Months had passed since Makuta seized power in Mata Nui’s universe, and yet he had still not grown used to the energies that were now his to command. As he soared through the void of space, heading for Bara Magna, he thought about how it all began.
The Makuta species had been created by Mata Nui. They were to live inside of Mata Nui’s then massive robot body, serving his interests and protecting the nanotech workers called Matoran. Their primary job was the creation of animals, fish, birds and insects, collectively called “Rahi,” who would serve various purposes within the “universe” that existed inside Mata Nui.
Over time, the role of the Makuta changed. They became actively involved in protecting Mata Nui from various internal threats, from groups like the Barraki, the Skakdi, and others. To aid them in this task, they created a species of armored warriors called Rahkshi. These lethal creatures were made from the Makuta’s own substance and were loyal, fierce, and relentless in battle.
The important responsibilities they had should have been enough for the Makuta. But from the start, they were cursed with ambition. They looked around and saw the Matoran honoring Mata Nui – the source of light, heat, and virtually everything else in their lives – and it frustrated them. After all, it was the Makuta who had created the birds that filled the skies and the fish that swam in the waters. Why did no one honor – or better still, worship – them?
Frustration led to anger, which led to thoughts of revenge. If the Matoran admired nothing short of ultimate power, then the Makuta would seize that power and conquer their universe. That meant turning against Mata Nui and bringing him down. The risks were enormous. If their plan failed, Mata Nui would have no choice but to purge them. But if it succeeded…
Teridax, leader of the Brotherhood of Makuta, hatched a complex, multi-layered plot. It began with the use of a virus to infect Mata Nui’s robotic systems. When the systems crashed, Mata Nui lost consciousness and crashed into the waters of the planet Aqua Magna. Taking advantage of the chaos, the Makuta attempted to seize power, only to be driven off by heroes called Toa.
Defeat simply fed the Makuta’s ambitions. Teridax resolved that if he could not run the universe in Mata Nui’s absence, he would become the universe. He would take control of the gigantic robot body and leave the Toa, Matoran and other denizens no choice but to obey him.
It took 1000 years of patience, manipulation, and even a few feigned defeats for his plans to come to fruition. Badly damaged by the crash, Mata Nui finally died. A Toa named Matoro, wielding the Mask of Life, brought the robot back to life at the sacrifice of his own existence. But before Mata Nui’s spirit could return to his body, Makuta’s consciousness took control of the robot. Since no form could have two guiding spirits, Mata Nui now found himself barred from his own body.
Teridax’s revenge wasn’t done. He destroyed the rest of the Brotherhood of Makuta to make sure they could never recreate the virus that had downed Mata Nui. Then he forced Mata Nui’s spirit into the Mask of Life and ejected the mask into outer space.
At the time, Teridax had been confident he had seen the last of Mata Nui. He thought surely the mask would float endlessly through space, or be burned up by a sun, or shattered by an asteroid. He was wrong.
Only days ago, he had managed to get all of the robot’s sensors working again. Immediately, he detected the Mask of Life’s energies on another planet, a place identified by electronic records as Bara Magna. If the mask still existed, then so did Mata Nui. This Teridax could not allow. Even though it was doubtful Mata Nui could pose any threat, Teridax wouldn’t begin his conquest of the greater universe with a potential enemy on the loose.
Mata Nui had to be destroyed.
Activating the jets built into the robot, Makuta rocketed into space toward a final showdown with Mata Nui. It would be absurdly simple: land on the planet, crush the mask beneath his armored foot, and perhaps some of the inhabitants too, for good measure. Bara Magna would become a base from which to launch future attacks on other worlds, and its residents slave labor and (if they were lucky) part of Makuta’s new army.
Makuta Teridax increased his speed. He was anxious to eliminate the last remnant of his past and begin his glorious future. His strength was beyond compare, his power enough to destroy a world, and his resolve like iron.
How could anyone stand against him?
Tahu, Toa of fire, was frustrated and furious.
Months had passed since he first learned that his universe – every land mass, ocean, even the sky and the stars – were part of the interior of a giant mechanical being. Worse, he discovered this after the universe had been taken over by Makuta.
Since then, he had led a rebellion against his now far more powerful enemy. But despite some minor victories, he and his allies had been unable to truly harm Makuta. It ate at him. Here he was, a Toa – a hero – created to protect the Matoran villagers from harm. Yet he and his teammates had been unable to provide safety or security to any inhabitant of the universe. Now they were scattered, fighting skirmishes against Makuta’s armored warriors, the Rahkshi, and accomplishing nothing.
His frustration had only grown in the last few hours. He and Onua, Toa of Earth, had prepared an elaborate ambush for a dozen Rahkshi. Just as they were about to stumble into the trap, the creatures turned around and silently departed.
“What happened?” snapped Tahu. “Did they spot the trap?”
Onua rose, watching the column of Rahkshi through narrowed eyes. “No,” he said, with certainty. “Something else happened here, and I think we better find out what it was.”
Tahu spotted something, coming in low on the eastern horizon. It was a winged figure, one who looked vaguely familiar even from far away. As the newcomer drew closer, he recognized her as a member of the secretive Order of Mata Nui, skilled fighters dedicated to the cause of the Great Spirit. They had been some of the most powerful warriors in the fight against Makuta, but had also suffered terrible casualties in their ranks.
The winged female fluttered tattered wings as she hovered above the two Toa. “I’ve been sent with a message. Rahkshi are on the move all over, heading south. No one knows why, but they’re massing into an army.”
South? wondered Tahu. But there’s nothing down there. The lower part of the robot was a scattered group of islands, largely uninhabited and of no strategic worth. Why would Makuta – and it surely was his work – be sending the Rahkshi there?
There was only one way to find out.
“Find as many other Toa as you can,” he told the Order agent. “Tell them we’re going in pursuit of those Rahkshi.”
“Tahu, what if this is a trap? What if Makuta wants us to leave everyplace else defenseless?” asked Onua.
“If Makuta wanted to destroy all of us, plus every Matoran, he could do it in an instant,” said Tahu. “He doesn’t need tricks, not anymore. But if we can pen up his Rahkshi and wipe them out, maybe we can slow down whatever he has planned.”
He looked back up at the flying figure. “Do it. Find whatever help you can. We have an opportunity, and I’m not going to waste it.”
Nektann stood atop the ruins of a once great structure and watched the Rahkshi march past. The armored “sons of Makuta” had been sent to the island of Zakaz to pacify its residents, the Skakdi race. They had not been gentle in doing their job.
It was still shocking to realize that Zakaz and everything around it was not part of a world, but just the insides of a giant robot. Nektann knew about being a warlord, but he was not an engineer and did not comprehend how large machines worked. Wouldn’t each part of a machine have to play a role? And if so, what was the role of the Skakdi?
His people had always been warriors, savage and brutal. Then a member of the Makuta race came and changed them, tinkering with their nature and making them even more violent and merciless. His goal had been to turn them into an army, but the result had been battle-crazed fighters who destroyed their own cities in an all-out civil war. Other species had feared and hated the Skakdi ever since, and the Skakdi had hated the Makuta.
Now a Makuta ran the entire machine, and things had changed. Nektann had been the first Skakdi warlord to ally himself with the new power in the universe. The other members of his species who objected to Makuta’s rule had been taken care of by the Rahkshi. And so Nektann’s legion fell into line behind the marching Rahkshi, heading for boats that would carry them south.
Nektann didn’t know what was waiting for him or his troops among the uninhabited islands, but he did not hesitate to give the order to move out. After all, Makuta had promised them a new world to conquer.
Mazeka stood on a ridge. Down below, he could see the remains of a dead village. He recognized it as having once been home to a small group of Ba-Matoran, those whose element was gravity. It looked like it had been overrun some time ago, but there were no signs of any Matoran corpses. Perhaps the villagers escaped into the hills, he thought, or maybe they were just captured.
“Your universe is very… turbulent,” said Makuta Teridax. The white-armored warrior stood beside Mazeka. He came from an alternate universe in which the Makuta had never rebelled, but had instead stayed loyal to the Great Beings and helped save a world. He had come to this universe with Mazeka to try and free it from the control of his evil counterpart.
“That’s one word for it,” replied Mazeka. “It’s hard to remember a time in my life when I wasn’t fighting. I’ve been lucky. I’m still alive. Not sure that can be said about the Matoran who lived down there.”
“If they died, maybe it was a mercy,” said Teridax. “Maybe they are better off not seeing what their universe has come to.”
“Now you sound like our Teridax,” said Mazeka. “I guess you two aren’t as far apart as I’d like to think.”
Teridax shook his head. “A turn to the left instead of the right, a wound received or avoided, rising from slumber an hour too early or too late… these are the little things lifetimes hinge on, Mazeka. Your Teridax took a step on a path that circumstances allowed me to avoid. If circumstances had been different, who knows?”
“Meaning that if you took control of this universe instead of him…?”
“I might be just as wicked,” Teridax answered. “It is always a possibility.”
Around them, the winds rose. In a moment, they had gone from gentle breeze to a screaming maelstrom, so powerful it knocked Mazeka off his feet and sent him tumbling toward the edge of the ridge. Teridax fought to stay focused, ignoring the storm as he used his power to keep Mazeka from falling. But the ground erupted beneath his feet, shattering his concentration. Mazeka fell down the slope, followed swiftly by Teridax.
They landed among the ruins. Mazeka’s impact shattered the long dead corpse of a Visorak into fine black powder. Teridax hit hard, but rolled with the fall and was back on his feet in an instant. Now that he looked around, he could see other bodies of Visorak spiders scattered here and there. The villagers who had lived here had gone down fighting.
Then a voice came from the dead mouths of the Visorak all around. Teridax recognized it as his own voice, but touched with madness and evil. “I see you have brought company, Mazeka… and such company.”
“It’s Makuta,” Mazeka said. “He’s found us.”
“Yes, I never noticed your entry, I must admit,” Makuta said through the dead spiders. “But did you really think a pale and weak version of myself could stop me now?”
“Weak?” said the white-armored Teridax. “Stronger, I say, for I resisted the temptations you could not.”
“Indeed. Then let us see just what you are capable of resisting.”
The air crackled with ozone, and then before Mazeka and Teridax’s eyes, three figures appeared. Each resembled Takanuva, the legendary Toa of Light, but their armor was jet black and shadow energy swirled about their hands.
“I have been a poor host, brother,” said the voice of Makuta. “Allow my new friends to welcome you properly to my universe.”
Helryx avoided Tuyet’s slashing attack and landed a side kick in her mid-section. The corrupt Toa of Water staggered backwards, only narrowly avoiding being accidentally struck by Brutaka. The battle had begun only moments before, but already the chamber in which they fought was a shambles.
The issue over which they fought was deadly serious. Helryx, Makuta Miserix, and Axonn had decided that Teridax’s control of the universe had to be ended, even if that meant destroying the universe itself. Tuyet, Brutaka and a possessed Lewa Nuva believed there was still hope of driving Makuta out without killing millions of Matoran in the process.
Miserix thought he would have the easiest opponent. He could sense that Lewa Nuva was not himself, but was under the control of another. Whoever that was, they had no access to the Toa’s air power. That would make him ripe for defeat.
Unfortunately, Lewa’s body was now home to Tren Krom, an ancient entity with enormous mental powers. Miserix’s first solid blow knocked Lewa to the ground. The fallen “Toa” responded with a mental shock blast that came close to turning Miserix’s brain to ash. Still, Miserix had been through a lot in the past millennia – imprisonment, torture, humiliation – and no mind power was going to be enough to stop him. He gathered Lewa up in his claw and slammed his foe against the wall, once, twice, three times.
Axonn’s heart wasn’t in this fight. He had only recently rediscovered Brutaka and regained their old friendship. He couldn’t believe they were already at each other’s throats again. And he wasn’t certain that Brutaka was wrong – maybe Helryx’s plans were too extreme. Maybe duty lay in protecting the Matoran until the very last moment.
For this moment, though, he had to concentrate on protecting himself. One good hit from Brutaka would take his head off.
Helryx had not wavered in her determination, but she also knew that this battle was sure to draw Makuta Teridax’s attention. Her chance to act could disappear at any moment. She had to do the nova blast now, before anyone could stop her.
Tuyet could guess what was about to happen. She slammed an elbow into Axonn even as Brutaka struck at him. Taking advantage of the moment, she wrested the warrior’s axe from him. With a yell, she vaulted into the air and smashed Miserix with the axe. With a roar of pain, the reptilian Makuta fell backwards, right towards Helryx.
The mad Toa hit the ground and turned to watch the end of her handiwork. But to her surprise, just as Miserix was about to crush Helryx, the ancient female warrior vanished. The Makuta landed in a heap, but was barely slowed by his wound and already seeking out his attacker.
Tuyet never got a chance to defend herself. Helryx was suddenly behind her, catching Tuyet in a headlock. “Time to say goodbye,” said Helryx. “We’ll all go down together, and the universe will be better for it.”
The world began to blur in front of Tuyet’s eyes. At first, she thought that Helryx must be choking the life from her. But then she realized that everyone was looking toward the chamber’s entrance, where space itself seemed to be warping. The next instant, a massive figure stepped out of the distortion and stood before them.
“You… imbeciles,” the figure said, in a voice both old and young at the same time. “You ignorant stone apes… is this how you try to save existence?”
No one in the room had ever seen the newcomer before. But there were some who knew his voice, and all felt a chill of fear at the sound of it. Only Helryx had the presence of mind to give their visitor a name, and even she spoke it in a whisper.