Chapter 12: The Secret Village of Shadow
The now-five Toa Shika, Turaga Joha, and Jokao had only a little way to go before making it to their destination. During that time, they all pondered what had just happened minutes ago. They had been in sort of serious situations before, but none of them thought something like that would happen. It gave each and every Toa a more serious view on their life as Toa. Maybe being a Toa wasn't just a way to gain more loot or treasure or praise or whatever else they had been thinking about before Barilo's betrayal.
I can't belive he was going to kill Nastan, Akuna thought sadly. Maybe all this Toa power was too much for Barilo. Whose to say it won't happen to the rest of us, in time?
Chimoy was also thinking deeply. I thought Barilo would never try to do such as thing. Perhaps Makuta Hajax had messed with his mind somehow or he was going insane. Makes me wonder if that could happen to the rest of us.
Who will be next? Jokao thought, looking at each of the remaining Toa. They all looked very sober. I may not have known any of them very long, but I never thought something like that would happen. Now I wonder if I am going to make it out alive at all if something like that is going to happen every day.
It figured, Nonzra thought coldly. I figured he would try to kill someone and he did, but he also tried to kill Nastan, which is totally unacceptable. But I, however, am not extremely surprised by this. Barilo is the kind of guy that thinks the ends justify the means, while Nastan is more of the 'hero' type, always feeling that Toa need to do good, regardless of who they are. But I better keep my guard up. I am not sure if any of the others will try something like this.
Toa Addis fired a ball of plasma at a nearby rock wall, melting it instantly. No one bothered to ask why he did that, because they all knew why. He was angry that Barilo had betrayed the group. He and the Toa of Gravity had been best friends, so he took this betrayal very hard.
That was the most dumbest thing Barilo could ever hope to do, Addis thought angrily. I remember when he and I were just Matoran. We were the first to start our little group. He'd always been the one who was impatient and would rather do things the quickest and most efficient way, regardless of who got hurt in the process. But I didn't think he would actually try to kill Nastan, or any of us, for that matter.
Nastan was the most troubled one of all. He had, after all, been the target of Barilo's attack. It made him fear a little bit for his safety and for the rest of the Toa. He now knew just how precious life was.
What had I done to get almost killed? Nastan thought, saddened. Because I just happened to be the most Toa-like out of us all, that's what. Barilo and me were always opposites, but we became even more opposites now. I don't trust him. I don't trust him at all anymore.
Joha, too, was upset at Barilo's attempt on Nastan's life.
Maybe I chose the wrong the wrong Matoran to become Toa, Joha thought soberly. In all my life as a Toa of Stone, I have never seen any Toa try to kill another. It greatly disappoints me. But perhaps the power was too much for Barilo and it went to his head.
A stone rat ran across the path in front of Joha, nearly tripping the Turaga. None of the Toa bothered to see if he was okay, because they were still too sad by what Barilo had almost done. Jokao went ahead and helped the Turaga back up.
"Are you okay, Joha?" the Ta-Matoran asked.
"Yes, I am fine," Joha replied. "Just tripped is all-"
It was at that moment that Joha realized that they had just arrived at their destination. He turned back to the five Toa, who had just stopped to watch Jokao help Joha. All of them wore the same expression of grief, anger, and sadness. It saddened Joha greatly and he wondered if he should have taken them to this place at all.
After all, it would only make them feel worse, as it did to me, Turaga Joha thought. But I feel it is important and maybe they were understand this island better if they saw this.
"We're here," Joha called to the others.
The five Toa, who had forgotten all about what Joha was going to show them because of how sad they were, ran to catch up with the Turaga.
When they caught up with him, what they saw was nothing like what they imagined was going to be there. Hundreds of huts spanned for miles, with a giant temple dominating the central area. The huts and temple seemed to be made out of stone and iron, though who built them, they had no idea.
It was obvious this had once been a Matoran settlement, but it seemed as if shadow itself kept the village perpetually dark, even though the sun was out. There were no Matoran, no Toa, and no Turaga, either. To all of them, it felt as if something very evil had once lived here. Their natural instincts told them to run, but they kept their ground.
"What is this place?" Addis asked, looking at the hundreds of huts that covered the area.
"A village," Joha replied. "Or it used to be. Now its just a ghost town. Nothing survives here but...shadow."
"How did you discover this place?" Nonzra asked.
"I discovered it one year after the Dark Hunters took control of Shika Nui," Joha replied. "I tried sleeping here one night, but it was felt far too evil and dark, so I left and nearly forgot about it. No one else knows it exists, as far as I know."
"I don't like this place," Nastan said, with more than a hint of fear in his voice. "I'd rather take my chances with the Dark Hunters than go here."
Ignoring Nastan's comment, Joha went on. "I believe this was once a Matoran village. What kind of Matoran lived here, I do not know for sure. But I do know that there is something very interesting in the temple that will definitely interest all of you."
He turned around. "C'mon. Time's a wasting." Reluctantly, they followed him down a narrow path into the village.
As they walked through the abandoned village, Chimoy decided to examine the huts as he walked. Many of them were destroyed or badly damaged, as if a struggle had happened here. He occasionally peeked through windows, but there wasn't even any furniture, which made the whole thing even more strange.
Most of the buildings were ruined completely, while some of them were just barely standing. Some of them had became home to some harmless Rahi that hid in the shadows, watching the visitors walk by. Chimoy wondered how anyone could have survived in this place unless they were truly part of the shadows.
Perhaps Matoran of Shadow used to live here, he thought. Wait. What am I saying? There is no such thing as Matoran Shadow, nor have any existed. That is a very absurd thought. Matoran of Shadow! What made me think that?
A small stream of liquid protodermis ran through the middle of the village, obviously meant to be drinking water. But now it was dirty and not drinkable anymore, so they stepped over it and continued on their way to the temple.
The temple itself was huge, probably over fifity feet tall. It was shaped like a Kanohi mask, though one none of the Toa had ever seen. Spikes pointed out of the top, with two, curved eye holes that basicaly screamed evil. The temple's mouth was narrow and tall. It was painted black, but most of that black had faded away, so it looked more grayish now. The stone was smooth, but strong, even though it was indescribably old.
"Wow," Nastan said, awe in his voice. "Who built this?"
"I don't know," Joha replied. "Possibly Matoran, but why they would shape a temple to look so evil is beyond me. But we must enter, because what is inside is much more interesting than what is outside."
Nastan looked at the temple and then back to Joha, looking a little afraid. "Do we have to go in there?"
"You're not scared, are you, Nastan?" Nonzra teased. "Are you afraid of the dark?"
"No," Nastan replied, now sounding a bit annoyed. "I just don't feel very....welcome, here."
"None of us do," Jokao said. "This place feels very, very evil and unnatural."
Turaga Joha walked into the temple, motioning for the others to follow. They followed him in, one by one, until they were all inside.
Akuna's eyes looked around the temple room, lightened up only by lightstones embedded in the walls. There were carvings on the wall and writing, though most of it was worn away and in some sort of old Matoran, very old indeed. Doorways led to other rooms and a staircase to her right led up to the second floor.
The room there were in wasn't very big, with enough room for about seven beings. The roof went up about ten feet, so the five Toa fit in uncomfortably.
"Now what exactly did you want to show us, Joha?" Nonzra asked, now annoyed by how small and cramped the inside was. "Its too cramped in here and it smells bad, too."
"Keep going," Joha replied. "At the end of this room is the thing I wanted to show you. Come on."
Joha went on, with the Toa and Jokao following him. It was slow moving, because the Turaga wasn't moving very fast. It didn't help much that the hallway was cramped, too.
As they made their way through, the ceiling gradually became higher and the walls were more spaced apart, giving them more room to walk.
At the end of the hallway was....nothing. Or at least it seemed that way, until they got closer and could actually see that there was writing on the wall, though very faint and worn out.
"What does it say?" Nastan asked. "Who wrote it?"
"It was written long ago, by someone named Oggak," Joha said. "Though I have no idea what this Oggak was writing about. Read it yourself and try to make heads or tails of it."
The six Toa and Jokao began reading it. Here's what it said:
At the beginning of time,
A evil tribe wanted to rule the universe,
But they were stopped by six Toa,
And a secret organization dedicated to carrying out the will of the Great Spirit Mata Nui,
Locking them away forever more,
Never to kill, never to terrorize again,
There they remain to this day,
And there they will remain,
The six Toa and Jokao stopped reading, for that was where it ended. They looked at each other, sort of confused. They looked back towards Joha, who had been watching them with curious eyes, wondering if they knew what it was talking about.
"I think its a poem," Akuna said. "But it certainly is strange. What evil tribe was it talking about?"
"Better yet," Nonzra said. "What is this 'secret organization dedicated to carrying out the will of Mata Nui' that the poem speaks of?"
"Guys," Jokao spoke up. "It may not mean anything at all, you know. Some people just make poems for fun."
"Yes," Addis said slowly. "But why would someone leave this here, in a big, dark, and very scary temple in the first place? It just doesn't add up."
"Maybe it was for whoever lived in this village," Nastan suggested. "After all, who knew what they did here? Maybe it was for some ceremonial purposes." He turned to Joha. "Is this what you wanted to show us, 'cause none of us can make heads or tails of it?"
"Yes," the Turaga of Stone replied. "I thought maybe you clever thieves would be able to figure out what it means."
"Well, one, we're not thieves anymore," Nastan said, smiling. "At least, I'm not. And second, we've ran into poems and riddles in the past that lead to treasures, but this doesn't seem to be a code of any sort."
"Perhaps we should go back outside and think this over," Jokao suggested. "I want to explore this village some more."
The others agreed and Jokao lead the way out. Along the way, Chimoy decided to slide his hand over the wall. It was smooth, hard and firm, despite being very old. He didn't feel anything out of the ordinary until his hand slid over a part of wall that didn't feel normal. In fact, it felt like it could be pushed in.
What is that? Chimoy thought, stopping. He looked at the spot of the wall where he thought he had felt the weak part of the wall, but it was much too dark to see it. He looked over and saw everyone else was still walking towards the entrance. The Toa of Iron decided to check this out.
He felt over the wall again and found the part that felt weak. He pressed up against it and then fell right through the wall, letting out a yelp before falling behind the smooth stone wall.
"Did Chimoy just cry out?" Addis asked.
"I think he did," Nastan said, already running back to where he last saw Chimoy. "Chimoy! Where are you?"
He heard a faint sound, coming from the other side of the wall. He put his audio receptor up against the wall to hear it better. Now the sound he heard sounded more like Chimoy's voice, coming from the other side of the wall. It sounded like he was saying, "Help! I'm trapped!"
"Don't worry!" Nastan shouted. "We'll get you out of there, as soon as we find a way to get you out!"
The other Toa, Jokao, and Joha quickly caught up with Nastan, who was feeling over the wall, trying to find a way to rescue Chimoy. The others joined in, until Jokao felt the weak part of the wall that the Toa of Iron had found.
What's this? Jokao thought, puzzled. This part feels weaker than the other parts of the wall, like there's nothing behind it to support it. Maybe I should press against it, just to see what happens.
He pressed against it and everyone, including Joha, were caught by the flipping wall and brought to the other side, slamming into Chimoy.
"Ow," Jokao said. "That hurt."
Nastan looked around. It was dark. No lights. He couldn't see anything. He wondered where they were. It was probably a secret room or tunnel. He wondered where it led.
"Wonder where we are," Nastan said.
"Please...." Joha gasped. "Could...you....all.....get....off me?"
"Joha? Where are you?" Nastan asked, looking around.
"You're....right...on...top.....of...all of us!" Akuna gasped, struggling to breath. "Please get off, Nastan!"
Nastan looked down. He was sitting on top of everyone else, as they were all in a big heap on the ground and Joha just happened to be at the bottom
"Oops! Sorry, Joha," the Toa of The Green said sheepishly as he got off all of them. "Didn't realize where I was. And sorry to everyone else, too."
One by one, everyone got up and Chimoy helped Joha up. The Turaga looked around at the dark cave, like he was remembering something.
"This reminds me of the time my Toa team and I had to explore the dark, underground caverns of Shika Nui," Joha said, brushing himself off.. "But there were a bunch of blade burrowers and we had lightstones to help us find our way around. Not to mention there were loads of stalagmites and stalactites. Ah, the good old days. Makes me wish I was a Toa again."
"So," Toa Akuna said. "Do we go deeper in or find a way out?"
"I say we go deeper in," Addis said. "We're Toa. Adventuring is our job, and who knows, maybe there's some secret treasure deep within here."
The word 'treasure' caught the attention of the other four Toa immediately, including Nastan. Toa they may be, they had been thieves first and old habits die hard, so they all agreed to go deeper into the tunnel, hoping to find treasure. Joha willingly went, having been a Toa and facing much worse things, so he wasn't afraid of a dark cave. Jokao reluctantly went with them, but only because he didn't want to be alone in this unknown cavern.
Icetraz dodged a bolt of shadow and countered with his blast of ice. He landed hard on part of the rubble of the destroyed western part of the Dark Hunter fortress.
A few hours ago, a small army of Visorak, Rahkshi, and other Brotherhood of Makuta servants had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Strangest of all, they seemed to have be led by Makuta Hajax, the Makuta of Shika Nui, who up to that point had been believed dead.
Even stranger, Makuta Hajax was in the body of Icetraz's super Vahki, controlling its body and dodging attacks with ease. Since he couldn't talk with this new body, the Makuta used telepathy to communicate with Icetraz.
Another chain lightning attack hit the Dark Hunter, stunning him. Hajax followed that up with shadow and sonics. Icetraz rolled over and tried to aim his Cordak blasters, but the attacks were blinding him, making it harder to aim.
For years I have pretended to be your obedient little servant, Makuta Hajax said, increasing the power of his attacks. Slaving away, getting you refreshments and disciplining a few disobedient Dark Hunters because you said so. But now, Shika Nui will be mine and I will have revenge on the Brotherhood of Makuta!
"Revenge? I though you Makuta were all on the same side!" Icetraz shouted, trying to unsuccessfully dodge a blast of shadow energy.
Not every Makuta agreed with Teridax's little Plan, Hajax replied. I intend to kill him and everyone else that followed him after I finish you off, Dark Hunter.
A Cordak missile came flying out of one of Icetraz's Cordak blasters, somehow not being destroyed by all the attacks coming from the Makuta. It hit the ground in front of Hajax, sending his robotic body flying through the air. It landed with a thud, damaging the internal mechanism that made the super Vahki's legs and arms move.
"One bad thing about super Vahki is that they are easily damaged," Icetraz said, rising. He aimed his Cordak blaster at the unmoving body of Hajax. Before pulling the trigger, he said, "Should have chosen a better body."
He pulled the trigger, sending a Cordak missile right to Makuta Hajax's unmoving super Vahki body. Missile met robot and missile won, destroying the super Vahki's body and unleashing Hajax's gaseous form into the air. But Icetraz was unaware of that. All he knew was that he had killed Hajax and that's it.
Icetraz now watched as all the Dark Hunters fought the many different Brotherhood of Makuta minions. He wondered how Hajax had managed to keep so many of them secret and for such a long time. He decided to think about that later, because his allies needed help and he was their leader, after all. Now this battle was going to end much faster, since their master was now dead.
He ran into battle, knowing it was just about to end. Unknown to him, however, was just how close Makuta Hajax was to getting a new body. By the time he realized that, it would be much too late.
Toa Barilo, Toa of Gravity, wondered aimlessly among the mountains, undescribly sad and hopelessly lost.
Earlier, he had tried to do what he thought he would never try to do: Kill one of his friends. After that, he was kicked out of the group, never to return. Now he was alone with his thoughts, wondering just why he did what he had done.
I....I lost my temper, or I went insane, Barilo though soberly. Hajax did say that anyone who has had a mental link with a Makuta didn't come out sane. Maybe that's happening to me. I just can't believe that I almost killed Nastan!
So caught up with his thoughts as he was, he never noticed a cliff coming up. Barilo almost fell off, once he realized where he was walking. He looked down over the edge of the vast cliff. Huge, spiky rocks sprouted from the ground that looked like they would surely kill him if he jumped down.
But what's the point in living anymore? Barilo thought, with more than a trace of insanity. I have no friends. This island will surely be ripped apart from the Dark Hunters fighting Hajax's forces. What do I have left to fight for? To live for?
It looked tempting, jumping down, ending his existence. If he did that, he would never harm or kill anyone, on accident or on purpose ever again. But somehow that didn't seem satisfying. Ending his existence now wouldn't solve anything. No, what he needed to do was undo what he had done wrong.
What I need to do is redeem myself, Barilo thought. Everyone makes mistakes, but only a few get a second chance to fix their mistakes. I will go and be a hero, a true hero, like Nastan.
He caught himself at that thought. He never wanted to be a hero, he'd always been happy as a thief, stealing others things and possessions, all in the name of his greed. But now, now stealing things didn't seem appealing anymore. Being a hero being a hero and redeeming himself seemed so much better, surprisingly.
He knew what to do to redeem himself. Barilo would go and defeat the Dark Hunters, all on his own, and free Shika Nui. He might get himself killed as a result, but in the end, he decided that his life wasn't important. Only the Matoran's freedom, and his friends lives, mattered to him now.
Best of all, I can go to them, without my friends getting hurt, Barilo thought triumphantly. Yes. After that, Hajax and I will have a very long discussion about double-crossing. We will indeed.
Activating his gravity powers, he caused a flat rock at the bottom of the cliff to rise up to where he was standing. He jumped on it and then, using a complex usage of gravity, made it shoot forward, heading straight for the Dark Hunter's fortress and for what he thought was going to be his final confrontation with the Makuta of Shika Nui.
Deep within the Dark Hunter's fortress, in the coldest room, on the lowest floor, was a huge block of ice.
There wasn't much in the room. It was snow and ice, mostly, with a frozen door that was about three feet thick, made of ice and metal. Inside the huge ice block, was a being. He had crimson armor, with purple streaks covering some of the it, mostly the arms and legs.
Huge plated wings, colored gold and purple, stood unmoving. His dead blue eyes was enough to make anyone die from fright. He carried a chain with a axe at the end of it. The ice wasn't very clear, so it was hard to see what the rest of him looked like.
Who was this being? Why, his name was Makuta Koghi, Makuta of the Southern Islands.
He had lead a attack on Shika Nui just about a day or two ago. Foolishly, instead of teaming up with another Makuta, he went on his own, along with some Visorak, Rahkshi, and Exo-Toa. All of his minions were killed or captured and he himself had been capture by Icetraz, the leader of the Dark Hunters of Shika Nui.
When he had been brought to the fortress, he had broke out of his cage and destroyed the western side of it. Icetraz then froze him in his current icy prison, to make sure he didn't destroy or kill anymore Dark Hunters. It was so cold and so thick even his heat vision couldn't melt it.
Even though his body was frozen, his mind was still free. Free to think over his escape plan, which was really all he could do, given his current situation.
Next time Dark Hunter comes to check on me, I'll make sure to break out, Koghi thought frustrated. Somehow, I will.
Maybe I can help, a voice that was strangely familiar said.
Whose there? Koghi asked. Who dares speak to Makuta Koghi in his own mind?
Why, it is I, old friend, the voice said. I, Makuta Hajax, Makuta of Shika Nui, have returned.
The news stunned Koghi. Hadn't Hajax been killed by Icarax and Gorast? This being must not be Makuta Hajax. He must be a imposter, because they had brought his mask, the Mask of Deceit, with them to prove that they had slain the rebellious Makuta.
You lie, stranger, Koghi said defiantly. Makuta Hajax was killed, by Makuta Icarax and Makuta Gorast, many years ago. You're just a imposter, posing as him. You aren't fooling me.
No one in the known universe can breach a Makuta's mind but a Makuta, Makuta Hajax replied coldly. A Makuta should know that, correct?
Koghi was quiet, thinking over what the voice said. True, only a Makuta could communicate with another Makuta via telepathy and it was a well-known fact throughout the universe, especially among telepaths because of the mental strength of a Makuta. So perhaps this guy really is Makuta Hajax.
Okay, so lets say you are Hajax, Koghi said, still unconvinced. How did you survive being kill by Icarax and Gorast, the best warriors of the Brotherhood of Makuta?
Time for that later, Hajax replied. In the meantime, a squad of about ten heat vision Rahkshi and five Visorak Vohtorak should be here any minute, to free your frozen body.
Really? Makuta Koghi said, suspicious. Why should I trust you? You were against the Plan ever since the beginning. Why shouldn't I just kill you right now and be done with it? And why are Rahkshi and Visorak working for you in the first place?
Hajax laughed. Koghi, my friend, you've always been short on brains, but this is a new level of stupid for you. You can't kill me, since your body is frozen solid and I could easily decide to let you freeze to death, cool dude. As for the Rahkshi and Visorak, they listen to whoever happens to be in command and I just happen to be the top energy hound, if you know what I mean.
Koghi debated with himself. If he allied with Hajax, perhaps he could kill him later and get raised higher in the eyes of his fellow Makuta. Who knows, perhaps he would be called to Karda Nui by Makuta Antroz to help them kill the Toa Nuva and complete the Plan. The idea certainly appealed to Koghi. He decided to team up with Hajax, at least for now.
All right, I'll ally with you, Hajax, the Makuta said, But your Rahkshi and Visorak better hurry. I can already feel my essence freezing.
At that moment, Makuta Koghi thought he could hear something ramming against the thick frozen door to his prison. There it was again, this time more audible. Then the door came flying off its hings, hitting the frozen ice block that held the Makuta of the Southern Islands hard. Koghi's icy prison cracked, but not enough to get him out.
The cause of the door flying off was five red Vohtorak, all in berserker charger mode. In fact, they couldn't stop, bashing right into the giant ice block, cracking it even further. Koghi could feel the ice-cold air blow through the crack
Ten heat vision Rahkshi followed, firing twenty beams of heat from their collective eyes at the ice.
The heat vision and continual ramming by the Visorak weakened the block just enough to let Koghi finish it, melting the block of ice into water with his own heat vision attack.
Makuta Koghi could barely move, having been in the ice so long had pretty much frozen his essence. The ten Rahkshi, instead of halting their attack, fired more heat vision at the Makuta, unfreezing his substance. Now that he could finally move, stretched his limbs, trying to shake the cold off.
Many thanks, Hajax, Koghi said to the Makuta of Shika Nui via telepathy. I couldn't have done it better myself. Now where are you, anyway?
Instead of a response, the Makuta felt something strange going on in his body. It felt as though some outside force was forcing his essence out of his armor. It was incredibly painful, yet quick. He tried to keep the force out, but it was too strong for him. After it was through, he was just a cloud of greenish-black essence, floating near the ceiling of the chamber.
His armor now stood motionless. All of a sudden, the light of intelligence reappeared in the optics. Makuta Koghi now knew what had just happened: Hajax had taken his armor from him!
Makuta Hajax examined his new form, unimpressed.
"Really, Koghi," the Makuta said. "You were always a moron, but I never realized how bad a shape-shifter you were. Let me take a more suitable form, instead of this monstrosity."
The cloud form of Koghi watched in growing anger as Makuta Hajax shape-shifted his body. A few minutes went by, as the Rahkshi, Koghi's essence, and the Visorak watched the shape-shifting. Eventually, it ended and the new being emerged, much stronger and powerful-looking than the last.
The new being was well over ten feet tall, with jagged spikes sticking out from the back. The mask looked like a wild Muaka cat's face, except with a spik sticking out of the top. The body was big and broad, with a giant, spikey, crimson tail sticking out from behind.
He now held a new weapon, a broad sword that practically radiated shadow. He was blue and yellow, with huge black eyes.
"Now this is more like it," Hajax said, examining his new from. His eyes then locked on Koghi's essence cloud. "Now there is only one more problem to fix."
"Rahkshi," he ordered. The ten Rahkshi immediately stood tall, knowing that their master inhabited this body. "Fire at will." He pointed at Koghi's essence. "Now."
Heat flew from their eyes, striking the essence of Makuta Koghi, instantly destroying the cloud, killing the Makuta of the Southern Islands. There wasn't so much a scream, just the sound of heat striking the cloud and dissipating it, destroying it for good.
"Now there is one less moron in this world," Hajax said in a almost joyful tone. He had always hated Koghi, who was too dumb for the Brotherhood of Makuta, in his opinion. "Now we leave, back to the surface, where I will personally deal with Icetraz."
He tried walking out the door, but then realized he was too tall, so he altered his density and floated through the door way. He then unaltered his density, going back to being a solid, being of armor and energy. He gestured toward the bewildered Rahkshi and Visorak to follow him out he doorway and back to the upper levels.
"Come on," Hajax said. "We have a war to win."