Lewa, Onua, and Pohatu were confronted by a horrible sight: In the brief time they had been struggling with Reidak, three of their number had fallen. Worse, their enemies had now been joined by two more, one in white armor and one in blue.

“We need to rescue the others and regroup,” said Pohatu. “The power of all six Toa united is needed here.”

“And if we fall, too?” asked Onua. “I honor my brothers and my sister above all things… but this would be more than just our defeat. The Mask of Life would be lost and the Great Spirit doomed to die.”

It was Lewa who made the decision. “If we leave our Toa friends to die, we are not worthy of the trust Mata Nui has placed in us. We quick-save them, if we have to tear these Piraka apart to do it.”

A plan was made. At Pohatu’s signal, Lewa used his elemental power to create a blinding storm of rock dust. At its height, Pohatu used the Mask of Speed to race toward where Gali lay, while Onua slipped behind Avak. The Toa of Stone grabbed his fallen friend and sped back to Lewa, even as Onua stunned Avak with a surprise blow. Before the Piraka could respond, Onua slammed him with a fist of earth, knocking him unconscious. When he fell, Kopaka’s cage disappeared.

“Come on,” Onua said to the unconscious Toa Nuva of Ice. “This fight isn’t over yet.”

The storm abated. Zaktan’s eyes narrowed at the sight of how much the Toa Nuva had achieved in only a few seconds. If they succeeded in reviving their two comrades, the Toa would have the edge in numbers again.

“We must strike now,” he said. “Use your power, Thok, and eliminate them all.”

The white Piraka shook his head. “That much effort would leave me too weak, if there were to be… another fight.”

Zaktan hurled some of his substance forward, surrounding Thok with bands of protodites. “I was not making a request. Do it!”

Thok knew he had no choice, but privately swore he would avenge this humiliation later. For now, the Toa Nuva were all bunched together as they tended to their wounded. That would make things much easier. The Piraka reached out with his power over the inanimate to bring the mountainside to life. Now resembling a stone giant, it towered 50 feet in the air as it lumbered toward the Toa.

The creature’s shadow fell over the heroes. Pohatu looked up and knew immediately what he had to do, if there was only time to do it. He would make the Piraka regret choosing stone for their attack. Sending his elemental power forward in waves, he seized control of the giant, shattered it into pieces, and sent the rubble flying toward the assembled Piraka.

The rocks exploded as they struck the ground, sending Thok, Vezok, and Zaktan scrambling for cover. Hakann chose that moment to strike, blasting Pohatu and Lewa with mental energy and felling them both. That left only Onua still at full strength.

The Toa of Earth stood amongst the bodies of his friends. He had no idea if Tahu, Gali, or the others might already be dead. He knew that even his massive strength could not stop so many foes at once, especially since he could hear Reidak breaking free behind him. And his own words came back to haunt him – wasn’t retrieving the Mask of Life what was most important? Shouldn’t he escape to fight another day?

He looked down at Gali and the rest, lying so still. Then he glanced up to see Tahu’s limp body discarded on the slope like it was worthless trash. These were friends he had fought beside, laughed with, mourned with, now helpless at the hands of their enemies. In that moment, Onua made his decision – he would live or die here, as a Toa Nuva.

Ripping a half ton of rock free from the ground, he hurled it at Zaktan. Before it had even struck home, Onua was running toward his foes, a chilling battle cry escaping from his lips.

He never made it. The powers of Zaktan, Thok, and Hakann struck at him at once, slowing him down but not stopping him. It was left to Vezok to strike the final blow, smashing the Toa of Earth into oblivion.

Zaktan looked around. Reidak and Avak were back on their feet and the others were already moving to loot the bodies of the Toa Nuva. None of them seemed upset at the heroes’ defeat, making him wonder if perhaps the Toa had only come to Voya Nui for the Mask of Life. There was no conspiracy against him – not one involving the Toa, at least. And this great victory would surely cement his leadership, at least long enough to retrieve the mask and get off this barren rock.

“They’re still alive,” reported Vezok. “Even the one I hit.”

“Do you want me to cage them?” asked Avak. “Maybe they have information on the mask we can use.”

Zaktan smiled. He wondered how many other times these Toa, or others like them, had been defeated and how many other times their enemies had thought to keep them captive. It was a fool’s gamble, like taking a refreshing dip in energized protodermis and hoping it wouldn’t kill you. The leader of the Piraka would not go down in legend as a fool.

“We have all hunted Toa. We know how dangerous they are, and never more so than when we think they are defeated,” he said. “Today, we won the battle, but tomorrow? No. Our quest here is too important to risk interference.”

He picked up Tahu and threw him down the slope to lie beside his friends. “Take their Masks of Power and their weapons – we may be able to sell them. Then bring them to the volcano.”

“I see,” said Hakann. “We will use the launchers and turn them into slave laborers.”

“Even enslaved Toa would be a threat,” Zaktan replied. “When you have reached the crater of the volcano… throw them in and let them burn.”

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