Roodaka, viceroy of the Visorak hordes, stood in what had once been Turaga Dume’s box in the Coliseum. A red Visorak, Vohtarak, stood beside her, awaiting her commands. Down below, Visorak scurried to and fro, carrying cocooned Rahi. These would be placed in the webs that lined the arena as trophies of another conquest.
Soon, the Toa would be joining them, she knew. The six heroes of Metru Nui had combined their powers to trap their foe, Makuta, in a protodermis prison sealed with the symbol of the three Matoran virtues: unity, duty, and destiny. With such a “lock,” even Makuta could not break free. Only the power of the Toa could undo what they had done.
“Vakama and his allies made two great errors,” Roodaka said. “The first was thinking Makuta helpless. Though his body is frozen, though his power is stalemated, his mind is free to roam. His thoughts reached out to us and now Metru Nui is ours.”
The Vohtarak nodded agreement enthusiastically. Not agreeing with Roodaka was almost inevitably a fatal mistake.
Roodaka smiled as she recalled the Toa’s return to Metru Nui. So proud they were, so confident, so convinced that nothing could defeat them. But the venom of the Visorak changed all that. Now the Toa were Toa Hordika, half-hero, half-Rahi, forced for the first time to confront the shadows within.
“They should have fled far from this place,” Roodaka reflected. “They should have traveled to a star of which even Mata Nui never dreamed. Now there is no hope for them. In a matter of hours, days at most, the hordes will track them down.”
Roodaka glanced at the Vohtarak. “But why am I telling you this? You are not even a Visorak… are you?”
The Vohtarak hesitated for a moment under Roodaka’s piercing glare. Then, with a shrug, the Visorak transformed into a perfect replica of Toa Nokama.
“Once again, you are correct.” The voice was Nokama’s, but the Toa of Water had never worn such an expression of hatred. “I am Krahka. I am a Rahi, one of those your hordes have been hunting in this city. And I have come to strike you down like the monster you are.”
Roodaka’s answer was laughter, long and shrill, carrying with it more than a little trace of madness.
Krahka circled warily. The shapeshifting Rahi had faced many foes in her life, including the six Toa Metru. But this Roodaka was something different. Every move she made was carefully calculated and all part of a grand strategy. There was no wasted motion, no scrambling to react to Krahka’s changes of shape.
For her part, Roodaka was enjoying this. She could have had Krahka slain immediately, but chose instead to face the Rahi in single battle. The arena floor had been cleared for them. Now the Visorak watched as their leader prepared to claim another victim.
Krahka had abandoned the guise of Nokama in favor of a subterranean creature whose appearance would be enough to drive a sane Matoran mad. She now towered twelve feet high, with a slimy, pale white body and six long, bony spines coming out of her sides. Each spine was extremely flexible and could be cracked like a whip. At the end of the spines were wickedly curved claws that could rip through six inches of metal with one swipe.
It should have been no contest. The Krahka had strength, height, and reach over Roodaka, and a body designed to make it impossible for any blow to land solidly. But the Visorak viceroy slipped away from every one of Krahka’s strikes, then struck with her own talons. Worse, Roodaka struck so swiftly and so often that Krahka had no opportunity to shapeshift.
Roodaka slipped through her defenses and landed two quick blows, staggering her opponent. Then she launched her Rhotuka spinner, whose power could transform Krahka permanently into a figure out of nightmare. At the last split second, the Rahi shifted into a small burrowing creature and vanished underground.
Silence descended on the arena. Some of the Visorak believed Roodaka had won, while others were not so certain. Roodaka herself stood perfectly still, waiting for Krahka’s return in a new form.
The ground shifted slightly beneath the Visorak viceroy’s feet. Before she could react, the arena floor was crumbling beneath her and she was falling into the massive, tooth-filled maw of a Po-Metru troller worm. Some of the horde charged forward as if to save her, while the rest seemed perfectly happy to see Roodaka devoured.
They were destined to be disappointed. Roodaka latched onto the sides of the hole with her claws and pulled herself out right before the huge jaws snapped shut. Once back on solid ground, she paused and listened to the sound of the great worm moving beneath the surface. Moving too quickly for the eye to follow, Roodaka plunged her arm through the ground and seized the Krahka/troller in her claws. With a mighty heave, she pulled the giant worm up through the arena floor.
As soon as she realized her predicament, Krahka shifted to a smaller lava eel. Her now fiery hot hide burnt Roodaka’s hand, forcing her to release her grip. Krahka slithered away and shifted again, this time taking the form of one of the gigantic Kahgarak spiders that guarded the gates of the Coliseum. Then she spat a stream of webbing at Roodaka, binding her to the arena wall.
“You… cannot defeat me… with my own creatures,” Roodaka hissed. Flexing her muscles, she tore free of the web. “And at that size, you are too big of a target to miss, Rahi.”
Roodaka launched another spinner. Krahka started to shapeshift, but too late as the whirling energy struck her. The Rahi’s own powers blunted the effects of the mutating force, but it was still enough to send her sprawling in the dust. Now back in the form of Nokama, she struggled to regain her feet.
The Visorak viceroy was upon her before she could rise, a talon held to Krahka’s throat. “I could end this now,” said Roodaka. “But you have… possibilities, creature. I did not get where I am by wasting potential resources.”
Krahka cursed. Roodaka grabbed her by the neck and forced her to look around the arena at the hundreds of Visorak assembled to watch the match. “At a single word from me, even a nod, they would bind you and turn you into something so horrible you would die of fright at your own reflection,” said Roodaka. “Or we can come to an arrangement. You decide.”
Roodaka let the Krahka go. The Rahi got to her feet, still in the shape of the Toa Metru of Water. “What sort of… arrangement?”
“Not every Rahi need end up in our web, Krahka. Those who are useful will survive intact, even thrive, under my rule. You can be one of them. Your particular skills and your past experience with the Toa Metru – oh yes, I know about that – make you ideal for something I have in mind.”
Krahka pondered the offer. If she refused, she had no doubt that Roodaka and the Visorak would defeat her… or worse. If she accepted, there might still be some opportunity to get her revenge on Roodaka later on.
“All right,” said the Rahi. “Very well. What do you want me to do?”
Roodaka smiled. “Sidorak and the hordes are hunting for the Toa Hordika. If they catch them, all is well; but just in case they do not, I intend to make sure that the Toa will be unable to oppose me.”
Roodaka put an arm around Krahka’s shoulders and led her away. “We are going to do the heroes of Metru Nui a favor, you and I. We are going to tell them the truth about themselves.”