1

Toa Gaaki sat on a rock, exhausted. Along with a handful of other Toa of Water, she had been working for days to help sea creatures and other ocean dwellers to migrate from the ruined Makuta robot to the safety of Aqua Magna. It was grueling work, particularly after the most powerful of their number – Gali Nuva – was called away by Tahu for a special mission.

She created a gentle rain to cool herself down. The drops were colder than she expected and Gaaki actually shivered. She turned and saw the reason for the temperature change. Kopaka, Toa Nuva of Ice, was approaching.

“Have you seen Tahu?” he asked urgently.

“Gone north, with Gali, to search for a site for New Atero,” Gaaki answered. “What’s the matter?”

“The Toa Mahri are in danger,” said Kopaka. “Most likely, we all are. As much as I hate to admit it, I think it is more than I can handle on my own.”

Gaaki didn’t know Kopaka well, but she had heard enough stories to realize that an admission like that meant serious trouble. Not for the first time, she regretted the fact that she had no real control of her Mask of Clairvoyance. It would give her a flash of the near future when it chose to, not at her bidding. She didn’t need a mask power, though, to see how drained Kopaka looked.

“You’re tired,” she said. “I don’t know when Tahu will be back, and it sounds like whatever you found can’t wait. Give me the story and my team will check it out.”

Kopaka related how he had seen a band of barbaric Skakdi, trailed by an apparently subservient team of Toa Mahri, on a journey across Bara Magna. Both groups were following a strange, gold-skinned being, the like of which Kopaka had never seen before. As he watched, the being created a massive castle with just a wave of his hand. He had raced back to camp to warn the other Toa and find help.

It was against Kopaka’s nature to let someone else do his job for him. But he had to admit that Gaaki was right: he was exhausted. Going into battle this way would put both himself and any allies in jeopardy. She promised him the Toa Hagah would only scout out the situation and would check with him before taking any action.

Kopaka spent much of the day observing the efforts of the salvage teams, assisting where he could. Toward evening, he crossed paths with Pohatu Nuva and the two worked together to create a cooling shelter for those laboring in what was left of the Bara Magna desert. That was what they were doing when a strange Toa of Air came stalking across the sand toward them.

“How could you let them do it?” the green-armored Toa demanded. “How could any of you let them do it?”

Pohatu triggered his Mask of Speed and flashed forward to intercept the newcomer. “Slow down,” said the Toa Nuva of Stone. “Do what? What are you talking about?”

“Karzahni,” the Toa spat. “The most twisted, evil, sadistic excuse for a living being I have ever met – and someone set him free. He’s on this planet somewhere, and I’m going to find him.”

“That’s fine,” said Pohatu, trying to keep his gruff voice soothing. “Maybe my friend and I can help. But it would help if we knew who you were first.”

“My name is Lesovikk,” said the Toa of Air. “And I don’t need your help. Just tell me where to find Karzahni and I’ll take care of the rest.”

Pohatu shrugged. “No idea. Never met him.”

“The Toa Mahri have dealt with this Karzahni,” said Kopaka. “But they are… occupied at the moment. Still, we know him to be extremely dangerous. If he is on the loose here, we will organize a search come dawn.”

Lesovikk shook his head. “Dawn will be too late. We have to find him now. If you want to help, you can pick up my trail at first light.”

With that, Lesovikk disappeared into the growing darkness. Pohatu watched him go. “Intense,” he said.

“Indeed,” said Kopaka.

“Kind of reminds me of someone I know,” said the Toa of Stone.

Kopaka glared at him. “I can’t imagine who.”

The next morning, Kopaka and Pohatu set out to follow Lesovikk’s path. Kopaka had made arrangements that if Gaaki and the Toa Hagah returned with any news, he was to be notified immediately. The Toa of Air’s trail went east, toward the village of Vulcanus. As they neared that site, shifting sands obscured any signs of Lesovikk’s passing.

“Maybe he veered off this trail,” Pohatu said. “We might have missed it.”

“Perhaps,” said Kopaka. “Or perhaps he decided it was wise to cover his tracks.”

“I’m going to scout ahead,” said Pohatu.

“Be careful.”

“Don’t need to be,” the Toa of Stone replied, grinning. “I’m fast.”

Pohatu disappeared. An instant later, he was back. His smile had not returned with him.

“You had better come see this,” he said. Grasping Kopaka, he used his mask power again, racing the two of them across the sand. They came to a stop at the edge of Iron Canyon.

“Look,” said Pohatu.

Kopaka peered over the rim of the canyon. At the bottom, he could see the shattered remains of a figure.

“Dead?” asked Kopaka.

“Extremely,” said Pohatu. “Wait. It gets better.”

Pohatu whisked Kopaka down the steep slope to the bottom of the canyon. Even the Toa of Ice, who had seen his share of gruesome sights, was struck by the horror of the scene. It only took a moment’s glance to confirm that the corpse matched the description Toa Jaller once gave of Karzahni.

“So he was fleeing the camp, made it this far, stumbled and fell into the canyon,” said Kopaka. “Bad way to die, but it happens.”

If he died from the fall,” Pohatu replied. “Look at his back.”

Kopaka knelt down. There was a gash in Karzahni’s armor. It could have been made by a weapon, or just by one of the jagged rocks as he fell.

“And now look at this,” said the Toa of Stone. He held out his hand. In it, he grasped a sword with a curved blade. Kopaka had seen its like before. Lesovikk had been carrying it.

“You think…?”

“Could be,” nodded Pohatu. “He finds Karzahni, stabs him, and his enemy goes over the cliff into the canyon.”

“If that’s true, he has violated the code of the Toa,” said Kopaka. “We have to bring him down.”

Pohatu started to reply, then turned at the howl of the wind. A cyclone was hurtling through the canyon, directly at the two Toa.

“If we can, brother,” said Pohatu. “If we can.”

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