Eight Years Of Toa Mata?
Tahu held up his new magma blades and frowned at them. The energized protodermis had changed his old firesword, just when he was beginning to feel confident with its use. It had changed his mask power, just when he'd gotten the hang of all his powers. He wore new armor. His elemental power was changed, its source now coming from a strange symbol on the Suva.
The changes affected his emotions. He felt unstable -- as if everything he thought was dependable had been crushed. He sensed a vague threat hidden below the surface that could now harm him in a new way. Why had this happened?
Because a transformation is needed for the next stage of my destiny, he realized. The protodermis had given him that insight. It was the fate of a hero to be transformed many times in the course of the quest, to adapt to new challenges.
Could he ever hope to have true confidence, if this was his future?
He didn't know, and judging from the faces of the other Toa, they didn't either. One thing consoled him, though -- destiny had given them what they needed to meet their next challenge, whatever it would be. They just had to be strong enough and thoughtful enough to figure out how. As team leader, he needed to set an example, to show the others that the changes must be embraced if they were to be used for the good of the Matoran.
Fighting aside his conflicting emotions, Tahu held up one magma blade and shouted, "Now we are no longer just Toa! We are Toa Nuva!"
Toa Nuhrii: Toa of Sugar has an interesting topic going: Should The Focus Of The Story Ever Have Switched From The Toa Nuva[?]. A lot of people have made bold claims that we would have been bored if the focus had remained on the Toa Nuva. I disagreed, pointing out that if there were cool sets and story each year, overall we still would have loved it.
So I wrote up an alternative history of Bionicle, with the Toa Nuva as canister sets and in the story spotlight every single year. Figured I might as well use this for today's blog entry. This alternative storyline history goes on the premise that "sets come first, story is made up afterwards" -- every single set would still be released as it was in reality, just with different names sometimes.
2003 -- Get rid of the "no more Nuva transformations" rule. Don't have Tahu say "from now on" they're the Nuva -- instead, say the Toa have discovered that transformation is a necessary part of adapting to new threats in the Bionicle universe for heroes.
2004 -- We find out that the Toa Mata were active just a thousand years earlier in Metru Nui. The Toa Metru sets are their original forms, but they were mutated by the canisters into their 2001 forms. (That last bit we actually thought was true at the time, remember, and it wouldn't even have broken the "No transformation after Nuva rule because it's a flashback) Tell the same basic story, except without Matoran transforming into Toa. Also, they might have been very different people back then, less experienced, etc., so their personal conflicts could have been quite different, so as not to be repetitive in the character development department.
2005 -- The Visorak explanation used on the Toa Mata. The Toa Hagah could have become the Turaga. The Rahaga could have been different creatures entirely, or been connected, etc. Tahu could have turned evil -- perhaps the lesson he subconsciously remembered from this would explain how he was able to pull off a krana later (instead of the current explanation that it simply wasn't on long enough), and why he was so tempermental at first on Mata Nui.
2006 -- The Toa Nuva are struck by lightning to become the Toa Inika, possibly getting new mask powers through this, or better yet through passing through Karzahni. Same basic storyline, except without Jaller and company's side of it. The Nuva struggle in new ways. Tahu could have demonstrated that he really has learned to control his temper and be a good team leader, acting much like Jaller. Others could have had new doubts awakened by the stories the Turaga told of the Nuva's ancient adventures, or by facing threats more intelligent than any previous villain other than Makuta, or even by frustration that they were failing Mata Nui so much he is now dying.
2007 -- The Ignika transforms them into the Mahri, and that whole storyline goes through. I suppose we do hit a snag here in that Matoro's death wouldn't work very well. But perhaps Lesovikk could have been the one to do it and could have had a more central role in the storyline. He could have been an old character, such as Kongu, in fact.
2008 -- Same basic storyline as we have, but the Nuva are transformed back from Mahri to Nuva by Lesovikk/Kongu while he used the Ignika at end of 2007, then given adaptive armor. End Nuva chapter, focus on new heroes in 2009.
Kopaka had mixed feelings about what he saw in front of him. The strange Matoran had taken the Toa Nuva to a hidden chamber in Karzahni's lair. Six silver canisters stood waiting for them. All they had to do was get in, and the strange vehicles would tunnel through rock and fly into the air, eventually landing on Voya Nui's shores. Easy, right?
Except, Kopaka remembered all to well the last time he'd gotten into a silver canister. The memory had only returned after he came back to Metru Nui a few days ago, but the elders of Mata Nui Island, the six Turaga, had told the tale in vivid words.
As Toa Metru, Tahu, Kopaka, Pohatu, Gali, Onua, and Lewa had fought Makuta as he plotted the final stages in his overthrowing of the Great Spirit Mata Nui. The thousand Matoran had been placed into hybernation pods and trapped by the evil Visorak spiders. The Toa Metru had been mutated by the spiders into monstrous beasts. Six strange creatures had joined them. Their leader, Rahaga Vakama, had explained what Hordika venom did, and how they believed it could be reversed.
After a harrowing adventure, a creature named Keetongu had been found and restored them all to their original forms. The Toa Hordika became the Toa Metru again, and the Rahaga became the Toa Hagah. But the City of Legends was ruined, the Matoran were still in slumber, Makuta was free again, and the forces of good needed somewhere safe where they could regroup and recover.
Turaga Dume, the leader of Metru Nui, had led them underground on Metru Nui to a chamber with six silver canisters. He had explained what the canisters would do. Since there were only six canisters, the Toa Hagah had agreed to transport the Matoran pods up to a special island on the planet's surface. Dume revealed that the Nuva had a destiny on that island, involving buglike robots called Bohrok, who must be released after the Nuva had vanquished Makuta.
On this new island, Makuta would attack, but he would be in a strange area with more elemental influence than anywhere else, where the Nuva would have a bigger advantage than elsewhere. It was the perfect stage for the final showdown in the Nuva's quest to undo Makuta's attack on the Great Spirit.
But the canisters malfunctioned.
They tunneled up through the rock just fine. They landed in the surface ocean just fine. No problem. But the devices that were supposed to steer the pods to land never switched on. The Toa Metru were kept alive thanks to the pod's hybernation function, but for over a thousand years they drifted, their muscle tissue degenerating, their forms weakening, their memories being slowly eroded.
The Toa Hagah despaired when the Nuva failed to show up. But knowing Makuta had only agreed to give them one year of peace, they quickly set about trying to figure out how to awaken the Matoran. Every attempt failed, until Toa Vakama realized they would have to sacrifice their powers. They hid Toa stones, hoping that one day six Matoran would become new Toa, then they became Turaga. The Matoran had lost their memories, and the Turaga decided not to burden them with knowledge of their past. Instead they developed simple legends that covered up the secrets of Metru Nui with riddles and symbolic imagery.
Then for a thousand years, the six villages undured constant war with Makuta's evil infected Rahi beasts.
In the end, the adventurous Matoran named Takua had found a way to use the Toa Stones to summon the Toa's canisters. Battles raged, and eventually, with help from Takua in the new form of Takanuva, Toa of Light, Makuta had been defeated, and the Matoran returned to Metru Nui. But Kopaka had vowed never to enter such a craft again.
Now, with the monstrous titan Karzahni chasing them, trapped in this horrific land, the only other passageway to Voya Nui blocked by huge mountains and dangerous Manas crabs, these six silver canisters provided a way out.
"Come," Tahu said grimly. "We have to try it."
One by one the Toa Nuva stepped inside the canisters. Kopaka held back, still hesitant. He glanced back at Karzahni with the Mask of Vision -- he was coming around the last bend in the tunnel to this place. He closed his eyes, fighting to make a decision. Then he remembered his first sight on Mata Nui, when he broke out of the last canister. The icy shore had harbored hints of danger, but he had felt like it was his destiny to fight the danger nevertheless, doing whatever it took.
If this is what it took now, so be it. Kopaka stepped into the canister.
The main upside of having the Nuva in story spotlight for seven years would have been that the story might have felt more coherent. The explanations of who came from where and their transformations, etc. would have been a lot simpler with something like the above than how it actually was. The explanations would have fit a little more into the pattern of clues given in 2001-2003.
The main downside would be that we wouldn't get to see other characters get as much focus. So coherence could also be seen as being too limited -- fitting better into the clues could be seen as being predictable. This is why IMO it didn't have to be done. Either way, I think the great storytelling skills of Greg and the story team would have entertained us. By which I mean most people, of course -- some people would simply always like it one way or the other better. But that aside, there would be a few opportunities for other characters to be featured, like new titan characters like Axonn, or the following example of an old returning character:
Kongu peeked around the Metru Nui skyscraper, following Takanuva's outstretched hand. The Toa of Light had recently returned to the island after he failed to pass through a passageway to the land of Karzahni with the Toa Nuva, on their way south to the mysterious island of Voya Nui. There had been no sign of the Nuva since, and Kongu was determined to find out why.
Turaga Dume had insisted no Matoran was to leave the city, but Kongu was tired of listening to him. The old elder of fire had been deeply affected by the dimming stars over the night sky. Mata Nui was dying, and the Toa Nuva had failed, he proclaimed. The universe was doomed. There was no point in trying to stop it now -- all that was left was to wait to die, and hope death came swiftly and painlessly.
Toa Takanuva and Turaga Nokama had secretly agreed otherwise, however. Kongu had given the Turaga of water an ultimatum -- give him a way to leave, or he would find a way on his own.
Nokama had sensed a presence in Metru Nui. A hidden threat. One that was new to her, and yet all too familiar. A Dark Hunter.
Takanuva had been searching the city for signs of this threat for days now. Finally, he had found something. A parked vehicle. A hovering bike craft, hidden amongst the trees in Ga-Metru. This secretive Dark Hunter must have been using it to report back to the Shadowed One from time to time. Preventing him from doing so again would be in the best interests of the city. So Nokama agreed to unmask two infected Gukko with one disk, figuratively speaking.
They knew of no other way to get to Voya Nui other than the passage through Karzahni, so Takanuva would again be forced to remain behind. Which was fine, because the city would need protection from this hidden Dark Hunter.
"It reminds me of my old Ussanui craft," Takanuva said, grinning. Then he looked more serious. "The coast is clear. It's time. May the three Virtues guide you, Captain."
The Le-Matoran was too overwhelmed with the enormity of what he was about to do to answer. So he just gave Takanuva a bow, and walked away.
As he climbed onto the craft and flew away over the Silver Sea, into Karzahni's realm, and over the far mountains of that realm, he wondered if he would ever see his old friend again.-----------------------------------------------------
Toa Takanuva walked along Metru Nui's paths slowly, his mind in turmoil. The city was celebrating -- Mata Nui had been revived. The Toa Nuva had appeared inside the city just before Tahu Mahri was about to go nova to defeat the evil Barraki warlords. They'd been turned back into the Nuva, and just left with a mysterious stranger to continue their quest to awaken the Great Spirit. Things were looking good now, but Takanuva could not join the celebration.
For Toa Kongu had given his life to save the Great Spirit. The Mask of Life had turned Kongu into pure energy, killing him, but reviving Mata Nui. The stars in the sky now shone because a good friend was no more.
How could he come to grips with this? What kind of Great Spirit demanded death to survive?
He shook his head. But no, such thoughts belonged to twisted beings like Makuta, who caused Mata Nui to die in the first place. It would mean that Kongu died for nothing, something Takanuva could not accept.
He took a deep breath. That thought gave him some measure of peace. He couldn't celebrate just yet, but at least he could accept what happened.
He himself had faced that choice, and died to defeat Makuta not that long ago, though he had been revived by the power of a mysterious circle of light. But Takanuva had believed at the time that he would be revived -- he'd been part of the process that revived his friend Jaller just seconds before, and knew about the circle of light -- but Kongu had known he could never be revived.
Takanuva wasn't sure if he would have been able to make Kongu's choice, though he suspected others who had been leaders among the Matoran, such as Matoro or Jaller, could have made it. It showed him the true measure of Kongu's worth.
These thoughts occupied Takanuva so much, he didn't see the Shadow Leech until it was too late.
Cue 2008 to go on mostly as it already has. I think I would have enjoyed Bionicle just as much if it had been this way. I think I would have enjoyed it either way. I don't think we can say "it would have been boring" -- Greg would have made sure it wasn't, at least for most of us. Most of the claims of that in the topic are just brushing it aside with unrealistic claims that oversimplify and give the story team enough credit for their imaginations.
But I also don't think we can say there was any true problem with the way it was done -- in each case, the connections made sense, and it was all centered around the story of Mata Nui's slumber and Makuta's plots and actions that caused it, and heroes fighting for the sake of Mata Nui and the Matoran.
Good storytellers can tell good stories in any number of "random" combinations -- Greg is a good storyteller. When you really devote yourself to writing complex series' like Bionicle (as I have, though I'm just a beginner ), you quickly realize that most of the details you use are essentially random. But you have to pick something and run with it -- doesn't mean that is necessarily "the best way". Ultimately, it wouldn't really matter either way to most of us.
Well, that's all I'm writing for this entry. I hope you enjoyed it.