Each of the Toa stepped into the closest tunnel. Ahead, Lewa saw a dark glow. It held a strange shape – some kind of armor. Could it be?
He hurried forward and saw that he’d been right – it was a suit of armor! Exo-Toa armor. He didn’t know how he knew it was called that, he just knew. More knowledge left over from the krana that had infected him? Shrugging off the disturbing thought, he took a step closer to the armor.
I suppose I’d better put it on, he thought, touching the smooth surface of the armor. I may need it.
Soon he was outfitted in the armor. He felt new power seeping into his limbs and smiled. Then his smile faded as he felt a tug on the edges of his mind.
Clean it all. It must be cleaned.
“No!” he muttered aloud, shaking off the shadowy thoughts.
Hurrying forward, his new armor clanking softly as he moved, Lewa wondered what he would find at the end of the tunnel.
All obstacles must be removed.
Lewa hesitated. Had that thought come from his mind? Was it the remains of the Bohrok’s infection?
“No,” he muttered uncertainly. “It wasn’t – I didn’t…”
You are an obstacle, the mind-voice came again. You must be removed.
Lewa gasped as an enormous creature burst into view, the massive bulk of its gleaming red limbs and pearly fangs filling the tunnel. “What – what are you?” the Toa cried in surprise.
This time knowing laughter filled his mind. You know who I am, Toa of the Bohrok, the voice taunted. You know me – I am your queen. My sister, Cahdok, and I rule your thoughts, your actions.
“No!” Lewa shouted furiously. “I do know who you are, Gahdok.” The name had popped into his mind as if planted there. “But you are wrong about me. You don’t rule me, and you never will!”
With that, he lashed out furiously. But the creature before him knocked him aside easily, sending him spinning into the hard tunnel wall.
You are wrong about that, Toa of Nothing, the mind-voice hissed. Dead wrong.
More voices started to whisper within Lewa’s head – the voices of the swarm, calling him to fulfill their destiny. Gritting his teeth, Lewa did his best to ignore them.
I have to fight back, he told himself. I am a Toa.
He raised his arms, focusing his powers on the air around him. But all that came to him was a whisper of a breeze.
What’s happening? Lewa wondered desperately as the voices gained in volume. What’s bad-wrong with me?
He fell to his knees, pressing his hands against his ears. Still the voices filled his mind.
“Help!” Lewa cried. “Someone, over here! Quickly – please!”
Kopaka rushed to his side. Lewa was dimly aware that the Ice Toa was dressed in Exo-Toa armor of his own.
“Drive it back to the cavern,” Kopaka said tersely. “We can’t fight it here.”
Lewa breathed out in relief. Miraculously, Kopaka’s cool, no-nonsense voice had sent the voices away. Nearby, Gahdok roared in fury.
“Use the armor,” Kopaka told Lewa. “Let its power work for you.”
Lewa glanced down at himself, realizing he hadn’t even bothered to examine his new powers. But he would make up for that now.
Noting the electro-rocket on one arm, he raised it and pointed it toward Gahdok. Beside him, Kopaka did the same. The creature gnashed her teeth and roared again, but she backed off a few steps, moving down the corridor in the direction of the cavern.
“She’s awaymoving!” Lewa cried.
Kopaka nodded. “Go find the others,” he said. “They should be ready.”
Lewa didn’t hesitate. He ducked past the creature. Careening down the passageway, he burst out into the cavern.
“It’s coming!” he shouted. “Kopaka is driving the creature-queen this way.”
Gali, Pohatu, and Onua were in the cavern. All of them wore Exo-Toa armor.
Pohatu glanced at Lewa. “Tahu has the other creature on the move, too,” he reported. “When they’re both in here, we can surround them and take them down.”
“Good,” Lewa murmured. “That will be the end of the Bohrok threat.”
He wasn’t sure how he knew that, but he knew it for sure. If they could only defeat Cahdok and Gahdok, the Bohrok would be finished.
Before he could tell the others, there was a shout. Tahu had just driven a large, silvery-blue version of Gahdok into the chamber – her sister, Cahdok. A second later, Gahdok herself backed in from the tunnel, goaded by Kopaka.
“Drive them to the center of the chamber!” Onua called. “Surround them!”
But the two queens were already backing toward each other. Soon they were side by side in the center of the cavern.
“Strike now, Toa,” Tahu roared. “For your villages and your people!”
Lewa leaped forward with the others, raising his rocket arm. He aimed and let it blast right at Cahdok and Gahdok. The other Toa did the same.
But the rocket blasts exploded helplessly several yards in front of the sisters. Cahdok and Gahdok screeched with triumph.
“What’s wrong?” Onua asked, his voice filled with awe. “It’s as if they’re surrounded by some kind of force field!”
Suddenly Lewa knew the answer. It filled his mind, even as the queens of the swarm taunted the other Toa in their thought-speak.
Fools! Gahdok hissed in the Toa’s minds. By bringing us together, you increase our power! Now Mata Nui will be as it was in the Before-Time. All that does not belong will be removed – beginning with you!
Lewa gasped in horror. Now that the sisters were together, their powers knew few limits.
Why didn’t I know this would happen? Lewa thought in frustration. I should have remembered – from before. I should have been able to warn the others.
But it was too late for that now. The queens had suddenly gone on the offensive – Cahdok showered Kopaka with a hailstorm of stones, while Gahdok blasted Gali with smothering heat.
Did I betray the other Toa? Lewa wondered uneasily. Did I lead them into this trap – could the Bohrok still be controlling me, even if I don’t realize it?
No. It hadn’t been his idea to bring Gahdok to the cavern – Kopaka had been the one to suggest that. The thought filled Lewa with relief.
Don’t feel too glad, Toa of Weakness, the sisters taunted Lewa in his mind. For we have powers that will make your blood run cold…
“Nooo!” Lewa cried, but the words froze in his throat as Gahdok turned her icy gaze on him, freezing him in place.
Meanwhile, the others were calling upon all of their powers to battle the sisters. Tahu blasted Gahdok with fire, but she retaliated with a barrage of hurtling stones.
“Tahu!” Lewa cried in horror, his half-frozen mouth barely forming the name. With an effort, Lewa turned his ice-encrusted eyes toward Onua and Pohatu, hoping they would come to Tahu’s rescue. To his surprise, he saw that both were busy fighting – but neither appeared to have an opponent!
More of the sisters’ illusions, Lewa thought desperately.
Just in time, the Toa of Fire used the power of the Mask of Shielding to block the stones. But Lewa could see that he was struggling to maintain the protective shield.
Nearby, Gali was fighting to stay upright as wave after wave of nauseating heat rolled over her. She didn’t understand what was happening. Somehow, her elemental power had deserted her – she couldn’t even manage to call forth a trickle, let alone a flood, to fight the two queens. She could see that Tahu was having similar troubles – and the sisters were closing in on him.
“Onua! Pohatu!” Gali shouted. “You are fighting shadows! Tahu needs you!”
Luckily her words got through to Pohatu. Shadows? He stared at the hulking metallic monster before him. It reared up, preparing a devastating strike with its hooked claw.
“Forget it, brother shadow,” Pohatu spat out, disgusted with himself for falling for the sisters’ tricks.
He stood firm as the shadow creature struck. The claw passed right through him and disappeared in a whiff of smoke.
Pohatu whirled around, knocking Onua on the shoulder. “Brother!” he cried. “Leave that shadow alone – we have to help Tahu!”
Without waiting for an answer, he rushed and flung the largest rock he could find toward the queens. But they deflected it easily, tossing it aside. Pohatu growled in frustration, looking around for another boulder.
“All of you!” Tahu shouted suddenly. “Shed your armor! It hinders our elemental powers – and they are our only hope!”
Of course! Pohatu ripped off the Exo-Toa armor. Though he immediately felt power seeping away, he also felt his own natural strength swell to replace it.
Tahu was still struggling against the queens, their voices hissing angrily in his mind.
You dared challenge the Bohrok swarms? You have no hope! – The mission will proceed!
You dared oppose your brothers! Therefore you must fall! Mata Nui will be cleansed!
It’s no use, the Fire Toa thought desperately. They’re too strong! How can we hope to fight them?
The knowing will come.
The words filled his mind. Suddenly he knew what to do.
“Toa!” Tahu shouted. “Surround them! We must combine our powers.”
Lewa leaped forward with the others. But he couldn’t help worrying – what if this was another trap? What if the queens had tricked them into attacking without the protection of their powerful armor? If the Toa perished, who would be left to protect their people?
“But – the danger,” he cried as the others moved toward the hissing, screeching queens.
Gali glanced at him in surprise. “The safety of our people is worth any risk,” she said. “If power is all these creatures understand, then we will show them power.”
Tahu nodded tersely. “Let’s go,” he said. “Lewa, either join us or get out of the way.”
Lewa stared at the Fire Toa, seeing a question in his eyes. Could Lewa give the right answer to that question? Did he know the right answer? Suddenly he was certain that he did.
“Yes,” Lewa said at last. “You are true-right. It’s worth the risk.”
Tahu smiled at him for a second, looking relieved. For the first time since Lewa had been overtaken by the krana, there was no suspicion or doubt in the Fire Toa’s eyes.
Then Lewa joined the others in forming a ring around Cahdok and Gahdok. He closed his eyes, summoning all the power he could find within himself. Just when he’d reached the bottom, he felt Gali’s hand grasp his shoulder. A new wave of power swept through him.
A howling gale swept through the cavern, sweeping the sisters into a maelstrom.
Soon a driving rain hammered down on the queens.
Seconds later the rain froze to deadly hail.
A shower of stones pounded the enemy from every direction.
Waves of earth rose up around them.
Blasts of fire heated the stone and earth into steaming lava.
“Keep it up, brothers!” Gali shouted. “We’re winning!”
Fools! Gahdok’s words seared through the Toa’s minds like poison. The queens were writhing in agony as the Toa’s attack continued. You think you have won – but you cannot imagine what you have unleashed!
Then suddenly, the energy sizzling around the queens condensed into a gel-like substance. Protodermis, thought Gali in confusion. The mysterious substance had been mined on Mata Nui for years, its origins unknown. And now it had formed a barrier around the queens, imprisoning them within!
Before she could understand the significance of this protodermis cage, Gali heard a deafening rumble of earth and stone. The cavern shuddered as stones rained down from above and the earth erupted below.