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Takanuva, Toa of Light, walked along the shoreline of the city of Metru Nui, his keen eyes scanning the waters. He did this every day, waiting for some sign of the Toa Nuva’s return.

His time as sole guardian of the city was over. The Toa Mahri had returned, minus one of their number, to help secure Metru Nui. But the Toa Nuva were still missing, and no one knew where they were. He had petitioned Turaga Dume for permission to go searching for them. The Turaga had promised to consider it, but Takanuva was tired of waiting.

I sat here and did nothing while the Toa Nuva almost died on the island of Voya Nui, he thought. I wasn’t there when Jaller and his team risked their lives to save the Great Spirit Mata Nui. Maybe Toa Matoro wouldn’t have died if I had been there. Not again – never again!

For just a moment, he felt something dark and foul skitter through the back of his mind. It was not the first time he had experienced this, and at first, the experience had unnerved him. It was Turaga Onewa who told him that what he was feeling was some other mind trying to intrude on his. Instead of pulling away, Takanuva was supposed to push back to try and find the source.

The Toa of Light steeled himself and thrust with all his mental energy. Suddenly, he saw a picture in his mind. It was only there for an instant, but long enough for him to see that his attacker was in the Metru Nui Archives. Along with the picture came two words, heard as clearly as if someone had spoken them out loud.

Dark Hunter.

Takanuva broke into a run, heading for the Onu-Metru district and the entrance to the Archives. It all made sense now. The band of thieves and killers called Dark Hunters had coveted Metru Nui for thousands of years. They had slipped one of their number into the city, no doubt to stage a sneak attack in preparation for a full-scale invasion.

Good plan, thought Takanuva. Too bad it’s about to turn into such a disaster for them.

He ran, dashing past Matoran hard at work rebuilding the city, leaping over obstacles, totally focused on his goal. Later, he would realize that if he had been paying more attention to his surroundings, he might have noticed the slime-covered creature that was slithering toward him. He might have saved himself.

Takanuva had almost reached his destination when it struck. The shadow leech leapt at him, attaching itself to his armor with an unbreakable hold. It was hungry, and light was its preferred meal. In the Toa of Light, it had a feast waiting to be eaten.

He screamed as the creature began to drain the light that was his essence. For a normal being, it would have been painful, but for someone who was as bonded to light as Takanuva, it was sheer agony. As the light left him, it was replaced by darkness. Instinctively, he knew that if this creature wasn’t stopped, he would be a Toa of Shadow when it was done – if he was still alive at all.

Takanuva stumbled and fell. The pain was getting worse. If he blacked out, it would be all over. He had to do something now.

The leech was clinging to his chest armor, gorging itself on light. The armor had already turned from gold to gray, signaling how close Takanuva was to being lost to darkness. With great effort, he raised his arm and pointed his hand directly at the leech. Then a thin, intense beam of light shot from Takanuva’s palm, striking the creature.

At first, it seemed like a terrible mistake. Hitting a creature who fed on light with more light looked to only make it stronger. But with the light came heat – blistering heat. Smoke rose from the shadow leech as it began to burn. When the heat became unbearable, the creature tore itself loose and tried to squirm away. The Toa increased the power of the beam until the shadow leech was nothing but smoke and ashes.

Then Takanuva collapsed, unconscious. His last thought was whether he would still be a Toa of Light when he awakened, or if it was already too late.

When he could see again, Takanuva looked around in surprise. He would have expected to be in Turaga Dume’s chambers in the Coliseum or even in some Matoran shelter in Onu-Metru. Instead, he was in a darkened room that stank of rot. Am I dead then? he wondered. Just waiting for some Po-Matoran to carve my memorial stone?

“No, you are very much alive.”

A figure moved toward Takanuva in the dim light. For reasons he couldn’t name, the Toa’s first thought was that it was Makuta, come for revenge. But a minor use of his power illuminated the room and revealed the being drawing closer. She was not Makuta, but she was indescribably ancient and disturbingly frail in appearance. Her mask and armor were pitted and scarred from a thousand battles. She looked like a Toa, but her armor and mask design didn’t resemble anything Takanuva had ever seen before.

The light revealed another figure as well. This one was also a Toa, though not someone Takanuva recognized. His Mask of Power matched the description of a Suletu, or Mask of Telepathy.

“It is good to see you are still alive,” the female said, her voice so soft it could barely be heard. “When Toa Krakua here found you, we thought… well, we did not bring you to a place of the dead on a whim.”

Takanuva sat up painfully and looked around. He knew what this place was now. He had heard Turaga Whenua describe it. If a Rahi beast in the Archives died, either by accident or in an escape attempt, its body would be brought to this chamber for study. Fortunately, there were no carcasses in the room right now, but it was still a very unpleasant spot to visit.

“Who are you? What’s going on?” demanded the Toa of Light.

“I am Helryx, leader of the Order of Mata Nui,” came the reply.

“I never heard of it… or you.”

“If you had, we would have another worry,” said Helryx. “As for what is going on, the answer is… hopefully not more than your mind is able to comprehend.”

“And that Toa?” asked Takanuva. “Is he a member of your little group?”

Helryx shook her head. “Not a member, no. But we needed a courier to bring messages between ourselves and the likes of you, one who could do so without revealing the existence of our Order. So we arranged for a Matoran of Sonics named Krakua to achieve his destiny and become a Toa.”

“I must have hit my head when I fell,” muttered Takanuva. “Hit it really hard.”

Helryx’s expression darkened. She held out her hand toward the Toa of Light. Instantly, he found himself pinned to the wall by spikes made of water.

“Fool!” she snapped. “Even now, the Toa Nuva fight for their lives, and only you can help them. But to do so, you must be armed with knowledge… the kind only we can provide. So you will listen, and you will hear!”

It was all a little too much for Takanuva. “Why me? After that attack, I don’t even know how much power I have left.”

“More than you know,” Helryx answered. “In over 100,000 years, the Order has revealed its existence to very few, and then only in a time of great need. This is such a time – and we have need of a unique Toa, one who walks the world of both light and shadow.”

“But I’m not –”

“Silence! The time has come to begin.”

Helryx gestured to Toa Krakua, who stepped forward. In his hand, he held a small creature. It looked like a cross between the krana who lived inside the Bohrok swarms and the worm-like kraata who dwelled inside Rahkshi armor. The combination was far from pretty.

“Do not fear,” said Helryx. “There is much you need to learn and much you need to see. Our little pet is here to provide… visual aid.”

With that, Krakua placed the creature on Takanuva’s mask. A moment later, the world around the Toa of Light fell away. Suddenly, he was seeing events from a time long past, when the universe was new. He heard the voice of Helryx, as if from far away.

“Watch and listen, Toa of Light,” she said. “You have much to learn – and time is not your friend.”

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