Vakama’s tale continues…
The six Toa Metru walked through the streets of Ta-Metru, on their way to the Coliseum. For the first time since they had transformed from Matoran, they felt no need to travel by way of back alleys or to stay in the shadows. Even the presence of Vahki, Metru Nui’s order enforcement squads, did not worry them. After all, they had just defeated the Morbuzakh plant that menaced the city. They were heroes!
Better still, they had found the legendary Great Disks, which had been hidden in separate parts of the city. They had no doubt that these artifacts would be enough to convince the city’s elder, Turaga Dume, and all the Matoran that here were new Toa capable of defeating any threat.
“They will cheer-hail us in the Coliseum,” said Matau, Toa of Air, with a grin. “Po-Metru carvers will make statues of us. Perhaps they will even rename the districts for us! ‘Ma-Metru’ – I like the ring-sound of that!”
The other Toa laughed. Matau was exaggerating, of course, but certainly Turaga Dume would honor them in some way. Matoran all over the city would demand it.
“With the Morbuzakh gone, maybe we won’t have any dangers to face,” offered Whenua, Toa of Earth. “Except for the occasional Rahi beast on the loose, Metru Nui is usually pretty peaceful.”
“Just rest on our reputations, huh, Whenua?” said Onewa, Toa of Stone. “Not me. Now that I’m a Toa Metru, I’m going to take advantage of it. The best tools, the best materials, mine for the asking – I’ll build statues like you have never seen before!”
“I will do many Toa-hero deeds,” said Matau. “That way there will always be tales to tell about me. What about you, Nokama?”
“Well, I’m not sure,” replied the Toa of Water. “There are so many places to see and explore. What is it like under the sea? What lies beyond the sky? Where do all those strange creatures you see in the Onu-Metru Archives come from? Now I have the power to go wherever I please and learn those answers.”
Nuju, Toa of Ice, shrugged. “I don’t feel any need to explore. I have more than enough to keep me busy in Ko-Metru. Now that I am a Toa, perhaps others will not be so quick to interrupt me when I am working.”
Only Vakama, Toa of Fire, had yet to speak. Of all the Toa Metru, he was the least comfortable with his new powers and the responsibilities that came with them. Still, when duty demanded it, he had risen to the occasion and led the Toa to victory. Nokama noticed his silence and asked, “What about you, Vakama? Surely you have some dream you want to realize now that you are a Toa?”
“Not really,” he answered. “I mean, I am glad we became Toa and were able to save the city. But… I would be just as happy to still be working at my forge in Ta-Metru. It was much simpler. I guess once a mask-maker, always a mask-maker.”
Onewa chuckled. “The fire-spitter wants to go back to being a Matoran. I don’t think the transformation works in the opposite direction.”
“Yes, we are stuck being Toa-heroes,” said Matau. “And so many worry-problems we have – how many bows to take? How many mask-sculptures in each metru? How big of a shelter-house for each of us?”
“If you aren’t happy being a Toa, Vakama, maybe we should choose a new leader, said Onewa. “I am sure I could do the job.”
“Or I!” said Matau. “Matau of Ma-Metru, leader of the Toa-heroes! Oh, I like that!”
“I never said I didn’t want to be a Toa,” Vakama said. “And I never said I wanted to be the leader. I did the job because I knew Ta-Metru better than any of you. If someone else wants to be leader, go ahead.”
Nokama looked at Vakama. She could tell that he was hurt by the things Onewa and Matau were saying, but he wasn’t going to admit to it. As they walked, the other Toa Metru debated who was best qualified to lead the team. Onewa said it should be a creative thinker like him. Matau countered that a high-flyer was best qualified to plan strategy. Whenua said he would take the job if asked, then seemed disappointed when no one asked him.
As for Nuju, the Toa of Ice summed up his feelings in a few words. “I don’t care who leads us, as long as he doesn’t expect me to follow.”
Nokama was about to put all four of them in their place when she saw a Matoran approaching at a run. He was from Onu-Metru, and the anxious look on his face said there was serious trouble somewhere.
Whenua stepped forward to greet him. The Matoran’s name was Nuparu, and he was not someone Whenua knew well. When other workers in the Archives were busy among the exhibits, Nuparu was off on his own tinkering. He was always trying to figure out how Gukko birds flew, how the great Muaka cat could stretch its neck to lunge at prey, and other questions that might seem trivial to others. Still, Nuparu leaving the Archives and hurrying into Ta-Metru was enough to catch the Toa of Earth’s attention.
“Toa! The Archives are in danger!” the Matoran shouted.
“It’s all right, Nuparu,” said Whenua. “The Morbuzakh has been defeated. Everyone is safe.”
The Matoran shook his head frantically. “No, no, it’s not the Morbuzakh. It’s the sea! It’s going to flood the Archives and destroy all of the exhibits!”
Whenua wasn’t sure how to react to the Matoran’s words. The Onu-Metru digging machines, and the workers who operated them, took special care to make sure the outer walls of the Archives were reinforced. The deeper they dug to create new sublevels, the greater the pressure from the liquid protodermis outside. But the sea had never posed a serious threat to the existence of the exhibits in all of Metru Nui’s recorded history.
The Toa of Earth waved the other Toa Metru away. This was an Onu-Metru problem, and would be solved by the guardian of that district, he decided. “Now tell me what you saw,” he said to Nuparu.
“I was down… um… below the sub-levels, and –”
“Wait a moment, what were you doing so far down? You know how risky it is to go there!” As soon as he said it, Whenua regretted the sharpness of his tone. But it had not been so long ago that he had been down in that dark and fearsome section, and he had barely escaped intact. No Onu-Matoran, archivist or not, had any business wandering among “exhibits” deemed too dangerous for display.
“Well, I… I… I heard there was a Rahkshi down there, a yellow one, and it had been defeated, and I wanted to… well…”
“You were hoping to scavenge some parts for your latest invention,” Whenua finished for him, frowning. “You know what would happen if the other archivists caught you doing that? Or worse, a Vahki?”
“I know,” Nuparu said, looking down at his feet. “But I didn’t find anything anyway. Then I saw a hatch in the floor and I went down through it. There was a whole maze of tunnels there I never knew existed! So I used my lightstone to explore. I didn’t see very much, no exhibits or anything, but when I rounded a corner, I was suddenly walking in protodermis! The sea was leaking in!”
Nuparu’s voice was loud enough that the other Toa Metru could not help but hear. Nokama, in particular, was intrigued by the mention of the sea. She drew closer as the Matoran continued to talk.
“So at first I didn’t know what to think. I was going to turn back, but then I figured as long as I was down there, I’d better find out how serious the situation was. I found one whole wall had a huge crack and the sea was pouring right through it!”
“The crack is spreading. If it’s not repaired soon, the whole sea wall will breach,” said Nuparu. “The sublevels will flood, then the lower levels, and pretty soon the whole Archives will be washed away.”
“But there is a repair crew headed down now, right?”
Nuparu shook his head. “No one wants to go down there. They’ve all heard too many stories. That’s why, when I heard there was a new Toa of Earth, I came looking for you. Someone has to do something!”
“Someone will,” replied Whenua. “Now tell me the story again. I want to hear every detail of what you saw, and where you saw it.”
Nokama had rejoined the others by the time Whenua was finished talking with the Matoran. The Toa of Earth looked grim as he walked over to the group.
“I have to go,” he said. “Someone will have to apologize to Turaga Dume for me, but this is an emergency. I’ll meet you all at the Coliseum later on.”
“What could be more serious-matter than telling the world what we can do?” asked Matau.
“Actually doing it,” Nokama answered. “But you don’t have to take on this task alone. I will come with you. The Archives are important to everyone in Metru Nui. I know anyone from Ga-Metru would do the same.”
“I’ll come too,” said Vakama. “My flame power is weak after the struggle with the Morbuzakh, but maybe I can help somehow.” He turned to Onewa. “Can you three explain to Turaga Dume why we cannot present ourselves to him just yet?”
“Oh, sure,” Onewa snorted. “‘The other three of us would be here, Turaga, but they’re out being heroes while we stand around.’ I say we all go, we all do the job, and then we all head to the Coliseum. What do you think? Matau? Nuju?”
“The sooner we take care of all this, the sooner I can get back to Ko-Metru,” said Nuju. “I say we help Whenua.”
“Hmmmmmm,” Matau said. “I was in a hurry to tell the Matoran we are Toa-heroes now. But I suppose repair-saving the Archives along with the whole city will be good for twice the celebration. On to Onu-Metru!”
Their course of action agreed upon, the six changed direction and began journeying toward the metru of the archivists. Whenua led the way, still talking with Nuparu, while Nokama and Vakama brought up the rear. After a short while, the Toa of Water said, “You know, we cannot take a vote every time we have to decide something.”
“Just now. The protodermis could have risen another level in the time it took for each Toa to decide if he was coming along or not. We don’t have the luxury of debating every point. We need a leader.”
“I’m sure you’ll do a fine job,” he said.
“No, that’s not what I –” Nokama began, but the Toa of Fire had already walked away.