The other Toa stared at Gali, confused. “What do you mean?” Pohatu asked her.
“Our powers!” Gali explained, her eyes lighting with hope. “If the essence of our powers is housed in those symbols, maybe we can use that against the Bohrok-Kal!”
Tahu stared at her as the power of the Vahi began to waver and weaken. Tahu himself was weakening, also. “How?” he asked, pushing out the single word with effort.
“We need to pool our willpower,” Gali said. “Reach out to our symbols. Even if it means freeing the Bohrok-Kal from the Vahi.”
Tahu shook his head, not understanding. He was tired – so tired. Perhaps it was time to give up, to allow the Vahi to overwhelm him…
“Tahu!” Kopaka said sharply. “The mask. You have to send it away – now.”
The Ice Toa’s voice was always enough to set Tahu on edge. Now it broke through the haze in his mind. Who is he to tell me what to do?
But Kopaka was right. The Vahi had served its purpose.
“Vahi,” he croaked. “Be gone!”
He nearly collapsed as the intense time power released him and the Vahi faded. Pohatu reached forward to catch him. “Easy, brother,” the Stone Toa said. “There you go. Now come on, pull yourself together – we have work to do.”
Tahu nodded, pulling in a deep breath. “I am ready,” he said.
The Bohrok-Kal, released from the power of the Vahi, were beginning to stir. “Hurry,” Onua said urgently. “We don’t have much time.”
The Toa Nuva turned to face the cube. Tahu could already feel his strength flowing back into him. He gathered that energy, pushing it outward toward the power symbols. Around him, he could feel the other Toa Nuva doing the same.
Tahu had never felt such an intense wave of energy. But would it work? Would their combined power stop the Bohrok-Kal? A glow surrounded the Toa, growing brighter with every passing second. Slowly, the glow took separate form, moving forward toward the Bohrok-Kal.
It neared the force field surrounding the Bohrok-Kal, which their krana-kal were still holding steady. “Concentrate!” Tahu urged the others. “We must break through!”
He could see that the power symbols were beginning to glow in response to the Toa Nuva’s energy. The glow pulsed outward, surrounding the Bohrok-Kal.
“What is happening?” the Nuhvok-Kal said in its metallic voice. “I feel stronger! The Toa Nuva symbols are feeding us energy!”
I hope this works, Tahu thought, as the Bohrok-Kal all pulled the icons back from the cube, gazing at them in wonder. If not, we might have given the enemy even more power than it already had…
The Lehvak-Kal held up its icon. “Yes!” it said. “Cahdok and Gahdok do not need the swarms – with this power, we can return Mata Nui to the Before-Time.”
“No!” Gahdok howled. “My children, do not be distracted from your task!”
But the Bohrok-Kal seemed not to hear her. “We will rule beside the Bahrag!” the Gahlok-Kal cried, its body pulsing. “We will –” It shuddered, the energy turning darker.
“What is happening?” the Tahnok-Kal wailed as its body quivered uncontrollably, waves of energy rippling and sparking over it.
“Good question,” Pohatu whispered.
The Bohrok-Kal were all convulsing by now. “No!” the Gahlok-Kal shrieked as its body lurched. “Too much power – can’t control!”
“You fools!” Cahdok roared from within her prison. “You have been tricked!”
“Yes,” Gali said calmly from the head of the group. “You wanted our power, monsters. Now let us see if you can handle it!”
The Nuhvok-Kal dropped the symbol it was holding.
“So much power,” the Nuhvok-Kal moaned. “Can’t control my energies… Gravity crushing me…”
Tahu gasped as the Nuhvok-Kal’s powerful body began to crumple and fold in upon itself. “He’s throwing out an uncontrolled gravity field – it’s going to crush him!”
“Bahrag, aid us!” the Nuhvok-Kal pleaded, its voice distorted by the weight crushing down on it. “Before it is too laaaaaaaate…”
The last word trailed off into nothingness. The gravitational force had finally overwhelmed it, compressing the creature into a miniature black hole in the middle of the chamber.
Lewa gasped. “It’s awaygone!” he murmured in amazement.
Tahu didn’t respond. He was watching the Pahrak-Kal, which was struggling against its own power overload. It had hurled its Toa Nuva icon away, but it was too late. The Pahrak-Kal’s armored body was glowing with a plasma-fueled heat so intense that the stone floor started to melt beneath its feet.
“I will contain this power!” The Pahrak-Kal sounded drippy and slow, as if it, too, were melting. “I am Pahrak-Kal! I cannot be defeated!”
But a moment later, the floor beneath the Pahrak-Kal gave way entirely, and the creature dropped away through it out of sight.
Tahu glanced toward the cube just in time to see the Gahlok-Kal stepping toward it, one of the power icons still clutched in its hand. “Uh-oh,” Tahu said, pointing.
“The Bahrag will be free!” the Gahlok-Kal cried. “You cannot defeat me with my own power!”
“Should we do something?” Lewa wondered aloud.
Tahu shook his head. “One symbol will not free the Bahrag,” he said. “It would need to collect all six of them. And I suspect that’s going to be harder than it realizes…”
At that moment they all became aware that the pieces of shattered Exo-Toa armor were moving. “Look!” Gali said. “It’s the Gahlok-Kal’s magnetic energy. It’s going to –”
Before she could finish the sentence, the Exo-Toa pieces suddenly shot toward the Gahlok-Kal, pulled there by the creature’s pulsing magnetic force.
“Oh no!” the Gahlok-Kal cried, a split second before the pieces struck.
Tahu had turned to watch the Lehvak-Kal. The incredible vacuum forces it was emitting finally overwhelmed it, sending it shooting upward like a rocket. It smashed through the cavern ceiling and disappeared.
The Tahnok-Kal had teetered over to a corner of the cave. There, it stood locked into place, a prisoner of its own electrical forces, which swirled in the air around it and formed a constant shimmer of concentrated lightning.
Onua nodded toward the helpless creature. “I expect that one will stay there until it finally runs out of energy entirely.”
That meant the only Bohrok-Kal left was the Kohrak-Kal. It was standing near the cube, buffeted by waves of undiluted sound. The sonic forces were so focused around their core that Tahu could hear nothing but faint zips and kreeees. But he shuddered to imagine what it must sound like to the creature trapped within its own sonic vortex.
As he watched, the Kohrak-Kal’s body shuddered and gave way to the pressure, crumbling into dust before the pummeling sound waves. Only its silvery krana-kal escaped, scuttling away into the shadows.
The six power symbols lay on the floor. Slowly, the glow that had surrounded them faded away, and the cavern was still.
Lewa let out a long breath. “The Bohrok-Kal,” he said. “Are they…?”
“They did not live as we understand life, so they cannot die,” Kopaka answered. “But they have been defeated.”
Tahu nodded. “Did you see that krana-kal escaping?” he asked.
“I did,” Gali said. “I expect the others managed to get away, too. But I don’t think we need to worry. Without the Bohrok-Kal to house them, the krana-kal will remain powerless.”
“Then we have won!” Tahu said, hardly daring to believe it.
Kopaka nodded. “It seems so,” he said, his cool voice tinged with admiration. “Thanks to our wise sister. How did you know, Gali?”
Gali shrugged. “I didn’t,” she admitted. “I gambled that tapping the power of the symbols would feed the Bohrok-Kal more energy than they could control. In the end, the only power that could defeat them was their own.” She turned toward Tahu. “There’s one thing I don’t understand,” she said. “The Vahi – where did you get it?”
“Vakama gave it to me,” Tahu said. “Along with a warning – that its power might be too great for even a Toa to wield. He was nearly right.”
As he remembered the surge of power that the Vahi had sent through him, a surge of energy welled up. He held up his sword, seeing flames dancing along its length. Hardly daring to believe what he saw, he pointed the sword at a nearby rock, blasting it with searing flames.
Kopaka was watching him. “So our powers have returned,” he said. Glancing toward the cavern ceiling, he pointed his own ice blade. A moment later an icy staircase had formed.
Tahu led the other Toa Nuva toward the icy staircase. The Bahrag were once again safely contained in their underground prison. It was time for the Toa Nuva to return to the surface.
None of the Toa Nuva could relax before the first rays of sun penetrated the dark tunnel – a sign they were at last reaching the surface.
Once safely above, the six Toa sank to the ground in relief. Gali glanced at Tahu with unease, still trying to process what he had just revealed – still trying to understand how he had kept the Great Mask of Time a secret for so long. What other secrets might he be hiding?
But she suppressed her unease – now was not the time. Instead, forcing a smile, she turned to her fellow Toa Nuva and said, “Well, brothers, what do you think? Will we be able to put Mata Nui right again?”
“Of course,” Tahu said. “I think we’ve finally learned our lesson.”
“What lesson?” Lewa said. “You mean the lesson that a Toa’s work is never done?”
Pohatu chuckled. “No, he’s probably talking about the lesson that we should always pay attention to Gali’s hunches.”
“Or that only bad-yuck things happen underground,” Lewa added, grinning.
“Yes, all of those lessons, brothers,” Tahu said with a smile. “But also the most important one of all. Don’t you get it?”
“I know what you’re thinking, brother,” Gali said, hoping she was right. “Three little words, right?”
Kopaka nodded, speaking up for the first time since Tahu’s speech had ended. “Unity, duty, destiny,” he said.
“Right,” Tahu said. “When we keep those three words in mind, the Toa Nuva can do anything!”