Pohatu reached out to grab Kopaka. A burst of super-speed and they could both outrace the oncoming cyclone. Kopaka shook him off.
“Some things, brother, I can do for myself,” said the Toa Nuva of Ice.
With that, Kopaka unleashed a blast of ice from his blizzard blade. It formed a wall three feet thick across the canyon. The cyclone hit it head-on. The ice wall began to fragment. Kopaka applied more power to shore it up.
“Why don’t we just –?” said Pohatu.
“Quiet,” Kopaka answered. “I have to concentrate.”
Pohatu shrugged. Sometimes, Kopaka chose to do things the most difficult way, just to be stubborn. In fact, most of the time he did that, and it never bothered Pohatu all that much. But doing it now, when they were standing over a dead body with a potential murderer on the loose, seemed like bad timing.
Triggering his mask power, Pohatu shot off toward the cyclone, vibrating through Kopaka’s ice wall as he went. Racing around and around it counter to the direction of its spin, he cancelled out the whirlwind’s power. It dissipated rapidly and Pohatu skidded to a stop on the rocky ground. He looked back toward Kopaka, but all he could see was the white wall. Annoyed, Pohatu kicked a boulder at it, punching a hole right in the center. Through the hole, he could see a startled Kopaka.
“The best defense is a good offense, right?” said Pohatu.
“Not when you’re trying to prove a point,” snapped Kopaka.
Pohatu sped back to the side of the Toa of Ice. “Which was?”
“Think about it. If Lewa sent a cyclone at someone, would a wall – any wall – stop it? Or would he just make his creation go up and over the barrier? But this whirlwind just kept battering the wall.”
“So Lesovikk wasn’t here to direct it, or…” began Pohatu.
“Or he didn’t create it in the first place,” finished Kopaka. “Sometimes a cyclone is just a cyclone… not an attempt to destroy evidence.”
Pohatu looked around the canyon floor. It was dotted with caves, rocky outcroppings, and a thousand other places someone could hide. “Can we get out of here? This place has ‘ambush’ written all over it.”
Kopaka gestured to the corpse of Karzahni. “I think he’d agree.”
The two Toa gathered up the body and brought it back to the Agori/Matoran camp. Tahu and Gali had returned from their scouting mission to the north. The Toa of Fire listened to the news with a grim expression. When Kopaka had finished telling the story, Tahu knelt to examine the body. After a moment, he rose and walked away, beckoning Kopaka to follow him.
“This is bad,” Tahu said quietly. “We have to earn the trust of these Agori and Glatorian if we want to carry out Mata Nui’s wishes and build a peaceful society here. We’re a long way from finding a site for New Atero. All we need right now is some rogue Toa running around pursuing his private wars.”
“Lesovikk is still our best suspect,” Kopaka agreed. “But we have no idea where he’s gone.”
“I do,” said Tahu.
“We saw him heading north,” Gali said to Pohatu. “And, come to think of it… I don’t think he had his sword with him.”
Pohatu frowned. “Well, that’s not good. But why leave it behind?”
“I don’t know,” said Gali. “Maybe someone should go ask him?”
“Maybe so,” Pohatu replied. “So how did your trip go?”
Gali shrugged. “Not so good. We searched all over, but nothing looked right to Tahu. We’re a long way from finding a site for New Atero. But we’ll get there. We owe it to our people and the people of Spherus Magna.”
Pohatu nodded. A cluster of Agori nearby caught his attention. They were whispering among themselves and pointing toward the Toa. Rumors were already spreading about a murder in the desert. Pohatu wondered if the Agori were thinking that he and Kopaka had not just found the body, but had done the killing.
Looks like we have one more reason to find Lesovikk, he thought. And it had better be soon.
The next morning, with mounts and provisions, the two Toa headed north. Tahu had offered to come along, but Kopaka said no. “If the Agori are getting suspicious of us, we need our leader here to keep a lid on things,” the Toa of Ice had reasoned. “You and Gali talk with Ackar, let him know what’s going on. Pohatu and I will handle the rest.”
Now, a few hours’ ride from the camp, Pohatu thought it was time to pose the question. “So how are we going to handle him?”
“What do you mean?” asked Kopaka.
“Look, we fought Tahu back on the island when he had that Rahkshi poison in him,” said Pohatu. “And other Toa have gone bad in the past and had to be stopped. But… he’s still one of us, and there aren’t too many of ‘us’ left these days. Besides, from what I hear… if he did kill Karzahni… he had good reason.”
“Maybe that’s the problem,” said Kopaka. “He felt he was justified. Karzahni was an abomination, after all. But fighting monsters is what we do. If we start thinking we have good reason to kill them, and we do it, then we become no better than they are. We’re meant to be defenders, not executioners.”
“I’m just saying…”
“I know what you’re saying… believe me, I do,” said Kopaka. “But there’s a fine line between being a hero and being a monster. If Lesovikk crossed it, we stop him. Cold.”
The two Toa rode north for three days. The land turned from brown to green, lush forest replacing sand dunes. They saw no sign of Lesovikk or anyone else. More than once, Pohatu wondered aloud what had happened to Lewa, the Toa Nuva of Air. Perhaps one air-wielder would be able to find another more easily, he suggested. But Lewa had vanished before the defeat of Makuta and not been seen since.
For his part, Kopaka was focusing on the murder. All the evidence pointed in one direction, but what if it wasn’t the right direction? Sure, Lesovikk had means, motive and opportunity to kill Karzahni, but so did a lot of others. For that matter, what if this wasn’t about Karzahni, not personally?
Pohatu didn’t get where his friend was going. “Someone stabbed him with a sword and pushed him over a cliff. How is that not personal?”
Kopaka shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s simply… what if it wasn’t about something Karzahni had done, so much as what he represented?”
“Crazy people with patchwork masks and really bad attitudes? Yeah, I can see Karzahni representing that.”
Before the debate could go any further, Kopaka held up a hand to signal for silence. Something was moving in the forest up ahead. Lesovikk? Someone else? Kopaka summoned his elemental energies, prepared for an attack.
Nothing could prepare either Toa for what happened next. A scream ripped through their minds, one made up of pure agony and something more… complete shock. The mental cry was so powerful both Toa fell from their mounts, hands covering their audio receptors. That did no good. The scream wasn’t a physical one, but a telepathic one, and it brought with it flashes of imagery neither Toa would ever forget.
When it finally subsided, Kopaka was the first to his feet. Before Pohatu could stop him, he ran for the woods. When the Toa of Stone caught up to him, he found Kopaka standing over what looked like a piece of scarlet gelatin. Pohatu glanced around and saw that similar objects covered the ground for hundreds of yards.
“Is that –?”
Kopaka nodded. “Even if I hadn’t heard a description of sorts, that mental flash told the story. That’s Tren Krom, all over.”
Pohatu’s eyes widened. “The Tren Krom? ‘Look at him and you go insane, used to rule the universe’ Tren Krom? What could do… that… to him?”
Kopaka didn’t answer. Tren Krom was supposed to be at a power level that dwarfed Karzahni. But someone or something had reduced him to pieces in an instant and left no obvious clues behind. It was certainly a crime a Toa of Air had the power to carry out, except for one thing. There had been one image telepathically sent into Kopaka’s mind that didn’t point to Lesovikk. It was a simple, clear image of a single object.
A red star.