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Now…

Toa Matoro swam silently through the black waters of the Pit. Behind him, the robot guardian named Maxilos followed. To Matoro it felt like having the shadow of doom hanging over him, for he knew what no one else did: the mechanical body of Maxilos was possessed by the spirit of the evil Makuta.

“Why so quiet?” asked Makuta in the hollow voice of Maxilos. “We have seen death and destruction today, with the promise of much more to come. We have seen heroes behaving like villains. You yourself have done things even I would be reluctant to do. It is a time for celebration.”

“Shut up,” said Matoro. “I’m doing only what I have to do to save the life of Mata Nui – a life you put in jeopardy.”

Makuta laughed. “Think what you like, little Toa, and try to avoid admitting to yourself that you are one bad day, one moment of cruelty, one fit of rage away from being me.” Makuta swam past Matoro and then veered down toward the sea bottom. “Come with me. I want to show you something.”

“What?” asked Matoro.

“Call it an answer to some of your questions,” replied Makuta.

He led Matoro down to the depths of the black water. There they came to a great gap in the sea floor. “I discovered this shortly after taking over the body of Maxilos. It’s an entrance to the original Pit, the prison once inhabited by the Barraki and others like them. There is something down there I think you should see.”

“How do I know this isn’t a trap?” asked Matoro.

“You don’t,” answered Makuta. “But surely a strong and brave Toa like yourself fears nothing. Follow me.” Makuta swam down through the opening. Matoro watched him go until the crimson form disappeared into the Pit. The Toa of Ice checked his Cordak blaster, readied himself for anything that might happen, and followed his greatest enemy into the darkness.

Makuta led Toa Mahri Matoro deep into the dark recesses of the former prison known as the Pit. It was eerily quiet. Now and then a sea creature darted past, keeping its distance from two beings it no doubt regarded as predators.

Certainly one of us is, thought Matoro. Makuta has been preying on the fears of Matoran for as long as I can remember. And I… what have I become? As soon as I realized I wore a mask that let me reanimate the dead, I should have cast it aside – I never should have used it.

“When you are through brooding, I have found what I was seeking,” said Makuta. “Here.” Matoro looked where he was pointing. Half-buried in rubble was a Kanohi Mask of Power, one whose shape seemed vaguely familiar. Scattered nearby was blue Toa armor.

“What is this?” said Matoro.

“All that remains of a Toa of Water named Tuyet,” Makuta replied. “She was condemned here many thousands of years ago – she died here, though I don’t know why. Perhaps she was trying to escape.”

“Why was she sent here?”

“It is hard for me to give exact reasons, since I did not even know ‘here’ existed until a few days ago. But I do know her crime: she tampered with an object of power that did not belong in her hands – it was too much for her. She went wild, was defeated by Toa Lhikan and Toa Nidhiki, and the object was destroyed – or so the heroes thought.”

“Get to the point,” said Matoro.

Makuta laughed. “I would’ve thought it would be obvious. Tuyet is dead. She is also the only one who might know how that powerful artifact – the Nui Stone – could be recreated. I want you to use your mask, Matoro: the Mask of Reanimation. I want you to bring her back.”

Toa Mahri Matoro and Makuta sat over the battered mask and armor of the long-dead Toa Tuyet. “You are insane,” said Matoro. “I won’t do what you ask.”

“I must have missed the part where I gave you a choice,” Makuta replied. “I want you to use your mask power to reanimate this corpse, and I want you to do it now.” After a moment he added, “I could just kill you, Matoro, take the mask, and do the job myself, but it’s so much more amusing this way.”

“Even if I bring her back, she won’t be able to help you recreate the Nui Stone,” insisted Matoro. “She’ll have no spirit! She’ll have no mind!”

“I have always found the minds of Toa to be vastly overrated anyway,” said Makuta. “Now get to work.”

Matoro concentrated, triggering the power of his Mask of Reanimation. He knew Makuta meant what he said – he would kill Matoro without a second thought. Beyond that, the Toa of Ice was curious to find out just what it was Makuta was up to here. Once he knew that, he could always send Tuyet back to the grave by cutting off the power of the mask.

At his feet, the Kanohi mask and armor began to move, slowly coming together. What had been a pile of junk a moment before, now had taken on a form. Other pieces of armor were rising up through the layers of mud, struggling to rejoin the rest. It somehow managed to be amazing and sickening at the same time.

Slowly, the body that once belonged to Toa Tuyet rose from the floor of the Pit and stood, unsteadily, waiting for commands. And that was when Matoro noticed something: incredibly tiny, almost microscopic pieces of crystal embedded in the dead Toa’s armor.

“Behold!” said Makuta. “When the Nui Stone exploded so many thousands of years ago, most of it vaporized – but some fragments survived, buried in Tuyet’s armor. With these, I can recreate the stone as it once was. All I need is the proper tool.”

“What tool?” asked Matoro.

“The Staff of Artakha,” answered Makuta. “And unless I am mistaken, your old friends the Toa Nuva are about to get it for me.”

Toa Matoro, Makuta in the body of the robot Maxilos, and the reanimated Toa Tuyet swam away from the long-abandoned prison and into the open ocean. Matoro’s mind raced. What did Makuta plan to do with the Nui Stone if he recreated it? What was the Staff of Artakha, and why did Makuta believe the Toa Nuva would help him get it? More importantly, how could Matoro stop this?

“Matoro?” The Toa of Ice turned. Toa Hahli was swimming toward him. In the background, Matoro could see what looked like an ocean full of manta rays.

“Where are you going? And who is that Toa with you? She looks… uh… Matoro… What have you done?”

Matoro could hear Makuta’s voice in his mind. We have a meeting to attend, or have you forgotten? One of my Brotherhood waits near Mahri Nui, but he will not wait long. You wouldn’t want to make us late, would you? And Matoro, breathe a word to Hahli and neither of you will live to see another tide.

“Hahli, don’t worry. Everything’s fine. Just trust me.”

“I do trust you. But I think you have become a little too used to keeping secrets, brother, and I’m starting to wonder if you trust me – or any of us.”

Matoro looked Hahli right in the eyes. “It will all work out. Everything is going just as planned, as smooth as that time Nuparu used his Mask of Flight to transport you over the chasm. Remember? Now I – we have to go.”

The three figures swam off, leaving Hahli disturbed, and not a little angry. Then a memory suddenly came to her. Wait a minute… When I flew with Nuparu, he dropped me. I almost got killed! Matoro was trying to send me a message! He’s in trouble – and I wish I knew how to get him out.

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