The first thing Onewa felt was the heat. It was never this hot in Po-Metru, not even in a Sculpture Field in the middle of the day. What in the name of Mata Nui was going on?
That’s when he opened his eyes and saw the flames leaping in the furnace. Suddenly, he remembered the blast, the fall, everything. He shook Vakama, saying, “Wake up! Might be your last chance!”
The Toa of Fire’s eyes snapped open and he looked around. They had moved a long way through the chute and were almost in the mouth of the furnace. There was no time to jump out of the chute, and once inside the melting chamber, not even the power of the Toa would save them.
“Don’t you have a disk for this?” asked Onewa.
“Quiet! I have to concentrate,” Vakama answered. He reached out his hands toward the mouth of the furnace and struggled to call upon his Toa energies. He knew that he had the ability to create fire. Now he was gambling that he could control it as well.
The chute brought them closer and closer to the end. Onewa wondered if his Mask of Power might be able to rescue them, then sadly remembered that he did not even know what power his mask possessed. It was up to Vakama.
The Toa of Fire summoned every last bit of his willpower and hurled it at the furnace. Then, to his amazement, the fires began to flicker. He felt heat pouring into his body as the flames died down to mere sparks. Soon, even the sparks were gone.
“I don’t believe it,” Onewa whispered. “How did you –?”
“Watch out!” Vakama yelled, just before unleashing twin white-hot bursts of flame that burned a hole through the ceiling of the building. The streams of fire lasted for a long, long moment before Vakama cut them off. Then he finally collapsed, exhausted.
“What did you do?”
“Absorbed the fire,” said Vakama, out of breath. “But I couldn’t contain the power. Had to release it, or…”
Onewa glanced up in time to see Nidhiki back away from the railing and vanish into the darkness. He considered giving chase, but he knew his four-legged enemy would already be long gone. Besides, there was a worse problem to be faced.
“That fire blast, Vakama, it’s going to bring the Vahki on the run,” he said, helping the Toa of Fire to his feet. “The Nuurakh will haul us in for destruction of metru property and our mission will be over.”
“Nuhrii and Ahkmou?”
Onewa shook his head. “My guess is we’re going to have to find them. Again. Let’s go.”
As it turned out, tracking down the two Matoran was not very difficult. Ahkmou had been to Ta-Metru before, but didn’t know it well, and wasn’t willing to risk running into Nidhiki. Nuhrii did know all the alleyways and shortcuts, but was too frightened to go very far. Onewa found them hiding among some chutes that were closed for repair.
Vakama knelt down and looked at both of them. “Listen to me. It should be obvious now that someone doesn’t want us to find the Great Disks. That means neither one of you is safe until they are found. Understand?”
Nuhrii nodded. Ahkmou shrugged. Vakama decided that would have to be enough.
“Then let’s go to the fire pits.”
The Ta-Metru fire pits consisted of a half dozen deep, narrow craters from which spewed forth great jets of flame. A nest of underground pipelines fed the fires to wherever they were needed in the metru. Given their importance, it was no surprise that the site was fenced in and guarded by Nuurakh.
“Can’t we just go up and tell them why we need the disk?” asked Nuhrii.
“If they listened, and if they believed us, and if they were willing to take us to Turaga Dume to explain, maybe we would get the disk,” said Onewa. “Or maybe not. So we bend the rules. Hey, you can’t make a sculpture without shattering some protodermis, right?”
“We need a distraction,” said Vakama.
Onewa smiled. “Done.”
A few moments later, they were in position. Vakama and Nuhrii had crept as close to the fence as they could without being seen. Onewa and Ahkmou had moved near a pile of stone left over from a recent excavation.
At Vakama’s signal, Onewa focused his elemental power. First, one block of stone went flying to crash against the fence. Then two, then six, until the Vahki rushed over to see what was happening. Onewa got a little carried away and sent a block crashing into one of the Nuurakh.
As soon as the Vahki had left their posts, Vakama and Nuhrii rushed forward. Vakama used his power to heat up the fence and melt a hole for the two of them. “Are you sure you know which fire pit contains the disk?” the Toa Metru whispered.
“I saw a carving,” answered Nuhrii. “I think it was correct.”
The Matoran led Vakama to the lip of one of the pits. The Toa of Fire peered over, then jumped back as the flames roared from it. Once the fires subsided, he said, “Come on, we don’t have long!”
Melting handholds in the sides of the pit, Vakama climbed down with Nuhrii clinging to him. Down below, he could see a disk wedged into the wall, somehow intact despite the intense heat. Vakama reached down and pried it loose. Yes, it did have the symbol of Ta-Metru on it, and its three-digit disk code indicated it had a power level of 9 – the highest known concentration of energy possible in a Kanoka disk.
This was a Great Disk!
“We have it,” said Vakama. “Climb over me and get out of the pit.”
Nuhrii clambered over Vakama’s shoulders, but before he could make it to the surface, twin Morbuzakh vines shot up from the depths below. They wrapped themselves tightly around Toa and Matoran and began to drag them down into the fire pit.
“Free yourself and get out of here! Get the Great Disk to Onewa!” Vakama shouted.
“I can’t, it’s too strong! We’re Vahki bones!” Nuhrii answered, frantic. “The fire pit will erupt any moment!”
The Toa of Fire redoubled his efforts but the more he struggled, the harder the vine pulled. Worse, he was bound in such a way that there was no room in the pit for him to aim and launch a disk.
“Nuhrii, can you reach my last disk? I need you to load it in the launcher.”
The Matoran nodded and strained to reach the disk. He could just barely brush his fingertips against it. “I can’t reach!”
“Try! It’s more than just us – the whole city is at stake,” said Vakama.
Nuhrii stretched until the pain was so great he could barely think straight. But his hand closed around the disk. “It’s a power level 4,” he reported. “Power code 1.”
As Nuhrii fitted the disk in the launcher, Vakama continued to fight to get free. Power code 1 was able to reconstitute whatever it touched at random. It was a dangerous disk to use because it was just as apt to make the Morbuzakh more powerful than less. But they had no choice.
Nuhrii wrestled against the might of the Morbuzakh to get the launcher into the right position. When it was as well-aimed as he could manage, he triggered the mechanism and launched the disk at the spot where the two vines joined.
It struck the target head-on. Vakama watched, amazed, as the molecules that made up the vines were scrambled. The shock made the plant loosen its grip. The Toa of Fire and Nuhrii scrambled out of the pit.
Vakama caught a flash of the new form of the Morbuzakh – a thick vine with long, sharp thorns and what looked like a mouth lined with razor-sharp teeth. It gave out an eerie howl and tried to reach Vakama, just as the pit exploded into flames again. The Toa Metru knew the flames would not destroy the vine, but he had no wish to wait around and see that horror again.
Toa and Matoran ran for the fence. Both made a point of not looking behind them.