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Spares - a Mata Nui short story


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Ever wondered why certain Mata Nui Matoran switched masks when they appeared in MNOG2, choosing an otherwise uncommon Kanohi? This story offers a possible explanation. Enjoy!

 

SPARES

Nuparu was no stranger to fear. Too many times had he found himself at the mercy of wild Rahi or some other creature who threatened to end his life. But no matter how real the danger was, he never let himself be swallowed by panic.

As he stared at the broken black Komau on the floor of his hut, however, panic became a very real possibility for him.

“I … am so … sorr-.”

As he faced the mask’s former owner, his heartlight nearly went out again. Nuhrii was an exposed torso suspended in mid-air, his armour stripped down to his organic insides. He was next in line to receive the rebuild every Matoran was to receive after Naming Day. Despite rebuilding dozens of Matoran already, the sight of one in such a state still made Nuparu jump. Nuhrii’s maskless expression of horror and anger didn’t help.

This is what happened: Nuhrii had complained to the engineer of a fault in one of his optical sensors. Nuparu had removed his mask so he could have a closer look, placing the Komau on the ground nearby. As he reached for his tools, however, he accidentally knocked over a piece of a broken down Boxor. This piece landed on the mask, shattering it beyond recognition.

Nuparu now had to quickly find a replacement. Still stunned by the sight of Nuhrii, the engineer completely forgot about his unfinished apology to the Ta-Matoran.

“Do you, uhm, …” he finally spoke with some difficulty, “… have any requests regarding your new mask?”

Nuhrii visibly relaxed as he pondered which mask to choose. “Can I get a Hau?”

“I’ll check the pile,” answered Nuparu. He hurried towards the room where he kept the spare Kanohi, jumping over the disassembled parts of inactive Bohrok on the floor.

“A black one, if possible!” called the Ta-Matoran from his chamber.

“I’ll see what I can find!” called Nuparu back. He began to rummage through the assortment of masks which, he soon found, had massively decreased in size since he last had to pay it a visit. He searched for black Haus but couldn’t find any. Then he tried to search for Haus in other colours, again with no success. Resigned, Nuparu grabbed the first black coloured Kanohi he saw. This’ll have to do, he thought and returned to the chamber to face Nuhrii.

“Did you find it?” enquired the Ta-Matoran.

Nuparu cleared his throat. “Well …”

 

***

 

Nuhrii walked noiselessly into the Ta-Koro square, trying not to catch the attention of his fellow tribesmen. Unfortunately for him, everyone seemed to be looking at him. At the Suva, Keahi and some of his comrades were conversing. As Nuhrii came past, their conversation turned into a series of giggles. Keahi decided to speak up.

“Going for a swim, are we Nuhrii?”

The comment left the group of Ta-Koro guardsmen in hysterics. Nuhrii shot them an angry look and continued on his way. That stupid Onu-Matoran, he thought to himself. Breaking my Komau was one thing. But replacing it with a Kaukau, of all masks, now that is the work of Karzahni! Nuhrii continued to fume as a couple of visiting Po-Matoran hewers passed him. One of them broke free of the group and stopped where Nuhrii was standing, eyeing the Ta-Matoran with curiosity. He too was wearing a Kaukau.

“Hey, Kivi!” his compatriots called behind him. “Are you coming or not?”

“In a minute!” the Po-Matoran called back. He turned his attention back to Nuhrii.

“Let me guess,” Kivi asked, pointing at Nuhrii’s new mask. “It was the only one left?”

Edited by TahnokTrapper
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Another interesting and well-written story. The description of Nuhrii's body suspended in midair sounded like something out of Ghost in the Shell and really highlights just how bizarre BIONICLE was sometimes. Even though it was short, getting to see Nuparu's more "customer service" side was unexpectedly fascinating.

This isn't a criticism of any specific part of the story, more just the premise in general, but I find it a little strange to imagine that real-world gender stereotypes would exist on Mata Nui in such a similar way. There were only a handful of times this kind of thing was ever recognized in canon media (off the top of my head, Gaaki wanting to prove herself to the other Toa, and of course the weirdness going on with Orde) and I always found it super weird and unnecessary. But, swallowing the pill that it is canon, this story does do some refreshing and enjoyable things with it.

  • Like 1

"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
"
-- Turaga Nokama

nichijou2.jpg

Click here to visit my library!

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2 hours ago, Master Inika said:

Another interesting and well-written story. The description of Nuhrii's body suspended in midair sounded like something out of Ghost in the Shell and really highlights just how bizarre BIONICLE was sometimes. Even though it was short, getting to see Nuparu's more "customer service" side was unexpectedly fascinating.

This isn't a criticism of any specific part of the story, more just the premise in general, but I find it a little strange to imagine that real-world gender stereotypes would exist on Mata Nui in such a similar way. There were only a handful of times this kind of thing was ever recognized in canon media (off the top of my head, Gaaki wanting to prove herself to the other Toa, and of course the weirdness going on with Orde) and I always found it super weird and unnecessary. But, swallowing the pill that it is canon, this story does do some refreshing and enjoyable things with it.

I'm gonna leave a reply for both of your comments here and on Agni and Kalama.

First off, thanks for the comments. :) I don't really get that much useful feedback on these stories, so I very much appreciate it. Now, regarding the two stories:

 

Agni and Kalama - not my strongest story, I admit. The idea was that Kalama doesn't want to shut up and stop complaining and Agni is sick of listening to him but is too professional to snap back, so he's just tuning out. Perhaps this doesn't really come across in writing. Maybe if I added a line like "This one-sided conversation has being going on for hours and Kalama hasn't been very receptive of Agni's proposals"? Or a last line where Kalama continues the "one-sided conversation", much to Agni's quiet annoyance?

 

Spares - I find this one to be stronger. Apart from answering the question why Nuhrii and Kivi changed masks it also tries to give us a glimpse at how the rebuilding process went (it's one of those unexplored events like what the MahriToran did following their return to Voya Nui). And yeah, that is a striking visual, it was one of the first things I thought of when brainstorming this story.

About the gender stereotypes: Keahi's comment was more along the line of the Kaukau being thought of as a hyper-specialised and mostly useless mask (granted, this was only mentioned once in the 04 novels, where Matau called the Kaukau useless), not so much with its association with Ga-Matoran. But it wouldn't be to far-fetched that said association also had something to do with it, since I imagine the Ta-Matoran and the guards especially to be one of the more "macho" male Matoran. It's weird, I know, Bionicle wasn't thought out well in this regard.

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15 hours ago, TahnokTrapper said:

I'm gonna leave a reply for both of your comments here and on Agni and Kalama.

First off, thanks for the comments. :) I don't really get that much useful feedback on these stories, so I very much appreciate it. Now, regarding the two stories:

 

Agni and Kalama - not my strongest story, I admit. The idea was that Kalama doesn't want to shut up and stop complaining and Agni is sick of listening to him but is too professional to snap back, so he's just tuning out. Perhaps this doesn't really come across in writing. Maybe if I added a line like "This one-sided conversation has being going on for hours and Kalama hasn't been very receptive of Agni's proposals"? Or a last line where Kalama continues the "one-sided conversation", much to Agni's quiet annoyance?

 

Spares - I find this one to be stronger. Apart from answering the question why Nuhrii and Kivi changed masks it also tries to give us a glimpse at how the rebuilding process went (it's one of those unexplored events like what the MahriToran did following their return to Voya Nui). And yeah, that is a striking visual, it was one of the first things I thought of when brainstorming this story.

About the gender stereotypes: Keahi's comment was more along the line of the Kaukau being thought of as a hyper-specialised and mostly useless mask (granted, this was only mentioned once in the 04 novels, where Matau called the Kaukau useless), not so much with its association with Ga-Matoran. But it wouldn't be to far-fetched that said association also had something to do with it, since I imagine the Ta-Matoran and the guards especially to be one of the more "macho" male Matoran. It's weird, I know, Bionicle wasn't thought out well in this regard.

This has even less to do with your story, because what feels deficient about the story is something that was equally deficient in canon, so it not fully making sense in your story is precisely because it fits in with canon.

But the Kaukau being a lesser mask because of its hyperspecialization makes zero sense to me. It sounds like someone wanting the sexist stereotype to exist but trying to make up an in-universe reason for it. If someone cannot swim, like Po-Matoran can't, wouldn't a mask that lets you breathe water be extremely useful on the off chance you did have to cross a body of water? Like how Pohatu wears the Mask of Speed because he is the slowest Toa on his own. Like if you're being attacked by a Rahi a Mask of X-ray Vision isn't going to be super helpful either.

Personally in MNOG II I always thought the Akaku looked the strangest on characters other than Matoro and Kopaka. Of all the masks, because of its asymetry I think the Akaku is the hardest to decouple from the characters it was designed to look normal wearing it.

  • Like 1

"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
"
-- Turaga Nokama

nichijou2.jpg

Click here to visit my library!

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13 hours ago, Master Inika said:

This has even less to do with your story, because what feels deficient about the story is something that was equally deficient in canon, so it not fully making sense in your story is precisely because it fits in with canon.

But the Kaukau being a lesser mask because of its hyperspecialization makes zero sense to me. It sounds like someone wanting the sexist stereotype to exist but trying to make up an in-universe reason for it. If someone cannot swim, like Po-Matoran can't, wouldn't a mask that lets you breathe water be extremely useful on the off chance you did have to cross a body of water? Like how Pohatu wears the Mask of Speed because he is the slowest Toa on his own. Like if you're being attacked by a Rahi a Mask of X-ray Vision isn't going to be super helpful either.

Personally in MNOG II I always thought the Akaku looked the strangest on characters other than Matoro and Kopaka. Of all the masks, because of its asymetry I think the Akaku is the hardest to decouple from the characters it was designed to look normal wearing it.

Po-Matoran are canonically poor swimmers, Biosector goes as far as to say they have an instinctual fear of water (https://biosector01.com/wiki/Po-Matoran). The way I see it, if a Matoran hates water and would never even step near a body of water, having a Kaukau could be seen as completely useless. But of course, if a Po-Matoran (or any Matoran) could learn how to overcome that repulsion and learn how to swim, then the mask could become really useful. Maybe that Ice Mangai with a Kaukau went through that process... 🤔😉

Sorry, but you haven't answered my question regarding Agni and Kalama - would that extra line help contextualize their dynamic? Or would making Kalama a motor-mouth as opposed to a complainer/misery-guts be more appropriate given Agni's responses?

 

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11 hours ago, TahnokTrapper said:

Sorry, but you haven't answered my question regarding Agni and Kalama - would that extra line help contextualize their dynamic? Or would making Kalama a motor-mouth as opposed to a complainer/misery-guts be more appropriate given Agni's responses?

You're right, sorry. I'm not really sure. As he is written, Kalama sounds almost neurodivergent to me, thinking Agni is his friend and just being oblivious to how Agni really feels about him. I honestly feel pretty bad for him. To me at least, this reads like it is the introduction to a longer story about Agni and Kalama having a buddy adventure where they learn to see each other's points of view and gain a newfound respect for each other. As a complete story, though, with it ending abruptly with Agni just miserable and Kalama unaware that Agni isn't really his friend, it comes off as a little mean-spirited.

To use another example from modern pop culture, some middle season episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants really get SpongeBob and Squidward's relationship wrong and just make it about SpongeBob annoying Squidward for no reason. Those episodes have an unofficial fan name that it would not be appropriate to say here, but you get the idea. It's a testament to your writing and the story's potential that I come away feeling so bad for both characters, but I found it frustrating how abruptly it concluded with no change in their relationship. Truthfully, I think the problem in the story is too fundamental to be fixed with just one or a few extra lines.

  • Like 1

"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
"
-- Turaga Nokama

nichijou2.jpg

Click here to visit my library!

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6 hours ago, Master Inika said:

You're right, sorry. I'm not really sure. As he is written, Kalama sounds almost neurodivergent to me, thinking Agni is his friend and just being oblivious to how Agni really feels about him. I honestly feel pretty bad for him. To me at least, this reads like it is the introduction to a longer story about Agni and Kalama having a buddy adventure where they learn to see each other's points of view and gain a newfound respect for each other. As a complete story, though, with it ending abruptly with Agni just miserable and Kalama unaware that Agni isn't really his friend, it comes off as a little mean-spirited.

To use another example from modern pop culture, some middle season episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants really get SpongeBob and Squidward's relationship wrong and just make it about SpongeBob annoying Squidward for no reason. Those episodes have an unofficial fan name that it would not be appropriate to say here, but you get the idea. It's a testament to your writing and the story's potential that I come away feeling so bad for both characters, but I found it frustrating how abruptly it concluded with no change in their relationship. Truthfully, I think the problem in the story is too fundamental to be fixed with just one or a few extra lines.

I suppose you have a point there. And yeah, I know exactly which type of story you're talking about. That wasn't my intent at all.

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