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A Shadow's Contrivance


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Kulagi, an Onu-Matoran from Metru Nui, was hard at work on his forge in his home. He was a talented Kanoka Maker, and had crafted many powerful discs in his time. Kanoka discs are used everywhere in Matoran society, from work to sports to transport to self defense. Kanoka discs are formed out of protodetmis from one of the six Metrus of Metru Nui, and can have one of eight standard powers at various power levels. Kulagi was known for going to extremes to collect the purest of protodermis in order to make the strongest of discs. Even then, purity didn’t count for everything, and Kulagi’s skills and techniques are above most of his peers.

Kulagi finalized a disc at his forge, and set it aside to let it cool. But he didn’t give himself time to rest; he quickly poured more protodermis into his forge to start another disc. The protodermis was part of a batch he had received from Ta-Metru, and its purity was not up to Kulagi’s standards. But Kulagi couldn’t complain; even in the peaceful days of Metru Nui, it was hard to come across pure Ta-Metru protodermis, since most of it was located in restricted zones.

Of course, Kulagi was not currently living through the peaceful days of Metru Nui. Right now, the city was in the middle of a war between the Dark Hunters and Toa.

It had begun years ago when the Dark Hunters released the Kanohi Dragon upon the city. A team of heroes, known as the Toa Mangai, had arrived and after a major struggle subdued the beast. This had not pleased The Shadowed One, the leader of the Dark Hunters. Next, they tried to kidnap Turaga Dume, the leader of Metru Nui. The kidnapping had ultimately failed, and in a rage The Shadowed One sent an army of Dark Hunters to besiege the city. But the Toa managed to get word out, and an army of over one hundred of the heroes arrived to protect the city. And thus the war began.

The Matoran’s livelihood abruptly changed with the war, as they now worked to support their Toa protectors. Many Matoran had to flee their homes as the Dark Hunters claimed large sections of the city. Those who remained set up fortifications, and worked hard to create weapons and armor for the Toa. Kulagi himself was now cranking out Kanoka discs as quickly as he could to support the war effort.

Kulagi’s door abruptly opened. On reflex, Kulagi snatched up his disc launcher, with a Kanoka labeled 626 already loaded. But he relaxed as he recognized the Po-Matoran’s brown Hau. “Welcome back, Huaju.”

“Put that down!” Huaju said, as he closed the door. “I don’t need you shrinking me down to the size of a protodite every time I walk in.”

“It’s a freezing Kanoka anyway,” Kulagi said casually.

“Great, because turning into an ice cube is a much better fate,” Huaju replied sarcastically.

Huaju was a fellow Kanoka Maker, and a good friend of Kulagi. However, the Po-Matoran often found it difficult to live with Kulagi’s habits. Kulagi couldn’t blame him for being on edge either; Huaju’s home had been in a region invaded by the Dark Hunters, and he had evacuated with the other Po-Matoran over a month ago. Kulagi could tell that Huaju was getting homesick, but there was nothing he could do about it. After all, he had invited Huaju to stay with him, instead of being forced to live in the Coliseum with the other refuges.

“Why are you so trigger-happy anyway?” Huaju asked. “It’s not like the Dark Hunters are going to attack here any time soon. This region is too well protected.”

“Well, it could’ve been a member of the Matoran Guard,” Kulagi pointed out. “The last time they paid me a house visit, they took every last Kanoka they could get their hands on. I don’t mind supporting the Toa, but I need some discs for my own arsenal.”

“And how are those discs coming along?” Huaju asked.

“The bad news is that it’s not the best batch,” Kulagi said. “But I did get a couple of powerful ones, and the good news is that they’re not power levels 7 or 8.”

Huaju laughed. “That’s not normally something you’re happy about. You’re always trying to make the strongest Kanoka.”

“Yeah, well that was before the war,” Kulagi said darkly. “Now every disc with a power level of 7 or 8 gets sent directly to the mask-makers to be turned into a Kanohi mask for the Toa. It’s that new mandatory law that the Turaga passed.”

“Yeah, nobody has any spare 7 or 8 discs anymore,” Huaju agreed. “But it’s helping the Toa out, so we can’t complain.”

“Sure we can,” Kulagi said, retrieving the disc he had let cool off. “According to the Kanoka recorder, this is a level 6 Ta-Metru Shrinking disc. It’s just below the cutoff, so I can keep it in my personal collection.” He began to carve the code into the disc, the last step that needed to be taken before the disc was completed.

“And what about the rest of these?” Huaju asked, gesturing to the piles of finished discs on the ground.

“They’re all low levels,” Kulagi said with a shrug. “They can go to the war effort, to arm the Matoran Guard or, against my better judgment, the Vahki.”

Indeed, Kulagi knew how important his Kanoka discs would be for defense, even low powered ones. The Matoran and Toa were just barely holding out against the Dark Hunters. In the north, much of the dry Po-Metru had been claimed by the Dark Hunters, and they were also expanding their territory in Le-Metru and Ko-Metru. The rest of the island, including Ga-Metru, Ta-Metru, and Onu-Metru, were under the constant threat of a Dark Hunter attack. While the one hundred Toa were the main combatants, they relied heavily on intel from the Matoran Guard and assistance from the robotic law enforcing Vahki.

Kulagi wasn’t a fan of the Vahki. In the days before the war, he had been on the wrong side of the law many times in his search for pure protodermis, and had been attacked by Vahki countless times. But with time also came experience, and Kulagi had learned how to outwit the Vahki at their own games. And the Onu-Matoran was not a stranger to combat either; he had played a major role in subduing the dreadful Gang Matoran. His actions had earned him recognition from the Turaga, who had shown more leniencies to Kulagi’s unlawful ways. At least, more than usual. Kulagi had still been arrested twice since that incident, but his punishments hadn’t been as severe as before.

Ordinarily, Kulagi wouldn’t have obeyed any laws that he disagreed with, especially when it came to giving away his precious Kanoka. But he had to admit that he knew it was for a greater good, so he begrudgingly accepted them as long as the war lasted.

As he continued to work on Kanoka, Kulagi looked to Huaju and asked, “So did you learn anything while you were out.”

Huaju frowned. “Yes, but none of it was any good. The Dark Hunters made a push and captured the region north of the Moto Hub in Le-Metru.”

Kulagi’s head snapped up. “Wait, that’s where Triki lives!”

“I know,” Huaju said solemnly. “And there was a big battle too, and not all the Matoran got away. I looked at a list of survivors, but Triki’s name wasn’t on it.”

Kulagi glanced down at his partially made Kanoka, as doubt gnawed at him. Still, he said, “I wouldn’t worry too much. This is Triki, and you know he wouldn’t go down without a fight. And he probably got out with the rest of them, but was too distracted to tell anyone that he was all right.”

“Maybe,” Huaju said. “But Triki doesn’t always think straight, and he might’ve done something that would’ve gotten him captured.”

Kulagi shook his head. “I don’t believe that. He must’ve escaped.” Triki was a Le-Matoran Kanoka Maker and amateur mask-maker, and also a close friend of Kulagi’s. He was a little eccentric and borderline crazy at times, but he was still a decent Matoran who had come through for Kulagi multiple times. Remembering this, Kulagi said, “Are there any refuges being shipped up here? Triki might be with them.”

“There should be one coming into the Archive’s airship dock soon,” Huaju said. “But the odds of him being there...”

“With Triki, you never bet on the odds,” Kulagi said, turning off his forge and getting to his feet. “In fact, you could say that Triki will do what is least likely. Let’s go see anyway.”

The two of them packed up some spare Kanoka and exited Kulagi’s home. Kulagi’s home was located in a housing district close to one of the larger openings to the underground Archives. Normally, Onu-Matoran archivists would be hard at work cataloging relics of the past, or else digging down into the earth to mine for new minerals. But with the war, the Archives entrance was instead a central headquarters for the war effort. Supplies were moved in and out of the Metru via chutes or airships, and Toa gathered there to rest and resupply. It was far busier than normal, and Kulagi and Huaju had to pass through the crowded streets as they moved towards the airship docks.

Indeed, they saw a massive blimp dock, and as they approached, they watched various Le-Matoran exit the craft. Normally, Le-Matoran were at peace in airships, but this crowd seemed to be very eager to get back onto solid ground.

“Le-Metru must’ve been really bad if they’re so excited to get here,” Huaju noted.

“Actually, I think it may be for a different reason,” Kulagi said, a grin forming on his face. “Like perhaps there was someone on the blimp that they wanted to get away from.”

The last Le-Matoran wandered off the airship, his green Kakama mask snapping back and forth as he took in the view. “Hey everybody, why you fast-flee? I thought we were gonna play a game of Kanoka-catch!”

“You know, an airship is a really dangerous place to play Kanoka-catch,” Kulagi said, walking up to the Le-Matoran. “How are you doing, Triki?”

Triki looked up, surprised to find himself with his friends. “Kulagi dude! Huaju dude! What are you doing in ground-world?” he asked, jumping up and down in excitement.

“Well, I kind of live here,” Kulagi said.

“Wait, we need to exchange proper friend-cool meet-up!” Triki exclaimed. He swung his hand up into a high five, which Kulagi mimicked. This was followed by a low five, and then swirly arm movements. Kulagi did his best to copy Triki’s moves, but he was caught off guard as Triki suddenly swung up his arm and his fist collided with Kulagi’s purple Miru, knocking him over.

“What was that for?” Kulagi sputtered, as he got up.

“That new move I quick-add,” Triki explained. “You’re supposed to lean back, swing around and stuff. Did I tell-not you?”

“No, you didn’t,” Kulagi grumbled. “I think next time I’ll remember.”

“Now your turn!” Triki said, lifting his hand in a high five for Huaju.

Huaju ignored him. “Not interested,” he said. “So, Triki, did you manage to get any of your belongings before you left? I heard the Dark Hunter attack came without warning, so you must not have had much time to get away.”

“Yes, they came with lots of big Booms and Crackles and smell-bad armor,” Triki said. “I up-picked the essentials before I quick-left. Some raw protodermis, some Kanoka, my trusty launcher-of-discs, and most importantly, my ever cool Triki mask!”

“You brought that mask?” Huaju asked hesitantly. Triki had dabbled in mask making, and had learned how to carve a Kanohi whose power a Matoran could use. Unfortunately, the Kanohi’s power was extremely unstable and dangerous, and Triki was the only one who’d ever risk wearing it.

“Yeah, I was gonna show Matoran-pals on blimp how it works,” Triki said. “But they said no. Loudly. And repetitively.”

“So what are your plans from here?” Kulagi asked.

Triki paused to consider. “I not-think much of that? Archives have Rahi-petting zoo, no? Maybe I play-visit that!”

“There is no petting zoo in the Archives,” Kulagi said. “I meant, do you have a place to stay? Huaju’s rooming with me, but...”

Kulagi glanced up to see Huaju shaking his head back and forth. Getting the hint, Kulagi continued, “But there might be an empty room nearby where you can stay.”

“I’m very particular about stay-places,” Triki said. “Must be well ventilated, Rahi friendly, and have easy-fix walls for when Vahki burst-crash in.”

“There might be a stasis tube in the archives that would fit him,” Huaju muttered.

“We’ll help you find a place,” Kulagi said. “You just may have to give up a few of you more... unique habits.”

“Must have soft floor for bouncing when things blow-smash,” Triki added.

Before Kulagi could respond, there was a loud crash that echoed throughout the Archives. A cloud of smoke rose up in the distance, close to the local chute station.

Kulagi and Huaju shared a glance, and quickly rushed towards the scene, with Triki tailing them. A crowd was already gathering at the station, and Kulagi quickly realized that it was not a Dark Hunter attack. From the looks of it, a transport with three Matoran had crashed into the station, causing the ruckus.

“Step back, everyone,” a Ta-Matoran said, rushing forward. “I am Jaller of the Matoran Guard. Let me through.” He knelt down next to one of the Matoran who crashed, and asked, “What happened here?”

“Our transport ran out of control,” the Po-Matoran with a brown Ruru said in a raspy voice. “It was because we were attacked. We tried to get away in time, but we weren’t fast enough.”

“Get away?” Jaller repeated. “From what?”

“Surprise attack,” the Matoran continued. “Dark Hunters stormed the labs in north-west Ga-Metru. Barely managed to escape.”

Jaller stood upright, with a sense of urgency. “Contact the Toa,” he shouted. “We will prepare a force to head that direction via the chutes.”

“It’s useless,” said another one of the Matoran who crashed, a Ga-Matoran with an Akaku mask. “They destroyed the chutes leading in. That’s what knocked us out of control.”

“We need to get back,” the Po-Matoran said. “It’s important that we get back!”

Jaller narrowed his eyes. “It will take days to get our forces over there on foot. We need to tell the Toa about this immediately!”

“This is bad,” Huaju said, as the crowd parted way to let Jaller by. “Surprise attacks on Ga-Metru and Le-Metru at the same time. And that part of Ga-Metru is not easy to reach. The chutes were the safest option; if the Toa travel overland, they’ll walk right through Dark Hunter territory.” He turned and suddenly noticed Kulagi, whose mask had turned pale. “What wrong with you?”

“That part of Ga-Metru,” Kulagi said. “That’s where Sufina lives!”

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Kulagi raced back to his home, with both Huaju and Triki right behind him.

“Wait up!” Huaju called. “What’s the big rush?”

“The Dark Hunters attacked the area where Sufina lives!” Kulagi shouted back. “She’s in danger!”

“The Toa will take care of it, just like they rescued Triki and the other Le-Matoran,” Huaju said.

“You heard them back at the chutes,” Kulagi said. “That region has been completely cut off. The Toa won’t get there in time. The Ga-Matoran are completely at the mercy of the Dark Hunters.”

“You don’t know that,” Huaju countered. “We don’t know the details.”

“I don’t care about the details,” Kulagi snapped. “Sufina’s in danger, and I’m going to help!”

“Why are we fast-running?” Triki asked. “Is this some sort of fun-race?”

“This is a race, alright,” Huaju mumbled, as Kulagi increased his speed. “But it’s not going to be fun for anybody.”

Huaju knew why Kulagi was acting in such a way. Sufina was a Ga-Matoran chemist, and a very close friend to Kulagi. It was clear that the Onu-Matoran cared deeply for her; after all, he had gone out of his way to rescue her during the Gang Matoran fiasco. But this was different. The Dark Hunters were more numerous and more dangerous than the Gang Matoran, and the Matoran now had the power of a hundred Toa to protect them. What difference could a single Matoran make in such a conflict?

When Huaju and Triki reached his house, Kulagi was already in the middle of a packing frenzy. He crammed all the powerful discs he had left over, as well as some other useful tools and his Kanoka launcher.

“You aren’t seriously thinking about going there?” Huaju asked.

Kulagi had a pained look on his face. “Huaju, you don’t get it. The Toa are spread too thin, and this attack caught them completely off guard. They might push the Dark Hunters back eventually, but they won’t get there in time to rescue the Matoran. And we’ve heard the stories of what the Dark Hunters do to Matoran they capture. I’m not going to let Sufina suffer that fate.”

“But how will you get there any faster than the Toa?” Huaju asked.

“I’ll fly there on my Hover-Bike,” Kulagi answered. “It’s faster than walking, and is almost as good as the chutes.”

“You’ll be flying over Dark Hunter territory,” Huaju pointed out. “You’ll be attacked and shot out of the sky.”

“My Hover-Bike is more maneuverable than any other airship,” Kulagi said. “I can dodge their attacks, and if it comes down to it, I can fire back.” He patted his Kanoka launcher. “I know a thing or two about dueling with Kanoka discs, after all.”

“These aren’t dimwitted Gang Matoran or clueless Vahki,” Huaju said. “If they get you, they won’t drag you to the Coliseum and slap your wrists for breaking the Turaga’s rules. They’ll capture you, and nobody will be there to rescue you.”

“I’m aware of the risks,” Kulagi shouted back. “But Sufina’s worth it. And currently, she doesn’t have anybody else rushing to her rescue.”

Huaju sighed. “Triki, back me up on this.”

Triki pondered his statement. “How far back do you want to go? Of should I front-down instead?”

“No, help me talk Kulagi out of this crazy idea,” Huaju said.

“So you’re going on fun-fly adventure?” Triki asked. “Got seat-spare for me?”

“You’re not helping,” Huaju muttered.

“I don’t know, I would really appreciate Triki’s help,” Kulagi said. “And yours too, if you would come. You know about traveling through Po-Metru; you could guide me through.”

“Yes, I know that area,” Huaju said. “And I know dozens of spots where you can get ambushed. It’s not safe. And even if, by some miracle, you make it through, then what? How will you rescue the Ga-Matoran?”

“I don’t know how exactly,” Kulagi admitted. “But I can help them hold out until help arrives. I do know a few good places to hide in that area, having been chased by Bordakh too often there.”

“So you even admit that you’d need more help to show up!” Huaju said. “Why head out in the first place?”

“Because that help won’t show up fast enough,” Kulagi said. “They could use some powerful Kanoka right now, and I can deliver.”

“Ooh, ooh, delivery!” Triki chimed in. “Can I order cake too?”

“Triki, please say something useful,” Huaju said.

Triki tilted his head in thought. “It like when I lose my Kanoka in Cable Crawler web,” he said. “I could wait until Vahki come and out-push them, but that might not happen for days or weeks or ever. So I take handful of matters into my own, and get-snag my Kanoka back myself. If nobody else do it, why not me?” He paused, and then added, “But try not to wild-ride Cable Crawler, that method not-well work.”

Huaju sighed. “Fine, he makes a good point. You both do. But Kulagi, do you really think you can pull this off?”

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Kulagi said. “But I didn’t know for sure if I could take down Gragu Nuva that one time, but I still had to try. Things have changed since the Toa and Dark Hunters showed up, but this is still the same Metru Nui, and we’re still the same Kanoka Makers. We don’t have to take Destiny lying down; we need to make our own Destiny sometimes. And with Kanoka powers, I think I can hold out against a Dark Hunter or two.”

“Except you don’t even have any powerful Kanoka,” Huaju pointed out.

“Yeah, about that,” Kulagi said, as he knelt down and pried up a floorboard. He pulled out a couple of Onu-Metru Kanoka that had been hidden beneath. “A level 7 Enlarging disc, a level 8 Weakening disc, and a level 7 Teleportation disc. I’ve been hiding these from the Matoran Guard, just in case. Plus, I have some good level 5 and 6 discs too.”

“I have some level 7 Le-Metru discs too!” Triki exclaimed. “Matoran usually avoid my place, so they not confiscate my discs.”

“And I know you have some descent discs left too, Huaju,” Kulagi said. “Come with me, and we can show them what Kanoka Makers are made of.”

Huaju shook his head. “No, this won’t work. I can’t go with you. But...” he paused. “Look, I won’t stop you either. And I’ll give you some of my discs too. Po-Metru Kanoka are always useful in duels, after all.”

“So what will you do instead?” Kulagi asked.

“The chute needs to be repaired before reinforcements can get there in force,” Huaju said. “And I happen to be fairly knowledgeable in chute repair, up there with some of the Le-Matoran engineers. I’ll help the team fix it up and get help there faster. I even have a few Regeneration discs that could be put to use.”

“That’s fair enough, my friend,” Kulagi said. “Sorry, I know I shouldn’t be asking you to go into danger, but...”

“I understand that you want to help Sufina,” Huaju said. “I’m just trying to keep you out of danger too.”

“What about you, Triki?” Kulagi asked.

“Danger’s my second-to-left-of-middle name!” Triki exclaimed. “Based on when Matoran say, ‘You’re a danger to us all, you crazy Le-Matoran!’ to me.”

“Then grab your discs and let’s get going,” Kulagi said. “We’ve already wasted enough time.”

Kulagi hastily packed everything into bags and then began hauling them to the landing field where he kept his Hover-Bike parked. While Hover-Bikes were common on Metru Nui, Kulagi’s was a custom design given to him from Turaga Dume, and he had made further enhancements. It ran off four level eight Speed Kanoka and two combined level eight Levitation Kanoka, included multiple storage compartments, seated up to three Matoran, and had dual disc launchers built in. As they reached the bike, Huaju and Triki started packing the supplies into the storage compartments, and Kulagi loaded the disc launchers with some lower powered discs.

However, as they were packing, an Onu-Matoran walked over. “I am Lieutenant Onepu of the Matoran Guard,” he announced. “Just where do you think you’re going?”

“We’re going on a flight,” Kulagi responded.

This didn’t satisfy Onepu. “Airspace is restricted nowadays, and there’s no record of your departure,” he said. “What exactly are you planning to do?”

“We’re going to go sand surf with sea scorpions!” Triki exclaimed happily. “And also ask the sea scorpions why they’re surfing in the sand. Seems like it should be not-right for them to do.”

Onepu seemed irked, so Kulagi decided to respond truthfully. “We’re going to fly over the Po-Metru desert and head towards the northwest region of Ga-Metru. It’s all part of a rescue mission.”

“That’s absurd!” Onepu said. “That’s a job for the Toa, and they are planning for that right this instant.”

“And we’ll be leaving right this instant too,” Kulagi said. “And who’s going to stop us?”

“I will,” Onepu said, taking out his Kanoka launcher and aiming at Kulagi.

“You’re threatening me with a Kanoka?” Kulagi asked. “Seriously?”

Huaju stepped between the two of them. “Look, just calm down,” he said. “Hey, look, maybe we can ask Toa Gambar’s opinion!”

“Toa Gambar?” Onepu asked, turning his head widely to spot the Toa of Earth, who was the second in command of the Toa army. But Toa Gambar wasn’t in sight, and before Onepu could comprehend that, Huaju smacked him on the head and knocked him unconscious.

“Oh, sneaky attack!” Triki yelled out.

“He’ll be fine when he wakes up,” Huaju said. “But he won’t stop you now. And hopefully he won’t cause too much trouble when he comes around.”

“Just tell him that a rock fell and knocked him on the head,” Kulagi said, as he jumped on top of the Hover-Bike. “That’s actually quite common in Onu-Metru; he’ll buy it.”

“Well, do your best to stay safe,” Huaju said, as he helped Triki up. “And when you save Sufina, tell her I said hi!”

“Catch you later, friend!” Kulagi said, and he accelerated into the air, leaving the housing area of Onu-Metru behind.

“Weee!” Triki shouted. “I like the feel of wind-air in my mask, especially when I’m not down-falling!”

“This shouldn’t be a long trip, especially if I go full speed,” Kulagi called back. “But be on alert, because we could be attacked at any instant.”

“Okay,” Triki said. “Then alert, alert, attack to come in an instant!”

“What?” Kulagi asked, confused. But then he sighted the two shapes rising up to meet them. “Oh.”

Two Rorzakh Vahki were flying up to intercept the Hover-Bike. While the Vahki were ineffective guards at keeping the Dark Hunters out, they were suitable for keeping Matoran confined within safe zones. But Kulagi wasn’t going to let them stop him, even if it was for his own good.

“Kanoka at ready!” he shouted to Triki. “Let’s shoot those Vahki down!”

The Rorzakh advanced, and each fired a Kanoka. As Kulagi swerved his Hover-Bike out of the line of fire, he was thankful that they were just facing Rorzakh. Rorzakh were extremely efficient in the underground maze of the archives, and they could use their staff blasts to see and hear through their victim’s eyes and ears, which made it easy for them to track down criminals. But in the opened air, they were less efficient, and their staff blasts wouldn’t stop Kulagi from flying into Dark Hunter territory.

Kulagi loaded two low powered Kanoka into the dual launchers of his Hover-Bike, and fired them. One struck a Rorzakh and enlarged it slightly. The additional weight threw the Vahki’s flight off balance, and it broke off the attack. The other disc missed, and the Rorzakh moved in for a second attack. But then a Le-Metru Reconstruct at Random disc caught it, and turned it into a cargo loader. It fell out of the air and crashed into the ground below.

“Lousy border patrol,” Triki commented. “Not check identification tablets. All the best, I forged mine anyhow.”

“Now we head straight for Ga-Metru,” Kulagi said, gunning the engines. Under his breath, he added, “Sufina, here I come.”

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Kulagi made good time, as he blasted across the desert going full speed on his Hover-Bike. Ordinarily, he would’ve never been able to get away with this, because the Vahki would inevitably attack due to some violation he was committing. The chutes, after all, were more ideal for fast transportation across Metru Nui. But today Po-Metru was abandoned, and there were no Vahki to stop him.

Even as he flew, his mind was abuzz with thoughts of Sufina and what she was facing in Ga-Metru. Sufina was a very intelligent Matoran, but she wasn’t the bravest or best in a fight. If the Dark Hunters managed to corner her, she was a goner. But hopefully Sufina would be able to find a place to hide and keep away from the Dark Hunters. At least until he managed to get there.

Huaju’s words echoed in the back of Kulagi’s mind. Just exactly what did he expect to do for the Ga-Matoran? Kulagi was a decent duelist, but he was not running into a potential duel; he was running into a full warzone, and the Dark Hunters were certainly more than powerful enough to take on a Matoran.

“But I’m not just any Matoran,” Kulagi muttered to himself. “I can and will fight back. I’m not going to sit back and rely on the Toa. I’m going to take them down myself if I have to.”

“What you say?” Triki shouted from behind him. “I cannot hear you over loud-wind!”

“It’s nothing,” Kulagi called back. “But we’re already more than halfway there, so it shouldn’t be long until we reach Ga-Metru.”

“And then we play with fuzzy Rahi?” Triki asked hopefully.

“No, then we fight Dark Hunters.”

“Okay, that good too.”

Kulagi sighed. To anybody else, it would seem that Triki wasn’t taking their mission seriously. But that was just how Triki was, and Kulagi had seen him snap into action at a moment’s notice. Triki’s unconventional methods and random movements often helped him in disc battles, so Kulagi wasn’t worried about him. However, Triki did prefer to use Reconstruct at Random discs, and sometimes his targets would turn out more dangerous after he struck them. It was something Kulagi would have to be wary of.

Kulagi just caught the glint of light from the ground, and was shocked when a dagger flew through the air and narrowly missed his Hover-Bike. He glanced down at the assembler’s village below, searching for the thrower, when two more daggers struck the side of the bike, causing it to tip to the side. Kulagi gripped the handlebars and cut back on their speed, but Triki wasn’t able to grab onto something fast enough, and toppled off of the Hover-Bike.

“Triki!” Kulagi shouted. But the Le-Matoran was already acting. As he fell past a statue, he reached out and grabbed onto a ledge. He spun on it, using up the force of his downward momentum, and then safely dropped to the ground. Triki might be crazy, but he was just as acrobatic as the next Le-Matoran.

However, Kulagi took a moment too long to glance back at his friend. As he righted his Hover-Bike, he was already planning to spin around and retrieve him. But then he caught sight of yet another dagger flying towards him. He swerved again, and the blade missed him. But in doing so, he tipped his bike completely over, and spiraled downward. Despite his flying skills, Kulagi couldn’t avoid the crash landing. As he hit the ground, he was thrown off his bike, and landed in the dirt nearby. He got to his feet, and pulled his disc launcher off his back, with a level six freezing disc already loaded.

“Who attacked us?” he wondered. “I didn’t even see where those daggers were coming from!”

“Indeed, but it was still impressive that you were able to dodge them at all.”

Kulagi spun at the sound of the female voice. Walking out from under a statue was a slender figure, slightly taller than the average Toa and clad in blue-green armor. She had a long, reptilian face, and her deep red eyes focused on the Onu-Matoran. In her hands were more daggers, similar to the ones that had nearly struck Kulagi.

“Dark Hunter!” Kulagi gasped.

“Oh, so you’ve heard of us,” the being said. “I must say, I wasn’t expecting a pair of Matoran to come flying this direction. Are the Toa now so desperate that they’re sending their servants into harms way? And here I was hoping for a challenge.”

Kulagi regained his composer, and aimed his launcher. “Just because I’m not a Toa doesn’t mean I can’t fight.”

The being grinned. “Oh, you’re a feisty one, aren’t you? Very well, Matoran, let it not be said that Lariska will refuse a challenger!”

In a blur, Lariska grabbed a dagger and threw it at Kulagi. Kulagi used his reflexes to dodge to the side as if it were a Kanoka disc, but even so the blade still sliced the air right next to his mask. But he was already retaliating, and launched his Kanoka directly at her. He doubted a freezing disc would take her out, but it would slow down for a time.

However, Lariska snatched the disc out of midair with her arm, and then crushed the Kanoka with her bare hand. She let the pieces fall to the ground as Kulagi stared on in amazement.

“How did you...” he started.

“Years of hard training,” Lariska responded. “And it helps that this arm is completely mechanical. Puny Matoran weapons don’t stand a chance against it.”

Kulagi narrowed his eyes, angered that she had insulted Kanoka discs. To buy time, he said, “You do know that I’m not alone. My friend will be coming along shortly, and you’ll be outnumbered.”

“Is that supposed to scare me, Matoran?” Lariska sneered. “Two Matoran are no threat to me. And besides, I’m also not alone.”

There was a loud crash in the distance, and Lariska turned and gestured to the sound. “That would be my associate Charger. Sure, he’s dumb as nails, but that’s to be expected from a mutated, sapient Kane-Ra. All the same, he likes to smash things, and by the sound if it, one of those things is your Le-Matoran pal. Now, why don’t you come along quietly so I can add your mask to my personal collection.”

Lariska turned, but Kulagi was already on the move. Only he wasn’t attacking her; rather, he was rushing towards his fallen Hover-Bike. “Thinking of escaping?” Lariska asked, throwing a dagger. “Don’t.”

Lariska aimed at the handlebars, where she expected the Matoran to jump and make a quick getaway. However, Kulagi instead grabbed his bag of Kanoka from a storage compartment, and then quickly ducked behind a nearby statue before Lariska could attack again.

“Come on out, Matoran,” Lariska hissed. “This is not time to play hide-and-seek.”

“Good to know!” Kulagi shouted, popping out from around another statue. “Here I am; come and get me!” He had another Kanoka in his launcher, and he fired it at Lariska.

“He’s not a quick learner, is he?” Lariska said to herself, as she swung her artificial arm out to block the attack. But the Kanoka was not aimed at her; rather, it was aimed as a boulder on the ground next to her. As the disc struck it, the bolder suddenly grew ten times in size, and the expending mass struck Lariska and knocked her aside.

Angered, she glanced up in time to see the enlarging disc return to Kulagi’s launcher. “How did you...” she snarled.

“Onu-Metru disc,” Kulagi pointed out. “It returns to the thrower!”

“That power only activate if it doesn’t hit its primary target!” Lariska snapped.

“Oh, but it did miss,” Kulagi said. “You see, it’s kind of arbitrary for powerful enough Onu-Metru Kanoka for what they should be aiming at. I merely grazed that rock and activated the disc's power, but technically, I missed striking my target. It’s a useful skill, but it does take practice.”

“Well, I always strike my target!” Lariska snarled, throwing another dagger.

Kulagi had already swapped discs, and fired another one. It struck her dagger in mid air and caused it to vanish, and then the disc returned to Kulagi’s launcher. On the other side of the assembler’s village, the dagger suddenly reappeared and wedged itself into a partially made statue.

“Sorry, did I teleport that out of the way?” Kulagi asked mockingly. “Or did you mean to strike that rock over there?”

Growling, Lariska sprinted towards the Onu-Matoran. Kulagi swapped discs again, and fired his Enlarging disc point blank at the statue next to him. As it grew in size, it became unstable and fell over. Lariska was forced to dodge out of the way, and Kulagi rushed towards another vantage point.

His mind raced as he calculated the odds. Clearly, Lariska was too powerful to attack head on with his discs, but he could still use his Kanoka on the environment around her and keep her off balance. Still, it would be best to avoid a prolonged fight; he just needed to keep her distracted long enough to get back to his Hover-Bike and escape. After all, his Hover-Bike hadn’t been too damaged in the crash, so hopefully it would still fly.

In addition to that, he needed to make sure he rescued Triki. As Kulagi climbed atop a statue, he caught sight of the second Dark Hunter, Charger. Charger was a massive figure, with muscular arms and twin horns protruding out of his head. His red and white armor did give him the appearance of a mutated Kane-Ra, and his behavior verified this interpretation. He was ramming everything in sight, seemingly on a wild rampage. But Kulagi could see what was guiding his attacks; Triki was jumping from statue to statue, and kept avoiding all the major attacks. In addition to keeping him alive, Triki’s methods were also angering Charger, which further limited his judgment.

“Ha, you can hit-not side of Moto Hub!” Triki shouted as he flipped in the air off a statue that Charger slammed into. “You aim like blind Hoto Bug in ice factory! I wonder if Hoto Bugs have good aim? Must be better than yours, anyway!”

Kulagi grinned, glad to see that his friend was doing well on his own. But then he heard Lariska’s voice below him. “Found you!”

Kulagi instinctively jumped aside, and the throwing daggers missed. Kulagi landed, and threw something at Lariska. But it wasn’t a Kanoka disc he had launched; instead of was just a medium sized rock.

“You’re getting desperate,” Lariska taunted, as she prepared to swipe the rock out of the way. But then she saw that Kulagi had indeed launched a disc as well, with a code of 376. The regeneration disc multiplied the rocks into a hail storm, and Lariska was forced to shield herself from the barrage. Meanwhile, Kulagi snatched up the Po-Metru Kanoka and put it back in his bag.

“This is working and all, but it’s only stalling her,” he said to himself. “I need something big to knock her down with.” Suddenly, he caught sight of just the right trap.

Lariska pushed off the last of the rocks, and sighted the Matoran racing into a stone hut on the edge of the assembler’s village. She grinned to herself. “Trying to hide from me? Now that was a mistake.”

She approached the hut from the side, so that she wasn’t visible from the entryway. Then, in a fluid movement, she ducked in through the door, and threw her dagger across the room, where she expected the Matoran to be hiding. But he wasn’t there, and her dagger struck stone.

Instead, Kulagi was standing right next to the doorway, launcher at ready. Before Lariska could comprehend that she had missed, he fired, and his Weakening Kanoka struck her off guard. Dazed by the sudden loss of energy, Lariska fell to her knees.

“Watch your head,” Kulagi said, loading in his Enlarging Kanoka. “The roof’s about to get a lot closer.” He fired, and his disc struck the stone roof, causing it to grow in size. But while the roof grew, the walls did not, and they were soon unable to support the extra rocks, and the hut caved in on itself. Kulagi quickly ducked out the main door, but Lariska, still stunned by the weakening disc, was unable to escape in time, and was pinned down by the rocks.

Kulagi grinned as his success. “And for added measure,” he said as he fired the Regeneration Kanoka, causing the heavy rocks to multiple atop of Lariska.

“That should hold her,” he said. “Now for the other one.”

Charger continued to chase Triki across the assembler’s village, smashing everything in sight. Triki had quickly made it into a game, where he intentionally led the mutated Kane-Ra towards undamaged statues and dodged aside to let him demolish them.

“You know, Po-Matoran will be much-angry that you crash-bash-smash their work,” Triki said. “On other hand, you are great-good wrecking crew. Is that why Hunters-Dark hired you?”

Charger was too enraged to respond, but his rush forward was broken as he got struck by a Weakening disc. Triki turned to see Kulagi running towards him. “Take him out!” Kulagi shouted.

“Yes, much-bright idea!” Triki agreed, grabbing his own launcher from off his back. “Oops, looks like I not-have Reconstruct at Random disc handy.”

“Just use whatever you have,” Kulagi snapped, swapping discs himself.

“Sure-fine,” Triki said, and fired a Kanoka with the code 667. The Shrinking disc struck Charger and shrunk him down to about the size of a Matoran.

“Good, at that size this might work out better!” Kulagi shouted, and he fired his Teleportation Kanoka. Charger vanished as he was struck, and reappeared far up in the air. He fell down and landed with a crunch in the rocky ground, and the damage was more severe due to his smaller size. Kulagi and Triki watched him struggle to get up again, but he ultimately slumped over.

“That was fun-exciting battle!” Triki said happily. “Where you been?”

“I had one to deal with on my own,” Kulagi said. “Now, quick, let’s get out of here before they’re ready for a second round.”

“But I like second rounds, and third rounds,” Triki said. “I can spin round and round and round for time-long!”

“Sorry, but getting to Ga-Metru takes priority here,” Kulagi said, as he reached his Hover-Bike. A quick inspection showed him that, while some of the blades were bent, it would still fly. “Let’s go.”

The two Matoran hopped on top of the Hover-Bike, and quickly blasted away from the assembler’s village. Below, Lariska finally managed to dig herself out of the rubble, and she just managed to see the Hover-Bike disappear in the distance.

“Great,” she complained to herself. “Got defeated by a mere Matoran. Good thing I’m partnered with the stupid bull here, otherwise I’d never live that down.” She glanced around and sighted a collapsed Charger. “And they took him down too. It looks like they were very resourceful Matoran, after all.”

She reached down and snatched up a rock with her mechanical hand. “They seemed very eager to fly towards Ga-Metru, so they must somehow know about our advances over there. I guess somebody must’ve gotten through before we smashed the chutes. All the same, I would’ve expected the Toa to try and foolishly cross the desert instead. Maybe they are that desperate after all. I wish I could follow them, but they’re already flying into a trap. I do hope I get to meet that Onu-Matoran again...”

Lariska clenched her fist, and the rock shattered in her hand. “Because I will pay him back for this defeat!”

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Hakann leaned back on the roof of a temple in Ga-Metru, which towered high above the surrounding structures and looked over into the desert regions of Po-Metru. It was nearing dusk, and the sunset glittered brilliantly over the landscape.

“What a despicable sight,” Hakann grumbled under his breath.

Hakann was a Dark Hunter. Specifically, he was a Skakdi with dormant elemental powers of fire. But his lack of elemental powers were made up by his heat beam eyes and mental blasts, as well as his brutish demeanor. He had a large toothy grin, spikes down his arms and back, and large clawed feet. He also had an abrasive personality, and many of the Dark Hunters nicknamed him Piraka, which was a Matoran curse word for a thief and murderer. It fit Hakann just fine.

But behind his cruelty, Hakann also had a sharp mind, and he was always scheming. He had joined the Dark Hunters against his will; The Shadowed One had seen potential in him and forced him to become one of his mercenaries. Hakann didn’t like working for him; he would rather strike out on his own, to steal whatever he wanted and keep it for himself. But the only way to turn down The Shadowed One was by death, and Hakann preferred to keep breathing. Instead, he spent most of his energies on trying to turn a profit for himself while keeping The Shadowed One and his minions in check.

Hakann’s ability to do so had been hampered quite a bit by the war. Now he was just another soldier fighting for the Dark Hunters in Metru-Nui. This was not what he wanted to be doing. But the only way he could see The Shadowed One pulling out was if the Toa were utterly defeated. So he wanted to crush them, as to end this war and get as far away from this dreaded island as he could.

When he had heard about the special project Lariska was putting together, he knew that it could be the blow that would end the war in their favor. And so, against his better judgment, he had volunteered to help see it through. And now here he was, on a rooftop in Ga-Metru, on sentry duty.

“What are you grumbling about?” Hakann’s companion, codenamed Optics, asked.

Optics was yet another Dark Hunter who had a dark history with The Shadowed One, although he wasn’t nearly as strong headed as Hakann. Optics was of a bird-like species; he had a somewhat humanoid build, but also had two large feathered wings folded up against his back, which he could use for flight. Although he had clawed hands and talons, he was not particularly skilled in hand to hand combat. Rather, his species was renowned for their sense of sight and hearing, which were among the best in the Matoran Universe.

Optics had originally used his gifts to steal from traders, often picking out his target from afar, then swooping in and out with his plunder without anybody noticing. But when he tried to steal from the Dark Hunters once, they had captured and eventually recruited him. The Shadowed One, impressed by his eyesight, had decided to make modifications, adding various lenses to Optics’ eyes. The modifications increased his vision threefold, but The Shadowed One had built in a failsafe to blind him if he ever left the Dark Hunters. As such, Optics was another reluctant Dark Hunter in this war.

Many other Dark Hunters shared similar backstories. Hakann reflected that The Shadowed One was mighty confident to employ so many reluctant beings of power. Yet he ruled so forcefully that many of them seemingly had no choice but to go along with it.

In response to Optics’ questioning, Hakann replied, “Just thinking of the day we’ll be able to leave this wretched island. Don’t get me wrong; I like slaughtering a Toa every now and then, but this drawn out war is just ridicules.”

“If Lariska’s plan goes through...” Optics started.

“Yeah, I know,” Hakann grumbled. “But it’s fallen on its face quite early. We attacked this region and all, but we have nothing to show for it. And now I’m stuck on guard duty, just waiting for the Toa to make their way back.”

Optics was about to respond, much to Hakann’s displeasure. Optics didn’t always understand social cues, in particular the ones Hakann left to tell him to shut up. He suspected that’s why they had been paired up; few other Dark Hunters would put up with Hakann for as long as Optics, who let the Skakdi’s harsh words just bounce off him. Hakann figured that the eye modifications had probably also meddled Optics’ brain too, draining him of emotions like greed and anger. As such, Hakann had very little he could relate to with Optics.

But then Optics perked up and looked across the desert, completely distracted. “Something comes,” he spoke.

“Is it Toa?” Hakann asked. “If it’s Toa, then they were pretty quick; we only attacked just this morning.”

Optics shook his head. “I do not believe so. I cannot see it yet, but it appears to be a single craft. A Hover-Bike, I believe.”

“A Hover-Bike is a Matoran craft,” Hakann said, frowning. “Few Toa would use one of those; they’d be too large for them.”

“It indeed sounds like Matoran,” Optics said. “But something is odd about this.”

“Yeah, why would any Matoran fly over here?” Hakann asked. “Are they crazy or something. They’ll totally be out of their league.”

“That’s not it,” Optics said. “One of them appears to be... singing.”

Meanwhile, not far away, Kulagi was racing his Hover-Bike across the Po-Metru desert, keeping low to the ground to avoid getting sighted by any more Dark Hunters. However, he was having trouble remaining inconspicuous, partially because Triki was belting out a song behind him.

“Ninety-nine Kanoka discs on the wall, ninety-nine Kanoka discs,” Triki sang. “Take one down, toss it around, ninety-eight Kanoka discs on the wall!”

“Triki, will you cut that out?” Kulagi shouted. “I think your voice is louder than my Hover-Bike’s engine right now. We don’t want to attract too much attention.”

“Gotcha, I will be silent as the Lohrak,” Triki said.

“Wait, Lohrak aren’t silent at all,” Kulagi said.

“‘Zactly!” Triki exclaimed, and then continued to sing. “Ninety-ten Kanoka discs on the wall...”

Kulagi shook his head. Triki was often a pain to travel with, even when they weren’t heading into enemy territory. But in a fight, Kulagi would rather rely on the crazy Le-Matoran than any of the Matoran Guard. Although hopefully they could avoid a fight this time, so long as Triki didn’t attract any attention.

“Pretty sunset,” Triki said, breaking off from his song finally. “So many colors. And I didn’t have to head-slam to see em!”

“We’re almost on the border of Ga-Metru now,” Kulagi said. “We’ll cross a cannel and then be amongst the labs where Sufina works. Her living space is further in, so we’ll check there first. She might’ve holed up there when the Dark Hunters attacked, but there’s also a chance she found a better hiding place.”

“What if Dark Hunters got-snagged her?” Triki asked.

“Sufina’s smarter than that,” Kulagi said. “She would’ve hidden somewhere before they got to her. And she knows some of the darker parts of the Metru now too.”

“Ooh, has she turned criminal-like too?” Triki asked. “Or is she just nocturnal like night-Rahi?”

“She’s not a criminal,” Kulagi shot back. “Although she might have occasionally hung out with one,” he added under his breath. After all, he had visited Sufina quite often, and they would take trips to restricted areas where Kulagi could collect some pure Ga-Metru protodermis. While those actions were technically illegal, their ventures had shown them the best places to hide from the Bordakh Vahki. Those same places would also be useful for hiding from Dark Hunters, or at least Kulagi hoped they were.

“The colors!” Triki said, describing the sunset again. “So many reds and yellows. And green too!”

“Green?” repeated Kulagi, glancing back. Against the sunset, there was a bright green streak of light rising into the air. It was some sort of flare, and worse more were joining it, until Kulagi could count at leave five coming from various directions.

“Not good,” he said. “That must be the Dark Hunters signaling each other. They might have sighted us.”

“I see-not any of them,” Triki said, looking around intently.

“Well, you know what they say about Dark Hunters striking from the shadows and all,” Kulagi said. “Load your launcher and grab on tight; I’m going to be speeding up.”

Kulagi began accelerating, but he kept low to the ground, and sped through the narrow streets between the Po-Metru buildings. It was a reckless and dangerous move on his part, but Kulagi was an excellent Hover-Bike driver, having evaded many Vahki before in various chases. But this time, he was up against Dark Hunters.

“Big white guy approaching!” Triki shouted suddenly. Kulagi glanced backwards to see that there was already somebody in pursuit. The figure was tall and white with orange highlights, and appeared to have six limbs. However, he was folded up in a flight mode and was catching up quickly. Kulagi had heard that some Dark Hunters had implants that would let them fly like Hover-Bikes, but he had never seen them in action. This particular Dark Hunter appeared to be even faster than Kulagi’s Hover Bike, and was gaining ground.

“Let’s see how he is on the turn,” Kulagi said, swerving to the side down an alley. The turn was sharp, and his Hover-Bike blades just missed grazing the side of the building. But he made it. Unfortunately, the Dark Hunter also made the turn, with extra elegance at that.

“Triki, shoot him down!” Kulagi shouted.

“Right-o!” Triki said, swiveling in his seat so that he was facing backwards. He fired his Kanoka, but the Dark Hunter flicked it aside with his scythe.

Kulagi turned down another street, and blocks away he could see the canal border between Po-Metru and Ga-Metru. He sped up, but then he sighted a dark blue creature jumping from a nearby rooftop. This new Dark Hunter was a behemoth; he was easily twice as tall as a Toa with muscular arms and legs, and a jagged sword in one hand.

Just one swing from the new player would destroy his Hover-Bike. But Kulagi wasn’t going to give him the chance. He loaded Kanoka into his dual launchers and fired. The massive Dark Hunter wasn’t expecting this attack, and was forced to shield his face as the discs struck him.

“Um, hate to be news-of-bad giver, but white-spikes is about to catch us!” Triki shouted.

Kulagi spared a glance back to see that the white and orange Dark Hunter was only two body lengths away from reaching the Hover-Bike. He was now lifting his scythe again, and the tip started to glow green.
Meanwhile, the blue Dark Hunter had recovered from the Kanoka attack, and he was not happy. He charged forward, ready to ram the Hover-Bike out of the air.

And Kulagi couldn’t help but grin.

At the last moment, Kulagi angled the Hover-Bike into a steep incline, shooting up and over the blue Dark Hunter. The white Dark Hunter was angling himself to gain altitude too, but then he got slammed by his comrade, and both were thrown into the ground. Meanwhile, Kulagi and Triki blasted away on their Hover-Bike.

“Krekka beat on Matoran who shoot him!” the blue Dark Hunter said, pounding his fist on the white Dark Hunter.

“Krekka, you imbecile, I am not a Matoran!” the white Dark Hunter snarled.

“Oh,” Krekka said dumbly, standing up. “Sorry, Kavihkli.”

Kavihkli got to his feet and pointed his scythe at Krekka’s throat. “Do that again and I’ll make sure you never breathe again.”

“Yes, Kavihkli,” Krekka said. “But what about the Matoran?”

Kavihkli sneered. “Looks like I will not have the pleasure of taking them down myself. A shame; the one was a good flyer.”

Meanwhile, Kulagi flew over the canal and over the labs in Ga-Metru. “I think we managed to lose them, Triki,” he said. “Now let’s continue our mission and find Sufina...”

A heat beam laced through the air, and sliced off the back blade of Kulagi’s Hover-Bike. He yelped as he lost control and they started to descend. He managed to pull up before they crashed into the street, but then another projectile struck the side of the Hover-Bike, tipping it over completely. The Hover-Bike smashed into the street, and Kulagi and Triki painfully hit the ground next to it.

“That was not-good crash-bad landing,” Triki said dizzily. “And I know crash-bad landings.”

“The Dark Hunter who shot us down was from over there,” Kulagi said, pointing down one street. “But then the next shot came from that way...” he added, pointing in the opposite direction. He cursed. “They have us surrounded.”

“They want to play Ring-Around-The-Rahi then?” Triki asked hopefully.

“Probably not,” Kulagi said, retrieving his Kanoka launcher. His shoulder and head ached from the landing, but he ignored the pain, because a fight was inevitably coming up.

Indeed, he soon sighted the shadows of his enemies. Their silhouettes appeared in the growing darkness, approaching from multiple directions. Kulagi counted at least five of them. He could’ve held off one or two, maybe three with Triki’s help. But there was no way the two of them could take down five, especially when his Hover-Bike was out of commission.

The first Dark Hunter stepped out of the shadows, and Kulagi could see his big, toothy grin. It was Hakann. “Greetings, Matoran,” he said. “Welcome to Ga-Metru.”

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Kulagi tried to remain calm and look for a way out. That was his specialty; finding a way to escape against even the most dire odds. But panic was clouding his judgment, because he was now facing up to five powerful Dark Hunters.

The lead hunter was Hakann, who pointed his lava launcher at the two Matoran. “As you can see, Ga-Metru is now under new ownership,” he said. “But we can find you accommodations in our prison cells. We might even let you live if you tell us everything you know.”

“Everything we know?” Triki asked, genuinely curious. “But what if we much-know lots?”

“Good, I would appreciate your cooperation,” Hakann said. “The more you talk, the longer you live.”

“Challenge accepted!” Triki exclaimed. “Now, first, there are particular ways to greet a Vorzakh Vahki. You have to appear as not-threat. Look-not it straight in the eyes, else it attack you. Also shoot-not it in the eyes. Same result.”

“Stop your babbling,” Hakann snarled. “Do you take me for a fool?”

Triki tilted his head. “I know-not if you’re fool. You ever rodeo-ride Keras Crabs? They called me ever-fool when I suggest that.”

Although Kulagi was sure his friend wasn’t intentionally trying to buy time, Triki’s ramblings were giving him time to calm down and look around. There were Dark Hunters on three sides of them. The street behind them was still clear, but any attempt to flee down it would make them clear targets. However, if the Dark Hunters were distracted, they might have a chance. But how to distract them? A single Kanoka disc wouldn’t suffice. But was there something else that could help?

The buildings around them were in disrepair, having been heavily damaged when the Dark Hunters first attacked the region. The one behind Hakann had the second level supported by columns, but many of the columns were crumbling. Only a few were holding up the bulk of the structure’s weight, and Kulagi identified one that was likely under the most stress.

“It would’ve been ever-good vacation and build-team exercise, but the other Le-Matoran protested,” Triki continued. “And that’s how I got boot-kicked from Le-Metru Philosophy society.”

“Silence!” Hakann roared. “I don’t think you understand your position, Matoran.”

“Kay, kay,” Triki said. “I will be silent as the Lohrak.”

Hakann frowned. “Lohrak aren’t known to be quiet.”

“Yeah, that’s kind of the point,” Kulagi said, taking aim and firing his Weakening Kanoka. “Eat dust, Hunters!”

Hakann dodged to the side, thinking that the Kanoka was aimed at him. But it flew past him and struck the one column, shattering it. As the building’s weight got shifted to the other, already damaged columns, they began to give way too, and the whole structure started to fall in on itself. The Dark Hunters were able to quickly scatter and avoid any falling debris, but the collapse kicked up a massive cloud of dust, enough to completely hide the two Matoran.

Kulagi grabbed Triki’s arm. “Let’s go this way.”

“Dark Hunters that way,” Triki protested. “Behind us more clear!”

“I know, just trust me,” Kulagi said, clenching his jaw. It was an illogical move, but hopefully one that the Dark Hunters wouldn’t predict. With luck, they would attempt to chase them down the obvious route, giving Kulagi and Triki a chance to escape for real.

However, their luck wasn’t that good. A Dark Hunter stepped forward out of the dust and sighted them. Kulagi froze, pondering the best course of action. But Triki was already ahead of him, and fired his Kanoka launcher point blank. “Here’s a present, ugly-face!”

The Dark Hunter started to spasm as the disc struck him, and his legs and arms began to change into lengthy tentacles, similar to those of a giant squid. However, while his new limbs were powerful, they couldn’t keep him standing, and he fell to the ground.

Triki picked up his disc, labeled 517. “Hah, that’s where my Reconstruct at Random disc went,” he said thoughtfully, even as the Dark Hunter’s head began to elongate and turn more squid-like.

“Let’s go!” Kulagi said, pulling Triki along.

As the dust finally settled, Hakann stood up and realized that the Matoran had vanished. “They couldn’t have gotten far,” he said. “Find them!”

“Which way did they go?” one of the Dark Hunters asked.

Hakann turned his gaze to Optics, who was just now getting up. “You, tell us which way they went?”

“Ears... buzzing,” Optics said back. “I can’t hear.”

Hakann frowned. The collapsing building had temporarily overloaded Optics’ senses, making them useless for the time being.

“They went down that road,” the other Dark Hunter said. “The one direction we weren’t blocking them in.”

Hakann noticed the reconstructed Dark Hunter on the ground and frowned. “Don’t be so sure about that,” he said. He pointed down the road passed their mutated comrade. “You two go that direction. Optics and I will go the other way.”

The two other Dark Hunters rushed off, and Optics and Hakann started down the other street.

“Why are we going this way?” Optics asked. “You saw the signs, the downed Hunter; the Matoran were trying to fool us again.”

“Yes, and they have enough of a head start that they might actually escape,” Hakann said. “And I don’t want to be the one blamed for passing them by. So that’s why I sent the other two off to take the blame.”

Kulagi and Triki raced down the abandoned streets, ducking around random debris. Finally, Kulagi sighted a decent building to hide in. “Follow me,” he said to Triki, and ducked in through the main door.

“This not-nice place to be,” Triki said, glancing around.

“Be quiet for real now,” Kulagi hissed. “We don’t want them finding us.”

Indeed, no sooner had they taken cover than they sighted two Dark Hunters wandering down the street. Both of them were glancing at the buildings, but weren’t checking out their interiors. They passed by the structure Kulagi and Triki were hiding in and continued on.

Kulagi breathed a sigh of relief. “I think they passed us by,” he whispered.

Triki tugged at his shoulder. “I think we should quick-leave,” he said.

“Not until those Dark Hunters are out of sight,” Kulagi replied.

“Me-thinks they have counter-offer,” Triki said, pointing into the dark.

Kulagi glanced back and saw movement in the shadows, complete with hissing. “Oh no, not now,” he gripped.

The building was inhabited by a dozen Kinloka. Kinloka were known as a dangerous pest, who would eat almost anything in their path, including Matoran. They usually inhabited abandoned factories, but the destruction caused by the war had expanded their habitats. Worse, they were one of the few Rahi who utilized Kanoka discs that they could shoot from their tails. They were usually only equipped with low level Kanoka, but they had incredible accuracy, which made them particularly dangerous.

The Kinloka opened fire, and their discs ricocheted off the various walls, causing a commotion. Kulagi didn’t have enough Kanoka on him to fight off a small Kinloka swarm, but they were rather slow so it was easier to outrun them. Both Kulagi and Triki chose this option, and rushed back out onto the street.

Unfortunately, the commotion caught the attention of the two Dark Hunters, who turned and sighted the Matoran. Kulagi and Triki quickly ran off, heading down a side alley. The Dark Hunters followed, but were slightly delayed as the Kinloka poured out of the building and attacked them.

Kulagi sprinted between the labs and temples, thankful that they were in a densely populated area of Ga-Metru. In other parts of the Metru, the buildings were more spread out, and the Dark Hunters would’ve been able to give chase with ease. Here, they had a chance as long as they could navigate the maze of buildings.

But then Kulagi’s luck ran out. They turned one corner and found a dead end. There weren’t any side streets to duck down or even doors to enter. Kulagi drew his Kanoka, considering blowing a hole in one of the walls. But that would leave an obvious sign for the Dark Hunters to follow, and he didn’t know if there were more dangerous Rahi hiding in the buildings.

“Let’s double back,” he said to Triki.

“Good-not idea,” Triki said, pointing. The two Dark Hunters had caught up, and were now blocking them in.

Kulagi immediately fired his Weakening Kanoka at the largest of the two, but he swatted the disc aside before its powers could activate. Even as Kulagi reloaded, one of the Dark Hunters fired a stone projectile, and the two Matoran were forced to dive to the ground to avoid getting him. Triki quickly leapt back to his feet, but Kulagi wasn’t quick enough. One of the Dark Hunters pinned him down with his foot.

“Let him go!” Triki yelped, leaping at the Dark Hunter. But the being reached out and grabbed Triki in midair, cutting off his attack. Triki shouted and swung his arms, but the Dark Hunter held him out far enough that he couldn’t strike anything.

“This is it,” Kulagi said to himself. “We’re done. Huaju was right; there really wasn’t anything I could do.”

But as Kulagi resigned himself to his fate, something struck the Dark Hunter on top of him, causing him to teeter back. A small volley of Kanoka shot down from the roof, striking both Dark Hunters. The one stepped off Kulagi, and the other dropped Triki. They looked around for their attackers, but were only greeted by another volley of discs.

Suddenly, Kulagi sighted another Matoran rushing towards them. “Cover your eyes,” he shouted, and then threw a lightstone in the air. He had a Kanoka launcher in hand, and fired it at the lightstone, but missed. It landed nearby, next to Triki, and now the two Dark Hunters focused on the newcomer.

But Kulagi knew what the Matoran had been attempting. “Triki, grab that lightstone and up-fling,” he shouted to his friend. “Then cover eyes!”

“Eye protection optional?” Triki asked, picking up the lightstone.

“This time, it’s required!” Kulagi responded, grabbing his fallen Weakening Kanoka. He didn’t have enough time to load it into his launcher, so instead he swung back his arm and threw it, just as Triki tossed the lightstone into the air.

Kulagi instantly covered his eyes, and for good reason. The disc struck the lightstone, and caused it to fracture and then explode in a brilliant flash of light. The light temporarily blinded the two Dark Hunters, who stumbled in the afterglow. But the three Matoran had properly shielded their eyes, and could still see as the glow faded.

The other Matoran, who Kulagi recognized as a Ta-Matoran, waved them forward, in a gesture to follow him. Kulagi grabbed his equipment and then Triki’s arm, and raced after the Ta-Matoran, who led them into a side building. They quickly navigated the halls and headed up the stairs.

“Thanks for the save back there,” Kulagi said. “I thought we were toast.” He paused. “Who are you?”

“I’m Agni, of the Matoran Guard,” the Ta-Matoran replied. “The bigger question is, who are you? We’ve been trying to help the Matoran who got stranded here, but there weren’t many Onu-Matoran or Le-Matoran ‘round last I checked.”

“Oh, we quick-flew in,” Triki said. “After we heard about Dark Hunters and their takey-takey of city.”

“You what?” yelped Agni. “Are you mental?”

“I have been described as that before, yes,” Triki said with a nod.

“We came to help,” Kulagi said.

“Well, you’re not helping very much,” Agni said angrily. “In fact, you’ve just stirred up the Dark Hunters and endangered the rest of us even more.”

“There are more of you?” Kulagi asked. “Look, I came here to find a friend. Maybe you’ve seen her.”

“We can discuss that later,” Agni said, entering a room near the top of the building. Suddenly, there was noise on the other end, and he drew his Kanoka launcher. However, it was only a small group of Matoran who stepped out of the shadows.

Agni sighed with relief. “Glax, is that you? Did everybody make it?”

The lead Ko-Matoran nodded, and lowered his own Kanoka launcher. “Yeah, those two Dark Hunters were certainly disoriented by that lightstone blast.” He narrowed his eyes as he sighted Kulagi and Triki. “Who are the newcomers?”

“Visitors, apparently,” Agni said with a shrug. He glanced back at them. “Who the Karzahni are you anyway?”

Before Kulagi could respond, he heard somebody shout, “Kulagi!” One of the Matoran pushed through the crowd and raced towards him, and suddenly he realized it was Sufina. She grabbed him into a hug. As she backed up, she said, “I can’t believe this! What are you doing here? And Triki’s here too!”

“Hiya,” Triki said. “This your place? Kinda dark?”

“Sufina, I’m so glad you’re safe!” Kulagi said. “We flew out here as soon as we heard about the attack!”

“Are you bringing reinforcements?” Agni asked. He was a tough Ta-Matoran, who wore a red Miru and carried a Kanoka launcher like a professional.

“Nope!” Triki said brightly. “They actually tried to stop us. Say it was ever-dangerous to come.”

“Well, they were right!” Agni said. “We’ve only barely gotten all the Matoran here into hiding, and when we heard that the Dark Hunters were on the move, we thought you were just civilians. But now it turns out we risked everything just because you rushed into danger needlessly!”

“We were trying to help,” Kulagi snapped back. “And we can help more now that we’re here. I’m pretty good with a Kanoka, you know.”

“We don’t need help from some Onu-Matoran Akilini player,” Agni snapped. “You should’ve stayed back and let the Toa deal with this.”

“I’m not some amateur disc sportsman,” Kulagi retorted. “I’m one of the finest Kanoka Makers on this island.”

“They you should’ve stayed at your forge and made more discs,” Agni said. “What makes you think you can take on the Dark Hunters?”

“Because I’ve fought creatures like them before,” Kulagi shot back.

“Wait,” one of the Po-Matoran in the group said. “You’re not that Kulagi, are you? The one that defeated Gragu Nuva and all those Gang Matoran?”

“One and the same,” Kulagi said. “Glad someone appreciates my help.”

“I dunno, I heard that he was just another criminal,” the Po-Matoran continued. “He’s done some major jail-time in the Coliseum.”

“Why is that what you people always focus on?” Kulagi said, frowning.

“I don’t care who he is,” the Ko-Matoran named Glax said. “How do we know if we can trust him? He just appears out of nowhere after apparently defeating a bunch of Dark Hunters? I smell a trap.”

“I can vouch for him,” Sufina said. “Kulagi helped me a lot in the past, and he’s been providing the Toa with powerful discs during this war. We can trust him.”

Glax adjusted his white Mahiki mask. “And the Le-Matoran.”

“Yeah, Triki’s okay too,” Sufina said. “I was with them when they defeated Gragu Nuva. They’re powerful allies.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter,” Agni said. “With the Dark Hunters in such an uproar, we might not get back to the hide out without getting caught.”

“Where have you been hiding?” Kulagi asked.

“See, there he goes, asking for important information!” Glax said.

Sufina held up her hand to silence him. “We’re in the protodermis drainage pipes underneath the city,” she said. “Back in its golden days, those tubes were used to transport purified protodermis from the various laboratories to the Great Temple. They’ve been out of commission for years, even before the war, and are hard to get to, unless you know where to look.”

“There are only a few entrance ways in that are large enough for a Matoran,” Agni said. “So far, the Dark Hunters have overlooked them, but if they were able to discover one, that would lead them right to our hide out. And there are a bunch of civilians there, from Ga-Metru and Po-Metru, who would not be able to survive a Dark Hunter attack.” He frowned. “I would rather sacrifice ourselves than lead them to our people.”

“And we’d have to cross some streets to get to the closest entrance,” Glax added. “That lightstone spectacle was great for a quick getaway, but it’s also a beacon for all the Dark Hunters to converge in this area. We won’t be able to sneak around much longer.”

“While we can, we will set up a fortification,” Agni said. “Then we’ll hold out for as long as we can once they find us. We may go down, but we’ll go down fighting.”

“Or we could all escape and get back safely,” Kulagi said. “I think I might have a plan that will work.”

“You have a plan?” Agni asked. “That’s laughable.”

“Yes, I do have a plan,” Kulagi said. “I just need you to trust that I know what I’m doing.”

“Do I trust you?” Agni repeated. “Absolutely not.”

“I trust him,” Sufina said. “So let’s hear what he has to say.”

“Fine,” Glax said, annoyed. “So what’s this plan of yours?”

Kulagi grinned, and rubbed his hands together. “One that only a master Kanoka Maker could think up!”

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“Follow me,” Kulagi said, as he led the small group of Matoran down a flight of stairs. There were now eight of them; in addition to Kulagi and Triki, there was Sufina, Agni, Glax, another Ga-Matoran, and two Po-Matoran. Agni, Sufina, and the others were all armed with Kanoka launchers, and had been the ones firing from the rooftop earlier to distract the Dark Hunters who had cornered Kulagi and Triki. But while there was determination in their little troop, they only had a few low level Kanoka between them. They wouldn’t be able to fight their way out.

But Kulagi didn’t intent to go out in a blaze of fired discs. He had another idea.

“Where are we going then?” Glax asked. “Venturing into the street now would be suicide!”

“We’re not going to go out onto the street,” Kulagi said. “We’re heading into the basement.”

“That doesn’t seem like a good place to make an escape,” Glax countered.

“We might be able to fortify it, or find a decent hiding spot,” one of the Po-Matoran suggested.

“Nope, I said I’d find a way out for you, and that’s what I’m intending to do,” Kulagi said, now entering the stairway that led to the basement. “Have your Kanoka at ready, in case there’s any Rahi down here. Already got attacked by some Kinloka, and a prolonged attack might give away our position.”

Agni drew out another lightstone as they entered the darkened basement. “It doesn’t look like there are any Rahi down here,” he said.

“Good,” Kulagi said. “Now spread out and look for a tub.”

“A what now?” Glax asked, exasperated.

“A tub,” Kulagi repeated. “Or some other type of holding container, really.”

“Would you mind backing up and explaining your thought process here, Kanoka Maker?” Agni asked.

“Fine,” Kulagi said with a shrug. “You’re trying to get into those old protodermis pipes that run beneath the city. Back in its golden age, lots of these laboratories were purifying protodermis that had to get sent to those pipes. They would store their purified protodermis in the basements...”

“And then from there send it down into the pipeline!” Sufina finished.

“Exactly,” Kulagi said. “This building looks like it’s was once a lab of some type long ago, so there must be a connection to the main pipes down here somewhere.”

“How would you know so much about Ga-Metru’s infrastructure?” the Ga-Matoran asked.

Kulagi shrugged. “Okay, so I’ve had to hide out in some lab basements before. And I have explored the abandoned pipes in other sections of the Metru before, where they’re a little more accessible.”

“Were you surveying or something?” the Po-Matoran asked.

“Nope, he was a-lookin’ for limit-off protodermis for Kanoka making!” Triki said.

The Matoran glared at him, but Kulagi merely shrugged again. “Okay, so I was hiding from the Vahki most of the time. Now we’re hiding from the Dark Hunters. Do you want my expertise on this matter or what?”

“Kanoka Maker?” Agni grumbled. “More like common criminal.”

“No, we’re totally unique criminals,” Triki put in. “Common ones usually much uglier.”

“Okay, forgetting about your past, there’s still another issue,” Glax said. “Even if we find this drainage pipe, it’ll be too small for us to fit through. How will that do us any good?”

“That’s where my Kanoka expertise will come in handy,” Kulagi said. “Now spread out, it must be down here somewhere.”

The Matoran started searching through the basement. It was quite dusty and dark, and they only had the one lightstone to illuminate the room. There was also a lot of old lab equipment stored in the basement, and then had to move it around. But finally, Sufina discovered the drain in the far corner, behind a couple of damaged purification filters.

As Kulagi and Agni struggled to move the equipment out of the way, Glax studied the small drainage pipe. “That’s still too small for even a miniature Hoto Bug,” he said.

“Then we’ll just change the size,” Kulagi said. He fitted his Enlarging disc into his launcher and took careful aim at the pipe. He fired, and it suddenly expanded until it was more than large enough for a Matoran to slide down.

“Just need utilize some Kanoka powers in the right place, and then almost anything is possible,” Kulagi said.

“How do we know it goes all the way down?” Glax asked. “What if it shrinks before it reaches the main pipe?”

“We wouldn’t necessarily need to reach the main pipe,” Sufina said. “The offshoots grow gradually longer as more pipes feed into it. We shouldn’t have to go too far down until we reach one that is normally Matoran-sized.”

“All the same, it could just lead to a dead end,” Glax continued. “Who would be crazy to go down this without making sure first?”

Glax was suddenly pushed aside by Triki, who yelped, “Indoor protodermis slide!” and jumped into the opened pipeline. They heard his cries of glee as he slid down, out of sight.

“There are some of us here who don’t mind taking a few risks,” Kulagi said with a grin. He called down the pipe, “Triki, can you hear me? Did you make it to the end? Is there enough room down there?”

“Wicked fun,” Triki’s response echoed up. “Plenty of play-room here. Want to ride again!”

“Seems plenty safe,” Kulagi said. He gestured to Glax. “After you.”

“Yeah, I’ll go last,” Glax grumbled.

“I’ll go next then,” Sufina said, and she leapt down into the enlarged pipe. Once she had reached the bottom, she called back, “It’s safe, come on down.”

“Well, hurry up,” Kulagi said. “We don’t want the Kanoka’s powers to wear off.”

As the other Matoran slid down the pipe, Agni nodded at Kulagi. “Okay, I’ll give credit where it’s due, this is a nice plan.”

“Before you go, I do need to know where the closest Matoran-sized entrance is,” Kulagi said. “Actually, to be safe, tell me where the second closest entrance is.”

“Why would you need to know that?” Glax asked, suspicious again.

“It’s so that I can make it in,” Kulagi said. “I can’t go with you this time, because somebody needs to cover up this pipe in case the Dark Hunters do come down here. It’ll be easier for one Matoran to get past them than for a whole troop of Matoran, and I have ways to get around them faster on my own.”

“You can say that, but you’ll probably just get captured,” Agni pointed out.

“So be it,” Kulagi said. “Sufina and the rest of you are safe for now, so I don’t mind sacrificing myself to thrown them off your trail.”

“Fair enough,” Agni said, and quickly gave Kulagi directions. He strapped his Kanoka launcher on his back, and prepared to slide down the pipe. “Until we meet again, Onu-Matoran.”

As Agni departed, taking his lightstone with him, Kulagi glanced through his bag of Kanoka. “I thought I had a suitable Shrinking disc in here somewhere,” he complained.

“If you’re after a Shrinking disc, use this one instead,” Glax said, handing Kulagi a Ko-Metru Kanoka.

Kulagi peered down at the Kanoka in the low light. “Is that a power level six Kanoka? Where’d you get this?”

“Didn’t get it anywhere,” Glax responded. “Made it myself. You aren’t the only Kanoka Maker in these parts.”

“Really?” Kulagi said, genuinely interested. “We’ll have to talk about this more when this is over.”

“Looking forward to it, Onu-Matoran,” Glax said, as he stepped up to the edge of the pipe. “Good luck against those Hunters.” With that, he slid down the pipe and out of sight.

With the last Matoran gone, Kulagi fired the Shrinking Kanoka at the pipe, returning it to near its normal size. Then he moved the purification filters and other equipment back to its original position, so that any Dark Hunter who entered the basement would have no idea what route they had taken. Now it was his turn to escape.

Kulagi returned to the first level and glanced out the door. It was now dark out, with only a few stars visible in the sky. Luckily, being an Onu-Matoran, Kulagi had decent night vision, and was able to verify that the street around him was indeed empty. He stayed to the shadows and narrow allies, and made his way through the Metru. Occasionally, he caught sight of Dark Hunters in the distance, but he planned his route so he didn’t cross paths with any of them. His process was no different than when he used to sneak around Vahki guards, although the Vahki usually had more predictable patrol routes.

Finally, Kulagi reached his destination. It was not the entrance to the underground protodermis pipes, but rather the wreckage of his Hover-Bike. He planned to give the Dark Hunters a bit of a show before he departed, so as to push their search area away from his friends.

His Hover-Bike was exactly where he had crashed it, but it was guarded. Kulagi recognized the Dark Hunter as the blue one that had attacked him earlier. It was Krekka, and he was staring absentmindedly into the dark away from Kulagi. Kulagi snuck closer to him and loaded in a Teleportation Kanoka disc. He fired it, and Krekka vanished from the spot.

“Even with a power level six disc, that teleportation won’t take him too far away,” Kulagi muttered to himself. “I need to get back in the air before he returns.”

Kulagi pulled out the Po-Metru Regeneration Kanoka that Huaju had given him, and fired it at the damaged blades of his Hover-Bike. The Kanoka repaired the blade, but it wasn’t a perfect fix since it was still bent oddly. Still, it would have to do. Kulagi pushed his bike up and scanned for any other damage, and then jumped on and started it up.

He heard heavy footsteps behind him, and turned to see Krekka racing down the street. “Hey, you cannot take that,” he shouted. “I was guarding that bike.”

“Tough luck,” Kulagi said, revving the engine. His Hover-Bike lifted off the ground and started to accelerate forward. But Kulagi needed some space before he could get enough lift to fly.

Krekka was not going to let him get away that easily. He activated a Kanoka launcher on his shoulder, which popped up and fired a disc at Kulagi. Kulagi glanced back just in time to see it, and narrowly dodged it, and it struck one of the buildings instead. Before Krekka could fire again, Kulagi had flown out of range, and was rising above the rooftops.

The skies above Ga-Metru were also utterly dark, as none of the normal Ga-Matoran light sources were currently operational. In the far distance, Kulagi could see the glow of Ta-Metru and the shadow of the Coliseum, but they felt far removed from the war torn streets of Ga-Metru.

He heard shouts below him, and realized that he had been sighted. Some Dark Hunters on the ground lifted their launchers and fired round stone projectiles up into the air. But their aim was off in the darkness, and Kulagi was flying too fast, so they didn’t hit anything. But Kulagi felt obligated to return, so he circled back around and then dove at them from behind, firing Kanoka discs from his dual launchers.

The Dark Hunters dove for cover, but some did get pegged by the discs. They were just low powered discs, so Kulagi wasn’t expecting any real damage to be done, but his attack had certainly scattered them. They tried to return fire as he blasted away, but it was too little, too late.

“All part of the plan,” Kulagi muttered to himself. He would lead the Dark Hunters across the Metru for a little bit, away from the entrances that would lead them to his friends. Then, when convinced he had thrown them far enough off the trail, he would sneak off and double back himself.

And to his delight, his plan was working. The darkness matched with Kulagi’s speed and maneuverability in the air made it difficult for them to plan their attacks, decreasing their earlier effectiveness. This time, they weren’t springing the trap, so they had lost their element of surprise against Kulagi. He herded them through the streets as he would the Vahki when they had chased him.

However, Kulagi had never escaped from all his Vahki chasses. The white Keerahk Vahki would often be able to outthink his plans and get him in the end. All it would take would be for one Dark Hunter to be just as keen as the Kanoka Maker.

Kulagi caught the blur of white out of the corner of his eye, and then did a sharp turn to avoid the collision. The white six-limbed Dark Hunter was back, and he had leapt up from hiding in one of the buildings and had almost caught Kulagi. It was Kavihkli. Kulagi now got a better look at him. Although he was tall, he was also very slender, with a large head complete with mandibles and deep orange eyes. He did indeed have two pairs of arms; his upper arms appeared somewhat normal, and he held his scythe weapon with them. His lower arms were shorter but ended in fierce claws, capable of slicing through solid protodermis. He was certainly a fearsome sight to behold.

“Back for some more, huh?” Kulagi asked, firing his level six Freezing Kanoka at the Dark Hunter. But Kavihkli smoothly ducked to the side and the disc missed. Next, he swung his scythe, which was already glowing green, and fired a glob of green gel at Kulagi. He pulled up, but the gel hit one of his side blades and ate right through it.

“Wow, poison, agility, and flight,” Kulagi shouted. “You Dark Hunters are quite the mixed bags of powers, aren’t you?”

Kavihkli made no response and sprang forward again. Kulagi decided it was time to up his game, and sped off deeper into the Metru, leaving the Dark Hunters on the ground behind. But Kavihkli was keeping up, having switched to flight mode himself, with his lower clawed arms folded up across his midriff to increase his aerodynamics.

“So this Dark Hunter can fly,” Kulagi said to himself. “But how well can he maneuver?”

Up ahead, Kulagi sighted an offshoot of the Ga-Metru canal systems, with rushing water cascading down the path. He dipped his Hover-Bike down and skimmed the top of the water, and Kavihkli followed. Kulagi glanced back to see that the Dark Hunter was gaining on him, and shouted, “I hope you can keep up.”

Kulagi took a hard right, following a sharp turn in the canal. This particular waterway zigzagged through the Metru, and the water was currently speeding through it quickly, creating cascades that sent mist up into the air. It was a dangerous route to fly, and one mistake could cause a devastating crash into the rapids below. But the danger just increased the thrill of the chase, and Kulagi sped up, turning the sharp corners with style. However, Kavihkli was able to keep up, although the many turns prevented him from throwing any more poison attacks.

But Kulagi wasn’t finished fighting back. Up ahead, he saw the remains of a damaged building that had fallen into the canal. He could easily fly up and over it, but that would make it too easy for the Dark Hunter to follow. Instead, he dipped low, aiming for a small gap in the corner of the canal. He just managed to squeeze through it, with his blades skimming the surface of the water as he did so. But once he cleared the structure, he spun around and fired his Enlarging disc, and the remains of the building suddenly expanded in size and filled the entire width of the canal.

Kavihkli had angled down to follow Kulagi, but now his way was blocked by the enlarged building. He was unable to slow down and fly over it, so instead he decided to go through it. He sprang out of flight mode and threw a glob of poison from his staff. The poison struck the material in his way and melted a hole clear through it. The opening was still not big enough for Kavihkli, but he unfolded his lower arms and swung his claws, which batted aside the debris that got in his way. He smashed his way through the entire structure, and popped out the other side, ready continue the chase.

But Kulagi was waiting for him, with a Kanoka already in his launcher. As Kavihkli burst out from the remains of the structure, Kulagi fired his disc with the code 645, and it struck Kavihkli in the face. The Dark Hunter recovered as the disc flew back to Kulagi’s launcher.

I didn’t expect you to get a shot in, Matoran,” Kavihkli said, his voice like the hiss of a serpent. “Now it’s my turn.” He swung his staff, expecting to launch another glob of poison. But nothing materialized at the end of his staff, much to his surprise.

“Yeah, about that,” Kulagi commented. “That was a Removes Poison disc I hit you with. You’re not going to be throwing any more toxic globs for a while.”

Kavihkli sneered; he knew his poison powers would return when the Kanoka’s effects eventually wore off, but now he was limited in his ranged attacks against this Matoran. He sprang out, ready to catch the Hover-Bike, but Kulagi had already taken off.

Kavihkli followed the Hover-Bike down the canals, even as the waters raged around him. But the prolonged chase was starting to tire him, and Kulagi was gaining ground. Forcing himself to speed up, Kavihkli turned a corner that Kulagi had just flown around, but all that faced him was empty air. He glanced down and saw that the canal emptied into a natural depression, forming a glittering waterfall. Furthermore, there were another dozen canals also flowing into the depression, and the roar of the waterfalls drowned out any other noise, including the engines of a Hover-Bike.

Kavihkli descended and glanced around, but there was no sign of the Onu-Matoran and his Hover-Bike. He glanced back at the waterfall he had just flown over, wondering if there was a passageway behind him. But when he swung his staff through the water, it hit only rock.

Kavihkli quickly checked the other waterfalls, but they didn’t appear to have any openings behind them either. He was hesitant to fly directly through them, because the water would disrupt his flight abilities, and he was not a good swimmer. After a thorough search, Kavihkli had to give up and concede that the Matoran had successfully escaped him. Grumbling, he headed back towards the other Dark Hunters.

Kulagi grinned from his vantage point. He was indeed hidden behind one of the waterfalls, but it was only a small opening at the base of the waterfall. He had watched as Kavihkli had checked further up, where the stone wall was just behind the water. The Dark Hunter hadn’t checked further down, and so had passed Kulagi’s hiding spot. And, in fact, Kulagi only knew of this particular location because he had once hidden there from a Bordakh Vahki.

Once Kavihkli was long gone, Kulagi flew out of the waterfall, and headed towards the location that Agni had provided him with. He stayed low to the ground and flew slowly to keep the sound of his engine down. He was ready to call an end to the chase, especially since he was wet and freezing from hiding behind the waterfall for so long.

He reached the designated building that the protodermis pipe entrance was located in and landed on the roof. It was a former pump site, now defunct, but it had a maintenance hatch that had been used in the days when the pipeline was in operation. Now it would let Kulagi get down and rejoin his friends.

He unpacked his Kanoka discs and other equipment from the Hover-Bike, as well as his portable forge. But before he left, he knew he had one last task to do. After all, if he left his Hover-Bike on the roof, no matter how well hidden it was, the Dark Hunters would surely find it, and then it would lead them to Kulagi and the others. That meant Kulagi had to get rid of his Hover-Bike.

“I really don’t want to do this, but it’s for the best,” Kulagi said solemnly. He jammed the acceleration down, and then started the Hover-Bike up. It rose into the air, riderless, and blasted over the skies of Ga-Metru. But before it was out of range, Kulagi fired a Teleportation Kanoka at it. It vanished overhead, but he heard it reappear a dozen blocks to the north, and a short time later he heard a crash echo across the Metru. The Dark Hunters would surely find the crash site, but it wouldn’t lead them to Kulagi or the rest of the Matoran in hiding.

“When this is over, I hope I can find the remains and get it fixed up,” Kulagi said. “I sure did like that bike.”

But if Kulagi had to sacrifice something, he would choose his beloved Hover-Bike over the safety of his friends any day. With that done, he grabbed the last of his equipment and made his way down through the building.

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Kulagi trudged through the protodermis pipelines, lugging all of his equipment behind him. He reflected that he had perhaps taken too much with him; it was easy enough to haul along when he was driving his Hover-Bike, but on foot it was slowing him down quite a bit. But what was even worse was the darkness. Kulagi could see well enough in low light, but even he couldn’t see in absolute darkness. Being from Onu-Metru, it wasn’t as off-putting as it would be for other Matoran, but it still forced him to move along carefully. Especially since the pipe’s floor was damp, so he had to take extra care not to slip.

Kulagi had found the access tunnel to the pipeline easily enough, but now that he was in it, he regretted not asking for more detailed directions. The Ga-Metru protodermis pipeline wasn’t as complex as the Archives, but there were enough offshoots to make it difficult to navigate. Kulagi wasn’t sure where Sufina and the others ended up, and all he could do was hope that he was moving in the right direction.

And hope ended up coming through for him. As he turned one corner, he saw a faint glow further down the pipeline. He headed towards it, but paused and drew his Kanoka launcher. Just in case the Dark Hunters were down here.

But when he caught up to the light, he saw it was merely three Matoran: Sufina, Agni, and Glax.

“Kulagi, thank goodness!” Sufina said, racing forward to hug him. “I didn’t know if you’d made it or not!”

“Well, I did manage to get away, and wasn’t followed either,” Kulagi said.

“That was quite a show, Kanoka Maker,” Agni said with a nod. He was the one with the lightstone. “Your plan ended up getting us all away safely.”

“I guess you’re not as dumb as you look,” Glax said. He glanced at what Kulagi was carrying. “What’s all that?”

“My supplies,” Kulagi said. “I managed to unpack my Hover-Bike before heading down here. Although I was forced to crash it some distance away to throw off the Dark Hunters.” He frowned. “And I really liked that bike too.”

“Wait, did you bring your Kanoka forge with you?” Sufina asked incredulously.

“It’s portable,” Kulagi stated.

“And also really heavy,” Glax pointed out. “Why would you even think of doing something like that?”

“Well, I’ve actually really wanted to test some of the protodermis from these pipes,” Kulagi admitted. “Just think of the purity levels! But I’ve never been able to find access points to ones that weren’t in use, or guarded by any Vahki for that matter.”

Agni rolled his eyes. “Kanoka Makers,” he grumbled. “Okay, follow me, I’ll lead you back to our main encampment.”

“Where did the others go?” Kulagi asked, as Sufina and Glax helped him carry some of his equipment.

“We’ve already led them back,” Glax said. “Then we ventured out to find you, just to see if you would show.”

“How’s Triki doing?” Kulagi asked.

Sufina smiled weakly. “He’s resting right now.”

“Really?” Kulagi asked. “That doesn’t seem like him. But I guess it has been a busy day for him, since he had to flee Le-Metru and then joined up with me to come here.”

“That’s not quite it,” Sufina said. “When he showed up, he got a little too excited and charged in to meet all the other Matoran. And some of the Po-Matoran we had left back there were a little on edge and they. . .”

“They hit him on the head with a big rock,” Glax finished. “He’s okay, but he’s also out cold.”

“Well, that is one of the few guaranteed ways to get him to rest at night,” Kulagi said with a shrug. “But I am curious; what’s your story. How did you manage to flee the Dark Hunters?”

“It was a surprise attack, but we did have a few minutes notice,” Sufina said. “I was heading towards my lab at the time, and luckily I had my Kanoka launcher. A few of us tried to fight off the Dark Hunters, but it was useless, since they came in so many numbers. Instead, what we did manage to do was hold them back while the rest of the Matoran took cover.”

Kulagi nodded. When he had first met Sufina, she had not been very good with a disc. But he had since taught her how to shoot, and she had turned into a decent marksman. Furthermore, Kulagi had supplied her with a couple of powerful Kanoka too, which would’ve helped in a fight.

“The Dark Hunters had us on the run pretty quickly,” Agni said. “But Sufina was able to lead us to a few hiding spots. Eventually, we pieced together our collective knowledge and decided that the protodermis pipeline was our best bet. While the Dark Hunters were trashing the rest of the city, we made our escape.”

“That’s quite a brilliant idea,” Kulagi said. “And the pipeline runs all the way to the Great Temple, which is still in a Toa controlled region. You can take it all the way to safety.”

“Yeah, except that part didn’t work out so well,” Glax said. “These pipes have been out of commission for a long time, and so haven’t exactly been maintained. We tried to pass through them, but there’s a cave in that’s blocking the pipeline. We can’t go any further.”

“So we’re still trapped in enemy territory,” Agni summed up. “We’re well hidden, but our supplies won’t last forever. We just have to hope that the Toa reclaim the Metru soon, so we can return to the surface.”

“But shouldn’t you be up there, fighting the Dark Hunters?” Kulagi asked. “Isn’t that what you were doing earlier?”

“We were searching for any other civilians who didn’t get evacuated in time,” Agni said. “We know the Dark Hunters captured some Matoran, but there might be others out there we can still save. But we’ve done our best to avoid the actual Dark Hunters.”

“But we could be up there causing chaos, and keeping them on their clawed toes,” Kulagi said. “A little guerrilla warfare, to mess with them until the Toa arrive.”

“Is your mask loose?” Glax asked. “We’re no match for the Dark Hunters; we’d be sure to lose any fights we’d get in.”

“I disagree,” Kulagi said. “A few well-placed Kanoka would take any individual down, and if we fought from the shadows. . .”

“It’s too reckless of a plan,” Agni said. “We’ll stay hidden until help arrives.”

“But what about going after the. . .” Sufina started.

Agni shook his head. “No, we’ve been over this. It’s too risky.”

Sufina frowned, and Kulagi glanced at her, wondering what that was about. To make conversation, he asked Agni and Glax, “So what are you two doing here? I understand that a lot of Po-Matoran immigrated to Ga-Metru when the Dark Hunters took over Po-Metru, but what’s a Ta-Matoran and a Ko-Matoran doing up here?”

“I’m in the Matoran Guard, and was stationed in this region,” Agni said. “It’s my duty to help the Matoran here, regardless of their Metru.”

“And you?” Kulagi asked Glax

“Well, I was doing a delivery from Ko-Metru,” Glax said. “I just happened to be in the area at the time, and got stranded here.”

“You’re a courier?” Kulagi asked. “I thought you said you make Kanoka.”

“I do dabble in the arts of Kanoka,” Glax said. “But I’m usually the one delivering messages for the Ko-Matoran seers and all. They find my personality a little. . . irksome at times, I guess. So to make up for it, they send me on deliveries all the time.”

“Ko-Matoran seers do tend to be a little strict,” Sufina said. “I’ve worked with some before, and they’re not the easiest Matoran to be around.”

“Besides, most Kanoka Makers tend to be a little different,” Kulagi said. “Don’t take it in a bad way.”

“Well, I’m glad they sent him, because Glax has been very helpful,” Agni said. “Both him and Sufina are some of our best Kanoka shooters, and it’s been thanks to them that we managed to get away when we did.”

“And speaking of which, we’re here,” Sufina said.

The party of Matoran turned a corner of the pipe and entered a large chamber. It was originally supposed to be an underground storage pool for the protodermis, but now the chamber was a hidden haven for the Matoran refugees. There were supplies packed in the corners and small tents set up for Matoran to sleep under. The air was cold and damp, but the Matoran were clustered around heatstones to stay warm. It was not the most pleasant place to stay, but it was safe and well hidden.

“Pick a spot and get settled in,” Agni said. “You’ll probably be down here for a while.”

“I think I may be able to find a way to occupy my time,” Kulagi said. He knelt next to the wall, and scrapped up some protodermis rust. “This stuff looks to be really pure. I bet I can make some good Kanoka out of this.”

“So that’s why you brought your forge?” Sufina asked, as Kulagi started to set it up.

“This will be a great way to arm ourselves, by churning out discs while we’re waiting,” Kulagi said. “And if I get any powerful ones, I won’t have to hand them over to the Guard right away.”

“Well, we probably won’t need them,” Sufina said, sitting down next to Kulagi. “Agni doesn’t seem so keen to return to the surface until the Toa get back. Especially after you riled up the Dark Hunters with your stunt.”

“Yeah, although I get where he’s coming from,” Kulagi said. “He wants to protect everybody else first, and that means not taking any unnecessary risks. But see, some risks might be necessary. The Dark Hunters are here for the long haul, based on how well their guard was tonight. The Toa aren’t going to reclaim this area any time soon. So it might be in our benefit to stir up trouble ourselves.”

Sufina giggled. “And if there’s anybody who knows how to stir up trouble, it’s you.”

Kulagi shrugged, and fired up his forge. “We’d have to be smart about it, though. Quick attacks, with planned escape routes and plenty of back up plans. It’s like taking protodermis from a Vahki guarded region. You need a plan, but also the ability to change tactics and improvise when things do wrong.” He frowned. “Only Huaju is right; if we misstep here, we won’t just get sent to the Coliseum jail.”

Kulagi scrapped up some of the protodermis rust off the wall and added it to his forge, where it began to heat back into a liquid. As he waited, he looked up and noticed a concerned look on Sufina’s face. “What’s wrong, you look worried?”

“How can I not be, considering our position?” Sufina asked.

“Well, you’ve seemed fairly in control so far,” Kulagi said. “It’s impressive, really.”

Sufina sighed. “The thing is, there’s something I left behind, and I need to go get it. But Agni won’t let me go.”

“What do you mean?” Kulagi said. “What’s worth that much to you?”

“It’s not just to me,” Sufina said, lowering her voice to barely a whisper. “Look, what I’m about to tell you is a secret. Agni is in on it, but nobody else here is. So you can’t tell anybody.”

“Okay. . .” Kulagi said slowly.

“I was asked to work on this secret project,” Sufina said. “It was only a small team, and we were all hand selected by Turaga Dume for this. But we’ve been sworn to secrecy, to keep this under the radar.”

“What is it?” Kulagi asked.

“We were supposed to make a power source,” Sufina said. “It was an experimental design, apparently based on something from the Nynrah Ghosts. The Toa wanted us to get it to work for them, so they could use it in the war.”

“Wait, does this have anything to do with energized protodermis?” Kulagi asked, remembering the fiasco that had resulted from Sufina’s research into that.

“No, of course not,” Sufina said. “But I’m sure my work on that was what prompted Turaga Dume to put me on the team.”

“So you were working on this. . .” Kulagi said.

“Not just working on it; we finished it,” Sufina said. “We had managed to create a working prototype, and plans were being made to ship it to Ta-Metru for mass production. But then this Dark Hunter attack happened. There’s nothing else special about this region, so it’s too much of a coincidence. Somehow they got word of our breakthrough, and they attacked so they could get the prototype.”

“But they don’t have it yet?” Kulagi asked.

“I don’t think so,” Sufina said. “I wasn’t able to check before we had to flee, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. But our lab was inconspicuous, so they might not know its importance if they went through it. And the prototype was hidden inside a secret safe, so they still might’ve missed it.”

“But you want to be sure of that,” Kulagi said. “And so you want to return to your lab and check yourself.”

Sufina nodded. “But the lab’s in a spot that’s not easy to sneak into. It would be risky, and that’s why Agni is completely against it. For one Matoran, it might indeed be impossible. But if we could put together a small team, we might have a chance.”

“You have a point,” Kulagi said. “Triki and I can help you for sure.” He paused, as he began to stir the protodermis in his forge. “So this is something the Dark Hunters want? Enough to stage this massive attack?”

“Yes, and it’s absolutely vital that they don’t get ahold of it,” Sufina said. “The prototype is a power source unlike any I have ever worked with before. If the Dark Hunters find a way to utilize it, the Toa will be in deep trouble.”

“Then it sounds like something we should get back,” Kulagi said. He began stirring vigorously. “And with any luck, I’ll have a couple of powerful Kanoka for us to use by morning.”

Meanwhile, back on the surface, Hakann observed the wreckage of the Hover-Bike. He and Optics were looking over the crash site, with a few other Dark Hunters on guard nearby.

“So this is where the Matoran was last seen?” Hakann said, rubbing his chin. “Something smells here, and it’s not just this damp air.”

“The angle of the crash indicates that he flew directly into the building,” Optics observed. “The trajectory points to this being a deliberate crash. Furthermore, there’s no sign of the pilot, but there’s also no sign of any supplies. This Hover-Bike has plenty of storage compartments, but they’re all empty. This leads me to believe that the Hover-Bike was unloaded before the crash.”

“That means that the Matoran is trying to mislead us,” Hakann snarled. “And it’s working too. There’s no signs here to show where he went. Can you figure out where he might’ve flown from?”

“I can extrapolate from the crash angle, but it just leads up into the air,” Optics said. “There’s no obvious flight path that indicates where the Matoran bailed.”

“Then he could be anywhere in this cursed city,” Hakann said, gritting his teeth. “And if there’s one thing those Matoran know how to do, it’s hide in the most unlikely corners. I hate to say it, but I think we might’ve hit a dead end with this one.”

“What was that you said about hitting something dead?” a voice rang out behind Hakann. The crimson Dark Hunter scowled as he recognized the new arrival.

“Vengeance, how good of you to join us,” Hakann said.

Vengeance was a high ranking Dark Hunter, and was unusual because he was there of his own free will. Vengeance was a massive figure, with wings, a spiked tail, and horns that could neutralized even Hakann’s mental attacks. He was a fierce fighter, and was always looking for his next challenger to defeat. He joined the Dark Hunters so he could unleash his battle lust for a profit, and was more than eager to fight this war against the Toa. He also didn’t tolerate failure, which made him a ruthless general. Currently, he was just below Lariska in terms of leadership for their current maneuver.

He glared now at Hakann and Optics. “Are you implying that you have lost the trail of this Matoran?” Vengeance asked.

“The Matoran has covered his tracks well,” Optics stated matter of fact. “This crash was meant to throw us off his scent, and we cannot trace where his last position was or where he fled to.”

“I see,” Vengeance said coolly. He flicked his tail, and it struck Optics in the face, knocking him over. “Wrong answer.”

“Look, it’s just one puny Matoran,” Hakann said. “He’s not even from around here, by all accounts. So we’ll keep looking, but this manhunt is really unnecessary, compared to our other priorities.”

“The Matoran could provide useful intelligence,” Vengeance said.

“Yes, like the score of the last Akilini match,” Hakann spat. “Admit it, we don’t know where to begin looking for what we’re really after, and focusing on tracking down a single Matoran won’t bring us any closer to our objective. So you could keep whining, or you could let us do our work as we see fit.”

“Don’t test me, Hakann,” Vengeance snarled.

“Don’t underestimate me either,” Hakann shot back. “Will your horns still protect you from my mental attacks if I shear them off first?”

Vengeance ignored Hakann’s threat. “Find that Matoran,” he said, turning away.

Optics got back to his feet, rubbing the sore on his head. “So what do we do now?” he asked.

Hakann narrowed his eyes. “We keep looking, but we also make sure we don’t answer to him anymore. If Vengeance wants to see perfect results, then he needs to do the work himself. Because if he crosses me again, he’ll get a taste of what it’s like to lose, for once.”

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  • 3 weeks later...


Kulagi knelt over Triki, gently shaking him awake. “Time to up-get,” he said quietly.

Triki blinked his eyes opened, still drowsy. “Where we ever-go now?”

“Just a little side trip,” Kulagi said. “But you need to be quiet, so we don’t wake anybody else. For real now,” he added, as Triki opened his mouth to speak.

“Fine, fine,” Triki grumbled, grabbing his bag of supplies. “Let’s up and go.”

The two of them joined Sufina and quietly exited the underground chamber. It had been hours since Kulagi had first arrived, giving him plenty of time to forge some discs and get some rest. Although they couldn’t tell because they were underground, the sun was just starting to rise on the island above them. Most of the Matoran refugees were still asleep. A few Po-Matoran were on guard duty, but they had a tendency to nod off for a few minutes, and Sufina used the chance to make their escape.

Kulagi left behind most of his supplies, but took his Kanoka and launcher, since he would probably need them later. He had crafted a handful of powerful Ga-Metru Kanoka, confirming the purity of the protodermis he had found. He had left a bunch for the refugees to use, but brought a few of the stronger ones for Sufina, Triki, and himself.

They passed along quietly through one of the pipes until they were far out of earshot from the chamber, and the glow from it no longer reached them. Sufina pulled a lightstone out of her pack to illuminate the dark pipe. “I think we got away,” she said.

“Why were we sneak-walking from Matoran?” Triki asked. “Are they bad-bad too?”

“Not necessarily,” Sufina said. “But if Agni heard us leaving, he would surely try to stop us. So the best way is to just slip away unnoticed.”

“Except that didn’t quite work out that way,” said a voice further up the tunnel. Sufina and Kulagi spun around to see Glax walking out of the shadows.

“How’d you get here?” Kulagi asked.

“I’m not stupid, you know,” Glax said. “Sufina’s been arguing about something with Agni all day, and I could see that you two were plotting something. I figured you’d make your escape about now, so I was up here waiting for you.”

“Ooh, are you Ko-Matoran fortune teller?” Triki asked excitedly. “Can you tell me my future? What will my next disc-attack change something into?”

“So are you going to turn us in now?” Sufina asked, frowning.

“No, you’ve got me wrong,” Glax said, holding up his hands. “I came here to join you.”

“Join us?” Kulagi repeated. “Why?”

“You’re not the only one who finds Agni’s tactics distasteful,” Glax said. “I know we don’t stand a chance against the Dark Hunters, but we should be doing something. We could make a break for the Toa controlled lands, to get reinforcements. Or even mess with the Dark Hunter’s supplies. Or something. It just sounds better than sitting around.” He smirked. “It sounds like you have something like that in mind.”

Kulagi glanced at Sufina, who sighed. “Okay, the thing is, we’re after something I left in my lab,” she said. “But it’s something that we can’t let fall into the Dark Hunter’s hands.”

“Got it, let’s call it a treasure hunt,” Glax said with a grin.

“Come if you like,” Kulagi said. “But be ready to put your discs to use. If we do get cornered, we’ll need to fight our way out. And we can’t expect Agni to come bail us out this time.”

“Hey, don’t forget, I was on the team that bailed you out,” Glax said. “I know how to aim a launcher.”

“Then let’s have a fun-trip with friends!” Triki said gleefully.

“Sufina, lead the way,” Kulagi said. “You’re the only one who knows where we’re going, after all.”

The four Matoran passed through the protodermis pipeline, and returned to the surface at one of the other maintenance facilities. Sufina led them through the shady streets to avoid detection as she headed towards her lab. The morning sun was already up, but they saw little sign of the Dark Hunters, although they saw a lot of destruction.

Sufina led them into an empty canal that was located just below street level, and passed under a bunch of buildings and streets. However, part way down, she paused. “This is as far as I can take you now,” she said. “From here on out, the route is exposed.”

“We haven’t seen any Dark Hunters patrolling the streets,” Glax said. “But that doesn’t mean they’re not out there.”

“Well, that’s cause it’s sun-bright out,” Triki said. “If Dark Hunters get caught in the sun, then they flash-burn into dust. Or quick-turn into stone. I ever-forget which.”

Glax rolled his eyes. “Contrary to their name, Dark Hunters aren’t vulnerable to light. They prefer to work at night, but they’re just as strong during the day.”

“Oh, maybe I’m thinking of Ice-Bats instead?” Triki mused.

“That means we need some alternate routes,” Kulagi said. “What’s the surrounding area like?”

Sufina drew a quick map in the dust on the ground. “My lab is located in this building, on the second floor,” she said. “The streets go along through here and here, and the adjacent buildings also house laboratories, but they were not in use before the attack.”

Kulagi looked over the drawing. “Let me think of something,” he said.

“Since when are you the stealthy one?” Glax asked. “If all the stories I’ve heard about you are true, you’re more known for stirring up trouble. You’ve led Vahki on chases across all six Metrus, causing lots of damage along the way.”

“I’m not going to deny those stories, but they’re only the ones where I got caught and had to flee,” Kulagi said. “There’ve been plenty of other times where I managed to sneak in and get some good protodermis without getting noticed.”

“And how often is that?” Glax asked.

“Okay, it’s only about a seventy percent success rate,” Kulagi admitted. “But let’s focus on the issue at hand.”

“Gosh, we’re doomed,” Glax complained.

Kulagi looked down at the map, and then glanced down the canal. “There are a lot of drains leading into here,” he said. “They’re used for runoff and such during rain storms. But that means there are more pipes leading from the various buildings to this canal, and we could sneak through those.”

Sufina shook her head. “Our building specifically does not have any drainage routes,” she said.

“Okay, but that could still help us,” Kulagi said. “What about these adjacent buildings?”

Sufina thought for a bit. “This one has some drainage pipes, I think,” she said, pointing to one across the street from her lab.

“Okay, that will get us that much closer to the lab,” Kulagi said.

“But how will we cross over?” Glax asked. “Doing so will still put us out in the opened, and if there are Dark Hunters along the way...”

“I have a few other ideas that might help,” Kulagi said with a grin. “Let’s go.”

It took them a little bit of searching, but Sufina was able to locate the right drainage pipe. This one was much smaller than the ones they had wandered through earlier, forcing them to crawl through it. Worse of all, it went vertical as it reached the building, and the Matoran had to chimney their way up it. Kulagi wanted to use an Enlarging Kanoka on it, but doing so might alter the structure of the building it was climbing through, and that could alert the Dark Hunters.

Luckily, the pipe remained large enough for them to crawl through, and they reached a grating cover on the roof. Kulagi gently removed it and climbed up onto the roof. He glanced around, but there were no Dark Hunters in sight, so he gestured for the others to follow.

“Now what?” Glax asked.

Sufina pointed over to the building across from them. “My lab’s in there,” she said.

Kulagi compared the two buildings. The one they were currently on was four stories high, but Sufina’s lab was only three stories high, so it’s roof was lower than their current position.

Glax, however, glanced over the building’s ledge to the street below, and quickly drew back. “Trouble,” he hissed. “There’s a Dark Hunter down there, on patrol.”

Kulagi tensed up. “Has he spotted us?”

“I don’t think so,” Glax said. “But we can’t get into the lab with him down there. So do we take him on or something?”

Kulagi glanced over the roof and sighted the Dark Hunter. It was the dark blue powerhouse, Krekka. “He won’t be an easy one to take down,” Kulagi muttered. “But he seems to be a bit dim, so we might be able to trick him.”

“How do we do that?” Glax asked.

“Triki, can I borrow one of your Le-Metru discs?” Kulagi asked. “It doesn’t have to be a high powered one; let’s save those for later.”

“What are you going to do?” Glax asked, as Triki fished out a disc.

Kulagi pointed to a domed temple in the distance. “I’m going to shoot at that, cause some noise, and distract the Dark Hunter. He’ll think we’re way over there, allowing us time to sneak in.”

“You can’t fire that far,” Glax said.

“Watch me,” Kulagi said, taking aim. “Le-Metru discs fly further, you know. I think I’ll be able to make this shot.”

After taking careful aim, Kulagi fired. He aimed upward, so the disc gracefully arched up and flew through the air, finally crashing into the distant temple.

“No way,” Glax said.

“Nice shot,” Sufina said. She looked over the ledge, and added, “The Dark Hunter heard it too. He’s on the move.”

“Okay, let’s get down to the ground level and get into that lab,” Glax said.

“That’ll take too long,” Kulagi said. He pointed to the roof of the laboratory. “We’ll jump instead.”

“Are you nuts?” Glax said. “What if we don’t make it? A fall from this height will surely...”

However, he was cut off as Triki gleefully took off at a run and jumped across the alleyway that separated the two buildings. He sailed through the air, and then hit the roof and rolled. He popped up, unharmed and with a big grin on his mask. “Yeah, that was sky-fly fun!”

Kulagi was also grinning. “See, it’s doable,” he said. He nodded at Sufina. “Think you can make it?”

Sufina secured her bag and launcher to her back. “No problem,” she said, and she took off at a run and leapt between the two buildings.

“You’re all crazy,” Glax complained.

“The benefits of crazy acts are that the enemies rarely see them coming,” Kulagi said, taking off at a run. He leapt through the air and managed to land nimbly on the other building. Glax followed, and he managed to leap the distance, but fumbled his landing and tumbled across the roof.

“Alright, now that we’re all here, let’s get down,” Sufina said, opening a roof access door. She led the other down through the building, passed empty laboratories. Finally, she came to a stop outside a locked door on the second floor.

“This is our main office,” she said. “The device is in here. The door’s locked, but I happen to have the key.” She fished it out of her bag and unlocked the door.

Kulagi entered the room after Sufina, glancing around. It appeared to be a typical Matoran office, but the nearby tables and counters were covered with tablets with technical drawings on them. It was a little messy, but Kulagi couldn’t help but grin. This was Sufina’s workplace, and like him, when she was engrossed by her work, she left things cluttered too.

“Oh good, all my notes are still here,” Sufina said, collecting some of the tablets. “These could still prove useful later on.”

“So where’s this special device?” Glax asked, looking around. “I don’t see it anywhere.”

“We put it somewhere a little more discreet than usual,” Sufina said. With Kulagi’s help, she pushed back one of the tables, revealing a small trapdoor. She opened it to reveal the door of a safe, which she knelt down next to and began to unlock.

Glax hesitantly glanced out the window. “We’re still in the clear, but we should hurry it along,” he said.

“Just about got it,” Sufina said. With a click, the safe unlocked, and Sufina pulled it opened. But as she looked inside, she gasped.

“What’s wrong?” Kulagi asked.

“It’s empty!” Sufina said. Kulagi and Glax looked over her shoulder to see that the safe was actually bare.

“Did the Dark Hunters get to it already?” Glax wondered.

“Impossible,” Sufina said. “I mean, they probably could’ve shattered the safe and everything, but it’s all here in good condition. Whoever took it knew the code to unlock it.”

“Maybe it’s somewhere else in here?” Kulagi suggested.

“Impossible,” Sufina said. “It was in there when I left it two nights ago, and I didn’t have enough time to retrieve it when the Dark Hunters arrived. But who else could’ve taken it?”

Glax glanced out the window again, and cursed. “The Dark Hunter’s back,” he said, ducking down. “That means we need to go.”

Kulagi peered over the windowsill, and saw Krekka approaching from down the street. “Okay, let’s just stay low for now,” he said quietly. “When he’s wandered past us, then we can make our escape then. And then we can ponder over what happened to the device.”

But instead of casually passing by, Krekka suddenly broke out into a sprint, heading right towards the laboratory. Kulagi’s eyes went wide as he realized the Dark Hunter’s target. “Run!” he yelped.

The four Matoran fled out the door, and seconds later Krekka leapt up and crashed through the wall. Kulagi led the way out, hoping they could get to some cover before the Dark Hunter caught up with them. But he froze as he realized that the hallway was blocked by none other than Hakann and Optics.

“Greetings, Matoran,” Hakann said with a toothy grin. “Fancy running into you again.”

There was a crash behind them, and Krekka entered the hallway by smashing through the door, thus truly trapping the Matoran. Kulagi glanced around, but there were no easy ways out.

“If you surrender now, we can make this process painless,” Hakann continued. “After all, we’ve been looking for you all night, so we’re very happy to find you.”

“How did you find us?” Kulagi asked.

Optics shifted his head to stare at the Onu-Matoran. “That discs you shot at the temple,” he said. “I was able to calculate its trajectory and find where you launched it from.”

“Of course, you were no longer in that building when we arrived,” Hakann said. “But my companion has excellent senses, and he heard you in here. So we decided to visit, and had Krekka pop in from the street side.”

“Look, we don’t have anything you want,” Sufina said. “Just let us go.”

“Unfortunately, that’s not how things work with us,” Hakann said. “If you want to do things the painful way, that’s fine by all mean. It’s been a while since I heard a Ga-Matoran scream.”

Kulagi drew his Kanoka launcher, with his level seven Enlarging disc already loaded. “We won’t go down without a fight,” he said.

“That’s funny, thinking you can fight us,” Hakann said, drawing his lava launcher. “I’d like to see you try.”

Before any of the Dark Hunters could act, Kulagi fired. But he wasn’t aiming at Hakann or Optics; instead his disc struck the largest of them, Krekka, and caused him to start growing. However, since they were indoors, this caused Krekka to get jammed in the hallway, as his growing head smashed through the ceiling. However, as he flailed out, he left an opening to his side.

“Go, go,” Kulagi yelled out, and the four of them sped past Krekka and leapt out of the hole he had blasted. Hakann and Optics tried to follow, but Krekka’s growth spurt had destabilized the building, and debris started to rain down on them. For the moment, they were delayed.

As Kulagi hit the street, he glanced around. There weren’t any other Dark Hunters in sight, but the three behind them would soon break free and continue the chase. “We need a quick way out of here,” he said. “We can’t go back to the others; we need to escape some other way.”

“I have an idea,” Sufina said, taking off at a sprint. “Follow me.”

She led them a couple of blocks away, to a dam at the head of another canal. She pointed to various valves along the structure. “These canals have been dry for a while, but they’re controlled from here,” she said. “If we can turn the water back on, we can create a torrent that will quickly carry us across the Metru. The canal system is intricate enough that the Dark Hunters will have a hard time following. Plus, it eventually dips below the surface, providing further cover.”

“Are you insane?” Glax asked. “We’ll probably drown in the rushing waters.”

“Still beats getting captured by the Dark Hunters,” Kulagi said. “What do we need to do?”

“For best effect, we’ll need to twist the valves on five of these simultaneously,” Sufina said, pointing them out. “I can get those two right there, since they’re right next to each other. But the other three are spread out.”

“We got it,” Kulagi said. “Glax, get the one on the far side. Triki, you’re the best at climbing, so you get the one at the top. I’ll get the last one.”

“On it,” Triki said, quickly climbing upwards. “I will twisty-twist it, like a twister.”

As all four Matoran got into position, Sufina shouted, “Now!” Kulagi began cranking on his valve. It was stuck from disuse, so he had to apply some force to get it to go. But he managed to get it opened, and Sufina, Glad, and Triki did the same on their ends. The pipes leading into the canal began to hiss, and suddenly started gushing water out, quickly forming a cascade that raced down the canal.

“Now what?” Glax asked.

“We jump in,” Sufina said. “And I hope you know how to swim.” Without hesitation, she leapt into the frothing water, and was quickly carried downstream.

“This is nuts!” Glax complained, but dodged as a Kanoka flew towards him. It had been shot by the enlarged Krekka, who was now darting forward with Hakann and Optics.

“Just jump in,” Kulagi shouted, drawing his own Kanoka launcher. “Use one of your discs and pretend your surfing. I hear that used to be a sport.”

Glax reluctantly clutched one of his Ko-metru Kanoka and leapt into the water. Kulagi meanwhile, fired a Freezing disc at the Dark Hunters. However, he had aimed at the road, which instantly froze over. Krekka was the first to hit it, and his feet slipped out from under him, and he fell down and collided with Hakann. However, Optics dodged around them and took flight. Kulagi fired a Kanoka up at him, but missed. Meanwhile, Optics swooshed down to attack the Onu-Matoran from above.

However, before he could strike Kulagi, something landed on Optics’ head. “Hey, you big flying thing!” Triki said, having leapt down from his position atop the dam. “Sky-high attacks are fair-no!” He pointed his launcher point blank and fired a Weakening disc at Optics’ head. With his energy suddenly drained, Optics plummeted out of the air and crashed, and Triki leapt spryly off his back at the last minute.

“Huh, same thing happened when I last Gukko-trained,” Triki said. “And I not-even fired Kanoka at its head back then.”

“Triki, look out!” Kulagi shouted. Hakann was back on his feet, and he fired a blast of fire from his lava launcher. Triki just managed to dodge to avoid getting burnt, and Kulagi fired a disc at him, but Hakann dodged it as well.

“Enough of your Matoran games,” Hakann said, and closed his eyes. Kulagi took aim again, thinking he had an opening, but he miscalculated. Hakann unleashed a mental blast, and then Kulagi also felt like he had taken a Weakening Kanoka to the head. His grip on his launcher loosened, and he fell to his knees.

“Yes, that’s my preferred look for you Matoran,” Hakann said, grinning at the pained expression on Kulagi’s mask. But then he turned to Triki, and frowned. “Why aren’t you down?”

“Because I’m up, up, up!” Triki responded, firing a Kanoka at Hakann, who was forced to dodge it.

“You weren’t affected by my mental blast?” Hakann asked. “It takes years of mental training to block those.”

“Oh, was that the head thing I felt?” Triki asked. “It tickled. Fun stuff, do again!”

Hakann growled, and then darted forward. He swung his weapon at Triki, but the Le-Matoran ducked and darted away. The crimson Dark Hunter swung a few times, but Triki was too agile for him. Hakann resorted to firing his heat beam eyes, but Triki still jumped away.

“Okay, enough of you,” Hakann said, turning. “I’ll get the Onu-Matoran instead.”

“Nope-not!” Triki said, firing a Freezing Kanoka. It struck Hakann in the back of the head, encasing it in ice. Hakann’s eyes started to melt the ice, but it delayed him, and Triki darted around his clawed feet and reached Kulagi.

“Nice going, Triki,” Kulagi said weakly, as he struggled to get to his feet.

“Let’s go for swim-nice then,” Triki said, helping Kulagi towards the rushing water in the canal.

Kulagi looked up just in time to see incoming danger. “Triki, behind you!” he shouted.

Krekka was back, and he was swinging his fist towards the two Matoran. Triki shoved Kulagi aside and jumped up, but he wasn’t quick enough. Krekka managed to grasp the Le-Matoran’s foot, and then swung him into a nearby wall, knocking him out.

Kulagi, however, lost his footing on the edge of the canal, and toppled backwards into the raging water. But all he could focus on was the body of his fallen friends, and when he hit the water, his vision went dark.

Hakann finally melted the ice off his head, and Optics stood up, recovered from his crash. Then turned to Krekka, who proudly held up Triki. “Krekka got one!” he said.

“He was a skilled one,” Optics said. “He got the best of both of us.”

“But our superiors don’t need to know the details about that,” Hakann said. “They just need to know that we got one of the Matoran. Now we just need to make him talk.” He grinned. “And potentially scream.”

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  • 4 weeks later...


Water rushed over Kulagi, blurring his vision, but his mind wasn’t focused on his sight. Instead, he kept replaying the same scene over and over again. Triki had pushed him out of the way, and then got caught himself. Kulagi had watched him get slammed into the wall as he fell backwards into the water. The Dark Hunters now had his friend.

Kulagi was faintly aware of something grabbing onto his arms and dragging him up onto dry land. He heard voices above him, but their words didn’t reach him, although he occasionally recognized his name. But it was something far off, and Kulagi’s mind was still back at the head of the canal, watching Triki get captured.

Suddenly, something struck him, and Kulagi shot up, coughing. His vision came back into focus, and he saw Sufina and Glax kneeling down next to him. They were underground again, in a section where the canal ran beneath the city. Behind him, he could still hear the rushing water.

“What just happened?” he asked.

“We had to pull you out of the water,” Glax explained. “You were really out of it, so I used a Regeneration Kanoka on you. Seems to have worked.”

“Where’s Triki?” Sufina asked. “We haven’t seen him wash up yet. Did he get pushed down a side channel or something?”

“No, no, that’s not what happened,” Kulagi said slowly. “They got him. The Dark Hunters captured Triki.” His voice grew weak. “He saved me; he pushed me into the water at the last minute, and got captured himself.”

Sufina gasped, and Glax lowered his head solemnly. “That is not good,” he said darkly.

“He saved me... and now we need to go save him,” Kulagi said. “We need to rescue Triki.”

“Are you mental?” Glax asked. “There’s no way we can save Triki now. Even if we could fight the Dark Hunters, we have no idea where they’re taking him. If we go on a rescue mission now, we’ll just get caught ourselves. And then Triki’s sacrifice would’ve been in vain.”

“I don’t care if it sounds impossible,” Kulagi said. “I need to rescue my friend!”

“Kulagi, I get where you’re coming from,” Sufina said. “Trust me, I know firsthand what it’s like to get kidnapped. And I know that you’re the one who did the most to rescue me. But you can’t just storm in and free Triki. We just can’t make that happen right now.”

“But I need to try,” Kulagi insisted. “Because who knows what they’ll do to him now.”

“No, Triki will be fine, for the time being,” Glax said. “Because what the Dark Hunters want now is information, and they think that Triki can provide that.”

“What do you mean?” Sufina asked, turning to the Ko-Matoran.

“Those Dark Hunters were after something very specific,” Glax said. “And you’re trying to find some device that they absolutely cannot have. So either it’s a major coincidence that they crossed paths with us, or else their primary objective is your device. Perhaps that was the sole purpose of their entire attack in this region.”

“That might be it,” Sufina reluctantly admitted.

“So if they think Triki knows where it is, they will try to get the information from him first,” Glax said.

“But he doesn’t know where it is, and neither do we,” Kulagi said.

“But they don’t know that he doesn’t know,” Glax pointed out.

“And when they figure that out, Triki will be in trouble,” Kulagi said.

“I think you’re underestimating your friend,” Glax said. “I’ve only known Triki for a short time, but his personality is a little... eccentric.”

“That’s one way of putting it,” Kulagi muttered.

“But the Dark Hunters might not recognize his ramblings for what they are,” Glax said. “If half the tales are true, then most Dark Hunters have more brawn than brains. If Triki can keep them confused long enough, they won’t realize that he’s not of any use to them. And that gives us time to go and get help.”

“Help?” Sufina asked. “From where?”

“From the Toa, obviously,” Glax said. “Look, the canal carried us across half the Metru, and that means we have a head start on any of the Dark Hunters. We just keep running until we reach the Toa held sections of the Metru. Once they know what’s going on, they’ll push up their attack. If the Dark Hunters are so focused on finding this device, they won’t want to hold out against a full blown assault by the Toa. They’ll flee, and in the meantime we can make sure your friend gets rescued.”

“The only problem is that means we still don’t have the device,” Sufina pointed out. “In the time it takes us to get to the Toa, they could continue searching for it, and if they find it...”

“Somebody already has it,” Glax pointed out. “Hopefully that somebody is on our side, and they have it well hidden.”

“There were other Matoran on your team,” Kulagi pointed out. “Could one of them have it?”

Sufina shook her head. “They were in Ta-Metru, preparing to begin the mass production of the device. So they weren’t in the area when the Dark Hunters attacked. At least, I don’t think they were; they didn’t hide out with us anyway.”

“And the chutes went down just about as soon as the attack started,” Glax pointed out. “Nobody got in or out of this section of the Metru, and those of us who remained had to go into hiding.”

“Could it have been the Vahki?” Kulagi asked. “Of maybe some Matoran thief? Was it moved to another hiding spot that you weren’t aware of?”

“I don’t know,” Sufina admitted, and she collapsed to the ground. “I was the only one of my team in the area, and I just didn’t think to look after it, and now it’s gone. I’m the one to blame for this.”

“Nonsense,” Glax said. “The reason you were preoccupied was because you were helping the Matoran escape. I was there; I remember how helpful you were. I think you had your priorities set just right.”

Sufina took a few deep breaths. “Okay, I guess you’re right. Because if the Dark Hunters had it, they still wouldn’t be chasing us, looking for it.” She reached for her pack. “Besides, I have all my notes here. Even if we don’t have the working prototype, I can still recreate it. But if the Dark Hunters get their hands on the original and use it... that will not bode well for the Toa.”

“Well, there’s nothing we can do about that for now,” Glax said. “Let’s make it our priority to get the Toa, and when they return, they can search for it after they drive the Dark Hunters out.”

“That’s as good a plan as any,” Sufina said, pulling some of the tablets from her pack. “Oh no, the trip through the canal broke some of my notes. I hope they’re not damaged beyond repair.”

Sufina started shuffling through the tablet shards so she could recreate her notes, while Kulagi rested against the wall. He was still recovering from the mental attack that Hakann had hit him with, and his guilt over Triki continued to gnaw at him. But he recognized the truth in Glax’s words; he couldn’t rescue his friend right now. Not in the shape he was in.

Suddenly, something caught Kulagi’s eye in Sufina’s notes. It wasn’t any of the intricate drawings or scribbled descriptions; rather it was a photograph etched into one of the tablets. Kulagi recognized Sufina in the center of it, and she was posing with two other Matoran; one wore an Akaku and the other a great Ruru.

“Who are they?” Kulagi asked, pointing to the photograph.

“Oh, that’s a photo of my team,” Sufina said. “It’s from when we started on this project; the three of us were going to make the power source that would turn this war around.”

“They were on your team?” Kulagi repeated.

“Yeah, and they’re probably in Ta-Metru, not knowing how badly I’ve failed them,” Sufina said sadly.

“They weren’t in Ta-Metru,” Kulagi said. “I recognize them. They were on the chute that crashed in Onu-Metru; they were the ones who told us about the attack.”

“What?” Glax asked. “That means they were up here when the Dark Hunters struck.”

“What if they were the ones who took the device?” Kulagi hypothesized. “Instead of fleeing with the other Matoran, they took it to the chutes and tried to escape the Metru.”

“Then they must’ve gotten it out in time!” Sufina said. “Oh, that’s a relief.”

“Maybe not,” Kulagi said. “They were attacked in the chute, and it caused them to crash when they got to Onu-Metru. And they were very eager to return.”

“Then they had the device, but lost it when the chute was attacked,” Glax summarized. “But the Dark Hunters are still looking for it, which means that they didn’t claim it during the attack.”

“They might not have known that those Matoran had it,” Kulagi said. “They were simply attacking fleeing Matoran. But if they weren’t checking the wreckage...”

“Then the device could still be there!” Sufina exclaimed. “That’s where we have to go next, before the Dark Hunters figure this out too.”

“Where did the Dark Hunters attack the chute?” Glax asked.

“I don’t know exactly where, but I know the route it takes,” Kulagi said. “They probably didn’t get far before the attack came, so we could still get to it quickly.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” Sufina asked, repacking her bag. “We need to get moving.”

“Agreed,” Kulagi said. “I’ll help you find this device and get you to safety. But then, as soon as we’re through with that, I’m going back to rescue Triki.”

“I thought we already went over this,” Glax asked. “You won’t be able to pull it off.”

“But I still have to try,” Kulagi said, strapping his Kanoka launcher to his back. “Besides, I’ve gone on rescue missions before. I can do it again.”

Meanwhile, unknown to Kulagi, Triki was being held in a small stone room in a remote station in Po-Metru. It was a makeshift prison that the Dark Hunters had put together, far from any of the Toa controlled lands. There, they would not be disturbed during their interrogations.

Outside the room, Hakann paced back and forth. “I’m eager to get started,” he growled. “And then I’ll teach that puny Le-Matoran the real meaning of pain.”

“You shouldn’t underestimate him,” Optics said, looking through Triki’s belongings. “He was able to dodge your attacks and withstand your mental blasts. He’s clearly very skilled.”

“Or he’s just a lunatic,” Hakann spat. “A very lucky lunatic.”

“But look at what he was carrying,” Optics said, gesturing to the supplies scattered across the table. “These are all fairly high level Kanoka. Some of these are even level seven. We’ve heard that all high level Kanoka are being turned into Kanohi for the Toa. Why would this Matoran have any in his arsenal?”

“Maybe he stole them?” Hakann suggested with a shrug.

“But then can you explain this mask?” Optics asked, holding up the Kanohi Triki had created.

Hakann frowned. “That one’s uglier than normal. What kind is it?”

“That’s the thing, I don’t recognize it,” Optics said. “It must be a rare design, and it could be very dangerous when used by a Toa. So why was he carrying such a unique Kanohi?”

“Well, if he’s as well connected as you think he is, then he can provide us with all the juicy details,” Hakann said. “I don’t care if we don’t have permission yet, I’m starting this interrogation.”

Optics shrugged, and Hakann entered the small room. Inside were a small table and a chair, which Triki was sitting on, with his hands shackled behind his back. Hakann grinned his toothy grin as he entered. “Hello, Matoran. We meet again.”

“Hello,” Triki said, focusing intently on Hakann.

“I have some questions for you,” Hakann said. “And if you answer them to my liking, then there won’t be any trouble.”

“Trouble,” Triki said, tilting his head sideways.

“Yes, you should know that things can get a little rough with me,” Hakann said. “But it doesn’t have to lead to that.”

“It doesn’t have to lead to that,” Triki agreed.

“Then I think we understand each other,” Hakann said.

“We understand each other,” Triki affirmed.

“Good, now let’s begin,” Hakann said. “Tell me, where is the device?”

“Where IS the device?” Triki asked.

Hakann frowned. “That’s what I’m asking you.”

“That’s what I’m asking you!” Triki shot back.

“You’re the one associated with it,” Hakann said. “We know that the Toa were having the Matoran build some sort of power source out here. And then you showed up with your pals and starting causing trouble. I think you know more than you’re letting on.”

“YOU know more than YOU’RE letting on,” Triki said.

“Don’t test me, Matoran,” Hakann growled. “Tell me what I want to know.”

“Don’t test me!” Triki said, leaning back and grinning. “Tell me what I want to know!”

Hakann narrowed his eyes, but suddenly paused as he realized what the Le-Matoran had just said. “Wait, are you repeating everything I say?”

“Are YOU repeating everything I say?” Triki asked back.

“Stop it!”

“Stop it.”

“I mean it,” Hakann said, slamming his fists down on the table. “I’m the one leading the interrogation here!”

Triki also slammed his much smaller fists on the table. “I’m the one leading the interrogation here!”

Hakann snarled, but then his eyes focused on Triki’s hands. “Wait, weren’t your hands shackled earlier?”

“Weren’t YOUR hands shackled earlier?” Triki asked back smugly.

“Why you little!” Hakann roared, leaping forward to grab the Matoran. But Triki nimbly dodged to the side. Hakann charged forward, thinking he had cornered the Matoran against the wall. But Triki kicked off the wall and leapt over Hakann’s shoulder, and the crimson Dark Hunter smashed into the wall head first.

“I’m going to rip you limb from limb,” Hakann raged, as he spun around to grab the Matoran.

“I’m going to rip YOU limb from limb,” Triki repeated with a giggle, as he easily dodged around all of Hakann’s attacks. He jumped onto the table, and Hakann leapt at him, but Triki jumped up and Hakann smashed into the table, crushing it completely. Meanwhile Triki landed on Hakann’s head and bounced off it, laughing as he did so.

The door burst opened, and Triki took his chance and darted towards it. But a metallic arm reached down and grabbed him by the throat. Triki was lifted up until he was eye to eye with Lariska.

“So you’re the one causing all the trouble in here?” she asked.

“YOU’RE the one causing all the trouble in here,” Triki repeated, wheezing because Lariska was gripping his throat.

Lariska scowled and threw Triki across the room, where he crashed into the wall and was knocked unconscious. Then she turned her gaze towards Hakann. “That was quite a pathetic interrogation, was it not?”

Hakann angrily got to his feet. “That Matoran was playing tricks on me. I had it under control.”

“Actually, I think you underestimated him again,” Optics said, entering behind Lariska. “He was able to expertly provoke you, and he probably got more out of that interrogation than you did. Not to mention that he got free from his shackles. I didn’t realize he was so skilled.”

“You’ve been outwitted by a Matoran,” Lariska said. “Pathetic.”

“Maybe that’s true, but we still captured him, and he’s still our prisoner,” Hakann said. “Besides, we’re not the only ones who’ve been outwitted. Rumor has it that you and Charger got bested by some of these small guys too.”

“Not all rumors are true,” Lariska snarled. “You’d best remember that.”

“Of course,” Hakann said. “Just like that rumor that the Matoran were putting together some powerful energy source in Ga-Metru. But our attack here was provided absolutely nothing, except a few headstrong Matoran who think they can fight us.”

“Our intelligence was not wrong,” Lariska said. “But you just mangled the attack here and let it slip away under your nose... or whatever you call that ugly thing on your face.”

“I wasn’t in charge of the attack here,” Hakann said. “That was all Vengeance’s doing. Optics and I are actually the only ones who’ve collected any results when we captured this Matoran. And we will squeeze the information out of him, one way or another.”

“Watch your tone,” Lariska snapped. “Remember who is in charge here.”

“From where I stand, I only see somebody pretending to be in charge,” Hakann shot back.

Lariska scowled, and then swung her robotic arm at Hakann, aiming to smack him in the face. But Hakann was already moving, and brought up his lava launcher to block her blow. Lariska tried to follow up with a devastating kick that would’ve taken down most opponents. But Hakann sidestepped and pushed back, throwing Lariska off balance. She stumbled backwards, and once she regained her footing, she saw Hakann aiming his lava launcher at her head.

“The crazy Le-Matoran is one thing,” Hakann said. “But I know how you fight. Don’t think you can beat me as easily as your other subordinates.”

Lariska conceded. “Alright, I don’t have time for this. You stick with the interrogation here, and send for me if you get anything good.”

Hakann grinned, enjoying any victory he could get over Lariska. “You say that because you know we’re your best bet for finding that energy source.”

“Perhaps,” Lariska said slyly. “But I have other pawns in play, and one of them might just pay off first. And then I’ll have no need to keep you around anymore.”

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  • 1 year later...


Kulagi scrambled over a rocky outcropping and scanned the area ahead of him, but saw no sign of the Dark Hunters in the afternoon sun. “It’s clear,” he called back, and then Sufina and Glax started climbing up to join him.

They were currently in Po-Metru, not far from the border canal with Ga-Metru. The landscape was rather rugged, with lots of rock formations jutting out of the ground, making travel on foot difficult. However, the various rocks provided plenty of cover for the Matoran, in case there were Dark Hunters nearby.

Very few Matoran would venture through the area on foot, but it had once been a major travel route. That was because one of the chutes from Ga-Metru crossed the landscape. Kulagi could see the towers in the distance that were holding up the chute. This was the chute that the Dark Hunter had attacked, but they had not yet found the site of the attack yet. Until they did, they were keeping their distance from the main chute, taking care to remain unseen.

“Still no sign of the wreckage?” Glax asked, focusing on the distant chute towers.

“Not yet,” Kulagi said. “But while it’s been a rough hike, this would still only be a few minutes out of Ga-Metru by chute. Or by air, if you had some way to fly.”

“This is certainly some rough terrain,” Sufina said, pausing to catch her breath. “No wonder they built a chute over it.”

“There are a lot of regions in Po-Metru that are undeveloped,” Kulagi said. “Partially because of how difficult it is to cross in places. And that’s the primary reason the Toa haven’t been able to retake the Metru, since the Dark Hunters have cut off most of the chutes. I guess it’s surprising that this one lasted for as long as it did, probably because it’s on the border.”

Sufina narrowed her eyes as she peering into the distance. “Wait, do you see that? It looks like one of the towers has been knocked over.”

Kulagi squinted, but his eyesight was not as sharp as Sufina’s in the daylight. Glax, however, pulled a telescope from his pack. “We use these in Ko-Metru to star gaze, but it might be useful now,” he said, peering through it. Then he said, “Yeah, one of the towers is definitely down. It looks like there’s quite a bit of rubble there too, but I don’t see any sign of the Dark Hunters.”

“It’s still quite a ways away,” Kulagi said, getting up. “Let’s push on.”

It took them nearly an hour to reach the site. As they approached, Kulagi could see the destruction. One of the towers had indeed been severed at the base, and its collapse had broken the link of the chute and destabilized the whole system. The Matoran who had escaped it had certainly been lucky to have done so; otherwise it would’ve been unlikely that they would’ve survived.

They crossed one last rocky hill before they came to the wreckage. Sufina frowned at the sight of all the rubble. “There is certainly a lot to search through,” she said.

“No kidding,” Glax said. He narrowed his eyes as he saw a hole in the land. “Looks like it broke through into some sort of cavern.”

“I wonder if it’s an extension of the archives,” Kulagi said. “Those tunnels extend beneath half the island, although they’re more focused in Onu-Metru. Granted, most of them are abandoned or else occupied by dangerous Rahi. But they can make for good hiding places from Vahki, in a pinch.” He paused. “Well, except from the Rorzakh. They tend to thrive in those tunnels.”

Sufina looked around. “I don’t even know where to start searching. I can’t tell what was debris from the tower and what was just the original rocks that used to be here. And what we’re looking for might even be buried.”

“They probably would’ve tried to use a Cargo Loader to store the device,” Kulagi said. “That would be the safest method for chute traveling. And if the Cargo Loader was good quality, it would hold up even after a crash like this.”

“Well, let’s start looking,” Glax said.

The three of them began to comb through the wreckage. Kulagi and Glax used some of their Kanoka to help with their search. Glax used Shrinking discs to shrink down some of the massive boulders to a manageable size, while Kulagi moved them with Teleportation discs. Sufina, meanwhile, searched for anything that didn’t match the rocks. There was a lot of metal debris scattered about, including the rigging that had held the magnetized protodermis in the chutes.

However, after a long search, Sufina came across a smaller metallic object, and as she cleared it off, she realized that it was a partially buried Cargo Loader. “Over here,” she called, summoning Kulagi and Glax.

“Stand back,” Kulagi said, fitting an Enlarging disc into his launcher. He fired it at the boulders that were jammed against the Cargo Loader. The boulders grew in size, but in doing so pushed the Cargo Loader out of the ground, and the three Matoran pulled it into a clearing.

Sufina tried to open the latch, but without success. “It’s locked,” she said. “And this time, I don’t have the code to open it.”

“Then brute force it is,” Glax said, gripping his launcher. He fired a freezing disc, which encased half the Cargo Loader in ice. “That won’t harm the contents, but it’ll certainly weaken the shell of the Cargo Loader,” he said.

“My turn,” Kulagi said, and he fired his strongest Weakening disc at the Cargo Loader. To his delight, it split opened, and he and Glax were able to pry it apart and get to the contents.

There was a small, plain package inside. Sufina gently grabbed it and opened it up. Inside was a small device, comprised of two cylinders stuck together with a few tubes leading between them, which gages and switches were attached to.

“This is it,” Sufina whispered. “This is the device.”

“All this effort for something so small,” Glax said with a frown. “How does it even work?”

“It’s mostly about containing the chemical mixtures of a bunch of different substances,” Sufina said. “The base is purified protodermis, but there are some other nasty chemicals in there too, but we managed to find just the right mix to produce the energy we need.”

“What’s this?” Kulagi asked, pointing to some prongs on the end. “It looks like something goes there. Is it missing?”

“Not quite,” Sufina admitted. “Really, that’s the power outlet for this, but the transfer rate is quite temperamental. There was another team that was working on fixing that.”

“Why didn’t you mention that earlier?” Kulagi asked. “That means that this might not be useful to the Dark Hunters after all.”

“Well, with no offense to the other team, this was the trickier part to figure out,” Sufina said, packing the device away. “If the Dark Hunters could tap into this on their own... well, that would be quite bad.”

“Well, we don’t have to worry about that now,” Kulagi said. He turned to Glax, who had a big grin on his mask. “What’s up with you?”

“I can’t believe we found it,” Glax said, his eyes wide. “This is truly amazing!”

“Yes, it is,” Kulagi said, off put by the Ko-Matorans sudden enthusiasm. “But we’re not quite out of this yet. Now we need to get this device into the hands of the Toa, before any more Dark Hunters show up.”

“Actually, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Glax said, drawing his Kanoka launcher and pointing it at Sufina. “I think you should give me that device now.”

“Glax, what’s going on?” Sufina asked, fear ebbing into her voice.

“Put the launcher down,” Kulagi said, narrowing his eyes. “We’re not here to fight.”

“That’s probably for the best,” Glax said. “After all, I kept telling you that the Matoran were no match for the Dark Hunters.”

“I think you need to explain yourself,” Kulagi said, slowly moving his hand towards his own launcher.

“I think it’ll all be clear soon enough,” Glax said. Suddenly, he pointed his Kanoka launcher upward and fired straight up, and his disc sailed up into the afternoon air.

“What are you doing?” Kulagi demanded. “The Dark Hunters might spot that disc now!”

“I hope they do,” Glax said. “Otherwise it would make for a very poor signal.”

Kulagi quickly drew his own launcher, but as he did so Glax reloaded and aimed at him. “Put down your launcher, Onu-Matoran,” he said.

“You’re allied with the Dark Hunters, aren’t you,” Kulagi hissed.

“Why would you do that?” Sufina asked. “Why betray your fellow Matoran?”

“You don’t quite get it,” Glax said. “You see, for starters, I’m not a Matoran to begin with.”

Glax’s great Mahiki mask began to glow, and then it began to change. It went from white to yellow, and twisted to form a more triangular shape. Then the rest of Glax began to change too; his limbs began to lengthen and change colors, and the armor shifted over his body to form a new design. It only took a couple of moments, but when it was over, Glax was no longer a Matoran, but rather a being Kulagi had never seen before.

“Allow me to introduce myself properly,” he said, with the only thing unchanged being his voice. “I am Triglax, the master spy of the Dark Hunters.”

“You’re a shapeshifter,” Sufina whispered, her mask pale.

Kulagi, however, merely felt anger rising within him. “All this time, you’ve been lying to us!” he accused. “You were trying to find this device all this time!”

“Yes, now you’re catching on,” Triglax said. “I infiltrated the region before the attack, and then helped the Matoran with their puny resistance, but all the time I was trying to find inside information as to where this device was located. Then you came along and made it your mission to find too, and all I had to do was tag along, and you led me right to it.”

“Well, you made one miscalculation,” Kulagi said. “You know that I won’t back down from a fight, even if you are a Dark Hunter. And I can take you.”

“That’s not untrue,” Triglax said. “But that’s why I also signaled for reinforcements.”

Suddenly, on the hill behind Triglax, more shapes began to appear. An entire squad of Dark Hunters was now converging on their location, led by a massive figure with mighty horns. Kulagi couldn’t help but shiver in fear as he saw them; there were at least a dozen, and there was no way he could fight his way out.

“I would recommend surrendering,” Triglax said. “If you do, I will try to arrange for pleasant accommodations for you and Sufina, and perhaps even reunite you with Triki. It’s the least I could do for a fellow Kanoka Maker.”

Kulagi narrowed his eyes. “You’re no Kanoka Maker,” he sneered.

“Well, don’t say that I didn’t try to help you out,” Triglax said, backing away while keeping his Kanoka launcher aimed at Kulagi. “Now my superior will deal with you.”

The lead Dark Hunter approached the Matoran, and he was none other than Vengeance. “Matoran, give me the device now,” he demanded.

Kulagi aimed his Kanoka launcher at the new threat. “Not happening,” he snapped, and fired.

Vengeance quickly repositioned his shield to block the Kanoka. However, when the disc struck, it was suddenly reflected backwards, forcing Kulagi and Sufina to dodge out of the way as it shot back at them.

Vengeance was irritated by Kulagi’s attack. “Your Matoran weapons are worthless against me,” he said. He lifted his staff, and fired a spinner from it, which shot through the air faster than any of Kulagi’s discs. Kulagi narrowed managed to avoid it, and it sliced clean through the rocks behind him.

“Resistance is futile,” Vengeance said, preparing to launch another spinner.

“Sorry, but I’m not going to take your word on that,” Kulagi said, already reloading his launcher. He fired an Enlarging disc, not at Vengeance but at the debris in front of him. The disc caused the boulders to grow and block off Vengeance’s view of them and give them time to make a quick escape.

But as Kulagi fired at Vengeance, Triglax darted forward, firing his Kanoka at Sufina. Sufina dodged the disc, but tripped and fell flat on her back, still clutching the box with the device in it. Triglax jumped and landed on top of her, and aimed his Kanoka launcher point blank. “Sorry about this, Sufina,” he said. “But if you won’t give us the power source, then I’ll have to take it by force.”

“Get off her!” Kulagi roared, firing a Shrinking Kanoka at Triglax. Triglax dodged it, and the disc instead shrunk some boulders behind him. Kulagi fired again, forcing Triglax to retreat further, and helped Sufina to her feet. “We need to get out of here,” he said.

“But where?” Sufina asked, as she saw the rest of the Dark Hunters advance.

“Into the Archive tunnel,” Kulagi responded. “At the very least, the enclosed space will make it so they can’t all attack at once.”

Suddenly, a spinner flew towards them, fired by Vengeance. Kulagi and Sufina were forced to leap to the side to avoid it, but as she jumped Sufina’s grip on the package loosened, and it fell out of her hands.

“Wait, we need to get the device,” she shouted, but then the ground under her feet began to give way. They were still over a section of the tunnel, and the ongoing fight was causing more of it to collapse.

Kulagi grabbed Sufina’s arm and darted forward, leaping off the collapsing section. The Dark Hunters fired at them, but they managed to get into the tunnel and disappear from sight.

“We follow them,” Vengeance shouted. “No Matoran can stand up against me; I will crush his mask in my claws!”

“Don’t waste any more effort on him,” Triglax said, leaping up next to Vengeance. “He’s deliberately choosing a setting where he’ll have the advantage in a fight. But he’s not important anymore, because we have this now.” He held up the package that Sufina had dropped, and then opened it to reveal the power source.

Vengeance, however, was not convinced. “I will still go and bring that Matoran to an end,” he said gruffly. He gestured to two of the Dark Hunters behind him; they were Krekka, the dark blue powerhouse, and Charger, the mutated Kane-Ra. “You follow me underground. The rest of you; take the power source directly to Lariska.” Without a backwards glance, he descended towards the tunnel.

Meanwhile, Kulagi and Sufina were sprinting through the dark tunnel. It was unmaintained and full of rubble itself, but Sufina pulled out her lightstone to illuminate the area around them. However, even as she ran, she couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming dread. “They have it,” she said. “They have the device.”

“Only because Glax betrayed us,” Kulagi grumbled. “But the power transfer bit is still missing, so they might not be able to use it yet. Right now, we need to get as far away as we can.”

But even then Kulagi could hear rumbling behind them. The Dark Hunters were following. “Looks like we might need to stage an ambush ourselves,” he said. “Although I don’t know how my discs will work against his spinner thing. What even is that?”

“I think it’s a Rhotuka,” Sufina said. “It’s a primitive energy weapon, as lots of Rahi have them. But in the hands of an experience user, it can be an efficient and deadly weapon.”

“Well, hopefully he can’t use it in the dark,” Kulagi said. “Load your launcher and get into position over there. Also, hide the lightstone; we’re going to need the darkness on our side.”

Sufina covered her lightstone, bringing back the pitch black darkness to the tunnel. Kulagi knelt down behind a slab of rocks, and loaded his launcher. He could hear the footsteps of Vengeance as he approached them, and knew that he would only get one shot at this.

As soon as Vengeance got close enough, Kulagi leapt up and fired his disc, taking aim in the darkness based on where he thought the Dark Hunter would be based on his footsteps. But Vengeance had already lifted his shield, which had the power to deflect most attacks. Kulagi’s disc was reflected to the other side of the tunnel, hitting the wall above Sufina. She had been taking aim herself, but she had to duck aside as rocks rained down on her, and she accidentally fired her Kanoka, missing the Dark Hunter completely.

Vengeance drew out a lightstone of his own, revealing the two Matoran, as well as Krekka and Charger behind them. “Found you,” he said to the two Matoran.

“You just made it easier for me to aim,” Kulagi said, firing a disc labeled 238. Vengeance lifted his shield to block it again, but the disc swerved around it. It was a Ga-Metru Kanoka, so Kulagi was able to guide it with his mind, and he had it circle around and strike Vengeance from behind.

Vengeance stumbled, caught off guard by the attack. But as he did so, Krekka and Charger pushed forward. Sufina tried to fire another Kanoka, but Charger was too quick and caught up to her. He grabbed her leg and threw her across the length of the tunnel, where she hit the wall hard. Krekka, meanwhile, swung his sword at Kulagi, who barely managed to dodge. Kulagi hastily loaded his launcher and fired, but then realized that it was just a Removes Poison Kanoka. Krekka took the blow without flinching, and then swung his sword again. This time, he struck Kulagi at a glancing blow, sending his sprawling. Worse of all, his bag of Kanoka was knocked from his grasp.

Kulagi got to his feet and gripped his launcher, but he had nothing left to fire. Meanwhile, Krekka lifted his sword yet again, ready to bring the blade down on the Kanoka Maker one last time.

Suddenly, a giant hammer swung out of the darkness, catching Krekka in the torso and throwing him backward with tremendous force. Krekka tried to recover, but then a large black figure darted forward, swinging his hammer again. The blow caught Krekka smack in the head, knocking him unconscious.

Kulagi blinked as he recognized the Kanohi Sanok of the newcomer. It was Gambar, Toa of Earth, and the second in command of the Toa army.

Vengeance also caught sight of Gambar. “A Toa?” he said. “And here I thought this fight wouldn’t get interesting.”

“You’re going down, Dark Hunter,” Gambar said, wielding his giant war hammer. He darted forward and swung it at Vengeance, who used his shield to block the blow. However, Gambar’s strength was enough that he was able to absorb the backlash without getting knocked down. He shifted his legs and swung his hammer up underneath Vengeance’s shield, striking him in the torso. Vengeance was knocked back, but he wasn’t out yet.

Charger, however, was still in play, and he turned towards Kulagi now. Kulagi darted forward towards his bag of Kanoka, even as Charger raced forward. Kulagi grabbed his bag and loaded his launcher, but as he spun around it was already too late. Charger was already on top of him, preparing to ram him into the wall. But before he could, something else darted forward and snatched Kulagi out of the way, and Charger merely ran into the wall.

The green figure that had snatched up Kulagi dropped him down next to Sufina, and he saw that it was another Toa. “Who are you?” he asked.

“The name’s Nidhiki, Toa of Air,” he said, winking behind his emerald Kanohi Volitak. “Don’t worry, we’ve got this under control.”

Charger turned towards Nidhiki, ready to ram the new Toa. Nidhiki led the Dark Hunter away from the Matoran, and then dodged neatly when Charger darted forward. But before he could get away, Charger caught his leg with his staff, sending him to the ground. Charger was preparing to gouge the Toa of Air when a lance struck him on the back of his head, throwing him off balance. A third Toa, a blue and green female, came up from behind.

“Thanks for the save, Lanili,” Nidhiki said, drawing his scythe. “But just so you know, I totally had him.”

“Right, I can see that,” Lanili responded sarcastically, as Charger attacked her next. This gave Nidhiki a chance to strike him again from behind, and the two of them ganged up on the Dark Hunter.

Meanwhile, Vengeance and Gambar were engaged in a furious fight that shook the very walls of the tunnel. Gambar swung his hammer with unrivaled speed and strength, forcing Vengeance to go on the defensive. Vengeance fired his Rhotuka, hoping that it would slice into the hefty Toa of Earth, but Gambar ducked beneath it and brought his hammer down on Vengeance’s foot. Vengeance yelped out, and lowered his shield for a moment too long. Gambar took advantage of this and swung his hammer at Vengeance’s face, throwing him into the far wall.

Vengeance got back to his feet, battered but still in the fight. “You didn’t expect that blow to fell me, did you?” he asked snidely.

“No, I expect this one to,” Gambar said, summoning his elemental earth powers. A pillar of earth erupted from the tunnels side, slamming into Vengeance with tremendous force. Vengeance hit the ground, and tried to rise, but then Gambar delivered another hammer blow to his chest, and Vengeance went down.

“Looks like this is the last one,” Nidhiki said, darting around Charger. “Let’s do this.”

Nidhiki and Lanili attacked Charger from two directions, and he was too confused to defend himself. Their weapons struck him on the head, and he fell down too, unconscious.

“Now that’s what I call a win,” Nidhiki said, leaning back against the wall.

Gambar, meanwhile, nodded to Lanili. “We don’t have time to take them in. For now, bind them to the wall.”

Lanili nodded, and activated her elemental powers. She was a Toa of the Green, who could control plant life. Various roots suddenly broke through the tunnel’s walls, and wrapped around the three Dark Hunters, thoroughly binding them.

“That will hold them for a time,” Lanili said. “But it’s not a permanent solution.”

“We’re in enemy territory; we don’t have time for a permanent solution,” Gambar said gruffly. “Grab the Matoran; we need to move from here.”

“Wait, what’s going on?” Kulagi asked, as he watched Lanili gently pick Sufina up.

“You sure are dense for an Onu-Matoran,” Nidhiki said, lifting Kulagi up off the ground. “We’re the Toa rescue team!”

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Gambar stopped at the entrance of a tunnel, which opened up into the desolate Po-Metru, colored red in the setting sun. After the Dark Hunter attack, they had traveled through a maze of old Archive tunnels, taking care to make sure that they weren’t followed. “We will rest here,” he said.

“About time,” Lanili said, setting down the unconscious Sufina. “She needs tending to.”

Nidhiki appeared behind them, carrying the squirming Onu-Matoran. “Let me down!” Kulagi complained.

“Gladly,” Nidhiki said, dropping Kulagi face first into the dirt. “I didn’t know we Toa were at war with manners too. Matoran these days; can’t even appreciate a good rescue.”

“I appreciate your help and all,” Kulagi said, getting to his feet and brushing himself off. “But I don’t like being lugged around, especially when my friend’s been hurt.”

“She will be fine,” Lanili said, pulling some herbs from her pouch. “I have some remedies that should aid the healing process.”

“See, nothing to worry about,” Nidhiki said, leaning back against the wall. “Now you can properly thank us for saving your Kanohi back there.”

“Yeah, thanks and all,” Kulagi said. “But I don’t get it; why are you here?”

“Our mission is very clear,” Gambar said, turning around. “We’re here to rescue the Matoran, Kulagi the Kanoka Maker.”

Kulagi blinked. “You know who I am?” he asked.

“We were told that a certain Onu-Matoran Kanoka Maker had flown off when news of the attack arrived,” Gambar said. “Your Po-Matoran friend Huaju asked us to look for you. Seemed to think you would get yourself in trouble.”

“And was he right about that,” Nidhiki added. He observed the Onu-Matoran. “So you’re that Kulagi, ‘eh. I’ve heard of you. Turaga Dume has a whole file devoted to you. It’s in the bin for Matoran with good intentions, but who just don’t know how to follow the rules.”

“Well, I’m not a fan of the Turaga’s, and he’s not exactly enthusiastic about me either,” Kulagi shot back. “But I know how to handle myself, and I’m not going to back down when my friends need me. And I had a feeling that help from the Toa wouldn’t arrive in time.”

“Well, you were wrong about that,” Nidhiki said.

“Except not entirely,” Lanili added, still treating Sufina’s injured. “We were in no position to drive the Dark Hunters out of here. Turaga Dume was of the opinion to let them weather it out until we could launch a full assault to take back the region.”

“It figures,” Kulagi grumbled.

“But I objected, and Lhikan backed me up,” Gambar said. “We couldn’t afford to send a full Toa army here to take back the region. But we could send a small, tactical team to extract the Matoran and get them to safety.”

“And what about the device?” Kulagi shot. “Don’t tell me that wasn’t on the Turaga’s priority list.”

“Device?” Nidhiki asked, confused. “What device?”

“The secret project that Sufina was working on,” Kulagi said. “The main reason the Dark Hunters attacked. They were after it the entire time.” He frowned. “And I guess now they have it. Just like they have my friend Triki.”

“Don’t believe every legend you hear,” Nidhiki said. “There’s no secret project going on here.”

“Actually, there is,” Gambar said.

“What?” Nidhiki barked.

“I don’t know all the details, because Turaga Dume and Lhikan kept quiet about them,” Gambar said. “But there was a project underway. If the Dark Hunters have it now, then it truly is unfortunate.”

“Do we switch tactics then?” Lanili asked. “If Lhikan kept this a secret, even from us, then it must be important.”

“It is, but our mission is already crystal clear,” Gambar said. “We get the Matoran out of here. And then we worry about what ever plot the Dark Hunters are cooking up.” He focused on Kulagi. “You seem to know what’s going on here. Do you know where the Matoran are being held?”

“Most of them are in hiding, using the protodermis pipeline underneath the city,” Kulagi said. “But one of them was captured. It was my Le-Matoran friend, Triki. He was helping us flee, but he got caught first.”

“That’s no good,” Nidhiki said. “We won’t be able to rescue him and the others.”

“What?” Kulagi yelped. “Why not?”

“One Matoran versus many?” Nidhiki said with a shrug. “We’ve got to save as many as we can, and that would be the ones not currently kidnapped by the Dark Hunters.”

“Fine,” Kulagi said, standing up. “Then I’ll go after him myself.”

Nidhiki laughed. “Sure, one Matoran against an army of Dark Hunters. They won’t stand a chance.”

Gambar, however, observed the Matoran thoughtfully. “You know how to fight,” he said. It wasn’t a question, but rather a statement.

“I do,” Kulagi said. “And I’ve already bested a few Dark Hunters, and I’m not afraid to face more if I have to.”

“Then go do so,” Gambar said. “Rescue him.”

“Wait, we can’t let him go, he’ll get pulverized!” Nidhiki protested, but Gambar lifted his hand to silence him.

“We won’t stop you, but we won’t back you up either,” Gambar said. “But I can see determination within you, and if you have lasted thus far against the Dark Hunters, then maybe you stand a chance.”

“I... okay,” Kulagi said, at a loss for words. “Thanks, I guess.”

“We will go to the other Matoran and get them to safety,” Gambar said. He turned to Lanili. “Can you carry the Ga-Matoran now?”

“Yes, at this point she’ll be fine,” Lanli responded.

“Please take good care of her,” Kulagi said. “She’s... she’s a dear friend too.”

“Well, Onu-Matoran, you’re pretty crazy,” Nidhiki said, rising up. “And you still owe me thanks for earlier. So make sure you live through this so you can say it next time we meet.”

Kulagi nodded, and Gambar led the two Toa back into the tunnel, where he would use his elemental earth powers to travel beneath the surface towards Ga-Metru. Meanwhile, Kulagi turned towards the desert, and strapped his Kanoka launcher securely to his back. “Well, I guess I’m off,” he said to himself. “Triki, here I come.”

He started his journey, even as the sky darkened above him. Kulagi had to admit that he didn’t know where he was going; he had no clue where the Dark Hunters were holding Triki. But he knew that they held most of the Po-Metru territory, so their base of operations must be somewhere within the Metru. Perhaps if he could find a patrol of Dark Hunters, he could follow them secretly to the base and find Triki. It wasn’t much of a plan, but at least it was something.

Kulagi pushed on for hours, taking care to cross the rocky landscape. The darkness didn’t hinder him, because the stars above provided enough light for his natural night vision to work. Plus, he was small enough and stealthy enough that he doubted any of the Dark Hunters would spot him.

Finally, partway through the night, Kulagi saw shadows moving in the distance. There were two Dark Hunters on patrol, and they were heading northwest, which would only lead them further into Po-Metru. Unfortunately, these Dark Hunters were also moving quickly, and soon were out of sight. But Kulagi now had a direction to head towards, and so he moved on.

He took an hour to rest, hiding in a stone outcropping. Afterwards, he pushed on and passed by a wide flat of plains, where he could see a herd of Kikinalo grazing in the distance. Po-Metru had some of the largest Rahi populations, and Kulagi was happy to see that at least some life in Metru-Nui was apparently unaffected by the war.

He reached another hill, and started to climb up and over it. But he paused suddenly, as he heard footsteps approaching. Somebody was heading towards him, but it didn’t sound like a large being. Rather, it sounded like another Matoran.

Kulagi hid behind a large rock and loaded his Kanoka launcher. Once the other being was nearby, he jumped out and aimed his launcher. “Who goes there?” he demanded, but then nearly dropped his launcher in surprise. “Triki!”

“Kulagi?” Triki asked, blinking as if he had only been interrupted during a peaceful nighttime stroll. “Why are you out in desert at dark-time?”

“I’m coming to rescue you,” Kulagi said. “But how are you here?”

“Oh, right, the Dark Hunters had me,” Triki said, and he broke out in a grin. “But they didn’t like playing fun games, so I slipped away earlier.”

“Are you alright?” Kulagi said, frowning. “I’ve heard that the Dark Hunters can be pretty brutal with prisoners.”

Triki thought for a moment. “They had bad breath,” he said. “And lots of loud-talk. Oh, and I guess they liked to hit too. That hurt a bit.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re okay,” Kulagi said.

“You too,” Triki said. “Did you ever find that thing you were search-seeking earlier? It seems important.”

“No, unfortunately, we lost it,” Kulagi said, shaking his head. “But there are other things that are more important, like friends.” He paused. “Speaking of which, Triki, we haven’t properly greeted each other yet.” He held up his hand in a high five position. “Come on, you always enjoy this.”

“Right, right, our friendly greeting,” Triki said, hastily high fiving Kulagi. Kulagi shifted his hand down into a low five, and Triki responded. Then Kulagi tried to repeat the arm movements, and Triki mimicked them, although off by a beat.

Suddenly, Kulagi swung up his fist and struck Triki in the mask, throwing him back into the rocks hard. Triki got painfully to his feet, cursing. “What was that about?” he demanded.

“But that’s the new move you added in, Triki,” Kulagi said. “It’s surprising that you forgot it this time. Unless, of course, you’re not Triki after all.” He pointed his Kanoka launcher at the Matoran. “Isn’t that right, Glax?”

Triki scowled, and then his body began to shift, until he had grown into the spindly yellow Dark Hunter known as Triglax. “So you saw through my disguise,” he said.

“Just some advice; if you’re going to impersonate somebody, don’t try Triki,” Kulagi said. “He’s a little too unique for you to pull off.”

“Then perhaps I should’ve gone for the direct route,” Triglax said, drawing his Kanoka launcher. He fired a Ko-Metru disc directly at Kulagi, hoping that the disc’s ability to always seek out its target would strike down Kulagi, even if he tried to dodge. But Kulagi countered it with a Po-Metru Regeneration Kanoka, which deflected the other disc and then struck the boulders next to Triglax, causing them to replicate and fall towards the Dark Hunter.

Triglax dodged to the side, but Kulagi was already taking aim again and fired a Weakening disc. Triglax ducked and the disc missed him and he fired one of his own. Kulagi drew one of his own Kanoka and blocked the incoming disc with it, but Triglax had fired a Reconstruct at Random Kanoka, and it mutated Kulagi’s disc into a thorny plant, which pricked Kulagi as he dropped it.

The two darted to the side, firing more discs at each other. But they were evenly skilled with their Kanoka, and were able to counter or dodge each other’s attacks. Kulagi fired a Kanoka coded 285, but it sailed past Triglax, who fired a Weakening Kanoka directly at Kulagi. Kulagi couldn’t dodge it, but he had already directly his Ga-Metru Kanoka to fly back towards him. Just before Triglax’s disc struck, Kulagi got hit by his own Kanoka, and he vanished.

Triglax blinked. “He used his Teleportation disc on himself,” he said. “But it wasn’t that strong of a disc, so that means he couldn’t have gotten far. So I just need to find him before...”

“Before I find you,” Kulagi shouted, jumping out from behind Triglax. Triglax spun around, but Kulagi had already fired a Freezing Kanoka, which encased Triglax’s body in thick ice, immobilizing him.

Triglax sneered as he tried to break free from the ice, but his strength wasn’t enough. Meanwhile, Kulagi knocked his Kanoka launcher away, and then aimed a Weakening disc at his head. Triglax frowned. “So it looks like I lose.”

“You got that right,” Kulagi said, anger growing within him.

“You are quite skilled with Kanoka, aren’t you?” Triglax said. “I’ve never fought against somebody who knew how to use them so well. Most of the other Dark Hunters don’t care about Kanoka, and don’t appreciate their worth. But in the hands of a skilled Matoran... Kanoka are indeed quite powerful.”

“What do you know about Kanoka?” Kulagi snapped. “That was just another lie to trick us into trusting you!”

“It wasn’t a lie,” Triglax said. “You see, my powers aren’t exactly... ideal for combat, so I needed to learn how to use a tool. And so I didn’t just learn how to use Kanoka, but also how to make them. All those discs were really ones I’d made.”

“Lies!” Kulagi shouted. “You Dark Hunters are just a melting pot of odd powers. You probably have ice vision or disintegration rays or something.”

“Not all of us are as varied as a Skakdi,” Triglax said. “No, I am just a shapeshifter, with the added benefit of being a Kanoka Maker on the side. That part, I never lied about.” He narrowed his eyes. “And I certainly tried to warn you off this mission. I didn’t want you or any of the others to get into a fight you were bound to lose. I just wanted to get that power source.”

“But you didn’t seem to care what happened to us after you got what you wanted,” Kulagi snapped.

“Fair point,” Triglax said. “But you decided to go and attack Vengeance, and he has this thing about upholding his pride. You were just asking to get pummeled.”

“Well, maybe now it’s your turn!” Kualgi said, tightening his grip on his launcher.

Triglax laughed. “If you were going to shoot me, you would’ve done so by now,” he said. “Now, since I’m here, let me give you some advice. Don’t wander any further into Dark Hunter territory. I was going to try to lead you away as Triki, but this could work too. If you turn around and go home right now, I’ll look the other way and won’t pursue you when this ice melts.”

Kulagi paused. “Or I have another idea,” he said. “You’ll lead me to where they’re holding Triki.”

Again, Triglax laughed. “And why would I do that?”

“Because I’m sparing you now,” Kulagi said, lowering his weapon.

“You weren’t going to shoot me anyway,” Triglax said. “I really don’t see the benefit in it for me.”

“Look, you said you didn’t want to get us hurt,” Kulagi said. “Well, your people still have Triki, but now that you have the device, you don’t need him anymore. Help me rescue him and then we’ll leave, once and for all. I’m not after that device; I just want to get my friend back.”

“So you’re just going to let the Dark Hunters have their way?” Triglax asked.

“That’s not part of my fight,” Kulagi said. “The Toa will deal with you soon enough. But for now, help me get my friend. Then we’re gone and you don’t have to deal with us anymore. Otherwise, I will continue to stir up trouble for the Dark Hunters for as long as I can. And you know that I’m capable of it.”

Triglax paused to consider. “A Matoran willingly allying with a Dark Hunter,” he said. “An occurrence like this might not ever happen again, so why should I deny Destiny this partnership? Besides, if I’m not mistaken, Hakann is in charge of holding your friend, and I wouldn’t mind messing with his ugly mug.”

“So, then, we have a deal?” Kulagi asked.

Triglax grinned. “We have a deal, Kanoka Maker.”

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As the sun rose over Po-Metru at daybreak, Triglax and Kulagi were crossing over the foothills in Po-Metru, heading towards the center of the district. Triglax was leading the way, having shapeshifted back into his Matoran form. Kulagi was following behind him, with his Kanoka launcher loaded and in hand.

“You don’t need to keep your weapon trained on me,” Triglax said casually. “I already decided I wasn’t going to attack you. Besides, you took my Kanoka already; what am I even going to attack you with?”

“I don’t trust the words of a Dark Hunter,” Kulagi said. “Especially not a known liar like you.”

Triglax chuckled. “You’re making me sound far more terrible than I really am. If I had really wanted to harm you, I had plenty of chances back in Ga-Metru. I wouldn’t have even needed to do it myself; I could’ve just left you for the other Dark Hunters. But I never did any of that.”

“Right, because you wanted information, and you can’t get that from a corpse,” Kulagi said.

“Maybe,” Triglax said with a shrug. “But in some ways, you and I are quite alike.”

“I don’t see that,” Kulagi grumbled.

“It goes beyond just being Kanoka Makers,” Triglax said. “We both will do whatever it takes to get what we want, even if our methods differ slightly. You’re obsessed with finding your precious protodermis for your discs, and with helping your friends. Meanwhile, I’m interested in finding treasures, like that device, which could be used to end this pointless war.”

“You think this war is pointless?” Kulagi asked with a laugh. “You Dark Hunters started it!”

“Yes, The Shadowed One has his plans for this city and wanted this war,” Triglax said. “But he’s not the one fighting it, and the rest of us aren’t too keen to stay here forever and fight against the Toa. So we want a quick little victory, and then a chance to go home and leave you Matoran to yourselves. Well, in addition to some tribute payments, of course,” he added.

“I don’t think you’ll be getting your way,” Kulagi said. “Matoran on Metru-Nui won’t let themselves gets bullied by the likes of the Dark Hunters.”

“But you’re fine with your Turaga Dume dictator?” Triglax asked. “You don’t approve of his rule either, do you?”

Kulagi paused for a moment. “That’s not the same thing,” he finally said.

“Again, different methods, but the end result is the same,” Triglax said. “Somebody is above you, telling you what you can and cannot do. You don’t like that; you’d prefer to do things your way, to achieve your ends.” His eyes flashed. “In that way, Kanoka Maker, the two of us are very much alike.”

“That seems to imply that you don’t agree with the Dark Hunters on all things,” Kulagi countered, trying to ignore any truth to Triglax’s words.

“I’m not in the running for best being in the universe, but I’d like to think I’m not as bad as half of the other Dark Hunters,” Triglax said. “Most of them are a bunch of murderous nut jobs, who would rather overpower than outthink their opponents. I don’t really get along with most of them.”

“Then why stay?” Kulagi asked, genuinely curious.

“Because we have no other choice,” Triglax said. “Once The Shadow One brings you in, your only ticket out is death. Others have tried to escape on their own, but then they get hunted down and, well, fulfill the death requirement rather quickly. So I just try to make the best of it, and right now that means resolving this war and getting off this island.”

“Then why not let the Toa win?” Kulagi asked.

“The same reason you don’t bow down when the Dark Hunters tell you to surrender,” Triglax said. “I don’t like losing.”

“Where are we going anyway,” Kulagi asked, changing the subject.

Triglax pointed to a ragged hilltop nearby. “There’s a little fortress up there, and Hakann set it up for his little interrogations. Your friend will be there.”

“Let me guess, it’s heavily guarded,” Kulagi said.

“Probably not,” Triglax said. “Hakann’s mostly relying on its remoteness. There’ll be two, three Dark Hunters there, tops.”

“Then how do I get Triki out without stirring up trouble?” Kulagi asked. “Three Dark Hunters is a little much for me to deal with, and I don’t think I can rely on you to help.”

“You’re right on both counts,” Triglax said. “There’s no way in or out except through the main door. Inside, there is a hallway that leads to a couple of holding cells, and then some recreation rooms to the side for the Dark Hunters to wait. You could blast your way through, but then the Dark Hunters will know, and they’ll get you before you can escape. So instead, I’ll distract the guards in the recreation room, and you can sneak your friend out and make your escape.” He flashed a grin. “Sound good?”

“I guess,” Kulagi said. “But if you end up betraying me, I will hit you with my most powerful Reconstruct at Random disc and hope that the change stays permanent.”

“Fair enough,” Triglax said. “Now, pass me back my Kanoka launcher.”

“What? No.”

“I’ll look out of place without my weapons,” Triglax insisted. “They might ask some questions otherwise.”

“Fine,” Kulagi said, handing over the launcher and a few of his Kanoka. Triglax accepted them, and quickly shapeshifted back to his original form. “Let’s do this,” he said.

As Kulagi stealthily snuck up on one side of the building, Triglax strutted up to the main door and threw it opened. Inside, he found Hakann, leaning against the wall with a scowl on his face.

Hakann turned to face the newcomer. “Triglax?” he said. “To what do I owe this displeasure?”

“Just thought I’d stop by, see how things were going,” Triglax said. “You the only one here?”

“Yeah, me and my prisoner,” Hakann said with a growl. “I’ve been teamed up with Optics, but he was summoned for a time. Turns out they found that power source we were after.”

“Yeah, I know,” Triglax said with a smug grin. “I found it for them.”

“You?” Hakann asked, laughing. “I thought you were supposed to be one some spy mission.”

“Yeah, and it paid off,” Triglax said. “Got the Matoran to lead me right to it, unlike certain bumbling buffoons.” Triglax shapeshifted into his Matoran form, shocking Hakann. “You recognize me now?”

“You were with that team of Matoran who got away from us!” Hakann snarled.

“Yes, it was quite fun watching you make a fool of yourself,” Triglax pressed, returning to normal. “And in the end, it turns out my method yielded results. And what have you gotten out of your prisoner?”

“Nothing,” Hakann grudgingly admitted. “He’s either a complete fool or a masterful trickster, because I can’t get anything coherent out of him.”

“Well, he’s worthless to you now,” Triglax said. “We got what we were looking for, so no need for you to continue the interrogation.”

“We can still find some force labor for him to do,” Hakann said.

Kulagi heard Triglax and Hakann converse as he crept into the structure. He couldn’t hear everything they said, but he caught Hakann’s bit about him being the only one on guard. That meant, with him distracted by Triglax, now was his chance.

Quietly, he snuck passed the room where the Dark Hunters were talking and headed towards the holding cells. Only one of the doors was locked, so he aimed his Kanoka launcher at it and fired. His Shrinking disc shrunk the lock, allowing Kulagi to gently open the door. In the middle of the room, he could see Triki lying on his back, chained to the floor.

“Oh no,” Kulagi said, darting forward. “Triki, are you okay?”

“Kulagi dude!” Triki said, sitting up. “What are you doing here?”

“You need to be quiet,” Kulagi said. “I’m sneaking you out of here, but we can’t risk getting caught. Are you hurt at all?”

“Just looking at patterns on top-wall,” Triki said, pointing to the ceiling. “Red toothy guy hasn’t come in to chat recently. Been bored.”

“Let me break you free of these chains and we can get going,” Kulagi said, reaching for a Weakening disc.

“Oh, I’m good,” Triki said, jumping to his feet. The shackled that held the chains to his arms and legs slipped off effortlessly.

“How did you...” Kulagi asked.

“Vahki have had me chain-tied before, so I quick-learned how to free-slip,” Triki explained.

“Well, that’s a good skill to have,” Kulagi said. “Now let’s free-slip our way out of here.”

“Wait,” Triki said, leading them to a side room. “Need to get my discs and Triki mask!”

Once Triki had his equipment, the two of them snuck out into the hallway. They passed the room where the two Dark Hunters were now having a heated argument, after Triglax has insulted Hakann’s tracking abilities. Kulagi couldn’t help but grin to himself, and said, “I guess he did come through for me, by being obnoxious of all things.” With that, he and Triki quickly exited the structure and ventured back out into the desert.

“You see, if you just thought with your head instead of your claws, you wouldn’t be in this situation,” Triglax jeered.

“I’ve had just about enough of your backtalk,” Hakann raged, and he fired his heat beam eyes. Triglax easily ducked around the blast, and instead Hakann seared a hole through the back wall.

“That’s going to hurt this place’s real estate value,” Triglax said disdainfully. “Way to go, hothead.”

Before the fight could escalate, the front door opened again and two Dark Hunters entered. Hakann turned to see Lariska and Optics. “About time somebody else showed up. Would you please remove Triglax from my sight?”

“What are you doing here?” Lariska barked at Triglax.

Triglax flashed an innocent smile. “Just chatting it up with spikes-for-brains here. What brings you to this secluded, dilapidated fortress, oh great leader Lariska?”

“We’ve come to collect the Le-Matoran,” Lariska said.

“But you already have the device,” Triglax pointed out. “Why bother with him now?”

“Because it can’t hurt to have a hostage on hand,” Lariska said. “We have Toa in the area.”

“Toa?” Hakann asked. “So have they started their attack yet?”

“Not quite,” Optics said. “We discovered Vengeance, Krekka, and Charger had all been defeated after they chased those two Matoran earlier. Based on their injuries, Toa were involved.”

“The Toa are going for a covert operation this time,” Lariska said. “They’re probably after all the other Matoran who’ve been in hiding, and our prisoner might be able to lead us to them now.”

“Why don’t you just ask Triglax here?” Hakann said. “He was running with those Matoran for a while.”

“I was running with a small band, who’ve have already fled the city, escaping from even Vengeance, it seems,” Triglax said, mixing truth with lies. “I don’t know where the others are.”

“Then I’ll interrogate the Le-Matoran this time,” Lariska said. “And hopefully I’ll get some better results.”

Optics frowned, tilting his head. “Something’s wrong with the Matoran.”

“He’s probably just babbling again,” Hakann said offhandedly.

“Actually, he’s not making any noise at all,” Optics said.

“Well, that is very unlike him, and that’s troubling,” Hakann said, racing towards the holding cell. He narrowed his eyes as he saw the door partway opened and the empty chains inside. “He’s escaped.”

“You let a puny Matoran get away from you?” Triglax asked, laughing. “Wow, Hakann, you are a terrible jailer. We should’ve hired that brown Skakdi brother of yours instead.”

“This was not just an escape, but rather a breakout,” Optics said, observing the shrunken lock. “Somebody else came here to get our prisoner.”

“They can’t have gotten far,” Lariska said. “Optics, take to the skies, and find them. The rest of you, with me. We will catch up to him.”

The Dark Hunters raced outside, and Optics spread his wings and soared up into the air. With his enhanced vision, he was quickly able to spot the two Matoran, and swooped down towards them. Lariska and the others followed.

“Looks like we have company,” Kulagi said, glancing back to see the Dark Hunters gaining on them. “Get ready to greet them.”

“Will we exchanged high fives, pass codes, and goodie snacks?” Triki asked hopefully.

“How about Kanoka discs to the head,” Kulagi said, spinning around and firing a disc at Optics. Optics swooshed out of the way, but the Kanoka was one of Triglax’s Ko-Metru discs, and it changed direction and struck Optics, knocking him out of the air.

“I’m going to smash your mask to pieces!” Hakann roared, charging towards Triki.

“Hey, spike-face!” Triki said. “I have joke for you. What’s loud and dumb and red all over?”

Hakann fired his head beam vision at Triki, who dodged to the side. “Answer-wrong!” Triki said. “The answer is you!” He fired one of his Reconstruct at Random discs at Hakann, who took the hit full on.

Hakann grinned after nothing seemed to have happened. “Nice try, Le-Matoran,” he sneered. He tried to take a step forward, but paused as his legs felt odd. Suddenly, his armor started to droop, having been turned into a viscous gel. His spiked slumped over, and his armor started congealing around his joints, slowing down his movements. Hakann tried to fire his heat beam vision again, but then his head spikes sagged over his eyes, cutting off his line of sight entirely.

Kulagi turned to fire at the oncoming Dark Hunters, but had to duck as a dagger flew through the air past his mask. “Not you again,” he complained, catching sight of Lariska.

“So we meet again, Matoran,” Lariska said. “It sounds like you’ve been causing us a lot of headaches recently.”

“Have another one,” Kulagi said, firing one of the Ko-Metru Kanoka towards Lariska. But just as it was about to strike her, she stabbed it with one of her daggers, canceling out its powers entirely.

Kulagi gripped his launcher, but now he could see both Optics and Lariska heading towards him, and he was uncertain if he could take on both. Behind them, Triglax merely watched. He locked eyes with Kulagi for a moment and shrugged. He wasn’t going to join the fight, but he wasn’t going to stop it either.

“Back-stay!” Triki suddenly shouted, jumping next to Kulagi. “Flee-away, else I use my Triki mask on you.” He held up his misshaped mask over his head dramatically.

“Foolish Matoran, you can’t use Kanohi masks,” Optics said.

“Yeah, Triki, bad idea,” Kulagi said out of the corner of his mouth. Whenever Triki had used that mask in the past, it had knocked him unconscious.

“We’re calling your bluff, Matoran,” Lariska said, throwing a dagger.

Kulagi drew one of his Kanoka discs and used it to block the dagger, which stabbed through the disc and caused it to split in half. However, Triki followed through with his threat, and placed the mask over his face. “Feel the power of Triki!” he roared, as the mask began to glow.

Kulagi leapt away just in time, as bolts of electricity began to erupt from Triki’s mask. Lariska dodged one, but another zapped Optics, blowing him backwards. Kulagi tried to shoot down Lariska while she was preoccupied, but she was already charging towards him. She threw a punch with her robotic arm and caught Kulagi in the chest, throwing him hard to the ground and knocking his launcher aside.

“I got you now,” Lariska said. But then there was a blast behind her, as Triki’s Kanohi blew off his face. It struck a rock, and then ricocheted into Lariska’s back, toppling her.

Kulagi painfully got up and grabbed his launcher and took in the scene. Optics was down, and Hakann’s reconstructed armor seemed to be keeping him partially immobilized. But Lariska was already recovering, and Triki was dazed. Meanwhile, Triglax had retreated some distance away and continued to watch.

“If I take you down, we can still escape,” Kulagi said, aiming at Lariska.

“Foolish Matoran,” Lariska said. “Do you think I don’t have reinforcements coming?”

Kulagi glanced backwards, and saw the shapes of at least three other beings advancing towards them. Three fresh Dark Hunters were more than he could handle. Furthermore, while he was looking away, Lariska threw another dagger and disarmed him.

“You’re ours now, Matoran,” she said.

Optics painfully pushed himself up, as the newcomers surrounded Kulagi and Triki. Suddenly, his eyes went wide and he covered his ears. “They’re coming!” he screamed.

“Silence,” barked Lariska. “Yes, our forces are here, now we will take these Matoran.”

“No, not them,” Optics stuttered. “The swarm, can you not hear it? The swarm approaches!”

“What swarm?” Lariska asked. But she paused, and then the growing humming sound reached her ears too. She looked to the south to see a dark cloud in the sky, only it wasn’t a cloud at all. “Kirikori Nui!” she said with a snarl.

The Kirikori Nui were giant insects who traveled in swarms, often consuming large swathes of vegetation in a matter of days. They were considered as pests by the Matoran, and while they would sometimes plague the rest of the island, a small colony lived in remote sections of Po-Metru. Although they were usually more interested in eating, the Kirikori Nui were ferocious when provoked, and could take down much larger foes with their powerful legs and jaws.

Now the swarm descended on the crowd of Dark Hunters. They fired their projectile weapons at the flying insects, but this just caused the rest of the Kirikori Nui to hone in on them. The Dark Hunters were able to swat aside the individual insects with ease, but in a group they were too much for them.

Kulagi wasn’t sure what had prompted the swarm to attack, but he was going to take advantage of it. He snagged up his discs and launcher and raced over to Triki, keeping low to the ground. “Let’s go now, while they’re distracted,” he said.

“Looks at all the flying bugs!” Triki exclaimed, as he reached for his fallen discs and mask. “I’ve never seen such a big attack-swarm before, and I’ve anger-made plenty of Rahi before!”

But while the other Dark hunters fended off the Kirikori Nui, Lariska focused on the Matoran, and charged towards them. “You won’t escape,” she shouted over the buzzing in the air.

Kulagi heard another sound, but this one was more familiar. It was the sound of a Hover-Bike, and the vehicle dove down out of the sky, dodging around Kirikori Nui. Huaju was at the controls, and he fired a Kanoka disc at Lariska, catching her off guard.

“Get on,” he yelled, dropping down next to Kulagi and Triki.

“Oh, fun fly time?” Triki asked, leaping onto the bike.

“We need to leave before the Kirikori Nui start focusing on my bike,” Huaju shouted. “Kulagi, let’s go.”

“One last thing,” Kulagi said, loading an Enlarging disc into his launcher. Lariska got up, but then Kulagi fired his disc at a Kirikori Nui above her. The insect, already the size of a Toa, suddenly grew five times larger, and its weight crushed down on Lariska, pinning her.

“Now we can leave,” Kulagi said, jumping onto the back of the Hover-Bike. Huaju revved the engines and blasted off into the air, expertly dodging around the flying Rahi as he did so. Meanwhile the Kirikori Nui swarm continued to pummel the Dark Hunters, led by their new enlarged comrade. The Dark Hunters were forced to grab their fallen and flee from the scene.

Lariska freed herself and began to sprint away from the swarm. “This isn’t over, Matoran,” she growled under her breath.

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Huaju sped his Hover-Bike across the Po-Metru landscape. He was flying as fast as his Hover-Bike could manage, but he was also keeping low to the ground, forcing him to weave around various rock formations and through canyons. But Huaju knew the area well, and didn’t let up on his acceleration until they crossed the border into Ta-Metru in the south.

Kulagi was still recovering from the battle he had just survived. Despite everything, he had nearly gotten himself captured again, and it had only been Huaju’s timely arrival that had saved him. However, that led him to a whole lot of further questions.

“What just happened back there?” Kulagi asked, as Huaju finally slowed the Hover-Bike down. “How did you manage to find us?”

“How did you learn how to fly so quick-fast?” Triki asked, a big grin on his mask. “That was awesome-able! Everything was all a blur and I didn’t even head-hit on rock to see it!”

“I’ve raced across the desert a few times before,” Huaju said. “And I knew the route to take that would get us out of Dark hunter territory the fastest, so I just took it at top speed.”

“Well, why didn’t you do that when I asked you to join us earlier?” Kulagi demanded. “Back then you were all concerned about Dark Hunter ambushes.”

“Because this time I’ve surveyed the land and figured out that there weren’t any Dark Hunters hiding along this route,” Huaju replied.

“Answer my first question now,” Kulagi said. “How did you manage to fly in at the nick of time and save us?”

“Well, after you left on your crazy mission two days ago, I got in touch with the guard,” Huaju said. “And I helped push for a rescue mission. Toa Gambar eventually headed out with a small team, aiming to get the Matoran out under the nose of the Dark Hunters.”

Kulagi nodded. “I know, we crossed paths earlier.”

“Well, then you’ll be happy to know that he got them all out last night,” Huaju said. “He found them in the protodermis pipe, and then dug through the cave in that was blocking them, and walked the rest of the way to the Great Temple. All the Matoran are safe in Ta-Metru now, including Sufina.”

“That’s good, but how does that explain how you got out here?” Kulagi asked.

“I helped Gambar plot a route through the area before he left, so he would know the safest paths to use,” Huaju continued. “And in doing so, I had access to the Toa’s intel on the Dark Hunter’s latest movements. When Gambar returned, he said that you had gone off on another mission, so I decided it was time to fly in. I spent most of last night flying around quietly, hoping to find you. And then I spotted you this morning, heading towards that small Dark Hunter prison.”

“Then why didn’t you fly in sooner and help us?” Kulagi asked.

“Because I saw two more Dark Hunters heading your direction,” Huaju said. “I figured that to escape from them, we’d need a good distraction, and I happened to know about a Kirikori Nui colony located nearby. So a few well-placed disc shots got them riled up, and they flew off to intercept your skirmish with the Dark Hunters.” Huaju grinned. “And then you know the rest.”

“Ooh, you know where Kirikori Nui nest is?” Triki asked. “Can you ever-show it to me sometime? They look fun to wrangle-ride.”

“That was quite bold of you,” Kulagi said.

“Well, it required a lot of planning,” Huaju said. “Which is something you should’ve done in the first place.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” Kulagi said glumly. “After all, if I hadn’t shown up, then Sufina wouldn’t have gone looking for her secret device, and we wouldn’t have led the Dark Hunters right to it. Now, partially thanks to me, the Dark Hunters have what they’re after.”

“Maybe not quite,” Huaju said. “I’ll let the team leader explain when we land.”

Huaju had now entered the industrial distract of Ta-Metru. Normally, the Matoran were hard at work at their various forges, building materials for use in Metru-Nui. But currently all available forges were working at maximum capacity to aid the Toa in the war, and the streets were unusually full of Matoran refugees from other parts of the city. Huaju headed towards one particular building and went to land his Hover-Bike on the roof.

Kulagi, however, recognized the facility. “Don’t land here!” he exclaimed. “This is the Nuurakh Central Hive facility!” It was a building Kulagi had done his best to avoid at all costs, and even as they dropped down, he could see four Nuurakh Vahki eyeing the Hover-Bike.

“Don’t worry,” Huaju said. “The Vahki forces are spread very thin right now, to protect the borders. This building is now a major communication center for the Toa.”

Indeed, the Nuurakh made no move to attack as they landed. Furthermore, the roof access door burst opened and Sufina came running out to greet them. “You’re alive!” she cried out. “You’re both alive!”

Kulagi embraced with Sufina. “Are you okay?” he asked. “When I left you, you’d been hurt pretty badly.”

“I’ve managed to recover, thanks to Toa Lanili,” Sufina said.

“That’s great,” Kulagi said. “And I guess now we’ll have some time to relax, now that we’re out of Dark Hunter territory.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” said a Ta-Matoran with a great Huna, also walking up through the roof access door. “Good to see you in one piece, Kanoka Maker.”

Kulagi narrowed his eyes. “Vakama the Mask Maker?”

Kulagi had once regarded Vakama with disdain, because Vakama would often take Kulagi’s beloved Kanoka discs and forge them into mask, thus ruining them in Kulagi’s opinion. But after the two had been involved in the Gang Matoran incident, Kulagi had grown to respect the Ta-Matoran’s ingenuity and was on friendlier terms with him. Still, Vakama was unquestionably loyal to the Turaga, and sometimes rubbed Kulagi the wrong way.

“Hey, fire mask guy, it’s you!” Triki exclaimed, leaping off the Hover-Bike. Unlike Kulagi, Triki was very much impressed by Vakama’s profession, being an amateur Mask Maker himself. He swung up his hand, saying, “We need to do friend-cool greet!”

“Not now, Triki,” Vakama said. “We have some business to discuss. Please follow me inside.”

“What business?” Kulagi asked. “Is this because I shot down those Vahki when I flew out of Onu-Metru?”

“No, this is because of that secret project that Sufina was working on,” Vakama said offhandedly.

“You know about that?” Kulagi asked.

“Actually, he’s apparently on the team leading it,” Sufina said. “I didn’t even know that until this morning.”

Vakama led them down into the building and into an unused office, with a complete model of Metru-Nui on a table in the center of the room. Kulagi glanced at it, and saw that there were markings on it to indicate the current movements of the Toa and Dark Hunters.

As they all entered, Vakama closed the door and turned to them. “You are all aware of portions of this project,” he said. “But now I want to let you in on the whole thing. Up until now, this has been a top secret project, but the Dark Hunters' recent movements have compromised it, and I would like your help to fix things up.”

“If you’re asking us to go and steal the power source back, think again,” Kulagi said. “Even I know that’s something we can’t realistically pull off, even with the full backing of the Toa.”

“That’s not what I’ll need you for,” Vakama said. “Let me start from the beginning. Turaga Dume and Toa Lhikan originally envisioned a project that would require a particular engine, based off concept designs from the Nynrah Ghosts. This required a two part design process; we needed both a power source and a mechanical converter to tap into it. While it would be greatly beneficial, it was also highly dangerous. The Nynrah Ghosts design allowed for high compatibility with many things, including uses for the Dark Hunters. It would be devastating if they got both parts, and so we did our best to make sure that our development of the devices was kept a secret.”

“And to help keep this secret, everything was compartmentalized,” Sufina put in. “I was on the small team in Ga-Metru, where we tried to find the exact chemical components to use to make the power source function. Meanwhile, another team worked on the mechanical converter, but we didn’t know who they were or where they were working on it.”

“That team was in Le-Metru,” Vakama said. “They were working out of a mechanics shop north of the Moto Hub.”

“Wait a moment,” Kulagi said. “But that region also got attacked. That’s why Triki had to evacuate.”

Huaju nodded. “The Dark Hunters had a two part invasion planned. They hoped to claim both devices at once.”

“We still don’t know how they got wind of the plans,” Vakama said. “It’s possible that they somehow intercepted our communications about it. But while they knew which region the labs were in, they didn’t know exactly where they were located.”

Kulagi nodded. “We’ve encountered Dark Hunters who have excellent hearing and who can imitate Matoran, so they could’ve overheard something and pieced things together.” He frowned. “We made the mistake of trusting the Ko-Matoran courier Glax, and he turned out to be a Dark Hunter in disguise.”

“Right, Sufina has told me about that,” Vakama said. “We hadn’t anticipated that level of espionage on their part. And now the Dark Hunters have the power source. But we don’t believe that they have the mechanical converter yet.”

“So the Le-Matoran team got it out in time?” Kulagi asked.

“No, but they tried,” Vakama said. “They were attempting to make it back to their mechanics shop, but got injured by the Dark Hunters. Luckily, there were a few Toa in the area, and they managed to rescue all the Matoran and get them evacuated in time, but they couldn’t retrieve the device, specifically because they didn’t know about it.” Vakama paused. “And based on the movements of the Dark Hunters in that region, they also haven’t found the device yet.”

“Wait, so you want us to go and get it?” Kulagi asked.

Vakama shrugged. “You already found the power source, so you’re capable of it. Besides, I know that you’re particularly good at sneaking into places and making off with protodermis. I think you’re qualified.”

“Well, at least somebody finds that bit impressive, for once,” Kulagi grumbled.

“Why do you need us to retrieve it?” Huaju asked. “I mean, I know that it’s important to keep it out of the hands of the Dark Hunters, but couldn’t you just send in a Toa team and incinerate the mechanics shop, destroying it completely? Because even if you have it, it’s worthless without the power source.”

“Not quite,” Sufina said. “I did manage to save my notes from my lab, and we can use them to create a second power source. We have all the materials down here, pending some purified protodermis, but we can still get that imported from Ga-Metru. We were planning to start mass producing it down here soon anyway.”

“Correct,” Vakama said. “We’re already starting to recreate the power source here. The Le-Matoran team did not retrieve their notes, but based on their last communications before the attack, they do have a working prototype. If we can get that here, then we could still use it against the Dark Hunters.”

“Coolio!” Triki said. “One question; what does machine-stuff do again?”

“That’s actually a fair question,” Kulagi said.

“I don’t even know what the end product is supposed to be,” Sufina admitted.

“That’s another secret I’m letting you in on,” Vakama said, pulling out a tablet with technical drawings on it. Kulagi couldn’t make out what half of it was, but the main image seemed to be a Matoran with external armor on.

“This is a design for tactical Exo-Matoran armor,” Vakama explained. “It would allow the Matoran to participate on the battlefield beside the Toa. The armor plating would offer ample protection against moderate attacks, and it could be equipped with various weaponry. This means that the Matoran guard could directly aid the Toa against the Dark Hunters and other threats too. It’s based on a design concept written up by the Onu-Matoran Engineer Nuparu.”

“Nuparu?” Kulagi repeated, frowning. “That’s the guy who invented the Vahki. I don’t like him.”

“Well, his earlier design was faulty,” Vakama admitted. “I’ve since worked on modifying it, but the main flaw is how to power it. The suit needs to be properly powered for the armor to function. Most of our standard power sources, like heat stones or Kanoka discs, are simply too weak to pull this off. That’s why we needed the Nynrah Ghosts power source; that seems to be the only way to get the Exo-Matoran suits to operate.”

“So Turaga Dume wants to put Matoran on the front lines?” Kulagi asked. “That doesn’t seem like him; he’s the Turaga who keeps insisting that the Vahki are the best enforcement for this city, despite them all being stupid, merciless robots.”

“Turaga Dume is not the one who pushed for this idea.” Kulagi spun around at the voice, and spotted a red and gold Toa of Fire enter the room. Kulagi instantly recognized his golden Hau. It was Toa Lhikan.

“Since arriving in this city, I have marveled at the resourcefulness of its Matoran,” Lhikan said. “I am here to protect them, but not to keep them from reaching their full potential. If properly armed, Matoran can defend themselves against Dark Hunters. Isn’t that right, Kanoka Maker?” he asked, focusing on Kulagi. “You’ve been one of the few Matoran to charge straight into a fight with the Dark Hunters, and you’re still alive. That alone is remarkable.”

Kulagi forced a smile, but he was taken aback from the compliment from the leader of the Toa armies in Metru-Nui. “I guess you could say that,” he said.

“Finding this device in Le-Metru is of the utmost importance,” Lhikan continued. “Not just to keep it out of the hands of the Dark Hunters, but also to empower the Matoran. So, will you accept this mission, Kanoka Maker?”

Kulagi hesitated. He had no desire to rush back into Dark Hunter territory, since all of his friends were currently safe and at his side. But he remembered back to what Triglax had said to him, about how he would only go out of his way to achieve his own ends. He now realized the truth to those words. He had done his best to help out the other Matoran, but that had never been what motivated him to push forward. He had never been out to end this war on Metru-Nui, but rather make sure he and his friends made it through it. Yet now, he had a chance to really make a difference.

“I accept,” he said. “If this will help out the Matoran... then I will do my best to see it through.”

“I’ll go too,” Huaju put in.

“Ooh, another fun trip?” Triki asked. “In-count me too!”

Vakama grinned. “Perfect, just the team we need!”

Toa Lhikan pointed down to the map of Metru-Nui. “The mechanics shop where the device was located was in the top levels of this structure here. But the buildings in the region were heavily damaged in the attack, and the Dark Hunters are still searching through the area. You will have to proceed with caution.”

“Understood,” Sufina said.

Kulagi glanced over at her. “Wait, you’re coming too? But don’t you need to rebuild the power source device?”

Sufina grinned. “Like he said, Vakama already had Matoran working on that. Besides, I’m the only one of you who knows what the device we’re searching for even looks like.”

“Fine,” he conceded. “When do we leave?”

“You will disembark at nightfall,” Lhikan said. “That is when it will be safest to infiltrate the Dark Hunter held portions of Le-Metru. Until then, you can rest and restock.”

“You can make some Kanoka too,” Vakama added. “Your portable forge was recovered from Ga-Metru, and is in one of the rooms downstairs. We can also provide you some Ta-Metru protodermis to work with.”

“Wait, when you say protodermis, do you mean...” Kulagi started.

Vakama nodded. “Yes, fresh protodermis straight out of the Great Furnace. It should be enough to make some powerful Kanoka.”

Kulagi broke out into a grin. “Well, why didn’t you lead with that? Let’s get these preparations started!”

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Kulagi sat in the back of the Vahki transport, working on his portable forge. It was not an ideal work environment for him, because the transport kept bumping around, but he continued his work to the best of his abilities. After all, even with the Ta-Metru Kanoka he had forged earlier, he and his friends were still low on Kanoka. Kulagi had lost a bunch of his discs in his last couple of fights against the Dark Hunters. He still had his Onu-Metru Weakening, Enlarging, and Freezing discs, as well as a few of the Ko-Metru Kanoka he had taken from Triglax, but that was the limit of his collection. Sufina had a few of the Ga-Metru discs left, Triki had a couple remaining Reconstruct and Random Le-Metru discs, and Huaju had a small supply of his Po-Metru Kanoka. He had managed to make all of them a few extra Ta-Metru discs, but he knew they’d need more if they got caught up in another fight.

Kulagi looked up from his forge and out the window. It was late at night, and they were traversing through Le-Metru on the ground level. Since Le-Metru was filled with chutes and tall towers, very few Matoran would enter via the ground paths, especially since it was much easier to fly in with an airship. But the Dark Hunters were on the watch for aircraft, and the stealthiest option was to enter along the ground paths.

“Bored am I,” Triki complained, seated on top of the Vahki transport. “There are we yet?”

“We’re still about an hour out,” Huaju said from the transports cockpit. “Now, be quiet. We don’t want to attract any more attention.”

“Right-o!” Triki said. “I will be silent as the…”

“No, you will not be silent like the Lohrak,” Kulagi interrupted him. “You will be silent as a Matoran who doesn’t want to be turned into a Vorzakh Shambler.”

“Fine, fine,” Triki said. “Non-Shamblers are not loud? I not know this.”

Kulagi groaned, as he finalized the disc in his forge and let it cool. “This one probably won’t be that powerful,” he complained. “There’s too must jostling around.”

“You don’t have to make Kanoka right now,” Sufina said, taking a seat next to Kulagi. “We already have a handful of discs each, and this is really not the easiest place for you to work.”

“I just wish I had a more substantial collection of Kanoka with me,” Kulagi complained. “I don’t even have all eight powers with me right now; I’m missing a Reconstruct at Random and a Teleportation disc.”

“Well, we have those powers between the four of us,” Sufina pointed out. “If you need a Reconstruct at Random, just ask Triki.”

“I don’t know, he works best with those,” Kulagi mused. He paused, and then said, “You know, there’s still time for you to turn back. You didn’t have to come; you could’ve just described the device to us.”

“I’m here on this adventure whether you want me to or not,” Sufina said. “Besides, I still feel responsible for letting the other device fall into the hands of the Dark Hunters. I need to make up for that.”

“Yeah, I know the feeling,” Kulagi said. “I just really don’t want any more of my friends to get hurt.”

“Well, we’re with you anyway,” Sufina said.

Kulagi shrugged, and then tested the solidified disc on his forge. “A level four Teleportation disc,” he said, unable to keep the disgust out of his voice. “Well, the power level is unfortunate, but at least now I have a Teleportation disc.”

An hour later, Huaju brought the Vahki transport to a stop. “We’re close now, but we have to go the rest of the way on foot,” he said, pulling out a map. “The device was located in this building here, which is in a residential district, with lots of other tall towers nearby. There are lots of chutes and skyways to cross on up there, so it’s normally very safe. But down at the ground level, things are a lot more rundown, and there are lots of Rahi and pieces of debris down here, so we need to be careful.”

“Why we move-stop here?” Triki asked. “We can go further before ground-drop happens.”

“Because there are supposedly Dark Hunter patrols a little further on,” Huaju explained. “The Vahki transport will be too noisy, so we’ll take a stealthier approach on foot.”

“Wait, what do you mean by ground-drop?” Sufina asked. “I know I don’t understand all of your Chute-Speak, but that sounds particularly ominous.”

“It’s like, you be ground-walking,” Triki said, holding up his hand. “And then suddenly it not there anymore, and instead there’s a hole that deep-goes,” he finished, with accompanying hand gestures.

“He means there are a bunch of canyons here,” Kulagi said. “Like in Onu-Metru, but far more narrow. Most Le-Matoran don’t know about them because most don’t venture this far down. But a few of them have decent protodermis.”

“Also vicious Rahi,” Triki added. “Fell-dropped on a cranky Tarakava once. It was happy-not.”

“Great, just another lovely part of the Metru,” Huaju said, grabbing his Kanoka launcher. “Let’s head out.”

The four of them wandered around the bases of the tall Le-Metru buildings. It was very dark, and while this didn’t hinder Kulagi, the others didn’t have adequate of night vision. Luckily, the stars were out, and they provided ample light for the Matoran, as they didn’t want to risk a lightstone that could get them sighted.

Huaju was in charge of navigations, and he kept squinting down at a map he had chiseled into a stone tablet. “We’re getting close now,” he said. “The building we want should be visible after we get around that corner.”

Sufina glanced up and shivered. “There’s a lot of destruction up there,” she said. “I can see the damage from down here. It’s just like Ga-Metru again. The Dark Hunters just ran around, destroying the infrastructure for no real reason.”

“Usually Vahki mad-chase me when I do that,” Triki said casually.

“Well, hopefully they were too busy destroying everything to search properly,” Kulagi said. He could see signs of destruction everywhere, as the ground was littered with debris from above. Furthermore, the air was eerily quiet. Normally, Le-Metru would be abuzz with activity, even in the middle of the night. But there was no sound of the chutes or Matoran machinery running; instead, there was only the occasional call of a nocturnal Rahi. The Dark Hunters were not a loud bunch, after all.

“Okay, the building should be in view now,” Huaju said, turning the corner. But he fell silent at the sight. “Oh no.”

“What is it?” Kulagi asked. But he could tell as he turned the corner. The destruction they had seen up to now had been minimal, but the Metru above was in utter disrepair. Chute structures were hanging down to the ground, and huge chunks of the various buildings were missing, smoke still rising from some.

Sufina gasped at the scene. “Oh no,” she said. “What about the building where the mechanics shop was supposed to be located? Which one is it?”

Huaju pointed to one particular structure, where the top half was entirely missing, having been apparently sheared off. “That’s the one,” he said.

“Top part not there,” Triki said. “Where’d go?”

“Impossible,” Sufina said. “The entire shop is just gone. Does that mean that the Dark Hunters did find the device? Or is it that they vaporized the structure?”

Huaju pulled out a telescope and peered up at the building. “I don’t think they vaporized it,” he said. “I can’t tell for sure, but the edges look jagged, like it broke off.”

“And if it broke off, that means it might’ve fallen somewhere,” Kulagi surmised.

“Possibly,” Huaju said. “In that case, it probably didn’t go far. Let’s get to the base of the structure and search from there.”

The four of them ventured forth, climbing over the wreckage of the Metru that littered the ground. Once they reached the base, Huaju noticed some damage to an adjacent tower, which seemed to indicate which direction the top half of the main tower had fallen. They headed that way, but still covered quite a distance before they saw it. It was lying on its side in the shadows.

“Well, the interior might be difficult to navigate now that it’s on its side,” Huaju said. “But at least we found it.”

However, as they approached, they saw that it was not quite that easy. The tower had landed in one of the canyons that Triki had warned them about. It was positioned precariously across the canyon’s gap, with only small sections anchoring it on each side.

Even Triki was hesitant to approach it. “That gonna soon-fall,” he said.

Sufina reached the lip of the canyon, and glanced down. “How deep do you think this is?” she asked.

“Easy way to find out,” Triki said. “You just launch a disc down and seconds-count until it smash-bang on bottom.”

“Yeah, except we’re not going to test that right now,” Kulagi said, pulling Triki back. “Let’s just assume that it’s very deep. I know some of these go to the depths of the archives, so if you fall down, you’ll keep falling for a while.”

“Look, it’s been wedged in there for days,” Huaju said. “It’s probably in there pretty securely, so it won’t be dangerous or anything.”

“Who were you trying to convince, us or yourself?” Sufina grumbled.

“Look, we came here to do a job, so let’s go,” Kulagi said, trying to sound confident. “As long as we make no sudden movements and are careful, I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

Huaju grabbed Triki’s arm. “By sudden movements, he meant you,” he said.

“Fine,” Triki said, disappointed. “No wall-hops for me.”

Kulagi took the lead, entering through a broken side window. Inside, it was pretty disorienting. There were hallways and doors and rooms, just like any other Matoran structure, but they were rotated ninety degrees, and Kulagi was now walking along the walls. He glanced back as Huaju entered. “So, now which way?”

“We need to go up a few levels,” Huaju said, taking out a lightstone to illuminate the interior. “Which means out over the canyon.”

The four Matoran scrambled through the building as they tried to find access points to the shop they were after. Le-Matoran had designed the structure to have their ladders and stairways oddly located, forcing Kulagi and the others to navigate around the various rooms on each floor in order to make their way along. This was made even more difficult with long narrow hallways which were turned into steep walls for them. But Huaju had brought some climbing supplies, so they managed to carefully navigate around the obstacles.

Finally, they reached the level they were aiming for. Huaju pulled himself through the doorway with the mechanics shop sign above it. The main reception room was fairly small, but there was a secondary door that led to their shop behind it. The door was locked, but Kulagi used another Shrinking Kanoka on it, and they entered the shop.

“Wow, this is cluttered,” Sufina said. There were tools and metal scraps scattered across the far wall that now acted as the floor. The mechanics shop had probably been cluttered before the building had been toppled, and now everything was mixed into one large pile.

“Huh, not-look odd to me,” Triki said.

“That’s because your house normally looks like a disaster zone,” Huaju said. “Now we need to find the device is this mess.”

“Then we’d better start looking,” Sufina said. “I can’t tell exactly what it’ll look like, but it’ll have two prongs on the end, where it would fit into my power source.”

“Okay, we will each sort through different sections,” Kulagi said. “Eventually, one of us will come across something. But be careful; we’re about halfway out over the canyon, so it we don’t want this place to drop now.”

The four of them split up and began their search. Kulagi shifted through some fallen boxes, examining the metal machinery bits he could find. There was a lot of stuff that could be classified as a ‘device,’ so Kulagi and the others had to keep checking with Sufina to see if they’d found something of interest. As the search continued, Kulagi got better at recognizing what was and wasn’t useful. He realized that there were lots of Hover-Bike parts scattered about, and since he was familiar with the mechanics of those, he was able to identify those pieces and ignore them.

They had been searching for nearly an hour when Huaju held something up. “Hey, Sufina, what about this?” he asked, holding up the device. “It has the prongs and everything.”

“Hand that over,” Sufina said, taking it from Huaju. “This looks promising.” She held it over their lightstone and started examining it.

Kulagi leaned back, dropping the metal bits he had been searching through. “Finally,” he said. “We’ve been searching for far too long in this mess.” He paused as the building creaked suddenly. “Hopefully that was just the wind.”

“I think this is it,” Sufina said excitedly. “The right parts are all there. See, this is where it gets the power intake from the source, and here is the mechanical function to convert it into useable power for the Exo-Matoran suits, and...”

“Look, let’s just get out of here with it,” Huaju said. “This building is giving me the jitters. I keep expecting it to start falling.”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” Sufina said, pulling her bag opened to put the device inside.

But Kulagi heard the clink of something, and out of the corner of his eye he saw the wall start to glow. He jumped forward and pushed Sufina down; seconds later a heat beam blasted through the wall and across the room, aimed at where Sufina had just been standing.

Huaju and Triki instantly drew their Kanoka launchers, and Kulagi grabbed his as he got to his feet. He turned his attention on the far wall, where a hole had just been burned through it. The Dark Hunters Hakann and Optics now stepped through that hole, and Hakann had a big grin on his face.

“We meet again, Matoran,” Hakann said. “Now, if you don’t mind, we’ll be taking that trinket you just found.”

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Kulagi gripped his Kanoka launcher, his mind already racing. The two Dark Hunters had seemingly appeared out of nowhere, just after they had discovered the mechanical converter they were after.

Triki perked up. “Hey Red-Tooth-Spike-Dude,” he said to Hakann. “Time-long no ugly-see. Actually, it’s not been time-long, but something different? You get new tooth-shine?”

“How did you get here?” Huaju demanded. “How did you follow us?”

“I have enhanced vision and hearing,” Optics said. “I could track you from a great distance. You may have thought you were being sneaky, but I’ve been on you this entire time.”

“We had an inkling that you would head further south after our last encounter,” Hakann explained. “So we kept an eye on you, even when you were in Ta-Metru. Sure enough, at sundown you headed straight for Le-Metru. You led us straight to the first device, so we thought we’d let you do the same for the second.”

“So what, do you have an entire Dark Hunter army waiting for us outside?” Sufina asked.

“And be forced to share the credit for this discovery?” Hakann asked. “No, the two of us can handle you Matoran. None of your little tricks will save you this time.”

“I can show you tricks!” Triki said excitedly. “See, I can disc-shoot something and turn it into else-something.”

“You just described a Reconstruct at Random Kanoka,” Optics said, sounding bored.

“Now, be good little Matoran and hand over the device,” Hakann said. “And perhaps we’ll even give you a head start before we chase you down. Otherwise...”

Hakann ducked suddenly as Triki’s disc shot towards him. Triki frowned. “Hey, you quick-moved, and now you won’t else-something change!”

“Why you little...” Hakann started, but then he had to duck as Kulagi fired a disc at him. He retaliated with another blast of heat beam vision, causing the Matoran to scatter.

“The red one has a mental blast,” Kulagi said to Huaju. “But he pauses when he starts to use it, so if he does that, attack quickly, because one of those attacks will doom us.”

“Got it,” Huaju said, firing a disc of his own at Optics. Optics dodged the Weakening Kanoka at first, but then it ricocheted off the far wall and struck him in the back. Optics hit the floor hard, but he still got back up. However, his fall caused the building to shake, and it rotated about ten degrees to the side. As the floor tilted, all the tools and metal scraps began sliding towards the far wall, which had windows. This also threw the Matoran off balance, causing them to stumble. Sufina tripped, and in doing so the device slipped from her hands and skidded across the wall.

Optics’ eyes locked onto the device, and he darted towards it. But Huaju was also on the move, sliding towards the device. He fired a Freezing Kanoka, which only struck Optics’ wings at a glancing blow, but still frosted them over. This caused Optics to misjudge his leap, and he overshot the device, giving Huaju time to snag it.

“Nice try, Matoran, but that’s mine,” Optics said, charging forward again. He lashed out with his claws and knocked Huaju’s launcher aside, but the Po-Matoran kept his grip on the device. Instead, he ducked underneath Optics’ legs and rush away, but Optics turned to pursue him.

Meanwhile, Kulagi and Triki charged Hakann from two directions. Kulagi loaded a Ta-Metru disc into his launcher and fired it. It struck Hakann in the jaw with a powerful force, but not enough to activate its power. Hakann rubbed the sore on his jaw and the placed the Kanoka between his teeth and bit down on it, snapping it in half. “Not good enough,” he snarled.

Triki leapt up behind Hakann suddenly and fired another one of his Reconstruct at Random Kanoka. Hakann saw the disc out of the corner of his eye and darted aside, and instead the disc struck a fallen bin, and mutated it into a horned Vako Rahi. The Vako, startled by the its sudden existence, darted towards the door, plowing down Hakann on its way out. While the Dark Hunter was down, Triki leapt towards him again, but Hakann recovered quickly and swung his fist. He struck Triki in the chest and threw him across the room, where Sufina crawled over to his aid.

But while Hakann was distracted by Triki, Kulagi fired his Weakening disc, and it struck Hakann square in the head, knocking him down. But as he fell, the building shifted again, as one end began to dip further down into the canyon.

Kulagi steadied himself, and then grabbed his Onu-Metru disc as it flew back to him. “This fight is going to bring down this building for sure,” he shouted to Hakann.

“I’m not worried,” Hakann said. “I’ve survived worse. But it probably won’t do you Matoran any good.”

Kulagi narrowed his eyes, and fired his Enlarging Kanoka. Hakann dodged to the side, but Kulagi had instead been aiming at some metal pipes on the wall behind him. The pipes expanded and broke free of the wall and fell towards Hakann, forcing the crimson Dark Hunter to shield himself.

Optics, meanwhile, continued to chase Huaju, who still had the device. Huaju was nimble enough to avoid most of the Dark Hunters blows, and Optics was already slightly restricted, since he was not used to fighting in enclosed spaces. But finally, Optics’ claws gripped Huaju’s foot as he tried to flee, and the Dark Hunter lifted him up off the ground, upside-down.

“Got you now,” he said. But then a Ga-Metru Weakening disc caught him on the head, forcing him to drop Huaju. He turned to see that Sufina had fired the Kanoka, and directed the disc with her mind to hit him.

“Nice try, Ga-Matoran,” he grumbled. “But that only tingles, and I still have your friend...”

“Sufina, catch,” Huaju shouted, tossing the device to her. Surfina reached up and grabbed it, then rushed away. Optics abandoned the Po-Matoran and went after her.

Kulagi fired his Freezing disc at Hakann, hoping to encase him in ice, but Hakann swatted it aside before it could activate its power. Hakann fired his heat beam eyes again, forcing Kulagi to dodge, but then Triki rushed forward again. “I want to see you in new-type armor,” he said, firing another Reconstruct at Random disc. But Hakann dodged it, and the disc bounced off the wall and then crashed out the window.

Triki frowned. “Hey, that my last Reconstruct at Random disc!”

“I’m through with this,” Hakann said, closing his eyes to concentrate on a mental blast. But he chose a poor time to do so, because Triki pushed forward and leapt onto his head, and started pounding on it.

“This is for my lost discs!” he shouted out. But then Hakann’s eyes snapped opened, and he reached up and grabbed the Le-Matoran by the throat. With a swing of his arm, he flung Triki across the room and out the broken window.

“Triki, no!” Kulagi shouted, but his friend had already disappeared from view. Instead, he turned to Hakann, with anger in his eyes.

Hakann merely grinned. “About time I got rid of that pesky little Matoran,” he said. “Now, let’s finish with the rest of you.”

“Pick on somebody your own size,” Kulagi snarled. “Or rather, I have an even better idea.” He loaded the Ko-Metru Shrinking Kanoka he had taken from Triglax and fired it. Hakann tried to swat it aside as well, but it avoided his arm and struck him in the chest. Hakann shrank down until he himself was the size of a Matoran.

“What happened?” he wondered, slightly disoriented by the change.

“This happened!” Kulagi said, rushing forward. He didn’t have a Kanoka in his launcher; instead he just threw his fist and punched Hakann in the face. At Hakann’s new size, this was enough to throw him across the room.

“That hurt,” Hakann growled, firing his heat beam vision again, but Kulagi ducked to the side and retrieved the Ko-Metru disc. Hakann’s heat beam laced across the room and struck Optics, who was still chasing Sufina. The Dark Hunter hit the ground, dazed.

“Thanks for taking him down,” Huaju said, now armed again with his Kanoka launcher. He charged Hakann and fired a Teleportation disc. “Now I can focus on you.”

Hakann dodged the disc, and it struck some equipment behind him and teleported it away. He swung his own clawed fist at Huaju, but the Po-Matoran expertly blocked it. Hakann had expected his blow to throw the Matoran across the room, but his strength had also decreased with his size, and Huaju was strong enough to withstand him. Huaju now grabbed onto Hakann’s arm and swung him to the side, straight into Kulagi’s fist. Hakann took the blow hard and crumbled to the floor.

“Way to go!” Sufina shouted from the back, but then she heard Optics rise behind her, and darted out of the way just before he could grab her. Kulagi and Huaju heard the struggle, and turned to help Sufina against Optics. But Hakann wasn’t down yet, and he leapt up and fired his heat beam vision widely, burning through the walls. Kulagi had to leap to the side to avoid getting scorched.

But Hakann’s attack had further reaching effects. It cut through the sections supporting the building, and with a crunch the whole structure began to shake. And then, with a lurch, it started to fall, and the Matoran were suddenly pinned to the ceiling.

“Not good!” Huaju yelled. “We need to get out!”

But Hakann was still attacking, even as the building entered a freefall. He lunged forward towards Kulagi, but Kulagi loaded in his Ta-Metru Teleportation disc and fired. Hakann suddenly disappeared, and popped up outside the building, falling next to it.

Sufina was pulling herself towards the window when she suddenly felt a claw on her leg. Optics tightened his grip on her, and then kicked off the ceiling. In a fluid movement, he launched himself out the window, and then spread his wings once outside to slow his descent.

“No, Sufina!” Kulagi shouted, as he saw her get taken.

“How are we going to survive this?” Huaju asked, struggling to get towards the window.

“I might have an idea,” Kulagi said. “Have you ever disc surfed before?”

“Yes, but only in a chute,” Huaju shouted back. “Never in a freefall!”

“It’s just like Akilini, except with a higher chance of death,” Kulagi said. He secured his launcher to his back and took one of his Ta-Metru discs in his hands, and started to spin it around. Once it got fast enough, it started hovering on its own, and Kulagi jumped on it and used it to direct himself towards the window. Huaju meanwhile did the same, and the two of them made it out the window. Once free of the building, their discs helped slow their fall, and they glided towards the far wall, even as the remains of the tower dropped below them.

Kulagi hit the wall hard; there were vines and branches growing into the canyon’s side, and Kulagi managed to grip one, while the disc he had been riding fell out below him. Huaju also made it to the wall, and below they heard the loud crash as the tower struck the bottom, and the collision shook the canyon walls.

But even as Kulagi tightened his grip, he swung his head up at the sound of Sufina’s voice. Not far above them, he could see Optics hovering in the air, fighting with the struggling Ga-Matoran. “Give me that device,” he said, trying to pry it out of Sufina’s hands.

“Never!” Sufina yelled, tightening her grip and kicking Optics in the head.

Optics snarled, and punched Sufina in the gut. Sufina gasped as the blow struck her, and her grip weakened. Optics snatched the device out of Sufina’s hand, and the tightened his grip on her throat. “You lose, Ga-Matoran,” he said.

“Let her go!” Kulaig shouted, firing one of his last Ta-Metru discs up at Optics. But Optics easily adjusted his fight and dodged the disc, which fell back into the canyon.

“Nice try, Matoran,” Optics said. “But this one will make a nice trophy for me. I think I’ll even mount her mask on my wall when I get back. That is, of course, after we use this device to completely take over Metru-Nui!”

But Optics’ speech was cut short as a green blur fell down from above. It was Triki, and he landed directly on Optics’ head. While the Dark Hunter kept his hold on the device, he released Sufina, who began to fall. But she had already reached for one of her discs, and managed to activate it and used it to glide towards the canyon wall safely.

Triki, meanwhile, was ponding on Optics with both his fists. “Yay, take this, bird-face!” he shouted, even as Optics tried to claw him off. Optics finally grabbed him by the arm and yanked him off, holding him up until they were face to face.

Kulagi grimaced, trying to think of how to save his friend. But suddenly, an idea struck him. “Triki,” he yelled out. “Be silent like the Lohrak.”

“That won’t help you,” Optics said, but then frowned at Kulagi’s advice. “But wait, Lohrak aren’t silent.”

“Obviously!” Triki said. He took a deep breath, and suddenly started screaming right into Optics’ ears. This was too much for the hearing sensitive Dark Hunter, who quickly flung the Le-Matoran away. Triki slammed into the far wall and started to fall, but Huaju quickly rushed to his rescue and secured him down. Optics’ head was still spinning from the noise, and he quickly flapped his wings, retreating up into the night air.

“They’re gone,” Huaju whispered after a few moments. “I think we survived.”

“But we failed,” Sufina said, clinging to the roots in the canyon’s wall. “He took the device. Now they have both parts!”

“Maybe,” Kulagi said, as he started to climb upward. “But this isn’t over yet.”

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Kulagi, Huaju, Sufina, and Triki climbed up out of the canyon, using what handholds they could find to lift themselves up. It took them an hour, but they managed to reach the lip, and then they collapsed back on the solid ground just as the sun began to rise.

“I don’t want to repeat that experience ever again,” Huaju said, breathing heavily.

“I dunno, deep-fall was fun,” Triki said. “Up-climb not so much.”

“How did you survive?” Huaju asked. “We saw you get thrown out of the window, and you didn’t have any discs left to surf on.”

“Red-Tooth-Spike-Dude has strong arm, threw me to edge of canyon,” Triki said. “Grabbed some vines and fall-stopped. Like a Brakas monkey, except better looking.”

“Well, your timely arrived might’ve saved me,” Sufina said. “But it’s all for naught, really. That Dark Hunter took the device, and he’s long gone by now. They now have both parts.”

“There wasn’t a third necessary part that they also need, was there?” Huaju asked. “Just so we can assume we still have a chance?”

“Nope,” Sufina said sadly. “They have everything they need, and the Toa are in for a harsh surprise soon.”

“Maybe we can still find a way to steal the device from them, or at least break it enough that they can’t use it,” Kulagi suggested desperately.

“At this point, I don’t think four exhausted Matoran would be much of a threat,” Huaju said. “Heck, even at full strength, we can’t really take down a Dark Hunter on our own. Except when you shrink them; I did like that part.”

“I wish we had at least gotten some notes,” Sufina said. “Then we could return those to Vakama and he could have it rebuilt. But any and all notes would be at the bottom of this canyon, and probably didn’t survive the crash. Right now, the Dark Hunters are the only ones who have the mechanical converter.”

“Oh, you mean this piece?” Triki said, pulling the device from his bag.

“What?” Sufina yelped in surprise. “Triki, how did you get that?”

“Did you swipe it off the Dark Hunter when you attacked him?” Kulagi asked. “I didn’t realize you were so quick fingered.”

“What, nope, I not-do that,” Triki said. “I found this in junk-heap pile before building went crash-down.”

“Wait, why didn’t you mention this earlier?” Huaju asked.

“Because it pretty, and you might take-grab from me,” Triki said.

“It’s not exactly the same,” Sufina said, observing the device. “But it’s similar. It might actually be the true prototype, and the other was the finalized version. But I’m sure Vakama could still make this work in a pinch.”

“It doesn’t change the fact that the Dark Hunters have one too, but it’s better than nothing,” Kulagi said. He patted Triki on the back. “Way to go, friend.”

Triki winced. “I’m back-sore from where Bird-Face claw-scrapped me,” he said.

“Yeah, I think all of us are in pretty poor shape,” Huaju said. “We need to get back to Ta-Metru pronto.”

Suddenly, Kulagi heard something; it was the scraping sound of claws against earth, and it was coming from the canyon. “Quick, hide!” he hissed, as he and his friends took cover underneath some rubble.

Moment later, they saw Hakann pull himself up out of the canyon. He had returned to his normal size, but he was very bruised and battered. He passed by the Matoran’s hiding spot and heading out, with a clear destination in mind.

Something clicked with Kulagi. “He’ll lead me to wherever those Dark Hunters have the device!” he whispered. “This is the perfect chance!”

“Are you crazy?” Huaju asked. “You can’t go after the Dark Hunter alone!”

“I’m just going to stalk him, to make up for his following us here,” Kulagi said. “Besides, he’s pretty beat up, so he’s in no condition to notice me following him. This could be our only chance.”

“Then I’ll go with you,” Huaju said.

Kulagi shook his head. “No, I need you to make sure both Sufina and Triki get back to Ta-Metru safely. Go and take this mechanical converter back to Vakama and get him started on the Exo-Matoran armor. I’ll go and spy on the Dark Hunters.”

Kulagi started off, but Sufina grabbed his hand. “Kulagi, be careful,” she said. “I don’t want to lose a friend to the Dark Hunters either.”

“I will,” Kulagi said, securing his launcher to his back. “I’ll see you soon enough.”

Kulagi quickly darted through the Metru and caught up to Hakann. The crimson Dark Hunter was moving slowly and was not checking his surroundings, most likely due to his injuries. This made it easy for Kulagi to follow him, although he did his best to stay under cover.

After a half hour’s walk, Hakann reached a ramp that led upward, and started climbing. Kulagi cautiously followed, taking care to stay out of sight but within earshot of the Dark Hunter. They climbed up off the ground level and up to the elevated streets of Le-Metru. Most of them had been destroyed by the Dark Hunters, but this particular one was still standing, and it led to a chute station, which was also in operation.

Kulagi glanced around the corner, and saw that Hakann wasn’t the only Dark Hunter present. Waiting at the entrance of the chute station was the six armed, white and orange Dark Hunter Kavihkli, who had chased Kulagi through Ga-Metru.

Kavihkli eyes Hakann with distaste. “What happened to you?” he asked in a raspy voice. “Walk into a Fikou nest?”

“Just tripped and fell,” Hakann grumbled. “Have you seen my blasted partner around? Optics apparently took off without me.”

“Yeah, he did come by, and mentioned that you had taken a tumble,” Kavihkli said. “He had the device, and has already headed towards the gathering point. All the others have left too.”

“Then why are you here?” Hakann asked.

“Because I was ordered to wait for you,” Kavihkli responded. “Believe me, I didn’t volunteer.”

“This chute leads there?” Hakann asked.

“Yes, and it’ll be faster than flying, so get in,” Kavihkli ordered. Hakann entered into the chute and was carried off, and Kavihkli entered behind him. The white and orange Dark Hunter glanced back one time to survey the area, but Kulagi was well hidden so he wasn’t spotted. With that, Kavihkli also disappeared into the chute.

Once the coast was clear, Kulagi approached the chute. It was one that led to Ko-Metru, and although it was still operational, it was filled with debris from the Dark Hunter’s attack on Le-Metru. Kulagi hesitated, but he knew he had to enter it to follow the Dark Hunters. He reached into his pack, and found that he was only down to three discs; a Ta-Metru Removes Poison disc, the Ko-Metru Shrinking disc, and his trusty Onu-Metru Weakening disc. It wouldn’t be enough for a full duel, but it could still help him out of a jam if needed.

However, he didn’t want to use one of his last discs to surf through the chute; besides he would be too exposed if he did that. Instead, he waited until he saw a large piece of debris pass through the chute, and then he jumped into the chute and grabbed onto it as it sped past. It was an old shipping container, and its bulk would provide him cover in case any Dark Hunters were watching the chute from a distance.

He rode the container through the chute as it passed over Le-Metru and into Ko-Metru. Outside, Kulagi could see the weather grow stormy, and snow flurries started filling the sky. Finally, after what felt like an hour, Kulagi saw a chute station. He hid on the far side of the container, but as he rushed through the station, he could see plenty of Dark Hunters occupying it. Luckily, they didn’t see him, and he continued on through the chute.

However, Kulagi didn’t want to get carried too far away. He kicked off from the container and approached the edge of the chute. Using one of his discs, he sliced a hole through the edge of the magnetized protodermis, and jumped out of the chute. Luckily, the chute was only a short distance off the ground, and Kulagi landed in a snow pile without serious harm.

Brushing himself off, he headed back towards the chute station where he had seen the Dark Hunters. He glanced around, trying to determine exactly where in Ko-Metru he was, but all the icy Knowledge Towers above him looked the same from the ground. He’d need to get some elevation to get a better idea of where he was, but that would put him at risk at being seen. For now, he was staying close to the ground.

Luckily, there was plenty of debris for him to hide behind. The Dark Hunters had treated Ko-Metru with the same respect as Le-Metru and Ga-Metru, in that most of the structures were damaged. The Knowledge Towers were chipped and cracked in many places, and some of them had been completely toppled over. The icy structures would be easier to repair than the building in other Metrus, but the Matoran would need to drive out the Dark Hunters first.

As Kulagi drew closer, he could hear the noise of more Dark Hunters speaking, so he knew he was heading in the right direction. He peered around a corner and saw an opened courtyard situated next to the chute station. This, he realized, was one of the main transit centers in the middle of Ko-Metru, where seers would often travel to study prophesies. But now it had turned into a large encampment for the Dark Hunters.

Kulagi wanted to get a better look, so he risked climbing up a nearby Knowledge Tower. It had large cracks and had been severed partway up, so Kulagi was able to pull his way to the top with ease and hide out behind a large slab of ice. His hiding spot was not good enough to completely conceal him if a Dark Hunter looked too closely, but they seemed distracted. There were over fifty of the hunters in the courtyard, more than Kulagi had ever seen in one spot. He recognized quite a few from his skirmishes in Po-Metru and Ga-Metru, as well as many new, ugly faces. But they were not gathering together to be social; instead they were waiting next to a stage, upon which there was a large piece of machinery. They were waiting for someone to make a speech.

Then Kulagi sighted the speaker. He recognized the large wings, spiked heads, and Rhotuka shield. It was Vengeance. The crowd of Dark Hunters grew quiet as he took to the stage.

“My fellow mercenaries,” he said, and his voice vibrated over the icy landscape. “Soon, we will reach the turning point of this war. For too long have we been held at bay by the Toa of this city. But today is the day we launch the attack that will bring an end to this war!”

The Dark Hunters cheered, and Vengeance waited for them to settle down before continuing. “As I speak, our leader Lariska is organizing an attack from Po-Metru. It will draw the attention of the Toa, and force them to fight. But it will be but a mere distraction, for we will strike them at their most vital location. We will attack the Coliseum!”

Kulagi couldn’t help but gasp at this revelation. More of the Dark Hunters below cheered, but there was less enthusiasm this time. Some of them were apparently not optimistic about this plan.

Sensing the hesitation in the crowd, Vengeance continued. “I know that the target seems too well guarded, but the majority of the Toa will be responding to the attack in the north. And those that are left behind will be severely hindered by this.” He gestured to the machinery behind him. “This device, put together by the former Nynrah Ghost Phantom, will render the Toa helpless!”

This time, there were no cheers from the crowd, but instead a bunch of Dark Hunters started shouting in protest. “Phantom could never get that cursed contraption to work.” “Relying on that bucket of bolts is a terrible idea.” “Are you trying to walk us into a losing battle?”

“Silence!” Vengeance roared, and the noise died down instantly. “Yes, I am aware of Phantom’s numerous failures to get this to work. The critical issue has always been the power source, but now we have something that can fulfill that requirement.”

Kulagi felt a chill run through him at these words. “Some of you are aware of the device that the Matoran have been working on for their Toa,” Vengeance explained. “They were also working on a device designed by the Nynrah Ghosts, in an attempt to improve it for their own uses. So we launched dual operations to find the components to their device, and we have successfully retrieved them from the Matoran. The Matoran’s power source will energize Phantom’s device, for the first time ever, and we will use it to take away the Toa’s most precious resource: their elemental powers.”

A hush fell over the Dark Hunters, and Vengeance grinned. “Yes, this device is designed to neutralize elemental powers. Few Dark Hunters have access to such amazing energies, but the Toa use them in abundance. Take them away, and the Toa are weak compared to us. We can crush them as if they were mere powerless Matoran. And once we defeat the Toa guards and take the Coliseum, the Toa army will start to crumble, and we will claim this island for our glorious leader, The Shadowed One.”

The Dark Hunters cheered again, and Vengeance’s voice rang out above it all. “Gather your strength. Prepare your weapons. At nightfall, we will march to the Coliseum, and we will crush the Toa and take their island. This will be the day the Dark Hunters claim their victory in this war!”

As the Dark Hunters continued to cheer, Kulagi worked his way back to the ground. His heartlight was racing. The Dark Hunters had a devastating attack planned, and their trump card was based on the very device he and his friends had failed to retrieve. Furthermore, nobody had any idea that this was coming, and they would be caught entirely off guard.

Kulagi shook his head. No, there was still time, he could still warn them. The attack wouldn’t come until nightfall, so Kulagi still had hours to get a warning out. It wouldn’t be much, but it would have to do. Still, he was in the center of Ko-Metru, more than a day’s walk from the Coliseum. Most of the Chutes were down in the region, and he didn’t have any vehicle to help him. How could he get there fast enough?

The Kanoka Maker paused to consider. The spot he was in has been a popular transit location back in the day. Most Ko-Matoran would’ve traveled by chute, but some would’ve ridden vehicles here, and there should be a garage nearby. If this was like any of the other locations the Dark Hunters had claimed, the garage would be damaged, but likely not looted. There was the potential that some working vehicles had been left behind.

Kulagi worked his way to where he thought the garage would be. Eventually, he found the remains of the structure, which was half crushed beneath a fallen Knowledge Tower. But as Kulagi walked through the wreckage, he found what he was looking for; an undamaged Hover-Bike.

“It’s an older model, not nearly as nice as mine,” he said to himself as he brushed off the icy debris. “A few of the blades were bent when this place was damaged, but I think it can still fly.” He took a few moments to get it cleaned off and righted, and then hopped onto the seat and gripped the handlebars. “Now it’s time to fly out of here.”

“Planning for a midafternoon flight, I see,” a voice suddenly rang out behind Kulagi. “But you’d best be careful; there’s a storm brewing outside, and it could make your trip very dangerous.”

Kulagi spun around and saw a yellow spindly Dark Hunter perched atop the debris of the garage. It was Triglax, and he was wearing a sly grin. “So, Kanoka Maker, I presume you overheard Vengeance’s little speech just now. Isn’t it so gratifying to finally see a plan go into fruition?”

“You and your kind won’t get away with this,” Kulagi snapped, as he started up the Hover-Bike.

“Sure, just ignore the reality of the situation, that’ll work for you,” Triglax said. “But this attack will put a quick end to this war, just as I’ve always wanted, and the Dark Hunters will be victorious. The best way for you Matoran to survive is to just stay out of our way.”

“Not going to happen,” Kulagi said, and his Hover-Bike rose up into the chilly Ko-Metru air. “I thought you would know by now, but I don’t like others telling me what to do.”

“It’s your funeral,” Triglax said. He opened his mouth, and his chest visibly swelled up. Then, in a shrill, high pitch scream, he shouted, “Alert, we have an intruder, making an escape on a Hover-Bike. Attack at once!” His warning echoed across the icy landscape, reaching the ears of every Dark Hunter in the vicinity.

Kulagi’s eyes went wide, and he accelerated his Hover-Bike away from the garage, but the Dark Hunters had all been alerted now. Triglax spread out his arms, which started to shape shift into large, yellow wings. Then he pushed off and took to the air after Kulagi. “Let the chase begin,” he hissed.

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Kulagi’s Hover-Bike accelerated through the snowy Ko-Metru afternoon air, and the cold was already starting to make his arms go numb. But he had to get away quickly, because the horde of Dark Hunters were now after him. He only had three Kanoka with him, so he couldn’t rely on his discs. Instead, he would have to use his flying skills to escape.

Already, some of the Dark Hunters were firing Kanoka discs and stone projectiles at him, but he was already blasting out of range. Others were sprinting after him, but he was quickly leaving them behind as well. Unfortunately, there were a few Dark Hunters who took to the skies, and those were the ones closing in on him.

“You want an aerial race, do you?” Kulagi muttered to himself. “Then I’ll give you one.”

There were about five Dark Hunters in the air behind him, but at a glance Kulagi only recognized two. One was the yellow, winged form of Triglax, but he was falling behind. The other was the orange and white Kavihkli. Kulagi remembered their chase from earlier, and he knew that he would be the most dangerous of his pursuers.

Kulagi turned towards a cluster of Knowledge Towers, which offered only narrow alleyways between them. He entered the fray going top speed, and used his quick reflexes to turn the sharp corners within the icy maze. He did have to slow down a bit, because his current Hover-Bike wasn’t as responsive as his normal one. But it did cut down on the number of Dark Hunters behind him. Kavihkli and one other winged Hunter continued to follow, while the other three broke off because the alley was too narrow.

As Kulagi continued, he drew his Kanoka launcher and loaded in his Weakening Onu-Metru disc. He had been waiting for just the right time to use it, but then he saw a leaning tower ahead and fired his disc at the base. The Kanoka struck the tower and returned to his launcher, and he flew beneath it just as it began to fall and block the route. Kulagi glanced back and saw Kavihkli neatly dodge around the ice, but the second Dark Hunter was not so lucky, and struck the tower dead on. One of his pursuers was now entirely out of the race.

Unfortunately, Kavihkli was gaining. He drew his scythe and threw globs of poison at the Hover-Bike, forcing Kulagi to dodge around them. This almost caused Kulagi to slam into one of the Knowledge Towers himself, but he managed to correct at the last minute. Still, he knew he needed to do something about Kavihkli’s attacks.

He turned a sharp corner ahead of the orange and white Dark Hunter, and then spun around his Hover-Bike entirely and fired his Removes Poisons Kanoka. Kavihkli appeared around the corner moments later, right where Kulagi had predicted. But the Dark Hunter was already swinging his scythe, and his blade pierced the Kanoka disc before it could strike him.

“I will not fall for the same trick twice, Matoran,” Kavihkli hissed, tossing away the shard of the Kanoka.

“I was hoping you would,” Kulagi shouted back, annoyed with himself that he had just wasted a Kanoka. He gripped his handlebars, and accelerated towards the Dark Hunter. “Let’s see if you’re expecting this!”

Kavihkli drew back his scythe, ready to impale the Matoran as he tried to fly past him. But at the last minute, Kulagi spun his Hover-Bike around, scraping the edge of one of the Knowledge Towers. This resulted in a thick spray of ice dust that struck Kavihkli in the face, shrouding his vision for a moment. When it had cleared, Kulagi had already made his getaway.

Kulagi flew out of the cluster of Knowledge Towers and dipped into a wide icy valley, which a frozen river flowed through. The storm was more intense in the valley, with strong winds and snow flurries filling the air and limiting visibility. But that wasn’t the worse of Kulagi’s troubles; the two flying Dark Hunters from earlier had caught up with him. One had crimson armor and two pairs of razor sharp wings, while the other was clad in emerald armor and was folded up in an artificial flight mode. The two honed in on Kulagi as he ducked into the valley, and fired more stone projectiles at him.

Kulagi flew closer to the valley wall, hoping the Dark Hunters wouldn’t risk the same thing. However, they followed and continued to gain on him, and managed to avoid crashing into the wall. Kulagi was forced to use various maneuvers to avoid their projectiles, and there were some near misses. Normally, he would’ve been firing back at them, but he didn’t have enough Kanoka to waste on shots like that, so he had to continue flying defensively for now.

Up ahead, the storm worsened, significantly reducing visibility. The winds were affecting his Hover-Bike’s maneuverability, but Kulagi decided to risk flying directly into the storm, where he might lose the Dark Hunters for good. Indeed, as the snow flurries filled their vision, the red winged Dark Hunter fell back, as the winds were affecting his flight too. But the green Dark Hunter pressed forward, and fired another projectile at Kulagi. This time, it clipped one of his blades, sending Kulagi downward in a spiral. He managed to pull up before hitting the ground, although he didn’t know exactly how close he was due to the storm.

“This is impossible,” he said to himself. “Now I don’t even know where I’m going!” He swerved to the side at the green Dark Hunter fired at him again, and decided to shoot upward. But the Dark Hunter was right behind him.

Kulagi accelerated as his climbed, hoping to put some distance between himself and his pursuer. As he gained elevation, the storm began to clear up too. But then a glint of red became visible, and Kulagi realized that the winged Dark Hunter was diving towards him from above.

Kulagi quickly drew his launcher and fired his Weakening disc. It struck the unsuspecting hunter directly, causing him to lose control of his dive. Meanwhile, the green Dark Hunter gained on Kulagi below, unaware of his comrade’s plight. Kulagi darted to the side at the last minute, and the two Dark Hunters collided into each other and fell back into the snow storm.

Kulagi grinned at his victory and flew off. Unfortunately, his attack had been too direct, so his Weakening disc had not returned to him, leaving him with only a single Shrinking Kanoka. Hopefully he could escape before he needed to use it.

He flew over a small ridge and sighted an elevated chute up ahead. He recognized it as a major chute that ran close to the Onu-Metru border, and knew it headed directly into the Coliseum. Matoran had discontinued their use of it since the Dark Hunters had claimed the region, but the magnetized protodermis was still active. This could be the chance Kulagi had been waiting for, so he sped towards it.

But his move had been foreseen. Out of the corner of his eye, Kulagi spotted yellow wings, and the next thing he knew Triglax has swooped towards him, and his clawed nearly snatched Kulagi’s mask off. Kulagi was forced into a barrel roll, and while he avoided the attack, he had been slowed down, and Triglax was on him now.

“There’s no escape, Kanoka Maker,” Triglax mocked, as he dove in for a second attack.

Kulagi swung to the side and avoided the blow. “You’re not going to stop me now, Glax,” he shouted. He was almost to the chute, so he knew he had to hold out just a little longer.

“I’m not here to stop you,” Triglax said, pulling up. “I was merely slowing you down.”

Kulagi didn’t see the glob of poison until it was too late. It splattered over the main engine of the Hover-Bike and quickly ate through it, thoroughly disabling the vehicle. This sent Kulagi into a spin, and as he was whirled around, he caught sight of Kavihkli advancing. Triglax had been but a diversion to allow the poisonous Dark Hunter to get a shot in.

But Kulagi’s plummet was taking him right towards the chute. He grabbed his last remaining Kanoka and used it to cut into the side of the magnetized protodermis. The Hover-Bike shattered upon impact; some parts entered through the magnetized barrier, while others were knocked back and fell to the ground. But Kulagi made it inside, and now the chute was carrying him towards the Coliseum.

But Kulagi wasn’t alone. Both Kavihkli and Triglax cut their way into the magnetized protodermis, and now advanced on Kulagi. However, Kavihkli was slowed down, as his body wasn’t used to the semi-liquid environment of the chute system. Triglax was also slowed at first, but then he shape shifted his wings into fins to better ‘swim’ through the magnetized protodermis.

Yet Kulagi had been traveling in chutes for a long time, and he knew how to move within them. He also knew how to fight within them, having faced off against more than a few Vahki within the magnetized protodermis before. He grabbed a jagged blade that had broken off the Hover-Bike and threw it towards Triglax, who was forced to dodged to the side to avoid getting impaled. Kavihkli responded by trying to throw another glob of poison, but it dissipated in the magnetized protodermis. His attacks were useless in such an environment. Angered, he pushed forward, but his movements were slow.

“I guess you’re not so agile in here,” Kulagi taunted, swimming away through the chute. Kavihkli followed, but despite his power he could not overtake the Matoran. Kulagi took to jumping between various pieces of debris, until he found one that would fit his needs. It was a damaged Cargo Loader that was floating in the chute. Kulagi got behind it and kicked against it, sending it towards Kavihkli.

“You think you can throw things at me?” Kavihkli hissed. He swung his middle arms, hoping to use his claws to slice the Cargo Loader in half. However, his misjudged his movement in the semi-liquid, and didn’t put enough power behind his swing. Instead, his claws merely got stuck into the Cargo Loader, and it pushed him back into the chute.

“This won’t take me down,” Kavihkli said, as he struggled to rip his claws out. “I hardly felt the blow.”

“It wasn’t supposed to knock you out,” Kulagi replied. “Unfortunately, it’s heading towards the chute’s edge, and it’s taking you with it.”

Kavihkli glanced back to see that he was indeed approaching the edge of the chute. The Cargo Loader hit it, and sliced through the magnetized protodermis. Its weight caused it to fall out, and as it did, it dragged Kavihkli with it. The white and orange Dark Hunter struggled to break free, but he wasn’t fast enough. He got yanked out of the chute, and Kulagi caught a glimpse of him falling into the Ko-Metru landscape before he was out of sight.

“And that leaves one,” Kulagi muttered. “Now where is Glax.”

“Right behind you.” Triglax swam into Kulagi’s back, sending him tumbling. He tried to get a grip on the Kanoka Maker, but Kulagi kicked off him and put some distance between the two of them.

“You’re done for now, Kulagi,” Triglax said. “You’re unarmed and out of luck.”

“I still have one Kanoka left,” Kulagi said, fitting the Shrinking disc into his launcher.

Triglax laughed. “Yes, the Shrinking Kanoka I gave to you back in Ga-Metru. I’m touched that you still have it. However,” he said, his eyes flashing. “It won’t work on me. A size change is hardly a setback for a shape shifter.”

“Yeah, well, that’s your only power,” Kulagi said, clenching his fists. “There’s nothing else you can do to me, so you’re going to have to overpower me in order to stop me.”

“So you think you can physically defeat me too?” Triglax said, as he allowed his body to grow in size. “You overestimate yourself, Matoran.”

Kulagi grabbed a metal shard and pointed it at the Dark Hunter. “Just you try me. I won’t give in yet.”

Triglax flexed his muscles, preparing to attack. But then he glanced back just in time to see a volley of Kanoka discs enter the chute system. With a yelp he darted away from them, and turned to face his attackers. Kulagi saw them too, and he recognized their sleek white forms. “Keerahk!” he exclaimed.

The white Vahki charged towards the Dark Hunter, firing their stun staffs and low level Kanoka discs. Triglax was able to deflect some of their attacks, but not all. He was forced to retreat; he cut himself out of the chute, shape shifted his arms back to wings, and took flight.

However, with the Dark Hunter gone, the Keerahk now turned on Kulagi. He gulped as they advanced on him, knowing that he had no way to properly fight back. He tried to kick off and swim away, but the closest Vahki sprung forward and caught him on the head with its staff. And then Kulagi’s vision went dark.

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  • 1 month later...


Kulagi groaned as he started to wake up. There was a bright light shining in his face, and a silver ceiling filled his view. He blinked a few times and realized that he was inside a small room. He tried to spring up, but he was still a bit woozy and had to sit back down quickly.

And he was not alone. There was a Matoran standing next to him; a Ta-Matoran in a red Komau. “You’re awake now,” he said sternly. “What were you doing in that chute heading towards the Coliseum?”

“What’s going on here?” Kulagi said, looking around. “Where are we? Did I make it to the Coliseum? Who are you?”

“I am Jaller of the Matoran Guard,” the Ta-Matoran said. “You were discovered by the Keerahk conversing with a Dark Hunter. Explain yourself.”

Kulagi’s head started to clear, and the urgency of his mission was also returning to him. “I made it here!” he said. “But I need to tell the Toa something really important!”

“You are not telling the Toa anything!” Jaller snapped. “We’ve received reports that the Dark Hunters have been impersonating Matoran to spy on us, and you’re very suspicious. So tell me what your true intentions are now, traitor!”

“He is not a traitor.”

Kulagi turned to the voice and instinctively fell backwards. One of his least favorite beings had just entered the room; it was Turaga Dume.

Jaller quickly bowed to Dume. “Turaga, I apologize, but I don’t understand. The evidence all suggests...”

“The evidence is easily misinterpreted,” Dume said. “Come, Kulagi, there is no need to be alarmed. You are not in trouble, this time anyway.”

Jaller, however, was not put at ease. “Turaga, could you please explain what is going on?”

“Very well,” Dume said. “Kulagi has been on a secret mission, where he was last seen following the Dark Hunters in Ko-Metru. It appears that he was desperately trying to escape from them to reach the Coliseum, given that he was down to his last disc.”

“But it could be a ruse,” Jaller insisted. “He still could be an imposter.”

“Unlikely,” Dume said. “For one reason, he was the Matoran who first reported on the shape shifting Dark Hunter to us. Secondly,” Dume paused, and allowed a sly smile to cross his mask. “I know Kulagi, and that is the exact reaction I’d expect to get from him.”

Kulagi collected himself to regain his composure. “Can you blame me? Usually when you appear, you’re about to give me some sort of punishment.”

“Wait, I know the name Kulagi,” Jaller said suddenly. “He has a lengthy criminal record!”

“Of course you would only remember that part,” Kulagi grumbled.

“He also is the Matoran who took down Gragu Nuva,” Dume said. “And he has been providing the guard with high powered discs since the war began. Now that we are done with introductions, how about you tell me about why you’re here, Kulagi.”

“Right, right,” Kulagi said, taking a deep breath. “I came to warn you about an imminent attack by the Dark Hunters on the Coliseum. They’ll be here shortly after night fall.”

“Impossible,” Jaller snorted dismissively. “The Toa are already facing off against a Dark Hunter offensive in Po-Metru.”

“But that fight is a ruse!” Kulagi said. “It’s meant to draw away the Toa and take the Coliseum!”

“You mean to tell me...” Jaller started, but Turaga Dume silenced him with a gesture.

“We still have formidable defenses here,” Dume said. “As well as a Toa guard. What makes the Dark Hunters believe this is an effective strategy?”

“Because…” Kulagi started, and his voice cracked. “Because they have a new weapon this time. It’s supposed to neutralize elemental powers. And it’s powered by the device Sufina created.”

“Then you were unable to obtain the mechanical portion of the device in Le-Metru?” Dume asked.

“Sufina and the others were returning to Ta-Metru with a prototype, but the Dark Hunters got one too,” Kulagi said. “And it sounds like they had someone familiar with the Nynrah Ghosts technology, because they already had something put together that just needed the power source.” He paused, and looked to the ground. “I’m sorry, Turaga, we failed in our mission.”

“Fret not, Kanoka Maker,” Turaga Dume said. “It was asking a lot for a small team of Matoran to go against the resourceful Dark Hunters. Failure was not desired, but it was not unforeseen, especially considering the effort these Hunters have gone to so far. You will not be judged for failing at an impossible mission; rather you will be judged for what you do next.” Dume flashed a smile. “Warning us of an surprise attack is not a bad start.”

“Can we trust him?” Jaller asked again.

“The Kanoka Maker would not by lying about something this important,” Dume said. “Jaller, please send a message to Ta-Metru, requesting backup immediately. They’re hoping to split our forces on two fronts again, but we have enough Toa on standby for just such an emergency.”

“On it, Turaga,” Jaller said, departing immediately.

“Meanwhile, we must inform the Toa who are stationed here,” Dume said. “Please follow me, Kulagi.

The Turaga led Kulagi through the Coliseum to planning room where the Toa were recuperating. Kulagi blinked as he entered; inside were Toa Gambar, Toa Nidhiki, and Toa Lanili.

“Hey, Turaga, what brings you here?” Nidhiki asked, catching sight of Dume first. “Did you change your mind and want us to head up to the Po-Metru battle right away?”

“You will actually be needed more here,” Dume said. “We have received some unfortunate news.”

Nidhiki tilted his head as he recognized Kulagi. “Hey, it’s that headstrong Onu-Matoran we saved earlier. I thought he was walking into some sort of Dark Hunter trap.”

Gambar ignored Nidhiki’s quip. “What news do you bring, Turaga?”

Dume gestured to Kulagi, who quickly repeated his warning about the Dark Hunter. Nidhiki and Lanili gasped at the news, but Gambar merely frowned.

“Quite a clever move on their part,” he said. “We may have taken the safety of the Coliseum for granted, and we currently don’t have the power to hold off their strike.”

“Excuse me, we’re some of the more elite Toa here,” Nidhiki said. “With some preparation, we can totally defend against a bunch of Hunters.”

“Except you are forgetting that the Dark Hunters will neutralize our elemental powers,” Gambar pointed out. “We are strong, true, but without our elements, we will be at a disadvantage. We can fight, but we won’t be able to hold the Coliseum between just the three of us.”

“What about the Vahki?” Lanili asked. “There are two large troops of Keerahk and Vorzakh stationed to protect the Coliseum, so surely they will help.”

“The Vahki won’t last for very long,” Kulagi pointed out. “Those robots will be wiped out in the first five minutes.”

“The Kanoka Maker is right,” Nidhiki admitted. “The Dark Hunters have cut through the Vahki like a chute's energized protodermis. We’re going to need reinforcements.”

“I have already sent out the message requesting backup,” Dume said. “All the same, we must prepare while we can. If the timetable Kulagi overheard is accurate, we only have a few hours before they’ll be at our gates.”

Suddenly a Matoran burst through the doorway; it was Jaller, and he was out of breath from sprinting. “Our communication lines, Turaga!” he said. “Our lines to Ta-Metru… they’ve been cut. Some of our major chutes are malfunctioning too. We can’t get a message out to our troops over there.”

Despite the news, Gambar chuckled. “Clever, clever Hunters,” he mused. “They have cut off our calls for help. That means they really thought this through. This will be a tough battle indeed.”

“There’s only one thing we can do now,” Lanili said. “We evacuate the Matoran and Turaga while we still can.”

Gambar shook his head. “Impossible. There’s a sizable population of refugees in the lower levels of the Coliseum. We won’t get them out in time, and they’d be vulnerable while on the move. Besides, the Coliseum is essential for controlling the power grid for Metru Nui. If we lose control here, it would be a major blow to us. Besides, the Coliseum remains one of the most fortified buildings on this island; if we can hold out anywhere, I’d want to make my last stand here.”

“That’s noble and all, but it won’t solve the immediate problem of the oncoming Dark Hunter army,” Nidhiki protested.

“All the same, we will fight to the bitter end,” Gambar said.

“What about the Matoran Guard?” Kulagi asked. “Can’t they help?”

Jaller shook his head. “We have two dozen Guards here, but we’re just Matoran. We don’t have weapons that can take down the Dark Hunters.”

“Of course you do!” Kulagi said. “Do you not arm all your guards with Kanoka discs? If used wisely, they can be very effective against Dark Hunters. I should know; they’ve helped me survive multiple Dark Hunter attacks in the last few days.” He paused. “Well, except I don’t have my usual arsenal at the moment, so my single disc won’t be super useful.”

“We do have supply of high powered discs stored nearby,” Dume said. “Some were intended to arm the guards, while others were to be shipped to Ta-Metru to be made into Kanohi, but at the moment we can make better use of them.”

“The Guard is well trained with Kanoka, but that still doesn’t mean we can overpower the Dark Hunters with just some discs,” Jaller protested.

“Luckily, we have a master Kanoka duelist with experience against our foes,” Dume said, turning to Kulagi. “So, Kanoka Maker, do you think you could help devise a strategy for using Kanoka against the oncoming Dark Hunters.”

“I suppose,” Kulagi said. “I guess I need to see what discs we have to work with first.”

“Jaller, Toa Gambar, please lead the Kanoka Maker to the armory,” Dume said. “Toa Lanili and Toa Nidhiki, oversee our fortifications and start making preparations for the Dark Hunter’s assault. Meanwhile, I will see about getting a message out to Ta-Metru. My pet Nivhawk should be able to reach them in about an hour. Not as fast as a message over the network, but faster than if we sent out a Matoran runner.”

Kulagi quickly left with Gambar and Jaller towards the armory. “Do you think you can come up with something that’ll help?” Jaller asked Kulagi.

Kulagi was already deep in thought, determining which of his methods would be best for the upcoming battle. “I hope so,” he said. “At the very least, it will let us hold out a bit longer. Kanoka dueling is often about utilizing the various powers of the disc to their full potential. But one important factor is the power level, so if we’ve only got weak discs, it won’t make much of a difference. I’ve seen Dark Hunters shrug off attacks by moderate powered discs, so if we’re going to hope to hold out against them, we’d need a lot of discs.”

“Will this suffice?” Gambar said, opening the door to the armory. Inside Kulagi could see the wall lined with spears and pikes, traditional weapons of the Matoran Guard. There were a few Toa weapons in storage as well, and a collection of launchers were hung on the far side of the room. But what caught Kulagi’s eye was in the corner of the armory; it was piles and piles of glittery Kanoka discs.

Before Jaller or Gambar had entered the room, Kulagi had rushed over and began examining the pile. “Level sevens, level eights!” he said. “Weakening discs, Enlarging discs, Freezing discs! You have every power here, multiple styles, and high powers! This is amazing.”

“These are the discs we have been collecting from Kanoka Makers for the war effort,” Jaller explained. “So that’s the best that Metru-Nui is able to offer.”

“I know!” Kulagi said, picking up an Onu-Metru disc with the code 628. “I think this is even one of mine. Never thought I’d see these again!”

“So, Kanoka Maker, do you think you can make a defense plan with these?” Gambar asked.

A grin spread across Kulagi’s mask. “I have many, many ideas for how to put these to use!” He paused, trying to keep his enthusiasm in check. He always got excited when he came across high powered discs, and this was more than he’d ever seen in one stop before.

“We have some work to do,” he said. “I need somebody to sort these discs by power, for ease of access when the battle starts. You should gather your best sharpshooters in the guards, especially any Akilini players or Kanoka Makers who might be around. We’ll want as many as we can who can adequately fire a launcher. And we can make some preparations outside too before the Dark Hunters appear.”

“What sort of preparations?” Gambar asked.

“Some of these powers will not work directly on the Dark Hunters,’ Kulagi explained. “But they will work on the environment, and we can use that to our advantage and turn it on the Hunters.” He nodded to the Toa of Earth. “We can make use of your element before they take it away.”

“Then lead the way, Kanoka Maker,” Gambar said. “Let’s see what you’ve come up with in that crazy head of yours.”

A few hours later, Kulagi stood on the outer battlement wall of the Coliseum, with about thirty other Matoran, all armed with Kanoka launchers. They were spread out along the wall, facing the south west region where the Dark Hunters would soon be arriving. They would be the main line of defense; inside the Coliseum, the rest of the Matoran refugees had moved to the more secure rooms, where they would be able to hold out best against a siege.

Kulagi had spent the last hour lecturing the various Matoran on his Kanoka dueling techniques. On one hand, he felt like he was giving away some of his better trade secrets, but he knew these would help give the Matoran a fighting chance. Most of the Matoran up with him were members of the guards, but there were a couple of Akilini players among them. There was also another Kanoka Maker with them; a Po-Matoran refugee named Hewkii who was known for crafting gaming discs. Kulagi was in good company, but he still would’ve preferred having Huaju, Triki, and Vakama at his side, because he already knew how they fought and could work with them.

In the distance, lights became visible on the ground, as the army of Dark Hunters approached. They had apparently given up on the stealth approach, since they knew that Kulagi had been able to get away and raise the alarm. However, they were still confident that they both outnumbered and overpowered the forces at the Coliseum.

As the army drew closer to the wall of the Coliseum, they spotted three figures standing at the entrance. Toa Gambar, Nidhiki, and Lanili were waiting for them, with weapons already drawn. The Dark Hunters came to a halt, and one stepped forward. It was Vengeance.

“Surrender, Toa,” he said, his mighty voice echoing through the air. “You don’t stand a chance against us.”

“We’ll be the judge of that, Dark Hunter,” Gambar responded. “Now run along, unless your head would like to meet my hammer again.”

Vengeance sneered, and raised his shield. This prompted the Dark Hunters behind him to draw their projectile launchers and fire. Vengeance, meanwhile, launched his Rhotuka at Gambar. But Nidhiki stepped forward, swinging his scythe. A massive gust of wind gusted in, blowing all the projectiles off course. Even Vengeance’s Rhotuka was swept aside, and struck the ground next to the Toa.

Lanili was the next to strike. Raising her lance, she summoned her power to control the plants, and vines started erupting from the ground, and proceeded to wrap around various Dark Hunters and hold them down. Then Gambar launched his attack; he slammed his fist into the ground, creating a rushing wave of earth to push through the Dark Hunters, throwing many off their feet.

Vengeance, however, ignored their displays of elemental powers and laughed. “Your powers are worthless to you now,” he said, and raised his fist into the air. This signaled the Dark Hunters at the rear of the army, and they activate the device. It emitted a faint glow, and then released a sudden shock wave that passed through the Dark Hunters and Toa, and then up over the Coliseum.

Kulagi felt a slight buzz as the shockwave hit him. After all, as a Matoran of Earth, he had dormant elemental energies, even if he couldn’t actually use them. But that was it for him and the other Matoran of the Guard. However, it had a greater effect on the three Toa, who immediately lost control of their elemental powers. The Dark Hunters laughed as the Toa visible stumbled.

“Without your elemental powers, you are nothing,” Vengeance sneered. “You won’t defeat us now.”

“Maybe, but we’re still going to try,” Gambar said. He reached down and picked up a rock, as if lamenting his lost powers over earth. But then his mask suddenly glowed, and he threw the rock, and it struck Vengeance in the head.

Vengeance stumbled back himself. “How did you do that?” he sneered.

Gambar tapped his mask. “Kanohi Sanok, the Great Mask of Accuracy. You see, we Toa have some other powers at our disposal besides out elements, and these weapons aren’t just for display.”

Vengeance narrowed his eyes. “Attack!” he ordered the Dark Hunters. “Slay these three Toa!”

Gambar charged himself, swinging his hammer at Vengeance, who blocked it with his shield. “Let’s finish what we left off in the tunnels,” the Toa of Earth said to the Dark Hunter.

Nidhiki and Lanili also drew their weapons and activated their mask powers. Nidhiki normal mask was the Volitak, the Great Mask of Stealth, but it wouldn’t do him much use in a battle, so he switched it to a Pakari, the Great Mask of Strength. Lanili had the Great Mask of Intangibility, which would let her phase through certain attacks. But all the same, it was three Toa against fifty Dark Hunters. While some of them focused on the Toa, others moved towards the Coliseum.

Now it was Kulagi’s turn. “This is what we’ve been waiting for,” he shouted to the other Matoran. “Load your launchers and take aim!”

The Dark Hunters pressed forward even as the Matoran took aim. When they were close enough, Kulagi shouted, “Fire!” The Matoran launched their discs, but they were not aiming at the Dark Hunters. Instead, they were aiming at large piles of stones that Gambar had set up earlier in the night. Kulagi had them fire Enlarging and Regeneration discs at the piles, and this caused the boulders to grow and replicate, and formed a sudden cascade that smashed into the oncoming wave of Dark Hunters, effectively knocking them back.

“I can’t believe that worked!” Jaller said, standing near Kulagi.

Kulagi nodded. “That trick works more often than not. Dark Hunters can handle a couple of discs, but not a barrage of rocks.”

“Still, that method’s not going to work multiple times,” Jaller pointed out.

“Then it’s a good thing we have multiple plans,” Kulagi said. “Okay, everybody, let’s fire the Freezing discs!”

The Matoran fired a volley of Freezing discs, which coated the ground in a thick layer of slippery ice. The Dark Hunters who had already recovered from the rockslide tried to move forward, but couldn’t get any traction on the ice. This made them vulnerable targets, and other Matoran opened fire with Weakening discs, blasting down the first wave of Dark Hunters entirely.

The Dark Hunter army began to switch tactics. As more charged, others opened fire on the Matoran. But Kulagi had prepared the Guard for this, and the Matoran were able to shrink down or teleport the projectiles with Kanoka, or deflect them entirely with Po-Metru discs. A few Dark Hunters took to the skies and tried to attack from the air, but the Matoran used Ko-Metru and Le-Metru discs on them, and the flying Dark Hunters found themselves frozen, weakened, or randomly reconstructed in the air, and that brought them back to the ground quickly.

The Matoran were not alone in their attacks either. Perched higher up on the walls of the Coliseum were the Vorzakh and Keerahk Vahki, who had been instructed to fire their stun staffs at the intruders. Their powers weren’t as effective against the Dark Hunters as they were against Matoran, but they were still able to weaken the resolve of the beings, making them more vulnerable to the Matoran’s Kanoka attacks.

A large Dark Hunter wearing thick red and gray armor, known as Kraata-Kal, charged across the ice, using his various clawed arms to get traction. But then he got hit by both the Vorzakh and Keerahk stun staffs, causing his mental function to deteriorate and for it to lose a sense of time and space. Dazed by the attack, Kraata-Kal was easy pickings for Kulagi, who hit him with a Shrinking Disc followed by a Weakening disc. When it was over, the armored Kraata-Kal was out cold on the ground.

The Matoran defense held, even as the Dark Hunters fought relentlessly. But the Matoran’s use of Kanoka was giving them an edge, and the efforts of the three Toa on the battlefield were keeping a significant portion of the Dark Hunters busy. Kulagi allowed himself a grin; they might actually survive this.

Out of the corner of his eye, Kulagi suddenly caught sight of a glint of silver. A dagger was flying through the air directly towards him. He just managed to fire a Teleportation disc at it, but the dagger teleported directly into a Vahki, instantly disabling it.

“I know that dagger,” Kulagi whispered. “Lariska!”

He turned and saw the danger approaching from the north west. Lariska was lading a small company of Dark Hunters to attack from a different direction. With her, Kulagi recognized two powerhouses in Charger and Krekka.

Some of the Matoran took notice of this, and fired at the newcomers. Some activated more of the rock traps, sending a cascade of boulders towards the Dark Hunters. But Charger and Krekka pushed forward and easily deflected the majority of the rocks, freeing up the other for an attack.

“The Dark Hunters brought reinforcements!” Jaller shouted to the Guard. “We need to open fire on them too. We need to...”

“Look out!” Hewkii shouted, pointing. Krekka had picked up Charger and used his strength to throw the entire Dark Hunter up towards the Coliseum, where he landed with a crunch on the battlement. The sapient mutated Kane-Ra got to his feet, towering over the Matoran, who backed away in fear.

But Kulagi pushed forward, arming his launcher with a disc labeled 117. “You’re a mutant already, aren’t you? Then you should be used to changing,” he said, and he fired the Reconstruct at Random disc.

Charger took the disc head on, and instantly began to change. His red armor started to turn green and scaly, and his head became less bull-like and more reptilian. While Charger was stunned by the changes, Kulagi shouted, “Weakening discs, now!” The Matoran Guard hit Charger with a volley of Weakening Kanoka, with a few Removes Poison discs added in for good measure. The attacks took a toll on the Dark Hunter, but he was not out for the count. He slammed his newly clawed hands into the battlement, causing the stone to crack.

Kulagi got an idea and rushed forward, firing an Enlarging discs. This caused Charger to grow, but his added weight was too much for the battlement, and the section beneath him gave way and Charger tumbled down the wall.

Unfortunately, more of the battlement crumbled away then Kulagi expected, and the Matoran scrambled away to avoid following Charger down the side of the structure. As he tried to flee, Jaller tripped and hit the ground. Kulagi raced forward to pull him up, but as he did so, the stone beneath his feet crumbled. He threw Jaller to safely, but it was too late for him, and he slid down the side of the Coliseum, towards the Dark Hunter army.

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Kulagi picked himself up out of the rubble. He was a little bruised, but otherwise unhurt from his sudden fall. The same could not be said for the reconstructed Charger, who had slammed his enlarged head into a stone and was out cold. Unfortunately, there were other Dark Hunters on the ground who were now focusing on Kulagi.

One stepped forward, and Kulagi recognized Hakann. The Skakdi was a little worse for wear after his earlier fall, but he was still ready for battle. He grinned a toothy grin as he sighted Kulagi. “Well, look who else crawled out of the canyon in Le-Metru.”

Kulagi glanced around, trying to figure out a way to fight back, since he had left his bag of Kanoka up on the battlement. To stall, he said, “So which of your powers are you going to try to use on me this time, Piraka?”

“I am at a bit of a disadvantage,” Hakann admitted. “Our secret weapon neutralized my lava launcher, and my head hasn’t cleared enough to do a proper mental blast. However, for you, Onu-Matoran, all I need are some claws and muscles to rip you apart.”

“If you think it’ll be that easy, why don’t you just try to take me on,” Kulagi bluffed.

“I haven’t decided which limb to rip off first,” Hakann shot back.

But their conversation was cut short as something landed nearby. It was Kulagi’s bag of Kanoka; he glanced up and saw that Jaller had tossed it down to him.

Kulagi darted for the bag, but Hakann acted too. “I still have one power left,” he said, firing his heat beam vision. The blast narrowly missed Kulagi, who dived and grabbed his bag. He snatched up a Kanoka labeled 236 and fired it at Hakann. Hakann ducked and fired his heat beam vision again, forcing Kulagi to dodge. But as he moved to pursue the Matoran, the Ga-Metru disc swerved around and struck Hakann square in the back, dazing him. Meanwhile, Kulagi darted away. But he was now in the middle of a battlefield of Dark Hunters; there was nowhere for him to run, and nowhere to hide.

Another Dark Hunter focused on him; it was the dark blue Krekka. “Krekka remembers you!” he said, firing a Kanoka from his shoulder launcher.

Kulagi dodged the disc, but it had been poorly aimed to begin with, so it was easy to evade. He fired a Freezing disc at Krekka, but the Dark Hunter quickly broke through the ice and threw his fist at Kulagi. This time, he only narrowly dodged the attack, and he was thrown on his back. Krekka drew back his fist and lifted his foot, preparing to crush Kulagi. But suddenly, there was a roar in the air, and he looked up to find the source of the sound.

Suddenly, a volley of Kanoka hit Krekka in the chest, causing him to stumble back. Kulagi got to his feet and looked up. The discs hadn’t been fired from the Guard on the Coliseum battlement, but rather from high up in the air. In the darkness, he could just make out the shapes of Hover Bikes dropping down from the skies.

The Matoran Guard could be heard cheering, and Kulagi realized that reinforcements from Ta-Metru had finally arrived. Matoran on Hover-Bikes were flying over the battlefield, firing down at the Dark Hunters and then flying away before they could retaliate. But that wasn’t the only thing in the sky; a Ta-Metru airship was approaching. As it passed over the battlefield, beings began to drop down to the ground. They were Toa, coming to the aid of Gambar, Nidhiki, and Lanili.

Vengeance, who had been locked in battle with Gambar, finally managed to knock the Toa of Earth down. But he looked up at the airship and cursed. “They are just delaying the inevitable!” he snarled.

A red and gold figure glided down towards the battlefield on a massive hover-board. As he approached Vengeance, he split his hover-board into two great swords and landed with each in hand. It was Toa Lhikan.

Vengeance narrowed his eyes. “So the mighty Toa general joins the fight at last. I must say, this is a pleasant surprise; I never expected the chance to get rid of you.”

“I won’t go down easily, Dark Hunter,” Lhikan said, gripping his weapons.

Vengeance laughed. “Sure you will. Even the mighty Toa of Fire will fall without his precious elemental powers!”

But Vengeance was cut short as Lhikan caught him in the jaw with his swords. “I happen to be pretty skilled with a blade,” he said. “Perhaps you should take that into consideration.”

Vengeance sneered and fired his Rhotuka, but Lhikan activated his Kanohi Hau, Mask of Shielding, and blocked the spinner entirely. Enraged, Vengeance swung his shield, and Lhikan parried it with his swords. The two quickly entered a fierce fight, where only one would be left standing.

But something else had dropped down from the airship, and it wasn’t a Toa. It was a large piece of machinery, with heavy armor, clawed arms, and built in blasters. Behind a blast shield, Kulagi could just make out the Huna of Vakama, and realized that the Ta-Matoran was piloting one of the devices he had seen blueprints for. Vakama was in an Exo-Matoran suit.

A couple of Dark Hunters sighted this and laughed. “Look at this Matoran in his battle armor,” one of them said. “Easy pickings.”

Vakama activated the armor, and swung the armor’s arm. It struck the Dark Hunter and sent him flying. The other Dark Hunters were so surprised by the armor’s strength that they weren’t ready when Vakama fired his blaster, blowing three more Hunters down.

However, the Exo-Matoran suit had also distracted Kulagi for too long, and he turned to realized that Krekka was back up and about to pound him. But then a Kanoka flew straight and true, and teleported Krekka out of sight. Kulagi looked up and saw two Hover-Bikes fly down and land next to him. One was piloted by Huaju with Triki behind him, and the other hand Agni at the controls with Sufina seated behind him.

“What’s going on here?” Kulagi asked, surprised at the sudden appearance of his friends. Sufina leapt off her bike and quickly hugged him.

“We got Turaga Dume’s message that the Coliseum was being attacked,” Agni said. “We mustered what forces we could to come to your aid right away.”

“So you guys got back from Le-Metru alright?” Kulagi asked.

“Obviously!” Sufina said. “We weren’t the ones chasing after Dark Hunters, after all. I’m so glad you’re okay.”

“We got back to Ta-Metru in record time, and got the device to Vakama,” Huaju explained. “As you can see, he’s already put it to use, and got one of the prototype Exo-Matoran armor suits up and running. Sadly, he just has one at the moment, but for now it’s just as good as another Toa.”

“However, it may be too little, too late,” Agni said. “We got word that the predicted Po-Metru attack was not as strong as expected. We fear they’re diverting more of their forces to the Coliseum, and the Toa up there won’t be able to make it in time.”

“Lariska has already arrived with more Dark Hunters, so that’s maybe sixty or seventy that we’re dealing with,” Kulagi said. “More Toa will help, but without their elemental powers, it might not be enough.”

“That’s why we have one last mission,” Sufina said. “We need to take out that device the Dark Hunters put together. Our report says that it’s hindering the Toa’s elemental powers, so if we destroy it, then the Toa can end this.”

“Vakama gave you that mission in the middle of a battle?” Kulagi asked incredulously

“Nopey nope nope,” Triki said. “Idea was Sufina’s.”

“Your idea?” Kulagi repeated.

“Yes,” Sufina said. “Whether it’s true or not, I still feel that it’s my fault the Dark Hunters got that device. So I need to make this right. And I’m the only one with the expertise to properly dismantle it.”

“And the rest of us volunteered to help her out,” Huaju said. “So, want to join us?”

“You guys are the craziest friends a Matoran could have,” Kulagi said, but he grinned. “Of course, I’m in.”

“Coolio!” Triki said. “I quick-got new supply of discs too, so it’s time to Reconstruct at Random!”

“I need to get to that device, and I’ll need the rest of you to give me cover,” Sufina said.

“And to get to it, we’ll have to push through an army of Dark Hunters,” Kulagi said. “This won’t be easy.”

“But we’ve got a plan,” Huaju said. “I’ll be providing air support on my Hover-Bike. Kulagi and Triki will be ground support for Sufina.”

“And I’ll go inform the Guard on the Coliseum of the plan,” Agni said, starting up his Hover-Bike. “We’ll support you the best we can from there.”

“Alright,” Sufina said, grabbing her launcher. “Let’s go, everyone.”

Agni and Huaju took to the air, as Sufina, Kulagi, and Triki moved forward on foot. But they hadn’t got far before a Dark Hunter crossed their path. Kulagi felt a chill, it was none other than the mastermind behind their entire operation, Lariska.

“Three little Matoran, all in way over their masks,” she said. “Who would like a dagger first?”

“Ooh, you’re giving away free daggers?” Triki asked happily. “I want one. I’ll trade you a Reconstruct at Random disc.”

“You’re the two Matoran who escape from us in Po-Metru,” Lariska said, narrowing her eyes. “Don’t know who the Ga-Matoran is, but her mask will also sparkle in my collection.”

She ducked as Triki fired a disc at her. “If you want masks so much, just ask,” Triki said. “Can hook you up with Ta-Dudes who make cool Kanohi. No need to smash-hurt others for their masks.”

“You are an annoying bunch,” Lariska grumbled, pointing a dagger at Triki. “You’re first.”

“Ooh, we’re doing trade after all!” Triki exclaimed. “Okay, my disc first!”

Before Lariska could react, she got hit from behind by Triki’s disc, which has been a Ga-Metru Reconstruct at Random disc that he had controlled with his mind. But it had been too low of a power level to alter Lariska, who reached for another dagger. But before she could throw that one, she got hit by a much larger object; Gambar’s hammer.

The Toa of Earth placed himself between the three Matoran and Roodaka. “You need any help?” he asked.

“We have a plan...” Sufina started.

“Then follow through with it,” Gambar said. “Lariska is mine.”

Kulagi and the others took off, and Lariska regain her composure. Before trading insults with Gambar, she threw three daggers towards him, but Gambar retaliated by throwing three stones, which knocked Lariska’s blade out of the air.

Lariska narrowed her eyes. “A Mask of Accuracy, eh? I suppose not everyone has it come to them naturally.”

“It does a good job of rounding out my powers,” Gambar said.

“Then I guess we’ll have to go with hand to hand combat,” Lariska said, drawing yet another dagger. She darted forward, attempting to stab Gambar, but he parried her with his war hammer. Lariska was fast and skilled with a blade, but Gambar was strong with tough armor, so their skills countered each other. Lariska couldn’t get too close to get in a powerful strike, because it meant Gambar could deliver an even stronger blow to her, so she was forced to attack quickly, but her blades merely scratched his armor.

While the fight between Gambar and Lariska was at a stalemate, it was keeping her from following the Matoran. The three of them sprinted across the battlefield, ducking around oncoming Dark Hunters when they could. Luckily, there were now enough combatants on the field that the Dark Hunters were quick to overlook some Matoran. Those that did focus on them then had to content with their Kanoka discs. Meanwhile, Huaju flew in the air above them, weaving around projectiles shot up towards him and firing down to keep their path clear.

But that still wasn’t enough to keep back some of the Dark Hunters, especially those with a grudge. Krekka reappeared, having been teleported to the other side of the battlefield. He sighted Kulagi and charged, and the three Matoran barely avoided his first strike.

“Hey big blue,” Triki said, firing a disc. “I wonder what you’ll reconstruct into!”

The disc hit Krekka’s eye, and caused him to wince. But he stared down at the Le-Matoran. “Krekka already caught you,” he said.

“Triki then got uncaught,” Triki said. “You can try to recatch, but that game old now.”

Meanwhile, Kulagi and Sufina simultaneously fired Weakening discs, but they hardly seemed to faze the powerhouse. Krekka glared at all of them. “Stop shooting discs!” he snarled.

“How about punchy-punch punch then?” Triki asked, swinging his small fists.

“Puny Matoran can’t hurt Krekka with a punch,” Krekka said.

“Not a Triki punch,” Triki said. “A robot-armed Vakama super punch!”

Before Krekka could turn, something slammed into his side and threw him down. It was Vakama in the Exo-Matoran suit. He nodded to Kulagi and the others. “Following through with Sufina’s plan?” he asked.

“Working on it,” Kulagi said. “Nice armor, Mask Maker!”

“It does the trick,” Vakama said. “And Sufina’s power source really makes it come to life. I’ll hold off this brute; you move on!”

“Got it, Ta-Dude!” Triki exclaimed, as he followed Sufina and Kulagi. Krekka meanwhile rose back to his feet, but Vakama was already delivering a sucker punch to his head. Krekka hit the ground, dazed, but Vakama wasn’t done with him yet. He used the armor to lift the behemoth up and then threw him into a crowd of Dark Hunters, pinning some of them beneath their comrade.

“This suit is great!” Vakama said to himself. “Now who’s next?”

Kulagi took cover behind a pile of debris with Sufina and Triki. “Okay, we’re nearly halfway there now,” he said. “But there are still plenty of Dark Hunters in the way. We’ll move when the coast is clear.”

“I’ll check!” Triki said, peaking over the debris. But then there was a flash of heat vision, and he ducked down. “Coast is very, very unclear.”

The debris started to heat up, and Kulagi shouted, “Move!” The three darted away as a blast of heat vision obliterated the debris pile they had been using for cover. Kulagi looked up to see three Dark Hunters approaching them: Hakann, Optics, and Triglax.

“End of the line, Matoran,” Hakann snarled. “We finish this now.”

“I say we finish later!” Triki shouted, lifting his launcher. “Reconstructify!” However, his disc launcher had taken damage in Hakann’s last attack, and it spit apart in his hands and the Kanoka fell to his feet. Triki paused, and said, “I think this may be broken.”

Kulagi and Sufina aimed their discs, but with three opponents, they didn’t know who to shoot first. However, help came from above, as Huaju dove down and fired a disc at them. Hakann dodged it, and glared up at the Hover-Bike. “Optics, why don’t you make yourself useful and take out that Po-Matoran.”

“I don’t see how I am qualified to take down a Hover-Bike,” Optics stated.

“You can fly, you bird brain,” Hakann snapped. “Now do it before I remember that you abandoned me in Le-Metru.”

“Very well,” Optics said, taking flight to go after Huaju.

Meanwhile, Hakann turned back to the Matoran. “Now this time I will roast each and every one of you…” He paused at Triki threw the remains of his launcher and it hit him in the face.

“Hey, red and ugly,” Triki said. “You owe me a new launcher. I want mine to be green, kay.”

“I’m going to shut you up, once and for all,” Hakann snarled, firing his heat beam vision again, but Triki dodged around it with ease.

“Why don’t you quick-pick on somebody of you-size!” Triki shouted. Then he nodded to Sufina and said, “Megafy me!”

“What does he mean?” Kulagi asked, but Sufina was already acting. She loaded a disc number 556 into her launcher and fired it at Triki. The Enlarging disc activated, and Triki grew four times taller, now at eye level with Hakann, who stepped back in confusion.

“TRIKI SMASH!” Triki shouted, leaping forward. He threw his large fist and it collided with Hakann’s face, chipping a couple of his teeth upon contact. Hakann tried to recover, but Triki was already on top of him, delivering more blows.

“What the…” Kulagi asked, staring at his enlarged friend.

“He got inspired after he heard that you and Huaju shrunk Hakann down earlier,” Sufina said. “Honestly, not a bad plan, although a little riskier than I’d like to go through.”

“Well, that just leaves us with one,” Kulagi said, turning around. Triglax was patiently standing in their way, with a sly grin on his face and a Kanoka launcher in his hands.

“I know it’s only been a few days, but it feels like such a reunion,” he said. “How are you holding up, Sufina? You weren’t looking so good when I last saw you in Po-Metru.”

Sufina gasped. “Glax!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, it’s me,” Triglax said. “Although I may look slightly different; the side effects of being a shape shifter, I guess. Remember all those adventures we shared in Ga-Metru? Good times, right?”

Sufina trained her launcher on Triglax. “You! You were the one who betrayed us!”

“Sorry, Kulagi already tried the whole guilt thing on me,” Triglax said. “Didn’t work then, won’t work now, although your mask is much prettier than his.”

“So you want another duel, Glax?” Kulagi asked, firing his Kanoka. “You got it.”

Triglax ducked beneath Kulagi’s disc and fired one of his own, and the Ko-Metru disc headed directly towards Kulagi. But Kulagi had already loaded in a Po-Metru Freezing disc, which deflected Triglax’s disc and struck him in the leg, icing it over. Meanwhile, Sufina fired a Weakening disc herself at Triglax. He flexed his muscles to shatter the ice on his leg, and then ducked to avoid Sufina’s disc too.

Kulagi charged forward, firing an Onu-Metru Reconstruct at Random disc. Triglax expertly dodged that disc too, and fired another Ko-Metru Weakening disc. Kulagi tried to dodge, but the disc diverted its course and struck him dead on, and he hit the ground.

Before Triglax could gloat, a Weakening disc hit him in the back of the head. Sufina’s disc had been a Ga-Metru disc, and she mentally commanded it to fly back around after she had missed the first time. While Triglax was dazed, Kulagi summoned all his strength and lifted his own launcher, where his Onu-Metru disc had returned after he had missed. He fired it, and hit Triglax straight on, and the Dark Hunter started to change.

Sufina rushed over to Kulagi, and pulled out a Regeneration disc and fired it at him. The disc helped restore some of Kulagi’s energy, and he got to his feet. But he wasn’t the only one recovering; Triglax was also shrugging off the reconstruction and returning to his spindly yellow form.

“Reconstruct at Random is another useless power to use on a shape shifter,” he pointed out. “Although I’ll admit that it stung a bit to change back.”

“I’ll get you!” Sufina said, her eyes raging. She darted forward, loading another disc in her launcher, but Triglax was too fast, and grabbed her by the neck before she could fire.

“You’ll do what?” Triglax asked mockingly. “You failed, Sufina, and you just need to admit that to yourself.”

Kulagi was back up, and fired another disc. Triglax tried to dodge it, but too late he realized that it was also a Ko-Metru disc, and it changed directions and struck him directly. Instantly, the changes took place, and Triglax shrunk down to a Matoran’s size.

Kulagi was still trying to catch his breath from the earlier attack, but he still smirked and said, “Here’s your disc back, Glax.”

Triglax shook his head to clear it. “I thought we covered this, Kanoka Maker, but Shrinking discs are wasted on shapeshifters. I can just grow back to my usual size and…”

“You won’t get the chance!” Sufina yelled. Before Triglax could respond, she threw her fist and punched him in the face. Triglax crumbled, but Sufina leapt on top of him and delivered blow after blow.

“You’re the reason the Dark Hunters got my work!” she shouted as she landed her punches. “You’re the reason this battle is happening. You betrayed us, you sold us out!” Tears began to stream down her mask. “And I trusted you! I thought you were a great Matoran, someone who went out of their way to help, but all along you were lying to us. You were lying to me!”

Triglax tried to push the Ga-Matoran off him, but Sufina’s attacks were coming so fast that he couldn’t summon the strength to shapeshift. Her blows were also taking a toll on his face, as his armor began to fracture.

“Everything that’s gone wrong, all my failures, they lead back to you!” Sufina cried out. “It’s all because I trusted you!” She grabbed a nearby stone and lifted it over her head, ready to smash it down on Triglax’s face.

“Wait!” Kulagi said, grabbing Sufina’s hand. “That’s enough.”

Sufina was trembling, anger still flowing through her. “But he’s done so much wrong… he betrayed us!”

“Yes,” Kulagi admitted. “And now he’s down for the count. You don’t need to go further.”

“Why not?” Sufina asked.

“Because that’s what makes us better than them,” Kulagi said. He glanced down at Triglax, who was only barely conscious. “You once said the two of us were alike. I won’t deny that there are similarities, but in the end, you’re still a dastardly Dark Hunter, who will stoop to all sorts of lows to get what he wants. And that is why I am better than you. That is why the Matoran are all better than you.”

“You… can’t win,” Triglax stuttered.

“Just watch us,” Kulagi said, taking Sufina’s hand. “Let’s go, we have a device to destroy.”

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  • 1 month later...


The battle raged around the Coliseum. The Dark Hunters outnumbered their advisories, but the Toa and Matoran were putting up a stronger fight than expected. Lhikan and Vengeance were locked in a battle, with the two exchanging blows and trying to outdo the other. Their fighting was so fierce that the other Dark Hunters gave them plenty of space, for fear of getting caught in their conflict.

The other Toa were fighting gallantly as well, but they were only just holding out. Gambar was able to keep Lariska occupied, but she was too fast and agile that he wasn’t able to land any solid blows, and was just able to keep her attention focused on him and prevent her from landing any deadly strikes herself. Lanili and Nidhiki had teamed up to fight Kavihkli who, despite taking damage in his earlier chase with Kulagi, was still able to hold out against the two elite Toa. Whether because he was too preoccupied with the fight or he was affected by the element neutralization, he seemed unable to summon his poisonous powers to use on the Toa.

The Toa weren’t the only combatants. There were still Matoran in the skies atop Hover-Bikes who were now taking on some Dark Hunters who had activated their flight modes. Among them was Huaju, who was now in an aerial chase with Optics. The winger Dark Hunter didn’t have any weapons or powers that he could use to tear down Huaju from a distance, but he was fast and he had claws, so Huaju had to make sure he didn’t let the Dark Hunter catch up to him.

On the ground, Vakama was having success in his Exo-Matoran suit. The Dark Hunters had seen him take down Krekka, so now they were hesitant to get too close. Some tried to use their weapons or various powers to strike him down from a distance, but his armor was too strong and held up to their attacks. Some Dark Hunters attacked, sure that they had the strength to rip apart the armor suit, but Vakama was too skilled with the controls that he wasn’t giving them a chance to dismantle it.

The Dark Hunters were also avoiding the battle between the enlarged Triki and Hakann. Hakann had recovered from his initial shock, and was now fighting Triki tooth and nail. But Triki was still more agile than him, and managed to dodge around his deadly blows, and continued to throw strikes of his own. Hakann had prided himself on being an excellent hand to hand combatant, where he would figure out his opponent’s moves and determine the best countermove. However, Triki’s fighting style was too eccentric and random, and Hakann was not able to keep up with this. The other Dark Hunters could’ve easily intervened and subdued Triki, but none of them were fans of Hakann, and they were enjoying watching him get pummeled by an overly large Matoran. Triki himself was also enjoying the fight, as if it was really a game, and kept shouting nonsense at Hakann, which only annoyed him further.

But while the Toa and their Matoran allies on the ground weren’t losing, they were in a stalemate at best. And they were outnumbered; this left plenty of Dark Hunters to focus on the task of taking the Colisuem. They had already blasted apart the battlement where the Matoran Guard had previously been stationed, and they had wiped out most of the Vahki swarms. Jaller and Agni had led the guards in a short retreat, where they fell back to a more secure location. They were still using the Kanoka techniques Kulagi had taught them to hold off the advancing Dark Hunters, but they were starting to go through their supply of Kanoka. They could hold out a while longer, but if the battle didn’t end soon, then the Dark Hunters would be able to capture the Coliseum.

Meanwhile, Kulagi and Sufina rushed towards the device on the far end of the battlefield. There were fewer Dark Hunters in their way now, but Kulagi kept pulling them behind rocks and other piles of debris to keep them hidden. But they were almost there.

Kulagi glanced around their hiding spot and got a closer look at the device for the first time. It appeared to be a large cylinder, with lots of tubes and wiring connecting to it. It was built atop a mobile platform, which the Dark Hunters had pushed all the way from Ko-Metru. It was continuously humming and emitting a pale yellow light, which Kulagi assumed had something to do with the dampening of the Toa’s elemental powers.

“Okay, we’re almost there,” Kulagi whispered to Sufina. “Now what do we do?”

“I need to find my power source,” Sufina said. She patted her bag that she had been carrying. “I have some chemicals in here that will help me dismantle it, but it’ll take some time and a lot of concentration.”

“Why don’t we just smash it with a good Weakening disc?” Kulagi asked.

“Because we can’t just damage it,” Sufina said. “If we do that, we might win this battle, but the Dark Hunters could repair it and use it in the future. I want to make sure this particular one will never work again.”

“Fair enough,” Kulagi said. “I think we’re good, let’s get over to this device and shut it down. I don’t think there are even any guards at the moment.”

The two Matoran rushed over and climbed up on the platform. Kulagi could see an extensive control panel, with a lot of dials and levers. But he didn’t see anything that resembled the power source device that the Dark Hunters had stolen.

“Where is it?” he wondered.

“It might be inside the machine somewhere,” Sufina said, pulling a wrench from her bag. “I think I can pry this compartment opened here to take a look inside.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” said a raspy voice. Kulagi and Sufina turned to see a Matoran standing on the other side of the platform. But he was not an ordinary Matoran; he had odd growths on his body and limbs, and his mask appeared to have been partially fused into his head. He was gripping onto a rusty blade, and pointed it at the two Matoran.

“This is my contraption,” he snarled. “Hands off.”

“You’re Phantom?” Kulagi asked. “The Dark Hunter who worked for the Nynrah Ghosts?”

“So you’ve heard of me?” Phantom said with a wicked laugh. “Indeed, I used to be one of the Nynrah Ghosts, but after this mutation, they shunned me. But I have perfected this device, and now it will be used to bring all the Toa to their knees and...”

He was cut off as Kulagi shot him with a Weakening disc, and he fell over unconscious.

“Yeah, I’ve heard of you,” Kulagi said to his fallen foe. “Turns out the only way to get your toy to work was to steal from Sufina. So if you don’t mind, I think we’re going to break this now.”

Unfazed by the interruption, Sufina began prying apart the device. Once she got the compartment opened, she glanced inside, and let out a shout. “Okay, I see where they plugged in the power source. But I’ll have to get to it from the other side.”

“Why not just yank it out and we can destroy it on the go?” Kulagi asked.

“Because that might cause this whole thing to explode,” Sufina said nonchalantly. “Part of my job was to get something that provided power without the risk of an explosive chain reaction. On its own, the device is stable, but if I start messing with it in the wrong way, especially when it’s in use…”

“Okay, I get it,” Kulagi said. “So hurry up and…” he glanced back to the battlefield and cursed.

“What’s wrong?” Sufina asked, spooked.

“We’ve got trouble coming,” Kulagi said, grabbing his launched. “Fix this as quickly as possible.”

Sufina went to work on the machine, and Kulagi jumped off the device and stared down his next advisory. It was Lariska.

“I thought Toa Gambar was dealing with you,” Kulagi said, gripping his launcher.

“The Toa of Earth could only take so many jabs with a poisoned dagger,” Lariska commented. “Haven’t killed him yet; I wanted to deal with you first. Somehow I knew you’d be over here.”

“So this was your big plan all along?” Kulagi asked, trying to buy time. “Build something that takes away the Toa’s main advantage, and use something from the Matoran to do it.”

“Indeed, but you little guys did not make that easy for us,” Lariska said. “In some ways, I wish I had killed you when I first intercepted you in Po-Metru. Maybe I was holding back.”

“Oh, you weren’t holding back,” Kulagi shot. “I’m just that good.”

Lariska narrowed her red eyes. “But then again, you have been very beneficial to our cause after all, Kulagi the Kanoka Maker. You led a disguised Triglax right to the power source in Po-Metru, and then you led Optics right to the mechanical converter in Le-Metru. Without you, we wouldn’t have gotten this contraption together quite as fast as we did.”

“So what I’m hearing you say is that you Dark Hunters needed a Matoran to do your dirty work,” Kulagi said.

“We manipulated you to get what we want,” Lariska snarled.

“Is this supposed to scare me?” Kulagi asked. “Or demoralize me? Really just makes me feel better about myself, considering how pathetic you lot are. I mean, you vastly outnumber the Toa and yet you still can’t win.”

Lariska drew a dagger with her metallic arm. “So you’re saying that the time for talk is over, Matoran? I know what you’re doing; trying to converse with me will only extend your life for so long.”

“I don’t need to worry about whatever you’re going to throw at me,” Kulagi said. “I have two things that you Dark Hunters will never have. I have friends that I know will come through for me.”

“Is that so,” Lariska said. With a flick of her wrist, she threw the dagger, aiming for Kulagi’s heartlight. But Kulagi already had a disc in his launcher, and he fired, teleporting the dagger out of sight.

“I should also mention the second thing I have that you don’t,” he said. “It’s high powered Kanoka discs.”

“I am going to enjoy crushing your mask,” Lariska snarled, and she darted forward, daggers in hand.

Kulagi stepped on a large boulder even as the Dark Hunter charged forward. At the last possible moment, he fired an Enlarging disc at the rock, causing it to expand rapidly. The expansion was enough to give him a boost up in the air, and Lariska’s dagger merely hit stone. Meanwhile, Kulagi flipped in the air above up, and fired a Le-Metru Regeneration disc as he did so. But Lariska noted that his flip was ill timed, and the disc merely shot up directly in the air instead of towards her.

Kulagi landed and was already reloading in another disc. Lariska drew a poisoned dagger and threw it at him, and he narrowly dodged it. As he recovered, he fired a Ta-Metru disc, which struck Lariska painfully. She knelt down, apparently in pain, but it was just a ruse. As Kulagi let his guard down, she threw another poisoned dagger, and although Kulagi tried to dodge it, it still grazed his arm.

Lariska laughed. “It’s over now, Matoran. That poison will render you comatose in a matter of minutes.”

“What poison?” Kulagi asked, firing a Freezing disc. Lariska lifted her arm to block it, but she wasn’t fast enough and it activated, covering her robotic arm in ice. She turned and slammed it against the large stone to shatter the ice and free her arm.

“You were hit by my poisoned daggers,” Lariska continued. “If the one won’t do, I’ll just have to apply a second.” But as she lifted her dagger, she frowned as she noticed the green glow of the poison was missing.

“Yeah, about that,” Kulagi said. “That earlier disc I hit you with was a Removes Poison disc, so those are probably just ordinary daggers now.”

“Poisoned or not, they’ll still cut deep,” Lariska snarled, throwing two at once. Kulagi tried to dodge them, but while he was able to duck down and allow one to sail over his shoulder, he wasn’t as lucky with the second, which embedded itself in his left leg joint. He immediately lost the ability to move it, and struggled to keep his balance with only one good leg.

Lariska grinned at Kulagi’s attempts to remain standing. “You Matoran just don’t know when to quit,” she said.

Kulagi quickly loaded in a Ko-Matoran Weakening disc and took aim at Lariska, but didn’t fire. “We Matoran are a determined bunch,” he said. “I’m not going to bow down to the likes of the Turaga or Vahki, who I know are on my side. I sure won’t back down to the likes of you, Dark Hunter.”

Lariska laughed at his bravo, but then narrowed her eyes again. Kulagi was aiming at her, but not firing. “What are you waiting for, Matoran?” she sneered. “Just take you last shot.”

“I just want to make it count,” Kulagi said, focusing all his energy on keeping stable.

“A single disc won’t take me down,” Lariska said. “So just surrender and I’ll make your death mostly painless...”

Kulagi fired. Lariska drew her dagger, ready to stab the disc out of the air, as she had done before. But then she noticed a green blur. It was the Le-Metru Regeneration Kanoka he had fired earlier. Kulagi has purposely shot it straight up, so once it had reached the apex of its flight, it would fall right back down. And the Kanoka Maker had timed it just right, and as it fell it hit his Ko-Metru Weakening disc, already in flight. The Weakening disc was replicated tenfold, and due to the Ko-Metru properties of the disc, they all zeroed in on Lariska. Even she wasn’t able to block this barrage of disc attacks, and after a succession of explosions, she collapsed to the ground.

Kulagi grinned. “And that is how you use Kanoka,” he said. He reached down and pried the dagger from his leg. He was able to gain some mobility now, but it was limited and extremely painful. Kulagi hobbled over to the device, where Sufina was still hard at work.

“How’s it coming along?” he asked.

“Almost got it,” Sufina said. “Just a few more chemical adjustments, and this thing will be a goner.”

Suddenly, cold steel grabbed Kulagi by the neck and lifted him up. Lariska had already recovered from the attack, but she was bruised and beaten and nearly worn out. Yet she still had more strength in her than Kulagi, and she started to squeeze. “Die, you stupid Matoran,” she snarled.

“Kulagi!” Sufina cried out. She tried to reach her Kanoka launcher, but Lariska kicked her and knocked her hard against the panel.

“I will make your death as painful as I can,” Lariska snarled, pulling Kulagi’s mask close to her reptilian face. “But before you cross over to the sweet release of death, I’m going to make you watch as I kill your friend here first. And I will make her suffer too.”

Kulagi tried to fight back, but Lariska’s grip was too tight, and his energy was all but spent. His mind flashed, trying to think of a way out, but nothing was coming to him. There was no trick he could pull off now to get away.

But then something hit Lariska in the back. It was a Ko-Metru disc, and it’s shrinking powers instantly took over, bringing Lariska down to Kulagi’s size. As she shrunk, she was forced to release Kulagi.

“Who shot that?” she demanded, glancing around. She could see no one else nearby, but then who had caught her off guard with yet another Kanoka?

Kulagi was going to use her moment of shock to get the upper hand. He took the dagger that had been embedded in his leg and thrust it forward, sinking the blade into Lariska’s good arm. Lariska howled in pain, but then swung her fully robotic arm and struck Kulagi. Although she was smaller now, she still had the strength to send him flying.

“This setback will not stop me,” she shouted. “I will still kill you.”

“Not if I have something to say about it!” Sufina charged forward and tackled Lariska, throwing her down to. Lariska pushed her off, but then had to parry some blows from the Ga-Matoran.

“Looks like the pretty chemist can throw a punch after all,” she mocked.

“I can do more than that,” Sufina said, pulling out a vial and throwing it at Lariska. Lariska lifted her robotic arm to shield her, and the vial smashed and covered her prosthetic with its contents. But then to Lariska’s horror, the metal on her robotic arm began to smoke.

“Just a little chemical I put together to eat through the toughest protodermis,” Sufina said. “Since that’s part of you and not just armor, it must be extremely painful.”

Indeed, Lariska was just barely able to keep herself from screaming. She tried to back up, but tripped and fell off the mobile platform. As she lay on the ground, Sufina lifted her launcher and fired a Weakening disc point blank. This time, Lariska did not get up.

Kulagi pushed himself to his feet, massaging his throat. “Wow, Sufina, that was amazing,” he said.

Sufina smiled weakly; now that the fight was over, she started trembling. “That has to be the most frightening experience I’ve ever had,” she admitted. “Even more so than being kidnapped by Gragu.”

“So the device?” Kulagi asked.

“Right, right,” Sufina said, taking a few deep breaths to calm her nerves. “Just a few more chemicals to apply, and then this thing will go out like a broken lightstone.”

As Sufina went back to work, Kulagi hobbled over to the fallen Lariska. He was also wondering where the spare shrinking disc had come from, but then he caught sight of it on the ground next to Lariska. He recognized the code.

He felt a presence next to him, and Kulagi turned to see the Matoran Glax standing nearby. Only he knew it wasn’t Glax, but rather a transformed Triglax.

“You fired that disc,” Kulagi stated. “Why?”

“We’re even now,” Triglax said.

“I don’t get it.”

“You stopped your ally from killing me,” Triglax explained. “And now I just did the same. There’s a clean slate between us.”

Kulagi sighed. “So I suppose now you’re here to stop us once more?”

Triglax shrugged. “I don’t see the benefit in it anymore. Lariska’s plan has clearly failed. If I know anything about Sufina, then she’s moments away from turning off that device for good. Then the rest of these Dark Hunters are going to get a nasty taste of elemental powers. I think I’ll take this chance to get away before I sustain further injuries.”

“You’re leaving the Dark Hunters?” Kulagi asked.

“No, that’s not a very wise option for me,” Triglax said. “But that doesn’t mean I have to help them. I can be very good at staying on the sidelines.” He glanced at Lariska. “Besides, I’ve been wanting to shoot her with a Kanoka for ages. Best of all, she thinks it was some other Matoran or Toa who fired the shot, so there’s no way she’ll suspect me.” He started to shapeshift to grow some wings. “You can keep that Kanoka, by the way. Think of it as a memento from the battle.”

Triglax spread his new wings to take flight. “Wait,” Kulagi said. “Look, Glax… thanks for the save.”

Triglax grinned slyly. “Well, you know that we Kanoka Makers have to look out for our own.” With that, he flew off into the night.

Behind him, Kulagi heard the hum of the machine suddenly die down. He turned and noticed that the glow was fading, leaving them in darkness. Sufina crawled out of the machine, with a very pleased look on her mask. “There, now it’s properly deactivated and dissolved. The Dark Hunters won’t be making use of this ever again.” She frowned. “Were you just talking to somebody?”

“I... it was nothing,” Kulagi said. “Look, let’s get out of here before Lariska wakes up yet again.”

“Can you walk?” Sufina asked.

“Just barely,” Kulagi said, leaning on her for support. He paused, and said “Could you grab that Ko-Metru disc real quick. Might be useful later.”

Kulagi and Sufina slowly made their way back to the Coliseum. The battle was still raging, but the tides had turned. Now that the Toa had their elemental powers back, they had regained the upper hand. They had already driven the Dark Hunters from the Coliseum, and now the fights were merely between Dark Hunters who refused to give up.

Hakann was one of them. Triki had since returned to his normal size, and Hakann was determined to smash the Le-Matoran to the ground, but Triki’s speed and agility let him bounce around the red Skakdi with ease. Even as he could see the Toa regaining their elemental powers around him, Hakann focused on beating Triki. Finally, he got a lucky blow in that caused Triki to trip, and he pinned him down with his clawed foot.

“The game is over now, Matoran,” Hakann snarled, breathing heavy due to his exhaustion.

“Game over, everybody home-go now,” Triki agreed. “Ta-Dude to give you consolation prize.”

Something grabbed Hakann from behind and pinned his arms to his side. It was Vakama in his Exo-Matoran suit. He lifted the Dark Hunter and threw him into the darkness. Hakann got to his feet, wincing in pain, but then observed the losing battle around him. Without further notice, he quickly retreated.

“Thanks for the save, super suit Vakama!” Triki said.

“You didn’t do so bad yourself, you crazy Le-Matoran,” Vakama replied.

“Good, good,” Triki said. “Now I night-night.” With that said, Triki passed out from exhaustion.

Pretty soon, all the Dark Hunters had either been subdued or retreated. The last one standing was Vengeance, who continued to duel with Lhikan. But once the Toa had regained his fire powers, the fight had been decided. Vengeance had been pushed to playing defense, and Lhikan fought hard. Finally, Vengeance’s hand slipped on his shield, and with a swing of his sword Lhikan knocked it aside. Dumbfounded by his sudden disarmament, Vengeance wasn’t able to stop Lhikan’s final blow, which knocked the last Dark Hunter unconscious.

Kulagi and Sufina hobbled over to where Triki and Vakama were resting. The Ta-Matoran had exited his Exo-Matoran suit to help the Le-Matoran, but it was clear that Triki had just played too hard and would be just fine. Meanwhile, Huaju landed his Hover-Bike nearby, having driven off the last of the flying Dark Hunters.

“So, that’s it?” he said as they gathered together. “We won the day.”

“I think we did,” Vakama said. He gestured to his armor. “That was a great piece of technology in this fight, but it had a huge cost to make. Because of our ambition to make this, we handed the Dark Hunters just the piece of technology they needed for their secret weapon. I honestly don’t know if it was worth it or not.”

“Well, even if the Dark Hunters try to salvage their device, they won’t get anything from it,” Sufina said proudly. “It’s thoroughly dismantled now.”

“And with that, the Toa have another decisive victory,” Huaju said. “There are at least a dozen downed Hunters out there. They’ll be going straight to the prison cells, and they won’t be getting a reduced sentence at all.”

“Only good Dark Hunter is a captured Dark Hunter,” Vakama agreed.

Kulagi nodded and smiled, but didn’t say anything. His thoughts were on Triglax. He had been a huge pain in the neck, but his morals were really no worse than that of a headstrong Matoran. Kulagi now realized just how alike they really were. He knew that he had darkness inside him, and that made him more determined to focus on the light within him. But he also had to recognize that there had been light within Triglax as well.

Toa Gambar walked over to the Matoran, looking over the battlefield for any Dark Hunter stragglers. “Are you all okay?” he asked.

“We’re all alive,” Kulagi said. “Although I could really use some high powered Regeneration discs for my leg. But weren’t you poisoned by Lariska?”

“Nothing a Removes Poison disc couldn’t handle,” Gambar said. “She only sidelined me long enough for her to make an escape.”

“Yeah, we encountered her by the device of theirs,” Kulagi said.

“We saw,” Gambar said. “Unfortunately, we also saw the winged Dark Hunter Optics fly down and carry her off, so she’ll still be a problem in the future. But we’ll deal with her when the time comes; for now, let’s get you Matoran somewhere safe where you can rest.”

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Kulagi climbed up onto a rooftop and stood for a moment, scanning the skyline. He was back in the northwestern region of Ga-Metru, and the wind blew gently in the afternoon air. In the distance, the buildings were still in disrepair from the Dark Hunter’s attack, but this served for Kulagi’s purpose, and he was able to recognize sections of the skyline.

He heard movement behind him, and turned to see Sufina pull herself up onto the roof too. “Find it yet?” she asked.

“Not exactly, but I think I have a good idea where to look,” Kulagi said. “We’ll need to head over in that direction.”

“So we’re going down just as I got up here,” Sufina complained.

“Do you want to admire the view?” Kulagi asked.

Sufina glanced sadly at the destruction in the region that used to be her home. “Not for now, I guess,” she admitted.

The two of them climbed back down to the street level. It had been a little over a month since the Dark Hunter attack at the Coliseum. But, finally, the Dark Hunter war on Metru Nui was over.

The Coliseum battle hadn’t ended the war, but it had been a turning point. At first, it seemed like just another failed plot by the Dark Hunters, and they had continued their usual methods of attacks on the borders of the lands they controlled. But morale was starting to wear thin amongst their ranks. If they were going to win, they needed to find a way to do it soon, before their whole army started mutinying.

Lariska came up with a new plan. The device to rob the Toa of their elements had initially been her idea, and she was receiving a lot of ire because of how it had ultimately failed. The rumors had also floated around that Lariska herself had been bested in the battle by a mere Matoran. Her reputation was still fierce enough that the Dark Hunters didn’t say it to her face, but she knew she was losing respect from her comrades. As such, Lariska needed another plan which could decisively end the war.

Manipulating the Matoran had ultimately failed, but Lariska set her sights on more formidable prey; the Toa. After compiling her notes on the many defenders of Metru Nui, she located one whose vanity and desire for power would make him an ideal target. She herself cornered Nidhiki, Toa of Air, in a remote region of Ga-Metru, and offered her proposal. If Nidhiki turned on the Toa, the Dark Hunters would grant him control of the city once they won the war.

Perhaps Nidhiki was thinking that if he was in charge, the Matoran would still be protected. Or maybe he just desired more power over them, having always played second fiddle to the likes of Lhikan, Gambar, and Turaga Dume. For whatever reasons, the Toa of Air agreed with Lariska. He would feed the Toa bad intel and lead them into a trap within the Canyon of Unending Whispers. And once the rest were defeated, he would rule the city of Metru Nui.

But Nidhiki and Lariska’s meeting did not go unnoticed. One of the spies was Hakann. The red Skakdi had been humiliated in the Coliseum battle, and he ultimately blamed Lariska for the whole failure of an event. But rather than shout and fight about it, Hakann decided he would tail Lariska, knowing that she was likely trying to cook up another plot to reaffirm her reputation. This was how Hakann watched as she convinced the Nidhiki to turn against his fellow Toa. And he also saw the second being eavesdropping on their conversation: none other than Toa Lhikan himself.

Hakann knew he could try and stop Lhikan and preserve Lariska’s secret plan, but that would give too much credit to her, and he wanted to watch her fail. But Hakann also knew about the famous Toa general, and if Lhikan got away, then he could use this information to utterly defeat the Dark Hunters. So the Piraka chose a third option; he confronted the Toa of Fire and offered a proposal of his own. Toa Lhikan would surprise the Dark Hunters and end the war, but Hakann offered payment of a sacred artifact he has once stolen from the Toa, in exchange that the Dark Hunters would be spared and allowed to leave the island with their lives.

Lhikan accepted.

A few days later, the majority of the Toa army marched into the Canyon of Unending Whispers. Suddenly, appearing from the shadows at the edges of the canyon, the entire Dark Hunter army appeared. They had the Toa completely surrounded and outgunned. The Toa still had their elemental powers and weapons, but against all the Dark Hunters, it would’ve still been a slaughter.

But then the second trap was sprung. Unbeknownst to Nidhiki and the Dark Hunters, a fresh team of Toa had arrived the night before. These Toa were now surrounding the Dark Hunters, and they were not alone. The Matoran guard also showed up in full force. Vakama had completed the construction of five more Matoran Exo-Matoran suits, and they stood proudly beside the Toa. Meanwhile, a majority of the Matoran guard, all armed with high powered Kanoka, joined in the ambush. Kulagi had been there, with Triki and Huaju at his side, and watched as the Dark Hunters realized that they were the ones who were trapped.

A mighty fight could have taken place. The Dark Hunters were outnumbered and out powered by the combined forces of the Toa and Matoran, and they had nowhere to flee to. But Hakann’s deal with Lhikan stopped the Toa from striking first, and he demanded their surrender. A month earlier, most of the Dark Hunters would’ve still pushed for an attack, where they could go down fighting instead of bowing down to the Toa. But that was before the failure at the Coliseum. Now the Dark Hunters were demoralized and cornered, but Lhikan was offering what most of them secretly wanted; a way to end this war where they still kept their lives.

Begrudgingly, Lariska herself was forced to accept the terms of Lhikan’s surrender. The Dark Hunters would leave Metru Nui and never return. And, as a personal addition by Lhikan, the Dark Hunters would take Nidhiki, the traitorous Toa, with them.

The Dark Hunters were then escorted to their fleet of boats on the Po-Metru coast and pushed off. Not a single Dark Hunter resisted the Toa, and Kulagi himself was able to spot Optics, Krekka, Charger, and Hakann board their watercrafts. Notoriously absent was the white and orange Dark Hunter Kavihkli. It was later said that he had slipped away during the Toa’s ambush, and had absconded from the Dark Hunters entirely. Years later, the Shadowed One continued to search for him, but Kavihkli never returned to his former employers. The rumors were that he sought employment from an even darker organization, but his eventual fate was never revealed.

There were other Dark Hunters who did not leave the city, but only because they had no choice. All the Dark Hunters imprisoned by the Toa, including Vengeance, were to remain in custody. They were currently held in stasis tubes in the basement of the Coliseum, where Turaga Dume planned to hold them indefinitely. This had been part of Hakann’s personal revenge on Vengeance; for his agreement with Lhikan only covered the free Dark Hunters on the island. Those who had been imprisoned, such as Vengeance, had been excluded from the deal.

But one Dark Hunter also remained out of the spotlight. Kulagi had not seen Triglax’s spindly yellow form amongst the defeated Dark Hunters. Since Triglax was a shapeshifter, he could easily blend in with any crowd. But more likely, he had also slipped away when given the chance. Perhaps he returned to the Dark Hunters in some other way, or he could’ve fled to some other corner of the universe. There was also the chance he had shapeshifted into a Matoran and joined the citizens of Metru Nui. His Glax persona had been compromised, but the shapeshifter could take any shape, so he could be any one of the various Matoran civilians in the mighty city of Metru Nui.

Kulagi didn’t know what path the Dark Hunter had ultimately taken. And, if he was honest with himself, he didn’t know which he would’ve preferred. The idea of a former Dark Hunter masquerading as a Matoran was an unsettling one, but in Triglax’s case, it was one which Kulagi would’ve found almost acceptable.

As it was, the war was over. The Toa had won, and the Dark Hunters were expediently shipped off the island. But in their wake, they left half the city in ruins. The Toa were mostly concerned about security, and already the massive army was preparing to disband. The various Toa would return to their homelands, leaving only Toa Lhikan and the Toa Mangai behind to protect the city. Meanwhile, the task for cleaning up would fall upon the Matoran. And that was the task that Kulagi had joined.

After the battle at the Coliseum, Kulagi had returned to his home in Onu-Metru. Yet he didn’t give himself much time to rest; he started crafting new Kanoka straight away. After all, the Matoran guard had decimated their supply of powerful Kanoka in their struggle with the Dark Hunters, and they were in desperate need for a restock.

Joining Kulagi were Huaju and Triki, and the three of them turned his home into a miniature factory for producing Kanoka discs. Sufina also joined them, because her home had still been in Dark Hunter controlled territory. Although she couldn’t craft Kanoka herself, she helped deliver their completed discs to the guard and collect decent protodermis for them to use. She worked just as hard as the other three. In the back of his mind, Kulagi was sorry that he had pulled Sufina away from her scientific work to merely be an assistant for him and his friends. But she never once complained, and what was most important to Kulagi was that they were all safe and out of harm’s way. They had faced a lot of danger and failure in their mission to find the devices, but in the end they had prevailed.

When the war finally ended, Kulagi decided to join in the reconstruction efforts. Normally, it was not a job he would’ve taken; he generally preferred making Kanoka discs over using them for mundane tasks. But after his encountered with Triglax, his worldviews were changing. He could do a lot to help his fellow Matoran, and he wanted to prove to himself that he was not just the selfish Matoran who thought only of himself and his craft. As a Matoran citizen of Metru Nui, he could be better than that.

Kulagi signed up on a mission to scout out the northwest region of Ga-Metru. His task was to locate the areas in most need of repair and identify dangerous regions where the infrastructure was too unstable or where vicious Rahi had gathered. Part of his reasoning was that he wanted to help restore Sufina’s home region for her. But he also had some personal goals in mind too.

Kulagi and Sufina finished climbing down off the building, and rejoined Huaju and Triki in the Vahki transport at street level. Huaju had secured the transport for their mission, because it was a reliable ground vehicle and could haul any supplies they’d need. “Where to next?” he asked.

“We want to head in