“Hang on!” Gali shouted.
Takua looked down, trying to see the Toa. Instead, his gaze caught the beam of dark fear energy emanating from the Rahkshi’s staff. He fell to his knees, instantly transfixed.
The Fear-Rahkshi rose up on its long legs, towering over Takua. It swung its staff toward the helpless Matoran.
But Jaller had seen what was happening. He leaped forward, swinging the kolhii stick he was holding.
Takua snapped out of his fear trance as Jaller intercepted the Rahkshi’s blow. “Jaller!” he screamed as dark energy sizzled through his friend’s body.
The Fear-Rahkshi turned toward him, its eyes glittering wickedly. But before it could strike again, Gali and Pohatu leaped in and grabbed it by the arms.
Takua dropped the mask, racing over and cradling his fallen friend. “What have you done?” he cried as Jaller’s eyes dimmed. “I’m supposed to make the sacrifice! I’m the Herald!”
“No,” Jaller said weakly. “The duty was mine. You know…” He paused, gathering the last scraps of his fading strength. He took in a ragged breath.
“…who you are,” he whispered faintly. Stretching out his hand, he picked up the Mask of Light and put it in Takua’s hands. “You were always different.”
Jaller’s hand dropped limply onto the stone. Gently lowering his friend’s head to the ground, Takua stood, lifting the mask. It glowed more brightly than ever.
Takua stood still for a moment, his eyes distant.
Nearby, the Fear-Rahkshi struggled free of Gali’s and Pohatu’s grip. The two Toa lost their footing and tumbled down the steps, crashing into the other Toa, who were on their way to help.
Takua turned the mask over in his hands again. His eyes narrowed purposefully. As he lifted it to his face, the mask’s glow brightened again. As it made contact with his own mask, it burst forth with brilliant beams of white light.
He was the Seventh Toa!
He could feel his body transforming as the mask’s power flooded through him. He became taller, stronger, brighter. Light emanated from him, freezing the Fear-Rahkshi in its tracks.
The other six Toa gazed up at him in awe. They fell to their knees.
“Hail, brother Toa!” they said in one voice.
Takua stared at his own hand, which glowed white-hot with light energy. He picked up Jaller’s kolhii stick, and a small spark jumped from his hand to the stick, transforming it into the Kolhii Staff of Light.
He turned to face the other Toa, his eyes filled with awe and power. “I am Takanuva,” he declared. “Toa of Light!”
As the white light bursting from him illuminated the entire temple, he bent and picked up Jaller’s body. He carried it down the steps past the other Toa. Each of them raised his or her weapon in salute, then followed the Toa of Light with their heads solemnly bowed.
The next morning, Takanuva stood gazing down at the suva-style grave dome that had been raised in a quiet spot overlooking the Kini-Nui temple. A memorial pillar rose from the top of the dome, and Jaller’s mask rested upon it.
Turaga Vakama stepped toward the Toa of Light. “You have finally found your own story,” he said quietly, “and still you seek answers.”
Takanuva stared at Jaller’s mask. “All this, just to discover who I am?”
Vakama shrugged. “Mata Nui is wiser than all,” he replied. “The path you walked was not to be here…” He paused and gestured at the temple. “But here.” He tapped Takanuva on the chest. “You understand you have but one destiny.”
Lewa helped Tahu attach a pipe to the vehicle they were building. “How will this wayfind the Makuta?” he asked.
Takanuva stepped forward, holding the six kraata in his fist. “What is the Makuta’s shall return to him.” He inserted the kraata into the slot they’d created for that purpose. They writhed angrily in their restraints.
Tahu looked up at the vehicle, which they were calling an Ussanui. They had created it out of parts of the defeated Rahkshi. Would it work?
Before long, all seven Toa were gathered around the completed Ussanui vehicle. Hahli walked up to them, carefully carrying Jaller’s mask.
“Jaller was your Herald,” she told Takanuva solemnly. “Let him continue to lead you to victory.”
She stepped to the front of the vehicle, attaching the mask to it. Takanuva nodded.
“Well said, Hahli,” he told her.
Pohatu cocked his head at the vehicle curiously. “Not much room in this transport,” he said. “Where will we all sit, brother?”
Takanuva shook his head. “You won’t,” he replied. “You shall not join me.”
The other Toa reacted with surprise. “But united, our power defeated the Rahkshi!” Pohatu reminded him.
Tahu nodded. “Certainly it will take nothing less to defeat Makuta!”
Takanuva turned away from them, staring at the transport. “I have but one destiny,” he said. “Yours lie with the Matoran and the Turaga. Gather them and wait for my return.”
He stepped forward, climbing into the Ussanui vehicle. At last, he turned to look at the Toa gathered below.
“Farewell,” he told them.
The Ussanui rocketed through the tunnels beneath the Kini-Nui. Takanuva held on grimly, not thinking or moving. Just waiting.
Finally the Ussanui rounded another corner. An immense door blocked the tunnel, but the vehicle never slowed. It crashed straight into the door, cracking it open before bouncing off, skidding to a halt at last.
Takanuva opened his eyes. As he climbed out of the wrecked vehicle, there was a rattling sound behind him.
His eyes widened in amazement as a piece of the damaged vehicle was tossed aside and a familiar figure climbed out from the wreckage.
“Hahli!” Takanuva cried.
Hahli walked to the front of the vehicle and removed Jaller’s mask. “Let me be your Chronicler,” she told Takanuva with determination in her voice.
Takanuva hesitated, then nodded. Reaching into the wreckage long enough to pull out the six kraata, he turned and stepped through the cracked door into the dark chamber beyond.
* * *
The two adventuring Matoran were still trying to escape Makuta’s lair. They ran down yet another passage, trying to find the way back to the surface.
“Oh, this doesn’t look right at all!” the tan Matoran exclaimed.
“There is nowhere you can hide from the power of Makuta.”
“We’re not trying to hide!” the tan Matoran shouted. “We’re – we’re –”
“Well, yes, we are… aren’t we?” the gray Matoran asked. “The refuge is a place to hide from everything, instead of facing our problems.”
“I… I don’t know…” his friend responded.
Before either of them could say anything more, they came upon a large pool of shimmering, silvery liquid.
“What’s that?” the gray Matoran asked.
“It looks like energized protodermis,” the tan Matoran responded. “That’s the same stuff that turned the Toa into the Toa Nuva.”
The gray Matoran looked up from the pool, staring directly into his companion’s eyes. “Listen, I’ve been thinking. Maybe there is a Great Refuge, and maybe there isn’t. But is the duty and destiny of the Matoran really to run away and hide?”
“But everyone would be safe!” the tan Matoran responded.
“Maybe we aren’t supposed to be safe,” the gray Matoran said thoughtfully, staring back at the pool of protodermis again. “Maybe we’re supposed to stand up for ourselves against creeps like Makuta.” His eyes turned back to his companion. “I think it’s time we returned to our friends.”
“I guess you’re right,” the tan Matoran admitted. “That’s where we belong.”
Just then, a loud CRASH interrupted their conversation.
Makuta’s voice boomed around them once more. “The Toa of Light has arrived! I have no more time for you two. Go!”
Without hesitation, the two Matoran ran for the nearest opening they could see.
“Hey!” the tan Matoran exclaimed. “We’re back on the surface!”
“Let’s find the others,” his friend suggested. “Ta-Koro might be gone… maybe all the villages are gone… but as long as the Matoran stand together, Makuta will never win!”
Both Matoran nodded, then said in unison, “Unity! Duty! Destiny!”