Jaller sat in the ruins of the Ta-Metru Great Furnace. Many days had passed since he had issued his ultimatum to the Turaga. In that time, no Matoran had lifted a tool to do any work in the city, even to create shelters for themselves. Both Turaga Vakama and Takanuva had come to him to ask that he relent and allow the repairs to Metru Nui to continue. He had refused.
If we are no more than frightened little beings who must be protected – hostages and victims for every foe we encounter – then we are a weakness, he said to himself. We benefit no one, not the Toa Nuva, not ourselves. I will not let helplessness and fear be the legacy of the Matoran.
He looked up to see Turaga Nokama approaching. She had gone only a few steps into the rubble of the furnace when Jaller’s voice stopped her. “If this is another plea, noble Nokama, you might as well turn around. The only thing I want to hear is the truth the Turaga are keeping from us.”
“And when you have heard it, what then? Will it change anything?” replied Nokama. “You will not be able to do anything with that knowledge but worry and grieve and wish you had never learned any of it. I know that is what I wish.”
Jaller was tired. He was not going to make the same argument he had made to Vakama and Dume yet again. “I will do whatever I can do, as a Matoran and as captain of the Ta-Metru Guard.”
Nokama sat down on a piece of masonry. “Dume and Vakama do not know I have come. I could have announced it at the top of my lungs and they would not have heard me, so consumed are they with worry. They would not approve of my coming to you, but I believe all beings have a right to know why they are going to die.”
Before Jaller could respond, Nokama began her tale. She told him of the discoveries made by Turaga Dume and Turaga Nuju; of the Great Mask of Life; of Voya Nui; and finally of the Toa Nuva’s journey to that island to find the mask and save the Great Spirit. Jaller listened to it all with rapt attention, never speaking until she had finished.
“If Mata Nui dies –” he began.
“Then must not the universe die with him?” said Nokama. “Up to now, the Toa have fought to bring light and hope back to the Matoran. But if they had failed, and Makuta triumphed, at least we would have been alive to nurture a dream of a better future. If they fail this time… there will be no future.”
“And there has been no word of them?”
“None. Dume believes that if they were going to return, they would be back by now. He fears they are lost. Vakama urges that Takanuva be sent to find them, but Dume insists the Toa of Light is needed here. I cannot imagine the reason for that, but we must respect his wisdom.”
Jaller frowned. “Are you certain it really is Turaga Dume?” He remembered well the story of how the evil Makuta had once taken on Dume’s shape in an effort to conquer Metru Nui.
“Onewa has looked into his mind,” Nokama answered. “Yes, it is the true Turaga.” She paused, then added, “I am sorry to have burdened you with this, Jaller, for there is nothing that can be done. But at least now, when the stars are extinguished and the end comes, you will understand.”
Without another word, Turaga Nokama departed, leaving Jaller to ponder her message. The news was devastating, but it did not leave him feeling lost or hopeless. Tahu had always told him that you could not fight a shadow – you had to perceive the shape and substance of your enemy to defeat him. Now he knew what they faced, and that was the first step toward victory.
There is something I can do, he decided. But I will not tell Takanuva or the Turaga – they would only try to stop me, and every moment matters now.
He ran from the ruins, plans already forming in his brain. He would need help – the best, most trustworthy, and bravest Matoran he could find – and then they would go to Voya Nui themselves. They would find the Toa Nuva and this Mask of Life, they would help to save the Great Spirit. Somehow, they would make things right.
He didn’t fool himself. A journey deemed too dangerous to Toa would probably mean a quick end to Matoran. But he also knew there was no choice. And although he had never met Garan, the same words uttered by that Matoran echoed in his mind now:
You don’t have to be a Toa to be a hero.