Tahu, Master of Fire, walked slowly down the darkened streets of Lego City, eyes fixed on the studded baseboard beneath his feet. He was vaguely aware of others walking past him—they didn’t disturb him, but he heard their whispers, and they did nothing to improve his mood. He soon stopped in his tracks and looked up. A large building stood just across the street, its neon sign flashing the name “CANCELLATION COVE”.
…I guess I can’t put it off any longer.
Crossing, Tahu entered the establishment and glanced around. Characters from all sorts of themes filled the tables, some laughing, some shouting, and some fixing a sullen gaze on whatever beverage they held. On the far side of the bar he spotted the person he was looking for. Taking a deep breath, he rounded the counter and prepared for the worst.
Tahu, Master of Fire, reached out to tap him on the shoulder. “Hello, brother.”
Tahu, Toa Mata of Fire, turned in his seat. “…Brother?”
For a moment, they stared at each other. Then, Tahu Mata clapped one hand onto Master Tahu’s arm, smiled, and said, “Where have you been? They said you and the others moved here months ago—I was starting to get the feeling you were avoiding me!”
Master Tahu blinked.
“Hey, Furno!” Tahu Mata said, elbowing the person next to him. “Look at this: my brother’s finally turned up! Brother, you’ve heard of Furno, right?”
The Hero waved. “Pleasure to finally meet ya! Sorry to hear about the cancellation—I’ve been there.”
“Um, thank you,” Master Tahu mumbled.
“Hey, isn’t Torch here?” Tahu Mata asked.
Furno rubbed his chin. “Mmm, I thought I saw him come in, but I didn’t see his face so—“
“Check the pool table, he’s probably there.” As Furno got to his feet, Tahu Mata turned back to Master Tahu and said, “You have to meet this guy, Torch! I don’t know what Lego was thinking when they designed him, but…are you alright?”
Master Tahu just stood there, desperately grasping for an answer. “…I…you…aren’t you disappointed?”
Tahu Mata cocked his head. “Huh? Of course not. He might look weird, but Torch is a great guy, trust me. I’m happy to be related to him.”
“No, I mean disappointed in me!”
Master Tahu shook his head. “Bionicle G2 was cancelled. It was cut short after just two years. I…I failed.”
Tahu Mata stared at him for a moment. Then, with a smile, he said, “Don’t be so hard on yourself, brother.”
A wave of confusion pushed through Master Tahu, but before he could say anything more, Furno returned with someone new in tow. Judging by his black and red color scheme he could guess this was Torch, and it was easy to see what his brother had meant. The character had a massively exaggerated hunchback design—his arms were at a reasonable height, but his head sat at about the level of his legs. Master Tahu’s confusion only grew.
“Torch, there you are!” Tahu Mata said. “This is my brother. Say hello!”
Torch stepped forward, and Master Tahu had to look almost straight down just to make eye contact. “Oh, so you’re Tahu Jr? Your brother’s told me a lot about you. I’m Torch, the Fire Slizer.”
He offered a handshake, but Tahu Mata caught his arm and pulled it back. “Hey, other hand!”
The hand offered had jets of flame for fingers. Realizing his mistake, Torch switched for his other, less hazardous hand, and said, “Sorry about that. I always forget.”
“How do you forget that your hand is constantly on fire?” Furno asked as he sat back down.
Torch simply rolled his eyes as he shook hands with Master Tahu. Tahu Mata motioned for them both to sit, and they complied, though Torch’s head became obscured by the counter.
“Look at this: the oldest Fire constraction character and the newest, side-by-side,” Tahu Mata said. “We’ve come far since the age of Slizers. Throwbots? Whatever it was.”
Torch grunted. “Sonny, if it wasn’t for us, I guarantee you wouldn’t be swinging that fancy fire sword around.”
“Lighten up, old-timer,” Furno said. “You know we all have the utmost respect for you. Tell us again how your planet soldiered on after being only half destroyed by a meteor.”
Holding up a finger, Tahu Mata corrected, “It was three-sevenths destroyed, actually! And precisely along the Sector borders, too. It was a very detail-oriented meteor.”
“Can you believe this?” Torch asked, tapping the back of his hand against Master Tahu. “Ugh…well, I will admit you look good, kid. That’s that CCBS thing, right? And I see they gave you a backpack to fix that gaping hole Furno had.”
Furno shrugged. “Eh, that’s not something I can deny.”
Master Tahu looked between the three of them in succession, totally bewildered. They waited for him to say something, but soon the silence grew awkward, so Tahu Mata gently set a hand on his shoulder.
“Brother,” he said.
“…I don’t understand,” Master Tahu said, closing his eyes. “You must be disappointed—you have to be. How could you not? I was supposed to follow in your footsteps, and I failed miserably. Why are you acting like nothing’s wrong?”
“Because nothing is wrong, and I’m not disappointed.”
Master Tahu glared up at his brother. “But everyone’s disappointed in me! I didn’t have the depth that you did. I didn’t provide as much content as you did. I didn’t flesh out my world, or even give names to huge swaths of my cast—I was supposed to renew your legacy and inspire the imagination of a new generation, and I failed! I…I’m not fit to be called your brother.”
The silence returned, feeling denser than before. Nobody even moved as they allowed Master Tahu’s words to settle over them.
Torch was the one to finally break it: “Poppycock.”
Leaning a little, Tahu Mata said, “Language. Thank you, I’ll handle this.” He turned back to Master Tahu. “He’s right, though, that’s ridiculous. Your name is Tahu. You’re the Toa of Fire. Of course you’re my brother! That’s not dependent on how long your theme lasts, or how much content you packed into that time.”
Master Tahu just slumped against the counter.
“…I’m sorry, brother. You are being far too hard on yourself, and a big part of it is my fault.”
“You always did cast quite the shadow,” Furno agreed. “Not many of us can compare to the monolith that was Bionicle G1, and I’m not just talking about the sun-obscuring mound you get when you stack all your varied media in one pile.”
“That’s right,” Tahu Mata said. “Slizers only lasted two years, and its content was even sparser. Most people don’t even remember the other ones, like RoboRiders. And, while we all swore to try, we still can’t forget…”
The four of them glanced over their shoulders at a table in the far corner of the room. A human boy with a blue shirt and a mechanical arm sat there, going on about something while a frog man holding a staff nodded politely. They all quickly looked away.
Tahu Mata set a hand on his brother’s back. “You’re taking the cancellation hard—I’m sure you aren’t really interested in feeling better right now. But we’re here for you. And when you are ready, we’ll still be here. Right guys?”
Furno raised his glass. “Sure, I got nowhere to be! And I hate to see a fellow hero so down in the dumps.”
“I’m here for you too, youngster,” Torch said. “Cancelled themes stick together!”
Silently, Master Tahu looked from one to the other. He still felt a terrible, overwhelming sense of failure. Yet, for the first time since the cancellation, he wondered if one day he might no longer feel that way.
“Why don’t we play some darts?” Tahu Mata suggested.
“I think the Alpha Team has claimed that for the night,” Torch said. When Furno craned his neck, Torch added, “No, not your Alpha Team.”
Tahu Mata hummed. “Oh, actually, you haven’t ordered yet, have you brother? Get whatever you want—my treat.”
He slid a menu over to Master Tahu, who glanced over it half-heartedly. The Master of Fire remained silent for a while, but then, quietly, he said, “Thank you…brother.”
Tahu Mata nodded. “My pleasure.”