Mutran was growing impatient. He had sent Vican off after the klakk a long time ago, and he had not returned, nor had the escaped Rahi. There was no excuse for this. Maybe it was time he gave Vican a few extra wings and maybe a tentacle or two, to teach him to focus on his job.
His grumbling ceased at the sight of Antroz materializing in front of him. The crimson-armored Makuta had made several short teleports to reach this part of the swamp and his fatigue showed.
“It’s time,” said Antroz. “We have to be prepared.”
Mutran furled and unfurled his small wings, a sure sign he was uneasy. He dropped his voice to a whisper and said, “Is this really wise, letting them wake up the Great Spirit? What if he remembers who put him to sleep in the first place?”
Antroz shot a fierce look at Mutran. “You know the Plan. You agreed to it and profited from it and you will carry it out. Our orders were clear: delay the Toa Nuva until the appointed hour; allow them to awaken Mata Nui; and then eliminate them as a threat. Only they could revive the Great Spirit, so they had to remain alive to do so – but we don’t need to suffer their presence one moment past that.”
“All right,” said Mutran. “What do you want me to do?”
“Find Radiak or another shadow Matoran so my sight can be restored. Then go help Gorast against Icarax. If he kills the Toa Nuva before they carry out their mission, the Plan is doomed.”
Mutran nodded and took to the air to carry out his new instructions. But knowing Antroz could not see him, he did not fly very fast. He saw no reason to fly headlong into the blades of lcarax.
Gorast could have used the help. Icarax’s strategy was as simple as it was deadly: Slash open her armor and then use laser vision to incinerate her energy as it leaked out. The success of this method had forced her to keep her distance from Icarax and left Vamprah alone in the fight.
But now she had a plan of her own. In combat, Icarax had no equal, but his love of battle could also be a weakness. Gorast knew this well, for it was a weakness she shared. Still, for her scheme to work, she needed a distraction.
That was when she spotted Mutran, far off to the west. He was dispatching a shadow Matoran on some unknown mission, and when that was done, he glanced toward where Vamprah and Icarax were fighting. He looked about as eager to join that battle as a Matoran of Stone is to join a group swim.
Too bad the fool doesn’t have a choice, Gorast said to herself as she shot toward him. Before Mutran could protest, she was dragging him toward the scene of the clash.
“I need you to send your thoughts into Icarax’s mind,” she hissed. “Any thoughts. Screams. Babble. Anything so that he does not pick up on what I am sending to Vamprah.”
Mutran nodded. That seemed relatively safe – safer, at any rate, than saying no to an enraged Gorast.
“Then do it now.”
Mutran sent a telepathic wave of white noise at Icarax. As he did so, Gorast sent a mental message of her own to Vamprah. Once she was sure it had been received, she moved in to attack.
Gavla had made her way back to Vamprah’s back, so the Makuta could see once more. He darted and dodged, staying out of reach of Icarax’s blades and parrying his blasts of laser vision and his hurled lightning. This gave Gorast the chance to swoop in behind Icarax and land a crushing blow with two of her four arms.
As Icarax whirled to face this new opponent, Gorast backed off, laughing. “No need to worry, Vamprah,” she said. “Mutran brings a message from below. The Toa Nuva are about to awaken Mata Nui. The Plan will succeed!”
She knew how Icarax would react. All his hopes of someday leading the Brotherhood of Makuta depended on showing he had a better plan than the one they were following – and that meant the current plan had to fail. He couldn’t allow the Toa Nuva to achieve their destiny.
Vamprah and Gorast blocked him from the Codrex. But he was a Makuta, with all the power that came with it. He would not be prevented from the battle he craved with the Toa, the battle he knew he had to fight if his dreams of conquest were to ever come true.
“I will deal with you later,” he growled, his body shimmering as he began to teleport away.
“Now!” screamed Gorast, grabbing Icarax and triggering her ability to make his power run wild.
Vamprah unleashed a burst of energy. Even as the act of teleporting transformed Icarax’s body into scattered atoms, Vamprah’s attack disrupted those atoms. The combination of the two plus Gorast’s attack was devastating. The sparkling molecules of Icarax’s body shot off in a million different directions. Icarax’s scream went from earsplitting to a mere ghostly echo in a split second.
Mutran stared at the empty space that Icarax had once occupied. “What just happened?” he asked. “And that was repulsive – so how could we make it happen again?”
“When you teleport, your atoms are scattered and then drawn back together at your destination,” Gorast answered. “By increasing his power and then disrupting them at the crucial moment, they flew all over the known universe in an instant.”
“So Icarax will never finish his teleport?”
“Oh, he will finish,” Gorast smiled. “Part of him will finish in Karda Nui… and part in Destral… and part in Metru Nui… and part in the southern islands… and other parts in a thousand other places. You get the idea.”
Mutran returned her smile. Icarax had always wanted to be a presence throughout the universe. This method of achieving it was probably not quite what he’d had in mind.
Takanuva, with the three Matoran of Light and Radiak in tow, had climbed through the sky to the Matoran villages. So far, it had been a frustrating search for this Rahi that Vican claimed was called a “klakk.” The one thing everyone agreed on was that klakk was a really odd name.
It was Radiak who spotted it first. If he hadn’t said or done anything, the others might have missed it completely. But instead he fired a shadow bolt in the klakk’s direction, which went wide. The near miss was enough to anger the flying Rahi, which circled back and screamed at the shadow Matoran.
Takanuva was bracing to cut off another attack by Radiak. It turned out that wouldn’t be necessary. Radiak blinked, shook his head, and dropped his hands to his sides. This time, when he struggled to get free of Takanuva’s grasp, the Toa of Light let him go. Photok and Tanma immediately protested, but Takanuva cut them off.
Radiak made no effort to escape. Instead, he looked around at the three Matoran of Light as if they were long-lost friends – which, of course, they were. “Are you… all right? I didn’t… hurt anyone… did I?”
“Oh, please,” Tanma said, disgusted that anyone was buying this obvious act.
“Tanma, wait a second,” Solek said. “Radiak, do you remember what happened to you?”
Radiak nodded, eyes downcast. “I fought you… I tried to kill you.”
“Radiak,” said Photok. “If you’re really back on our side – what are the Makuta planning?”
“I overheard Antroz talking once. He said the Makuta wanted the Toa to wake up Mata Nui, but he didn’t say why. Then, once the Great Spirit was awake, they… we… would kill the Toa and corrupt any Matoran of Light who were left.”
Takanuva pondered. Radiak’s transformation seemed incredible, but there had to be an explanation for it. Perhaps whatever the shadow leeches did to drain light from their victims also created some kind of barrier to prevent light from returning later. The sonic tones of the klakk’s attack somehow shattered that barrier. With the return of light to the being, the corruption of the Makuta faded away.
But if Radiak was telling the truth – how could the Makuta possibly benefit from Mata Nui waking up? If they wanted him awake, why put him to sleep 1,000 years ago in the first place? And if his awakening was part of their plan, what did that mean? Did the Toa Nuva have to abandon fulfilling their destiny?
“Find the rest of the shadow Matoran,” he said to his four companions. “Get them here. We’re going to keep this Rahi good and angry, and cure all the rest of them. And then we’re getting all the Matoran out of this place.”
“What?” said Tanma. “You mean we’re going to give it up to the Makuta? No way! This is our home and we’ll fight for it.”
“Listen to me!” said Takanuva, grabbing Tanma by the shoulders and resisting the urge to shake some sense into the Matoran. The anger in his tone shocked the others to silence. “No one is going to be fighting for anything. If Mata Nui awakens, this whole place – all of Karda Nui – is going to be caught in the biggest energy storm you can imagine. Nothing will survive it. And that’s why I am getting every Matoran out of here, even if I have to drag you!”
So wrapped up were Takanuva and the Matoran in the argument that none of them noticed the ghostly form of Makuta Krika hovering nearby. At the news that all of Karda Nui would be engulfed in a lethal storm as soon as the Great Spirit was awakened, a grim smile came to Krika’s mouth.
Very neat indeed, he thought. Makuta Teridax sends his top lieutenants to Karda Nui to make sure all goes according to the Plan. But he neglects to inform us that our “success” here will end with us all dead. In one move, he achieves his ambitions and eliminates his potential rivals.
Krika made a decision. Despite the risk – he had, after all, allied with Icarax against the Plan – he had to tell the other Makuta what he had learned. Teridax was betraying them all and had to be stopped.
Krika flew down toward the swamp, desperately trying to think of a way to convince his fellow Makuta that their greatest enemy was their leader.
* * *
From the pages of Takanuva’s journal…
In a strange twist of fate, it was Radiak himself who found the Rahi he sought. Spotting it flying through the air, he hurled a bolt of Shadow at it. He missed, but managed to irritate the creature. It emitted a loud cry, the sheer volume of which seemed to stagger the Matoran. He struggled to get free of my grasp, and this time I didn’t try to stop him. He looked around at Photok, Solek, and Tanma, as if he they were friends he had not seen in ages. “Are you all right?” he asked. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
Tanma, of course, did not believe Radiak had returned to the side of the Av-Matoran. But the change seemed real. When pressed, Radiak revealed that the Makuta planned to allow Mata Nui to wake up, then slay the Toa Nuva and corrupt the rest of the Av-Matoran. But why? Why would they want to let the Great Spirit awaken, I wondered?
“Get the rest of the shadow Matoran here,” I told Tanma. “We’re going to cure them all, then we’re getting you out of here.” “This is our home,” the Av-Matoran protested. “And we’ll stay and fight for it.”
“Listen to me,” I snapped. “In a little while, this isn’t going to be anyone’s home. When Mata Nui awakens, this place will be hit by the biggest energy storm anyone has ever seen. And that’s why I am getting every Matoran out of here, even if I have to drag you.”
Little did I know, as Tanma and his companions flew off, that I was about to come under attack.
* * *
Two of those Makuta were much closer than Krika thought. Chirox and Bitil had followed Takanuva and the Matoran. Now that all four of the Toa’s Matoran companions had scattered, the time had come to attack.
Chirox struck first, using his mask power to make it impossible for Takanuva to hear their approach or call for help. Then it was Bitil’s turn, using his mask to summon half a dozen other versions of himself from the past. Against eight Makuta, Takanuva wouldn’t have a chance.
The attack began with a hail of shadow bolts, which struck Takanuva from behind. Under ordinary circumstances, that would have been enough to kill him. But since being partially corrupted by a shadow leech and drained of some of his light power, his resistance to shadow had increased. He turned to face his attackers.
Since losing a portion of his light, Takanuva had struggled against the dark impulses that filled him. He was quicker to anger and had to resist the urge to strike out violently at obstacles in his way. But the sight of a horde of Makuta coming toward him stripped away the last of his self-control. Screaming soundlessly, he unleashed a barrage of light bolts.
The Makuta scattered, but continued to advance. Three of the Bitil doubles were trying to circle around behind him. Takanuva responded with lasers that sliced their protosteel weapons to pieces. Then he wheeled and hurled a flare right at Kirop, the Matoran who rode atop Chirox and served as the Makuta’s eyes. The sudden flash temporarily blinded the shadow Matoran, and the resulting loss of sight broke Chirox’s concentration. Takanuva could hear and speak again.
“Come on, then,” the Toa of Light growled. “Come on! This won’t be some kolhii match passing for a battle – any Makuta who gets near me dies!”
Chirox laughed. “You would be violating your code, Toa. Don’t you know your kind never kills?”
Takanuva’s response was a light bolt that punched a small hole in Chirox’s armor. Immediately, the green-black energy that made up a Makuta’s substance began to leak out through the gap.
“But I’m not my ‘kind,’ not anymore – your shadow leeches saw to that,” said Takanuva. “I’m half Toa of Light, half Toa of Shadow. This was what you wanted, wasn’t it? Toa consumed by darkness, Toa not hampered by things like mercy or morality. Well, now you can choke on it.”
Takanuva rocketed forward, blasting light and shadow as he went. If he had been in his right mind, he would have realized charging into a mob of Makuta was suicide. But all he felt was his rage and all he knew was these beings were his enemies, and his enemies had to be destroyed.
The Makuta had other ideas. One of the Bitils had managed to get above and behind Takanuva, and was raising his blade for a fatal strike. Then a blast of light from an unexpected direction knocked the weapon from his hand.
“You look like you could use a hand, brother,” shouted Kopaka, piloting the Jetrax T6. Wisps of light energy were still curling from the vehicle’s skyblasters.
Takanuva ignored him. He was fighting like a lunatic, tearing his way through Makuta too startled to react. There was no strategy or plan behind his attack, just sheer, brute force and unleashed rage. It was Kopaka who recalled what Toa Onua had said about Bitil’s mask power. Targeting the one Bitil who was hanging back from the fight, Kopaka hit him with a skyblaster bolt. Startled, Bitil lost control of his mask power and his doubles vanished from view.
Again, Takanuva didn’t notice. He was bombarding Chirox with light bolts, too fast for the Makuta to be able to staunch the leak of his energy from his armor. Then the Toa of Light tore Kirop off Chirox’s back and hurled the Matoran down toward the swamp!
Kopaka had seen enough. He swooped down in the Jetrax and caught Kirop before racing back to Takanuva. Trapping Kirop in ice bonds and setting the vehicle to hover, Kopaka leapt out into space and grabbed Takanuva.
“Toa! Stop this, now!” he shouted. “Remember who you are!”
“I know who I am!” Takanuva replied savagely. “I am what they made me!”
“Then you’re letting them win, brother,” Kopaka said, forcing his voice to be calm. “You’re admitting you are no better than they are.”
Slowly, reluctantly, Takanuva forced his violent emotions down. Seeing an opening, Bitil unleashed chain lightning, striking both Toa. By the time they recovered and looked around, Bitil and Chirox were gone.
“This makes no sense,” said Kopaka. “He had us right where he wanted us. Even with Chirox wounded, why flee?”
“Because,” answered Takanuva. “They know the Toa Nuva are destined to awaken Mata Nui – but they don’t know which of you are needed to do it. Kill the wrong one and their whole Plan goes out like a light.”
“Their Plan depends on us?” asked Kopaka, in disbelief.
“It’s a long story,” said Takanuva. “And I better tell it to you – because whatever’s going to happen, it’s going to happen soon.”
* * *
From the pages of Takanuva’s journal…
There were eight of them. Makuta Chirox and seven different incarnations of Makuta Bitil. Under ordinary circumstances, one Toa against eight Makuta… I wouldn’t have stood a chance. But since being attacked by a shadow leech and walking the fine line between light and darkness… I wasn’t the same being. And these weren’t ordinary circumstances.
Light can do a lot of things. It can illuminate. It can welcome. It can warm. As it turns out, it can also make laser beams that slice through protosteel. “Come on, then!” I shouted. “This won’t be some kolhii match masquerading as a battle! Any Makuta who gets near me, dies!”
I confess, I remember little of what happened next. I recall blasting a hole in Chirox’s armor, then charging into the midst of the Makuta. All I felt was rage. In that moment, the shadow was the closest it had ever been to taking control. I was so caught up in the battle that I never noticed one of the Bitils about to strike me down.
But he never got a chance. A bolt from the Jetrax T6, piloted by Kopaka, saved me. A second rocked Bitil so much that he lost control of his mask power, causing his duplicates to disappear. But I wasn’t done fighting. Chirox was mine, and he was going to pay.