Kopaka Nuva glided slowly down the snowy slope, reminding himself to be careful. While he could still ski, he no longer had the ability to control the ice beneath his feet. That skill had deserted him along with all the rest of them.
It’s beginning to seem that Gali’s earlier worries were well-founded, he thought bleakly. Our split seemed almost too easy this time. As if it were destined to happen – or as if someone or something wanted it to happen.
He still couldn’t believe that his elemental powers had suddenly deserted him. It was only thanks to his determination – and the help of Turaga Nuju – that he had survived his sudden tumble off of a crumbling ice bridge.
As soon as he heard that the Ice Toa’s powers were gone, the Turaga had suggested that Kopaka seek out the others. If it had happened to all of them… Well, there was no telling what might become of Mata Nui in that case.
Before long Kopaka left the snow behind and climbed down to the Toa’s usual meeting place. To his relief, both Pohatu Nuva and Tahu Nuva were waiting for him in the clearing.
“I guess this means the icon thief has struck in Ko-Koro, too, ice brother,” Pohatu said by way of greeting.
“Whoever or whatever this foe may be, it will regret stealing our powers!” Tahu raged. “I will make sure of that!” He raised his magma sword for emphasis. Instead of its usual flickering flame, the sword merely smoked weakly.
“Anger will not help us,” Kopaka pointed out. “We need to unite, to form a plan.”
Tahu let out a short, disbelieving laugh. “Has the thief stolen my hearing as well?” he exclaimed. “I would swear I just heard Kopaka, the Toa of Doing His Own Thing, suggest that we unite!”
“Brothers, brothers,” Pohatu pleaded. “Enough with the petty disagreements. We have enough problems without that. Let’s try to work together here, okay?”
“Good advice at any time.” Onua Nuva’s voice interrupted the tense moment. He strode into the clearing and glanced around. “But especially important now, I think. All of you – you’ve lost your elemental powers, too?”
Each Toa nodded. “I think it’s safe to assume that Gali and Lewa will have been struck as well,” Pohatu added.
“You’re right about that,” Lewa said, hurrying into the clearing just in time to respond. “Found that out in a wrongmoment back in Le-Koro.”
Onua nodded. “Then we need to decide what to do.”
“I know what to do,” Tahu spoke up at once. “Find the thief and take the symbols back. End of plan.”
Kopaka sighed. Typical Tahu – all bluster with no thought. “That’s no plan,” he said icily. “That’s suicide.”
“Kopaka is right,” Pohatu agreed. “Without our powers, and knowing not what we might be facing, it would be foolish to rush into action.”
“Who are you calling foolish?” Tahu snapped, glaring from Pohatu to Kopaka and back again.
Onua raised his hand. “Easy, brother Tahu,” he said. “Let’s just think on this for a moment.”
Lewa rolled his eyes behind his mask. “Yes, a moment,” he quipped. “Or a day, or a month. With all due respect, brother Onua, if we spent as much time wait-thinking as you would like, we’d never get anything done at all.”
Kopaka winced as Onua frowned. Lewa often spoke without thinking, but rarely did he purposely insult anyone. It was clear that the loss of powers was setting all of them on edge. Where is sister Gali? he wondered. She’s usually the only one who can make peace at such a moment.
As if responding to his thought, Gali raced into the clearing at that very moment. “Brothers!” she cried breathlessly. “Good, you’re all here. I have news!”
“We know,” Pohatu said. “Symbol stolen, powers gone, blah blah blah. Old news.”
Gali shook her head. “Not that,” she said. “I already heard from a messenger that the thief struck all of us. Or, rather, the thieves.”
“There is more than one creature stealing our powers?” Onua asked.
“Yes,” Gali replied, leaning on her aqua axe for support as she caught her breath. “My village guards were as helpless as yours before the intruder – it disabled them by filling the suva with electricity that pinned them to the walls. But others saw what happened and followed – and tracked it to the edge of Po-Wahi, where they saw it join with two others like it.”
“What are we waiting for?” Tahu hoisted his sword. “Let’s get to Po-Wahi!”
“Wait!” Onua cried. But Tahu had already charged off, with Lewa right behind him. Even Pohatu trotted after them eagerly.
“Reckless fools,” Kopaka muttered.
Gali glanced at him. “I agree, some of our brothers could stand to do a little more thinking before they act,” she said. “But this time, their course might be the best one. The longer we are without our powers, the greater the danger to Mata Nui. We have to confront these creatures and take back our icons.”
“I suppose you are right, sister,” Onua said, his voice deep with worry. “But how easy will it be to do so without our powers?”
Kopaka was wondering the same thing. But he followed without another word as Gali and Onua hurried after the others.
Soon the six Toa Nuva were moving as a group through the open, rocky pass between the northern section of Le-Wahi and the eastern slopes of Mount Ihu.
“We should at least try to be prepared for what we will face when we find the thieves,” Onua pointed out as he hurried along near the back of the group. “The least we can do is share what information we have. What did your Matoran see? What tools did the creatures use against them?”
Each Toa Nuva described everything he or she knew in turn. Tahu reported that the creature in his village had disabled the guards with a wall of intense sound so loud that it had cracked the walls of the suva. The creature that had stolen Lewa’s icon had used a strong magnetic force to push away the Le-Matoran. In Onua’s village, the weapon of choice had been a vacuum power that had sucked all of the air out of the suva. Pohatu had lost his symbol to a creature that had thrown off such intense heat that everything around it turned instantly to plasma. And Gali had already mentioned the electricity used against her villagers.
When his turn came, Kopaka briefly described the way one of the creatures had affected gravity, making the Ko-Matoran guard’s limbs and body too heavy to move. “It sounds like there may be six separate attackers, not three,” he finished. “Six enemies, and six of us.”
“Three or six, three dozen or six hundred, it matters not,” Tahu said with a shrug. “We must face them down no matter what.”
With that, he hurried forward to the end of the pass. Beyond lay the open, sweeping vista of the great northern desert.
“Now which waypath do we take?” Lewa wondered.
Onua pointed. “I would say we go that way.”
Kopaka followed the Earth Toa’s glance and saw broad prints leading northward in the bare soil. The marks were large and deep.
“Come on!” Tahu said. “Are we going to stand around looking at these tracks, or are we going to follow them and take back what is ours?”
Without waiting for an answer, he strode off in the direction the tracks led.
“Our enemies seem to be making no attempt to remain stealthy,” Pohatu commented. “I wonder if we should be worried by that.”
“They should be worried about us!” Tahu said boldly. He led the way over a rise. Beyond lay a large, rocky plain scattered with stones of all shapes and sizes.
“Does anyone see prints?” Gali asked.
Pohatu shook his head. “It will be pointless trying to find them here,” he said. “This sort of ground is not friendly to ordinary tracking.”
“Maybe we should go back,” Onua said. “We could seek out the rest of the Kanohi Nuva – with those additional powers, it may be easier to find the thieves.”
“We’ve got to continue on,” Tahu seemed unwilling to accept reality. “If we search Po-Wahi, we have to catch up to them.”
“Or maybe not, if they’ve pathchanged to the tunnels of Onu-Wahi or anywhere else.” Lewa shrugged. “Besides, what do we do if we find them?”
Kopaka grimaced. Where had that question been when they were all back at the meeting place?
“It’s not ‘if,’” Tahu said, breaking into Kopaka’s thoughts. “We will find them, and we will get our powers back.”
Pohatu was still staring across the rocky plain. Now he raised his hand and pointed. “Uh, Tahu?” he said. “I think those things up ahead might have something to say about it.”