1

Now…

Makuta Teridax, in the huge robotic body that once belonged to Mata Nui, surveyed the world he stood upon. There was nothing but water for as far as the eye could see – and when one is 9 mio tall, reflected Makuta, one can see quite far.

It was, he decided, quite a dull world. Oh, it was true that beneath the surface of the vast ocean, escaped prisoners of the Pit still struggled to survive. But they were so unimportant as to be beneath the notice of so great and powerful a being as himself. While it was true he could not affect their fates in the same way that he could one of the living things that dwelled inside his body – the Toa, Matoran, etc. – his new body had enough power to vaporize this ocean, if need be. Perhaps he would do it before he left this world, just for amusement.

And make no mistake – he would be leaving this planet of endless sea. There were other worlds out there, teeming with life, waiting to be conquered. Why should he be satisfied with ruling a “universe” inside this body, when he could master a true universe of planets and suns and stars? This robot body had the power to lay waste to cities, to shatter mountains, and yet Mata Nui had never used any of it. Well, Makuta would not be so foolish.

Naturally, there would be preparations to be made. He would need to extinguish any last bits of rebellion within the universe of the Matoran first. It would be stupid to risk some critical breakdown in his systems in the middle of a war, just because some tribe of Matoran decided to value the concept of freedom over the hard, cold facts of death. When this was done, Makuta would beckon to the red star above and begin his journey.

The thought sparked another, an even more wonderful idea. He had expelled the Mask of Life from inside him, with the mind of Mata Nui trapped in the mask. The powerful Kanohi had gone flying into space, perhaps to burn up, or shatter against an asteroid… or, somehow, to find refuge on some other world. Though far away, it was still a part of this body, and Makuta knew he could find it again. He could track it down, no matter where, and extinguish any flickers of hope that Mata Nui might be feeling. The mask and all its powers were a dust mote in Makuta’s eyes now, and he would prove it by crushing it to powder with his armored heel.

It was a pleasant fantasy, but there were realities that had to be dealt with first. He had sensed the presence of another Makuta among the Matoran, which should have been impossible. All the other Makuta had been slain, either by him or by Order of Mata Nui agents. Well, that was not strictly true, he supposed… Miserix was still alive, though that former leader of the Makuta did not know it. As far as Teridax’s old enemy knew, he had been changed into a two-dimensional drawing on a wall, and that was how everyone else saw him too. In the old days, it would have taken a considerable amount of energy to maintain such a successful illusion, especially for another Makuta. But with his powers amplified by his new form, it was practically effortless.

But the Makuta he sensed was not Miserix. No, it was one who was totally unfamiliar… and yet disturbingly familiar at the same time. And since he could not be an existing one, nor one who was just created, there was only one answer.

He has come from another dimension. My enemies have recruited a Makuta to use against me. How… enterprising of them. I must give their new recruit a proper welcome.

Mazeka and his newfound Makuta ally found themselves in an uninhabited portion of the southern continent. The valley they stood in was actually quite lush and beautiful, but Mazeka remembered well the tales of this place. The tall grasses that swayed in the light breeze were guardians of this place. They could sense movement and responded by wrapping themselves around the offending foreign object and strangling it. The remains would then be pulled underground and the valley would go back to looking beautiful and unspoiled.

“Stay still,” he advised the white-armored Makuta beside him. This was an alternate universe version of Makuta Teridax, from a world where the Makuta had never gone bad. In return for agreeing to leave his old enemy Vultraz there, he had been given the opportunity to bring one inhabitant of that dimension back with him. He had chosen that world’s Teridax, hoping the double would be able to predict the actions of the original.

“We have such things in our world too,” said the alternate Teridax. “We know how to deal with them.”

As Mazeka watched, darkness began to creep over the valley. Wherever it passed, the grasses withered and died. “Wait a minute,” said Mazeka, suddenly suspicious. “You told me that Makuta in your world had banished all trace of shadow from inside them. How can you control the darkness then?”

The alternate Teridax gave a whisper of a smile. “I cannot. But I can absorb the light… and what is darkness, but the absence of light? And now, I believe we have someplace else we need to be.”

Walking down the now darkened path, the two allies made their way out of the valley as their quest truly began…

Toa Tuyet could hardly believe her good fortune. Thousands of beings she might have encountered in this universe, and she had found two who did not remember her or her deeds. That would make things so much easier.

Her momentary weakness, the result of a difficult journey to get here, had passed. Now she walked through the Archives behind the two Matoran, Kapura and Macku, listening to them talk. It had not taken her long to grasp the situation here. Her old fears had been proven right. The Makuta had rebelled against Mata Nui and now controlled this universe. If Lhikan and Nidhiki had listened to me, none of this would have happened… because there would have been no Makuta left alive, she thought.

How well she recalled how it had all come about. She had been a Toa in Metru Nui, millennia ago. Using a powerful artifact called a Nui Stone, she had tried to make herself mighty enough to destroy those she perceived as threats to peace – the Dark Hunters and the Makuta. She knew other Toa, like Lhikan, would object to her plans, so she had to keep it all a secret.

Unfortunately, it could not stay hidden for long. Dark Hunters arrived in Metru Nui, seeking the Nui Stone they believed she had. To neutralize them, she framed them for murders of Matoran that she herself had committed. Toa Lhikan and Toa Nidhiki captured the Dark Hunters, but later tumbled to the fact that she was the murderer and had the Stone. In the ensuing battle, the stone was shattered and she was captured.

The Toa locked her up in the Coliseum until they could decide what to do with her. One night, a golden figure appeared in her cell, identifying himself as Botar of the Order of Mata Nui. He told her what she had already figured out for herself: pieces of the Nui Stone were embedded in her body now, making her a living battery of Toa power. No conventional prison would be able to hold her for long, not as long as there were Toa anywhere around from whom she could drain power. But the Order wanted more than a more efficient way to lock her up – they wanted the secret of the Nui Stone so they could make more.

This was an effort so secret that only the highest ranks in the Order knew about it. So a complicated plot ensued. Botar teleported Tuyet to another dimension, one where no Toa existed for her Nui Stone to drain. To keep this concealed from lower-ranking Order members, a second Tuyet – from yet another dimension – was taken to the Pit in her place. This double was even altered so that she had crystals embedded in her, although not from a Nui Stone. She would remain in the Pit, while the original Tuyet would be locked up and interrogated about the nature of the Stone.

For 1500 years, the Order tried to pry the secret of the Stone out of her, with no success. All the while, she plotted her escape. Working on one of her guards, she managed to convince him of the justice of her cause (after all, the Order disliked Dark Hunters and Makuta as much as she did). Finally, the guard was sufficiently on her side to help her fake her own death in an explosion. Believing her body was vaporized, the Order didn’t bother to search for her. Meanwhile, she used technology from that dimension to escape.

With no map, it took her two thousand years to make it back to her own universe… two thousand years filled with visiting worlds teeming with Toa from whom she could draw strength. Finally, she found a way back home, ending up in the Metru Nui Archives.

As for what had happened to her double in the Pit, she had no idea. She supposed the Order would know, and one day, if she was bored, she would squeeze the information out of them. But for now, she had bigger tasks ahead of her.

Tuyet had no doubt she could organize and lead a successful rebellion against Teridax and bring him down. But she had no intention of allowing Mata Nui to regain control. Thousands of years to think about it had convinced her that Mata Nui was weak, or he would have wiped out the Makuta himself long ago. No, what this universe needed was a ruler who was strong, decisive, unafraid to do what had to be done.

Someone like me, she said to herself. Yes, someone very much like me.

* * *

The all-too familiar blurring of reality and wave of nausea struck Vezon. He really did have to find a way to control this new power, if for no other reason than it was starting to make him feel really sick. He wasn’t sure how beings like Brutaka managed to move between dimensions all the time without losing their sanity… then again, like Vezon, maybe Brutaka didn’t have that much sanity to lose?

Anyway, here he was. He was here. Which, of course, begged the question – where was “here,” this time? The Kanohi Olmak that had become fused to his substance opened dimensional gates the way Matoran open gift boxes on Naming Day, and it was impossible to predict where one might end up.

He looked down. There was sand under his feet. In fact, there was sand in every direction. At first, he thought he was on a beach, but there was no water nearby. He could see trees and buildings in the distance, though, so he started walking in that direction.

The desert, as it turned out, was not very big. It gave way to a lush jungle, filled with a number of beings doing one of those things Vezon did his best to avoid: hard work. Some were obviously Le-Matoran… the others, Vezon did not recognize, though they had the look of villagers. He hated villagers. They were so… industrious.

One of the villagers loped over to him, using his arms as forelegs. He looked up at Vezon and said, smiling, “Are you a friend of Mata Nui?”

Vezon performed a complicated and challenging feat – he didn’t laugh. “Why, yes, little… whatever you are. I am.”

“Are you a Toa, then?”

“Nothing but,” Vezon said, giving his best “noble and heroic” smile.

“Come on, then,” the villager said, dashing off. “You’re late.”

Intrigued, Vezon followed along behind. This place had a Mata Nui and Toa, so it had to be something like home. But who were these other little runts? And just where was he?

“Um, excuse me, villager,” Vezon began.

“Tarduk!” the villager shouted back at him. Vezon ducked, like he was told, but saw no sign of any tar flying through the air. It took him a moment that it wasn’t “Tar, duck!” he had heard.

“Right. Whatever. Where am I?” said Vezon.

Tarduk paused and looked over his shoulder. “Oh, you must be from up north. This is Tesara. Now, hurry up, please – Gresh and Toa Kongu need more help.”

Gresh? Vezon said to himself. What’s a Gresh? But Kongu… him, I know.

They pushed their way through some undergrowth, and Vezon stopped short. There were Toa – a lot of them – and some other warriors he didn’t recognize. They were repairing a huge, metallic shelter. Jaller was using his fire power to weld shut a seam, while a female in blue armor urged him to hurry up. She wasn’t a Toa of Water, at least Vezon didn’t think so – Toa of Water usually weren’t that pushy.

Vezon knew he shouldn’t go into the clearing – after all, he wasn’t extremely popular with Toa. Then again, if they saw him and attacked, it might make things interesting. It had been all of two days since someone had tried to kill him, and he was getting antsy.

Head held high, he marched up to where the Toa were working. A few nodded in his direction. One smiled. One Toa of Stone even waved! Vezon decided that he really hated this place.

“So who are you, exactly?” asked Tarduk.

“My name is… ah… Toa Vezon,” he said, loud enough for all the Toa to hear. “I’m the Toa of… of… Anarchy.”

Tarduk frowned. “Okay. I see. We were really hoping for Ice… gets pretty hot doing this work.”

Vezon looked around. No one had reacted at all to his name… not even Jaller. Was it possible –? No, it was too horrible to think about. Such a tragedy, such a loss, was beyond comprehension. But he had to face the fact:

This universe didn’t have a Vezon. It had never had one. Otherwise, surely someone would be shooting at him by now.

“We don’t get a lot of, um, news up north,” he said to Tarduk. “What exactly goes on here?”

“You don’t know?” said Tarduk. “Well, I suppose I should send you over to see Takua, but I think he is up in Roxtus today. It’s pretty simple really – the Great Beings, through Mata Nui, made things right around here. Then Mata Nui went up north, and a few months later, the Toa and Matoran and all the rest showed up.”

“And what happened to Mata Nui?”

Tarduk shrugged. “Tahu Nuva said something about the Valley of the Maze and power going back where it belonged. I didn’t catch too much of it. I’ve never been one for history, you know?”

Vezon turned at the sound of marching feet. A tall figure, unmistakably a Makuta, was leading a column of black-armored warriors in a drill.

“They’re early,” said Tarduk. “Ever since Tuma got deposed and the Makuta took over the Skrall, they’ve been nothing if not efficient. I’m glad they’re on our side!”

A few more questions spelled things out for Vezon, or at least came close to it. In this universe, the Makuta had never rebelled against Mata Nui. The Great Spirit had been allowed to proceed with his mission – whatever that was – without incident. After it was finished, he let at least some of the Toa and Matoran leave and live with the natives. That included the Makuta, who had smashed the ambitions of some local warlord but held onto the army.

Vezon was wondering what they even needed an army for in such a happy, peaceful, idyllic, mind-numbingly boring place as this when his question was answered, in very dramatic fashion. Coming over the dunes in the distance was an army, marching right for Tesara. Some of them he recognized – other Skakdi, like the Piraka, Roodaka and her Vortixx, and Makuta Miserix in dragon form. The black-armored riders on the two-legged reptiles were new to Vezon, but he doubted they had come to deliver fruit baskets.

“It’s an attack!” yelled Tarduk. “Quick, Toa Vezon – go help the Makuta. Use your power. I’ll get the others.”

Use my power. Right, thought Vezon. My power is to get the heck out of here. I just have to figure out how to turn it on.

The invaders smashed through the ranks of the Skrall warriors and headed for the village. The Skakdi in the lead hurled torches, setting the jungle ablaze.

Now would be a really good time for a dimensional gate to… anywhere! Vezon said to himself. Come on. Come on! I don’t want to die in a universe where I never lived… who will remember me, then?

But the power of the Olmak was strangely absent. And all Vezon could do was stand and watch as an onrushing horde surged toward him…

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