Toa Helryx was out of her depth.
It was not a sensation she had felt in a long, long time. She had led the Order of Mata Nui, a secret organization of powerful beings devoted to Mata Nui’s service, for thousands of years. In that time she had fought off a hundred crises. She knew how to lead.
But now Mata Nui was gone. And she was without a guiding light. Without a duty. Without a destiny.
Before her stood something of tremendous power. A Great Being. She had heard rumors of such creatures in the past, but she had never believed them. How could something be more powerful than Mata Nui himself? And yet…here the being was, chained in a tower somewhere in Bota Magna. Powerless. She was trying not to look at it; its chains writhed as if they were Bog Snakes.
Miserix’s first thought had been to free the Great Being. Undoubtedly he planned to turn the thing into his ally…or more likely, his slave. She would not allow that to happen. They had been betrayed by the Brotherhood one too many times.
"No. It stays here until we learn more."
"I do not take orders from Toa," Miserix spat. “I will do as I please."
"I am not a Toa, not anymore. I am a servant of Mata Nui."
"So was I, once. Long ago." His eyes turned wistful. “And for my devotion, I was locked away for thousands of years. My Brotherhood stolen from me and twisted into a vehicle of destruction. Where was Mata Nui when I lost everything for him?"
"The Great Spirit does not interfere directly. You know that."
"Which explains why he abandoned us the minute Teridax was killed."
It was true. They had all felt his presence disappear. It had been, in truth, a weight off her shoulders. She had been burdened with command for far too long.
Next to her, the others were speaking hurriedly. Brutaka and Axonn were obviously sizing up the being. She could trust them if it came to fighting - she hoped. Vezon was watching disinterestedly; there weren’t any explosions, so he wouldn’t care. Tuyet was most worrisome. She had, in the past, broken her Toa code to exploit an object of great power. She might do it again. She sent a mental message - the Order had all been trained to do this - to Axonn and Brutaka. Get her out of here. They nodded simply, and then Brutaka opened a small dimensional gate. Before Tuyet could reach, she was standing out in the jungle. Content that she would pose no threat for the time being, Helryx again turned her attention to Miserix.
"We make no moves on the Great Being until we can summon reinforcements. Is that understood?" She glared at him, challenging him to disobey. The Brotherhood and the Order had never been the closest of allies, even before Miserix was deposed.
He glared back, but nodded. slowly. Satisfied, Helryx was about to speak to Brutaka when there was a pounding on the wall. She shook her head. Tuyet was trying to get back in. “Don’t let her in."
"Wait." Axonn spoke for the first time since they’d left the Great Spirit robot. He strode over to the wall purposefully and with one powerful swing shattered it. Outside stood a small brown Matoran. “You’re Velika, aren’t you? You Voya Nui Matoran are always getting yourselves into trouble, aren’t you?"
From the back of the cell, the Great Being, who had not spoken at all while they argued, began to laugh. A sinister, evil laugh. But he said nothing.
Axonn looked back and forth between the two of them. “Why did you come, Velika?"
Velika bowed his head and handed over a small gift. It was a box that seemed to be glowing, inscribed with strange symbols. Axonn took it and held it close to his chest.
"What is it?" He asked. But Velika merely turned and walked away into the jungle. There was no sign of Tuyet.
They all stepped closer to the box, intrigued. What was it?
Axonn began to feel something in his chest. The box was heating up. He looked at it. Something was changing.
"No!" He yelled, and leaped away from them, curling into a ball around the box as it unleashed a wave of energy. The others in the room were thrown away painfully. Only the Great Being was unmoved.
Brutaka rose to his feet first. He ran over to Axonn. The axe-wielding warrior lay on the ground. At first he thought his friend was dead, but then Axonn opened his eyes.
"Listen to me."
"There isn’t time for that. I have to get you to the healers." He prepared to use his Kanohi Olmak.
"Too late. Listen, brother. Velika did this. Find out why and stop him before he allows anyone else to be harmed."
"I can save you!" Brutaka shouted. “You saved me from the darkness and the horrors and brought me back to the light. Let me do the same for you!"
"I’m sorry, brother." Axonn’s eyes slowly closed.
Brutaka placed his head against his best friend, his only friend’s chest. He kneeled there a long time, holding Axonn’s body gently. The others did not move.
When he rose at last and turned to look at them, it was with dead eyes. “Velika will pay for this." Before any of them could react, he had summoned a portal and was gone.
Again the Great Being laughed cruelly. “You see, you need me. None of you can hope to stop my brother. He will kill you, one by one. Brutaka is next. I am the only one who can save you. Free me and I will destroy him."
Helryx agonized over the decision for three seconds. That was all. The Great Being was clearly insane and she doubted she could trust him. But Velika had killed one of her most powerful agents without any powers. He had almost killed all of them. She made her choice. Grimly, she walked over and sliced the chains from the Great Being’s body.
"Then I guess you’d better get to work."
Clutched in his arms was the Great Kanohi Vahi, the Mask of Time. Under The Shadowed One’s command, he had spent several thousand years tracking it down. After a brief and altogether unpleasant encounter with Makuta Teridax several thousand years previously, he had at last managed to take the Vahi for himself.
Things had changed. Teridax had taken control. Voporak had tried to find his master, but chaos had began and the universe as he knew it had been wrecked. At last making his way out of the giant Great Spirit robot, he had found himself in a vast, open desert. And so he had ran. It was all that he had left to him. He was nearly invincible, but he had been left without the leader he had so long depended on.
Ironically, just as the thought crossed his mind, he saw a familiar figure several hundred meters away. Crossing the distance quickly, he bowed before his master, careful to stay further than arm’s reach. His powers would kill anyone in close proximity.
The Shadowed One spoke without turning. “Voporak. My faithful one. You have remained loyal unlike all the others." He turned slowly, and Voporak was surprised to see that his large eyes blazed with a sickly, burning green.
"I have brought the Vahi as you commanded, Master."
The Shadowed One looked surprised. Then he grinned. “Ah, yes. I was so busy with Kojol’s toys I forgot all about this one. Yes, I think we can put this to good use…"
Helryx watched with grim determination as the Great Being rose, flexing its limbs.
"So. Velika is one of you, then?"
The Great Being laughed. “Yes, and no. Velika was always a little different. Always curious to learn more. He wanted to observe our creations. Perhaps spending so long in such a feeble body drove him mad."
"As the Ignika drove you mad."
"The Ignika set me free!" He roared and her suddenly, and she backed away. Chained, he had been a pet. But now he was in control. She knew that for all their power, they were no match for the being before them.
"I am going after Velika now. I will kill him. Stay out of my way." And with that, the Great Being was gone, disappearing in a flash of green light.
Artakha spoke then, for the first time since they'd left the Matoran Universe. “Helryx."
Instinctively, she saluted him. “Artakha. It has been a long time."
"Indeed. Too long. You’ve been busy."
"Yes." She sighed wearily. “The Order has been my life. I’m not entirely certain what to do now that Mata Nui’s gone."
"Perhaps I can help with that."
"Oh?" She looked up, confused.
"As I recall, you used to work for me. The Hand of Artakha, you called yourselves. You were good warriors, but the universe was not ready for you at the time."
"What are you suggesting?"
"It seems that with the Order gone, there are many who would welcome a new organization. Or an old one."
"You want me to reform the Hand." She nodded slowly. It made sense. The Toa had their uses, but they could not always do what was necessary to triumph over evil.
"Yes, but that comes later. There is something more pressing that requires our attention. The Mask of Time has fallen into the hands of our enemies. We must find it and ensure that it is never used."
She looked at her former leader and considered what he was offering. Then she nodded, smiling. She’d missed being a hero. “Where do we start?"