When Toa Hahli heard who her partner was to be on this mission, her response was simple: "Not in a thousand years, you psychotic old seashell." Somewhere, Turaga Nokama winced.

If Toa Helryx was fazed by the disrespect, she didn't show it. At her side, Axonn regarded Hahli with a look of familiar disdain. Off to the other end of the sandstone table the group was seated at, the Matoran Mazeka was doing his best not to get involved the conversation, absently twirling a dirk between his fingers. Helryx sighed. "Hahli, you volunteered to help us clean up the remaining Rahkshi. I was under the impression you understood that that meant working on our terms."

"You can take your terms and throw them in the ocean for all I care. I'm not working with that megalomaniac."

"You can call him whatever you want to. Believe me, if I didn't have the testimony of one of the Order's best spies and the results of every psychic test we have backing him up, I'd have gladly drowned him myself. But seeing as we do have those results, and seeing as Toa Takanuva is currently occupied with other matters, and seeing as someone with light powers can take care of Rahkshi about a dozen times faster than the rest of us put together, my decision is final. You will be working with Teridax on this mission, and if you must complain about it, you will do it to his face and not to mine. Am I understood?"

Hahli almost had to admire the ancient Toa's ability to put forward the idea of working with the single greatest enemy their universe had faced without skipping a beat. "With all due respect," she said in a tone that suggested she had a very precise idea of how much respect Helryx was worth, "a Makuta is a Makuta. Doesn't matter if he's from some other universe, doesn't matter if he's swapped his armor for something shinier. I'm not going to spend this mission with a Kraahkan at my back."

Mazeka spoke up in an attempt to defuse the situation. "I get you're worried, Hahli, but you have to understand, he really isn't the same person as-"

"Mazeka, for both our sakes, just stop right there, would you? I've spoken to Takanuva about his own trans-dimensional trips. The way he told it, there were a lot of Takuas out there just like him."

"And there were also quite a few Tahus and Galis rather not like ours," Helryx replied in a voice that had had a very, very long time to learn how not to take any backtalk. "If you'd like, you can go ask ours how their Toa Empire is coming along, and when they're going to get back to subjugating the Matoran. Or you can stop acting petulant for two minutes and recognize that things aren't always as black and white as you'd like."

The two Toa of Water stared each other down for several seconds. When Hahli spoke, the ice in her voice could've given a Ko-Matoran a run for his money. "All right, then. I'll get this mission done. But if that Makuta shows any sign that he's more interested in helping those Rahkshi than hunting them, I will personally make him into a meal for whatever's at the bottom of this planet's seas. And then I'm coming back and he" – she pointed at Mazeka, who flinched – "is going back with me to do the rest of the cleanup. Am I understood?"

Helryx seemed unimpressed. "Meet with Teridax tomorrow morning at the south-east docks. You'll be traveling by boat until you reach the caverns. I trust you remember enough of being a Ga-Matoran that you can find a vessel yourself."

Hahli glared at her a few moments longer, then turned and strode out of the hut. The Order members watched her go without a word.

The Shadow and the Sea

The walk back to the small home she shared with her fellow Toa Mahri was a long and bitter one. Her hands clenched and unclenched as she turned the situation over and over in her mind, trying to figure out how she'd wound up working alongside one of the few people in the universe she could say she actually hated.

Spherus Magna wasn't a perfect paradise after all, it had turned out, and that was even after the plotting murderers and Toa-killing machines and mind-controlling Skakdi fusions had been dealt with. The Matoran Universe was breaking down, slowly but surely, and as it did every little creepy-crawly that had ever taken up residence inside was seeping out onto the planet and finding new ways to make everyone's life just that little bit more difficult. Rahi and Bohrok at least kept to themselves for the most part, but now that daddy Makuta had finally gotten what he had coming to him, the Rahkshi had apparently decided their sole purpose in life was to make everyone else's as hard as possible. Not that that was too much different from what their purpose was before, but it still meant that scouting teams Agori and Matoran alike were coming back singed and slashed at. Now the Order of Mata Nui was looking for anyone and everyone who could take a few minutes of their time to smash some overgrown slugs into dust. Peace was surprisingly war-like at times, she mused as she passed a not-quite-finished bunch of Le-Matoran apartments.

With the exception of Jaller, who'd taken a fang through the leg during their dramatic escape from enslavement, Hahli and the other Mahri had mostly recovered from their adventures with their friend the big shiny Skakdi fusion. Even still, the Turaga had asked them to ease themselves back into the usual Toa duties of borderline-suicidal bravery and grueling, overlong journeys, so Hahli had decided to help take down a few worms to get herself back in fighting shape. She'd heard murmurs that a cove to the southeast of New Atero had wound up a nest for a group of particularly ill-tempered Guurahk, so she figured she'd do a little payback for the days back on Mata Nui.

But she hadn't expected she'd be paired with the Makuta to get the job done. Teridax would always be the Makuta to her – she'd crossed swords with others a few times, but that didn't matter. They were just the latest in that never-ending string of villainous psychopaths that Toa always seemed to find themselves up against, but Teridax was the Makuta: the shadow that had haunted her home for a thousand years, the monster that had tried to kill her friend Takua, the piece of scum who'd taken advantage of her brother's death. She swallowed the anger bubbling up inside her and tried to force her mind away from the memory of that night she'd looked to the sky and seen that infernal mask staring back at her, mocking his sacrifice. Hahli had never imagined she would feel joy from the death of another living creature, but when she'd learned Makuta was no more than bits of debris scattered across the desert now, she'd had to resist the urge to hug her fellow Mahri then and there.

And now she was being told to work with him. She'd heard rumors, of course – though the Order had tried to keep it quiet out of fear of provoking the Matoran, word got around in a city like this: One of the Order members had gone to another universe and brought back a different Makuta Teridax; he stands six bio tall and carries a warhammer of solid gold; his armor shines brighter than the sun; a thousand Shadow Toa fell before him like grass before a scythe. Hahli thought it was a load of Scarabax dung (a concept she'd been happy to be unfamiliar with before coming here) – it was Makuta Teridax. It didn't matter how many dimensions you jumped across – if there was a single being who defined evil in her eyes, it was him. More like than not, this was just another one of his ten-steps-ahead games, some completely insane (to anyone but him) contingency plan in case he ever did get himself killed.

Well, if it was, this was her chance to stop it; she had a few choice ideas where he could stuff that warhammer of his, and if he said the slightest thing about Matoro, she'd even save him the effort of doing it himself.

Jaller was half-asleep on his bed when she came in. The other cots were empty; Nuparu, Kongu, and Hewkii apparently had matters of their own to deal with. Her friend looked up as she entered. "How'd it go?" he asked.

Hahli thought about it for a moment, pulled up a chair, and looked Jaller dead in the eyes. "I'm being partnered with Makuta Teridax," she said.

If nothing else, the look on his face was a bright point in this whole fiasco. As she watched it go from shock to confusion and finally to anger, she wondered if her own had done the same back in the Order's makeshift headquarters. When he opened his mouth, he sounded ready to light the ocean floor on fire again. "They're pairing you with that monster? Are they trying to be funny?"

"I don't think anyone in that entire organization has a sense of humor."

"Well, you're right on that count." He was sitting up now, his eyes blazing red and his fists clenched. "I mean, they say he's from another universe, but how can they possibly trust him? Did they miss the past hundred thousand years or something?"

"I don't know, but you and I both know Helryx has never been much of one for doing things the nice way. A Makuta comes along and smashes up enough Shadow Toa for them, they're probably falling over each other to get him a shiny title and a job to do."

"This is an insult," he spat. "Did they forget we were the ones who saved Mata Nui's life in the first place? Did they forget Matoro?"

"I don't know," she said again, suddenly weary. "But they seem convinced he's on their side. That Matoran Mazeka's swearing up and down he's nothing like our Makuta." And then, because she knew Jaller, she waited for him to say it.

He didn't disappoint. "If they're serious about this, then I'm coming with you. I'm not letting them send you into a pit full of Rahkshi with a snake like him as your only backup, no matter how much they swear he's different." He grabbed her hand reassuringly. "Tomorrow morning we'll go and tell Helryx where she can stick that staff of hers, and then we'll show those Rahkshi that the Matoran of Mata Nui have very long memories."

She smiled, laughed… and then jabbed him in the leg. He let out a yelp.

Gently, she put his hand back down onto the bed. "I'd like nothing more, Jaller. But with that leg of yours, you're not going anywhere, much less down into a hive of Rahkshi."

"Alright, fine, but you can't do this alone, Hahli!" Worry had entered the Toa of Fire's voice now. "I mean… you're good, I've fought alongside you more than enough to know that, but if that Makuta does make a move, I think even Tahu would be hard-pressed to fight his way out alone. Get Kongu, or Gali, or – someone!"

She shook her head. "Jaller, you know as well as I do that there's hardly a Toa in this city who isn't busy – and those that aren't are nursing wounds like you are. Should I have Kongu leave the Le-Matoran because I've got some Rahkshi to deal with? Or ask Gali to tell the Glatorian to buzz off for a few days so she can help me keep an eye on a Takanuva wannabe?" she chided.

He closed his eyes, either from pain or exasperation – she couldn't tell. "Hahli, I- I just don't want anything to happen to you."

A few months earlier, Hahli would've bet the Makuta would take up the large-horn and join the Le-Koro marching band before Jaller would say anything like that.

But, she reflected as she took his hand again and waited for him to fall asleep, a few months earlier this room would've had six cots, not five.

The sun was barely over the horizon when she arrived at the docks, and a morning haze was hanging over the few boats anchored there. It was a sorry sight; the Agori of Bara Magna and Bota Magna alike had understandably never paid much heed to shipbuilding, and the drain the construction of New Atero put on the local resources meant that the few Matoran attempts had little merit to them beyond their ability to float without tipping over. Sighing, she walked over to the one that looked least likely to fall to pieces in rough water and began unfurling its simple sails. Whoever owned it probably wouldn't be happy to get here and find it gone, but the phrase "official Order business" did much to soothe over these little conflicts.

With a creak that made her quietly thankful that she could breathe water, the sails flopped down and caught the wind. To either side of the boat were sets of oars, but the breeze was strong and well-directed, and with any luck there'd be no need for the two of them to waste their strength rowing.

The two of them. She frowned again. She could still set off alone; all she had to do was cut the rope tying the boat to the dock and she'd be over the horizon in a matter of minutes. When she got back, she could just say that the Makuta hadn't shown up and she'd decided to take care of the Rahkshi herself rather than try and track him down. It'd almost be true, even.

But that was foolish, she knew. Without someone who could control Light, she had to admit that her odds of taking out a whole nest of Rahkshi were slim to none. They'll be even slimmer if he's on their side, she thought bitterly, but there was no way around it.

Jaller's worries had gotten to her in the end, and after he'd fallen asleep last night, she'd stolen out again in search of Takanuva. Instead, she'd found Turaga Vakama and a blunt though not unkind explanation that the Toa of Light would be away from the city for another week or so while he and a team investigated the ruins of a Great Being's laboratory that had surfaced in the reformation. Unfortunately, the old Turaga was as perceptive as ever, and hadn't let her leave until he'd wheedled out the reason she was searching for the Toa of Light; when she'd finished explaining her situation, he'd closed his eyes in thought for a few seconds and told her this:

"I cannot claim to know the Teridax they have named your partner, and I would be foolish to say I knew the one who lies dead across the Great Desert now. But I did once find myself fighting alongside the Makuta of Metru Nui in pursuit of a common goal." He must have seen the surprise on her face, for he continued, "It is not something I have often shared, and in any event it is ancient history. But listen well, Hahli: if your Teridax is anything like ours was, you have made yourself an ally that will pursue his goal at any cost. If he finds you wanting or in his way, he will cast you aside as a tool that has outlived its use. But you must not let him. When he tries, he must look you in the eyes and see that your will is as strong as his."

She had tried to pry more information from him, but the Turaga of Ta-Koro was unyielding in his refusal to explain his story further. She'd returned home disquieted but more resolved than she had left; if Vakama spoke truly and the only thing that could temper the Makuta was strength of will, she could not allow herself to show any weakness. And if that meant she would face him alone, so be it.

And so on the hazy, chilly docks, she stored the few supplies she had brought in a corner of the boat and began to wait.

The figure that emerged from the morning fog was covered head to foot in a simple brown cloak and hood, but the rays of the morning sun found their way onto his face, giving a golden blaze to the mask that rested there. Hahli said nothing as he approached, instead silently taking measure of what little she could see; if nothing else, he at least wasn't six bio tall.

"Toa Hahli, I presume."

What small humor she'd taken from comparing the figure before her with the stories she'd heard shriveled up and died at the sound of that voice. It was his voice, loud and clear as she'd ever heard it; perhaps it was the slightest bit gentler, the slightest bit warmer, but every instinct in her body was screaming that the Makuta before her was the same one who'd haunted her nightmares for years. She fought to keep her revulsion hidden. Your will must be as strong as his, she thought. He must look you in the eyes and know that. Makuta Teridax stopped before her, his Kraahkan still shining in the morning light, the crimson eyes behind it as alive as anything.

"Makuta," she said in what she hoped was a neutral tone. "Is there a reason you're keeping yourself hidden like that?"

"Toa Helryx was of the opinion that a mysterious cloaked figure would cause significantly less panic if spotted than Makuta Teridax would. In my time here I have seen little to suggest she is wrong in that assumption." She could feel his eyes judging her. "You understand our goal?"

He will pursue his goal at any cost. She leveled her gaze at his. "We get there, explore the cove, and smash any shadow-worms we find along the way. Did you have a different one in mind?"

"Not at all, though I can hardly blame you for asking." The slightest smile played upon her companion's face. "Your… Turaga seems to have given you some rather harsh advice."

She cursed inwardly, and then bitterly reflected that she might as well have done it aloud. Makuta were mind-readers, after all. "Well," she shot back, "at least you understand my concern."

He bowed his head slightly. "My apologies for the intrusion, but we Makuta were given the gift of reading others' thoughts for a reason. Do recall one of the first beings from your world I met was so choked with shadow that my masters opted to keep him for study rather than simply return him here. I'd say that is more than motivation enough for me to be on my guard, wouldn't you? But I have a measure of you now; I will refrain from any further investigation if it disturbs you."

Somehow, the perfect politeness only made her gut churn harder. "If it's not too much an issue, yes, I'd like to know I don't have a Makuta peeking into my head." Not that it much mattered, she supposed; she could say what she liked, but it didn't change the fact there wasn't a thing she could do if the Makuta decided he wanted to do a little more poking around her mind.

Still, if he was going to be picking apart her opinion on this little partnership, she wanted him to hear it from her voice, not her thoughts. Turning to step aboard the boat, she began to speak. "I'm not going to mince words, Teridax. I don't care if you say you're from another dimension. I don't care how shiny your armor is. I don't care that the Order seems to trust you, and I don't care that they say you can bounce light better than Takanuva. You've spent most of my life making me and my friends' lives a nightmare, and you've killed more people than I could even hope to meet. If I had my way, I'd tie you to Vezon and have his little mask send the both of you back where you came – but one of the things I learned as a Toa is that life isn't fair." In her mind's eye, the stars above the Coliseum shaped themselves into a Mask of Shadows. "So if you are the great big hero of light you say you are, then you'd better prove it, because if I even start to think you're playing us false, I will personally show you the meaning of 'dead in the water'."

"Of course," said the Makuta as he followed her aboard and sat himself upon one of the seats to the ship's bow. "Though I'm afraid you've misunderstood me if you think I'm trying to prove myself a hero. I simply aim to take care of any troubles for the Matoran – permanently, if need be." He smiled in a way she hoped he didn't think was reassuring. "Perhaps that's why the Order has taken such a shine to me."

Without a word, she turned and untied the last knot holding the boat to shore, and the wind came to carry the Toa and the Makuta out over the open bay.

An hour passed without event. Hahli kept herself busy ensuring the ship stayed on course, almost allowing herself to be lost in the rhythm of the waves against their vessel and the gentle chill of the spray that slipped over the sides. On Mata Nui, there had never been need to go this far from shore, but every Ga-Matoran worth their salt knew the tricks of riding the waves. She tried to think of the last time she'd been sailing, but the memory of all that had happened since leaving Mata Nui made it difficult. An image of Jaller clinging desperately to the mast of her simple fisherman's raft as they sailed along the coast came to her, and in spite of herself she smiled at the memory, wondering how he would have reacted if he'd known before long he'd be spending his days exploring the ocean.

She stood to adjust the sail, and the sight of her partner sitting silently to one side of the boat drove the smile from her face. His cloak was folded neatly to one side, the warhammer resting atop it, and she had to admit he made for an intimidating sight. His stark-white plates of armor were in places scarred or dirtied from some long-ago battle, and beneath their surface she could make out taut muscle that would have made an Ash Bear think twice about trying anything. His eyes were closed behind the golden mask, and his arms were crossed across his lap; at first glance one would think him asleep. Hahli knew better; the precision with which he had postured himself meant that if anything were to arise, he could be up and on the attack in the blink of an eye. It was not a comforting sight.

Warily, she turned away from him and stared out over the horizon. To their north a craggy stretch of coast lazily followed them, and to the south the bay stretched on to the Great Sea uninterrupted. In the distance she could spot the shapes of birds flying above the water, but at this distance it was impossible to tell what they were. His voice sounded out before any further pleasant memories could distract her. "Are we still on course?"

She turned to look at him once again. The Makuta had unfolded his arms and was now leaning forward in an almost relaxed posture, watching her intently. She nodded. "Yeah. We should be there in another half hour or so." Somehow, the usual Toa tradition of responding to stupid questions with equally stupid answers had lost its charm.

"Then if all is well, might I suggest we have a talk while we wait?"

Hahli stared at him as though… well, as though he were a Makuta suggesting a pleasant chat to pass the time. "We could," she said, "but given your little mind-reading stunt, it'd be awfully one-sided, don't you think?"

He sighed. "I won't apologize for that, if that's what you're asking. But I will say I looked no deeper than I needed to." He raised a hand to his mask. "We Makuta were given the gift of telepathy, true, but this mask makes peering into a quarry's spirit as simple as breathing. If you were as full of shadow as that Matoran was, I'd have known it without ever hearing the slightest conscious thought." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "Except perhaps that Turaga's advice. You were so focused on it, you may as well have been shouting."

She was unsurprised to find his reassurances were doing little to ease her mind. "And if I had been 'full of shadow'?"

"Then I would have introduced you to my warhammer and returned you to the Order with a warning. If you'd put up a struggle, I'd have returned what was left of you." He smiled. "Fortunately for both of us, that proved unnecessary."

She felt a chill run down her back. It was certainly a more direct plan than she'd have expected from a Makuta, but its blunt efficiency was yet more proof to her that the being before her was simply another side of the Matoran's lifelong enemy. He continued, "But that is not what I hoped to talk about. I simply wanted to take this opportunity to speak at length with a Toa of this world. And I imagine you are full of questions about where I am from as well."

"Nope, not really."

He laughed, a sound which would have been almost pleasant if Hahli hadn't spent years associating it with insanity and mass murder. "I must say, my other self has done all he can to make me an unwanted guest, hasn't he? I mean you no harm, Hahli, though I know there may be nothing I can ever do to convince you of that. But my masters are steadfast in their decisions, and I have a feeling it will be a long time before I am allowed to return home. If I am to spend the rest of my days in this world, I simply wish to learn of it. That is all."

She met his gaze evenly. The sight of those fire-red eyes burning out from behind a Kraahkan was still unnerving, but she was surprised to find herself already growing used to it. "You're right that you're not convincing me of anything here. But if you want to talk, we're doing it on my terms." Stiffly, she sat herself upon the seat across from him. "I ask you two questions. You answer them. You ask me one question. I answer it. Repeat until we get there or one of us throws the other out the boat."

He nodded assent, apparently unfazed by the harshness of her tone. Forcing herself to maintain eye contact, she asked, "Why were you the one to come back to our world?"

The Makuta shrugged. "It was not my choice. The Great Beings told the Matoran Mazeka he would have someone from our world in place of his Vultraz. He chose me."

"And you didn't have any trouble with that?"

"Why would I? We Makuta are the loyal servants of the Great Beings, nothing more. It was their guidance and judgment that let our world escape ruin, and it is their words that Makuta are tasked with spreading and enforcing. If they ask me to go, I shall go. And I must admit, I was curious to see what was waiting on the other side of the mirror." He closed his eyes in thought. "My turn, then. I have told you what a Makuta is in my world. What is it in yours?"

She answered without hesitation. "A worm that dreams itself a king. You spend your lives squirming your way through cracks and sulking in the shadows, sending monsters to do your dirty work, never daring to face us head-on. You backstab each other in hopes of gaining a momentary advantage, you take what little responsibility you have and stomp on it, you would rather let a thousand villages burn than risk yourself to save them. You are everything a Toa isn't." Before he could respond, she barreled on. "Me now. If you're such great helpers for the Great Beings, what are Toa?"

He smiled. "You would not know them if you saw them. They stand as tall as your Matoran, yet they move with surprising agility and are known to eliminate foes many times their size. After they were created, they spent some five or six years repairing our planet from the inside out; once that was complete, they joined us Makuta in guarding and teaching the Matoran. Who, I must say, you bear no small resemblance to."

She frowned. "So if the Toa were busy fixing Spherus Magna, you're saying the Makuta were the Matoran's protectors?"

"Indeed. The title of Makuta is not one taken lightly. My brothers and sisters and I have each spent years training ourselves in body, mind, and spirit alike. A Makuta has no right to name himself as such until every trace of shadow has been expelled from his spirit and he controls Light as a Toa might Water. Any that lets their ambition conquer them is an enemy to Matoran and Makuta alike, and is summarily dealt with." He leaned back, thinking of a question. "Why did the Great Beings abandon you?"

For a moment she had no response. "I… wouldn't know. I've heard that Spherus Magna was lost, so they created Mata Nui to find a new home. He would watch over us, and in return we would help him fulfill his destiny, but I don't know how the Great Beings fit into this whole thing." With a gnawing dread, she realized she already knew the answer to her next question, but she found herself unable not to ask: "You have no Mata Nui?"

He bowed his head. "There was no need. The Matoran and Toa saved Spherus Magna, and we Makuta delivered the justice and the morals of the Great Beings more than sufficiently."

"Then … who can the Matoran believe in?"

The question seemed to give him pause. "The Great Beings, I suppose. Us Makuta. Their Toa. Themselves. They know who they are and why they are. Belief has little to do with it." Almost idly, he met her eyes again. "It's rather the same situation you find yourself in now, isn't it?"

She scowled. "Shut it, Makuta. Alright, the Great Beings might have put us all together to go find some planets for them, but spend five minutes listening to a camp-side story of Mata Nui – Matoran and Agori alike – and you'll realize that this isn't just some experiment of theirs. Maybe it was once, but not anymore. And it never will be. Mata Nui was more than a planet-fixing machine, and if you never had him, maybe it's no surprise your world's so backwards." The mention of stories had shaken loose a memory, and she forced the conversation in a different direction. "They say when you got here, you killed a bunch of Shadow Toa. Is that true?"

"It was merely three, but yes. Mazeka and I were… inconvenienced by a number of corrupted Toa my other self had sent as a welcome gift. I removed them."

There was another part of the story she'd heard, one she hadn't wanted to believe. "Who were they?"

"Three sides of the same coin, plucked from across the universes and brought to serve as an army." He looked thoughtful for a second, as though he were trying to recall something. "I believe they were each called Takanuva."

A horrible cave opened in the pit of her stomach. Before the Makuta could ask his own question, she cut him off. "And you murdered them? Just like that?"

"They were attempting to murder us first, you realize."

Suddenly there was fury in her voice. "Drop the high-and-mighty-oh-so-practical-Makuta stuff, now. You didn't stop to try and reason with him? He's a Toa of Light! You just let him be… used?"

His voice was steel in response. "I have already told you, Toa. My mask lets me see the shadow within with barely a moment's effort. If you saw what I had seen, glimpsed those spirits devoid of the slightest light, you would have realized talk was futile. What I did was not murder; it was mercy and justice." She opened her mouth to respond, but his words were sharp and unyielding. "You have asked six questions now, and I am owed three." His eyes were blazing red, and the voice he spoke with seemed to have lost what little separated it from the one she'd known. "First. You condemn me for crimes I never committed, and for choices I never made. You rage against the light of day in place of the shadow it dispelled. Are you so blind as to think that a universe shifted may not change the spirits of its inhabitants along with it, that they may not choose another path? Second. You doubt my devotion to the light and my judgment of those Shadow Toa. You believe this mask tells half-truths at best, and that I am truly so corrupt as to trawl through another being's mind out of simple paranoia. I should rather like to dispel those doubts." He brought a hand to his mask. "Which would you like to see first – my shadow, or yours?"

Instinctively, Hahli grabbed for her Cordak Blaster, but the Makuta abruptly lowered his hand. "No, that is far enough. This conversation has been most illuminating. Allow me to ask you my last question: do you truly believe you can complete this mission with me at your side?"

She forced herself to keep the weapon holstered and inhaled deeply. The moment stretched out between them for far too long.

"I don't know," she finally said.

Teridax nodded. "Your honesty is appreciated. Now, I believe that's our destination coming up over the horizon. Shall we prepare to make land?"