Onua and Pohatu were conferring in the center courtyard of Onu-Koro when they heard steps approaching from one of the tunnels.
Pohatu saw an exhausted-looking Ussal crab trotting toward him. His eyes widened in surprise as he recognized the figure riding atop the Ussal’s back.
“Chronicler!” Pohatu exclaimed as Takua and Pewku made their way toward the Toa. “Where is the Herald?”
Takua looked tired and uncertain. “Uh, we got… separated,” he said. “After we met the Rahkshi.”
Before Takua could continue, the ground shuddered. The villagers around them cried out in alarm. Suddenly the cavern wall burst open – and three tall, horrifying figures leaped into view, hissing angrily.
“Those!” Takua cried, pointing to the Rahkshi. He blinked, realizing that the colors were different. “Except… different ones.”
“Clear the cave!” Onua shouted. “And close the tunnel behind you!”
The Onu-Matoran scattered, racing for the tunnels leading away from the cavern. Meanwhile Onua and Pohatu faced the three Rahkshi.
“Let me show you a real Onu-Koro welcome,” Onua rumbled. He slammed his fists onto the ground, creating an elemental tidal wave of earth and stone. The wave rippled toward the Rahkshi and swallowed them.
But when the wave had passed, the Rahkshi rose up again, unharmed.
Onua grunted in surprise. The Hunger-Rahkshi leaped toward him, wielding its staff. Onua grabbed at the staff, trying to pull it away.
Meanwhile Pohatu raced toward the Fear-Rahkshi. The creature raised its staff, sending dark energy waves rippling out from it. As soon as Pohatu hit the circle of energy, he stopped in midstride, his eyes filled with dark fear.
“No…” he whimpered, mesmerized by the overwhelming, inescapable fear. All of his worst fears seemed to be exploding within him. “Water, sinking, drowning…!”
The Hunger-Rahkshi hissed at Onua as they struggled over the staff. The creature activated the staff. Dark hunger energy flooded into Onua, instantly draining him of power, channeling it instead back into the Rahkshi’s staff.
“My strength,” Onua whispered weakly. “My power…”
His eyes dimmed and he fell over backward, landing with a mighty crash. He couldn’t move – his energy was completely gone, replaced by a gnawing, devastating hunger.
“Onua!” Pohatu cried.
Still imprisoned by a wall of fear, Pohatu was unable to help. And the more he struggled against it, the more the terror overwhelmed him – until, with a final moan of helplessness, he collapsed to the ground.
Takua tried to avoid the fleeing villagers as he and Pewku searched for escape as well. The three Rahkshi turned and spotted him in the crowds. Knocking other Matoran out of the way, they stalked after him with a hiss.
Pewku found her way to a tunnel while the Rahkshi were still halfway back across the large cavern. Takua breathed out in relief. They were going to make it!
Then he turned and saw the scene behind him. The Rahkshi were stomping on huts and shoving aside terrified Onu-Matoran. Onua and Pohatu were still sprawled motionless on the cavern floor.
This is my fault, Takua realized. They’re destroying everything in their path – to get to me.
His eyes hardened with resolve. Grabbing a kolhii stick that was leaning against a hut nearby, he turned Pewku to face the approaching Rahkshi.
“Yah, Pewku!” he shouted, urging the Ussal onward. “Yah!”
Pewku tried to do as he said. But so many villagers were fleeing, flowing around them in their race for the tunnel, that they could hardly move forward. Finally Takua gave up. Slumping to the ground, he closed his eyes and waited for the Rahkshi to reach him.
Pewku whined frantically, trying to get him to move. But he pushed her claw aside.
“Go find a real hero,” he mumbled miserably. “What can I do?”
Tahu, Lewa, and Gali raced through a tunnel, heading toward the main cavern of Onu-Koro. They skidded to a stop as they reached the end of the tunnel and saw the mayhem in the cavern.
Tahu’s eyes flashed with anger as he took it in. The poison taint, which had spread to cover half of his face, glowed angrily as well.
He leaped into the cavern without a word. “Tahu!” Lewa cried, grabbing at him. But it was too late.
“RAHKSHI!” Tahu bellowed furiously, racing toward the creatures. He charged at the Anger-Rahkshi first.
The Anger-Rahkshi banged its staff on the ground. A ring of dark energy rippled across the cavern floor, hitting Tahu and knocking him off of his feet.
The Fire Toa landed with a grunt on the hard ground. Gali and Lewa leaped out of the tunnel and raced toward the action. Lewa spotted a small figure huddled on the ground near the Rahkshi.
The Chronicler, he thought in surprise. And his crab friend, Pewku. Looks like they’re in badneed of a rescue.
He glided toward them, grabbing Takua in one arm and Pewku in the other.
The Rahkshi hissed in frustration as they saw their quarry fly away across the cavern. They turned and stalked after him.
Tahu’s eyes glowed dark, anger-energy flashing across them. The poison taint had spread once again and now covered his entire mask.
He leaped to his feet. Gali gasped as she saw that it wasn’t just Tahu’s mask that was poisoned now. The taint had spread across his entire body!
The Rahkshi’s anger-energy must have caused it to spread more rapidly, she thought in alarm.
She took a step toward him. “Brother!” she said with concern.
“FIRE HAS NO BROTHERS!” Tahu howled. “FIRE CONSUMES ALL!”
He slammed his swords into the ground. Jagged fissures of lava burst into life and tore across the ground in all directions. Gali balanced on a pillar of earth as fire consumed the ground on either side.
Tahu looked at her, but there was no recognition in his eyes – only anger. He slammed his swords down again, sending another fissure of lava right at Gali. She somersaulted away just in time as the ground exploded into flame.
Across the cavern, Lewa glided down and deposited Takua and Pewku beside Onua and Pohatu. “No thought-thinking,” the Toa ordered Takua breathlessly. “Quickspeed to Jaller. Warn him!”
“I… er… will,” Takua called as the Air Toa glided away, heading toward Tahu and Gali.
Takua led the way as he and Pewku raced toward an escape tunnel. But a few strides away, the Ussal veered suddenly, heading through a narrow foundry doorway instead.
“Pewku!” Takua cried. “Where are you going?”
He followed her. A moment later, the Rahkshi disappeared through the foundry door as well.
At that moment back in the cavern, Pohatu finally came to and sat up. He glanced at Onua, who was pushing himself upright nearby. “Rise and shine, brother,” Pohatu joked weakly.
Onua merely groaned in response.
The heat rolled over Takua in waves as he followed Pewku into the depths of the foundry. Several fires blazed beneath narrow exhaust chimneys cut into the rock ceiling. Mine-cars loaded with lightstones sat on their tracks, waiting to move out.
Dead end, Takua realized as he stared around the chamber. There’s no way out except the way we came… and we can’t go that way.
The trio of Rahkshi emerged from the entry tunnel into the foundry chamber with a loud hiss. Pewku raced toward one of the chimneys. She grunted urgently at Takua and leaped up, scrambling for a hold on the rough rock sides.
Takua took a deep breath. What choice did he have? He leaped up, following the Ussal into the soot-blackened chimney.
As he struggled to climb up the chimney, he heard the Rahkshi hissing directly beneath him. He tried to climb faster, but it was no use – the Fear-Rahkshi was right behind him. It lunged up, grabbing for his foot.