Mata Nui saw the gravity wave being unleashed by Makuta. As swiftly as he could move, he threw himself at his foe, grabbing Makuta’s arm. He jerked it up in the air, sending the gravitic power surging into the sky.
It was an act of pure desperation, and pure luck, and pure genius, all rolled into one. The power beam struck the moons of Bara Magna, adding itself to the power Mata Nui had already sent into space. The moons returned to their original course, heading for home.
Makuta roared and pushed Mata Nui away, but the hero would not be stopped now. His robot body was minutes away from failure and Bota Magna and Aqua Magna were rushing toward their reunion with Bara Magna. Mata Nui’s mind raced. None of this would matter if Makuta won the battle. He had to be stopped.
With a ragged yell, Mata Nui struck Makuta, sending the robot body sprawling backward. He kept up a relentless attack against the bigger, stronger Makuta, not giving his enemy time to respond. Red lights were flashing all over his internal monitors. Stress levels on his robot form were well beyond tolerance. Mata Nui’s only hope of surviving this fight was to conserve energy.
But my survival doesn’t matter, he knew. Only my destiny matters. Others died to give me this chance. Can I risk less?
It couldn’t last. Both he and Makuta knew that. Just as he pushed Makuta to the furthest northern reaches, the power in Mata Nui’s robot body ran down. He didn’t have the strength to finish off his foe.
Makuta smashed a metallic fist into Mata Nui’s chest, sending the robot toppling to the ground with a tremendous crash. Makuta stood over him, triumphant.
“You made an excellent effort,” Makuta said. “But they don’t remember who tried the hardest… only who won. Today, that is I. Goodbye, brother.”
Tahu had found Takanuva again in the midst of the chaos. Between them, they had four pieces of golden armor. Where were the other two?
“There!” yelled the Toa of Light. He had spotted Gresh in the middle of a fight with a Skakdi, golden metal visible in the Glatorian’s satchel. The two Toa raced to his side, using a combination of heat and light to fell his opponent.
“The armor!” said Tahu. “We need it!”
“What?” said Gresh, even as Takanuva started pulling the pieces out of his bag. “All right, take it. What’s it for?”
“We don’t know,” said Takanuva. “That’s what we’re going to find out.”
Hurriedly, Tahu clamped five of the armor sections onto his own crimson armor. Then he removed his Mask of Shielding and replaced it with the golden one.
“Are you sure about this?” asked Takanuva.
“I haven’t been sure of anything in 100,000 years,” said Tahu, smiling. “So why start now?”
The Toa of Fire concentrated, focusing his thoughts just as he would do to activate a mask power or control flame. But this time, he was willing the golden armor to do whatever it could to end this battle.
Power surged through him. He screamed as its electricity locked his muscles and suffused his body with a blinding light. Tendrils of energy shot from him, coiling around every Rahkshi on the battlefield. The creatures fell to the ground, seized by spasms as their power raced back along the tendrils and into Tahu. As combatants on both sides watched, the Rahkshi’s armor disintegrated and the kraata slugs inside them exploded into shards of shadow.
Tahu was still screaming as the energies of hundreds of Rahkshi threatened to overwhelm him. Then, abruptly, the nimbus of power around him disappeared and he dropped like a stone.
Just that quickly, the battle was over. With the Rahkshi gone, the Skakdi and Skrall were badly outnumbered by the Glatorian and Tahu’s Toa legion. Some surrendered, others scattered back into the desert to fight another day.
But no one was celebrating. They all knew victory meant nothing if Makuta killed Mata Nui, and it seemed there was nothing they could do to prevent that.
What none of the fighters on the ground realized was that they already had done more than they realized. Each kraata was bound to its creator in some way, in this case, Makuta. While he did not feel their pain, he could sense their deaths, and the loss of so many at once made him hesitate for just a moment. For that instant, Makuta was paying no attention to the world around him… or the sky above him.
Mata Nui saw it coming. It was why he had forced Makuta to this northern edge of Bara Magna. His last gambit was about to pay off, and by a miracle, he was going to live to see it.
A shadow fell over the robots, the shadow of the moon of Bota Magna returning to its place of origin. Using the last of his energy, Mata Nui rose and shoved Makuta backward into the path of the planetoid. Its edge impacted the robot, smashing in the metallic head with a sickening crunch. Makuta’s armored form began to topple toward Mata Nui and the Bara Magna desert. Using every bit of mechanical muscle he possessed, Mata Nui caught Makuta and pushed him aside, causing the massive robot to fall onto the Black Spikes. The impact of the robot crushed the mountains to powder, even as the twin collisions of Bota Magna and Aqua Magna shook the entire world.
The three fragments of Spherus Magna were one once more. Destiny had been achieved. But the journey was not yet at its end.
* * *
Teridax studied the three shadow Takanuva who blocked his path. They had been sent by the Makuta Teridax of this universe – the one who controlled the giant robot inside of which millions lived – to kill him and his companion, Mazeka. It was a good plan. After all, one Takanuva would be a challenge – three corrupted ones were deadly.
Teridax had multiple powers of his own to choose from. In his time and in his universe, he had been a great warrior. No doubt Makuta expected him to pit his energies against those of the Takanuva in an apocalyptic final battle and, outnumbered, die horribly after a few minutes. Mazeka would most likely not even last that long, though the Matoran would make sure his killers remembered the fight.
Ah, Makuta, thought Teridax. We are the same being in different universes, but I am not you. You’re a plotter… a schemer… not wanting to get your claws dirty, if you can avoid it. You would think of all sorts of ways to fight the Takanuva from a distance… all of which would fail.
Teridax unlimbered his war hammer. You would never think of doing this.
He charged. Before the startled shadow Toa could react, Teridax had swung his hammer, striking one Toa in the face and shattering his mask to pieces. Whirling, he landed another hammer blow to the chest armor of a second Toa, cracking it down the center. Mazeka moved in then, catching the third Takanuva with a scissor kick and sending him to the ground. Teridax made sure he would never be getting up.
The now maskless Toa staggered forward, firing shadow energy from his hands at random. One blast caught Teridax in the shoulder, badly damaging his armor. The warrior from another dimension did not have the luxury to feel pain just then, or worry about the antidermis escaping through the gap. He landed a side kick in the Toa’s middle, while swinging his hammer again to stop the charge of the other Takanuva. The latter, still in the fight despite badly damaged armor, created a swirling fog of darkness to conceal his movements.
“Let me,” whispered Mazeka.
The Matoran stood completely still, reaching out with all his senses. He knew that at any moment, the shadow Takanuva could strike and kill them both. But he could not dwell on that fear, not if he hoped to survive this battle.
There! The slightest scrape of boot on rock, about three feet behind him and to the left. Mazeka leapt, whirled in midair, and lashed out with a kick. His foot connected with the Toa’s mask, knocking it askew but not dislodging it. Even as his momentum carried him forward, Mazeka landed a second blow to the shadow Toa’s neck. Enraged, the Toa hurled tendrils of darkness that began to strangle the Matoran.
“Your friend is doomed,” the evil Takanuva said, smiling. “You’ll just beat him by a few –”
There was a sickening crunch. The shadow Toa’s face went blank. He staggered forward one step and then collapsed, revealing in the process just how much damage a war hammer in the hands of an expert could do. The tendrils dispersed and Mazeka scrambled to his feet.
“Where’s the third one?” asked the Matoran, as the darkness dispersed around them.
“There,” said Teridax, pointing to the north. “And there,” he added, gesturing toward the west. “Oh, and there’s some over there,” he finished, casually glancing to the east. “His mask was shattered. I thought he might like to join it.”
Mazeka chuckled. “You know, Toa wouldn’t approve of this… they don’t kill.”
Teridax shrugged. “Very noble… but considering the state of this universe, maybe they should have bent the rules a little more.”
“Try telling them –” Mazeka began.
Teridax held up a hand to stop him. “Wait. Something’s… something’s wrong. Quick, grab my hand!”
Mazeka did as he was told, even as Teridax began to teleport. The world blurred and vanished around them. When it reappeared, they were standing back on the ridge above the abandoned village. A violent tremor was shaking the ground and Mazeka could barely keep his feet.
“As I hoped,” said Teridax, wearily. “We escaped the worst of it.”
“The worst of what?” demanded Mazeka. “What just happened?”
“Your Makuta… has fallen,” said Teridax. “We need to keep moving, but first… first, we had better find some way to patch my wound. I prefer to walk out of this universe, not float.”
Taipu was used to the darkness. He was, after all, an Onu-Matoran, who had spent most of his life in the Metru Nui Archives or deep in mines. Of course, it was one thing to choose to live in the dark, and another to have all light suddenly extinguished around you.
He took stock of the situation. He was lying face down on the floor of an upper level of the Archives. The air was filled with dust. The lightstones were all shattered. Something extremely heavy was on top of him, making it impossible to get up and quite difficult to breathe. All of this was the result of a massive quake that had just struck Metru Nui, followed shortly after by a not quite as devastating aftershock.
Taipu tried to yell for help, but could only manage a hoarse whisper. This wasn’t a very good way to die, he decided. But it seemed to be one he had gotten stuck with.
Then he heard something. Someone was digging nearby. Maybe they would find him? He tried to yell again, but wound up choking on dust.
There were more sounds. He could hear voices now, familiar ones. Someone was yelling for others to keep digging. The terrible weight on his back was suddenly gone. Taipu felt two strong hands grabbing his wrists and pulling him out from under the rubble.
He looked up to see Tamaru and Macku were his rescuers. Not far away, Kopeke was helping other Onu-Matoran who had been caught in the quake. Macku propped Taipu up against a wall and dusted off his armor. “Are you all right?” she asked.
Taipu nodded. “What happened?”
Macku pointed up. Taipu looked and saw a massive hole, and beyond that, blue sky like he remembered from the island of Mata Nui. It had only been recently that Taipu and the other Matoran had learned their “universe” was the inside of a giant robot. Now someone had evidently punched a big hole in the robot’s head.
“I think Makuta ran into someone tougher than he was,” Macku explained. “Pretty sure the robot’s dead, and my guess is so is he. We’re going to need to get everyone out of here and hope there’s someplace outside we can live. But in the meantime… well, there are a lot more people trapped like you were.”
Taipu got to his feet. “Then I’ll help.”
“You need to rest,” said Macku sternly.
“I didn’t rest at Kini-Nui when those Rahi attacked,” Taipu replied. He looked around at Tamaru and Kopeke hard at work. “I don’t know where Hafu and Kapura are… but it looks to me like the Chronicler’s Company lives again.”
Macku smiled. “All right, then, old friend. Let’s get to work.”