Mata Nui stood alone on a rocky peak, staring off into the desert. From far below came the sound of Agori hard at work, but there was another noise mixed in, the sound of celebration. While the Bone Hunters were still active in the wastelands, the Skrall had vanished completely. Perhaps they had gone back north, no one could be sure. What mattered was that their threat had ended. Metus, too, had not been seen since the battle. The unspoken assumption was that he had fallen prey to a sand bat or some other desert predator. No one was shedding any tears over him.
Ackar climbed up to join Mata Nui. He had been busy these last few days overseeing a massive project: the linking together of all the villages of Bara Magna into one mega-city.
“Don’t like parties?” he asked, smiling. “Agori from all over Bara Magna are pulling together… literally… uniting all the villages. And we have you to thank for that.”
“No, I was only one piece,” Mata Nui replied. “It took each of us to complete the whole. This celebration belongs to the Agori and you – the first leader of the new united villages.”
Mata Nui looked down. Using chains, Spikit, and dune chariots, the Agori of Iconox, Vulcanus, and Tajun had dragged their massive shelters across the desert to link up with Tesara. Others had gone north and brought down the huge structure that dominated Roxtus. It had been a mammoth undertaking, and now it was almost finished.
Kiina, Gresh, and Berix came up to join the two friends. “So what now, Mata Nui?” asked the Agori.
“Continue searching for answers,” Mata Nui replied, “wherever they may take me.”
“Look!” Kiina said. “They’ve done it!”
With a final, thunderous boom, the last shelter was fitted into place. When the sand and dust finally cleared, the group of heroes got their first look at the newly assembled structure. It was a sight that shocked them all.
“Whoa,” said Berix. “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”
Whatever they had expected, it had not been this. Only Mata Nui had even an inkling of what was to come, and he hadn’t dared to hope. But there it was, for all to see – when the shelters were put together, they were revealed to be not just random giant pieces of metal, but pieces of a mechanical being. Once assembled, the head, arms, torso, and legs could each be clearly seen. And the group around Mata Nui could all recall where they had seen such a thing before.
“The giant,” said Ackar. “From Kiina’s cavern in Tajun…”
“How is this possible?” said Gresh. “All this time, we have been living inside pieces of a giant mechanical… something?”
“Wait!” said Berix, digging into his pouch. “I’ve got something. Hold on, where is it… here!” He handed Mata Nui an old coin. Inscribed on one side was the figure of a mechanical being, the same figure that was on the wall of the Tajun cavern.
“I collected it from the cave a long time ago,” said Berix. “Forgot all about it until I saw that thing down there.”
“The two images match,” said Ackar.
“Uh-huh,” said Berix. “And wait till you see the other side.”
Berix flipped the coin over. On the other side was another design, this one matching the mazelike pattern of the Skrall shield Berix still carried.
“Same symbol,” said Kiina.
“No, not a symbol,” Mata Nui answered. “A map!”
“To where?” asked Gresh.
“That is what I must find out,” said Mata Nui, taking the coin from Berix. “That is where my destiny is waiting… I know it.”
“Don’t you mean we must find out?” asked Kiina. “Remember your promise to me.”
Mata Nui gave a gentle smile. “You are welcome to join me. But I have no idea how long this journey might take, or the dangers that await.”
“Do you think that you and that… giant… are connected somehow?” asked Ackar.
Mata Nui knew the answer, of course. But telling Ackar he had once inhabited the body of a 40-million-foot tall robotic being, a larger version of the one down below, would start a conversation he did not feel like having right now. So all he said was, “Perhaps. But you are looking at an empty shell, the remains of what might have been a great ruler, the guardian of his people.”
He paused. It was difficult to get the words out, with so many new emotions swirling inside of him. When Mata Nui finally continued, he said, “Thanks to all of you, I am closer to becoming the warrior I must be if I am to reclaim my empire and free my people.”
“This time, though, you won’t need to face the fight alone,” said Ackar.
Mata Nui smiled. “Then, my friends, our quest begins.”
* * *
From the pages of Mata Nui’s diary…
In the universe I came from, there was only one true source of evil. If he could be defeated, life, light, and hope would return to my people. As I traveled to the city of Roxtus to rescue the kidnapped Kiina and Berix, I believed the same would be true here. If I could defeat Tuma, leader of the Skrall, then the danger that threatened Bara Magna would vanish.
Defeat him, I did, although it took every lesson I had learned from Ackar to do it. But the menace to Bara Magna did not end with him. Upon his fall, Metus appeared, revealing himself to be a traitor to the Agori. He had somehow gained influence over the Skrall, perhaps by offering knowledge to Tuma in exchange for power. Whatever the reason, the Skrall attacked at his command. Badly outnumbered, it seemed my first major battle would prove to be my last.
Salvation, as it often does, came from an unexpected source. Despite my insisting they remain in Tesara, the other Glatorian – my friends, a word I still marvel at – charged Roxtus. They fought with heart, spirit, and pride, and those were three weapons the Skrall could not hope to stand against. The rock tribe and its warriors broke. I spotted Metus attempting to get away, but the power of the Mask of Life has a surprise for that traitorous murderer of his own people. In his heart, he was a serpent; the Mask of Life saw to it that his body would match. I watched him slither away into the desert and felt no regrets.
This experience had taught the Agori a lesson about unity. Now willing to work together, they brought all their scattered shelters together to form one great mega-city. It was only when the work was done that I realized what they had unwittingly constructed: a new robot body, much like my old one. With it, I knew I could challenge my ancient enemy and save my universe.
But before I could do that, there were new dangers to be faced.
* * *
This would be but the first of the adventures Mata Nui would have on Bara Magna. Accompanied by Kiina, Gresh, Ackar, and Berix, he would journey north, past Roxtus, to the lands from which the Skrall had come. Berix would add “chronicler” to his list of hobbies, keeping a record of where they went and what they encountered.
The revelation that a second robot body existed – no doubt a prototype of Mata Nui’s own former shell, from some past era – opened a whole new array of mysteries. Had the Great Beings, Mata Nui’s creators, actually lived on Bara Magna? And if so, were they here still? Was there a way to find the energy that would power that body, and could Mata Nui’s mind inhabit it? And if that was possible, could he take the Agori’s shelters away from them in that way, so soon after convincing them to create one great city from the pieces?
There were many questions, and few answers, as the heroes began their journey north. Gresh could guide them a part of the way, as he knew the Black Spikes from an earlier journey, but beyond that it was unexplored territory. The landscapes were wondrous and frightening, the enemies – including the shapeshifters that had plagued the Skrall – fierce and devastatingly destructive. And, as always seemed to be the case, the solution of each mystery seemed to create a dozen more puzzles.
Despite all this, Mata Nui found he was at peace. Once, he had been the ruler of an entire universe, powerful beyond all measure – and yet, he had been alone. Now, though not as strong and the ruler of only his own heart, he had friends beside him. Long ago, he had tried to teach his people about the virtues of unity and duty, but had never truly understood them himself. His time on Bara Magna had taught him much, far more than he had ever taught the Matoran and Toa.
His destiny still lay before him, even though there might be no chronicler to tell its tale. One day, he would return to do battle for his universe and his people. When that struggle came, he might well be fighting alone again. But he would carry into that challenge the memories of Ackar’s bravery, Kiina’s resourcefulness, Gresh’s daring, and the courage of every Agori. He would fight not only to make up for past failures, but to honor those who chose to stand beside him in his time of trial.
It had been a long journey, and someday others might think it had all been just a legend… but for those who had lived the tale, the heroes, the villains, the tragedies, and the triumphs would never be forgotten.