THE TIME BEFORE TIME: INTRODUCTION
In the time before time, the world was tasteless and without colour. Then the Great One known as Marshy Mallow descended from the heavens, bringing light and sweet things. He created we, the Matoran, so that we may prosper in this new age and not waste that which has reached its expiry date. At first we were separate, without purpose, so Marshy Mallow bestowed upon us the Three Flavours: Sour, Salty and Sweet.
He gave us a home on the floating city of Metru Nui. Six districts were built, each home to Matoran of one of the six elements. Ta-Metru was home to those of Fruit, people of my kind whose tongues could withstand the most sour of unripe apricots. In Ga-Metru, rivers of Soda carried our favourite fizzy drinks and fed the bubbly lakes beyond. In Po-Metru, great fields were filled with Chocolate sculptures and mountains of fudge. Le-Metru was a green place of the element Mint, its residents having the freshest breath in the land. Onu-Metru was a maze of tunnels eaten into the Cookie basement of the city. Finally there was Ko-Metru and its magnificent, glittering peaks of Ice-Cream.
But our happiness was not to last. A shadow began to creep over Metru Nui, something our beloved Toa warriors could not halt. There would come a day when Marshy Mallow himself would fall, plunging our world back into darkness. The story of how this happened is not one of doom, but of hope. It's a story of how heroes are born and how the Three Flavours together can be mightier than even the sharpest spork.
This is that story.
CHAPTER ONE: FLIGHT OF THE VALET
Jeeve-Ahn was no ordinary Toa. While most Toa wore shiny armour and masks, he had abandoned these in favour of a tailored suit and monocle. He used his elemental powers of Fruit only in strict emergencies. Everybody in Metru Nui knew and cherished him. Matoran workers appraised him as he passed by in the streets. But his popularity wasn't due to him being a Toa; it was because he was the only Toa they had left.
He served as valet to Turaga Nom, the almighty President of Metru Nui. Nom made sure the city's heart kept beating, while Jeeve-Ahn did his housework and ran errands for Matoran from all the six districts. In previous years, there had been full-time Toa protecting their vast food stores, but after a suspicious number of mysterious disappearances, they were all gone.
Even with the remaining duo on top of things, it wasn't getting any better. Chocolate and ice-cream towers were melting in Po- and Ko-Metru respectively, breath mints were running out in Le-Metru, cookies crumbled in Onu-Metru and the soda streams of Ga-Metru were running flat. Worst of all, a dangerous and foul-tasting tomato plant had sprouted in Ta-Metru and was causing the fruit stores to over-ripen. Matoran morale remained high for the moment, but something had to be done.
That's why 'Jeevie' had done something – without telling the Turaga. He had stolen six gummi bears from the Temple of the Great Marshmallow. These weren't any ordinary delicious lollies. Each one was infused with some of the Toa's energy and each was a different colour. He intended to deliver each one to a Matoran from a different district.
With his immaculate outfit, he had little to mark him out as a Toa. One clue was his extreme height of almost nine inches. Jeeve-Ahn towered above everybody else. The other giveaway was his hoverboard, the one piece of Toa tech he had kept. Originally the board was a pair of special swords. They were permanently glued together during an outbreak of zombie PopTarts, rendered inseparable but able to fly.
In this manner, surfing through the sky above Ga-Metru, he approached the high school where Noca-Cola worked. This district was a place of learning and of passing on knowledge. A little stream of fizzy lemonade passed through the centre of the building. Jeeve-Ahn could see a pressure valve just upstream from it; this valve shut off the stream every lunch hour to stop students being hyper in afternoon classes. In the other districts, sugar highs weren't so easy to control.
After landing, the rogue valet concealed his hoverboard behind some empty Pepsi bottles, made sure all his shirt buttons were done up, then marched into the nearest classroom. Noca-Cola (or Noka to her friends) taught in this room five days a week, forty weeks of the year. His rich knowledge of Facebook had allowed Jeevie to ascertain all this. He'd also found that Noka had a fondness for vanilla yoghurt, a pottle of which he held up on his silver serving tray as he entered.
“...and as you should recall, the number pi is the ratio of a pie's circumference to how delicious it is. The best pies therefore have the lowest value of pi,” Noka was telling her class. She sniffed and turned toward Jeevie. “Oh my Great Mallowpuff, it's vanilla yoghurt!”
With surprising agility (for a Ga-Matoran), she vaulted over the desk and snatched the yoghurt from Jeevie's tray. Not even bothering to locate a spoon, she tore off the lid and licked the whole pottle clean in seconds. Only while wiping the white spillage off her mask did she acknowledge the valet. “Oh, hi Jeeve-Ahn.”
“Good day, ma'am.” He hadn't been met with the usual round of applause, but couldn't show any disappointment while wearing his suit. As he looked around the class, he saw the reason. All of Noka's students were asleep. Perhaps, he thought, they needed more lemonade during school rather than less.
“How can I help you? Is there another book Turaga Nom would like to borrow?”
“No ma'am, the Turaga is quite content to read titles shipped from amazon.com. I am here to speak with you personally, if you can spare a few moments. In private.”
“I see...” Suddenly she was very close to him. “I'm sure they won't mind if we sneak out for five, ten minutes.” Noka gestured at her class. Not one of the students had stirred.
“I am not here on social business, ma'am. There is a matter of dire importance to discuss.”
“Ugh, you men are always 'too busy,' aren't you?” She zipped her top back up.
“If you please, I do not wish to be overheard, ma'am. And the Turaga must not know I was here.”
“Okay, fine. What is so important and why are you telling me?”
They talked for several minutes and, when Jeevie had given Noka her answers (and one of the stolen gummies), he departed at once for Po-Metru. His message was received with much reluctance and he doubted any of the other Matoran would be cheerful about it. But his mission had to be completed. Time was already running out.
As he travelled, he saw the transport chutes that wound across the city, carrying cargo and thrillseeking Matoran from place to place. They were magnetized tubes filled with an inedible (but breathable) fluid called gooey protodermis. Anything that wasn't food in Metru Nui was made from protodermis: Jeevie's board, the Turaga's throne, Noka's revealing chestplate. Nobody knew where this stuff came from. Nobody was bothered to find out; all the sweet things were much more interesting.
When he could no longer hear fizzing and bubbling, but instead the excited munchings of the Choc-people, he knew he was above Po-Metru. This was the land of the sculptors. Below were Matoran with stomachs and teeth adapted for shaping mounds of chocolate into works of art. Statues of wild Rahi animals and of heroes like the Toa decorated their fields. The valet sought one sculptor in particular, a man called Lindta.
“It is NOT a girls' name!” This shout came from within Lindta's hut when Jeevie arrived. There was more. “Get outta my house, Achnoo! You're supposed to be working!”
There was a devilish laughter, then a Matoran with bronze armour came out of the hut. “Oh, hello Jeeve-Ahn! You good?” Without waiting for a reply, the troublemaker Achnoo departed for his work station.
Lindta himself was seated inside, surrounded by fragments of his work. All the furniture was covered in choc chips and there was a strong aroma of cocoa powder. “Hello, Jeeve-Ahn! You came at a bad time, I'm afraid. That rascal Achnoo has been in here, trying to eat my desk again.”
“Indeed, sir? Perhaps I can sweeten the mood for you.” When Jeevie raised his serving tray this time, it displayed a platter of licorice pieces.
“LICORICE GIMME GIMME GIMME!” Once again, the valet watched as a Matoran traded manners for the chance to stuff their face. When Lindta had recovered his usual composure, Jeevie delivered his urgent message. As he spoke, the sculptor's expression grew darker, until finally he appeared as though he were looking upon a plate of spinach.
“But Jeeve-Ahn, how am I supposed to help?”
“With this,” as he passed over a stolen gummi bear of translucent brown colour. “Here is what you must do with it...”
A moment later, the meeting was concluded. Jeevie flew next to Onu-Metru, passing from soft-eating fields to the hard ground of the cookie district. There were few buildings on the surface, for the Matoran here mostly worked in the giant underground Museum. Down there were specimens of every edible substance ever discovered, from apple crumble to zebrajam. It was in this deep, doughy place that the archivist Munchu worked.
That day he'd been assigned one of the most important jobs of the upper level: sorting M&Ms. Munchu was calculating the ratio of green to yellow he required, when Jeevie burst in with a bottle of ginger beer. After downing it in one gulp, the archivist let out an island-rattling belch and grunted “Cheers Jeevie.” As before, the valet recounted his urgent message and handed over a gummi bear, this time black like a questionable piece of toast.
Like the others, Munchu showed less enthusiasm than a jar of sand. As they often said in the Museum, “Tough bikkies.” On his way out Jeevie nearly knocked over a sign reading 'Do not eat the exhibits.' He wondered what they paid the archivists with as he returned to the surface and headed for Ko-Metru.
In this coldest of districts, the Matoran all wore white armour and worked among translucent white towers; the Popsicle Towers. Everywhere were glints from the lenses of large telescopes operated by the residents. Their instruments peered beyond the mountains, composed of ice-cream of all imaginable colours, out into deep space. They were astrologers who used the stars to forecast the future. At least, that's what they called it. Ko-Matoran were actually brilliant at locating asteroids made of ice-cream which they hoped to harvest some day. Looking forward to the future meant looking for more things to eat.
Astrologer Fruju was adept at not only finding such asteroids, but thinking up ways to capture them. The diagrams the valet passed by in his observatory were exquisite plans for giant nets and other devices. Many diagrams there were, for Fruju was known for being so quiet he could go for years without speaking. Drawings were the only reliable way he communicated.
Jeevie found him staring into his telescope, hunched over like a gargoyle. When he finally realized he had a visitor (it took much polite clinking upon the serving tray), Fruju slid off his chair and rotated himself. An eyepiece retracted into his mask; some astrologers used these to provide maximum magnification. He said nothing.
“Good day, sir. Would you care for some refreshment?” Jeevie now produced a little cup filled with jellybeans.
Rather than lunge forward like any other Matoran, Fruju took one step forward and held his hands out. The jellybeans were passed to him and he raised them to his mouth, his arms bending like a drawbridge. After letting them tumble down into his tract he stood still with his hands clasped behind his back, awaiting information. It was given to him, without any verbal response, then Jeevie gave him a milky white gummi and left the observatory.
Le-Metru was the next destination, specifically the workplace of Peppau. Getting there required navigating a green web of protodermis chutes, for the workplace in question was a giant hub in the centre of the chute network. Locals had abandoned any imaginative food-related names and just called it The Hub. Or the BRT (Big Round Thingie). Jeevie landed and hid his hoverboard once again, the smell of mint strong in his face-holes.
Matoran here were tasked with providing efficient transport for all of Metru Nui. Without their efforts, it would have been impossible (a bit tiring, anyway) for the common citizen to access all the wonderful flavours of the city. They kept the chutes flowing and the friendly Ussal crabs scuttling. Some, like Peppau, risked their pride to test new transport methods. When Jeevie asked the BRT receptionist for his location, he was directed to the infamous Test Track, where prototype vehicles were driven to their limits.
He stood at the southern edge of the Track, where mint plants grew like weeds, waiting for a sign of Peppau. After just a few seconds, the test pilot swerved into view, atop some ridiculous jet-powered tricycle. When he noticed the valet waiting there, Peppau waved. But then the handlebars came off of his contraption and naughty words were emitted. The tricycle veered into the wall and sent its rider flying. He bounced across the Track like a potato, coming to rest right at Jeevie's feet.
“Ugghhhh... hi Jeevie. Not sure what happened there.”
“It would appear, sir, that the steering column of the vehicle has malfunctioned.”
“Oh yeah. Stupid thing, probably welded on with chewing gum.”
“Are you alright, sir?”
“Yeah, I've had way harder knocks in this job! Like this one time, I was in a car with an ejector seat, but they didn't tell me it was an ejector seat. So when I saw this big red button in front of me, I thought, “I don't know what that does, but if I'm gonna do a thorough test, I should push it anyway.” They had to get four men with giant spatulas to scrape me off the ceiling. And then...”
“If I may interject, sir, I have something of great importance to discuss.”
“Oh right! Sorry Jeevie.” Unlike Fruju, this Le-Matoran could chat endlessly if allowed to.
“I would suggest that we be prompt, for I fear the engine is still in operation.”
“Huh?” Suddenly the sound of an approaching runaway jet-powered tricycle hit Peppau's ears. Before he could jump out of the way, he was spinning through the air again. Jeevie managed to jump onto the trike and bring it to a stop, for such skills are essential for valet and Toa alike. Since he was both, Jeevie was four times as good at driving as anybody else.
After Peppau had come to rest again, he was offered a platter of Jaffa biscuits. These were momentarily reduced to orange crumbs. Again Jeevie delivered his message, again he handed over a gummi bear, again the word again agained. A mixture of reluctance and bruises contorted the Matoran's face. Jeevie wished him good luck, then returned to the BRT and retrieved his hoverboard.
There was only one more gummi to deliver, but Jeevie felt he was already out of time. In the distance was Ta-Metru, his former home. As he passed from fresh-smelling Le-Metru into the land of warmth and sour things, he thought of the creatures he was trying to evade. They were nasty brutes, showing none of a valet's courtesy, from a place far beyond Metru Nui. They didn't care for yumminess, or for the virtues of the Matoran. They were hunters – and that day, they were hunting Jeeve-Ahn.
Edited by Dekar Nuva, Aug 09 2015 - 03:11 AM.