He dug through the rubble, broken bits and pieces of rock crumbling apart in his hands as he scraped his fingers deeper and deeper into the pile. A cloud of dust drifted up into his face; he coughed, choking on the dry air.
There was a crackle in his ear.
He coughed again. “N-nothing yet. Just rubble.”
“It’s been a year, sir. It shouldn’t exactly be a surprise.”
“Metru-Nui has not even been capable of forming anything resembling a proper hierarchy since the White Council fell. All of the reports tell me that the city has become a ghost town, every Metru fending for itself.”
“Well, it might not have been the citizens of the city, but someone cared enough to come by and clean all of this up,” the Po-Matoran muttered, turning and collapsing somewhat painfully onto the rubble.
“What was that?”
The Po-Matoran did not bother to inquire what exactly his boss had heard over their communication link. “Just sitting down for a breather. I’ve been digging through the Coliseum for a week now, sir. It’s a little exhausting.”
“Hmmph. You say it has been cleared out?”
“Yes. No bodies, no armor, no weapons… heck, not even any traces of those special Vahki that the White Council were so fond of. Half the Coliseum collapses, but I’m pretty sure most of what did fall is missing. Somebody got here first, sir.”
“Impossible. I have multiple agents stationed all across the universe. Everyone has been too terrified to make any sort of moves.”
“And I’m telling you that somebody wasn’t,” the Po-Matoran snapped. “Someone faster than the Dark Hunters – someone cunning.”
“Troubling… your point is noted. Report back now – we are abandoning the recovery. If your suspicions are correct, then we must prepare ourselves to wage war against this new enemy.”
The Po-Matoran opened his mouth to reply, but was distracted as the rubble shifted again. He fell backwards as the piece he was seated on collapsed underneath him. He coughed, reaching out blindly to stop his fall. Everything stopped and the Matoran remained frozen in place, limbs shaking.
“One moment,” he whispered, slowly twisting his head to look around.
A glimmer in the darkness further below – faint. It disappeared into the shadows before popping back into view for a split second. The Po-Matoran gradually released his hold; the rubble remained still around him as he slowly twisted to stare at the source of the light.
“Agent, what is happening?”
“I… I found something,” he said quietly, astonished.
“What did you find?”
He reached out with a trembling arm, his hand closing around the source of the light. He held it up to his mask, staring at the small yellow light in his palm with disbelief.
“A heartlight,” he replied. “Still pulsing. It’s… it’s weak, but… whoever this is… they’re still alive. Somehow….”
“…bring it with you, agent. Report back to headquarters immediately.”
“Of course, Shadowed One,” the Po-Matoran said, pocketing the heartlight. “I’ll be there soon.”
“I look forward to it.”
Launches DECEMBER 12TH.