The protosteel blade sliced into the armor of the Rahkshi like butter. The Kraata squealed as Excavate ran past the creature, effectively killing it as the blade was pulled away. Spinning to the right, he brought up his blade to deflect an oncoming laser from another Rahkshi, one of Heat Vision. Pushing forward, the laser struck back at the son of Makuta, splitting its armor open.The Dark Hunter heard the hissing sound of more enemies ahead and turned to see them aiming their staffs at him, filled with destructive energies of all sorts. Excavate took a step back, calculating a plan to defeat them, when a sudden blast of ice came from out of the blue.Surprised, but not too surprised, Excavate took notice of Tomana on the battlefield yards away, fighting his own monsters. The Toa took a second to glance his way, somehow knowing Excavate was watching him, and nodded.A sudden barrage of explosions surrounded Tomana, smoke and dust covering him. Three Skakdi allies rushed forward into and through the smoke. Tomana charged from out of it as well as they all began firing off their own assortment of weapons.Oh yeah Helryx, a real easy mission, Excavate thought to himself as another Rahkshi appeared from behind.The mission so far, however, had gone very successfully. Rekken had welcomed the two “Dark Hunters” with open arms, and after some information was passed the King Skakdi agreed to their plan. What they knew of the Makuta’s armies had so far been almost completely correct. The landscape near the Mountain Fortress wasn’t as barren as the rest of the desert, quite the opposite as the entire area was covered in grassy fields and forests, all a glistening green. Even the sun gave the sky a pinkish hue that was beautiful, if it weren’t for the war going on.Both sides were sending in platoon after platoon of Skakdi and Rahkshi that didn’t seem to end, all in various colors of armor with all the intent of killing the other. And so far, the Skakdi were winning.The Makuta had no idea this wave would come so suddenly, and had no idea her opponents would know what sort of army she possessed.Excavate slashed at a Rahkshi, swiftly kicking its body away while firing a bolt of energy with his free hand at another. Having lost one of his blades to the Toa of Coral, he had acquired a new one from the Order which was on his back awaiting use.How many Rahkshi had he faced now? Ten, twenty? The battle had been going on for an hour at least. It had been Excavate and Tomana’s decision to join in the war as it was the best way to be available in case the Order had new developments and the best way to escape from Rekken’s gaze in the chaos.Rekken himself wasn’t fighting, but instead was in a quiet position of observation. High above and out of range of any fighting at an outpost, the Skakdi was constantly receiving information from Telepathic Skakdi and scouts from the sky. The King was spilling out orders constantly, and it amazed Excavate to see the different patterns in strategy as they moved in closer. The Skakdi armies would hold their position for a time, or charge ahead, flank from the right or move from the left. They were organized well.Far ahead, the tallest mountain contained the Makuta they were searching for, somewhere hidden in there. She was watching everything, Excavate was sure. And it would only be ten minutes before it was all over.The team of Order Members had been sent in. Qualified and trained for the job, Botor had teleported them, a team of four, as close as he could to the theorized throne room. Even as Excavate battled against the Rahkshi, they probably had her in custody. And Rekken’s special bombardment units were moving in from the far west to destroy the mountain. The route had been constructed by the Order using numerous Nuvhok, from a species called Bohrok with drilling capabilities that outmatched anything Excavate had seen in the skills of tunneling. The route was just out of range from all the Makuta’s scouts, a flaw in their security that had been discovered. By the time their side saw the tanks arriving, it’d be too late to come up with any counter plan.Excavate charged upward on a slope as three Rahkshi rushed down to meet him. To his right, a sudden rapid fire of ice shards clipped his opponents, downing two of the three. Excavate cut deep into the last one, just in time to see Tomana rush up from the hill as well.“How are you doing?” he asked loudly, blade in hand. Obviously it had been used often, slime of Kraata covered all of it and the Toa.“About as good as you, if I look the same,” Excavate responded.Immediately they both turned to the sound of a Rahkshi’s hiss. The Dark Hunter unleashed an energy bolt, shattering the creature’s helmet and a following well targeted ice shard killed the Kraata inside.“We’re holding them… but that’s all. We can’t seem to break through at this last line,” Excavate continued. “Are you thinking that?”“I agree. We’re pushing, but slowly,” the Toa of Ice responded. “It should all be over soon though. Only minutes to go, I’d say.”The Dark Hunter nodded a response, as three mutated Nui-Kopen caught his attention. Soaring through the sky, the big wasps fired an explosive energy to the ground, uprooting grass and dirt in the wake.“Scatter!” Tomana commanded, leaping down the hill as Excavate ran to the left. The dirt rained on the Toa as he rolled downward. Righting himself up, he fired a few ice blasts from his sword, barely missing them. One of the Nui-Kopen crashed through the sky as a fireball from one of the Skakdi caught it.Excavate took in a quick assessment of the battlefield, seeing the advantages on both sides.This shouldn’t go on much longer. As soon the main fortress is destroyed, their reinforcements will be dwindled and without a commander. It’s only a –The light that flashed across his face was surprising, and he assumed it was an energy wave he had missed… but it was too bright, too sudden. When his eyes readjusted, he heard the thundering shock wave, the sound of an explosion that should have shook Mata Nui himself. And when he finally glanced upward, over the forest, he could see the cloud rising in the sky.No…“Get down!” he heard Tomana call out to everyone on the field. Excavate fell to his knees, as a sudden wave of dust poured from out of the trees ahead and covered them.***“Was… was that the …”“Yes,” Lord Rekken replied to his nearby lieutenant, his eyes narrowing at the sight of the explosion. “The convoy is gone.”It was a massive detention, but very controlled and contained, the blast only hitting a small portion of the western terrain.“Sir…” his lieutenant asked, a scowl of anger forming. Not toward his Lord, but toward those responsible.The cloud of smoke rose high into the sky, a warning from the Makuta. Rekken smirked though. He was no coward, and this kind of strategy was just what he expected from his opponent.Of course, certain things needed to be adjusted.“The convoy; were they in position to strike the fortress at the time of the explosion?”The Skakdi gave a questioning look to a nearby tactical and communications officer. He received a no.“No sir. They were minutes away.”“Alright. Then the Makuta knew they would come in from that side specifically… Has the second team of tanks been deployed, tailing the first?”“Yes sir.”“And we didn’t tell the Dark Hunters about that group did we?”“No word has been given to them.”“Good. Then if they don’t know, the Makuta may not know.” Rekken turned to his second in command and sharply gave out the following orders. “Plow through that last Rahkshi barrier and bring in enough bombardment units to strike from the front, while our second group continues in the west. They won’t risk that sort of firepower so close to their mountain and it’ll serve as a good distraction. We’re evacuating. If those Dark Hunters told the Makuta about our position, it serves to good reason they may try bombing us next.”“Yes sir! Sending out the orders and evacuating now.”“Good.” Rekken turned from his station, the large screen showing the battlefield and the land outside. His cloak swept around his slightly hunched form. Then a sudden grin came to his face, teeth large and sharp.“Oh, and before I forget. Speaking of those two Dark Hunters we have on my side, on my field with my troops? Execute them.”***Excavate’s mind reeled. Something had gone horribly wrong. Glancing over, he saw Skakdi immediately snap out of their haze and continue their fight against the Makuta’s armies. They fought with uncertainty, though. Surely everyone knew it. The convoy was gone.What in Karzahni’s name happened? he thought. Was there something we missed? Did Rekken betray his own people?He brought up his blade as his next opponent came closer. Glancing to his right, he noticed Tomana strangely rush into the jungle.I’ll have to catch up with him in a moment. Figure this out-Instantly he felt a claw wrap around his neck, and lift him up, feet dangling above the ground. Excavate couldn’t breathe and struggled against the unexpected grasp.A Skakdi grunted behind him.“Well, well, well. It seems we have a traitor among us.”Excavate gasped, as everything began to go dark…***He knew he had seen Botar. No one could miss such an ugly face, even if it was half covered by a tree trunk.The moment that explosion had gone off, Tomana had come to the conclusion of only one thing: the capture team must have failed. It made sense. If the team had lost, the Makuta would have no trouble reading their minds and learning about the deadline they were on.And if Botar had made himself known on the battlefield, it meant they needed to talk.He sensed someone to right, and stopped instantly. There was someone…A sharp warning rang off in his head, and the Toa immediately ducked as a projectile sailed over him. Yards away, a Skakdi stood, poised with weapon in hand.Tomana glanced to his left, and then over his shoulder. Three of them.It made sense of course, that Rekken would now want them dead. After all, the Skakdi King knew nothing about the Order’s strike team. Who else was there to blame?Activating his mask, Tomana almost literally vanished. With everyone watching him however, his cloaking wouldn’t be as efficient. He wore the mask of stealth, good for hiding sound and allowing his body to become transparent. But it wasn’t a mask of invisibility…Rushing to the Skakdi behind him, he slashed his sword against the soldier’s shoulder and brought up a wave of ice to freeze him. The other two behind him though, could make out his body movements and aimed their unique launchers to him.Insight letting off another warning, Tomana swiftly moved behind the frozen Skakdi’s body as the two projectiles made contact. One was a lava launcher, and the other was a missile weapon.The explosion pushed Tomana to the ground and completely shattered the body of their frozen ally.Willing to kill off your own companion… Tomana thought disgustedly.The Toa turned off his stealth field, and raised his blade firing two quick shots of ice at their weapons. He charged forward, ready to deal a finishing blow.But he never got his strike, as his view of the world warped and skewed. And then before him was Botar.***Suddenly he was free and the world returned into view. Excavate glanced up to see Botar holding him by the hand and Tomana only yards away. He brought a hand to his neck, and rubbed it, struggling to get some air.“W-what happened?” he croaked out, as Botar released him.“Are you alright?” Tomana asked, surprised to see his friend in such pain. He hadn’t thought Excavate might get hurt while he chased after Botar.“I’m fine. But the Skakdi have turned on us. What’s going on?”“The mission is over,” Botar spoke up, arms crossed over his chest, sharp ugly teeth in a scowl.“We lost the convoy, but our team is still in there, right?” Excavate asked.Tomana suddenly frowned, realizing he was right. And Botar continued to confirm it.“They’ve failed the mission, and we don’t believe there are any survivors,” Botar turned to stare at both of them for a moment before continuing. “Don’t give me a look of surprise. You both knew this was a possibility. It could have been the Makuta, or something could have gone wrong in the fortress. Traps and Rakhshi around every corner… Regardless, the Makuta’s found out about the passage and now she knows about our plans. At least the Skakdi’s. We need to pull out. You’re both done with your mission, and we’ll mark it down as a success on your part.”Tomana looked down.“We can’t end it,” Excavate spoke up. “You’re going to send me in the fortress.”Botar suddenly laughed aloud, which wasn’t a pleasant sound to hear.“You can’t take her, Hunter. She’s more powerful than all three of us here, and that whole team could have been wiped out by it. It’s over.”“We can’t let her escape again. We won’t get a second chance at this!”“No.”“Tomana!” Excavated turned to his friend. His eyes were strangely pleading, and the Toa of Ice knew why. For the last two years, Excavate had been waiting for this moment. Only Tomana had the authority as a member of the same status as Botar, to fulfill Excavate’s request. He closed his eyes in thought. They couldn’t defeat the Makuta. Then again, they only had to capture her. And …“He’s right,” Tomana responded after a moment, opening his eyes. “Botar, it’s taken us too long to find the Makuta when she didn’t know we were looking for her. If a strike team from an unknown organization has made an attempt on her, she might disappear for good.”“He doesn’t have the skill. If I send him, it’ll simply be a waste of a Servant.”“You’re not going to just send him. You’re sending both of us.” He raised his hand. “I know, but listen, it’s the only way. We need the information that Makuta is holding. It’s too vital for us to lose without taking a small risk.”Tomana didn’t tell Botar that Excavate’s plea probably wasn’t for the Order, but for his own freedom that was secured with the Makuta’s capture. But regardless, the Order’s own reasons should be good enough.“She won’t be expecting a second team,” Tomana continued, “Because there wasn’t a planned one. And if she’s found out about the Order from them, we can’t allow her to bring that information back to the Brotherhood.”Botar frowned. “Alright … if you’re going to capture her, you’ll need to break her armor. And that’s not going to be an easy task. Her armor is made of some of the most powerful material, and even your swords need a clear cut to get through it. Then your only chance is for Tomana to freeze her antidermis, which is stored inside the armor. You’ll have to be thorough in solidifying all of it.”Excavate nodded. He had only two blades and some knives as weapons, but nothing close to the ammunition that he held during his battle with the Toa at Coral.“One last thing, we’ve gotten word that the Skakdi King is planning a second assault of tanks against the fortress. We think he’s going to succeed in this fight. So you have no less than fifteen minutes. Send me some kind of signal to pick you up. If I don’t receive the signal… you’ll have no way of getting out of there regardless of whether you capture her or not.”He received a nod from both.Botar raised his hand to their shoulders and concentrated his energies.“I’m sending you to the same spot I sent the first team. I hope Mata Nui’s helping us here, you’re going to need it.”Tomana grinned. “It was nice knowing you, Botar.”And in the next moment, they teleported from sight.