1

Despite their recent victory, the Toa Hordika were left more fragmented and disturbed than before. They were rapidly mastering the Rhotuka spinners they now carried, but had less luck mastering the Rahi sides of themselves. Too often, they had allowed anger to rule their spirits almost to the point of disaster. Vakama, in particular, had been filled with anger for days and had finally reached a point where he avoided the others completely. He spent most of his time wandering the ruins, straying farther away from the camp each day, as if straining against an invisible chain that bound him to Nokama and the rest. He surveyed the wreckage of the once proud city, reflecting on what the Toa were, what they had been, and what they had become.

So lost in thought was he that he sometimes forgot just how much Metru Nui had changed. With the Archives destroyed by the earthquake, every Rahi that had ever been housed there was now loose and roaming the city. A near fatal reminder of that came on one of his walks, when a savage Muaka cat sprang from the rubble to confront him. It snarled at Vakama, muscles tensed to spring and claws ready to rend the Toa Hordika.

Vakama reacted purely by instinct. He hunched down, blazer claws raised, and growled like a Rahi. There was no strategy behind his actions, just an animalistic show of strength. Even without his willing it, a Rhotuka spinner took shape in the launcher that was now part of his anatomy.

The Muaka took a step back. This creature looked like one of the two-legged ones that had captured the Rahi long ago, but it did not act like one. It acted like a beast, and a formidable beast at that. Deciding there had to be easier prey than this, the Muaka turned and disappeared into the darkness.

Vakama forced himself to relax. With enormous effort, he pushed down the Hordika in him and let his rational side return to dominance. “What was –?” he began.

“It meant you no harm.”

The Toa Hordika of Fire turned to see Norik approaching. The Rahaga had been silently trailing Vakama since he had left the camp. In time, Vakama’s Hordika senses would make it impossible for him to be followed.

“I beg to differ,” Vakama replied.

Norik glanced in the direction the Muaka had gone. “It was just scared. Muaka are loners by nature, and uncomfortable being close to others.” He gestured to Vakama. “There’s a bit of them in you now.”

It was then that the Rahaga noticed Vakama’s Rhotuka spinner was still active and waiting to be launched. “Careful with that,” he said quietly. “It’s a most powerful tool.”

Vakama had not even realized the fire spinner was there, but now he willed it to dissipate. Still, it gave him some satisfaction to know it could intimidate the Rahaga just as it had the Muaka.

“I certainly mean to find that out… wise one,” he replied, with more than a little sarcasm in his voice. Then he turned and walked away, only to be stopped by Norik’s voice.

“And what about your friends?”

Vakama spun on his heel, growling, “Former friends. If they think being a leader is so easy, they can try it themselves!”

“True,” Norik said, nodding. “But they won’t succeed without you. Or you without them.”

“And how do you know that?”

“I don’t,” Norik conceded. “But the Great Spirit does. Unity, duty, and destiny. If you Toa are to rescue the Matoran, you must do so together. This is something you can’t change.”

Vakama stared at the Rahaga for a long moment, digesting his words. Then he turned again and stalked off into the shadows.

“Watch me,” he snapped.

Norik watched him go. Yes, Vakama, that I will do, he said to himself. You bear watching in these dark days, perhaps even more than you know.

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