"That's all of them," said the Toa of Fire. "It's over."
"Are you sure?"
"Gladiator and I had . . . a talk," Lhikan replied. "I'm sure."
"Heading to tell Tuyet she can come out now?"
Lhikan glanced at Nidhiki. There was something off in Nidhiki's voice, as if the Toa of Air was preoccupied. "Yes," said Lhikan. "I need to stick these Dark someplace until we decide what to do with them and take care of a few priority jobs for Dume. Then I will head over to Ga-Metru."
"Then maybe I'll meet you there," Nidhiki said, departing. "Yes . . . maybe."
* * *
Nidhiki headed for the nearest chute station and made for Onu-Metru. "It's time I learned more about this Nui Stone," he thought.
Upon reaching the Archives, he approached an Onu-Matoran about his query and was directed him to a lower section of the massive structure. Upon entering the room, he saw the sign above the door, "Miscellaneous Tablets."
Upon seeing the stacks and stacks of shelves, Nidhiki said, "Well, it seems I have my work cut out for me."
After nearly an hour of searching, he found what he was looking for. Blowing the dust off the plaque, he began to read.
"The Finding of the Nui Stone
"I, Jagrin, am now the owner of the Nui Stone. Having stolen it from the clutches of a Makuta, I am now fleeing for my life, but would rather die than give up what is rightfully mine. Over 15,000 years ago, shortly after the Civil War in Metru Nui, the beings of Sorgrei, the Island of Knowledge, created this object in my hand. No one knows how it was made, only that it was made too powerful for its creators liking. After finding out what it was capable of, they swore to destroy it, but before they could do so, I stole it. I possessed the artifact for nigh on 6,000 years before it was stolen from me. I still don't know by whom. For millennia, I have followed its trail by means of rumors and half-remembered stories. And now, so many years later, the object of my desire is mine again!
"Some say the Nui Stone a menace, a tool for the forces of evil. But I say that it is the greatest tool against evil the world has ever known. Imagine, the power of hundreds of Toa in one being. In the hands of the forces of good, evil would cease to exist. The Dark Hunters would crumble before its might, monstrous Rahi would pose no more threat than a fireflyer, the Brotherhood of Makuta, should they turn to shadow, would be merely a nuisance. The potential of this object is tremendous!
"As I write this account, I know that it may be my last. Only time will tell who will be the stone's next bearer. A Toa, I hope."
Setting the tablet down, Nidhiki thought to himself. Devastator looked confused when he had mentioned the countdown, but not when he had mentioned the Nui Stone. Something odd was going on. Nidhiki got up from his seat and strode towards the door. It was time to have a talk with Tuyet.
* * *
By the time Nidhiki exited the chute system near Tuyet's home, darkness was already falling. As he was crossing a canal bridge, he saw something out of the corner of his eye. He turned and saw a Nui-Jaga scuttle out of an alley. The Toa yelped and took off in the opposite direction. Once safely away from the Rahi, he paused to catch his breath.
A noice behind a nearby building caught his attention. Quickly deciding on the cautious approach, he activated his Volitak and drew his air scythe. He snuck around the structure and spotted a shadowy figure dragging a sack up a flight of outdoor stairs. As soon as the figure had disappeared onto the rooftop, Nidhiki ran up after it, his mask's power muffling the sounds he would normally make. Upon reaching the top of the building, he saw the figure pick up the sack and empty its contents onto the rooftop. To his shock, a Ga-Matoran, bound and gagged, fell out onto the stone roof.
Nidhiki watched to see what the figure would do. As he looked on, the figure's arm began to blur, becoming ethereal in form, and it plunged its arm into the Matoran. Nidhiki winced at the sound of mechanical parts and organic tissue being torn apart. Something clicked in Nidhiki's mind. The being before him had phased its arm into the Matoran's body. It had the same power as Tuyet's mask.
The Toa of Air looked up to see the figure heft the now dead Matoran into a nearby canal with a scream.
The figure looked around and then nimbly leaped to the ground. It jumped over the canal and phased into a nearby dwelling. Within a few moments, lights began to turn on inside. The door flew open, and framed in the house's light was Toa Tuyet.
"No," thought Nidhiki, "it can't be. She couldn't. She wouldn't!"
Nidhiki, still in stealth mode, jumped a few buildings down and landed in a side street. Deactivating his mask, he strode out toward the latest murder in Metru Nui. By now, a small crowd of Ga-Matoran had gathered around the Matoran that had been pulled out of the canal. Moments later, Lhikan arrived.
* * *
"What happened?" he asked, already guessing the answer.
"It was awful," said Tuyet. "I heard a scream and a splash . . . I ran out . . . but she was already dead. Drowned, with that . . . that terrible reminder in her hand."
"Just like the others," Nidhiki said, his eyes meeting Lhikan's for a long moment. "Tell him when this happened, Tuyet."
"Only a few minutes ago," said the Toa of Water.
"But that's --" Lhikan began.
Nidhiki cut him off. "Horrible, that's what it is. But don't worry, Tuyet, Lhikan and I will catch the ones who did this. You can count on that."
* * *
Within a few minutes, Lhikan and Nidhiki were striding back towards the chute station when Nidhiki grabbed Lhikan and pulled him into an alley.
"What are you doing, Nidhiki?" asked Lhikan, more than a little annoyed.
"Lhikan, the Dark Hunters we caught didn't kill that Matoran ---"
"Obviously," Lhikan retorted, "they're in jail."
"I know. You're going to think I'm crazy, but I think Tuyet killed, not just her, but the other ones as well," Nidhiki declared.
"How can you say that," Lhikan demanded. "We've known her for centuries, and she'd never do something like that."
"I would have seen the same thing this morning," the Air Toa replied, "but that was before I fought with Devastator."
Nidhiki then went on to describe his battle with the Dark Hunter, his subsequent venture to the Archives, and his run-in with the figure on the roof.
"I still don't think she did it. The evidence is certainly not in her favor, but I still don't think she did it," said Lhikan.
"There is one way to find out for sure," replied Nidhiki. "If she has the Nui Stone and was using those deaths to throw us off, then the stone is hidden in her home."
"If it is there, I'll be able to sense it by its heat," responded Lhikan. "I'll go confront her, if you see anything out of the ordinary, don't hesitate to come help me."
* * *
Later that night, Nidhiki stood looking through Tuyet's window, hidden by the power of his mask. Lhikan had confronted the Toa of Water and had found the Nui Stone, but before the Fire Toa could do anything, Tuyet had thrown him across the room and gotten the stone away from him. Nidhiki could not hear anything that was being said, but from the looks on their faces, he knew what was happening.
As her hand closed on the stone and its energy began to fill her, Nidhiki moved away from the door and prepared for his entry.
* * *
There was a sound like a mountain splitting in two and then the door was flying across the room, slamming into Tuyet. Nidhiki stood in the open doorway, a tornado whirling around him.
"Hi, dear, I'm home," said the Toa of Air.
Lhikan sprang from the floor and closed with Tuyet, trying to pry the stone loose from her grasp. She hurled him aside and then hit Nidhiki with a flood tide that forced him out of the chamber. The next instant, her power exploded, bringing down the entire dwelling.
* * *
As Nidhiki looked on, Tuyet began to rise on a tower of water. The higher she climbed, the harder she laughed. That laugh echoed off the walls and buildings all around her, until it seemed the whole island was laughing. Suddenly, the tower froze solid. Seeing Lhikan concentrating on the tower of ice, Nidhiki knew what he had to do. Grabbing a nearby pole, he swung it and caught Lhikan across the stomach. The tower of ice, no longer under Lhikan's influence, turned back into water by Tuyet's power.
Lhikan fell to the ground and stared at Nidhiki in disbelief. "What are you doing?" he cried.
"I've been doing some thinking, Lhikan," the Air Toa replied as he advanced on Lhikan. "How many Matoran can a dead Dark Hunter kill? None. How much damage can a dead Nui-Jaga cause? None. The Toa code has held us back for too long, Lhikan. With the power of 100 Toa, Tuyet and I can bring order to the universe, and not even you can stop me."
Lhikan threw up a shield and avoided his comrade's blows. "Don't do this, Nidhiki. It doesn't have to be this way. You still have a choice."
A tidal wave swept Lhikan off his feet, breaking his concentration. Lhikan rolled over to see the two Toa he had once called friends staring down at him.
Nidhiki raised his air scythe. "I've made my choice, Lhikan," he said, "and there's no going back."
* * *
Disclaimer: Bionicle and all related characters (c) LEGO