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Fight for Freedom

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My name is Teridax. I am a warrior of light, a guardian of peace. I have traveled to this world from my own, chosen by a Matoran warrior to help tip the balance of power.

This world is a twisted mirror of my own, with a violent history spawned by my counterpart. The Teridax that resides here has defeated the guardian protector of the universe and taken his place. Entire populations will tremble in fear of what he might do to those who fail to offer their every devotion to his self-obsessed desires. As an example of his inflated sense of self, he even calls himself by his title, 'Makuta'.

I will overthrow this tyrant. But to do that, I will need to gather an army. An army that will never be able to truly grasp my intentions, for the beings here  do not understand the true nature of this world, and I intend to keep it that way.

Gali pulled herself through the silver waters that made up the protodermis sea. Once again, she was on patrol of the outer perimeter of the dome that housed her home, Metru Nui. The Southernmost point held the only tunnel that Makuta's forces would be able to attack from.

Makuta. She still shivered at the thought. Months ago, she and the rest of the Toa Nuva had finally completed their mission to awaken the Great Spirit, Mata Nui, after his thousand-year slumber. However, their victory quickly turned to defeat when they discovered that Makuta had somehow swapped minds with Mata Nui.

The day they awoke the Great Spirit, they heard Makuta's voice boom throughout the city. But since then there had been no sign of any real resistance from him at all. Whatever Makuta was planning, it appeared he could not interfere with them directly.

Gali and the Toa Mahri had been cycling underwater patrol duties in preparation for some sort of assault. The most likely attackers wouldn't be able to easily target a guard watching them from beneath the ocean.

The sea was beautiful, relaxing, sparkling, and teeming with life. Fish of an array of different shapes, of fifty-one different colors, swam in every direction in huge schools. Some nibbled on kelp, others investigated rocks and sand, and others still swam away in fear of larger sealife.

Just as they had done every day for the past month. 

The ocean was a part of her, and Gali a part of it. Fish darted away in her wake, and she could feel the ripples they left behind. Every movement, every wave, every bubble, was an extension of herself. And yet, without someone to share it with her, patrol duty had become a dreaded part of her life. What was the point of swimming if you had no-one to swim with? But everyone else was too busy rebuilding defenses for the city, or training with their Matoran, to simply keep a Toa of Water company on her daily patrols.

Gali's thoughts were shattered as she felt the peaceful waters begin to tremble. She could barely make out the high pitched whining of something hovering above the surface. Gali continued to stare overhead, waiting to see the beings causing this disruption. The ripples became harder and harder. A shadow zoomed overhead. Then a second, a third - ten, twenty, fifty. And more still came. 

I had better find out just who these intruders are.

Gali focused her powers to send a waterspout flying up into the air. One of the intruders was caught in the trap. Gali focused her energy to bring the water back down into the sea, dragging her foe below the surface. The intruder kicked and screamed, trying to break free of her hold. An armored shell protected its hunched back, and its head opened into three sections to reveal the worm-like kraata controlling it.

"Rahkshi," spat Gali. "We've stopped the likes of you before, and we'll do it again."

Gali prepared to finish it off, but the beast swiftly pointed its staff towards her and fired a burst of electricity. She screamed as the current surged through her, but forced herself to send a powerful torrent of water back to her attacker. Before the Rahkshi could recover, she powered toward it. With her free hand, Gali grabbed hold of its faceplate. The beast kicked at her ineffectively, and she pulled it in, wrapping her legs around its torso. Gali activated her Mask of Strength and pried the plates apart. The Rahkshi grabbed a hold of her wrists, desperately trying to stop her. It didn't have a chance against her enhanced strength. Its face was ripped open, and Gali rammed her trident inside, skewering the Kraata. The Rahkshi stopped moving.

One down, thought Gali. Looking overhead, she could see dozens of shadows passing over the water. Just five hundred more to go. She blasted another wave at more of the Rahkshi, ready to repeat the process.

Vakama walked atop the vast wall that circled the city of Metru Nui. Matoran workers shuffled past, building powerful turrets at regular intervals along the perimeter. It had been a month since the Toa Nuva had awoken the Great Spirit - and a month since the Great Spirit had been taken over by Makuta. Fortunately, since he had announced his presence, he had not actually done anything. A few times, his booming voice had rung through the city, demanding that the Matoran workers kneel before him and do his bidding. But when it became apparent that the workers wouldn't obey; it seemed he had given up.

But Vakama did not believe that his old foe of one thousand years had given up. There was an attack coming, and he had to do everything he could to prepare his home. Vakama looked over the ocean to the South. He wasn't quite sure - but it almost looked like something was coming from the Great Barrier. Vakama waited - moments passed, then minutes. It might be nothing. He hoped it was nothing.

Multi-colored specks slowly appeared in the distance.

"Sound the alarm!" Vakama commanded.

"Everyone, to your stations!" a guard shouted.

Two Matoran workers left the turret they were banging on and scurried away. Sirens blared throughout the city. Matoran leaped into turret seats and those that didn't have turrets prepared disk launchers. Three Toa jumped off the great wall and dived into the ocean. Three aerial vehicles rushed past overhead.

It had not been so long ago that he had firmly opposed having this defensive wall and its turrets built, but as Vakama watched the approaching force he was felt thankful for their protection. He watched as a blast of water rose out of the silver sea, dragging one of the distant specks down beneath the waves. Closing his eyes, he wearily prepared to face another battle. When he opened them, he squinted at the huge, multi-colored squad coming in, getting closer and closer. They were finally close enough for him to see what they were.

Only weeks ago, Metru Nui had almost fallen to a Rahkshi attack. Back then, he had found a way to reawaken the Bohrok to fight them. But this time the Rahkshi numbers were even greater, there were no Bohrok, and even Krakua had left the city. The only edge they had now was the Toa Nuva.

Minutes ticked by. The water erupted, again and again, swallowing the attackers entire groups at a time. 

Kra-koom! Finally, the first turret fired a huge beam of energy, striking one of the attacking beasts. The Rahkshi crashed into the water, splashing frantically as it struggled to pull itself out. Before Vakama knew it, the sea was ablaze with energy blasts, causing huge fountains of water to rise into the air. Many Rahkshi fell into the sea, never to rise again. But it wasn't enough. There were simply too many. Vakama knew he would join the fight shortly. He didn't have the power of a Toa, or a powerful turret, or even the Mask of Time. But he had cunning - and his Mask of Concealment.

Pohatu swerved and juked to avoid any blasts as he approached the oncoming swarm of enemies. It had been far too long since he had been able to fly the Rockoh, and although he knew he should be worried about the sudden appearance of a Rahkshi swarm, he was eager to push the vehicle to its limits. He powered in at speeds that any sane Toa would avoid, but speed was nothing for him to fear. He was fast approaching and bracketed the first of many Rahkshi in his crosshairs.

The Rahkshi was there one second. The next, it was blasted to smithereens by the Rockoh's heavy cannon. Pohatu passed over the hovering hordes of Rahkshi, firing his heavy blaster again and again. He pulled up, having passed the vanguard, and flipped around for another pass. Using the scanners of the vehicle, he confirmed that Lewa and Tahu were still behind him, piloting the Axalara and the Jetrax.

Bursts of light shone around Pohatu as Tahu and Lewa fired their Midak Skyblasters at the Rahkshi, frying their Kraata and turning them into empty, mindless husks that fell helplessly into the sea. Pohatu couldn't help but grin as he pulled back on the control bar, pulling his Rockoh up toward the sky, and prepared to make another pass.

Lewa followed him around, managing to catch up to Pohatu. "I thought you were supposed to be fast, but it seems like I am still the quick-soaring master!"

"You might be the Toa of Air, but I'm still the Master of Speed." Pohatu looked at the Rahkshi ahead of me. "How about this, the first to thirty downed Rahkshi is crowned the best pilot."

"I'll show you that I'm the only one on this team who can wind-fly!" said Lewa, laughing as he sped back in toward the Rahkshi.

Pohatu stamped down on the throttle and sped in after him, lining up his next shot. He pulled the trigger. "One."

Gali used her propellers to speed through the water, keeping up with the Rahkshi swarm. Around her, explosions of light peppered the surface. In the distance, Hahli, Jaller and Hewkii were using their powers to snipe the attackers from under the ocean's surface.

"Gali!" greeted Jaller, as Hewkii ripped a stone from the island and flung it at an overhead Rahkshi. Jaller kicked over to join Gali.

"How are you faring?" asked Gali.

"Between the three of us, we've managed to stop four of them," Jaller said, proudly gesturing to mechanical parts floating nearby. "How about you?"

"My count is a little higher," said Gali, wanting to avoid embarrassing them by revealing the number.

"Hey!" shouted Hewkii. "I know Jaller isn't much good for much except hot air, but you could pretend to give us a hand here!"

Gali held out her arms and worked her powers. "Let's get them."

Focusing, she gained control of the water around her until she could build up an enormous wave above the surface. She used all her might to bring the huge wave crashing down on the enemy forces, forcing a handful of the Rahkshi beneath the surface and down into their domain.

Jaller fired his Cordak blaster at one, sending a rocket careening toward the Rahkshi before it exploded. The Rahkshi was sent flying backward but recovered quickly. As the Toa Mahri traded attacks with the Rahkshi, Gali created a current to carry her towards one.

The Toa Mahri proved an excellent distraction. Gali sped toward the first Rahkshi, trident readied. With a mighty blow, she split the worm in two, cutting off its horrific scream with abrupt finality. A moment later, she cut into another Rahkshi, once, twice, thrice! In moments, it floated beneath the waves, now in two pieces. Using the ocean currents, she pulled the third one towards her, parried its sluggish blow, and thrust her trident into its head.

Hewkii and Jaller looked impressed. Gali had managed in seconds what they had struggled to do in minutes. But the fourth - and final - Rahkshi remained in one piece. It fired a blast of plasma at Gali. Gali had already switched to her Mask of Shielding, and the blast was deflected harmlessly away.

"There's an easier way, you know," said Hahli. She focused her own powers of water on the Rahkshi, increasing the pressure around it as it was trapped, kicking and hissing under the water. Hahli strained and groaned. Finally, the Rahkshi's shell buckled and collapsed in on itself.

Hahli panted, exhausted by the effort. "You should be able to easily manage that, right?"

"I'm sure I can," said Gali, smiling. She looked overhead, watching the shadows still flying past. "Now you are the one teaching me. Are you ready for more?"

"Let's get them," mimicked Hahli.

Turret fire vaporized oncoming attackers, and the Toa Nuva had helped to thin their numbers. But despite the Toa's minor victories, the horde kept coming. The first Rahkshi landed on the beach, organizing themselves into groups. Squads of blue and brown Rahkshi formed in front of the defensive wall, firing disintegration blasts from their staffs. The blasts cut through the great wall, blowing stone chunks apart. Yellow Rahkshi shot their heat vision at the nearby turrets, melting them to slag and forcing the Matoran to leap off the wall to escape the molten metal.

Rolling to port, Pohatu pulled back on the throttle to give himself more time to line up his shots. Pulling the trigger three times, he blasted a group of Rahkshi apart with his cannons. "Twenty-three," he whispered.

He had nearly reached the outskirts of the city, and therefore presented a larger target for the Rahkshi. Pohatu pulled up into a climb and pushed the throttle to its limit, blasting away from the Rahkshi before they could retaliate. He glanced down. The beach was littered with ruined husks of Rahkshi, their Kraata vaporized or split in two. But it wasn't enough. They were still cutting through the wall.

Pohatu sent the Rockoh into a dive, targeting one of the yellow Rahkshi threatening his Matoran friends. Just as he was about to fire, Pohatu caught sight of a Rahkshi aiming its staff at him. He rolled right - a fraction of a second too late. Pohatu screamed as a stinging hotness shot through his arm, a searing agony that reached up to his shoulder. He shut his eyes, trying to push through it.

It took only a second for the pain to subside, yet his shoulder still ached terribly. As his eyes came back on, he realized he was spinning wildly out of control and his vehicle was veering sharply to the right. Pohatu tried to grab the handle to steer left but missed the bar. Glancing down, he tried to find the control. The problem was obvious. The handle was fine - but his shoulder had become an empty socket.

Too late to worry about that now - he was getting perilously close to the ocean. With only one arm on the control bar, he pushed through the searing pain and tried to get enough grip to steer the vehicle. That was easier said than done. Pushing the right handle forward with all his might, Pohatu slowed the spiral a touch. It would have to do. Desperately, he pulled up on the bar, trying to rise before he crashed. The sea was fast approaching and his muscles burned as he tried to pull the vehicle up. It wouldn't be enough, and he was certain he would land hard in the ocean.

Suddenly, he felt an updraft around him, giving him enough lift to avoid crashing. He managed to twist the handle forward to right himself. After bringing the Rockoh to a steady hover, Pohatu looked around for the only Toa that could have saved him.

Lewa sidled up beside him. "No time for swimming now - wait till after we drive off these Rahkshi!"

"Thanks," said Pohatu, ignoring the ache in his shoulder. "Ready to follow me in for another pass?"

Lewa's eyes were drawn to Pohatu's empty shoulder socket. "Pohatu, I think you are slow-thinking. You are missing something very important."

"Right now, we have a city to save. We can worry about patching up injuries later."

"You are in no condition to battle-fly, Pohatu! Get to safety. I will fight for both of us!"

"I am not about to let the Rahkshi take our home." Pohatu's eyes narrowed. "I'm armless, not harmless."

For once, Lewa didn't crack a smile. Pohatu kicked his throttle and sped off to defend the city before Lewa could say any more to stop him.

Onua stood behind the wall that kept the city safe. It was his duty to make sure the wall kept standing. Blasts of light from the other side of the great wall, where the battle took place, strained his eyes. I wish Pohatu were here, he thought. He's much better suited to holding up walls. Onua looked up to the top of the barrier to see Takanuva perched behind a battlement, rapidly blasting light at the Rahkshi threatening to break through. Panicked Matoran fled the crumbling section of wall, abandoning their ruined turrets.

Onua heard more stone cracking and crumbling, as another part of the wall threatened to collapse. He was exhausted from the continued effort of holding the wall together, but he turned and held out his hands anyway. He willed dirt and soil into existence within the cracks, compacting as much into the spaces as he could.

He absolutely would not let the Rahkshi into the city.

Kopaka circled overhead, firing freezing blasts at the Rahkshi below. But the sound of Rahkshi screams and shattering stone never ceased. Suddenly, a dozen strikes hit a single point. The base of the wall was blasted open. Before Onua could do anything, the wall cracked and collapsed on itself. Dozens of Rahkshi climbed over the rubble.

An enormous voice echoed all around the city. "Citizens of Metru Nui, my forces have breached your city. Your defenses will not be able to protect you. Surrender to my rule, and your city will remain unharmed. Resist - and I cannot make any such promises."

As Onua suspected, Makuta was guiding the Rahkshi attack. The Matoran had already fled. By all means, the battle had already been lost. Now, only a dozen Toa stood in the way of Makuta's forces. 

Kopaka corkscrewed in, dodging blasts from Rahkshi staff weapons, and landed beside Onua. "Looks like you could use a hand," he said, as he froze a Rahkshi leaping towards them.

"Always appreciate the help, Kopaka!" said Onua, slamming his hammer into the ground.

Rahkshi running towards the pair looked startled as the earth beneath their feet sunk ten feet down. Kopaka pointed his sword at the newly formed crater, freezing it over.

"There's more where that came from," said Kopaka, readying his sword and shield as he charged in to meet his foes.

Dozens more Rahkshi had already climbed through the shattered wall. Onua caught a glimpse of Takanuva leaping down from the wall, chasing down Rahkshi that were disappearing down the city streets, madly firing beams of light at them.

Quickly, Onua worked to rebuild the gaping hole. Earth and dirt rose up from below shattered columns, creating a new defensive barrier. It would hold up against the Rahkshi - at least, for a short while.

Nearby, Kopaka traded blows with two Rahkshi. Onua ran in to assist him. Activating his Mask of Strength, he swung his heavy hammer at one of Kopaka's attackers. The Rahkshi tried to block with its staff, but Onua's swing was far too powerful. The Rahkshi's staff shattered, its body cracked, and its Kraata was crushed.

There was no time to celebrate. The sound of metal striking metal rang through the air as Kopaka traded thrusts with another of the invaders. Movement to Onua's right caught his eye as another Rahkshi lunged at him. Onua swung his hammer out to meet it. Just as he would have batted the Rahkshi out of the air, it disappeared. The weight of his hammer pulled him around. Where could it be? 

The obvious place would be behind him. Onua circled, whirling his hammer to where he predicted it would be. The Rahkshi quickly ducked beneath the blow. Onua parried the Rahkshi's strike away and swung at it. Once again, the Rahkshi disappeared. Trying the same trick twice?

This time, Onua quickly swung his hammer over his head and behind him. The beast materialized a second before Onua's hammer crushed it.

He looked up to check on Kopaka.

Kopaka held up his shield to block his foe's jab and countered with his own blade. He was wearing the Mask of Strength, and his blade sliced cleanly through the Rahkshi's head.

"Good work, brother," said Onua.

The perimeter wall was coming under fire again, already on the verge of a second collapse. The rest of the Rahkshi had already disappeared, having already entered deeper into the city.

Once again, the booming voice of Makuta drowned out the sounds of fighting. "Surrender, Toa - you cannot hold my sons off forever."

Give up? Surrender? They had never done that before. Even when all was lost, when everything seemed helpless, the Toa Nuva always pulled through. They would never abandon the Matoran to their fate.

But what if, by staying, the Matoran would be made to suffer? They had, effectively, already lost this battle. If they continued to resist, the Matoran might be tortured - or even killed. All because we don't know when to give up. What would he do? What could he do?

One thing was for sure - he wouldn't give up. "Come on, Kopaka," he said, using his powers of earth to reinforce damaged sections of the wall. "We've still got a city to save."

Tahu hovered high above the city, taking in the formation of the Rahkshi below. A small group on the bank were using sonic blasts to breach another hole in the wall. None of them were paying attention to anything else going on around them. A rookie mistake. Tahu pushed his Jetrax into a dive, taking aim at the intruders. The wall crumbled under the combined might of the sonic blasts, and chunks of stone and protosteel flew everywhere. Tahu squeezed the trigger.

Bursts of light consumed the Rahkshi, and moments later, they were all vaporized.

Tahu pulled up, looking for his next target. As he moved into position, he caught sight of Lewa and Pohatu making their own attack runs. As Rahkshi swarmed around weak sections of wall, the ground beneath them exploded into stone spikes, sending Rahkshi flying. Pohatu's doing, of course. Lewa swooped by, creating an enormous gale. The Rahkshi were sent flying out into the ocean. Tahu took advantage of the chaos to take a pass at the downed Rahkshi, destroying four with his Skyblasters.

Lewa followed Pohatu in for another run at the Rahkshi below. Lewa's Axalara was slower than Pohatu's Rockoh, but better armored. If they were being reasonable, Lewa should have gone in first, shielding Pohatu from any attacks.

Pohatu was not being reasonable.

The two Toa fired their crafts weapons at the Rahkshi, vaporizing two more. Then they rose, sending their craft into barrel rolls to evade any potential hits from behind. Once out of range, they'd flip around take another pass.

Lewa was just managing to keep up with Pohatu's passes. The Rockoh could reach speeds the Axalara couldn't hope to achieve, but Lewa had been flying for much longer than Pohatu had. He was one with the air, able to feel the turns and the wind. He knew how to turn tighter, how to evade better, and most importantly, how to plan his maneuvers. A little nudge with the wind every now and then didn't hurt, either.

He pulled back on the control handle, sending the nose of the craft rising up and over even as he rolled the ship to his right-hand side. The result was a fast and effortless maneuver that soon had him facing the Rahkshi again. He brought the targeting reticule over the Rahkshi and prepared to fire, even as Pohatu blasted past. Another pull of the trigger, another destroyed Rahkshi, and another bank to the left to line up yet another shot.

The two Toa began to rush in for another attack. Lewa aimed at the next Rahkshi, this one a deep blue. Out of the corner of his eye, Lewa spotted a group of Rahkshi taking aim at them on the beach. "Pohatu, high-rise! High-rise!"

Lewa rolled his craft out of the way before the attack could come. He saw Pohatu pulling back on the handle as hard as he could with only one arm. A blast of lightning appeared where Lewa had been seconds ago - Pohatu was caught in the middle of it. Pohatu forced himself to roll right and dive, trying to evade the blast.

Quickly, Lewa bracketed the silver Rahkshi that was blasting Pohatu with lightning. Lewa fired. The silver Rahkshi was engulfed by light and disappeared.

Lewa turned back to check on Pohatu and saw smoke billowing out of the Rockoh.

"Pohatu!" Lewa shouted. "It's time to quick-leave!" He pointed away from the battle, toward the open sea. "You cannot quick-dodge with one arm. You are going to get yourself killed!"

Pohatu looked back at the Rahkshi pouring into the city, determination in his eyes.

"Please, brother," Lewa begged. "I can't true-shoot Rahkshi while I dark-worry about protecting you."

Pohatu sighed. "You're right. I'll find a safe place to land." He flipped his vehicle around and looked back to Lewa. "You'd better fry enough Rahkshi for both of us." He revved the engine and was gone.

Lewa snap-rolled, and prepared to make another pass on the Rahkshi.

Onua continued to hold up a defensive earthy wall as best he could. Kopaka used his powers to freeze it, making it sturdier. But blast after blast struck against it, and Kopaka knew Onua was tiring. Kopaka coated the wall with another blast of ice when he heard the sounds of heavy footsteps approaching. He turned to see a squad of oncoming Rahkshi charging at them from behind.

"Great," Kopaka said. "Looks like they've found another way in."

Onua created one last layer of earth to hold up the wall as he turned around. "They aren't going to quit!"

Once again, Onua ripped apart the ground. Rahkshi fell in, and he pulled the ground back together. The earth crumbled and cracked as it crushed the Rahkshi trapped within.

Kopaka fired a beam of ice at the ground, freezing the feet of more of the attackers in place. But for every Rahkshi that they stopped, two more seemed to appear. Beams of heat and destruction filled the air. Kopaka felt the warmth in his arm as one blast whizzed inches from his arm. He summoned a wall of ice, and the two Toa took cover behind it.

Onua peered over and fired a ball of earth, quickly ducking back down just before an energy blast passed overhead.

"We have to get out of here," said Kopaka. "This isn't a fight we can win. Onua, dig us a hole!"

Onua didn't say a word. He simply willed the earth to move out of the way, forming a tunnel below them.

Kopaka used his Mask of Vision to see take note of where the Rahkshi were without having to peer over the cover he had created. He focused, and froze the ground under the largest group, forcing the temperature lower and lower until the Rahkshi were frozen solid.

"Are you ready?" Onua asked, already climbing into the tunnel.

"I'm always ready," replied Kopaka. He climbed in after Onua.

Once they were both safely below ground, Onua pushed the earth back into place behind them and continued digging in the darkness.