Takanuva held the kraata tightly in his fist as he looked around the chamber. Behind him, Hahli started to step through the door, but he stopped her with a gesture. She backed off, watching through the crack.
By the light emanating from his own mask Takanuva could see several massive carved stone columns holding up the stone ceiling.
Takanuva opened his hand. The kraata slithered free, writhing their way across the floor and around the pools, heading toward a dark doorway on the opposite end of the chamber. Two large red eyes opened in the darkness, staring toward the Toa.
“You can no longer hide in shadow,” Takanuva said, his eyes tightening in resolve.
“I am shadow,” Makuta’s sinister voice rang out from the darkness. “The shadow that guards the gate. Now run along, or accept your doom.”
Takanuva stepped forward boldly. Suddenly he realized what he needed to do. “I am done running. Mata Nui will be awoken this day.” He turned to Hahli, still peering through the doorway behind him. “Hahli, summon the Matoran.”
Hahli’s face registered her shock at the request. But she nodded and hurried off.
Takanuva waited calmly as Makuta started to move out of the shadows. “Toa of Light,” the dark one hissed. “Now so bold. But at heart, you are still just Takua.”
He stepped into the light. The Mask of Shadow on his face glared down at Takanuva. Makuta was nearly twice the Toa’s height.
“Are you truly prepared to face me?”
Though he tried to hide it, Takanuva was shocked at Makuta’s size. But he held his ground as Makuta approached him.
“You failed to save your friend,” Makuta said. “You didn’t even warn him. Perhaps for your next great failure…” He paused, holding out his arm. A Kolhii Staff of Shadow grew out of it. Then he motioned toward the doorway behind him. “A simple game of kolhii? Win and you may try to open the gate. When you lose, I’ll have that mask.”
“I will not lose!” Takanuva retorted, clutching his own staff tightly.
Makuta nodded, accepting the challenge. The surface of the nearest pool of energized protodermis rippled. A silvery ball slowly rose out of it, hovering in midair between Makuta and Takanuva.
Both players leaped toward the ball. Takanuva was faster and reached it first, snatching it in the scoop on one end of his kolhii staff. Dodging Makuta’s swiping blow, he darted past him.
He landed on a perch along one of the pillars. Makuta followed, perching on another pillar. The ball of protodermis in Takanuva’s scoop transformed suddenly into a glowing ball of light. Takanuva launched it toward Makuta.
Makuta dodged the ball of light, which exploded against the pillar behind him.
Another ball of protodermis rose out of the pool. This time Makuta was the faster one. He grabbed the ball with his kolhii staff, and it immediately transformed into a ball of dark shadow energy. He flung it at Takanuva.
The Toa leaped to the side. The ball of shadow crashed against another pillar, splintering it.
The kolhii match continued. Neither player spoke; neither hesitated. And neither managed to score a hit on the other. Every time a ball crashed out of the game, another rose from the protodermis to take its place.
Finally Makuta launched a ball of darkness that flew toward Takanuva faster than ever. The Toa dodged it just in time, but the ball smashed into the pillar behind him with full force. The impact was too much for the structure – it splintered and came loose from the ceiling, plummeting into a hole that suddenly yawned open in the floor below it.
Takanuva managed to leap to safety, rolling to a stop inches from a pool of protodermis. Makuta jumped down and swooped on the next ball of protodermis before the Toa could react. Then he stalked toward Takanuva.
He laughed with dark triumph. “You know I cannot be beaten!”
With that, he launched the ball of shadow straight at Takanuva.
Hahli ran through the tunnels as fast as she could, still clutching Jaller’s mask. The thought of her fallen friend gave strength to her legs and courage to her heart. Ahead of her, finally she saw a pinprick of daylight.
A moment later she burst out of the crater of the ruined suva dome into the main temple area at Kini-Nui. The six Turaga and the six Toa stood around the dome crater, waiting. The entire population of the island was gathered behind them on the hillsides surrounding the temple, waiting to hear the fate of the Toa of Light.
“I bring word from Takanuva!” Hahli blurted. She climbed out of the hole, breathing hard. “He wants us to follow. We are to awaken Mata Nui today!”
The crowd, hearing the news, murmured uncertainly.
“A light among the shadows,” Turaga Vakama said in a faraway voice. “The prophecy is fulfilled. We must go!”
Turaga Onewa’s face was grim. “If we descend into those tunnels, we will never again return!”
The crowd’s murmurs grew louder. The villagers looked by turns nervous, excited, and uncertain.
Hahli climbed up onto a chunk of stone and held up Jaller’s mask. “This island is a great and wondrous place,” she declared. “Never has any people been as blessed as we are to live in such a paradise.”
All around her, Turaga and Matoran nodded in agreement. Taking strength from her own convictions – and her memories of Jaller – Hahli continued.
“I love my home,” she said. “And Jaller loved it, too. But above all Jaller respected his duty. Let us repay him by doing our duty. Let us remember him by fulfilling our destiny! Let us go forward together.” She glanced around at the crowd, which was hanging on her every word. “Let us awaken the Great Spirit!”
The crowd burst into loud cheers. Hahli sighed with relief. She had done her duty. Now it was time for the island’s people to do theirs.
Takanuva barely managed to escape the ball of shadow. The effort of dodging it sent him flying off a pillar into space. He adjusted in midair, swinging his feet around until he was running straight down the pillar. The momentum carried him over to the protodermis pool just as another ball rose from it.
He grabbed it in his kolhii net. As soon as it transformed into a ball of light, he turned and hurled it toward Makuta.
But the dark one was ready. He swung his own kolhii stick, catching the ball of light in his net and transforming it into darkness.
Takanuva gasped in shock. Then he leaped to the side as the ball came hurtling back toward him, shattering another pillar and sending it collapsing into the floor. Once again, the Toa of Light barely dodged in time, jumping over to another pillar – one of only two left standing in the cavern. He was growing tired. How much longer could he continue this game?
Makuta grabbed the next protodermis ball and transformed it. Then he walked toward the two pillars, searching for his quarry.
“An audience gathers for your final failure, Toa of Light,” Makuta said.
Takanuva leaped high up the pillar, staying just out of his opponent’s sight. “Maybe they will not see me win today,” he said. “But the Matoran will go on, and someday they will triumph.”
“You actually believe I would let them return?” Makuta said. “After all the trouble they have been?”
Just outside the cavern, Hahli rode Pewku toward the door, leading the six Toa, the six Turaga, and the Matoran crowd behind her. The Toa gathered around the crack in the doorway, looking through into Makuta’s cavern.
There was only one pillar left standing now. Takanuva clung to it, while Makuta stood at the base, a ball of darkness quivering in his net. The dark one turned, glancing toward the doorway.
“Now that I have them,” he said with malicious satisfaction, “they will not leave.”
With a sudden horror, Takanuva realized the truth – he had led his people into a trap!
“NO!” he cried.
Makuta launched the ball of darkness toward the voice overhead. Takanuva ducked it. The ball struck the pillar, which started to collapse.
Takanuva landed on the ground on one side of the protodermis pool. Makuta stood on the other. Without hesitating, the Toa of Light flipped himself over the protodermis toward his enemy.
A ball of protodermis rose out of the pool, and Takanuva grabbed it in midflip, transforming it into a ball of light. He immediately rolled into his special kolhii move, somersaulting and throwing the ball at the same time.
This time it worked – the ball of light flew right into Makuta’s chest!
The force of the impact knocked Makuta backward across the chamber. He staggered, then dropped to his knees with a mighty crash. Light energy flashed through his body.
Makuta roared in pain as the light energy weakened him. “Well played, Toa,” he croaked.
Takanuva stepped forward. He had done it! He had finally defeated his enemy!
But Makuta wasn’t quite finished yet. As the Toa approached, the dark one suddenly flung out his hand, shoving Takanuva backward with surprising force.
Takanuva grunted, startled. He fell back hard, landing near the pool of protodermis.
Makuta climbed to his feet. “Now I will protect Mata Nui from you,” he snarled, marching toward the Toa of Light.
“Protect him?” Confused, Takanuva lowered his staff.
“Sleep spares him pain!” Makuta said. “Awake, he suffers.”
He continued stalking toward Takanuva, who found himself backing closer and closer to the pool of protodermis. The Toa of Light wasn’t sure what to think of the dark one’s words. How could he think that Mata Nui was better off remaining asleep? How could he think that was best for the island?
“But he does not live,” he protested, still perplexed.
Makuta raised his kolhii staff. Utter determination danced in his red eyes. “My duty remains to the shadows.”
Suddenly Takanuva smiled. The light had dawned in his mind – he knew what he had to do.
“Then let’s take a closer look at those shadows,” he said.
He dropped his kolhii staff and leaped toward Makuta, landing on his chest so that the two of them were face-to-face. With one hand Takanuva grabbed the Mask of Shadow, yanking it off of Makuta’s head. His other hand pulled his own mask free. Before Makuta could react, the Toa had switched the masks, shoving the Mask of Light onto the dark one’s face and placing the Mask of Shadow over his own face.
“NO!” Makuta howled.
Makuta staggered in a circle, the mask pulsing on his face. Then he toppled backward into the protodermis pool, pulling Takanuva along with him.
The other six Toa rushed into the room, followed by the Turaga and the others. They all gathered around the pool. The still, silvery surface remained unbroken for a long, long moment. The Toa exchanged glances, not sure what to think.
Suddenly arcs of dark and light energy shot out of the protodermis and danced across the surface. The Matoran took a wary step back.
Then a huge head rose from the steaming protodermis. Makuta? No, it wasn’t the dark one – at least not completely. It was the merged face of Takanuva and Makuta – half Mask of Light, half Mask of Shadow. An enormous merged figure continued to rise slowly out of the pool, half light and half shadow.
The light side of the mask spoke. “Light has revealed the will of Mata Nui,” Takanuva’s voice said.
“Our brother must be awakened,” the Makuta side added.
The Toa, Turaga, and Matoran glanced at one another. None of them knew what to do or think now.
Takutanuva stepped out of the pool and walked toward the huge door set into the wall on the far side of the cavern. He crouched down, his fingers gouging the metal of the door as he tried to lift it. The door creaked and groaned, then slowly began to rise.
As Takutanuva struggled under the weight of the giant door, the Toa and the others stepped forward uncertainly and walked through into the chamber beyond. Hahli was still carrying Jaller’s mask as she stepped past the giant two-sided figure.
“Hold, little one,” Makuta’s voice stopped her. “That mask needs life.”
The shadowy side of Takutanuva reached out a hand. A powerful pulse of dark and light energy shot out from his fingertip, blasting into Jaller’s mask.
Hahli stepped back as the mask took on a life of its own. As she watched in amazement, Jaller’s body quickly regenerated from the mask – his head, his body, his legs bursting into existence out of nothing. A dim glow lit up the eyes behind the mask, and a moment later Jaller fell backward weakly.
Hahli caught him, stunned by what she had just seen. Could it really be? Could her friend have been brought back?
“Jaller!” she cried.
Jaller merely groaned in response, trying to take in what was happening.
But the energy of re-creating the brave Matoran had taken too much out of Takutanuva. He strained against the weight of the door, but it was no use. The metal door smashed down on him, sending up a thick cloud of dust that obscured the onlookers’ view.
The Toa and Matoran bowed their heads sadly. Jaller stepped forward, heartbroken.
“Takua!” he cried as Pewku whined sorrowfully nearby.
The cloud of dust swirled vigorously. Suddenly, a figure stepped out of it – Takanuva!
As Hahli gasped in surprise, Jaller raced toward his friend. Pewku ran even faster, leaping onto Takanuva with joyful cries.
“You’re alive!” Jaller exclaimed gleefully, hardly seeming to notice his friend’s new form. Then he frowned. “Kolhii-head! You could’ve been Makuta bones!”
Takanuva grinned. “Could’ve been, but I’m not.”
Turaga Vakama raised his staff, interrupting the friends’ moment. “Let us awaken the Great Spirit.”
Hahli, Jaller, and Takanuva followed the Turaga to the far end of the new chamber. There, a ledge plunged away into dark nothingness.
“Unity!” Turaga Vakama said solemnly. “Duty! Destiny!”
As he spoke, Takanuva’s power illuminated his companions and himself. Their light shone down into the abyss, revealing what lay below.
The Matoran gasped in amazement as they saw a strange new world stretching out below them. The chamber at the bottom of the cliff was indescribably huge – it stretched farther than the eye could see. Strange structures dotted the landscape, and flashes of energy danced here and there.
Takanuva nodded as he surveyed. This is it, he thought as a feeling of certainty settled through him. Soon we will understand everything. Who we are. Where we come from. Who sent us.