Life had changed on Voya Nui, and Garan was not at all sure what to make of it.
In the days since Thok, Reidak, Hakann, Zaktan, Avak, and Vezok had arrived, they had transformed the island to their liking with the help of the Matoran. Two teams of villagers, led by Dalu and Kazi, had been put to work drilling holes in the side of the volcano to allow the lava to flow out. Piruk and Balta were overseeing teams assigned to dig vast reservoirs to collect the lava. None of this made much sense to Garan. Voya Nui’s problem was a lack of water, and they could not drink molten lava or the rock it hardened into.
The strangest project of all was Velika’s. His group of Matoran had been put to work building a massive structure in the center of the island under the supervision of Toa Avak. They had already been informed that, once it was completed, no Matoran would ever be allowed to enter.
The whole situation disturbed Garan greatly. Since arriving, the Toa had done nothing toward alleviating the drought or aiding in the defense against dangerous Rahi. They had either ignored requests for help on various matters or else postponed dealing with them indefinitely. While they had not done any harm to a Matoran, so far as he knew, they had also shown no patience with slow or clumsy workers. Some Toa, like Zaktan, seemed to want to avoid the Matoran as much as possible.
“This is not how Toa should behave,” Garan muttered to himself.
“And you, of course, are an expert on that.”
Garan jumped at the sound of the voice behind him. He turned to see Hakann standing there, a nasty smile plastered on his face.
“You have seen Toa in a crisis before,” Hakann continued, his tone smooth and dangerous. “You know just how they should handle matters.”
“No, that’s not what I –”
Hakann grabbed Garan by the throat and lifted him into the air, still smiling all the while. “Why don’t you do your job, Matoran, and let us do ours? Hmmmm?”
He gently put Garan on his shoulder. The Matoran wanted desperately to jump off, but he feared what would happen if he did. “Now, over there, we will build the temple,” said Hakann, pointing to a rocky peak. “I think that will be just about perfect.”
The area Hakann indicated was one of the few inland areas of the island that supported any vegetation. A thick bed of flowering plants somehow managed to survive the hostile terrain and flourish, much to the delight of the Rahi who came there to feed.
“Of course, we will have to be rid of all that shrubbery,” Hakann said. His eyes glowed a bright red and a second later the plant life was ablaze. Garan felt his heart sink.
“Now it is ready for the temple,” Hakann announced, satisfied.
“A temple? A temple dedicated to what?”
“To the three things that matter most in my life,” Hakann answered solemnly. “The three things I consider first before taking any action.”
Garan had no idea what he might be referring to, but decided to give the Toa the benefit of the doubt. “Unity, duty, and destiny?” he suggested, naming the three virtues that guided Matoran life.
“No, no,” Hakann laughed. “Me, myself, and I.”
Metru Nui had been abandoned for many centuries, and it looked it. Wreckage from the earthquake a millennium ago was still strewn everywhere, and it had to be cleared before the Matoran could begin work rebuilding their city.
Jaller had been leading these efforts in Ta-Metru for some days. He had grown accustomed to the sight of Turaga Vakama and Turaga Dume watching over the work, while Tahu Nuva used his flame power to melt rubble into slag. Now, though, both the Turaga and the Toa Nuva were conspicuous by their absence. The rumor was that this was the case all over the city.
Puzzled and worried, Jaller had traveled to Ko-Metru to see if anyone there had heard anything. He was surprised to spot Matoro hard at work overseeing the repair of a Knowledge Tower. As Turaga Nuju’s aide and translator, Matoro was always with the elders.
Jaller wasted no time. “Where are they?”
“Who?” said Matoro, not taking his eyes off his task.
“The Turaga. The Toa Nuva. No one has seen them today, and whenever they vanish like that, it means trouble is coming. Now where are they, and why aren’t you with them, Matoro?”
The Ko-Matoran turned to his friend. Jaller recognized the look in his eyes. It meant Matoro had learned something at one of the Turaga councils and was forbidden to speak of it. “If I tell you what I know, I will violate my oath,” Matoro said. “If I tell you I know nothing, I will be lying to my friend. You can imagine how enthusiastic I am about having this choice to make. I’m sorry, Jaller, I can’t give you an answer.”
Jaller patted Matoro on the shoulder. “All right. But in this case, old friend, not giving an answer is giving an answer. There is danger the Toa must face – and whatever they confront inevitably comes after us, too. I need to find out what’s going on.”
Matoro shrugged. “I can’t imagine who you can ask.”
Jaller smiled and gestured toward the coast with his crafter’s tool. “Oh, I do. You like riddles, Matoro… try this one. What’s white and gold and can’t keep a secret to save his life?”
The Toa of Light turned to see Jaller approaching him. The Ta-Matoran was riding Pewku, the Ussal crab that had once been Takanuva’s pet. After becoming a Toa, Takanuva had given Pewku to his best friend.
“Jaller! I thought you would be busy rebuilding the Great Furnace one brick at a time or polishing the Archives,” the Toa of Light chuckled. “Instead you’re not working and you’re here… and…,” Takanuva’s smile faded. “This can’t be good, can it?”
“No, but it can be quick,” said the Ta-Matoran. “Where are the Toa Nuva?”
Takanuva thought for a long time. Then he said, “All right, I guess you should know. In fact, I know you should. We just got finished hearing all the secrets of the Turaga’s past, and now they are keeping Matoran in the dark again. I won’t stand for that.”
Jaller reached out and shook the hand of the Toa of Light. “Then let’s go tell them together.”
Garan sat alone on a rocky peak that afforded an excellent view of the entire island. He had been wandering around, troubled, since his encounter with Hakann. It now seemed the Matoran needed help to save them from the Toa, he thought bleakly.
He spotted Dalu climbing up the slope. He knew instantly that something was very wrong, for he had never before seen her looking afraid.
“We have to talk,” she said as she reached the summit. “And I hope it’s not already too late.”
* * *
Avak gently tapped two pieces of metal into place, then stood back to admire his work. From bits and pieces salvaged from the canisters, he had constructed a handheld tool that would give the Piraka complete mastery of this island. Now, he just had to make five more, one for each of –
Or do I? he suddenly thought. Zaktan might say he wants everyone equipped, but what can he really do about it if I say no?
Then he remembered a night long ago, an island far to the south, and a Toa of Plasma who didn’t beg quite loud enough or share quite enough information. Zaktan had dragged the Toa off. Less than two minutes later, the Piraka leader returned alone. When Avak went to check on the situation, all he could find of the Toa were bits of armor, a mask that looked half-devoured, and puddles of something Avak preferred not to try and identify.
Five more, he decided abruptly. Sure. I can do that.
He glanced to the west. The Matoran had already finished building the stronghold. He and Vezok had successfully installed the crystal collection sphere under Zaktan’s watchful eye. It hadn’t been easy to get the Matoran to work diligently on something that had no connection to the problems they were having here, but the suggestion that there were far worse jobs – for example, polishing the ice ring around the island by hand – seemed to spur them on.
Avak turned back to his work just in time to see a Matoran scurrying away. He thought it might be Velika, although he really couldn’t be bothered to keep their names straight. What was the Matoran up to? Spying?
That would present a problem. If he told Zaktan the Matoran were getting suspicious, the Piraka leader would want them all eliminated. That would mean no labor force, and therefore a lot more work for the other Piraka.
No, better I should just handle this myself, he decided. Maybe a quick swim in the lava will teach our curious friend to mind his own business.
Avak rose and started after the Matoran, trying to decide whether “medium” would be enough to teach Velika his mistake, or if he should go right for “well done.” He never saw Garan and Kazi emerge from the rocks, grab the tool he had just completed, and run off with it.
The rebellion had begun.