Tahu was uncharacteristically silent as he and Kopaka climbed the foothills at the base of the volcano. Though he didn’t like to admit it, the Fire Toa was a bit awed by what the Ice Toa had just showed him – a nest of Bohrok. Tahu had been ready to charge down into the tunnel immediately, but Kopaka had convinced him to wait. It was time to join forces with the other Toa.
I suppose he was right about that, Tahu thought with a grimace. I hate it when he’s right.
How much time had passed since the Bohrok had first appeared? Tahu wasn’t sure; he’d been too busy fighting them to keep track. All he knew was that there seemed to be endless numbers of swarms and that their attacks were taking a toll on Mata Nui.
They passed a jagged patch of ice jutting out of the rocks just ahead. Clearly, the Kohrak had been this way. Tahu waited until they had come even with the icy patch, then pointed his sword, blasting the ice into lava.
Kopaka shot him an unreadable glance. “We will be needing all of our power soon,” he commented. “Waste it not.”
Tahu scowled. “Waste?” he said. “The only thing wasted is your breath when you tell me what to do.”
“Yes, it seems so,” Kopaka replied icily. “The Toa of Fire listens to none but himself.”
Tahu’s scowl deepened. “Is that supposed to be an insult?” he said. “Because I –”
Before he could finish his retort, a shout came from just down the slope.
“Brother Tahu! Brother Kopaka! There you are!”
Tahu had never been so glad to hear Gali’s voice. He spun around and peered down the slope. Two figures were hurrying toward them.
“Greetings, brothers!” Pohatu cried.” You’ll be happy to hear that at least one Tahnok swarm is no more. What news do you have on your end?”
Tahu clanked his fist against Pohatu’s, then Gali’s. “Serious news,” he said. “Kopaka tracked one of the Bohrok Va back to its nest.”
“Nest?” Gali repeated curiously. “But how can that be? Nests are for birds and reptiles and other living things, while the Bohrok don’t really live. They’re just –”
“–vehicles for the krana they carry within,” Tahu finished for her with a nod. “Yes, we realize that now, too. But don’t you see? The Bohrok and the krana emerged from this nest. That means –”
“–that they spring from Mata Nui itself.” This time it was Pohatu who finished the sentence. “They are not invaders from elsewhere, but creatures of the island just as all the others are.”
“Right,” Gali looked at each of the other Toa in turn. “So why are they trying to destroy their own land?”
Nobody had an answer for that. Finally Tahu shrugged. “We don’t need to understand them,” he pointed out, impatience welling up in him like lava. “We just need to stop them. So what are we waiting for?”
“Onua and Lewa,” Kopaka answered. “Where are they?”
“No one has seen Lewa since we parted in Ta-Koro,” Pohatu said. “Onua went to look for him, but we haven’t seen him since then.”
Tahu was ready for action. “So let’s send a search party, or –”
“No need for that, brother Tahu,” a voice sang out from behind a large stone outcropping. A moment later Lewa sprang into sight. He hurried toward the others.
“Lewa!” Gali cried with relief. “Are you all right? You look a bit – er, strange.”
“And no wonder,” Onua’s familiar voice rang out from just behind Lewa. “Wait until you hear about the trouble our high-flying brother here got himself into.”
Tahu glanced at Lewa, expecting a quip or other playful comment, but the Toa of Air seemed uncharacteristically somber.
“Yes, I suppose you should all know,” Lewa said. “In case – well, just in case anything should – should happen.”
“What are you talking about, Lewa?” Gali asked with concern. “Did you have trouble with the Bohrok in Le-Wahi?”
“You could say that,” Lewa said quietly. “Not onlyjust me, either. Le-Koro – Le-Koro is no more.” He bowed his head.
Tahu wasn’t sure what to say. He was used to Lewa being the flighty one among them, the lighthearted one who never took anything seriously. Seeing him like this was unsettling, to say the least. “What happened?” he asked gruffly as the silence stretched uncomfortably.
“It was the Lehvak,” Onua answered. “They captured the Le-Matoran and infected them by replacing their own masks with krana. And when Lewa found them like that… Well, perhaps you’d better tell the rest, brother Lewa.”
Lewa looked uncomfortable. “I – they told me it was a physical entrapment only, that they needed the strength of a Toa to offmask the krana from their faces. I believed them. Why should I not? It is not in the nature of a Le-Matoran to falsespeak.”
“Unless in the interest of a practical joke,” Tahu murmured under his breath. When Lewa looked over at him, he cleared his throat. “Er, I mean, didn’t you remember what the Turaga said? That the krana, when worn, could steal the mind – even the mind of a Toa?”
“I remember that now,” Lewa admitted. “I didn’t then. I was too quickminded to help. And so I leaped right into the helptask, and before I knew it, my Kanohi mask was quicksnatched from one side while from the other, someone slipped the krana over my face. By the time I caught on, it was too late. I was… one of them.”
Tahu wasn’t sure what to think. How could that have happened? he wondered uneasily. How could ordinary Matoran – even a group of them, even with the cunning of a Bohrok guiding them – overpower a Toa? He shook his head. It would not have happened had it been me.
He glanced around at the others. Gali and Pohatu were exchanging a worried glance. Kopaka was staring at Lewa intently, as if trying to dissect him with his gaze.
Onua was the only one who seemed relaxed. “Don’t look so fretful, my brothers and sister,” he said. “In the end, brother Lewa overcame the power on his own. I stood before him, allowing him to choose his own fate – and mine. And I was right. His will was strong enough to overcome the poison of the krana.”
“Only because you offered your own mindstrength to go with my own,” Lewa said quietly. “Without that, I might never have found a way to self-free.”
“That’s the way it usually happens, isn’t it?” Gali pointed out. “Even when an enemy is too strong for one to face alone, together we can find a way to prevail.”
“Yes,” Kopaka said. “And our greatest test of this unity comes now – as we go down into the nest.”
“Nest?” Onua repeated. “What nest? What are you talking about?”
The others quickly filled him in on what Kopaka had discovered. Onua nodded as he listened to Kopaka and Tahu’s description.
“What about the krana?” he asked when they had finished. “Do we have all we need?”
The six Toa quickly produced the krana they all still carried. It didn’t take long to determine that they’d collected more than enough.
“That one is the Krana Za,” Lewa said, staring fixedly at one of the krana. “That’s what I was – what was infecting me, I mean.”
Gali glanced at him with concern. “Yes, it’s what infected you,” she said. “But never think that it is what you were. Never think that you became the Bohrok, because you didn’t.”
“Gali is right,” Pohatu put in. “Lewa, whatever you’ve been through, it’s time to forget about that and focus on what’s ahead. We’ll need all our wits about us – no distractions.”
“Yes, all right,” Tahu said impatiently, not liking to think too much about Lewa’s “infection.” It made him uneasy – as if something alien had suddenly come into their midst. “Now come on. Let’s go down to that nest and see if we can figure out what we’re supposed to do with these krana.”
“How do we know we’re supposed to take them underground, into the nest?” Gali wondered.
Tahu shrugged. “How do we know we’re not?”
“But we still don’t know anything about them,” Onua added worriedly. “We don’t even know why they want to destroy things, or why they chose this moment to emerge, or –”
“Makuta,” Lewa interjected suddenly. “It was Makuta. He released the manyswarms when we tried to awaken Mata Nui. It was not yet the right time, the time he had planned – but he outsent them early, hoping to stop us.”
“What?” Pohatu stared at him. “How do you know that?”
Lewa shrugged. “I don’t know how,” he said simply. “I just know.”
Tahu nodded, understanding suddenly. The infected mask – the krana – must have transferred some of the Bohrok’s knowledge into Lewa’s brain. But if such knowledge remained, what else might linger?
The others continued to discuss possible courses of action. Kopaka and Lewa kept mostly silent, but the other three traded possibility after possibility.
As he listened, Tahu could feel impatience bubbling up within him. “Come on!” he cried, interrupting Pohatu’s suggestion to gather the Turaga together for a council to seek any further knowledge that might exist in the ancient legends. “We can stand around here all day while the Bohrok continue to destroy our island and endanger our people. Or we can take action!”
“Tahu is right,” Lewa spoke up at last. “We should hurry-go to the swarmnest. It’s the only way.”
Though he was glad for the support, Tahu once again had to fight back a shudder of unease. Was this agreement really coming from Lewa, the impulsive one? Or was it coming from the mind of the swarm, luring them into a trap?
Onua glanced around the group. “Does anyone have any objection to Tahu’s plan?”
There was a moment of silence. Gali and Kopaka traded a look, but both kept quiet.
“Then it’s decided,” Onua said. “We will challenge the Bohrok in their nest.”
Tahu nodded. “The Bohrok cannot be allowed to endanger our people any longer.”
“No,” Lewa reminded them. “The Bohrok are not the true enemy. It is the krana we must defeat. They have a purpose, a mission – it’s why they exist.”
Pohatu shrugged. “Then they can tell us all about it – on their way off the island.”