Matoran Wars book 1: The Rise of Heroes (complete)

#####(Quick note: my understanding of the literature rules is that Posting chapters of a multi-chapter story as they’re written is okay. If that is not the case, feel free to let me know.


Six cloaked figures, hoods obscuring their masks in shadow, stood in a circle, humming softly. Their hands were raised in front of them, each glowing a different color – red, green, blue, white, black, brown. The colours of the six elements: fire, air, water, ice, earth, and stone.

In the center of the circle stood a Matoran. At first glance, one would be hard-pressed to determine his element. His torso and arms were coloured red and yellow, the colours of fire; but his legs were a mix of various shades of blue, the colours of water; and his mask was white, a colour usually reserved for those of the ice element.

If you were to ask Takua what element he was, he would’ve said fire. And it wouldn’t be a lie, not on his part at least. As far as he knew, he was simply a fire Matoran with strange colours, and everyone else he knew thought the same thing. He knew nothing of his true nature, nor what it meant for what he was about to do.

Not that he really knew what he was about to do, either. In his arms, he held six stones, each coloured in a different elemental colour. The six cloaked figures now surrounding him, the Turaga, had told him to collect these stones and place them in a circle here, in the temple at the center of the island. “This will bring our salvation,” they said. They didn’t explain how placing these six rocks in a circle, while the Turaga used their powers and hummed like some kind of creepy cult, would solve the problems facing the Matoran of this island, but he had learned not to question the Turaga.

Takua had to admit, however, that the Turaga were really freaking him out with this one. Twice, he dropped one of the stones as he moved between the spots the Turaga had marked. He wished he had simply left the stones in one spot and carried two at a time to their assigned spots, rather than carrying them all at once. Whenever he dropped one, he imagined one of the Turaga staring at him disapprovingly. He hoped the stones didn’t break.

Finally, he set the last stone in its spot. All six stones started to glow, and a ring of light formed on the ground connecting the six stones. Then, they each shot a beam of energy into the sky. Takua stood, watching these events transpire, not a clue what all this meant.

“Get out of the circle!”

Transfixed by the light show taking place, Takua didn’t hear the harsh whisper from one of the Turaga.

“Takua, get out of the circle!”

This time, Takua heard. It took him a moment to figure out what the Turaga meant. Finally, it dawned on him that he was still standing inside the ring of light, where he’d been standing when he placed the last stone. Abruptly, it occurred to him that being in the center of this light show might be a bad idea, and he moved to leave the circle.

He was a second too late.

The pillars of light from each stone abruptly curved outward, shooting toward the outskirts of the island. Unseen by any Matoran eye, the beams travelled long past the borders of the island, flying over the endless ocean, until finally, they struck six metal canisters floating in the ocean, their energy connecting to the sleeping inhabitants of those canisters.

At the same time, the stones shot another beam of energy inward, all converging on a single target: Takua. Takua stumbled and fell as energy from six stones poured into him. The Turaga stopped humming and began murmuring, confused by this turn of events.

Abruptly, it ended. The energy faded, the lights disappeared. The six stones turned grey, their power spent. Beyond the borders of the island, the six canisters continued to drift aimlessly, their occupants remaining asleep.

As for Takua, he lay on the ground, unmoving, surrounded by six confused Turaga. Dimly, he was aware of the voices of the Turaga as they tried to figure out what had just happened. But he also heard six new voices, voices he had never heard before, that also seemed confused, but for a different reason.

Salvation had indeed arrived… but not in a way anyone had expected.

Chapter 1: fire

Jaller, Captain of the Ta-Koro Guard Force, right hand of Turaga Vakama, ran for his life.

Behind him, a swarm of Kofo-Jaga skittered across the ground, slowly gaining ground. The scorpion creatures wouldn’t normally have attacked Matoran unless they felt their nests were threatened, but these scorpions bore Infected Masks, placing them under Makuta’s control. Jaller could probably handle a few of them – as a fire Matoran, he had a natural resistance to the burning sensation caused by their sting – but the dozens pursuing him now would overwhelm him.

He and his Guard had been out hunting in the Charred Forest, checking on one of their Rahi traps, when they had been ambushed by the scorpions, crawling down from the trees. Caught off guard, the Matoran had barely been able to escape. One of them hadn’t been so lucky, and had fallen to the scorpions. Jaller could still hear his cries. His fellow warrior’s heat resistance would delay his death, which would only make it worse for him.

Jaller was about to suffer the same fate. He’d split off from the other two Matoran in his crew, hoping the scorpions would follow one group while the other could head back to Ta-Koro for back-up. The scorpions had chosen to follow Jaller, and he led them deeper into the forest. But he’d been travelling all day between various locations, delivering messages, and his endurance was quickly wearing thin. Behind him, the scorpions were gaining ground.

Jaller stumbled over a tree root and fell, but picked himself up just as quickly and kept running. The momentary hesitation allowed the scorpions to gain even more ground, now just barely behind him. If he fell again, he was doomed.

Something glowing flew out of the treetops and landed on the ground behind him, and the scorpions screeched. Jaller risked a glance behind him, and saw that the object was a lightstone. It had caused the Kofo-Jaga to hesitate, allowing Jaller to get further away.

His distance was short-lived, though, as his momentary glance backward caused him to stumble again. The fiery scorpions quickly scurried toward their prey. Jaller struggled to his feet, but he knew it was over.

Another lightstone slammed into the ground from above, bringing the Rahi up short once again. A moment later, someone dropped from the treetops right next to Jaller. A strong hand grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet, and he found himself mask-to-mask with Turaga Vakama.

The Turaga gave a low whistle, and a large crab Rahi emerged from behind a tree. Vakama tossed Jaller onto the Ussal crab, then turned to face the scorpions, which were advancing again. The Turaga’s staff glowed, then flared brightly, causing the Rahi to screech and retreat just a bit.

When the light faded, Vakama was gone. But his voice suddenly sounded out of the darkness: “Ta-Koro needs you! Go!”

A few of the scorpions scurried toward the sound of the Turaga’s voice, but he was no longer there. His mask of concealment had allowed him to go invisible, and his shadow would be nearly impossible to see in the low light of the night. The scorpions would not be able to find him easily.

Instead, they went for Jaller, but the Ussal crab dashed away, at a speed no Kofo-Jaga could’ve matched, carrying Jaller back toward the safety of Ta-Koro.

Ta-Koro wasn’t so safe, not right now. The village of fire was under siege.

On the east side of the village, a group of fire Matoran used their spears and shields to fend off a large Muaka tiger, keeping it at bay, but not driving it off. A few times, it extended its neck abruptly and slammed into one of the Matoran, knocking them back, or grabbed a Matoran in its jaws and tossed him aside, and the Matoran were forced to retreat toward the village a bit more.

On the west side, the gates had been closed and fortified, but they wouldn’t hold long against the Kane-Ra bull repeatedly ramming its horned head into them. Attempts to dissuade the bull from its mad charge with thrown disks or spears had met with failure, and the infected mask driving it refused to be dislodged. One brave fire Matoran had tried to attack it directly, and the Rahi had nearly killed him. It undoubtedly would have killed him, had it not turned its attention back to ramming the gates.

Upon seeing the two-pronged attack upon his village, Jaller felt a momentary sense of guilt. He should’ve been here, helping to protect the village, instead of going out to check a Rahi trap that hadn’t even caught anything. Then that guilt turned into determination. He had to drive these Rahi away from his village. He started running toward the village.

“Jaller, wait!”

Jaller halted abruptly and turned toward the sound of his name. He instantly identified the Matoran running his way as Takua, and groaned under his breath; Takua was probably the last person Jaller wanted to see right now, aside from maybe the Makuta himself.

“I have a plan to stop the bull, but I need your help to do it,” Takua said quickly.

Had his village not been under attack, Jaller would’ve laughed. “YOU have a plan?” he responded incredulously. Takua was not known for making plans. Stupid ideas, maybe, but not plans.

“Trust me!” Takua said. “If you want to save your village, you need to trust me, now.”

Jaller wanted to ignore Takua and head to the defense of his village, but his limbs still ached from over-exertion, and he wasn’t really sure what help he could be. Maybe Takua’s stupid idea just might work. “Fine, but tell it to me quickly.”

Takua waved for Jaller to follow him back to the trees. Jaller reluctantly followed. “I need you to help me use these trees to launch someone onto the back of that bull,” Takua quickly explained.

“Are you nuts?!” Jaller exclaimed.

“It can’t hook you with its horns there, and in its current enraged state, it might not even notice someone on its back,” Takua continued. “That’ll give you an opportunity to pry off the mask with a guard spear.”

“I don’t have a spear,” Jaller pointed out. He’d left his spear leaning against a tree near the Rahi trap, and the sudden ambush of the Kofo-Jaga had left him with no chance to grab it.

“I do,” another voice said. This came from another fire Matoran in the woods, who was currently trying to bend back a giant tree limb. Jaller recognized him as Keahi, one of the strongest members of the Guard force.

“We can use this to launch someone onto that bull,” Takua explained, “but I’m not strong enough to hold the limb back, and there’s no way I could stay on that bull for any amount of time. That’s why we need you.”

“You want to launch me onto that bull?” Jaller said.

“No, to help launch me,” Keahi responded. “I can ride that thing long enough to knock off its mask, easy.”

Keahi’s courage was unrivaled among the Ta-Koro guard. He’d been the one to attack the bull directly earlier, only for it to slam him to the ground with its charge. His left leg was badly hurt, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him, and would’ve gone in for another attack had Takua not found him and explained his plan. Riding a bull and using a spear to dislodge a mask from its shoulder was just the type of plan Keahi was perfect for.

Jaller wanted to protest, but he knew Keahi was determined to do this. Summoning all his remaining strength, he helped Takua hold the limb in place while Keahi got on. Then, the two let go, and the limb snapped back to its original position, sending Keahi flying.

The aim was perfect, and Keahi landed on the bulls hindquarters. Takua was right: driven to smash down the gates, the bull didn’t notice him. It would soon, though; Keahi had to act fast. He extended his twin-pronged Guard staff toward the Rahi’s shoulder and hooked it under the infected mask.

The mask was wedged tightly into place, which had prevented the Matoran from knocking it off with thrown disks, but Keahi’s strength, combined with the leverage from wedging the staff into the small gap under the mask, allowed Keahi to pop the mask off with relative ease.

Abruptly freed from Makuta’s control, the Rahi halted its charge, confused. Then it noticed Keahi on its back, and started trying to hook him with its horns. Keahi needed to get off the bull, but there was no way he could get away without risking getting gored by the horns.

“Hey! HEY!”

The bull turned to the noise, and saw Takua waving his arms and yelling. The bull pawed at the ground, about to charge.

A disk smacked it in the side of its face. “Over here, you big cow!” Jaller called out, then threw another disk. The bull turned toward Jaller, who dashed back toward the trees.

With the bull’s attention off him, Keahi was able to get off, but his wounded leg caused him to stumble, and he cried out. The Rahi’s attention turned back to him, and it was about to charge when something else slammed into it, grabbing its neck: the Muaka tiger.

While Keahi had been struggling with the Kane-Ra, a lucky shot by one of the guard members had managed to knock off the Muaka’s infected mask, freeing it from Makuta’s control. Without Makuta forcing them to work together, the Muaka tiger and the Kane-Ra bull were fierce enemies. The two Rahi struggled violently, while the Matoran took the opportunity to get safely behind the walls of the Ta-Koro fortress.

Ultimately, the Muaka was the victor, finishing off the Kane-Ra bull and dragging the beast away to feast upon. The threat to Ta-Koro was over.

Shortly after the tiger left, Vakama returned. He brought Jaller, Takua, and Keahi into his hut, while the rest of the guard went to work repairing the gate and collecting the weapons strewn about.

“Takua and I ran into Kapura in the Charred Forest, and he told us of your plight,” Vakama explained to Jaller. “It was Takua’s idea to use lightstones and my firestaff to save you from the Kofo-Jaga.”

“Kofo-Jaga really don’t like light,” Takua pointed out.

“But these were under Makuta’s control,” Jaller said. “Their dislike of light shouldn’t have been an issue.”

“Not normally, no,” Takua replied, “but Makuta’s control has its limits. A sudden bright light right in front of them made their natural hatred of light override Makuta’s control, at least for a moment. Sometimes, a moment matters.”

“How’d you know that would work?” Keahi asked.

“Well, you see–”

“Never mind that,” Jaller cut in. “Turaga, you told me Takua’s quest was supposed to bring powerful warriors to save us. Are they on their way?”

“Well, uh…” Takua paused, trying to find the best way to explain the weird events that had transpired earlier that day.

“The warriors – the Toa – are here… sorta.”

#####Expect to see chapter 2 tomorrow. Unless the world ends or something.


Chapter 2: water

A dark shape rises out of the water, moving toward the village… the Matoran flee, gathering together in a hut for shelter… one Matoran bravely tries to stand up against the monster, only to be flung back toward the rest… one of the Matoran scrambles to shut the door, even as the monster moves toward the village… something slams into the hut, and it shakes… and then the world goes dark…

Hahli awoke and opened her eyes. Not that she could tell the difference – everything was still pitch black. Slowly, she sat up. Around her, the only thing she could see were the glowing eyes of other Matoran.

She could hear the hushed whispers of the other water Matoran all around. They were clearly afraid. Hahli wanted to ask what was going on, but she was afraid to speak up, interrupt the hushed quiet of the room.

Glancing around, she saw a circle of blue light on the far wall behind her. Standing up, she moved toward the light, trying not to knock over anyone in the dark.

Getting closer, she realized that the light was a window in the door of the hut the Matoran were in. On the other side, she could only see water.

In the dim light coming through the small window, she could see Turaga Nokama, her trident pointed toward the door, a look of exertion behind her mask. Two water Matoran were pushing against the door, but their efforts were in vain.

Nokama released a gasp and fell to her knees, lowering her trident. “The water pressure… is too strong…” she gasped. “I don’t have… enough power… if only Gali were here…”

One of the Matoran who had been pushing on the door walked up and put her hand on the Turaga’s shoulder. “Help will come,” the water Matoran said. “Macku’s still out there. She’ll bring someone to the rescue.”

Nokama muttered something, too quiet for Hahli to hear. But then, she nodded. “You’re right, Kotu. We need to keep hope. But in the meantime, those Rahi might come back. We need to keep trying.”

Hahli realized that was going on: one of the floating huts of the village of Ga-Koro had sunk into the water, trapping the water Matoran at the bottom of the bay. Hahli approached the Turaga hesitantly. “Um, Turaga, if I may?”

Nokama looked up at the water Matoran. “What is it, Hahli?”

“Macku once told me, it serves no purpose to keep trying something that isn’t working,” Hahli said. “You might not be able to get that door open, but I might know something else you could do that could help.”

Nokama stood up. “I’m listening.”

“The air pump is broken, right?” Hahli asked. “That’s why this hut isn’t rising back to the surface.”

“Just before the door closed, I saw one of the creatures hit the pump,” Kotu said. “It broke one of the tubes, I think the one connected to this hut.”

“Oh,” Hahli said. She thought for a moment. “It was severed right next to the pump, right?”

“Yes…?” Kotu responded uncertainly.

“Then it should be long enough to reach the surface,” Hahli concluded. “It’s likely that it filled with water in the collapse, but if Nokama’s able to push the water out of it, it could give us a way to get air from the surface, and perhaps communicate with someone who comes to help.”

Kotu nodded. “Macku won’t know how to fix the pump, nor will anyone from any other village,” she said. “It would be helpful if one of us could direct them to fix it.”

“It’s worth a try,” Nokama agreed. “Decreasing the water pressure is too strong for my powers, but I should be able to increase it on the air bladder and pump out the water.”

With Hahli and Kotu’s help, Nokama was able to locate the connection between the air bladder and the air tube. Extending her water power, Nokama was able to feel the water in the tube. The pressure in the tube did not equal the pressure outside the door, and Nokama was just barely able to move it.

Then, she focused on the water outside the air bladder. Carefully, she increased and decreased the pressure on it, manually pumping the air bladder, pushing the water out.

“Is it working?” One of the water Matoran asked.

“Shh,” Kotu responded.

Finally, Nokama collapsed. “I think… it worked,” the Turaga said.

Using her trident, Nokama poked a hole in the floor, through the tube. Air rushed in through the gap, and the water Matoran gave a sigh of relief.

“Hello?” a voice echoed through the tube.

Nokama’s eyes widened hopefully. “Who’s there?”

“Macku sent me to rescue you!”

On the surface, Takua watched the water impatiently, waiting. Nearby, Jaller and Vakama were working on the village pump, the Turaga using his firestaff to reattach the pump tube. Meanwhile, Jaller kept talking to the trapped Matoran through the tube, keeping their spirits up as best he could.

Finally, Macku resurfaced. In her hands, she held a set of gears. “I found them!” she said, excitedly.

Takua quickly took the gears from the water Matoran’s hands, and went back to the pump. As he handed the gears to Jaller to attach, he glanced out toward the sea.

“Something’s coming,” Takua said.

Macku looked in the same direction. “I don’t see anything.”

“Trust me on this,” Takua said. “There’s something moving toward the village, fast.”

“If that’s the Rahi…” Macku said.

“We need to get the pump fixed, now,” Vakama said. “Do we have all the parts?”

Macku nodded.

Jaller fit the last gears into place, and the pump began turning. Slowly, the hut rose out of the water.

Further out the bay, something else rose out of the water as well: a large green lizard, easily three times the height of a Matoran, a brown, rusted mask attached to its face.

“The Tarakava!” Macku exclaimed. “It’s back!”

Jaller quickly grabbed a nearby lightstone and flung it toward the lizard. The glowing stone clanked ineffectively against the infected mask on the Rahi’s face, then fell into the water. The creature didn’t even slow down.

Jaller shrugged. “Worth a try.”

Takua glanced over to the rising hut. The upper half of the door had breached the surface by now. He glanced back at the approaching Rahi, slowly growing closer.

“Turaga, what’s the plan?” Macku said.

Vakama turned to look at Takua, but the colorful Matoran had his eyes closed. When he opened them, he focused on the pump. “I have an idea.”

He turned to Vakama. “Use your staff, see if you can slow down the Rahi,” he said. “Jaller, Macku, make sure everyone is out of that hut, and bring Nokama over here. Tell the Ga-Koro guard to be ready.”

“The Ga-Koro guard isn’t here,” Macku said. “They’re on the other side of the island.”

“Then tell anyone who can throw a bamboo spear to be ready,” Takua responded.

Vakama held out his firestaff, which gave a dim glow that quickly faded. “It’s too low on power,” the Turaga said.

The sunken hut finally reached the surface. The door opened, and the water Matoran scrambled out, swimming to the lily pads connecting the rest of the village. Macku swam over to them, and returned with Turaga Nokama by her side.

“Macku said you have an idea?” the Turaga said.

“Yes,” Takua responded. “You said you used your elemental power to pump the water out of the tube earlier?”

“I used the pressure on the air bladder to do it, but yes.”

“I’m going to need you do it again,” Takua said. “Jaller, is everyone out of the hut?”

“All clear!” the fire Matoran called back.

“Be sure and shut the door!” Takua called. Then he turned to Nokama. “May I borrow your trident?”

The Turaga looked confused, but handed over her trident. Takua took it and used it to cut through the pump tube. Cut off from the air pump, the large hut started sinking into the ocean. Takua dipped the end of the tube into the water, letting water flow into it.

“The Rahi’s coming closer,” Macku warned. Takua continued holding the tube underwater.

“The Rahi’s about to attack!” Macku exclaimed. Takua glanced up and saw the massive lizard, its powerful arms extending forward. He pulled the tube up and pointed the open end at the Rahi. “Nokama, now!”

Nokama focused her powers, putting as much force on the sunken air bladder as she could all at once, and a stream of water erupted from the tube, slamming the Rahi in the face. Stunned, the lizard fell back, landing on its back.

The Tarakava lizard started to rise again, but Hahli dove into the water next to its head. Using one of the Ga-Koro guards bamboo spears, she wedged the pointed end under the infected mask and pried it off. As soon as the rusted mask left the creature’s face, it disappeared.

Abruptly cut off from Makuta’s control, the large beast stopped struggling and drifted for a moment. Then it turned and swam away.

The water Matoran cheered, relieved to see the threat disappear. Takua turned to Nokama and handed her trident back. “Uh, sorry that you have to fix the pump tube again.”

“No worry,” the Turaga said. “It should be easy to fix, now that the Rahi is gone. Thanks to you.”

Takua shrugged. “I’m just glad it worked. That was the weirdest idea I’ve had since…” Takua expression abruptly turned serious. “The way that infected mask disappeared… they always do that, right?”

Nokama nodded. “Yes. We believe they return to Makuta. Why?”

Takua paused for a bit, appearing to be lost in thought. “There may be a way…”

Macku approached. “Not to interrupt, but… Takua, I was visiting Po-Koro when the Rahi attacked…”

“And what were you doing there again?” Nokama asked.

Macku glanced down sheepishly. “Visiting Hewkii…”

Nokama sighed. “Go on,” Takua said.

“Well, there’s some sort of… weird illness, plaguing the stone Matoran,” Macku explained. “It sounds like they could use some…” Macku glanced around, as if to see if anyone else was listening, “…wisdom.”

“I suppose I’ll see what I can do,” Takua said. “Macku, you mind giving me a ride to Po-Koro?”

“I’d be happy to,” the water Matoran said, smiling.

“Oh, no,” Nokama said. “You’re not going anywhere. I need to talk to you and Kotu.” Macku’s face fell.

“All right,” Takua said. “I’ll see you later, then.” He walked over to Vakama and Jaller.

“The Turaga needs to get back to Ta-Koro,” Jaller said. “Are you coming?”

“I’m heading to Po-Koro,” Takua said. “They need help.”

“All right, I’ll go with you,” Jaller said. “Someone’s got to keep you out of trouble.”

Takua chuckled. “Good, because it sounds like trouble is what we might find.”

#####All right, 2 chapters down. Expect to see Chapter 3 tomorrow, unless a Tiger eats me or something.

Chapter 3: stone

“Comet balls! Get your Comet balls here! Best in town!”

The trader’s voice echoed through the Po-Koro bazaar, fighting to be audible over the cacophony of noise: the cries of Husi ostriches and Mahi goats, the chatter of stone Matoran bartering over various goods, the distant clattering of stone carvers, hard at work. Po-Koro was a very loud village, indeed.

One thing Jaller knew from his past visits, though: it was usually louder. Only a handful of Matoran were out bartering today, and there were no Matoran from other villages visible, aside from himself and Takua.

Takua, on the other hand, was too distracted by the sights and sounds of the bazaar to notice this. Intrigued, he momentarily forgot about his mission, approaching the trader announcing comet balls.

“Hey, Takua!” the trader said. “I heard you were pretty good at Kohlii. Care to buy a Comet ball? They’re the best in town!”

“You… heard I was good at Kohlii?” Takua said, surprised.

“Yeah, you played in the big Kohlii mix a few days ago.” Takua recalled that game; during his quest for the elemental stones, he’d rescued a stone Matoran who’d been trapped by a rockslide. The stone Matoran had talked him into joining in the multi-village Kohlii game. It had been the first time Takua had ever played the game.

“I didn’t do very good in that game,” Takua admitted.

“You still tried,” the trader responded. “With practice, you could certainly get better. Especially if you practice with a Comet ball, of course!”

Jaller stepped in, grabbing Takua’s arm and dragging him away. “Maybe later!” Takua called back.

“You know we have a mission, remember?” Jaller said. “Important mission, trying to save the Matoran?”

Takua sighed. “Yeah, you’re right,” he said, although a part of him just wanted to buy a Comet ball and have fun playing Kohlii.

For the first time since he’d started searching for the stones, Takua stopped to wonder: why? Why did saving the island have to be his job? Why did he have to be the one who went and collected those stones? Why did he have to be the one involved in that weird summoning ritual, which had gone wrong BECAUSE he was there? Why did he have to be the hero, saving everyone? He had to admit, going around finding all those stones had been kind of fun, but all this travelling and hero-ing was starting to get tiring.

“We should talk to Turaga Onewa,” Jaller said. “Find out what’s going on here.”

“How about you do that, and I’ll talk to the Matoran here and see if I can find any answers from them?” Takua offered.

Jaller looked at Takua for a moment, saw the look in the colorful Matoran’s eyes. “All right,” the Guard captain acquiesced. “But try not to get distracted, okay?”

“You got it!” Takua called, already walking off.

A half hour later, Takua had gotten nowhere.

He’d spoken to a few different Matoran, and found out a bunch of stuff about the illness: it had started a few days ago; the afflicted Matoran were at first afflicted with a cough, and then a weakness, until they could barely move; and no one knew where it had come from. All useful info, but all stuff Jaller would’ve found out by talking to the Turaga.

Takua glanced up, and found that his wandering feet had brought him back to the trader selling Comet balls. Takua sighed; he really wasn’t achieving anything by asking around, and surely it couldn’t hurt to have a little fun…

Takua walked up to the trader. “What’ll you take for one of those Comet balls?”

The trader paused, thinking. “What about one of those stones you collected?”

“Stones?” Takua was confused.

“Yeah, those stones the Turaga had you wandering around and collecting,” the trader said. "They must be valuable.

Takua hesitated. The stones were important, even though Takua wasn’t really sure what they were; but after the ritual, the Turaga had said they were drained of their power or whatever, and let Takua keep them. The stones were carved into various figurine shapes, and Takua liked them, but it couldn’t hurt to trade one for a Comet ball, right?

Takua pulled one of the stones out of his bag and showed it to the trader. “These stones?”

The trader hesitated, almost imperceptibly, upon seeing the stone. “Yeah, that. Tell you what, give me two of those, and I’ll give you a Comet.”

“Deal,” Takua said, handing over two of the stones. The trader took them, smiling brightly, and handed Takua a large Kohlii ball. Takua took it, surprised by how lightweight it was, and headed down to the Kohlii field.

He was disappointed to see that no one was there, but decided to kick his new ball around anyway. And then, an idea occurred to him. He glanced around to make sure no one was watching, then took the ball to the far corner of the field.

He set the ball down… pulled his foot back… his eyes glowed orange… and he kicked the ball, watching it sail across the field, flying straight into the goal at the far end of the field.
Takua let out a whoop, then abruptly collapsed, suddenly drained. When he got back to his feet, his eyes had returned to their normal yellow color. “All right, enough fun for now,” he said to himself. “Better go find Jaller and see if he’s found anything.”

First, Takua went to retrieve his Kohlii ball. As he reached down to pick it up, he suddenly froze, seeing something strange on the side of the ball.

Carefully, Takua rolled the ball over. When the ball had slammed into the stone wall a moment ago, it had cracked, and a weird green ooze was seeping out of it. Takua touched it, then instantly recoiled. Abruptly, he found himself coughing for a moment.

The illness! He realized. He must have caught it somehow. He had spoken to a few afflicted Matoran. Then his eyes fell on the Comet ball, and the green ooze seeping out of it. Could it be…?

Leaving the Comet at the field, Takua ran back to the trader, but the stone Matoran had disappeared. A sign at his stand said “gone fishing”, and there was a stack of comet balls. Takua started to inspect the balls. Then, making sure no one was watching, he took a rock and started bashing one of the balls repeatedly, until finally, it cracked, and the same green ooze leaked out.

Once again, Takua started asking around, this time about the Comet balls. Sure enough, the trader had started selling them shortly before the illness started. Everyone who had fallen ill had bought one, or used one. Hewkii, the first Matoran to fall ill, had been the first one to buy a Comet; in fact, he had bought two of them. And no one knew where the trader got the Comets from; he refused to say.

But then, while talking to a carver who often carved large-scale sculptures outside the village. “I often saw him heading out toward the Po-Koro quarry, and returning with a few of them Comets,” the carver said. “Figured he was making them out there, and did it there so no one could see him and figure out his techniques.”

Armed with this new information, Takua ran to Turaga Onewa’s hut, but the Turaga was gone. A few Matoran said they’d seen him leaving the village with Jaller earlier, but no one knew where they had gone. Takua knew he should wait for them, and not head to the stone quarry on his own… but he was starting to enjoy solving this mystery. He had to see it through. He took off, heading to the quarry.

“Do you have any idea where he might’ve gone?” Jaller asked.

“Well,” Hafu responded, “Right before he took off, he was asking about the Po-Koro stone quarry. What it was for, where it was, all that. I let him borrow one of my quarry keys. My guess is, he went out there.”

“All right, thank you,” Jaller said. He turned back to Turaga Onewa. “What is that fool up to?”

“I don’t know,” Onewa responded, “but perhaps he might’ve found some answers.”

“At the quarry?” Jaller wondered. “You said most of the stone miners haven’t been afflicted. How could the source be at the quarry?”

“I suggest we go ask Takua that,” Onewa replied. “Let’s head to the quarry, see what trouble Takua has found.”

Trouble was exactly what Takua had found. Hafu’s key had opened one of the quarry tunnels, and at the bottom of it, Takua had found four things: a cavern, full of weird green stalks of some rubbery material; a collection of Comet Balls, all poisoned; an infected mask, sitting in the middle of the Comets; and a pair of very large, very angry scorpions.

The scorpions had appeared as Takua was inspecting the Comets, and had cornered him. Takua thought for sure he was doomed.


At the sound of a new voice, the scorpions hesitated. Takua turned to see Onewa and Jaller entering the cavern, and rushed to join them. “Boy am I glad to see you guys!”

“I’m glad to see you,” Jaller responded. “Takua, what have you found here?”

“Trouble!” Takua responded.

Abruptly, one of the scorpions flicked its tail, flinging some kind of green substance. The venom struck Onewa’s face, and the Turaga cried out.

“Turaga!” Jaller cried. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” Onewa replied. “Nui-Jaga venom causes blindness; it should wear off in a few minutes.”

“We should get out of here,” Jaller said. “While we still can.”

“I have a better idea,” Takua said. “Those green columns forming the scorpion’s nest: if we can break enough of them, we can bring down this tunnel.”

“How do we do that, though?” Jaller asked.

“The Kohlii balls,” Takua replied. “Kick them into the pillars.”

“I don’t know,” Jaller said, “I’ve never been particularly accurate.”

“I still can’t see,” Onewa pointed out.

“All right,” Takua said. “I’ll do it.”

Takua stepped up to the balls. The scorpions hissed, and started to move toward him, but he kicked a ball, sending it flying through the air and snapping through the stalk. The scorpions retreated, and the cavern roof shifted.

Takua kept going, easily breaking column after column. Finally, the cavern started to collapse. The scorpions retreated deeper into their nest.

“Let’s go!” Onewa called. The two Matoran and the Turaga rand back up the tunnel, barely getting back to the surface.

A few hours later, the Matoran had answers… and more questions.

Onewa had realized that the infected mask, placed among the Comet balls, was the source of the illness. All of the Comets were gathered up and tossed into the sea, and soon after they were gone, the infected Matoran began to recover.

As for the trader who had sold them, he was nowhere to be found. Hafu mentioned seeing him headed toward Onu-Koro, the earth village. “Said something about peddling his Comets to a new audience,” Hafu explained.

“We need to warn them about the comets,” Jaller said. “And that that trader might just be working with Makuta…”

“If that’s the case,” Takua said, “then selling infected Comet balls may not be the only thing on his agenda.”

Jaller nodded. “I guess we’re off to Onu-Koro, then,” he said. “By your leave, Turaga?”

Onewa nodded. “Good luck. You’ll need it.”

#####3/8 chapters down. Expect to see chapter 4 tomorrow, unless literature gets outlawed or something.

Chapter 4: Earth

Deep in the tunnels of Onu-Koro, far from the surface, earth Matoran miners were hard at work, swinging their picks, digging through the earth. The dark tunnel was dimly lit by torches, the smoke in the air making it harder to see.

One of the miners swung his pick, breaking a rock to pieces. From behind the rock, a swarm of scorpions flooded into the tunnel. “Kofo-Jaga!” the miner cried out. Panicked, the miners fled, heading toward the safety of the well-lit tunnels further back.

Deeper down, another group of miners was working their way down, going deeper than any Matoran had before, down into the ground… until their progress came to a halt. The rock layer beneath them refused to give to any drill, any pick, any machine. The miners in other areas had also found this impenetrable rock layer, and efforts to find a way around it had proved fruitless.

“Tell Mamru that the rock layer is blocking shaft 8, too,” the miner called out, and a courier ran off to tell the chief prospector.

The miner turned back and looked at the problematic wall of rock. That was when something new caught his eye, a strange protrusion in the rock, with a weird symbol on it, mostly buried under the earth. Clearing away more dirt and rock, the miner exposed the object: a large disk, separated into 18 sections, numbers and symbols on each section.

“That’s new…”

Far above, another group of miners was digging into the ground, searching for lightstones. The glowing stones were desperately needed to keep the Kofo-Jaga scorpions at bay, and the miners were hard-pressed to find more of them.

One of the miners stopped and wiped his brow, sweat dripping from it. The earth was getting softer, a sure sign of lightstones ahead. That was good news.

“Look out!”

The miner glanced up, seeing the source of the sudden heat: to his left, the rock was collapsing in, and from behind it, a flow of lava was seeping into the tunnel. “Darn it,” the miner growled, retreating from the lava.

“Turaga, we can’t break through this rock layer, or dig around it! It’s blocking off mining everywhere!”

“Without lightstones, we can’t keep digging. The Kofo-Jaga aren’t afraid of torchlight!”

“There’s a lava flow cutting us off from the lightstone mines. We can’t get to the lightstones until it’s rerouted, but the pump isn’t working.”

“Turaga, we need the trade with Le-Koro. That highway was supposed to be finished days ago!”

Whenua sighed inwardly, trying to sort through the various issues facing his village. Sometimes, the burden of leadership was almost too much for him. He felt like his own village, stretching in every direction at once, and often in danger of collapse.

Whenua really needed a break. Thus, when he saw Takua and Jaller enter his hut, he quickly shooed away the captains, giving him an opportunity to speak to the two Matoran alone.

Jaller watched the captains depart, grumbling. “You sure that was okay, Turaga?”

“Don’t mind them,” Turaga Whenua replied. “I want to hear what you two have to say. Please tell me you have some good news…”

“We bring a warning,” Jaller responded. “A trader from Po-Koro is selling Kohlii balls, known as Comets, infected with a virus from Makuta. We believe that he has fled to this village. He must be captured.”

“A Matoran, working with Makuta?” Whenua said, surprised. “This is a grave concern, indeed.”

“Turaga, if you give me a few members of the Ussalry Guard Force, we can track down and arrest the traitor,” Jaller offered.

Whenua shook his head. “I’m afraid I don’t have any to spare. You may have noticed Onu-Koro has a lot of problems right now.”

“All right,” Jaller said. “Well, Takua and I can find him, and so long as the earth Matoran know not to interact with him, there shouldn’t be much of an issue. C’mon, Takua, let’s go find this guy.” Jaller started for the door.

Takua looked at Turaga Whenua. “What can we do to help?”

Jaller turned back to him. “We have a mission, remember? Bigger, more important things to deal with.”

“What bigger problems?” Takua retorted. “We already know who the traitor is. All we need to do is warn the earth Matoran, which it doesn’t take two people to do, and I doubt I’d be much help capturing him.”

Jaller sighed. “I’m not just talking about the trader. I’m talking about the bigger picture. Stopping Makuta and his endless hordes of Rahi, that’s our most important mission.”

“I know,” Takua replied, “and trust me, I’m working on a plan to stop the Rahi problem. But right now, there isn’t anything we can do against the Rahi. Helping this village is something we can do, while we’re here. It’s not a major Rahi attack or a mystery disease, but sometimes, you have to take care of the small problems, too.”

Jaller stood at a loss for words for a moment. Finally, he smiled. “So who gave you that speech?”

Takua grinned back. “Go deal with the traitor, Jaller. I have some work to do.”

A few minutes later, Takua stood in one of the mining tunnels of the earth village, a river of lava filling the rest of the tunnel in front of him. The heat rising from the orange liquid caused sweat to pour behind his mask, and he felt grateful for his heat resistance – or at least, the heat resistance he thought he had.

“Just past this lava is the lightstone mines,” one of the miners next to him said. “But we can’t get to them until the lava is rerouted.”

“There’s a pump machine that’s supposed to be clearing away the lava,” the other miner added, “but it doesn’t seem to be working for some reason, and it’s on the other side of the river, so we can’t get to it to fix it.”

“Okay, so all I have to do is cross the lava river and fix the pump,” Takua muttered to himself. “That sounds easy enough.”

From his bag, Takua retrieved a large, flat object and unfolded it, his lava surfboard. Placing it into the lava, he stepped onto it carefully. Unseen by the earth Matoran, his eyes began to glow red. Then he kicked his foot off the ground behind him, sending him sailing across the lava.

The tunnel wasn’t straight, and he had to lean to the side in order to turn at the bend, without falling off the board. Just as he reached the other side, his eyes returned to normal and he collapsed onto the ground.

Picking himself back up, he walked over to the pump and scanned it. It wasn’t hard to determine the reason why it wasn’t functioning: a few of the wires had been disconnected. Takua began reconnecting them.

“No Rahi disabled this machine like this,” Takua said to no one in particular. “Could this be the work of the traitor?”

Once Takua fit the last wire back into place, the machine hummed to life. Behind him, the lava filling the tunnel began to drain away, eventually allowing the earth Matoran to cross. Thanking Takua, they continued on into the lightstone mines, ready to get back to work.

Jaller wandered through the Onu-Koro market, seeing traders from Ta-Koro, Ga-Koro, and Po-Koro selling wares from their home villages to the earth Matoran. Jaller had spoken with several of them already, warning them of the Comet ball trader, as well as warning many earth Matoran travelling the market.

Scanning the crowd, Jaller saw several stone Matoran, but none matched the description of the Comet ball trader. He did his best to ignore their masks, in case the trader had donned a different mask as a form of disguise, but all the stone Matoran he saw were different in some other aspect besides their masks.

Finally, Jaller had to concede defeat, the trader wasn’t here. Jaller decided to head back to the Turaga’s hut and see what Takua was up to. Perhaps his partner had achieved something more.

As Jaller approached Whenua’s hut, however, he spotted someone else leaving it. The Matoran was obscured in a large cloak, making it impossible to determine what element he might be. He wasn’t tall enough to be the Turaga, and though Jaller realized he could be one of the job captains, coming to the Turaga with some complaint or issue, he wasn’t sure why one of the job captains would be hiding under a cloak.

“Hey!” Jaller called out.

For just a second, the figure turned to Jaller, and his face caught the light of a nearby lightstone. In that second, Jaller could see the figure’s mask, a black mask of levitation – the same mask the Comet ball trader had worn. Then the Matoran turned and ran. Jaller started running after him, following him into one of the darkened mine tunnels.

Takua stood upon the impenetrable rock layer, analyzing the strange disk the miners had recently discovered. It was the only feature on the otherwise smooth, seamless rock.
Beside him stood Turaga Whenua, along with the chief prospector, Mamru. All around, broken tools showed the miners’ futile efforts to pierce the impenetrable stone.

“Well?” Whenua prodded. “Any idea what it means?”

Takua turned to the Turaga. “It appears to be some kind of sundial,” he replied. “Not certain why a sundial would be this deep underground, though. And those other markings… they seem to be some kind of astrological markings.”

“Astrological?” the Turaga replied, surprised. “Interesting. Perhaps we should ask Turaga Nuju about them, then.”

Takua nodded enthusiastically. “I can go to the ice village and see what he has to say. There’s some stuff I want to ask Nuju about anyway.”

The Turaga and Takua took the mineshaft elevator back toward the upper levels of the mine tunnels. Engrossed in a conversation, they didn’t notice the other elevator pass them heading down, carrying a cloaked Matoran.

When they reached the top, they were greeted by Jaller running up to them, breathless. “Either of you see… a cloaked Matoran… come by here?”

The two both shook their head. “No, why?” Whenua asked.

Jaller paused for a second to catch his breath. “I saw the traitor heading out of your hut, Turaga, and started to pursue him, but he got ahead of me in one of the darkened tunnels. No one else saw him going anywhere else, either.”

“Perhaps he slipped by someone unnoticed,” Whenua said. “Well, he knows we’re looking for him now. He likely won’t be so easily caught again.”

“All right,” Jaller agreed. He turned to address Takua. “So, what have you achieved?”

“Quite a bit,” Takua said. “We’ve reopened the lightstone mines, and work has already been resumed on the Le-Koro highway; it should be finished soon. As for the rock layer, I was planning to go to Ko-Koro and ask Turaga Nuju about the disk upon it.”

“Ko-Koro,” Jaller said. “We haven’t heard from the ice village in some time. It would be good to check on them. All right then, on to Ko-Koro next?”

Takua was about to agree when an earth Matoran ran up to the three. “Turaga! Turaga Whenua!” he called, panic apparent in his voice. “We’ve finished the Le-Koro highway!”

“That seems like cause for celebration, not panic,” the Turaga replied.

“That’s not it!” the miner replied. “We ran into a messenger from Le-Koro. Apparently, the air village has fallen victim to a massive attack! Most of the air Matoran have been captured by the Rahi!”

Takua and Jaller shared a quick look. “We need to get to Le-Koro,” they both said simultaneously, and took off for the Le-Koro Highway.

Deep underground, Mamru continued to analyze the strange disk. Hearing the elevator arrive behind him, he figured it must be another of the miners, and didn’t turn to look. He should have.

A large, blunt object slammed into the back of the earth Matoran’s head, knocking him out cold. Behind him, the stone Matoran trader Ahkmou stood, holding a pick he’d borrowed from a nearby mining site.

Satisfied that Mamru wouldn’t be waking up again soon, Ahkmou tossed aside the pick. Reaching into his bag, he retrieved a small, blade-like object and placed it into the indentation in the center of the disk. The sections of the sundial fell away, forming a set of stairs. Retrieving the blade, the Comet ball trader descended into the new hole, down into the darkness.

Behind him, the sundial rose back into place, sealing the hole shut once more.

#####4/8 chapters done. Expect to see chapter 5 tomorrow, unless the internet gets deleted.

#####Quick note: adapting treespeak grammar is hard. This is sorta a loose adaptation of the Le-Matoran dialogue from the Mata Nui Island Game.

Chapter 5: Air

Takua dashed through the forest, trying to keep up with the air Matoran ahead of him, an earth Matoran close behind him. The three Matoran were sticking close to the trees as they dashed toward their destination. Overhead, the sound of buzzing filled the air as dozens of large insectoid monsters, the Nui-Rama, flew through the sky.

“I can see the village!” the air Matoran, Tamaru, called out. “We need to get there before those bugs get us!”

Tamaru had volunteered to lead Takua and Jaller to Le-Koro so they could help with the Rahi attack. One of the earth Matoran miners, Taipu, had also insisted on coming to help. But before the four Matoran reached the village, they had been ambushed by the giant insectoid Nui-Rama, and one of them had captured Jaller, flying off with the fire Matoran in its claws. The other three Matoran had been forced to flee toward the village.

Takua was berating himself for not noticing the Rahi sooner. He should’ve heard it coming, should’ve seen it swooping down, should’ve been able to warn Jaller. Now his partner was gone, and Takua felt responsible.

All he could do now was get to the village and try to mount a rescue mission for Jaller, and all the air Matoran who had been captured. But as he joined Taipu and Tamaru in the lift to the treetop village of Le-Koro, he couldn’t help wondering what dangers Jaller was facing at that moment…

The city of Le-Koro was abuzz with activity, air Matoran scrambling to mount defenses, using disks to try to keep the insects at bay. Others mounted large bird Rahi to take them into the skies, allowing them to get close to their airborne enemies.

Takua wasn’t sure what to do. He knew he had to help, but he had no idea how to go about doing that. Jaller always took charge in these situations; the guard captain knew who to talk to and how to get things done.

Fortunately, Tamaru seemed to know what to do next. “Kongu!” he called out, and one of the air Matoran approached.

“These Matoran come to help us,” Tamaru explained quickly.

Kongu looked at Taipu and Takua. “Just two?”

“Was one more, but taken by Rama,” Tamaru added.

“Turaga Whenua sent Jaller and I, specifically,” Takua chimed in.

Kongu stared at Takua critically. “What offer you, traveler? How can you help us?”

Takua hesitated. Should he tell Kongu the truth? The Turaga had told him not to tell anyone they didn’t specifically approve of. So far, that only included Jaller and the water Matoran Macku. “First, I need to speak with the Turaga. Where is Turaga Matau?”

“Matau gone,” Kongu replied. “Taken by Makuta. One of Makuta’s masks now controls our Turaga.”

Takua was initially taken aback by this information. One of the Turaga had fallen prey to an infected mask? This was terrible news. But then, suddenly, a thought occurred to him. An idea had formed, a new piece of the puzzle in his quest to defeat Makuta. Takua had to resist the urge to smile, for fear that it would give Kongu the wrong impression.

“I need to confront the Turaga,” he said. “Take me to him.”

“Matau’s at Rama hive, along with other prisoners,” Kongu said. “Air Matoran plan rescue. You fly with me, shoot disks at Rama?”

Takua nodded. “Get me to the Turaga. I know what I have to do.”

“And you?” Kongu turned to Taipu. Takua had forgotten for a moment that the earth Matoran was there, too.

“Let me make sure I have this right,” Taipu said. “You want me to hop on one of those birds with one of your pilots, fly into a swarm of evil insects, and throw disks at them to ward them off?”

Kongu nodded.

“All right then,” the earth Matoran declared. “Let’s fly.”

Kongu called out for Boreas, another member of the Le-Koro Guard Force – or the Gukko Force, as it was usually called – and the air Matoran came, leading two of the large Kahu birds. Soon, Takua and Taipu were mounted on the huge birds, Takua behind Kongu, Taipu behind Boreas. Kongu gave a whistle, and the birds flew up into the sky, straight into the midst of the Nui-Rama swarm.

Takua had never ridden a Kahu before – or any flying Rahi, for that matter – and for a moment, he was too caught up in the exhilaration of the experience to remember what he was supposed to be doing. But then, a Nui-Rama buzzed loudly past his ear, reminding him that he had a pilot to defend.

And defend it he did, flinging disks left and right at any insects that came too close. A few times, he managed to knock an infected mask off of one of the attackers, and it buzzed off and didn’t return. Behind him, Taipu did the same.

Kongu was also doing his best to fly erratically, trying to keep the insects from being able to swarm him. One second, he was up in the clouds; the next, he dropped down below the treetops, flying through the forest, only to shoot up into the sky just as quickly. Several times, Takua felt like he was about to fall off.

Soon, Kongu was approaching a huge monolith of rock, wood, a strange fibrous material, and other substances. The Nui-Rama Hive. Kongu daringly flew straight up toward the mouth of the hive.

Before he could get there, however, one of the larger creatures, the Nui-Kopen, slammed into the Kahu, scraping its claws across the bird’s chest and right wing. The bird cried out in pain and started to descend. Takua stared desperately at the entrance to the hive, so close, yet just out or reach. And he realized what he needed to do.

Before he could second-guess himself, he stood up on the back of the Kahu. “What are you doing?” Kongu called, but Takua didn’t respond. His eyes glowed green, and he grabbed onto Kongu and jumped. His leap brought him just high enough to reach the Nui-Kopen, and he grabbed its legs and swung himself and Kongu onto the insectoid Rahi. The large bug tried to dislodge them, but Takua held on, letting the Nui-Kopen carry them high enough to reach the mouth of the hive. Then, he dropped in.

As Takua dropped into the hive, his eyes returned to normal. Momentarily exhausted, he was unable to plan a good landing, and he and Kongu smacked into the floor of the hive tunnels.

Kongu quickly got to his feet and dragged Takua deeper into the hive tunnel, out of sight of the insects outside. “Are you mad?” He admonished. “You could’ve gotten us killed!”
“But I didn’t,” Takua said. He really didn’t feel like telling Kongu about his… connection… not right now. “Let’s just go free the Turaga.”

Luckily, Kongu was able to lead them to the center of the hive, a large open area filled with Rahi. Several air Matoran were working, expanding the hive, under the close eye of the Rahi. “What are they doing?” Kongu wondered aloud.

“Probably just meaningless work,” Takua replied, scanning the crowd of Matoran. “Makuta likes to do that – force his enemies to do pointless things, for no reason.” Takua’s eyes fell on Taipu, a wounded Kahu near the earth Matoran explaining how he’d wound up in the hive.

“Why do you know what Makuta likes?” Kongu asked, glaring at Takua suspiciously.

“Turaga Vakama told me,” Takua replied, which was partially true. He located a tall figure overseeing the Matoran, an infected mask adorning his face: Turaga Matau.

“The Turaga told you that?” Kongu said skeptically. “They aren’t known for sharing information like that.”

Takua had found the Turaga, but there was still one Matoran he hadn’t seen that he desperately wanted to find. As he scanned the crowd for Jaller, he tried to think of a way to tell Kongu why the Turaga would tell him something like that without explaining his secret.

“Looking for someone?”

Takua whirled around at the sound of his partner’s voice, then gasped as a fist slammed into his stomach. He stumbled backward, glancing in shock at the Guard captain. Jaller’s orange mask of shielding was gone, replaced with a blackened, rusted infected mask. “Oh no,” Takua muttered.

“Turaga!” Jaller called. “Look who I found!”

Matau approached. “Excellent,” he said. “The hero of the island. You know, that white mask really doesn’t suit your colors. You should try a black one.” The air Turaga held up an infected mask.

“I don’t think so,” Takua replied. “I like my mask. And I liked your old one better, too.” Takua took a step toward the Turaga.

Matau laughed, a dark laugh that stood in stark contrast to the air Turaga’s ordinary cheerfulness. “You think you can defeat me?”

"No, Takua replied, “But I might know someone who can.” And then he ran toward the Turaga.

As he ran, his eyes glowed a dark blue. Matau extended his staff, and a blast of wind blew Takua’s feet out from under him – or they would’ve, had he still been there. Instead, he had dove to the left, then quickly dashed toward the Turaga, swiping at the mask; Matau just barely dodged.

Takua’s eyes stopped glowing abruptly, and he stumbled, but then they began to glow purple. Matau swung his staff at Takua’s head, but the Matoran ducked under it, then came up and slammed his hand into the Turaga’s chin. The infected mask flew into the air, then vanished.

Takua’s eyes returned to normal once more, and a rush of weakness overwhelmed him, causing him to black out.

A splash of water brought him back to consciousness, and he gasped, then opened his eyes.

Around him, he saw the open forest, no Nui-Rama in sight. Several other air Matoran were scattered around, along with Turaga Matau, now wearing a normal, uninfected mask. Kongu was standing over him.

“Nice job, hero,” Kongu said. “You saved us. Matau freed other Matoran after you freed him, helped us escape.”

“Where’s Jaller?” Takua said.

“Right, him,” Kongu responded. “Still under Makuta’s control. Air Matoran restrained him, but Taipu tells us not remove his mask. Said you need try something.”

“Taipu?” Takua wondered. He recalled mentioning part of his plan on the way to Le-Koro, but he was surprised the earth Matoran had figured out just what Takua needed.

“Indeed,” Matau said. “Come, Jaller this way.” Takua got to his feet, and Matau led him to a nearby tree. There, several vines bound Jaller, the fire Matoran struggling fiercely.

“I need Matoran of three different elements to purify the infected mask,” Takua said. “We have to do it while it’s still on him, or it will disappear and return to Makuta.”

Taipu stepped forward. “Well, between you, me, and Kongu, we have fire, earth and air.”

Takua smiled slightly. “It sure is convenient you came with us.”

“I had a feeling I’d be needed, somehow,” Taipu replied. “I’ve learned to trust my feelings. Many times, they’ve–”

“Okay, can we free my partner now?” Takua cut in, impatiently.

“Would you like to tell us why you know this, all of a sudden?” Kongu said. “No one has known how to purify infected masks for years, and suddenly you do? What with you, all of a sudden? Your eyes glow, you pull insane stunts, you know all sorts of weird stuff… You owe lots of explanations.”

Takua sighed. He knew it was bound to come to this eventually. “I promise to tell you everything,” he said, and he meant it. He was tired of the secrecy. “But first, can we please free Jaller?”

Kongu nodded. “I hold you to that.”

Takua placed his hand on Jaller’s mask, Taipu and Kongu doing the same. “Try to channel your energy into the mask,” Takua directed.

The mask began to glow, the rust fading away, the black mask slowly turning orange. Jaller gasped and stopped struggling as the infection disappeared, the mask adapting to the fire Matoran’s colors.

“Thank you,” he said.

“Now, for the moment of truth,” Takua said. He reached up, plucked the mask off of Jaller’s face, and held it in his hand, waiting for it to disappear, like all the other infected masks.

Several seconds passed. The mask didn’t disappear.

“This is it,” Takua said. “It’s all coming together. I know how to stop the Rahi.”

“That’s great,” Jaller said. “Mind giving me my mask back and untying me?”

“Oh, right, sorry,” Takua said. He placed the deinfected mask back on Jaller’s face. One of the air Matoran approached, untying the vines and freeing Jaller.

Kongu stepped forward and glared down at Takua. "All right, your friend is freed.

“Explanations. Now.”

#####There, that was Chapter 6. Expect chapter 7 tomorrow, unless I miscounted and chapter 6 is next or something

#####No, I didn’t forget to post a chapter yesterday, what are you talking about?

Chapter 6: Ice

The slopes of Mount Ihu were an inhospitable place. In the region of ice, it snowed all the time, but that was especially the case on the slopes of the mountains – and Ihu was the biggest, most treacherous mountain.

Naturally, the ice Matoran had chosen to make their home upon this mountain. Matoran of ice had a natural resistance to the extreme cold of this region. The four Matoran who were now scaling the slopes, making their way toward the village of Ko-Koro, lacked this resistance, and were shivering in the cold snowy weather.

Jaller wished he’d had the forethought to bring a heatstone from Ta-Koro. He should’ve known Takua’s quest would inevitably bring the two of them to all of the villages of the island, including the ice village. The fire Matoran wondered if his resistance to heat came with a greater vulnerability to cold.

Behind Jaller, Taipu was starting to regret his decision to join this mission. When Takua said he might need help for the final part of his mission, Taipu was eager to join up, ready for adventure. Walking through snow and ice up a mountain wasn’t the adventure he was expecting, though. But he tried to look on the bright side: he’d never been to the ice village, and he was eager to see what it looked like.

At the back of the group, Kongu was still processing what Takua had told them about his newfound powers and knowledge. Matau had never told him about the six elemental heroes known as Toa, or that the Turaga were planning to summon them to defeat Makuta. The Turaga weren’t known for sharing their secrets, but Takua had shared a lot.

“Somehow, instead of actually summoning the Toa, the ritual created a connection between the Toa and me,” Takua had explained. “The Toa are in my head, sharing their knowledge, teaching me their skills. The Toa know quite a bit about Makuta, it seems.” Takua explained many of the things the Toa had taught him.

“They can also take control directly,” Takua went on, “though only for a few seconds, and the effect drains me a lot. But it can be useful.” Takua recounted how each of the Toa had helped him. Pohatu, Toa of Stone, had allowed him to do the super kick that had inadvertently revealed the nature of the Comet balls; Tahu, Toa of Fire, had helped him to surf across the river of lava in the lightstone mines; Lewa, Toa of Air, had helped him pull off the aerial stunt to get into the Nui-Rama hive; and the combined efforts of Gali, Toa of Water, and Onua, Toa of Earth, had allowed him to defeat and free Turaga Matau.

“What of the ice Toa?” Taipu had asked.

“Kopaka’s been mostly quiet,” Takua replied. “He’s not much for talking unless he has something important to say. But he’s there, if needed.”

Right now, Kongu wished they had Kopaka’s power over ice and snow, to clear away the storm and make their travels easier. Tahu’s power over fire would’ve been appreciated as well, to provide some heat.

“I see an outpost up ahead!” Jaller called out, fighting to be heard over the wind. “Let’s see if anyone’s there.”

The four Matoran moved swiftly to the small hut Jaller pointed out, hoping to get out of the cold for a bit. Inside the dwelling, there were no Matoran to be seen. The group did find a few heatstones on the floor, and used them to heat up for a bit.

Jaller found a Guard Ensign hanging on the wall. “This was the Ta-Koro Guard Outpost,” the Guard Captain realized. “I sent a few Guard Members here to aid the ice Matoran, weeks ago, and haven’t heard from them in several days.”

“It doesn’t look like anyone’s been here in several days,” Taipu pointed out.

Jaller nodded. “That’s certainly not a good sign.”

“Maybe they decided to take up residence on another part of the mountain?” Kongu offered.

“And leave all their equipment here?” Jaller replied, shaking his head. “I fear the answer is not as simple as that.”

“Well, we won’t get any answers here,” Takua pointed out. “Perhaps someone in Ko-Koro will know what happened to your men.”

Jaller nodded in agreement. “Let’s bring one of the heatstones, for warmth,” he suggested. Everyone agreed gratefully.

A few bio up the slope, the crew spotted a figure. As they got closer, they realized the figure was a Matoran, frozen in the ice.

“His heartlight’s still glowing!” Kongu realized. “He’s still alive!”

“We have to free him!” Jaller said.

“I have an idea,” Takua said, holding the heatstone up to the ice. The heat caused the ice to melt rapidly. In moments, the ice Matoran was free.

The ice Matoran looked around at his rescuers, and his gaze stopped on Jaller. “You are the Ta-Koro Guard Captain.”

Jaller nodded. “Do you know what happened to the Guard forces stationed here?”

“Makuta led them into the ice,” the ice Matoran responded bluntly. “They are lost.”

“As I feared,” Jaller muttered. The ice Matoran turned and began walking away. “Hey, where are you going?” Jaller called after.

“Back to Ko-Koro,” Kopeke replied. “I was sent out here to work with the fire Matoran guard. With them gone, I have no reason to stay out here.”

“Well we need to go to Ko-Koro too,” Takua pointed out. “We’ll go with you.” The ice Matoran didn’t reply. Those of the ice element weren’t known for talking much. The four Matoran followed the ice Matoran up the slope.

Seeing the entrance to Ko-Koro, Taipu gasped in awe. Situated between two of the mountainous peaks, a huge block of ice balanced precariously. Underneath it, a large gate provided the only entrance to the ice village, situated entirely under the ice, surrounded by the mountains.

“What would happen if that ice fell?” Taipu wondered. “It could easily crush them all.”
“It hasn’t fallen in all the years the village has been here,” Jaller pointed out. “It’s sturdier than it looks; it would take an enormous force to knock it down. I doubt even the Toa of Ice could make it budge.”

The ice Matoran they had rescued led them through the gates. Under the ice, a large open area had been carved out for the village. The light reflecting through the ice gave everything a slight blue tint to it. Several ice and rock houses were scattered around, and more dwellings were carved into the ice and rock of the walls.

Takua led the group to the largest structure, the Ko-Koro sanctum. Inside, there were several ice Matoran, studying the drawings and writings on the walls, or meditating. No one was speaking; the only sound to be heard was the distant howling of the wind outside.

Takua didn’t see Turaga Nuju anywhere, and he wasn’t sure who to ask. He hesitated to say anything to anyone; it felt wrong, somehow, to disturb the silence of this place.

As it turned out, he didn’t need to. One of the ice Matoran stopped his writings approached the travelers. “Turaga Nuju is out in the Drifts, with the Ga-Koro Guard,” he said.

“The Ga-Koro Guard is here?” Jaller said, surprised.

“They hunt the Tarakava Nui, the king lizard,” the scribe explained. “The monster serves the Makuta. It must be stopped.”

Takua remembered what Macku had said back when he helped save Ga-Koro, about the Ga-Koro Guard being on the other side of the island. He hadn’t thought to ask what they were doing so far away back then. Now, at least, he knew the answer to that question.

“How’d you know we look for Nuju?” Kongu asked.

“No Matoran from other villages come to the Sanctum, save for those seeking the Turaga,” the scribe explained.

“Could we go into the Drifts to find him?” Takua suggested.

“The Drifts are a dangerous place, even for ice Matoran,” the scribe replied. “But if you wish to go, I can show you the way.”

The ice scribe led them to a tunnel through the ice, which led out to the drifts. Taipu and Kongu opted to stay in the village, unwilling to brave the Drifts, so only Jaller and Takua ventured out.

The storm was harsher here than anything they’d encountered so far, a wall of snow flying through the air, propelled by the biting wind. Takua realized he couldn’t see more than a few bio out in front of him.

Fortunately, Nuju had left out signal flags, the red flags standing in stark contrast to the white of the snow. The two Matoran followed the trail of red flags through the storm.
Soon, however, they came to a point where they couldn’t see the next flag. “The snow must’ve buried it!” Jaller called out over the wind.

Takua glanced around, searching for any sign of red. His eyes fell upon a figure, barely visible through the snow. “I see someone!”

The two Matoran ran as swiftly as they could to the figure, who turned out to be a water Matoran, a member of the Ga-Koro Guard. “Thank the Great Beings I’ve found you!” she called. “Turaga Nuju is trapped in a crevasse, and we can’t get to him!”

“Take me to the Turaga.” Takua declared.

The water Matoran nodded and led the two Matoran through the snow. “I was trying to get back to the village for help, but the storm has buried some of our signal flags,” she explained as they travelled.

She led them to a small group of water Matoran gathered near the side of a chasm. Carefully, Jaller approached the chasm and glanced down, seeing the ice Turaga hanging onto a small ledge, just out of reach.

“We can’t climb down to reach him,” the Ga-Koro Guard captain explained. “It’s too slippery; one wrong step could send you plummeting into the chasm.” Takua glanced down at the Turaga, trying to figure out a way to save the Turaga.

“Allow me,” a cold voice whispered in his head, and his eyes began to glow white.

Kopaka wasted no time, for he knew he could only hold on to the connection for a few seconds. As swiftly as he dared, he climbed down the slope, ignoring the other Matoran calling out for him to be careful. Finally, he reached down, grabbed the Turaga, and pulled him to safety on the ledge. The Turaga breathed a sigh of relief.

The danger wasn’t over, however. Takua’s eyes returned to normal as Kopaka’s control faded. Drained of energy, Takua leaned forward, just a bit too far, and his foot slipped out from under him. He cried out as he fell into the chasm, unable to save himself.

A force grabbed him, lifting him into the air and up to the top of the crevasse. It was Nuju’s mask of Telekinesis, he realized. Seconds later, the Turaga joined them at the top, climbing to safety.

“Thank you,” Nuju said to Takua.

“Thank you,” Takua replied. “I thought I was a goner there.”

“What brings you out here?” Nuju asked.

“We needed to ask you about a mysterious underground sundial, with astrological markings on it,” Takua replied, getting to his feet and brushing the snow off himself. We were hoping you could tell us what they mean."

“I see,” the Turaga responded. “Come; let us return to the village. This is no place to answer questions such as those.”

Later, in a secluded section of the Sanctum, Takua’s party was gathered with the Ga-Koro Guard, Turaga Nuju, and the Turaga’s right hand Matoran, Matoro. The Turaga was studying the drawing the chief prospector had made of the strange sundial, a look of worry behind his mask.

“Well?” Taipu pressed. “What does it mean?”

Nuju looked up at the earth Matoran. "If I understand this right… this is an entrance to Makuta’s lair.

All Matoran gasped in shock. “If that’s true…” Taipu muttered. “We need to bury this, right away.”

“No, wait,” Takua cut in. “This could be just what we need. If it was buried under the ground, it’s possible Makuta doesn’t even know about it. This could allow us to sneak into his lair, without him knowing.”

“Excuse me, but why the Karzahni would you want to sneak into Makuta’s lair?” one of the water Matoran asked. “That’s like asking for death.”

“To stop the Rahi,” Takua said. “I know how we can stop Makuta from placing infected masks on the Rahi, but to do it, we need to go into his lair. I’ve been trying to think of a way to get in without the Makuta knowing. This might be it.”

“You’re mad,” the Ga-Koro Guard captain declared.

“Yeah, but he’s the kind of mad I like,” Taipu said. “I’m in.”

“Me too,” Kongu said. “You might have knowledge of Toa, but still reckless and stupid. Someone needs watch your back.”

Takua glanced at Jaller. "You know I’m in all the way,” Jaller declared. “I think it’s time you told us of your plan, Takua.”

Takua smiled. “With pleasure.”

6/8 chapters. Expect chapter 7 tomorrow, Unless I forget, but I definitely never forget, so that won’t happen.

Chapter 7: The Suva

Takua’s plan had been in the works since the Toa had “arrived”. According to Turaga Vakama, Makuta wasn’t a mask maker. Mask making was a difficult profession, one that took a long time to learn. Makuta could easily infect existing masks, but he couldn’t get new ones without someone making them for him. It was likely that the infected masks he had were all that he had, and he continually reused them.

When the masks were knocked off the Rahi, they instantly teleported away. This wasn’t one of Makuta’s powers, but the Toa knew of a device known as a Suva that could teleport masks it was connected to. Makuta must have a Suva of his own (Taipu promptly dubbed it the Shadow Suva, and the rest of the crew went along with it).

Breaking the Shadow Suva would prevent Makuta from getting the masks back. The problem was, Makuta could just repair the Suva, or get a new one, and they’d have the same problem in a few weeks.

The solution lay in purifying the masks. First, Takua had to get his hands on an infected mask to make sure it would work, a hard thing to do when the masks disappeared as soon as they were disconnected from the Rahi. But when Makuta put an infected mask on Jaller, he’d given Takua the opportunity he needed. After purifying the mask on Jaller, he’d removed the mask from his partner… and it didn’t disappear. Purifying the infected masks severed their connection to the Shadow Suva. If they could disable the Shadow Suva, that would give them plenty of time to purify the infected masks at their leisure, now that they knew how to do it.

That still left a problem: how could the Matoran get to a Suva, presumably deep in Makuta’s lair, without getting caught? When Nuju revealed that the Onu-Koro Sundial could be a backdoor entrance to Makuta’s lair, one the Makuta himself likely didn’t know about, that gave the Matoran a chance to strike.

That only left only one more problem: how to open the Sundial. According to Nuju, the sundial was missing a key piece: the gnomon, the piece that cast a shadow. Nuju didn’t have any gnomons that would fit a sundial that size, but he knew of a water Matoran astrologer who did. That meant it was time to go back to Ga-Koro. Fortunately, the Ta-Koro Guard had set up a cable car for easy travel between the mountain slopes and the fire village of Ta-Koro. From Ta-Koro, it was just a short walk along the beach to the water village.

Takua’s party had gained one more member: Nuju had sent along his left hand, Kopeke, to aid them. Takua wasn’t sure what to make of the ice Matoran, who hadn’t spoken once since they set out. But he wasn’t going to complain about another Matoran to help. They would need all the help they could get.

Arriving at Ga-Koro, Takua was surprised to see a group of stone Matoran there. He recognized them as the Po-Koro Guard. “I wonder what they’re doing here?” he muttered to himself.

“Probably defending Ga-Koro,” Pohatu, Toa of Stone, pointed out in Takua’s mind, “since the Ga-Koro Guard is still in Mount Ihu.”

“They must be here to defend Ga-Koro,” Jaller pointed out as well. “After all, the Ga-Koro Guard is still hunting the Tarakava Nui.” Takua glared at him for a moment, reminding himself that only he could hear the voices of the Toa.

As Takua and company entered the village, Hewkii, captain of the Po-Koro Guard, walked up to them. “Jaller, man, good to see you!” the stone Matoran exclaimed. “You left Po-Koro so quick, I never got a chance to thank you for getting rid of the Comet ball disease.”

“Well, I’m afraid I can’t exactly take credit for that,” Jaller responded. “Takua did most of the work solving that problem.”

Hewkii glanced at the odd-coloured Matoran, skeptically. “Takua, really? You’re pulling my leg, aren’t you? The lazy bum who got kicked out of the village?” Takua was reminded of his old reputation, before the Turaga had recruited him for the Toa Stone quest.

“Dead serious,” Jaller replied. “I’m guessing you haven’t heard about Takua’s new connections?”

“Connections?” Hewkii slanted his head to the side, confused.

“It was a secret, but it seems it’s not anymore,” Jaller said. “Takua’s got these six elemental heroes, the Toa, in his mind, sharing wisdom, knowledge, skills, all that stuff.”

“Ah, I see,” Hewkii replied. “So it wasn’t actually Takua, but these Toa. That makes sense.”

Takua’s face fell. He wanted to say that the Toa had only helped him, that he’d solved the mystery with assistance from the Toa. But he knew he could never prove it, and so long as he was connected to the Toa, everyone would be praising the Toa for anything Takua did.

Takua shook his head and berated himself. This wasn’t about recognition. It was about saving the island, and all the Matoran. And the Rahi, too; it wasn’t fair for them to be forced to be vessels for Makuta’s will.

Abruptly, a thought occurred to him: he was being forced to be a vessel for the Toa’s will. It wasn’t that he hated saving people, but it bothered him that he had to be the main hero, the one everyone counted on, while never getting credit for it. He could no longer be just a regular Matoran, doing whatever he wanted to do, living the life he wanted. Even if everything he did was the work of the Toa, surely they had to recognize that Takua was giving up a normal life so the Toa could save everyone.

“Hey, Takua?” Jaller said. “You okay, buddy?”

Takua looked up, seeing everyone staring expectantly at him. But when he looked at Jaller, he saw something else: actual concern, not for the Toa, but for Takua.

“I was just talking to the Toa,” Takua lied. “C’mon, let’s go talk to this astrologer.”

“What do you need to talk to an astrologer for?” Hewkii asked. Jaller briefly explained Takua’s plan.

“So, basically, your plan is to break this Shadow Suva thing?” Hewkii said. “What exactly is the Suva made out of?”

“Well, it can vary,” Takua replied, “but usually they’re made of metal, with a rock encasing, maybe some Protosteel parts if Makuta was able to obtain or make them.”

“So it sounds like you need someone strong to break it,” Hewkii said. “Like a stone Matoran. Like me.”

“You want to come along?” Kongu looked surprised.

“Of course!” Hewkii declared. “My second can handle things here. It’s been pretty quite lately, anyway; worse thing we’ve had to handle was an infected Takea shark.”

“Well, I certainly won’t complain,” Taipu said. “We need all the help we can get.”

“Then it’s decided,” Hewkii said. “Now let’s go talk to this astrologer.”

As the company walked up to the astrologer’s hut, Jaller grabbed Kongu and Takua and pulled them aside. “You know what we need, right?” the fire Matoran asked Kongu, who nodded. “I need to talk to Takua alone for a second. I have some… strategy stuff I need to ask the Toa about.” Kongu shrugged and went inside the astrologer’s hut.

“What kind of strategy stuff are you wanting to talk about?” Takua asked.

Jaller turned to look at Takua, a serious look in the Guard Captain’s eyes. “Actually, I wanted to talk to you,” he said. “Those things Hewkii said seemed to have really hurt you.”

Takua glanced away. “He’s not wrong. Without the Toa, I wouldn’t be saving everyone.”

“Well, that’s true,” Jaller admitted. “But it’s also true that the Toa wouldn’t be saving everyone without you. Even if all you do is just do what the Toa tell you to, you’re still playing your part. That’s important, too.”

“I suppose…” Takua conceded.

“And not everything is the Toa,” Jaller continued. “Did the Toa kick Comet balls to bring down the Nui-Jaga nest?”

“Well, Pohatu did give me some pointers,” Takua pointed out.

“But YOU were the one who kicked the balls, even if Pohatu told you how to do it. Did the Toa figure out that the Comets were the source of the infection, and track down where the Comets came from?”

Takua thought for a moment. “It wasn’t that hard to put two and two together.”

“Was it?” Jaller replied. “Onewa and I spent all that time puzzling over the mystery, and we never figured out the answer.”

“I just got lucky and accidentally broke one,” Takua said. “I wasn’t even trying to solve the mystery.”

“That doesn’t matter,” Jaller said. “You found something Onewa and I missed completely, and solved the mystery all on your own. If the Toa had possessed me instead of you, I guarantee we wouldn’t have solved that mystery as fast as you did. Hewkii might’ve died, or even wound up under Makuta’s control, if not for you. He may not realize that, but I do.”

Takua smiled slightly. “Thanks, Jaller.”

The rest of the crew emerged from the astrologer’s hut. “All right, we’ve got that gnomon thingy,” Hewkii announced. “Let’s go break Makuta’s toys.”

An hour later, the crew stood around the sundial. Turaga Whenua stood with them, along with the chief prospector, Mamru. Mamru had just told the crew of the strange attack he had suffered right after Takua last visited the sundial.

“Someone took the elevator down here, came up behind me, and whacked me in the head with something,” the chief prospector explained. “When I came to, they were gone, no sign of who it was.”

“Who would do such a thing?” Taipu wondered.

“Perhaps air Matoran pulling very mean prank?” Kongu offered.

“The Comet ball trader,” Jaller realized. “He came this way, and I never did figure out where he went.”

“If Makuta’s servant was here…” Taipu realized.

“Then it’s likely Makuta knows of this entrance,” Whenua finished. “Was the elevator still down when you woke up?”

Mamru thought for a moment. “Now that I think about it, one of the elevators was still down when I left.”

“And we took the other one up,” Whenua added. “So whoever came down and hit you–”

“Didn’t leave using the elevator,” Taipu said. “This is bad. This is very bad.”

“Makuta knows about this entrance,” Jaller agreed. “We’d be fools to use it.”

“Well, now what do we do?” Hewkii cried in frustration.

Takua thought for a long moment. “I say we use it anyway.”

“Have you lost your mind?” Hewkii said, incredulous.

“This is our best shot at stopping the Rahi,” Takua said. “Maybe Makuta knows about this passage, but there’s no way he’s expecting us to use it. Like Jaller said, we’d be fools to go into his lair using a path he knows about, but sometimes, the best strategies are the ones so stupid, your enemy would never be prepared for them. And even if Makuta knows we’re coming, I have to try. I’m going in, but the rest of you don’t have to come.”

There was a long moment of silence, finally broken by Hewkii. “I like that attitude. Who gave you that speech? I bet it was the Toa of Stone. It was the Toa of Stone, wasn’t it?”

“Well, uh…”

“If you think I’ll let you go down there without me, you don’t know me enough,” Jaller said.

“You are the craziest Matoran I’ve ever met,” Taipu said. “Or maybe I am, because I’m going with you.”

“Everyone knows air Matoran as the most reckless, idiotic, brave Matoran of all,” Kongu said. “Can’t let reckless, idiotic, brave plan go without an air Matoran.”

“I’m in,” Kopeke said simply.

“Someone should stay up here to make sure the door stays open,” Takua pointed out. “It would be bad if we were trapped down there.”

“Excellent point,” Whenua agreed. “Mamru, go fetch Onepu, have him send a few members of the Ussalry.”

Mamru nodded and left to go get the Ussalry Captain.

“All right, let’s do this.” Takua placed the gnomon into the center of the sundial, watching it collapse into a stairway into the darkness. One by one, the Matoran descended, ready for anything.

Or so they believed.

#####Alright, 7/8 chapters. Expect to see the final chapter tomorrow, unless… uh… I run out of reasons why the next chapter won’t be up?

Chapter 8: Makuta

Each of the Matoran held a lightstone in their hands, yet the darkness seemed oppressive, the glowing stones providing less light than usual… or maybe it was just their imagination.

The staircase led to a tunnel, going down and down and down, deeper and deeper, down and down, no end in sight. There were no side tunnels, no features, no carvings on the walls, just a long, unending tunnel.

Taipu was feeling unnerved by this tunnel. He kept scanning the walls, searching for any sign of ore veins, minerals, lightstones, anything that an earth Matoran would mine for, but there was nothing but solid rock and earth. He’d never seen any tunnels like this. And he was an earth Matoran – he’d seen many tunnels. This wasn’t a natural tunnel. Then again, he reminded himself, it was a tunnel to Makuta’s lair. There was nothing normal about Makuta.

Kongu was growing increasingly uncomfortable the further they went down. He was an air Matoran; they loved the wide open sky, and close spaces like this always made them uncomfortable. Knowing that this tunnel led to Makuta’s lair made that discomfort exponentially worse. Every instinct Kongu had was telling him to run back to the surface; every step down into the darkness felt wrong.

Takua was starting to question his earlier bravado. He imagined seeing things moving just past the light from his lightstone. Every time they came to a bend in the tunnel, he expected to see Makuta there, waiting. Every sound echoed in the tunnels, and his fear magnified his senses, making the sounds seem even louder. He felt like he’d die of fright if someone whistled.

Eventually, the tunnel opened up into a massive chamber, dominated by a single huge dome. The dome was covered in a dark black stone, dozens of niches covering the surface, revealing metal and machinery underneath. Several of the niches held black, rusted masks. As the company watched, an infected mask abruptly appeared in one of the niches, having been knocked off of a Rahi on the surface.

“The Shadow Suva,” Taipu whispered.

“Where be the Makuta?” Kongu wondered.

Takua glanced around, but saw no sign of Makuta. Then again, he had no real idea what Makuta looked like; even the Toa had only a vague idea. But somehow, he had a feeling Makuta would never have let them get this far, if he knew they were coming.

A few more tunnels led out of this cavern, going into the darkness. Takua wondered what lay down those tunnels, but he didn’t want to go exploring in Makuta’s lair.

“All right,” he said. “Let’s do what we came here to do, and get out of here.”

When Takua had imagined this mission, he’d imagined a single machine that it would take only moments to destroy. But this Suva was a massive piece of machinery, and Takua had no idea what part, if any, would disable the entire thing. That left only one option: destroy everything.

The Matoran set to work. Taipu took his pickaxe and began swinging it against the huge dome, chipping away at the rock coating, denting the metal. Hewkii took his fists to the machine, glad to have something to hit. Jaller got out his heatstone and set to work melting the more delicate parts. Takua pulled at panels, exposing wiring, and began ripping the wires. Kongu took out a small knife and sliced every wire he could find. Kopeke decided to take the opportunity to smash all the masks on the Suva; the more he broke, the more Makuta couldn’t reuse later.

The Matoran spent several minutes, travelling all over the Suva, breaking it apart piece by piece. As they worked, the parts they destroyed stopped retrieving masks, but the parts they hadn’t hit remained operational. They would need to destroy the whole thing to completely stop Makuta’s flow of infected masks.

At Jaller’s suggestion, Kongu and Kopeke took turns standing as lookout, in case any Rahi showed up… or anything worse. Every minute that they spent here, Takua grew increasingly more anxious, expecting Makuta to show up at any moment.

Finally, when they were tearing apart the last working section of the dome, Takua began to feel hope. They were almost done; it looked like they would be able to finish and escape, without Makuta even knowing they were here.

Of course, the moment he began to hope was the moment things went wrong.

A cold wind blew through the chamber; all of the lightstones grew dimmer, a few going completely dark; the shadows grew deeper. A sudden, cold fear gripped the heart of every Matoran, and they abruptly halted their destruction. A mass of blackness flowed in from one of the other tunnels.

“No…” Takua whispered, hoping that this somehow wasn’t what he knew it had to be.

Slowly, the shadows coalesced, forming a massive figure, easily three times the height of the Matoran. Two glowing red eyes appeared in his head. No other features were visible; he appeared to be made of pure shadow.

“I must admit, I didn’t truly expect you to come here,” Makuta said, his voice seeming to resonate from everywhere at once. “You’re bolder than I expected. Smarter, too, if you knew about the Suva. Or maybe there is something different about one of you?” The monster glared right at Takua. The Matoran wanted to run, but he couldn’t move; he was frozen in fear. All of the Matoran were equally paralyzed.


Kopaka’s cold voice, echoing in his head, snapped Takua out of his trance. “Everyone run!” he yelled, and bolted for the tunnel that had brought them here.

The other Matoran ran toward the exit as well, but a wave of black flooded out toward them. They found themselves enveloped in shadow, unable to see forward. Hewkii lashed out, but there was nothing to hit.

Takua stumbled forward blindly, and managed to find the edge of the field of shadow. “This way!” he called to the others. Hearing his voice, the other Matoran tried to follow, but tendrils of solid shadow grabbed onto them, their grip too strong for even Hewkii to wrestle free from.

Jaller managed to dodge past the tendrils grabbing for him, and found his way out of the field of shadow. He spotted Takua standing by the tunnel and ran toward it.

Shadows streamed past him and coalesced into the shadow titan, standing between Jaller and the tunnel. Makuta raised his hand, and more tendrils came forth, grabbing the fire Matoran and pinning him down. Makuta raised his other hand, and a large spear formed. Takua watched helplessly as Makuta raised the spear over Jaller’s head.

“There will be no escape,” Makuta’s voce echoed. “Only death.”

Jaller glanced up, locking eyes with Takua. “Takua, go! Run!” Makuta began to plunge the spear downward…

“NO!” Takua screamed.

Takua raised his hand toward Jaller, and a beam of bright light flashed from it, striking the shadowy titan. Makuta stumbled back, surprised, and the shadow titan began to dematerialize. The shadow field faded, the tendrils disappeared. The Matoran seized the opportunity, bolting for the exit.

They didn’t stop running all the way back up the tunnel, their hearts pounding, heartlights flashing, sure that the shadows were right behind them. They kept running until their legs burned, terror and adrenaline driving them onward.

When they finally reached the staircase, they struggled for a moment, all trying to go up at the same time. Finally, they all got into the staircase, bolting to the top.

When they reached the top, they were confronted by Onepu and several members of the Ussalry, weapons raised. Seeing that it was Takua and co, they relaxed a bit. “How’d it go?” Onepu asked.

Takua didn’t respond. He grabbed the gnomon, ripped it out of the sundial, and threw it across the room, letting the sundial slide shut once more. “We need to leave, now!” he said. “Get out of this place, seal this tunnel!”

Onepu didn’t stop to ask questions; he snapped into action, leading the Ussalry out of the cave. Then they got out mining tools and brought down the tunnel, burying the sundial.

Kongu turned to look at Takua. “What was that?” he demanded. “What did you do?”

“That blast of light, since when can you do that?” Hewkii exclaimed.

“Is that some special kind of Toa power?” Taipu asked.

“Takua, what just happened?” Jaller said. “Tell us what that was.”

“I…” Takua hesitated. “I don’t know.”

A half hour later, Takua’s company was gathered in Whenua’s hut. All of the Turaga had gathered there as well.

“Reports from our guard forces say that, with only a handful of exceptions so far, the masks removed from infected Rahi are no longer disappearing,” Turaga Vakama said. “It seems you succeeded.”

“Tell us what happened,” Turaga Onewa said. “I want every detail, everything you saw down there.”

Takua nodded and began speaking, telling everything that happened in Makuta’s lair, beginning with their descent into the sundial staircase. Occasionally, one of the others would chime in with a detail, or one of the Turaga would ask a question. But once Takua got to the part where Makuta showed up, everyone fell silent, enraptured by Takua’s description of the terrifying attack. When Takua described the beam of light he’d shot at Makuta, the Turaga were stunned.

“You shot light at Makuta?” Nokama said, stunned. “How?”

“Like I’ve been telling everyone, I don’t know what happened,” Takua said. “Neither do the Toa. I just saw Makuta about to kill Jaller, and… I just couldn’t let him kill my friend – I mean, my partner,” he corrected, glancing uncertainly at Jaller.

Jaller placed his hand on Takua’s shoulder. “I’m glad to call you my friend.”

“So the Suva is mostly destroyed?” Whenua asked.

“Mostly,” Takua affirmed. “There may be a part of it that still works, but that will only allow Makuta to control a fraction of the Rahi forces he had before.”

“Can it be fixed?” Nuju asked.

“You doubt our destructive abilities?” Hewkii replied. “He isn’t gonna be fixing that thing for a long time, if ever. It would probably be easier for him to make a new one.”

“What if he has another one already?” Onewa pointed out.

Takua shook his head. “He’d have to reconnect every mask to the new Suva, and to do that he’d have to retrieve them all. We have our chance to purify the infected masks.”

“A regiment of the Ta-Koro, Po-Koro, and Ga-Koro guard forces have already started purifying many of the infected masks,” Vakama said.

“You did it,” Matau said. “You really did it.”

“Not to rain on everyone’s celebration,” Kopeke cut in, “But Makuta’s still down there. And he definitely knows something’s up with Takua now, if he didn’t already. He may have lost his Rahi army, but he’ll be back.”

Takua nodded somberly. “Then we’ll just have to be ready for him.”

Deep beneath the surface, in a small underground room surrounded by shadow, Ahkmou placed the two Toa Stones he’d taken from Takua into a small ring, smiling when it gave off a slight glow. The stones still had a small amount of power in them. It was likely that the Turaga wouldn’t even have noticed it. Not enough to do much of anything with one stone, but if he could get all six…

A faint, indecipherable, whisper came from the dark.

“Yes, I know,” Ahkmou said. “We need some kind of distraction.”

The whisper spoke once again.

“You want to unleash THEM?” Ahkmou said, surprised. “I thought you wanted to control the island, not destroy it.”

The whisper came again.

“True,” Ahkmou admitted. “Especially if that fire Matoran truly has a connection to Toa. I’d like to see how they’ll react.”

Ahkmou stood and walked to a nearby gong. Picking up a nearby stick, he struck the gong, three times in succession. There was a slight shudder in the earth; far away, something had awakened.

The signal had been sent. The destruction of the island had begun.

#####And that’s the end of Matoran Wars book 1. I’ve already started on book 2, so that will be up… sometime. Maybe.