Nokama swam in long, steady strokes, her eyes focused on the surface. She could make out indistinct figures through the water. There was Matau, and Vhisola, Orkahm, and… Vahki!
The sight made her stop short. Only then did she sense the disturbance in the water, as if nature itself were crying out to her. She whirled to see the giant sea beast closing in on her. She wanted to scream, but opening her mouth underwater would save the Rahi the trouble of ending her existence.
Nokama forced her fear away. It was all right for a Matoran to be afraid, but she was a Toa now. She could fight back, and just maybe solve two problems at once.
Clutching the Great Disk tightly, she sped for the surface. The monstrous Rahi was right on top of her, caught up in the hunt and determined to catch a meal. Nokama burst out of the water and into the air, diving toward one group of Vahki. The beast followed close behind, leaping, jaws snapping, hungry for its prey.
At the last possible moment, Nokama curled into a ball and flipped downwards. Unable to change direction, the Rahi slammed into the startled Vahki. Matau used the distraction to summon a strong wind and blow the other Vahki into the water.
“Now we are in trouble-danger,” said Matau. “Vahki hate fish. And baths.”
“Then let’s not wait for their complaints,” said Nokama. “We have the disk. Let’s go!”
The four did not stop running until they had reached the borders of Le-Metru. Here they lost themselves in the crowds that filled the transport hub of Metru Nui. Vhisola kept looking over her shoulder as if she expected the Vahki to be gaining.
“Why am I here?” she asked. “You have the Ga-Metru disk. I don’t know anything about the Le-Metru disk! Why can’t I go home?”
“You are safer with us,” said Nokama.
“Yes, four-legged Rahi-breath out there somewhere,” added Matau. “You wouldn’t want to run into him.”
Neither Toa Metru chose to tell the whole story. Each of the six Matoran who had joined the Toa on their quest for the disks had their own reasons for wanting the artifacts. For some, it was personal glory, for some spite, and the heroes believed Ahkmou wanted the disks for far darker reasons. Both Nokama and Matau felt letting either of their Matoran wander off was risking more trouble with the Vahki, or worse.
Matau led them to a strangely quiet section of the metru, marked by broken chutes and mangled support beams. No repair crews were in sight, nor any chute operators. Nokama glanced at Matau, who said simply, “Morbuzakh.”
The Toa of Water looked around, concerned. An area of the metru ravaged by Morbuzakh vines would make a good hiding place, but it also meant the plant might strike here again. They would have to be on their guard.
“What did the carving-speak say about the Le-Metru disk?” Matau asked.
“The Great Disk of Le-Metru will be all around you when you find it,” answered Nokama.
Matau looked left and right. “I don’t see it.”
“That’s because it’s not here,” said Orkahm. “You won’t find it by moving fast, Matau. As hard as it might be for you, you will have to slow down to retrieve it.”
Matau frowned. To a high-flying Toa Metru like him, “slow down” sounded like a curse. “So where is it hidden-lost?”
“That’s just it,” said Orkahm. “I found it, but it’s not in that place anymore. It could be anywhere by now. It’s in a force sphere!”
Matau sat down heavily, his eyes on the ground. Nokama looked from him to Orkahm and back again. “Is that bad?” she asked.
“Very,” Matau replied, nodding. “Very, very.”
“Is someone going to explain to me what’s going on, or do you need a downpour to convince you?” she snapped.
“All right, you know what a chute is?” said Orkahm. “It’s protodermis with a magnetic energy sheath that keeps things fast-moving through it. Sometimes, if there’s a break-flaw in the chute construction, some of that energy snaps off and wraps-folds in on itself.”
“It travels everquick through the chutes,” said Matau. “Its magnetism draws things inside: tools, debris… and a Great Disk. The longer it exists, the more mighty-strong it becomes.”
“And then what happens?” asked Nokama, not sure she wanted to hear the answer.
“When it gets big enough and strong enough, it rips-tears chutes to pieces,” said the Toa of Air. “Force sphere gets deep-buried under the wreckage and implodes. All gone.”
“Along with everything inside it,” said Nokama grimly. “We have to find it!”
Orkahm pulled out a chute map of Le-Metru and showed it to the two Toa, pointing to one junction close by. “It was here just before Toa Matau and I high-flew to the Great Temple.”
Toa Matau traced the force sphere’s most likely route until he came to a spot on the map that looked to Nokama like a complete tangle of chutes. “There! Too many chutes wrapped around each other will slow it down. We’ll find it there!”
“There” turned out to be an ancient portion of the metru, apparently built long before anyone tried making sense of the chute system. Nokama had never seen anything quite so complex or scrambled together. She wondered how any Matoran made it through what Matau called “the Notch.”
The Toa of Air was perched up above one of the chutes, his keen eyes scanning the route. If he was right, the force sphere would come flying by any moment. All he would have to do would be jump inside it, grab the Great Disk, and then get back out.
“Easy!” he insisted. “Except for the getting out. And the getting in. And maybe seek-finding the disk.”
Orkahm cried out. The force sphere was barreling through the chute, heading for the Notch at an incredible rate of speed. It was larger than a Toa and its interior was a whirlpool of magnetic energy and protodermis fragments. Nokama questioned whether anything living could survive in there.
If Matau was worried, he didn’t show it. As the sphere passed through the chute beneath him, he dove inside.
Instantly, the energies of the sphere took hold of him, threatening to tear him to pieces. Tools, bolts, and other small items swirled about him in a mad dance, striking him again and again. Meanwhile, the sphere continued on its rapid pace toward the Notch.
Outside, Orkahm’s eyes widened. He and Matau had been wrong. The sphere was not going to slow down for the Notch! It was going to rip it to pieces and then collapse in on itself, taking the Toa of Air and the Great Disk with it.
Matau could sense what was happening, but it was too late to do anything about it. If he jumped out now, he would lose the Great Disk and the city would be doomed. If he stayed, at least there was a slim chance he could –
Yes! Reaching out blindly, he had grasped something that felt like a disk. Fighting the pull of the sphere, he brought it close enough to his mask to see it was indeed the Le-Metru Great Disk. As he admired it, a chunk of protodermis smashed into his hand, almost making him lose his grip.
Matau couldn’t see out of the sphere, but he knew the Notch had to be coming up fast. He had to overcome the sphere’s pull and leap out now, but there was nothing to brace himself against. Without that, he could do nothing but tumble helplessly like all the rest of the sphere’s captive debris.
My own strength will not be enough, he told himself. I will have to match my Toa-power against it.
The last time Matau had used his elemental abilities, it had taken all his concentration to form just a simple cushion of air. This time, it seemed to come a little easier, but he was also attempting a much harder task. It was going to take a mini-cyclone to overcome the force sphere’s power and tear himself free.
There was no time to let the winds build up slowly. Matau pushed his powers to their limit, forcing the air around him to swirl violently. Suddenly, he was in the center of a whirlwind which sucked the breath from his lungs. It was an open question whether the implosion would end his existence or suffocation would do it first.
The world became a blur as Matau spun around and around inside the cyclone. He could feel himself beginning to black out, but knew if he did, the windstorm would cease and any hope of escaping the sphere would be gone. He fought to stay conscious. After all, it wouldn’t look very impressive to Nokama if the Toa of Air perished on his first big mission.
Then suddenly he was flying through the air. It took him an instant to realize he had been thrown free of the force sphere. Unfortunately, his whirlwind was still active, sending him hurling into a support post with a loud crash.
Nokama, Vhisola, and Orkahm ran over to where Matau lay on the ground. The Toa of Air wasn’t moving. Hesitantly, Nokama reached out and touched his shoulder. “Matau?”
He rolled over abruptly and, smiling, thrust up a hand holding the Great Disk. “See, Nokama?” he said. “I told you, no worry-problem!”