The main reason is just that Toa would have tipped the scales too much. I knew what kind of technology I wanted the characters to be using, and I didn’t want any of the BZPower characters to be more powerful than the others (hence why Luroka masquerades as a powerless Matoran for so long). With Toa you have beings that can control gravity or air, and even having just one Toa would have rendered most of what occurred almost comically bad.
The in-universe reason is that there aren’t really any Toa left; while there are a few that worked for the White Council, by the time of Extermination they have all been killed, and those that did not serve the White Council were hunted down by them.
LETAGI: Where are BZ-Koro and BZ-Metru located, and are there any other major structural differences to the universe?
BZ-Koro is located about an hour’s flight away from Metru-Nui to the west; that’s an hour by aircraft from Onu-Metru or Ko-Metru. BZ-Metru is located in the south of Metru-Nui, and is connected to both Ta-Metru and Le-Metru, as shown in the image below. BZ-Koro and BZ-Metru are common locations in the BZP Mafia games (upon which this trilogy has its basis), and that is why they were included.
That said, other than the island of Ilias (which is located somewhere in the southern MU), there are no other major structural differences in the universe.
It's not a very accurate outline, and I also wrote "BZ-Koro" instead of "BZ-Metru", but that's the general location.
LUROKA: Are you going to write another book about the remaining cast’s adventures in other universes?
No. While I’m not going to outright deny writing another “BZP Insert” story, I have no plans for a sequel to Extermination. I do have some ideas for an epic based on Okoto, however, so you might hear about that in the future.
GHIDORA: What kind of an effect would the rust cannon have on other materials, such as buildings or roads? Would it have an effect on non-solid matter, such as oil or clouds?
If you go back and read the fight scene from Chapter 10 of Extermination, you’ll note that Tekulo/Control does not want the Shadow to fire the rust cannon indoors; while the rust will stop spreading eventually, it does indeed destroy any solid material it comes across. As for liquid - if it’s a puddle, the blast would go through and hit whatever was underneath. But it would do nothing to an ocean or a lake, and would just pass through clouds.
EHKS: Who was your favourite character to write? Who was your least favourite?
My favourite and least favourite characters to write for sort of varied from book to book, to be completely honest.
In Isolation my favourite character to write for was Voltex, and I think it might have shown through. My least favourite character to write for in that one was Pulse; not because I didn’t enjoy writing his sections, per se, but because I often felt like he and Voltex were very similar, and that wasn’t changing. It’s part of the reason why Pulse was no longer a narrator in Extraction.
For Extraction, my favourite character to write for was far and away Agent 64. The mystery surrounding her character, combined with her connections to every single faction in the story, made her a lot of fun to write for. In contrast to Isolation, my least favourite character to write for in Book 2 was Voltex; due to how he was slowly descending into insanity throughout the book, I often struggled to balance how his character should act and advancing the plot.
During Extermination, my favourite character to write for would be a toss up between both Voltex and Portalfig. Portalfig played more of a minor role in the first two instalments, but he’s the star of Operation Rainfall (an epic set before the Uprising trilogy), and while Extermination is the end of Voltex’s story, it’s the continuation of Portalfig’s. Both of them were a lot of fun to write for, and that helped a lot, since they are the two primary protagonists of the epic. My least favourite character to write for would be Shadow Ignited; while she originally had more of a role, several of her scenes were cut as they were just filler material, and at the end of the day I never felt like she was actually doing anything.
EHKS: What was your favourite scene to write? What was your least favourite scene?
This is a tough one. Extermination contains many scenes that I had been looking forward to writing for months, and I think several of them turned out well, but at the end of the day I think the first battle with the Shadow in Chapter 2 is my favourite. Killing one of the narrators (it being Burnmad, no less) and basically dismantling Voltex with this new threat was extremely fun, and it was nice to catch everyone off-guard with something like that right at the beginning of the final installment. As far as my least favourite scene in Extermination… the final battle in the Red Star once the gravity is disabled. I still don’t like how that fight turned out and I definitely think that I could have done better with it.
FISHERS: What is the blue in the robot’s [Maxilos’] eyes?
As Letagi correctly guessed in the review topic, the flash of bright blue in the eyes of Maxilos is meant as a last-minute zinger, revealing that Voltex is still alive, and has simply transferred his consciousness into the robot. However, all is not fun and games, here. What I am about to say was originally revealed in the epilogue through a journal entry by Voltex, but I removed it as it broke the flow of the chapter.
Voltex has what basically amounts to three whole lives in his memories, and after “living” for so long, he fears death. As such, when he realized that his final battle against the Shadow had dealt him wounds that he could not recover from, he worked with Maxilos (and his skills from two lifetimes as White One) to transfer himself into the robot. What he told Portalfig was not all a lie, however; he does long for peace. As such, while in the robot, he has basically entered into a self-induced coma - an endless sleep. Voltex himself is not certain of whether he will actually wake up from it, especially since everyone believes him to be dead anyway. He is, for all intents and purposes, as close to being dead as one can be without actually being dead.
SMOKE MONSTER: What were the reasons for keeping each surviving character alive?
There were a few reasons for why I wanted some characters to stay alive; I knew that I wanted a few representatives from all three epics in the trilogy (Isolation, Extraction, and Extermination). I also wanted a couple of characters revived from the Red Star to survive, or else that whole plot was entirely pointless. As for each individual character….
Portalfig - I personally consider Portalfig as the “replacement” for Voltex; with Voltex gone, Portalfig takes over as the main protagonist of the series. That, as well as the fact that Extermination is only his second appearance as a main character (his first being Operation Rainfall) meant that Portalfig got to survive. Plus, I always planned for Portalfig to kill the Shadow; and that also gave him a free pass to survive.
TBK - TBK played a large role in Extraction, becoming good friends with the mentally unstable Voltex before sacrificing himself. I decided to have him become the leader of the Rebellion in the Red Star, and figured that his experiences would have molded him into a warrior capable of surviving the final battle with Control.
Pulse - In every single draft of Book 3 (and Book 4 before it was merged), Pulse either vanished/died in Book 3 or turned evil… and then died. It was only in this final draft where I kept him alive, going back to my plan of having him fished out of the sea by Control but keeping him as a hero. He became a small beacon of hope in the midst of despair for the characters, and after playing a major role in the first two books, I thought he deserved to live.
Taka Nuvia - During Extraction and the early chapters of Extermination, I unintentionally found myself writing Taka Nuvia as about as close to a pacifist as someone could be in this series. But I had always planned for her to survive and help lead the survivors, after her final confrontation with ToaD took her character about as dark as she’ll ever go.
Valendale - With Agent 64’s death planned from the start, it was either Vinylstep of Valendale that would survive Extermination. Killing Vinylstep broke Voltex’s spirit a little more during the final battle, and so Valendale drew the straw to live - although I did make him lose an arm at the last minute to get there.
Shadow Ignited - With four of the narrators of Extermination (Burnmad, Agent 64, Ehks and JiMing) already slated to die, and a fifth (Voltex) as good as dead, the other three narrators got a free pass. Shadow Ignited also ended up living just by the fact that her main role was to serve as the connection between Luroka and the protagonists; separating her from the rest of Extermination’s villains so much left her far safer than most of the other characters.
Letagi - After having so many heroic sacrifices turn out to only delay the demise of those they were saving, I wanted Agent 64’s death to mean something; Letagi represents what little humanity she had left, and he gets to live on because of that. Plus, I do see Letagi as being very similar to Voltex in his ability to survive almost anything. Somehow, Letagi will be lucky enough to find a way.
JMJ - Honestly, JMJ was originally going to die in Chapter 9, when the cast was ambushed by Control. But then JMJ gifted me with the highly sought after Transparent Tahu Mask and Wii U GCN Controller Adapter, and as a part of my thank you to him, I allowed his character to survive. JMJ is the only character that was added to the roster of survivors last minute.
Smoke Monster - I was short on new characters from Extermination that actually had any chance of living through the entire book; Smoke Monster was in the unique position of not only being new and starting off on the Red Star, but he was also the only new character on the Red Star. As such, his survival was guaranteed.
XAERAZ: Do you have any kind of story bible for the series? A set of rules?
I don’t have an explicit set of rules or a story bible for the series, no; I never even decided on a specific point in the timeline for it to occur. That said, I do have a personal timeline of events; while a few people have seen bits of it, only I know the whole thing. I typically use the events of Isolation as the centerpiece of the timeline, with events either occurring a certain length of time BI (Before Isolation) or AI (After Isolation).
If anyone wants to write something set in the universe, I would just recommend contacting me first to double check if what they’re writing fits into the timeline, and I would be able to let them know whether the events of the story would be possible.
XAERAZ: How much of the backstory for the characters was not shown in the epics?
The amount of backstory varies from character to character. There are members who never signed up to be in the series that I have included in the histories of organizations like Bionifight and the Day Run in-universe, but otherwise I focused on the backstory of those who are actually characters.
For major characters such as Voltex, Ehks, Portalfig, Xaeraz, and several others, I have at least a general idea of what they have been up to ever since the White Council took over Metru-Nui (and often before that, as well). For more minor characters such as Voxumo or Blade, less of their history was developed, as I did not need as much to pull from for them.
PORTALFIG: I’ve heard rumors that there were originally going to be four books. What kind of changes were made when you merged your plans for Book 4 into Extermination?
Well, the first change that I made was the title - in my original plans, Book 3 was titled “Uprising” and Book 4 was titled “Extermination”.
My original plan for Book 3 took place further in the future, when the Rebellion and White Council had been at war for three years. While Portalfig and a few others made their last stand on BZ-Koro, Voltex would have journeyed up to the Red Star using the device that Ehks had invented. Together with the cast members on the Red Star, Voltex would have started taking control up there, prompting several members of the White Council (and a large portion of their army) led by White One to meet him there. While Portalfig and the others would have survived their final stand, Voltex would have won up in the Red Star, with Agent 64 showing up at the last second to betray the White Council and kill White One.
Book 4 would have then taken place another three years later, starting with a meeting of some of the characters who survived Book 3. They would discuss how the survivors had been vanishing one by one; later on, the Shadow would appear and kill Burnmad. Book 4 would have been spent trying to outrun the forces of Control, until it once again came to a head in the Red Star; the Red Star would have crashed during the final battle before Portalfig struck the final blow on the Shadow.
One of the biggest changes was actually to the identity of the Shadow - it would have originally been Pulse after he was assumed KIA by Shadowhawk, having been found by Control and given special training. However, when I merged the two books into one, I knew that there was no way that plot point could work; and so the Shadow instead became an alternate version of Taka Nuvia (specifically her Mafia persona, shown arriving in the first universe of many in All That We’ve Lost).
Both of the Red Star plot points were merged together and also trimmed significantly, as I felt that having the final battle take place in the Coliseum would work better thematically. Project Mayhem originally had more of an impact on the story of Book 3, but almost all mentions of it were cut after the merger to help Extermination work more as a standalone story. Book 3 also originally had more survivors; Book 4 would have been the one where almost everyone was killed. That ended up occurring in Extermination.