He’d finally stopped skitterishly looking out his window, at long last able to relax in the shadows of his room.
That was the day the alarm sounded.
A large crash could be heard in the courtyard, followed by the screams of the guards. The ring of unsheathed weapons sounded, the noises of battle ensuing.
To Iruini, he knew it was not another training exercise; nothing like this ever came from the grounds outside of his rooms. Darting to his window, he witnessed the beginnings of a battle. A crowd was charging not from the shores, but at them, attempting to overwhelm whatever was out there. Whoever they were, they were no doubt to be torn to pieces as they encountered the approaching squads… who before Iruini’s eyes were being scattered like leaves in the wind.
Behind him stood Toa Norik, watching alongside as reinforcements paraded from the fortresses. The Toa of Fire stood narrow eyed out the window, tightly clenching his lava spear. There was wisdom in waiting for orders from Makuta Teridax, but they needed to get out into the scene and help their fellow Brotherhood members. Without a moment more of hesitation, Norik flipped out of the window and into the fight. Iruini stood, dumbstruck by the scene below him. With a snort from his mask, he snatched his own Hagah staff and shield and used his Kualsi to teleport into the chaos.
It was an army charging toward an unseen enemy, as the Toa of Air scrambled to keep pace with the stampede. From all around Destral, whispers of reinforcements were spreading for an unseen enemy that had not been stopped,when a normal intruder would be in chains by now. They would look like fools, Iruini grumbled as he sprinted to keep up with the Rahkshi he was flanking. The entire Brotherhood headed to battle to stop one single opponent. The enemy was no longer on the shores of the island, and the armies that charged were pouring into the Brotherhood’s booby traps like a waterfall. None of the machines saw anything wrong at first, but Iruini, in desperation to escape this senseless barrage, he glimpsed a rock outcropping, and teleported to that, in order to figure what in Mata Nui’s name was going on.
The stream of defenders never stopped pouring out of the fortress, but toward what Iruini could not tell. They had been tricked, but where was the magician responsible for this? Scanning the crowd, he did not see it at first. But something flitted in and out of their lines, a bright glow weaving its way through the masses. It struck like a needle, each entity that it brushed close to was struck down, as if whatever was out there meant to sew down the fabric of the battlefield it was flattening.
The Toa of Air sat on the outcropping in disbelief as he watched a line of Bohrok and Exo Toa into heaps on the grounds of the Brotherhood. Whatever was out there, it glowed as it struck down defenders of Destral, yet no one was able to shoot down its path. As he attempted to follow the blur, he caught sight of Toa Norik; Before the Toa of Fire could fight, however, he too was on the outcropping with Iruini.
“What–!?” he exclaimed as he tried to regain his balance.
“Whatever in Karzahni is out there, it’s too strong,” Iruini told his teammate, “It would cut you down like firewood, brother.”
“That is where you underestimate me,” Norik countered as they watched the blur. Looking over towards the Toa of Air as he crouched behind his shield, he hinted, “It is not always a necessity to be faster than your opponent. In some cases, you sometimes must be… slower.” Norik’s eyes were trained on the weaving opponent as it came close to their point. As soon as it came near enough, he traced the path, and shot a Rhotuka to cross with the speeding needle. The Rhotuka impacted, its slow power snagging onto the entity for half a second. Iruini’s eyes went wide as he couldn’t believe what he saw- the blur was a golden and white Toa, moving at a speed not even a Kakama could keep with, furiously combatting anyone within reach. The color scheme was not familiar, but the beams firing from his hands gave him enough information about the Toa. His motives however- a Toa gone ballistic and making a one man attack on the Brotherhood of Makuta– would have to wait for later, when he had been captured.
While the two Toa Hagah took advantage of Norik’s spinner power, so did the mysterious attacker. A beam of light went their direction, but it went high, flying into the dark sky above the battle before he went speeding along again. Iruini ducked, dragging Norik with him until he stared into the Toa of Air’s horrified eyes. “Gaaki and the others. We have to warn them.”
The Mask of Quick Travel lived up to its name, but the stranger was still quicker.
The two Toa Hagah arrived in a pile of rubble where a magnificent guard room had stood moments before. Norik used his spear to throw a block off of him, then emerged from the pile of stone, the Toa of Air in his stead.
Around them, four bodies slumped into the walls, blank stares from their Kanohi, though their staffs were still pointed high. Footsteps could be past the doorway they had guarded, pacing with a sinister calmness. Norik and Iruini pressed themselves against the wall before the doorway, cautiously peeking around the corner to see the stranger. Logic baffled them as they saw the golden Toa walk through the chamber, toward the one article that sat on the pedestal at the end of the hall: the Kanohi Avohkii, the Great Mask of Light. He looked at it with a hard expression, then almost smiled. He too seemed to sense the sacredness of the mask, and was reluctant in grabbing it. That reluctance was all Iruini needed as he popped in the room, sweeping the mask into his pack and pinning a very surprised Toa to the damaged wall.
“Who are you?” he demanded, his mask sneering into the Toa. A garble of syllables came out of his mouth, which Iruini shoved him for. “Answer the question!”
“And whatever you do, don’t think of trying your little speedster trick once again,” Norik warned. “Or you’ll find yourself to be a fading little spark, you have my word on that.”
“Doesn’t matter my name,” the stranger garbled, Iruini’s cyclone staff pressed against his throat. “All that matters is what I am- the Toa of Light.” The two Toa Hagah glared at him, their suspicions confirmed. But there was a hint of confusion as well; prophecies foretold of the coming of this Toa, but it said that the Avohkii was needed to begin this claim, not end it. How then, could this Toa exist?
“What was the point of all of this?” Norik demanded. “What did the Brotherhood do to deserve this slaughter?”
“The Brotherhood has not informed you of much,” he spat. “What I’ve done is merely brought back a sample of what they’re putting out into the universe.”
“The Makuta have sworn their oaths to Mata Nui,” the Toa of Fire responded. “They would never commit any act such as what you’ve done.”
“You’re blind,” the Toa of Light said. “Look around your universe, not just where the Brotherhood tells you to go. They’re adding to the universe what they shouldn’t, and it’s causing too much chaos out there. Stand down on the ground that they are justified because they are the ‘brothers’ of the Great Spirit. That is your downfall. The banner of the Makuta must be taken down for another order. Give me the mask, and I can make you understand.”
“That mask is Brotherhood property,” the emerald and gold Toa warned. “Taking it from here is an act of treason.”
“The war started a long time ago, Hagah,” the Toa said, spitting the title out as an insult. “The Makuta were the ones that stole the Avohkii and have been hoarding it here. Why would Artakha make the Mask of Light for beings of shadow?”
“You already have your power of light- what will the mask do?” Norik inquired.
“It will make my coming complete. The Brotherhood must fall as I rise!” Iruini stared at the Toa pinned by his staff, dumbfounded by the insanity he radiated. The rogue warrior could feel the slack in the Toa’s grip, and forcibly pushed him away. Iruini tripped over the rubble strewn across the room, Norik rushing to help him, but it was too late. The Toa had triggered his power over light to snatch the mask before the other two could blink, triumph in his eyes as it replaced his own strange Kanohi.
“I will let you two live, though I did not let your companions,” he said, a fire in his eyes as he looked at the two through the Avohkii. Though he was a being of light, he was drawn into the shadows of this fallen place. The two Toa gripped their staffs tightly, ready to die fighting regardless of what the maniac had promised. “Let the Brotherhood know that I am not the only one out there; That their wrongs have been noted, and there are other beings out there who have known justice long before your masters imposed their form of it on the world. That true justice will be here soon enough.”
Norik and Iruini crossed their staffs to attack, but he was already gone, as fast as the light he commanded. Through an opening into the main courtyard, they could see a streak pass through, toward the horizon, and leaving the island to ponder what had happened. For now, the two attended to the bodies of the others who had guarded the Hall of Masks, thinking of the time their Makuta had shown his Hagah a circuit board. The universe was like a circuit board, he had told them. The energy that lit up the board produced was necessary to keep the board running, but it also had a cooling system that would prevent it from overheating and becoming too bright. Each of the elements was like this, in that one was always counter the other. Water and stone, air and earth, fire and ice… even shadow and light. This was why the Kanohi Avhokii had to be guarded with such importance; light was always present in the universe, and if it were allowed to rebel, it would overlight the world. Shadow was there to make sure that the world remained cool and orderly.
There was a difference, Norik thought, of a rebel who knew their wrong and their right, and the senseless renegade who needed to be taken down. Looking back at his fallen brothers and sister, the Toa of Fire angrily stared out into the ocean beyond the injured courtyard. He and Iruini had their orders to stay on Destral, but as soon as they were done, the two would be out there, seeing what truths he spoke about what the Brotherhood had done, and showing that Toa a little of their own truth.