“Tell me another of the stories about them.”
The being standing nearby looked up from his work. “Another? But I’ve told you already of all their greatest accomplishments”
The shorter being nodded. “I... want to know more. Not just the big things, but the small things too.”
The taller being chuckled, and set down his tools. “Very well, then. Here is a story, not of the heroes appearing from the sky or saving the world, but simply... an adventure.”
* * *
It’s good being the Master of Jungle, Lewa thought as he soared through the forest. Especially when I have some time to myself. It’s not that I don’t like my Toa brothers and sister, but they can be a bit... grating. But here, it’s quiet, peaceful--
Seemingly out of nowhere, he spotted a villager kneeling on the ground, their back to him. Are they injured? Why are they this far from the villages? Lewa slowed down, then bounced off of a tree, flipping through the air to land just behind the villager. “Hello, little one! And what seems to be the ma-AAH!” The villager had whipped around, revealing the Skull Spider latched to her face. Having regained his composure, Lewa expertly dodged and weaved between her blows as she lashed out at him. “Now now, little one,” he said, jumping over a clumsily-thrown punch, “it looks like you’ve got a little something on your face. Right aboouuut... there!” Lewa battered the Skull Spider’s legs with a flurry of leaves, loosening their grip. In one deft movement, he leapt forward, grabbed the spider, and pulled it off of the villager’s face, flipping over her head and landing behind her.
“There we go,” the Master of Jungle said, grinning. “Now, let’s get you back to the--” Without warning, various creatures sprung from the surrounding foliage, all bearing Skull Spiders on their faces. Caught off-guard, Lewa’s grip on the Skull Spider in his hand loosened, and it leapt for his face.
Elsewhere, Tahu and Kopaka were sparring at the crest of a hill. “You’ll never take down Makuta like that,” Kopaka said, casually deflecting Tahu’s blade. “You have to strike -- unexpectedly!” He suddenly thrust his frost spear at Tahu, who just barely blocked it.
The Master of Fire’s eyes narrowed. “You may have to resort to such tactics, brother,” he said, flames appearing around his swords, “but fire has no need for subtlety!” With that, he unleashed a burst of flame in Kopaka’s direction. Taken off guard by the ferocity of Tahu’s attack, Kopaka instinctively threw up his frost shield, blocking the fireblast.
“What was that about?!” Kopaka exclaimed, repaying the Toa of Fire with a blast of frost.
Tahu shook off the ice. “Just reminding you who is the leader of this team!” he replied angrily, as his swords began to glow red-hot.
From the sidelines, Gali leapt up and ran toward the fight. “Stop!” she shouted. “We can’t allow ourselves to fall into infighting like this. We will have to work together to defeat the Makuta.”
Tahu glared in her direction. “I appreciate your sentiment, Gali. But once Ekimu has finished making my improved armor and mask, I will surely be powerful enough to handle Makuta on my own.”
“Ekimu is making new armor for all of us, Tahu,” Gali replied, frustrated. “We will all be needed when the time comes. You need to learn to trust in your teammates’ strength.”
Tahu scoffed, glancing back at Kopaka. “The only strength I trust in is my own. I will go train by myself.” Before Gali or Kopaka could respond, Tahu stormed away.
“Kopaka, surely you see the importance of us all working together?” Gali asked
“I do, sister. But I believe I need some time to myself as well.” He split his shield into skis, and slid down the hillside opposite the direction Tahu had gone.
Gali sighed. My team is made up of the strongest warriors of all time. If only our predetermined leader could see that-- She suddenly heard a noise from the trees behind her. Turning, she said “Lewa? Are you back from your--”
She suddenly heard the Master of Jungle’s voice: “Run, Gali!”
“Wha--?” Before she could respond, a tangle of vines suddenly wrapped around her head, cutting off air from her lungs. Her attempt to scream only succeeded in using up the last of her air, and she collapsed, unconscious. The last thing she saw was a Skull Spider, inches from her face...
Kopaka was deep in thought as he skied across the hills leading to the Region of Ice. Tahu doesn’t even believe the rest of us to be as strong as him, yet Ekimu says that hothead is meant to be our leader. I just don’t understand...
So lost in thought was the Master of Ice, he didn’t see the rock in his path, which sent him tumbling off of his skis, dropping his spear as well. Grumbling, he looked up, only to see the other thing his thoughts had distracted him from: a cascade of water, rolling down the hill towards him.
Thinking quickly, he tried to freeze the water. But even with his Gold Mask of Ice, without his tools in hand, his power was not concentrated enough to freeze the entire wave. The water hit him hard, knocking the wind out of him. Reflexively trying to catch his breath, he got a lungful of water. As he started to pass out, he thought he heard... Is that Gali’s voice? She sounds... distressed... in... trouble... He lost consciousness as the water flowed off of him, and something hard covered his face...
Pohatu and Onua had left earlier, to practice using their elemental powers in unison. Onua had suggested, since their elements were similar in nature, that it might be beneficial to try using them together. Pohatu had begrudgingly agreed.
Their attempts had been fruitless for a while, but they had finally managed to lift a large block of mixed earth and rock above their heads, standing side by side. “Alright,” Pohatu said, teeth gritted. “Not bad. Let’s see if we can-- do you feel that?” The Master of Stone felt suddenly cold. Looking up, he saw the cause: the block they were holding was freezing over! Before he could voice a warning to Onua, focused blasts of water and greenery hit the frozen block, shattering it into large chunks. Having lost their concentration, the Toa of Earth and Stone were buried in the rubble. Both struggled to get free as they watched Lewa and Kopaka approach, wearing and carrying Skull Spiders. Pohatu thought he heard them apologize as the world went black.
Tahu was in a remote area of the Region of Fire, frustratedly throwing flames around. Why does Ekimu insist on me working with this team? Once I have the new armor he’s building, I’ll be strong enough to take down anyone! Suddenly, he heard a sound. It’s distant, but I hear... shouts? What is going on? He climbed to the top of a nearby volcanic rock, and looked around. There! The other Toa, coming this way. But... why are they yelling? And what’s wrong with their ma-- Realizing what had happened to his fellow Toa, Tahu thought quickly. I don’t want to hurt them, but I need to keep them away from me... Spying a nearby pool of lava, he merged his twin swords into a surfboard, throwing it into the lava and jumping aboard. None of them will be able to approach me here, at least not quickly, he thought. And amid all this heat, I should have the advantage.
The other Toa, moving faster than Tahu had realized, had almost arrived at his location. The Skull Spiders latched to their faces glared menacingly at him, almost masking the terrified expressions of the hosts underneath. Tahu focused, pulling in the ambient heat in the environment, and creating a wall of fire around himself. “I don’t want to hurt the other Toa,” he shouted, “but I will do everything I can to destroy you, spiders.”
Within minutes, the fight was not going as well as Tahu had hoped. The heat and lava did give him a notable advantage, but the powers of the other Toa were quickly overwhelming his shield of fire. He could feel his movements slowing, as he tired from holding up the defensive flames. A blast of ice made it past his defenses, followed by several more elemental attacks. Before long, he collapsed on his surfboard, as what remained of his wall of flame collapsed. A long vine wrapped around him, dragging him and the board to the edge of the lava. Tahu looked up at his fellow Toa, trying desperately to think of a plan-- when he noticed something. The movements of the Toa weren’t smooth; they were stiff, as if their limbs didn’t want to move. It-- it can’t be! They’re not fully controlled: they’re fighting back!
Pohatu approached, holding out a sixth Skull Spider toward Tahu. “STOP, Pohatu!” Tahu said firmly. “I can see you fighting. I know you. I...” He hesitated, then sighed. “I know you’re strong enough to break out of this.”
Pohatu kept walking forward, then hesitated. His legs began to shake slightly, seemingly trying to step backward and forward at the same time. “You can do this, Pohatu!” Tahu continued. Pohatu’s fingers began to loosen on the Skull Spider in his hands.
Seeing this, the other Toa began to move in, preparing to restrain Pohatu and Tahu. The Toa of Fire looked around at them. “Come on!” He shouted. “If Ekimu was right, and you all are meant to be my team, the heroes that will save Okoto, then you’re stronger than this!” The other Toa slowed, but continued their approach. Tahu sighed, and, gritting his teeth, proclaimed: “I was wrong!” The approaching Toa hesitated.
“I was... wrong. To say that I was stronger than the rest of you.” Tahu continued. “You all have proven yourselves to be the strongest warriors there are. I just refused to accept it-- to admit it to myself. You all are more than strong enough to overcome this. I know, because I have witnessed your strength firsthand.”
Tahu, a confident expression now on his face, stood up and walked toward Pohatu, who was still grasping the Skull Spider meant for the Master of Fire. “I will take this,” Tahu said, taking the spider from Pohatu’s loosened grip. “Now you deal with that.” Tahu pointed to the spider on Pohatu’s face.
Slowly, Pohatu’s hands reached upward. As they did so, Tahu looked around, seeing the other Toa moving similarly. The spiders hissed and gnashed their mandibles in unison, tightening their grip in a desperate effort to regain control. “It’s over,” Tahu said to them, a rare smile appearing on his face. One by one, each of the Toa grasped their Skull Spider, and ripped it from their face, then collapsing to their knees. Tahu gathered the removed spiders, tossing them into the lava, then looked back at his companions.
Gali looked up at him, a weary smile on her face. “Thank you, Tahu. For believing in your team”
Tahu suddenly looked a bit flustered. “Well, you know, I... had to say whatever it took to get those spiders off of you all. Of course, I’m still the strongest Toa.” The others looked back at him, a mixture of affection and annoyance on their faces. “But... maybe you all are closer to me than I thought.”
Lewa chuckled, and Onua laughed in response, followed by Gali and Kopaka. Pohatu even smiled. “Come on,” Gali said, climbing to her feet. “We need to see Ekimu. He should have our new Uniter armor finished by now!”
And with that, the team went on their way-- a little closer than they were before.
* * *
The smaller being looked up in awe. “They really were fantastic, weren’t they? Could... could they really have existed? Or are they just a legend?”
“We may never know for sure. But, real or not, their legend will live on, Takua.” The larger being gestured to 6 slabs, each bearing a masked warrior in brightly-colored armor.
“Will these new Toa be as amazing as the ones in the stories, Velika?”
The Great Being paused, looking at the slabs. “Yes, I think so. One day.” He gestured upward. “After all, they will have the stars of their namesakes to guide them along the way.”
A sudden whirring sound, like machinery starting up, startled Velika. “Goodness, how the time flies. It looks like it’s time for us to say goodbye, Takua.”
“But why? What’s happening?”
Velika looked, somewhat sadly, at the Matoran. “Don’t worry, young one.” He placed his hand gently over Takua’s face. “Just sleep. Sleep... and forget.”
As Takua’s body went limp, Velika could feel the Matoran’s memories, his very self, fading away. The process was almost complete, when, suddenly, he pulled his hand away. “The others believe all of you to be nothing more than drones, Takua” he said to his unconscious companion. “But I know better. I cannot allow my handiwork to be noticed by them yet, so I have wiped away most of it. But I will leave you with one thing, the strongest part of who you are: your love for the heroism of the Toa.” He glanced back over at the six warriors, energy beginning to pulse through their slabs to activate them. Then his gaze went back to Takua. “Maybe one day, you could even... well, we’ll see.” Velika then teleported the Matoran to its workplace in the robot’s heart. He walked over to the slabs, thinking about the subtle changes he’d made to the minds of so many inhabitants of this world. Given time, the seeds he had planted would develop into full personalities... consciousnesses. “The others would say I’ve ruined the entire project,” he said to himself. “But without emotion, without thought, these Toa could never reach the potential of the legendary Masters of the elements. This is the only way Mata Nui will achieve his destiny.” With one last look toward the future heroes, the Great Being vanished from the room.
As the Toa Mata’s eyes opened for the first time, Velika smiled.