Gali looked up as Onua and Lewa arrived. “Brothers! I'm glad you could make it. Are your villages well?”
Both replied that they were, and inquired in kind. She said that hers was also doing fine.
“They are rebuilding well,” she added, “and since the Skull Spiders are no longer a problem, it's not going to be long before the Ga-Matoran have completely recovered, and will resume their normal work.” She smiled at the thought of her village, complete as it had been before she had arrived; she had never seen Ga-Koto complete, and could hardly wait to see it for the first time.
She turned back to Tahu, who was having a friendly argument with Pohatu about who had destroyed the most Skull Spiders that day; recently, after a lighthearted dare from Tahu, they had both begun to keep track of the number of foes they had fought, and the number of fights won. Since they had defeated the Lord of Skull Spiders, there was no driving force behind the Skull Spiders, and they had become more of a nuisance than anything else. Pohatu had tried to persuade Kopaka to join them in the challenge, but had been able to budge the frosty Toa of Ice.
“We are not here for games,” he had said coldly, “The only reason we have come together is to attempt do discover what our Destiny is, now that we have defeated the Lord of Skull Spiders.”
Gali felt as her Icey brother did; that it was not right to make their Duty into a game. Pohatu, however, stated that there were no rules against doing it the fun way, if you still got the same amount done at the end of the day.
“In fact,” he had said, “this makes us likely to do more than we could have otherwise.”
Gali, however, was unconvinced. At least they are using their energy constructively, she reflected. Now if they could convince Lewa to do the same, we could...
Her thoughts were interrupted by a sudden rustling sound, and she turned to see a bush, shaking violently, as though being shaken by something directly behind. Something large and hostile, by the sound of it.
All of the Toa had noticed now, and Tahu, Lewa and Pohatu had instinctively gone into battle formation, staring suspiciously at the quivering plant. Kopaka's eye lens whirred and spun, trying to get a lock on whatever was moving there. Gali cautiously moved forward, automatically summoning her trident. It nestled comfortably in her hand, reassuring her with its heft and balance.
The other Toa also summoned their weapons, and were advancing slowly toward the still shaking bush, out of which nothing had yet emerged. In the relatively short time they had spent on the island of Okoto, they had learned that it was better to be overcautious than unconscious.
But while their attention was fixed on the forest edge, there came a much slighter movement that came from the other side of the greenery, unnoticed by the Toa.
Shade-like, the cloaked figure slipped into the clearing on the side opposite the Toa. It looked at the Toa carefully, amusedly; this was too easy. Then it froze, clearly startled, as though it had not expected what it saw. Then, its amber eyes cleared to reveal a look of curiosity, and something like disappointment. It remembered everything now. Uncertainly, it stood, unmoving and silent, in the center of the space. It motioned with its hand, which glowed slightly with blue-green energy, and the leaves of the quivering plant instantly stilled.
“What do you think-figure that was?” asked Lewa, unaware of the observer. “No Rahi big enough to shift-move those leaves that much could quick-vanish like that.”
“It wasn't a Rahi.” said Kopaka. Lewa and the other Toa looked at him in curiosity, so he elaborated. “If it were an animal large enough to make those leaves shake that much, and the leaves were that close, we would have clearly seen it. We did not. And I see no tracks or trace of recent Rahi activity.” he added, his Akaku lens whirring slightly as he deactivated its power of X-ray enhanced vision. “Meaning that something made those leaves move... without touching them.”
Then, the stranger finally spoke. “You are correct; that was my doing, and you have my sincere apologies for the deception.”
The Toa spun around, surprised that someone had sneaked up on them with such apparent ease. And they saw the cloaked figure for the first, and certainly not last, time.
The figure was wearing a light brown cloak that mostly concealed its wearer, but when they heard the voice, it was evident that the stranger was... female? She pushed the hood back to reveal a green and pale blue Kanohi, but not a mask like any of the Toa had ever seen before. Her construction and armor, or what little they could see that was not covered by the cloak, was green and blue like her mask, and was almost identical to that of the Toa Koto; in other words, she appeared to be a Toa also. But she, unlike the Toa Koto, had several small pouches fastened to her belt.
At first she looked fairly tall, and it took a strangely long while to realize that she was actually several inches shorter than any of the Toa Koto (and in the case of Kopaka or Tahu, there was over a heads' difference), and she was simply built on a smaller scale. She also seemed to exhale a certain quiet aura that made her appear taller than she was.
Tahu was the first to recover himself.
“Who are you? What are you doing here? And what exactly,” he said heatedly, jabbing his finger at the leaves that had shaken moments before, “was the point of that?”
The blue-green being inclined her head slightly, something akin to embarrassment half-hidden behind her mask.
“Again, my apologies, Toa of Flame. I have not used my abilities in... a very long time... and I wished to know if it still served me.” Tahu decided that she was not referring to only her stealth.
“And who are you? You are similar in appearance to ourselves, but not the same.” It was Gali who spoke now, taking a nonthreatening step towards the green-blue stranger with palm held out in a peace-making gesture.
Now the strange Toa, for Toa she was, tipped her head to one side, looking at Gali with some curiosity. “You are... a Toa of Water? And yet, your team also has a Toa of Ice? I would not have thought of something like that. But to answer your question—'Who am I?'—” She smiled sadly. “It is an appropriate question, Toa of Water. And a question I have been asking myself for over fifty years.”
She unclasped the robe and removed it, hanging it from one of the trees at the edge of the clearing. When the stranger turned back to the suspicious Toa, they were astonished at what they saw.
Her armor was green, blue and silver. There were touches of light brown,an almost wood-like shade, as was the color of her visible organic components, but this was not what was so strange.
She had on her chestplate an insignia; an identifying mark. All Toa had one, and no two Toa had the same design. However, what was so startling was that as her insignia, she bore a slightly stylized version of the symbol of the Three Matoran Virtues: Unity, Duty, and Destiny.
Now, she looked to the ground beneath her feet, and, stretching out her hand, she concentrated slightly. Almost at once, a wooden shaft emerged from the earth, growing upright until it reached her own height. She lifted it from the ground, where the bottom came off cleanly, and held the rod as a staff that she was very familiar with. She returned her gaze to the Toa.
“My name is Ternian, Toa of the Green... and the last of the Toa Rema.”