The Island of Voya Nui
The small armored figure walked purposefully across the rocky landscape. His eyes scanned the ground and the steep slopes on either side, searching for the slightest sign of moisture. It was a ritual he repeated every day without fail, but one that grew more frustrating each time.
There is precious little water left, Garan thought as he studied the bone-dry terrain. When the lake fully recedes, I don’t know what we will do. Only the green belt near the coast remains lush, and none but the Great Spirit knows why.
In the distance, the volcano rumbled and spewed red-hot lava into the air. The ground trembled beneath his feet, but Garan had long since learned to keep his balance. A Matoran villager on the island of Voya Nui quickly mastered the art of dealing with eruptions, tremors, and drought, or he did not last long.
He stopped at what looked to be a likely spot. Crossing his twin tools, he fired a pulse bolt at the ground. It blasted through the rock, gaining strength as it traveled, until it dissipated about six feet down. A little puddle of stagnant water rested at the bottom of the hole.
Garan sighed and looked out at the ocean in the distance. So much water, and none that we can drink. If only –
His eyes caught sight of something bobbing in the surf far below. It gleamed in the bright sunlight… it looked like a canister of some kind. As Garan watched, it struck the ice ring that surrounded the island and ground to a halt.
The lid of the canister rotated with a hiss and then fell off, sliding across the ice and back into the water. Part of Garan wanted to run down to the shore to see what was inside, but he restrained himself. He crouched behind a boulder and watched carefully.
After a moment, a figure emerged from the canister. He was strong and lean, clad in snow-white armor that was lined with spikes. Long, muscular legs ended in two-toed feet that effortlessly gripped the ice. Strangest of all was the face, with eyes that glowed red and a smile that could best be described as savage. The figure paused and looked around with seeming satisfaction, then began walking down the path that led to the Matoran settlement.
Garan peered around the rock to keep the being in sight. The armored figure didn’t look like anything he had seen before, but there was no mistaking the aura of power that surrounded him. It seemed impossible, but there was only one thing this new arrival could be – a Toa!
The white figure stopped suddenly. A Visorak was watching him from behind some nearby scrub, and evidently the Toa had detected it. Casually, as if he ran into such things every day, the Toa waved a hand in the Visorak’s direction. The scrub suddenly came to life, its thick branches wrapping around the spider creature and squeezing tight. It did not let go until the Visorak had collapsed, its only movement an occasional twitch. At that point, the plant went back to being just a plant.
Garan was awestruck. With powers like that, this new Toa would be able to solve all of Voya Nui’s problems in no time. He smiled happily, confident that the Matoran’s old way of life would soon be just a memory.
Reidak waited impatiently inside his canister. He had felt it wash up on the shore minutes ago. Zaktan had stated that Matoran would be sure to come investigate, and when they did, he was to open the canister and declare that he was the Toa of Earth.
This, Reidak decided, sounded all too much like some of Zaktan’s other plans. They always tended to be overcomplicated and too subtle for Reidak. After all, he wasn’t a Toa – he was an ex-Dark Hunter and now a Piraka. He didn’t even look like a Toa. All the Toa he had ever met were small and weak and usually died much too quickly. He preferred opponents with more longevity.
I have had enough of this, he grumbled to himself. I have heard only sea birds landing on this canister. If the Matoran will not find me, I will find them, much to their regret.
Shrugging his powerful shoulders, Reidak tore his way out of the metal canister. Brushing scraps of iron off of himself, he stalked inland.
Balta had come upon an opened canister while scouting for food. He had no idea what it might be. Perhaps Matoran from some other village had received the messages they had been throwing into the ocean and sent supplies? He knew that this was highly unlikely.
His doubts were quickly confirmed. The canister was empty. But there were footprints trailing away toward the settlement. Balta decided that food could wait. This was a mystery, after all, and Voya Nui could use a little mystery.
He caught up with the red-armored newcomer about an hour later. The first thing he noticed was the stranger’s smile – at least, he thought that was supposed to be a smile. There was something about it that reminded him of a predator’s grin… just before it pounced on prey.
Balta took a few cautious steps and called out, “Hello?”
The stranger turned around. He hesitated a moment before speaking, as if he were sizing up the Matoran. Then he said, “Do you know who I am?”
Balta shook his head.
“Well, you will,” the newcomer assured him. “I am Toa Hakann. Someday, stories will be told about this day, when the Toa came to Voya Nui. Legends will be crafted that will live on long after you are gone, Matoran.”
Balta wasn’t sure what to say to that, and the being who called himself a Toa wasn’t waiting for his response. Instead, he was pointing to a herd of Rahi beasts who were grazing on the near-barren rock.
“What are those?”
“Kikanalo,” Balta answered. “They eat plants, when they can find them. They are very big and powerful, and their stampedes are frightening… but they’re mostly harmless.”
Hakann smiled. Then he stared hard at the Kikanalo for a few seconds. Crimson bolts of energy erupted from his forehead and struck the Rahi, completely obliterating them. All that was left was a few wisps of smoke.
“And now,” Hakann said, satisfied, “they are not even that.”
“Why – why did you do that?” Balta sputtered, stunned. “They were no threat to anyone!”
“They were blocking my view,” Hakann replied casually. “I believe it’s time for you to take me to your village? After all, we have legends to create, don’t we?”
Balta couldn’t give any answer but yes – after all, who could deny a Toa what he wanted? But he couldn’t help looking back at the charred earth where once some of the mightiest of Rahi had stood.
Piruk ran for his life.
Flashes of memory intruded on his panic, goading him to run even faster. He had been walking along the beach. He had spotted a canister. It had opened up and someone… something… had come out of it.
It was clad in green armor, and at first Piruk thought it must be a Toa, or some other powerful entity come to help Voya Nui. But the newcomer had regarded him coldly, like he was a rockworm ready for dissection. When the figure spoke, it sounded like many voices hastily joined into one. Worst of all, his body seemed to be shifting, as if it was not a cohesive whole but a random collection of parts constantly changing position. Terrified, Piruk fled.
Unfortunately, he just wasn’t fast enough. He could hear something following him, but it wasn’t the sound of someone running in pursuit. It was more like a low hum that grew louder and louder all the time.
A cloud passed over him, and for a moment, he could not see. Then suddenly the green figure was standing in front of him, holding out an armored hand.
“Do not… be afraid,” the stranger hissed. “Toa Zaktan. Here to help.”
Piruk didn’t believe this for a minute. He had never met a Toa in person, but he had heard plenty about them. None of the tales spoke of anything even remotely like this strange being. Toa were courageous, heroic, and reassuring figures. And this thing could give a lava eel nightmares, Piruk thought to himself.
“All right. I’m not afraid,” he lied. “But, um, we really don’t need any help. Everything’s fine here. Maybe you could find some other island to protect? Please?”
Zaktan shook his head. The movement produced a strange rustling noise, almost like dry leaves caught in a gust of wind. “Toa Zaktan,” the figure repeated. “Here to help.”
Piruk looked into the eyes of the stranger. There was no warmth or regard there.
“Then stay here,” Piruk said. “Stay right here, and… and don’t move. I will go find some other Matoran who would know how you could help. Okay?”
Before Zaktan could answer, Piruk took off for the settlement. This time, he didn’t hear the hum behind him, just the sounds of his feet hitting the ground and the breath exploding from his lungs. He wouldn’t slow down until he reached home.
Avak scowled as he hauled the canister up onto the icy beach. Vezok was supposed to have been here to help, but he was nowhere to be found. As usual, he was off somewhere pursuing his own plans and ignoring the needs of the team.
This is the most important job, he reminded himself. Far more vital than fooling a handful of Matoran into thinking we’re Toa, because I doubt we will fool them for long. No, the crystal inside this canister is the key to everything.
Avak paused. He was absolutely certain of the truth of what he had just said, but one thing still bothered him. He wasn’t sure why he was so certain. The others were too consumed with finding the treasure here to pay any attention to questions or doubts. Avak was different. He knew to listen to his inner voices.
That is why I will still be alive, with the treasure, when the others are no more, he thought, tapping his head with an armored finger. Because of what I have up here.
Vezok waded toward shore. His canister had developed a leak halfway to Voya Nui, and when he tried to open it, he found that it was welded shut. Fortunately, he had enough raw strength to punch his way out. That didn’t change the fact that one of his teammates had tried to make sure he was lost at sea. It wasn’t hard to guess who.
Cunning. Devious. Insane, he said to himself. Hakann. Has to be.
He didn’t give in to rage or bellow threats. Instead, he calmly made his way through the water, his eyes fixed on the volcano erupting on the island up ahead. He idly wondered if the Matoran had any idea what was hidden on their little piece of rock.
Probably not, he decided. But they will help us find it just the same. And once we do, we will plan our next steps – after, of course, I have twisted Hakann’s head so far around he can stare himself in the eye.
The thought brought his first smile of the day.