The Toa Terra fought on.
Each had moved into position so to battle a Vorukaia that seemed to be the weakest when exposed to their Toa powers. Matoba was dueling with Amun, Nuukor with Gurza, Attar with Keldor, Heaka with Talau, Lyse with Vynku, and Pacha with Bursai. So far, it seemed that each of their enemies was perfectly matched to defeat them. While the Toa used their mask powers and elemental blasts whenever possible, the Vorukaia reacted with slashing attacks, powerful martial art moves, and if possible, deceptive tricks. Since they were in their Rahi forms, it was also difficult for the Toa to battle them hand in hand, and so far, the Vorukaia seemed to have the advantage.
Matoba had set both of his weapons on fire and had surrounded Amun in a ring of flame, launching powerful heat blasts at his enemy. But Amun was using web threads to stay airborne, parrying out with his claws or snapping at the Toa of Fire with a pair of long fangs. While the black Vorukaia seemed weaker than his opponent, he was using strategy and cunning to remain untouched. However, Matoba managed to burn the webs themselves after some concentration, and so Amun was forced to duel with him on the ground, face to face. Meanwhile, the other Toa were equally occupied. Nuukor and Gurza were sparring, and seemed to be equal in strength. They were actually clanging their weapons together, with an electropole versus hooked blades. In order to throw off his opponent, Gurza had spontaneously combusted and was now a walking column of fire. But Nuukor had decided to use electrical shocks from his weapon, complemented with blunt shots. These attacks would deter the red Vorukaia from setting himself aflame, but he kept coming, bellowing in rage and belligerence.
Attar and Keldor were battling on the stairway itself, with the yellow Vorukaia shooting powerful sand blasts from his tail. Attar had to freeze these dust devils before they blinded him and caused him to fall, and then hurled the resulting icicles back at Keldor. His enemy, however, was moving around with incredible ease, using his pointed feet to clamber up the stone stairs while lashing out with his crablike pincers and mouth mandibles. Below them, Pacha and Bursai were locked in combat. Out of water, the blue Vorukaia was not in her element, but she persisted in turning herself into a water cyclone. Pacha had to use both of her stone hammers just to deflect Bursai's sharp fins, tail, and teeth. None of these Toa could see Heaka and Lyse in their respective areas, and the noise level was deafening.
Suddenly, Attar abandoned his icy blasts, throwing both knives seconds before a sand stream obscured his vision. This knocked Keldor off balance, as one knife buried itself in his mouth while the other knocked his tail back. Hissing and cursing madly, he could not keep a hold on the stairs, and fell several bio before landing on the floor in a heap. Just as Keldor was getting up, he glared murder at Attar. "Not good enough, Toa." Scrambling to get back on his feet, he launched a whole haze of sand from his body while pulling away the knives.
Attar had been waiting for this. Jumping down to reclaim his knives, the Toa of Ice summoned a hail of ice and freezing vapor, which descended onto Keldor like a cloud. As the Vorukaia yelled in surprise, the sand and frost cleared. Stooping to retrieve his knives, Attar admired his work. The yellow Vorukaia was completely frozen in a prison of sand and ice, which pinned his limbs, leaving only the head exposed. "Come on," Attar rebuked as he retrieved his weapons. "Just chill out for once!"
Pacha, on the other side of the stairway, had found an opening on Bursai. For all the ferocity of her attacks, the blue Vorukaia had one blind spot in her cyclone. Creating a crack in the ground to offset Bursai's balance, Pacha then hurled mud from both of her weapons. Disoriented, her enemy burst from the water tornado, only to feel the blunt ends of Pacha's axes. Stunned, Bursai pitched forward.
It only took her a few moments to stand up again, but when she did, the blue Vorukaia found herself surrounded by a wall of stone spires, with a grinning Pacha behind them. Worse, Bursai had been immobilized by having her tail cuffed by a rock hoop. Try as she might, she could not create a cyclone to escape. "Fool! You think that can stop me!?"
Pacha shot a rock right between two of the spires, this time achieving Bursai's unconsciousness. "Yep, I sure can." Turning around, she saw that Attar had also succeeded in disabling his Vorukaia. He slung his knives across his back, then gave her a thumbs up.
Through sheer ingenuity, the tide had turned. But the battle was far from over.
Inside the throne room, Akito and Chompshi were also prevailing over Aso. Though the petite Makuta continued to fight on like a wounded Kane-Ra, it was obvious that she needed to replenish her powers. Having used all of her Kraata powers to block attacks at least once, and summoned a swarm of the shadowy creatures themselves, Aso had fought well. But it had become apparent that she was not as powerful in this form, and so was being beaten back by a Toa of Electricity far younger than herself. Worse, Akito had buried at least three laser arrows into her, which Aso had not been able to pull out. Now, she was trapped in a corner.
"You really can't defeat me, can you?" Still launching shadow blasts at an advancing Akito, Aso refused to give up. "I still can defeat an old, feeble Turaga."
"But not a fully-armed Toa." Chompshi had been staying behind his Turaga for the duration of the fight, and there was a reason for it. Slowly, he had been absorbing static electricity from the whole area, until his handheld canon had become bursting with lightning energy. As Aso parried Akito's staff again, she opened her flank. Chompshi aimed, then fired.
Though not nearly enough to stun, the blast hit Aso head on, causing her to be magnetically pinned to the metal floor and become seriously winded. Akito slowly walked up to her, then pointed his heated staff end at her throat. "It is over, Aso. Granted, I was once a Toa, and Toa do not kill. But after all the death, despair, and destruction you have wrought, it will bring me no shame to end your life when you care so little about mine and those of everyone else in this citadel. Do you surrender?"
Aso spat in Akito's face. "Do you think I am dumb, old one? Even as you speak, I have forces in motion that will give me more power than you can possibly imagine. And I will not do it alone. All your life's work has been for naught."
The Turaga frowned at her. "What are you babbling about?"
Aso sneered from pointed ear to pointed ear. "Just watch." Then, suddenly, the whole room became blanketed in darkness, as thick and murky as the Kumunga Swamp. Even the lights cast by Chompshi's cannon and Akito's staff were extinguished. As she did this, Aso also kicked away the fire staff, and dropped her own rank stave and cape. As the darkness cleared, she transformed into the shape of a Rahi bat, and blasted a hole in the Citadel wall with shadow energy.
And then she was gone, flying through the hole and vanishing rapidly in the distance. Akito could only painfully watch her disappear cackling dementedly, while Chompshi stared at the gaping hole with his mouth hanging. Unbelievable as it was, just as they had her, Aso had escaped.
Groaning in annoyance, Chompshi and Akito turned to help out Vrael. Chompshi's eyes widened in horror.
As Vrael began to become more and more angry, his battling style began to falter. Watching Ballom nimbly avoid all of the Toa's attacks, Vrael's desperation grew. Trying to plan out a new strategy, he suddenly realized how he could defeat Ballom. Willing himself to calm, Vrael began an exercise to quiet his rapid breathing. While his rage at Ballom stayed, his mind began to clear. Becoming more composed by the second, Vrael concentrated single-mindedly on the task at hand, thinking of nothing else.
Noticing Ballom's incredulous look at the sudden failure of his mask power, Vrael rushed at Ballom swinging his chainsaw. Unprepared for the onslaught, Ballom brought up one of his swords as a shield. Immediately, crystal spikes sprayed from Vrael's hand, knocking the sword away. Then, his chainsaw buried itself in Ballom's chest armor with the shriek of rending metal. Ripping his weapon away, Vrael stabbed at Ballom with his crystal staff, tearing off Ballom's metal collar. Moving in to finish the Toa of Darkness, Vrael fought with brutal strength, barely aware of his surroundings.
Suddenly, however, the throne room was plunged into inky darkness. Fighting for his life, Ballom was relieved to have a chance to win the fight himself. Transporting himself through the shadows, he reappeared behind Vrael and yanked off the Toa's Mask of Life Support. When illumination returned, Vrael had sunk to his knees and was breathing in great, gasping breaths. Raising his swords to decapitate Vrael, Ballom suddenly remembered.
Ballom stood in front of the crazed being Karzahni, unafraid. He had been brought before the leader of his home for punishment, due to yet another misdeed. After many long moments, Karzahni spoke. "Your punishment this time will be more severe." Karzahni's mask began to glow, as Ballom's surroundings faded around him.
Ballom found himself standing in a large, open room. Standing higher than he normally did, he possessed the armor and weapons of a Toa. In front of him was a blue armored Toa kneeling, and breathing with great difficulty. Raising his weapons in triumph, Ballom swung them in a single decapitating stroke. Falling forward limply, the Toa collapsed. Euphoric at his victory, Ballom was alarmed to hear a horrible scream — one of grief, pain, and anger. Turning, he froze. Running toward him was a yellow and crimson-armored Toa with a glowing cannon attached to one arm. Firing, the Toa launched a massive sphere of electricity toward Ballom.
The blast sinking into his chest, Ballom screamed in agony. No chest armor had appeared to save him. Looking down at the smoking hole in his torso, Ballom was able to see his heartlight stop glowing. Numbness spread throughout his body, and a horrible cold fell over him — that of death.
The vision ended suddenly. Ballom was once again a Matoran, kneeling in front of Karzahni in a way reminiscent of the blue Toa. Pain still filled him, and tears ran down his face.
"Remember the pain I can inflict." Karzahni said. And then he laughed . . .
Ending his reverie, Ballom paused. To kill the Toa Vrael would be to die. Even as he thought, Ballom heard Chompshi's terrifying scream. Realizing he had no time left, Ballom leaped to his right, trying to escape the shot he knew was coming. Even as he did, he was not swift enough. Chompshi's blast struck him in the left calf, vaporizing Ballom's lower leg. Then, the energy of the explosion knocked Ballom farther across the chamber.
Striking a wall, Ballom lay limp as the remainder of the electricity crackled off him. Then, he hoisted himself onto his knees and crawled toward the nearest door, ignoring the excruciating pain. Escape into the shadows meant life. To Karzahni with Punt Nui and Aso.