|Land Of The Lost, By TakuaE3, Chapters 21 And Up|
Posted by on February 14, 2018 at 07:29 PM CST:
The Land of the Lost: Chapter 21: The Sign That Is Silence
The Sanctum Guard nodded to his replacement, who inspected the terrain spread below their tower. After a pause, the new Guard gestured at a nearby outcropping that shone dimly as dawn approached. "Any activity?"
"No," answered the Ko-Matoran going off duty. "They are where Matoro expects them."
As he turned toward the ladder, an airship rushed out of the south, headed straight for the pinnacle where they stood. Just as they were about to dive down the hatch, the vessel swerved, banking ridiculously and narrowly missing the next tower before the pilot managed to gain altitude.
The Ko-Matoran stared after it but found no need to comment. They would have had poor odds of making correct guesses at the airship's need for haste. For the pilot was no Le-Matoran.
Takua was done with hitching rides.
Ta-Matoran lined the channel, armor-girt and harpoon-crowned, the fires of the airships at their call. Jaller approached the barricade at the end of the bridge. When he reached it, he solemnly laid a hand on its side and turned to the assembled Guards.
"Ta-Metru is free!" he proclaimed.
The clamorous applause put the most dedicated akilini fans to shame.
"Every inch of Ta-Metru now belongs to Ta-Matoran!" Jaller went on. "Through faithful unity, devotion to duty, and following true destiny, we are free!"
Again the Guards broke into an uproar.
"This is not all," the captain continued. "By sunsdown tonight, every metru will be free as ours is. The whole city will be reclaimed- except for one part." He raised his hand toward the other side of the channel, where waited the ramparts of the Coliseum.
"Defenders of Ta-Metru, are we willing to take the final step? Are we ready to free this entire city?"
All the Ta-Matoran shouted, "Yes!"
Except the ones who wore small stone tablets hung around their necks.
Onewa had likely never been happier in his life. His footsteps bounced with a proud joy as he showed Nokama and Kai all the preparations the Po-Matoran had made.
"From this lookout point," he explained, "we can signal someone at the chute control hub, and have individual chutes turned on and off whenever we need. So we can send one of our squads through to the Coliseum, and once they're through, we can instantly switch back to blocking the Vahki out!"
The Ga-Matoran mostly nodded and kept quiet as Onewa showed them ramps for launching transport vehicles across the bridges at top speed. "As soon as the Ko-Matoran clean up their metru, we'll go over there and install them there too."
A large covered transport crawled into the plaza and stopped nearby. "Ready at last!" Onewa beamed. "This is what will really make a difference." He lifted a hatch and gestured the Ga-Matoran toward the object inside.
It was the shape of a harpoon gun, but as long as the transport's interior and twice as high as a Toa. On the floor lay a few of the long spears it would fire. Kai guessed that each conical head would hold twenty-four Kanoka.
"What is it for?" wondered Nokama.
"For breaking through, of course," Onewa responded. "We don't want to keep the Vahki cooped up in a siege. They don't need to eat, for one thing. The giant harpoon gun can concentrate enough energy to smash its way through whatever they're hiding behind. Then they'll have to fight!"
"You mean you're going to knock down the Coliseum?"
"If we have to, we have to. We'd need to redecorate it anyway, in the end. Didn't you always think it was a little ugly?"
Neither Ga-Matoran answered a word.
Endless funnels of dust curled themselves over the scorched landscape, every one of them filled with the shadows that had fluttered down in dark rays from the night sky. They were all waiting for the right moment to break out and engulf Metru Nui, and Vakama knew that moment could not be far off.
The appearance of the surrounding terrain in his vision made him suspect that he was in Po-Metru, in one of the remote desert sectors. Little more of Metru Nui lay to the north, so he guessed that he did not have much farther to go before reaching his journey's end, wherever it might lie.
He tried not to think about how he was being guided along his way. If he just kept on toward the heart of the shadow, he would reach it in the end.
Vakama shouted into the wilderness. Neither his own voice nor any answering call reached his ears. For Vakama, silence had descended on Metru Nui, a symbol and foretaste of the shadows about to come down upon everyone.
Kapura and Nixie simply stared as Takua waved them into the airship's hold. "When did you learn to drive one of these things?" the Ga-Matoran demanded.
"Last night," Takua smirked.
Kapura gestured at the vessel's cargo, several long racks of metallic spheres. "I have no idea what those are," Takua explained. "I was in a hurry, and this ship was the closest."
"To get back to our purpose," said Nixie, "did your trip to Onu-Metru fulfill all our hopes?"
Takua grinned again and opened a small bag. Six fragments of flat stone slid on the airship's floor.
"At last!" Nixie whispered. Kapura extended a congratulatory fist.
"All ready, you see." Takua gathered the stones back into the bag. "How much time do we have?"
"It's not easy to find a Ko-Matoran scholar who still cares," explained Nixie, "but we don't think it will begin until after noon tomorrow."
Kapura made clock symbols with his arms, then held his hands up and spread them wider and wider.
Takua translated. "He means we need to be ready with plenty of time to spare."
"We won't be able to use my boat," said Nixie. "It's been repurposed for transporting ammunition. Sansa and I are supposed to be fixing turbines right now. I had to sneak away."
"None of that will matter by tomorrow evening," predicted Takua. "I've already borrowed this airship. Borrowing a boat is a small matter. Let's fly over to Ga-Metru and get one. Then we're off to the Temple."
The others followed him to the cockpit. "Strap yourselves in tightly!" Takua cautioned as he activated the lifting mechanism.
Matoro walked alone along the narrow rim. On the one side, twilight beams would normally be filtering through Ko-Metru, but the sky was hazy tonight. That made no difference to Matoro. His attention was directed the other way, toward the Coliseum.
At intervals, Matoro passed other vigilant Sanctum Guards, each like him focused on the other side of the channel. Each time an armored Ko-Matoran saluted as he passed, Matoro simply said, "The circle is closed."
The Coliseum was hemmed in. Every bridge, every walkway, every chute, every tunnel, was closed off by barricades and armored figures with harpoon guns. The Vahki kept hidden within, offering no hint of their future plans.
Matoro was approaching the end of his patrol. The causeway down to Le-Metru was thronged with vehicles, mostly carrying chute equipment upward to the colder district and beyond. Matoro had always found it striking how closely the six sections came together here, and now the Matoran were all coming together to finish the struggle.
Matoro walked up to the Le-Metru guard post, saluted, and said once more, "The circle is closed."
The unreal universe dimmed again. Vakama was becoming tired. Though his body was invisible, inaudible, and mostly intangible, he could still feel pain and weariness, and the sensations were more vivid for lacking any familiar points of focus. He guessed that the suns were setting again, meaning he had been marching into shadow for a whole day and night.
He no longer noticed the insane landscape of scorched sand or the crystal webbing draped over tangled pylons. Up ahead, the shadows had become solid, a single steady object that never shifted. It became taller and deeper as he approached, until he stood before a looming portal, its posts made of a jagged shadow-rock, its lintel darkly smooth as a nighted pool.
Vakama walked in. Despite the blackness, he could see that he was in a high narrow tunnel, roughly cut into the stone. A short way down the passage, a massive panel stood open in one side. Vakama stepped through into a broad chamber filled with unfamiliar objects.
He knew where he was going. He avoided a table piled with tablets and came near to the wall. He took out his firestaff and began carving into the rock.
A hidden compartment opened. Something flew out and planted itself on Vakama's mask. His surroundings, the vision and the reality together, faded away, and a new world took shape.
...but the Land of the Lost is further yet...
The Land of the Lost: Chapter 22: A City Freed
The attack came at sunsrise. Both sides knew that at first light, the Matoran would charge across the six mighty bridges and move against the Coliseum itself. The preparations were obvious.
What would happen after that, neither side knew. Neither the Vahki commanders' mechanical calculations or Onewa's careful strategies extended past this day. Neither tried to guess at such an unprecedented situation.
Both were wiser than they knew.
No signal was given. The transports launched themselves from their starting ramps and tore across the bridges from all six metru at the same time. Disks clattered off their sides as they slid into the barriers at the Coliseum ends.
Hatches opened against the barricades, and Matoran demolition crews went to work. The Vahki shot blasts from their stun staffs, but few found their marks, and the Matoran were armored. Other attackers struck back at the Vahki with harpoon guns.
It was the Onu-Matoran who first broke through their barrier, tearing through some wire fencing that had been hastily stretched over a gap between two walls. Onepu led a charge, and a dozen Matoran ran through into the shelter of some barrels of liquid protodermis.
A squad of Vorzakh scaled down the wall toward them, tossing weakness disks. But Matoran on the other side noticed and began climbing up to the area the Vahki had vacated. A Rorzakh squad dashed along the top to stop them, but a volley of harpoons forced them under cover.
Not far away, a group of Ga-Matoran huddled in their transport, firing harpoons out the hatches whenever they found an opening in the hail of disks from the defenses. Two of them, their masks invisible behind their faceplates, tried to shout over the racket.
"Isn't Nixie supposed to be with us?"
"She ought to be, but I haven't seen her today."
"Look out!" A disk bounced into the transport.
"This is a waste of time. We should have used our boats."
"Onewa doesn't understand boats, stonecarver that he is. And Nokama pays too much attention to him." The Ga-Matoran dashed to another hatch and sent aloft another harpoon to knock a Bordakh from the rampart.
Desolate stillness hung over the streets of Ga-Metru. The entire district and all its waterways were as lifeless as the abandoned sectors had been in the days of the Morbuzakh. Except for the Great Temple, where three figures climbed over the rail.
"Here we are again!" Nixie grinned. Takua stared toward the distant haze that separated sea and sky. Kapura brought a hand down in the direction of the Temple doors. The others turned and hurried.
Inside, Kapura led them downward, through deeper and deeper tangles of passages and storage rooms. "I thought I knew the Temple," Nixie commented, "but I've never been here before."
"Just what I was thinking," Takua added. He glanced at Kapura with narrowed eyes. "How did you find this place?"
Kapura bumped fists with himself and pulled open another hatch in the floor. Then he disappeared through it. The other Matoran looked at each other for a moment, but they had to follow.
In the vault below, Kapura stood in front of a sloping stone surface covered with carvings. He gestured at a circular depression in the middle. Takua opened his pack and took out his flat stone fragments. Nixie began fitting them one by one into the circle.
Kapura reached over her shoulder and made a turning motion with his hand. She flipped one fragment over, and Takua fit the last piece into place. A crack appeared in the stone, widening in a sudden glow.
In a small compartment rested radiant glory in the form of a golden mask. Its tall, recessed faceplate, its narrow eyeholes, and its long crestpieces flooded the room with blinding brilliance. Takua cautiously touched the object, lifted it from its hiding place, dropped it into his bag. Darkness returned, seeming thicker than before to his light-seared eyes.
That was why he had no warning when Nixie grabbed him around the waist and jumped up and down. "We did it, we did it, we did it!" she squealed.
Takua chuckled. "That's the hardest puzzle I've ever solved. But what a reward!"
Kapura stomped on the floor and pointed to the ladder.
"He's right, we're not done yet." Takua broke free.
Nixie began climbing. "What about the keystones?"
Takua followed her. "I don't think we need them anymore. They'll be safe here."
Kapura spoke. "Bring them!"
The others stared. Then Takua obeyed. "If you think it's so important."
Kapura simply nodded.
Aft's squad was the first one to reach the top of the barricade on the Ta-Metru side. Some Guards flung showers of disks to keep the Vahki back while the others set up two high-powered harpoon guns on tripods. They began picking off their foes from a distance. A Vahki transport approached, but the gunners struck its crawling legs with shrinking disks, bringing it to a grinding stop and forcing its passengers to run under fire. Some of them tried to take back the barricade by flying, but the harpoons were just as effective against airborne Vahki.
Once the walltop was secured, the Ta-Koro Guards shot at the chains that held the gates in place. When ready, Aft waved a small pennant.
Another transport rushed across the bridge, smashing through the dull metallic bars that could no longer hold it back. It swerved around a low wall, driving a Nuurakh squad from its shelter with a volley of harpoons. The last Vahki still contesting the barricade fell back.
Jaller was coming to the Coliseum.
"This is taking too long," Onewa grumbled. "Let's show those crawlers what they have to deal with. Bring up the big one!"
Piatra waved a flag, and the transport carrying the giant harpoon gun crawled onto the bridge. Up at the barricade, Hewkii pulled his squad back into their vehicles and moved them out of the way.
When the transport stopped, the superweapon adjusted, taking precise aim. The sound of its launch was a metallic scraping and rattling, ending in a clang. Its fearsome arrow flew far too swiftly to be seen.
The center of the barricade crumbled under its own weight. The projectile had been loaded with weakness disks.
Hewkii and his squad rushed for the gap, but Piatra was not watching them. A dark shape had left the Coliseum tower, winging its way northward. He pointed. "What's that?"
"It's that Rahi hawk Turaga Dume was trying to train last year," Whenua told him.
"Could it be going to bring help?" Piatra wondered.
"Help from who?" Onewa growled. "The Vahki are all here. There's nothing else that could stand against us. Go make sure the chute squad is ready to move."
The Ussalry were the first to make contact with the forces from another metru. One of the mounted Onu-Metru squads found an unguarded path through a chute station and discovered Po-Matoran crouching behind shipping containers. Not far ahead, Vahki sheltered behind the resiliant walls of a power substation.
Another group of Matoran advanced across the open ground in front of the substation, but they quickly gave up the venture. The Onu-Matoran fired some harpoons, but the angled walls kept the defenders safe.
One of the armored Po-Matoran waved a signal toward one side. The giant harpoon gun came crawling into sight.
The weapon's transport and the Vahki holdout faced each other across a broad pavement. The Vahki shot disks that fell short. The giant gun gave a clang like a single bell toll. The wall of the substation erupted like a fountain of rubble and dust.
"They're coming!" a Po-Matoran shouted.
Over the newly spilled rubble charged the Vahki. Abandoning their defenses, they rushed toward the chute station in a compact group. The Po-Matoran began firing harpoons in regular volleys, and the Onu-Matoran joined in as the foes came closer. Some Vahki in the front rank fell, but there were dozens behind to swarm over them.
Then the enforcers broke off in two different directions, both groups rushing away from the front line. An Onu-Matoran stared after them. "What are they doing now?"
His squad leader sent a last harpoon into the fleeing force. "It doesn't matter. We have to secure the power substation."
A transport swerved around some wreckage littering the road. Kopeke spun in the roof hatch, keeping his aim on his target, but he did not fire.
"Slow down," he shouted to the driver. "They're too far ahead."
"They're not going to their hive," called another Ko-Matoran. "They're heading off along that second chute line."
Kopeke studied the Vahki headquarters, standing in front of a row of warehouses. "Those Onu-Matoran are in range of the hive. I don't think there are any Vahki in there."
"Why are they dashing around the chutes instead of taking shelter?" the driver wondered. "Maybe it's a trap."
"Approach the hive slowly," Kopeke ordered.
The transport crept closer to the low, solid building, but nothing happened. Some Onu-Matoran scouts rode up to the entrance, looked inside, and waved a "clear" signal.
"They've really abandoned it," Kopeke concluded.
Jaller's transport made its way up a viaduct, chasing a few Vahki over the edge. At the top, the vehicle stopped briefly. The wires and machinery of the power yards stretched in a desolate expanse to the base of the Coliseum. A few Vahki squads dashed through the tangle with unapparent purpose.
"We're halfway there!" Jaller called to his crew. As the transport started down, he noticed figures in blue armor rushing upward. "Who are you?"
"This is Kai," called the Matoran in front. "Can we get a ride to the Coliseum?"
A Ta-Koro Guard threw open a hatch. "Welcome aboard."
The Ga-Matoran added their ammunition to the vehicle's stockpile. Kai sought out Jaller. "The day goes well. Onewa didn't expect us to reach this point until noon."
"Alert to the left!" A squad of Vorzakh was making a rush for the transport. But the Guards stayed calm, and aimed their harpoons with precision. The transport crawled on, leaving behind a few heaps of twisted metal.
"I don't understand them," Jaller said. "They're just charging at random, without any strategy. They're not even thinking about cover or surprise."
"Look at that!" A trunk of flame sprouted from a machinery shed, spreading into a canopy of smoke. The shadow of an airship rushed by. A minute later, a road burst into flames right under a squad of Vahki.
"We'll finish them in no time!" Kai called to her troops.
"Remember the story about the Le-Matoran vault robber?" one of them answered.
"Oh, the one who tried to steal widgets out of the Archives." Kai fired some harpoons. "He had no trouble sneaking past the Vahki. All the doors had been left unlocked. He cut through the vault ceiling, lowered himself in, and his rope broke. Then he saw there was no widget vault, he'd put himself into a Vahki jail cell."
The Ga-Matoran turned toward her captain. "I think it's time we inspected our rope."
In a broad but shrinking area surrounding the Coliseum, the Vahki continued their haphazard maneuvers. And in the sky, circling, diving, and lifting again, the Windrider airships hunted their prey. However swift the Vahki's charges, however flawless their military formations, they scattered and melted in the explosions, or fell crushed by ice or rock. As their numbers dwindled, the Matoran pressed closer, joining their forces into a single collapsing ring.
No one was quite sure when or where the last Vahki fell, but shortly after noon, the Matoran captains came to the great plaza surrounding the Coliseum. It was empty.
Jaller glanced at the shut and barricaded gates. "There can't be many left to defend it."
"We've been keeping a careful count," Onewa asserted. "Every Vahki squad has been accounted for. Only stragglers are left, and not in there. The heart of Metru Nui is ours." He waved for the giant harpoon gun.
Nokama frowned, but she said nothing as the missile smashed in one of the ponderous doors. The carven Toa by the doorposts rocked with the impact.
Jaller stepped forward. "All right. Nokama, Onewa, Whenua, Matoro, and you too, Kongu. We six will have to go and talk to Turaga Dume."
"Talk to him?" Onewa wore his disdain like a medal. "I was thinking of telling him to surrender or run."
...but the Land of the Lost is further yet...
The Land of the Lost: Chapter 23: The Shadow Falls
Jaller led the way through the Coliseum gate. Even Onewa kept a nervous silence as they passed the stairways to the stands and stepped into the vast open arena. Behind the six leaders, the rest of the Matoran first watched, then straggled forward. Hushed emptiness gave them an inscrutable welcome.
It was Nokama who spotted the figure by the elevator car. Turaga Dume sat hunched on the arena floor, his cloak tangled, his staff lying forgotten off to the side. He did not glance up as Jaller raised his faceplate and stepped near.
"He lost it," Dume interrupted.
Jaller went on. "Though these last days have seen many strange and regrettable events, I hope it is still possible for us to speak of the good of Metru Nui."
"It's all lost," Dume repeated. "He lost it. Like dust."
"I would still hold to the hope that it is not too late-"
It was Onewa who interrupted this time. "It's no use, Jaller. He's talking about his mind."
"All lost," the Turaga chanted.
Nokama sat in front of him and peered into his eyes. "How was it lost?"
"He wanted it. He tried to keep it from me. I wouldn't let him have it. So he lost it."
She studied his face. "I think he's been mind-controlled. He's been fighting for his own mind, and that's what destroyed his sanity."
"Who lost it?" Whenua asked.
From a door in the arena's side, a being waddled forward. There was no mistaking the green Mahiki mask with the special aerodynamic shaping. But the thing wearing the mask was far from resembling Matau or any other Matoran. Its body was broad and rectangular. It lurched along on grotesque giant toes and almost no legs. Its warped arms ended in huge clumsy hands, and its head, set directly on top of its body, was disturbingly below the normal height.
Its voice, though higher in pitch, was eerily similar. "Lost, lost, lost."
Kongu stood transfixed. Onewa glanced around uncomfortably. As other Matoran trailed in, they kept their distance. Only Jaller approached the twisted being. "Matau, what happened to you?"
Matau waved his hands in circles and said nothing.
Jaller glared back at Dume. "How did he come here? Who did this to him?"
"Lost, lost, lost," the Turaga and the shrunken Matoran chanted in unison.
"I've heard that word too many times!" Jaller shouted. He looked around at his friends and stared out at the gathering crowd. "Can't someone explain what is going on?"
A dimness fell around him. Swooping down from the sky came Dume's Rahi hawk. Just above the floor, something dropped from its claws, and the bird flapped back up the Coliseum tower.
The dropped object sat up. It was Vakama. A rubbery thing covered the front of his mask and hung down over his chest. Nuju ran to him and pulled at it. "It's holding too tight!" he cried.
Jaller reached into Vakama's pack and found his firestaff. "Stand back," he warned as he lit a flame and began incinerating the creature. It convulsed and slipped loose, but Jaller held the flame to it until it had dissolved into nauseating purplish smoke and greasy ashes.
Vakama blinked blurry eyes and looked at nothing in particular. Jaller shook him. "Come back, friend, we need your wisdom."
Vakama seemed to hear him. "Where am I? What's happening?"
"We're at the Coliseum. We beat the Vahki, Vakama! We won. And now... Turaga Dume and Matau are... here, and I don't know-"
"What are they all doing here?" Vakama was staring in horror at the population of Metru Nui, gathered around them on the arena floor.
"They came here." Jaller was confused. "We fought our way here."
Vakama jumped to his feet and faced the crowd. "You! Heart of Metru Nui! We fought this whole struggle so you wouldn't have to come to this place! Get out of here! Run! Hide! Before you're all lost!"
Behind him, machinery hummed, and the elevator car rose a few bio from the ground. Its passenger stepped into sight.
"Turaga Lhikan!" shouted Jaller. "We need your help, Turaga! Tell us what's happening."
"No!" proclaimed Vakama. "He is the one who-"
The platform's rider chuckled, a deep, unnerving laugh. "Too late, heroes. The shadow has arrived." It reached up and lifted off its golden mask, revealing the true form beneath.
Red light blazed from two eyes set in an ancient Kanohi. Every Matoran recognized that black angular mask with its high pointed crown.
Only Vakama was unaffected by shock. "Makuta! You were sworn to protect us!"
"I shall," answered the shadowy being. "Just as I have protected Matau."
"We have no need of such protection, or any of your other works!"
"How very bold," Makuta laughed. "Now embrace the nightfall. Even the Great Spirit will soon sleep."
He raised his hands, and the elevator shot up the side of the Coliseum tower. Nine hundred Matoran watched it climb skyward and yelled in panic. For the twin suns were crossing an invisible horizon, and the sky was blackening like hot metal torn from the forge.
Vakama whirled back to the crowd. "Get out of here! All of you! Now!"
The ground swelled and rolled like a gale-driven sea, tossing the Matoran from their feet and shaking even the Coliseum. The roar of collapsing buildings and breaking waves rushed over the chaos. In the gloom overhead, lightning crackled.
Not a single Matoran had been able to flee when the arena gateways swung open. Every one of them still waited helplessly when spider creatures rushed up from the darkness below. All hope sunk beneath that sudden flood.
The warriors of Metru Nui did not all fall without resistance. Onewa rallied about forty Po-Matoran and got them to volley harpoons at a group of the blue spider things. But a group of Ko-Matoran near the stands was immediately overrun by green spiders. The creatures could launch spinning wheels of energy from their flat backs, and any Matoran struck by one would lose the ability to move an arm, a leg, or the whole body. Once their victims were immobilized, the spiders wound them up with sticky webbing and stacked them like cargo at the sides of the arena.
Jaller and Kongu rushed some spiders that had gotten too far ahead, and made the temporary safety of the main crowd, where they found Nuparu standing by a cart. The engineer handed them both thick tubelike devices of flat black metal. "Give them all out! Take one yourself and follow!" Jaller yelled.
Kongu pulled a lever on his device. A wire-thin beam of liquid light lanced out, splashing over the nearest spider and burning the webbing that it was spitting. Jaller and a few others leaped past it and began cutting their way toward the only open Coliseum gate.
But a new horror had appeared. Extra-large spiders, gleaming a chilly blue and white, dragged out sleds loaded with spherical containers. The spiders gathered the webbed and paralyzed Matoran and began stuffing them into the spheres, closing the prison devices over their heads and shutting them away from the world of life. Then the occupied spheres were packed back onto the sleds, ready for a journey across unguessable borders.
Vakama sat by Dume and Matau, using his firestaff to warp the Disk of Time. He occasionally surveyed the scene but paid little attention as the spiders pressed closer upon fewer and fewer Matoran. Nokama screamed toward him as she tossed several disks. "Aren't you going to do anything?"
"I've already seen how it ends." Vakama continued shaping the disk and waiting for his cue.
By then, foreseeing the end required no extraordinary visions. Just beyond Nokama, a group of Onu-Matoran, having run out of harpoons, were grappling with spiders, using their launchers as clubs. On the other side, Tamaru, still shouting, was being dragged to a waiting sphere. In the middle of the arena, the spiders were moving in on Matoran still stunned or dazed from the earthquake. Across the floor, a group of Ko-Matoran, backed up against the stands, were succumbing to acidic spinners and flying webs.
Jaller and Kongu had led a small company to within fifty bio of the gate. "If we make it out," the Ta-Koro Guard captain told Kongu, "we will need to keep running until we find airships. That's the only place we'll be safe."
The fugitives shot light at the last group of spiders between them and freedom. The monsters jumped aside or were scorched where they stood. The Matoran broke into a run.
Jaller looked back at the nightmare of the arena. "We'll return for you!" he shouted.
Something collided with him, knocked him to the ground, covered his arms with sticky cords. Around him, Matoran were falling for no apparent reason. A spinner appeared from midair and struck Kongu, rendering him helpless.
"They have invisibility power," the Windrider captain murmured as he lay awaiting his doom. "I should have dreadguessed."
Vakama watched the futile end of their valiance, saddened but unsurprised. Nokama and Nuju lay nearby in tangles of webbing. Whenua had been carried off to a sphere some time ago. Onewa and a knot of Po-Matoran were being overwhelmed by the surrounding horde, their defeat only moments away.
The gaze of every Matoran still conscious was seized by the hulking red titan that stalked into the arena, and the leaner but more frightening black figure that followed it. And every last secret hidden hope died at the sight of the procession that followed them.
A double row of giant spiders carried poles between which were slung cocoons of webbing. The cords were wound tightly, but there were enough gaps where protruded a mighty foot, or an aquafin, or a Great Mask of Power for all the Matoran to know that these victims of the horde were their own Toa Metru.
As they approached the Coliseum tower, Makuta levitated downward to meet them, lightning crackling and shadow swirling around his form designed in imitation of Turaga Lhikan. "You have served well, king and viceroy of the Visorak," commended the master of shadows.
"Hail to Makuta." The vicious rulers inclined their heads.
"You have even brought me those accidental Toa," Makuta continued.
"Perhaps they deserve some of the credit for that," the viceroy suggested in her slippery tones.
One of the bundles shook. "Karzahni rack your treacherous frame, Ahkmou!" shouted its occupant.
"They promised me they wouldn't hurt the Matoran!" protested the Toa of Stone.
Makuta laughed. "What an ironic end to nobility that never existed. There is only one remaining use for them. My current form is not such as befits the new ruler of the universe, and the power I am absorbing requires a more mighty vehicle. Bind those Toa to the elevator, so they can fall to their deaths at their quickly approaching transformation. Then I can absorb their powers and use their bodies to construct something far more suitable for bringing about the new order I have planned for all of reality."
"As Makuta commands." The Visorak king directed his minions to obey.
The elevator car, with its six passengers perilously dangling from the rail, rose on a swirling piller of shadow, then halted. "One more thing," Makuta announced. "Vakama?"
The Ta-Matoran maskmaker looked up from where everyone had ignored him.
"I repeatedly ordered you, through that unreliable agent, to create for me a Great Mask of Time. Today is the final deadline. Where is it?"
Vakama stood and held up the disk, which now had a vaguely facelike shape.
"Excellent," praised Makuta. "It will only take you a few minutes to complete it. Do so now."
Vakama stared at the thing in the guise of his former hero. He glanced at the sphere which now held Turaga Dume, at Nokama and Nuju tied up under the guard of Visorak, at the captive Toa who had once been his instructor, at the maze of webbing and darkness that had fallen over Metru Nui. Then he returned a determined gaze to the master of shadows and flung both his hands downward.
The Great Disk of Time struck the ground and shattered with an insane flash of more than light. All the temporal power it had contained poured free, and the pasts and futures of the million realities that had tormented Vakama's mind loosed themselves upon the universe.
...but the Land of the Lost is further yet...
The Land of the Lost: Chapter 24: The Long Paths of Shadow
Uncountable possible events displayed themselves as the fragments of the Great Disk of Time slid across the Coliseum floor. Vague happenings from unguessed epochs intruded into the present reality, and some of them stood out more clearly.
Nokama, Toa of Water, rushed across an Onu-Metru street and leaped into the shelter of an excavation. "Do you think it saw me?" she asked Matau.
"If it noticed you, it would quickfollow," the Toa of Air pointed out.
"You're right, we would see it by now. It's not at all crafty or subtle."
"We should keep ditchsneaking. It will return."
Running at a crouch, the Toa followed the excavation's course as it wound among piles of rubble from the district's mines. Four or five twists later, Nokama poked her head above the side. "Look!"
The outline of a tall, bulky being stood on the street they had just left, sweeping its single eye over the surroundings. Matau ducked back down and kept moving. "I want to know how it always trueguesses where we have gone."
They reached the mouth of a tunnel, a drainage line running off to another part of the metru, a part hopefully closer to their destination and farther from their pursuers. "What I want to know," Nokama wondered, "is why the Vahki leave it alone. It's too big to miss and it obviously doesn't belong here."
Matau had no answer, so he began picking his way through the tunnel. "We just need to ahead-stay until we find the Disk."
"Until we get the Disk," Nokama corrected. She stared at the Kanoka she carried. "If recovering it is anything like getting this one was, there's a big difference."
Onewa, Toa of Stone, talked over the rush of the wind past the airship. "We can't let it go on any longer, Kongu. Something is threatening this city, and the Vahki aren't helping. You remember how useless they were in the Archive battle."
The Toa of Air nodded from the front seat as he adjusted the craft's altitude.
Onewa went on. "Dume couldn't give Nuparu a good reason not to shut them down for repairs. So we're going to have to do it ourselves."
"No heartsorrowing from me," Kongu declared. "But do we have goodchance? There are evermany."
"The Matoran guards will help us. They're tired of having to hide their real defense work from those mechanical frauds."
"But Matoran cannot fight Vahki! They have erasestaffs, loyalstaffs, too much troublestopping ability."
Onewa grinned. "I never told you, Kongu. The Guards' armor makes them immune to stun staffs. I had Nuparu design it that way."
Kongu spun around in the pilot's seat and stared. "You knew, fifteen sunspast, that Guards would need to fight Vahki?"
"I have known it since the night before the retreat announcement, when I saw a squad of Zadakh carrying Turaga Lhikan a prisoner across the Po-Metru desert. Turn around and pay attention to where you're flying this thing."
Half a dozen six-legged vehicles stalked along one of the Archives' underground roadways. Their armored superstructures glinted every time they passed under a lightstone, but no reflection came from the black harpoon guns mounted on top. Each vehicle carried three of the high-powered launchers, and each harpoon carried three Kanoka in its broad head.
The vehicles also carried three Matoran each. Kapura had picked the most experienced veterans from Ta-Metru and Onu-Metru for this patrol. They would need all the skill they had gained from the struggle against the vines and the Vahki revolt.
The lead vehicle made the signal meaning "Alert". Sound amplifiers scanned the cavern. One of the vehicles turned toward a low side tunnel that bored downward to unlit regions. A faint scratching noise echoed between its rough-cut walls.
More signals passed back and forth. The squadron fell back into line and entered the downward tunnel. The vehicles marched on through the darkness, guided by some other sight that needed no light.
But as the scratching sound grew louder, light appeared: a pale, sickly blue gleam that made little visible in the wide underground space where it flowed. The tunnel came to an end high in the wall of a mining gallery. Far below, the blue illumination flickered as the sources of the scratching sounds passed on their way.
The vehicles descended the sheer wall, their feet boring into the stone. The one in the lead began signaling frantically. A horde of spider creatures was marching along the gallery floor, both ends of their column hidden in the pale haze. The vehicles paused on their perch as their passengers considered the situation.
Then the harpoon launchers spoke. A spray of projectiles like a cloud of stinging insects swarmed over the spider creatures, and the marching column fell into chaos. Some were petrified in the act of diving for cover. Some were torn apart by the combination of enlargement and shrinking disks. Others disappeared under layers of ice.
A spider detachment began scaling the walls, but the Matoran vehicles had already disappeared back into the tunnel. Their foes would regroup and march on, but Kapura considered the encounter a success. The Matoran would return to battle before the spiders reached the surface. And they would return in greater numbers.
"What land is that, Toa Tahu?" Jaller asked.
The fiery hero stared down the land bridge toward the distant mountains. "An evil land, Matoran. A dangerous land. A land that must be overcome if Metru Nui is ever to be safe."
"No other way." Kopaka was walking toward them, his robotic battlecar trailing behind.
"What lives there?" Jaller wondered.
"Enemies." Kopaka gripped his sword.
"Are they the ones who sent the Visorak?"
"Yes," Tahu answered, just as Kopaka grunted "No".
The Toa glanced curiously at each other. "It's a complicated situation, but they had something to do with the Visorak," Tahu told Jaller. "But the real masterminds are far beyond that land. The road to vengeance is long."
"They've detected something." Kopaka gestured at Tahu and jumped onto his battlecar, sliding off toward the mountains. The Toa of Fire ran after him, calling for his own vehicle.
Soon after, Hahli found Jaller. "The Matoran army is almost ready to move. I hope we're in time to help the inhabitants."
"Help them? What inhabitants are you talking about?"
"The ones in that land." Hahli pointed toward the mountains. "Gali told me the beings who live there were conquered and need us to rescue them."
"No one told me about those inhabitants yet," Jaller complained. "This campaign is too disorganized. I don't understand why we need to move so quickly."
"Onua said our enemies will only be vulnerable for a brief time. We have to strike now. But we can reach that land by tomorrow night."
"Tahu just told me our real enemies aren't in that land, they're far beyond it. We have a long way to go."
Hahli stared away over the mountains. "How much of this universe do these Toa plan to conquer?"
Takua dug his pick into the stone floor. All around him, Matoran chipped away and loaded rubble into elevator cars, boring deeper and deeper underground.
Garan passed by, taking some measurements. "We've made good progress. Tomorrow we'll stop sinking this shaft and start another level."
"And when that's done, we'll start a seventh shaft," Takua grumbled. "Even in Metru Nui, we never went deeper than three levels. We're bound to hit lava sooner or later."
"We keep digging until we get where the Toa need to go," Garan replied. "But the lava is deep here. Mount Valmai isn't close." He made his way toward an elevator.
Takua helped Nixie chop into a vein of especially hard crystalline protodermis. "Did you hear him? Does he know where under Voya Nui the Toa want to go?"
"I doubt it." The Ga-Matoran eyed the departing foreman. "He's not the sort the Toa would confide in."
"From the way Nuhrii and Ahkmou talk, I suspect they hope to find an object of power down here."
"Oh, sources of power. Dalu says they never talk about anything else."
Takua went back to swinging his pick, but Nixie kept talking. "I'm starting to wonder what kind of Toa they really are."
Takua shot her a rapid glance. "Careful. You never know when Toa Vhisola might be listening with her spying mask."
"After all these months breaking my back digging this useless tomb, I don't care if they shoot me with the green stuff."
"Don't be foolish. Whatever they tell us, that goo is not healthy. Matau still can't talk normally. I can't imagine how they make it."
"I heard Ahkmou mention a device in the castle that collects it. It's the kind of thing the Toa Nuva would build."
Takua shuddered. "You didn't need to mention those spiny things. Even if they are going to come back someday."
"That's something we shouldn't forget. When the Toa Nuva come back from their empire building, bringing those artifacts to put together with whatever our Toa find here, that will be something we need to be ready for."
Kapura looked their way. "If I were you, I'd keep quiet and keep digging."
Mata Nui leaned from his iron throne and glared at the approaching group. Athilmas, his Toa of Fear, stepped forward to announce them. "Mata Nui, I present the Eighteenth Special Toa Team, returned from their expedition to the Southern Continent."
"You do not need to report, Toa," the Great Spirit stated. "I am already well aware of the story of your expedition. What I want from you is an explanation."
Ilkatu, Toa of Illusion, had the unenviable responsibility of being the team leader. "What do you desire us to explain?" she cautiously offered.
"I want to know why you took so long to exterminate the cell of Hunters. Because of your delay, several of them escaped to carry valuable information to other cells."
"We were evacuating the Matoran settlement," answered a Toa of Mutation.
"We wanted to get them out of the area before we destroyed the mountain where the Hunters had their fortress," Ilkatu explained.
"And why did you presume that this was more important than putting an end to the menace?" Mata Nui demanded.
"We thought the safety of the Matoran was an important goal. With all the growing chaos in the universe, we wanted to keep as many Matoran as possible at their work."
Mata Nui's eyes glowed. "Are you implying that you consider it your duty to take thought for the proper working of the universe?" The Toa of Fear's head jerked to alertness.
Ilkatu flinched. "Not at all, Great Spirit. I have no wish to emulate the career of your so-called brother."
"I'm glad you understand that much. But I think it would be effective to give you an assignment where misunderstanding of your goals will not jeopardize your mission." Mata Nui sat back and looked down at the Eighteenth Special Toa Team. "You are now on boundary duty in the Pit. You will report to Emptystrand at once."
The Toa took their sentence well, managing to salute and march out in an orderly fashion. But once they were out of sight in tangled fortress corridors, their unhappiness began to show.
"That's our reward," grumbled the Toa of Sonics. "Sent to die on an impossible mission, trying to beat back the monsters of the Pit."
"Do you think it's true that the universe is collapsing down there?" asked the Toa of Electricity.
"We'll find out soon enough."
"Does the Great Spirit even care what happens to the universe anymore?" demanded the Toa of Mutation.
Ilkatu pointed out a window at the crumbling skyline of a city long dead and shrouded in gloom, spotted with the faint eerie glows of decay. "Does he care? Look at Metru Nui, and tell me whether he cares."
The fifth team member, a Toa of Acid, finally spoke. "Do you care?"
Scorn filled Ilkatu's laugh. "I'm doomed to spend the brief rest of my life being corroded, corrupted, and devoured by the horrors of the Pit. Do you really think the fate of the universe still matters to me?"
Okonak, Toa of Disintegration, climbed onto Karzahni's Reef, trailed by his clattering robotic followers. He dropped wearily onto the solid ground, only nodding in response to the welcome from Kiraghu, Toa of Corruption.
The island's two other inhabitants soon emerged from the darkness, and Okonak sat up. "What did you find?" asked Nukolta, Toa of Conflict.
"I finally made it to the last refuge capsule." Okonak sighed. "It's broken open. No one was there."
"So that means the Matoran really are extinct." Kiraghu stared up at the starless sky. "We all expected it, of course."
"We've known that it's over." Nukolta glanced nervously at their other companion: the Toa of the Void, who had no name, whose heartlight was emptiness, who wore no mask.
The others understood Nukolta's meaning. When the Toa of the Void grew stronger, and everything else faded, it was obvious that the end of their reality was near.
"Should we go on another patrol?" Kiraghu was not really asking a question.
"Why? With no more Matoran, we have no remaining duty," responded Okonak.
"And unity," Kiraghu mused. "What is left to have unity with? Our fading selves, dissolving land, those robots that will soon run out of power."
"That leaves destiny," muttered Nukolta.
The Toa of the Void loomed over them, blackness shining through its eyes. Its voice was a hollow echo resounding through abysses of final nothingness.
"I am Destiny."
The nightmares faded. A thousand temporal forks and tangles melted away as the shards of the Great Disk of Time slid to a stop and their power dissipated. Only the familiar reality remained- with one difference.
Six Matoran swung on webbed cocoons from the Coliseum elevator. On the floor below them stood Vakama, Toa of Fire. Running to join him were Onewa, Toa of Stone, Whenua, Toa of Earth, and Matau, Toa of Air never twisted. Nokama, Toa of Water, and Nuju, Toa of Ice, broke free to stand together. The protectors of Metru Nui, the true protectors, had arrived to rescue the lost.
And around them swarmed the hordes of the Visorak, their mighty king and sinister viceroy directing. Beyond them lay a thousand captive Matoran, stuffed into the spheres that would corrupt their bodies and minds. Metru Nui still crumbled around them as the earthquake ran its course. And presiding over all the ruin, the master of shadows laughed as he sucked the city's power supply into his body disguised as a Turaga with burning red eyes.
...but the Land of the Lost is further yet...
The Land of the Lost: Chapter 25: Far, Far Away
There was only one way it could possibly have ended.
The Visorak had overrun many lands over their history. They had overcome Toa. Their rulers were not easily intimidated. They had the advantage of numbers. There would have been little hope even without an impatient Makuta hurling lightning bolts from his perch on the Coliseum tower.
Still, the transformation wrought by the Disk of Time had left the Toa with elemental powers and some skill in using them. Nokama called together the moisture in the air, bringing streams of water splashing down around the Toa. As soon as the liquid reached the floor, Vakama flash-boiled it, sending clouds of sudden steam billowing up to hide them from their enemies. Surprised, the Visorak fell or fled when Onewa charged them swinging his proto pitons.
"Run for the gates!" Vakama muttered to his team, and they slipped through the bewildered spider crowd in the gloom. Makuta sent an electric jolt into the floor nearby, but it only activated the Coliseum's terrain-shifting machinery, adding to the Visorak confusion.
But the Visorak viceroy was not so easily fooled. She directed the hordes to surround the steam cloud and prevent the Toa from escaping.
Nuju pointed ahead. "Those black spiders are waiting for us. They'll see us if we leave the cloud."
"Then move the cloud!" Vakama looked at Matau, who began to summon a breeze.
Up above, Makuta noticed the effect and reached downward with a vortex of shadow, sucking away the steam. As their cover vanished, Whenua began shaking the ground, trying to throw the Visorak off balance. Nuju and Onewa created barriers of stone and ice just in time to protect them from a crossfire of spinners.
Nokama looked out at the hordes. "We're surrounded!"
"We have to strike at that!" Vakama pointed upward, to where Makuta had become a whirlpool of dark energy, engulfing the flying Rahi that had served him. "Our combined elemental powers might injure it," the Toa of Fire hoped.
One by one, the Toa turned beams of energy upon the whirling menace, spattering its surface with flashes of color. But Makuta answered by flinging a tremendous lightning blast into the Toa's ring. Its power launched them through the air and left them lying dazed.
From across the arena, a shadowy purple energy beam cut away at the barriers protecting the Toa. The Visorak climbed up, stood a moment, and charged.
Vakama struggled up, dragging at a foot already tangled in webbing. Onewa showered gravel on the first wave, but another wave of red spiders followed, ignoring the danger. Nuju and Whenua shattered an ice barrier, flinging the Visorak who were scaling it into the next rank. Matau and Nokama stood back to back, swatting away flying spinners while trying to create another atmospheric disturbance.
Unfortunately, the atmospheric disturbance overhead kept growing larger. Makuta discharged another arc, striking Matau and Nokama to the floor. Vakama raised a fiery ring to protect them, but a spinner struck from behind, and he stumbled down, his left side numbed. Whenua, half-covered in sticky strands, grappled with green Visorak. Onewa tried to batter the spiders away from the Toa of Earth, but soon his feet were tangled too.
Spinners rained down, too dense to dodge. Vakama collapsed, tingling energies flashing through his body. With his eyes fixed open, he could stare and do nothing else as the Visorak crept near. He could only see Nokama and Nuju, but doubtless the others were just as helpless.
A Visorak approached his paralyzed arm. He willed it to burst into flame, but his mind was too dazed to control his elemental powers. The spider stood, clacking its dangerous-looking mandibles. Then it lunged, sinking them into his shoulder.
Vakama could only draw his breath in sharply as burning pain rushed into his body. He felt corruption scouring him away from the inside out, filling his mind with more numbness. The Visorak surrounded him now, nipping him again and again as they covered him with webbing. His mask was covered, and he could only feel himself being lifted. The last he knew before delirium extinguished his senses was Makuta's voice, grown deeper and more menacing as it commanded:
Vakama awoke dizzy with venom and with the sensation of being dangled something near to head downward. He guessed he and his fellow Toa Metru were hanging from the elevator, just like their counterparts from before the Disk of Time had broken.
His body now responded to his will, though jerkily and painfully. He parted the strands over his eyes. On the Coliseum above- no, below- he saw the Matoran in their spheres, already being carried away. Physically shrunken, mentally scrubbed, and imprisoned, they would be lost far from the Metru Nui they had been meant to dwell in.
But not as lost as Vakama and the Toa Metru who hung around him.
An agonizing jolt shot through his arm. It jerked, tearing through the cocoon of webbing around him. Vakama stared at the limb, unable to acknowledge its twisted shape as his own. Then the convulsions spread through the rest of his body, bursting apart the sticky threads that held him to his precarious position.
He could see mutated beings that resembled the other Toa, dancing on their strings, their graceless motions foretelling the story of their own doom as the webs that were their safety tore apart. He could hear Makuta laughing at the performance. With one last kick, Onewa ripped free and plummeted away. A moment later, Vakama was falling too.
He glanced back, and saw the other four following him. He looked ahead, at the Visorak swarming over the Coliseum floor, clearing an open space for his imminent impact. No past memories intruded into his sight. No visions of any kind came over him as he looked on the blank flat mask of death. No thoughts of fear or courage or rage entered his mind. No words escaped his lips.
Only a profound sigh for a city lost beyond all imagining.
"Keep back!" Makuta bellowed from the top of the tower. The Visorak were not eager to get close to the Toa's battered corpses anyway. Only their shadowy viceroy needed the urging. She glanced at the lifeless things, but her attention was upward. Makuta had absorbed a dangerous amount of energy from the city power plant, and he needed a more stable form quickly.
The master of shadows reached down, and the mutated bodies lofted upward, dangling crookedly in a way that evoked no pity from the surrounding beings incapable of such emotions. Brief flashes of elemental energies flickered around them, and Makuta hungrily sucked it all into his vortex.
Now both the Visorak rulers kept their gaze fixed upward. As the Toa's bodies neared the top of the tower, Makuta extended a gigantic shadowy hand. Like a dull red swirling cloud, it settled toward the heroes, drawing more of their energy. A shimmering haze of silver sparks covered their bodies, gathering together under the force exerted by the grasping hand.
"Their Toa power," the Visorak viceroy whispered.
The energy gathered into a few bright points, then sparked upward, leaping across the gap toward the eager master of shadows.
Golden light lanced across the top of the Coliseum, smashing a gloom-shattering beam between the corpses and Makuta's shadows. Down the beam winged an airship, fleeting just over the peak of the roof as it passed under the shadowy hand. It caught the leaping energy bolt and shot off toward Ga-Metru.
Makuta howled in frustration and hurled more dark hands after the vanishing vessel. But behind it came a glare that seared through all his shadows. The Toa's drained bodies crumbled in its brightness to a peaceful dust.
Denied a form to contain his energy, Makuta reached out again, drawing the Visorak king and viceroy into his whirlpool. "This is the last service I ask of you," mocked the treacherous one.
The airship vibrated as Takua drove it to top speed. Ga-Metru disintegrated while he watched, buildings collapsing, protodermis canals overflowing, chutes toppling, shadows roaming. The lightning flickering over the Coliseum went out. Takua peered down, trying to spot his destination in the murk.
After changing course a few times, he found the Great Temple. But pursuit from the Coliseum was already behind him. He had never seen the being flapping after him on vicious bladed wings, its black and red body armored and glowing with power. But Takua recognized the high black mask and the burning red eyes behind it.
He pulled a control lever, diving toward the bridge where two small beings clung to the rail. Nixie waved. Kapura pointed toward the pursuer. Then a wave crashed over the bridge, and the last free Matoran vanished for a moment.
Makuta bounded along the bridge. Takua steered away, trying to draw the titan out to sea. But Makuta had noticed the two Matoran. He sent a shadowy wave gliding ahead of him, and Nixie and Kapura collapsed into oblivion. The Visorak who had followed Makuta came running to seize them.
Takua circled back and hovered overhead, shouting through the airship's megaphone. "I'll make you regret that!"
Makuta's new body shook with laughter. "How foolishly bold, threatening the ruler of the universe." He sent out another hand of shadow, reaching for the airship.
A beam of golden light cut through the hand, and Takua lifted away. He had no more need to threaten, or to rescue, for the Visorak were already carrying Nixie and Kapura away. There was no reason to stay any longer in this dying city.
Makuta hovered after the airship, raising crystalline protodermis pillers from the sea to block its path. But Takua dodged them and flew still faster. The airship tore across the Silver Sea, Makuta rushing after, with a few Visorak levitating far behind.
The master of shadows called up obstacle after obstacle, and Takua wove around each one, his airship shining a ray of light to point the way ahead. Metru Nui faded into the distance, and still they flew. Finally the sides of the Great Barrier materialized through the mist. They had appeared right at the mouth of a tunnel. Takua shot toward the opening. Makuta put on a burst of speed.
The airship glowed, spreading brilliance over the whole area, stabbing a radiant light at the pursuing titan. Blinded, Makuta flew past the tunnel and collided with the wall. The airship disappeared into the opening just as the force of the impact brought the rocks sliding down.
His escape route sealed behind him, Takua flew up the wide tunnel, never looking back. On the cockpit wall hung the Mask of Light, its beam still directing him onward. Beneath it rested six flat stones, shimmering with Toa power. The city's last Matoran still had a quest to complete, one that was taking him far, far away from the Metru Nui that ought to have been.
...but the Land of the Lost is further yet...
The Land of the Lost: Epilogue: While Ye Forget
Takua reached the end of the story and laid down his tools. He had covered a rock wall with writing, but still he had left out much: the caverns he had passed through on his flight, the narrow passage where he had wrecked the airship, this island of sunlight and living things, the mountaintop where he had taken the Toa stones, the beacon. The story of Metru Nui was enough.
He had laughed as he escaped, but since that day, the past had pressed him down with growing weight. Like a trickle, like a torrent, there had poured into his mind all the memories that a thousand Matoran imprisoned in spherical cells had lost. He could see the struggle through the reckless genius and grim despair of Onewa's swinging moods. He could mourn the innocence of Jaller's quiet, determined strength. He could feel the torment of Matau and the other captives of the vines, and know that they had only found an early path to the common fate. He could see a thousand rounded hatches from the inside, and there the memories ended.
He could see how every story fit together, revealing a city lost before anyone had feared, compelled to make itself into what it ought never have been, yet made only more helpless by its effort. Only one other mind had glimpsed that nightscape. Only one had seen the warning visions of Matoran blended with their foes, building a city not very different from those foes' dreams, building according to the the plans of a swiftly falling shadow. Only Vakama had known how lost they had been.
A memory of his own concluded his thoughts of the home he had left so far behind. Nixie and Kapura and all the others still waited in a city ravaged by disaster, overrun by Visorak, and ruled by a master of shadows. Not even the real Toa Metru had been able to prevent it.
But the Toa's brief existence had not been useless. One Matoran had escaped, and his quest was done. Even a city as lost as Metru Nui was not beyond all hope. A rescue was on its way.
Takua turned away from the wall of words. A single sun was climbing over the rim of the ocean. Its rays glimmered on a long silver canister that had washed up in the surf.
To anyone who has read this far, thank you. This story has ended, but the tales of the BIONICLE will last as long as there are any to tell them.