Chapter 10: Pit Stop
Whenua looked up from the papers on his desk to see Onua stagger into the hut and collapse on the floor. “Hello, Onua,” said the Turaga quietly. “What’s going on?”
Onua closed his eyes. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take, Whenua,” he groaned. “Friends turning to enemies, ambushes everywhere, the elements turning against us, no Kakama in sight. I’m so tired.”
“No one ever said being a Toa would be easy.”
“Yeah, no one ever ASKED me if I wanted to be a Toa, either.”
“But you’re doing a terrific job,” said Whenua. “Did you deliver the last of the Pakari?”
“Yes. Here’s what’s left of Nuparu’s backpack, if he still wants it.” Onua removed the ragged pack. “Almost got myself killed in the process. Kopaka had to freeze me to get me out of a Muaka’s jaws, and Lewa beat the tar out of me. I was the lucky one that got to knock his infected mask off.”
“I heard about what happened in the hive, Onua. Excellent work. Sorry you got hurt. That was really courageous.”
“Courageous? Hardly. I was scared to death. I’m tired of being afraid, too.”
Whenua put down his pen. “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”*
Onua was quiet for a moment. “That’s pretty profound.”
“Nokama sent me some of the ancient writings last week. I was just going over them. Those water girls are pretty wise.”
Onua rolled over and covered his head with his claws. “Don’t talk to me about water girls.”
“Sorry,” Whenua apologized, looking slightly baffled. “But anyway, you have plenty of courage. What you need is encouragement. You have done the other Toa an enormous favor by bringing them their Pakari. And from what I’ve heard from my scouts and Jala’s, you have really increased your mastery of the masks in the process. Fine-tuned your earth powers, too.”
“I guess,” replied Onua.
“While you were gone, that traveling Tohunga fixed two of our biggest problems. He opened that sundial, with the help of the astrologer from Ga-Koro. And he surfed across a lava flow to get to the pump in the lightstone mine. He’s an amazing fellow.”
“That’s great. Because I haven’t been much use to you lately. So, has anyone seen my Kakama yet?”
“No, sorry. But everyone is looking for it. Now that the other Toa have their golden Kanohi, each is searching his Wahi for it.”
“Thanks for reminding me, I’m the only one without one. Well, almost.”
“Now, now,” chided the Turaga, “don’t dwell on that.”
“You’re right, Whenua,” smiled Onua. “I need to stop whining and get back to work.” He rose slowly, trying to ignore his aching limbs and back.
“Yes, you do,” laughed Whenua. “In spite of how you feel, I think you are actually stronger than ever, in the ways that matter most. And the Mata Nui you love so much still really needs you.”
“Thanks for the kind words. I’m going to go look for that mask.” Onua ducked out of the doorway of the hut. “What a terrific little guy,” he thought. “He always knows just what to say.”
The Toa of Earth was startled by a blue blur that appeared in front of him. He jumped into a battle stance with his claws forward. But the outlines of Gali emerged from the blur. She was wearing a gold Kakama. Onua relaxed his arms. “Hello, Gali. You found your Kakama!” His was overjoyed to see her, though slightly envious that she had her mask.
Gali smiled. “Actually, Tahu found it for me. And look what he found for you! There were two, in a crevice in the rock in Ta-Koro.” She extended a gray Kakama to Onua.
Onua was stunned. “Wow! Thanks!”
“He was going to bring it to you himself, but then he came back to Ga-Koro and asked me to deliver it instead. I told him I would be delighted to.”
Onua’s mind reeled. Tahu had found his last mask. What a relief! And he had sent Gali to bring it. What a friend! And Gali was delighted… Onua snapped out of his reverie and took the mask. “Gali, this is wonderful.” He put it on, and felt power resonating through the fusing Kanohi. “Would you care to come to my Suva with me?” he asked.
“Of course,” replied Gali. “I’d be honored.” She switched to her Kaukau and followed him across the village square.
Onua took a deep breath and stepped into the middle of the Suva. Though he had seen the others get their golden Kanohi, he was still not sure what he was supposed to do. But the Suva seemed to know. The center stone slowly descended into the ground. Onua felt a vibration coming up through his feet, spreading through his body and into his mask. Then he saw a brilliant flash of gold all around his head and felt the platform rising again. He blinked a few times to restore his sight. Gali was standing in front of him, looking into his eyes. The Onu-Koronans, who had gathered to watch, broke out into a loud cheer.
“You look really good in that,” she said.
“You sure do,” said Whenua. “And you have definitely earned it.”
“Thanks,” Onua replied, his head spinning with unfamiliar emotions. He stumbled, and caught himself, as he got off the Suva.
“But you could still use some improvement,” Gali continued, touching his dented shoulder with her hook. “Stand still, and close your eyes.”
Onua was puzzled, but he did as she told him. He felt a light mist of water on his mask. The mist turned to a shower, running down his body. He could feel the caked dirt and grime dissolve and wash away. But then he noticed something else. The pain in his back began to loosen and let go. The ache in his ribs subsided, and the weariness in his arms and legs was slowly replaced with a calm energy.
“You can open your eyes. All better now?” asked Gali.
Onua looked at Gali, and at the puddle of muddy water at his feet. “Yes, thanks. You are truly an angel.”
Gali waved a hook, and the water was absorbed back into the air. “Well, if I am, then YOU certainly are,” she said. “Think about what you did for everyone!”
He smiled, not sure what to say.
“So, are you ready to try out that Kakama?” Gali switched to hers. “The others will be waiting for us at Kini Nui. It’s time to go rid our island of that Makuta monster for good.”
“I can’t wait!” Although he was apprehensive about the final confrontation the Toa would have with the Spirit of Evil, Onua felt ready to take on any challenge now. Quietly, he said, “Thank you so much for renewing me like that.”
Gali put her hooks on his claws. “No problem. What are friends for?” Then she turned and waved at the entrance to the Kini Nui tunnel. “It’s that way, right? You go first, you can see better, and you know your way around.”
“OK. Follow me!” Onua changed to his new Kakama and felt his legs powering up like a mighty machine. He waved to the Onu-Koronans, took off running, and felt the wind whistle past his head. Though he was moving fast, his senses were enhanced, so he could still see and hear ahead of him. He heard his own heavy footfalls, and Gali’s light ones behind him, and he glanced back at her. “Tahu was wrong, I’ll never get used to Gali,” he thought. He silently thanked the Great Beings that the purpose for which he had been created – saving Mata Nui – included being with her.
The trip was over in a flash. Onua and Gali jumped from the mouth of the tunnel at Kini Nui. Onua was surprised to find the other Toa cheering and crowding around him. Pohatu slapped him on the back. “Here’s to the Toa who showed us the meaning of friendship,” he said.
“And teamwork,” added Kopaka, raising his blade in a salute.
Lewa put his arm around Onua. “Thanks to you, we all have our golden Kanohi. Maybe we’ve had to learn the hard way at times, but we’ll show Makuta how well we can fight!”
Onua spoke to Tahu. “Thanks for the Kakama. And everything else.” He glanced at Gali.
Tahu winked at Onua. “You’re welcome, friend. Now, let’s get ready. This is where we begin our final task. If any of you question our choice, or doubt our chances if we work together, speak now.”
To Onua’s amazement, Kopaka spoke frankly. “I have doubted you in the past, Tahu, but no more. I think I speak for us all when I say that our only hope is to work together. So I cast my sword with yours, if you will have it.” Onua was very relieved that Kopaka had resolved his misgivings about Tahu’s leadership.
“I will have it gladly, Kopaka,” replied the Toa of Fire with a solemn smile. “You are all in assent?”
The Toa, looked at one another and nodded.
“Then it is decided,” Tahu continued. “Together, Makuta cannot resist us.”
Lewa stepped forward. “Wait, Tahu! Have you given no thought to our return? If the Rahi attack the temple while we are below, how can we escape?”
“I do not know the answer to that question, Lewa. So grim is this task, that I have not thought it much use to consider anything beyond our meeting with Makuta.”
As they considered this problem, Onua sensed minute vibrations in the earth, and raised his claws in a defensive stance. “Hold! There is an intruder among us!” He saw a party of Matoran cresting the hill across the field from the temple. “But… what is this?”
“Stay your claws, Onua!” said Gali. “It is the Chronicler, and his company!”
Onua dropped his arms as the villagers crossed the field.
Gali addressed the leader, the multi-colored traveler that Onua had seen over and over again, helping in every village. “Little one,” she remarked, “you are brave indeed to have come all this way. And I see you have gathered help from all the villages around! Tahu, it is as I hoped. These Tohunga can guard the Kini-Nui while we descend, and see that no Rahi attacks us from behind.”
Lewa spoke slowly. “The Rahi are fearsome. May their hearts prove greater than their size would suggest!”
“In truth it is said that great power can be found in small packages, and that aid can come from places least expected,” Pohatu noted. He shrugged his shoulders. “And besides, we have few options.”
“So be it,” Tahu declared. “Chronicler, it is your doom to remain here, and guard the Kini-Nui at all costs. This deed will be remembered as long as any remain to sing of it! Friends, we have much to do and little time. Let’s go!”
While Gali explained to the Chronicler how she would communicate to him as the Toa descended to fight Makuta, Onua marveled at the little traveler’s bravery. “Chronicler,” he said, “you have preceded me all over Mata Nui. You have saved many villagers before a Toa could even get there to help. Whatever happens to you, know that the spirit of your courage will live on in the hearts of all who have crossed your path.”
The Matoran seemed overwhelmed by so much attention from the mighty heroes of Mata Nui. He bowed his head. “Thank you. We will not let you down.”
And the Toa walked onto the central platform of the temple.
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