The first of what I hope to be a long series.
Turaga Mahoku, leader of the southern fire village was not in a happy mood. He hadn’t been in a happy mood for some time actually, he had regretted giving up his Toa power almost instantly after doing it on hundred years ago. Losing his powerful Toa body, having his Great Mask of Mind Control reduced, his diminished elemental powers, and his ability to fight evil...now all he fought were other Turaga in a battle of words, and when he wasn’t doing that, he was attending to reports and micro-managing this little spit of a village on the northern border of the White Quartz Mountains., the most exciting thing he had heard was that a safe path through the tunnels had been dug by the Onu-Matoran, allowing them easy access to the Bara Magna desert to the south. Not that he had ever planned to use it...until now.
Mahoku glanced upwards at the red and orange Agori standing in front of him in his hut. He still hadn’t gotten used to working with this strange organic species, and he didn’t really want to with their disgusting way of consuming energy and their biological reproduction. But he was stuck with them, and this one a younger fellow named Croyus was his right-hand in this joint Agori/Matoran village. He was bright, albeit a bit eager to please.
“Send a reply back to Turaga Takanuva.” The Turaga groaned. “Tell him I’ll be present at the conference, for all the good that will do.”
“At once, Turaga.” Croyus turned to leave but stopped. “Oh and before I forget...” He pulled out a roll of paper from his pocket. “Here’s the monthly Chroniclers report, it came with Takanuvas request.”
“Anything interesting?” Mahoku asked, taking the paper and opening it.
“The Skakdi have attacked a Vorox village on the border of the Lewa region.” Croyus replied.
“So I see. It must be why Dume wants to speak with the village leaders.” The Turaga said disinterested. “I don’t know why Kopeke insists on writing these reports, it’s not like it affects us.”
“Sir!” Croyus said, shocked. “The Lewa region is the border of the Forest tribes-“
“I know where it is Mahoku snapped. “I’ve seen the new map. That region is miles from where we are.”
“But the Skakdi...”
“...are barbaric and stupid.” Mahoku finished for him. “Besides, if they’re attacking the Vorox then I consider it a favor to us, maybe they can wipe each other out.”
“But what if they’re not just attacking the Vorox?” Croyus said quickly. “They’ve been pushing at our borders ever since they established their Empire one hundred years ago.”
“We fought them back when Makuta was controlling them.” Mahoku was now getting irritated. “The Toa and your Glatorian can handle them if they get out of hand. Now if you’re quite finished I have work to do.”
Croyus repressed a groan. “Very well Turaga.”
The Agori walked out of the hut. When he was gone Mahoku looked at the paper in his hand the set it on fire with his power. He did not know why they had started using this paper instead of stone tablets.
Croyus stomped through the village in the fury. Having to deal with this Turaga every day was always a task in of itself, but his complete disregard for the other regions was intolerable. Before moving to this village he had been told great tales of the noble Toa and their wise elders, the Turaga but listening to Mahoku grumble about Agori food and their inability to lava farm made Croyus wish the Great Beings had never created the Biomechanical grump. Croyus was so bothered by this that he almost collided into Krepe.
“Easy there!” The Ta-Matoran said cheerfully. As usual there was a bright smile on his red Kakama. “Turaga in a foul mood?”
“How’d you guess?” Croyus asked.
“Because you look like you’re ready to strangle something.” Krepe replied. “You always look angry when the Turaga does.”
“The Turaga is angry every day.” Croyus said, continuing his walk.
Krepe followed. “Exactly.”
Croyus had to smile. Krepe was the left-hand of the village; as far as Matoran went he was easy to get along with, at least easier than the Turaga. But Croyus was bothered by his always cheerful mood. It made him feel...uneasy.
“So I take it he didn’t take the conference summon very well.” Krepe continued.
“Nope.” Croyus replied. “Didn’t seem to care much about the Skakdi either.”
“Should he?” Krepe asked as they walked to the edge of the village.
“Of course!” Croyus snapped. “It’s not like Matoran and Agori are in danger of being attacked by those brutes. Especially considering your lot brought them with you to the planet!”
“Hey that’s not fair.” Krepe said seriously. “It’s not like we chose to move in with you, besides do you know how many Skakdi he killed during the Makuta reign?”
“I thought Toa weren’t supposed to kill.”
“Believe me, they did back then.” Krepe looked down over the lave fields where the Ta-Matoran worked below. “Mahoku risked his life for us in the Universe, he does care. It’s just that the issues of other tribes shouldn’t concern us.”
“Why shouldn’t they?” Croyus napped again. “One hundred years ago the Agori tribes were being bled dry by the Skrall, we couldn’t do anything because we were so obsessed with our tribal pride and isolation. But when we finally unified, when we finally let go of out isolation we drove the enemy back. I thought nothing could stop us...” Croyus paused. “But then, after the great merging we all scattered about again. That unity we experienced was gone and now we’re isolated and vulnerable again. The Skakdi, Vorox, even some Skrall tribes all know this. They’re just waiting for the right opportunity to wipe us all out. Agori and Matoran alike.”
“You may be right.” Krepe said. “That’s why Takanuva is calling this conference I’m sure.”
“Maybe he’ll change the other Turagas minds. I hope.”
“It’s unlikely. But I know one good thing will come out of it.” Croyus looked at the once again smiling Krepe. “At least we won’t have to deal with Turaga grumpy for a couple weeks.”
Croyus did have to smile at that. Maybe things would turn out alright for them after all.
One week later, Mahoku was sitting in the back of a passenger cart pulled by a Sand Stalker. On each side of the cart was a Glatorian riding their own Sand Stalker, and at the front, leading the cart on his own mount was Toa Norik. They had been riding through the White Quartz tunnels for two days and the Turaga was getting impatient.
“How much further?” He called to the agitated Norik, who had no heard that question at least one every hour since they left.
“Not long now.” Norik called back. “Just past this next turn and we’ll be on the Desert border.”
“About time.” Mahoku groaned. “We would go faster if it was not for these organic animals having to stop every few hours.” He glanced at the two stone-faced Glatorian. “How they can exist with such a dependency on constant water, food, and rest is beyond me.”
“Do you not require water too?” The Glatorian asked, seemingly against his better judgment.
“Of course I do! But not as much as you, or a Water Toa for that matter.” The Turaga gave a low chuckle. “Speaking of which, didn’t you have a team Norik?”
“Yes.” Norik replied curtly. His patience with this Turaga growing tired. “They are attending to their own tribes.”
“Exactly as it should be!” Mahoku exclaimed. “Toa only need to stand together during times of great need, not casually! I only ever worked with my team during the Makuta war. Even then, I made sure it was only business, don’t want those other elementals getting in the way of things. I sure as Kharz don’t want us to be unified; can you imagine having an Air Toa lead us? He’d probably make us all speak in that stupid slang of theirs.”
Norik did not respond. He had learned a long time ago to treat all Turaga with respect even if they were wrong.
The small caravan rode in silence for a few more hours before finally emerging at the tunnel opening to the bright sun of the Bara Magna desert, or at least what was left of it. Most of the desert had been made fertile after the melding, and what was left of the actual desert was now being taken up by the massive prone form the Great Spirit robot. Despite having one hundred years to take it apart, most of the robot was still intact albeit with several large holes indicating where the various species had taken it apart for materials and resources. From their vantage point the group could see the robot, the vast jungle of Bota Magna to the west, and even in the distance were able to see the columns of smoke rising from the rebuilt factories of New Xia in the south. If one looked hard enough they could even see the waters of Aqua Magna Just down the road from the tunnel they saw a fork with a sign:
-MATA NUI TEMPLE
-XIAN TRADE BORDER
-AQUA MAGNA WEST SHORE
“See?” Mahoku said as they went south. “Some threat the Skakdi are. They are so far east that we don’t even have them on a sign here. As far as I’m concerned the Le-Matoran and jungle Agori need to handle their own problems. We fire types can’ come to their aid forever!
As usual Norik and the Glatorian did their best to ignore the Turaga.
Mata Nui temple...formerly the location of the Agori village, Arena Magna had been constructed almost immediately after the merging as a place to hold conferences such as this one. As Bara Magna was considered to be neutral ground it felt like the best place of the Turaga and Agori elders to meet and solve any issues that were occurring among the tribes via diplomacy, and it helped that the already damaged arena just barely escaped being crushed by the robot. In the past one hundred years it had been barley been used and Turaga Takanuva, one of the few inhabitants had until recently considering tearing it down. But now its reason for existing was clear, Takanuva knew what he had to do in this conference...re-unify the tribes. But he was doubting how well the idea would go over.
“SILENCE!” Turaga Dume called over the commotion. Around a massive table sat at least a dozen Turaga and Agori elders from across the Matoran controlled lands Among them were Takanuva, Turaga Dume, and three of the Turaga Nuva: Gali, Onua, and Kopaka. At the room entrances stood Toa and Glatorian at gaurds, and among the leaders were the various Matoran aids, and finally there was Kopeke with a pin and paper in the corner ready to write everything down. As soon as they heard Dume’s voice, the room fell silent.
“My fellow leaders.” He spoke quietly. “We have called you all here today to discuss the future of our lands. Agori and Matoran alike. What we decide could determine the very fate of our people.” He scanned the room with a pricing glare. “I now allow Turaga Takanuva, host of this meeting to have the floor.”
Dume sat back in his chair and Takanuva stood up. His Noble Avohkii having a look of concern. “My fellow tribesmen.” He said. “Change has come before us. The old ways are no longer enough, if we do not act now we-“
“CAN’T TO THE POINT!” A Jungle Agori wearing wood armor yelled. Several laughed, Dume banged his staff.
“Stay silent Armanus. Or I will have you thrown out. Continue.”
Undeterred by this, Takanuva continued: “As I was saying, change is upon us. The Skakdi are pressing at our borders and if we do not act now then they will overwhelm us. We need a way to stand up against them. We need to unify the tribes under a single government.”
There were several conversations that instantly broke out over this. Kopeke began scribbling down on his paper Dume banged his staff again.
“I know this is something many of you are against, Mata Nuis final message to us was to not place all our faith in him, and by extension one person but I feel like we cannot honor that wish.”
“Who cares about Mata Nui?” Armanus shouted. There were several out cries over this from the Turaga. Dume once again had to bang his staff to keep order.
“I’m warning you elder, if you do not cease your interruptions...”
“Hold on Dume.” Takanuva said quietly. “Armanus clearly has something he wants to say.”
“Thank you, Turaga.” Armanus sneered. “While I don’t believe in your Great Spirit, I feel that his message is correct. We should not place our faith in one person, or one group of people for that matter. It always causes trouble. Am I the only Agori here who remembers the Core War?”
“That works against you.” Raanu, who was sitting next to Takanuva spoke up. “The Core War was caused by the Elemental Lords, beings who started that war because of tribal differences. If they had spoken with one voice instead of six then it could have been prevented!”
“But who gave the Elemental Lords their power and thus encouraged those differences?” Aramnus countered. “The Great Beings, our rulers who tried to make us act as one but utterly failed and tried to fix the solution with the Elemental Lords. But that blew up in their faces!”
“We are getting off topic!” Takanuva said. “The Skakdi...”
“Are not our problem!” Aramnus shouted. “At least they shouldn’t be. I never asked for a bunch of robots to start taking our lands.”
“Biomechanical beings.” Dume grumbled.
“Whatever.” Armanus said. “The point is this just proves how inept the Great Beings were. First I had a chunk of my planet carry me away and when I returned I found a bunch of strangers thinking we should mingle and unify. Well I say all tribes should be kept separate.”
“I agree.” Mahoku spoke up suddenly. “Even among our old universe the tribes had one specific job each and they did it. They never had to interact unless it was necessary. Biomechanics and organics should not work together!”
“What of the three virtues?” Turaga Gali spoke up. “Unity, Duty, Destiny!”
“They do not apply to us!” Armanus spat.
“Besides.” Mohaku spoke again. “Everybody knows the Skakdi are mindless brutes. Eventually they’ll turn on each other and this whole discussion will be moot. With the Makuta extinct, there are no true threats anymore.”
“That may have been true in the past.” Dume said. “But they are no longer the barbarians they used to be. The Skakdi are disciplined, efficient, and smart. They have formed a new Empire in the Northern Mountains of Bota Magna and are rapidly spreading into southern lands.”
“Let’s not forget.” Raanu said. “Even if the Skakdi weren’t a threat, they are not the only player in this game. The Bota Magna Vorox have publicly sworn vengeance for their treatment of their desert kin, Skrall tribes have been reported to be gathering in the south and possibley re-unifying. Dark Hunter groups are raiding more and more caravans, even the Xian trade guild who are neutral; they are in a position of power against us because the individual tribes do not have the strength to bargain against them!” Raanu looked around the room. They all know we are vulnerable and they will take advantage of that if we do not do something soon!”
“What about the Toa?” Mohaku said. “They always come together when they’re needed, surly they can defeat these enemies.”
“Sadly, they cannot.” Gali said calmly. “Many of the Toa were killed in the Makuta War, and several survivors have since become Turaga. Their numbers are not great enough to stand against our foes.”
“The Glatorian would not fare much better.” Dume said. “As noble as they are, they are not organized enough to stand against the military strength of our foes.”
“This is all speculation!” Armanus said angrily. “Maybe if we play it nice and don’t attack the highly armed and dangerous enemy, then they won’t attack us back!”
“Open your eyes Armanus!” Raanu half-shouted. “They will not leave us alone, they will attack us, and they want revenge for everything that has happened!”
“That sounds like your problem!”
“Silence!” Dume said. “We are all going around in circles. There must be a compromise.”
“It’s simple.” Said a voice. They all looked over at Kopaka, who had spoken for the first time. “We create a protection treaty.”
“A what?” Armanus asked.
“It’s clear we can’t cooperate as one unit.” Kopaka spoke curtly. “But if we wrote a treaty stating that we must come to each other’s aid in a time of need, then we would not have to ‘share power.”
“Kopaka speaks the truth.” Gali said. “We can create a unified militia without sacrificing our Tribal identities. The main military forces can train here, and when threatened they will defend any region.”
“Any region?” Armanus said. “You’re saying I have to sacrifice my warriors to protect a bunch of robot villages?”
“Those ‘robots’ will also protect your lands.” Gali said. “It is as Mohaku said, when needed Toa would come together to protect each other and their villages. Is this not the same thing on a grander scale?”
There were murmurs of agreement.
“I...agree.” Mohaku said suddenly. “If it will end the debate I will be part of this.”
“As do I.” Raanu said.
Many others agreed to it until it was only Armanus left. He gave an audible groan.
“Fine. I agree.”
“Then it is decided.” Takanuva said. “The finer details of the treaty will be worked out over the next few days. Conference dismissed.”
That night Mohaku stood silently outside his guest hut. He heard somebody come up behind him.
“I never thought I would agree with a robot.” It was Armanus.
Mohaku looked at him, the Jungle Agori seemed bothered. “I have the same sentiments.” The Turaga said. “Unification is not the way to go.”
“I agree.” Armanus stood next to him. “But truthfully I feel that it’s inevitable.”
Mohaku nodded silently, and then looked up at the sky, which was covered in clouds.
“A storm is coming.”
“Indeed.” Armanus said, also looking up. “In more ways than one.”