BIONICLE Legends #10: Swamp of Secrets

Interlude Three

Written by Greg Farshtey


Takanuva’s vision of the past continues…


Toa Lewa, master of air, rider on the wind, emerald-armored hero in the making, had just discovered something very important: He really, truly, deeply hated the water.


Hydraxon’s exercise for the day had to do with searching for masks. Someday, he explained, the Toa might find themselves in a situation where Kanohi masks were not easy to come by, and they might have to seek them out. To prove his point, he took all of the Toa’s masks and hid them in various places. Each Toa was given a map carved into a stone tablet that detailed where his or her mask could be found.


As the mysterious voice had warned them, without a mask their powers were halved. Lewa found himself wishing it had also warned them about insane trainers, unfriendly teammates, and how water was so very… wet.


He took a deep breath and plunged into the ocean again. His Mask of Levitation was supposed to be down here somewhere, but it was so dark he couldn’t see. What I could really use is a Mask of Light right about now, he said to himself. Right, like that’s ever going to happen.


Lewa swam further down, disturbing a school of rainbow-colored fish. They looked to him like most fish — placid, slow-moving, with dumb expressions on their faces. At least, that was how they looked until they closed in around him, darting and diving, and biting him with needle-like teeth.


At first, Lewa just found this annoying. Then, the fish started finding chinks in his armor, and their attacks began to hurt. Angry, Lewa tried to summon an underwater cyclone to blow them away. But without his mask, he couldn’t generate a force of sufficient power to scatter them.


His lungs were starting to ache for fresh air, and the school of fish wasn’t letting up. Lewa kicked his legs and shot to the surface. He climbed back onto the beach and sat down in the sand, staring at the water as if it was his worst enemy.


“Giving up?” asked Hydraxon. Lewa turned to see the trainer sitting on a rock, twirling a dagger.


“No,” answered the Toa of Air. “Just… frustrated.”


“Then you and Gali should get along just fine,” Hydraxon said, gesturing over his shoulder.


Lewa rose and looked past the trainer into the woods. There was Gali, standing at the bottom of the tallest tree he had ever seen. Her Mask of Water Breathing was wedged among some branches way at the top. Scars in the tree showed where she had tried to use her hooks to climb it, but the trunk was covered in an oily substance that made it almost impossible to scale.


“Looks like she has a problem,” said Lewa. “Bet I’ll get to my mask before she does.”


Hydraxon sprang from his perch and executed a perfect, sweeping kick, knocking Lewa to the ground. “It’s not a race!” he said sharply. “You ‘heroes’ are incredible. Kopaka has spent all day staring into an active volcano, trying to figure out how he can freeze his way to his mask. Tahu has been melting and re-melting the same iceberg all day, trying to free his. And the other two are no better.”


Lewa got back to his feet and glared at Hydraxon. “You gave us these stupid tasks. Each of us is just trying to get ours done. It’s not so easy to do when you’re on your —”


The Toa of Air abruptly stopped, as he realized what he was saying. Hydraxon smiled and began a slow, sarcastic round of applause. “A light dawns,” said the trainer. “I didn’t realize it would take light years. Think about the missions I gave the six of you — and tell me when I said you couldn’t work together?”


Lewa looked down at the sand, feeling a mixture of anger (mostly at himself) and a little embarrassment. It was true, Hydraxon had never insisted they pursue their masks alone. They had just split up as soon as he handed out the maps. Lewa had never even considered working with anyone else, and he doubted any of the others had either.


Hydraxon tossed his dagger from hand to hand. “It’s a great weapon — sharp, perfectly balanced, accurate. But it takes more than talent and practice to use it correctly… it takes the brains to throw it at the right target. You Toa have plenty of power, but I’m not seeing much in the way of common sense. Without it, all that power isn’t worth a pile of protodites.”


Lewa looked again at Gali, who had summoned a small rainstorm to try to wash the mask out of the high branches. “Looks like I am going to get wet again,” he muttered, already moving to help her.


Gali was surprised when she saw the Toa of Air approaching. She was surprised even more so when he used his weakened elemental powers to add some wind to her rain. The tree began to sway back and forth, until finally the Mask of Water Breathing came loose and fell right into her hands.


“Um… thanks,” she said. “But wasn’t that against the rules of the game?”


“No,” said Lewa. “Turns out trying to go it alone is playing the wrong game completely.” He looked away, still feeling a little uncomfortable about what he was going to ask. “Well, uh, so… can you give me a hand now?”


Even with all their differences, Tahu and Kopaka had discovered one thing they agreed upon: They couldn’t stand each other. Despite that, the night after the mask-searching exercise found them hiking through the mountains together.


“There’s an easier way to go about this,” Tahu said. “Find Hydraxon and make him take us where we need to go. If the door is barred against us, I bet he would make a great key.”


“Are all fire types like you? Or are you just uniquely an idiot?” growled Kopaka. “We don’t know the extent of Hydraxon’s powers. We don’t know he wouldn’t be able to warn our ‘hosts’ somehow. We don’t even know that we could defeat him.”


Tahu’s sword went from red-hot to white-hot in an instant, then cooled down again. “Speak for yourself, frosty.”


“Excellent. Fine,” Kopaka snapped. “What was I thinking? Of course the answer to every problem is violence and destruction. Who needs conversation when you can have carnage?”


Their argument was cut off by the sight of an imposing fortress in the distance. The place bristled with weaponry and was ringed by armed guards. An army of Toa might have been able to conquer it, but two would just be a moment’s distraction for its defenders.


“Think they’ll let us in if we ask nicely?” asked Tahu.


“I don’t know. Think you can fight your way through all of them?”


Tahu shook his head, laughing. “You’re not the only one who can come up with a strategy, Toa of Snow. Now get your hands up.”


Kopaka looked at his companion, puzzled. Tahu had already raised his hands, his sword giving off just enough of a glow that both Toa would be visible to the guards. Suddenly, it made sense. As he lifted his hands in the air and resumed marching toward the fortress, even Kopaka had a hard time suppressing a smile.


The fortress guards did exactly what Tahu had hoped they would do. They brought the Toa they had “captured” inside and right to their leader. If Tahu expected the ruler of this land to be some massive, heavily-armored warrior who could snap a Toa in two with no effort, he was to be disappointed. The figure that awaited them was a Toa, although one whose armor looked quite different from theirs. Even more surprising, that armor was blue — like Gali, she was a Toa of Water. She looked up from what she was tinkering with, a small vehicle with multiple legs.


“Like it?” she asked. “I am thinking of calling it a ‘swamp strider.’ Who knows, there might be some use for it someday.”


Tahu’s surprise was doubled now that it was clear the mysterious voice that had awakened them belonged to her. Kopaka seemed to take the revelation in stride, though, saying, “Who are you?”


“My name is Helryx,” the female Toa replied. “I was the first of our kind. It might interest you to know that I saw you created, Kopaka, all of you.”


“We want some answers,” Tahu interrupted. “We feel we’re entitled to them.”


Helryx smiled. “Then answers you shall have, Toa of Fire. All that you want… and perhaps more than you can stand.”


The Toa of Water put down her tools and approached Tahu and Kopaka. She looked from one to the other and then nodded, as if giving her approval. “Brave. Daring. Strong. You and your team are ready to become true heroes. But… this universe, like all others, demands a price from its heroes. Sometimes, they have to suffer; sometimes, they have to die. That is the price for living a life that matters… for having the power to change, to protect, to act.”


Helryx gestured for the Toa to follow her. “Come, my brothers. It’s time for you to learn what price will be asked of you.”