Bionicle: New Shores

That is actually epic, congratulations!

Also, glad to see you back, man. It’s been a while.

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Thanks! It’s just been a great opportunity and I’m just happy to get to be a part of it!

UltraToa7's Toa Designs

Auru, Toa of Earth


Narale, Toa of Ice

Orano, Toa of Air

Shynali, Toa of Jungle

Vosala, Toa of Fire

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Oh boy. The first edited part of Chapter 2 doesn’t even leave room for the second. Sorry, double-post haters. This is going to get long.

Chapter 2’s beginning has been edited for simplicity and some added scenes that I hope help the overall story. I think the latter parts still somewhat fade from what I want them to really be, but I think I need to spend some time away from it before I go back and try to fix them.

CHAPTER 2 (EDITED):

Part 1 - "THE INTRODUCTION"

The halls of President Sammo’s great manor were lit by the arching glass windows, raised high above the tallest skyscraper. It was the only building in all of Aero City to be able to witness the star rise and set between the heights of the Iron Mountains. G’Nauli, governor of Granite Town, had always thought the building looked ugly compared to the natural majesty of the mountains she had been raised on, but she had to admit; being inside, looking over the plethora of buildings and pathways of Aero City, all framed in front of the glowing violet starrise, was an unimaginably memorable experience.

Everyone knew that President Sammo had earned his great wealth through the fabric trade. There were innumerable stories of how he fought off entire scores of bandits on his route from the Fauna Jungle with nothing but a bow and a few javelins. The vast spread of tapestries inside the manor depicting Sammo’s heroic stature certainly wouldn’t surprise anyone. G’Nauli looked up at the closest illustration of the emerald-plated, red-eyed Matoran, standing on top of one of the rocky spires of the Crags, cloak billowing in the wind, and admired not the Matoran, but the maker of the tapestry. If there was one thing she felt the Iron Mountains could adopt from Aero City, it was art.

“I’m fairly certain he never got the cloak until after he locked himself away in the manor,” a familiar voice joked.

The governor turned to face the speaker, an instantly recognizable hunched Matoran from the Great White Shores.

“Saane,” she said with a beam.

“G’Nauli, my great friend,” said Saane as his eyes twinkled with a kindly respect. “It is an immense pleasure to see you again.”

The governor towered over the elder, nearly twice his height, but they refused to let that make one another uncomfortable or intimidated in the other’s presence.

“Excellent news, hearing about your nephew,” Saane said. He was leaning upon a wooden shaft, reminiscent of, though not as decorated as his previous staff.

G’Nauli nodded. “I believe I was more thrilled than he. Ara will make an excellent Toa.”

“I know your sister would have been very proud of him,” said Saane.

“She would have been.”

They stood in comfortable silence for a moment before a third companion trudged up behind the two leaders.

“I thought I heard you two,” said Chieftain Kasimi, a Matoran in lime-and-violet plating. He was even shorter than Saane, and waddled along with the pace of a cube-shaped stone rolling down a hill. The Chieftain of Fungi Camp was perhaps the oldest known Matoran, and it was no secret that his core had begun to flicker a while ago. Some among his people debated if he was still fit to lead, but it was still found that he had some great wisdom and knowledge in his old age.

“Kasimi, how are you faring?” asked Saane. His words were aimed at a friend.

“I recently heard,” Kasimi said with an innocent grin, “of these miraculous heroes. They called them… Oh, what was it… That’s right, Toa!” His vocal speakers were blown out, crackling and fizzling with every syllable. “Impressive creatures, I hear. Did you know that old Fogfa’s girl was one? Shanila, I believe. You should go ask Fogfa for yourselves, he seems very excited about the prospect!”

Neither G’Nauli nor Saane bore the courage to tell him that the new Toa of Jungle’s name was “Shynali,” and her father, Fogfa was… Well, he was gone.

“Thank you for doing this,” said G’Nauli, quickly changing the subject as she turned to Saane. “There’s going to be a lot of attention put on you for instigating this meeting, but you really stepped up here, in a way I believe we all needed you to.”

“The reunion of us leaders has been something that’s needed to happen for a long time,” said Saane. “And with everything that’s been going on, now’s a better time than ever before.”

“Sammo, Qualis, and Losla have all suddenly become strangely hostile,” G’Nauli said, genuine fret in her low-throated tone. “What you’re doing, it definitely goes against their beliefs in independence.”

“We are six islands,” Kasimi said, “but one people.”

Saane looked at his ancient friend and nodded. “Indeed. And we, as six peoples, one island, need to stand together in the face of this new threat. Perhaps the Toa will guide us in that.”

G’Nauli smirked. “I want you to be right, Saane. As always.”

Saane winked. “Am I ever wrong?”

“Yes, in fact,” disputed G’Nauli. “You once told me that Takea Sharks-”

“I sincerely hope I am not interrupting anything,” a pristine, calm voice interrupted. It belonged to the Lord Qualis of Frostglade, a slender Matoran with a rigid, straight posture and a leaned back head, the perfect angle to let the most amount of light glisten off of his golden crown. “I was wondering if any of you were aware as to how long Sammo was intending on keeping us.”

Before G’Nauli could respond, “I assume not long,” Saane confessed, “It was actually I who called the meeting. President Sammo was kind enough to host, however.” G’Nauli knew that wasn’t entirely true. The self-concerned president had simply insisted he not be removed from his desk.

“Oh,” said Qualis as he shot a glare at Saane with his violet eyes. “Very well. Are you aware how long you’ll be keeping me from my duties?”

“I can assure you, what I have for us to discuss today will directly correspond with your most urgent duties, Lord Qualis,” promised Saane.

The nobleman seemed to wait for more explanation, unsatisfied that he still wasn’t directly answered.

Just then, a tall, broad-shouldered woman in crimson plating and silver pauldrons marched in, triumphantly approaching the four leaders with pride and gusto. As she neared, Saane and Kasimi snapped a salute at her, though G’Nauli and Qualis each refused.

“It’s true what they say,” G’Nauli said. “Supreme Major Losla is never early.”

“And she is never late!” barked the Matoran admiral as she stomped into attention. “She is always exactly where she is expected to be at exactly the time she is expected to be there!” She examined the lot. “Greetings, fellow generals. I trust the war has been treating you all well?”

“War?” Kasimi said. He frantically scanned the room and placed his hands over his crouched head. “Is it really so?”

“No,” G’Nauli said, crossing her bulky arms. “The Supreme Major’s just being overenthusiastic, like she is about everything.”

Losla unleashed a mighty guffaw, breaking her stance to clench her gut.

Qualis rolled his eyes. “Will someone please get Sammo? I can’t believe I’m putting up with this…”

The oak doors before them suddenly creaked open and a young Matoran stepped out. “Yes, President Sammo will see you all now.” She gently removed herself from the door, opening it further to let them all in.

As G’Nauli immersed herself in the office of the President of Aero City, she was immediately forced to strain her eyes in order to see. The only source of light was an oil lamp set on the President’s desk, the window covered up by some heavy curtain. G’Nauli could barely even see Sammo himself, his glowing eyes like two red candles, each trapped in a tiny cave. His forest green armor, nothing like the emerald of the tapestry, almost looked black in the faint light. He was thumbing through several parchments, barely casting a glance at the entrants.

“President Sammo,” greeted Saane. “What an honor it is to be invited here, especially with the recent appearance of the sixth Toa-”

“Please, Elder,” said Sammo. “I mean no disrespect, but I have only been able to spare a quarter-hour for this meeting, and I would be most gratuitous if you would reduce your pleasantries to the mere essentials.”

It took all of G’Nauli’s mental fortitude not to attack Qualis as he let out a relieved sigh.

Saane paused for a moment. He regathered his thoughts, and then preceded, “As I am sure we are all aware, there are strange events occurring all over Moda Nui. The Great White Shores have experienced storm after storm, the Iron Mountains a raised frequency of avalanches caused by earthquakes-”

“The trees are movin’ in the jungle!” Kasimi added.

“Yes, thank you, Kasimi. And then the whirlwinds in Aero City happening nearly every other day, now-”

“The happenings of Aero City are not supposed to be public knowledge,” Sammo said with a frown.

“But they are,” Saane said. “As are all the meteorological phenomena across the island. You must hear me, leaders, that I believe something grave is happening. I believe that it is, in fact, the reason for the sudden return of the Toa, after their many years of disappearance.”

“So,” asked Qualis, “what is it we are supposed to do?”

“For one, I believe a meeting of the Toa is next to imperative,” said Saane. “Two, I think it is vital that we act. Gather forces, explore the island, find out where these events are starting and, most importantly, what is causing them.”

“Or who,” G’Nauli said.

In the dim light, Saane nodded. “Or who.”

“So, what you are requesting,” Losla questioned, “is that we gather our valuable numbers and use them to investigate some weather mages that may or may not exist?”

“For the safety of the safety of all the people of Moda Nui, yes,” said Saane.

“This is ridiculous,” Qualis voiced. He looked on the verge of storming out the door.

“I must admit, I do believe our attention is better diverted in matters other than the weather,” said Sammo, crumpling up the sheet of parchment he was studying.

“Don’t you all get it?” cried G’Nauli. “The Toa have returned for a reason! They are a forewarning of something that’s coming! They’re not here just to be leaders, or thrown around like celebrities!” She pointed at Major Losla.

“Vosala serves as the spokesperson of the Anviltouched Army by choice,” said Losla, a bit taken aback.

“Listen to Saane! He’s the only one of you who has any sort of clue about what’s going on, or what to do!” G’Nauli said with a growl.

“G’Nauli, please, I don’t mean for this to-” Saane began.

“Out,” Sammo ordered under the harshness of his breath. “All of you. You have wasted my time, as you have wasted each other’s.”

“President, please!” Saane said, now panicked. “Please, do not let your pride allow you to ignore what’s happening! Because something is happening!”

Sammo suspired heavily as he finally looked up from his work. “I believe it would be beneficial for the Toa to meet. But if this mess - whatever it is - does happen to be more than a few inconveniences, it should be up to them to solve. We six each have a population to lead. We just can’t be concerned about the island as a whole. That would disrupt the system we have worked so hard to uphold.”

“Excellent statement, sir!” said Losla, snapping a salute towards him.

“Yes, indeed,” said Qualis, giving G’Nauli a sharp-eyed glare.

G’Nauli felt her hands fold into fists, fists that she had trained to break entire tree trunks beneath their force.

“So we can at least agree,” Saane said, trying to cover his disappointment, “that our Toa should partake in a gathering, but that any further action will be up to them and them alone.”

Qualis and Sammo each nodded. Losla shot another salute.

“Of course,” grunted G’Nauli, folding her arms.

“Yes, I think the Toa…” Kasimi began.

The other leaders each looked at him, waiting for him to finish. He never did.

“Well, then, as I have asked, would you all please dismiss yourselves from my office? I have plenty of documents to examine, and the stack is not getting any shorter,” Sammo said, with slightly less fury in his tone.

G’Nauli and Saane looked at each other.

“What do we do?” she asked him.

Saane shook his head. “Hope for the Toa,” he said, as he began to turn away. “Thank you for your time, Mr. President. I am sorry you did not find it beneficial.”

Kasimi and G’Nauil trailed shortly behind, while Losla and Qualis gave them a loose follow several feet back.

The Governor pushed past her two friends and streamed straight for the stairs, ignoring the wind chute entrance directly next to them. She needed to blow off some energy.

Fools, all of them, G’Nauli thought to herself as she stomped down the 320 flights of stairs. The Toa will show them how we should be acting.


Toa Orano stood just inside the entrance to the Kini Center of Gathering, his back pressed against the mossy stone of its walls. The stone wasn’t actually as old as it may lead an observer to believe - in fact, the “moss” was primarily just fuzzes of fabric stuck along its archaic style of architecture to give it the ancient impression it was anticipated to have. Orano always thought it stood out of place next to the glimmering congregation of glass and steel skyscrapers that enveloped it. The Center was a hexagonal building, mounted with a great domed roof housing only miniscule indents to provide natural starlight inside.

As far as Orano could recall, he had never been on the inside of this building before, but he felt a warm familiarity to it. A piece of him felt at peace here, as if he had just returned to a home that he was only just now discovering for the first time.

Voices echoed through the hall, coming from a series of figures standing in its center. Orano was able to recognize them from their colors alone - the immense, burly figure of silver and black was most likely Toa of Earth, Toa Auru, from the Iron Mountains, and the slender white and faded blue woman was certainly Toa Narale, Toa of Ice, from the Rimelands. The bright leaf green and neon fuchsia designated Toa Shynali, Toa of Jungle, of the Fauna Jungle, and the vibrant crimson and amber-colored Toa of Fire was the famous Toa Vosala of the Flickering Wastes.

Since Orano had entered, Vosala was speaking in a bold and prominent voice that seemed to captivate Auru and Shynali, but, judging from her dropped gaze and impatient foot-tapping, bored Narale. Orano felt strange, standing here and watching, but he was more afraid of jumping into their conversation, uninvited. It was their first time meeting, and he had to make a good impression straight off the bat or lose any hopes of being seen as an equal member for their time together.

“…so I picked up the torch and funneled my power through it, creating…” Vosala whipped out a red cylinder and tipped it to the sky. A flash of flames swirled around his arm and into the trinket, launching from its end and forming a beautiful pointed blade of fire.

Auru broke into awestruck applause. When clapped together, his gauntlets created powerful metallic thuds that reverberated the ground a little with each strike.

“Fire sword!” Vosala yelled. “Please, hold your applause until the end, I haven’t gotten to the best part yet!”

Immediately, Auru went still.

“Where are the others?” wondered Narale, turning to Shynali. “Our leaders all agreed upon this time, correct? Our assembly is still two members short.”

Shynali nodded slowly. “We did agree upon this time. That is correct.”

“For being such a great hero, Toa Kidoma sure could work on his punctuality,” grumbled Narale, folding her arms beneath her cloak.

“Do you think it’s true?” asked Vosala.

“What?” she said back.

“The story about the pirates,” he answered. “Did he really fight an entire fleet of them?”

Shynali looked back and forth between them. “That is what has been said, has it not? Do we suspect him of lying? For what reason?”

Narale blinked, unphased by the questions. “Mako Village is a small town, with hardly any relevance or significance to the daily operation of many of the greater Moda Nui. If any event were to occur there, it would likely receive great embellishment as a desperate attempt to grab at popularity.” She shook her head. “It’s a sad motive and a petty act, I’m afraid.”

“My aunt says that honesty is one of the most apparent virtues of Elder Saane,” said Auru, scratching his mask. Orano suddenly noticed the lack of a second emerald eye, its remains hidden behind a dark cloth patch sewn behind his Kanohi. “If the Toa is anything like his people’s leader, then I believe him to be a good and truthful Matoran.”

Narale crossed her thin arms and shut her eyes.

“Little Toa,” Shynali said. Orano tried to follow her gaze, tracing who she was referring to, only to find her staring directly at him. “Please, displace yourself from the shadows. You are welcome here.”

As Orano stepped out, he saw seven eyes locked onto him. He wished, right now, he could shrink back to his Matoran self. Escape their stares, become like he once was - invisible. “I-I’m s-s-sorry, I’m-m l-late,” he said.

“No, you are not,” said Shynali. “You snuck through the door at the precise moment of our meeting’s start. The others didn’t notice. Tell us, what is your name?”

“You do not know?” Auru asked. “This is Toa Orano! Hero, chosen by the fabricated winds! Out of the multitudes living here in Aero City, he is the one bestowed the power of the Kanohi!”

“He is little,” said Vosala, looking up and down at Orano’s hunched form. “Not much larger than a Matoran!”

“In the Iron Mountains,” Auru said, “there are legends told about heroes of short stature! I am sure Toa Orano will be no different.”

“So,” said Toa Narale, drawing her cloak over herself, “I do believe that we should begin. We all have places to be, I imagine? Let us discuss the matters at hand, whatever they may be, and dismiss ourselves.”

“Toa Kidoma still hasn’t-” Auru began.

“If he does not bother to be here on time, then he has wasted our respect. Why should we respect him with our patience?”

“We are like a pack, as I have come to understand,” said Shynali. “Packs are only as strong as the bonds between its members.”

“How long do you intend to wait, then?” asked Narale.

“Yeah, if we wrap up in the next hour, I can still make it back to the Flickering Wastes in time for another coliseum match!” said Vosala.

The doors were suddenly thrown open, and a rush of water came in. It flew towards the gathering at impressive speed before deviating from its course to swirl around them in a cyclone. It spun and swirled and rose, before exploding in a burst of rain that poured upon the Toa.

“Introducing… Hero of Mako Village and the world…” A figure, who had been inside the wave of water, landed upon the ground, a rod in hand with a glowing blue point. The entrant spun the rod, creating a hypnotic circle of light before he slammed the weapon at the ground, point upwards. “Toa Kidoma!” he shouted.

Auru exploded into applause, Vosala grumbled out of jealousy, and Narale grumbled out of pure annoyance.

“Excellent show!” cheered Auru. “Again, again!”

The figure, a lean, cobalt character, began to laugh. “Glad you all liked it! I’ve been practicing it for a while, making sure it was just perfect for you guys!”

“Is that why you are so late?” Narale asked, wiping water off of her mask and armor.

“Oh, was I?” asked Kidoma. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be. You guys, weren’t, like, waiting, were you?”

“It does not matter,” Auru said. “We are here. We are united, for the first time in the collective legend they will surely tell of us! Let us treasure this moment, for it is truly monumental!”

And so, some of them did treasure this moment. Others, however, would need to learn to, for the unity of the Toa, and the good of Moda Nui.

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Part 2 - "THE WIND"

“Can we get started?” Toa Vosala said. “I would really like to get out of here, you know, soon.”

“Sure, yeah, let’s get started.” Toa Kidoma fell to a seat, crossing his legs. The speartip constructed upon his staff dissolved into water and he placed it behind his back. “So, let’s hear it! How did you all find your masks?”

“I-i-it was an ac-c-ccident,” said Toa Orano.

Auru looked up at him, about to say something, but was cut off.

“We have been tasked with discussing the weather, as strange as that may be,” Narale said curtly. “Let us do that.”

The Toa were quiet for a moment, before Auru said, “Avalanches are growing frequent in the Iron Mountains.” His voice was slow, but grounded. Firm. “I have fortified Granite Town and its residents, but there is something foreboding about them. I would like to find the source of these strange happenings soon.”

“How do we know that there’s anything going on?” asked Vosala. “Avalanches are just, like, snow, right? Snow does things.”

“Has anything strange been happening in the Flickering Wastelands?” Auru questioned.

“Uh, if random geysers of fire cropping up more and more commonly counts as ‘strange.’” Vosala paused, and his eyes narrowed, then widened. “Oh, wait. That is strange, isn’t it?”

“There have been some pretty crazy storms out in the Great White Shores,” said Kidoma. “Crazier than usual, I think.”

“And-d the whirlwinds h-here in-n-n Aero C-City!” said Orano. He shivered hearing his new voice. He wasn’t used to it being so… loud? It was like the voice of a powerful wind. It didn’t feel like his.

“These things are all happening at once,” Auru said. “The weather is growing in power, in every region. Moda Nui’s elemental strength is rising.”

Narale crossed her arms and squinted at the group. “This could all be a coincidence. And if not, the recent emergence of the Toa could inspire the land to triumph.”

“Th-they were hap-ppening-g b-before we found-d-d the m-masks,” said Orano.

“And Elder Saane said that the Toa appearing now - it means something,” Kidoma said, holding his staff in both hands as he examined it with reverence. “The Toa are a response to danger. Moda Nui is in danger, and something is either coming or already here.”

“This Elder Saane,” began Narale, “how old is he?”

“I don’t know,” said Kidoma. His eyes squinted. “That’s a weird question.”

“But surely not old enough to have witnessed the Toa previously. At least, I assume.”

“He says that the last time Toa appeared was ‘before the trees were given shadows,’ whatever that’s supposed to mean-”

“So a long time ago. Before anyone who was alive today was alive, certainly. And yet, your ‘Elder’ seems to know exactly how the Toa operate.”

Kidoma crossed his arms. Orano imagined that Kidoma would not enjoy Elder Saane being questioned in this way. They were likely friends. “The Toa had stories that were passed on from elder to elder.”

“The deeper the cavern, the more the belch of a sludgetad can sound like the roar of an ash bear,” said Narale, quoting a famous Matoran proverb. “The point is, we do not truly know what the Toa are, or why we are here, or what we are to do. How do we know that whatever meteorological force may be tied to our arrival? How do we know that we aren’t supposed to help propel it along? We have to be cautious in where we lend our strength.”

“She is right,” said Shynali, who had been largely silent until this moment. “We do not know what we are here for, or why we were chosen.”

Auru scratched the top of his mask. “Perhaps, then, it is our responsibility to look into these happenings and…”

“How do we do that?” asked Kidoma. “Do we just, jump into a storm and ask it where it came from? We aren’t exactly elemental masters, right? We can’t exactly talk to these things.”

A chilly wind rose in the room, and Orano shook. Next to him, Shynali crossed her arms. Had she felt it too?

“So, our plan is then to look at these events and expect to learn something,” said Narale. Her skepticism burned in her voice. “Is anyone here a scientist?”

No one spoke up.

“Great. So, we’ve no way to do the job we are supposed to. I suggest, then, that we return to our homes, go and do our responsibilities, and wait for things to get more… corporeal.”

“Did everyone else feel that?” asked Shynali, ignoring Narale’s suggestion.

“I-I-I did-d,” said Orano. “A d-dr-aft.”

“Yeah, I did too,” said Kidoma. “What about it?”

Shynali turned her head around, taking in the structure. The only opening in the center were the small cavities in the ceiling to let in light, but the draft hadn’t come from above. “Where did it come from?”

Kidoma’s eyes went wide, and his hands tightened around his staff. “Um… wind? You mind telling us what you’re doing here?” He received a glare from Narale, to which he shrugged.

At first, nothing seemed to happen. Then, the shadows grew. The pillars’ shadows stretched and expanded, until the whole room became enveloped in rampant darkness, and Orano felt the strange draft whirl up around him. It wasn’t just from one direction, but all around, spiraling across the room. And then, the wind became sharp, whistling into his receptors. Its whistle soon was reshaped, and it became like a… like a voice.

The voice - a woman’s - simply laughed. And then it said, “It’d be my pleasure.”

Orano was surprised at the speed with which the Toa snapped into defense. Within moments of the wind’s speaking, Kidoma had his water-tipped spear drawn, Vosala’s torch was alight with a blade of flame, Auru’s iron gauntlets were raised defensively, and Shynali had her twin blades at either side.

Whatever this presence was, it had four armed Toa ready to strike at the first sign of threat. Only Orano and Narale stood still, weaponless.

“Who are you?” called Kidoma.

The voice seemed to laugh again. “I am the Dark Wind. I am your predecessor.”

Her voice was a strange blend of delight and loathing. It stung in Orano’s receptor.

“You’re a Toa?” Shynali asked. While the other Toa were frantically searching the room for the speaker, she had her eyes shut.

“I thought I would be, once,” the Wind said, “but fate betrayed me. I thought it was in my Destiny to be what you are, but Destiny decided that it was not.”

Orano felt his mask tremble over his face, pushed by the air. He held a hand to it, keeping it on.

“It’s a funny thing, Destiny,” she continued. “You never know whose hand it will play into. Why was it that Destiny deemed you all worthy to bear the title of ‘Toa,’ and yet my age was left to suffer without such hope?”

“What are you saying?” asked Narale.

The air was still for a moment. “Destiny chose my path for me, and so I took Destiny into my own hands. Now, look what I have become!”

Dust began to blow from the walls, collecting in the center of the room. It clung to itself, building a swirling shape from the floor. It was a towering figure, taller than even Narale and Auru. It was lithe in shape, with sinister spikes protruding from its shoulders. Its details were few and lacking, as the dust seemed only held to fragments of this shape. It was nowhere near a physical form, but it was as close to one as wind could take.

“I am the Elemental Lord of Air,” said the Wind. “I have given everything to become this, and now I am here to see what about you made you worthy that I had lacked!”

“Elemental Lord?” said Vosala. “Like, the ghost story?”

“Ghost story?” scoffed the Wind. “Is that what you think I am?” Her head - or, what appeared might be her head - turned to Orano, and she lunged. “I am no ghost!”

The Toa barely had a moment to duck, letting the swing miss over his head as he felt the powerful gust of wind above him.

Kidoma sprang towards her. He held his staff at its center, quickly drawing it apart into halves. From each half, a watery arrowhead formed, and he swung with these at the strange foe.

The blades rippled as they cut through the Dark Wind’s shape, and she breathed with strain as they did.

“It’s been too long since I’ve felt the strike of a blade!” she cried, almost cheerfully. Her form twisted around swinging a kick at Kidoma. As soon as the dusty foot collided with his armor, the Toa went soaring back.

Auru and Shynali appeared at either side, each making an attack. With a poof, the Wind’s form dissipated, and the two Toa crashed into each other. She reshaped above them and clapped her hands. The air around them came alive with force, and the two were pressed against the ground with great force.

“Are you really the Toa?” the Dark Wind jeered. “I must say, you are not living up to the hype…”

“Allow me to change your mind!” said Toa Vosala. He jumped against the wall, kicking his feet out upon impact, turning himself into a projectile. He waved his flaming torch in a swing, creating an arc of flame that raced towards the Wind. The fire sliced through her midsection, causing her to yelp in pain, but not much more.

Before the Toa crashed into her, she lifted a hand. Vosala was hit but a burst of wind and was flung into a wall. Her featureless head turned to Orano, and she chuckled.

As she stepped towards him, someone jumped between them. Narale stood, cloaked back to Orano, her hands enveloped in blades of ice.

“Run!” she called behind her.

“Don’t,” said the Wind, bored.

Orano began to sprint away, but he quickly found his feet were not on the ground. He had been lifted into the air, and now was floating towards the Dark Wind.

“Elemental Lord!” Narale shouted as she swung her created weapons at the shape. She was knocked aside by a gust.

Helplessly, Orano was dragged to the shape. He scrambled to grab onto anything that could save him, but none of his companions were up and able, and he was out of reach of anything solid.

“Toa of Air,” the Wind said. “Allow me to relieve you of that title. You have done very well, but you are no longer -”

Orano clenched his fist and threw a punch. He had never actually been taught, but he had seen the Twinventors get into fistfights on a few occasions. His fist pushed into the woman’s form, and immediately his hand felt pressure on every side, mighty and crushing - as if he had just thrust it into a whirlwind.

“Who taught you how to be heroes?” the Wind said. She placed a hand on Orano’s face, but then struck him with the other. The Toa was pushed back, but his mask did not follow.

Ono clattered on the ground. “N-n-no!” he cried, but he couldn’t get up. Each of his limbs throbbed with pain. He felt so… weak.

“I once celebrated the idea of Toa. I thought they were legends, tales worthy of being told year after year!” The Dark Wind’s shape became less stable, the dust forming snake-like shapes in the air that swirling hungrily around the Kanohi mask. “Now I see what you truly are.” The mask began to float, rising slowly. “Jokes.”

The mask stopped in the middle of the air. First, it hung there, still, but then it began to tremble, going from a subtle vibration to a vigorous convulsion. It was terrible, but just as soon as it began did it stop. The mask fell upon the floor and did not move again.

“Well,” the Wind said. The voice was hardly a whisper in Ono’s receptor. “That’s unfortunate. I was hoping for more time.” And then…

That was it. She was gone, and the Toa were alone.

“Yah!” cried a recovered Kidoma, sweeping his staff halves around the floor, seeking for any sort of target. He leapt to the center of the room, spinning around on his heel. “Where are you?”

“She’s not here anymore,” said Shynali, rising to her knees. Auru, who was already back on his feet, held out a hand to help her up. Shynali looked at it curiously before slapping it as a misunderstood high-five.

There was an absence where there had once been a presence. There was no mistaking it; the Dark Wind was no longer within the Center.

Kidoma thrust the two ends of his baton-like staff halves back together, and when he took one of his hands away, the staff was reformed. “Okay, that happened.”

“We’re supposed to be the greatest heroes in the world,” groaned Vosala from the floor, “and we just got kicked in the rear by a fairy tale.”

Auru shook his head, hands on hips. “Most fairy tales have echoes of truth concealed within them.” He turned to Orano. “Toa Orano, would you mind taking us to the nearest archive? Perhaps we can perform some research on these Elemental Lords.”

“Y-y-yeah,” said Orano. There was an archive just across the street, positioned near the historic Center of Gathering to add to it all.

“Some meteorological event, huh?” said Kidoma, pushing Narale on the shoulder with a fist.

The Toa of Ice glared at him with the fury of ironic fire. “You will watch your tone around me. I am Heiress to the lordship of the Rimelands. I believe I deserve respect.”

Kidoma’s eyes narrowed in disgust. “Whatever.”

Orano, however, fixated on the place where the Dark Wind had just been. She had appeared so suddenly, so quietly, and yet she was the most powerful, most evil thing he had ever witnessed. How could the Toa stand against her? How could the Toa do anything? Anything other than fail, the one thing Orano could always manage to do.

He drew his hands up and felt the mask over his face. It was so odd, so clunky to him. It certainly didn’t belong to him anymore than it did to the Elemental Lord.

The Dark Wind was right.

The Toa, or at least he, was a joke.

Part 3 - "THE DIVIDE"

The archivist seemed very surprised as six multicolored Toa twice her size stomped into her archive - in the middle of the workday, of all times - asking to see what information she had on the Elemental Lords, a semi-popular ghost story for children. But she swung a few levers, opened a few chutes, and sorted through a few canisters, and soon the Toa had themselves a flimsy scroll with a description of several iterations of the old tale to look through.

Auru handled the reading, but he had four heads trying to peer over each of his mighty shoulders to catch glimpses of the text (Orano had decided his time was better spent just listening, and sat across the table from Auru).

The first scroll suggested that the stories’ exact origins were uncertain, but that many scholars believed they could be traced back to the creation of the two Elemental Temples, and that the Lords may even be the creators themselves.

So, the Toa sat down with their second scroll, telling of these temples and their creation.

“‘About two hundred years ago…’” Auru read, and then stopped. He check the scroll’s canister, which had an inscription on its lid. “That’s four hundred years ago, now. ‘Scientists discovered a way to synthetically generate elemental power. A sort of crystal that acted as a lens, taking warm light from the star and cold, reflected light from the moon to create different elements that, in theory, could be harnessed by the Matoran.”

“Four hundred years ago?” repeated Kidoma. “The Matoran have barely lived on Moda Nui for that long. Why haven’t we heard of this before? What happened to these scientists?”

“If you kept listening,” Narale said, “maybe you would find out.”

“Please, both of you,” said Auru.

Orano could see his singular eye twitching. He couldn’t remember an interaction between the two Toa that didn’t consist of some sort of jab, taunt, or generally rude comment.

Auru shook the scroll, pushing back the four hovering Toa a bit and kept reading. “‘The Northern Elemental Temple was built in the peaks of the Rimelands. The Southern Elemental Temple was built on the edges of the Flickering Wastes. They were built to harness and transfer this energy to those who created it, in hopes of creating six heroes with incredible power.’”

“For what purpose?” asked Narale.

Kidoma was about to make some snide comment, but Auru beat him to speaking. “It doesn’t say. What it does say is, ‘The results of the experiment were never reported, likely lost in the chaos of the age. It is known that those who performed this project were never mentioned in any documentation or records since, so it is widely assumed that they disappeared - possibly even consumed by the event.’”

Shynali put knuckle under her chin. “Hence the stories. They were so hungry for power that it turned around and devoured them.”

Auru nodded gently. “An attempt to become Toa, as the Dark Wind said. But they failed, and now they are ghosts of the elements they attempted to sign themselves. And now the Dark Wind hates us, reminders of that failure.”

Vosala grunted. “Well, that’s cliche. Promise of revenge, return of an ancient evil. How many stories start with that?”

“Ours,” Kidoma said. “There’s an evil power out there, and it’s growing more powerful,” he said. He held his staff out in front of him. “We come from different stories, different lives, but right now, we each have the same chance. This is our opportunity to become something greater than ourselves. This is our Duty. Let us stand against this foe. Let us stand against this evil!” He thrust the staff into the air, pointing it to the towering heights of the archive.

There was a silence before Auru began to clap. As soon as the Toa of Earth realized he was the only applause, he stopped and embarrassedly put his bulky arms at his side.

“Are you finished?” asked Narale.

Kidoma’s form drooped. “Yes…”

“How do you propose we stop the Dark Wind?” she asked. “Have you already forgotten how easily she defeated us just thirty minutes ago?”

“Well,” he said, “we weren’t ready. This time, we’re bringing the fight to her. We don’t know a lot about this Dark Wind - why she tried to turn herself into one of us, or why she is back now, or where she’s gone now - but we have something we didn’t before: a direction. We go to these temples, and we defeat her there.”

Auru rolled up the scroll, set it back into the container, and slapped the lid on. “Perfect! There are two temples, which means I can divide you two. Narale will go to the Northern Temple, and Kidoma to the Southern. The Dark Wind is most likely at one of them, gathering strength for our next meeting.”

“How do you know that?” asked Kidoma.

“What was it she said? ‘I thought I’d have more time?’ And then, she was gone. Her shape must have failed her. Think, it took her four hundred years to return like this. She must have been gathering strength all this time, and she overestimated how much she had.”

“And how do we find these temples?”

Narale chuckled to herself. “Everyone in the Rimelands knows of the temple atop Shatterside Summit. It’s the hardest climb in the country. Nobody’s made it to the top, at least, not in my lifetime.”

Auru turned to Vosala. “And you? Do you know of the Southern Elemental Temple?”

The Toa of Fire had been examining his reflection in the pearlescent surface of the archive table. He looked up, and saw that everyone was staring. “Oh, what? Sorry, I wasn’t really listening for the last, like, five minutes.”

Auru’s grip on the container tightened, and Orano worried it might crack. “Do you know where the Southern Elemental Temple is? It’s in the Wastes.”

Vosala’s eyes grew with excitement. “Hey, yeah! I think my friend Grinner’s been there, he’s told me some stories about that place! There’s some crazy labyrinth in there, it’s really easy to get lost in!”

“Excellent, then I would like for you to be on my team,” said Narale. “Your gift of fire could prove valuable in ascending the frozen paths of the mountain. The others can go and find this ‘Grinner’ and enlist his guidance.”

Kidoma threw his hands in the air. “I was going to give you the first pick anyways, but okay!”

“Please, stop acting like a child. This conflict is bigger than your ego, Toa Kidoma.”

Orano felt as if he could hear the raging boil inside Kidoma’s head. He thanked the Great Nui Spirit that the two weren’t traveling together.

“Auru, how do you feel about the desert?” Kidoma asked with forced calm.

The great silver-armored Toa gave an easy shrug. “I will follow whoever calls upon me.”

“Awesome.”

The tiny, timid Orano and the cool, experienced Shynali remained. Orano began to anticipate traveling through the hot and dry dust of the Flickering Wastes alongside Kidoma and Auru before he heard his name.

He looked up. Narale’s yellow eyes were locked on him. They held no humor nor deception.

“Would you join our group?” she asked him.

Him? She had chosen him? Over Shynali? What sort of game was she playing? He remembered how she had thrown herself between him and the Dark Wind. What sort of ploy was that? What did she see when she looked at his hunched, clumsy form?

He waddled over to her side. Vosala jerked his head upwards while looking at him, a friendly nod. Orano wasn’t sure what to say, if anything.

“And so…” said Kidoma, opposing Narale.

She laughed quietly. “Let our adventure begin.”


Toa Shynali never understood politics. Fogfa, the Matoran who gave up a quarter of his core energy to grant her life, never explained society to her. Of course, he was the one who had elected to move outside of his after his wife had shut down. Shynali’s “mother,” as he had called her.

Frankly, Shynali didn’t care to learn. Chieftain Kasimi seemed a kind and wise individual, but she heard his name spoken in gossip ever since she had departed from the Fauna Jungle that she had begun to question him herself. Was he truly senile? If so, was he fit to lead an entire community of Matoran people?

Still, she found it easier to trust in the wisdom and experience of the old Matoran than in that of this strange Toa before her.

Kidoma seemed fine enough. He came off as confident and optimistic, and she had heard the stories of how he had defeated a legion of pirates and saved his home. But the idea of him leading her and Auru through the Wastes to a historical temple filled with an old evil just seemed… discouraging to her.

Kidoma himself, however, was anything but discouraged.

“So, we’ll pass through the kokonut tree forest, which will be fun, but we won’t have time to stop and visit the village - that could put us behind Narale, who already will have the headstart, since Aero City is closer to the Rimelands…” he was saying, waving his hands across a twisted map he had sprawled across a table.

They were standing in the middle of Chute Station C, a circular tower that rose up nearly three stories, each side of the wall filled with chute entrances. Wind howled in their receptors, reminding Shynali of the presence of the villain they had fought in the Kini Center. Matoran flowed through the structure, both in and out of chutes. Most carried bags of various sorts to bring to their respective jobs. Very few of them appeared to notice the Toa, or if they did, paid little attention as they continued to pursue their destinations without pause. Shynali thought it was a wondrous sight - the animals and Rahi of the Fauna Jungle never behaved like this.

“Looks like we take Breezely Road down to Nalido Path and then a right when we get to the Sandar Crossroads, and then…” Kidoma was tracing his directions on the parchment. “…the Flickering Wastes.”

“What about our guide?” asked Auru, staring at the map from the other side. “Where is this ‘Grinner?’”

“Vosala said you could always find Grinner at Laxly’s,” Kidoma said. “It’s apparently some famous diner. They have a special drink there that causes you to burp out giant bubbles, which sounds interesting.” He rolled up the map. “But we don’t have time for that. We’ve got a temple to crash. Maybe on the way back.”

Shynali noticed a Matoran on the other side of the room with a steaming cup in his palm. He paced quickly through the hall, moving towards a chute. Before he reached it, though, he whipped from his bag a slip of plastic film that he slung over the brim of his cup, all while maintaining his hurried speed. As the Matoran stepped up to the chute entrance, he was taken up and away by the winds contained inside.

It was incredible, all of it. As the Matoran Shali, she was entirely removed from this sort of society. She had spent her days with monkeys and Saw-Apes and jungle crabs. They had a system of community, sure, but compared to the intricacies of Aero City…

She could never understand this world that she had so recently joined, all because of that mask she found trapped beneath the twisted roots of a Keetongu tree.

“Alright, are we ready to go?” asked Kidoma, returning the map to Auru.

“One moment,” Auru said, placing the map in a large leather satchel he wrapped around his torso. “I have been meaning to ask you something, Kidoma.”

He blinked back.

“Why are you so bothered by Toa Narale? You have not made one civil comment to one another since we’ve met.”

Kidoma shrugged. “I guess it’s just, well…” He paused for a moment. “She was supposed to be a leader, right? She was supposed to succeed this Lord Qualis guy, and that was before she found her Kanohi mask. Narale was always supposed to be a hero. Kind of… goes against my whole philosophy.”

“Which is…?”

“I was a fisherman. A nobody. And I had this whole crazy identity crisis when I found this thing-” He tapped the front of his mask. “-but I managed to do it. I saved my people. Me, a nobody, became an anybody. And I believe that. I believe in that. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things.” He looked at Shynali and Auru. “Sorry, that was a lot. I didn’t mean-”

“No, it is alright,” Auru said, placing a massive arm on Kidoma’s shoulder. Kidoma sank a little under the Toa of Earth’s powerful grip. “I asked. And I understand. But if I may suggest a revision to your philosophy… A nobody may become an anybody, but an anybody may become an anybody as well.”

“Yeah, sure,” said Kidoma. His gaze avoided Auru, like Fogfa’s did whenever Shynali asked something specific about her mother.

“But, you still would like to reach the temple as quickly as possible,” said Auru after a prolonged moment of nonconversation had passed.

“Yes, I would!” said Kidoma.

“Very well.” Auru scanned the tower of chutes. “Which one of these do we take?”

“We are going south?” asked Shynali.

Auru nodded.

“Then we take the southern one.” She began to run towards the chute and hopped into the quick-moving line formed in front of it.

These Matoran barely even looked where they were going. They just walked up the stairs, and when their feet had carried them far enough, the wind picked them up and they were gone. Did they not notice the wonder of it? Was magic that seemed to power these glass tubes that transported people around the city as a core pumped ichor invisible to these Matoran?

“Hey,” said someone behind her. “You’re holding up the line.”

Shynali was before the gaping entrance to the glass pipe. She could feel the wind pulling her in, willing her into its current. She took a step, another step, and then the ground beneath her was no more, and she was airborne.


Toa Orano had ridden the Aero chutes hundreds of times in his life. He had seen the buildings fly by as he was carried between them, interweaving, intervening their blocky flow. He should have been numb to the wonder of it all, the majesty of his home city. But this time, he was breathless in the awe of it.

Perhaps it was the fact that the chutes, once three, four times his height, now seemed comfortable. Not tight or cramped by any means, as his size hadn’t changed drastically by the donning of the Kanohi mask, but it certainly was noticeable how much the chutes had seemed to shrink around him. For some reason, that made it easier for Orano to look outside of it. Aero City had been his home for every year he had been alive. He had taken a class trip to the Iron Mountains, once, but other than that, he had never left the industrial landscape of this city. He was familiar with the feeling of nervousness, but this was something different. He was about to be the furthest from his parents that he had ever been, and he wasn’t even allowed a good-bye. And considering he and the other Toa were actively looking for danger - There was a chance that the last words he had gotten to say to his mother and father were, well, the last words he would ever say to them.

Suddenly, the chute ride wasn’t so inspiring.

Orano had been the last one into the chute, and therefore he was the last one out. Vosala was already on the move before Orano had even landed in Chute Station G, but Narale appeared to be waiting for him.

“Come,” she said. Her politeness in waiting was not accompanied by patience. “We must hurry. Every moment we wait is a moment the Dark Wind has to become stronger.”

“O-o-okay,” Orano said, hobbling up to her. They began to quicken their pace as they pursued Vosala. The Toa of Fire skirted around the various passersby, who did little to heed him unless he got directly in their way. He received many angry comments, but relented little in his speed.

“He still thinks he can make it back to his coliseum for a gladiator match if we reach the temple fast enough,” said Narale. “I don’t think he understands how long defeating a power-hungry gust of air will take.”

Orano let out an anxious chuckle. Even though Vosala was clear about his hurry, Narale seemed just as impatient, though more restrained about it. Was her only concern really the Dark Wind? He thought about the way she had spoken to Toa Kidoma in the Kini Center.

“This conflict is bigger than your ego, Toa Kidoma,” she had said. She seemed to have something to prove.

The three hustled out of the station and into the streets. There weren’t many to cross before they reached the feet of the great ring of mountains that surrounded the city. With no delay, they were at the border of Aero City and about to cross into the Iron Mountains.

Here, Vosala stopped.

“Here it begins,” he said. His voice was low, serious. “The great adventure of Toa Vosala and his courageous team of desperados.”

“We are not desperados ,” objected Narale.

“Well, we are desperate. Or, you guys are. I’m at my best. Nothing to lose. Everything to gain.”

“Please stop ‘narrating,’ or whatever it is you call that.”

“Oh, wow, okay. Sorry, didn’t realize I got the boring team.” He looked down at Orano. “What about you, shortstack? How do you feel about my voiceover?”

Orano frantically darted his head back and forth between the eager Vosala and the exasperated Narale. “I-I, um - I’d-d-d rather-r, um, b-be left out-t of th-th-this.”

Vosala’s shoulders slumped. “Alright, fine. You guys ready to go?”

Rather than give him an answer, Narale simply began to march forwards, expecting the others to follow behind.

Vosala itched the top of his mask. “Whoa. Okay, we probably shouldn’t mess with her too much.”

Orano shook his head and began to follow Narale.

The wind howled through the peaks of the mountains in a low tumult. Orano’s fingers clenched into fists, and his bag became intensely heavy over his back. Was that mere air brushing past the snow-adorned peaks above? Or was it the Dark Wind, here to claim his mask?

He could still remember how helpless he had felt, reverted to his Matoran state. It was a familiar feeling - to some degree, he had felt it everyday of his life. Even now, he was a Toa, and he still was helpless. He had needed protection. Narale had dived in front of him in the face of the Dark Wind. She had chosen him to join her team. He was supposed to be a hero, and he needed protection.

The three ascended the Iron Mountains in a tense silence.

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Part 4 - "THE FORESTS"

As cold and expansive as the Iron Mountains were, the Crags were so much worse.

The stone was brittle, falling off in large chunks whenever any sort of pick was attempted on it. That meant no climbing tools, and Orano already didn’t feel safe climbing even with the tools and harnesses.

“Relax, shortstack,” said Vosala behind him. “You’re the Toa of Air. You can fly.”

“W-w-what made you th-think that-t?!” asked Orano. He felt his grip on a stony spire slip, and he clamped his visual receptors shut. Any moment, and you’re just going to tumble down and it’ll be over. Not that scary. It’s just falling and then…

Vosala gave him a nudge on the shoulder. “Come on, dude. You’re holding up the line.”

Orano took his hand and, inch-by-inch, brought it further from Aero City, further from home, and towards whatever was out there.

“You know, you didn’t need to bring that huge backpack,” said Vosala as he matched Orano’s progression with considerably more ease.

“Yes-s-s, I d-did,” said Orano. With it, he felt prepared. He felt like he had something even if it wouldn’t actually contribute anything, which he didn’t think it would.

They continued like this for the better part of the day. Narale, who seemed to be a natural at climbing, had to wait for the other two to catch up at every occasion. She practically leapt from spire to spire, and seemed to have no fear of the gaping ravines below. And when she waited, she simply watched the other two. She did not nag, she did not complain, she simply watched, albeit with an impatient glare.

By the time they were across, Orano’s joints felt limp with strain. Every servo in his hands could barely move, and when they did, dust from the stony spires hindered them slightly.

“That was the worst!” shouted Vosala as they stepped, finally, onto level ground. “Why has no one built pathways through the Crags?”

“Because our kingdoms were built to be separate,” said Narale. “It’s how we’ve managed all of these years. It’s how we’ve thrived.”

‘Thrived’ is a generous term, thought Orano, but he did not dare say so out loud. Narale, it seemed, still liked him, or at least wasn’t as vocal about her disapproval of him. Either way, Orano preferred it to how she regarded Kidoma, or Vosala.

Before them lay the Rimelands. Orano already felt lost, but this was simply because of how far from home he suddenly realized he was. He had never seen so much snow before, lying not on great and distant mountaintops, but beneath their feet and across the forest, sprawling out before them like… like… like nothing Orano had ever seen before.

It was like the ocean, though he had never honored the majesty of the ocean, and so this was the closest thing to what he could imagine it being - an expanse of glittering pearlescent waves, rising and falling gently among the trees. It would have been beautiful, if not so startling to the poor Toa of Air.

“Marvelous, isn’t it?” asked Narale, eyeing the stout Orano with amusement.

“Um-m-m… Y-yes?” said Orano, closer to a question than confirmation.

“Well, wait until you see the Wastelands,” said Vosala. “They’re like this, except without the trees, or the snow, and your joints don’t frost over every thirty seconds.”

“So, in other words,” said Narale, “they’re nothing like this.”

“Well, they’re much better. They’ve got sand, wonderful, great sand. And clouds of dust. And fire. Wow, why didn’t I go with the other team?”

“Because,” Narale said, her voice bitter and frozen, “Shatterside Summit is much easier to climb when you have a Toa of Fire to melt away any ice that clouds the paths, as ice is frequent to do.”

Vosala grumbled something incoherent, and that was that.

The three trudged through the snow, which was deep enough to reach Orano’s knees. They became engulfed in trees, and, as if by a large beast, they were swallowed by the forest.

Light still shone in through the pines’ needly limbs, allowing the snow to persist in its glimmer, but the star seemed so far, now that the air had gotten so cold. Orano could not sense its warmth.

“Straight to the shutter-stride sum-of-it?” Vosala asked about four steps in.

“Shatterside Summit,” Narale corrected, something she seemed equally annoyed and delighted to do. “And no. We require climbing gear, which we will acquire at the Frostglade, my hometown.”

“Returning home,” a voice said. “What a charming feeling!”

“Don’t mock me,” said Narale, her voice as icy as the one preceding.

“That wasn’t me,” Vosala said. “You would never know if it was, because I mock people behind their backs.”

“I love returning home!” the voice said again. It trickled and cracked, somewhat similar to the sound of Orano stepping upon the snow. “It makes me feel so terribly cold inside, because my home is gone! Beneath four hundred years’ worth of frost! It’s funny, when you think about it, because it’s just so sad!”

Around them, the shadows cast by the trees seemed to lengthen and spread, and the luster of the snow was choked out by the sudden dark.

“Another one?” cried Vosala, drawing his torch handle and igniting its fiery blade. “Please, don’t be made of air! I want to hit something!”

Narale shaped icicle points from her wrists, encasing her hands in her weapons and stood ready.

Orano nervously stood between the two of them.

At first, it appeared that something beneath the snow was rising up, until the Toa realized that the snow itself was forming a shape that climbed to its feet. It was a brutish, ice-toned beast with fangs and claws, its eyes hollow and its jaw agape. As the Dark Wind had been a creature of air, this was a beast of frost.

“The name’s Fritz,” the thing said, its jaw motionless as it spoke. “As in, on-the-fritz, because I’m crazy!”

“Yeah, whatever,” said Vosala. “Can we get this over with?” The Toa of Fire jumped forwards, holding his fire blade high. Before he could reach the beast, Fritz held up an icy arm and shot a beam of snow. The moment it hit Vosala, it froze over and held him fixed to Fritz’s arm. The beast swung the frozen beam to the side, and Vosala was thrown into the trunk of a great tree.

“Orano, behind me!” shouted Toa Narale, who drew up from the ground in front of her a wall of ice to shield the incoming blast from Fritz.

“Come on, let me get you!” said the beast. “It’ll only hurt a lot!” On the other side of the ice, Orano watched as Fritz lunged at the ice wall and, laying his hand on it, absorbed the material. The ice covered him in a suit of jagged armor, allowing him to grow nearly twice as tall.

“Aw, you shouldn’t have!” shouted Fritz with a cackle as he swung a massive claw.

Narale jumped back, before attacking with one of her ice blades. It shattered against the armor of the beast, who laughed as if he had just been tickled.

“The Lady was right about you! You don’t know what you are doing!” Fritz thrust an arm at Narale, sending her back and away.

Orano held up a hand, shut his eyes, and felt the air around him. It was cold, afraid to move, but if he asked politely enough-

Wind began to whip and whirl around him, in a slight burst of energy that echoed in his core. He waved his hand in its current, drawing it faster and faster, before pointing it at its target. The wind shot forwards, and…

Fritz stared at Orano. “Was that supposed to do something? Was - was that little breeze supposed to, I don’t know, cool me down? Lull me into a state of rest? Because it was just that pathetic.”

A ball of fire erupted to the side of Fritz’s face, and shards of ice fell upon Orano. Fritz, with a half-destroyed head of ice, glared at its source, a standing Toa Vosala.

“Do you mind?” the beast growled.

Vosala shrugged. “Not at all.”

Fritz launched a beam, which Vosala ducked underneath. When the beam hit the tree behind him, it was encased in ice. Vosala dove with his fire blade extended, plunging it into Fritz’s ankle. The ice hissed with the sudden heat, and Fritz shrieked as his foot melted into water. With his disfigured leg, he stomped onto Vosala and kicked him away.

“What is a Toa of Fire doing in the Rimelands?” Fritz asked.

“Exactly…” Vosala groaned.

Orano ran to the fallen Toa and placed his hand on his back. “C-c-come on-n, V-Vosala! G-g-get up!”

Behind Fritz, Narale leapt onto his back, wrapping her arms around his neck. Fritz grunted and reached behind him, plucking Narale off. He held her by the leg between two claws, letting her dangle as he examined her.

“So, the Kanohi chose you stupid things,” said Fritz. “Over us, when we actually needed them. What makes you so special…?” He reached with his empty hand and pinched the horned mask upon Narale’s face. He ripped it off and laughed as the Toa of Ice was reduced to a small, short version of herself. A Matoran. Fritz threw her to the side and stared at the mask. “What a pretty thing! Small enough to be a snack! What do you think Kanohi masks taste like?"

“Orano…” said Vosala, lifting his head. “I have an idea. Can you do your breeze thing again?”

“W-well, I g-g-guess s-so,” said Orano. “But-t-t… but i-it did-dn’t d-do anything-g!”

“It will… Just use it when I tell you to.” Vosala shook as he rose to his feet. He hooked his torch handle to his side and ignited a burst of flame in either palm. As the Toa of Fire ran, he did not run towards Fritz, but to the side, drawing a line of fire in the ground between Orano and the beast. When he finished, he raised his hand and the flames followed, up and high.

“Orano!” Vosala shouted. “Do it now! At the guy!”

Orano clenched his fists. Wind, if you’re going to listen, listen now.

The wind whistled in his receptor.

Orano threw his arms forwards, palms out and fingers splayed. The wind rushed past him, directed by his hands into the fire. It picked up the flames and carried them with it as it blew further, upon the icy creature. Fire engulfed Fritz, who howled as his icy shape disintegrated.

With a final howl that shook the snow from the tops of trees, the fire was put out, but the ice was gone.

Fritz was gone.

In his place, a glowing white orb remained, sitting gently in the snow. As Orano and Vosala neared it, they could hear the sounds of blizzard winds, like a distant scream.

“We got him!” shouted Vosala, pumping a fist into the air.

Orano scowled beneath his mask. “H-h-h-how d-do you kn-know that-t?”

“Because…” Vosala pointed a finger at the orb. “That’s him.”

“Don’t touch it!” someone shouted. It was higher and less certain than the two were used to, but the voice definitely belonged to Narale, or whatever she was considered as a Matoran. The little Matoran girl stuck her head out from behind a tree.

“Oh, who is this?” teased Vosala. “I only listen to orders from Toa Narale, not random Matoran!” This coerced a wary chuckle from Orano.

Narale glared. “Well, if you hadn’t just roasted my mask, then maybe-”

“Relax, it’s right here!” Vosala reached into the snow and drew out a mask, Narale’s Kanohi in its natural silver form. It seemed entirely unscathed from the fire. “Kanohi masks don’t break like that.” He tossed it to the Matoran, who caught it and replaced it upon her face with ravenous speed.

“As I was saying…” said Narale after she had reformed, “we shouldn’t get too close to it. Anything that has to do with the Elemental Lords isn’t good for us.”

“Is that what he was?” asked Vosala.

“I thought it was obvious. It was an elemental being, it spoke of a ‘lady,’ no doubt a reference to the Dark Wind we encountered in the Center of Gathering.” Narale’s eyes were fixed on the orb. “I don’t know why he did that, though.”

Orano raised his hand, as he did in his schooling.

She glanced at him for a moment, before she asked, “Yes?”

“Elemental Lords are just made up of energy, right?"

Narale shrugged. “Theoretically. We don’t really know what they are.”

“B-b-b-but we d-do know that-t energ-gy can’t-t be d-destroyed, r-right? It-t-t just-t… changes f-form?”

Narale gave a faint laugh, amused. “Perhaps you are right.”

“How d-d-do we st-stop s-som-mething lik-ke that-t-t?”

“We make sure no one finds this thing,” said Vosala. He held up his hands towards it.

“No!” shouted Narale. “Do not fire-blast it! You could release him again!”

“Relax,” said Vosala, dropping his hand into the snow around the orb. He pushed a heavy amount of it over the orb, until it was hidden underneath a light hill of white.

“W-w-what if-f he ab-bsorb-bs the sn-snow, lik-ke he did-d with N-Narale’s p-p-power?” asked Orano. “W-w-w-what if he-”

“I don’t think he can get out on his own,” Narale said. “Or else he’d already be back.”

“We still have the wind lady to worry about,” said Vosala. “But I think this guy being here means that we’re on the right track." He looked between the two. “To the Frostglade, then?”

Narale’s eyes were fixed on the snowbank the Toa of Fire had created.

“Narale? To the Frostglade?” Vosala tried again.

She blinked. “Yes, let’s keep going. At least we know that we are headed towards the correct temple. Now, let us prepare to face the Dark Wind.”

As the three resumed their journey, Orano found that Narale made certain to stand by his side. Though she said nearly nothing at all, she did say in an especially quiet moment, “You did well back there, Orano.”

“Um, y-yeah, um-m, th-thanks,” Orano stammered.

Behind them, as the star dripped low and the Rimelands were encased with darkness, a mound of snow pulsed with lonesome light.

Part 5 - "THE OUTLAW"

Shynali was astonished by the Toa of Water’s capacity to speak. He spoke the entire way of their journey, from the edges of the Iron Mountains to the sandy jungles of the Great White Shores, and finally to the red dusts of the Flickering Wastelands. It was shocking, it truly was.

It started with a line of different strategies with how to beat an incorporeal enemy, most of which involved some degree of flooding followed by pulverizing. After they passed a distance into the Great White Shores, he began to fret over someone named “Neida” and how upset they would be that he was passing through without stopping to say hello. And as they reached the Flickering Wastelands, and the sand turned from creamy gold to a raw rust color, and the sky became dark with heavy smoke blocking out the setting star, his speech reduced to a series of rambles about how flooding the Dark Wind’s temple would be impossible with so little water nearby.

Shynali never grew tired of it. She enjoyed listening to anything, and every speech was like a lesson in the ways of society. Wherever Toa Kidoma came from, it must be a place with many patient listeners.

Auru, however, seemed much less fascinated by conversation and much more intrigued by the cumbersome clouds overhead. They were dark and plentiful, but they were above their heads, which was not a place Auru was used to them being.

“In the Iron Mountains, you can always see either the star or the moon,” the Toa of Earth said with wonder in his tone. “It’s never dark outside. Here, there is more shadow than light.”

As if to offer its spite, a distance away, the ground burst open with a blast of fire. It boomed like thunder, and then the fire died as immediately as it had come to life, and the quiet, lifelessness of the Wastelands resumed.

“So, which way to Laxly’s?” Kidoma asked.

As Auru began to reach into his satchel to retrieve a map, Shynali asked, “Do you not see it?”

Kidoma and Auru each stared at her.

“What do you mean?” asked Auru.

“That direction,” said Shynali, pointing. “A lone building with a sign painted in powdered Lightstone. ‘Laxly’s,’ right?”

“Yes…” Kidoma said, looking in the direction she had pointed with wide and confused eyes.

“You must have a hunter’s set of eyes!” said Auru. “You can see what we do not!”

Shynali frowned beneath her mask. Had she really expected so much out of her fellow Toa? Still, it was odd to her that these two could not see through the plumes of smoke and weighty shadows that drifted over these plains to the restaurant not even four miles away. What if they needed to discern between the nearly identical nutritious Banabi Nut and the deadly Nabani Shelled Fruit?

“Well, then, Shynali, why don’t you lead the way?” asked Kidoma, holding his hands out as if offering the path before them to her.

With a slight moment of hesitance, Shynali began to walk towards the building.

Laxly’s was a stubborn-looking building, made of a thick wood blackened by exposure to smog and ash. It was only a mere story tall, but it had a wide porch before it, where many Matoran sat and hummed as they played cards and drank warm liquids. None of them acknowledged the Toa as they strode by.

The sign, as Shynali recognized, glowed with a bright gleam from its pinkish-red paint, depicting the restaurant’s name above a picture of a two-prong fork stuck through a roasted insect of some kind. Shynali wondered if, by chance, the tough, blue-shelled bug might taste like the delicious plump Paurar Beetles of Fauna Jungle.

Inside the restaurant, the smells of bitter meat and a million different spices blended with the constant stench of smoke and produced something assaulting to Shynali’s sensors. She forced her breathing to slow, to keep herself from being overwhelmed by it all.

Again, no one looked up, save for the cook, a wide-faced, scarlet-plated Matoran with downward eyes, who waved them over to the counter he stood behind.

Kidoma marched straight for the counter, weaving through the different tables, not a single one matching in design or material, and nearly knocked over a heavy Matoran leaning back in her chair.

“Hey, you!” she snapped. Her eyes flickered, not out of anger, Shynali expected, but out of age. “Can’t you find somewhere else to walk?” She seemed entirely unphased by the presence of three Toa, despite their obvious height and diversity.

“Sorry, ma’am,” said Kidoma, pushing past her quickly. Shynali and Auru followed him, scooting past the upset Matoran without incident, and came to his side.

“What can I get ya?” asked the cook, in a gruff accent Vosala had faint traces of.

“Unfortunately, we’re on business too pressing for a meal or a beverage,” said Kidoma, ignoring the bartender’s apparent disappointment… “Though I’ve heard your Dragon’s Belch Soda is absolutely chamber-rumbling. We need to speak with a regular customer of yours. One mister ‘Grinner,’ I believe…”

“Grinner, eh?” said the cook, wiping down a plate coated in crimson, spice-filled sauce. “You looked like the adventurin’ types. He’s in one of the booths in the back, second from the right.”

“Thank you, my good man,” said Kidoma, nodding politely before turning away.

“Ahem.” The cook waved an empty hand. “Because I went through all the work to remember.”

Shynali squinted at the Matoran, confused. He seemed to be reciting Grinner’s location, as if he knew it without any thinking at all. What was he requesting from-?

Kidoma, with a downcast glare, threw a silver coin onto the counter before the cook, who accepted the payment without any show of gratitude.

What a strange world this is, though Shynali.

The Toa slipped through seated crowds of Matoran quietly munching on various foods, all of which were soaked in dark red sauces. Shynali’s stomach chamber roared in both want and disturbance at the thought of the unfamiliar tastes. In the jungle, her food went mostly unseasoned, but she would often wrap different meats and fruits in leaves to provide extra flavor. In the Wastelands, it seemed flavor was prevalent, and it was hot.

The booth that the cook had directed the Toa to was in a little pocket in the wall, placed underneath a mounted head of some ferocious Rahi with such a wickedly shaped jaw it was impossible to tell where its teeth ended and horns began. Seated in this booth was a sharp figure, a thin person that, if he wasn’t hunched, would likely rival the Toa in height. His legs were kicked up onto the table, showing off his dark leather boots.

“Let me do the talking,” said Kidoma, motioning for the other two to stay back. “I think this is going to take a little more precision than you guys are used to.”

“Whatever you say,” Auru said. Shynali and he exchanged a concerned look.

Kidoma approached the stranger’s booth, sitting on the opposite end. The figure’s face was masked beneath a wide brimmed hat, which he did not look out from. His entire shape was covered in pricey-looking leathers, now worn and stained dark with soot. He wore a trench coat so long it swept the floor beneath him, and from his belt hung some form of holster, with a silvery weapon handle gently sticking out from it. Did Kidoma know that weapon was there?

The legs of the stranger were kicked up on top of the table, so that the heels of his black viperskin boots were nearly in Kidoma’s face. Ignoring this, Kidoma cleared his throat forcefully and said, “Hey, friend. How goes it?”

A low, slow grunt came from the stranger, like what a mother Gorgon Cat makes when one approaches her den. He lifted his head slowly, revealing first a massive, open jaw, void of any lips to fit over his long, pearly teeth. Then, his eyes shone from underneath the hat’s brim, orange and cruel. This Grinner, or whoever it was, was not a Matoran. “You’re either here for business,” he said in a voice so low it sounded like gravel, “or you ain’t here at all. Which is it gonna be?”

Kidoma froze for a second. “W-well, we were actually sent here. By- by Toa Vosala? We heard you know him? You are Grinner, correct?”

The stranger lowered his head again, hiding his face once more beneath his hat. “That would be correct. ‘Vosala,’ you say?”

A moment of silence.

“Oh, uh, yes, I say,” said Kidoma. “I am Toa Kidoma. You may have heard of me. Master of water, defeater of the ferocious Captain Crau-”

Grinner made a spitting noise, and a toothpick shot from his teeth into an empty glass on his table. “Yeah, I’ve heard of you. Listen, why don’t you just save both of our time and get out of here. We ain’t friends, so there’s no reason for me to be talking to you.”

“Wait, no, it’s business,” said Kidoma. Apparently trying to mirror the man’s posture, Kidoma attempted to swing his own legs onto the table, something he did quite awkwardly. “Listen, Grinner, we’re looking for a guide to get us to the Southern Elemental Temple. We have a special Toa gotta-save-the-world matter there, and our mutual - er - acquaintance Vosala pointed us to you to be our guide.”

Grinner was silent for a moment more. “Yeah, I can get you there.”

“Through there,” corrected Kidoma. “In case there are, I don’t know, traps and things.”

Grinner’s hat raised just enough that he could glare at the Toa. “What are you offering?”

Now, Kidoma was the one who paused. “Um… an opportunity to do the right thing? I did mention we were Toa, right?”

Grinner moved from his relaxed seat, kicking Kidoma’s legs off of the table as he did so. He snatched the poor Toa’s wrist in his claws and leaned in over the table until his protruding jaw nearly scraped Kidoma’s mask. “Listen, Toa, I am Grinner. I’m the guy you hire when you need a team of soldiers but only have room in the caravan for one. I am a Skakdi, which means that war courses through my core to every part of my body, from my exalted smile to all eight of my fingers. I am a mercenary, which means I do nothing without being paid an ample amount for it. And once again, I am Grinner, which means I’m expensive.”

“I have three hundred,” said Kidoma, quickly and fearfully. “All I have is three hundred coins.”

“Not enough,” Grinner said, releasing the Toa.

“I’m a fisherman!”

Ignoring the comment, Grinner stood up from the booth and tipped his hat to the two Toa watching. “Perhaps we’ll cross paths again, but I won’t be waiting for it.”

Shynali had dealt with people like this before. There was something animalistic about them, like the more intelligent Rahi of Fauna Jungle. If it did not benefit their survival, they saw no reason to do it. They were selfish, sure, but they were efficient. They, unlike those who worked to destroy her home, could be reasoned with.

“Wait,” she said suddenly, pulling in front of Grinner before the Skakdi could run away. The grinning figure turned and acknowledged her with an unreadable stare. His skin, not plating, was as white as his teeth. He was like the walking skeleton of some once living thing.

“Have you another offer, ma’am?” he asked.

Shynali smirked beneath her mask. “You say you are a great warrior? A soldier, even? One who turns down an adventure?”

“Ain’t an adventure without a treasure,” said Grinner.

“We are not hiring you as a soldier,” said Shynali. She drew her hand to her side and unsheathed a curved blade. Though she had not considered it, she was relieved no one at the diner reacted to the show of weaponry. She flourished the blade, dancing it between her fingers in a beautiful arc of steel. “We are Toa. We are heroes. We are not hiring you as a Skakdi. We are not even hiring you as Grinner. We are hiring you as a guide. We tell you where to walk, and you walk there. You tell us what we need to know and what we ask from you. You do not even need to draw that shooter mounted to your hip. All we are asking is for guidance. Not a mercenary. Now, my friend has offered you some money. It’s not a lot, but it’s all he has, because he’s just that desperate to get to a place that you’ve already been to. My suggestion, from one warrior to another, is that you take it.”

Grinner opened his jaw slightly, and then further as he burst out into a hearty guffaw. “Okay, wow, why didn’t you just let her do all the talking? You’re lucky business has been slow. Ever since you guys started showing up, no one seems interested in hiring mercenaries when you goody-two-shoes do all the hero stuff for free.”

“Excuse me,” said Auru, “may I speak to my friends in private for a moment?”

Grinner shrugged. “Yeah, sure, just give me the three hundred and I’ll wait outside.”

“Not a chance,” Auru said, just as Kidoma was reaching for his money pouch.

Grinner winked at the Toa and turned away. “I’ll be outside nonetheless.”

When he was gone, Auru dropped an arm over his two friends’ shoulder and said quietly, “Are you sure about this? I have heard many stories about Skakdi before. Every time, they lie or cheat or something like that to get what they want and leave the others behind. We can’t trust this man.”

“We won’t,” said Shynali. “But as long as we have the promise of payment above his head, we can trust that he’s going to do what we ask to get it.”

Auru hesitated, then nodded. “I wish there was another way. I wish Vosala was with us.”

“Splitting into teams was ridiculous,” said Shynali. “We need to be learning how to work as a pack. As one.”

“It was necessary,” said Kidoma. “We don’t know where the Dark Wind is, and we have to find her. If we were all one team, and then went to the wrong temple, then-”

“But that’s not the only reason we split,” said Auru. “You and Narale both want to serve our team as leaders. But you cannot stand each other long enough to cooperate, so you positioned yourself on opposing teams. If you had been in the same group, maybe you could have learned to-”

“We don’t have time for this,” said Kidoma. “I’m sorry, but we have some really important things to take care of, and we need to go. I hear what you’re saying, though, Auru, and I think it will be worth trying. But we just don’t have time at the moment.”

Auru nodded again, and released the two. “I will go check on our new companion. Make sure he hasn’t gotten uninspired and departed on his own.” He left.

“Oh, and Shynali,” said Kidoma.

Shynali turned to him.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I should have let you and Auru talk. I need to put a little more faith in you.”

“I agree,” Shynali said flatly.

Kidoma raised his hands. “So? Are we good?”

“I believe we are both acting in the way that we see as best, yes,” said Shynali.

He paused, confused. “What? No, I mean… are we still friends?”

Shynali set a hand on his arm. “Of course.”

Outside, Auru and Grinner waited. The latter, hands on hips, gazed up at the two and waved. “As a reminder, you three are hiring me as your guide. Nothin’ more. I ain’t using a single Zamor shot for this trip, okay?”

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Part 6 - "THE NORTHERN TEMPLE"

“Vosala!” shouted Narale. The narrow path quaked as a bank of snow plummeted down the face of Shatterside Summit. She planted her hands to the side of the frozen mountain, drawing them back rapidly. Just above their heads, a platform of ice grew, slanted downwards to provide a barrier between the Toa and the miniature avalanche Vosala had created.

The snow slammed into Narale’s creation, cracking it but leaving it intact as it fell around them. Narale held Orano tightly, providing a second instance of shelter over him.

In a moment, the avalanche was gone, and the rumble quieted below the shriek of the winds.

“Do you want to be quick, or do you want to be safe?” asked Vosala, his hands ablaze.

“Is it too much to ask for both?” asked Narale.

Vosala grumbled, and kept trudging upwards through the snow.

Orano was having a difficult time deciding what was more miserable - the treacherous climb up Shatterside Summit, or the standoffish interactions between the Toa and the people of Frostglade. The town, though beautiful and serene in architecture, a charming village in the depths of an icy wood, lacked any sort of welcome or warmth for the visitors. Orano was stared at as if he was an unwanted spectacle, like a circus performer in a legal meeting. Narale almost wordlessly greeted a shopkeeper, purchased three sets of climbing gear (without so much as a discount for the heroes), and exchanged quick acknowledgements with her family.

And now, they were clinging to the side of an ice-caked mountain, ascending to the sheer peak, where a temple sat, filled with legendary evils and all sorts of uncomfortable things, and Orano could not choose which he preferred. One threatened his life, but the other threatened his right to belong.

“Alright, Vosala,” said Narale. “Orano and I are going to go first, and then you are going to follow. Do your best to copy exactly what I do, alright?”

The three had come to the sharp end of their road, which continued nearly twenty meters further - of course, the break between these sections was a sheer cliffside that continued as far as the eye could see.

“W-w-what are w-we-?” Orano began, but Narale had already picked him up and slung him over her back like a backpack. His own bag sagged against his shoulders, weighing his light Toa form downwards.

Vosala rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say, boss lady.”

Narale drew out her climbing gear - an ice pick at the end of a shockingly long chain - and began to swing it around. Once the pick was swinging at a sharp speed, Narale released it, and it soared up and out, jutting into the ice high overhead and about halfway across the breach.

“Hold on,” she told Orano, and jumped. She kicked her legs against the wall, standing against it, and ran. She sprinted across the cliffside, holding the chain firmly before she came to the other side and stood upon the path once more. “Okay, Vosala!” Narale pushed the chain to him, and he caught it. “Run!” she commanded.

Vosala took a running leap with so much force that Orano could tell there was no way he would be able to turn and run against the wall as Narale had. Instead, he swung outwards, legs dangling over the impossible fall below them, and gradually swung back in, crashing into the wall just before the path. Narale let Orano slip off of her back and grabbed Vosala’s arms, dragging him onto solid footing.

“Okay, that was pretty awesome, you have to admit,” said Vosala, his eyes glinting with excitement.

Narale shook her head and pointed. When Vosala had been pulled onto the path, he had let go of the chain, which now inaccessibly hung over the breach.

“Oh, whatever!” shouted Vosala. “You know, you could have just formed an ice bridge for us to get across!”

“Yeah, a bridge made of ice so that the Toa of Fire could just… walk across!” said Narale.

Vosala crossed his arms and grunted. “Yeah, I’m not going to melt it! I’m not, like, boiling hot all of the time. You know, I’m actually a pretty capable guy, though I’m sure that’s hard for you to trust. And Orano, my man! You gotta stop letting her treat you like you need protection all of the time. Remember, it was you and me that beat Fritz. Not her!”

Narale’s eyes glared with so much fury Orano was certain they turned orange, but she said nothing, and that brought more chill to Orano’s spirit than any cold he had felt up to this point. She just turned around, and kept marching upwards, and the other two could do nothing but follow.

They continued. Vosala tried to say something to Orano many times, but never got past the first syllable of a word. Any time they came upon a wall blocking their way, Vosala melted it away with a blast of fire. If they came to another breach in the path, Narale took Vosala’s suggestion and built a bridge of ice. They made it all the way to the summit without speaking a complete word to one another.

The crown of Shatterside Summit was flat and nubby, and in its center stood proudly their destination. The Elemental Temple rose to the height of nearly half a skyscraper of Aero City, and its white stone blended with the pure snow that surrounded it. It was sharp and jagged in strange shapes, like a hundred great quills of ice on the back of a snowy hedgemole. It was beautiful, though mysterious and dark. There was no door to its entry, no traps as the three went in. No one should be able to make it this far to begin with, so there was no need to ward off intruders.

The moon shone high upon them through the glass ceiling, over the mosaic tiles and crystalline walls that gave the interior a watery shimmer. The hall was barren of features or purpose except to lengthen their walk, until it suddenly opened up into a great hexagonal sanctum that was fashioned in a great steeple above them. The chamber was broken into three even parts, each with a different section of crystalline glass in the ceiling above. It was also empty.

Orano walked around the perimeter of the chamber. The floor was cut into thirds to match with the ceiling, and each piece had a raised platform, constructed of a different material and design. One was sharp and angular, like the building itself, but with a brighter gleam. The second was rounded and sapphire, and the floor rose and fell like waves. The final third was made of thin glass that swirled over itself in an iridescent marbled pattern.

Orano leapt onto this platform and glanced up at the moon above him. Its light pierced through the crystal glass ceiling, laying upon him a cool sensation that tingled in every sensor he had. He could sense energy in the light, beginning to store in his core. It tickled, but it felt…

“Orano, no!” shouted Narale. It startled Orano - it was the first thing that had been said in many hours. She ran and jumped onto the platform, forcing him off with a push. He fell upon his rear in an awkward clatter and gasped.

“W-w-what hap-ppened-d?” he asked.

“Your eyes were glowing,” she said. “This place was doing something to you.”

Orano looked up again at the moon. “I f-f-f-felt it… It-t was giving-g me p-power.”

Narale’s eyes were wide with horror. “This is where they did their experiment. This is where they became the Elemental Lords.”

“Each piece of the temple,” said Vosala, “is a different element.” He pointed to where Orano and Narale were. “Air.” He pointed to the gleaming white section. “Ice.” He pointed to the wavy section, and then paused.

“W-w-what?” asked Orano, and then following his finger, he saw it. On top of the platform in the wavy section appeared a pillar of water, featureless and vague at first, but slowly shaping.

It was bulbous and large, but recognizable as a Toa-sized frame. The watery shape of its head, smooth and proud, drew back in a trio of slick horns, but gave the figure no eyes, only a large, grinning mouth that opened as it said in a muted, feminine voice, “Welcome to our temple, Toa.”

They did not get a chance to respond before she raised her arms. Each of her fingers became as long as whips, and when she thrust them together, they lashed out at Vosala. The watery tendrils struck his armor, several hitting before he collapsed.

Narale jumped forwards, throwing daggers of ice from her hands. They flew into the water creature’s translucent stomach and remained there. Narale tried again, about to raise her hands to fire a chilling blast of wind, but she was suddenly picked up and thrown into the air by… nothing.

And then Orano felt it. The shadows seemed to grow darker and wider, and the air began to rush with wind. She was here.

“Have you met my friend Hidra?” the familiar voice of the Dark Wind jeered. Now, Orano could see her, the faint airy shape, clutching Narale by the collar. Something was different about her… She wasn’t just the shape of wind anymore, but had a true, solid presence about her.

I have to help Narale. Orano reached for his climbing chain. He tossed Narale the pick. She snatched it and, when Orano pulled, was free of the Wind’s grasp. Narale whipped around quickly and bounded back to Orano’s side.

“Do it, Orano,” said Narale. “Hit her with a blast.”

Orano shouted as he threw a fist forwards. He willed the air around him to follow, and was slightly surprised when it did. A rocket of wind shot out, hitting the Wind and forcing her back a step.

Just as the Toa began to relish their small victory, the Dark Wind twisted her hand around, revealing an orb, glowing bright and colorless. They both knew what this orb was. What it had been.

“Oh, Fritz,” said the Wind, mocking sorrow. “I was so heartbroken to learn of his defeat. And now…” She threw the orb into the air, lobbing it over the Toa’s heads. It crashed on the ground right before the platform associated with water, where Hidra stood, holding Vosala in her watery claws. She laughed as the orb shattered against the ground, releasing a bright storm of energy, like a constellation of miniature blizzards. Hidra dropped Vosala on his back and jumped into the storm, letting the energy absorb into her.

Orano, Narale, and Vosala watched in horror while the Dark Wind watched in glee as Hidra began to transform. Her watery shape became spliced with barbed ice, flowing like waves as she grew twice in size. Her mouth grew great icy tusks, and she grew a crown of icy watery horns.

“Thank you for the gift, mistress,” said the hybrid in a great, warbled voice, and she grabbed Vosala again, this time in only one hand.

“Take on Dark Wind,” said Narale. “I’m going to help Vosala.”

Orano panicked. “W-w-wait! D-d-do you really th-think I c-could fight-t-t her? Al-lone?”

“Yes,” she said immediately, but the concerned look in her eyes betrayed her attempted certainty.

Orano trembled, and Narale ran off to fight the empowered Hidra.

“Little one, do not fear,” said the Wind. “You were never meant to win.”

Something sparked in Orano’s core. Something that, if he thought long and hard, had always been there. When he saw those two young Matoran being picked on at school, he felt it then. He felt it when he was on top of that chute monitor station, staring at the mask which he now wore upon his head.

Toa… Orano…

Orano clapped his hands, drawing with them a wave of air that cut like a blade into the Dark Wind. She shrieked as she was pushed back.

“That hurt,” she said, “but it won’t destroy me. Nothing can. Nothing will.”

He ran at the monster, his hands forming pockets of roaring winds at his sides. He jumped and swung, a fist of wind crashing into her side. She growled and grabbed him by the back, forcing him into the ground. As Orano tried to come back to his feet, she struck him again, pushing him back to the ground.

“You pest! Insignificant child!” she roared as she punched and kicked.

Orano whimpered. The spark was gone, snuffed out. He was defeated. He could see Narale and Vosala each battling Hidra. Narale, on one side, was blasting her with frost, freezing up the watery bits, as Vosala, from his place in Hidra’s grip, shot flames on the opposite end. But where Narale froze just added to Hidra’s icy armor, and where Vosala melted, water replaced.

“N-n-no,” Orano tried to shout, but his voice came out weak. They need to fight together. They need to unite.

“Toa,” said the Dark Wind, “Are you more of a tragedy, or a joke? Will people mourn your presence, or mock it?”

Orano lifted an arm. In the palm of his hand, he created a ball of pressured air. Then, he slammed it against the ground, and it exploded, pushing him upwards and knocking the Dark Wind off-balance.

“T-t-t-together!” he shouted. “F-fight together!” And then the Dark Wind grabbed him again. This time, though, she threw him with such force the pillar he crashed into crumbled into rubble.

“Alright, enough games,” she said as she came to him. She lifted up his head and paused for a moment. Her head, only visible due to the dust and snow that blew around her windy shape, seemed locked onto him. She was staring.

And then, she removed his mask.

“This is what makes a Toa?” she jeered as she examined it in her claw. “It’s a toy, really.” She dropped it to the ground.

Ono strained. Every joint in his body creaked as he tried to move them. He needed to get up… He needed to get up!

The Dark Wind pointed at the platform in the air section. With a moment of gathering strength, the platform lifted off of the floor and began to float. She brought it over the Kanohi mask and then raised it further. She had no intention of donning the mask - she sought to destroy it.

“N-n-n-no…” Ono groaned.

“Everything that’s special about you,” the Wind said, “came from that mask. When it’s gone, what will you be?”

Ono felt something heavy slump against his back. A piece of rubble had fallen on it! No… No, it was his pack. His gift from the Twinventors. That could work…

But then the Dark Wind dropped the platform. It fell straight down, faster than any wind chute or rocket could ever travel. And when it hit the mask…

…it shattered.

The platform had a crack running directly down it, the powerful glass stone in two halves over the silver mask. When Ono regarded it, the moonlight shone in one of its eye holes in such a way that it appeared to be winking at him.

“How?!” the Dark Wind cried. She turned to Ono, only to see the barrel of a cylindrical rocket pointed in her face. Ono’s arm-mounted rocket purred as it came to life, and he launched a blast of energy from it. The Dark Wind shot backwards and Ono himself shot in the opposite direction. The rockets had been calibrated for a Toa.

He ran for the mask the moment he got on his feet. He jammed his arm into the cracked platform and drew it out. Never had he been so glad to wear this mask as in this moment, and when he donned it, he felt his power surge.

Orano shot off a boost from the rockets and soared into the air, shooting a blast of air down at the Dark Wind. She dissipated, and then appeared directly above Orano, slamming him down with a wind strike of her own. When Orano hit the ground, he laughed.

“You are nothing!” shouted the Dark Wind. “You laugh at me, the Lord of Air? I have been queen of the winds for four hundred years! You are a boy! You are nobody!”

“I’m-m-m n-not laughing-g at-t y-y-you,” said Orano between giggles. “Look.”

The Dark Wind turned to see her ally, Hidra, being torn to pieces by the Toa. Narale would freeze a section whole, and then Vosala would follow it up with a blast of fire. Pieces of ice littered the temple floor as Hidra roared with fury, but could do nothing as she was coming undone.

“No! No, no!” The Dark Wind made all sorts of furious noises as Hidra was reduced to the orb state. Two orbs now lay, one the glowing white Fritz orb, and the other a new, ocean-blue sphere. The Dark Wind lunged, snatched up both of these, and flew up.

“Hurry!” shouted Narale. The three Toa sprinted after the Wind.

They came to the temple’s entrance when they realized that the Dark Wind was gone, absorbed into the natural winds of the mountain. Wherever she was going with the Fritz and Hidra orbs would have remained a secret had she not spoken to them, in a gentle whisper in their ears, “I’ll see you where this all started, and there I will give you your reckoning!”

“Ha!” Vosala cried as he swung his flame sword to his side, where he perceived the voice as coming from. If he struck anything, it made no response.

“She’s going to Aero City,” said Narale. “If we don’t get there fast, she will wreak havoc upon those people.”

“H-h-how in N-Nui ar-re w-we sup-pposed t-t-to get-t th-there fast-t-t en-nough?” asked Orano.

Vosala reached with his finger and tapped the rockets on Orano’s arms. “You’ve been holding out on us, my man.”

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Part 7 - "THE SOUTHERN TEMPLE"

Grinner proved his worth nearly five minutes out of Laxly’s.

“Don’t step there,” he said.

Kidoma froze. “What?”

“Your foot is hovering above an oblong mound made of sand and pebbles, correct?”

“Yeah?”

“That’s a Jaga nest.”

Kidoma jumped ten feet into the air. “And you just waited to tell me until now that there was a giant deadly robot scorpion underneath me?”

Grinner, who naturally stood hunched, leaned back and smugly adjusted his jacket collar. “I thought you’d know, bein’ a Toa and all.”

Shynali admired the Skakdi guide. She had always believed she was aware of her surroundings, but Grinner had seen the hill without even looking, it seemed. As far as she could tell, he had his gaze constantly fixed before them, watching the reddening horizon.

“Well, I spent most of my life being a fisherman,” said Kidoma. “I’d never actually been out of the Great White Shores before yesterday.”

Grinner chuckled. “And yet you were able to take on Captain Crau and his army.”

“Yeah… What? Was he your buddy, or something?”

Though Grinner had no lips, Shynali found it easy to tell when he was smiling. Now, however, it was clear he wasn’t.

“Far from it,” the Skakdi said. “Crau tore apart my home. Stole every coin, burned every house. Most of my village just up and joined him and his crew. Those of us with any shred of self-respect scattered like Cinder-Ants. I just happened to end up here.”

“Now that Crau is gone, have you considered going back?” asked Auru, who trailed warily behind the group. “You could rebuild.”

“Zakaz stopped being my home many years ago,” said Grinner. “My home is this.” He waved his arms wide and open, accepting the entire red desert into them. “The Wastelands. Here, nobody cares if you’re a criminal or a general. They just care about how honest you are, and if they can take advantage of that.”

“Well, excuse me, then,” said Auru. “I was under the impression that you might be a man of honor.”

“I can be,” said Grinner, smiling once more. He winked. “Some people pay an honorable man more.”

They traveled at a steady pace. Kidoma no longer seemed so obsessed about their speed, which was a relief to both Auru and Shynali. The older Toa lingered towards the back, sharing quiet comments and concerns about the journey so far. Auru believed that as long as Grinner had the reward of payment dangling in front of him, he’d play along with the adventure. The moment he got paid, he would leave them to whatever fate the Wastelands offered.

The wildlife of the Wastelands, unlike the landscape, was wild and vibrant. Scorpions and lizards scuttled beneath their feet, while in the distance, Grinner pointed out herds of camels and vultures. The occasional Rahi would appear, usually a Rama Fly blurring through the smoke. Once, when they caught a predatory Muaka prowling over a nearby hill, Grinner pointed out a short burrow to the Toa, and they ducked into it with frightened speed. Even inside, Kidoma shook and breathed so heavily that Shynali began to fear the tiger-like creature would hear.

“Hey, Blue!” hissed Grinner. “Quiet!”

Kidoma kept panting.

Next to him, Auru lifted one of his great hands and placed it upon Kidoma’s chest, over his core. Then, with his other hand, he pressed Kidoma’s head to his own chest, where he would be able to hear Auru’s corebeat. A moment passed. Then, Kidoma’s breathing began to slow.

Shynali’s eyes met with Auru’s. She smiled, and hoped he would be able to see it underneath her mask. The Toa of Earth had a good heart, one that cared for others and showed concern before anger, and forgiveness before blame. He was more than a good Matoran, he was a good person. She hoped that the other Toa would keep it in mind to listen to him. He had wisdom to share.

By the time the star was fully set, and the only light in the Wastes were the common burst of flames from cracks in the ground, the Skakdi proved true to his word, and they were at the foot of the Southern Elemental Temple.

The structure was made of a series of twisted black spires pointed towards one another, forming a massive dark cone. Its entrance was a mere tunnel, without a door or gate prohibiting access. A sickly green light pulsed from deep inside, and though Shynali refused to show it, her core was beating with fear.

“This is a vile place,” said Auru. His voice quivered. “I wish we did not have to go here.”

Grinner spat a glob of greenish oil into the sand. “Well, this is where you paid me to take you.”

“Then this is where we go,” said Kidoma quietly. He waved his staff out in a flourish and then leapt off the crest of the hill on which they stood, surfing on the dust to its foot.

Shynali, Grinner, and Auru each followed.

The closer they got to the temple, the more Shynali shook. She wanted to run, to flee, to be anywhere other than right here, right now. But here she was, and as the ghostly light began to shine upon her, she could feel something burn inside of her. She was repulsed by something

here, something she only knew how to describe as the presence of evil.

“Let me go first,” said Grinner.

“Why?” Kidoma asked.

Grinner sneered. “Because of the traps, like you said.” He began to stalk forwards, obviously expecting the Toa to follow.

“Are there actually traps?” Kidoma asked, tagging along.

“Of course,” he said. “If you created a temple to hide your treasures in, wouldn’t you want it kept safe?”

“But the Elemental Lords didn’t have treasure to hide,” said Auru.

Grinner scoffed. “If they ever did, it’d be gone by now. I really don’t know what you hope to find here.”

There was a faint sound, not much more than a breath in the tunnels of the temple, but it quickly faded. Shynali’s fingers tightened around her blade hilts. “It’s who we hope to find.”

The halls were various and irregular. Sometimes they split off and headed straight back, others were slanted and windy. There appeared to be no organization, but Grinner somehow always knew which one to take, simply holding his sharpened fingertips against the wall and dragging them along. How much time had he spent in these ugly halls? How long did his eyes remain adjusted to the dismal green light that came from no source? Just being in it made Shynali’s stomach chamber buzz with discontent. She was thankful she hadn’t eaten anything recently.

Some time in, either an hour or maybe three (it was not possible to tell), Shynali felt something ■■■■■. The hall looked the same, but her core still felt uneasy. The air was still, there was no sound but the steady footsteps of the party, but Shynali could sense… something. It was… beneath her feet. The dust that caked the walls and floor, which she had not noticed until now, began to move. First, it wasn’t enough to see. Then, it began to trickle to the ground like water, and form, of its own will, a puddle of dirt. It gathered in clumps, growing into larger and larger pieces as they built themselves on top of each other, forming hills.

“It’s her!” shouted Auru, slamming his steel gauntlets together. The whole temple trembled.

Kidoma waved his staff around the air. A bead of water stuck to its end, but not enough to form the typical speartip. There wasn’t enough water present.
Shynali, too, felt helpless in the elemental sense. There was no plant life in sight. She drew her swords and prayed for the best.

But the form the dust was building was not the Dark Wind. It was more solid, formed of stone that had been formed from the black dust, creating a figure of rock riddled with crack that glowed with violet energy. Two of these cracks formed divots in what would make up its head, creating unblinking, featureless “eyes” of light. Two horns like a Kane Ra’s grew from its skull.

“What in the name of Irnakk…?” gawked Grinner. For the first time since they met him, he was anything other than collected.

“Trespassers,” came a voice like the shifting of gravel. “Why have you come here?”

Auru stepped forwards. “Your mistress. She attacked us, in Aero City, without provocation. We came here to follow her.”

“Incorrect,” said the thing. “You have come here to fall at the hands of Terros!” Its arm snapped upwards with robotic, inhuman movement, and its hand shot off of its wrist as if fired. It hit Auru in the mask, knocking the sturdy Toa to his back and holding him there.

Kidoma ran at the Elemental Lord. It raised its arm again, and the hand floated back to connect at its wrist, and the beast began to run in the opposite direction.

“Wait!” shouted Shynali, but Kidoma didn’t listen before his foot fell in just the wrong place, and a section of the wall slid back. It slung itself outwards, pushing Kidoma into the other wall. This part then pushed back, and the trap threatened to consume the Toa behind the walls completely.

Kidoma reached out his arm, and the trap closed in on it. Shynali screamed. She ran to her friend, sticking one of her swords partway into the opening to try to lever it open. She pushed and pushed until she felt the blade begin to bend.

“Auru!” she cried. “Help!”

She heard the thundering footsteps behind her, but she didn’t allow herself to feel relief just yet. Auru slammed into the closing wall’s surface with his fists, and his fingers pushed into the stone. It broke under his power, forming handles for him to hold onto, and he began to push it back into the wall it sourced from. “Shynali! Grab him!”

Shynali grabbed the emerging arm and pulled Kidoma out from the wider opening Auru had created. As soon as he was out, Shynali patted Auru on the back, and the Toa of Earth let go, leaving the trap to close shut, and their path was blocked.

“Is it safe to say we should leave?” asked Shynali.

Kidoma fell to the ground and wheezed. He was a wreck. His armor was scratched and battered, and the arm which had been caught in the trap now hung limp.

“No, it ain’t,” said Grinner, pointing in the direction they had come from. A silhouette of flame with a snake-like dress instead of legs was slithering towards them. Everywhere it touched the ground, flames burst, even though it crossed over stone.

“They look fun,” panted Auru.

“Kid.” Grinner kneeled at Kidoma’s side. He held, pinched between two claws, a tiny bead of green light. He shook it. “I need you to summon your power. Any drop of water you can, put it into this.”

Shynali stared as she held her unbent blade at the ready. “What are you doing?”

“Do it!” Grinner shook the sphere again.

Kidoma held up his hand and, slowly, a drop of water began to materialize in the base of his palm.

“Poor Toa,” the fiery thing said in a woman’s hissing voice. “Trapped like mice in a box.”

Grinner looked back at her. “Hurry!”

Kidoma’s hand nearly held a pool, now, which Grinner dropped the sphere into. The water seeped into it, turning its hue into an oceanic blue as every drop vanished from Kidoma’s hand. As soon as it was dry, Grinner grabbed the sphere and fitted it into the silver shooter holstered to his hip. He drew the long-barreled weapon and pointed it at the fiery creature. He gave himself a second to aim, one eye closed, and pulled the trigger.

It was a burst of blue, so bright that the temple’s eerie green aura faded entirely as the projectile hurled through the air. It landed in the dead center of the creature’s face, extinguishing the flame into- well, air. Nothing remained behind her fiery composition.

She howled as she collapsed to the ground, and fire began to spew everywhere from the cavity in her form. It soaked the hall and raced towards the party.

Auru grabbed pieces of the stone masonry and began tossing them up. The earth bent and built and created a new wall between them and the creature. For now, they were safe.

“Is it gone?” asked Kidoma from the ground.

No one knew what to say.

Then, the wall behind them shot forwards, pushing them rapidly towards the one Auru had just made. The Toa of Earth held his arms out and caught the other side, holding it open just wide enough to keep the heroes from being crushed. Shynali pushed too, if only to ease a part of Auru’s burden.

“We have to get out of here!” yelled Grinner.

“Not… without… Dark Wind,” said Kidoma, shaking as he leaned against his staff to prop himself back up.

“I stand with Grinner,” said Auru, his arms beginning to quiver under the weight.

Kidoma’s eyes fell upon Shynali. If she voted against him, then they would retreat. They would have traveled this far for nothing.

But remaining here, on the Elemental Lord’s turf was more dangerous than they had imagined. And if any of them were lost… then it would be worse than nothing.

“We need to leave,” she said. “We won’t win.”

Though she could imagine his disappointment, Kidoma nodded. He must recognize the dire situation for what it was.

“Can you get us out?” she asked Auru.

He lifted one arm, and with less to push it back, the wall inched closer to crushing them all. Auru slammed his hand back in place. “I don’t think so. Someone’s pushing it on the other side, and they’re strong.”

Kidoma was hurt, Auru was occupied, and Grinner didn’t have much more than a shooter. They were helpless. Shynali was helpless.

“Okay, I get these two,” said Grinner. He pointed a finger at Shynali. “What do you do?”

“I’m the Toa of Jungle,” she said. “But seeing as there is no plantlife anywhere to be-”

“The jungle ain’t just plants, lady.” Grinner knelt down, and set his fingers upon the floor. “Feel that.”

Shynali mirrored his movements. “Feel what?”

“The shaking.”

She looked around. The whole hall was shaking.

“Not in here,” said Grinner. He tapped a finger against the stone. “Down there.”

Shynali shut her eyes, and imagined a haze growing around her, blocking away the distractions of her physical state. She reached down with a mental limb, plunging deep beneath the earth, seeking something to grasp onto.

It found something. She wasn’t sure what it was, but it breathed.

“Can you help us?” she asked it, in some language she did not know, but knew was not her own.

The breathing thing froze. After a second of waiting, it began to rise, and Shynali felt herself returning to the temple hall.

“Did you feel it?” asked Grinner.

“What was it?” she asked.

“Something that can help, if you can get it to.”

“What’s happening?” asked Kidoma.

The ground began to shake, and not just from the strain of the tightening space. It came from below, increasing in energy and proximity as whatever Shynali had summoned was making its way up.

“Well, I guess this is a cool way to go out,” Kidoma said as he leaned against the wall, beginning to shut his eyes.

“Kidoma!” shouted Auru. “Don’t give up on us yet, friend!”

Then, the ground gave way.

Shynali wasn’t certain what exactly happened. She was falling, and then suddenly not. It wasn’t for another few seconds that she noticed the dark furry arm that wrapped around her, pinning her to a dark furry form. Rock and rubble fell in pieces around her, but when she looked up, she could see the soft glow of the eyes of her companions. Then, above her, the stone gave way to the sky, and she finally saw what it was that held them.

It was a great, eight-legged beast, much like a massive rodent, with quills emerging from its tough shelled back, and thick tusks from its pig-like muzzle. It gained its footing on the slanted temple roof, and released the four individuals it held onto. They each fell to the cone-shaped structure, and gathered their own footing as the examined the beast.

“Thank you,” Shynali said to it in the same language she did earlier. Whether she vocalized it or merely thought it, she wasn’t sure, but either way the beast seemed to hear it, as its milky blue eye fixed on her and it gave a happy snort.

“A Tunnel-Brute,” said Grinner. “An animal that lives its entire life underground, if it can. Majestic, fast, and able to overpower just about any Rahi the Wastes can throw at it.”

“How did you know it was down there?” asked Shynali.

“The temple.” He pointed a bony finger at the structure below. “It wasn’t built by whatever fiends we just fought. It had the appearance of a Brute’s mound, which is created when a Brute builds its den far below the surface, pushing the rock up to create that. Your foes just modified it to their own needs.”

“I’m surprised you stuck with us,” said Auru, once he had regained just enough air to say so.

Grinner shrugged. “I also wasted a Zamor sphere on you fellows. Not happy about that, but…” He exchanged a look with each of them. “…I guess I’m a sucker for adventure.”

Auru shook his head. “I think you’re a better man than you pretend to be.”

“Fool,” Grinner said back. Then, he looked up, and paused.

“What is-” Shynali followed his gaze, and saw that, on the ground, stood three figures. Two they recognized as the Lords of Earth and Fire. The third could only be the Elemental Lord of Jungle. This one was made of twisted, thorny vines that knotted into a human shape with four arms, covered in enticing but surely poisonous violet flowers.

There was a fourth figure floating above the Elemental Lords, one nearly invisible in the dark night and the gloomy smog, but it held two brilliant spheres that shone over the group. It drifted towards the Toa, and a now familiar dark chill enveloped them each.

“Dark Wind,” said Kidoma almost mockingly, despite his weak state.

“I have instructed them to wait,” she said, coldly ignoring the taunt. “We want the people who call you ‘heroes’ to see your fall. You will meet us where this all began, in the city where I first met you six insults to Matoran kind.”

“We don’t want to fight,” said Shynali. “Whatever you’re trying to prove, you’ve proven it.”

The Wind started laughing, and it caused a shrill, sinister echo to sound through the Wastes. “Toa, we haven’t yet begun.”

The Tunnel-Brute roared and leapt at Dark Wind, claws and tusks bared.

She flew back with great speed, and let the Brute slide down the rest of the temple. Before it reached the ground, the Jungle Lord raised one of its arms and the Brute’s eyes filed with a red mist. It lost control of its body and limply fell to the ground, lost in some sort of comatose trance.

As Shynali raced to its side, she watched as the Wind and her three allies sped into the distance, towards Aero City. And now, even more than she had in the temple, she felt the drowning weight of helplessness.

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Part 8 - "THE CITY"

“I d-d-don’t think-k th-they’re t-t-tight en-nough.”

“That’s as tight as they go.”

“Did-d-d you chec-ck?”

“That’s as tight as they go.” Vosala patted Orano on the back, nearly causing the smaller Toa to topple over. “Don’t worry! You’ve got this! I have total faith in you!”

“W-why?”

Vosala nearly said something, and then hesitated. “What do you mean, ‘why?’ Did you see yourself in that temple? The way you took on Dark Wind, that was crazy! You’re crazy, man!”

They stood on that same dreadful mountain, watching the star begin to rise over the peaks and pines of the Rimelands. The frost that covered everything made it all shimmer in the growing starlight, as if it was all covered in diamonds. It was beautiful, and yet, in the very distance, Orano could see his city and only imagine what havoc his people, his family, and his friends were all experiencing right now.

Narale stood on a ledge before it all. The freezing wind that rushed up the mountain caused her cloak to billow and grant her a powerful, heroic appearance. She was what Orano had always imagined a Toa would be like. She was fierce, skilled, and commanding. She was independent, and yet, he saw, now, that she was lonely.

“Ahem,” Vosala said.

Narale turned and faced them, her arms crossed. “Yes?”

“Didn’t you see how crazy awesome Orano was back there?”

“Yes, I did. You were awesome, Orano. I-” Narale’s arms lowered, her head bowed, and her eyes closed. She took in a deep breath, held it there, and slowly let it go. “There are many people that I need to apologize to, but you, Orano, are the first. What Vosala said on the cliffs, about me treating you like you needed my protection… That stuck with me, and I think it was because it was true. I don’t know why yet, but I think I needed to feel that way, and it was easy for me to feel that way with you, and it just wasn’t fair and I-”

She was shaking, until Orano reached up and put a hand on her shoulder.

“I f-f-forgive you,” he said. “And-d w-we can talk-k more about it-t later, if-f you w-want-t. B-but right n-now, Dark-k Wind-d is head-ding straight f-for my home, and-d if w-we don’t s-stop h-her…”

“I know,” she said. “Go for it, Orano. I believe in you.”

“Yeah!” Vosala shouted. “Show ‘em how we Toa do it!”

Orano nodded, and breathed. He felt the slow vibration of the rockets mounted to his forearms. He heard the sharp howl of the mountain winds. He felt the power of the air below him, power that the Kanohi granted him control of. He was Orano, the Toa of Air. He leaned forwards, and took a step, and another. He soon was running, and then the cliff went out before him, and he was in the air.

He prepared to scream, but then realized he wasn’t falling. The sharp, powerful gust of air held him fast, thousands of feet above ground. Orano began to laugh nervously.

Vosala went wild with cheering, and Narale even gave a shout of excitement.

And Orano started the rockets, letting them blast him further out into the air, further towards the city, and he flew.


When he was last in Aero City, Elder Saane made a decision he would later come to regret when he chose to try a RushSlush™, a fruity, frosty drink served by a chain of food stations scattered across the city. They even had one named “Great White Gumberry,” named after the ocean he lived next to. And so, on this day, Saane made the decision to visit Aero City again, claiming his purpose was to try to speak with President Sammo once more about uniting the island. When that, expectedly, fell through (Sammo was apparently booked for the next seventeen weeks), Saane eased his disappointment by sipping on a delicious cup of chilled sapphire slush.

He looked out over the city square, the only area in the megalopolis that was not built over. It was a wide circular glade of shinestone brick in the middle of the steel jungle, and it was filled with people even in the midst of the workday. A great majority of them sprinted around, hurrying to get to wherever it was they were going. This was perhaps the greatest difference between this city and his home village. In Mako Village, you had to walk slowly, or else you may miss something. Here, you had to run, or else you would miss something.

What a way to live, he thought to himself, taking a swig of his drink.

But not all lived that way, he noticed. There, in the center of the square, was a small crowd of Matoran, head turned up as they fixated on the sky. He could almost hear their excited conversation, and laughed as he saw them pointing up at a cloud. Was there something odd about its shape? He looked up to see.

Indeed, there was something odd about the cloud, but it wasn’t the shape. What was strange was just how dark it was, a lone cloud in a cerulean sky, hovering just before the star’s searing light, which illuminated in the cloud some sort of outline of a person, as if there was someone contained within the cloud.

Then the city began to quake. It was like a child had scooped up the entire island in its hands and shook it like one of those snowglobes, and Saane’s old limbs crumpled under the force of it. He fell to his knees, and watched in mild despair as the contents of his beverage spilt out from within his cup.

“Hear my voice, Matoran,” a speaker said. It was a low, powerful voice, sounding as if it came from the sky itself. Saane looked back up at the supposed figure in the cloud. The cloud had begun to expand across the sky, covering the city in shadow. “Hear my voice, my people, and be consumed with awe!”

The figure emerged from the cloud and descended. It appeared as a torrent of cloud and winds in the silhouette of an armored woman warrior, and lightning creased across its form in an endless, ever-changing spider web around it.

“T-Toa?” a Matoran called out.

The figure snapped her head towards the fellow, and the place where her eyes would be flashed with emerald light.

That’s no Toa. Toa did not use their power like this.

“Oh, you think they’d be capable of this?” the form said. She lowered herself to the ground and held up her arms. Lightning raced across the clouds. “I am the Dark Wind! I am the Elemental Lord of Air! I am your true champion, not that pathetic squirm-weasel you call ‘Toa!’”

“The Toa are not champions,” Saane called out, his frustration at the misconception overpowering his sense of self-preservation.

The form turned around and flared her eyes once more. “Really? Well, then, old man, what are they?”

“They’re heroes,” said Saane. “They did not choose their fate, but they accepted it. They never use their powers for power’s sake, but for the protection of those around them.”

“You remind me of the Toa from your region,” the woman said. “Defiant, spirited. Naive, obnoxiously so. Truly, I didn’t even know Matoran from the Great White Shores ever left their quiet beaches.”

“My name is Elder Saane,” he said. “I have led the people of Mako Village for the last thirty years or so, and I am witness to the return of the first Toa. And I tell you now, if you harm even one innocent Matoran-”

“Oh, I have no intentions of harming any of you.” The figure shrugged toyishly. “I am here to prove a point. My compatriots and I, many years ago, were denied what the Toa have, but we have risen above those silly toys you call ‘Kanohi.’ We are here, actually, to prove to you common people that you don’t need the Toa. No one does.”

Saane shook his head and hit his staff against the ground. “The Toa are heroes that have been chosen by the will that guides our universe. Do you claim that your will, ‘Dark Wind,’ supersedes that of Destiny?”

Emerald lightning coursed around the Dark Wind’s face, forming the shape of glaring eyes. “Do not speak to me of destiny, old man! Destiny forgot about us four hundred years ago! This is our moment to prove that I was right all along! We will prove ourselves, and you will see that you are safe in our just hands!”

The ground shook again as, from three different corners of the square, three beings of elemental strength appeared. One of fire, one of frozen stone, and one of vines and thorns constricted over a bulbous watery shape.

“The walls are set, Dark Wind,” said the jungle/water Lord, speaking in a gurgling yet sharp voice. “The Matoran of the city will be forced to see our display.”

“Terros, Ignira, Thistle.” the Dark Wind said to her fellow Lords, her emerald eyes locked on Saane with fury. “We prove our might today. And no ounce of destiny, no Toa gets to take that away from us.”

The four Elemental Lords let out a choir of bellows that rang throughout the city streets, and the square broke into a storm of elements. Matoran screamed as vines, ice, earth, flames, and gushes of water burst from the cracking stone of the ground.

Saane, watching the horror, couldn’t help but scowl. “True might doesn’t have to be proven,” he said to himself, the only person who would listen.


A wall had been forged around Aero City. One section was rock and dirt, cast in shapes of steep spires, and matching it, a second made of solid ice in a great wall of similar formations. A third section was made of thorny trunks and growths that entwined into a thick, impenetrable jungle. The final piece was constructed of impossibly tall flames that stood nearly as tall as the buildings they burned around.

And as Orano flew closer to this particular section, he was again surprised; the flames were burning off of the stone that formed the base of the city, consuming it like it would wood or grass. What could any of the Toa do that rivaled power like that?

He landed at the foot of this section. The fires roared like beasts, and the heat was unbearable. What was he doing? He needed help, he needed the others, he needed Narale-

No. He didn’t need them, he only wanted them. It was less than that, actually. He wanted someone else to do it for him. He wanted someone else to wear the mask that he had been given. Not someone like the Dark Wind, of course, but someone who wasn’t him.

But what a bizarre and strange thing Destiny must be, to grant this power to someone who didn’t want it.

Was that why it had been granted to him?

A current of air began to flow through his hands, weaving between his fingers. It swirled and spun and then began to rush. It balled into a sphere in either palm, and Orano felt more wind rushing into his grasp. It compacted into his hands, and soon he felt the strength of a storm in each one.

The strength that had been given to him wasn’t there because he wanted to use it. It was there because he feared it, and so he feared abusing it. In this moment, he was only using it because he had to, because he could only imagine what terror his parents, the Twinventors, his people were feeling at the hands of the Elemental Lords. He didn’t need the power for himself, he needed it for them. And so he would use it.

The wall of fire before him rumbled with immense sound, but Orano could still hear the roar of the winds that swirled in his hands. He thrust his arms together, pressing the twin spheres of air against one another with so much force that each exploded in a massive gust. The wind ripped out in a rushing explosion, a wave of air blasting outwards.

It struck the fire with such intensity that the wall of flame dissipated, and Orano could actually hear an energy-filled shriek as the fire disappeared.

And before him lay the city, its streets and chutes alike empty. Orano stepped up to the scorched stone, and breathed slowly. Could he really do this? Could he really face these guys? Alone?

A gale wove between his fingers. Orano’s power had chosen him. The Elemental Lords had taken theirs. They may have displayed power, but they were afraid of losing it. Their power was never theirs to begin with.

Orano took one last deep breath, and stepped over the blackened stone, and into the city streets.


The Tunnel-Brute’s heartbeat was slow, dangerously slow. Shynali removed her audio receptor from its chest and returned to its head.

“We need your help,” she said to it.

Its eyes were still choked with red mist, courtesy of the cursed Elemental Lord who messed with it, who made it like this.

“What’s wrong with it?” asked Kidoma, leaning on his staff. He was slowly regaining his strength.

“It’s asleep,” Shynali said, her voice creaking with worry. “But it doesn’t know how to wake up.” She reached towards it with her mind and spoke. “Please, friend. We need you now. You’ve already done so much for us, but we need you still.”

“Whelp, I’ll take that as my cue to bid farewell and be on my path,” said Grinner, turning to the party with an outstretched hand, his fingers pulling back to beckon something.

Kidoma let out a sigh, and fumbled through his armor to fish out a small leather pouch. He tossed the whole thing to Grinner. When the bag hit Grinner’s hand, Shynali heard the unmistakable clatter of coins.

“Wait,” said Auru. “Stay with us, Grinner. We could use you in this fight.”

Grinner cackled a little. “I’m sure you could. See ya ‘round, if you last.”

Auru’s eye went wide, and his gaze darted between Grinner, Kidoma, and Shynali. “I don’t believe it! You stuck with us for this long, only to abandon us now?”

Grinner let out a long, weary half-sigh, half-growl. “Look, I did all that for the kid.” He nudged a finger in Kidoma’s direction. “I may have said that Zakaz is not my home, but it used to be. He stopped the monster that tore it apart.”

“Then help us stop these monsters from tearing apart your new home.” Shynali stood up. “Fight with us.”

“No thanks.” Grinner tipped his hat low over his eyes. “This ain’t about Moda Nui. I heard the wind lady. This is a feud between six superpowered maniacs and the Elemental Lords. I don’t get involved with other people’s feuds. So, ‘til our roads cross again…”

Grinner began to turn away, but Auru chased after him. The Toa set a great palm upon the outlaw’s jacket, only to cause him to spin around. Before Auru could say anything, he saw Grinner’s Zamor shooter pointed directly at his chest.

“Think that over again,” said Grinner, his eyes twinkling.

Auru’s arms raised, and he stepped back. “I was wrong. You’re no better than the scoundrels of these Wastes.”

“I never pretended to be.” Grinner holstered the shooter and tipped his hat once again, and with that, was gone, vanished into the morning mists.

“I’m sorry, Auru,” Shynali said, reaching for her friend.

“It’s fine,” said Auru. He walked over to Shynali, but rather than accepting her comfort, pushed past and kneeled beside the Tunnel-Brute. “What can we do for our friend, however?”

The beast let out a low grunt. Auru whimpered, and leapt back.

What? Shynali just shook her head. “I don’t know.”

Kidoma hobbled over, using his staff as a cane. “How did you get it to help us in the first place?”

Shynali laughed, though she wasn’t sure why. “I just… reached for it. With my mind.”

“With your mask?” asked Kidoma.

“Yes?” said Shynali. “It was like there was an invisible arm inside of my head, and I just held it out for the creature to take.”

“Toa of Jungle, indeed,” said Auru, edging away from the Brute. “Is there, perhaps, another way to get to Aero City? Like, a wagon? Or maybe a really fast boat?”

“We can use the Tunnel-Brute,” said Shynali. “I promise.”

“Well, I just think-”

“Are you scared?” asked Kidoma, snickering.

Shynali scowled beneath her mask. “Surely not, he isn’t running and screaming for his life.”

“Oh, but he would be.” Kidoma snickered again. “But the Toa of Earth has to appear so strong! So stoic! So brave!”

“I’m not scared,” said Auru, shaking his head. “I just don’t like… large things.”

“You live on a mountain.”

“Large living things. They shouldn’t be that big.”

“Auru is scared! The big man is scared!”

Shynali shut her eyes, and blocked out Kidoma’s taunting. She could feel the Tunnel-Brute, feel its distant heartbeat. She could sense the red mist cloaking its mind, and somewhere, deep inside, she could feel its thoughts. It was afraid, confused. It didn’t know where it was, or how it came to be there. It felt alone.

Shynali’s father once told her that many great beasts and Rahi alike were dangerous, but some of the dangerous ones were really just alone. If you could offer them a connection, offer them trust, they could prove quite capable companions.

“It’s okay,” she tried to tell it. “You can trust us. We won’t hurt you.”

Her mental limb brushed through the mist, searching for something, anything to grasp onto.


Narale and Vosala ran. They dove through the trees of the Frostglade, weaving through the frozen trunks with great speed. Narale would summon freezing blasts of energy between her fingers and then fling them forth, hitting the ground to create slick ice before her feet reached it. In this way, she was able to skate over the ground at such an immense speed that she was able to keep up with Vosala.

The Toa of Fire ran with both arms held back, his palms out behind him. He pushed a steady jet of flame from either hand, propulsing him forwards. As he sprinted, each time his foot came off of the ground, he would launch another blast of flame from them, pushing him even further.

It must have been impressive to see the two of them speeding through the woods, but Narale couldn’t slow down enough to appreciate it. Her corebeat pounded, churned, and pushed her on, praying that Orano, as powerful as he turned out to be, would still be able to be found by the time they reached Aero City.

And if he won’t be… Narale’s eyes narrowed at the idea. Then there will be nothing that can hide or protect the Dark Wind from me.

She shot a blast of ice back, launching herself forwards, and pressed on.

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Part 9 - "THE LORDS"

Aero City was dark in minutes. Orano had never seen the sky so smothered with clouds. Every few seconds, multi-colored lightning would spark and give Orano a moment of vision, but the streets were filled with a thick fog. He could see the shapes of buildings, great shadowy peaks in the fog, but, as far as he could tell, there was no one in the streets, which were cracked into great chunks. Deep, violent tremors in the earth occured as frequently as the lightning. Orano’s home was being torn apart.

I need to see what’s happening, he thought. He fired up his rockets and launched himself upwards. He rose up and up, trying to get above the fog, but it kept going. When it finally broke, he was nearly at the same height as the Iron Mountains. He looked down, and his core sank. The entire city was gone, absorbed into a thick black dome of smoke-like clouds. He couldn’t see anything but the swirling, choking black storm within which his city lay.

One of the rockets puffed, and Orano sank a little. He must be running out of fuel! He began to lower himself, cutting off the rockets for seconds at a time, before releasing quick bursts to slow his fall. In moments, he was back in the storm. Hail struck his plating, flying horizontally through the air at terrible speed. The storm was getting worse and worse.

A crash of lightning startled Orano, and he plummeted a little further than he meant to. He screamed, but caught himself with another blast from his rockets before he fell onto a nearby skyscraper. He lowered himself further down, towards where he believed the street to be. Another strike of lightning, and, for a moment, he thought he could see a shape just a ways below him.

“H-Hey!” he called out. He hoped his voice would carry over the wind. “Hey! Down-n th-there!”

Lightning crashed again, and the shape was immediately below him, with furious green eyes staring into his.

“Oh n-no,” he groaned.

“That’s right,” the Dark Wind said, as she rose up towards him. She grabbed him by the neck, and he hung in midair. She was different, now. Solidified. Her appearance was sharper, like mist poured into a mold. Not to mention the arcs of emerald lightning that spiraled through her form. “What did you expect to accomplish, coming here alone?”

Orano reached for her wrist to hold himself up, but his hands slipped through her, as if she was nothing more than air. He shivered.

“It’s not even fun anymore,” she said. “Mocking you, it’s just… redundant, now. I don’t think I can make a joke out of you near as well as you can. You and your little band, who happens to be quite absent at the moment.’

“They’re o-o-on their w-way.” They were, right? It may take them a while, but surely, they would arrive before-

“I would like to say that we have a lot in common.” Those emerald eyes, unblinking, unrelenting. Orano couldn’t look away, as much as his fear begged him to. “You, the Toa of Air. I, the Lord of it. But really, we aren’t the same at all.”

She let go, and Orano plummeted. He began to fire up his rockets, but he felt her claws catch his ankle, and suddenly he was flipped around, upside-down in air.

“You can’t even fly on your own! Yet you try. How hard you try, indeed. Can I see you try again?”

When she let go, Orano was ready. He swung his arms up - or, down, rather - and activated both rockets. His body swung around, and he was suddenly hovering eye-level with the Lord of Air’s emerald gaze.

“L-l-leave these peop-ple al-lone,” he said, trying to keep from trembling.

“Save them from us.” She reached out and grasped his mask, her fingers sliding up the eyeholes. Orano’s rockets sputtered out for a moment, and she held him there. “That’s the biggest difference between us, in fact. You’re alone. I’m not. You’re helpless. I’m far from it.”

“L-lad-dy,” Orano said, his mind pushing to let his voice sound.

“Yes?”

Air swirled around his hand. He called to it, willed it into a spherical shape around a tight fist. A pocket of pressurized air.

“Sh-sh-sh-shut up-p.”

He raised his arm and swung, firing a short blast from his rocket to accelerate the punch. It landed between her eyes, and it sent her spinning through the storm. The eyes vanished from view, and Orano began to freefall. He pushed his few last moments of fuel in his rockets at half capacity, allowing him to both slow his fall and grant him some distance from his encounter. When the ground finally appeared, it came fast.

Orano slammed into the street with his feet, but immediately fell into a roll. He tumbled over the concrete until his back hit a piece of the street that had been raised by one of the quakes. He gasped for air, but was greatly thankful for this moment of stillness. Well, whatever stillness existed in an artificial superstorm of hail and fire and lightning created by a bunch of insane ghosts.

Orano pulled himself to his feet and tested his rockets. They huffed a little, but they were out. Looks like he was walking. He looked around, and saw the building in front of him. He could read the glowing sign. Torrent Taani’s: Home of the RushSlush™. That wasn’t the surprising part. What was surprising was that he could see it. The fog wasn’t as thick here. Now that he thought of it, the hail wasn’t as heavy. He looked up, and, though it was still severely overcast, he could make out a faint aura of starlight above. Thunder boomed, but it sounded distant. Was he… in the eye of the storm?

He took a quick glance around. There were a few Torrent Taani’s around Aero City, and depending on which one this was…

It was the city square. It was the one place in all of Aero City that wasn’t overcome by the swollen business of the city. And if that was there, then that meant that Market Avenue was… He ran across the square, finding a familiar road on the other side. He sprinted down it, feeling the wind and the hail grow slightly stronger as he got further from the square. He leaped over a chunk of city debris fallen over the street. The Lords were merciless. They were angry at the Toa, and so they hurt the Matoran? What made them ever think they’d be worthy of the powers they worked so hard to get?

Orano stopped in front of a building with a large steel garage door in the front of it. Here it was: the Twinventors’ Workshop. They were likely hidden in a bunker somewhere, but he needed to refuel the rockets if he was going to hold off the Elemental Lords until Narale and Vosala got here. He reached for the door and hand pulled it up.

He didn’t see the weapon - a metal rod, no thicker than a pipe - until it had struck him in the head, nearly displacing his Kanohi mask. He stumbled to his knees, and looked up as the weapon was raised to attack once again.

A hand formed from within the garage and grabbed the end of the rod, holding it back.

“My dear friend,” a voice said, “this is one of the Toa! He is here to help!”

The person holding the weapon looked at Orano and blinked. They were a short Matoran, with a youthful look to the glow of their eyes. The other one, the Matoran that had intervened, was a blue-plated, aged one that leaned upon a wooden staff.

“I am Elder Saane,” said the old Matoran. “A friend of Toa Kidoma’s.”

Dazed, Orano struggled back to his feet with a little help from Saane. “I-I am T-T-Toa Orano.”

“It’s a great pleasure to meet you, honorable Toa Orano,” said Saane.

The young Matoran blinked at either one of them.

Saane beckoned Orano in and closed the door after him. Inside, a few small Lightsone lanterns were placed, providing a weak but comforting yellow light. There were more Matoran in here, perhaps fifteen or so.

Orano gasped at the sight of them. Many shivered, others looked at him with helpless gazes. “W-What are you all d-doing here?”

“We were brought here by two heroic young men named Spigot and Rench,” said Saane. “They’ve made a storm shelter for us here, and they are out now looking for others in need of safety. So brave.” Saane frowned a little. “Though, they are quite eccentric.”

This was when Orano noticed the styrofoam cup of sapphire liquid in the old Matoran’s hand.

“Where are the other Toa?” asked a Matoran woman. She looked up at Orano with wide, frightened eyes. Orano was sure he had seen her before. Perhaps a neighbor? A clerk at a grocery store? He had never seen such an expression on her face. Aero City was consistent and bland. This was likely the Matoran’s first experience with something so ground-shaking. Orano had only faced such an experience for the first time some few months ago.

“They’re c-c-coming,” he said, hopeful.

Saane beamed as he sipped on his drink. “It will be good to see Kidoma again.”

Orano scowled. “I d-don’t know if he’s c-c-coming.”

“Why not? Weren’t you all together.”
“N-n-no. We sp-s-split up.”

Saane leaned backwards against a workbench, and buried his face in his hand. “Of course you did. Some sort of competition, I imagine?”

“It-t seemed s-s-smart at the t-time.”

“Does it seem smart now?”

It did not.

There was a clanging against the garage door. Orano wheeled around on his heel, taking what he presumed to be a fighting stance. The Matoran, however, turned their audio receptors and listened.

“That’s the code,” one said. “Let them in.”

A couple Matoran stalked over to the door and threw it open. Outside, Orano could make out Spigot’s lean form and Rench’s stout one.

“Good news, everyone!” shouted Spigot. His arms had been fitted into larger, mechanical constructions with metallic claws and wide, shield-like structures grafted onto the sides. “We can’t find anyone else.”

Rench, wearing great spiked boots and gloves and a weighty steel pack on his back, looked at him with disbelief. “What are you talking about? That’s bad news!”

Spigot shook his head. “Absolutely not! It means everyone else is safe! Nobody else needs our help!”

“No, it means that the monsters got ‘em, or somethin’ like that.”

“The monsters don’t want none of us! They want the Toa!”

“Well, I think we’re a means to an end. Like, if they want the Toa to come to them, the best thing to do is kidnap a bunch of folks the Toa are s’posed to be helpin’.” Rench caught sight of Orano. He stumbled over awkwardly on his spiked boots, and fell to a knee in front of Orano. At first, the Toa thought the Matoran had just tripped, but Rench held the pose for several seconds, head bowed.

“You don’t have to do that!” shouted Spigot. “He’s still our friend, ya know. He’s just a bit taller.”

“He’s also a legendary hero,” mumbled Rench. “He’s here to save the world, and so he deserves some respect.”

Orano held his hands up. “P-p-please. S-S-Spigot’s right. I’m still your f-f-friend. You d-don’t-t need to do that-t-t.”

Rench waited a second, and then rose back to his feet. “Well, sir, I hope you like what we’ve done with the place. You inspired us to do it, actually.”

Orano looked around the Matoran. A few of them were whole families. All of them looked scared, save for Saane, happily finishing off his slushy. The Twinventors had given them a place of safety.

“We figured,” said Spigot, “if our good pal Ono could become a mythical hero with superpowers, then two wacko brothers could do somethin’ to help folks, too.”

“Yeah,” said Orano. “You g-g-guys are d-doing a g-great job. I honestly did-d-dn’t expect this f-from you g-guys.”

They each beamed with glowing pride.

“Told ya he’d like it,” said Spigot.

The three of them passed out snacks (which came in the form of bread with salty seasoning dashed over it), and refueled Orano’s rockets to the brim. Spigot asked Orano a few questions to get a sense of the rockets’ performance and made notes for potential improvements and features in later designs. Rench was learning a shanty from Saane, and was providing quite the entertaining performance for the civilians sheltered there. By the time Orano and Spigot were finished, the whole group was able to chant the chorus by memory.

Orano, refreshed and refueled, stood before them, and looked at them all. They didn’t deserve what the Dark Wind was doing to their homes. What she was doing to them. “Th-this isn’t f-f-fair. N-none of y-you should be suffering like this.” His fists tightened. “I’m going to s-st-stop her. I’m g-g-going to t-t-try, at least-t.” He lowered his head. What am I doing? Do I really think I’ll be able to-

“Toa Orano.” Elder Saane lowered his staff onto the Toa’s shoulder. “You are the Toa of Air, and you are Toa for a reason. Perhaps this is it.”

Orano wanted to say something, to complain, to argue more, but the old Matoran’s stare stopped him. Saane was being genuine. He genuinely believed that Orano could do something.

“Ok-kay,” Orano said. “I’ll do my b-best.”

“That’s all we could hope for,” said Saane.

“Hey, Ono,” said Spigot. He threw something in the air. “Give that wind creep a couple of these for me.”

Orano caught it. It was a small cloth pouch, and he could feel a few disc-shaped things inside. “What are they?”

Rench snickered heartily. “Just throw them at somethin’ that’s botherin’ you. Throw ‘em hard.”

Orano shook his head, set the pouch in a small opening in his armor, and turned around. He opened the garage door, and the hail assaulted him immediately. “St-t-tay safe!” he shouted over the storm. “I’ll be b-back when this is d-done!”

Something grabbed him by the waist. A monstrous, earthy hand, bulging with stone that was coated in jagged ice. It lifted him up, and suddenly he was in the face of a being with monstrous horns, and cracks of indigo energy riddling his icy stone form.

“You have fallen into the hand of Terros!” the thing bellowed. “Now, Terros shall bring you to the mistress, and she will be happy!”

“Hey, buddy!” Rench shouted. He and Spigot were stepping out of the garage, swinging their mechanical enhancements like weapons.

“D-don’t…” said Orano.

Terros stomped his foot against the street, and ice and stone erupted from it. When the quake was settling, a wall had been built between the being and the Twinventors. They and the other Matoran were trapped in the shop. And Orano was trapped in the beastly grasp of the Elemental Lord of Earth and Ice, being carried to meet his fate at the hands of the Dark Wind.

She had won. Terros was on his way here, to the city square, the eye of the storm, now, with the Toa of Air. The one Toa who had been able to harm her. Toa. What a silly word. The Dark Wind scoffed to herself.

And still… there was that feeling. Thus far. He has been the only Toa able to harm me thus far. That feeling was doubt. Fear, even. She had thought herself invincible, and yet now…

No. They can’t hurt you. The only one who can is now your prisoner. You have won, not because a mask fell from the sky, but because you worked harder than anyone else had.

She remembered her work in the Labs. She remembered discovering the powers of the star and moon and the ability to magnify them. She remembered realizing that this was the destiny that awaited her. The Matoran couldn’t trust in the wills that had created the Toa in the past. They could only trust in themselves, in her, to create the Toa. She was the herald of a new age.

And then it all fell apart. She lost her physical form, consumed entirely by her power. Power that she had earned. Power that she deserved.

“Dark Wind,” Terros’ gruff, gravelly voice called out. “Terros presents the Toa of Air.”

She flew down to the city square and examined Terros’ quarry. Orano’s head was bowed, his arms pinned to his side by Terros’ great arms.

“Release him,” the Wind commanded.

Terros hesitated. “But…”

Emerald lightning crashed throughout the sky, and the thunder that followed was immense.

Terros nodded, and let Orano go.

The prisoner immediately leapt upwards, and his rockets flared as he began racing upwards.

Predictable. The Dark Wind sneered. “Thistle, if you would.”

The Elemental Lord of Jungle and Water nodded his grotesque head, and slammed his palm against the ground. The asphalt groaned and cracked, and from it rose a great, winding wine riddle in thorns. It charged upwards, snagging Orano by the ankle and yanking him downwards. Orano flailed around before the vine whipped him into the street. More vines grew from the street and reached around the Toa, tethering him in planty restraints.

“Do you think I’m going to let you go?” The Dark Wind floated over to Orano’s side. She tapped at his mask and whispered in his audio receptor, “We aren’t finished yet.”

“W-why?” asked Orano.

“Why what?”

“W-w-why d-do you hat-te us so m-much?”

The Dark Wind laughed with the sounds of surrounding thunder. “You remind me of what the Matoran of my age cried out for, and never received. You appear now, of this day, when Moda Nui experiences peace and sanctuary of the wars and chaos of the central lands? No, you are four hundred years too late!”

Orano didn’t look at her as she spoke. His head was pressed against its side. “Too late f-f-for what-t?”

“The War.” The Wind’s voice growled as she spoke. “When the Matoran arrived to this island, we tried to make peace with one another. Live as six people in one society. But unity cannot coexist with freedom.”

“H-have you c-c-considered,” stammered Orano, the vines tightening around him as the Elemental Lords grew angrier in their memories, “that the reason-n w-we are s-summoned now, instead of then… is y-you?”

The Dark Wind flew back. What? What did this Toa mean? That the Lords were the reason the Toa had returned? That they were a… threat, somehow? She turned her gaze to Thistle, Terros, and Ignira. Confusion riddled each of their faces.

“L-look-k around.” Orano strained against the vines, trying to lean his head up. “This st-torm. The Ma-Matoran. Look-k what yo-ou’ve done to their h-h-home. You’ve s-scared them. You’ve t-t-tormented them. How c-could you b-b-be the heroes?”

The Dark Wind’s lightning strung across the sky in a brilliant web, and she understood… she wasn’t meant to be the hero, was she? Her life as a Matoran, she had only known to create weapons. She had been born into a war she tried to end, but here she was, starting another…

She understood. But she did not accept.

She shot a blast of wind against Orano, driving him deeper into the crumbling street. “Be silent! You have no clue what you are saying! You are a mockery! Your power is stolen! Your heroics are lies! You know nothing!”

“I kn-now on-n-ne thing.” Orano’s voice came out slowly, inconsistently. He pushed against the vines with the last of his strength, turning up to face the Dark Wind with all of his might. Their eyes locked, and he said, “I know h-h-how t-to st-stall.”

A bestial roar shook the city square just as much as any of the Dark Wind’s thunder. She whipped around. “Terros! Find out what that is!”

The Elemental Lord of Earth and Ice nodded, and charged in the direction of the roar.

Half-buried into the ground, Orano chuckled faintly.

“Your resistance means nothing,” the Dark Wind said with a cackle. “We will redeem this island, and you will see who we are. In the end, they all will see us.”

There was another roar, but not from a beast. It was a natural sound, like… a wave?
The Dark Wind turned around again to see Terros sprinting towards her, a blast of water chasing after him. He just reached the square as the water splashed over him. The earthy parts of his structure became as mud, dripping from his form. The icy parts quickly began to freeze the mud, solidifying him but also slowing him down as his feet began to freeze the water he now stepped in. He took a few more steps before a wave of vines ripped from the street and entangled his arms, pulling him down to his knees as the ice froze him over. Terros released a growl of defiance before his icy shape was shattered into fragments by a great metal fist. Where he once stood was the mighty, silver-armored Toa of Earth, accompanied by a great, six-legged creature and a Toa of Jungle and a Toa of Water riding upon it.

The Toa had arrived.

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Part 10 - "THE TOA MODA"

The Tunneler-Brute had traveled far and fast to bring the Toa to the city. It had left its home and went straight into the burning storm, just to help them. Shynali wished she could give it more than words, but her thanks was all she had at the time.

My friend, she told it. You have done a great thing for us. I thank you, and hope that we meet again.

The Tunneler-Brute let out a solemn sound, a mix between a chirp and a grunt. Did it want to stay? Was it concerned? It was so ancient, its emotions seemed archaic and unreadable.

Shynali pointed south and gave a sharp, “Go!,” and the Brute reluctantly scrambled away, vanishing between the shattered frames of the buildings. “How are they looking?” Shynali asked as she rejoined the others.

Kidoma chuckled nervously. “Like they want to tear us to scraps and screws.”

Shynali unsheathed her twin blades. The bent one had mostly been straightened, though it had a slight dent she would need to have repaired. First, though, they had three angry elemental ghosts to deal with.

“Give up your masks,” the Dark Wind said, in a voice that both howled in the air and whispered in their receptors. “And we’ll give up your friend.” She gestured towards Orano, who was wrapped in thorny vines and pulled to his knees.

“Ooh, I would be more careful.” Kidoma tapped the side of his mask. “The jerk who tried to take this power did not end up well.”

“You’re a little behind,” said Thistle, his green and watery shape pulsing with might. “We aren’t taking your masks for their power. We already have power! We are taking your masks from you.”

“You will have to do more than threaten us, Elemental Lords.” Auru pointed at the foes with such resolve Shynali saw Thistle flinch. “For we outnumber you.”

Ignira hissed. “What do you mean? You don’t-”

A blast of fire struck the ground, causing the Lords to scatter like Fikou Spiders. When they regained their stances, they turned and saw Vosala, Toa of Fire, standing with Narale, Toa of Ice, on the opposite side of the city square.

“So…” The storm picked up as the Wind spoke, and even in its eye, lightning crashed and rain began to fall. “That is how the stage is set.” She swung her arms, and the wind whipped and whirled as two bright glowing orbs were picked up and carried through the air. One, a frosty, cool white in color, and the other a dusty and clouded gray. “My siblings! You are reborn!” She thrust either orb towards one of the other Lords. As they hit the ground before them, they shattered into fragments that blew upon the Lords as if by the wind. Ignira’s fiery shape was reformed under a cast of earthen armor, and Thistle’s thorns were joined by thin, icy spindles to create a thick hide of spikes.

“Let us fight fiercely, Toa. Not merely with blades and fists, but with courage,” said Shynali, closing her eyes. She could feel the ancient roots beneath her feet. They were listening, waiting to be called.

“First, we must save Orano,” said Auru, but as he did, they watched as Orano suddenly burst from his vine restraints, blasting upwards with rockets that were affixed to his arms.

The Toa of Air flew over the Dark Wind, who began to chase him with relentless pursuit. When Shynali squinted, she noticed something glinting between his knuckles—a coin? He dropped it, and the object was sucked up by the Dark Wind’s whirling form. Orano suddenly cut off his rockets and began to plummet. As the Wind moved to follow, her shape was devoured in a sudden explosion.

“What?” Kidoma exclaimed as Orano landed next to them. “That was awesome!”

Auru patted the little Toa’s shoulder and laughed heartily. “How many more surprises do you have in store?”

“H-h-hopefully a f-f-few m-more.” Orano turned back to the Lords and crouched, ready for battle, but then paused. “I m-m-missed you g-guys.”

Shynali beamed. “Not any more than we missed you.” Before them, Ignira and Thistle were cracking their fists, and the Dark Wind had reappeared in a sudden dark vortex. Anticipation clung to her core like dew, ready to drop. “Remember, Toa; we cannot just fight together, as we have before. We must fight as one if we are to see the star rise over a free Moda Nui.”

“Yeah, what she said.” Kidoma whirled his staff in wide circles, splitting it in half and forming speartips of water on the end of either rod. “Let’s brave the elements.”

Thistle charged towards them. Shynali rushed at him with her blades at her side, and the fight began. With every sword swipe, water blast, earth tremor, or explosive coin, Thistle reformed himself with vines and icicles. He showed no sign of wearing down, though the Toa did increasingly. Only a minute into the fight, Shynali was too slow to dodge a tendril that flung her into the sky. Before she fell, something reached under her shoulders and pulled upwards.

“I’v-ve g-g-got you!” Orano said, pushing with his rockets.

“Thank you!” Shynali looked down as they rose into the air and watched Kidoma and Auru battle Thistle. “It’s not going to be enough.”

“P-p-perhap-ps we need-d t-t-to red-distrb-bute ours-selves?”

“That’s a good idea,” Shynali said, and pointed towards Narale and Vosala, who were facing a violently powerful Ignira. The Elemental Lord of Fire and now Earth fought with immense blasts of lava, able to cause the stone streets beneath them to melt and light up with furious heat.
Just as Orano turned to head towards them, the wind suddenly began to whistle in Shynali’s receptors. Oh, no.

“Do you realize how much of an insult this is?” the Dark Wind growled. “This is a waste of everyone’s time!”

And then there she was, right before them, blazing with lightning. A concussive blast of air struck Orano and Shynali, causing the former to drop the latter.

Shynali began to panic as she fell. Remember the jungle. You’ve jumped from plenty of Gukko Birds before. Remember your home. She branched her swords out as if they were wings. Twisting them, she directed her fall, and the moment she hit the ground, she went into a roll, ending on her feet and her swords raised high.

Before her stood Vosala, his mouth agape. “Okay, wow! That was-”

A lopsided pillar of earth jutted out and struck him in the face.

“Stop ignoring me!” shouted Ignira. Her voice was low and mighty, enhanced by the shaking of the ground as she ran at Shynali. “You will respect my might! You will respect me!”

Vosala struggled to keep balance as he wobbled. “Someone’s got confidence issues. She’s sounding a lot like Narale.”

The Toa of Ice, who was initially running to his side to help him regain his footing, paused to allow him to fall on his back.

“They’ve divided us according to our elements,” said Shynali, pointing back towards Thistle and the others. “We cannot fight like this.”

Shynali reached deep with her powers and summoned a wave of roots to reach up and snag Ignira, but they lit up in a blaze the moment they touched her.

“Are you suggesting we trade antagonists?” asked Narale. She summoned a wall of ice in front of Ignira.

Shynali did not dare to look away from the ice. “I’m suggesting we join each other.”

Just as the ice melted and Ignira broke through, a ball of fire struck her back as Vosala sheathed his sword on his back. “Ladies, could I have you run in that direction-” He pointed towards Kidoma and Auru. “-and count to three. Then, jump high. And far.”

Narale looked between them. “What about Orano?”

When Shynali looked up, she was amazed to see Orano strike the Dark Wind away with an air-powered punch. “I think he’s doing well on his own.”

“On three!” Vosala shouted. “Go!” Shynali ran, Narale alongside her.

On the other side of the square, Kidoma was half-frozen in ice, and Auru was trapped within the crimson petals of some dark flower. The Toa of Earth was attempting to rip his way through with his gauntlets, but every time he got close to breaking free, another petal grew up and overlapped his attempt.

Three! Shynali counted, and leapt. Heat suddenly erupted behind her, and an explosive force pushed up her up and forwards at great speed. She kept her momentum as she hit the ground and kept running. She sliced at Thistle’s ankles as she sped by, severing the vines there. Thistle stumbled, but was easily able to regrow and regain his footing.

“You pest!” He swung a brambled fist down at her. Shynali cut through that as well.

“You claim to have power over the jungle,” Shynali said as she continued to slice. Everything she cut just grew back. “…but have you lived in it?”

Thistle chuckled softly, like a hoarse whisper. “You do not know me, Toa.”

“But I know who you aren’t.” Shynali scraped one of her swords against the other, creating a wave of sparks. “You aren’t a Toa. You aren’t a hero. And you aren’t winning.”

It was then that Thistle noticed he was surrounded by Narale, Kidoma, and Auru, freed from their prisons.

“You think that this changes-”

Kidoma drew his arms sharply back, pulling with it a gush of water from Thistle’s form. He then stopped it and directed it back, shouting, “Narale!” The moment Thistle was drenched in water, Narale created an icy wind that froze the Elemental Lord. Before Thistle could reshape the rime into armor, Auru rushed at him with a storm of punches, shattering the ice again and again until it was gone, and Thistle was a skeleton of vines and brambles.

“Everything you do to me,” he snarled, “I can just undo! Every punch, every slice, every blast, I can just-”

“Incoming!” Vosala shouted from behind them. The Toa of Fire was sprinting from a pursuing Ignira, whose hands were aglow as she prepared to fling a glob of lava.

Shynali was quick. The moment Ignira prepared to attack, she called a vine from the earth and had it trip Vosala. He hit the ground hard, but the lava flew directly over him. It sprayed, instead, onto a very startled Thistle. In an instant, the vines were burned away, and all that was left were three telltale orbs.

Vosala scrambled to his feet and drew his shield and sword hilt, igniting the blade and turning it on the remaining Elemental Lord. “Are we ready for this?”

Kidoma, Narale, Auru, and Shynali each jumped to his side, weapons brandished and powers alight.

“Fight as one,” remarked Auru, and the five each lunged.


“Pitiful! Weak! Insignificant!”

“Y-y-y-you know, at-t-t some p-point you ar-re going-g t-to run out-t-t of word-ds.” Orano performed a sharp barrel roll to avert a sharp gust of wind from sending him into a skyscraper.

“Loathsome! Useless! Meager! Intoler-”

Orano created a pad of wind from his hands and grabbed the Dark Wind by the ankle. He swung around and threw her directly downwards. Then, he began to rocket up, straight up, and did not look back. He needed to return to the Toa. The cityscape below was covered by fog and storm, but… Was that the star beginning to pierce through the storm, gleaming across the towers and aero chutes… The aero chutes! They would still be automatic, as long as nothing had damaged their interior systems! Orano flew towards one. He did not need to turn to see the Dark Wind following him, as her howling sliced in his receptors.

Orano weaved into the entrance to the station and barreled towards the chute. The moment he was in the current, he cut the rockets and let the airflow take him.

It was difficult to separate the rush of the chute and the roar of Dark Wind’s fury as she chased after him.

“S-s-stop this-s!” he called over the current’s hum. “You are acc-complishing nothing-g but havoc-c!”

The Dark Wind shrieked.

Orano took another one of the Twinventors’ explosives and flicked it at the chute wall. The glass exploded in a blast of orange, and its fragments hailed down to the streets below. Now, the pressure was interrupted, the current thankful for earlier release. It blew out of the new exit, taking a screaming Dark Wind with it.

But the wind carrying Orano lost strength, and he dropped to the floor of the chute. He ran the rest of the way as the Dark Wind, outside the chute, pounded and snarled at the glass like an animal. She was losing herself to her frenzy.

Orano spilt out of the chute, out of the station, and onto the square. He heaved out coarse breaths as he stumbled. That was where the Dark Wind found him. She grabbed him by the wrist and lifted him up.

“Is this all you are, Toa? A windbag with tricks and gimmicks?” The Dark Wind’s voice was drained and somber, the gentlest it had ever been. “I have seen my home city bombarded by flame. I have seen flooded homes and ravaged streets. I have seen war, little Toa. You will try to bring peace. You will succeed for a while. But you will fade, and then…”

“M-m-my n-name is Oran-n-no. And-d look-k d-d-down.”

Beneath them, Ignira was fending off against five Toa. She used her power to primarily target Kidoma and Narale, but the others defended them fiercely. Ignira would fire a ball of flame towards Narale, but Auru would summon a barrier of rock to block it. She would turn to Kidoma with a blast of earth, but Vosala would place his shield in its path.

Auru shouted something, and Kidoma squatted, as if preparing to leap. His hands began to glow as watery formations coalesced around them. Then, the earth beneath Kidoma’s feet shot upwards, and the Toa of Water shot with it. He released the water he was holding in a beam. It drowned the Elemental Lord, and her screech echoed over the storm.

“What have they done?” Dark Wind lowered towards the fight.

When the steam cleared, Ignira was nothing more than a pool of mud and a twin set of orbs on the street.

The Dark Wind flipped Orano around, now holding him by his wrist. She held up up, so that their eyes met. “Fools! All of you, fools!” She let go of the squirming Toa and descended to the street. From the ground, the five spherical remains of the Elemental Lords were lifted into the air. The Dark Wind then thrust each one back down. They shattered into glass and elements, turning into a lively cloud of storms and energy. Into this cloud, the Dark Wind dove.

“G-g-guys!” Orano flew towards them. For the first time since the Kini Center, the Toa were reunited. Or, perhaps more accurately; for the first time ever, they were united.

“What is she doing?” Vosala’s jaw was dropped.

“She’s taking their power,” said Narale. “She’s transforming herself.”

It was true; the Dark Wind was no more. What remained was a being of cloud, ocean, blaze, thorn, rock, and rime. The elements twisted around each other, ever-shifting, ever-reshaping. Emerald lightning raced around its being, firing into the sky. It stared at its hands in sheer awe of itself.

“TOA…” It said, its voice thundering through the air, rumbling from the earth, and whispering in their minds all at once. “…YOU WILL NOT WIN! YOU WILL NOT TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME!” It lifted four arms to the sky, mighty claws of lightning and fire sharp and splayed.

Orano stepped out from the huddle and approached the being. Somehow, he wasn’t afraid. Perhaps it was something new about himself. Perhaps it was the five Toa standing behind him. “Th-that’s the b-b-biggest difference b-between us-s. We aren’t-t alone. You are. You al-always have b-b-been. Ev-v-ven with the oth-ther Lords-s, you f-f-fought for-r no one b-b-but yourself-f.”

The world trembled as the elemental being snarled. It launched a beam of elements at Orano, but a wall of ice appeared before him, blocking it off.

“Kidoma! Vosala!” Narale shouted, straining to keep her creation together with her power.

“On it!” Kidoma drew slashes of water from the air, launching them at the Dark Wind with ferocious speed. Vosala followed after with small bursts of flame. Shynali swung her arms, calling forth a great array of plants, driving them up and out of the ground, into the being. Auru stomped against the ground, launching up chunks of earth which he flung at the being.

“INSULTS! THAT’S ALL YOU ARE! THAT’S ALL YOU EVER WERE!” Through the onslaught of blasts, the being drew its arms inwards, gathering power in its core. The power grew and grew, and the world exploded in light.


Shynali opened her eyes. Something had happened. She knew something was different. Had they won? Had they lost?

The Aero City Square was a skeleton of what it had once been. Entire buildings were now ash, or had strange alien plants spliced through them, or were frozen solid. The ground had been replaced with a peculiar emerald glass that was shaped like a star, grown outwards from where she believed the elemental being had just been. The Lords were all gone. It was all quiet now.

“Miss?” a voice called. It was a Matoran, a thin one wearing an apron still covered in flour. “Is it over?”

The sky was clear and blue. From every entrance to the square, Matoran were gathering. The Toa, each accounted for, were just waking up, unsure of what had happened. Only Orano was standing.

“Orano!” called Shynali. “What happened?”

The Toa of Air turned and saw her, his eyes gleaming with tears. “W-w-we did-d it-t.”

He held in his arms several orbs from the Lords. Shynali counted them. “Only five?”

“She’s-s st-till out-t-t there.” Orano glanced up. “I d-don’t kn-n-now where, but-t I hop-pe she’ll c-c-come b-back.”

“I don’t!” groaned Vosala, pushing a chunk of debris off of his leg. “I’m so sore, dude. No colosseum matches for the next week, at least.”

“We should all take a week off,” suggested Kidoma. “The Great White Shores are perfect this time of - Is that Elder Saane?”

“What happened?” Shynali asked Orano. “You did something, didn’t you?”

Orano winked. “I-I-I’ll t-tell you all-l lat-ter.”

“Is it over?” Auru asked. “Are we finished? Did we do it?”

Vosala yawned. “We did somethin’.”

“Narale?” Kidoma approached the Toa of Ice, who was standing alone in the wreckage. With her pale armor and drifting cloak, there was something ghostly about her. Kidoma stood next to her. He muttered something that Shynali thought might have been, “I’m sorry.” Narale said something back, and they stood there, turned away, and at peace.

“We un-n-nit-ted,” Orano said.

“What?”

“Aur-r-ru’s quest-tion. We d-d-d-id it-t. We unit-t-ted.”

Shynali, somehow, knew it was true. Not only had they one, but they had reached an understanding of some sort. There was not only peace in the sky or in the city, but between one another.

“Are we done being Toa?” asked Vosala. “Is that it for us?”

Auru placed his hand on Vosala’s shoulder, and Vosala hunched under the weight. “I don’t think so. We have more to do, and more to grow. But for now, let us know peace and celebrate it.”

The Matoran raced through the streets to assess the damage or to gawk at the Toa. A blue-plated Matoran, out of place among the others, hobbled to Kidoma’s side and began to speak with the Toa. Orano sought out a pair of Matoran who poked at his mounted rockets and talked about mechanisms and designs. Vosala played with a young Matoran on a pile of debris, and Narale watched.

“This is new for me,” Shynali said softly, feeling the warmth in her core that did not come from the star above.

Auru, however, heard. “What is?”

“Friends.” The world felt off, likely because it was so new. She had been in packs before, but those were animals. She never had had something like this. “It’ll be an adjustment.”

“It will,” said the old Toa of Earth, chuckling to himself. “But we are more than friends. We are the Toa Moda. We are family.”

Shynali thought of her father. He was so kind and selfless that she had imagined all people were like that. She was disappointed to learn she was wrong. But her father was family, and that was a word that meant something to her.

“Family,” Shynali said, placing her hand on Auru’s shoulder as she had seen him do to Vosala, “is something I know of.”

END OF CHAPTER 2, “UNITY”

If you’re interested in providing MOCs, art, characters, and storylines, contribute to the world on this page!

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Time is such a dreary thing. It is the one thing in this life that cannot be redeemed once it has been lost.

LEGO World Builder Comic #3, “Destiny”

Bunch of Chapter 3 teasers today! Presenting the title design and (epic) new teaser comic! Art by UltraToa7.

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Nothing new to report just yet, but I’ve been working on some behind-the-scenes things, like set wave descriptors (if any of y’all are interested in MOCing for this world, reach out!), but I have been wondering how much I should connect the story to G1.

I’ve been considering about going a Breath of the Wild-style route where it’s presumably a part of the same world, but so much time has passed and so much as changed that very few things remain.

Thoughts on this plan? Should I go more as to have characters return, or less as to suggest that even the history of the world does not reflect G1 at all?

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