Nuju, Toa Metru of Ice, and Whenua, Toa Metru of Earth, moved slowly and quietly down a darkened corridor. All around them, eyes frozen in suspended animation seemed to watch their progress. The most fearsome creatures ever to appear in Metru Nui were preserved here in the Onu-Metru Archives, still-living exhibits to be studied by Matoran scholars.
Toa Nuju scowled as they walked through the latest in a series of seemingly endless hallways, filled with dusty display cases. Before he became a Toa, Nuju’s job had been scanning the skies searching for hints of what the future held for Metru Nui. To him, the Archives were nothing but a monument to a dead past.
“I never knew this place was so big,” he muttered.
“As big as it needs to be,” replied Whenua, with pride in his voice. “We’ve added two new sub-levels lately. The subterranean sections will someday stretch to the sea in every direction!”
“Why stop there? Why not just knock down the rest of the metru and turn the whole city into a dusty museum?”
Whenua glanced at Nuju with an expression of irritation. “That might be better than wasting time and space trying to predict tomorrows that might not come.”
Nuju shook his head. They had been having some version of this argument since they left Ga-Metru on their search for the Great Disks. Neither one was going to change the other’s mind, so there was no future in continuing. “Let’s say we both live in the present for a moment. Do you think it was wise to leave Tehutti and Ehrye up above? What if they run off?”
“We left them in a section of the Archives that Tehutti had never visited before. Even the best Matoran archivist would get lost trying to find his way out of an unfamiliar wing, and he knows it. Oh, look at that! We found that insectoid arm digging sub-level 6. It’s not Bohrok, but we’re not sure what else it might have belonged to.”
Nuju smiled. It was probably too much to ask to expect Whenua to stop giving tours. Even in the face of danger – the city threatened by the Morbuzakh plant, a handful of Matoran holding the key to its defeat – Whenua was still an old archivist at heart.
The carving at the Great Temple had advised that “no door must be left unopened” in Onu-Metru if the Great Disk were to be found. But the Archives contained hundreds of thousands of doors, if not more. Fortunately, Tehutti knew which level concealed the disk. Now the trick was finding it.
The two Toa Metru turned a corner. Before them, the hallway stretched as far as the eye could see. Each side was lined with doors easily four times the height of a Toa. The doors were thick and strong, too, and locked tight.
“Why all the locks?” Nuju asked. “Worried someone will break into the exhibits?”
Whenua chuckled. “No, Nuju. Worried that the exhibits will break out. Some of these creatures seem able to resist our efforts to put them in stasis.”
The Toa Metru of Earth stopped at the first door on the left. No sign gave a hint of what lay behind it, but that wasn’t unusual. One of the rules of the Archives was, “If you have to ask what’s behind the door, you aren’t meant to open it.”
Nuju craned his neck to see the top of the massive door, then examined the equally oversized lock. “I don’t suppose you have a key?”
“No. Only the Chief Archivist has keys to this level. If he knew we were rummaging around down here, the Vahki would already be on their way.”
Nuju raised his crystal spike and fired a blast of ice at the lock, freezing it solid. “Then we make our own.”
Whenua nodded and revved up one of his earthshock drills. It took only a brief touch to shatter the frozen lock.
The door slowly swung open. Nuju peered inside. “Whenua? There is something in there. Much too big to be a Great Disk.”
Before either of them could move, a gigantic Ussal crab claw shot from inside the room and clamped itself around the Toa. “Unngh! Wrong room! Wrong room!” Whenua shouted.
“I figured that out for myself,” Nuju replied, straining against the mighty claw to no effect. He was secretly grateful that it was impossible to see the Ussal to which the claw belonged. This day had already had enough nasty surprises.
“This – owww! – is a very rare creature!” Whenua said. “Try not to hurt it!”
Nuju pitted every bit of his strength against the claw and didn’t so much as loosen its grip. “We are rare creatures, too, Whenua. Right now, I would even say endangered!”
Whenua activated both of his earthshock drills, setting them spinning at a high rate of speed. “I think I have an idea, but it might bring the whole place down on us.”
“Let me worry about the future,” Nuju replied. “It’s what I do best.”
Whenua closed his eyes and concentrated on his Toa tools. The earthshock drills could bore through virutally any substance, even at low speed. But they had one other feature: when in use, they produced a loud hum.
If I can get them going fast enough, he thought. Hit just the right frequency, maybe…
The drills became a blur, whirling faster and faster. The hum went from painfully loud into the ultrasonic range. Whenua and Nuju both felt certain their heads would split open. Cracks began forming in the walls and ceiling. Whenua pushed as hard as he could to increase the speed, then pushed a little harder, doing his best not to scream from the strain.
Suddenly, they were free. Both Toa dropped to the ground as the monstrous claw retreated back into the darkness. Nuju slammed the door after it and created a new lock of thick ice. Then he turned to Whenua, who was slowly powering down his drills.
“Ow,” said the Toa of Ice.
“Sorry. All that I could think of,” Whenua replied. “No one is quite sure what that thing is, possibly a hybrid of an Ussal crab and some larger creature. But we do know it’s practically blind and uses its hearing to track prey.”
“Sensitive ears,” said Nuju. “You gave it a headache.”
Whenua stood and helped Nuju to his feet. “Welcome to the Archives.”