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Namata

Naming Day

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EDIT: Many thanks to Black Six for featuring this story on the front page! It feels unreal!

Ever wonder what the first few days on Mata Nui were like? How the Turaga adjusted to their new roles as village elders? Why some Matoran's names were spelled differently on Metru Nui?

This story takes place very shortly after the Toa Metru awoke the sleeping Matoran and became the Turaga we know and love. It's a serious story, if slightly comedic in tone, and I've tried to emulate Greg's writing style to an extent. It's also supposed to be canon-compliant, because that's how I like to do things, but there are probably a few errors here and there. If you notice any lore inaccuracies, or have comments or criticisms in general, feel free to let me know in the review thread:)

 

Naming Day

Chapter One

Nokama waded out into the calm ocean surrounding Mata Nui. Not for the first time since she and her brothers arrived on that island, she found herself trying to command the sea, only to be painfully reminded that she was no longer a Toa. All she could do now with her diminished elemental powers was stir the water slightly. Still, she found comfort in the thought of why she had sacrificed her powers. It had been the only way to wake the Matoran of Metru Nui from their comatose state and save them from eventual death.

Besides, she thought, I was a Matoran for thousands of years before becoming a Toa, and life was generally good. I think I’ll survive a couple of thousand years as a Turaga.

She came to a stop and shut her eyes. Clearing her head – not easy for a scholar to do – she made an effort to focus on the currents, the plants and the marine animals around her. After only a few moments, her worries started to wash away. Nokama smiled, her spirit soothed. Though she no longer controlled it, water was still her element. Of course, this water was quite different from that which surrounded Metru Nui, her old home. That had been silvery in color, not clear. And that was only one of many mysteries of this new island…

“Sister!”

Nokama turned and saw Onewa, Turaga of Stone, standing on the rocky beach. She was still not used to his new, smaller form, but his voice was the same, coarse and with a constant hint of cynicism.

“The Matoran are waking up,” said Onewa. “We should probably get ready for the ceremony.”

“Of course,” said Nokama, wading ashore. “Let the six hours of uninterrupted carving begin.”

They left the beach and made their way through Ta-Wahi, the recently established fire region of Mata Nui. It was a barren land made up of dark, volcanic rock. Smoke billowed from streams of lava that crisscrossed the terrain. This was to be the site of the new Ta-Metru, and Nokama had no doubt that any Ta-Matoran would feel right at home here. But to water types like her, the stifling heat and pitch-black landscape were unbearable. The one thing she found beautiful was the forest in the distance, perhaps the only significant vegetation in Ta-Wahi. Lush and green, it appeared completely unbothered by the vast pool of lava that bordered it. Thankfully, this forest was their destination.

“So, how do you feel about the whole… Turaga thing?” asked Onewa.

“I feel surprisingly at peace with the physical change,” Nokama answered truthfully. “But I’m not sure we’re ready for life as Turaga. It’s going to be our greatest challenge yet, one we’ll have to face without our Toa powers.”

“I feel the same way,” said Onewa. “But I guess we’ll have to do what we’ve always done.”

”Dive recklessly into the unknown?”

Onewa chuckled. ”I was going to say listen to Vakama, but that too.”

***

“Sister, good you’re here,” said Vakama, Turaga of Fire, when he spotted Nokama and Onewa entering the large glade. “I sent Matau to gather the Matoran from the shelters a few moments ago. Whenua is retrieving the stone tablets and should be here any second.”

“Good. And Nuju?” asked Nokama. The answer came in the form of a sharp clicking sound from her left. She turned and saw the Turaga of Ice, waving his arms about.

“Brother, I thought we agreed that you’d speak normally for the first few days on Mata Nui,” said Onewa. “We want the Matoran to take us seriously.”

Nuju responded with a series of angry shrieks, clicks and gestures. Because Nokama’s mask had transformed along with her body, it no longer enabled her to instantly translate Nuju’s bizarre language, but she had picked up enough of it as a Toa to get the general gist of what he was saying now. In the interest of keeping Onewa from smacking their white-armored brother right in the mask, she decided not to share it.

“Enough,” said Vakama sternly, though Nokama could tell he was amused by his two brothers. “The Matoran will be here soon. And Onewa is right; we must make a serious impression. These Matoran will look to us for guidance for millennia to come. Let us show them we deserve that trust.”

The words made Nokama more uncomfortable than she wanted to admit. This was only their third day on Mata Nui, and she already felt overwhelmed by her new responsibilities. She was to become the leader of over a hundred Ga-Matoran, oversee the construction of a new Ga-Metru, and protect that place against whatever threats their enemy, the evil Makuta, might unleash on it. Worse, the Matoran had all lost their memories on their way here, and had no idea who they were or how to survive on their own. It was up to the six Turaga to reeducate them.

An excited chatter became audible in the distance, along with the soft thuds of a thousand tiny feet against the forest floor. The Matoran were coming.

“Let’s do this,” said Nokama, more to herself than to any of her brothers.

***

“Gathered friends,” said Vakama, ”on our first day here, we told you the Legend of Mata Nui. You know now about the Great Spirit, the Three Virtues, and…” he paused, “the threat of the Makuta.”

The assembled Matoran shuddered at the mention of their enigmatic enemy, and Nokama felt a twinge of guilt. The ”Legend of Mata Nui”, which the Matoran had immediately accepted as truth, was nothing more than a simplified, incomplete version of the actual events, shrouded in excessive mysticism. The other five Turaga had vetoed her wish to share the truth about Metru Nui, and the real nature of Makuta, arguing that a false mythology would be easier for the Matoran to handle.

”Trust that we will share more tales about the past,” Vakama continued. “But now, let us focus on the present. Let us focus on you.”

The gravelly voice of Whenua, Turaga of Earth, continued the rehearsed speech. “You are all strong in body and in spirit. Yesterday, you built shelters in this forest, to be your temporary homes until we begin construction on our six cities. Your unity and sense of duty would make the Great Spirit proud. However, one obstacle still blocks the path to your destiny.”

Matau, Turaga of Air, delivered the next line in an exaggeratedly solemn tone: ”You have all forgotten your names, and this third day will be dedicated to reminding you of them. This is Naming Day.”

Nokama glanced at Nuju. Naming Day had been a biannual holiday on Metru Nui, one where especially brave Matoran were honored with new names. All the Turaga had thought it appropriate to honor that tradition by repurposing its name for this important day. All except Nuju. The original Naming Day had occurred much later in the year, and moving it to today made no sense from an astrological point of view, he had argued. No one had paid him much attention.

”We Turaga will help you remember,” said Onewa. ”Look at your colors, for they will tell you where to go. Those of you who are brown, come to me.”

”Blue Matoran, come see me,” said Nokama.

”Anyone who is black, dark grey or purple, come to me,” said Whenua.

”All green Matoran, form a line here”, said Matau.

”If you are white or light grey, talk to me,” said Nuju, sounding more than a little uncomfortable. It was the first time he had spoken the Matoran language in a while, and it was clearly not coming to him easily.

”And finally, those who are red, orange or yellow, you will go to me,” said Vakama.

”What if you’re both blue, red and yellow?” asked a timid voice from somewhere in the crowd. Vakama smiled, clearly familiar with the Matoran. ”Come and see me anyway, my friend,” he said.

”If anyone else has multiple colors and is unsure of where to go, ask Nuju,” said Matau, struggling to keep up the serious act. ”He is quite fond of speak-talking.”

Edited by Namata
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Posted (edited)

Chapter Two

The forest was alive with a thousand voices. The Matoran had obediently, if not all that efficiently, arranged themselves by color and were now talking excitedly within their six new groups. Nokama’s blue crowd was no exception, though they appeared slightly more restless than the others. Ga-Matoran were not designed to thrive in this intense heat. Still, they were cheerful enough, and it looked to Nokama like friendships were already being forged. Perhaps some of them remembered each other subconsciously? Or were they simply bonding over their shared anticipation of being named?

Never mind the why, Nokama thought to herself. Let’s just be glad that they’re all friendly toward each other. That will make things that much easier.

She grabbed one of the stone tablets that Whenua had brought and placed it on the tree stump that served as her desk. “Very well,” she said out loud. “Who is first?”

The crowd fell silent in the blink of an eye. One Matoran took a few tentative steps towards her. She wore an azure, triangular mask, and her eyes were a piercing yellow. “Turaga Nokama, I am ready to go first, if I may.”

“Of course,” Nokama said. “Your name is Kai”. She carved the three letters into the stone tablet and showed it to the Matoran. “Take a moment to memorize the spelling.” Kai fixed her eyes on the carving. “Now write it yourself,” said Nokama, handing Kai another tablet and a simple carving tool. The Matoran promptly chiseled her name into the stone, eager to do as she had been told. It was strange to see her so obedient. Nokama had never known Kai all that well on Metru Nui – the Matoran had worked as an overseer at the main docks of Ga-Metru and always seemed uninterested in academics – but she had been known to dislike authority with a passion. The contrast made Nokama uneasy. How much of the Matoran’s personalities had been lost along with their memories?

“Well done, Kai,” she said. “You may go, but do not wander outside the forest. We will see each other again soon.” The Matoran looked up at her, reverence in her eyes. “Thank you, great Turaga.”

Half an hour later, Nokama had begun to settle into the routine: identify the Matoran, say her name out loud, write it down, and then teach her how to write it herself. Most of the Matoran she recognized immediately, such as Hahli, Nixie, and Nireta, and their names brought memories of past encounters, friendships, and rivalries. For the ones that weren’t instantly familiar, she relied on a scroll that Nuju had given her. It was a copy of an old record of the Metru Nui population, which he had recovered right before they left the city. Unfortunately, it was outdated by several hundred years, but still largely relevant given the long lifespan of Matoran, and Nuju had made copies of it for each of the Turaga. Thus, whenever a Matoran came before her whom she hadn’t known on Metru Nui, she used the scroll to identify her by her mask design and her various hues of blue.

She was in the middle of reading through the records for the fifth time when she was overcome by a sudden urge to look upwards. She did that, then jerked her head to the left, in the direction of Onewa and his crowd of Po-Matoran. Her brown Turaga brother was giving her a distressed glance from across the glade, and she finally understood what had happened. Onewa had used his Mask of Mind Control to make her look at him. He was trying to get her attention without the Matoran noticing. Why he hadn’t simply used his power to make her walk over there, she wasn’t sure. Perhaps he considered that rude, or perhaps the Turaga version of his mask couldn’t manage such a feat?

“Forgive me, good Matoran,” she said as she rose. “I must consult with the Turaga of Stone. Please wait here.”

“As you wish, great Turaga!” she heard Kai say behind her, as she shuffled through differently colored crowds toward the other end of the glade.

***

“So, what’s going on?” Nokama asked.

“I’m sorry to call you over here, sister,” whispered Onewa, careful not to let the Po-Matoran hear. “It’s just that, I think I got two Matoran mixed up.”

“Which ones?”

“Do you see the one over there, with the black mask and feet? Don’t look directly at him! Do you know him?”

“Isn’t that Taipu, from Onu-Metru? He gave me a guided tour of the Archives once,” Nokama said.

“I knew it!” Onewa exclaimed. “I told him he was Hafu, and one of mine! A Po-Matoran!”

Nokama chuckled. “So where is the real Hafu?”

“I told him he was Taipu, and sent him to Whenua.” Onewa pointed discreetly to a Matoran who stood at the back of Whenua’s group of Onu-Matoran. He did indeed look a lot like Taipu, with a black mask, black feet, and a beige torso – a color scheme that occurred among both Onu- and Po-Matoran. The only significant difference was the mask design. “Sorry to bother you with this, sister,” said Onewa. ”But the others wouldn’t have understood.”

“It’s all right. You should just talk to them both and explain the mistake. No one said Turaga have to be perfect.”

“I know, but it’s only our third day. Don’t you think that a mess-up at this scale, this early on, will undermine my authority forever? Basically, what I’m asking is, could you help me correct the mistake without letting them know that it was a mistake? Something like, ‘I have heard whispers from the mighty ocean, that you two will switch names’?”

“As you may recall, I was never fond of the pseudo-mythology idea,” said Nokama. “As for your authority, I think it will only be strengthened if you own up to your mistake. Show the Matoran that you take responsibility for your actions.”

Seeing that her brother was not yet convinced, she placed an arm on his shoulder. “Believe me, I understand it’s not easy. We didn’t ask to be tribe leaders and no one prepared us for it. But no one prepared us for becoming Toa, either, and look at what we accomplished anyway.” She gestured toward the one thousand Matoran in the forest, who would have been trapped in Metru Nui right now, under the tyranny of Makuta, were it not for the six Toa’s bravery. “We saved them.”

“I’m not so sure about…” Onewa began, then stopped short, realizing that what he had been about to say would have been upsetting. It didn’t matter. Nokama knew exactly what he was thinking. They had brought the Matoran here from Metru Nui in small spheres, because Makuta had trapped them in there as part of his plot to seize power. The Toa had believed that the spheres merely rendered their occupants comatose, but as it turned out, they were also eroding both their minds and bodies. The Matoran were slowly dying inside them. When the Toa brought them to this new island of Mata Nui, and sacrificed their power to release them, they awoke smaller, weaker, and without their memories. In a sense, the Matoran who had lived in Metru Nui were gone, perhaps forever, because the Toa failed to save them.

“No, you’re right, sister,” Onewa said somewhat blankly, as if trying with mixed success to convince himself. “We should take responsibility for our failings, not dwell on them. And try to take pride in the good we’ve done. I’ll go talk to Whenua, about sending Hafu back here.”

***

Meanwhile, Turaga Matau was becoming bored. He had named twenty Le-Matoran so far, and the routine was already unbearably repetitive. The only bit of fun was the opportunity to be extra strict towards those he had disliked on Metru Nui, such as the incredibly daft Tuuli, and that novelty was wearing off.

But, I suppose life isn’t always going to be quick-thrilling from now on, he thought. And maybe that’s all right. Maybe looking after these Matoran will be a different kind of adventure, one that’s less about excitement and more about responsibility.

Strengthened by this epiphany, Matau beckoned the next green Matoran to his makeshift desk. “Greetings, Orkahm,” he said warmly, and started to carve that name into his tablet. Then he saw a spot of blue in the corner of his eye. It was Nokama, standing among the Po-Matoran, and conversing with Onewa. The latter looked strangely embarrassed. All of Matau’s newly gained maturity vanished in an instant. Something funny was going on, and he needed to be part of it. If nothing else, it was a much-needed break from the excruciating tedium of Naming Day.

He excused himself from the Matoran and went to talk to his brother and sister, leaving Orkahm with the tablet. The confused Matoran looked down at his unfinished name. “It says ‘ORKA’,” he told the group, “but there was another letter at the end, wasn’t there?”

“I think it was an ‘N’, said Tuuli helpfully. I think he called you ‘Orkan’.

Edited by Namata
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