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Many Powers[]

Vohk sped toward a sea of mercenaries and Rularx’s hideous creations. His best friend, Levuku, and that annoying nerd, Ferrak, followed him into the fray. Vohk plowed into the line of enemies like a well-aimed javelin and immediately set out kicking, punching, clawing, tail-stinging, and otherwise beating them into submission. A mercenary swung at him, but he dodged and leaped at the enemy soldier with his right foot forward. Vohk plowed into and past the mercenary, then leaped the other way with another kick on the way. Finally Vohk latched onto his enemy’s chest armor and figured out how to take it off. A quick stab from his tail stinger put the mercenary on the ground.

Levuku swatted one of the hideous beasts Dastrox had ordered forward with his staff, and followed that up with a burst of acid to its face. The greenish liquid ate through the beast’s armor and spelled the end of its unnatural life. The beasts did not appear to be intelligent, but merely attack drones that were all but mindless. A few of them, outfitted with rocket backpacks, seemed smarter and more competent in battle, but they seemed to be no more than the equivalent of soldier bees, while their inferior brethren were the workers. Levuku took them both down. They were obviously created by the Makuta, and where they came from, more would as well. As he continued to tear them down with his staff, Levuku had little on his mind but what he was doing to the beasts’ numbers. Keeping said numbers down was all that mattered. Just like the Scorpio-Spiders of old, they fought best in large groups.

Levuku got himself into the middle of four of the beasts, and not intentionally, either. Still, he used it to his advantage. Using the same trick he had used on the Chilas after meeting Ferrak, he got the drones to charge, then teleported out of the way. A quick spray of acid ended all four of the beasts once they piled up in Levuku’s previous location.

Ferrak grabbed another freakish beast by the ankle and swung it at its brethren. Having one in each hand was much nicer than having only one in his right hand, like he had had for the past few moments. With swing after swing, Ferrak took down more of the mindless creatures.

“Is it supposed to be this easy?” he remarked with a smug smile.

“Hey, don’t jinx it, dude!” Vohk shouted back. “I like this change of pace!”

Levuku laughed. It was rather easy, he had to admit, but the mass of drones they had torn through was just a drop in the bucket compared to the entire force. They were still pouring from the mouth of the fortress, swarming down the slope toward the Order of Altronia’s army. “Just pace yourselves, guys,” Levuku called. “There’s lots more to come.”

“I am pacing myself, Levuku,” Vohk smiled. “And my pace is always lightning fast!” The youthful speedster barreled into a thick wad of the ugly drones, flooring them all. Ferrak leaped through the air and landed on the whole group of them, smashing their armor out a little flatter than it had been before.

“Thanks, nerd,” Vohk smirked.

“Don’t mention it, delinquent,” Ferrak teased back.

The trio continued to fight through the ranks of creatures and soldiers, and they eventually ran into Faxhuun and his closest advisors, called his retinue, and the Toa Tronux. All of them were fighting well, but they were also pacing themselves. Faxhuun may have been passionate, but he wasn’t stupid. The way to win this battle was persistence, not speed. He had told his followers this, and they took his advice. Even as Recvak flew over their enemies, conjuring powerful winds to scatter them like dust, and Liakatus made icy stalagmites materialize in the most deadly places for his enemies, they never expended much energy.

Runik told his teammates the same thing. They could not win through overwhelming speed, because they had no juggernaut of power to lead a charge like that. All they could do was fight it out and last as long as they could. Bartha pounded foes into the ground with his hammer, Jahvoka disintegrated their armor with sonic attacks, Yurdil felled many a weak-minded drone with mental energy, Rewta morphed her shape to flatten multiple foes at once, and Runik torched the beasts all the while.

Nearby, a Toa known only as Quake, a newcomer to the Order and a brutal-loner-type sort, carved a gash in the ranks of his foes with his earth-based, incredibly powerful, extremely brutal attacks. He had been alone much of his life, as far as he remembered, and now found himself with allies once more. He appreciated the statistical advantage, even if he felt he didn’t really need help. Judging from the way he was fighting, many of his allies thought he might just have been correct in that assessment.

These Toa, fighting together, all in harmony, was a true example of the Three Virtues at work. In Unity, they performed their Duty on their way to their Destiny. It was a good example, but it was not the ultimate one. For some reason, be it chance or design or even Destiny itself, the Toa realized this almost simultaneously. Runik immediately ordered Bartha to throw up a wall of spikes, which Runik added flames to, effectively, if temporarily, creating an impregnable barrier. Yurdil flashed to all the others that she had a great idea, but immediately sensed that all those around her already had that idea as well.

Runik glanced around. “I take it everyone has the same idea I do, judging from the flash I got from Yurdil.”

The others nodded. Faxhuun folded his arms. “Any volunteers?”

Recvak and Liakatus responded immediately, out of duty to not fail their leader. Rewta raised her hand, looking forward to what was to come. Bartha raised his hand as well, ready to be part of something greater than himself. No one else volunteered, so Faxhuun shrugged and selected Quake.

“Get over here, soldier,” he said gruffly.

“Try to make me,” Quake responded.

Faxhuun glared. “I would do more than try,” he said darkly.

Quake suddenly smiled. “I got an idea, boss. Tell you what, I’ll do it if you do it, too. That’ll save us the trouble of fighting it out.”

Faxhuun looked hesitant. Liakatus came up behind him with a slap on the back. “What’s the matter, old friend? We’re doing it. Can you do less?”

Faxhuun hung his head. “Fine. I have no idea if I will still be able to order you all, but if I do, do exactly as I say,” he said sternly, pointing at his comrades. “Got that?”

With nods from his new partners, Faxhuun then planted himself on the ground with his arms extended out to his sides. The others joined him, all locking hands to form a ring.

“Go for it, guys!” Levuku shouted, trying to keep the drones from coming around the flaming iron barrier.

“Do it!” Vohk shouted from the other side. “It’ll be so awesome!”

“That it will,” Recvak agreed. “On your count, Faxhuun.”

The ancient Toa of Fire, the leader of the Order of Altronia, nodded and prepared for what he was about to attempt to undertake.

“Three.” Faxhuun reconciled in his mind what exactly was about to happen.

“Two.” Faxhuun steadied himself, preparing to give his individuality up for the sake of creating something far greater than the sum of its parts.

“One.” Faxhuun gathered his willpower and prepared to thrust his very being into union with those around him.


A lone mercenary started up at the horde of drones attempting to scale the recently extinguished spiny barrier. He knew something was going on back there, but not what. The thing was that he didn’t care. All he cared about was the destruction of the Toa on the other side of that barricade.

“Out of my way, filthy things!” he mercenary growled. He leveled his spear at the wall, ready to fire energy from it and blow it to bits. “Let someone who know what he’s doing take care of this!”

Suddenly there was a flash of light from behind the barrier. The drones at the top of the wall shrieked and leaped off the structure, read to get as far away as possible. Their brethren, uninformed of the events behind that wall, kept climbing to see what was going on. Even the mercenary lowered his weapon and took a step toward the structure, curious about what made that light a moment ago.

He got his answer earlier than expected. A burst of pure power blew the barricade to smithereens from the other side, ripping the metal to tiny, ribbon-like shreds and scattering it around the battlefield. The freakish beasts that had been scaling it were strewn around the area like worthless pieces of rubbish. The mercenary stood perfectly still, mouth agape, not believing what his eyes told him was in fact there, right in front of him.

A massive warrior stood there, armored body gleaming in the light. Its armor was possessed of a rather varied color scheme, having red, blue, green, white, black, silver, and gold pieces. The warrior held a gigantic sword, with a blade measuring ten feet in length, and a sizeable shield strapped to its other arm. The titan itself was thirteen feet tall, with a powerful body and gleaming mask that just screamed to everyone nearby that this being was an incredible powerhouse.

“Six have become one,” the titan said in a voice that was commanding, intelligent, hardened, experienced, youthful, and likeable all at the same time. “We are Toa Nui. I am Altron.”

The mercenary could do little more than scream for all he was worth and run like mad in the completely opposite direction.

“DUDE!” Levuku shouted with a huge grin on his face. “AWESOME!”

“Amazing,” Ferrak breathed. “I never thought I would see this phenomenon in person.”

“Yahoo!” Vohk cheered. “Go, guys! Go kick backside and take names!”

Altron gave no sign that he had heard Vohk, but whether he had or he hadn’t, he did as Vohk suggested nonetheless. The Toa Nui activated his mask, the Kanohi Aln, and specifically the power of Recvak’s Mask of Flight, to take to the air and fly right over the thick of Rularx’s forces.

Recapar could not help but notice as the massive warrior, armor gleaming, sword glowing with raw power ready to be unleashed, soared over his head toward the center of Rularx’s army. He watched as the new Toa Nui conjured his power, calling upon the powers of Earth, Lightning, Fire, Wind, and Ice all at once to create a massive elemental storm that ripped through the ranks of Rularx’s minions. He watched in helplessness as the warrior plummeted to the ground, slammed into the earth, and unleashed a shockwave that ripped through the ground, creating a tidal wave of rock and sediment that bulldozed through the area, pulverizing Altron’s enemies in its wake. Recapar watched all this occur right in front of him, but could do no more than say, “Oh, great ravaging flames of Karzahni. This is not good at all.”

A few dozen meters off, perched atop the roof of his fortress, Rularx was thinking much the same thing. As Altron unleashed massive lightning bolts, rained down fire and hail upon his enemies, and let terrible tremors rip through the earth, The Makuta knew some countermeasure was required to maintain some semblance of an advantage in this battle.

Rularx thought back. Many years ago, back when he first began dabbling in mechanical engineering, he had created a robot he christened DASTRO. As he became more proficient in the field of study, he made later and more effective robots, making nine similar yet successively more powerful units he called the DASTRO Series. Those first nine he now called the Alpha class, for after the ninth he discovered a revolutionary new way of proportioning the servos and joints of his robots, and thus could make them smaller and more efficient in design. The first of the new class, the Beta class, was named Dastrox, or Defensive, Aggressive, and Sociable Techno-Robotic Operative X, with the X standing for “Mark Ten.”

Rularx now used Dastrox for all the purposes of his past robots, and Dastrox did those tasks well, but one thing the newer, smaller robot could not quite match was the raw power of his predecessors. Until the end of the Alpha class, Rularx had used parts from his past robots to build his new ones, but after the ninth, he built Dastrox from scratch. That meant that his ninth robot, DASTRO-IX, was still in one piece and, though deactivated, perfectly functional.

Rularx only smiled as he ducked back into his fortress and made his way toward his storage room. Rularx shot through the halls, cut as many corners as he could, and generally rushed to his destination, the anticipation of the coming mayhem gnawing at his cold resolve, straining it and threatening to unleash unrestrained mirth.

As Rularx passed by the dormitory, he was hailed by Vissus, and the mercenary leader inquired as to why he and the other Revolutionaries were not in action at that moment.

“Don’t worry, Runask,” Rularx replied. “You will get your action. I am cooking up something grand for you and your team.”

With that, Rularx made his way to the storage chamber. The Makuta turned the knob and cast the door open, inviting a slew of angry dust particles to swarm forth from the door and sweep past him in a burst of stale wind. The Makuta shot a tiny lightning bolt from his hand, aimed at an extinguished lightstone on the roof of the chamber. The power energized it, activating the illumination source for the first time in a while. The light played down on a massive steel form clad in protosteel armor and sporting huge fists and a wicked sword, as well as several auxiliary weapons.

Rularx smiled as he reached behind the metal titan and placed his hand on its activation plate. He let an insignificant portion of his power kick-start the machine and boot it back up into functionality.

“DASTRO-IX is online and ready for instruction,” the robot declared in a monotone, yet powerful and intimidating voice.

Rularx smiled. “Remember me, old buddy?”

The metal man turned and nodded. “Makuta Rularx, undisputed ruler of all he lays eyes upon and all lands he sets foot upon.”

Rularx folded his arms proudly. “One and the same. You know why I have activated you?”

The robot nodded again. “There is some entity or entities that require halted existences. This unit has been called to fulfill this requirement.”

Rularx nodded. “There is a massive warrior outside who needs a good, old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness killing. Be a good devastating mechanoid and blow him to about a million-and-a-half pieces, will you?”

DASTRO-IX turned to leave. Rularx waved a hand, magnetically ordering the walls to open and admit his reactivated operative. The robot trudged out the new door and continued to storm into the battle even as the walls closed back up.

Rularx again located Dastrox and teleported to the field commander. He glanced out at the battle. With a start, he saw that the Hokanuka had shown up and made quite a splash as well. Yaltrax, specifically, had rampaged through a slew of Rularx’s minions.

Looking for his pet robot, Rularx saw that, surprisingly, it was appearing to be heading straight toward Yaltrax. This was unexpected, but Rularx didn’t move to interrupt his operative.

I suppose I was not very clear when I told him which “massive warrior” to trash, Rularx realized. Either way, it works out. I guess I’ll have to deal with the Toa Nui myself.

As Rularx soared off to confront Altron, Yaltrax spotted the giant robot headed his way and charged it immediately. A massive shockwave ripped from the point where the two titans collided. It was android versus animal, robot against raging beast, brutal clashing with calculating. There could be only one winner, and that winner’s victory would not be a very clean one at all.

Zallirix sliced at another drone. He hacked another one’s chest armor, tearing it open. He then did what any self-respecting warrior would do in that situation, and ran the thing through. Anther creature leaped at him, landing on his back and aiming to get at his throat. Zallirix leaped into a backflip, putting the creature on the ground in front of him and vulnerable to a deadly horizontal slash from Zallirix’s bladed spear.

The maniac had been at it for some time. He was trying to avoid the other soldiers and just keep to himself as he fought. They all hated him, and he them. It was best to avoid putting one’s life in the hands of those who hated one’s guts.

“Ha-HA!” Zallirix shouted as he decapitated a bestial drone. “Watch out! You might lose your head out here! There’s lots of them rolling around!”

Another drone foolishly tried to attack Zallirix, but the crazy fighter threw his spear with deadly accuracy, piercing and killing his opponent in one strike. “And watch out for flying weapons! They can be hazardous to your health! Ha-ha-ha!”

As he said these words, a few of the creatures moved to block Zallirix from getting his spear. Chances that they were doing it on purpose were little to none, but nonetheless they did it, and Zallirix had to deal with it. Thankfully, he was more than ready to deal with it. Grinning, he prepared his claws for hand-to-hand combat.

A quick thrust put his claws through a drone’s abdominal armor. “I’m not all hack-and-slash, you know,” Zallirix said with a smirk.

Zallirix pulled his hand free and leaped, landing a spinning kick to the face of another drone. “I’ve got plenty of beat-em-up deep inside, just waiting to be unleashed!”

Three more drones leveled their weapon arms at Zallirix and opened fire, energy bolts searing through the air near Zallirix’s head. Dodging, he crowed, “I see you’re going more “shoot-em-up.” That’s cool, too. I’m open-minded.”

Zallirix performed several flips across the ground, avoiding more energy bolts in a flurry of motion. He performed a rapidly twisting gymnastic leap and landed right by the body of a fallen drone. With a bit of force, he wrested the blade off its robotic arm. Then he was gone, leaping impossibly high to come down right on top of one of the firing squad members, blade-first. “I’m not a hater of your form of expression,” Zallirix continued, “But I do hate it when you get in the way of mine. Clash of the artists! MARTIAL artists!”

With a laugh, Zallirix leaped off the collapsing body of the drone he had stabbed, and landed on the drone next to it. He took it down, then used it as a meat shield when its partner fired upon it. “Now, see, I know a weak spot when I see it,” Zallirix said, glancing at the battery pack attached to his drone’s energy gun. It was glowing with a red light and looked rather flimsy and unstable.

With a look of barely controlled mirth, Zallirix grabbed the unstable battery, ripped it off, carved a slight gash in it with his claw, and lunged at his last remaining enemy. “Open wide!” he said as he happily shoved the battery into the beast’s mouth. Zallirix got out of the way before the battery exploded with a small, concussive blast. It was not much, but it was enough to spell the end of the force-fed drone.

Zallirix glanced around for his spear, but saw it not. It wasn’t even still lodged in the drone he had thrown it at.

“Looking for something?” said a gravelly voice from behind Zallirix.

Zallirix whirled to find, of all beings, Recapar standing there, Zallirix’s weapon in one hand, his own weapon in the other. The Shadow Toa taunted Zallirix with his very posture, his very attitude, his very expression of distaste for the rather pathetic-looking mental case before him.

“You know, I hate the 'finders keepers' rule” Zallirix admitted. “Can we agree that it’s stupid and just move on? You know, part ways dramatically and go along with our respective lives?”

Recapar shook his head. “Guess not.”

Zallirix shrugged and turned away, trying to come up with another idea. “Well, I thought I’d ask, anyway.”

Recapar cast Zallirix’s weapon aside and drew back his own. Just as Zallirix turned back to Recapar, one finger raised to signify his having something to say, Recapar’s mace connected with his head, sending him spiraling away. The nutcase hit the ground in a daze. He tried to rise, but failed to do more than lift his arm pathetically, then let it drop.

Recapar pointed his open palm at Zallirix, with the energies of darkness and fire swirling around inside it. “You’ve been far too effective in this battle,” Recapar said coldly. “I cannot delay your demise any longer.” Zallirix looked into the miniature vortex of power with true fear and helplessness in his eyes, then simply laid his head back and prepared to die.

He had made preparations too early. A blast of green acid landed on Recapar’s arm, forcing the Shadow Toa to cancel his power blast and draw back in pain and shock. Another blast was aimed at his chest, but the Shadow Toa dodged most of it. A curved spray of caustic fluid spread over the corrupted warrior, launched from a familiar staff. The owner of said staff stood by Zallirix in his defense.

Recapar, having taken quite a bit of damage, pulled back a few steps to recuperate. Zallirix’s defender grabbed him by the underarms and dragged him away from Recapar. The Shadow Toa tried to pursue, but four Rhotuka spinners struck the ground in front of him, creating mini-cyclones that obscured his vision. By the time he could see again, Zallirix and his rescuer were gone.

A short distance away, Zallirix had finally gotten over that blow to the head, and was now working on getting over the surprise of his savior’s identity. “Why would you save me?” he asked. He said “would” instead of “did” for a good reason. He was not asking for the specific reason his savior acted this time, but for the general reason that his savior would even consider it.

“Well,” Levuku said with a shrug, “you saved my hide from Zortak last battle. We’re even now.”

With a nod and a smile of farewell, Levuku teleported over to Ferrak and Vohk, who were busy driving Recapar backward into a larger force of warriors who could more effectively deal with him. Zallirix simply watched as they managed to do just that, then pulled away as soon as Recapar was surrounded by Altronia agents. Levuku looked back where he had left Zallirix, but his rival was already gone. For some reason, Levuku had hoped that he would have stayed a while longer, maybe give some show of appreciation for the saving of his life, but in his heart Levuku knew he could expect no more from Zallirix. He was just a hopeless mental case. He had no room for appreciation or sentiment in his twisted mind.

Sighing, Levuku turned back to his friends. Maybe, he hoped, someday, he could truly learn to forgive Zallirix, and Zallirix him. Maybe. Until then, he had to get back to fighting. Dreams weren’t going to win the day for justice, after all.

Yaltrax reeled from a hammerlike punch and flew backward, landing about ten feet back from where he had been earlier. He decided that, next time he tried to steal DASTRO-IX’s sword, he would use capture its other hand first.

The robot leaned forward, then activated its rocket boots and shot into Yaltrax like a cannonball. The bestial titan first was just taken along for the ride, but soon found the ground and locked his talons into it, trying his best to slow himself. Finally he managed to slow the rocket-powered rodeo enough that he could rear back and throw DASTRO-IX to the side, allowing the robot’s own thrusters to drive it into the rocky mountainside.

Yaltrax barely had time to catch his breath before the tireless machine was on him again, aiming its twin-barreled arm-mounted energy gun at him. Yaltrax put his arm up to shield his face from the assault and charged forward himself. Mark 9 drew its arm back to deliver a powerful swing of its sword, and Yaltrax, still shielding his face, didn’t notice until too late. He took the brunt of the blow on his ribcage armor, and the force of the blow caused him to bend over sideways. Mark 9 prepared another blow, but Yaltrax blocked this one with his well-armored claws. Yaltrax seized the blade in his hand, but this time he literally beat DASTRO-IX to the punch, driving his fist into the robot’s mask-like helmet.

With the robot momentarily off-balance, Yaltrax pressed his advantage. He slammed the mechanoid again and again with punishing blows that would be incredibly painful and rather distressingly brutal to a living being. Mark 9 had no feelings, though, and with each blow it merely tried vainly to regain its balance. Yaltrax landed punch after kick after headbutt after tail sweep, hammering the robot backward. This slowly drove DASTRO-IX backward into the crater it had created in the cliffside.

Yaltrax had blundered by driving the robot here. Now, to regain its balance, all the robot had to do was press its back up against the stone wall behind it. This it did, and more, it gripped the wall with its metallic fingers and thrust its feet up into Yaltrax while simultaneously firing its boot thrusters. Yaltrax literally flew back, sailing off into the distance.

Mark 9, under orders to destroy the “large titan” Rularx had mentioned, knew that it had to be sure of Yaltrax’s demise. It activated its thrusters immediately to follow Yaltrax, retracing his trajectory. Coming to the end of the arc, the robot flipped over in midair to land feet first on top of Yaltrax. The flight had carried the robot to just outside the fortress, near a side gate that a small Altronia force was fighting to get access to.

This was where the robot miscalculated. This ticked off Yaltrax more than the robot would have anticipated if it had cared about its victim’s feelings. Yaltrax, still face-down in the newly made gravel, swung his tail upward, nailing his enemy in the back with the club at the end of his tail. Yaltrax scrambled across the ground, not bothering to waste time standing up, and grabbed at his robotic rival. Mark 9 fired a rocket out of its arm cannon and blasts Yaltrax off itself. After rising to its feet, the robot turned around to see Yaltrax barreling toward it, horn-generated force field first. Even with the robot’s reflexes, there was no time to do anything, if anything could have been done. DASTRO-IX was smashed on the front of the shield like a bug on an airship’s windshield and carried backward. The robot finally came to a halt when its back slammed into the auxiliary fortress gate, creating a massive dent in it.

Yaltrax was in no mood to let up. He pushed Mark 9 into the door behind it. He was determined to crush the robot between his shield and the door behind it. The energy pulsating across the force field began to slowly tear at DASTRO-IX’s structure, as waves of energy rippled through the robot, damaging both its circuits and its internal mechanisms. Yaltrax kept pushing, driving the robot back against the wall. Something had to give.

Finally DASTRO-IX managed to free itself. It fired a rocket at the ground beside Yaltrax’s feet. The rock crumbled, causing Yaltrax to slip. With new ability to move, the robot pushed back Yaltrax’s shield. Being pushed ruined Yaltrax’s concentration, and the shield disappeared. Mark 9 reached for its opponent’s neck.

“Not so fast, robot!” Yaltrax raged, grabbing the robot’s arm. Yanking the robot in close and grabbing it by the head, he continued, “I’m not done yet!” With that, he twisted at the waist and slammed the robot down on the ground. Using the robot to lean on, he stood up and swung it the other way, then the other, each time driving it into the stony earth. Another slam. Another slam. Yet another. Finally, out of breath, Yaltrax tossed the robot at the door and broke it down. The Altronia troops nearby cheered and shouted thanks from across the battlefield.

Yaltrax was exhausted, so he decided to take it slow for a moment or two. Henceforth, he walked slowly away from the battered DASTRO-IX on his way to rejoin the battle. Unfortunately for him, the robot was not quite out of commission yet. It was moments away from having its automatic self-repair systems shut it down, but it managed to get one last lick in. The robot had a large supply of normal explosive rockets, but Rularx also equipped the unit with one super-powerful missile, which he called the “Bunker-Buster.” The rocket was intended as a finisher attack, a one-shot weapon to be used when the robot could not miss, or as a desperate last stand.

Mark 9 took some creative liberties. It decided to use the “Bunker-Buster” as a parting shot. It fired the rocket at the retreating Yaltrax right before lapsing into standby for self-repair. The lethal missile flew straight and true, striking Yaltrax in the back. The Hokanuka’s pet monster shot as if from a launcher, and careened through space until he came to a stop on top of a small group of Rularx’s drones.

Scraping little bits of evil creature off himself, Yaltrax stalked away in disgust and pain. Maybe take it easy for a longer while than I thought, he said to himself.

With Yaltrax added to the force again, the forces of the Order of Altronia-Yalnam militia-Hokanuka coalition began to make headway a little faster. Rularx, flying by overhead, saw this and didn’t like it. “Of course,” he monologued to himself, “The real reason for that headway is that Toa Nui. Best to off him, then see how well they do.” Smiling, he located Altron and prepared to test the mettle of the Order of Altronia’s champion.

Altron himself was having fun. With his incredible power, the world was basically a giant sandbox for him to play in, and the hordes and hordes of enemy drones were an angry nest of ants. Altron aimed at a few of them with his sword and shot a stream of fire out of the weapon. It was fun to burn the “ants” up with his “magnifying glass.”

The Toa Nui was hovering about thirty feet off the ground, raining down elemental fury from the skies while the fruits of his earth and iron powers erupted from the earth like myriad tentacles of some titanic octopus. A large group of Rularx’s drones, consisting of only the jetpack-equipped ones, swooped into meet him in the air. With a smile, the Toa Nui activated the mask power he got from Rewta. In a fraction of a second, the Toa Nui had transformed into a giant, flying, golden sword. Altron spiraled through the air, slicing through the drones in a flash. He transformed once more, this time into a club, and brought himself down upon a thick group of evil beasts.

“Keep coming, little ones,” said the living club with an understood smile. “It’ll just make my allies’ lives easier!”

“I’m all about making lives easier, Toa Nui,” Rularx said as he arrived. “But by ‘lives,’ I mean ‘life.’ Specifically, mine.”

Altron morphed back into his normal form. “Greetings, Makuta,” Altron said with a combination of etiquette and challenge in his voice. “If you’re here to fight I’ll gladly give you what you came for.”

Rularx laughed. “You are a quick one, fusion. Which of your component entities gives you that trait, may I ask?”

“I combine the strengths of experience and intelligence, practicality and strategic thinking, youthful vigor and aged determination, Rularx,” was the Toa Nui’s reply. “You would be wise to think twice about taking on the product of such values.”

“What about me?” Rularx replied, faking sounding hurt. “I’m a combination of pride and self-honesty, brilliance and ambition, cruelty and humor. I would say you should think twice about taking me on.”

Altron snarled and twirled his sword in anticipation of the coming battle. “I can back up my statement. Can you?”

Rularx smiled, then disappeared. Suddenly Altron lurched forward from a blow to his back. Rularx, just behind him, allowed the darkness swirling around his hands to dissipate, then said, “I just did.”

Altron wasted no time. First he surrounded himself in an electrical field, then launched fire and ice at Rularx. The Makuta turned intangible to avoid the attack, then used his weather powers to create a fog. Under the cover of the fog, he escaped.

Altron was not to be bested with such a routine trick. Summoning a whirlwind, the Toa fusion blew the fog away, then added ice powers to the wind to turn it into a blizzard. Rularx had a natural resistance to cold, as did all Makuta, but Altron’s powers seemed to have very few limits.

I go with quantity, not quality, Rularx thought. He circled Altron, using the winds to glide on. Locking his gaze on the Toa Nui, he fired his laser vision, which Altron was forced to block with his shield. The Toa Nui shot forward under his own power of flight. Rularx expected a frontal assault, so he teleported away. Unfortunately for him, Altron, thanks mainly to Liakatus’s and Faxhuun’s experience in battle, expected this and simply manifested an electric field around himself to shock his enemy into standing still.

“You want to play with electricity, do you?” Rularx sneered. He conjured a miniature thunderstorm and unleashed a lightning bolt on Altron. “Here, have some!”

Altron first dropped from the sky, looking stunned. Then he smiled, took to the sky again, and returned the same electric bolt back at its creator. “I have all the powers of a Toa of Lightning! You cannot electrocute me!”

Rularx dodged the bolt and shrugged. “Oh, well. It was worth a shot.” The Makuta finally drew his weapons. Reaching behind his back, he pulled out a sword that looked like a bat’s wing, and a device that had chains ending in spikes connected to a central point. Pressing a switch, the chains released from their clips and hung loose. The device then began to spin the chains, resulting in a rotating chain shredder. “Want to?” he asked his enemy.

Altron readied his own sword and shield. “Let’s,” he said simply.

The two of them charged at each other, and clashed swords immediately. It was obvious that Rularx was physically no match for Altron, for the Toa Nui had Faxhuun’s mask power enhancing his athletic ability and Bartha’s mask enhancing his strength. It was a good thing for Rularx’s sake, then, that he was smaller and more maneuverable. Altron hovered in place while Rularx swooped in and out of range, landing blows a few at a time, never connecting with anything but his enemy’s sword. On one pass he swung his chain and hooked the Toa Nui’s sword. Staying close, he forced Altron’s shield away from him with his foot, then struck with his sword. Altron simply morphed his torso to allow the blade to pass through. He then grabbed Rularx by the ankle with his shield-equipped arm and threw him at the mountain slope far below. The Makuta struck like a meteor, sending bits of rock flying every which way.

Altron was tiring of this battle, and he was now beginning to realize that Rularx was mainly trying to keep the Toa Nui out of the fight long enough for his own troops to win. Altron figured the best way to deal with this was to fight fire with fire. Rularx had been trying to stall him, so he would stall Rularx. Calling upon his iron powers, Altron materialized a small amount of metallic protodermis to work with. Guided by Liakatus’s Mask of Calculations, Altron fashioned a weapon that not only looked exactly the way he had wanted, but would function just like he wanted. It looked quite like a turbine, with handles for each of Altron’s hands, but it was in fact a cannon, designed to channel and combine Altron’s elemental energies.

The Toa Nui decided to test it out on some of Rularx’s drones. Firing, Altron channeled all six of his elemental powers into a single cannon blast. This produced a purple beam that created solid protodermis wherever it struck, all branded with a Toa Seal.

“Oh, Karzahni,” Rularx muttered. He had just got up in time to see Altron’s test fire. Now it was time to leave. Flapping his wings with a mighty thrust, the Makuta took to the air just in time to evade Altron’s first shot at him.

Rularx was off like a shot, the membrane of his bat-like wings flapping in the wind was he flew. Altron followed close behind, flying with his chest pointed down and the cannon close to his body, as if it was a gun mounted on an airship. Rularx rolled and banked at high speed to avoid purple energy blasts which were fired at him with ill abandon. Apparently Altron was manifesting a bit of Quake’s brutality at this time.

Rularx, in true jeopardy now, thought was fast as he could while still dodging energy bolts, any of which could spell the end of his part in this battle in one hit. Finally he managed to think of a plan. With some more thinking, he tweaked the plan, and molded and shaped the plan until he loved just thinking about it. Smiling, he banked to avoid another shot, then looped in a wide circle over and under Altron, then flew low over the heads of his minions. He followed the stream of green hideousness until he reached their spawning room. Here there was a gigantic machine creating hordes of Rularx’s drones, twenty at a time, and expelling them to send them out to the battlefield.

Rularx suddenly banked to the side and ducked behind some machinery. He was just in time, because as soon as he found a hiding spot, Altron was right on his tail, ready to spell the end of his foreseeable conscious life.

“Come out, Makuta, and taste the power of my Fusion Cannon!” Altron called happily.

Rularx projected his thoughts into Altron’s mind to conceal his location. Fusion Cannon? I was unaware that contraption had a name.

Altron raised the Fusion Cannon high. “I just gave it the name. Reveal yourself. I want to give you a proper introduction.”

Rularx’s mental chuckle disturbed Altron in some way. No thanks. I’ll pass. Buuuut… While we’re on the subject of names, how do you like the Bloodfiends?

Altron’s brow furrowed. “Bloodfiends?” He repeated.

Yes, Rularx affirmed. They are those wonderfully murderous, beautifully mindless, and hideously atrocious creatures you see out there. They are of my design.

Altron chuckled. “I was not aware those things had designs.” He continued to scan the room for his adversary.

They do indeed, fusion, Rularx assured him. In fact, they are an improvement on the classic Rahkshi creation process.

Altron laughed. “’Improvement’ is a bit of a stretch,” he retorted. Thinking he saw something move in the shadows, he darted his aim toward it, but it turned out to be his own shadow.

All that means is that the process is more efficient, Rularx returned. Instead of wasting a whole, fully-developed Kraata on a single Rahkshi, portions of my essence are simply fused to the larger body frame. The more fragments are stored in those devices against the wall.

"Those" devices "against the wall," Altron thought. That means he can’t be over there. Thanks, Makuta.

Much to his surprise, Rularx replied to Altron’s internal musings. You’re welcome. You seemed to need a hint. Anyway, as those fragments try to self-replicate, as they always seem to do, they are repeatedly chopped up and infused into more robotic bodies. Those machines automate all the work for me. Now, see, they are running pretty quickly now. They don’t usually. I put them in hibernation mode for a while, so they racked up a lot of extra fragments of Rularx essence. I just decided to cash them in for this battle.

Altron snorted. “Seems efficient, until you run out, that is,” he said.

Now, there’s the beauty, Rularx continued. I’ll run out of Bloodfiends long after you fools run out of soldiers. As to why they’re called Bloodfiends… It’s because they are made from my essence. After all, that means that even their very lifeblood is fiendish.

“Gotta give you credit, Makuta,” Altron remarked. “You’re perfectly honest about yourself.”

It’s my best quality, Rularx replied.

Altron smiled. “Well, since I haven’t found you…” He aimed the Fusion Cannon at the Bloodfiend factory. “I’ll just cripple your toy here.”

As Altron began to fire, Rularx grinned broadly. Ironically, that was just what Rularx was hoping Altron would do. He was hoping that the Toa Nui would distract himself long enough for Rularx to do what he planned to. Acting quickly, Rularx teleported to Altron’s position and conjured his powers. With a yell, Rularx unleashed his confusion and fragmentation powers on Altron simultaneously.

The confusion power ruined Altron’s concentration and even his mental stability. With the fragmentation power compounding this mental effect with a physical one, the strain was too much to bear. The fusion of Toa collapsed with a flash, leaving the original six heroes behind.

They all managed to land on their feet, which was fortunate for them, because Rularx wasn’t waiting around. With a long, triumphant laugh, the relieved Makuta rained down plasma, lasers, and darkness from above.

Scatter!” Faxhuun shouted, assuming command again.

No one was in any mood to argue except Bartha. “Sorry, boss. This is too good a chance. With a Mask of Strength-propelled leap, the Toa of Iron launched himself at Rularx’s Bloodfiend machine. With a mighty heave, he buried his warhammer’s head deep into the machine, ruining its mechanisms and bringing its production rate to a halt. Smiling, the Toa of Iron got out of the vicinity before the volatile parts of the assembly line exploded, sending hot metal and Bloodfiend parts flying everywhere.

Rularx let out a shout of rage and let loose with his laser vision, aiming to end Bartha right then and there, but an ice dome made by Liakatus shielded the Iron Toa from the attack. The dome also crumbled after the strike, however, so Bartha was forced to get moving quickly. He and his teammates rushed out the gate and waded into the sea of Bloodfiends, escaping Rularx for them moment at least.

In actual fact, aside from a quick outburst of anger, Rularx wasn’t aiming to destroy the Toa just yet. In fact, he was more concerned with shutting the main gate. Now that it was not spewing out vile creatures to attack Rularx’s foes, its being open was simply a liability on the Makuta’s part. Still, a quick magnetism-powered flip of a lever and the doors slid out of the fortress wall and met in the middle of the gateway, sealing the structure’s main door.

Master Rularx, Dastrox cut in, Side Entrance B has been compromised by Yaltrax. Enemy forces are using compromised barrier to infiltrate the fortress.

“Blast them all to Karzahni!” Rularx muttered. “Do I have to do everything around here?” Pull back, Dastrox. Head for the dormitory. You are relieved of your duties as Field Commander. I will now, in the absence of Ikirro, give that honor to Recapar.

As you command, Dastrox acknowledged.

Rularx mentally flashed Recapar his temporary promotion, which the Shadow Toa received with much enthusiasm, and teleported to Dastrox’s current location. The robot had moved far from the ruined barrier yet, so when Rularx teleported to him, the Makuta did not have to go very far to intercept the troops entering the ruined door.

“Makuta!” the Altronia unit commander shouted at his troops. “Fire!”

Elemental attacks and weapons fire flew by Rularx, but the Makuta kept cool. In comparison to defeating a Toa Nui, this was actually refreshingly easy. A dodge here, a bank there, and Rularx flew himself into the doorway. Slamming his hand down on a console just inside the door, Rularx activated the security door. His enemies took aim at him just as he did so, for he had stopped moving. Just before their attacks reached him, the door slammed shut, blunting the assault.

Was Rularx worried about the door being battered down? He was indeed, but only for a moment. “Defense mode!” he shouted at the fortress. Funnily enough, the structure actually responded, and a shimmer travelled down the walls as a protective energy field was brought into being around the structure. The field would not only shield from attacks and some of the Toa’s elemental ability to control the metal in the walls, but it protected the outermost walls of the structure from being penetrated by beings using intangibility powers. It was a near-perfect defense designed by Rularx himself, designed to protect against all manner of invaders, including other Makuta. He had installed it in all of his former fortresses, and always swiped the defense shield generators when he moved to a new location. Rularx wanted to keep his personal defense system’s design to himself.

There was a small group of Altronia soldiers inside the fortress. They had swarmed in when the door was open, and now were incapable of leaving. It was too bad, really, for Rularx decided to use them for chain weapon fodder. With that little problem taken care of, the Makuta telepathically located Recapar and performed his patented “teleport to other person’s location” trick once more.

Recapar saw his stand-in commander (stand-in only because Ikirro was not present) materialize beside him. He kept fighting, but said, “Greetings, Rularx.”

Rularx shot a nearby Altronia agent in the head with a shadow bolt. “Hello, my field commander. How are you and the troops faring?”

Recapar swung his mace, connecting with the same Toa Rularx had shot. “Far better now that that Toa Nui is gone.” He pressed a button on his weapon, and a chain released from the end of the mace’s shaft. The chain had the maceball still on the end of it, effectively allowing the weapon to now function as a flail. With a brutal spin of the flail, Recapar knocked out the Toa and smashed his mask in one blow. “Was the Toa Nui’s disappearance your doing?”

Rularx used magnetism to pull a Toa in close, then ripped into his armor with his chain. “Yes, it was. Impressed?”

Recapar took advantage of the Toa’s weakness, and advanced on him. “Hate to say it, but I am actually a bit impressed, yes.”

The Toa had had enough, and activated his elemental power. Sonic waves emanated from his body, sending Makuta and Shadow Toa flying. Rularx got back to his feet, but the Toa of Sonics plunged his tools into the ground and sent a tremor ripping through the earth beneath Rularx, unseating him once more.

Recapar tossed a firebolt at the Toa, who blocked with a sonic force field. Not missing a step, the Toa then simultaneously dropped the shield and slammed his spiked tools together. The impact activated the weapons, sending painfully loud white noise blasting into Recapar’s ears. Even the powerful Shadow Toa had to back down a few steps from that assault.

Unfortunately, the Toa was so focused on Recapar that he seemed to not see Rularx. Rularx prepared to fire plasma at the Sonics Toa, but before he could, he felt a foreign power seize his body. With a rush, he was driven into the ground, lifted up, then slammed down again.

“What is going—“ he began. He would have said more, but a blistering pain enveloped his brain at that moment. The Makuta, in all his years of battle and conquest, had never once felt pain quite like this. Still, he fought back. Rularx could not determine where the attack was coming from, or who the attack was coming from, for that matter, but he could still see physically. He glanced around and finally spied a female Toa in blue and gold armor looking like she was concentrating on something. With a pained smile, Rularx began to stagger toward her.

The Toa of Psionics before him tried he best to drive him away. Rularx even found that he was hearing a voice in his head telling him to stop right where he was and sit down. Mind control, he realized, his every thought burning like hot coals. How…creative. I will fight back. I will show her exactly what it takes to subdue a Makuta!

True to his word, Rularx fought back. Little by little, metaphorical inch by metaphorical inch, his indomitable will forced the Psionics Toa’s power back.

How? He heard a voice ask him. How are you…winning this?

Rularx simply replied, Practice, my dear. Centuries and centuries of practice. With a last mental shove, he forced the Toa’s mind out of his own and established a mental block to hinder any future efforts of hers to get inside his head.

With a cry of surprise and exhaustion, the female Toa collapsed. Rularx weakly brandished his sword at her. “You are good, I will give you that much,” he said. “I almost let you take control for a moment. I will reassure you that that is a difficult thing to do to a Makuta,” he began to draw the blade back, “but I will withhold the regular congratulation most beings would give you, and just cut straight to the—“

A massive hammer slammed into Rularx, sending him flying backward into a mercenary soldier.

The owner of the hammer, Toa Bartha, smiled and said, “That’s for trying to burn a hole in me earlier.”

Rularx stood up, saying to the mercenary he had landed on, “You make a good cushion. Remind me to promote you later.” Readying his weapons, Rularx saw that the Toa Tronux now stood united around him, and Recapar had been knocked out. He smiled. “Ah, good. Just the Toa I wanted to see.”

“We’re here too, you know,” said a voice from behind Rularx. He turned to see Levuku, Ferrak, and Vohk standing behind him.

“Good timing. I wanted to see you about something, too,” Rularx commented. “All we need now is for the rest of your team to show up.”

“Wait no longer,” said Suntrah, accompanied by the rest of the Vindicators and the Universal Alliance. They approached Rularx from the direction of the fortress, leaving battered Bloodfiends in their wake. With none of the beasts in the area, the inevitable battle was effectively going to be a repeat of the battle with Ikirro, but with Lohrua added to the team to replace Zallirix.

“Good!” Rularx said merrily. “The gang’s all here. I wanted to discuss something with you all.”

“So did we,” Lihee replied.

“You go first,” Rularx said with a polite gesture. “Mine will take a long time.”

“Actually, all we wanted to discuss with you was that we all hate your guts and want to beat the Karzahni out of you.”

“How very succinct,” Rularx mused. “Now we do mine. But first, I want to fight you. I take it there are no objections, correct?”

Thravak cracked his knuckles. “Nope.”

Rularx grinned. “Then let the games begin.” He then shot straight up into the air, conjured his Fragmentation and Darkness powers, and shot straight back down into the ground, unleashing a wave of power from his impact point. The Vindicators and Universal Alliance members were shaken but remained firmly rooted to the ground.

With nods from Suntrah and Lihee, all of their teammates lunged at Rularx, ready to take him down. Power blasts filled the air as they all closed in on their shared enemy.

Rularx took a few hits, then shot back into the air. He spun while firing his laser vision, slicing through the ground around his enemies. They all barely got out of the way.

Those of Rularx’s enemies who could fly took to the air to keep the pressure on him, while the grounded members of the two teams kept firing on the Makuta. Rularx did his best, but he could not keep all his enemies away. There were too many. Vaturi nearly missed slicing his shoulder. Suntrah’s black lighting had coalesced into whips which he swung about, nearly missing Rularx. Zartok’s red energy bolts filled the air. Bultrox’s spinning shield kept the Makuta wary. Yurdil telekinetically hovered and swirled bits of sharp metal around Rularx, which had been supplied by Bartha. Even Vohk had Ferrak throw him up to Rularx and tried to kick the Makuta. It was all Rularx could do to get out of his way. Levuku teleported behind him and stabbed at him, but with no ground to push against, was unable to penetrate Rularx’s armor. He was caught by Thravak in between the Skakdi’s lethal volley of projectiles and enhancer boot-powered leaps at Rularx. Choro leaped as well, trying to land a plasma bolt on the Makuta, who was now simply flying in circles in an attempt to not get hit by anything.

It was a giant clamp. The aerial force cut Rularx off from above, effectively trapping him in a dome of enemies. The ground force kept him busy by maintaining a steady stream of distanced attacks. Rularx would have tired his personal teleportation trick, but Yurdil had a mental shield in place over all of her teammates, blocking Rularx from entering their minds. Yurdil herself was well-protected by her fellow Toa Tronux.

Rularx dove and weaved to avoid a line of elemental attacks from the grounded Toa and assaults made by his aerial enemies. All this evading was taking up his mental ability. He had no time to counter-attack in any other means than a straight charge at someone, and with all his enemies watching each other’s backs, that was not advisable, either.

It seems that they have learned much from fighting Ikirro, Rularx thought. Common reaction, I hear.

This stalemate kept up for about a minute, then a maverick circumstance brought it to an end. This maverick circumstance had a name, and had been a maverick long before he became a circumstance. Zallirix was on the move, bounding toward the fight on all fours like a Rahi cat. With a cry of “Yee-haah!” he launched himself right into the thick of the battle. Finding Rularx’s legs, he grabbed on.

“Why wasn’t I invited to this party?” he asked with a maniacal laugh.

“Get off me, you…” Rularx snarled. He whipped around a sharp turn, simultaneously avoiding a fire blast from Lihee and putting strain on Zallirix’s grip. The nutcase held on tight, though, and even climbed higher on Rularx’s body, reaching for his wings. Grabbing hold of Rularx’s left wing, he forced it into his mouth and bit down hard.

Rularx let out a cry of pain and began to dive uncontrollably. Whipping around in a rapid spin, he managed to toss Zallirix off him, but not before he fell too far to stop himself from hitting the ground. He slammed into the earth, letting loose a cloud of dust.

The two teams weren’t waiting around. They had followed Rularx to his landing spot, and now took turns hitting him. A kick from Thravak. A jolt from Rewta. A whip from Xovar’s chain.

“Good,” Rularx groaned. A punch from Ferrak on the left side of his face.

“Good!” Rularx said, more emphatically. A blow to the head from Bartha’s hammer.

“GOOD!” The Makuta roared. Ducking under the next blow, he gave himself a moment to act. With a forceful gesture, he sent a wave of shadow energy out from him, sending all his enemies back. He then made contact with Dastrox again, and began a teleport. This time, however, he was taking all his enemies with him. A shimmer rippled out from him, permeating the teams and Zallirix. In a dull flash, they were gone, teleported inside Rularx’s fortress.

“I ask once more, robot,” Astricus snarled. “What does our master want with us?”

Dastrox simply said, “Rularx has not given this unit information to disclose to the Revolutionaries. Said team will have to wait for Rularx to divulge information as he sees fit.”

Astricus cursed and slammed his swords on the ground in disgust. “Simpleminded machine!”

Tamrix smirked. “You’re one to talk.”

The cobalt-armored Wrenix whirled on the mutant Runask. “Silence, Tamrix!” he shouted, pointing at Tamrix with his blade. “I have had enough out of you for the next eternity!”

“Shut up yourself, Astricus,” said Myriax. “What? Do you expect to melt Tamrix’s armor off with all the hot air you’re making?”

Astricus’s head darted toward the only female Revolutionary.

“Hoo boy,” Zortak murmured.

Astricus advanced on Myriax. “I would advise, you, Myriax, to remember your place,” he said coldly. “Your mettle was tested for a reason. Your rank has already been determined, and it has been determined to be below mine.”

“Only because I’m a female, no doubt. I could take you any day,” Myriax retorted.

Astricus growled. “You and I both know that I am cursed with a disproportionately low resistance to electricity, which happens to be your elemental power. Were it not for that, I would defeat you in either a contest of shill or one of competence. You know that. I know that. So I will say again, remember your place.”

Myriax shrugged and turned away.

Strygel sighed and wandered over to Bruxnor. “These losers don’t know how to shut up for a minute, do they?”

Bruxnor pondered this for a moment, then seemed to forget what he had been thinking about, and just went back to staring into space.

Strygel smiled. “You’re a good teammate, Bruxnor. You don’t try too hard to think. You let the smart people, like me, take care of it. Good to know your strong suit.”

Bruxnor looked up at Strygel. “Strygel is making me bored. He needs to be quiet.”

Strygel snorted. “You’re one to talk, lamebrain,” he said derisively. “Honestly, nothing you say has made me wish you talked more often, if you know what I mean.”

Bruxnor glared. “You do same thing, idiot. I wish you never talk ever. I’m going over here.” With that, he walked away.

Strygel sighed and hung his shoulders as Tehdak walked over to him. “No one understands me, it seems,” he said to no one in particular.

Tehdak chuckled. “No, I’m pretty sure we all understand you perfectly, Strygel. That’s the problem.”

Suddenly there was a flash, and a new assemblage of beings was in the dormitory. Rularx was in the center of them, and the Revolutionaries didn’t recognize any of the others, so they reflexively prepared to fight.

Rularx immediately turned intangible and floated into the air. “See, my enemies, I only wanted to see if you were worthy of facing my personal team of elite mercenaries, the Revolutionaries.”

“Where in the world are we?” Rupiku asked his teammates.

“Inside Rularx’s fortress, looks like,” Lohrua replied. “Not sure if that’s terrific or horrible.”

Rularx gestured to his team. “If you would, deal with these enemies of mine. Take the fight out of this dormitory, if you wish. Just take them down.”

Vissus nodded. “Will do, Rularx. Revolutionaries! Spread out and herd them into the halls! Do whatever it takes to finish them!”

Lihee shouted in turn, “Universal Alliance! Hold firm!”

Suntrah took a different approach. “Vindicators! Divide and conquer! Take on each one separately, and move on to another when you win! We’ll link up and rejoin as we go!”

As soon as this was said, the Vindicators made for the doors ahead of even the Vindicators, and spread out once in the hall.

“Raaagh!” Bruxnor roared, charging at Vohk, who was closest to him.

“Guys! Help out, here!” Vohk shouted as he took off at a run.

Levuku and Ferrak traded glances, nodded, then took off themselves to help Vohk.

Astricus charged at Suntrah. Astricus immediately began pontificating, but Suntrah said little was they lapsed into battle.

Tamrix found himself fighting the Toa Tronux alongside Gordok and Strygel. He knew that it was a hopeless state of affairs, but he had a backup plan.

“Follow me,” he whispered to them individually. To Strygel, he added, “Make them want to follow us.”

Tamrix then peeled out, followed closely by Gordok, heading for a room in the fortress he knew well. Strygel joined them, shouting, “Come with us, Toa, if you dare!”

They dared. They knew they could not let their enemies escape. Still, the oddness of the situation was not lost on them.

“Why are we doing this?” Xovar asked Runik. “Why is this Makuta staging a battle for us?”

Runik replied, “I don’t know. At this point, I suppose we can be grateful for the reprieve. We outnumber these people about two-to-one. It’s not as bad as fighting a Makuta, at least.”

“Speaking of,” Bartha cut in, “Rularx looked like he could use a break, too. Think this is just a ruse?”

Yurdil spoke up, “Probably, yes. But it must not be a very nasty one, or Rularx would have put more time into thinking it through and disguising it better.”

“I suppose,” Bartha shrugged. He then fell back into step as the three of them followed Tamrix’s little group deep into the halls of Rularx’s fortress.