1,000 Years Ago...
Tamaru finally pulled himself away from his store for the afternoon, and headed down through the streets. An enormous telescreen plastered to a building displayed live footage of Turaga Dume. "You are required to gather at the Coliseum. Rejoice! For today will be a momentous…"
Tamaru snorted. The entire city had gone on hold for the Akilini tournament yesterday, and now Dume was asking for it to go on hold today as well. Meanwhile, enormous vines ate away at the city, as Toa disappeared one by one. Tamaru had no proof, but he was certain that Dume was behind this. Why else would the Toa Mangai be disappearing on 'simple' missions, instead of banding together and fighting the dark plantlife that slowly consumed the city?
He ducked into a side alley, stopping at the doorway of a building. Its shutters were closed, its windows locked up. Over the closed entryway sat a dusty sign with paint that had faded away. If he squinted through the dust, Tamaru could make out the words on the sign. Kemirii's Airship Tours. Kemirii had packed up and left long ago. Airspeeders became commonplace decades ago, and no Matoran wanted to pay money for a view of the city they could see any day of the week.
Tamaru rapped on the shutter once, then paused. He rapped five times, then another five. Moments later, the shutter rose. Tamaru stepped inside.
"Hello stranger," said a Ko-Matoran at the shutter controls. "Nice of you to decide to finally show up."
Tamaru followed the Matoran through the dusty old room toward a workshop in the back. "Ever-sorry, Pakastaa," he panted. "Customer at shop had to test-drive every airspeeder before he could sure-decide the right one."
"How much did you get?"
"Nothing. Couldn't pick one he wanted and quick-sprinted off to Coliseum."
Pakastaa rolled his eyes as he opened the door to the workshop. "Anyway, did you see the Toa in the Coliseum yesterday?"
The final member of their group, Sewitta, was already hard at work inside. "Ah yes, the great Toa," Sewitta cut in. "Ruined a fantastic Akilini match with their shenanigans. How long do you think they'll last?"
"Three clumsy Toa captured by Dume," mused Tamaru. "By nightfall, three more Toa will quiet-vanish. And none left to protect us."
"Not your usual optimistic self today?" said Sewitta, mounting a bracket on a machine. "You didn't think that Toa of Air looked pretty swift? I think he might get out alright. His chutespeak isn't as bad as yours, either! You could try taking speaking lessons from him."
"Oh, drop it if you're going to be like that," scolded Pakastaa. "I shouldn't have brought it up, I knew you'd start poking fun at that Toa." He walked over to where the three machines Sewitta worked on lay. "We're nearing completion on these. Tamaru, when can you get us those power cells?
"Already have two at shop. For third, hope to find a seller tomorrow."
"Can you bring the two you have tomorrow?"
Tamaru thought for a moment. "If given a hand to carry one, yes. May need third help-friend if a cell I buy."
"Don't worry, I'll give you a ride."
Tamaru looked up at the mechs that would finally give the Matoran the power to fight back against the threats that plagued this city. These bipedal beasts were tough, rigid, and heavily armored. Most importantly, they featured a shielded canopy that would protect a Matoran from any mental attacks - like, for example, the beam from a Vahki's staff weapon. "We must quick-finish new machines to fight Vahki-enforcers and dark tree-vine. No Toa to save us from power-hungry Turaga, only we will protect city we love."
"Hey, I don't have any deep, passionate love for this city like you do," answered Sewitta. "I'm just not going to let Dume order me around like a tame Ussal Crab."
"Oh, so you don't deep-love Onu-Matoran always visiting your home?" Tamaru teased. "What his name was again? Medak?"
"Midak, and no, I don't love him," Sewitta snapped. "As far as I'm concerned - love is a cannon." He gently stroked the enormous arm-mounted blaster.
Pakastaa sat down and began carving one of the last footrests. "Just be careful where you point that blaster."
A rhythmic pounding came from the shutters.
"Ugh, who would be knocking at this hour?" asked Pakastaa, who was still working on the mechs. "They don't even know the password. Tamaru, go see who it is."
Tamaru sighed, heading into the front room and closing the door behind him. Whoever was coming didn't need to know about the mechs they were working on. The pounding grew more persistent. Before he could close the door to their workshop, a foot kicked through the metal shutter. Two staffs ripped into the metal door, tearing it apart.
"Vahki!" Tamaru shouted at the top of his voice. "Scatter!"
Tamaru ran for the staircase leading to the higher levels of the tower, getting a glimpse of Pakastaa madly looking for a hiding place. His feet pounded up the stairs. The Vahki in Le-Metru carried staff weapons that could mess with a Matoran's mind, causing them to temporarily lose their higher mental functions for an easy arrest. How had they found them? The only Matoran who knew about the mechs were right here in the building. Cries of terror rose from the lower floors. Suddenly, everything went quiet - save for the bounding thuds of Vahki footsteps coming up the staircase. Had Pakastaa and Sewitta been captured?
He smashed open the door to the balcony, dashing through. The constant, cold wind the seemed to permeate constantly this high off the ground sent a chill through Tamaru. Pakastaa kept an airspeeder parked out here, just in case they ever needed to make a quick getaway. Tamaru clambered into the cockpit, looking nervously at the controls. He had to start the ignition, fire the thrusters, and fly away. Easy - he had tested vehicles he was repairing hundreds of times.
He just hadn't ever done it so high off the ground before.
Three Vahki rushed through the door. Tamaru flicked the ignition, moving his shaking fingers over to the throttle. The Vahki were getting closer, aiming their staffs. In moments, it would be too late. It would take him seconds, a loss of stability as he shot through the air, and then he could return to solid ground.
A glance over the edge sent shivers down his spine as he saw how high they were. The building was an unusually short four-stories high, but to Tamaru, it felt like a hundred. It was ridiculous, but at this moment the thought of flying was more frightening than the idea of giving himself over to the Vahki. Besides, they had captured his friends already, and Sewitta would give up his name before long. What was he going to do, find a new mask, a new home, and a new job? Tamaru splayed his arms out over the dash, defeated. Out of the corner of his eye, he could make out the Vahki firing their staffs at him.
A moment later, he didn't remember anything at all.
When Tamaru came to, he was being herded into the Coliseum, surrounded by hundreds of other Matoran. He struggled against his memory, trying to remember how he had gotten here. He looked around, hoping to catch a glimpse of a familiar face. Where were Pakastaa and Sewitta?
Dume's voice sounded through speakers throughout the chamber. "It is important that you cooperate with the Vahki Enforcers. They will protect you, and guide you in this joyous time."
Matoran of all colors looked around nervously, but cooperated nonetheless. At the end of the chamber, the Vahki were pushing Matoran into spheres roughly as tall as them. Each orb was a metallic grey, with a small opening at the top. It was impossible to tell what was happening inside those orbs, as once they were sealed, no sound came out. With these numbers, the Vahki couldn't possibly capture them all if they ran. But no-one looked to make a move against them. If only the mechs were finished, then they would - what, exactly? What did they hope to achieve with three combat suits against hordes of Vahki?
"For your safety, heed the commands of the Vahki enforcers. They are here to protect and serve you."
He soon approached the front of the line. Spheres with Matoran were being loaded up into Vahki patrol vehicles. Where could the Vahki be taking them? The spheres must be for their safety while they were being transported. But why bother loading them into spheres at all?
It was Tamaru's turn to enter one of the strange devices. When he hesitated, a Vahki pushed him into the sphere, closing the entrance behind him. Where would he find himself when he was taken out of this casing? Surely this wouldn't be a permanent arrangement. Dume must need the Matoran somewhere else. But why would he not simply tell the Matoran where they were going?
At least the mechs were safe. In a few days, they'd be able to complete them - they would become the protectors of the Matoran. 'Surrender or run' would no longer be the phrase Matoran used when discussing the Vahki. They would soon learn to fight, to overthrow Dume before his mad power grab went any further.
Tamaru felt his cocoon rock as something picked it up. But he didn't feel any pain as something struck the casing of the sphere. Soon, the fears and worries he had washed away, leaving a sense of safety, and a feeling of sleepiness.
Yes, everything would be alright. The little Matoran closed his eyes, gently drifting away into a deep slumber.
When he finally awoke on the sandy shores of an island he had never seen before, all memory of his friends, his home, and the ruthless Vahki had vanished.