spring out of his wrist and a Rhotuka Spinner materialized. Before Kualus could react a whirl of green energy had surged through the air and struck him. The Toa grunted as he was rocked backwards and had to stab his Sub Zero spear into the ground for support.
Kualus felt dizzy. A wave of unbalance flooded over him as he gripped his spear tighter. It felt like he was at sea, on a boat that was being thrown around by violent waves. His eyes seemed to blur as his vision was obscured by jots. His head hurt.
However, despite his sudden loss of balance, Kualus breathed in and tried to steady himself. He raised his left hand and aimed it in his enemy’s direction. “Brave words to say to a Toa” he growled. “Now let’s see you say them with your mouth frozen shut.”
Kualus squinted, trying to ignore the pain in his head long enough to focus his Elemental Powers. The image of "Terminator" with half of his ugly Felnas encased in ice appealed to Kualus. He tried to visualize it as he activated his Ice powers. Nothing happened.
The Toa of Ice’s frown deepened when he realized that "Terminator" wasn’t frozen solid. “What the - ?” The Toa trailed off as he recoiled his hand to examine it. Toa carried tools to channel their powers through but he should just as easily have been able to control his powers with his hand, it wasn’t like he hadn’t before. It was one of the basics to being a Toa that he had learnt centuries ago. Something was wrong.
“Ah, that would be the effect of my Rhotuka” chuckled "Terminator" as he edged forwards slowly, as if he were taking his time. “It blocks all elemental and Kanohi powers of the target that it hits, which is you in case you forgot. Right now you’re a sitting Dermis Turtle.” The Ex-Dark Hunter smiled wickedly as he flexed his claws.
Kualus glared at him. His balance seemed to have returned for the moment but his Elemental Powers clearly had not. “I’m a Toa” he growled defiantly. “And Toa don’t sit for freaks like you.”
The Toa of Ice raised his Sub Zero spear. The weapon wasn’t just any old Toa Tool. This one had been crafted by the Brotherhood of Makuta’s best weapon-smiths. It did not rely on Elemental Power to be used. Kualus had always thought of that as inconvenient if an enemy managed to get a hold of his spear but now he could not be any more grateful for it. Kualus twirled his Sub-Zero spear above his head. He had trained with combat staffs for years and now was probably the best time to show off his skills. It was as good a time as any for a distraction. The Toa growled as he plunged his weapon into the pavement. Ice snaked through the cracks and expanded, covering the pavement as it reached "Terminator"’s feet. The assassin swore as he lost his footing on the slippery surface and nearly fell over. By the time he had managed to steady himself again Kualus had managed to pick up his broken Rhotuku launching shield. A sly smile slipped across his mask for the first time in years as a plan formed in his mind. Without needing a run-up, the Toa threw his shield forwards and charged onto the ice, landing on top of the damaged weapon.
Kualus had never considered a shield to be a weapon before, not until now at least. Sure it had once fired Rhotuku but shields were generally considered to be more like armor than actual weapons. The Toa of Ice cracked the slightest of smiles as the shield rammed into "Terminator"’s feet and send the Dark Hunter tumbling to the ground. He landed mask-first on the patch of ice with a painful crunch. While his enemy was busy groaning Kualus decided to take advantage of the moment to strike him with his spear. The bladed part of the weapon struck the ex-Dark Hunter in the side of the mask, leaving him to howl in pain. A small gash appeared on the Kanohi Felnas, allowing Kualus to see the ridges on the inside of the Kanohi. He caught a glimpse of his enemy’s true face as it twisted behind the mask into a snarl.
What happened next did not compliment Kualus’ years of experience. Before Kualus realized what was happening, "Terminator" had sprung to his feet, turned to face the Toa of Ice then swung his right arm. The former Toa Hagah managed to duck backwards and dodge his attacker’s clenched fist. However, the assassin’s Cordak Blaster was too large for Kualus to block. The empty weapon struck the Toa in the side of the head, leaving a sharp dent in the side of his Kanohi.
Toa Kualus gasped then stepped back. There was pain, lots and lots of pain. He could feel the dent in the Kanohi pressing against his head. There a painful ringing in his audio receptors that made him want to scream. Adrenaline pumped through his body, sending bursts of blood through to his head. The Toa was sure that he felt a thin trickle the crimson liquid begin to seep from the dent and onto his Kanohi.
But his enemy was far from finished. "Terminator" charged forwards and swung his mace. Kualus followed the ex-Dark Hunter’s eyes. They were looking at the Toa’s torso, causing the Toa of Ice to conclude that there would be a solid blow in the chest. However, Kualus was surprised to find that the swipe fell low and the mace looped around his ankles. Startled by how "Terminator" had managed to trick him, there was nothing to stop the idle swipe of the assassin’s wrist that brought Kualus crashing to the ground. With his feet incased around the mace he could do little other than fall and land flat on his already dented Mask of Rahi Control, just as "Terminator" had done moments ago. How quickly the advantage could shift in a fight.
At moments like that Kualus just wished he could roll over and die. He didn’t want to rise again, what was the point if he would only be struck down again? The fight was already over. His Elemental Powers had been stolen, he was injured, and his Rhotuku Launching shield was broken. All that awaited him now was the final blow, the blow that he had been living in fear of for centuries.
Kualus closed his eyes and waited for "Terminator" to just kill him. He had no more energy to keep fighting. He could barely cry out in pain as the bulky assassin’s claws jug into his armor.
When the Felnas wearer finally realized that his enemy was exhausted he chuckled darkly. “Finally giving up, Toa?” he taunted. When Kualus didn’t dignify him with a response he squeezed him harder, letting his claws pierce the Toa of Ice’s armor. His pained groaned suddenly escalated into a shout. He was toying with Kualus.
Once again, the former Toa Hagah felt the Protosteel mace wrap around him, only, this time, his waist was wrapped around it. As the Once-Dark Hunter hurled him through the air he silently cursed the craftsman who had made that damn Mace.
Kualus landed with a sharp thud. He heard something crack then he lost the feeling in his right arm as he skidded along the ground. He imagined sparks flying and dancing around the market place as he slowly tumbled to a halt near to where Lhikan and Harma lay buried beneath the rubble.
Only, there were no longer masked by the rock debris. Kualus shuck his head, trying to shock himself into focusing. The Toa of Fire and Matoran had been dug out of their stone prison and now lay unconscious on the pavement. Kualus was also mildly surprised to see a female Vortixx kneeling over Lhikan. That was strange, he had not seen her enter the alleyway. Surely "Terminator" would have spotted her at some point – or had he been too busy trying to pummel Kualus? Either way, he’d done a decent job with the latter.
The Toa of Ice grunted then tried to focus his eyes on the Vortixx. At first thought he feared that she was "Terminator"’s back up – perhaps another member of this group that was employing the assassin who had been pounding him somewhat recently. But Kualus soon realized that she was not. His eyes widened when he realized who she actually was.
The Vortixx looked up from Lhikan to face Kualus then glanced at "Terminator" idly. Kualus knew her, he’d known this particular Vortixx for centuries. This shifty Xian had come to Kualus’ attention several centuries ago. Following the start of the war against the Brotherhood, Turaga Matoro had secured an alliance with the island of Xia, which had promised the island’s leader that Metru-Nui would open its gates to and Vortixx refugees who were displaced by the war. To ensure that the Turaga did not back down on his deal, the Xian secret service had placed an agent in the city, a female Vortixx named Racasix. He was looking at that very not-so-secret-agent at that very moment.
Racasix cracked a smile as she eyed Kualus. “Looks like you could use a hand.” Her voice almost amazed Kualus. It seemed both flirty and serious at the same time. Perhaps it was the smile. Vortixx smiling is never a good thing.
“Don’t you have other Toa to stalk, Vortixx?” he growled as he tried to stand. Despite Racasix’s role as a cover agent in the city she had run into trouble with the Toa many a time. Lhikan hated her with a fiery passion. Kualus wasn’t sure what to think. For a Vortixx who was paid to cripple his city when instructed, she was surprisingly useful to the Toa. Although none of them knew her plans she had made it quite clear, on several occasions, that she needed the Toa alive for her. When the Toa were in particularly sticky situation they could usually count on Racasix to be waiting in the shadows and dig them out. He only wondered how long she had been standing there.
“If you keep fighting like that then I’ll have one less Toa to stalk” she giggled. “I’d be out of a job.”
Kualus grunted then glanced at "Terminator". The former Dark Hunter was staring at the two of them in confusion. “I don’t mean to be a bother” he growled sarcastically. “But was I interrupting you two?”
“Not anymore” muttered Racasix as she raised her right arm. Kualus had not seen her arm before because it had been hidden behind Lhikan’s body as the Toa lay on the ground. However, as she raised it, he could see a sleek, long blaster strapped to her wrist. He frowned at the long barrel of the weapon then realized that the end was glowing with orange energy. As the Vortixx aimed the weapon at the bulky assassin the orange glow became brighter and the weapon charged with energy. There was a sudden crackle as the burst of energy exploded out of the Vortixx’s weapon and struck the ex-Dark Hunter square in the chest, sending him rocketing backwards and into the wall of a nearby building. Clouds of dust drifted into the air around the Felnas wearer, obscuring Kualus’ view of his enemy. In seconds the assassin was completely concealed behind the filth. When it eventually settled, "Terminator" lay sprawled and unconscious beneath several bricks.
Kualus tried to swallow up his disbelief and seem professional. He glanced at Racasix then shrugged casually. “That’s one Toa fewer” he muttered darkly.
Racasix frowned. “Excuse me?”
“I was correcting you. You can count the number of Toa so it’s one Toa fewer not less.”
The Vortixx snorted then rose to her feet in one swift, fluid movement. “I thought Toa of Ice were supposed to be chilled.”
“I thought I issued a restraining order against you” grunted Kualus.
Racaisx giggled again as she unstrapped her weapon from her wrist. “I was never one for rules.”
Kualus glared at the Xian agent as she toyed with her blaster, smiling evocatively. The Toa of Ice didn’t stand a chance against her grin. He too began to smile but tried to hide it. Racasix sniggered before the former Toa Hagah decided that it was useless trying to mask his smile.
“It’s good to see you again Kualus” chuckled the female Vortixx in a voice that was somewhere between happy and uncomfortable.
“Likewise… stalker” answered Kualus as he walked over to Lhikan, trying to avoid making eye contact with his old friend. He knew he would just smile if their eyes met.
Kualus kneeled down to tend to Lhikan. Racasix towered over the two Toa as she remained standing. As Kualus had guessed earlier, both the Toa of Fire and Harma were alive, if that was what breathing meant. They were both badly bruised and shaken but they would both live. Lhikan just needed a splash of cold water in his face, which was not hard to come across in Ga-Metru.
It was then that something occurred to Kualus. He frowned and cast his mind back to when "Terminator" had first appeared out of the shadows of the alleyway. The Toa tried to recall what he had said. The ex-Dark Hunter has said something to him, something about his group and their plans. "Terminator" had only been a distraction. He had been sent to deal with Kualus and Lhikan, which meant that the Coliseum was left unguarded and that his team had managed to walk in. "Terminator" had actually told him and he had forgotten.
Kualus swore and leapt to his feet. If the unconscious assassin’s allies were in the Coliseum then all of Karzahni was about to break loose. The Turaga were there, Orkahm and Vhisola were there, hundreds of treasures stolen from the Brotherhood during the war were there. They would he tearing the building apart on their assignment. He had to stop them.
Kualus grabbed his Sub Zero spear then scooped up his broken Rhotuka Launching Shield. Racasix watched him with eyes that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Kane-Ra. The Toa paused, thinking of what to do with Lhikan and Harma. He couldn’t leave them lying in the street. He needed Lhikan’s help. The situation was so desperate that he needed Racasix’s help but somehow he doubted the Vortixx would be offering her aid in defending the Turaga that she would be killing the second such orders came to her.
“You’re leaving?” she asked with a glare. “Already?”
“I have to” answered Kualus as he searched frantically for a bucket of water. He was relieved to find that one of Harma’s wooden crates hadn’t been tipped over when his stall had been blown to splinters. Without bothering to scoop the fish out of the crate, Kualus poured the contents of it onto Lhikan. The cold, filthy water struck the Toa of Fire like an iron fist. He coughed and spluttered before gasping deeply as he returned to consciousness.
Before Lhikan had been given a chance to take in his surroundings, Kualus had looped his arm around his fellow Toa’s waist and had hoisted him to his feet. Surprised, the Hau wearing Toa stumbled then glanced at Kualus.
“What in Mata Nui’s name happened?” he asked as he rubbed his head.
“He happened” answered Kualus as he pointed towards "Terminator" with his Sub Zero spear. The Toa of Fire glanced at Racasix then looked in the direction of the unconscious Dark Hunter. When Kualus saw Lhikan frown he became confused. The Toa of Ice exchanged a puzzled expression with Racasix then looked at what he was pointing at. "Terminator" was gone.
“How could he have moved?” gawped Kualus as he lowered his spear and turned to face the area of the wall that "Terminator" had damaged when Racasix had shot him.
“I’m not sure,” grunted the Vortixx lazily “but I think he might know.”
Kualus tilted his head to see two figures slip into the darkness of the alleyway. The first was "Terminator", who was clearly out cold. The second appeared to be a Skakdi. He wore blue and green armor and carried an axe. The Skakdi turned to face the group then addressed them.
“You never saw me here” he growled menacingly, his unnatural Skakdi-smile twisted into a frown. “You don’t know what happened, you don’t know who I am and I want to keep it that way. I can give you nothing other than my word that I am on your side. So please, don’t follow me.” With those parting words, the unnamed Skakdi picked "Terminator" back up again and dragged him into the darkness, out of sight.
Lhikan flinched and tried to chase the Skakdi only for Kualus to place a hand on his shoulder. “Let him go” grunted the Toa of Ice. “We’ll see him again. Besides, we have bigger problems right now, mainly the Coliseum being raided.”
Lhikan blinked again in shock. “The Coliseum?” he spluttered. “How long was I out?”
“Probably long enough for "Terminator"’s buddies to kill every Toa and Turaga in the building” answered Racasix as she faced the Coliseum. The metal structure loomed in the distance. It was mio away, so far out of reach. It would take a good twenty minutes to get over there by chute, which seemed unlikely with the sin-black storm clouds above their heads. It looked like they were going to have to do the journey on foot, which would leave both Toa completely exhausted by the time they arrived at the entrance – a necessary sacrifice but one that would still be in vain.
“We’d better get moving” ordered Kualus in an icy tone.
Lhikan nodded, eager to leave Racasix behind in the alleyway. “Agreed” he replied in a cold that was just as cold. The two Toa spun around and broke into a run towards the end of the alleyway and into the busy street of Ga-Matoran. “I just hope there’s something left to arrive at.”

An eternity seemed to pass as Turaga Matoro lay sprawled on the ground. Nobody moved. Nobody breathed. All eyes were fixed on his body. They watched his motionless chest, trying to tell whether or not they were imagining him to be breathing or if he was actually dead.
Then, finally, the Glatorian with the chain gun grunted and lowered his weapon. He turned to face his two remaining allies then voiced a command. “One of you check him.”
“What?” growled the hideous male Vortixx – who was still busy pinning Tollubo to the ground. He rose to his feet slowly. There was no reason why he should continue to crush the Toa of Light. He was obviously too shocked to pose a threat, which was true. Tollubo was rooted to the floor as he stared at the body of Turaga Matoro.
“Check if he’s dead” repeated the lead Glatorian.
“Why don’t you do it?” Cobarox ordered, as if unnerved by the deceased Turaga. Matoro’s reputation exceeded him. Even in death his killers were scared that he might still be alive.
“Just walk over there, look at his damn head-light, and tell me if it’s still flashing!” ordered the Glatorian.
Tollubo swallowed hard, trying desperately to hold back the vomit that was brewing up in his mouth. How could this have happened? The Toa decided it best to keep the question to himself at the risk of looking like an even bigger fool. Instead he simply watched as the Turaga lay unmoving before him. There was no question about it, Matoro was stone cold dead. His eyes were cold, still, and unblinking. It was an expression that could not be faked. Yet, there was something wrong with the Turaga’s body. Tollubo probably would have noticed it if he was a little more open minded. Instead he just lay on the ground staring at the Turaga. The Toa of Light watched the male Vortixx – who he assumed to be the Cobarox who the Steltian Laborer had called out to earlier – lumbered over to the Turaga’s side. He bowed his ugly head and placed an oversized audio receptor against the Turaga’s chest. After a moment of silence he returned to his feet and shrugged.
The lead Glatorian – the one who had murdered Matoro – grunted then stepped closer to inspect the corpse. He poked the Turaga with the muzzle of his chain gun then muttered something to himself. He then turned to face Tollubo, the chain gun aimed directly at the Toa’s head.
“On your feet Toa” he growled. The Toa of Light glared up at him, imagining daggers coming out of his eyes and digging into the Glatorian’s helmet.
Reluctantly, Tollubo rose to his feet. Before he could react the acrobatic female Glatorian had grabbed both of his wrists and was holding them behind his back. He grunted and took a kick her. To his surprise he found that his foot had connected with the female’s ankle and she winced. Her grip only tightened.
“Look at the body” ordered the blue armored Glatorian with the gun. Normally Tollubo didn’t take orders from Glatorian. Normally he didn’t take orders from anybody. But today wasn’t exactly a normal day – and the Glatorian did have a gun, which complicated matters.
The Toa grunted then stepped forwards, making it clear that he was finding the female Glatorian’s grip on his wrists annoying. They obviously didn’t want him dead – not yet at least. If these three murderers had wanted that then Tollubo would probably be lying next to Matoro and Kapura with a dozen bullet holes in his chest. The Toa was in luck, if he could be considered lucky to be in such a situation. Tollubo did as he was told and took a look at Matoro’s body – who knew, if he was obedient he might get on the Glatorian’s good side.
The Turaga was obviously dead – just by looking into his eyes Tollubo could tell that he had departed. His heart-stone was dark and cold, his fingers were limp and wilted as his staff had rolled out of his hands.
“What’s wrong with the body?” demanded the lead Glatorian.
Tollubo shrugged and turned away from the Turaga to face the chain gun carrier who thought wearing a Hau Nuva on his chest made him look good. “I don’t see anything” replied the Toa with venom in his voice. “He’s dead, clearly.”
“Then where’s the blood?” muttered the Glatorian. Tollubo paused then glanced at Matoro again uncertainly. Sure enough the Turaga’s body was as dry as a piece of armor in the Bara Magna wastelands. There was no blood. There were no bullet holes. But Matoro was dead.
Tollubo felt the muzzle of the Glatorian’s chain gun cut into his back sharply. To his discomfort, the Glatorian’s mouth also appeared next to his audio receptor. “Tell us how he did that or your spine is going to torn into – ”
“Mudro!” yelled the supposed Cobarox. “We need to get out of here. We’ve got what we came for now let’s not waste time with the Toa.”
Mudro, the Glatorian who Tollubo had assumed to be the leader of the group, did not react for a while. His gun remained in Tollubo’s back until he grunted and turned around again to face his team mates. Bad decision.
The second the Glatorian had turned his back Tollubo spun around and rammed the sharp hilt of his Light Sword into his enemy’s back. Mudro roared in pain as blood appeared and splattered both Tollubo and his weapon.
Caught off guard, Cobarox and the female Glatorian thumbed for their weapons, desperate to get a swipe at the Toa of Light. However, all of a sudden, the single Toa was no longer their biggest problem. Matoro’s body suddenly tensed and he gasped on pain. The Turaga twitched and he sat up, breathing rapidly with wide eyes and a mildly pained expression across his Noble Iden. He had spontaneously returned to life, shocking all four of the beings before him, including Tollubo.
The Toa of Light immediately began trying to think of what had happened to the Turaga. He had definitely appeared dead when he had been checked but he had not been hit by any of the bullets as there were no bullet holes. Perhaps he had used his Kanohi Iden. As far as Tollubo had previously been concerned the mask was pointless. He had always thought of it as a mask that allowed the user to fall over dead and be vulnerable, not the type of Kanohi he would use any more often than a Kaukau or a Pehkui but still one he liked slightly better than the awful Mask of Water breathing. While the Iden allowed the user to literally drop dead, Tollubo was beginning to realize how a wearer could use the mask to drop dead as a spray of bullets rushed towards them. Matoro must have activated his Iden the second he had seen the chain gun then fallen down to the ground a fraction of a second too quickly for the bullets to have hit him. A shocking theory but, then again, Tollubo was still surprised the Turaga was alive.
There was a moment of silence before anybody moved. When the moment had passed Mudro growled, allowing his facial expression to twist into an angry snarl. It was just a guess but Tollubo could anticipate what happened next – give any corrupted Glatorian with a trigger finger a gun and somebody ending up dead was inevitable.
Thinking on his feet, Tollubo quickly scanned the area for something to use. The Kavinika of a female Glatorian had managed to block his Elemental Powers but he sure as Karzahni wasn’t going to let her do anything else to him. His mask power should still work and he still had a sword in his hands – which was not good news for any of the three murderers before him.
Tollubo closed his eyes and concentrated. He wore a Kanohi Tryna but had never used it before – why should he have? He’d only been a Toa for a couple of hours. Struggling to focus, Tollubo raised his arms and clenched his fists. He imagined a tunnel between his mind and the nearest dead thing in the room. The mask allowed him to scan the vault for deceased bodies to manipulate. He found only one: Kapura’s.
Using as much command as he dared to use, he silently ordered the deceased Turaga of Fire to leap into the air and grab Mudro’s chain gun. To his surprise, his command had worked. There was a flash of red armor as the corpse of Turaga Kapura sprung into life and hurled itself at Mudro.
However, there was one factor that Tollubo had not anticipated. He had watched the Glatorian touch the Ignika. Unless a Glatorian was destined to wear the Ignika – which was bordering on impossible since they couldn’t use Kanohi – then it meant that the leader of the group had been cursed by the mask. Tollubo watched as Kapura burst into flames, just like his hand had done when he had touched the Glatorian before. It was difficult to keep his concentration on the burning Turaga’s body but he had succeeded in stunning the Glatorian, which bought him a couple of extra seconds. The Toa decided not to waste them.
A blood-curdling roar suddenly burst from Tollubo’s mouth as he broke into a run. He stormed forwards then rammed into his enemy, allowing his shoulder to connect sharply with Mudro’s chain gun a split second before he was going to pull the trigger.
The force of Tollubo’s strike meant that his cursed Glatorian enemy lost control of the direction in which the chain gun was firing. As it swiveled around the weapon churned and roared as it spat out shell cases and bullets – bullets which plunged directly into the male Vortixx’s armor.
Cobarox screamed and crumpled to the ground in a bloody mess. His armor was cracked and his fresh was punctured. Blood was pouring out of the bullet holes in his legs around his waist. None of the shots appeared to be fatal or to have struck him above his chest but it would still be a long time before he was easy on his feet.
Tollubo ignored the screams of the injured Vortixx as the other Glatorian – the female – decided to rejoin the fight. With a blink of the eye, Tollubo commanded the corpse of Turaga Kapura – which was still on fire – to start fighting the Glatorian. The corpse shot forwards at an impossible speed. As it had no consciousness of its own there was nothing to slow it down. It did not falter because of aching limbs of from the pain of the fire because it no longer had feeling. Instead the body clenched its fists and began trying to punch the Glatorian. It did not miss because Tollubo had specifically ordered it to hit the female. Seeing as it was now dead Tollubo’s orders were its soul meaning in life – if its strange state of reanimation could be counted as life.
However, the burning Turaga was not animated for much longer. There was a flash of pain as the muzzle of Mudro’s gun struck Tollubo in the back of the head. The Toa grunted and stumbled forwards slightly, losing control over the Turaga’s body. When the Toa realized that both the female Glatorian and this Mudro-person were surrounding him he realized that the situation was not in his favor. He watched his last slither of hope fade away as Kapura continued to burn. If he was left like that for much longer then there would be no need for a cremation, which was somewhat ironic with him being a Turaga of Fire. Tollubo wished he could have laughed at his joke.
The Toa of Light felt a hand wrap around his throat. Judging by the sudden burning and the pain that came with it he guessed it was the hand of the cursed Glatorian. The Tryna-wearer swore and choked before trying to scream. His neck was on fire as Mudro chuckled. The Glatorian had finally discovered that he could control his new-found power, which was bad for Tollubo because he didn’t have any water – which meant that his neck was still burning away.
The Toa crumpled to his knees as he tried to slap the flames out. The only way to stop the fire on his neck from burning was by stopping the oxygen from getting to it and the best way to do that was by clamping his hands around his throat and strangle himself, something that would prove difficult as he was choking.
The Toa’s prayers seemed to be answered when two bursts of Light crackled through the air and struck both Mudro and the female Glatorian in their chests. They were forced backwards as Toa Jollun appeared from behind one of the racks of Kanohi with Orkahm behind him. Vhisola was presumably behind the rack as well but Tollubo couldn’t tell. The fact that his neck was burning was probably the biggest reason for not knowing.
Tollubo continued to choke until Orkahm ran over to him and knelt beside him. The Toa of Air noticed the burning immediately and raised his hands. Tollubo could feel the pressure easing as a vacuum appeared around his neck. He felt uneasy, the last time the rookie Toa of Air had tried to make a vacuum he had destroyed an entire rack of Kanohi. Now that he was concentrating his powers on Tollubo’s neck made the Toa wonder if his head was still going to be attached to his neck when the Toa was finished.
The Toa breathed a sigh of relief when Orkahm lowered his hands. He could not feel his neck as the flames had numbed his flesh. He imagined a black, burnt hand-mark around his throat where Mudro had gripped him but that didn’t matter. As long as he was alive he could live with a few burns.
“Where’s Vhisola?” demanded Tollubo as he turned to watch Jollun shower the two Glatorian in balls of Light from his wrist-mounted blaster.
“She’s still unconscious” answered Orkahm. “I need to get back to her, I’m useless here.” Before Tollubo could say another word the Toa of Air had turned around and was running away again to tend to his female team mate. Tollubo felt like he had been abandoned suddenly. He supposed there was nothing left to do but help Jollun to fight the intruders.
The Toa was suddenly pained by his chest. He winced and pressed his left hand against the area of his torso that was stinging and realized that it was his gash. Mere hours ago Makuta Karabak had kicked him with one of his Buzz-Saw Feet Additions and opened up a cut that had downed the Toa of Light. Normally he would be in no condition to fight with the gash in his chest reopening, with his Elemental powers blocked and with the burn around his neck. His body felt like it was screaming at him, begging him to stop. The Toa imagined Mesa’s voice in his head as he stood there, clutching the wound.
He had loved the Av-Matoran from the moment he had met her.
Ah Mesa, he thought. Tollubo recalled the first time he had spoken to the female back on Karda-Nui. He had tried to remember every single second he had been with her. He had loved her and she had loved him too. Watching her die back in his universe had been the greatest pain he had ever had to endure. It was as if his heart-light had been torn out and been stuffed down his throat. The agony had been unendurable. The fact that he had allowed her to sacrifice herself for Betak had made his insides cringe. Would he have done the same for her? He doubted it.
So had he really loved her? Tollubo wasn’t sure anymore. Every time he looked at Mesa’s alternate self he felt like he knew her less and less. The fact this version of the Av-Matoran had never met him made him feel like Muaka dung.
But that wasn’t all that it made him. The thought of Mesa’s counterpart made Tollubo angry. After he had grieved the female for a full year it made him want to tear his own head off slowly and painfully. He would have given so much for her to be alive again just yesterday but today he didn’t know. This Mesa was different. She was nothing like the Matoran who he had fallen in love with and that made him angry.
The Toa growled menacingly as he eyed Mudro, who was standing dazed as Jollun moved in to focus on the female Glatorian. Fire burned in the Toa’s eyes, fire that was fueled on a mixture of love and hatred. He wasn’t sure which it was. He didn’t know which of the two emotions he felt for Mesa anymore, but one thing was for sure – it was time to move on.
Mesa had been dead for over a year. Ever step that Tollubo had taken, ever breath that he had inhaled, every rotten Thornax fruit he had been forced to eat, everything that he had done over the past year he had done in grief. The fact that Mesa was dead because of him was a weight that had been on his shoulder for too long. It was time to let her go. It was time to move on. No more grieving, no more memories of better times, no more regrets.
Tollubo reached into his pack with his free hand. He felt his fingers wrap around a weapon. It felt unfamiliar and cold. Only then did it strike him that he was looking for his Long Swords – the weapons that Mesa had given him centuries ago when he was a Matoran. He was going to throw them on the ground then crush them with his armored foot had they been there.
Confused, the Toa pulled the weapon out of his pack to see that it was a Thornax Launcher. He frowned when he tried to recall when he had last used a Thronax Launcher then recalled how he had blown Kentis’ head off with the weapon. He must have kept it in his pack while he transformed into a Toa.
Feeling slightly robbed by the absence of the weapons that he wanted to destroy, Tollubo decided to vent his anger towards his fists as he approached Mudro. When he realized that both of his hands were being used he decided to just shoot a damn Thornax at his enemy. The Glatorian chuckled as he aimed his chain gun at the Toa. Tollubo growled in turn and fired his Thornax Launcher, which Mudro managed to block with the side of his bulky chain gun.
“Please, Thornax?” sneered the Glatorian. “I was dodging those while you were still blinking in the sunlight.”
Tollubo grunted then swung his sword at the Glatorian, which the was once again blocked by the chain gun. He was surprised the Glatorian had not simply pulled the trigger yet. “I’ve been killing scum like you since before you figured out won your first arena match” retorted Tollubo as he landed a kick to the Glatorian’s ankle, something that Mudro could not block with his gun. There was a sharp burning sensation in the instant where Tollubo’s foot touched the cursed Glatorian but it wasn’t long enough to start a fire. Mudro winced and thumbed about with his gun, nearly dropping it.
There was another flash of light and the heavens seemed to tear open as a bolt of thunder followed the lightning almost instantly. Tollubo suddenly became aware of how close he was to the broken window. He stole a glance at the broken frame where he had pushed the Steltian Laborer through mere minutes ago. For a second he wondered if the brute had managed to survive the fall. He didn’t really want to check but he knew the Steltian would either be splattered across the ground or somehow have crawled away. Either way, he was probably going to find out the next time he stepped out of the Coliseum, if Mudro let him.
Tollubo’s moment of distraction cost him a slap across the wrist from Mudro’s left hand, which left a dark burn on his white armor and caused him to drop his Thornax Launcher. The Glatorian sneered as he crushed the weapon with his foot then sniggered as he aimed his weapon at Tollubo’s chest as he rubbed the burn.
The Glatorian’s sneer of a smile became broader as he stepped back and lowered his gun. He was confident, he was taking his time. That told Tollubo that his enemy was arrogant. Arrogant and had a gun. Not a good mix.
“Do you know what I like about this gun?” chuckled Mudro as he began stroking the weapon. When Tollubo didn’t answer he did not scowl like the Toa had expected him to. Instead he chuckled to himself then addressed the Toa of Light again. “I like how powerful it is, that’s why it’s been my personal weapon for years. Do you know what it would do to you if I pulled the trigger?”
Tollubo shrugged. He was still angry but Mudro seemed to be calming him down somehow. For a Glatorian who burnt everybody he touched, Tollubo was ironically finding him soothing and collected. He knew that the Glatorian had to be manipulating him somehow. Tollubo’s anger didn’t just go away. The anger he felt right now had been burning away in his heart for over a year. He was angry because of Mesa. He doubted even a wearer of a Mask of Charisma could douse the fire that was his rage yet Mudro was doing a pretty good job.
“Depends if the bullets hit me or you” responded Tollubo coldly as he gripped his sword tighter. Once again it was his only remaining weapon, his only lifeline. He wasn’t about to lose that too.
Mudro looked blank, as if confused. Then he grinned, like a Muaka that had just spotted its prey. “They’d hit you” he chuckled. “If I’m firing, they’d hit you.
Tollubo shrugged again as he felt his anger seeping away slowly. “From there perhaps.”
“From anywhere” corrected Mudro as the side of his mouth curled into a cruel smile. “From here, from fifty bio away, from a kio away. If I’m firing they would hit you.”
“Show me your hand” muttered Tollubo as he flexed his fingers on the handle of his sword. He didn’t intend to slice the Glatorian’s fingers off… not yet at least.
Mudro looked blank again then shrugged and raised his right hand after transferring his gun to his other hand. He was clearly unafraid of Tollubo. He had no reason why he should fear a Toa who couldn’t control his own elemental powers. Until Jollun finished fighting the female he had all the time in the world to talk about his chain gun.
“Muaka dung!” snorted Tollubo after seeing the Glatorian’s hand.
Muaka dung?” frowned the Glatorian, both confused by the term and by why Tollubo had said it.
“For sure” grunted the Toa. “That gun’s massive and you carry it one handed. I’ve seen it shake and vibrate as it shoots. Plus it’s as hard as rock. Pull the trigger and your hand gets pounded by the recoil. If you used that gun a lot your hand would be all rough and callused. So don’t bother telling me you’ve had it for years and don’t tell me you can hit me from a kio away with that thing if you haven’t been practicing with it.”
Mudro stared at Tollubo, a vacant, unsurprised look on his helmet. Then he smiled again. “I lied” he giggled darkly. “You’re right, I picked this thing up on my way over here from the ruins of Xia. But you really should have be paying attention.”
Mudro’s last sentence surprised Tollubo. The Toa paused, trying to figure out what he was talking about when he felt something strike his back and he crumpled to the ground. The Toa yelled as he hit the floor. He could feel the painful sting of a bruise as it developed on his back. He was sure that he was going to wake up tomorrow and find that it wasn’t the only battle scar he was going to be walking away with.
The Toa looked up to see Cobarox standing shakily on his feet before him. His legs were punctured with bullet holes and he wobbled slightly from side to side as he tried to stay steady. He must have struck Tollubo with the hilt of his blade.
Mudro swiped up Tollubo’s sword then hurled it out of the broken window and into the storm. The Toa growled as the Glatorian kneeled down next to him. “You know you’re weapons” remarked the chain gun carrier. “You could be very useful to me if you weren’t such a fool.”
Tollubo was about to refute Mudro’s statement about him being a fool when the Glatorian snarled and landed a punch directly in the center of the gash on Tollubo’s chest. The Toa gasped in pain, as if he had just been stabbed. The short sensation of contact with Mudro had left his chest burning, directly in its weakest point.
“Just so you know,” grunted Mudro in a serious tone “we’re serious here. Totally serious. We’re not playing games. We’re here to do three things for our masters. The first thing is steal the Ignika. The second is to kill you and your little band of Toa. And the third is to completely cripple this city. Our masters don’t want any resistance left at all and we are going to make sure that happens.”
“But you didn’t know about me and Jollun” wheezed Tollubo as he tried to sit up. “We only arrived in this universe yesterday. You would have gotten your orders before that. You’re not supposed to kill me.”
“You’re a Toa, aren’t you?” grunted Cobarox. “Our mission is to kill all of the Toa in Metru-Nui. You are a Toa and you are in Metru-Nui. But now it’s like you’re Dermis Turtles. You’re popping up everywhere. Single, forgotten fighters hidden here and there across this universe.”
“Save me the mockery” grunted Tollubo. “I’m no Dermis Turtle.”
Mudro and Cobarox exchanged glances then snorted at Tollubo’s joke while the Toa was forced to stay on the ground fellow them. “Well,” chuckled Mudro “if you’re the best that Metru-Nui has got throw against us then Mata Nui help you.”
Tollubo’s Kanohi Tryna twisted into a dark smile as the fire returned to his eyes. “I’m from Krennato-Nui” he growled. As the two murderers before him frowned at each other Tollubo roared and propelled himself forwards with a burst of light energy. The Toa wasn’t surprised to find that his elemental powers had finally returned to him. He could feel the energy flowing through him once again. He felt like he could fight a thousand Makuta with the determination that boiled from his newfound hatred for Mesa and these intruders. They threatened him, they hurt him, they threatened the Matoran that he had sworn to protect. He wasn’t going to let them get away with it. Not anymore. Maybe he would have shown mercy before but Tollubo had lost too much today. He had lost his dignity, he had lost his love for Mesa, he had lost his elemental powers, and now he was about to lose every single moral rule he knew as he threw himself at Cobarox with blood in his eyes.
The Toa of Light tackled the Vortixx with the force of a Kikanalo. The Vortixx grunted as he was thrown backwards with Tollubo on top of him. The Toa of Light began pounding him with his fists, striking his ugly head again and again until blood appeared on his knuckles. Tollubo growled as the Vortixx squirmed and yelped, dropping his Cordak Blaster. Before he could regain it the Toa noticed the weapon and grabbed it and aimed the weapon at Mudro. The Toa froze when he realized that the Glatorian now had his chain gun aimed directly at Tollubo’s head. The Toa of Light raised the Cordak Blaster slightly until it was trained on Mudro’s helmet. Both the Toa and the Glatorian were aiming weapons at each other.
A stalemate.

Orkahm was getting desperate, not a usual trait for a Toa of Air like himself but Orkahm had never been the easy-going type. Vhisola was still unconscious, which was not good for Orkahm. He knew that he had left both of the strange new Toa to fight off intruders when he barely knew them but he had to tend to Vhisola.
Again he scanned the nearby racks in search of a Kanohi for the Toa of Water. His eyes eventually rested on a Kanohi Garai, which was lying several bio away. Using his Kanohi Matatu, the Toa used his mind to let the mask levitate into the air then fly into his hand. When it rested in his outstretched palm he smiled at his growing control over his mask power.
His happiness was short lived. No sooner had Orkahm begun to examine the Kanohi he notice a massive crack running down the base of the Kanohi. He tapped the crack gently and the mask split in two. The rookie Toa of Air cursed then turned around again in search of another Kanohi for Vhisola. He did not see any others. He saw parts of others. The battle had just about destroyed every single mask that was in this section of the vault. If Turaga Kapura was still alive he would he on his hands and knees begging the fighters to leave the vault and take their battle somewhere else. He very well might have, Orkahm wasn’t sure. All he knew was that the Turaga’s wish had not been fulfilled as the vault floor was covered in splinters of Kanohi.
Orkahm suddenly became aware of the presence of another being. He looked up from Vhisola’s maskless body to see Turaga Matoro standing before him. The Turaga’s hand was wrapped around his usual staff and a much larger staff was in his other hand, the kind of weapon Orkahm expected a Toa to carry instead of a someone Matoro’s size.
“Turaga Matoro!” exclaimed Orkahm. He nearly stood up in surprise. He had not seen the Turaga enter the chamber.
“Toa Orkahm” muttered Matoro in a warm, friendly tone. “How is Vhisola?”
Orkahm glanced at the Toa of Water and shrugged. “Barely awake-conscious” he replied. “I can’t see-find a Kanohi-mask that isn’t smash-broken.”
Matoro nodded slowly then placed the larger of his two staffs on Vhisola’s lap. He reached into his pack and thumbed around for a moment before producing a battered but shiny silver Kanohi. The mask seemed plain and smooth in the dim light of the vault. It had several smaller ridges nearer the mouth and had two perfectly carved eyeholes.
“I don’t suppose this will help?” asked the Turaga as Orkahm took the Kanohi and pressed it against Vhisola’s maskless face. Almost instantly he could feel the hum of energy as his team mate slowly returned to consciousness. After a few seconds her eyes opened the blinked from behind the new mask.
“Where did you see-find this Kanohi-mask?” asked Orkahm as he glanced at the Turaga. “When I last check-looked they were all crush-shattered.”
“That would be because I didn’t find it” chuckled Matoro. “That Kanohi used to belong to a great Toa, a member of Lhikan’s old team in fact.” The Turaga smiled sadly, as if lost in an ancient memory. “It is a Mask of Liquification, a very powerful Kanohi in the correct hands.”
Vhisola grunted then threw herself to her feet and snatched up the staff before she landed on her feet. “Then I’ll do his memory proud” she muttered before twirling the staff in her fingers, winking at Orkahm, then charging off into the battle, leaving both Matoro and Orkahm behind the racks.

Toa Jollun had never been light on his feet, even when he had been a Matoran. He had always been the burly type – the type that was terrible at dancing. Dodging jabs and kicks from an acrobatic Glatorian was not how he had envisioned his return to the Coliseum. In fact, he pitied the person who had.
The Glatorian’s name was Juulant. She had said something about that and how it would be the last name he ever heard or some other clichéd trash. Jollun hadn’t really been listening. Ducking back and dodging seemed to be taking up all of his energy. Juulant on the other hand didn’t seem to have any limits. One second she was in front of him, the next she had slipped between his legs and was behind him, another instant later she would be balanced on one of the racks that had once been used to store the Kanohi. Just watching her seemed to be making Jollun tired and that wasn’t his only problem.
He couldn’t hit a girl. Even if she was an evil, mutated, corrupted, acid-shooting, annoying female she was still a female. Jollun simply could not bring himself to land a blow on her. Even if he could he doubted he would be able to hit her. She’d probably do a back flip and end up behind him again. Not the ideal place to have an enemy that could shoot orbs of corrosive sludge – not if you wanted to keep the armor on your back.
“Interesting strategy” remarked Jollun as he raised blaster and steadied his Light Prong. “Showing me ballet in hopes that it will make me dizzy.” His comment earned him a sharp kick in the chest as Juulant threw herself towards him. Jollun managed to duck quickly to his right as he swung his blaster. The barrel of the weapon connected with the Glatorian’s back sharply, causing her to lose her balance and plummet to the ground. The female landed in a heap but sprung to her feet again. She leapt into the air and fired a sphere of acid in Jollun’s direction. Luckily, she had fired the orb too earlier and the acid sizzled past the Toa’s shoulder, centimeters away from his head.
Unwilling to continue with the hopeless skirmish, Jollun activated his Huna Nuva and disappeared from sight. At the same time he raised his Light Prong and used his Light powers to create a hologram of himself about a bio in front of him. The Glatorian landed, spun around then threw herself into the air again. Correctly anticipating Juulant to try and strike the hologram, Jollun raised his other arm and fired his Light blaster. A surge of light energy crackled from the device and struck his enemy in the thigh. She shrieked as she was thrown backwards into one of the racks. Unable to jump off of the falling metal structure, Juulant bounced off the frame and landed on the ground with a painful sounding CRACK. Jollun winced whilst he imagined the taste of blood in her mouth and the throbbing in her head. He couldn’t say that somebody had done that to him before but he knew it had to heard – and he had experienced pain before.
Still using his Huna Nuva, Jollun decided to make his hologram-self approach Juulant – a wise decision. No sooner had his illusion taken a step forwards a sphere of acid shot through his intangible chest and struck the roof of the vault. Jollun resisted the urge to make a low whistle at how quickly the acid ate through the metal.
“Show yourself, coward” dared Juulant as she raised her weapons – a pointless gesture as Jollun could still see her, but he wasn’t about to tell her that.
The Toa of Light raised his Light Prong and let another jet of Light burst from the tip, striking Juulant in the chest and singeing her twisted, mutated armor. The Glatorian hissed then fired two blobs of acid. Jollun spent about a second wondering what term he would use to describe acid. He wasn’t sure but, judging by how quickly the acid was coming towards him, he decided it best just to refer to them as blobs. The Toa of Light raised his arms to cover his eyes then took a dive for the ground. He felt tiny drops of the corrosive substance burn his back before he landed hard and scraped against the ground but he was otherwise untouched by the acid.
The Toa grunted and looked up. He had lost the concentration to use his Huna Nuva when he dove for the ground. Now he was vulnerable as Juulant skipped closer, as if their battle was some form of charade – which was because Jollun hadn’t won yet.
Thinking quickly, Jollun decided to plan his next move. He expected Juulant was going to land about a bio in front of him, then spring into the air and shoot him in the back of the head with acid while she somersaulted in mid-air. She was expecting him to move backwards, possibly to the left or right, but not forwards. For that reason the Toa decided to dive forwards. He landed on the ground just before Juulant did, causing the Glatorian to land on top of him.
Jollun made no attempt to pretend that the force of Juulant’s jump had not hurt him. Essentially, because he had moved forward, he had made her jump onto his back. Painful in the short term but useful in the long term because it meant she landed strangely. Surely enough the Glatorian stumbled and tripped. She had expected to land on the flat, cold ground then sprint back into the air. Jollun’s back complicated matters and made her fall over flat on her face.
The Toa of Light grunted then threw himself on top of the Glatorian, pinning her down. Juulant hissed and tried to fire another ball of acid at him only for it to miss his completely and land in the center of the room near the burning remains of Turaga Kapura. Jollun gasped when he saw the flames from the deceased Turaga lick at the acid as it began to flow towards the Turaga. Juulant saw it too and swore. Both the Toa and the Glatorian returned to their feet and dove for cover as the flames ignited the acid.

There was an almighty explosion. Tollubo did not know where it had come from, he was just glad that it had been there to cause a distraction as flames burnt through the air and sizzled against whatever they landed on. Both the Toa and the Glatorian turned their heads to stare at the firry inferno that had come from the where Turaga Kapura had been lying. Tollubo guessed the Turaga’s body had finally been incinerated - He’d gone out with a bang.
But the fire wasn’t the only thing that was beginning to worry Tollubo. Cobarox had struggled to his punctured feet and had joined Mudro’s side again. The Toa of Light grunted and threw his now sword-less right arm forwards, letting a ball of Light rocket out of his hands and into Mudro’s helmet, blinding the Glatorian for the moment. Stunned, Mudro took a step backwards as Tollubo grabbed the end of his chain gun and yanked it out of his hands. Tollubo ignored the voice in his head that told him to flip the weapon around and open fire at the two Brotherhood servants. If he had done that then he would have broken the Toa code within hours of becoming a Toa. They weren’t worth in indignity. Instead the Toa decided to throw the heavy chain gun aside. He knew he would probably regret not throwing it out of the window but it was a decision that he knew he could live with for the moment.
The Toa’s audio receptors sudden pricked to a strange unfamiliar noise. He paused then listened closer as Cobarox stared at him then frowned. It sounded like a battle cry, as if somebody was charging towards him. It was definitely coming closer.
The Toa took a glance to his left to see a Toa of Water wearing a strange mask burst out of the smoke. Immediately he recognized her as Vhisola but the new Kanohi and staff had confused him. Nevertheless, he was pleased to see the female Toa had returned to her consciousness. He was even more pleased when he saw the Toa of Water’s mask begin to glow. Her limbs seemed to shine a strange silvery color before her left arm seemed to shoot forwards like a jet of water, a blow with struck Cobarox with the force of a fist and sent him hurtling backwards with a sharp grunt.
Tollubo was about to turn around to face Vhisola and congratulate her on finding a Kanohi that was worth something among the broken masks when he realized that Mudro was back on his feet. Still angered by how Tollubo had blinded him, the Glatorian took a dive for his chain gun, knocking Tollubo over as he did so, the rolled to his feet and aimed the weapon at Vhisola.
Tollubo’s legs were burning from where Mudro had rammed into him. He winced as he tried to rub them but it only made the pain worse. It was only then that Tollubo realized he had dropped Cobarox’s Cordak Blaster at some point. It would have been a pretty useful weapon to keep a hold on if Mudro was pointing his gun at Vhisola. Even more useful is the Glatorian had not just pulled the trigger.
The Toa’s mouth nearly dropped open as a cascade of bullets spewed out of the muzzle of Mudro’s gun. His mouth did actually open when he saw Vhisola’s body rippling, as if she was made entirely of some viscous fluid. The Toa of Light could do nothing but gawp as the bullets shots splashed against the Toa of Water’s armor before disappearing in her shimmering form. He could see bullet holes as they were marked by silver pits in her liquid armor.
Mudro raised his eye brows in shock then grunted and took a swipe at the Toa. His hand balled into a fist as it passed through Vhisola’s chest. His curse had no effect on the Toa of Water.
“Finished?” teased Vhisola as her body suddenly exploded into thousands of drops of water, all of which landed on Mudro then trickled towards his mouth. The Glatorian gasped as the water that composed Vhisola began to drown him.
The Glatorian stood for a full minute before he finally gave way and crumpled to his knees in defeat. The second his armored knee caps touched the ground Vhisola’s liquid form poured from his mouth, which was forced open by the sheer strength of the water jet.
The next thing Tollubo noticed was the green armored female Glatorian as one of her acid bursts passed through Vhisola. The Toa of Water giggled in a way that made Tollubo wonder if she was in fact the evil one.
No sooner had the female Glatorian made her entrance Jollun suddenly appeared beside Tollubo. He was clearly out of breath and was clutching his back, like something had bruised him.
“I can’t do it” gasped the Toa of Light as he panted for breath and crutched his side tighter. “I just can’t.”
“Do what?” grunted Tollubo as he supported his brother Toa. Vhisola seemed to be handling the intruders well enough on her own for the moment.
“Hit a female” answered Jollun as he tried to straighten his posture.
Vhisola’s liquid head tilted as she turned to look at the two of them. A twisted smile slipped across her watery mouth. “I can” she giggled before suddenly returning to her solid form to strike the female Glatorian in the head with her staff. The female shrieked then reeled back, clutching the dent in her helmet with one of her hands.
Tollubo and Jollun glanced at each other then shrugged before advancing on the three intruders. Orkahm had chosen that moment to return to the fight, might meant that the four Toa now outnumbered their enemies for the first time since the battle had started. Tollubo could see that Mudro was thinking the same thing as he breathed in lungful after lungful of air and raised his chain gun. The three Brotherhood servants backed up together as the Toa advanced on them. Cobarox was about to nudge Mudro when he remembered that the Glatorian had been cursed by the Ignika. The Vortixx paused then raised both his sword and his Cordak Blaster as he tried to stay standing on his demolished legs.
“How’s the package?” he grunted without making eye contact with his leader. Tollubo frowned, unsure of what the Vortixx was talking about.
“It’s fine” grunted Mudro in response. “I shouldn’t have brought it here but it’s intact. We can still use it.”
“Then we’d better get out of here” growled the female Glatorian as she fired an acid ball at Jollun. The Toa of Light reacted at a speed that rivaled that of lightning as he extended his Light Prong and struck the acid ball with a burst of Light in mid-air, destroying its Orb-like container and letting it splatter harmlessly to the ground.
Mudro grunted then nodded to his team mates. “We have the Ignika, that’s all we came for. The next phase of the plan can be changed. We can still bring this city to its knees but not now. Not when our enemies are made of water. We need to regroup with the others. The male Glatorian suddenly rotated to address the Toa. “Did you hear that you Toa-scum? We’re getting out of here, we’re running away, but we will come back, and we will be stronger when we do. The doomsday clock for this island is ticking, and the alarm goes off three days from now. Only, next time, we won’t come to you.” With those closing words Mudro raised his chain gun and open fired on the Toa.
Luckily, Vhisola charged forwards and activated her mask. The Toa of Water shone silver as the bullets hurtled towards her. She appeared to become flat, like she was broadening – stretching to change her shape and create a barrier between the bullets and her team mates.
Tollubo watched as the liquid wall morphed into shape before him shape before him, Jollun and Orkahm. The water was perfect for slowing down the projectiles. The Order of Mata Nui had often tested weapons by firing artillery into pools of liquid. Although Vhisola couldn’t actually stop the bullets, he fluid form was slowing them down to the point where they just tinkled to the ground behind her. It was like watching a metal waterfall of cartridges tumbled down her back.
Tollubo swore when he realized what was happening. The bullets were a cover. The intruders were escaping while Vhisola was taking the cases. And worse still, she wasn’t just blocking the projectiles from striking the Toa, she was also accidentally blocking the Toa from following the escaping murderers of Turaga Kapura.
The bullets suddenly stopped and Vhisola stepped back, returning slowly to her normal shape with what looked like a great deal of concentration. The female Glatorian and Cobarox had already escaped but Mudro was standing nearer to the racks, his gun still trained directly in the direction of the four Toa.
The Glatorian stole a glance over his shoulder as the vault door was blasted open by his team mates then turned back to face Tollubo and his team. A dark smile slipped across his face.
I’ll be back” he grunted before ducking back into the shadows of the loosely lit chamber and disappearing.

The Toa stayed standing for a long time. It was no use following the intruders, they were long gone. In the end Tollubo decided to simply sink to his knees. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see Jollun standing beside him.
“Don’t worry, brother” muttered the Toa of Light darkly. “We’ll see them again. We’ll deal with them when that time comes. Even if we have to wait years I have a feeling that they’ll be back in our lives again sooner than we think.”
“What did he say about three days?” grunted Tollubo as he saw Turaga Matoro emerge from his shelter. The Turaga glanced at the four Toa then bowed his head and hobbled over towards Kapura’s charred corpse without uttering a word.
“I don’t know” replied Jollun. “There are a lot of things that we don’t know, but we’ll find answers. It’s why we’re here. And whatever it is, whatever they’re planning, we’ll put a stop to it. We can’t let any more innocent Matoran suffer for our mistakes.”
Tollubo nodded in agreement then looked his fellow Toa in the eye. “Well then, we have three days until this doomsday clock goes off, we’d better start finding out what in Karzahni’s name is going on here.”
Jollun nodded then cracked a smile. Tollubo followed suit and the two Toa clanked fists, ignorant to whatever evils they were going to be dragged through. If either of them had known what destiny had awaiting for them and their team it wouldn’t have stopped them.
They were Toa. It was time they started acting like they deserved the title.

Chapter 6[]

Two figures strode through the darkened passageway of the Coliseum. They walked side by side. One was a female, the other was male. Both of them seemed almost invisible in the shadows. The electronic lighting grid above their heads buzzed and crackled with the faint hum of electricity. The inside of the building was dark, which reflected the roaring night sky perfectly. The storm had damaged many of the building’s main generators so electricity was in short supply. The lights were running on reserved energy from a secondary system, which cast a faint, eerie blue glow, but in a way that made the light look like it was stuck to the ceiling.
The tallest of the two figures, the male, was none other than Toa Tollubo, a Toa of Light. He didn’t consider himself to be a rookie but he knew he was far from having a great deal of control over his powers. Recently he had found himself wondering when his life was going to start making sense. He had been a Toa for exactly twenty-four hours but he was experienced enough to know that Toa didn’t retire these days. Their life spans tended to be too short for that.
The second figure was the smaller female, an Agori who went by the name of Betak. For many years she had idolized Tollubo. The two had been close friends now for some time. They had even fallen in love at one point. In fact, the two figures in the darkness had both died together two years ago in the midst of a long-forgotten battle. Yet, both of them had been dragged back to life. Both of them were now undead. They had died together and now they were living through whatever hell could throw at them. Perhaps that was why the heat sensors and motion detectors ignored them as they walked by.
Despite their close friendship, the mood was dull and depressing. Tollubo had just engaged a dangerous group of Brotherhood servants in a battle inside the Coliseum, a battle that he had insisted Betak stayed away from. The Agori had obeyed but was beginning to regret it. Tollubo had not told her what had happened and his behavior was beginning to make her anxious. They had been brought to this universe by accident. They had agreed that they were not planning on staying there. Yet Tollubo was already getting wound up in the problems of the war-crippled city of Metru-Nui that they had arrived in. It was obvious to both of them that they were growing further and further apart with each passing minute. Betak didn’t even know where her hero was taking her.
“So how’s life as a Toa doing for you?” asked the Agori. She was trying desperately to make conversation. Partly to lighten the funeral mood that seemed to cover the bleak atmosphere, but mostly to prove that her idol still had feeling – something that she was beginning to question lately.
“Stressful” answered the Toa with a grunt. He was too busy thinking about how the battle had ended. His enemy – a Glatorian named Mudro – had managed to cause a distraction then escape with the other revolutionists. However, shortly before fleeing, the corrupted warrior had delivered him a warning. He had said that Metru-Nui would be destroyed in exactly three days. Had he meant three full days or exactly 72 hours after he had issued the countdown? Tollubo didn’t know. But whichever way Mudro intended to cripple the last island in the universe that wasn’t a burnt graveyard, a whole five hours had passed since the battle and nobody had made any progress in chasing up the threat. Tollubo wasn’t feeling too happy about that. He doubted he would be any happier if the situation didn’t improve until the third day.
“How about you?” he asked. “Have you been looking for a job here or something?”
The Agori shrugged. “Not really, but Eselox got an offer to join the Metru-Nui secret service. Perhaps you could put a good word for me in with the Turaga and I could join too.”
“Sounds good. You’d do pretty well there.”
“Do you think so?”
Tollubo shrugged. “Give it a month and you’ll probably be the next Toa Helryx. You could have the city at your fingers.”
Betak smiled as the pair arrived at the doorway that Tollubo was leading them to. There were four holes drilled into it where a rectangular name-plaque had been attached, which indicated that the room had obviously had a previous owner. Tollubo wondered if Betak had realized that it was his chamber yet.
The Toa scanned the wall for a screen. When his eyes rested upon it he extended his hand until it was pressed against the scanner. An artificial blue light flitted across his palm. There was a mechanical click and the door was sucked away into the wall. He waited for Betak to glance at him curiously then to enter before he followed her in.
It was a standard chamber, both comforting and familiar. It was overheated and the rain pounded against the window. There was no balcony. The Coliseum was not built to serve as a hotel for Toa. However, the window did allow Tollubo and Betak a stunning view of the city of legends. The storm was beginning to pass but the darkened sky was still a monotonous grey and it was still raining heavily. There was a faint drizzle against the glass.
On the right hand side there was a large Toa-sized mirror, an empty cabinet, and a sturdy looking table with two chairs. Along the left hand side of the room there was a single bed against the wall and a strange glowing screen, like the data hubs that the Order of Mata Nui had once used back in Tollubo’s days as a servant to the organization. Perhaps it allowed the user to search through some sort of data base. Tollubo wasn’t sure. He hadn’t used it yet. This was the first time he’d even been in the room.
Betak stood in the center of the chamber and examined the dwelling. Tollubo saw no objection to her doing that so he decided to lean down a little – so he was closer to Betak’s height. When it dawned upon him that there was next to no change in the distance between them he decided to just sit on the bed. He felt almost alien in his own dwelling.
“Do you like it?”
Betak pulled a face then shrugged. “It’s a little cold.”
“What? The heating?” asked Tollubo with a frown. The room was warm and brand new. It was like a replicated hotel room – damp and overheated.
“I meant the decor” answered Betak. “It’s all grey and blue.”
“I’m not surprised” grunted Tollubo. “This was somebody else’s room until a month ago.”
“Who?” asked Betak as she hooked her finger around the backrest of the right hand chair, pulled it out, then sat down on it.
“Nuju’s. Apparently he got snatched up by Brotherhood spies a while back.”
“The same one’s from the war vault?”
“I don’t know” answered Tollubo with an idle shrug. “But they didn’t exactly strike me as the hostage-taking type.”
“I wish you’d tell me what happened in there” pleaded Betak.
The Toa shook his head. “It’s best if you don’t know. I did some bad things, things I’m not proud of. I don’t want you to worry about me.”
“Did you kill anybody?”
Tollubo didn’t answer. He just stared blankly at Betak.
The female Agori stared back at him for a moment longer then sighed and broke eye contact. “I heard rumors, rumors that somebody got pushed out of the window up there.”
Tollubo nodded. “It was one of them. He was a Steltian Laborer. Dumb brute. He probably survived.”
“Did you push him?”
Again, Tollubo did not answer.
“Look,” muttered the Agori “I know Toa have a moral code. I know that you don’t kill. I don’t care if you pushed him, I don’t care if he was a Rock Steed wearing a damn hat. I just need you to tell me what happened. I can’t stand you not talking to me.”
Tollubo’s face darkened as he turned to his left, away from the window. “What’s to talk about? Who says anything even happened? Maybe he slipped, maybe someone else pushed him, maybe he was that much of an idiot.”
Betak raised a questioning eyebrow. “Do you think I’m an idiot?”
“Of course not” replied the Toa without a moment’s hesitation.
“Well I probably am to be letting you say that Vorox dung” remarked the Agori. She smiled sadly then gestured towards Tollubo with both hands, as if pointing something out. “You look like something a Spikit chewed on then spat back out.”
The Toa of Light frowned, feeling somewhat crestfallen. Words could hurt.
“Have you even seen yourself in a mirror since you walked out of the vault?”
Tollubo shrugged. Betak was worried for him, clearly. He respected that fact. She was a very close friend to him. If she didn’t care about him then he doubted anybody else would. Yet, there was a hint of aggression in her voice, as if she was disappointed. Since becoming a Toa, Tollubo had not won a single battle for himself. While fighting against Karabak he had been defeated with a single kick in the chest, which Betak had watched. Jollun had saved Tollubo’s beaten-up backside for both of the times the female Agori had been there to spectate. She needed to know what had happened in the war vault if she was to keep her faith in him, and the battle scars that he was parading around with were giving quite a lot away.
Without so much as a word, Tollubo heaved himself to his feet then strode forwards towards the doorway. He stopped short and turned to face his reflection in the mirror. For a moment he did not recognize the stranger who stared back. His eyes hardened then focused on the person who was looking at him. The person who was not him.
The gash that ran across his chest was the first thing that he noticed. The Toa winced as he followed the cut down from his left breast plate, narrowly missing his heart-stone, and towards his side. It snaked across his chest and made the flesh around it purple from a repulsive combination of blood loss and infection.
And that was far from all. There were fierce burn marks all over his armor where Mudro had made contact with him during the battle. Both of his hands, his feet, and his knees had minor scorch marks, none of which would be life threatening but were all injuries that Tollubo could live without.
The worst of the burning appeared to be in the area of his chest where Mudro had punched him, directly on the gash. The Toa winced as he pressed his fingers against it and felt a fresh jolt of pain. As he flinched in surprise he caught a glimpse of another forgotten wound, the new worst of the collection.
There was a jet-black hand mark around his throat where Mudro had strangled him.
“Do you want to tell me about that one or give me a Vorox-dung excuse?” asked Betak as she stepped into the reflection of the mirror in one swift, fluid, movement.
The Toa did not answer. He was too busy staring at himself in horror, at his head in particular. There were ridges across the once-smooth surface of his Kanohi Tryna and dried blood covered just about every part of his body.
He looked like a complete mess compared to Betak. The female Agori was clean, orderly, and fresh despite the concerned expression on her helmet. Tollubo on the other hand looked exhausted. His once immaculate white and gold armor was caked with filth, dried sweat, and blood. He felt both hot and cold at the same time. And there was something in his eyes. They were dark and ravaged. His eyes had once been green. Now they were scarlet and bloodshot. But that wasn’t all. Tollubo could sense a strange emotion in his eyes, one that he was unfamiliar with.
When he managed to figure out what it was he reached for Betak’s hand. The Water Agori smiled sadly and took it, wrapping her fingers around his as if she was sorry for him, like she knew what was going through his head. Like she understood.
– It was fear.

The three Turaga stood in perpetual silence as they looked down at the city from Turaga Matoro’s throne room, gazing at the metropolis below them. The morning air was warm and crisp as the sun rose and the dawn sky turned a fresh, pale shade of blue. The night had been long and cold but that had passed like every night before had. Hundreds of bio below them, Matoran gathered in the streets in silence. Chutes had closed down across the island, as had everything else. Overnight, posters and banners had been put up across the formerly war-stricken island to commemorate the fallen Turaga.
Just about every single resident of Metru-Nui was giving up a minute in memory of Kapura, the veteran Toa of Fire who had battled his way through the war so valiantly, the Toa who had put the lives of so many hundreds of Matoran before his own.
Then, as quickly as it had started, the silence stopped. The Matoran began to divide and the babble of dull, everyday conversation drifted up to the top of the Coliseum. Work resumed. Matoran crawled across the city like insects as they tried to rebuild their broken island. There was no question about it now. The war was far from over.
“Well, I suppose there’s a bright side” muttered Turaga Vilnius with a heavy sigh. “Now the Matoran know we are still in danger.”
Turaga Velika glanced at Vilnius in confusion. Turaga Matoro did not raise his head from the balcony. “I never pictured you as the optimistic type, Vilnius” grunted the Turaga of ice when he finally pealed his eyes away from the Matoran.
“Think about it” implored the Noble Hau wearer. “We won’t have to mess with the weather and hide behind lies of Rahkshi attacks anymore. The Matoran know what happened and they’re on the lookout for anybody associated with the rebels who made it into the war vault.”
“At the cost of Kapura’s life?” snorted Matoro. “Why don’t you think about what will happen when you die, when I die, when Velika dies. What will become of the Matoran then?”
The Turaga of Fire grunted uncomfortably then broke eye contact with the other two Turaga. He stared at Matoro’s throne. Sometimes he wondered what the island would be like if he was the one who sat in that over decorated chair. He did not want to dethrone the Turaga of Ice – he was the closest thing to a friend that Vilnius had. He simply pondered whether or not he would have made a better ruler of Metru-Nui. He decided in a heart-light’s flash that he would not have.
“And what about these new villains?” asked Vilnius with a grunt.
“What of them?” asked Matoro darkly.
“How is it that we know so little about them?”
Matoro paused then shrugged idly. “We know plenty about them, just nothing useful. We know that they are called the Cult of Darkness, we have descriptions of the individual members, but we don’t know what they are planning.”
“And what of their countdown? They gave us three days until they intend to destroy Metru-Nui. Are we any closer to knowing a scrap of information about it than we were yesterday?” growled Vilnius in his regular gruff voice.
To the Turaga’s mild surprise, Velika suddenly chuckled quietly. Vilnius nearly groaned out loud. That meant that the insufferable Komau wearer had another riddle for them to decipher. “Do not cross a bridge until you have come to it” murmured the Turaga. Vilnius bit his lip and chose to ignore him. To be honest, he was getting irritated by Velika’s intolerable fountain of rubbish. He didn’t see why he didn’t just speak properly like everyone else.
Matoro nodded, as if he understood Velika’s unendurable babble, which he probably did knowing how the Turaga always seemed to be one step ahead of everyone else. “Exactly, there’s no use thinking about the future if you ignore the present. We must not concern ourselves with difficulties until they arise.”
“So you suggest we sit back and do nothing?”
Velika shook his head. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Before Vilnius could physically maim the Turaga of Stone by swinging his Hook Staff at his head, Matoro turned to face them again. “Well in that case we shall not fail. I put Tollubo in charge of planning” replied Matoro. Almost instinctively his raised his hand to silence Vilnius but the Turaga of Fire refused to be outspoken.
Tollubo? That imbecile?” he growled in a mixture of frustration and disbelief. “He’s a damn rookie! He nearly got himself killed today! He has the attention span of a lightning bolt!”
“But he has faith in the Matoran” interrupted Matoro. “This is his first big assignment, his chance to prove his worth.”
“I don’t recall advising that” grunted Vilnius. “Besides, there’s too much at stake. This isn’t a matter to be handled lightly, this is serious business. You saw what that these rebels did to Kapura and that wasn’t even planned. They’ve been preparing this doomsday plot for months, maybe years even. How’s a Toa of Light, who is the most renowned servant of the Brotherhood of Makuta, a Toa who managed to get ever single Kanohi mask in the war vault smashed, going to stand up against them?”
“With virtue you cannot be completely poor. Without it you cannot be truly rich.”
“Meaning?” grunted Vilnius impatiently.
“Clearly, Tollubo has virtue” answered Matoro. “He has a sense of right and wrong, a moral. Why do you think he fought against the intruders? What do the burns on his armor and the battle scars prove?”
“Duty controls a lesser person, but conscience controls a greater one.”
“I don’t believe this” growled the angered Turaga of Fire. “For Mata Nui’s sake, he popped into our lives yesterday! It’s far too soon to be giving him any responsibility. Make Lhikan or Kualus do the research, anybody but him. We simply cannot trust him just because he is a Toa. It’s a title he hasn’t earned yet.”
Matoro’s expression suddenly darkened and a cold chill ran up Vilnius’ back. The Turaga of Ice hobbled forwards slowly. Vilnius stood his ground and glared at Matoro as the Turaga’s Noble Iden appeared in his face.
“Duly noted” he muttered before turning around and limping away, back to the window to resume watching over the Matoran workers, like he was still guarding them even as a Turaga.
Vilnius glowered at him, his mask concealing the cold fury in his eyes. After glaring at the Turaga for nearly a full minute he grunted fiercely, turned around, hobbled towards the exit, then slammed the chamber door angrily.
Velika watched Turaga Vilnius leave then waited until his faint footsteps became too quiet for his audio receptors to hear. When he was sure the fuming Turaga of Fire was gone he turned and started walking towards the throne room’s balcony. He stopped at Matoro’s side and followed his gaze. The two Turaga stared down at the thriving conurbation below them. Everything was so orderly. Matoran were walking from building to building, carrying supplies and materials to rebuild the broken civilization. There was laughter for the first time in decades. There were no cries of fear. There was no panicking in the streets. It was hard to believe anybody would want to change that.
“Vilnius is partly right” muttered Matoro with a resigned sigh. “Tollubo doesn’t know what he’s doing. He still has a lot to learn, and three days isn’t a lot of time.”
Velika shrugged. “To know the road ahead ask those returning” he answered idly, as if trying to encourage Matoro.
“I would,” muttered Matoro, “except this road’s coming to a dead end.”
Velika’s face fell and his eyes became duller. “One cannot have great wisdom without great doubts” he muttered.
Matoro didn’t answer. He was too busy thinking of what the future would hold for him and his city. He tried to imagine what would happen in three days time. Three days was by no means a long time. It didn’t give Tollubo much time to crack the mystery open. Not for the first time, Matoro found himself wishing that he could be a Toa again. He was no use like this. He wanted to help the Toa, to guide them. But they wouldn’t listen. Lhikan and Tollubo were too arrogant, Vhisola and Orkahm were too inexperienced, even Kualus was beginning to tire these days. A couple of years ago "Terminator" would have been in chains by the end of an encounter with the veteran Toa of Ice.
“This whole thing’s a mess” stated Matoro with a heavy sigh. He was surprised to feel Velika’s hand on his shoulder, a supportive pat on the back.
“Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone.”

Chapter 7[]

Three days until the doomsday clock goes off. Mudro said that two days ago. What the hell did he mean?” growled Tollubo in frustration as he slammed his fists down on the table before him. The metal frame shook abruptly. There was a loud BANG as it vibrated on its uneven legs. Neither Jollun nor Betak looked up at it.
“He mentioned something about a package” remarked Jollun. “If they’re here to destroy the city perhaps it’s supposed to help them do that.”
“Really?” asked Betak with a weary grunt. “If Mudro was carrying it then I doubt it could cause as much damage as he claimed, especially to a city this size.”
“Plus there’s the question of where this supposed city-destroying package came from in this war-ravaged universe” added Tollubo. The three of them had been sat in the twenty-second level of the Coliseum for the best part of two hours whilst they waited for Eselox to arrive. The female Agori had gone off in search of information about the mysterious group of rebels that had stolen the Ignika. Knowing her, Tollubo doubted that there would be much left to guesswork when she returned.
“Simple enough answer” muttered Jollun with a shrug. “They’re all Brotherhood servants so they probably got it from their masters. And if they’ve been sent here to destroy Metru-Nui then the Makuta will have armed them to the teeth.”
“Plus if they’re trapped on Bara Magna they’ve got an entire planet’s resources to build their own weapons from” added Tollubo. He was surprised to be met by a snort from Betak.
“Resources? On Bara Magna?” she spluttered. “Like what? Sand?”
The Toa of Light sank backwards into his chair with a frustrated grunt. Jollun’s words seemed to be making sense to him. The Makuta were essentially locked out of the Matoran Universe, the key to getting themselves off of the desert planet. They were desperate – desperate and powerful. Both Toa knew it would only be a matter of time before they got their way. Whether this group of revolutionists carried the torch or if another team of Toa-hating Brotherhood servants did the result would be the same – Metru-Nui was going to be burnt to the ground.
“What about the two Glatorian?” asked Jollun. “Mudro and Juulant?”
Tollubo paused. He had not known the female’s name until now. Jollun should only know as much as him, which confused him. However, a lot of things confused him these days so he chose to go with the new name. “Why don’t we talk about them with Eselox when she gets back with the stuff from her research? She’ll probably know more?”
“How’s she doing her research?”
“On some data-hub-thing.”
“A Matoran Universe database” corrected Jollun in a surprisingly neutral tone. “It’ll have details on the others but not the Glatorian. They’re probably the first of their kind to set foot in Metru-Nui. There won’t be any records of them.”
The Tryna wearer grunted again then diverted his attention towards Betak. “How about you? Do you know anything about either of them?”
The Agori shrugged openly then scratched her left temple, as if it would make her remember. “I have no idea who Juulant is, which means she probably died in either the Core War or the Shattering in our universe. As for the other one, I think I remember him starting off as a Glatorian in my tribe then quitting. I offered him a place in the Order of Tollubo a couple of years after he retired but he turned it down.”
Tollubo and Jollun exchanged equally perplexed looks then returned to focus on the female Agori. “Why did he quit?” asked Jollun. “Was he afraid of violence back then or something?”
“Not really” muttered Betak, her elbows resting on the metal table in a bored fashion. “He was actually quite a peaceful guy. He became an engineer, working with vehicles for arena matches.”
“So could he have build that chain gun himself?” asked Jollun as he raised an eyebrow.
“No” answered Tollubo definitely. “He wasn’t experienced enough with it. Plus that thing’s way too dangerous for a Glatorian to have built.”
“So where would he have acquired it from if not Bara Magna?” asked Jollun.
“Probably Xia or something” shrugged Tollubo in response.
Jollun smiled. “Then we’ve found out mystery-package.”
“How do you know that?” asked Tollubo. Betak turned from Toa to Toa with a confused frown plastered across her helmet. It was only then that Tollubo realized that she probably didn’t know what Xia was.
“Think about it” answered Jollun calmly. “This package was given to Mudro at some point between him becoming a Brotherhood servant and yesterday. We know that he had to stop off in Xia to get his gun, right?”
Tollubo nodded, his mask a picture of utter puzzlement. “Right.”
“And where do all city-destroying weapons come from?”
“Fair point” grunted Tollubo as he broke eye contact. “Xia’s full of Brotherhood servants and back stabbers. Any Vortixx could have given it to him in the street.”
“But why did he bring it with him yesterday if it’s so important?” asked Betak.
“Well he wouldn’t have kept it in his pack” muttered Jollun. “Not if he put the Ignika in there too. He would have damaged the package. It’s more likely that he concealed it somewhere else on his body.”
“What about his armor?” grunted Tollubo. “The blue Hau Nuva? The two Rurus on his legs? The Kakama on his back? The Krana? He could have been hiding it behind any of those.”
“I wouldn’t” shrugged Jollun. “If I were carrying this package and I knew what it is supposed to do then I wouldn’t feel comfortable hiding it on my body. Would you?”
Tollubo shook his head. He leaned back and folded his arms. When his Toa-sized chair began to tilt back he resisted the urge to put his feet on the table.
Something suddenly clicked in Betak’s head. The Toa saw her eyes widen as she slapped the hollow, metal table with the palm of her right hand, as if swatting a Sand Fly. “His gun.”
“Exactly” smiled Jollun before he turned to address Tollubo. “You took his gun off of him and threw it aside. If this package is fragile he would have been worried about it being broken, which he clearly was when Cobarox reminded him.”
“So it’s concealed on his chain gun?” grunted Tollubo.
“Probably” shrugged Jollun. The Toa let slip the slightest of smiles before resuming. “We can’t know for sure, not unless Mudro is planning on telling us at any point in the next two days. I’d say it’s our best guess.”
Tollubo nodded slowly, taking time to remember everything that had been said. They did not know anything more about Juulant than they had before but Betak had helped them to uncover all sorts of useful information about Mudro. Now they knew a lot more about his personality and, therefore, his motives. They knew that he had a love for mechanics, that he resigned from participating in arena matches, and that Betak had once trusted him to join her organization. Tollubo only hoped he would have time to use that information before the Glatorian’s trigger finger got the better of him.
The Toa was abruptly forced out of his day dreaming by a sharp pounding on the door, as if somebody was kicking it. Tollubo frowned then glanced at the others in the room. He muttered darkly under his breath when he realized that he was the one closest. Reluctantly, the Toa of Light heaved himself to his feet then walked over to the entrance. He pulled the cold handle and the metallic door opened to reveal Eselox standing behind it. Both of her arms were being used to carry a heavy-looking stack of paper.
Tollubo decided to do something kind for once and took the papers off her. He scooped the entire pile up in his right hand then slid the door shut with his other hand. He wanted to kick it shut but it was another of the ones that retracted into the wall, just like the one in his chamber. Carrying the papers with his right arm felt good. As Mudro had thrown his sword off the Coliseum in their skirmish he no longer had a weapon, which made his right hand feel useless. At least carrying the papers gave him the benefit of exercise.
“Did you find anything interesting?” asked Tollubo as he laid the pile down on the metal table. Most of the first few pages were hand-written foot notes that had been scribed with a neat, well practiced hand. The stack was about as thick as Tollubo’s Kanohi Tryna. It was nothing short of a miracle how Eselox had managed to compile it in under two hours.
“You’re carrying it” answered the female Agori with a cheerful smile. She didn’t look like somebody who had been trawling through data banks all night. She seemed wide awake and full of life, more so than Tollubo, Betak, and Jollun put together. “They’re called the Cult of Darkness” she announced confidently. “And I know where they are.”
The Fire Agori reached into the stack of papers and pulled out a large poster. She unfolded it and spread the sheet across the desk, as if it were a table cloth. The poster did not cover the entire metallic furniture piece but it was clear enough to be of use to the group. Canals, chutes, and buildings snaked across the paper with incredible detail.
“Ga-Metru?” frowned Betak. “Why would they be living there?”
“I’ll show you” answered Eselox as she split the pile of notes into five separate piles. She picked up the first and began scanning through it. “Did Kualus and Lhikan tell you anything about what happened to them in the alleyway?”
Tollubo glanced at Jollun then nodded. “They got ambushed by some bounty hunter, Lhikan got knocked out, Kualus was pummeled, someone called Racasix saved them, then a random blue and green Skakdi turned up to drag his buddy off.”
Eselox nodded then opened the file in her hands to reveal an image of a green and black armored brute wearing a Kanohi Felnas and carrying two Cordak Blasters. “His name is "Terminator"” she stated. “I found his file in a Dark Hunter data bank. Apparently, after the end of the Toa/Dark Hunter War, when the two sides stopped fighting and formed an alliance, The Shadowed One agreed to share information with the Turaga about his organization.”
“Is that where you got this stuff from?” asked Tollubo irrelevantly. “From the Turaga?”
Eselox cracked a smile. “Vilnius wasn’t too pleased about it.”
The Toa of Light grunted then shrugged. “He seldom is.” Jollun chuckled to himself quietly at the joke. Betak remained looking bored out of her skull.
“Anyway,” continued Eselox as she tried to mask her grin and stay professional, “I’ve got a list of missions that he accomplished. They’re mostly assassinations of one warlord or another but it says that he completely screwed up on a particular one and got transferred to the front lines of the war as punishment.”
“What was his mission?” asked Jollun. He leaned forwards, struggling to sit comfortably in his Matoran-sized chair.
“Assassinating Toa Lesovikk” answered Eselox as she continued to read the sheet of paper. “But what’s interesting is what he did after the war. Apparently he just quit because of the alliance and became a free-lancing assassin based in Stelt.”
Tollubo nodded in agreement. “Kualus said something about that. He said that this Cult hired him to kill off our Toa-buddies.” The Toa almost instinctive leaned back in his seat again, shocked at how unfunny his comment had just been.
“What about the Skakdi who dragged him off?” asked Jollun with a questioning tilt of his head. “He said something about being on our side.”
Eselox frowned while she put aside the folder on "Terminator" and began searching through the remaining four piles. She picked up the third, which was the smallest of the selection, and leafed through it. “He was a lot harder to research” remarked the Agori as she found an image of the Skakdi in question. This one was not as clear as the image of "Terminator" had been. It was a dark, pixilated, and distorted security camera photograph of a vaguely distinctive Skakdi carrying what looked like an axe and a strangely shaped blaster in an alleyway. He was looking to the right at something far below the camera, which warped his face further.
“From what I found out” continued Eselox “his name is Bioka and he likes to keep a low profile, even more so than the others. Aside from the two Glatorian, who I found nothing on, he was the hardest to even get a name for. He’s untraceable. I found virtually nothing. Every single file he was in was filtered, blocked, and classified by some random Order of Mata Nui secrecy policies.”
Something suddenly clicked in the back of Tollubo’s head at the mentioning of the organization that had once employed him. “The Order? So, what, did he go rogue or something?”
“He can’t have” muttered Jollun. “Nobody leaves the Order. You of all people should know that. You were in it.”
The Toa of Light grunted in agreement then glanced at the strange mechanical sundial on the wall. He didn’t understand how the strange Agori-device worked without sunlight. Perhaps it was attached to a circuit or something. Betak hadn’t shed much light on the mystery of how the device worked but she had managed to read it to him while they waited. It had been well past midnight over an hour ago.
“What about the others?” he asked whilst struggling to fight off a yawn. “What happened to the Vortixx, the other Skakdi, and the Steltian laborer I killed?”
“Eselox shrugged and gestured towards the three remaining files. “The Vortixx is called Cobarox and he is a recognized Brotherhood servant, just like the other two. The Skakdi is called Ignis and the one who you pushed out of the window was called Bukach.”
Is?” asked Tollubo. Both his eyebrows darted upwards in shock. “You mean he isn’t dead?”
“They couldn’t find him after the storm passed” answered the Fire Agori simply. “Either he survived the fall and ran for it or somebody else carried his corpse away.”
“What about the Skakdi who Jollun knocked out?” asked Betak, her brow furrowed in confusion as she tried to stay away.
“Wasn’t unconscious outside the vault when the scout team got there” replied Eselox. “But the other three could have picked him up and carried him off when they fled.”
“Is there any security camera footage outside the vault?” grunted Tollubo, his arms now folded.
“Not as far as I know. I think the power cut effected just about everything in the building.”
“So what’s their link to Ga-Metru” asked Jollun as he drummed his fingers on the map.
Eselox smiled then picked up the Ignis file. She opened it up and spilled the contents neatly onto the metal table. After flicking through it quickly she produced another pixilated photograph. “This does” she said as she pressed it on top of the map. Tollubo, Betak, and Jollun all leaned forwards to examine the grainy image. There were two figures in the photograph. Once again, neither of them appeared to have been looked at the security camera but it was still blatantly obvious who they were. The first figure was Ignis. His red armor appeared almost completely black whilst the yellow patches were represented as white. He was armored with his magma blaster but his sword was missing, just like Tollubo’s was.
The second of the two figures was Mudro. The Hau Nuva on his chest appeared grey, as did several other pieces of his armor. The black areas could not be seen for the darkness in the rest of the photograph. His chain gun was resting in his arms.
“Taken in the early hours of this morning at the Turaga Tuyet Dam” stated Eselox.
“In Ga-Metru?” inquired Tollubo.
“Unless Onu-Metru suddenly opened a dam that was named after a Turaga of Water” muttered Jollun jokingly. The Tryna wearer wasn’t sure how to respond to that. The mood didn’t seem good humored enough for jokes so he chose not to respond.
Eselox suddenly pointed towards a dot on the map. “The dam is here” she murmured with a volume that made Tollubo question whether or not she was talking to herself or to the group.
The female Agori then leaned over the table and reached for Betak’s hand. The Water Agori hesitated then extended her arm, resting her index finger on the point Eselox’s finger lay on. The Agori of the Fire Tribe then reached for Jollun’s hand. The Toa of Light shrugged then let the Agori guide him to the next point at the bottom left of the map.
“That would be the Coliseum.”
Tollubo leaned further forwards to see that Eselox had left the Toa’s finger on the circle that represented the very building that they were in. Without thinking he decided to extend his own hand, which Eselox took. Her fingers were warm and soft against the side of his left hand as she directed him towards another point, one that rested along the North-western coast of Ga-Metru.
“And the alleyway where Kualus and Lhikan were attacked in.”
The Toa of Light studied the three points in mild surprise. They formed an isosceles triangle.
“How bored were you to notice that?” grunted Tollubo as he withdrew his finger. The pattern was obvious. The three points were the perfect distance apart to make the triangle visible. That obviously had to have been planned, probably by one of the less intelligent members of the group.
“Not greatly” shrugged Eselox. “But I think it’s pretty obvious what they’re planning.”
“And what would that be?” muttered the Toa of Light. He looked Eselox square in the eyes and was surprised to see that she met his stare without blinking.
“Well, the Turaga Tuyet Dam was built during the war, specifically to purify water and to redirect surplus amounts of water towards all primary chute systems.”
The gravity of the situation suddenly struck the Toa of Light. Uneasily, he leaned back slowly and stared at Eselox, encouraging her to continue. When no further information came Tollubo decided to look around at the group. Betak did not move. Jollun smiled sadly then looked down at the floor. Neither of them wanted to say the next question but it was already in their minds, like a seed that had just been planted and was about to wrap its roots around their thoughts as it grew.
“So Mudro and Ignis were definitely there last night?” demanded Tollubo, his tone a lot harder than it should have been.
“We have photographs of them” muttered Eselox as she tapped the Ignis file sadly.
“What were they doing?”
“Did they damage anything?”
Eselox shook her head. “They killed a night guard but the machinery was untouched.”
“Then we know where they’re going to destroy Metru-Nui from, we know when, and now we know how” remarked Jollun darkly.
Eselox nodded sadly.
Tollubo stared at the table, his eyes were severe and unblinking, as if he had already succumbed to whatever cataclysm lay at the end of Mudro’s damn countdown.
The silence in the room was unbearable, maddening even. Memories began flooded into Tollubo’s mind. He thought of all of the people he had met in this universe, how just about every last one of them was suddenly dependent on him. He thought about the disaster that was about to happen and how he was powerless to stop it. He tried to imagine an island full of corpses, the corpses of people that he knew. Images of Matoran and Toa alike flooded his head as they clutched their throats and collapsed to the ground, choking themselves, begging for the mercy of death – it made him feel sick.
“Those filthy little Kavinika” growled Tollubo with cold-fury in his voice. His fists clenched as he pressed them against the table, murder in his eyes. The Toa of Light roared and struck the metal table, leaving two sharp dents in the frame.
“Why? What are they going to do?” demanded Betak with a questionably desperate tone.
“The water in that thing gets fed to the chutes and Matoran drink it, just like Eselox said” explained Tollubo. “Whatever Mudro’s package is – in whatever Mata Nui forsaken place he’s hiding it – he’s going to drop it right into the damn reservoir. They’ll kill millions of innocent Matoran. Anybody who rides chute or takes a sip of water could die. And if the Brotherhood made this package, genocide is guaranteed.”
The room fell silent.

Chapter 8[]

The metallic door grinded then retracted into the wall as Tollubo lumbered into his chamber. The room was pitch black, lit only by the fluorescent lighting tube that flooded beams of cold brightness into the room from the hallway. The Toa grunted and raised his left hand, letting a ball of light materialize at his fingertips. The chamber suddenly became brighter as he fumbled around for the switch that turned on the lights. When he found it he slammed his fist against the toggle and watched as a yellow glow flooded the chamber. When his exhausted frame of mind realized that there was no button closer to the bed he decided to just switch off the light and walk around in the dark.
The fabric that had come with the bed had not been changed since his first night in the room. It was all crushed and balled-up. Tollubo disregarded the sheets as he collapsed onto the bed, face-first. He’d rather have not slept, but rest was vital, even for a colossal walking freak like him. After all, tomorrow was the last full day before the countdown ended. He needed to stay sharp.
The Toa of Light thought about the late-night meeting that he had just had with the others. He recalled Mudro’s prophecy again. His memory escaped him as he tried to remember how Mudro had told him of his doomsday clock but he remembered laughter, mad insane laughter. He pictured the Glatorian howling away and cackling sinisterly. He recalled Mudro’s delight as he described how the universe would suddenly erupt into chaos and how Metru-Nui would he burning in his twisted hands.
The Toa pressed his head against his pillow and gritted his teeth. His face contorted and softened, becoming more fragile and hurt than it had in many long, treacherous weeks.
He wept. Hot, thick, salty tears ran down his mask as he sobbed into the night. He begged silently for help from the dead – Mesa and Mulon. Kazat, Watak, Duco and Icius. All of the people who had given their lives for him. Tollubo had nearly murdered Bukach. He’d hidden terrible truths from those who had placed their trust on his shoulders. Killed and lied. And, if Mudro’s countdown was anything other than Muaka dung, there was a lot worse still to come.
The Toa wailed and mumbled into his pillow. He swallowed down on the lump in his throat then pounded his chest and face with mad fury. It was his fault. It was all his fault.
Then the tears stopped. The last traces of Tollubo’s weaker, defenseless self slipped away to be replaced by his hardened, colder Toa self. He buried his feelings deep away once again. They didn’t matter – his conscience told him so. He knew in his heart-light that he would need every sliver of emotion that he had bottled away. He was going to need it very soon. His life may well depend on it in the coming events
The Toa wiped the dried tears away then rolled over and made himself comfortable. His breathing slowed gradually until he drifted off into what should have been a pure, calm sleep.
– But it wasn’t.
For the past two nights Tollubo had woken to the same recurring nightmare, something that he hadn’t told another soul about. On the first night he had woken with a start and torn one of his pillows in half before he realized what had happened. But what scared him the most was the fact that he had seen the exact same dream the night afterwards. Now he was afraid to sleep. The same disturbing scenes unfolded in the Toa’s subconscious as he bit his lip and prepared for the terrifying delusion that he knew was about to hit him.

Tollubo found himself in a room full of cobwebs, staring into the emptiness. He struggled desperately to move, to alter the sequence of events to no success. Changing the timeline was impossible.
The Toa’s head rotated from side to side. Tollubo fought against the movement with as much grace as a wild, rabid monster like him could. His eyes blurred then refocused on a stone statue, a monument built in memory of some long forgotten Toa. Tollubo stared at the statue, watching as it loomed above his head. The sculpture was obviously not life-sized, something that Tollubo knew because it was a statue of Jollun. The stone eyes of the oversized Toa of Light stared blankly at Tollubo, as if they saw right into his rotten soul and were disappointed.
Suddenly, the eyes moved. Tollubo wasn’t surprised. As he had predicted, the dream was unfolding exactly the same as it had done the past two nights. He found himself paying close attention to the smaller details like the eyes on the statue. It helped him to ensure that he was still sane. The Toa tried to spot something new – a different pang of emotion as the statue began to move. But, everything was identical to what it had been for the past two nights.
The statue’s left foot slowly rose into the air and the Stone Jollun hopped down from its pedestal to stare at Tollubo. The Toa’s arm immediately moved for his sword only to find that it was not there. Perhaps it was because Mudro had hurled it out of the shattered Coliseum window during their skirmish. Tollubo wasn’t sure, although he doubted that the dream would allow him anything to defend himself against the monster that was about to appear. The Toa watched as the rock began to melt away into a swirling shadowy mass. Jollun’s image burst into flames and was replaced by an ominous black cloud, a silhouette of his figure.
And the cloud was changing shape. It morphed and shifted until large black tentacles thrashed out, wrapping themselves around Tollubo’s body. His arms, legs, neck, and waist were engulfed by the cold, slimy tendrils. His mouth was opened for a scream that he did not want to make.
Then the tentacles retracted and the shadowy mass finally took form. The cobwebs that composed the world around Tollubo were suddenly set ablaze as the heat licked at the Toa’s back. The Tryna wearer raised his head only to find himself looking into the terrifying eyes of Makuta Karabak.
Only, it wasn’t quite the Makuta that he knew. This version of the monster was fuelled entirely by rage. There was no intelligence or cunning in this creature’s head, only blood-lust and anger.
Then the Makuta roared. He lifted his enormous arms up above his head then brought them crashing down on Tollubo. The Toa was rooted to the spot by something other than fear as he was pounded to the ground. The sound of his screams filled the air when he hadn’t felt a thing.
Tollubo’s battered eyes fluttered open. He did not feel injured but he had a feeling that he was about to be. It was the same feeling that he had felt every night for the past two nights. The Toa could do nothing as the cavity in Karabak’s chest opened up and a shadow hand exploded from his torso. The darkness snatched the startled Toa up then hurled him forwards, at an impossible speed. Tollubo’s stomach lurched in his chest as he was thrown, trapped between the fingers of a gaseous cloud of darkness.
He was engulfed. In reality he would surely have been killed if he had been absorbed by a Makuta’s shadow hand. Tollubo had never known anyone to survive such an experience. But this was the dream world, a place where the laws of physics and time were non-existent. The Toa tried to find confidence in that as he fell into the shadows.
He had not stopped moving. He had been dragged into Karabak’s chest and now he was simply falling. Bitter, stale air pounded against his armor as the wind roared through his audio-receptors. The Toa had never liked this part of the dream – not that he liked any of it anyway. There was no light so he could not see where he was falling. And the worst part was that he knew how infinitely far away his landing would be.
Then the voices began. The first was the voice of a female, one that he recognized as Betak’s. The Toa cringed as the words echoed against the roaring of the air whilst he plummeted further into the nothingness. “It’s your fault” screamed the voice that had haunted Tollubo for two whole days. “You dragged me through all of this. You brought me into this world of treachery and murder, love and hate. Why couldn’t you have just left me alone? ” The Toa tried to answer, but his jaw was clamped shut. He struggled and cursed in his head as he tried to separate his lips to form a sentence to no avail. He only wished that his audio receptors did not prick up to the sound of the screaming that followed. Tollubo winced as he was yet again proven wrong and shrieks and cries of pain boomed out of the shadows. Once again they were Betak’s, which made the Toa’s blood boil.
After about a minute of hurtling further into the darkness whilst his sanity slowly slipped away with the insufferable screaming, the cries for mercy suddenly stopped. The roaring of the wind seemed to disappear as he continued to tumble through the nothingness. Then the voice returned, and this time with a body.
Tollubo’s head suddenly jerked to the side to allow him to stare at the ghost that had appeared before him. Betak seemed to be standing next to him, untouched by the airstream. She was drenched in blood with knife marks and scratches all over her now-scarlet armor. Her eyes were narrow and dark, full of murderous hatred. It was a look that made the Toa wish he was dead.
You killed me, Tollubo.” The gaseous Agori glared at him as she spoke. Tollubo always wondered why her mouth wasn’t moving and why the deep gash across her slit-throat was forming the words instead. But it didn’t matter, not in a situation like the one he was in. Tollubo knew that he was about to wake up in a hot sweat, panting in fear about the whispers in the dark.
The Toa cringed and waited for the ground to appear. A split second before he hit the ground the dream would end and he would shoot up in his sleep, it always did after he saw Betak’s blood-stained corpse.
Tollubo was almost relied as the ground came into view. There wasn’t time to think as he rocketed towards it, wondering if it was physically possible to travel at the speed that he was travelling at in reality. He doubted it then flinched as the waited for the dream to pass. Just a few more seconds and…
Nothing happened. The dream did not end. Tollubo struck the solid ground and felt a surge of pain. He roared out in agony, again something that he had not actually wanted to do. He still couldn’t feel anything but his imagination filled in the blanks, creating the illusion of his soreness.
For the first time ever, the dream was different. Normally it would stop before Tollubo hit the ground but this time it hadn’t. There was no end in sight as far as the Toa of Light could see. He didn’t know if that was a good sign or a bad one. He quickly decided that it wasn’t something to be cheering about too soon. What would he do if the dream never ended and his body was left to shrivel up and die? What if he remained trapped in his own nightmarish subconscious for the rest of eternity? There was no way out. He was helpless in this dream state.
The Toa wanted nothing more than to stay down and slowly rot away on the ground, but he was a puppet in his own nightmare. Against his will, the Toa rose to his feet, peeling himself off of the ground at an agonizingly slow speed. He looked around, at the alien scene then immediately cursed himself. He was surrounded by bodies, thousands of bodies. They stretched on past the extent of Tollubo’s vision. He saw thousands of mostly blood-splattered corpses. Most of them were the mangled bodies of Matoran and Agori, presumably the inhabitants of Metru-Nui. Tollubo knew in his gut that the grotesque scene was what the future would look like should he fail.
The Toa of Light probably could have guessed what was supposed to happen next but it hurt him all the same. His head tilted towards the circle of bodies that was closest to him. Jollun, Betak, and Eselox lay sprawled around him, their monstrous corpses were caked in fresh, warm blood. Tollubo could not move his head away from the horrors before him. His eyes were forced to focus on the oozing as the red liquid drilled from their carcasses. The scene was indescribable. Words could not describe the disgust that the Toa of Light felt as he took in everything. Ever cut. Every bruise. Every drop of innocent blood. The Toa of Light began question whether he was being driven mad by his anger. Never in any of his nightmares had he pictured anything as soul-crushingly painful as the three mangled bodies before him. Tollubo clung onto strands as he tried to convince himself that it wasn’t real – it just couldn’t be real, simply because it was too awful to be reality.
Hours seemed to pass as the Toa stared at the bloody corpses, unable to move. It was the most pain that he had ever had the misfortune of enduring. The Toa would sooner have dived into a pit of Kardas Dragons than take one idly glance at the misshapen assortment of bodies. He would die for any of them – for Betak and Eselox, for Jollun, for just about any of the Matoran that were surrounding him. Tollubo sacrifice his life for the safety of any innocent Matoran but what use was any of it? What use was a Toa if he couldn’t even move?
Tollubo felt no joy when his aching joins finally move out of the position that they had been locked in for what felt like several agonizing hours. He struggled to fight against the force that was moving him to no avail. His form was not his to control. His body was not his own, except for his eyes – which couldn’t stop roaming and analyzing the corpses. He wanted to take everything in, because he was sure that it couldn’t get much worse than the scene around him.
The Toa of Light’s eyes rested on the form of what looked like a Ga-Matoran standing in the midst of the chaos and fallen Matoran. It was obvious that he was looking at Mesa but Tollubo did not want to grant her the dignity of being named. It felt so wrong that she should appear alive in a dream where everyone else was dead. He wanted it to be the other way around.
Tollubo wanted to charge forwards in rage-controlled fury. He wanted to curse her and call her a Kavinika. He wanted to beat her until she passed out. Then he wanted to pound her unconscious body until it was a misshapen and broken mess. But he could not, and he knew that. He was a puppet, and the strings were holding him in place.
A spiteful smile slipped across the Av-Matoran’s face as she crept forwards, her mouth stained red, as if she had taken a gory bite at one of the dead Matoran’s innards. Blood dripped from his lips as she giggled. Crimson bubbles slipped out of her mouth as she cackled wickedly. Tollubo wanted to throttle her just to wipe that sickening smile off of her face. When he realized that he couldn’t he hopes she choked on the blood.
The Tryna-wearer glared at the female Matoran – the figment of his imagination, the form that the little voice in the back of his head was taking. He was finally beginning to understand this part of the dream. Mesa was crooked and maddened by the valley of corpses. She represented what he had once been. Mesa was Tollubo’s rabid, evil, Matoran self – how he had been so many hundreds of years ago when anger and pride had ruled his life.
The blood-soaked Matoran began to creep forwards, her eyes dark and evil. Shadows crept up her body, snaking around her armor like hundreds of black tentacles. Even Tollubo had to admit that the darkness looked good on her. There was something about the way she walked, as if she was taunting him. Her pace was agonizingly slow and she took time to make sure that she destroyed him inside. She was alive with twisted beauty.
Then the shadows on her armor thickened rapidly. The Av-Matoran began to grow and her form changed. The jet-black streaks on her armor crawled onto her flesh and she was engulfed in the organic cocoon, leaving only her distorted eyes blazing through the strands of darkness. The coat of shadows seemed to be too much like a Visorak web for the Toa’s liking. Tollubo’s legs moved automatically, as if they had minds of their own. The Toa hated that feeling as he was hauled backwards to a safe distance away from the shape-shifting Av-Matoran. He didn’t see the point of that movement. He could be standing in a cave in Southern Continent and he still wouldn’t be out of harm’s reach.
Then the strands exploded as a hand tore through the dark webbing. A pair of red eyes stared at Tollubo before the figure emerged from the dimness of the cocoon. The Toa was disgusted when he saw the thing that he had mistaken for Mesa. He had admired her dark beauty only for her to morph into him.
Tollubo stared at the version of himself in revulsion. They were identical in almost every detail, except for their expressions and coloring. Whilst Tollubo knew that he wore white and gold armor, his counterpart wore armor that was as black as his twisted soul. The Almost-Toa before him sneered in triumph.
“You did all of this” taunted the Tollubo that had just emerged from the web. His arms spread outwards as a gesture towards the carcasses around him. “This was all your fault. The Matoran trusted you and you failed them.”
Tollubo felt his head rotating to his side as he looked down at the bodies around him. He had been looking at them for what felt like hours already so the initial horror had passed, but he was not afraid of them – which was why his next fearful words confused him. “Wh-wh…what…are…you?” he moaned in a voice that was far too guilt-ridden and distraught to be his own. He did not know why he was asking that question. It was obvious to him who this figure was. He was nothing more than a thought, an echo of life – just like Mesa had been. He did not fear the false Toa or any of this trickery. The nightmare was merely toying with him.
I am the beginning of the end of your greatest sorrows” replied Tollubo’s nightmarish self. He responded plainly with a tone that seemed both serious and juvenile at the same time. Tollubo wasn’t sure what it was but it sure as hell wasn’t a boast.
“Be-Betak?” he moaned. “Jollun? Es-Esel…?”
Dead” interrupted his fictitious counterpart with a whisper. “Remember them, Tollubo. Recall the many golden memories. Cherish them in these, your final moments. ” The Toa of Light stared at the counterfeit version of himself as he raised his hand. The fake Tollubo’s Kanohi Tryna twisted into an evil grin with warped, jagged fangs. “Cry for them, petty Toa. Give me your tears.
The distorted Toa’s jaw suddenly snapped open and he hissed eagerly. The false Toa’s right hand shot towards Tollubo’s chest. Sharp, toothed fingers plunged into Tollubo’s chest, causing the Toa to scream. He couldn’t feel anything but there was blood everywhere. It stuck to his mask and trickled into his eyes as the cocoon-Tollubo wrapped his hand around the Toa’s heart-light. With an idle flick of his wrist the forged Toa tore out Tollubo’s heart-light and the Toa gasped. He felt no pain but he was overwhelmed by the strength of the nightmare. He collapsed to the ground as his vision faded. Tollubo coughed and spluttered as blood tricked from his mouth and onto his beaten body. As he blinked through the blood in what would have been his final moments he saw that his imitation had once again transformed into Mesa. The last thing that the Toa of Light saw before he blacked out was the former love of his life, standing over him with his heart-light in her hand. She held it up like a trophy and sneered in triumph as Tollubo shut his eyes and was engulfed by the darkness…

The Toa of Light gasped and bolted upright in his bed. Without a moment of hesitation he let out a monstrous roar and hurled himself to his feet, every muscle in his body tensed to the point of tearing. Shapes and shadows swirled around his vision and he smashed his fists into the wall and began howling at the ceiling, as if he had had finally lost his last speck of sanity.
The sudden jolt of fear had forced him awake and left him gasping for breath, trembling with fear. Blood pulsed through Tollubo’s head as he stared at the dampened bed sheets that had been soaked with his sweat. He gulped and tried to silence his panting to no avail. He was shaking.
When he finally felt he had the strength he eased himself onto the bed he sat in the sodden sheets. He was twitching with nerves, unable to forget the nightmare for a moment. Images of the bodies, of Betak’s voice, and his shadow-self flashed across his memory like ghosts. But they were dwarfed by the thought of Mesa. The memory of her sick, evil appearance chewed him up inside.
The Toa glanced upwards between ragged breathes. The room was silent and cold, just as he had left it before he entered the nightmare. He couldn’t have been asleep for more than an hour, which meant that it was still pitch-black. Struggling to focus, Tollubo activated his Light powers and illuminated the entire room – just to check that there were no more horrific shadowy figures looming in the darkness. When he realized there were none he rose to his feet and studied the room. Everything was exactly the same as it had been before – still and alien. The only thing that Tollubo noticed was the fact that the empty cabinet was no longer empty. Cautiously, he edged closer to it to see his Light Sword propped up on top of the piece of furniture. He smiled a ghost of a smile as he recalled how it had been thrown from the window of the war vault so many nights ago. That meant that somebody had found his weapon in the streets and brought it to the Coliseum. The Toa snatched the weapon up in his hands and swung it around, trying to picture what it would be like to drive the blade through Mudro’s throat.

It was no use trying to get back to sleep. Tollubo could feel the adrenaline pulsing through his circuits. The Toa decided to go for a walk in the darkness. He left his room without checking if the door slid shut then rode down to the ground floor. The Coliseum was silent as he descended into the ghost town that was the lobby of the building. The Toa didn’t bother with the main entrance. He knew it would be locked. Instead he chose to walk down several flights of stairs until he reached the actual stadium. The corridors were cold and unwelcoming as he strode through them, his footsteps loud like thunder as he marched on through the silence of the night.
When he finally emerged through one of the arena exits he took in a breath of fresh, cool morning air. It felt good to make a show out of doing something as simple as inhaling from time to time. After all, he could do just about whatever the hell he wanted. The whole of Metru-Nui was asleep. Nobody was going to disturb him.
The Toa picked a random direction and started walking. He didn’t know where he was going but the moonlight guided him, illuminating the lonely road that he should walk down. Tollubo decided to take a gamble and let fate guide him. After all, he was just about everybody’s puppet these days.
The Toa began thinking about what tomorrow held. He still had the whole of today and presumably a couple of hours the day after to stop Mudro and his cronies from destroying the city that he was walking through so he wasn’t worried. In fact, Tollubo was feeling quite the opposite. The crisp early morning atmosphere was enough to calm him down. He savored the still, windless sky as he continued his early-morning stroll, a fresh, new spring in his step for the first time in centuries.
The buildings didn’t seem to be changing much, although the air quickly became warmer and the raw smell of metallic Protodermis filled his mechanical nostrils. The Toa took the guess that he was in Ta-Metru, which meant that he was walking in a vaguely western-direction. It felt strange being on the streets at such an hour in Metru-Nui’s industrial heart. He had imagined that nighttime in the fire district would be just as busy and noisy as the day time with factories and lava vats. He was pleasantly surprised at how quiet the city was.
He cast his mind back to the nightmare again, wondering why it had been different that night. The Toa of Light had witnessed the horrors of that same nightmare twice before so he did not understand why it should be any different the third time. And, even so, what did it mean? What was the significance of Mesa standing amongst the carnage? Why had Jollun’s statue towered over his head? Why had Betak’s voice haunted him? Why had his darker side made an appearance in the dream? There were so many unanswered questions that were flowing through Tollubo’s head as he walked onwards.
He didn’t have any idea where he was going, that was for sure but the Toa was certain that he shouldn’t look back. Knowing his own bad temper he thought it best to cool off by venting his energy into walking, that way he calmed himself down without tearing anybody’s head off, which was an added bonus considering his Shadow Matoran counterpart of this universe was a wanted mass murderer. This walk just kept getting better.
Normally Tollubo would have been worried about where he was going. He liked to plan things out in his head, allowing him to visualize events in chronological order. He liked to picture a timeline with small lines and markings, like the dots on a ruler. But the night was young and he wanted to burn off his anger with a long walk. Despite the monotonous, voice of his scared Matoran-self gnawing away at the back of his mind, Tollubo shrugged to himself and continued his saunter.
It felt good to have time to himself like this, walking aimless without direction in the dark felt strangely comforting. It allowed him to form his own path, make his own route plan, and to see what the city of legends was like at night. The Toa smiled as he continued down the empty street. He felt free for the first time in far too long.
Tollubo turned his head to examine the various buildings that he walked past, trying to picture the thousands of Ta-Matoran that would be sleeping behind the walls. Every single one of those Matoran was sleeping peacefully, oblivious to the chaos that was about to break out. The Toa tried to cast such thoughts out of his mind as he continued walking through the sleeping city, accompanied only by his shadow. Tollubo began to wonder what his shadow represented. Darkness was simply the absence of light; it was nothing more and nothing less. He did not fear the dark. Fear of the dark was fear of one’s own shadow, and Tollubo did not fear the large, bulky, black silhouette that was cast across the road. He wondered which was darker. His own guilt-ridden conscience, or his shadow.
The long and winding street finally came to an end as Tollubo turned the corner and found himself at a dead end. Confused, the Toa checked again only to discover that the boulevard had ended in a stone courtyard. His head rotated as he surveyed the perimeter, looking for an exit amongst the passageways.
That was when he saw it. His attention was drawn to a brief gleam of emerald and sapphire colored armor from a nearby alleyway. The Toa snapped his head in that direction and focused on the passage only for the figure to slip back into the shadows.
Tollubo’s mind began to race as adrenaline pumped itself back through his head for the second time that night. He suddenly tensed and drew his Light Sword out of his pack, thankful that he had picked it up before leaving his chamber. He recognized something about the figure in the shadows, as if he had seen him before. Tollubo’s stomach tied itself in a knot as he broke into a run after the figure, dashing off into whatever labyrinth the Ta-Metru alleyways could throw at him.
The passage was dark and there was trash everywhere. Tollubo grunted as he kicked over a dust bin and heard it clatter to the stone ground with an unhelpfully loud metallic rattle. He ignored the volley of curses that followed him as a sluggish Ta-Matoran stuck his mask out of a window far behind him to complain about the noise that had woken him.
The alley twisted and Tollubo found himself face to face with the figure. The Toa-sized shape was standing in the shadows, as if waiting for him. The Toa of Light stopped where he stood to catch his breath. The gash across his chest was sending fresh jolts of pain across his torso and his lungs were burning from the strain. Running was exhausting him, which was presumably why the figure had stopped – to give him a sporting chance and to taunt him.
But Tollubo was proven wrong when the green and blue armored figure stepped out of the darkness and into the muted moonlight that lit the alleyway faintly, allowing Tollubo to see the figure’s strange, twisted face as it flexed and creased into a large, toothy grin.
“Hello, Tollubo” muttered the figure.
“Hello, Bioka” responded Tollubo blankly.
The Toa and the Skakdi stood in silence and stared at each other from the two ends of the alleyway. Tollubo knew that Bioka was no threat. The Skakdi was an Ex-Order of Mata Nui agent who was acting as a double agent in the Cult of Darkness, which made his schedule considerably full, indicating that his presence wasn’t something to be taken lightly. One thing was for sure as Tollubo tightened his fingers around the handle of his Light Sword – Bioka wasn’t here to wish him an early happy Naming Day.
“Were you following me?” asked the Toa. He wanted to get the ball rolling by starting the conversation with a simple enough question. The Skakdi obviously knew something important that could save hundreds upon thousands of innocent Matoran lives. Tollubo was still sickened by how the former Order agent didn’t just spit it out – typical Skakdi.
“Yes” responded Bioka plainly. “I had to get your attention.”
“Why?” asked Tollubo impatiently. “What’s going on?”
Bioka did not answer. Instead he looked over his shoulder then moved in closer. He was clearly uncomfortable speaking to Tollubo in the alleyway, which indicated that he could have been followed. The Toa of Light doubted that was likely but he didn’t particularly care. The Cult of Darkness could chop the Skakdi into small, fleshy squares for all he cared. He only wanted to know what this smiling freak-show knew.
Impatiently, Tollubo strode forwards and brought his arm up, catching the Skakdi by the throat. Bioka struggled and gasped as the Toa slammed him against one of the walls and lifted him into the air until the Skakdi’s padded feet were about three feet off the ground. “Spit it out, Scumbag” growled Tollubo as the Skakdi choked.
“Don’t do that” he sneered. “Put me down!” The former Order agent began to kick at Tollubo. One of the Skakdi’s webbed feet struck Tollubo directly in the gash across his chest and he winced. The sudden jolt of pain made Tollubo tighten his grip only to find that the Skakdi had disappeared and his fingers clamped around thin air.
Startled, the Toa spun on his heels to see Bioka sitting perched upon a wooden crate on the other side of the alleyway, his twisted Skakdi smile grey broader.
“H-How did you do that?” Tollubo glanced from the wall that he had been pressing Bioka against mere seconds ago to where he was sitting now. He doubted most Kanohi Kakama users could move fast enough to escape his grip around their throats.
“Stasis fields” replied Bioka. “They’re something of my… specialty.” The Skakdi hopped off of the crate and onto his feet as Tollubo stared at him questioningly. “You see, I made a stasis field around you just now, which allowed me to wriggle free, dust myself off, and take a seat over here while no time passed from your perspective. What was roughly a minute for me was just about instantaneous for you.”
“Right” muttered Tollubo. The urge to throttle the Skakdi had passed now that he had been interrupted, an action that – now he thought about it – wouldn’t have been much use anyway if he had succeeded in suffocating the double agent. “So why were you following me?”
This time Bioka answered. He cleared his throat and spoke. “To give you some information that could just about save your metallic backside” he muttered.
Tollubo grunted in response before deciding to speak. “And what of the countdown? Is it still on for tomorrow?”
“Indeed, Mudro intends to stick to his word and none of the other Cult of Darkness members seem to be planning on backing down any time soon.”
“Is the cult planning on poisoning the Matoran from the Turaga Tuyet Dam?” demanded Tollubo.
Bioka nodded. “So you figured that out?”
“Evidently” growled the Toa. “But what I want to know is whether or not it will work.”
Bioka’s unnatural grin twisted and curled into an almost sympathetic expression that simply felt wrong to Tollubo. “Their plan will work. A vial of self-replicating Hordika venom is in Mudro’s possession and he intends to use it. So, what the hell are you going to do about it?”
Tollubo shrugged. “We’ll pull all of the Toa out and station them in Ga-Metru to meet the Cult when they arrive. Are they anticipating us finding out their plan at all?”
Bioka smiled sadly – which must have required a large amount of will power for a Skakdi – then sighed. “They’re planning for everything. Mudro’s drilling them through every possible outcome. They have blueprints for the dam, staff registers, and plans for each specific Toa, including you and Jollun.”
Tollubo frowned then looked away. “You’re not filling me with confidence here” he muttered darkly.
“I’m not supposed to” replied the Skakdi. “You wanted answers and I’m giving them to you. Mudro’s telling everyone to aim for the cut in your chest, which is a weakness on your part. You have to cover it up.”
The Toa of Light glanced down at the deep gash across his torso and shrugged. “Whatever” he muttered. “I’ll see what I can do when I get back to the Coliseum.”
Bioka nodded then glanced at the shadowy corner of the alleyway where he had hidden, as if he was looking at somebody. “How about Bukach? What happened to him?”
“Bukach?” frowned Tollubo as Bioka met his confused gaze. “I thought you guys had him.”
The Skakdi’s eyes widened. “Wait? So you don’t know where he is?”
The Toa of Light shook his head. “I pushed him through a window and haven’t seen him since, which tends to happen under those circumstances.”
“Well he’s missing then” muttered Bioka. “That changes things.”
Tollubo abruptly felt the temperature drop as the wind howled in his audio receptors. He shuddered and glared at Bioka. The Skakdi sighed then took a couple of steps forwards. Tollubo disregarded his movement until he realized that the Ex-Order agent had positioned himself between Tollubo and the exit. “What are you doing?” he grunted as the temperature dropped further and a cold, icy chill ran up Tollubo’s spine. He wasn’t sure if his tired eyes were playing tricks on him but even the shadows seemed to become darker.
“I’m afraid I can’t let you leave” responded Bioka grimly. There was a mechanical grind then a heavy THUD from behind Tollubo as the Skakdi spoke, which made the Toa flinch. The Tryna wearer hesitated and waited for the next metallic noise – the next monstrous footstep from whatever was lurking in the shadows behind him. Tollubo didn’t dare to turn around as the ground shook again. He was trapped in the alleyway, cornered between a Skakdi who controlled Stasis Fields and the metallic giant behind him.
There was a dark chuckle, a taunting laugh that made Tollubo’s eyes widen. He knew that voice.
Slowly, the Toa’s terrified eyes focused on Bioka. The Skakdi smiled miserably, a supportive gesture that didn’t make Tollubo feel the slightest bit better, not with the colossal juggernaut that was standing behind him.
Hello, Tollubo” growled the voice of the newcomer, echoing the greeting that Bioka had used.
Digging deep into the depths of his very being, Tollubo took a grave breath and turned around to face the nightmarish figure behind him, already anticipating the wicked grin that he was met with.
“Hello, Makuta Karabak” he whispered in nothing short of sheer terror. The Makuta’s blood-red eyes were full of devilish delight as he stepped forwards. Tollubo promptly shot backwards into Bioka. He grunted and tried to land a punch on the Skakdi’s chest only for the smiling-axe wielder to step backwards, grab his arm, and pin it to his back. Tollubo was forced into turning around to face the slaughter-house on legs that was Makuta Karabak.
You are not of this universe” remarked the Makuta idly.
“What gave it away?” snarled the Toa, his fear rapidly beginning to turn into aggression. “The fact I’m not a warped monstrosity like you or that I’m taller than a Turaga for once?”
Calm down” grunted the Makuta. “Despite what you may think, I’m not here to harm you.
Tollubo’s eyes nearly popped out of his skull. Caught off guard by the Makuta’s claim he didn’t feel Bioka release him. “I’ll believe that the day Tren Krom becomes a professional singer” growled the Toa as he drew his sword and pushed Bioka aside. The Skakdi grunted then shrugged as he stepped further back.
Don’t fight me, Tollubo ” sneered Karabak as the Toa took a swipe at his leg. The weapon bounced off the armor, which stunned the Toa of Light long enough for Karabak to snatch his sword off of him and throw into the shadowed corner of the alley way behind him. “Because you will lose.
“Go to blazes!” yelled the Toa, ignoring how many sleeping Ta-Matoran were in houses around him.
“Please, Tollubo” murmured Bioka as he placed a hand on the Toa’s shoulder supportively. “This is the Karabak of this Universe, not yours. You cannot hold him responsible for whatever injustice his counterpart has done to you.”
Tollubo stiffened whilst glaring at the Makuta before him. He had to admit that he was growing even more confused. The Makuta had not torn him to pieces yet – which made his statement quite convincing. Plus the Makuta had not made any threats against him. There was no blood-lust or anger when he spoke. There was no hunger for revenge or bitterness in his eyes as he stared at Tollubo. The Toa wasn’t sure, but he didn’t want to trust the monster before him. Every time he looked at the Makuta it was like looking at a hungry Takea shark. If he extended his hand out to Karabak he doubted that he would get it back, along with most of his arm.
The Makuta grunted and raised one of his claws. Tollubo tried to push Bioka aside but the Skakdi did not budge, in fact, he grabbed the Toa’s hands and held them behind his back. The Tryna wearer struggled as Karabak’s clawed hand pressed against the gash on his chest. It began to sting, causing the Toa to cry out in pain. He felt a sharp sensation of burning pain, like he had when Mudro had touched him, but there was something else this time. He felt energy flowing from the Makuta to him. The gash in his chest began to itch and shrink. The skin began to heal and the cut sealed. When Karabak took his claw away Tollubo’s torso seemed completely untouched.
“Quick Healing” muttered the Toa as he shrugged Bioka off then glared at Karabak.
Indeed” grunted Karabak in his usual menacing tone. “Like I said, I’m on your side, and you’re no use to me with half of your circuits hanging out.
“And what exactly do you need me for?” growled the Toa. He tried to advance on the Makuta but he was stopped dead in his tracks as Karabak obstructed him with a curt wave of his claw.
What do you think? This universe is about to sink down to the fiery pits of hell in two days time, which isn’t something that I particularly want.
“And why’s that?” challenged Tollubo with a snarl. He glared at Karabak, focusing directly on the Makuta’s eyes – desperately trying to find some hint of the evil that he knew was lurking behind them. He saw nothing.
Because my brothers have lost themselves” sighed Karabak with a resigned grunt. “Look at their handiwork, they send pawns to what they do not have the honor to do themselves. They are desperate to destroy this island. They want to conquer this universe for no reason other than to erase their own pasts. They want to burn every single trace of their once noble history so that they can sleep peacefully at night, satisfied that they are monsters. They disgust me.” For the first time ever, the Toa found himself feeling pity for the battered, century-old Makuta. Now that he thought about it, he suddenly realized how different this Karabak was to his counterpart from his own universe. Where the more familiar version had been driven into madly seeking his revenge after spending centuries trapped in his own tomb, this version looked older and wiser. Perhaps this Karabak had seen the error of his ways centuries ago and chosen a peaceful life. Maybe it had finally dawned on him that he no longer had a place amongst the other Makuta. Tollubo wasn’t sure what to believe. He reckoned it was a form of madness.
And you, Toa Tollubo, seem to be the only person who can stop them.
“And why’s that?” grunted the Toa as he raised a questioning eyebrow.
Because the other Makuta are cowards, and cowards do not deserve victory” snarled Karabak with venom in his voice. “If it were up to me – if I could play a part in the events that are about to unfold – then I would tear the Cult to shreds. But alas, it is not my destiny to rid this world of the stain that the wretched Brotherhood has left. You are the only person who has the potential to stop the plans of my brethren.
Tollubo grunted then turned away, unwilling to make eye contact with the clearly-reformed Makuta. Karabak had a point. Deep in the Toa’s gut, he knew that it would always end up his responsibility. It was his duty to protect the Matoran, not Karabak’s. In that sense the Makuta hadn’t changed one bit.
“And what else?” growled the Toa of Light. “You hardly came all the way over here just to heal a cut on my chest, or are you just that insane?”
The Makuta glared at Tollubo then shifted. There was a metallic grind as his mechanical body moved. “Where is the Kanohi Ignika? ” he snarled menacingly.
Tollubo shrugged and tilted his head towards Bioka. “The Cult took it out of Turaga Kapura’s cold dead hands.”
How about the Kanohi Vahi? ” challenged the Makuta. “Do you know where that is?
Tollubo pricked an audio receptor at the strange, out-of nowhere question then shrugged again. He recalled reading something about the Mask of Time on the Wall of History but he couldn’t think of a reason why the Makuta before him had any interest in the Kanohi whatsoever. As far as he knew, the battered old mask had been crafted by Artahka centuries ago and had been lost during the Toa/Dark Hunter War.
Karabak’s Kanohi Rode creased into a twisted, sinister smile as he leaned forwards, into Tollubo’s face. “I do” he grunted. “Perhaps it would be worth finding if you want to save this island.
“What?” snorted Tollubo. “You’re sending me on a quest to find a Kanohi? What are you? A Turaga?”
Karabak’s grin broadened as he turned around and swept up the Toa’s Light Sword off of the ground. “The Vahi has been missing for centuries, until I found it of course.
“So what did you do with it?” demanded Tollubo, unsure whether or not he liked where the conversation was heading.
I did what any noble being would do: I hid it.” Karabak wrapped his claws around the tip of the blade then handed it to Tollubo handle-first. The Toa snatched it off him and held it uneasily by his side. “You see, the power of Time is just about legendary. Some Ko-Matoran sitting around in Knowledge Towers would probably go as far as to say that it is a legendary ability, one that no mortal being should be able to use. Control over Time is unnatural. Its practice should be regarded in the same way as you would regard a Toa Hordika or Shadow Matoran. Far too powerful an element for any one person should be able to control, even for a Toa of Light. Power corrupts.
“So why do you want me to use the mask?” questioned the Toa.
Because I have devoted myself to protecting the hiding place of the Vahi” answered the Makuta, a hint of nobility in his low, monstrous voice. “I found it crushed in the bottom of a war bunker in Le-Metru about two centuries ago. For 2000 years I have pledged myself as its guardian.
“So you’re passing the torch on to me?”
No” grunted the Makuta with a wicked grin. “I’m taking a break from my duties, a long-deserved vacation as it were. I think that the mask would be best suited in your custody until I return.
“Alright” muttered the Toa uneasily. “So where can I find the Vahi? Down a drain in Ga-Metru? Hidden in some Kanohi factory in Ta-Metru? Behind a display case in the Archives?”
Karabak shook his head slowly and certainly. “I cannot tell you the Vahi’s location. As your first test, you have to find it for yourself.
“And what’s the second part?”
Using it before Metru-Nui gets destroyed” shrugged the Makuta.
“You’re a cheery one” grunted Tollubo sarcastically.
I can, however, give you a clue” added Karabak as he glanced back towards the morning sky. Dawn was rapidly approaching, and something told Tollubo that the Makuta did not want to be seen in the daylight.
Follow the whispers in the dark, and at the end of the burning echo, you will find the treasure that you seek.” When he was content that he had left the Toa completely confused, Karabak grunted and turned to leave. He strode forwards, straight towards the shadow then stopped as Tollubo cried out, as if expecting the Toa of Light to call him back.
“Wait!” shouted the Tryna wearer as he stepped forwards, ignorant to the sleeping Matoran in the buildings around him as the early morning sun bled across the sky. “There’s one more thing that I need to know.”
The Makuta hesitated then shrugged to himself and turned back to face Tollubo.
“Did you kill Toa Helryx?” grunted the Toa. The question had been bugging him recently, more so than the thought of having to track down the Kanohi Vahi. First an entire chamber of Toa and Turaga had associated the Toa’s murder with Karabak whilst the wall of history had failed to mention it. Tollubo wanted answers – he deserved them.
Karabak dismissed the question with a brisk flick of his claw to try and conceal his expression, but Tollubo could already see his features darken in annoyance. “
Experience tells us that it is best not to dwell on the past” answered the Makuta vaguely. “You don’t need to know the answer to that question. It simply does not concern you. All you need to know about me, from now on, is that I fight for the same cause as you. That is the extent of our alliance. I will give you the key to defeating the Cult of Darkness, but – after that – it goes back in the lock.” The Makuta studied Tollubo one final time then grunted disapprovingly. “We shall meet again, Toa. I don’t know when, and I don’t know under what circumstances, but our paths will cross sooner than you think.
The Makuta grunted again before he was engulfed in an envelope of shadow energy. The cocoon of darkness disappeared into the ground, leaving Tollubo standing in the middle of the alleyway with Bioka at his side. Karabak had disappeared.
“Well,” growled Bioka “you heard him.
Follow the whispers in the dark, and at the end of the burning echo, you will find the treasure that you seek.
“I know, I heard him too” snarled the Toa in frustration. He was growing tired of the never-ending fountain of riddles that was his life. “But what does it
“Not my problem” muttered Bioka darkly. “You figure it out for yourself.”
The Toa continued staring at the ground before him, at the spot where Karabak had been standing. Now that the sun was rising the shadows were creeping further and further away. Gradually, they began to shrink as light flooded into the alleyway – a new day.
“So what will you do now?” demanded Bioka coldly. The Skakdi was clearly annoyed at Tollubo for strangling him earlier, something that Tollubo had forgotten about with the appearance of Karabak.
“I guess I should head over to the Turaga Tuyet Dam to see what I can do” he shrugged. “I’ll check the place out then start looking for the Vahi.” The Skakdi chuckled sinisterly at Tollubo’s response. It was a laugh that made Tollubo question whether or not the Ex-Order of Mata Nui agent was even on their side at all.
“You have two days left to fix this mess” muttered Bioka. “Failing that I will hunt you down and kill you myself – so don’t start any long books.”
Tollubo frowned and turned to look at the green and blue armored Skakdi.
But he was already gone.

Chapter 9[]

Toa Tollubo served the city below him, letting the cool, warm breeze strike him as he stood atop the crest of the Turaga Tuyet Dam. The crest was of course the knife-shaped ridge that divided the water expanse behind him from the reservoir before him. If he turned one way he would be met by a kio of still, smooth water coming directly from the Silver Sea. If he turned the other way he could see far above the skyline of Ga-Metru’s buildings. The tallest structure for mio around was the Coliseum. Tollubo watched as it loomed faintly in the distance. It was a beautiful day to shut down a dam.
The Toa of Light tilted his head in a downwards direction. Matoran and Toa inched along, hundreds of meters beneath his feet. The phrase smaller than Protodites came to his mind, despite how clichéd it was. Members of the Metru-Nui land army were literally crawling over every square foot of the dam, building up barriers and carrying weapons from one distant spot to another. Tollubo didn’t bother to try and count the number of Matoran that swarmed around below. He wasn’t that good at math.
The Toa was suddenly alerted by the presence of somebody else on the crest of the dam. He glanced to his left idly to see a Ga-Matoran striding in his direction. There was cold-blooded fury in her eyes as she marched up to him. Tollubo nearly stepped backwards in fear. Fortunately he hesitated and didn’t fall off the thin walkway and into the spillway so very far below. After she started yelling at him the Toa quickly wished he had not been so cautious.
“What in Mata Nui’s name have you people done to my dam!” she bellowed in a voice that made Tollubo literally flinch.
“This is your' dam?” he asked with a questioning eyebrow. “You’re Turaga Tuyet?”
“No I am not!” she answered promptly. “I operate the spillway, which is as close as anyone can get to owning it. Why won’t anybody tell me what’s going on here?” The Matoran of Water seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and, quite frankly, she wasn’t too happy to see him. That almost hurt the Toa’s feelings.
Tollubo turned away to study the skyline again. “This is a covert operation” he explained in the most authoritative tone he could manage, the way his trainers in the Order of Mata Nui had spoken to him when he was a Matoran. “We have received intelligence that this structure will play a part in a terrorist operation so we’re shutting it down.”
“Says who?” challenged the Matoran. She crossed her arms and gave the Toa a look that made him question whether or not it would be wrong to severely maim the female. It took him a while to decide.
“Says me.” He turned himself to face the Ga-Matoran for the first time. He towered over her and snarled menacingly. She was a whole lot smaller than him and had probably never gotten into a fight in her life. However, she stood her ground and tilted her nose upwards further than she had to look him in the eye. There was something slightly aristocratic about her, as if she had grown accustomed to bossing people around. Her eyes behind her Noble Matatu were twisted and fierce, like she was using them to burn fiery holes into Tollubo’s head. The Toa immediately disliked her.
“And who the hell do you think you are?”
The Toa of Light let a menacing smile slip across his Kanohi Tryna. He imagined it looking evil and distorted as he towered over the Ga-Matoran. He took a step forwards. She yelped and took a step backwards, lost her footing and thrashed her arms out. The look on her Kanohi Matatu was priceless as her eyes widened in fear. There was nothing behind her, no guard rail or safety net. Her mouth opened as she yelled out in shock.
Tollubo was kind.
Almost instinctively he squatted, spun around, and grabbed the Ga-Matoran by the ankle. She shrieked as his fist locked around her and brought her fall to an abrupt stop, leaving her dangling upside-down above a four hundred meter drop.
Tollubo imagined how the scene looked from below. He tried not to picture the minuscule heads look upwards and the fingers that were pointing towards him. The situation could be very wrongly interpreted that way. Any onlooker would see a strange white armored giant, wearing a Kanohi that had been illegalized years ago, holding a screaming Ga-Matoran by the feet and swinging her above a reservoir. As bad for his image as that sounded, Tollubo did not pull her back up again immediately. He took his time.
“Shouldn’t you be in school?” asked the Toa with a quirky expression on his Mask.
The Ga-Matoran’s mouth clamped shut as she stopped screaming and stared at the Tryna wearer. “Please” she gasped, her eyes wide with fear. “You’ll kill me!”
“Wouldn’t that be a shame” muttered Tollubo sarcastically before he grunted and heaved the Matoran of Water back up to the crest. He dropped her on the concrete material that the dam was built from and left her to splutter.
“My name is Toa Tollubo” he muttered. “Very few people know that fact, and I want to keep it that way. Understood?”
The Ga-Matoran’s mouth hinged open. Sheer terror filled her eyes as they expanded. They went wider than they had been when she was dangling by her ankles a few seconds ago.
“Your name’s Fluvia, isn’t it?” grunted the Toa.
The Matatu-wearer began talking gibberish as she tried to speak. Unformed words spilled out of her mouth as she hurried to her feet. “How do you know?”
“You said you were the dam operator” growled the Toa darkly. “I did my research before I came here, just in case we’d shut down the wrong dam.”
The Ga-Matoran shuddered then stared down at the Matoran around the reservoir below them. “What were you doing up here?” she asked with a gulp. “You weren’t going to jump, were you?”
Tollubo shook his head. “I just wanted some fresh air, to soak up some sunlight. I’ve been in a damn cave for the past year.”
Fluvia turned her attention back to Tollubo, her anger replaced with fear.
“You’re in shock” grunted the Toa. “Go back inside to your control room, sit down, and cool off.”
After an awkward minute-long staring contest, the shaken Ga-Matoran finally caved in and turned to leave. Tollubo watched her as she walked all the way to the end of the crest then disappeared into the dam. There was no doubt that she would have to pass through some sort of security check now that the army had taken over the facility. The time that she returned to her desk would probably be recorded, as would Tollubo’s when he returned. Not wanting to follow the cranky Ga-Matoran he decided to wait a while longer before returning inside.
As he gazed out at the glorious city of legends before him he couldn’t help but smile. “Metru Nui” he muttered to himself. He chuckled at the thought of how he had once hated the island and its ignorant Matoran villagers. He had lived nearly his entire life on the run from the Brotherhood of Makuta while the Matoran of this island probably hadn’t even known what a sword was until the war had started. Now he realized how much he had misjudged them.

“How the hell did they catch on so quickly!?” roared Cobarox in anger. He slammed one of his claws against the brick wall that the three rebels were hiding behind. All around them Matoran with guns, barbed wire, and sand bags were marching about, slowly sweeping away their chances of storming the dam.
“They must have made a breakthrough last night” growled Mudro. The Glatorian’s jet black chain gun was almost invisible in the dim light of the alleyway that they were hiding in. Cobarox didn’t feel particularly comfortable about that. He hadn’t liked the weapon much when Mudro first brought it back from Xia and he had decided that he liked it even less when he had been shot in the legs with it two days earlier. Cobarox only wished he could see the weapon in the darkness. He couldn’t tell where Mudro was aiming it – and knowing Mudro it would probably be trained directly on his head.
“Was it like this when you and Ignis checked the place out yesterday?” grumbled the Vortixx, trying to put his thoughts of the chain gun out of his mind. He had enough trouble walking as it was.
“Of course it wasn’t you fool” growled Mudro with unexpected venom.
“But how could they have known?”
The Glatorian shrugged casually, masking the inner rage that Cobarox knew was down there in his twisted black soul. “There must have been some sort of security system that we didn’t spot.”
There was a metallic clatter to the right. Both the Vortixx and the Glatorian recoiled and snapped their heads to face the source of the noise. Cobarox snarled in disgust when his eyes rested on the third member of Mudro’s little scout-party, "Scratch". The mutated Onu-Matoran was fooling around in a trash can, trying to make a meal of what looked like the remains of a fish. "Scratch" began to giggle insanely as he tore the creature to shreds, revealing its red, bloody innards. His foolish laughter ended as he began to clamp his jagged, nightmarish teeth around the unfortunate piece of meat.
“Hey, Mutant” snarled the Vortixx. The Onu-Matoran stuck his head up lazily, his eyes glimmering with insanity. “Keep doing that. I think there’s a Matoran on the bottom level of the Archives who didn’t hear you.”
The Onu-Matoran let the fish drop from his mouth and into his hands. He studied in coldly then tried to speak. “"Scratch" is so… hungry” he gargled as his eyes returned to rest upon the bite marks he had left in the fish’s oily scales. “So very hungry… "Scratch" can’t wait to sink his teeth into meat.”
“You’re sick. You know that, right?” growled the Vortixx. “I hope you choke on it you sick little dung-bat.”
The Onu-Matoran took a savage bite out of the poor fish then spoke to the hideous Xian, chewed up chunks of flesh and blood-stained saliva spewed out of his crooked mouth. “Maybe "Scratch" should take a bite out of Master Cobarox.”
“Maybe I should rip your head off” snarled Cobarox as he reached for his blade. The Matoran Hordika screeched and recoiled.
“Enough!” barked Mudro coldly. The mutated Matoran hissed and dove deeper into the shadows, the gory fish clamped tightly between his teeth once again. It sickened Cobarox to think that the insane Visorak victim was still better looking than him.
“Why did you even tell them about the countdown?” demanded the Xian. “The stakes are far too high to give them any clues. Why even tell them anything at all!?”
Mudro leaned back, tilted his head, then fixed Cobarox with a chilling stare. “Because we have planned this for so long. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. We checked and double checked to make sure the Toa wouldn’t catch on.”
Cobarox tried to raise a questioning eyebrow. When he remembered that the reconstruction of his face had robbed him of that ability years ago he scowled and let it fuel his anger.
“That was foolish” he challenged. “You’re always droning on about how failure is not an option with this thing. Unless somebody in our group of back-stabbers was messing around with my eyes while I was asleep then I’d say that what’s happening here is because of your little clue.”
Mudro chuckled darkly then raised his arm. He extended a finger and pointed towards the main entrance to the dam. Cobarox followed the direction of the Glatorian’s finger. His mechanical jaw hinged open as his eyes rested on the Toa of Light. He was strolling out into the square with his hands locked around his hips and a bored expression on his face as he scanned the perimeter. Cobarox watched the Toa’s head rotate around. When he was content that he only saw Matoran he turned his head away and began walking towards the spillway. Cobarox wasn’t sure if it was just his imagination but the Toa seemed to spend a fraction of a second too long when looking in their direction for his liking.
“Look at him, strutting around as if he owns the place” growled Cobarox. “Why don’t we just take him out here?”
Mudro hesitated before answering. “We might as well. I mean, my chain gun isn’t built for long distance. I might accidentally kill a couple dozen Matoran in the process, and wouldn’t that be terrible” he muttered sarcastically.
The Vortixx and the Glatorian exchanged looks then Cobarox sneered and raised his Cordak Blaster in the Toa’s direction. He shut one eye to focus on his target only to feel Mudro’s hand clamp around his ankle. Immediately he felt a surge of pain as the curse of the Ignika kicked in and the Vortixx’s foot burst into flames. Cobarox roared and ducked backwards. A volley of curses spilled out of his mouth as he tried to stamp out the fire. The bullet wounds in his legs weren’t exactly helping him to do that so by stamping he probably meant falling. The Vortixx toppled backwards on top of "Scratch". The Matoran yelped and thrashed about as the weight of Cobarox’s armor pinned him down. The Vortixx growled, raised an accusing finger at Mudro, and let fly just about every curse word that he knew whilst he scrambled to his feet. The Glatorian only smiled.
“You kill when I tell you to kill” ordered the chain gun carrier. “Cobarox, you are an obedient and loyal member of this group but it’s time you learnt your place. The world doesn’t revolve around you… it revolves around me. And that Toa is my property right up until his last breath leaves his dying body – which I intend to be standing over.”
The Vortixx growled then pulled himself painfully to his feet. His punctured legs had been patched back together again by Bioka on the night that they had raided the Coliseum but he was yet to treat them. Obviously, it was painful enough without Mudro burning his ankle.
“Whatever” he growled, trying to shrug off his rage. It was no use fighting against Mudro, not while he couldn’t see the Glatorian’s chain gun. “But what are we going to do about this countdown you gave them?”
Mudro cracked a sinister smile then shrugged. “Well, I gave them a countdown” he chuckled darkly before stepping forwards. Despite the pain, Cobarox gritted his oversized teeth and pressed himself against the wall as the Glatorian strolled past him.
But at no point did I say I was going to stick to it.

The Ga-Metru weather was just as beautiful on the ground as it had been four hundred meters in the air. Tollubo didn’t think that particular he would use that expression ever again but he didn’t particularly care. He was too busy enjoying the afternoon sun.
To his annoyance, he was interrupted by Toa Kualus. The Toa of Ice strode towards him, cutting across the crowds of Matoran soldiers as politely as he could then stopping next to the Toa of Light.
“Are you sure this is the place?” asked Kualus with a frown.
“What?” snorted Tollubo. “Do you want to go upstairs and apologize because we closed the wrong dam?”
Kualus shook his head promptly then sighed. “I’ve checked every single security system, I’ve spoken with the night watch guards, and I’ve had interviews with the dam’s managers. The Order of Mata Nui set this place up when the war against the Dark Hunters ended. They built it flawlessly. Strategically it’s almost impossible to breach and the security is top-notch.”
Tollubo shook his head. “It’s definitely this place.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I just saw Mudro watching me from an alleyway” answered Tollubo.
Kualus’ eyes widened as he tried to look past the Toa of Light but he was too broad to make the movement discrete. “Well that changes things” muttered the Toa of Ice. “If they know what we’re doing here then they’ll pull out. They won’t bother waiting until tomorrow. They’ll call the attack off, right?”
Tollubo shook his head. “The Matoran are fortifying this place as we speak. The defenses here are only getting stronger. The way I see it, their only options are to try and storm the dam or to scurry back to their masters to tell their masters that they failed miserably.”
Kualus looked away and frowned. Tollubo knew why. He had once been a Brotherhood servant many thousands of years ago. He had just told Kualus what he would have done in Mudro’s situation, meaning that he knew what it was like. He had essentially just reminded the Toa of Ice – who was already having enough trouble trusting him – that he had once been a Brotherhood member.
“So what do you think they’ll do? Run or make a stand?”
“With Makuta as their masters? You tell me.”
Kualus grunted and nodded. He smiled sadly, his eyes cloudy with sad thoughts as he turned around to face the dam. “What about this countdown? You don’t think it’s a decoy or anything?”
Tollubo shrugged. “I don’t know Mudro well enough to be able to tell if he was bluffing or telling the truth.”
The Toa of Ice nodded again, still looking over his shoulder at the dam behind him. “How about you? What would you do if you were in Mudro’s position?”
“I’d ditch the countdown” answered Tollubo swiftly. “Plain and simple, I’d want the element of surprise on my side.”
“I guess that makes sense” grunted Kualus. “And speaking of surprise, it looks like we’ve just gotten ourselves a new ally.”
The Toa of Ice lowered his Sub Zero spear and pointed it towards the crowd of Matoran. Tollubo skimmed over their heads to see a female Vortixx prancing towards them. There was a devilish look on her face as she drew closer, her smile could have melted Tren Krom himself into a flustered puddle of slime.
Tollubo’s eyes widened as the female edged closer. He watched as she skipped past the soldiers. Some of the male Matoran stopped dead in their tracks to stare at her perfect figure as she cavorted in the direction of the two Toa. Her body was flawless. Tollubo found it impossible to keep his eyes off of her. He was glued to her sleek legs; her smooth arms, her slender hips. She walked in a way that made Tollubo feel strangely aware of his own rapid breathing. Beauty always came with dark thoughts.
“Hey, hon.” The Vortixx raised one of her long, black fingers and ran it over Kualus’ shoulder as she finally met them. The Toa of Ice stiffened uncomfortably at her touch. “How’s it going?”
“I’ve been worse” grunted Kualus as he titled his head in Tollubo’s direction, trying to get her to stop tantalizing him.
“How’s the rookie?” The Vortixx’s wicked smile widened as her eyes rested on Tollubo. Now it was the Toa of Light’s turn to grow uncomfortable. “Oh. Never mind, I’ll ask him myself.” She weaved her way around Kualus then extended her hand to Tollubo. He shook it politely. “Racasix, Xian secret service” she taunted with a sly yet dazzling smile. “And if I know Kualus at all he hasn’t told you anything about me, right?”
Tollubo nodded dumbly. He retracted his hand from Racasix’s almost mechanically and was surprised to find that it was moist with his own sweat.
“Tollubo – Racasix” muttered Kualus as he wheeled around to face them both. “I would have told you she was coming but, to be honest, I didn’t know. She usually only turns up when one of us Toa is about to get slaughtered… which isn’t encouraging.”
“And how many times have I saved your metallic backside?” asked the Vortixx as she eyed Kualus.
The Toa of Ice let out a low whistle then shrugged. “More times than I really want to remember”
“He’s useless, isn’t he?” giggled the Xian agent.
“At most things” muttered the Tryna wearer, finding his voice at last.
“So who else is here?” Racasix turned her head to address Kualus again. “Anyone I’d know?”
The former Toa Hagah gave an exaggerated shrug before answering. “All six of us, although I’m not too sure where Orkahm’s wondered off to. He said something being summoned to Po-Metru.”
The Vortixx nodded then returned her attention back to Tollubo. She caught him ogling her. She smiled and winked wickedly at the Toa. “Got a girlfriend, Tollubo?”
The Toa of Light honestly couldn’t remember for his life for all the adrenalin that was pumping through his head. His heart stone was bleeping at a kio per minute. “No…” he answered nervously.
“Then watch out, because I like Toa.”
Tollubo blushed until his cheeks were a deep scarlet color. Racasix purred suggestively then slipped past him, making sure that her arms snaked past his leg.
Kualus chuckled. “You look like a kettle.”
The rookie Toa frowned, tearing his eyes away from the Vortixx’s back. “How do you mean?”
“You’ve got steam coming out of your head.”
Tollubo turned a deeper shade of red. He tried to think of a comeback but no good ones came to his mind.
“Don’t worry” smiled Kualus. “She teases me too. I guess you kinda get used to it.”
Tollubo was unsure whether to jump with joy at the hint of seeing Racasix again or if he should go hide under a rock somewhere. “So she’ll be helping us to defend the dam?”
Kualus nodded. “It doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence either but she’s a damn good shot.”
“What about Orkahm?” asked the Toa of Light, desperately trying to change the subject matter. “You said he was in Po-Metru or something, right?”
“Right” agreed Kualus. “I know, he should be down here and all but apparently some Po-Matoran found the body of a Toa buried in the middle of nowhere and they need a Toa Presence.”
“Isn’t the timing a little weird?” frowned Tollubo.
“Not my job to decide” refuted the Toa of Ice. “If you want to go up there and argue then be my guest.”
Tollubo paused before answering. His brow furrowed as he tried to picture the scenario. It would be just like how Toa Helryx’s crime scene would have been treated. There would be a Toa and a Turaga standing in the background whilst pathologists and archivists crawled all over the body like a swarm of Nui Kopen.
It was then that something clicked in the back of Tollubo’s head. Something struck him about Po-Metru and his frown deepened. The Toa cast his mind back to what Karabak had said to him the night before.
Follow the whispers in the dark, and at the end of the burning echo, you will find the treasure that you seek. It just seemed to scream Po-Metru at him.
“Actually, I think I’ll go see him” retorted the Toa. He smiled as Kualus’ eyes nearly popped out of the eyeholes in his mask.
What!?” he spluttered. “But you can’t! You said so yourself, they’ll abandon the countdown and attack today.”
Tollubo shrugged and tried to think of a reason. He knew that he was acting on gut instinct but he wasn’t sure that he wanted to tell Kualus about his meeting with Bioka and Karabak in the early hours of that morning. He would just have to think of another argument to use.
“Or they might walk off” grunted Tollubo, trying to act like the point that was forming in his mind was common sense. Perhaps that was why it had taken him every ounce of his concentration to think of. “Besides, Mudro and Cobarox just left this place. They’ll probably go back to their headquarters, round up the others, then come back here to try and take us by surprise.”
“Exactly!” exclaimed Kualus. “So why the hell would you want to go to Po-Metru now of all times!?”
“Because the timing is weird” replied Tollubo. “Think about it Kualus. A body shows up in the middle of Po-Metru, which causes Orkahm to get dragged out of all of this. When was the last time a Toa got summoned somewhere and something bad happened?”
Kualus opened his mouth to make a point then hesitated. “What? You think they’re going to attack Orkahm?”
“Possibly” shrugged Tollubo. “I guess it depends who is acting as the Turaga Presence also. If it’s Matoro then they could get a second shot at killing him.”
The Toa of Ice looked away, clearly pulled between two choices. Letting Tollubo wonder off was obviously no good. It meant that there would be one less Toa in their ranks if he turned out to be wrong – a very valuable Toa too. Both Kualus and Lhikan had returned to the Coliseum surprised to find that everyone was still alive, something that they owed almost entirely to Tollubo. He had single handedly taken on three members of the Cult of Darkness alone whilst Jollun and Orkahm had been attending to Vhisola. Tollubo could just about read what the Toa was thinking from the expression on his mask. There was no way that any of them would stand a chance if he wasn’t there.
But, then again, there was the slim chance that he could be right. Tollubo could see it in Kualus’ eyes. He had his doubts and now he was torn because of them. The situation was Tollubo’s to take.
“Fine” muttered Kualus after trying to make a decision. “But you travel by chute system and chute system only. You get there, you grab Orkahm, and you get the hell back here. Is that understood?”
Tollubo nodded definitely. “I understand” he answered solemnly. “I’ll be there and back as quickly as I can.” The Toa of Light extended his fist in one swift, fluid motion. Kualus paused then shrugged and clanked fists with Tollubo.
The Tryna wearer smiled then broke into a run. He charged into the crowd of Matoran then turned his head and tipped an imaginary hat at Kualus in thanks.
However, while he was looking the wrong way, Tollubo walked into someone. He felt the thud of metallic armor against his right leg as an Agori hit the ground. The Toa swore and turned to help the fallen citizen only to discover that it was Betak.
“Damn” she sighed as Tollubo pulled her to her feet. “I was hoping to run into you but not literally.”
“Nice to hear” answered the Toa with an unanticipated fast pace. “I hate to be rude and all, but I don’t really have time for this. I have to be in Po-Metru… now.”
The Agori’s face lit up as Tollubo sighed and began talking. It was no use hiding information from Betak. After all, she would find it all out eventually anyway.
Tollubo grabbed her hand and started jogging towards the nearest chute station with Betak running at his side, trying to keep up with him. As they sprinted onwards the Toa told her everything. He described his nightmare, how it had been different last night and how he had gone for his walk afterwards. How he had met Bioka and how Karabak had made an unexpected appearance in the alleyway. He told her about the Vahi and how the Makuta had healed his gash. It was only when he had finished that he realized that he had just subconsciously dragged the Agori out with him. He cursed out loud then stopped in his tracks.
“What the hell am I doing?” he asked himself. “You can’t come with me. It’s not safe.”
Betak’s mouth hinged open as she stared at him. “Are you… joking?” she asked between gasps for breath. “I’m not… leaving… you again” she wheezed. “Not after… last time.”
“Please, Betak” whined the Toa. “This is serious. The only reason I’m going is because it could be dangerous. I don’t want to drag you into it.”
The female Agori looked at him with wounded eyes. Tollubo hated it when she pulled that face and she knew it. Her trembling lower lip made arguing with the Agori virtually impossible. It meant that Tollubo couldn’t look her straight in the face.
When the Toa ignored her expression Betak changed her approach. Instead she decided to use her mouth. “There’s always been danger and it never stopped me before” she insisted. “That was the entire reason I started the Order of Tollubo in the first place – because I wanted to feel the threat. I didn’t want to live a life as ordinary as mine was back then. After all, what is life without risk?”
Tollubo began to waver at the Agori’s argument. Her thoughts on danger largely reflected his own views. He didn’t think that life was worth living if you didn’t take a chance once in a while either. Chance and uncertainty defined who he was. He couldn’t imagine how boring a life of certainty would be.
“You really need to start listening to me now more than ever before” muttered Betak. “I care about you just like you care about me. You need to accept the fact that I can take care of myself. I want to help you.”
The Toa of Light glared at the Agori before him, trying to ignore her faultless logic. But, no matter how hard he tried, he knew that Betak was right. Perhaps he should just let her come with him. Besides, the Agori was smart enough. She could probably help him with Karabak’s riddle.
“Alright” grunted the Toa of Light as he started jogging again. “We travel there, then come straight back here. And when we return to the dam you stay away from the fighting. The Cult will probably the here when we get back and I don’t want you ending up like Turaga Kapura did.”
“So how are we getting there?”
“By chute” explain the Toa.
“And do you know exactly where we’re going?”
“Not a clue” chuckled Tollubo as he cracked a smile. Betak followed suit and grinned as the Toa and Agori charged down the abandoned Ga-Metru street, leaving behind the dam that would serve as a battle field for remainder of life on Metru-Nui as they knew it.
They were making the biggest mistake of their lives.

Chapter 10[]

It didn’t take Tollubo long to learn to dislike chutes. Like all forms of communal transport he was required to stand in an inconveniently long line for an agonizingly long twenty minutes, behind crowds of tired, ignorant Matoran. Betak stood in front of him for the majority of the wait until they approached the counter and the Toa found himself having to pay without a widget to his name. The Tryna-wearer then spent a further ten minutes trying to reason with one of the chute attendants to give him a Toa Discount. However, after trying to convince the Matoran of Plasma that he was actually a Toa, an impatient male Vortixx began to argue with the Toa of Light. Whilst Tollubo and the Xian were bickering a random Ko-Matoran snapped and paid for Tollubo’s ticket after having to wait a half hour for the Toa.
Reluctantly, Tollubo decided it was best to simply abandon his argument with the Vortixx and slipped away into the chute station. He walked off with his ill-gotten ticket and started his search for Betak. He found her waiting for him, a map of Po-Metru in her hands. She was studying it intently, trying to figure out where they would be going. It was a good think that she was trying to tackle that problem because Tollubo sure as hell wasn’t.
“Are you sure you don’t know where Orkahm is?” she asked without raising her eyes off the map.
The Toa of Light grunted then knelt down to examine the diagram of the city. Po-Metru just looked like a mess of brown buildings and canyons. He imagined the sun-baked terrain, rocks that had been starved of rainwater and spoilt with rays of sunlight. The buildings would be ragged and defeated, wilting in the unforgiving heat. The Toa doubted they’d find Orkahm at all. He didn’t know anything about the rookie Toa of Air’s location to begin with so Tollubo had nothing to go on aside from his sheer determination. He’d rip Po-Metru apart if he had to – and, if he didn’t think of a destination soon, it looked like he was going to have to.
The Toa cast his mind back to the discussion that he had held with Kualus. He tried to remember anything else the Toa of Ice had said regarding Orkahm’s whereabouts. But, instead, he was reminded of Karabak. The Makuta’s words and his peculiar task of finding the Vahi were all Tollubo could think of.
And Tollubo was pretty much the only person in the world who would react on a gut instinct at a time like this, which was a bad combination. Orkahm’s whereabouts and the Kanohi Vahi’s hiding place couldn’t be connected in any way – or could they?
Follow the whispers in the dark, and at the end of the burning echo, you will find the treasure that you seek” muttered Tollubo, repeating the words of Makuta Karabak. He didn’t have the slightest wisp of a clue where he could find Orkahm but he was certain that the Makuta would not let him down.
“We go there” he muttered as he pressed his finger against a point on the map entitled Canyon of Unending Whispers.
Betak nodded slowly. “Makes sense I guess” she muttered as Tollubo returned to his feet and began scanning the area for a chute that would take them in the right direction. “But how does it link to Karabak’s riddle?”
Tollubo hesitated then heaved a long sigh as he racked his brains. “Kualus said it was an archaeological dig or something” stated the Toa irrelevantly. “He said that they found the body of a Toa. If the Canyon of Unending Whispers is in Po-Metru then it refers to the burning echo, which means the treasure that we seek will be hidden there.”
Betak stared at Tollubo quizzically, as if he had just sprouted a second head. “But what about the first part, the Whispers in the Dark? What does that mean?”
Tollubo cracked a sly smile as the answer suddenly dawned upon him. “Don’t you see?” he laughed as he set off walking towards the chute that would take them as close to the Canyon as they could get. Betak leapt forwards and began a brisk jog in order to keep up with his enormous strides. “Kualus was it was a burial but he was wrong, it’s not. They’re not burying the Toa, he hasn’t just died. They’ve only just discovered him, which means that he’s been buried underground all this time. And what better place to find darkness – ”
“– Than underground” interrupted Betak. “The Whispers in the Dark refers to his tomb.” Tollubo nodded and blinked, a little insulted that the Agori had finished his statement for him. After all, he wasn’t that predictable. “You think the Vahi’s buried with this Toa?”
The Toa shrugged, trying to act like it was no big deal, as if he hadn’t just drained himself thinking of it. “I’m saying it’s possible, which means we probably won’t be the only ones looking for it. And if Mudro was after the Ignika when the Cult raided the Coliseum, who’s to say they won’t tear some Toa’s grave apart looking for the Vahi?”

“Out of my way!” Matoran were shoved aside as the Kaukau wearing Ta-Matoran pushed his way through the flock of everyday midmorning strollers. He ignored the shouts of protest and the curses that trailed after him as he pressed onwards, making no attempt to weave around the Matoran before him.
The disorderly Ta-Matoran’s name was Harma and he was running for his life. He had no idea how long he had been moving but he knew he couldn’t go on much longer. He was dehydrated and close to exhaustion – something he found both ironic and tormenting as he was running through Ga-Metru.
The journey should have been simple. Harma’s home was directly underneath the very chute station he was running towards. He heard it every night when he tried to get to sleep and he saw it every day. He knew the streets of Ga-Metru like the back of his grubby, unwashed hand. But he had not expected to run into the morning rush of Matoran workers as they idly wondered around on their way to work. Harma was unarmed and out in the open. Had Toa Lhikan not confiscated his scythe over a month ago then things would be very different indeed.
He tried to remember his attackers. The mysterious Cult of Darkness. He could imagine them lurking in the shadows, hiding in the shade, standing around every street corner. They were like wild Rahi that had awoken that morning intent on continuing this ceaseless search for food. Did that make him breakfast to them?
The Ta-Matoran could imagine his scent creeping out. All around him invisible eyes could be watching his progress as he battled onwards through the streets. What horrors might be awaiting him around the next street corner?
Harma’s pace began to slacken as he gasped for breath. His lungs were crisp and raw as he swallowed whole mouthfuls of air. He wanted to stop, to sit down and take a break. But that was a luxury he could not afford at that moment, or ever again.
The Ta-Matoran gritted his teeth as he reached into his pack and produced his water canteen. It was a battered old metallic cylinder that kept clanking around in his pack too often for his liking but right now, he needed it more than anything else. He had already drunk from it three times while he was running and he had been trying to ration himself, but even so he was surprised to find it almost empty.
“What the hell” he grunted to himself as he threw his head back and drained the remaining water from the canteen then threw the bottle to the ground before continuing his run. Let his stalkers pick it up. Harma had no doubt that they were already closing in behind him.
It was like all of his Naming Days coming at once when the Chute Station finally rolled into view. Harma laughed out loud before realizing that he had not escaped yet. He knew he wouldn’t be safe until he was on the next chute going out of Ga-Metru, that was for damn sure.
But he knew it wouldn’t be that simple. Although he was running against the midmorning rush there would still be lines and queues. He would be a sitting Dermis Turtle the second he set foot in the building. The Ta-Matoran swore then promised himself not to think again until he was on the chute.
He was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that he had been wrong. The chute station was just about empty when he burst in through the doors, startling the Le-Matoran at the ticket counter in the process. Unwilling to let his sudden good luck slip away, the Ta-Matoran ran towards the Matoran of Air and stopped to catch his breath at the counter.
“Where to?” asked the Matoran cautiously. Harma probably looked suspicious as he gasped and panted, which was strange considering how many Matoran missed chutes every day. The Matoran of Air should not have been so uncomfortable.
“Anywhere that isn’t here” panted the Ta-Matoran as he thrust his hand into his pack and spilled the contents onto the counter, which reached a grand total of four widgets, his lucky fish hook, and his identification tablet. It wasn’t much but those few possessions were all that the Matoran had in the world at the time.
The Le-Matoran paused then checked the identification tablet carefully. His eyes were focused and tense behind his Kanohi Kadin. “The idea is you tell me which chute station you want to go to. Otherwise I can’t give you a ticket.”
“354” grunted Harma with a shrug as he snatched his identification tablet off of the Le-Matoran and tossed it back into his pack. That was his door number.
“That’s in Le-Metru” muttered the Le-Matoran.
“Then you can recommend me a place to stay there” whimpered Harma, desperate to get into the chute.
“You want to ride by shuttle? There’s one just about to leave.”
“Sure” yelled the Kaukau wearer, unaware of the loudness of his voice. “Whatever gets me out of here faster.” He switched from one foot to the other as he anxiously awaited the Matoran of Air’s approval of his request. The Kadin wearer stared at Harma for a second longer then shrugged and began typing onto his touch screen.
“Platform 5. If you run you can catch it” muttered the Le-Matoran as he handed Harma the piece of paper that was his ticket, not that anybody would bother to check it. The Ta-Matoran grabbed it and shot off. He pushed through the metal doors and into the station. Immediately he began searching for the fifth platform. When his eyes rested upon the number he let out a single short “Ha!” in relief.
The Matoran wasted no time boarding the shuttle. He had literally just made it onboard the strange cylinder-shaped vessel before it was released from its clamp and was thrown forwards by the power of the chute. Harma grabbed a seat quickly and squeezed himself into the last remaining space on the six-seater shuttle, between a shifty-looking De-Matoran and a wide, muscular Po-Matoran who took up half of Harma’s seat. He made no attempt to talk to either of them as he wriggled into a comfortable sitting position and stared down at the glass floor. He watched as the water whipped past the glass window beneath his feet.
According to Harma, shuttles were largely underrated. For a Ta-Matoran like himself they were essential when he went on a chute simply because he didn’t want to get wet or have to hold his breath. The shuttles allowed him to avoid both of those inconveniences at pretty much the same price. After all, the shuttles were carried by the rapid force of the chute’s current so fuel costs were not included in the price of his ticket.
The last thing Harma would ever buy.
The Ta-Matoran continued to stare through the glass at the Liquid Protodermis as it roared past the window whilst he tried to regain his breath. Some of the other passengers were glaring at him quizzically but he didn’t care. He was just glad to be alive. No Glatorian had jumped out of the shadows and torn his head off… yet.
The Matoran’s joy was short-lived. Just as he stretched and began to finally relax the shuttle shuddered abruptly. Startled, Harma cried out as he was thrown out of his chair and into the walkway. As he had guessed, he was the only passenger to lurch forwards. All five of the others were stopped by some form of safety restrainers that Harma’s seat coincidentally had not been equipped with.
Hence the cheap ticket.
With some difficulty, he attempted to stay on his feet as the shuttle rocked from side to side. The Kaukau wearer tried to imagine something else, something that would help him to keep his balance. He tried to picture himself lava surfing back in Ta-Metru. For a brief second he felt his hopes rise as he stayed on his feet. He swung his arms out wildly, trying to grab hold of his seat again only for the shuttle to suddenly jolt for a second time. The Ta-Matoran’s hand shot through the air and struck the Po-Matoran – who he had been sitting next to – in the Kanohi by accident.
Something was definitely wrong. Chute shuttles were renowned for their smoothness and the journey was turning into a nightmarish struggle against something other than the currents. The bumpy ride wasn’t because of a few air bubbles. The fact that the other Matoran were beginning to shout and point at the glass floor that Harma was standing on was enough evidence to reduce the Ta-Matoran to a petrified, motionless wreck. He didn’t dare to look down at what monster loomed in the chute below his feet. He was terrified, rooted to the spot in fear. He didn’t want to look down into the nightmarish jaws of whatever was below. Even then he knew that it would be the last thing he ever saw.
There was one final jolt before the shuttle was yanked completely out of motion. Harma was thrown off his feet once again as the vessel came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the chute. The Ta-Matoran’s audio receptors were filled with the sound of breaking glass as a jagged limb burst into the shuttle. Harma yelled out as the monstrous spider leg began to thrash around before wrapping itself around a Le-Matoran on the other side of the craft. The Kaukau wearer could only watch as he was snatched away and dragged into the hole in the glass floor. The Liquid Protodermis rapidly became a dark crimson as the unfortunate Matoran of Air was torn to shreds in the nightmarish jaws of the creature.
Harma tried to push the disgusting image out of his mind. Instead he focused on the water level. He was well aware that there was now a hole in the glass where the spider leg had broken in, which meant that the shuttle was beginning to flood. He felt Liquid Protodermis spray against him as he recoiled in shock, mostly because it was stained red with the Le-Matoran’s blood put partially because it was wet – as Liquid Protodermis often was.
The other four remaining passengers were on their feet, frantically trying to crowd over to the opposite side of the vessel, banging on the glass and shouting for help – as if somebody could hear them. The Kaukau wearer just stared blankly at them until the shuttle rocked again and he had to focus on grabbing hold of one of the chairs.
That was when all hell broke loose in the metallic craft. A second spider leg erupted through into the vessel, snatching up the De-Matoran and causing the shuttle to flip over in the current. Harma found himself cursing gravity as he was hurled against the ceiling then bounced off in the direction of the first spider leg.
The Ta-Matoran never managed to crash against the door of the shuttle. He doubted that he would have managed to escape even if he did succeed in breaking through the glass, not with the Rahi present outside the craft. For that reason he wasn’t greatly surprised to find a spider leg wrapped around his chest. It began to pull him back, towards the hole that the Le-Matoran had been dragged into and never emerged from.
Harma swam, he kicked, he wriggled, and he struggled against the unwavering grip of the creature to no avail. He yelled out as he was hauled over the edge and into the cold, wet Liquid Protodermis that was thick with blood. He pounded the limb with all his might as his lungs filled with liquid and the breath was squeezed out of him.
The Ta-Matoran tried to cry out one final time as his eyes rested upon the monstrous form of a Chute Lurker but only bubbles escaped his mouth. The creature’s nightmarish jaws locked around his torso and dug in deep, tearing out large, fleshy chunks of his chest and filling the surrounding Liquid Protodermis with a dense, red cloud.
Within seconds the struggle was over.

Coincidentally, at the exact same instant that Harma was torn to pieces, Toa Tollubo was strolling through the Canyon of Unending Whispers, Betak at his side.
He had been right. Po-Metru appeared to be nothing more than a barren, burning wasteland. The second he had emerged from the chute the heat had hit him like a Ta-Metru furnace. The huts were withered and weak, the way all small places looked under the unmerciful roasting of the sun. Even the canyon’s ground was baked dry as he marched onwards through it.
Tollubo was busy wondering whether or not he could cause a rock to disintegrate just by touching it in the heat when he finally spotted the top of Toa Orkahm’s Kanohi Matau sticking out of a hole in the ground at the other end of the canyon. Warily, he glanced behind him to make sure that Betak was still following him then shrugged and started walking towards the Toa of Air between the two vertical structures, unsure what he was going to find.
As the Toa and the Agori edged closer they began to notice that a large portion of the valley floor had been dug up by archaeologists. About a dozen Po-Matoran and Onu-Matoran were wondering around the site with spades, brushes and hammers as they weaved in and out of the series of holes in the ground. The largest hole was in the center of the patchwork of cavities in the barren, sun-baked Po-Metru ground. As Tollubo edged closer he was surprised to see how large it was. The opening was approximately 15 bio in diameter, which was quite extraordinary considering it was only about a bio and a half deep. The Toa of Light smiled a twisted grin as he saw Orkahm’s head tilt upwards towards him. He could see the bored expression plastered across his mask. The Toa of Air mustn’t have had much interest in archaeology. Tollubo on the other hand found it interesting.
He loved a good tomb.
As the Toa approached the edge he knelt down on one knee to study the scene. Normally he would have just jumped into the hollow but something told him he shouldn’t. If he just threw himself seven feet into an archaeological dig then he would probably land on something he didn’t want to break, not if he liked his mask intact.
Immediately, four heads suddenly tilted upwards to stare at him as his muscular frame blocked off the sunlight and cast a shadow over the center of the hole. Instantly he recognized Orkahm and cursed bitterly under his breath when he learnt that Turaga Vilnius was present. The elder’s mouth hinged open. The Noble Hau-wearer glared at the Toa of Light as he eased his way into the bio-deep abyss.
“I’ll take it that nobody’s dead here, right?” grunted Tollubo stiffly. “Well that was a waste of a chute ride.” He stared at the scraps of armor that were half buried in the ground – presumably the remains of the long-dead Toa that had been found – rather, that was where his eyes were focused.
“What the blazes are you doing here you fool?!” roared Vilnius, a dangerous tremble to his tone. “What about the dam? Have you just left it?!”
“We have enough time to get back before anything good happens” answered the Toa cagily. He didn’t like Vilnius much anymore. The hot-headed Turaga had been his idol many a century ago. He had heard legends of the Hau-wearer in his glory days – about his life as a noble, valiant Toa, how he had thrown himself into battle to protect countless Matoran, and how he had supposedly carved his very hook staff out of a Muaka’s horn.
Never meet your heroes chuckled the voice in the Toa’s head.
However, what Tollubo found interesting about Vilnius was how he had just made that connection. As far as he was concerned the Turaga shouldn’t have told him to return to the dam with such urgency. Vilnius should still be expecting the Cult of Darkness to storm the reservoir the next day. Perhaps he was smarter than Tollubo wanted to admit.
But still, Vilnius didn’t want Tollubo there. That much was obvious from his disapproving glare. The Toa of Light would be damned if he gave a tiny Stone Rat’s backside.
Ignoring the volley of complaints that erupted from Vilnius’ mouth, the Tryna wearer took a couple of steps closer to the body of the buried Toa. If he had interpreted Karabak’s riddle correctly then the Vahi should be buried in the grave with this same decomposed corpse. And better still, seeing as nobody was dead, it appeared that the Cult of Darkness had not caught onto the hiding place – which was an added bonus.
But doubt began to leak into the Toa’s mind like a gentle yet agonizingly slow trickle of water. It was possible that Karabak had anticipated the dig happening on that particular day and it certainly explained how the Vahi had disappeared off the face of the island for the past couple of centuries. But the hiding place itself seemed far too irrational for the Karabak that he knew. Tollubo wouldn’t even know if the Legendary Kanohi was even in the grave until one of the archaeologists got around to moving the body from its sandy resting place.
How damn convenient.
Seeing as the completion of the dig could take hours, Tollubo found himself relaxing. There was no longer any sense of imminent urgency or looming danger. If the Cult knew the location of the Vahi then he would have arrived to find four fresh corpses in the grave and there was no impending threat of that happening, not while Tollubo was there.
That left the Toa of Light with nothing to do but have a look around while the archaeologists did their work. As he had noted before, most of the Matoran were walking around on the surface, examining the smaller holes around this central hollow. However, there were two Matoran examining the body. He could not name either of them but they both seemed to be in charge, that much was evident from their individual body languages alone.
The first of the two Matoran was a Po-Matoran. He was kneeling down and closely examining the decayed remains of the Toa that lay in the sand, specifically a small brown crate that appeared to be buried in the sand next to what had once been the Toa’s left leg. Tollubo watched as the telescopic lenses in the Matoran’s Kanohi Akaku zoomed in and out whilst he studied the various holes and fissures in the rotten wooden box. The Toa had never met him before but something about the Matoran of Stone struck him as strange. He had an aura of greatness, a potential. Tollubo could feel it and it unnerved him.
Feeling uncomfortable, the Tryna-wearing Toa of Light decided to study the Onu-Matoran instead. He wore a Kanohi Komau and was fiddling with what looked like a strangely oversized pair of tweezers – probably a measuring device of some sort. As the Matoran of Earth looked up and smiled at him Tollubo realized that he had met the Matoran somewhere before, but he couldn’t remember when or where. Whilst the two Matoran heaved themselves to their feet to address the Toa properly, Tollubo’s mind went blank as he tried to place a name on the Onu-Matoran to no success.
“Hello there, Toa.” The Po-Matoran was the one who spoke. He had a strange voice for a Matoran of Stone, the type that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on a Ta-Matoran but just seemed weird on him. It wasn’t as deep and hollow as Tollubo had expected for a Po-Matoran. Instead it was jovial and lively.
“Howdy” grunted the Toa with a swift tilt of his head. Neither of the Matoran made anything of the eccentric gesture. The Onu-Matoran, however, decided to keep the conversation going.
“Hello, Tollubo” he uttered in a oddly informal tone, as if he knew the Toa. “My name is Dessal, Chief Archivist. I believe we’ve met before, right? In the Coliseum?”
The Toa of Light honestly couldn’t remember having ever spoken to the Komau wearer in his life, but now Dessal mentioned it the Toa felt his memory beginning to finally kick in. He recalled his first day in this strange universe, when he had been summoned to Turaga Matoro’s chamber to meet with the Metru-Nui high council. Dessal had entered the room whilst they had been talking then slipped away from sight into some conference room. At times like that Tollubo loved the randomness of his mind.
“And my name’s Danza, senior pathologist” stated the Po-Matoran with a warm smile. Danza was a large, healthy looking Matoran who was oddly cheerful. His hands were large and looked clumsy – although presumably they weren’t – but being around him still felt strange.
Both the Matoran seemed glad to see him. Tollubo wasn’t sure if that was because of how much of a nice guy he was or because they had both just spent all morning in a hole in the ground with Turaga Vilnius.
The Toa nodded to the two Matoran then turned to face what he thought was the body. “Right” he grunted as he clapped his hands together sharply. “Is there any chance you guys have just finished up here or will I have to wait before I can drag Orkahm off?”
Danza and Dessal glanced at each other then performed an almost synchronized shrug. “Why? Is it important?” asked the Onu-Matoran. The question was addressed at Tollubo but Dessal was glancing worriedly at the Toa of Air.
“Not really” grunted the Toa as he eyed the corpse of the dead Toa that had caused Orkahm to be dragged over to Po-Metru in the first place.
That was a lie. Of course it was important. Any minute now the Cult of Darkness was probably going to storm the Turaga Tuyet Dam without him there to defend it. With Lhikan in charge Metru-Nui didn’t stand a chance.
“Well, we’re nearly finished here” replied Danza as he gestured towards the body. “But it wouldn’t hurt to explain our findings to someone who wasn’t here during the discovery process.”
“Alright then” muttered Tollubo, making no attempt to hide his curiosity as he took a step closer to the mangled scraps of armor that were buried in the sandy ground. “What have we got here?”

Toa Varna’s burial.

The body was clearly outlined despite the decaying of the Toa’s organic parts. The long dead hero had worn a black Kanohi Arthron, which went well with his black and silver armor – a good indicator that he had once been a Toa of Earth in Tollubo’s irrational mind. Additionally, his arms were wrapped around a short sword that looked older than the actual Toa. That was disappointing. The weapon itself had probably been a Steltian remake of some Xian weapon that may well have been something Artahka had discarded at one point. One thing was for sure and that was the fact that it couldn’t function as a Toa Tool, which made Tollubo wonder why the Toa of Earth had even held onto it in the first place.
However, the most striking feature of the deceased Toa was his hip – or, rather, the fact that there was a spear sticking out of it. The Toa of Light didn’t particularly want to touch it in case he tampered with the body but he was pretty sure the spear was wedged deep into what remained of the unfortunate Arthron-wearer’s thigh.
“We believe these are the remains of Toa Varna” answered Dessal. “He came to Metru-Nui from the Northern Continent to fight in the Toa/Dark Hunter War and was reported missing in action when the war ended.” The Onu-Matoran seemed almost cheerful. “We’ve been searching high and low for this guy... but mostly low I guess.”
“ But why this one Toa?” asked Betak as she stepped forwards. It was the first thing she had said since she had entered the hole in the ground with Tollubo. “Why all the effort for one dead Toa of Earth?”
“Because he was classed MIA” chuckled Danza. “That’s missing in action. Apparently he was pretty popular back on the Northern Continent so he became a priority for us archaeologists to look out for. Some Matoran have spent the past 3,000 years looking for this guy.”
“But surely he couldn’t have been that important” muttered Betak, a confused look plastered across her helmet. “It was a war. Weren’t there hundreds of bodies that would never have been found?”
Dessal glanced at Danza then shrugged. “Not as many as you think, but that’s not the point. After the war, Turaga Tuyet dedicated a massive statue in Onu-Metru to all the Toa and Matoran who died, as a kind of memorial.”
“But Varna wasn’t listed as dead, he was a MIA” noted Tollubo.
“Exactly” replied Dessal with a nod. “Because they never found his body they couldn’t confirm that he was dead. Therefore they wouldn’t put his name on the memorial, which got a lot of Matoran over in the Northern Continent angry. Like we said, he was a pretty popular guy over there.”
Tollubo was surprised to find himself warming to Danza – he liked the way he was painting an image of the 3,000 year old homicide mystery. But then again, it had been a hell of a long time since the Toa of Light had made any new friends. So, instead of saying something welcoming, the Toa found himself being cynical. “So how can you tell this guy’s the one you’re looking for?” grunted the Tryna wearer. He was becoming increasingly aware that he had barely slept for the past week.
“His military tags” answered Dessal as he pointed towards the Varna’s left shoulder. Tollubo circled around the body then squatted down on the other side. Sure enough, the words Toa Varna were printed on the Toa’s semi-decomposed shoulder armor, along with a seven-digit service number. It was the type of armor-piece that only became useful if you died wearing it.
How about his cause of death?” asked Tollubo.
Danza smiled and took a step forwards to tap the spear that was sticking out of Varna’s hip. “I’m not a gambler, but I’d bet you a whole lot of widgets that this thing killed him.”
“That doesn’t sound very professional” chuckled Tollubo dryly. He didn’t laugh much these days, it made his throat hurt.
Danza smiled then gave an idle shrug. “An arrow to the hip? I’d say he was killed by blunt trauma before he bled to death.”
The Toa of Light decided to nod and fall silent as he processed the information. Clearly the Po-Matoran had some sort of a famous reputation, as did Dessal. Orkahm had not said a word to either of them, which wasn’t greatly surprising given the Toa of Air’s shy nature. But the fact that Vilnius had not spoken changed that. The Turaga of Fire seemed to be treating both of the Matoran with deference, which was very strange given how critical the Hau-wearer was of Tollubo.
“How exactly did you say you found him?” asked Betak as she raised a questioning eyebrow.
“We didn’t” muttered Dessal as he glanced up towards the surface. “Po-Matoran was wondering around here this morning with a metal detector. He got a hell of a scare when he started digging and found out he hadn’t found a rusty old widget.”
“And you’re 100% certain that this is the body of Toa Varna?”
Again, Dessal and Danza glanced at each other. After exchanging uneasy looks, Danza spoke up. “Well, we can’t tell for sure until we can locate his service file.”
“Meaning I’m not exactly filled with optimism” shrugged the Po-Matoran casually. “We’re just going by the name on his identification tablet for the moment. It could be somebody else’s. The killer could have planted it on him to confuse us.”
“Good point” muttered the Toa, trying to disguise the fact that he knew Makuta Karabak must have discovered the grave at some point in the past 1000 years. Aside from Betak, he was the only person at the dig who knew that fact and he wanted to keep it that way. “Anyway, while we’re on that topic, do you guys have any theories?”
Dessal frowned and Danza blinked, an action that looked almost comical with his telescopic lenses magnifying his right eye. “About what?” grunted Dessal.
“About who killed Varna.”
The Onu-Matoran hesitated then opened his mouth to answer, only for Danza to interrupt him. “It’s too early to tell” he stated solidly.
“Well, it was obviously someone with some kind of harpoon or something, right?” grunted Tollubo.
Dessal’s frown deepened as he turned to Danza. “That’s probably your area” he muttered.
“Yeah, probably” chuckled the Po-Matoran pathologist as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, we won’t know until his file arrives but his left hand is larger than his right hand, which means he was left handed so he definitely couldn’t have stabbed himself with the spear.”
“So somebody else shot him with it?”
“It’s likely” muttered Danza. “But if there was a killer, and if he used a harpoon like you said then he would have to be one hell of a big guy.”
“And how’s that?”
“The arrow’s sticking in Varna’s hip at an angle. If he was standing up then the guy would have had to be at least twice his size. It’s a high angle shot.”
“And he was definitely killed here?” asked the Toa of Light as he glanced over the surface at the flat terrain of the Canyon of Unending Whispers.
“Again, we won’t know for sure until his service records gets here. That’ll tell us if he was stationed here or not the day he went missing.” As vague as Danza’s answer was, Tollubo guessed he could pretty much rule out the option of Varna getting shot from some Matoran in a tree or something. The ground was too flat for that and the canyon walls had no ridges for a harpoon-wielding murderer to perch upon.
“How about a best guess? Do you think he was killed here or not?”
Again, Danza heaved a shrug. “Well, he was found like this so the killed definitely moved him into a burial position after he killed him. That would usually tell us that the killer might have had some respect for Toa but the fact that he left the arrow in undermines that.”
“What about his mask?” Tollubo was pleasantly surprised to hear Betak’s voice once again.
“What about it?” asked Dessal patiently.
“If he was moved after his death then the killer had the chance to loot his body. If I’d just killed someone I wouldn’t do it just for fun. I’d probably root through their pack too. It’s not like Varna would need what was in it anymore. So the killer must have taken something from his pack.”
“True, that is strange” muttered the Onu-Matoran as he glanced at Danza. “But stranger still is the fact that we’ve already been through this guy’s pack and found a whole lot of interesting stuff that the killer didn’t take.”
The Onu-Matoran took a couple of steps towards the other side of the hole and picked up a small tray that was cluttered with items which, presumably, had been in Varna’s pack. He carried them forwards then placed the tray down on the ground.
Tollubo was initially taken about by the contents. Dessal had been right. Varna had been found with a lot of valuable artifacts in his pack, artifacts that he definitely would have stolen if he’d just killed a Toa. The Toa’s possessions included six corroded widgets, a needle-sharp dagger, a broken Rahi horn, and – strangest of all – what looked like a dark green Toa Stone.
But no Kanohi Vahi.
“Yes, we know what you’re thinking” chortled Danza warmly. “That’s a genuine Toa Stone that the killer just left untouched.”
“And you found that in his pack?” demanded the Toa of Light, his voice like a cold, steely command.
“No, that was in the wooden box over there” answered Dessal as he gestured towards the rotten crate that was buried next to the Toa’s leg. The Tryna-wearer snorted in disbelief then knelt down to examine the perished wooden container whilst Danza explained.
“We found it like that when we dug the site up. The box was broken when we discovered it, which means the killer opened it.”
“Meaning the killer was looking for something, right?” The Toa rose to his feet, his eyes were wide with confusion behind his Kanohi Tryna. “So, if he didn’t take his weapons, the six widgets, or the Toa Stone then what was the point in killing him?”
The Po-Matoran opened his mouth only for a yell to erupt from behind Tollubo. The Toa’s first thought was that the Cult of Darkness had finally caught onto him and that somebody had followed him to the Canyon of Unending Whispers. Without thinking, the Toa ducked below the ground, swung his arm behind his head, and dug deep into his pack in one fluid movement. Swiftly, he produced his Light Sword and stuck his head back above to the surface.
However, had he thought twice, the Toa would have noticed that the shout was not one of pain but that it was in fact one of the other archaeologists voicing a new discovery. Within seconds, Danza and Dessal were scaling the bio-deep hole in order to inspect the new find. The Toa raised an eyebrow at their speed before giving Betak a boost up to the top layer. Leaving Orkahm to help Vilnius get out of the hole they were in, Tollubo pressed his right hand against the surface, swung his legs up, then hoisted the rest of his bulky body up to ground level.
He was disorientated for a moment before he managed to make sense of his surroundings. He blinked in the sunlight then lowered his head to see Dessal pushing his way through a crowd of Matoran. He shrugged to himself and started walking towards the mass of archaeologists. The Matoran parted upon seeing him, which allowed him front-row access to the newly discovered piece of evidence. When his eyes rested upon what lay at the bottom of the new hole his heart-stone sunk and a lump developed in his throat.
He was of course staring at the body of a Ta-Matoran. Unlike the Toa who was buried in the next hole over, the Ta-Matoran remained untouched. He had not been moved into a burial position and his remains were a mess. His Kanohi Hau was tilted backwards and his left hand was extended to something in the distance. His right hand was clamped down over a deep hole in his chest – the probable cause of death.
Danza leaned forwards and let out a low whistle. “I hope you catch the guy who did this” he muttered darkly.
“That’s the plan” grunted Tollubo, still somber as he stared at the Ta-Matoran’s corpse. His voice sounded hollow and empty when he realized he recognized the broken body of the Ta-Matoran.
Betak edged closer to the hole and peered down. The Toa grimaced when Betak recoiled. She recognized him too.
“Is that - ?”
“I’m afraid it is” interrupted the Toa as Danza and Dessal descended into the newly-dug hole. Tollubo went cold, gripped by an icy paralysis that preventing him from speaking again for a long time. He could do nothing but watch as the two Matoran began examining the remains of a Matoran who he had once known.
“His tissue’s pretty decayed” noted Danza as he examined the Ta-Matoran’s body. “His tissue decay is roughly the same as Varna’s” noted Dessal. “I’d say he’s been down here for around 3,000 years, which fits in with the war.”
Danza nodded then pointed towards the Hau-wearer’s arm. “What’s he reaching out for?”
The Komau-wearing Onu-Matoran spun around on his heels and studied the hand of the decomposed Matoran. He paused then knelt on the ground and began brushing away grime and dirt until he found something in the filth. He raised it up to the light for the crowd to see his discovery: a rusty double-pronged blade.
“Anything else that we don’t know already?” asked Danza as he studied the cavity in the Matoran’s shattered chest.
“His tags are missing” grunted Dessal as he placed the blade aside and began pacing around the body.
“Ok then” muttered Danza as he scratched his chin. “I think it’s safe to assume he’s from Metru-Nui. If he was with Varna then he’d probably have been a guide or a sentry or something. Cause of death?”
“The hole in his chest, definitely” answered the Komau-wearer. “He was probably shot with a harpoon too, but in this case the arrow’s gone. So the killer must have tried to tidy up after himself.”
Tollubo looked the body over once more then sighed. Without the tags Danza and Dessal couldn’t figure anything out. The Toa stared at the deceased Matoran as he spoke, into the cold dead eyes that were masked by his Kanohi Hau. “You’re wrong” he stated coldly, with unexpected venom in his voice.
The entire crowd suddenly turned to face him as a number of confused murmurs emerged from the mouths of several of the archaeologists. Dessal and Danza glanced at each other then frowned in confusion. “How so?” asked the Akaku-wearer uncertainly.
“He came from the Northern Continent during the Dark Hunter War” grunted Tollubo casually. “He accompanied his local Toa team to Metru-Nui. He never returned and he was assumed dead. However, whilst on Metru-Nui he presumably acted as Varna’s aide. If you search his pack I’m sure you’ll find evidence of that.”
Danza and Dessal turned to each other and frowned. The flock of Matoran remained as silent as the two graves that surrounded them. Reluctantly, Dessal started walking towards the Ta-Matoran’s head – being careful not to step on his out-stretched arm – and delicately dug a smaller hole in the sand around the Matoran’s side. After about a minute of carefully shifting the earth, he managed to open what remained of the Ta-Matoran’s pack. Tollubo watched through empty eyes as a golden speck emerged from the sand and the crowd gasped – the Kanohi Vahi.
Dessal froze on the spot. Never in his wildest dreams had he thought that he would one day find anything as valuable as the mask in his hands on a dead body. Nothing of value ever turned up in a grave. Once in a while he might have found a broken Kanohi hidden away in a grave but never in his life had he discovered anything like what he had just found. He was rendered speechless.
Danza, however, was not. His telescopic lenses zoomed in and out of focus as his frown deepened. “How did you know that was there?” he demanded as he fixed Tollubo with a quizzical stare, all humor gone from his strange voice.
The Toa of Light shrugged. He wasn’t going to tell Danza about the riddle, about the real reason he had travelled to the Canyon of Unending Whispers. Karabak had told him that the Vahi would lie at the end of his riddle and he had been true to his word. Now that the Makuta’s soul had been replaced with a swirling mass of Antidermis it seemed that his word was all he had, which was good enough for Tollubo.
“How did you know?” repeated the Po-Matoran, this time with a more commanding tone – and with good reason. He was obviously shocked.
Tollubo only shook his head, refusing to answer the question whilst he was silently thanking Mata Nui that he had made the right decision.

The Turaga Tuyet Dam was the largest water treatment facility in Ga-Metru and, as of that morning, was also one of the most secure places on Metru-Nui. The spillway alone was a total of 35,200 km3 and the crest was a whole 400 meters high, which was one hell of a lot bigger than "Scratch". The insane Onu-Matoran tried to cast such alien information out of his head and focused his fractured mind on the mission at hand.
"Scratch" chose the main entrance to the dam. There was also an entrance on the other side of the reservoir and the entire structure had been built over a web of underground pipes. He could have easily used one of the other entrances to gain access to the dam but it would be far too risky, especially with a significant chunk of the Metru-Nui army present around the site. If he showed up at one of the other entrances without some form of security clearance then he would be shot without question – which "Scratch" didn’t particularly fancy the sound of. Furthermore, the main entrance was for the use of the dam’s workers too, which made it the most crowded entrance.
That was good. "Scratch" wanted plenty of civilians around, preferably a whole unending stream of then – just in case someone did start shooting at him. It was a sort of insurance policy, be it a sick one. The chances were that a shooter would kill another member of the crowd before hitting "Scratch" with a bullet.
There was logic behind his insanity.
"Scratch" scurried onwards, now part of a dense wash of other Matoran as they strolled between their work stations. He had been forced to abandon his signature rat-like posture. It made him too noticeable and apparently that wasn’t good.
The mutated Onu-Matoran reflected over his orders once again. Mudro had made those very clear while "Terminator" had squeezed "Scratch" into obedience. He was supposed to march into the dam, access the main controls, then flood the spillway – washing away all of the Matoran defenses in the process. That would hopefully provide the Cult of Darkness enough time to sneak past the guards and contaminate the water supply. Hopefully, otherwise "Scratch" would be sleeping on the streets that night.
However, despite the extremes that Mudro was willing to go to just to save a couple of bullets, the problem of actually getting into the dam was still forthcoming. Ever since the arrival of the Metru-Nui army, security had been tightened drastically. Still, that wouldn’t be much of a drawback, not with Mudro’s careful planning. "Scratch" had been supplied with a fake identification tablet and several sheets of forged paperwork. The information on them meant nothing to "Scratch" but he felt a slight pang of sympathy for whoever the hell this “Bomonga” was. The unfortunate person who the name belonged to was about to get blamed for the action that would herald the destruction of Metru-Nui.
As the flat ground began to slope upwards "Scratch" found the flock of Matoran workers become a tight single-file line. The Onu-Matoran slowed and fell into place behind a Ga-Matoran.
Of course, one of the other benefits of having Mudro plan his every move was the promise of a plan B, a fall back option for in the event that his cover was blown. That was the reason why "Scratch" had been chosen for this mission. He was the only Matoran member of the group, despite his mutation, which allowed him to fit in best with the predominately Matoran environment. However, if his disguise became compromised then "Scratch" was also the best suited for Mudro’s other option because he was disposable.
"Scratch" had many talents of his own. He could swallow a Ruki-Fish in one gulp. He could wrestle a Bog Snake. He could even tell the difference between Fusa and Dikapi droppings. Yet, Mudro saw no need for such skills, which made "Scratch" expendable. The Onu-Matoran didn’t really mind what Mudro thought of him. After all, he had no intention of ever leaving the dam.
The slowly moving line began to slow further until "Scratch" grinded to a halt. He leaned to the left to check what the problem was. Way ahead of him in the line were several mean-looking Matoran doing what security guys did: checking paperwork and looking threatening. There were seven of them in total. All were male, all were alert. Their eyes were wide open and they were studying each Matoran worker individually, which was bad for "Scratch." In his opinion, the army was puffed up and seriously overmanned compared to the threats that faced them. If something went wrong here then it would be seven armed military-thugs against "Scratch" – an Onu-Matoran who couldn’t even wipe the drool from his own chin.
He continued to think about those odds as the line edged forwards slowly. Only two or three of the Matoran were actually checking identification tablets. The rest were either fiddling with handguns or were cracking their knuckles, which wasn’t great for the Matoran’s confidence.
As he continued walking "Scratch" decided to return his attention to the Ga-Matoran in front of him. She was busy talking on a personal communicator of some sort as "Scratch" began to pick up his pace. She smelt strange, like fish. "Scratch" liked fish, more so than any other kind of food. Plus he was hungry. Perhaps that was why he suddenly flipped.
The Visorak victim became distracted as he leaned in closer and made a strange gurgling noise in the Ga-Matoran’s audio receptor. She flinched then turned around. When she saw the saliva dripping from his jagged teeth and trickling down his chin she let out a shriek and reeled backwards. "Scratch" giggled as her Kanohi Pakari became distorted with fear. He could sense the guards looking around, checking the scene out. He wondered what they might see. Probably just a hunch-backed black armored freak show on legs advancing on a Ga-Matoran. That was what most people would see and "Scratch" doubted the security thugs would be much of an exception. That pretty much blew his chances of getting into the dam legally – not that he had expected to be able to in the first place.
Thinking on his feet, "Scratch" began to giggle louder as he grabbed the Ga-Matoran’s shoulder and pushed her forwards into the rest of the line before breaking off into a run towards the reservoir. It was time for Plan B.
He could sense the guards behind him. He heard shouts and the heavy pounding of footsteps as four of the Matoran broke into a run after him. His audio receptors pricked up and a cold flush struck him. Never the less, "Scratch" waddled forwards, the guards in hot pursuit. If he hesitated and was captured then he would fail his mission, and failure was not an option. Mudro would hunt him down and kill him slowly and painfully, a fate far worse than anything these guards could inflict on him.
"Scratch" continued running towards the crest. Heads turned as other Matoran noticed the chase. The Onu-Matoran chuckled to himself at their ignorance. He was about to single-handedly tear the entire dam apart with or without access to the controls. This was his fallback. This was plan B.
Mudro would never let him leave unprepared. The Cult had unlimited resources and "Scratch" was too scared of his masters to waste anything they gave him. For that reason he had stood silent as his armor had been removed and explosive charges had been placed around his body. Under every single piece of plating on his body he could feel the cold metal of each individual bomb.
Like "Scratch" had told himself before, he had no intention of leaving.
The mutated Onu-Matoran began to cackle insanely as the guards were joined by other members of the surrounding Matoran army. They could do nothing to stop him. He was charging towards his doom at full-speed, heading straight for the spillway – the weakest point.
In his final moments "Scratch" could do nothing but think about what had driven him to this insane suicide attempt. He had started his life like any other Matoran on Spherus Magna. Following the completiong of the Matoran Universe he had been placed on some random island in the Southern Island Chain only for it to be invades by Visorak. "Scratch" had fled for his life after being mutated and had gotten himself lost in the island’s dense jungle. There, among the poisonous soils and sharp, brittle leaves he had been driven to insanity. Had Makuta Rotam not decided to take an outing on the island nearly a century into the Onu-Matoran’s torment then he may well have still been there.
From that point everything had gone to hell. "Scratch" had been tortured and dragged over to Destral like a slave. He had been beaten and laughed at by the Makuta then – for some reason only Mata Nui could know – he had been integrated into the Cult of Darkness as a servant. Obedience had been drilled into him, throwing his sanity further and further out of reach.
So had it been worth it? "Scratch" wasn’t sure as he ran onwards towards his impending doom. His answer hardly mattered at that point as his fingers tightened around the detonator switch. He should have remembered his past vividly. Being an Onu-Matoran his history should have defined him. It was almost ironic that the loss of his background had reduced him to what he was what were his final moments.
"Scratch" struck the concrete with the force of a Muaka bull, a blood-curdling battle cry emerging from his jagged jaws as he clamped his thumb down on the detonator.
Everything hit the fan.
There was a sudden, sickening lurch, a ball of raw, all-consuming fire burst from "Scratch"’s armor before he was incinerated. His body was instantly torn apart by the force of the explosion. The ball of flames smashed into the concrete dam, shattering it and blasting rock fragments apart. Every Matoran within a one hundred meters radius was killed in an instant.
There was almost a moment of stillness before the sound of the explosion finally struck the reservoir. Dust, ash, and soot rained down only to be washed away as a solid block of water filled the sky, blocking off the sun from the surviving Matoran.
The wave was not as powerful as it should have been as the dam was not at its peak capacity, but it was still a considerably powerful force as it crashed into the spillway, swiping chunks of concrete out of its way and widening the enormous hole in the dam. The immense force of 20 million gallons of water surged forwards onto the ground and into the city, sweeping away Matoran, weapons, sandbags, and barbed wire in the blink of an eye. One second the Matoran would prick their audio receptors to the loud explosion, the next they were being thrown mask-over-heels as a column of water struck them.
Pipes on either side of the spillway were obliterated, wiped out instantaneously. As for the buildings surrounding the Turaga Tuyet Dam, they didn’t stand a chance either. Every structure for about a kio around was flooded by an unimaginable torrent of water, concrete, and rock debris. Huts and dwellings were washed away like twigs. Whole buildings were torn from the ground and thrown aside as the wave lost power. Roads, footpaths, and bridges were scrubbed into oblivion. The merciless tide found its way into every hole and hiding place.
And there was far worse yet to come.

Toa Tollubo did not hear the explosion as he was an entire city away, but he sensed that something had changed immediately as he ran through the streets of Po-Metru, Betak and Orkahm desperately trying to keep up with him.
The first sign was one of the chutes in the far distance. The Liquid Protodermis flow had suddenly stopped, causing the chute system to malfunction and for an entire mass of water to simply freeze. Chutes were controlled by magnetism of the liquid. The fact that the chute had just stopped meant that something was wrong with the flow.
It didn’t take the Toa long to guess where the Liquid Protodermis was being pumped from.
“Hellfire!” he roared in frustration as the entire chute system grinded to a halt. Metru-Nui’s entire transport system had just been cut off, which meant they were stranded in Po-Metru while the dam was under attack.
“What the hell do we do now?” Betak’s voice was sharp and piercing with shock as she surveyed the street frantically. They were in the middle of some random carver’s village, surrounded by Po-Matoran rock-heads who probably couldn’t even tell Tollubo how many fingers they had, let alone directions out of the city. They were stuck.
The Toa of Light glanced at his two companions then grunted. Orkahm didn’t have a clue what was going on and Betak’s chute map was no use. They had to find another way out of the city.
“We hitch a ride” answered Tollubo gravely before marching forwards. He didn’t wait for either Betak or Orkahm but he knew they’d catch up. Within a minute he managed to find a long, narrow winding road, a road that appeared to stretch off into the desert horizon.
The Toa searched the road for any form of transport frantically. There were no busses, none of the strange wheeled-vehicles that existed in this strange universe, and no taxis. So he stuck out his arm and extended his thumb. The Toa hadn’t hitched many rides in his life as the Matoran Universe did not have many roads and he had never been to any island as civilized as Metru-Nui before. Still, despite his poor experience in transport, Tollubo reckoned that he had to be at the dam in ten minutes. It certainly wouldn’t take the Cult long to get into the building and they had to have done something already to have stopped the chutes. Ten minutes, maybe fifteen at the most.
Which meant they weren’t going to make it in time. His plan couldn’t work. It was already well into midday and the temperature was rising rapidly. It was going to be impossible to get a ride at all. With Po-Metru temperatures no driver in the entire Matoran Universe would stop long enough to offer them a ride, never mind the discussion over his destination. So finding a getaway in time was going to be impossible. Absolutely impossible.
But it turned out that Tollubo was wrong. His entire day was just an endless series of surprises.
Even as his doubts grew Tollubo’s audio receptors picked up the sound of an engine. He stuck his head up and studied the barren landscape in search of the mystery vehicle only for Orkahm to finally pipe up. “Over there!” he yelled as he pointed frantically in a vaguely southern direction. “It’s a Vahki Transporter!”
The trio weren’t going to take any chances that time. They sprung forwards onto the dry road, waving their arms like mad and shouting for the spider-shaped vehicle to stop.
“It’s slowing down” implored Betak. “I think its stopping!” Sure enough the transporter crawled closer and closer at a gradually decreasing speed. It pulled up beside the two Toa and the Agori.
“Looks like our prayers have been answered” remarked Tollubo skeptically. Admittedly, he was shocked. He was a big scruffy guy and big scruffy guys didn’t usually get rides. He could be a threat to the driver. People like him were at the very bottom of the list. The driver should have taken one look at him then pressed his foot down hard on the accelerator.
Still, despite logic, the driver had pulled over and that was good enough for Tollubo. The Toa of Light stepped forwards, putting on his most friendly, open face. But when the dark tinted glass parted with a mechanical hiss and the driver’s face was revealed Tollubo’s smile froze on his lips.
He had seen the driver before, suspended in the air outside the Coliseum three days before. He recalled the fear in the driver’s eyes as he looked into them once again.

Everybody stood very still.

Chapter 11[]

Toa Kualus groaned as the dust finally settled and the klaxons began to roar. He had expected to wake up to see fluffy white clouds and gleaming golden gates, heralding the pathway to the afterlife. Instead he found himself awakening to Toa Vhisola slapping him and calling his name.
He wasn’t sure which he would have preferred to see.
“What happened?” he moaned, sitting up and shaking his head. His audio receptors were ringing and the stale metallic taste of blood was in his mouth.
“You were knocked unconscious” explained Vhisola as she pulled the battered Toa of Ice to his feet. As she did so rubble and concrete shifted.
So that was why Kualus couldn’t feel his legs.
The Toa of Ice coughed then shrugged Vhisola away. Lhikan was close by, sitting upright and massaging a sharp dent in his Kanohi Hau, looking woozy and confused. No sign of Racasix, Jollun, or any of the hundreds of army-Matoran.
“Where are the others?” demanded Kualus as he swiped up his Sub Zero Spear and Rhotuka launching shield. The actual launcher hadn’t been fixed in the three and a half days since its near-destruction so it was little more than a simple shield now. But still, carrying it felt natural. Perhaps he just wanted to slam it deep into "Terminator"’s ugly face as a form of revenge.
“You haven’t been out for long” muttered Vhisola from behind her adopted Mask of Liquification. “I mean, just look at the dam! They’ve blown a hole right through it to the other – ”
Where are the others?” roared Kualus, sharply this time, his temper bubbling away at his insides.
Vhisola blinked then stared at him blankly. “I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to look around yet.”
The Toa of Ice grunted then tried to take a step forwards. There was a burning pain in his right leg where a slab of concrete had hit him but, aside from that, he felt as alive as he could feel. Still, walking was hard. Kualus wheezed, staggered, then crumpled.
“That happened to me too” grunted Lhikan sluggishly as he slowly pulled himself to his feet and started dusting the filth from his armor.
“What about the Matoran?” muttered Kualus as Vhisola helped him back to his feet.
“They went for a swim” answered Lhikan gravely. “I guess we were in the blind spot. We just got the wreckage.”
“And where’s the Cult?”
Vhisola and Lhikan exchanged glances before Lhikan answered. “Kualus, let’s face it. There’s no dam left for us to protect. They don’t need to show up.”
I wouldn’t count on that, Toa!” came the response. All three Toa flinched at the same time and snapped their heads towards the speaker. Only smoke and dust clouds marked the obscured field of debris. The speaker was hiding.
The Toa glanced at each other in confusion. Tollubo was still in Po-Metru and Orkahm was presumably with him or dead. If Jollun and Racasix were nowhere to be found then that could mean only one thing: they were drastically outnumbered.
Kualus growled in a low tone and shook his head vigorously, as if shaking away his sluggishness and trying to focus. “Show yourself, coward!” he yelled at the cult member in the shadows. Addressing the criminal as a single enemy sounded more fitting than acknowledging the fact there would be more than one of them. It isolated the speaker and put pressure on him. Perhaps he could unnerve the villain later on in the coming battle that they were about to plunge into.
But the speaker didn’t seem too bothered, that or the Cordak missile that struck the ground in front of Kualus was a sign of defeat. The Toa flinched and raised his Sub-Zero spear, letting a pillar of ice rocket off in the direction that he thought the Cordak had been fired from. The jet of ice disappeared into the dust cloud and made a quiet shattering sound. The particles of debris seemed to block off all sound in the area. It was harder for sound to travel in the blast zone. Kualus imagined that the mist would begin to lift soon but, for the moment, it was thick, dense, and showed no sign of being blown away.
He wished Orkahm was there. Never again would he call the Toa of Air a bag of gas.
“Well this is a nice surprise!” Kualus and Lhikan glanced at each other, both recognizing the speaker as "Terminator". “Finding you Toa here. An added bonus. It saves us having to track you down later.”
“Rubbish!” growled Lhikan as he swung his arm and straightened his posture. “You knew we’d be here. Since when have Toa abandoned the Matoran?”
“Since when has defending the little beggars helped a Toa survive a Cordak Rocket to the head?” Again, the speaker was "Terminator".
Lhikan growled, which was worrying. Kualus had to turn to face the Toa of Fire and grab his shoulder to calm him.
“Don’t worry, brother” he muttered. “He’s just trying to wind us up. He’s hiding behind words and smoke because doesn’t have the guts to fight us again.”
That last remark bought Kualus a sharp pain in his side as a slab of debris was hurled at him. The Toa of Ice grunted in pain as he was thrown off his feet and hit the ground in a twisted mess, blood seeping from a wound that ran from his shoulder to his waist.
Gritting his metallic teeth, Kualus rolled himself over and turned to see "Terminator" step out of the mist. He was smiling and his hands were steady, rock solid even as he raised one of his Cordak Blasters. He looked completely at home around the wreckage and broken concrete fragments.
“You shouldn’t have come here, Toa” chuckled the ex-Dark Hunter dryly. “It’s almost annoying that you’re in our way now, on the dawn of Metru-Nui’s destruction.”
Kualus grabbed his Sub Zero spear and used it to pull himself back to his feet. He winced as the fresh wound on his back began to sting – probably infected already. He glanced at Lhikan and Vhisola, looking for support but he got none from their blank faces.
The three Toa watched as a Vortixx emerged from the haze of dust. Of course, now they all knew his names. The ugly, brutish warrior was known as Cobarox, the supposed deputy leader of the Cult. However, unlike his Ex-Dark Hunter team mate, he seemed different than he had been described in their briefing. He looked terrible. The Vortixx’s legs were wrapped in bandages with thick padding over where armor had once been. His face was pale and his black-rimmed eyes were shining feverishly. Every step he took seemed agonizingly painful, but Kualus was in no mood to sympathize with the Vortixx. He was, however, in the mood to make it even harder for him to walk.
Activating his Mask of Rahi Control, Kualus reached out with his mind, scanning the nearby city for any signs of Rahi life. At first his efforts seemed useless, that was until his senses rested upon that of a strange, amphibious insect, lurking in the depths of a canal. His mind scraped against that of the creature and it stirred. The Toa smiled as the creature struggled then calmed as it fell into his control. Insects were harder to manipulate than other types of Rahi but even the spider-like creature was now at his disposal. The Toa closed his eyes and began to focus on attracting the Rahi. He knew exactly what it was and exactly how he could make use of its talents.
Come to me” he commanded it telepathically. The creature moaned then began swimming to the surface, hell-bent on reaching the Toa of Ice who was calling it.
“What happens now?” demanded Vhisola, stepping forwards bravely. “Will we fight? Will you throw more pebbles at us? Or will we wait for Tren Krom to crack a joke?”
“Vhisola” grunted Lhikan warningly. The Toa of Fire had obviously cooled off now. Kualus listened to his tone, managing to keep his concentration on the Rahi at the same time. It was nearing the dam, drawing closer by the second. “Don’t annoy him.”
"Terminator" turned to face the Toa of Fire then snorted. “Shut your trap, you overgrown Lava Ape” he challenged.
That was Lhikan’s breaking point. The Toa of Fire’s hot-headed personality got the better of him as he snarled and raised his weapons, slamming them together to form a shield. "Terminator" snorted and took a swing at him, knocking the Toa off his feet and causing him to land heavily on the ground, his Fire Greatswords spun out of his hands and disappeared into the mist. Dust was blown away from where Lhikan fell, flung aside by the force of the impact.
“Watch that one, Cobarox” growled "Terminator", his voice hoarse. “He could have another weapon.”
“I am watching him!” roared the injured Vortixx. “What do you think I’m going? I’ve got a bleeding Cordak Blaster pointing at his chest. If he pulls out anything more dangerous than a Dermis Turtle I’ll put a hole in his head and spit on his corpse!”
Just then there was a sudden commotion from the dust cloud behind the two criminals. A voice yelped out in fright and there was the sound of an animalistic screech that stunned even Kualus, almost losing his control over the Rahi’s mind. The sound of a body hitting the ground echoed through the debris before the Skakdi known as Ignis crawled out of the dust and into visibility. His eyes were wide with fear and there was a deep gash running along his chest, yet still his Skakdi-spine twisted his mouth into a false smile.
“Help me!” he yelled, his Lava Blaster clattered to the ground in panic but his Saber remained firmly gripped in his hands. The metal tip of the blade zigzagged wildly in the air. “It’s some sort of Rahi! Help! Help!”
"Terminator" and Cobarox turned away from the Toa as all five warriors hesitated to watch the creature in the haze. It was monstrous as it crawled out of the mist and let out another screech. The Sea Spider bared its rows of razor-like teeth before sinking its front legs into the screaming Skakdi. A powerful venom flooded Ignis’ body and he yelled and cried out in blind desperation. It flowed into his circuits, reacted with his innards, and began to sink in, just like Hordika venom. Kualus watched in a mixture of satisfaction and horror as the squirming Skakdi began to shrink. The poison of the Sea Spider was causing him to contract. The smiling sword-wielding freak groveled in horror as he shriveled to the size of a Matoran, a much more manageable meal. The Spider gnashed its teeth then ducked back to fire a Rhotuka at its miniature prey. When the wheel of energy struck him Ignis froze, paralyzed by the effects of the spinner. Kualus’ guess was that the Sea Spider wasn’t hungry… yet.
It was all over in a matter of seconds as the Sea Spider screeched and charged towards Cobarox. The Vortixx yelped and swung his Cordak Blaster around to aim at the Rahi. He growled menacingly as he pulled the trigger and showered the creature in a hail of explosive missiles. The rockets were barely enough to shatter the armor of the vicious creature yet it hesitated, and that was all it took for Cobarox to yell out a primal battle cry before driving his curved-blade into the creature’s head, making sure it came out the other end.
The connection between Kualus and the Sea Spider was broken abruptly.
The Toa of Ice took his chances when the distraction had been dealt with. He swung his broken Rhotuku Launching Shield into the air then let it fly around in an arc before it struck "Terminator" hard in the side of the head. The ex-Dark Hunter grunted and stumbled forwards, supporting himself on one of the pieces of debris that had buried Kualus when the dam collapsed. He was stunned but not unconscious.
When the already-damaged shield had hit him, though, it had literally split a crack right down the center, rendering it one more swing away from useless.
That was when all hell broke loose. Everybody tensed before throwing themselves into battle. Cobarox fired another spray of Cordak Missiles at the Toa as Vhisola activated her Mask of Liquification.
A moment after the others, Lhikan threw himself back to his feet and charged towards "Terminator", fireballs forming in his hands. However, the assassin saw him coming and managed to catch him with a sneaky swipe of his mace. The Toa of Fire yelled in shock as he was once again flung aside. However, the Toa refused to lose his balance as he struggled to stay on his feet. Kualus would have knocked him over himself if he knew what was about to happen next.
There was a loud bang and a flash as Lhikan grunted before falling backwards pathetically. The sound of his falling echoed through the thick mist-induced silence as his head landed barely ten feet from the bewildered Kualus.
Cobarox was standing behind him, his Cordak Blaster empty.
The Toa of Ice’s mouth hinged open as the Vortixx laughed and spat on Lhikan’s twitching body. “Ha!” he laughed cruelly. “I told you I’d shoot you.”
Kualus fell silent as Lhikan let out one final groan before falling limp. His fallen brother relaxed, causing his clenched fist to uncurl slowly as blood spurted out of his chest.
The lights went out.

Bukach was sweating heavily and had a wild look in his red-rimmed eyes, which darted around – as if he were watching a hyperactive Protodite zigzagging through the air.
The Steltian laborer frowned at Tollubo then looked over to Betak and Orkahm, frowning harder as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. He blinked as he raised his free hand to rub his chin.
“Ha!” he exclaimed finally, slapping his bulky leg. “I know you!”
Tollubo glanced at Orkahm, who shrugged. “I don’t think so” lied the Toa of Light. “How could that be? We’ve never met you before.”
I know you” repeated Bukach, slowly shaking his head definitely. “And I know him too.” All three hitchhikers flinched as the barrel of Bukach’s weapon tilted upwards to aim at Orkahm by his trembling hand. “You’re that Toa, the rookie” he went on. “Yes, I know him. He made the air go away. Nearly killed me, filthy stone-rat. And you…” the rambling brute squinted at Tollubo, ignoring Betak completely. “I know you. I saw you in the storm. It was defiantly you. Yes, you pushed me out the window, didn’t you?”
“No” replied Tollubo calmly. “You’re mistaken.”
“No, no, no, no, no…” giggled Bukach with a wicked grin. “Oh, I got you now. I got you good! But where’s the other one? The other Toa?”
“At an Alkini lesson” muttered Tollubo sarcastically.
The Steltian just stared blankly at the Toa then swung his gun back around to the Tryna-wearer. “Oh, I should kill you” he chortled. “I could shoot you right here and right now and nobody would ever know.”
Before Tollubo could think of a reason why Bukach should spare his useless, dark, sinful life, the Steltian lurched forwards and clutched his head.
Mata Nui damn it!” he roared, clearly in pain. Perhaps he had finally sprouted a brain. “I got such a headache.” He wrenched his eyes shut, forgetting about Tollubo and the others for a moment. When he opened them again he looked calm and relaxed, his face void of pain. Bukach glanced back down the road then back at Tollubo, not recognizing him.
“There was somebody else here” he murmured, confuse. “I was talking to somebody else…”
The trio just stared at him, open-mouthed. When Bukach turned his head to look at the road he had flashed a massive gash down the side of his head. A section of his skull above his left audio receptor had broken away and was attached by a flap of organic tissue. As he moved, the flap of flesh swung backwards and forwards like a door hinging open and shut. And as it opened it revealed a glistening, bloody patch of pinkish-grey brain.
So he did have a brain after all.
The side of Bukach’s head, his neck, and his shoulders were stained with blood but the flow had stopped and the edges of the wound were black and scabby. Tollubo was half-revolted and half-fascinated by the wagging piece of skull.
Bukach glanced idly at the gun in his hand, as if he had no idea how it had gotten there. The Steltian grunted and stuffed it back into his pack. “I’m trying to get to Ga-Metru” he muttered. “This the right road?”
“… Yes” answered Tollubo, still uncertain of the injured laborer. “You want Ga-Metru? It’s that way, to the east.”
“It sure is good to meet at friend all the way out here” chuckled Bukach with a cheery smile. “Hey, which way’s east?”
The Toa of Light forced a grin then turned to Betak with an expectant look, as if directing the question to her – which he was.
“We can show you the way if you want” she suggested.
Wrong answer.
Tollubo’s eyes widened in shock.
“Sure!” replied Bukach with an enthusiastic smile. “Get in.”
Tollubo glanced at Betak then at Orkahm. As if she were answering a silent prayer, Betak leaned inwards to speak to him. “Well at least it’s a ride” she muttered, attempting to justify her potentially life-threatening answer. She was right though – the Vahki transporter was probably their best bet if they wanted to get to the dam in time, even if the driver seemed to have scrambled his mind.
When nobody moved Bukach glared at the three of them, madness returning to his blood-shot eyes. “Get in!” he snapped.
They obeyed.
The Vahki Transporter was cramped. The only seating area was in the cockpit, which consisted of two chairs. Behind the rear of the two seats was a small metal corridor, which led to a series of hive-like cavities in the walls and a small metallic bench. Not wanting to put either of the others in the seat directly behind their clearly insane driver, Tollubo gestured towards the bench at the back. It was a squeeze. Vahki must have been tiny compared to Tollubo’s muscular frame.
“I know you guys from somewhere” remarked Bukach idly as he pulled his gun out again and rested it on his lap.
“We’re your friends” grunted Tollubo. “Remember?”
“Sure” chuckled Bukach with a happy smile as he released the brake. “We’re all friends.” Without warning, the vehicle suddenly lurched forwards as the mechanical whirl of the transporter’s metallic legs propelled the vehicle forwards. Bukach barely seemed to notice the noise.
“Man, that was some storm back there, wasn’t it? You should’ve seen me. I think I hit my head something bad! I don’t remember most of it. Woke up in a pile of sand bags. Didn’t know where the hell I was. They left me behind. Can you believe that? Mudro left me to die back there! Well I didn’t give up that easily. I walked, right up till I couldn’t walk anymore. Had to steal this thing.”
Tollubo hadn’t been listening to Bukach’s ramblings until that last sentence. He glanced upwards and suddenly became aware of a small ring-shaped hole in the windscreen.
“Yeah” giggled the Steltian madly. He tilted his head backwards and the single chunk of skin flapped. “That was me. Shot a hole right through the window! BAM! Driver didn’t want to pull over. Wasn’t that rude of him? I needed a ride and he wouldn’t stop. Well, he’s stopped now. He’s one dead Po-Matoran!”
Bukach suddenly slammed his foot down on the brake, snatched up his gun and swiveled around to aim it at Tollubo’s head.
“I know you!” he growled. “You’re that little piece of Kinanalo-dung who pushed me out that window! Oh, Mata Nui, you’re gunna wish you’d never…”
Tollubo could see the confusion in Bukach’s blood-shot eyes. It was like looking into the eyes of a Rahi, and Tollubo knew he wanted to treat the Steltian like a rabid Kinloka.
“I’ll shoot your ugly little head off!” snarled Bukach, pressing the barrel of his gun square in the Toa’s mask.
“No” commanded Tollubo calmly and firmly. Bukach hesitated and frowned. “Put the damn gun away, Bukach” he continued as smoothly as possible. “You don’t need to shoot me. I’m your friend, remember? Friends don’t kill each other, right?”
Bukach struggled to stop his fragmented mind from wondering. “I’m so confused” he roared, slamming his left fist against the windscreen, rocking the entire transporter and cracking the glass. “They’re inside my head, whispering and whispering, and sometimes they shout so loud I can’t think. You don’t know what it’s like!”
“It’s not me you need to shoot” growled Tollubo. “It’s Mudro, remember? He left you behind, Bukach. He left you for dead.”
“Mudro?” repeated Bukach thoughtfully, turning the name over in his damaged mind. When he finally gave a sigh of relief Tollubo could see why the Steltian’s species were renowned for their stupidity. “Yes!” he yelled at last. “Mudro! That’s it! We’ll find him. Don’t you worry.”
“Let’s drive” ordered the Toa, as if addressing a team mate. “It’s getting late.” Tollubo had been studying Bukach’s body language since he sat down in the cockpit. He had noticed that Bukach could not concentrate on his identity as long as he was focusing on driving. So the Toa tried to get him to talk about himself, to stop thinking about his three mysterious passengers.
It all came out in a jumble. Bukach’s memory jumped about from one incident to another but Tollubo managed to piece together a rough picture of the driver’s grim life. He had worked on Stelt and, like most members of his species, accepted that his species would never get anywhere in life. So, in order to put food on the table, Bukach had become involved in crime – after all, it was Stelt’s most popular industry. Every villain who came to the island looking for blood needed an accomplice, and that accomplice tended to be the size of a Kikanalo and have two air ships in place of arms: Bukach’s dream job.
“But I wanted more” explained the Steltian. “I wanted my own gang. I wanted to be remembered for something. But that wouldn’t happen on Stelt, not with the superior class above me. There wasn’t room for a new face. So I turned to the Brotherhood.”
Bukach’s story was like a lot of stories that Tollubo had heard before from members of his species. Stelt was no playground, he knew – it was his favorite place. However as the Steltian got excited about telling his story, his driving slipped out of control. He was swerving crazily down the road, switching sides, driving on both sides.
“Slow down, Bukach” grunted Tollubo as he gripped his chair. “We don’t need to go so fast.”
The driver didn’t answer. He only snorted and pressed his foot down harder. The Toa of Light decided against arguing. It was no use. He wouldn’t be able to get through to the insane criminal.
Instead the Toa tilted his head behind him at the others. Betak and Orkahm were gripping the bench desperately, hanging on for dear life. He Toa smiled sadly at them, voicing a silent apology for getting them into the mess they were in – although technically it was Betak’s fault.
However, something suddenly caught his eye, something that he had not noticed when he boarded the transporter. One of the cavities – where a Vahki would have presumably been stored – was stacked full of sacks. As the transporter rocked and shuddered one of the sacks fell to the metal floor, revealing its contents: hundreds of widgets.
That was strange but not something Tollubo couldn’t have anticipated. He didn’t know where Bukach had gotten the money from but he could have guessed that he must have stolen them after stealing the Vahki Transporter. He doubted the driver would even remember.
“What about the Cult?” asked Tollubo, ignoring the widgets. “How long have you been in it?”
“Dunno” grunted Bukach. “I joined a while ago, back on Stelt. I checked in at inn and met some greedy Skakdi named Ignis. We got talking and he told me about some Makuta who was looking for muscle. I can’t remember if I found them or they found me but I suddenly got the Cult stalking me, asking me if I wanted to join.”
“So that’s how it happened?”
“Hell yeah!” chuckled Bukach as he slammed his right hand against the side of the steering wheel, forcing the vehicle to abruptly lurch to the left. “They were talking about an easy job and big money for some job down in the Southern Islands. Still can’t believe they cut me out though. Damn Mudro. Ran off and left me at the Coliseum. Well I ain’t gonna stop until I find him, and when I do, just you sit back and watch the fireworks! If he thinks he ain’t gonna give me my cut then he can think again. If he thinks… if he thinks… Well damn him to hell! Where is he?”
Tollubo could tell that Bukach was about to have one of his fits, unless he could distract him. “It’s alright” he grunted as he patted the driver on the shoulder supportively. “Where would he run off to?”
“Only one place” replied Bukach, slightly calmer. “Back to the base in Ga-Metru.”
“Exactly” smiled Tollubo. “That’s where you’ll find him. That’s where we’re going, remember? We just need to get back to Ga-Metru, then we can go hunt down Mudro.”
“Yeah!” chortled Bukach sinisterly. “I knew that all along. See. He can’t fool me. The Almighty Bukach don’t take things lying down. Yeah, the Almighty Bukach, that’s what they used to call me back when I was on Stelt…”
And he was off again. He’d been over this part of the story at least twice now, and Tollubo knew it back to front, which was how Bukach had told it anyway.
As they began to leave Po-Metru, barren rock and canyons melted away. They were drawing closer towards civilization. The heat was decreasing to the temperature of a cool, peaceful day and the road gradually flattened. The transporter roared past small buildings and Matoran on the outskirts of the water district, all the time getting closer to the Turaga Tuyet Dam.
Thank Mata Nui. They were almost there.
Then all they would have to do was ditch Bukach at the first opportunity and make the rest of the plan up as they went along – which wouldn’t be too difficult considering the dumb-founded state of the bruiser. And not a moment too soon. The Steltian was beginning to sweat badly and the inside of the vehicle was beginning to feel damp and claustrophobic.
That was when the unthinkable happened. The transporter began to falter.
“We’re running low on fuel” murmured Bukach, eyeing the flashing on the dash board, squinting hard to concentrate. “We need to fill ‘er up.”
“We’re nearly there” implored Tollubo urgently. “Just a few more kio.” It would be nothing short of bad luck to get this close only to grind to a halt in the Ga-Metru border.
Bukach suddenly turned to nudge the Toa behind him. It wasn’t much of a relief. His face was almost as disturbing as the gaping hole in the back of his head. “Hey, take the wheel for a second” grunted the bruiser without slowing down. Tollubo hesitated before slipping forwards into Bukach’s seat and grabbing the metal wheel. Bukach laughed then leaned out the window, twisted round, then started firing his gun wildly at nearby crowds of Ga-Matoran.
The Toa of Light was powerless to help the poor Matoran. If he stopped the transporter it probably wouldn’t start again with such little fuel. But if he disturbed Bukach then he’d probably get shot too. The Tryna-wearer decided it was best just to wait for the Steltian to grow bored while the screaming Matoran suffered.
“Ha! Look at them run!” cackled Bukach, not a trace of sanity present in his voice.
“Come on” whined the Toa as he desperately tried to stop the brute from killing any more innocent Ga-Matoran. “Get back inside. You’ll bang your head again.”
“Don’t treat me like that, Cobarox!” growled Bukach as he collapsed into Tollubo’s old seat in a sulk. No sooner was he seated again, the Steltian began rubbing his temple.
“I’m not Cobarox” frowned Tollubo in confusion.
Bukach only laughed. “Sure you are! Don’t try to kid with me, Cobarox. You always were a kidder.” The bruiser paused and blinked, as if he had suddenly become disorientated and was making sense of the situation. “Damn it! This is giving me a headache!” The white and blue armored brute let out a long moan that ended up as a sort of Rahi growl.
Tollubo decided it was best to keep his eyes on the road as he was still holding the steering wheel in Bukach’s place. They were driving through a particularly fertile part of Ga-Metru. There was vegetation along the lowlands beside them. There was also evidence that the storm from three days ago had struck the area, although no way near as severely as Metru-Nui’s central belt. There was water everywhere but Ga-Matoran seemed to be getting on with their lives. But Tollubo didn’t care about their hardship. He had more important things on his mind.
Now that he was driving, Bukach beginning to become restless. But he wasn’t the only person Tollubo wished would shut up.
“Where are we going?” asked Betak miserably from the bench at the rear of the vehicle. The Toa of Light cursed and glanced over his shoulder. Sure enough, Bukach looked startled. He’d forgotten about the other two passengers – and he didn’t like being surprised.
“What did you say?” growled the brute as he turned around in his seat.
“I asked where we’re going” repeated Betak. “There aren’t any windows back here.”
“Where are we going?” echoed Bukach aggressively. “I’ll tell you where we’re going. We’re going to… to…” The wild look suddenly returned to his eyes. While Bukach had been driving he hadn’t had to think about anything other than the road. But now he poor, damaged brain was struggling to make sense of it all. He began to shake. “There was a storm… a Toa…”
“We’re going to find Mudro” answered Tollubo hurriedly, hoping to distract Bukach from thinking about the storm.
That’s right!” roared the Steltian as he slammed one of his fists against the back of Tollubo’s chair in agreement. The Toa nearly went flying through the windscreen.
But then the haunted look returned. Bukach became lost and timid. “Where is he? I don’t know where he is.”
“Don’t worry” grunted Tollubo through gritted teeth. “We’ll find him.” His patience with the winging passenger was wearing thin. He was a damn Toa of Light, not a taxi service. He shouldn’t have to deal with rubbish like this.
Where is he!?” roared the Steltian gangster. “Where’s that Piraka gotten to? Tell me! Tell me or I’ll shoot your face off, I swear to Mata Nui I will.” Tollubo felt a bulky, metallic yet sweaty fist wrap around his shoulder as the gun pressed into his spine. In a situation like that it was hard to keep secrets.
“The Turaga Tuyet Dam” grunted the Toa. “Remember? That’s where he ran off to, right?”
Bukach paused then calmed down and lowered the gun. “That Kinloka! He thought he could just run out on me? Nobody does that to the Almighty Bukach!”
“Tell me about him” muttered the Toa.
“Mudro. Tell me about Mudro.”
Bukach grunted the leaned back lazily in his chair. The sheer weight of the Steltian made it creak like a Shadow Matoran being boiled in oil.
“He doesn’t talk a lot, or at least not to me. He’s real tight-lipped. Not like most Glatorian I know. Yack, yack, yack. You know what I’m saying?”
“Yeah” grunted Tollubo hollowly as he focused on the road. “Glatorian are damn annoying. Is that why Mudro stopped being one?”
Bukach shrugged. Telling the story calmed him. Tollubo had observed how easily he slipped in and out of confusion. Now he was relatively lucid. “He doesn’t talk about it a lot but, the way I see it, when he quit his world fell apart. Started getting into fights back in Tajun. Hurt some other Glatorian with a knife. Said he was only sticking up for himself, but they kicked him out – exiled him. I don’t know if he was born bad or if he just turned bad, but he proved real good at being bad.”
The bruiser suddenly moaned and shook his head, the loose section of his skull flapping open and shut with the movement. Tollubo could see it reflected in the windscreen.
“You all right?” asked the Toa without taking his eyes off the road. He was pretty sure that one of Bukach’s wild fits had caused him to run over a Ga-Matoran several mio back.
Another Matoran he had failed to save.
Bukach was looking around in an agitated manner. “I don’t know the way, Cobarox” he whispered fearfully. “I don’t remember this road.”
Tollubo had altogether completely stopped trying to explain that he wasn’t Bukach’s Xian team mate, Cobarox, by this point of the journey. As long as the Steltian didn’t think about the incident at the Coliseum he, Betak and Orkahm were as safe as they could get.
“It’s the right way” muttered the Toa smoothly.
“The right way home?”
That seemed to cheer Bukach up. A long silence hung in the transporter. Tollubo was too busy focusing on driving to start a conversation and neither Betak nor Orkahm were greatly enthusiastic about speaking.
“I’m beat, Cobarox” groaned the brute in the backseat with a tired yawn. His ugly head dropped to his chest and he closed his blood-shot eyes peacefully. “I could sleep for 1,000 years.”
“You sleep, I’ll drive” muttered the Toa of Light in response. He stole a glance at the wounded Cult of Darkness member – hopeful that he would see what a tired Steltian laborer looked like for the first time – only to find the brute glaring back at him.
“Don’t try anything funny” he snarled menacingly.
“What do you mean?” asked Tollubo defensively.
“I know who you are” challenged the laborer, sticking his gun in Tollubo’s back.
“I can get you there” retorted the Tryna-wearer, desperately trying to change the subject. “I can get you back to Mudro.”
“Yeah” grunted Bukach with a tire smile. “Back to Mudro, yeah.” Just to make sure the Steltian fell asleep this time, Tollubo slowed the transporter down and changed gears, hoping to lull the brute to sleep. Every time he turned around though he could still see the Cult member’s eyes staring at him, the gun still in his hands. His fingers were like bricks around it.
“I’ve done so many bad things” muttered Bukach with a genuinely resigned sigh. “But I can change all that. I’ll go back to the old times, you can too! Things’ll go back the way they were before an’ Mata Nui will smile on me an’ forget all the bad things I’ve done. Tell me it’s gonna be all right, Cobarox. Tell me –”
“Don’t worry” grunted Tollubo impatiently. “Go to sleep.”
Eventually, the Toa just gave up checking up on the Steltian laborer and concentrated on the road ahead, until he heard heavy snoring followed by Betak and Orkahm’s footsteps.
“He’s asleep.”
Sure enough, Bukach’s head was tilted back, his snout-like mouth hanging open, his eyes wrenched shut. His gun, however, was still gripped firmly in his hand. It was no trick, no illusion. Not even Mata Nui himself could replicate snoring as loud as that.
“So have they already quick-beaten us to the water-dam?” asked Orkahm. “You know, because the chutes stop-broke?”
“You bet your weird little rocket boots” growled the Toa of Light, his tone a sinister and frustrated.
“Let’s think of that later. We have to do something about Bukach right now” muttered Betak. “He could turn on us at any second when he wakes up.”
“I know” sighed Tollubo. “And now might be out only chance, while he’s having his much-needed beauty sleep. But if I stop he’ll just wake up.”
“But then he’ll just end-become somebody else’s problem-bother” frowned Orkahm.
“You’re right” grunted the Toa of Light. “Bukach is too dangerous to keep alive. He’ll tear half of Ga-Metru down if he wakes up in a bad mood.” The Toa took his eyes off the road to glance at the other two hitchhikers. “The question is, who’ll do it?”
Orkahm turned to Betak. The Agori hesitated before glancing at Tollubo, then at Orkahm, and finally at Bukach’s inert bulk.
“I can’t do it” she said quietly.
“Me not-neither” implored Orkahm as he stepped backwards. “Not-never in cold-blood. Besides, Toa-heroes don’t slaughter-kill.”
“What do we do then?” demanded Tollubo, keeping one eye on the road and another on Betak’s head reflected in the window. The Agori was scanning the cabin.
“The door” she finally shrugged. “We could push him out. Plus I can reach the button from here that releases it.”
“That guy survived a fall from the top of the Coliseum” grunted Tollubo. “It won’t kill him.”
“Doesn’t have to” smiled Betak cunningly. “All he has to do is land on his head and he’ll probably die of brain trauma.”
Probably didn’t fill the Toa with confidence, but he thought it best not to say that.
“Right” he muttered instead as he rubbed the back of his head. “On the count of three, you open the door and I’ll shove him out.”
“I’m not sure I can – ” protested Betak only to be cut short.
“Tollubo – ”
“Wait – ”
It all happened so fast. On the count of three, Tollubo tore his foot off the pedal and rose to his feet. As the vehicle abruptly shuddered and lost control he slipped his right hand into his pack and gripped his fist around the handle of his sword.
At that moment Betak slammed her fist down on the button that retracted the windscreen. Wind suddenly whipped into the cabin as Bukach’s eyes snapped open in surprise.
One moment the brute had been dozing peacefully, the next Tollubo was slashing his face with the full brunt of his blade. The single swipe had separated the Steltian’s jaw from his face as Tollubo brought his weapon back. It wasn’t a particularly elegant movement. No Toa Tool in the Matoran Universe was sharp enough to do that. Bukach’s face had been hard and cumbersome. It had been more of a hack that a clean swipe, which was messy but it worked, and it worked well. Blood gushed freely from the nightmarish hole in the bruiser’s face as he screamed, letting bubbles of the scarlet, viscous substance ooze from his head and drip down onto his chest.
That was when Tollubo brought his sword forwards – tip first- and plunged it directly into Bukach’s head, stabbing him in his right eye. By the time the weapon was sticking out the back of the brute’s head he was stone dead.
His first kill as a Toa.
When the brute stopped squirming and finally died, the Toa snarled and he yanked his blade out of the Steltian. After peeling remains of what had once been Bukach’s brain, flesh and right eye from his Light-Sword, Tollubo kicked the corpse in the chest, causing his victim to topple backwards. One moment Bukach had been dozing peacefully, the next there was a sword sticking out of his face, and now he was flying out into the air, his arms flailing uselessly in the wind. Despite the hole leading from his right eye right through to the back of his head, Bukach had managed to twist his face into one final expression, one that Tollubo recognized from the last time he had pushed the bruiser out of a window. It was the same startled, disbelieving look he’d used when the Toa had knocked him out of the Coliseum. The Steltian disappeared from sight.
There was a moment of stillness as the transporter finally skidded to a halt.
The silence was excruciating. The Toa of Light couldn’t look either Orkahm or Betak in the eye so he decided it was best to just turn his back on them both as they stared at him, mouths hanging open and eyes wide with disbelief.
“He was too dangerous to keep alive” grunted the Toa as he slammed his foot down on the accelerator. Behind him, Betak and Orkahm wobbled then regained their balances. Tollubo could tell they were still staring at him in horror.
The transporter crawled onwards, leaving the crumbled body of the “Almighty Bukach” for dust.

Kualus felt sick. As Lhikan croaked and growled helplessly on the ground tears of rage sprang to his empty eyes, burning like acid. Half-blind, hardly knowing what he was doing, the Toa yelled and threw himself forwards, ramming into Cobarox and knocking him to the ground.
As the Mask of Rahi Control-wearer rolled clear, his enemy lashed out with his already-blood-soaked blade. The tip of the weapon sliced across Kualus’ shoulder, leaving a deep cut in his armor but missing anything organic. The Toa grunted in annoyance as he propelled himself to his feet and hurled a hail of icicles at the Vortixx. Hitting his target with pin-point precision, his opponent cried out, startled by the sudden, unexpected blow. He rolled over only for Kualus to land him a kick in the neck that forced him back on his feet – something the Toa of Ice couldn’t allow.
Angered, the Toa swung his Sub Zero Spear into the ground, freezing it beneath his enemy’s feet. Already struggling with his injured legs, Cobarox slipped and fell back to his knees – causing him to yell out once again. Fuelled by his rage, the Toa of Ice left his Sub Zero spear sticking out of the ground and grabbed a large chunk of concrete, part of the broken dam. He wedged his fingers around it and pulled hard. It rose off the ground just as Cobarox grabbed the Toa’s spear for stability and Kualus swung the concrete slab at his right knee. The injured Vortixx howled and fell sideways like a felled Madu tree. Then, as he tried to grab hold of the Toa, Kualus blindly swung once again, this time connecting with his enemy’s jaw. There was a hideous cracking noise as the concrete broke and Kualus saw a spray of grey splinters fly off into the air: bits of stone fragments and broken teeth.
“Go to hell” snarled the Toa as he dropped the rest of the slab onto the Vortixx’s back. Cobarox was out of the fight. He wasn’t dead but he was out of the way.
And that was good enough for Kualus, after all: he was not monster.

Toa Vhisola dodged a rock-hard blow from the ex-Dark Hunter called . She wasn't quick enough to dodge the follow-up and, as she hadn’t activated her Mask of Liquification, meant the assassin’s clawed fist connected sharply with her chest. Winded, the Toa of Water staggered backwards.
"Terminator" chuckled.
“Where are you going, Toa?” he snarled as he stepped forwards menacingly. The Toa of Water took a further step back and activated her Mask of Liquification, just as a precaution incase the assassin intended to do something other than a monologue.
It didn’t seem likely.
“I’ve killed hundreds of Toa” boasted the ex-Dark Hunter as he began to swing his mace around, taunting Vhisola – she didn’t seem too bothered.
“Is that supposed to sound impressive?” she asked with a vicious snarl.
“It’s an understatement” muttered "Terminator" as he swung his mace at the Toa. The weapon passed harmlessly through her liquid form and hit the ground at her feet. “I killed a Toa Hagah once, on Xia” he continued, producing a knife from a sheath strapped across his back. “The pest. He got in the way of a shipment of weapons that I was supposed to guard. He died without a sound. I pride myself on a clean death when it’s necessary. My dagger went straight through his brain. A little jiggle and it was
good night, Toa, sleep tight, don’t let the Protodites bite. But I’m going to do you nice and slow, girl. I’ll start by stabbing you in parts where you’ve got no vitals. Then I’ll work my way around to something more painful.”
“You talk too much” grunted Vhisola in response as she activated her Elemental Power ad swung her arm, directing a jet of water that shot out of the reservoir. It burst through the haze and struck "Terminator" clean in the chest, swatted him backwards. The ex-Dark Hunter grunted as Vhisola solidified long enough to take a swing at her enemy’s Kanohi with her Staff. It made a dull
CLANK and bounced off. The swipe seemed to do nothing more than anger "Terminator".
Vhisola turned around to look for her fellow Toa. Lhikan was dead, undoubtedly. There was a peaceful expression across the Toa’s Kanohi Hau. He’d left pain behind at last, forever.
Kualus, on the other hand, seemed very much alive. The Toa of Ice threw his shield aside and grabbed the end of his Sub Zero spear, holding it how a spear should be held – with two hands. His eyes locked on "Terminator"’s as his Mask of Rahi Control twisted into a snarl. Vhisola sensed that this was no longer her fight when the broken Toa began to charge towards her: she was just in the way.
Startled, Vhisola stepped to the side and turned to face "Terminator". The ex-Dark Hunter had not noticed Kualus yet. Instead he had been lining up a stab at Vhisola’s head.
If he had used both hands on the blade then he would have thrust the weapon right through the back of the Toa of Water’s head. But one-handed, he wasn’t able to direct it as powerfully as he had hoped to. Still, the knife was still on a direct collision course with Vhisola’s face.
There wasn’t time to activate her Mask of Liquification. Desperately, the Toa managed knock the blade aside with her left arm. A deep cut opened up just below her elbow and she felt all strength leave the fingers of her left hand.
"Terminator" stabbed at her again. Using her right hand and gritting her teeth to ignore the pain, Vhisola raised her sword to protect herself. She realized that her enemy had feinted far too late. Wheeling around, the assassin threw himself into the Toa, right shoulder-first. He struck Vhisola heavily in the chest and she fell back. Winded, her Staff slipped from her hands as she clattered to the dust covered ground. There was a yell behind her as Kualus came to a crashing halt, a finger’s-distance from her head. Wobbling, the Toa of Ice managed to regain his balance. It only took him a second – but that second was all "Terminator" needed. Darting forwards, almost too fast for Vhisola to see, he plunged the tip of his blade into the small of Kualus’ chest – then shoved it all the way through and out of the Toa’s back.
Kualus’ eyes shot wide open. Impaled, he tried to turn. But this blade, this weapon, was too well formed, too strong, too eternally forged. Unable to bend or snap the blade, the Toa of Ice stood almost motionless.
"Terminator" stood over Vhisola for a moment before grunting and pulling his bayonet-sized knife free. Blood gushed out of Kualus, both in front and behind, as he collapsed in agony, face twisted, limbs thrashing. The light dimmed from Kualus’ eyes as he crumpled to his knees, letting his Sub Zero spear fall to the ground. It rung dully and bounced once before lying still. Although he was alive, Kualus was pretty much out of the battle. He was wheezing fitfully, unable to defend himself or attack: he was useless.
But his weapon wasn’t.
Kualus’ spear had been given to him when he became a Toa Hagah, serving as the bodyguard of some Makuta who Vhisola forgot the name of. It wasn’t an ordinary weapon. The spear itself allowed the user to release a concentrated stream of ice. Seeing as "Terminator" was still drenched from when Vhisola had sprayed him with a jet of water the spear could come in useful.
The last female Toa glanced between the spear and the ex-Dark Hunter above her. He was busy wiping blood from his prized blade and chuckling to himself sinisterly. There was a gap, barely a second for Vhisola to grab the spear and fire it at "Terminator". Her left hand wouldn’t work because of the stab-wound and her system was literally a minute or two away from complete shutdown. But she had enough strength in her for one last fight.
Vhisola’s right hand snaked towards where Kualus lay cringing. Her fingers were centimeters away from touching the spear. She was so close. It was so near and yet so far. Just a little more –
A green, metallic foot suddenly clamped down on the spear, forcing Vhisola to cry out in shock. As she looked up her eyes met with the last person she wanted to see.
The female Glatorian sneered menacingly as she booted Vhisola in the mask. Recoiling, the Toa decided she had no choice but to activate her Mask of Liquification again. She wasn’t sure why she had stopped using it in the first place.
But before she got the chance to she felt "Terminator"’s claw wrap around her right ankle as she was yanked into the air. Unable to concentrate, the Toa was forced to stay solid and she was hoisted up by her feet.
That was when Mudro stepped out of the mist. The haze was beginning to clear, which allowed her to see the full extent of the damage caused by the Cult. Mudro just marched forwards purposefully, completely disregarding the destruction and debris around him, as if he were used to it.
Even upside-down she could recognize the Glatorian’s chain gun. It was aimed in front of him in no particular direction, but it would probably snap towards her instinctively if she so much as moaned.
“Drop her” commanded the chain gun wielder. "Terminator" seemed to frown before releasing his grip on Vhisola. The Toa yelped as she plummeted down, only just managing to activate her Mask of Liquification in time.
That was suspicious. Mudro knew very well what the effects of the mask were. Vhisola had nearly killed him with it mere days ago. Why would he order "Terminator" to set her free.
The answer dawned on the female Toa all too quickly. Quicker than lightning, Juulant scooped up Kualus’ Sub Zero spear with her foot and kicked it towards Mudro. Catching it with his left hand, the male Glatorian swung the tip of the blade forwards and aimed it straight at Vhisola. Before she could deactivate her Kanohi, a burst of Ice erupted from the Toa Hagah spear, freezing her solid.
Vhisola could only watch in sheer horror as Mudro threw the spear aside in order to hold his chain gun in both hands as he turned to face her. She tried to move her head, her arms, her legs – anything. But it was useless. She was composed entirely of ice. In the end she gave up. The frozen Toa of Water could do nothing. She couldn’t move. Her muscles didn’t work because they didn’t exist behind the frost. She was little more than an ice statue – no matter how realistic.
The last Toa of Water was powerless to prevent Mudro from ramming the muzzle of his chain gun into her frozen chest. With one powerful blow she was broken in two, her top half separated from her lower half.
Toa Vhisola was dead before her solid icy upper half smashed against the ground, dispersing into millions of tiny ice shards. Ice shards that were crunched under Mudro’s feet.

“I thought the order was for you to kill the Toa, not the other way around” snarled Mudro as he glared at "Terminator". “I’m becoming tired of your failure.”
The ex-Dark Hunter just grunted and gestured towards Cobarox and Ignis. “Hey, I’m not even a part of your little cult” retorted the assassin coldly. “Once I get my payment I will go my own way.”
“Oh, I think not” chuckled the Glatorian, a hint of menace in his voice.
“And why’s that?” challenged "Terminator" chillingly as he puffed out his chest, towering over Mudro. “What if I walk off right now? What’ll you do then? Pout?”
“Look at this mess” continued the leader of the Cult of Darkness. “The Turaga Tuyet Dam destroyed, three Toa killed, hundreds of Matoran drowned, countless buildings damaged. Even if we fail, people will be outraged – thirsty for blood, even. Of course, they’ll want the Cult ideally, but I’m sure an accomplice would do them just nicely.”
"Terminator" snarled at Mudro in disgust, his face warped into a hateful glare. “Fine!” he snarled. “Just go dump your trash in the water, but this’d better be worth it.”
“Oh it will” grunted Mudro. The Glatorian rolled his chain gun over his hands and wrapped his fingers around the visor. With a gentle, delicate tug, the vial of self-replicating Hordika venom broke free of its disguise. His smile broadened as he turned towards the dam. "Scratch" had done a decent enough job. There was a massive crack down the side and water was now gushing out into the reservoir, which had gotten a lot shallower since the explosion. Of course, to achieve the most beneficial result, it would have to be dropped into the water from a height, which meant he was going to have to drop it from the crest.
No problem for Mudro – at least not while he still had his chain gun. The sound of cogs and gears whirring echoed through Mudro’s audio receptors as his twisted smile broadened.
But then they didn’t stop. Pausing, the Glatorian tilted his head and frowned. When the sound of the mechanical whirl grew louder he turned to face Juulant and "Terminator" questioningly, only to see their faces blank and confused.
Now that the dust was clearing Mudro could see all around him for at least a hundreds bio. The reservoir was void of anybody else. The Matoran would have either been washed away or would be cowering in the remains of the dam – which meant there could only be one person in the world left to surprise him.
“Oh no” muttered Mudro as it dawned upon him a moment too late. His eyes darted towards a pile of debris to his right. Part of the concrete ground had been torn up into a makeshift ramp. The Glatorian watched in horror as a battered, dust covered Vahki Transporter suddenly erupted from the other side of the slope, shooting forwards in an explosion of dust and soot.
And who would be at the steering wheel other than Toa Tollubo?
Startled, Mudro turned to face Juulant as the vehicle hit the ground, shuddered, then changed direction – heading straight for them.
Tollubo intended to mash them into powder.

Chapter 12[]

Toa Tollubo’s foot remained pressed against the accelerator, his face like iron as he steered the Vahki Transporter towards Mudro, Juulant, and "Terminator". His Kanohi Tryna twisted into a snarl as his knuckles turned white around the steering wheel. The thin metal was beginning to bend in his hands from the strength of his grip. The Toa was exhausted, completely drained, and sweating all over. He was driving in a daze, not sure where he was going but suddenly very conscious that he had never driven anything more complex than a Moto-Sled in his entire life. The fear of Bukach’s unpredictable nature and driving at full speed for so long had utterly worn him out. The Toa of Light struggled to keep his eyes open and focused on the three figures. They were blurry dots now.
But the thought of Bukach reminded him of what he’d just done, the murder he had committed, the look of terror on Betak’s face. Tollubo didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. He had put his life, Betak’s, and Orkahm’s is so much danger. Their metallic backsides had been dangling defenselessly over death itself. If anything had gone wrong he would have killed all of them. And it was all because of Mudro and his posse of Kinloka.
Well, damn them! Damn them all to hell! Toa Tollubo wasn’t done yet. He wasn’t going to doggedly roll over and die. Not now. Not when so many lives were resting on his shoulders. Not when he was so close.
No thoughts passed through the Toa’s mind as the vehicle hurtled forwards. He wiped the sweat from his brow for the hundredth time and the blood turned to ice in his veins.
The three dots in the distance drove closer and closer, getting larger and larger as the vehicle charged forwards. Tollubo would drive straight over them if necessary. Straight over them then carry on going, their innards splattered across the robotic legs of the transporter.
He cackled.
It had finally happened. He’d gone crazy.
Just so long as they thought the same.
The Tryna-wearer’s maniacal laughter spilled out of him, like an uncontrollable wave of emotion. He was faintly aware of the narrowing gap between him and the three startled revolutionists as the transporter shot forwards, edging closer and closer.
Tollubo could see the panicked faces of his next three victims.
What was he? Killer or Coward? The questions had plagued Tollubo all his life, every time he had committed a murder he had asked himself that same question.
Killer. Any day.
“Come on!” growled the Toa in blind fury. “Are you gonna get out of the way or are you going to die?”
At the last possible moment, Mudro decided he was going to get out of the way. It was a mad scramble as he yelled at "Terminator" to move then grabbed Juulant’s hand then dove for cover. Startled, the ex-Dark Hunter hesitated before realizing what was happening and threw himself behind a large concrete block.
The Vahki Transporter shot past the Cult members, its driver whooping wildly in triumph until his eyes stretched wide with horror. The mist had been blocking his view of what lay ahead. The destruction of the dam had torn an immense chunk of concrete away from the floodplain, causing it to dip into the spillway at an abrupt angle. And beyond that was enough icy water to drown a Tahtorak and a slow agonizingly-painful death for all three passengers.
Swearing out loud, the Toa slammed his foot down on the brakes. The speed that the vehicle was travelling at was far too fast to make it stop in time and the sudden opposite force of the brakes strained the legs. There was a sharp CRACK as one snapped off. The transporter crunched then tipped from the loss. Betak was thrown from her standing position next to the chair behind Tollubo, causing her to fall to the ground. She cried out in pain.
The Toa grunted as his head smacked against the steering wheel and he saw stars. There was a stale taste of blood in the back of his throat as he realized the vehicle was still hurtling on, clipping a particularly large chunk of concrete and being deflected off at an angle.
Tollubo cursed again, this time taking his hands off the wheel and balling them up into fists. With every ounce of strength, he drove a punch at the windscreen and was rewarded with a satisfying shattering sound as the glass was weakened and his fist emerged through a hole.
“Abandoned ship!” he yelled as he wrapped his other arm around Betak then leapt into the air, his broad shoulders demolishing what was left of the jagged windscreen.
That was as far as he had planned.
The wind was the first thing to touch him and the helpless Agori in his arms. It threw them backwards, against the side of the vehicle. Tollubo felt a sharp pain in his left thigh as he was thrown backwards before losing all feeling in his hip. The rough encounter with the side of the vehicle also caused him to lose his grip on Betak, throwing her out of the Toa’s reach.
The startled pair were flying through space, plummeting like two wingless Icebats.
The Toa was instantly aware of the ground rushing up and the fact the he and Betak were spinning in their plummet. For a split second, the Toa blacked out only to be dragged back to consciousness by the air that rushed past his mask, like being slapped in the face with a wet, greasy Ruki fish.
As the cold, grey ground rushed up to meet them, Tollubo brought his legs together, hunched his back, spread his hands, and prepared to hit the concrete in a crouch. His extra armor and Toa-sized muscles absorbed the shock, although the force of the contact sent him rolling forwards.
By some miracle, he had survived the jump.
Tollubo’s moment of victory was short-lived as a sharp yell of pain caught his attention. Bouncing back to his feet, the Toa of Light saw Betak lying on the ground next to him, nursing her right ankle, clearly in pain. Muttering a silent curse under his breath, Tollubo drew his sword defensively and turned to face the transporter as it hurtled onwards without its driver. There was a streak of emerald armor as Toa Orkahm burst through the glass.
But even then the Vahki Transporter did not stop. It charged onwards until it reached the edge of the spillway then, almost comically, shot off into the air and plummeted into the reservoir. Barely a second passed before a great spray of water exploded out of the remains of the dam’s spillway. The Toa frowned. It hadn’t been as powerful as he had expected it to be. Wondering why the transporter had not made a bigger splash, the answer suddenly dawned upon the Toa of Light.
It had just occurred to Tollubo that the vehicle may well have been able to float.
Stifling another outburst of curses, the Tryna-wearer turned his attention back to the situation at hand. Their leap from the reservoir-bound Vahki Transporter had not been something the remaining Cult of Darkness members had anticipated. Sure enough, Mudro and Juulant were still standing over in the mist, about a hundred bio away. But "Terminator" had managed to catch Tollubo by surprise. As he watched, still dazed, the ex-Dark Hunter charged towards him, his eyes set on the Toa. The Tryna-wearer didn’t even have a chance to raise his sword in the time it took the bounty hunter to bound over a slab of concrete and bring the Toa crashing to the ground with a perfectly timed tackle.
The Toa of Light grunted then snarled as he brought his arms above his head, clamped his hands together, then brought both his elbows down on the assassin’s head. “I don’t have time to waste on you!” he snarled menacingly.
The blow connected solidly with "Terminator"’s Kanohi Felnas, making him grunt and loosen his grip on the Toa, though he didn’t let go. But that didn’t matter. Tollubo had all the space he needed.
Activating his Elemental Powers, the Tryna-wearer pressed his left hand against the face of his attacker and willed an orb of Light to appear. It materialized instantly and shone with intensity, causing the assassin to cry out, his eyes wide in shock as the sudden burst of Light blinded him.
Kicking the stunned ex-Dark Hunter aside, Tollubo sprung back to his feet and scanned the area for any sign of Mudro and Juulant to no avail. The two had vanished into the haze. The Toa’s mood only darkened when he realized that Mudro had gotten away. The Glatorian was probably half-way up the dam by now, or at least what remained of it – Juulant too. He couldn’t take on the two Glatorian alone and he was no use dead.
Aware that his features were darkening as he observed the debris, the Toa found his eyes resting upon a very life-like ice sculpture of Toa Vhisola – or at least half of one. The Toa of Water’s entire body had somehow been transformed into ice then sliced in half, just above her waist. And Lhikan’s corpse wasn’t far away.
A sinister snarl flared from the Toa’s nostrils as he tore his eyes away from the two fallen Toa, trying not to think of their sacrifices. They had given their lives defending the dam and what had then gotten in return for it? They had been rewarded with nothing. They had died for a scrawny, weak, failure of a Toa to step forwards and mess up.
And that was Tollubo’s final breaking point. He had risen so high that day. He had selflessly tracked down Orkahm to a canyon in Po-Metru, solved a 3,000 year old mystery and killed a deranged psychopath. But, alas, his efforts had been useless. No matter what he thought of himself, he would still have failed. He may tell himself otherwise for hundreds of nights yet to come, but deep in his heart-light, he knew it was true. The Tryna-wearer tried to focus on his rugged breathing as his blood turned to fire beneath his flesh. Pure rage pulsated through his mind as his thoughts turned darker than a Makuta’s shadow – as black as sin.
Dull, hollow laughter began to echo through the air behind Tollubo, causing his audio receptors to prick and his muscles to tense. Turning around slowly, the Toa realized that "Terminator" was still on the ground, a wicked grin on his ugly face. Although he had been blinded by Tollubo’s elemental powers, the assassin was fully aware of what was going on. He could almost see what was happening, as if his eyes worked. But what he didn’t see was the Toa’s hand as it gripped him by the neck and raised him into the air, up onto his feet.
Tollubo was enraged, his mind burning with pure red-hot anger. He wanted to tighten his grip and crush his enemy’s throat open with his bare hands – like he would have done in the olden days. He wanted to tear the ex-Dark Hunter’s eyeballs out and nail them to his feet. He wanted to slice "Terminator"’s chest open and pour hot oil over his innards.
But the Toa remained motionless, glaring at his victim in simple disgust.
“I could break your neck” he snarled menacingly. “I could snap it right off… like breaking a toothpick.” The Toa had hoped to scare "Terminator" with his threat but the bounty hunter just laughed it off.
“You could try” he cackled, tilting his head back wildly “but I’d break you first, little Toa.”
Snarling, the Toa tightened his grip around the ex-Dark Hunter’s neck. "Terminator" tried to giggle but it came out as something between a cough and a gurgle, yet the insanity remained in his eyes.
“You’re weak” growled the Toa through clenched teeth. “You’re just a sad little bounty hunter who got mixed up in things he shouldn’t have. Your conscience is governed by greed and self-interest. I wouldn’t spit on you if you were on fire.”

as he landed a solid punch to the assassin’s chest, not admitting that he nearly broke his left hand upon doing so. Tollubo swore under his breath and threw the bounty hunter aside, where he wriggled around blindly and tried to return to his feet.
There was a loud CRACK as a Cordak Rocket whipped past the Toa’s head and struck the ex-Dark Hunter square in the chest. Letting out a pained yelp, "Terminator" fell backwards and slammed his head against a rock chunk. Dazed, he lay there, sprawled on the ground with blood trickling from a small cut on his forehead.
Tollubo spun around in search of the mysterious shooter only to see Betak, leaning against another piece of debris, with the Cordak Blaster that "Terminator" had dropped in her hand. The barrel was empty.
“He was starting to annoy me” muttered the Agori darkly as she tossed the weapon aside uselessly.
Bewildered by the sudden shot, Tollubo found himself snapping into focus. Except, now he was able to concentrate, the Toa realized how physically drained he was. He’d been operating on reserve energy for a long time now and had just about run dry. Even the simplest movements had become painstaking chores. All the Toa could do was puff his chest out, strain his muscles, and hope an adrenaline burst would arrive.
Trying to distract himself from his fatigue, the Tryna-wearer’s eyes rested on Orkahm. The Toa of Air was kneeling over Kualus, who lay propped up against a concrete slab. The Toa of Ice was out for the count and, though he was still alive, he was lying motionless, wheezing fitfully, unable to defend himself.
“He’s injured” muttered Orkahm as he studied the stab-mark on the former Toa Hagah’s chest.
Really?” growled Tollubo sarcastically. “I hadn’t noticed that.”
Ignoring the Toa of Light’s critical mood, Orkahm proceeded to inspect the fallen Toa of Ice. His eyes were grave when he looked up. “He’ll survive-live.” The Toa of Air sighed in relief. “The dagger-knife missed his heart-light by the width of a Gukko-bird’s fur. But we can’t abandon-leave him. He needs medical-help.”
The Toa of Light’s metallic teeth began to grind in frustration. He was well away that his battle plan had been flawed from the start: which tended to happen when you didn’t actually have a plan.
“Right” he growled. “In that case I want you to stay here with him, Orkahm. You have to protect him.” The Toa of Air raised his eyebrows in surprise. Confused, he tried to speak only for Tollubo to silence him with a curt wave of his hand. “Don’t argue” he grunted. “I’m going after Mudro – alone. Two Toa have died today. I don’t care if I get killed but I don’t want anybody else on my conscious. If Mata Nui’s finally looking kindly upon me and I survive this then I don’t want to be kept up at night by another dead Toa. Have you got that, Orkahm?”
The Toa of Air just stared at the Toa of Light before him. He stood firm, his eyes hard and his brow furrowed. “But, you’ll be butcher-slaughtered! Now’s not the time to be a lone-Toa-hero.”
Hesitating, Tollubo considered Orkahm’s words. He had a point, he definitely stood a better chance if he dragged Orkahm along with him. That way he would not be outnumbered.
But, as brave as Orkahm was, he was still only a rookie. Bringing him along would only put the Toa of Air at an unnecessary risk. He would only be another dead body Tollubo would blame himself for.
Besides, this was his hunt.
“No” grunted the Toa of Light as he looked up at the dam, flexing his knuckles and cracking his knuckles aggressively. “Orkahm, you stay the hell here!”
“Or what?” challenged the once-timid Toa of Air, his voice louder than Tollubo had ever heard it. Defiantly, the Matatu-wearer took a step forward and placed himself between the Tryna-wearer and the dam, which made the task ahead harder.
“If you don’t get out of my way I’ll break both your legs” snapped the Toa of Light, trying to ignore Orkahm’s startled expression. “I’m giving you a choice, Toa” continued Tollubo bluntly, his voice flat and emotionless. He had already resigned himself. “You can walk away, I can knock you down, or Mudro will make sure you never get up again. He will slaughter you. This isn’t your fight.”
“And you have a better hope-chance?” retorted the Toa of Air. “I’ve been a Toa-hero far longer than you. What was it? Three days since you speed-changed?”
“Doesn’t matter” grunted the Toa of Light, swiping at Orkahm. The Toa of Air ducked back with surprising speed and watched Tollubo’s slow swing. “I was killing Toa before you even learnt chute-speak. I can’t imagine Mudro’s going to be any different.” Feeling guiltier still, the given-up Toa stepped forwards, until his mask was right up in Orkahm’s. “I don’t want your death riding on my conscience.”
The rookie Toa stared into Tollubo’s eyes, trying to find some trace of emotion in them. But the Toa’s eyes remained empty and his voice hollow. Defeated, Orkahm nodded slowly then took a step back, glancing sadly at Kualus.
Guilt: the one gift that just kept on giving.
Slowly, Tollubo looked over his shoulder at Betak. The Agori smiled up at him softly, though there was little warmth in her eyes. “Can you walk?” he asked, studying how she was still holding her ankle.
“Yeah – I think so” answered the female, her smile stretching.
“Good” grunted the Toa. “Because you’ve got to run: run right out of here.” It was like a stake through the heart-light to see Betak’s face fall like it did but Tollubo forced himself to stay determined.
What he was about to do took guts. Charging head-strong up to the dam could only result in his death, something Tollubo was all too conscious of. Mudro and Juulant now had the advantage of the terrain, and there was only one entrance.
But still, nothing seemed to be impossible these days. Perhaps, by some miracle, Mata Nui would be looking favorably on him. Perhaps a well-timed bolt of lightning would fall from the heavens and reduce his enemies to ash. Tollubo definitely deserved such an unlikely phenomenon after all the good he had done in Mata Nui’s name – good that he probably hadn’t even wanted to do in the depths of his core. The Great Spirit definitely owed him a favor – or sixty.


A ball of acid shot through the air and struck a fleeing Ga-Matoran as she ran for her life. The bitter liquid sizzled and dissolved the Matoran down to scraps of armor, leaving nothing to mark her passing other than a few shreds of corroded metal.
Sparks flew across the ceiling as cables crackled with electricity. The wires swayed wildly as energy pulsed through them, delivering powerful electric shocks to any Matoran unfortunate enough to run into one of them.
Fluvia was hiding behind her control board with some of the other workers, trying to elude the potentially insane newcomers at the door. It wasn’t her greatest idea but it seemed to have worked so far.
The fact she was still alive pretty much proved that.
She had observed the two radicals who had arrived and guessed that the destruction of her dam had something to do with them. The tremor had been like an earthquake. Entire chunks of the structure had been torn away, pulling pipes, concrete, and workers along with it. Fluvia was just glad she had been in her control room all day. If she had gotten up to check the valves she’d probably be laying face-down in the Silver Sea.
She was almost definitely getting sued for this.
The more aggressive of the two rebel Glatorian – who was fittingly female – was taking her frustration out on the rest of the room’s inhabitants, chasing them and snarling like a Kane-Ra, her teeth snapping open and shut as she advanced on her terrified victim.
Everyone in the control room was screaming – except those who had already been killed – and it was music to the audio receptors of the second fanatic, the obvious ringmaster. The blue and black armored Glatorian was carrying a chain gun that was easily twice as large as Fluvia. The activist’s mouth was twisted into a sad smile, his blood-red eyes distant, as if bored by the carnage.
But the fingers of his left hand were drumming against the nozzle of his chain gun, as if in tune to the screams of the Matoran, like a conductor at an orchestra.
Then his eyes snapped back into focus and his gaze fell directly on Fluvia, as if piercing into her very soul.
Frozen with fear, the Ga-Matoran could only watch as the female Glatorian tore the control panel apart to reveal the Matoran sheltering behind it.
“Grab her” ordered the male, his finger pointing directly at Fluvia’s head. “She’s the operator of this place.” Before the Matau-wearer could so much as blink – let alone wonder how the blazes the rebel knew who she was – a hand was wrapped around her neck and she was hoisted to her feet by the green armored Glatorian. A sharp kick in the rear ensured that she stumbled forwards.
“Direct us to the crest” commanded the Glatorian, his chain gun pointing towards a flight of stairs in the distance. Fluvia just stared at him as the male revolutionist turned to his female accomplice and nodded.
Another Ga-Matoran collapsed to the ground at the activist’s feet, sobbing painfully. “Please!” she cried, her voice hoarse with fear. “Have mercy. Don’t kill me. I beg you!”
The male Glatorian’s face slipped into a warped, sinister smile, probably the only grin he could manage. Fluvia had no clue what was going to happen next, but she sure as hell knew showing mercy was the last thing the anarchist would do to her doomed coworker.
Quicker than the snapping jaws of a Doom Viper, the blue armored radical clamped his hand around the poor Ga-Matoran’s neck and hoisted her into the air. Fire leapt from his fingers and licked at the chin of startled Matoran of Water. She screamed in agony as the flames started to spread across her body. The victim choked, eyes wide with disbelief and horror.
As if taunting her, the Glatorian brought the burning Ga-Matoran up to his level then almost inhaled her fear. He sighed contentedly then threw the burning Matoran to the ground, leaving her for the female rebel to deal with.
Sick with fear, Fluvia began to back away from the insurgent Glatorian. The murderer flashed a depraved grin and advanced on her slowly, clearly taking his time, wanting to relish in her terror. There was wickedness and menace in his cold, merciless eyes.
Perhaps that was why the chain-gun-wielding revolutionist didn’t see the Kanoka Disk Launcher in Fluvia’s hand. Ever since her chilling encounter with the clearly insane Toa Tollubo that morning, Fluvia had taken to arming herself. She had expected the that the presence of such a silly, idiotic Toa of Light into account and hadn’t liked the idea of him protecting the dam too much. As it turned out, she had made a wise decision.
With her own personal sense of trepidation driving her forwards, the Ga-Matoran wrestled against the petrifying dread that was flashing across her eyes. Without thinking, she triggered the launching mechanism and let fire the disk.
But her hand had been shaking, and the Glatorian was still a fair distance away from her. The Kanoka disk swung in a downwards direction, veering away from its target’s chest and striking him in the left leg instead. The slight turn of events worried Fluvia, though her eyes soon widened in fascination as the effects of the Kanoka began to kick in. She watched, staggered, as the target’s leg began to alter its molecular composition. The disk had been a Reconstitute at Random Kanoka, able to spontaneously scramble the atoms of a target and temporarily reconstruct them as whatever arbitrary form some illogical puppet-masker thought fitting.
Taken aback, the anarchist cried out in surprise and turned to his leg. Luckily for him it was only a low level rated disk, which meant the effects would probably be confined to his leg, but his limb was already beginning to change. Thick, spiky vines began to spear out of it as the rebel screamed, bringing a trail of blood with them. They were revolting – like sapphire colored-tusks cutting through him. The Ga-Matoran could only watch in horror as strange thorns and almost weed-like forms of plant life began to sprout out of the leg of the victim.
Yet, what was stranger still was how the pained radical managed to clamp his metallic teeth together and pull himself back to his feet, his chain gun raising to point at Fluvia. “Oh, you’re going to wish you hadn’t done that, Matoran” he spat, trying to stifle his rage through gritted teeth.
Having a bad day, Mudro? Because I’m about to make it a whole lot worse.” Fluvia’s eyes widened when the words registered themselves to her. He blinked and turned her head, as did the two Glatorian. Judging by how heavily the chain gun-carrier sighed, Fluvia guessed that Mudro was his name.
But the arrival of yet
another newcomer wasn’t what shocked the Matau-wearer. She nearly cursed when her eyes rested upon the shadowy for of Toa Tollubo. The wretched Toa had been lurking in the shadows, leaning against the frame of the doorway for Mata Nui-knew-how-long, watching her suffer. The cruel monster.
In spite of the anger that began to bubble in the Ga-Matoran’s heart-stone as she recalled how this very Toa had pushed her off the crest then dangled her over thin-air, she began to question her own attitude. Tollubo was different now. He was another person entirely. He looked rugged and filthy, his eyes misty and dull – as if webs had overgrown them.
This Toa was well and truly resigned. He had come to the control room knowing he was going to die. He must have followed Mudro and his female accomplice as they entered the dam. He’d known even then that he would be massively outnumbered.
He didn’t have a hope in hell of surviving this encounter, and yet he clearly didn’t give a damn.
“Toa Tollubo” chuckled Mudro dryly as he gritted his teeth and moved himself to face the Tryna-wearer, clearly in pain from the effects of the parasite growing out of his leg, yet still remaining unnervingly calm. “At last you arrive, to
save the day no doubt? I thought I would wring no sport from you today.”
To Fluvia’s surprise, the Toa remained silent. That was strange, she had expected him to burst into a fit of anger, to yell out all manner of curses and damnation at Mudro, maybe even to have roared with ghastly, demonic bloodlust at the insult but Tollubo didn’t even bat an eyelid. His ghostly eyes remained focused on the Glatorian, fixing him with a chilling stare.
Timed to perfection, the staring contest was interrupted by an abrupt
CRASH. Fluvia cried out in shock as one of the grey concrete walls was blasted apart. Pieces of stone shot across the control room, smashing into the opposite wall and exploding into a cascade of pebbly splinters. The wall crumpled like a sand castle in an earthquake to reveal two figures standing behind the hole. With relative ease, the first slipped through the gap and somersaulted into the wreckage, some form of wrist-mounted energy blaster strapped to her arm. She was a Vortixx, that much was clear to Fluvia, but not one whom she recognized. The second figure needed no introduction as he stepped through the fissure he had made and fixed Mudro with a challenging flick of his head and a daring smile.
Knock. Knock. ” grunted Toa Jollun.
The brief glimmer of hope that the Ga-Matoran felt abruptly to dimmed then extinguished itself as the nozzle of Mudro’s chain gun pressed into her back, forcing her to move forwards.
“Juulant” barked Mudro, his voice as cold and certain as protosteel. “Dispose of these pests.” To her horror, Fluvia was forced into a brisk march towards the exit, unsure whether she was a guide or a hostage and struggling to decide which she would prefer to be.

Clamping his teeth together tighter, Mudro battled onwards, limping painfully as the strange life-form that had sprouted from his leg dug its roots deeper into his flesh. It was like a plant, some kind of spiked thorn-bush with vines that stuck into his leg. Walking was pure agony but letting the advancing Toa of Light behind him catch up would be an embarrassment – which felt a lot worse to Mudro.
Sure enough, Toa Tollubo had not wasted a second fighting Juulant as he broke into a charge after the limping Glatorian and his Ga-Matoran captive, ready to dive in for a tackle. Mudro made sure he never gave the Toa the chance.
Once again, the cursed Glatorian reflected over the issue of how he had gotten into his current situation. Right from the start he had been a shifty and cunning character. There had often been running jokes about his grave, somber nature back in Tajun. Many of them went along the lines of how he had been born in a sandstorm and that some of the sand must have gotten into his blood. Even in his earliest days he had seldom smiled. As soon as he’d taken his first steps he’d tried to run away from the hellish city in hopes of escaping the other members of his insignificant species.
Of course, he had never had a friend at any point. Throughout the course of his life he had been quiet and solitary, and it hadn’t taken him long to realize that there was something different about him, though he hadn’t been sure what it was back then. Eventually he’d managed to work it out.
He felt no emotions.
Nothing scared him or upset him. Nothing made him particularly happy. There was no food he especially enjoyed. No woman he desired. Every day for him was exactly the same. He didn’t feel anything. Not pain, not joy, not anger.
Many years ago he’d decided to put that to the test. One of his neighbors had owned a small, scruffy Sand Fox, a supposedly adorable creature that had been her faithful companion for as long as Mudro had known her. Seeking to prove his theory, the male Glatorian had taken his neighbor’s pet to one of Spherus Magna’s many hundreds of orchards and strangled it, just to see how it felt. It hadn’t bothered him at all, not one bit. When the Sand Fox didn’t return to its owner that night she had become worried, asking Mudro if he had seen it. He’d later learnt she’d noticed scratches on his arm when she asked him but she had foolishly accepted his explanation that he’d brushed against a wild Spikit. His neighbor had been an intelligent Glatorian but she hadn’t wanted to think the worst of him. Instead she’d just gone and gotten a new Sand Fox the very next day and the problem was put behind them, allowing Mudro to walk away from his first murder without breaking so much as a sweat.
However, some time after that incident a pretentious Glatorian named Certavus had come up with the foundations to build a social system between the four remaining armies left over from the Core War. It had been the first attempt at an alliance and, in Mudro’s opinion, had been greatly flawed. It dealt with the consequences of The Shattering but did nothing about the cause. There was still an ugly, gaping hole in the side of the planet that Mudro probably would have had plugged up before settling an agreement with the freakish Agori. He sometimes wondered whether or not one such selfish little villager had placed a dagger against the Glatorian of the Ice Tribe’s throat when he was first thinking about the social system because it sure as hell didn’t seem like a fair solution to the Glatorian. Mudro had been forced to join the Water Tribe with the majority of his fellow Core War “allies.” The other members of the cluster of rejects had despised him at first sight but had known better than to annoy him. If he’s survived the Core War then he was still a formidable foe to anyone who started staring at him or getting on his nerves. Perhaps that had been why nobody had spoken to him.
Shortly after that dishonor he’d been handed a spear and a crudely-made Thornax Launcher then been told to fight for his puny tribe, as if it were a matter of nobility or some moral obligation to pummel a fellow member of his species in front of hundreds of cheering, blood-thirsty spectators. He’d hated it from the start and he still didn’t like being told what to do, especially not some dusty old Agori with a tatty cape and a walking stick. At the first chance he got he’d tried to rebel, only to end up stabbing one of his Glatorian-colleagues outside Tajun’s arena. From that point on things had started going downhill. Seeking only the slightest reason to kick him out of the tribe and exile him, the village’s leader had exploded in rage and banished Mudro to the wastelands – doomed to roam the sands until he ran out of water.
And that had been exactly what the Glatorian had planned to do had he not been captured by Bone Hunters and taken prisoner after taking two steps out of the safety of his village. However, as the Skrall had not migrated south by that point, the reptilian nomads had seen no point in keeping him alive to trade with the Rock Tribe. Instead they’d intended to leave him for their ravenous Rock Steeds to devour.
Luckily, a brief encounter with a Baterra had resulted in the Bone Hunters being slaughtered and a weaponless Mudro being left with their Rock Steeds. The mechanical killing machine had stalked him for days after that as he led it from the wastelands and back towards Tajun, managing to kill two Sand Bats with one stone. He a managed to lose the Baterra and he achieved his revenge by setting it on the village of armed Agori. Had the village elder not been using his walking stick that day he may well have survived.
Thought of the vain Agori being sliced in two by the invisible machine still made Mudro smile.
But that had been centuries ago. After the village had been raided and the Baterra had left it behind in search of more victims, Mudro had enslaved the surviving Agori and murdered the remaining Glatorian, reducing the Water Tribe to a single dictatorial Glatorian and his Agori slaves.
Of course, the other tribes swiftly became suspicious and sent warriors south towards the destroyed village. That was no problem for Mudro. He would stand from his perch atop a rock plateau and watch other Glatorian turn around, revolted by the hundreds of rotting dead villagers that outlined the outskirts of his city.
For thousands of years he had relished in their repulsion, delighted in their terror, and savored their disgust. Watching hardened warriors – and even refugees from time to time – turn around and run allowed him the closest thing to emotion he could muster:
But his enjoyment had been cut short abruptly a thousand years ago when the Matoran Universe landed on the fractured world and all manner of nightmarish Rahkshi, Visorak, and Makuta spilled out onto the sandy surface of the barren world. Mudro’s defenses of dead Agori had scared away travelers in the past but hadn’t frightened even the softest of the Brotherhood’s soldiers. Within hours Mudro had been captured and dragged to a Makuta named Chirox in chains. The Glatorian had been tortured, brain-washed, then mutated into a tougher, stronger, resilient form. He’d become stronger, faster, and – most importantly – smarter. Mudro had developed skills in tactics and strategy, rising swiftly through the ranks of mutated Glatorian until he caught the attention of some of the more influential Makuta. Still seeking a leader for a group of warriors who would serve as their fall-back plan, Mudro had been trained and integrated into the Cult of Darkness. Armed with his old weapons, the mutant had battled his way through the Final Push, battling all manner of Toa, Bohrok, and particularly resistant Matoran. He’d witnessed the slaughter of hundreds of his enemies and had taken pleasure in every single death.
But then it had gotten boring. He’d finally met his team and realized they were all idiots, like the Makuta had seen potential in a couple of Rock Jackal. It was as if the Brotherhood had run out of dungeons to throw the Matoran Universe’s scum away in and had decided to put them all together instead. But nevertheless, Mudro had been given responsibility for leading them, which was an impossible task.
Where were they now? Bukach had gotten lost somewhere, Cobarox was lying crippled and inert in the wreckage outside, he didn’t know where Bioka had gotten off to, and "Terminator" definitely wasn’t getting paid for his failures.
Sometimes he wondered if leadership was a punishment.
Mudro was dragged back to the present when he approached a flight of stairs. Cursing, he turned to Fluvia and nudged her sharply with his chain gun. He couldn’t touch her in case she burst into flames and she was no use to him dead. She was his only bargaining chip if that damn Toa of Light followed him.
It was only then that he decided to examine his hostage. She was a Ga-Matoran, and quite a moody one from the looks of her. Her Kanohi Matatu wasn’t particularly appealing at all. Indeed, she was not a pretty sight, but an interesting one nonetheless. Some character there. Probably more frowns than smiles but she would do. She was female, which would have a greater impact if Tollubo was stalking him.
She looked pretty desperate, obviously terrified by the big scary Glatorian with a gun behind her. The Matatu-wearer was gasping and clutching the steps in front of her at every step. Normally Mudro would take time to appreciate her dread but now he simply didn’t have time.
Mudro leaned in towards the handrail and grabbed it firmly with his left hand while his right elbow balanced him against the opposite wall. He was blocking the way down with his size, which he supposed was an advantage in such a small space.
Both pairs of footsteps were drowned out by the rush of water as it surged over the broken dam above their heads. That wasn’t good. It meant he couldn’t hear Tollubo behind him and there was no way he could turn around in such a tight enclosure.
He charged on, taking the steps three at a time with his Glatorian-sized legs. Four at a time. Five at a time. Not breathing, up and up and up, round and round and round. Not counting, just running, running, running, climbing, churning, straining himself onwards.
When they arrived at the top of the steps Mudro grunted and took a wild swing at the metal door, knocking it right off its hinges and into the air. Fluvia staggered out, relishing in the sunlight for a moment before Mudro began to nudge her onwards with his chain gun again, urging her to walk further onto the crest, away from the door.
As they walked the Glatorian decided to examine her again. She looked pale and displeasing to the eye but her eyes were bright as she looked on out towards the city, her nose held high in the air in hopes of looking patronizingly unafraid of him.
Her arms and legs were thin and hard. He armor was a faded shade of dark blue, indicating it had been washed over and over again. She clearly didn’t like spending her precious widgets on her appearance. She probably had a bank account stored away somewhere for in the unlikely event that she ever got married.
“Would you stop doing that, please?” she demanded in an ice-cold tone.
“Doing what?” grunted Mudro in response.
“Looking at my legs.”
The former Glatorian looked up from the Ga-Matoran’s lower body to look her in the eye. He didn’t respond. Silence was the best response against people like this: the females.
“You like doing that, don’t you?” she continued, seeking an answer to use as ammunition against him. This time Mudro had to answer.
“Doing what?”
“Looking at Ga-Matoran.”
The chain gun carrier shrugged, not wanting to dignify her with a response but feeling at witty one come to his mind. “Better than looking at Po-Matoran.”
“That’s not funny, Glatorian!” retorted Fluvia. “I don’t like the way you’re looking at me!”
Figuring he’d gone far enough into the crest, Mudro stopped in his tracks and stared at the Ga-Matoran. “And exactly what way am I looking at you?” he growled coldly.
“You know what way.”
He shook his head. “No I don’t.”
“Like you’re making advances” she replied angrily. “You’re disgusting, you know that?”
Mudro listened to the contempt in her voice and stared at her unhealthily pale complexion – which was highlighted by the sunlight – he frown, and her hard, dried-up body. “You think I’m making advances to you?”
“Aren’t you?” she snarled hatefully. “Wouldn’t you like to?”
Mudro shook his head again. “Not while there are Mahi in the street.” He grunted before pressing the nozzle of his chain gun at her back and turning around to face the Toa of Light who stumbled out of the doorway.

Toa Tollubo burst out of the broken doorway and onto an all-too-familiar crest. For a moment he was stunned by the sense of jeva-vu and nearly tripped over, almost impaling himself on his own sword.
That would have been an embarrassing way to go.
The Toa of Light took a couple of steps forward until he heard a mechanical CLICK and he realized that Mudro’s chain gun was pointing directly at him. A spray of bullets peppered the concrete at Tollubo’s feet as the Toa looked up to see Mudro in the center of the crest – just before where it had been split apart and the chunks of concrete had been torn from – his chain gun balanced in his right hand, the vial of self-replicating Hordika venom in his left hand. Fluvia was standing resiliently in front of him. She obviously hadn’t registered that he gun wasn’t pointing at her anymore.
“Is that the preliminaries out of the way, or do you want to take a few more pot shots?” roared Tollubo, daring the Glatorian on. “Where’s you precious Cult?”
“Around and about” replied Mudro sweetly.
“Didn’t you bring them with you?” challenged the Toa, bellowing over the roar of the wind atop the broken dam.
“Not today” retorted the cursed anarchist. “I don’t need any of them. The only people sharing this stage are you, myself, and this scrawny little excuse for a Ga-Matoran.”
Calling upon his fine command of the Matoran language, Tollubo decided to stay silent. Instead he turned his attention towards the Ga-Matoran. She appeared very much alive and looked unharmed, so far.
“She’s a spirited one” cackled Mudro. “A bit loud though. And some of the language she uses, shocking. I don’t know where Matoran today pick up such filthy words. Probably from their worthless Toa.” The Glatorian paused for effect then prodded Fluvia in the shoulder, delivering a clear burn to her flesh. She yelped and rubbed the seared mark. “Well I hate to break it to you, kid, but Toa Tollubo’s not coming to the rescue today. He’ll be joining his fellow criminal-friends in Toa Hell.”
“The only criminal here is you, Mudro!” roared Tollubo in frustration. The wind was howling in his face and he was too far away to do anything. A couple of steps closer and he’d be blasted into scraps of minced armor by Mudro’s chain gun.
The Glatorian sighed theatrically. “See how he slander’s me, Fluvia? These Toa, they soil this world with their murderous presence, then point the finger of blame elsewhere. That’s always been the Toa way, in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s in their Toa Code somewhere. Perhaps I’ll look it up tonight when I get home. After all, I’ll have plenty of time to read.”
Tollubo started to respond then realized he’d only be wasting his time.
“You see, Toa, this is a revolution” continued the Glatorian, as if reciting to an audience. “You rise from the rubble and declare change. Throughout history, that’s how every single revolution has happened. But first, there has to be rubble. First, there has to be – ”
“Let’s cut the Muaka-dung,” called the Tryna-wearer, interrupting Mudro’s speech. “You didn’t lead me here for a war of words. Are you going to put the gun aside and fight with honor or not?”
“Not!” chuckled Mudro manically. “Do you think I’m insane? I’d be weaponless? You’d cut me down dead!”
“Then why’d you lead me up here? Why’d you bring Fluvia as a hostage? Why didn’t you shoot me when I came through the door?”
“I want to chat, Tollubo” responded the Glatorian. “I’d like to discuss an alliance.”
Tollubo had to laugh at that. “Sure” he jeered. “Next you’ll want me to play Kolhii with you.”
“I’m serious” growled Mudro cryptically, his voice growing cold and serious. “You’ve managed to cut down at least two members of my organization and you can use the Ignika. I could make use of you in future. You are a formidable foe, a skilled warrior, and a cut-throat killer. Much like myself, you rely on instinct and instinct alone. I see a lot of me in you. Together we could rule this broken universe, this universe that has rejected you.” The Glatorian lowered his chain gun and tilted his head. “Tell me, Toa, how many times have you uttered your name in public and Matoran have fled in fear? How many have cowered at the mere mention of the word Tollubo? What does it make you feel? Anger, perhaps? Loneliness? Hatred?”
The Tryna-wearer paused and let his sword lower too, just like Mudro had done with his chain gun. As much as he hated to admit it, Mudro was right. He didn’t know why he was protecting the puny Matoran of this forgotten universe. They were just like Fluvia, every last one of them. They didn’t respect him, they were soft, unhardened and ungrateful for his efforts. They hadn’t survived a war, they’d only cowered behind barriers that the long-dead Order of Mata Nui agents had put up. Matoran on the other island – the Southern Continent, Nynrah, the Tren Krom Peninsula – probably hadn’t even been given warning of the Brotherhood’s attack, let alone weapons. They were the one who he should be helping, not these snobbish, petty, scrawny excuses for villagers. Not once, while he’d been in the Fractures Universe, had a Matoran thanked him for his efforts. Not Danza, not Dessal, not Fluvia, not even Mesa.
Did they deserve anything other than the tidal wave of vengeance Mudro was about to unleash?
I… I…” Lost for words, Tollubo looked from Mudro, to Fluvia, to the city beneath his feet.
“All of this could be yours” muttered Mudro softly, the rushing of the wind calming as he spoke. “Everything you see, and more, could be yours to govern and rule. We could enforce order, bring back honor and dignity to this ruined world. We could live as kings.” The Glatorian raised his left hand and dangled the vial over the churning of the water, ready to let go and drop it into the reservoir below. “What do you say?”
For a moment the Toa wasn’t too sure. He hadn’t been welcomed to this universe, nor had he been given his own chamber or any medical treatment in the four days he’d been a Toa.
But he had once been a Matoran and now he was a Toa. He had a moral obligation, a duty even, to the inhabitants of Metru-Nui. They were all that was left of his people, the final strands of resistance in a battered, war-ravaged universe. They needed him because there was nobody else to protect them.
How could he refuse?
The Matoran may well be a lost cause, but they were a cause worth fighting for, and that gave Tollubo the strength to raise his head to look Mudro in the eye.
“You can take your offer… and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine, Mudro” he spat.
The Glatorian’s eyes narrowed a he realized the Toa had turned him down. His warm, open façade was replaced by a cold, unwelcoming expression. “Those are dangerous words, Toa” he muttered, his tone thick with menace. “Words that might make me pull the trigger of a gun that may or may not be pointing at your head. Do you want to take them back?”
“My name is Toa Tollubo!” bellowed the Toa in a mixture of anger and pride. “The day I blacken my name with your wretched kind is the day I surrender my life to a Dermis Turtle.”
Mudro glared at him a moment longer then spoke. “And you are sure of this?”
“Damn straight!” yelled the Toa in blind bury as he began to march forwards. “I’d sooner slice off my hand before I reach for the darkness again.” The Toa took a few more steps forward then came to a stop. He was now about fifteen bio away from the Glatorian, as close as he dared go.
“I’ll shoot her!” threatened Mudro.
Tollubo shook his head. “No you won’t Mudro. Think about it. A selfish piece of Rahkshi-bile like you? The way you are, you’re always number one. You shoot her, I’ll knock you off this damn crest.” The Toa raised his Light Sword and began to charge it with energy. “Think about it, Mudro. Think about yourself. You’re only a couple of bio away from me. You shoot her, I shoot you. I’m aiming at your chest. You pull your trigger, I fire this, you go flying off into nothingness. She dies, one-hundredth of a second later, your falling to your doom. You wouldn’t kill me, though. You turn to aim and the next thing you know you’re falling backwards. Stalemate.”
The two mortal enemies stared at each other. A classic standoff. But there was still a problem, a serious flaw in Tollubo’s analysis. He knew it. It came to him in an icy flash of panic. It came to Mudro at the exact same moment as his face twisted into a cunning sneer. He saw it settle in the Glatorian’s eyes complacently.
“You’re wrong” snarled Mudro. “You’ve missed something.”
Tollubo made no response.
“Sure, now it’s a stalemate, and it always will be, so long as I’m standing here and you’re standing there. But, exactly how long are you going to be standing there?”
Tollubo swallowed against the pain, it was hammering against him, filling him with cold dread and uncertainty, draining him.
“I’ll be standing here as long as it takes” snarled the Glatorian.
“I’ve got plenty of time” retorted Tollubo. “And my schedule’s clear from pressing appointments I have to get to.”
Mudro’s sinister grin broadened. “Brave words” he chuckled dryly. “But you’re bleeding from the head. You know that?” You’ve got a piece of glass sticking in your head. I can see it from here. Tell him, Fluvia.”
The Matau-wearing Ga-Matoran nodded desperately, her eyes full of terror as her face creased in horror. “It’s a shard of glass” she stated quietly. “You’ve got a shard of glass sticking out of your mask, just above your eye.”
“From the Vahki Transporter I presume” murmured Mudro darkly. As soon as the words were spoken Tollubo knew them to be true. The pain doubled and quadrupled and exploded in shooting pangs of sharp, burning agony. It was a piercing anguish centered in his forehead, about an inch above his eye. The adrenaline had masked it for a long time but the pulses of energy didn’t last forever. The Toa forced his mind away from it with all his will power, but it was still there. Razor-sharp and nausea-dull all at the same time, booming and throbbing through his head, sending brilliant lightning strikes into his eyes. The blood was tricking down his mask, something he hadn’t noticed until now. Tollubo blinked and saw nothing at all with his left eye. It was full of blood as it trickled down his neck and onto his arms.
“I’m fine!” growled the Toa as menacingly as he could. It came out sounding like a sick, pained gurgle.
“Brave words” chuckled Mudro harshly. “But you’re in pain and you’re losing blood. You can’t stand here forever, Tollubo. You think you’re tough, but you’re nothing next to me. I slaughtered my own people. I harvested the survivors and made them into my slaves. I was captured, imprisoned, tortured and experimented on. I’m the tough guy here. Standing up here, I may as well be the toughest guy in this whole damn world! Mentally and physically. You couldn’t outlast me even if you didn’t have glass sticking out of your head.”
Fluvia was staring at him, terrified and repulsed at the same time. Tollubo could see her eyes. Her mouth. Mudro’s chain gun hand hovering just over her shoulder and aimed straight at him.
Tollubo shuddered. The pain was hammering in his head. His filthy, sweaty armor was cold against his flesh. There was blood in his mouth, leaving behind a metallic taste. The Toa began to feel the first faint tremors in his shoulders as he began to lose consciousness.
“And I’m motivated” continued Mudro, an air of devilish coolness about him. “I’ve worked hard for this. I’m sure as hell going to keep it. I’m a genius and a survivor. You think I’m going to let a puny little Sand Bat like you take me down? You think you’re the first person who ever tried?”
Tollubo swayed against the pain.
“How about we raise the stakes a little?” The Glatorian took a step backwards and aimed his chain gun at the back of Fluvia’s head and crouching down behind her. He jammed the gun’s nozzle into her back so hard she was forced to straighten, blocking him. The Ga-Matoran gasped in pain as Mudro’s sneer became even more sinister.
“I could kill you both right now. I pull my trigger and she gets her head blown off. And who’s to say the bullets won’t hit you? My gun will already be pointing at you.” The Glatorian paused then stiffened and stepped backwards again, back into Tollubo’s range – as if taunting him. “Only, that wouldn’t be any fun now, would it? She means nothing to me, but you.” Mudro let out an arid chuckle that sounded like bones rattling in the morning air. “I could shoot her to shreds and there’d be nothing you could do about it except feel worse, right? The pain? You’re starting to feel faint now, aren’t you, Toa? You’re on your way out. You’re going down. And when you’re down the stalemate is over.”
Tollubo shuddered. Not from the pain, but because he knew Mudro was right. He could feel his knees beginning to wobble, threatening to buckle him at any second. He could feel them for the first time in far too long. Nobody ever felt their own legs. They should just be a part of him, no different to his back or his arms. Feeling them valiantly holding up his colossal bulk meant that pretty soon they were going to give way.
And Toa Tollubo would plummet towards the reservoir below.
“You’re going down, Tollubo!” repeated Mudro wickedly. “Literally. You’re shaking, you know that? You’re slipping away from us. Couple of minutes I’ll walk right over there and shoot you in the face. I have all the time in the world.”
The wounded Toa shuddered again and felt his vision go completely black for a moment. It was getting harder to think. He was dizzy. He had an open head wound. His skull was probably penetrated. Tollubo’s right hand was shaking, his Light Sword wobbling between his fingers. His head was spinning, as if it were being trampled over by hordes of Kikanalo. His strength was draining out of him from the inside, his right eye wrenched open, dry and stinging – as if needles were in it. Five more minutes, maybe, he was thinking. Then I’m done for.
The Tryna-wearer’s knees swayed and he nearly fell over. He came back to his feet and regained his balance once again, raising his Light Sword to aim at the thin sliver of Mudro’s chest he could make out. The tip of the blade was waving around in a circle. A small circle at first, then a larger one as the weight of the weapon overwhelmed the control of his shoulder. He spluttered and coughed back blood.
The blade was edging in a towards direction, as if someone wearing very thick gloves was pulling on the weapon. Tollubo gritted his metallic teeth and tried to bring it back up but the sword didn’t budge. He tried to jerk his hand upwards only to find it moved sideways, as if some invisible force were pushing against it, deflecting his efforts with the swipe of a hand. The Toa’s knees buckled once again only for him to bolt back upright, like a spasm. His sword was pointing mio away, aimed at some building far off in the distance.
Tollubo knew what was about to happen even before he decided to do it. Mudro was growing bored with his suffering and was looking for a fresh insult to throw at him. Desperately searching for something to motivate him to stay standing, the Toa of Light let images of hundreds of his friends flash across his blurry vision. He saw Jollun back in Karda-Nui, playing Kolhii with him. He was outside. It was warm in the village. They were laughing. Tollubo had just tripped over the end of his staff and the pair had erupted in laughter at his clumsiness.
Then Toa Watak was there, one of his trainers from the Order of Mata Nui. When he’d last seen the Toa Tollubo had still been a Matoran. It was a whole lifetime ago. The Toa of Magnetism appeared to be talking about specific weapons, lesson that he’d all but forgotten about until that point. “Machine guns are all well and good,” muttered the long-dead Toa in Tollubo’s memory “but it's the bullets. They're the cheapest quality you'll ever find. You simply can't rely on them to put a guy down, not if he's coming at you all pumped up on Toa-hating fury.” That had been the only thing the Toa of Light had learnt from his mentor before he was dubbed as a failure and given away to another Order trainer, like a reject.
Then Toa Alum was there, another of Tollubo’s trainers. The Toa of Fire was standing on a beach, extending his index finger out towards the Silver Sea, like a Ga-Matoran teacher or a Turaga. As if he were making a point, the Toa of Fire turned to address Tollubo and muttered the last words the future-Toa would ever hear him say. “If plan A doesn’t work, move the hell onto plan B.
Clinging desperately onto the figures in his memory, grasping for the faith he needed to keep himself conscious, Tollubo’s laboring mind managed to make sense of the situation and a plan formulated.
OK, Alum, here’s plan B. See how you like it.
What the rookie Toa of Light was about to do took guts, and lots of it. He was taking a gamble. Gambling that Watak’s century old statement would be accurate nearly 10,000 years after it had been uttered. Gambling that Mudro wouldn’t just turn and shoot him the second he tensed. Gambling that he’d charge in the right direction from behind the curtain of blood that covered his eyes.
The Toa breathed in and out slowly, inhaling and exhaling as a gentle afternoon breeze began to pick up speed. He began to calm himself, thinking of one person and one person only. He didn’t let his mind slip from that one person, not for anything.
That person was Betak.
As much as it pained him, he had to imagine that it wasn’t Fluvia standing as Mudro’s hostage but that it was the Agori he had dragged into this mess. They had similar builds – or at least as similar as a Matoran and Agori could look – but Fluvia’s eyes made it hard. They pierced into him sharper than any sword, burning him with spiteful imaginary daggers. She was angry at him still. Angry about how he had embarrassed her earlier. Angry about how a Matoran as reckless and rebellious as himself had managed to wind up as a Toa. Angry about how long it was taking him to find the will power to stay conscious.
Betak would be the complete opposite. She was faithful and virtuous where Fluvia was cold and bitter. But, nevertheless, he tried to replace the Ga-Matoran with the Water Agori. He forced her presence into his mind and ignored the Matoran of Water. He tried to picture her helmet, her warm, forgiving eyes, her smile. He saw her slim, strong body, tense against Mudro’s hold over her. He felt a pain in his heart-light, as if it were melting. He was burning in guilt, and the guilt turned to anger.
And the anger turned to cut-throat fury.
Enraged by what Mudro was doing to Betak, Tollubo let out an animalistic snarl and tightened his grip on his Light Sword. He didn’t intend to use it but he was going to need it later, and he couldn’t exactly tuck it away in his pack in front of Mudro. That would be a sign of weakness.
Mudro” wheezed the Toa, his voice straining with red-hot fury. “Wanna know the secret of winning a fight like this?” The Glatorian hesitated, trying to anticipate Tollubo’s next action. He was clearly growing uncertain by the sheer determination the injured Toa was showing, his death-defying willpower, and his unwavering fortitude. “Less talking – more shooting.
The Toa of Light waited for his enemy’s reaction one-eyed and wondered is what I feel for Betak as good as being pumped up on Toa-hating fury?
“Shame” muttered Mudro. He didn’t sound the least bit upset but he carried off his surprise well.
What came next was something Tollubo had known was inevitable right from the start of the stalemate. Instead of ending the standoff the logical way – by shooting the wounded Toa of Light – Mudro raised his gun and placed it against Fluvia’s head. “Your answer may have saved her life.” With that he pulled the trigger and the Ga-Matoran’s head fanned out in a cloud of blood and broken splinters of metal. Bullets tore through the weak armor around the back of her head and her Kanohi Matatu erupted in a forest of red, metallic splinters. Her face disappeared in a howl of crimson fleshy chunks. The remains of her tattered body, her head almost completely hanging off, flew forwards. Her lifeless body toppled sideways and she plunged towards the reservoir, not that it actually mattered by that stage. She was long-since dead.
That was his cue to do move. Tollubo lunged at Mudro, using every single one of his strained muscles to force himself forwards. As much as it pained him, as much as it felt like a stake through his chest, the broken Toa forced himself to imagine Betak had just died, that the poor Agori had just toppled motionlessly off the side of the crest and into the destruction that lay below. Guilt, anger, and cold-blooded, murderous fury pushed him onwards, ready to ram right into Mudro whatever the cost.
The Glatorian hadn’t been expecting that. Startled, he hesitated for a fraction of a second. Tollubo saw the anarchist’s eyes widen in shock at the sight of him charging into point-blank firing range. He’d been fast and timed his attack well, but not well enough. Tollubo saw the chain gun turn to face him in the blink of an eye in Mudro’s steely, unwavering grip. There was a burst of bright flame as bullets began to churn out of the barrel, aiming directly for him.
They hit him in the chest with the force of an Airship. The roar of each shot was lost behind the immense physical impact of the bullets hitting him. They were blows from a giant hammer the size of a building. They thumped and crashed and deafened him from the inside.
But there was no pain. No pain at all. Just the cold numbness all over his chest and the silent vacuum of total disorientation. Fighting hard to stay firm on his feet, Tollubo clenched his fists tighter, his metallic teeth threatening to break under the grinding.
The Toa’s entire body went numb as he crashed right into the stunned Glatorian, knocking them both backwards. Mudro yelped as he reeled backwards, being driven back by the full weight of Tollubo’s body as he threw himself at the chain gun carrier. They went flying over the edge.
Both the Toa and the Glatorian plummeting towards their dooms.
The vial slipped from Mudro’s hand.
Tollubo blacked out.

Chapter 13[]

Down!” barked Toa Jollun, fire in his eyes as he dodged the viscous ball of acid that burnt through the air.
Racasix didn’t pause, which was the only thing that saved her. She skipped to her left and landed smoothly in a crouch, ready to pounce back up onto her feet. The concrete wall behind them erupting in a violent outburst of green sludge. It sizzled against the ground in sickening emerald puddles.
Before the Toa had a chance to throw a droll comment into play, Jollun was forced to defend himself once again. Another acidic projectile was spurting towards him, a sheet of liquid death. Directing his Elemental Powers, he waved his hand at the deadly fluid, forming a thin barrier against the oncoming acid. It divided and hissed past his head, one half hitting the floor, the other hitting one of the already-destroyed control boards. The bubbling slime began to eat through the metal, burning through layer upon layer of metallic Protodermis.
The Glatorian’s leap brought her within reach of the Toa. With an annoyed grunt, he swung his Light Prong and let a beam of brightness scorch her chest, blasting his opponent back across the room. She landed so sharply that the Toa wondered if he’d killed her by accident. But, to his horror, the Krana-wearing Glatorian gurgled and returned to her feet.
The Huna-wearer smiled, grown bold by the combination of the effects of his Elemental Powers and the ease with which he’d shrugged off the rebel female’s attack.
But his grin didn’t scare Juulant. She tensed her legs and sprang forwards once again, leaping an impossible distance, and swung at the Toa. Jollun managed to dodge the swipe but wasn’t quick enough to evade the follow-up. A solid blow landed square on the Toa’s throat.
Winded, the Toa of Light gasped for breath and doubled back in agony. He flexed the muscles and rubbed his neck, trying to inspect the injury and noticed that the female’s punch had actually dented his armor badly. Pain flared but he ignored it and tried to focus on the skirmish.
But his next move was a disaster. The white-armored Toa attempted to activate his Kanohi Huna Nuva only to find he was unable to. The Glatorian’s taunting laughter was a hard, high-pitched, raspy giggle, her eyes burning with blood-lust and insanity.
With his mask power failing him, Jollun took a wild swing and tried to elbow his foe in her small, ugly face only for her to duck back and land him a sharp kick in the shoulder that made the entire limb go limp. The Toa’s right arm flopped uselessly to the side and his Light Prong slipped from his fingers, clattering dully on the ground.
The battle was not going well. A couple of days ago Jollun had defeated Makuta Karabak and now he was being slowly disabled by a Glatorian. And worse still: a female. The Toa was afraid to hurt her but she wouldn’t hesitate to pummel him.
Not for the first time that day, he found himself wishing he’d been somewhere else when Mata Nui was handing out destinies to Matoran.
Seeking aid, the Toa of Light turned to Racasix. The Vortixx was charging her Pulse Blaster and trying to get a clear shot at Juulant. Giving her a chance, Jollun dropped to his knees, allowing his ally to fire. As she pulled the trigger a burst of orange sparks burnt through the air, faster than lightning. Had the target not sidestepped there probably would have been one less Glatorian in the world.
Go” panted the Toa helplessly, clutching his chest in distress.
“Are you mad, Toa?” yelled the Vortixx in blind confusion.
Go!” repeated the Huna Nuva-wearer. “I’ll follow.”
The saucy female took one look at Juulant then nodded to Jollun before making her escape, disappearing into the shadows all too easily.
The Toa turned to face the oncoming Glatorian. He had a plan. Sort of. Not a very good one, but if it worked, it would buy Racasix some time to get to Tollubo. If it didn’t then the Glatorian would only grow slightly more annoyed.
“You can’t hide from me, Toa” rasped the green-armored Glatorian. Jollun wasn’t sure if it was the light, but her eyes seemed darker than they had been a moment before. They had a dark grey shade to them now, seeming threatening and sinister, not to mention blatantly unnatural.
“I’ll take that as a challenge” he retorted swiftly. This was his one chance and time was running out for this universe. Jollun raising his left arm – the only one that still worked – and activating his Elemental Powers.
But there was no burst of light. No laser display or blinding flashes of daylight. If anything, the brightness began to lessen. Shadows crept along the walls like deep cracks. Darkness slithered into view, like a Doom Viper slipping along the concrete. One by one, the electric lights buzzed, crackled, then died, completely and entirely engulfed by the dark. Perpetual dusk hung in the room for a brief moment before Jollun finally absorbed the last of the light and control room was plunged into what seemed like the bottom of some spiritless abyss.
Everything seemed to die.
Lowering his left hand to cup his glowing heart-stone, the Toa narrowed his eyes and cast his mind back to what the room had been like before. He pictured the broken pieces of debris, the puddles of acidic goo, the broken control boards. Crouching down, he scanned for his enemy but she was nowhere to be seen in the darkness.
Where was she facing? The Glatorian couldn’t be facing him or he’d spot her heart-stone shining in the expanse of unbroken darkness. If she had any common sense at all she’d be crouching low. To her right would be the command room’s wall, so she would have moved to her left, Jollun’s right.
There was an abrupt flash of brightness as one of the broken power lines crackled. It lit up the whole room for a moment, forcing Jollun to drop to a crouch. Juulant wasn’t there. She’d moved away. She was nowhere in front of him. It was like a storm. The flash of light had been the lightning while the crackle of electrical energy had been the thunder.
Would he hear Juulant firing over the crackle? For a second he wondered whether he’d be able to tell or if the first he’d know of it would be the sickening impact of a ball of acid.
The thought made him drop full length onto the ground and lay still. OK, rethink he thought. Has she outflanked me? Is she crouching too? She could have attempted an exact mirror-image of his own move. As unlikely as it seemed, she could have found the door to the stairway and made a break for the crest of the dam while he was still thumbing around in the dark. If she’d glanced around during the flash of electricity she could have seen her escape. There was no other way out for her. It was either kill him to restore the lights or tip toe around then climb up an entire staircase in the darkness. How else was she going to get out?
He stayed down on the ground, thinking hard. He ignored the next flash of electricity altogether. He just pressed himself against the cold stone floor, calculating, deciding. He rejected the possibility of her flanking him. That came with training. He was dealing with a blunt, unsubtle, angry Glatorian. He raised his head and waited.
The next flash was a sheet, rippling madly in an explosion of sparks. The door was too far away, surely. And if she had gone for it, she was no immediate threat. Not all the way over there. Not at that distance. So he swiveled back to his feet and edged backwards. Check and clear, zone by zone. Thinking tactically, he divided the room into a dozen segments based on the rectangular shape. He moved around slowly, on his knees and elbows, feeling around with his one working hand. Ten feet, twenty feet, twenty-five feet. It felt exactly like the kind of training some cynical Turaga would throw in his face, crawling around in the dark.
That was when he smelt her.
The Toa hesitated. The smell was definitely there. It was warm and moist, the stench of unwashed flesh intensified by the metallic tinge of armor, and it was thick in his nostrils. She was close.
He tensed and slipped back onto his feet cautiously. It was hard balancing himself only using one hand but not impossible. Which way was she facing? It all depended on how quiet he was. If there had been wind he could have prayed for it to be blowing against him, the stop her from smelling him. The slightest mistake could cause her to sense him and realize how close they were.
She could be looking straight at me he thought to himself as he reached his full height once again. Except she can’t see me, it’s too dark.
Once again he scanned for her heart-light and saw nothing in the dimness. If she was facing away then that would give him an easy shot into her back with a well-aimed laser beam.
But, worst case, we’re facing each other exactly. We could be five feet apart. He knew she was close because her foul stench was still heavy in the air. So it’s a gamble now. When the next flash comes, who’ll react first?
Jollun held his breath. He lingered around in anticipation of sparks filling the air. It was the longest wait of his life before the split-second of simultaneous buzzing and sparkle of the broken power line. Juulant was exactly three feet to his right, facing the wrong way. The armor on her legs was battered and dusty from walking into different chunks of fractured rocks and he was pretty sure that some of her own acid was sizzling away at her left foot. She must have stepped in a puddle of it in the dark.
The female Glatorian looked small and desperate, scared of the very darkness she had so willingly surrendered herself to. Her hands were shaking and her Acid Launchers were wobbling under her trembling grip, eyes wide in fear.
The Toa of Light used the last of the electrical flash to scramble for her throat and press her down. She cried out in distress as he rammed her head into the floor. Her arms flailed out wildly and her weapons clattered to the ground. He felt them slapping against his knees as he gritted his metallic teeth and pushed down, harder still.
Releasing his control over the brightness in the room, Jollun allowed the light to return to the command center while he forced his captive down into the floor. Her body twisted and wrenched as she tried to jerk herself free of his grip but he did not let go. Single handedly, he snarled and locked his only working arm in that position while he searched around for something to use in place of hand-cuffs. In the end his eyes rested upon a chunk of broken piping, about the width of his thumb.
Balancing on one leg, the Toa managed to clamp a foot down on the tube and kicked it closer to his worthless right arm. He tensed the limb and started exercising it. There was still feeling and, although it was completely numb, he managed to pick it up. Ramming his left elbow into the squirming Glatorian’s back, he scooped up her arms and pinned them behind her back. When he was content with the fact she could not move them, he released her and clamped a foot on her back, crushing her down as he bend the pipe and fashioned a primitive metal loop around her wrists. Then he grabbed both ends and tightened it until Juulant started to take back the death threats she’d been yelling at him.
The Toa smiled crookedly as he picked up his Light Prong and prodded the Glatorian in the back with it. She broke to her knees and swore at him, which earned her another sharp poke. The female was already battered from walking into the chunks of debris and was silted in filth.
Delivering a sharp kick to his prisoner’s rear, Jollun managed to boot Juulant back onto her feet. She muttered all manner of dark language at him but he ignored her. He had far bigger problems at that moment.
Naturally, the most tactical move would have been to eliminate Juulant. She was simply too dangerous to allow to live and he just didn’t have time to escort her back down to the crest to be arrested. If he brought her with him she would present herself to be a burden and only slow him down as he chased after Racasix and Tollubo. If he tied her up again and left her in the control room she’d probably escape and never be seen again. There seemed to only be one fair solution.
Toa Jollun pulled had his arm, whistled to get Juulant’s attention, then swung his weapon around, making sure it connected hard with the Glatorian’s head. There was a wild howl as the anarchist went down, a deep bloody gash running down her cheek. The Toa watched her go down, kicked her, then moved on, leaving her bleeding and unconscious on the ground.
Someone else’s problem.

Toa Tollubo groaned aloud as his vision slowly returned to him. Dragging himself back into consciousness was like no pain he’d ever felt. He’d been shot in the chest by a damn machine gun and still he was fighting onwards, struggling with every shred of his unwavering, brute determination to stay awake, to fighting to stay alive, in desperate hopes of survival. He shouldn’t be alive – plain and simple. His body was telling him to die.
His mind thought otherwise.
Not wanting the think about how small the chances of landing on anything soft were, he let out a wild, animalistic roar. The Toa’s fists clenched and he threw his arms out. They fanned apart against the rushing of the wind. Mudro was tumbling through the air below him, scrambling madly for the vial of Hordika venom, which had slipped from his fingers. In the end he snarled, jerked his gun around and open-fired on the small glass container. Tollubo watched in horror as it shattered and its contents fell freely.
There was nothing else he could do. He was going to have to become infected by the venom to keep it from touching the water.
The Toa gazed down at the liquid in sheer disbelief as it plummeted through the open air at a marginally slower rate than him and Mudro. He latched his arms to his sides and twisted his body into a more streamlined shape only for the Glatorian to kick him in the stomach. The Toa of Light was thrown backwards, where he struck the side of the dam and felt his armor being torn off, as if it were being sliced by a buzz-saw.
The rebel arena-fighter was between Tollubo and the Hordika venom now. That had to be changed. Changing his priorities, he made killing Mudro his new target, as single-minded and bluntly as a Bohrok. Taking a different approach, the Toa yelled out a blood-curdling battle cry and drew his sword, ready to take a swipe at the Glatorian instead. His efforts came to little success as Mudro raised his machine gun, facing upwards with no regard for where he fell, and fired again.
From the spray of bullets that came towards him, only two hit the Toa. One struck his chest – about a finger’s distance from his heart-light – and the other struck the wrist of his right hand. Crying out in pain, the broken Toa was forced to drop his sword. Being made from lighter metal than his armor, the weapon fell at a slower rate, causing it to shoot up past his head and out of reach. The Toa swore aloud at the loss of his Toa Tool. It meant the was going to have to find some new way of gutting the Glatorian.
And that was extremely very not good.
The pressure to absorb was immense. There was so much riding on his back. He simply had to kill the falling anarchist. Sure, Toa had been defeated before over the course of history, it was true, but no defeat mattered more than this one. If things stayed as they were and he did not reach the venom in time to absorb it then he would go down in legend as failures – for the few days left in which legends could be created by the Matoran before they all succumbed to mutation.
But alas, he was too far away, and his body too battered, to affect matters directly… and there wasn’t time. Tollubo had no choice but to yield as he slipped out of consciousness once again.
He felt Mudro’s hands wrap around his throat once again. The heat of his touch scolded his flesh and blazed his insides. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t see. His body collapsed and his sensed blacked out.
For a moment – a single blissful moment – there was silence. The rushing of the wind and the lurching of his fall seemed to escape his knowledge. The Toa simply forgot about them.
In that moment, he was ready to die.
It wasn’t so bad. There wouldn’t be anyone left to judge him where he was going. There was a special place in hell for murderers like him and he was content with that. He did not seek admittance into paradise and did not want to correct the sins of his past. Tollubo would happily go quietly to his eternity in flames that would ensue from his death.
It was right. It was what he deserved. Crimes shouldn’t go unpunished, and the Toa had committed a lot. His actions had been far too remorseless and far too callous for him to earn back the respect of the unbending decision of Mata Nui.
He was going to Hell and he knew it.
There were no more visions. No more flashbacks to friends and allies. No more helpful advice or hints. This was the end of the line. He was doomed. The nearest hospital wouldn’t be for mio around because of the tidal wave he’d failed to prevent. And even if help did come, he’d be little more than a pile of broken armor scraps splattered across the spillway below.
The world was a far better place without him.
Tollubo tried to picture the future, the prospect of his sacrifice. He would die, there was no doubt about that and he wasn’t going to argue otherwise. He’d be a hideous, mutated abomination, altered beyond recognition and bestial beyond the point of sympathy.
But the Matoran? They would be safe. The Cult of Darkness was on its last legs and wouldn’t be posing much of a threat to the idealistic Metru-Nui that would be built off of the doomed Toa’s grave. His imagined them joining hands and uniting in vanquishing the final slivers of evil from their island paradise. Even if he wasn’t there to witness the bliss he would create, Tollubo was sure it would be governed well. Turaga Matoro was still there to guide the Matoran, and Jollun would serve as a beacon of light. Perhaps he would even go down in legend as the Toa who sacrificed his life for the Matoran.
He was giving his today so the Matoran could have a tomorrow.
Drawing strength from his optimism, the Toa peeled his eyes open. Instantly his senses returned to him. His eyes were filled with sight, the wind howled through his audio receptors, and the pain returned to him. Every inch of his body was aching. He should be reeling over in agony but his single-minded willpower kept him focused on Mudro.
A sick smile found its way onto Tollubo’s battered Kanohi Tryna as he clenched his fists through broken, bloodstained arms. The Glatorian’s eyes widened and he took aim at the Toa again, only for his weapon to be blasted from his hands by a beam of Light coming from the palm of Tollubo’s right hand.
Narrowing his body once again, Tollubo shot forwards, smashing into the cursed Glatorian. He felt a familiar burning sensation as they made contact but he was passed that now. Pain wasn’t the boss of him anymore. He was beyond such mortal feelings. He kept telling himself that as drove his elbow into the rebel’s ugly face. Mudro cried out and jerked away from him, distancing himself from the Toa as they fell. Tollubo’s sinister grin only widened.
“Let’s settle this without the cheap fireworks” he growled before falling on the Glatorian and pounding him, as if he were a living drum. Mudro yelled out in pain as the Toa continued to strike him. He wasn’t going to beg for mercy, he’d probably rather die first, which suited Tollubo just fine.
The Toa was suddenly distracted from throttling the Glatorian when an explosion took place behind him. The two doomed enemies stopped fighting to look up in horror as the avalanche of debris rained down on them from the dam.
How had that happened? Tollubo stole a glance below him and spotted a flash of emerald in the skies. As a sudden gust of wind began to pick up beneath him, the Toa groaned as the answer finally dawned upon him.
The novice Toa of Air swooped into view above them, his Cyclone-Swords strapped to his back. His arms were raised and the wind was swirling in currents around his finger tips. Another second passed before the two mortal enemies lurched to the side again. The howling enveloped them as they were plucked aside, swept up by the air current. One of the falling rocks shot past him and struck the plummeting Hordika venom. He wasn’t sure if he imagined the hiss that followed the complete destruction of Mudro’s plans or if the fluid was actually alive. Either way, he was in no mood to go finding out.
He’d always wanted to try skydiving. He just imagined doing it with a parachute.

Tollubo couldn’t have imagined a smoother landing as Orkahm guided them to the spillway. He landed on his feet, Mudro didn’t. The Glatorian was thrown down headfirst. Luckily, the rookie Toa of Air hadn’t wanted to kill him and allowed the wind to toss him about, letting the rebel land flat on his chest.
A mercy he hardly deserved.
Mudro looked more alone than ever, bereft of his allies. But he wasn’t scared. Instead he just stared blankly at the advancing pair of Toa, his eyes dull and void of emotion.
The Toa of Light tilted his head back and flexed his muscles, looming over the defeated anarchist’s head until he was looking down on him. “There’s not gonna be any rubble for you to build your new world from, Mudro. Not today.”
“Congratulations, Toa Tollubo” he spat with a cynical clap. “You’re a cold-blooded monster, no better than me “
The Toa of Light shrugged casually. “I can live with that” he grunted.
“You have grown in stature since the last time we met” muttered the Glatorian darkly. “Your destruction of my organization was impressive, if a little overzealous. I’m sure you approve of your actions, but I wonder if Lhikan would have, or Vhisola, or any of the hundreds of others whose deaths lie on your shoulders?”
“I did what had to be done.”
“I would say you did far more than that” countered the Glatorian. “Indeed, you have defeated me, but at what cost? How many Matoran were swept away from their homes in an ice-cold tidal wave of destruction? How many of them could you have saved if you’d been around to stop me?” Orkahm glanced at Tollubo worriedly. The Tryna-wearer stayed silent and snorted confidently.
The Glatorian’s eyes narrowed then grew darker. “What of the Matoran you have sworn to protect? What did their benevolent Toa do for them today? You chose to let them die too. You rained hellfire down on all. Why, Toa?”
The Toa of Light leaned forward and snarled. “Because we’re all as bad as each other.”
“In whose eyes?” retorted the Cult of Darkness leader, still laying on his back, stretched across the broken concrete slab. “Yours?
He smiled mockingly. “Who gave you the right to pass judgment over so many lives, little Toa?”
“No one. I took it.”
“How monstrous of you” chuckled the Glatorian darkly.
“If you’re trying to make me feel guilty, Mudro, you’ll need to do better than that” sneered Tollubo.
“I doubt if I am needed to sow the seeds of guilt. Eternity stretches ahead of you. Given time, I believe your conscience will torment you of its own accord. You’ll end up a sorry, sniveling -- ”
That was as far as the Glatorian got before Tollubo’s fist locked around his shoulder and yanked him up to his feet. The startled anarchist cried out in blind shock as the Toa of Light swiveled him around, grabbed his pack and yanked the metallic compartment off. The curse of the Ignika did little more than create steam against his already burnt fingers. There was a rusty whine as the metal snapped under his grip and the contents spilled out. A dagger, pieces of forged paperwork, a couple of solid gold bars and a stone tablet tumbled to the ground uselessly before the Kanohi Ignika thudded to the concrete. The Toa smiled wickedly as he scooped it up and dropped it into his own pack, making sure to boot Mudro back into a sitting position.
“You’re boring me, Mudro” he snorted, seeing his foe in his true colors. It was astonishing he’d lived so long in fear of this scrawny, disorientated revolutionist who hid behind a gun. “You chose to be a big Ruki in a small pond. You’re pathetic.”
“I was” admitted the defeated warrior calmly. “But no longer. I am your last enemy standing here today, the final sentinel of sorrow. All this world’s sniveling little Matoran must bow before my power now. You may strike me down, perhaps kill me, but my story will live on long after my slaughter. It will cast a dark shadow across the heart-lights and minds of your precious villagers, weaving my web of misery and suffering across more than any Makuta ever came close to before. I will be the source of every nightmare, the face behind each malicious Kanohi.”
“What makes you think I intend to let that happen” challenged the Toa. Orkahm stayed silent and ducked back. Finally realizing this wasn’t his argument.
“Because you and I aren’t all that different” smiled the prisoner. “Give or take a couple of thousand years, were you any different to me? A slave to the Brotherhood, seeking aimless chaos and power?” His smile grew wider and more sinister all of a sudden. “You need me alive to cover your failure. Every world needs something to fear, its evil spirits and devils. Its Skrall and Tren Kroms. Its Makuta and shadowy stalkers in the night. The universe requires a force of evil for the wicked to gravitate towards, a malevolent being which the dark-hearted can worship. If they can’t turn to me then who will play that hideous role? You?
The Toa stared at the Glatorian uneasily. “Are you proposing a deal?” he grumbled foully. “Because if you are, I’m not interested. If I let you go you’ll be a threat. I’d have to watch you like a Lava Hawk and I have better things to do in life.”
The blue and black armored rebel shook his head. “That’s just a silly little excuse, Tollubo. You wish to kill me to extract revenge. You cannot justify my execution any other way.
“Then I won’t” shrugged the Tryna-wearer. “I’ll kill you then stick your ugly head on a spike outside the Coliseum. If it wasn’t for you so many innocent people would still be alive, Turaga Kapura, Fluvia, all the Matoran who drowned here today. I won’t spare you, not after the hell you’ve put me through. I’d rather burn.”
The Glatorian shook his head. “I put you through hell, yes, but it was a hell you needed to experience. Matoran need fear. They need foes and monsters under their beds only to give them an enemy to rally against, an obstacle to overcome. You of all people should understand that there can be no light without darkness, no good without evil, no triumph without setbacks. You can’t kill me because I’m part of all that you are, all that you’ve done and all that you plan to do. I am you past, your present, and your future.” Tollubo glared at his captive as the unarmed Glatorian rose slowly to his feet once again, a horrible grin across his ugly face. “You don’t have to like me. You can even loathe me. But you must accept me.”
The Toa of Light trembled with frustration. Part of him wanted to whip his enemy down, to wipe the smirk from his face, to kill him no matter what moral trash about the universe he spat out. And he would have too, but everything the Glatorian had said so far was true. If he cut this miserable excuse for a leader down and walked off he would have to live with himself for the rest of his life, and his life had just become significantly longer without the imminent danger.
He looked at Orkahm, searching for guidance only to see that, to his surprise, the Toa was not standing alone. Betak had joined him, and behind her, picking their way through the rubble, he could see Racasix and Jollun – both fashionably late it would seem. For a moment he felt surprised. Here were four people who had fought beside him, who he had put in danger, and had lived to tell the tale. Although they’d probably hate to admit it, they all trusted him to the end of the Southern Island Chains and back.
Taking in newfound strength from being surrounded by his friends, the Toa returned his attention back to Mudro. He stared at his victim through dark eyes then snorted. “You’re right” he grunted. “A long time ago I would’ve killed someone like you in the blink of an eye. But not anymore.” He looked up and caught Jollun’s eye, remembering the lesson his fellow Toa of Light had taught him. “I’m better than scum like you. I’m a Toa, and that’s a title I’ve damn well earned by now.”
Tollubo glanced at the criminal in front of him, as if he were the broken corpse of some Rahi. “Run away, Glatorian” he ordered. “Crawl back to your precious Brotherhood of Makuta. You’re safer around a hundred, thousand murderers than you are around me.” With those final words, the Toa turned his back on Mudro and turned to face his friends, the people who were there for him in his hour of need. He took a deep breath, then smiled, content with his life for the first time in far too long.
“I wish I’d been there to see you dealing with Mudro” crowed Betak, a joyful beam stretching across her helmet.
“Agreed.” Jollun sighed, which caught Tollubo off guard. “It’s just a pity you didn’t get here earlier. Some of the Matoran living in this neighborhood were very important scholars, some of Metru-Nui’s finest.”
“You can’t be serious?” shrieked the Agori in disbelief.
“A Toa can always be replaced” muttered the Toa. “But smart Matoran? They’re hard to come by these days. You could have done a lot better, Tollubo. I’m ashamed.”
The Toa of Light’s smile started to fade, but Jollun winked at him.
Only kidding” he chuckled. “You did great, old friend.”
The two Toa of Light laughed and stepped closer to clank fists. The Tryna-wearer wiped sweat and blood from his forehead, taking the shard of glass out smoothly, then coughed.
“I’m beat” he muttered, echoing Bukach’s words from a little over an hour ago. “I’m getting old and slow. I need to sit down. I fell…”
The Toa’s face blanched. His lips went tight and his eyes bulged. He staggered back a step, gasped for air, then collapsed.
He was barely conscious, hanging sluggishly onto life. It had to be a mixture of the blood loss and the gunshot wounds. Already Tollubo could see faces clouding his vision. Mesa, Duco, Mulon, Scotar, Watak, Lhikan, Vhisola. The dead, coming to welcome him. The Toa stretched out his arms to them, but his fingers didn’t quite touch their heads as they swirled around. He imagined people waving at him, sad expressions on their faces. Then everything faded. He stopped struggling. The world, the sky, the debris, the faces faded from sight, then from memory. A roaring which was silence. A darkness which was light. A chill which burnt. One final flutter of his eyelids, barely a movement, impossibly tiring.
And then, in the lonely battlefield of broken stone and midday darkness, as all must do when Death calls – Toa Tollubo died.

“What’s going on!?” yelled Betak. She whirled around, searching for an assailant hiding behind them, imagining the mysterious bow-and-arrow wielding murderer of Toa Varna to be hiding in the rubble only for her eyes to fall on nothingness.
Tollubo?” gasped Jollun in horror as the Toa of Light thrashed weakly on the ground for a final time.
“Who’s doing this?” bellowed the Agori. She raised her weapons and took aim, scanning once again for anyone lurking among the broken rocks.
Quiet!” barked Racasix with surprising ice in her voice. She slipped forwards and knelt by the doomed Toa, sliding a hand under his battered head. His face had turned grey. His eyelids were closed. His chest wasn’t moving.
“Who, whoever’s doing this – ”
“Nobody is doing this” shrugged the Vortixx softly, stroking the Toa’s cheek uselessly.
“Then what is it?” demanded Betak. She stumbled forwards, stopping short of the Toa’s motionless, punctured chest. “What’s wrong with him?”
Racasix looked up. There was fear in her eyes, but it wasn’t fear of Betak, assassins or magic.
He’s had a heart-light attack” she stated. “I’m sorry, Betak. He’s dead.

Chapter 14[]

Tollubo knew he was dying even before the stream of faces ended. That was what people kept saying. He’d heard it would be like this. Your whole life was supposed to flash before your eyes. Everybody said so. And now it was happening.
So he was dying.
He guessed when the faces had stopped, that would be it. He wondered who the last one would be. There were a couple of worthy candidates, most of them still alive and living in the world that his death had created. He wondered who decided the order. Whose decision was it? Even in his final moments, the Toa found himself growing irritated over how he wasn’t allowed to know the answer. And what would happen next? When the last face was gone, what happened then?
But something was going seriously wrong. A face loomed up who he didn’t know. A complete stranger, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Tollubo supposed it was fitting. He had lived most of his life under the hand of fate, bound by destiny. He supposed it was pretty natural that his final moments should be governed by someone other than himself. And one mistake was tolerable. Normal, even acceptable, for the cruel meddler who was controlling his death.
But the figure was touching him. Hitting him. Hurting him. He suddenly realized the parade of faces had died down and finished before this stranger.
Narrowing his imaginary eyes, he examined the dark being only to recognize her as a Matoran, a Ga-Matoran. Her build was generic but, in place of a Kanohi, was her bare face. No, it wasn’t bare. It was less than that. She had no face. Her entire head was constructed of bone, like a Rahi’s skull but in the shape of a Matoran’s head. It was cruel and mocking, like Death had taken the body of a mortal jut to tease him.
The faceless Ga-Matoran was here to finish him off, to make sure he died on schedule.
Why should the universe go to all this trouble of putting this charade up only to have him survive it? That would be no good. No good at all. That would be a serious lapse in procedure.
He tried to recall who had been before the Ga-Matoran. The second-to-last person, who was really the last person. He couldn’t remember. He hadn’t paid attention. He slipped away and died without remembering who had been the last face in his parade.

He was dead, but he was still thinking. Was that OK? Was this the afterlife? That would be a hell of a thing. He had lived his whole life assuming there was nothing after death. No great beyond. Some people had agreed with him, some had argued with him. But he’d always been adamant of that. Now he was in it, and he doubted anybody was going to come sneering up to him, poke him in his ghostly chest and say “I told you so!
It wasn’t until he searched again for the skull-headed Ga-Matoran that he realized what was happening around him. He was falling.
Down… down… down. Into a void. It seemed as if his fall would never end, just like his nightmare all over again. Tumbling head over heels into a cold, wet, black and roaring hell.
Finally Tollubo slowed until he was hanging in the freezing darkness. He instinctively opened his mouth to scream only for water – of all things – to gush into his mouth. He choked. As he gagged and thrashed wildly, his body rose and floating upwards towards the surface.
He broke free of the water’s hold and gasped for a hasty breath. Then he was driven under again, only to pop up after another struggle. Spitting up water, he looked up for the Ga-Matoran but he had been swept away from the point he had fallen from. Once again he was submerged, swallowing, drowning. Could he drown? He wasn’t sure. After all, he was already dead. At this point, anything was possible.

Silence. The roar of the water faded. The current dwindled. The chill left his non-existent body. He trod water for a few bewildered seconds blinking dumbly and gulping for air, his jaw working like a Ruki fish’s. Then his eyes fell on something in the distant watery horizon and excitement flared deep inside of him.
A boat.
Tollubo tried to hail the people on the vessel, but all he could managed was a croak. Rather than wait for his voice to return, he swam swiftly, arm over arm, legs a blur behind him. He felt sure that, when he stopped to look, the boat would be gone but when he paused to check, he saw he was within several strokes of the stern.
It was almost ironic that he got lucky the second he died.
There was a rope ladder hanging from the side. The Toa grabbed hold of it and hauled himself up, emerging from the water like a dripping Stone Rat, shivering, shaking, metallic teeth chattering.
Hello?'’ he called.
There was no answer, and for a few awful seconds he thought the boat was deserted, that it had broken free of its moorings and headed towards an unmanned calamity in the midst of some fantasy world between life and death. But then somebody stood up near the bow, a tall figure in a golden robe, his back to Tollubo.
He frowned when he caught a glimpse of the stranger’s size, wondering what in Mata Nui’s name had caused him to be twice – no – three times his size. Confused, he looked down at his own body only to find it was different. Old, as it had been when he was a Matoran. That was it, he was a Matoran again. He wasn’t a Toa. He had to be dead.
“I’m sorry, stranger” he muttered, returning his attention to the golden robed figure. He stumbled forward, raising one of his Matoran hands. “I was in the water. I saw your boat and climbed aboard. I hope you don’t…”
He fell silent. The figure hadn’t turned, but there was something familiar about him. The color of his robe, the bony fingers that were wrapped around the wheel. Tollubo felt that he knew the captain of this vessel. And it wasn’t a good feeling.
Greetings, Tollubo.” The figure spoke in a low, dry voice that made the Toa’s bones shake. “I have been waiting for you.
“Waiting?” he frowned. “I don’t understand.”
I have been busy tonight” murmured the stranger. “Three in a fire, two in a rockfall, and thousands drowned because of your failure.
“Who are you?” demanded the Tryna-wearer boldly. “How do you know about that?”
The cloaked figure turned slowly. He had a Zyglak’s face, but it was made from bone – just like the mysterious Ga-Matoran’s. Only his eyes and brittle lips moved on his dreadful, eerie mask, but they belonged to no mortal. They were the eyes of a bird, while his mouth was blue and icy, wisps of fog rose from them and dissipated into the misty watery expanse around them as he spoke.
I have no title” replied the being emotionlessly. “For I am ancient beyond understanding. I am as old as life itself. I have no actual name for I have never needed one. But the people of your world have given me one. You huddle around camp fires and whisper it with such delicious fear.
Tollubo was sickened by the lack of emotion. This was no joke.
I am the darkness when a light is quenched, the silence when sound fades. I take the final breath from the smallest insect and the mightiest king. I know all, I stalk all, and – in the end – I claim all.” As if the Toa still had his doubts, the Zyglak-headed freakshow added three final words that shook Tollubo down to his very being.
I am Death.

The Toa of Light – who was stuck in the body of his Av-Matoran self – gazed at the ocean. It was the Silver Sea and yet it wasn’t. The water glowed with a deep blue hue, much like Death’s jagged lips, and there was an extra layer over the raging current of the river, a gently flowing sheet. In the murky distance, Tollubo could see other boats, some like the one he was on, others radically different. All were travelling in the same direction, drifting along at the same sedate speed.
The dead Toa glanced at the imposing skull-faced embodiment of Death. He had been filled with terror at first when the dark spirit had revealed his identity, but that had soon passed. Tollubo knew that when Death came to collect your spirit, you had to go with him. There was no point fearing doom at this stage.
A gentle wind swept over the boat and the Tryna-wearer shivered and stepped away from the bow. Death was gazing ahead, his small, black, bird-eyes staring out over the misty ocean. He coughed to get the figure’s attention. “What are those other boats, ghost?”
Boats of death” came the reply. The cloaked figure didn’t even turn around. “There are many people in your Universe, of many beliefs. To satisfy them all, Death must wear a variety of faces, more than you could ever begin to imagine.
“Are they all going to the same place?”
Tollubo hesitated, then decided he had nothing left to lose. “And where is that?”
Death’s head turned and he gazed at the scrawny, Matoran-sized Toa. Although his face didn’t change, he got the impression the stranger was smiling. “We ferry the dead to the point where we offload them. Beyond that point…” He shrugged.
“But, I thought… you mean?” The Toa babbled, bewildered. “But you are the embodiment of death, aren’t you?”
An embodiment of death” corrected the Zyglak-headed ghoul.
“Then surely you must know where the spirits go.”
The dark figure shook his head. “Death is not the end. It is a midway state. We ferry spirits to the beginning of the next realm, but what lies beyond this world is as much of a mystery to us as it is to you.
“Then you don’t know what will happen to me?”
Tollubo wandered around the deck, feeling no different from when he had been an Av-Matoran a week ago. The only difference was that he was a lot colder than normal. There were no pains in his chest. No bullet holes. No headaches. Nothing.
“Why am I so cold?” he complained, sounding too much like the type of Matoran he hated. He wrapped his arms around himself. “If I left my body in Ga-Metru, why do I still feel chill?”
Death turned and pointed a long, bony finger towards a door on the deck near where the Toa was standing. “Look there” he ordered.
There was a ring on the door. Tollubo grasped it and pulled. The door swung open smoothly and he peered into the gloom of a holding pen. There were shapes – long, stretching, thin, glowing, circling the chamber with slight swishing sounds. Some twined and twisted around one another, while more tried to keep their distance. He had never seen forms like this before, but he knew instantly what they were.
“Spirits” he sighed, not wanting to think about how many of them were dead because of his absence.
Indeed” uttered Death, his gloomy tone matching the fog that encompassed the boat. “The essence of the dead, parted forever from their bodies. Good and bad. Old and young. Powerful and weak. They all wind up here or in the bowels of a boat similar to this one. Are they aware of what happened to them?” His skeletal head tilted, as if the question had been directed at him. “I do not know. My duty is not to find out. I am tasked with transporting them from one point to the next, as I always have, and always will.
Tollubo closed the door and frowned. “If those are the spirits, and that’s where they all end up, then why am I not among them?”
Death’s cold heartless eyes fell on the diminished Toa. He shivered again, but this time it wasn’t from the cold. The full weight of the situation had finally struck him. He was standing on some ferry to the afterlife, face to face with Death himself. A god of death. The most feared consciousness in all of creation. Even the Great Beings would have huddled together in fear of this dark figure. It was enough to drive anyone mad, and for a few dangerous seconds, Tollubo teetered on the edge of sanity. But then the ghoul spoke.
I get lonely” he muttered cheerlessly. “Occasionally, I pluck up a spirit early, before its time is up, so we can talk.
Lonely?” spat the Toa. “But you’re a god.”
Death sighed – the sound of a hundred corpses shifting in their graves – then pointed to another boat. “We never meet or rest. Our lives are an eternity of servitude. Do you know what it is like to be a slave?
“Yes” muttered Tollubo sadly, casting his mind back to his life in Tethys, being whipped and beaten by fellow Matoran.
Then imagine living that way for countless thousands of years. From the fist moment of life we have worked and will continue until the last living thing passes on. Loneliness does not describe my true feelings, but it is the closest word you have.
“Can’t you… I don’t know… resign?”
Death shook his bony head. “This is not a job. It is what we are. We do what we must and we can never stop. It is the way of our kind.
A lengthy silence followed, leaving Tollubo to ponder what it must be like to be in the god of death’s position.
“What do you want to talk about?” he finally asked when he was done thinking.
You life… your people… what you ate today. Anything.
The Tryna-wearer thought for a moment. “Do you know who Mata Nui is?”
I have heard legends of him.
“Well my story all started with him. Actually, no, that’s not right. It began with a cluster of pestilent rejects called the Great Beings.”
Tollubo told his story and the gold cape-wearing ferryman listened silently, asking no questions. It was impossible to tell if he was fascinated or had heard similar tales dozens of times before.
“... so we fell to the ground, I defeated Mudro, then dropped dead on the ground and, well, you know the rest” concluded the Toa sardonically.
Death hadn’t moved once whilst his dead passenger had been talking. He didn’t move now either, which made Tollubo confused. He didn’t know what that meant.
“Did my story satisfy you?”
I do not experience pleasure or displeasure” responded the cloaked captain. “But it was engaging, and for that I thank you.
The Tryna-wearer nodded. “Could you answer a question for me in return?”
If I can.
Tollubo shrugged. It was worth a shot. “You said you plucked my spirit before my time was up. What did you mean when you said that?”
You were not dead when I summoned you. You were extremely close to death but still alive. Had I waited a moment longer, your spirit would have been consigned in the hold.
“But I’m dead now” pressed the shrunken Toa.
We would not be talking if you were.
“So what happens now? Do I keep you company until you tire of me? Do you drop me back in my body to die or slit my throat?”
I will drop you back.” Death responded with an idle shrug, as if Tollubo’s life was of no concern to him, which it probably wasn’t. “Soon, before I reach my destination. The ocean shall finish what it started and I will take possession of your spirit.
“Couldn’t you just…” The Tryna-wearer trailed off into the silence.
Spare you?” The ghoul shook his head. “That defies the oldest rule in the history of the universe. Death spares nobody.
“But it can surely give people more time” protested the Toa. “You could send me back, heal me, and collect my spirit later.”
The Zyglak-headed stranger grunted. “Every person has a natural lifespan. Yours has been decided. I would break the rules if I returned you.
“What’s the worst that could happen? Would you be punished?”
Nobody can punish me” retorted the skeletal ferryman. It wasn’t a boast, it was more of a fact than that and Tollubo knew it.
“Then what’s to stop you?” he pressed. He’d been ready to lay down and accept his demise but now he knew there was a chance to seize life again, no matter how slim, he clutched onto it.
Why should I release you?” countered Death. “Of all those I have pulled from the water – warriors, heroes, even fallen gods – why should I release you? What makes you special?
He shrugged. “The fact I asked?”
Many ask.
“You said you enjoyed my story.”
I said it was engaging, but not the best I have heard.
The Toa thought wildly. A dozen logical arguments presented themselves, but he anticipated that the hooded figure in front of him would ignore them all. Then a crazy idea struck him and he ran with it.
“Because you’re lonely.”
What of it?
“I can be your friend.”
The ghoul snorted. “Many of your kind wait for me to come for them. They welcome me. Some worship me. I am not short of friends.”
“But they only know you as an agent of death” contradicted Tollubo. “They see you once and never again. I bet you’ve never had the chance to greet an old friend on this boat. Have you?”
The bony figure was silent. Then he quietly voiced his answer. “No.
“If you let me go,” he continued, “you can look forward to our meeting. If you grab me before I’m due to die, you’ll put a true friend aboard. We can talk. Tell some jokes.” He laughed aloud. “Kill some time.
The ferryman didn’t move, except for his eyes, which stared at the desk, then out across the ocean. “That might be… interesting” he murmured.
“More than that” he offered. “It might be nice.” While the dark being mulled it over he added, “Do you know how long I’d have if you let me live?”
No. I would sense it shortly before the end, but only then.
“So you won’t know when to expect me!” smiled the Toa. “It’ll be a surprise when I appear. An unexpected treat.”
There was another long silence before Death chuckled raggedly – it was not a natural sound for him.
You could talk the hind legs off a Rock Lion” he muttered. “But your heart is strong. Very well, you have convinced me. I will return you to the shores of the living.” He raised a lanky finger. “But the other gods will not approve of this. They will probably punish you. You may come to wish that you had accepted death when you had the chance.
“No” stated the Toa evenly. “No matter how bad things get, I’ll still be alive. Now that I’ve seen what lies beyond, I don’t want to turn my back on it until I have to.
So be it.” Death to face the starboard side. He raised both emaciated hands above his gaunt, Zyglak-head and slowly, which a chorus of protesting creaks, the boat turned out of the current and angled towards shore.
“You don’t have to put me aside so soon” shrugged the Toa. “We can talk some more.”
I would like that” muttered the shadowy ghoul. “But we draw close to the point of offloading and, if you do not step off now, it will be too late.
Oh” grunted Tollubo in mild surprise. He stole one final glance at the cloaked spirit at the wheel, content with their alliance. “In that case, So long.
Until we meet again.” Death didn’t even stir as his passenger jumped into the water, doing something no other person had none in all of history.
Toa Tollubo had just cheated death.

There was disorientation as he fell through the unnatural upper layer of the fog-covered ocean. Then the agony of a great chill and aching limbs as he found himself back in the perfectly still blackness. It was a darkness that continued forever and ended nowhere.
He saw Betak flash before his eyes for a moment before the black expanse of nothingness returned to cloud his vision. That had to be a good sign because he knew she wasn’t dead, and only dead people could be where he was, surely? A living person couldn’t be in the realm between life and death. That was fairly obvious. He’d made certain that she survived. That had been the whole damn point of his demise.
But it was Betak. He saw her more clearly now as she walked closer and leaned other him.
“Hi, Tollubo” she smiled.
It was her voice. No doubt about that. No mistake.
“Hey, Betak” he replied. The Agori smiled. There was communication. So they were both either dead or alive, but whichever one it was they had to be together. Only a dead person could hear another dead person speak, right? He had to be sure.
“Where are we?” he wheezed. His voice was frail and broken.
The Agori’s lips moved but he couldn’t hear her. Her voice faded into an inaudible echo. The Toa realized his left hand was clenching. He was intensely irritated. Why couldn’t he hear her voice? He tried to struggle upright. Something was tying him down. What the hell? He was going to get some answers or he was going to knock some heads together.
“Take it easy.” Betak’s voice. He wasn’t going deaf.

It should have been a shock from that point onwards, but it wasn’t. The room just swam into focus and he saw the white décor and shining equipment.
The room was bright with sun. He moved his head and saw he had a window next to him. Betak was still leaning over him but there was a chair behind her. She’d been sitting down, which meant he’d been there a while.
“How long was I out?” he grunted, bells ringing in his head.
The Agori smiled. “Three months.”
The Toa’s eyes widened and he fought back a curse. “Mata Nui” he grunted in the end, a much softer way of wording his shock. “I ought to be hungry.”
Betak moved around the foot of the oversized hospital bed and came up on his left, laying her soft hands on his forearm. It was turned palm-up and the armor had been stripped off, leaving it bare. There were tubes running into veins.
“They’ve been feeding you” she said with a grin. “I made sure you got what you like. No Thornax Broth.”
He nodded and they both smiled at each other. Then she broke eye contact.
“What’s wrong?”
“Do you remember it all?”
He nodded. “Everything.”
She swallowed. “You got shot. You died. You took so many bullets for what you believed in.”
“That was an accident” he winced, not wanting to draw attention to his crucially lethal mistake. “I was too slow. I was trying to trick Mudro into shooting one way then getting to him before he realized.” He stole a glance at her, seeing her worried expression. He hardly ever saw her like this. He wanted to remember it, so he could laugh about it with her later. “But apparently I survived so don’t say anything about this.” She smiled, not taking the hint. “I mean it” he added, this time gravely. “Don’t ever mention it. I have a reputation to repair.”
The Agori grinned and nodded, the beam returning to her face.
“So how am I?” he asked.
Betak paused for a long moment, which wasn’t a good sign. “I’ll get Mesa” she muttered quietly. “She can tell you better than me.”
Before Tollubo could protest and state how much he hated the treacherous Av-Matoran who had broken his heart, Betak turned and marched out the door. A moment later the all-too-familiar Faxon-wearing Kavinika entered, her mask buried in charts strapped to a clipboard. She probably wasn’t the last person he wanted to see, but she was defiantly down at the bottom of the list.
It wasn’t until she looked up that Tollubo realized she was the skull-headed Ga-Matoran from his dream, the one who’d finished him off. That came as a mild surprise but deep down, it was almost fitting. He knew the Matoran of Light was probably going to be the death of him.
She’d already stolen his heart and spat it out, what else was left for her to do?
“Do you know much about data hubs?” she asked bluntly. The Toa of Light shrugged and started worrying this was a coded lead-in to bad news about a brain injury, impairment, loss of function, mobility, heart-light defect – the list of possible injuries just went on.
Data hubs? No, not really” he grunted.
“OK, try this” clarified the blue-armored Matoran. “Imagine I have a brand new, up-to-the-minute super hub.”
Unless she was expecting him to fix some data hub, he had no idea where she was going with this.
“Picture me feeding it everything we know about physiology and everything we know about heart-lights, gunshot wounds, and cranial damage.” She paused, probably for dramatic effect or – more likely – to relish in his confusion. “Then I want you to picture me asking it to design us a person best equipped to survive all of the above. Suppose I give it a week to hum away. What does it come up with?”
He shrugged again. “I don’t know.”
The Av-Matoran smiled. It wasn’t a sneer like Tollubo had imagined but he didn’t want to stay too far off that possibility.
A picture of you, my friend” she beamed. “That’s what. None of the damn bullets actually went into your chest because your pectoral muscles are so thick and so dense they just stopped dead! Like a three-inch bulletproof vest!”
“So why was I out for three months?” frowned the Toa. “Not for swollen muscles, surely. Is my head OK?”
The Av-Matoran did a weird thing. She clapped her hands and punched the air, which startled him. She was grinning when she stepped closer. “That’s what I was worried about” she laughed. It wasn’t that funny. “It was a bad wound and I was surprised you got it from jumping through a window. I would have figured it for a nail gun, until I realized it was glass. It penetrated your skull and was about an eighth of an inch into your brain. The frontal lobe as well, bad place to have anything sticking out of. If I had to have a shard of glass in my head, the frontal lobe would definitely not be my first choice. But if I had to see it in anyone else’s frontal lobe, I’d pick yours. You’ve got a skull thicker than a Skakdi’s chin. Anybody else, that shard would’ve been all the way in, and that would've been lights out.”
“So am I OK?” Tollubo asked again, this time persistently.
“Nothing’s wrong with your head or your chest, my friend, but I’m not liking the sound of that heart-light attack.” The Av-Matoran buried her head in her notes once again then dropped them on Betak’s chair. “But you should be fine, as right as rain. I mean, you’re alive now and you’re healing well. You should make a full recovery, though I don’t have a clue how it happened. You’re healthy, you exercise. I can’t think of a cause.”
He nodded. “So when can I get out of here?”
The Faxon-wearer blinked in surprise. “Well, your health is excellent in general, but we’d better watch over you for a while. A couple of days, maybe.”
“Screw that” growled the Toa. “I’m leaving tonight!”
Mesa nodded. “Well, see how you feel in an hour.” She picked up the medical chart then rifled through the papers and checked her results once again. When she was finished she looked up, beamed at the Toa, then walked back out of the room. Tollubo saw her pass Betak in the hallway. She was walking in with a Vortixx. He raised an eyebrow as some black and silver armored guy – who he’d never met before – ducked through the doorframe and entered the room. He was tall, lean and muscular, sporting no Kanohi or weapons. Who the hell was this clown?
“How’re you doing, Toa?” he asked with a wide grin.
Tollubo frowned. “Surviving” he grunted. “Have we met?”
The Vortixx shook his head. “I’m the commander in chief of the Metru-Nui Land Army” he muttered.
The Tryna-wearer groaned. “I knew one of you guys would be sniffing around, soon as I was up and running again.”
The Vortixx smiled. “We’ve been practically camping outside here.” He paused then took a step closer. “To put it bluntly, we’d like you to keep quiet about this whole Cult of Darkness situation. It was an embarrassment to our military.”
“Not a chance” he retorted. “Hundreds of Matoran died because you were so drastically unprepared, and I’m not taking the blame for your mistake.”
The Xian smiled crookedly. “Now come on, Toa. Be reasonable. There must be something we can do to buy your silence, right?”
He hesitated, thinking his demands through carefully before speaking. “Three things” he grunted. “I want a memorial set up” demanded Tollubo, trying to seem as authoritative as he could from his hospital bed. “For all the Matoran who died, and I want statues put up honoring Lhikan and Vhisola.”
“That all?”
“No. I want you to get a message out for me, for this Toa of Plantlife on Artahka. Tell him to get his backside over to Metru-Nui or you’ll fire a Nektann Rocket at his house.”
The Xian stayed silent, listening intently, his face twisting into an uncomfortable frown.
“Finally, I want everyone who fought the Cult at the Turaga Tuyet Dam to be honored at a ceremony in the Coliseum. Bring them all over, and make sure there’s a heap of soldiers saluting like crazy the whole time. Then I’ll keep quiet.”
The army-guy nodded.
“It’ll be done” he muttered. He paused before leaning forwards and clearing his throat. “I’d just like to congratulate you, sir” he added. “What you did considering –”
“ – That half the Matoran in Metru-Nui still run for cover when they hear my name?”
The Vortixx shrugged then nodded. “Well, that’s ancient history. Word spreads quickly and the whole city’s been quarantined. The media’s all over it, making up stories to compensate for the lack of news coverage, each story wilder than the last. In some versions, people are claiming you stopped fighting Mudro and started carrying dying Ga-Matoran from the wreckage. In some versions you had a spear through your chest instead of glass in your head. There are even rumors that you took a bullet for Turaga Matoro, and he wasn’t even there!”
“And what about the Cult?” asked Tollubo, ignoring the compliments. “How many of them did you capture?”
The Vortixx swallowed and bowed his head. “I’m afraid most of them had scarpered by the time we got reserves over there, but we did manage to capture the Glatorian, the female. I believe her name is Juulant. She’s imprisoned in the dungeons beneath the Coliseum, under armed guard and constant surveillance. As for Bukach, we found him dead on the side of a road on the outskirts of Ga-Metru, his whole head was hacked open.”
The Toa chose not to respond to that. Instead, he changed the direction of the conversation. “And what of Mudro and the others? Both of Cobarox’s legs were broken and Kualus left him unconscious, so how the hell’d he get away?”
The Vortixx shrugged. “We don’t know, but the Cult members are now on Metru-Nui’s most wanted list. They’ll have run for their lives. If they have any sense they’ll have fled Metru-Nui to regroup. I doubt we’ll see them again.”
Tollubo wished with his heart and soul that could be true, but deep down he knew it to be a pointless desire. Mudro would be back. He wasn’t sure about the others, but now the Cult had reason to hate him, and next time they’d be coming for blood.
“What about my sword?”
“We couldn’t find it.”
“Mudro’s gun?”
“We’re searching the spillway for it. We do have some common sense.”
The Toa nodded slowly, watching the spray of blood and brains all over again as Fluvia’s head was torn to pieces by the firing of the missing machine gun. He had a horrible telltale feeling that memory was going to haunt him for the rest of his life.
When he finally returned to the real world, the Vortixx had turned and marched back outside. Betak had been hanging around outside before. Now she reentered.
“You OK?” he asked her, remembering her leg injury from jumping out of the Vahki Transporter.
“I’m fine” she answered with a smile.
“You sure? No bad dreams worrying about me?”
The Agori shook her head, her grin unwavering.
“Do you want to see how you look?” she asked simply. He shrugged and she reached for the mirror on the wall. It was a round thing, framed with bleached wood and sanded down so the edges were smooth. But it was no use studying the actual mirror. What horrors it beheld were shocking enough.
His Kanohi Tryna was battered and crushed to the point where he couldn’t have told it was a Mask of Reanimation without foreknowledge. He knew the mask could be replaced easily, plus he was pretty sure the wound itself would heal well. It’d just be another mark on his forehead, lost among the debris of a long and violent life. There were fearsome burn marks all over his bulking body. His arms were peppered with scars.
He looked like hell on legs.
Betak tilted the mirror for him and he and saw broad strapping over his chest, snowy white against his dust-colored armor. He figured he’d probably lost some weight, though he couldn’t be certain.
He sat still and concentrated on a final, slow survey of his body in the mirror, starting with his feet and ending up looking at his mask in the mirror. He nodded to Betak and the Agori put the mirror back. He stretched and suddenly felt surprisingly dizzy. He could feel fresh chest wounds sprinkled across his entire torso. There was a lot of weakness there.
“I suppose I’ll need some new armor” he grunted before noticing that most of his protective layer had been taken off.
“The medics took the old set off” agreed Betak, unknowingly answering the question that was concerning Tollubo.
“You were here for that?”
“I’ve been here all the time” snorted the Agori. “I’ve been living in a room down the hall.”
“What about your job?”
“I’m on a leave of absence.”
For three months?
“I told them to accept it or I quit.” She smiled warmly then broke eye contact and looked out the window. “It felt more like three years. You were all scrunched up. Comatose. You looked awful.”
The Toa took a deep breath then flexed his arms above his battered Kanohi and flexed his shoulders. They felt OK. Surprisingly good. His ribs didn’t though. There was some pain but he ignored it.
“I want to get out of here” he finally muttered.
“You sure?”
He nodded. He was sure. The Tryna-wearer reached up with his right hand to grab his drip. It was a vertical, steel bar with a spiral curl at the top where the bags of fluid slipped onto. He clamped his hand down on the curl and squeezed hard. He felt bruising in his wrist where the needles had been and sensitivity in his chest where the bullets had been, but he was alive, and that was something.
The Toa of Light slid his feet to the floor. Stood up, slow and unsteady, and started to walk towards the exit, Betak holding his elbow to keep him from falling.
Already off on his next adventure.


The Steltian known as Gribrak threw a knife high into the smoke-clogged air of the tavern. Those around him watched beady-eyed, bloodthirsty satisfaction as he held his head back, opened his mouth wide and waited for the knife to drop. A few people shrieked, but the Steltian didn’t flinch, expertly tracking the dagger. At precisely the right moment Gribrak clenched his metallic teeth together and caught the blade two inches past the tip. As the handle quivered, the Steltian turned slowly, so everyone in the room could see. Pulling out the knife, he threw it into the wood of the table – where it drove all the way to the hilt – and took a bow.
As the crowd went wild with applause, Gribrak grinned and slumped into a chair close to his travelling companion and a gaggle of admiring female Vortixx.
“There,” he beamed. “I told you I could do it.”
“One of these nights,” chuckled his comrade. “You’ll time that wrong and end up with a knife through the back of your throat.
“Don’t be such a Ga-Matoran” chortled Gribrak . “You’ll scare these lovely creatures and I would hate to send them to bed with nightmares.”
“It would take more than your dull tales to scare us!” snorted one of the Vortixx, but they were undeniably impressed.
“What’s your real name?” purred one of the females, cuddling up to the Steltian’s companion. His dazzling smile broadened as he rotated his head towards hers.
“I only reveal that to my very special friends” murmured the being. Then, as the Vortixx blushed, he whispered in her audio receptor.
Toa Tourik.”

Matau died because he got brave.
Not the righteous kind of brave that would have won him a medal in a war, but the split-second kind of unwavering outrage which would have gotten him killed on the street.
He had left his dwelling in Le-Metru early, as he always did, six days a week, fifty weeks a year. He had eaten a small, nutritious breakfast – the type that was appropriate for a sleak, energetic Matoran aiming to stay in shape. He took a short walk down the cold grey staircase of the estate building where his apartment was located, a home appropriate to a Le-Matoran who earned his salary.
Pressing his right hand against the parking-lot door allowed him to slip into the darkened basement. As his eyes began to accustom to the darkness, the Mahiki-wearer began to walk into the warm, overheated lot. His eyes swiftly rested upon two Skakdi lurking in the shadows, surrounding a vehicle. Matau’s eyes widened when he realized that the transporter belonged to him. They were trying the doors.
Hey!” he yelled. It was a short, universal sound of surprise, anger and challenge. The sort of instinctive noise the average, earnest citizen made when something should not be happening. The sort of instinctive sound that gets that average, earnest citizen killed.
Without thinking of the consequences, the Matoran of Air found himself breaking into a run and charging headstrong towards his vehicle. Against two Skakdi, the Matoran was both outnumbered and vastly overpowered. But he was doing what he thought was the right thing to do, which encouraged him to press on, confidence fueling his mad-sprint. When he reached the two shadowy figures he began shouting, breaking into a fit and commanding them to step away.
But it was a tough world and those were illusory feelings. A soft, weak Matoran like himself was never going to be able to turn control of the situation round to his command. His fitness was barely up to healthy standards, which counted for nothing against the two brutish thugs, who were easily three times his size.
Matau’s weak, scrawny muscles were ruptured by the first blow. His head jerked forward and down as hard knuckles pulped his mask, cracking his powerless Kanohi Mahiki. The Matoran was caught by rough hands and hoisted upright like he weighed nothing at all. His keys were snatched from his grasp and he was hit by a crashing blow to the side of his head. His mouth filled with blood. Barely conscious, the Le-Matoran was dropped to the filthy ground as sharp, scaly, clawed feet smashed into his back, then his gut, then his head. He blacked out in the flash of a heart-light and the world disappeared in front of him. It collapsed into a thin hot line and spluttered away to nothing.
And so he died, because of a split-second of bravery. The Matoran’s torment faded into long hours of wretched gasping fear. He lay folded away in the back seat of his own transporter while the two Skakdi drove it away. He almost wished the long hours would melt away into lengthy minutes of insane screaming and panic.
And they did – eventually.

Danza sighed as he collapsed onto the worn, battered stool in his pathology laboratory. It creaked familiarly as his weight pressed against it, forcing it to dip slowly.
The workbench in front of him was cluttered with all manner of tools and instruments, strewn between papers.
It was a mess. The entire workspace was like one massive conveyor belt of hard, tedious work. Sometimes he wondered if pathology was the best profession for him. After all, if the paperwork alone scared him more than the actual dissection of corpses then there had to be something seriously wrong with him.
The Po-Matoran muttered something dark to himself as he began shifting through the mass of papers, searching for the file he needed. His desk shouldn’t have been that untidy. The Po-Matoran was usually somewhat orderly and neat by nature. But with the pileup of paperwork that accumulated on his desk, a mess was inevitable.
The telescopic lenses on Danza’s Akaku began to focus on the words. He still found it strange having one normal eye and another that could spot the sand-flies swarming around a Kikanalo’s backside.
Not that he would want to in the first place.
The words finally became still as the Po-Matoran started reading the article. It was a description of the remains of a Ta-Matoran – supposedly named Harma – who had been killed by a Chute Lurker earlier that day. The document had been written by one of his interns, a Matoran who didn’t seem to understand the difference between "is" and "are". The record was terribly written. It was vague, littered with spelling mistakes, and far too informal. But what was most annoying about it was the fact that the intern was just abusing the word "therefore". That type of word inflation just seemed to devalue the article more than anything else. It was a literary crime.
Where the hell’s a Ga-Metru teacher when you need one? he thought.
Knowing he wouldn’t learn anything from the ruined article Danza muttered to himself then tossed the paper aside. He hadn’t been able to focus lately. His mind was still lingering on what had happened early in the Canyon of Unending Whispers. He remembered the disturbing discovery that Toa Tollubo had made: the second body and the Kanohi Vahi. He glanced idly at the body of the Av-Matoran once again. It had, of course, been raised from the Canyon and transported to his laboratory. He had signed ownership contracts for the remains and it had been carefully deposited – though obviously dumped – in his care. Even now, as he looked into the cold, empty eyes of the long-dead Matoran he felt a strange shiver run down his spine. He had dealt with thousands of bodies in his career, sometimes with parts of bodies, but this one was different. The hollow eye holes seemed to be staring at him expectantly.
The Po-Matoran frowned and debated whether or not he should do something about the corpse. He saw no harm in zipping the sand-filled body bag up to hide the mask. After all, it wasn’t like he’d suffocate.
He had never had a complaint before.
Reluctantly, the Akaku-wearer decided to take another look at the body. He slipped back onto to his feet then strode towards the workbench. However, before he could reach the carefully-shaped body bag, his telescopic lenses began to whir and buzz as they centered on the artifacts beside the corpse. Deciding he wanted to look at the 3,000-year-old relics once again, Danza changed his direction and began examining the find.
He was almost surprised to see the Kanohi Vahi once again. It was still hard to believe that the mask had been buried in the grave for three millennia. It seemed unlikely that the killer would have ignored it. The Vahi was a powerful mask – legendary even. It had the capacity to destroy the entire universe. Even Danza knew that manipulation of time – however slight – could not end well.
But that didn’t stop him from staring at the small, simple, corroded golden Kanohi. Its shape was odd. Whoever had crafted it had a peculiar taste in appearance. The metallic surface was dotted with six, symmetrical holes. But there was a strange purpose behind the randomness. The mask was ancient and ornate: a testament to an elapsed age, one that should stay long forgotten.
Danza wrapped his fingers around the mask and began to turn it over in his hands. He studied it decisively, trying to decide what the hell had been going through the killer’s mind to ignore such a find, unless –
Danza’s eyes widened, an action that was followed by a whir as his telescopic lenses changed focus. Toa Tollubo hadn’t been surprised one bit when the Vahi had been revealed. In fact, as Danza recalled, he had seemed somewhat resigned, as if he had been expecting it. Did he know something about the burial that he wasn’t telling the rest of them?
The Po-Matoran glanced once again at the second open body bag. He winced at the sight of the spear still imbedded in Varna’s corpse. Like he had said, the shooter would have towered over the Toa of Earth.
So far, Toa Tollubo pretty much fit the description of the killer.
And how exactly had he found the site? Was it another case of the criminal always returning to the scene of the crime? Danza tossed the idea around in his head. It seemed plausible. Tollubo had gotten to the canyon very quickly from Ga-Metru, which meant he had obviously known where the body had been hidden.
The pathologist decided to file that information away to deal with later. It was just an idea, probably no more than a coincidence. Besides, Tollubo had Turaga Matoro’s support and approval. The Matoran of Stone doubted that Vilnius liked him but, if it boiled down to it, the Turaga of Fire would probably side with the Toa of Light if a Po-Matoran pathologist suddenly burst into the Coliseum and accused him of being the perpetrator of a 3,000-year-old murder because of how early he arrived at an archaeological dig.
He needed a vacation.
Wanting to rub his stressed brow with his hand, Danza raised his arm only to the realize that the Vahi was still in his clutches. A simple accident. He hesitated just as the mask touched his Akaku.

There was a blinding flash of light as the Vahi made contact with his Kanohi. The Matoran was stunned by the abrupt beam of brightness but recovered from the shock quickly. There was stranger still to come.
The single instant of contact was all it took. He had changed forever. The Po-Matoran could feel something stirring inside him, from deep within his soul – as if something ancient and primal had just been opened. Taken aback, he dropped the golden Kanohi back onto the table as he was winded by an invisible blow. He gasped for breath and felt his lungs stretch. His body was changing as fresh, alien energy flowed through his circuits. The Po-Matoran yelled and staggered backwards as the energy surged through his limbs, forcing his arms into the air. His chest puffed outwards and his head was thrown back by the force of the transformation. Rays of energy exploded from his mask and arms. His armor shimmered and morphed as ripples of golden energy shot across him. Power emanated from him, blasting the laboratory with raw energy. Papers were torn and thrown back as his utensils clattered to the tiled floor.
It was like bathing in scolding magma as his body stretched and reformed. His legs and arms shot outwards and he sprouted up, his head nearly striking the low-hanging ceiling. Armor materialized and knitted into his frame where it had not been before.
Then, as swiftly as the golden explosion of power had appeared, it winked out of existence. And the Po-Matoran who had been standing in the middle of it was gone too.
In his place stood a single, panting Toa of Stone.

Toa Danza gasped in awe as he examined his new form, wondering how much it would cost to purchase a copy of what the security camera had just recorded.
Sure enough he had transformed into a Toa. Danza could feel the energy at his finger tips, the power of a Toa at his command. He felt better than he had in years and, as hard as it was to believe, his hands could get larger and clumsier.
Again, Danza turned his attention back to the Vahi as it lay on the work bench, looking empty and fulfilled. It was obvious what had happened. He had heard many stories of Toa Stones and multiple tales of Matoran putting on Kanohi and becoming Toa. As far as he knew, they were pretty much the same thing. There was nothing special about a Toa Stone in itself. It would usually be some random pebble that a Toa came across and thought looked pretty. Sooner or later they would decide that they had lived the good life for too long and would fill the pebble with their Toa Power. The stones ranged in every aspect. The one that had been discovered with Varna had been dark green and brittle. They varied in shape and size, weight and color, composition or texture. After all, the stones were just vessels of the raw energy that a Toa instilled them with. A Kanohi mask of power was no different. Obviously some Toa had gotten bored of stones and immersed the Vahi in his or her Toa Power, which was incredibly convenient for the newly formed Toa of Stone.
Danza chuckled to himself as he glanced at his cluttered desk.
Looked like he could forget about paperwork for a while now.
With the smile still spread across his Kanohi, the Toa of Stone picked up the Vahi, tucked it safely into his pack, then walked out of the laboratory, leaving his Matoran-self in the darkness as the florescent lights switched off behind him.

Running – the warrior known as Torlo was fleeing for his life through the night. The expanse of charred woodland and burnt forests which surrounded him didn’t seem to have an end in sight – and even if they did, the chances of the doomed Le-Matoran reaching it would be the same as a Kikanalo bounding up and start licking him.
Luck just wasn’t on his side that night.
The Matoran of Air could feel his lungs burning in his chest and he could barely hear his footsteps over his heart light blinking. The ground felt damp and warm. Every step he took left a sloppy squelch in the mud. The ground was sticky, the air clung to him, and he had just about caked himself in dirt. But that was the price one had to pay when running was pretty much his only way of surviving every day. Torlo could not remember a time where that had not been the case. Living on the Southern Continent was hard work. He had to keep his blades sharp and his senses sharper still.
The Matoran could still hear noises, the screeches of the twisted spiders of the night that scurried after him. Of course, over his travels, he had learnt that the creatures were called Visorak . He also knew they liked to make cocoons to wrap people inside them and that they had a fondness for firing Rhotuku Spinners. Not a group he particularly wanted to be spending time around, let alone be running away from. He missed the days when the Brotherhood of Makuta gave a broken Kanohi what became of their creations. He did a lot less running in those days.
For the umpteenth time that evening, Torlo reviewed why he had gotten himself into this situation. He was supposed to be in his hut, crafting weapons and fixing swords. His role was essential. He was the only craftsman in the village, better than any Po-Matoran for sure. Rahkshi attacked his home just about every day and the metal that his people used was brittle. There were always weapons to repair.
Which was probably why he had volunteered to serve the late afternoon as a hunter. Unable to ignore his primeval sense of duty, Torlo had demanded more information and gotten himself roped into doing the task himself. So far he’d gotten lost, broken his spear while trying to vault over a ditch, angered a Burnak, and at least halved his weight from running. If there was no risk of death he may have recommended the experience as a fitness program. He definitely needed the work out more.
Mata Nui hated him.
The Matoran of Air dove for what he thought was a cluster of wild grass. It turned out to be prickly undergrowth. He slipped and skidded into the tangle of thorns before crashing to the damp, muddy ground. Torlo winced and ignored the pain that flared through his legs. Fear engulfed all other senses. If one of the Visorak saw him he would be as dead as an Archives Mole in a Nui Kopen hive. He had to stay out of sight. Who knew, perhaps Mata Nui was looking kindly on him today. The Great Spirit certainly owed him, the least he could do was swat a couple of Visorak.
He liked being the optimist. At least falling over embarrassingly had saved him having to dive into the sharp shrubbery.
The fixed victim of Karzahni lay still where he’d fallen, conscious that any hint of movement might reveal his hiding place to his beastly stalker. He fought to stifle the urge to suck in lungfuls of air, each breath roaring in his audio receptors as if screaming “Over here!
With the passing of each agonizing moment, he could feel the dampness of the sodden grass, soaking through his battered armor until it met his flesh.
Yet the crafter remained surprisingly still, listening expectantly for any sound of pursuit.
Torlo lay there a moment longer, exhausted. The pain in his leg was starting to hurt more and more, gradually increasing in intensity. Could he have twisted something as he fell? Would his ankle still take his weight? Could he still run?
Then came the screech of the creature itself: a scream that ripped through the air from the depths of Hell itself, a noise not of Mata Nui’s creation.
The Visorak were coming.
The fixed Zatth-wearer raised his head tentatively. He could see the dark yet reassuring shape of his village’s circular wooden barriers in the distance, silhouetted against the grey clouds that marked the clearing in the burnt forest: a vision of hope.
Shelter was so close. Even with his potentially injured ankle Torlo could make the short journey home, he was sure of it. All he had to do was get close enough to yell for assistance and help would come. Even in these dark times, help would come. Wouldn’t it?
One thing was for sure, he couldn’t stay lying in the mud-splattered field. If the Visorak didn’t get him then he would probably pick up some incurable infection from the filth knowing his luck.
Gathering his last reserves of energy, Torlo made a run for it. Pain surged through his leg instantly, but it wasn’t enough to buckle him – meaning his ankle wasn’t twisted. Trying to find motivation from that hollow thought, Torlo gritted his metallic teeth and carried on, his single thought was to reach the village’s entrance. Nothing more than his determination drove him on, running, running, resisting the urge to look back with all his inner strength.
When it came the force of the impact was as powerful as it was unexpected, and for a few moments the Le-Matoran couldn’t move from shock.
Shaking his head to clear it, Torlo grunted and struggled back to his feet, spinning around to search for his assailant, but there was nothing there.
Confused, the Le-Matoran’s gaze fell upon his shoulder, which had borne the brunt of the attack. He couldn’t see a cut in the darkness but he could feel the wound. There was blood, and lots of it. Strangely, he felt no pain. It simply didn’t matter. He would be fine, he just had to keep moving. Drawing breath defiantly, the turned towards the village and staggered on. He had barely taken two steps when it hit him again, a weight slamming against his head, jerking his body awkwardly and hurling him through the air into a twisted heap.
This time there was no choice but to stay down. His body was weak and he was stunned.
More blood now, from somewhere just above his right eye. It trickled down behind his visor, clouding his vision with a crimson tint. His head spun. This was just a bad dream. I couldn’t be happening. There was no reason for this to be happening, not to him.
And then his attacker looked down upon him: a Visorak Roporak. Its deep-set orange eyes glared hungrily at him, the prey.
That at least explained how Torlo hadn’t been able to see anything when he turned around. Roporak had remarkable, yet surprisingly inconvenient access to a chameleon ability. The creature had been fully concealed in the darkness when the fixed Le-Matoran had looked for a follower. It was a neat trick, one that Torlo was satisfied as being the trick that would kill him.
“Well go on then” he challenged the Visorak limply. “Hurry up and kill me you miserable excuse for a Visorak. I could kill ten Matoran while you’re fooling around!” The Le-Matoran snarled, daring the Roporak to continue. The creature screeched and gnashed its nightmarish teeth together. Torlo sure as hell wasn’t going to be mutated by the creature’s venom. His head was probably too delicious for that. Instead he puffed his chest up and growled menacingly as the jaws of death opened wide and moved in for the kill.

Only, the bite never came. The world around the Zatth-wearer suddenly shimmered as a flash of light – that seemed to be every color at once – erupted from behind him. A strange feeling overcame the Matoran, as if he was everywhere and nowhere at once, both an entire universe and an insignificant speck. The Visorak screeched and recoiled, blinded by the sheer intensity of the light. Without hesitating, Torlo leapt to his feet and threw himself forwards, seconds before an explosion erupted from the space he had been about to die in.
The sound was deafening as the Le-Matoran rolled himself over and wiped the blood from his eye to get a better view. Now the noise had started the light was beginning to dim. The Matoran felt like his audio receptors were about to burst. He pictured his skull cracking, his brain boiling away into sludge. Pain that was indescribable, the kind he couldn’t do anything about.
But the noise didn’t stop. It continued to pierce the craftsman’s audio receptor, only now it wasn’t just blank noise. Now the sound had evolved into some kind of miniature storm, accompanied by a straining, thumping, thunderous echo.
And then, tucked away in a discreet crater in the ground, was a solid, tangible shape. It was still hard for Torlo to see anything else. Sun spots of all colors and sizes were pulsing across his vision. It was hard to adjust and focus to the dull light once again. The Le-Matoran’s mind was spinning crazily in a bewildered whir.
When he finally regained some measure of clarity in his vision Torlo was able to see the dark outline of a figure standing in the fissure in the ground. The newcomer was clad in what looked like crimson and yellow armor in the shadows. In his right hand lay a magnificent sword crafted to resemble a flame that was bigger than most people Torlo knew. The warrior’s helmet was smooth and untroubled save for three spikes, which jutted out at different angles. The fixed Zatth-wearer would have marveled at how original the abrupt appearance of the scarlet-armored giant was, but at that moment – having just looked into the very jaws of his potential killer – he was a hard guy to impress.
It was undoubtedly a Toa. Torlo had only ever seen one before in his life, back on Metru-Nui – where he’d been before he had been sent to Karzahni for repairs and never come back. The name of that Toa escaped him but the towering stranger in front of him was nothing like what he imagined his hero to be. He was broad and muscular with a tatty dark cape strapped around his neck.
The sword began to glow as the Visorak hissed and growled as the newcomer. The Toa tilted his head and raised an eyebrow at the creature before him.
“I don’t think much of your welcoming comity” grunted the Toa in a voice as hollow and stiff as a coffin. “I was expecting a parade.”
As he raised his sword a jet of flame erupted from the tip of the blade, blasting the Roporak with nothing short of pure fiery energy. The creature screamed one final time as it was torn apart by the ball of fire and engulfed by the heat. The spider-like abomination was incinerated on the spot: not even ashes were left to mark the brown creature’s passing.
Torlo flinched and scrambled backwards frantically only for the Toa to turn to look at him, his blade still glowing with energy. “Fear not, Little One” grunted the Toa of Fire in a voice that was far too calm than it should have been for a person who’d just given a Visorak a free cremation. “If I wanted to harm you I could have done so already, with far less effort than it would take to raise this sword.”
Speechless, Torlo turned his attention from the Toa, to the burn mark in the shrubbery, then finally to his village in the distance. “You’re a Toa?”
“I was the last time I checked” replied the warrior as he tucked his weapon away in his pack and began scanning the area. “And where am I this time? Judging by the trees, I’d say safety with fire day gone wrong.”
“You’re on Voya-Nui” explained the Le-Matoran cagily, still cautious of the stranger. “Or at least what’s left of it.”
“Ah! That’s good!” exclaimed the Toa of Fire cheerfully as he clapped his hands together. “So I take it I’m in the right giant metal robot?”
Torlo grunted and shrugged, dismissing the idle comment. “What’s your name, Toa?” he asked, hoping to get some useful information out of the potential serial killer. Who knew, if he turned this guy in for the murder of a Visorak it could be his ticket off the barren rock that was the Southern Continent.
He lived in hope.
The Toa frowned and turned away, mulling the question over in his mind. “My name?” he repeated before beginning to pace around. “My name, my name, my name. Wait!” Torlo flinched and recoiled as the Toa suddenly spun around. “Don’t tell me! I know this!”
The Le-Matoran watched in confusion as the Toa of Fire continued pacing, pondering over the simplest question he could ever be asked. “I wasn’t planning to” he muttered in response, becoming increasingly aware that the Toa was probably insane.
Just his luck to get the eight-foot warrior who didn’t even know his own name.
“Look, that doesn’t matter” shrugged the Le-Matoran. “If you don’t want to tell me then I’m fine with that. It’s probably a name you don’t want going around.”
NO!” growled the Toa, a dangerous tremble in his tone. “I know this. My name… my name… is… Santis.” The Toa frowned then muttered something flatly, sounding let down. There was definitely something strange about this Toa.
Torlo tilted his head questioningly. There was every possibility that could be the Toa’s actual name, just as easily as it could have been the name of a friend of his or the name of some brand of Kanoka Disk Launcher manufacturers in Metru-Nui. He had no way of telling, but the Toa’s voice gave it away. He sounded let down, as if it wasn’t what he had been expecting, and that contrasted the cocky, arrogant, egoistical attitude he had introduced himself in.
“Are you sure?” asked Torlo as he took a step closer, debating whether or not a Toa who was unsure of his own name could be much of a threat.
The Toa raised his head again, as if he had completely forgotten about the Le-Matoran in front of him. He quickly adopted a smug wink. “Oh, ye of little faith” he chuckled in a tone that was probably slower and more sinister than he expected it to be.
“Anyway,” continued the fixed Matoran, wiping as much of his frown away as he could, “my name’s Torlo. I’m a craftsman at the village down there.” He raised his arm, extended a finger, and pointed towards the black silhouette of the fortified village in the distance, just in case the Toa was that deranged.
The Toa nodded.
Silence hung as the two warriors stared at each other. Torlo shrugged expectantly, as if encouraging Santis to speak, but no reply came. “Well, you know the drill” grunted Torlo. “Toa shows up, Toa helps Matoran, Matoran sleeps easy at night. Aren’t you going to help us?”
“Sure I will” shrugged the Toa of Fire as he turned his attention back to the village. He seemed different now, as if he was thinking. Maybe he was still dwelling on how he had forgotten his name. Or – more likely – perhaps he was trying to find an excuse to be looking thoughtful whilst wearing a stupid black cape for a moment longer. When he glanced back at Torlo there was a faint glimmer of excitement in his eyes. “Very well. Hello, Torlo. My name is Toa Santis, Toa of Fire.” The Toa extended an armored hand to the Matoran. “Here to help.
The Le-Matoran hesitated then accepted the handshake. The Zatth-wearer smiled faintly and watched the Toa strode past, his cape rippling behind him. His eyes were fixed on the Toa, and sensing trouble of the very worst kind, though he wasn’t sure why.


Continuity Notes[]

  • Throughout the serial, Tollubo and Jollun make references to the events of Ghosts of the Past and Karabak.
  • Fractures counterparts of pre-existing characters, who have appeared in the saga before - such as Matoro, Mesa, Saran, Jollun, Watak, and Karabak - make appearances or are mentioned in the serial.
  • In chapter 3 Harma mentions that he will be threatened by waking up to find a Muaka's head in his bed. This is a reference to The Godfather where a character wakes up to find a horse's head wrapped between his arms.
  • In chapter 4 Tollubo mentions that the four people he cares most about are in the room, which were Betak, Jollun, Eselox, and Mesa. Previously, he had only felt this way for Jollun and Betak. This indicates that his relationship with Eselox had strengthened by this point. However, by the next chapter, he stated that he had moved on from the death of the Deserts of Death Universe's version Mesa, meaning that he no longer felt this way for Mesa.
    • In addition, Tollubo throws a power fit in chapter 4, which is a recurring trait of the character.
    • Tollubo also mentions the guilt he felt when the Deserts of Death universe version of Mesa died and, for a second time in the entire saga - Tollubo had an argument with a version of Mesa. (Battle of Bara Magna).
  • In chapter 5, Tollubo reaches into his pack and produces a Thornax Launcher to battle Mudro with. This weapon had been in his pack since the events of Ghosts of the Past and was the weapon that Tollubo had used to kill Kentis during a power fit.
    • Additionally, in chapter 5, Tollubo also reflects over the past year where he had been grieving for the Mesa of his universe. However, as the Mesa from the Fractures Universe was angering the Toa by not recalling him, Tollubo decided it best to move on from Mesa in this chapter, making it the first chapter in the entire story saga where he had not been in love with Mesa.


  • Whispers in the Dark was named after the Skillet song of the same name.
  • Matoro1 was torn between naming this serial "Whispers in the Dark" or "Judgement Day" as a reference to the Terminator film.