Today I would like to talk about a little known aspect of Bionicle fanon: the uncanonized contests short stories. There are 16 fan-made Bionicle short stories, written for one of three BZPower contests, that required merely the wave of Greg’s godly hand to become official canon. Something that never happened. I only learned about them recently and was immediately intrigued. What secrets do they hold? What new information about known characters and events do they relay? How well do they integrate into established canon? Having went through all 16 stories, I will reveal it all for you. Additionally, I will analyse them as a writer: expect comments on grammar, style and structure.
Here are the links to the original stories, so that you may read them as well:
Now come, my friends. It is time to begin.
A Thousand Years Untold 2
Sequel to the first ATYU Story contest (stories set in various locations 500 years after the Great Cataclysm), this time for locations introduced post-2006.
“Merciless Shadows” by Legolover-361 (Mahri Nui Category)
A strange ancient glowing object of immense power floats down into Mahri Nui, piquing the interest of both Matoran and Barraki. A ferocious battle ensuses, as the two sides fight for an object that might mean their salvation.
If your first thought whilst reading “strange ancient glowing object of immense power” was the Ignika, you’re not alone. As far as technicalities are concerned, there is nothing all that wrong. What the story lacks is originality. The story revolves around the “Iden Stone” (not a fan of the name), a mysterious powerful object with a golden-yellow glow, that can grant and/or mutate whoever touches it. What follows is the Barraki’s (Pridak and Takadox) search for this object and the Matoran’s (Dekar and Kyrehx) quest to find it first and destroy it, before the Barraki can use it to conquer the universe. In other words, it’s a condensed retelling of the start of the 2007 story arc. There is even a scene where the Igni-, I mean, “Iden Stone” enlarges a water dweller – not a Gadunka, but a Zyglak. This mutation is honestly the most interesting part of the story (Someone make a moc of that Zyglak, ASAP!). The rest sadly fails to deliver.
Also, the author uses “meters” instead of Matoran measurements.
“Survival” by Grant-Sud (Karda Nui Category)
Nui Kopen attacks threaten the Av-Matoran dwellings in Karda Nui, forcing Kirop, the leader, to plan a counter-attack on one of their nests. A certain female Av-Matoran theorizes, however, that the Rahi’s strategy may be born of desperation, not bloodthirst, and that the Matoran may have something in common with them.
This is one of the three better stories from this particular contest, including Delaying the Inevitable and Retribution. I have no comments regarding “the trinity” (grammar, style and structure) or canon compliancy, that is all well and good. I found the premise original and engaging. Survival is a story about a group of Matoran getting by in a harsh environment and the slow and tragic erosion of their better nature. It’s exactly the kind of story that would’ve been a perfect fit for the Mahri Nui Category. The only real criticism I have is I feel the author could’ve developed Gavla’s character more – I don’t really get the feeling why her comrades would be so hostile towards her. Other than that, great story.
“Delaying the Inevitable” by The Smoke Monster (Daxia Category)
Trinuma is having doubts whether the Order’s secretive nature is ultimately beneficial for the inhabitants of the Matoran Universe. He doesn’t have time to dwell on that, however, as he and Tobduk are dispatched to find tablets which may compromise his organisation’s secrecy.
Another solid story. This one is especially notable for fleshing out Trinuma as a character, as well as raising questions about the OOMN and its MO. Maybe the Order is not completely benevolent. Maybe holding secrets indefinitely isn’t such a good idea. Structurally and stylistically, the story is sound. I especially liked how Helryx’s expression is once described like a Kanoka Disk. Grammatically, I must point out the consistent(ly wrong) use of “it’s”. I mean come on… And again, the use of a human measurement (mile) instead of an MU measurement. Despite that, it’s definitely one of the best stories in this selection and definitely my favourite.
“Deep Shadows” by The First Speaker (Karzahni/Odina Categories)
Devastator is ordered by The Shadowed One to journey to Karzahni and retrieve an important tablet from an insane Matoran. Some places never let you go, however, and the Dark Hunter will find that his homeland’s ruler has taken special interest in the returnee.
I like what this story is going for. I like how it fleshes out Devastator by delving more into his backstory as a former slave of Karzahni. What I don’t like are the excessive commas and other typos and the needless interlude focusing on a random Vo-Matoran that adds nothing to the story. Either the Vo-Matoran’s role should’ve been expanded (I would’ve made her into the “Builder” that TSO was referring to) or she should’ve been axed all together. There’s also issues with canon-compliancy with regard how Karzahni acts. I was little disappointed by this story, to be honest. It has a good foundation, but it doesn’t quite stick the landing. I feel it could be improved by a careful revision.
“Crystal Knowledge” by LewaLew (Xia/Destral Categories)
Roodaka, somehow still alive after what transpired in Metru Nui some years ago, is working as a double agent for the Dark Hunters and the Brotherhood of Makuta. Her current mission is to ensure that a special Knowledge Crystal reaches the Brotherhood, while also informing said Brotherhood that the information on that crystal is fake.
This was actually the first of these stories that I read. It didn’t leave a good first impression, I’m sorry to say. What bugged me the most was the author’s insistence on listing the full names of every weapon/object and the full title of each character. I also don’t like their insistence on explaining minor unimportant details that readers might already know. Listing a Rahkshi’s colour and power in the same breath is redundant, we can deduce one from the other. There is also an overly long and extremely awkward description of a random bike that Roodaka once uses. Seeing past that, I found the story somewhat confusing and hard to follow. In the end, I was left unsatisfied.
Also, which event was Teridax referring to, when he mentioned and invasion of Ta-Koro?
“Retribution” by Kraahlix (Zakaz/Stelt Categories)
Nektann the Skakdi Warlord plans to leave Zakaz to make a quick widget by selling machines to a Steltian trader. The plan seems to have gone smoothly, until he comes back and finds himself ambushed by those very same machines. As it turns out, the current Makuta of Zakaz had something to do with it.
Yet another solid story. I appreciate the use of the underutilized characters of Nektann and Krika. I also like the dynamic between the Skakdi and Makuta, which builds on the former’s species hatred of the latter species. We see new sides of both characters: a Nektann capable of respect and a Krika capable of being a frickin’ buttkicker. My gripes lie in the minutiae: missing spaces and other typos, the use of the words for Nektann the being and Nektann the robot in the same sentence (the latter are consistently referred to in lower-case, which while understandable is also noticeable) and confusion surrounding whatever the heck “flash vision” is supposed to be as a power. But I liked it.
Stories covering Lesovikk’s various adventures after his team died and before his visit to Mahri Nui. They cover all the events, mentioned on Lesovikk’s Biosector page: his meeting and training with Toa Jovan, his encounter with the Visorak, a wounded Rock Lion and the Rahi Nui and his exploration of the Southern Islands.
“Of Rahi and Toa” by Pikiru
Lesovikk’s quest to save his friends on Karzahni takes him to the Southern Islands. Landing on one of them, he finds a village of Matoran terrorised by vicious new spider-like Rahi. He manages to defeat them, but that is not the only Rahi menace that Lesovikk will have to face, as Makuta Teridax seeks to create a living Rahi weapon greater than the Visorak.
This is a nice and straightforward story about Lesovikk protecting a group of Matoran from an invading menace. It plays out exactly as you would expect: Lesovikk arrives, defeats the bad guys and lets the good-hearted Matoran convince him that he is worthy of being called a Toa. This story is a little longer than the rest, which leaves a lot of room for the characters to breathe. As far as pacing is concerned, the length doesn’t really show. As a bonus, the author throws in a nice backstory for Kualus and the Rahi Nui. It (the Rahi Nui) was apparently created as an alternative to the unpredictable Visorak, after an unsatisfactory test on a populated island. But wait, weren’t the Visorak first released on Tobduk’s homeland? Was that the second test? It’s a little unclear, at which point in the Visorak’s history this story is supposed to take place. I also need to note that “Nivawk” isn’t a species name, but the name of one specific specimen. Additionally, I found the second chapter to be somewhat redundant. Despite all that, I found the story to be satisfactory.
“Jovan’s Test” by Legolover-361
After taking shelter during a storm, Lesovikk meets a Toa of Magnetism named Jovan. Toa Jovan takes interest in Lesovikk and takes it upon himself to restore his sense of worth – the hard way.
As a story, this is easily one of the best of all 16 stories, with good pacing, structure and excellent descriptions of swordplay. But if we read it as a Bionicle story, we run into some problems. Well, really one problem: canon-compliancy. I know I’m going to sound like a prude here, but I noted how canon-compliancy is one my criteria and it means a lot to me, so I’m going in. Right off the start, we have the problem of Lesovikk having a Sky Sled LONG before he is supposed to acquire it in canon (though we can forgive the author, because this bit of information came from the Greg Discussion). Then there is the issue of Jovan and his interaction with Lesovikk. I don’t mind the fact that Jovan holds the Toa of Air against his will, I can see him doing that. I also don’t really mind his more rough demeanour, after all, he IS a spiky dude. Spiky dudes are expected to be rough. What bothers me, though, that there is not even a sign of him acting like a proper mentor to Lesovikk. He doesn’t teach him about the importance of knowledge, he doesn’t even say the line about it being sharper weapon than a sword. I imagined Jovan as a rough, but also a kind and cosmopolitan figure. This version of Jovan is rough, but not kind or cosmopolitan. There’s also the admittedly minor quibble about how the Faxon can only copy the power of Rahi and no other beings. Jovan’s Test is the only story out of 16 where I put canonicity into question. At the same time, it’s too good to dismiss on such a hollow basis. Let’s just say it’s semi-canon, how about that?
“The Chronicle” by Click
It is mere moments after the desolation of the Toa Cordak. Lesovikk has barely enough time to grieve, as he has to find a way to honour his fallen teammates. This attempt proves to be another miserable failure, as Lesovikk is driven off a cliff by pair of no-good traders, right into the palm of an injured Rock Lion.
Oof, this was a hard read. Not it the sense that it was terrible, far from it. The author injects raw emotions into a story about Lesovikk at his lowest low. The structure might appear odd at first: Lesovikk sees his teammates die, he tries to find a place to unload their weapons, gets attacked by traders and then fights a Rock Lion to the death. It might seem random, but it all serves Lesovikk’s character arc. Brought to the edge of desperation, he is on the verge of giving up on his life. His friends are gone and it seems he can’t even properly honour them. This is where the lion comes in. The Rahi is a mirror image of Lesovikk, in a way, a once proud creature, now barely clinging to its life. Despite this, it has no desire to give up. Having fought the lion, Lesovikk decides that despite everything that has happened to him, he shouldn’t give up either. Brilliant. Simply brilliant. The story also gives a name to Toa Cordak’s Toa of Water – Lihara – and reveals that she wielded a fanged Water Sword, which may or may not be the same weapon Lesovikk continued to use. I’m a little ambivalent to this little reveal, especially since it’s just one Toa. Either name them all or none of them. Also, how can Toa cry? Can they produce tears? Do they also bleed? And is a citizen of Stelt a Steltian or a Steltan? Tangent aside, this is my absolute favourite out of all 16 and it’s a shame, that this was only a runner-up and not a winner.
Memoirs of the Dead
Stories revolving around select deceased characters.
“The Mentor’s Way” by Mersery (Ihu Category)
Ihu receives a new student in the form of Nuju. Their relationship is rocky at first, but the two gradually become firm friends.
In a welcome twist, we have here a story not driven by action or conflict, but solely by characters. It’s a basic, feel-good story about the friendship between (former) student and teacher and about slowing down, shutting up and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. I don’t have much to say about it, other than the fact that this is the only one (at least as I know of) to actually get revised (Here: The Mentor's Way | Myths and Legacy). Apart from better flow, the only real difference is the mention of Ihu’s Hau, a titbit omitted in the revised version. Good call, who said Ihu should wear a Hau?
“Certainty” by Baron Von Nebula (Icarax Category)
I was going to start with a brief synopsis of the story, written in such a way to encourage you to read it too, before going into my thoughts. Problem is, I can’t, because in this case, I don’t know what the actual hell happened in this story. I’m going to be blunt, this is the worst story of the entire bunch. It’s comprised of a sort of diary entry and a report on a raid on some fortress. The structure is flimsy, transitions are muddied and unclear. The awkward writing style leaves a lot of basic questions unanswered: is Icarax remembering the raid or is he writing down his experiences? What are the records he is referring to at the beginning? Where is the fortress he is raiding? What is Icarax doing there? Why is he even there? Why is the last paragraph in 3rd person? And why should I care about any of this? This is a terrible story. Go read The Annals of Icarax on Myths and Legacy instead, they are much better than this.
“Memory” by Exitum (Nidhiki Category)
As Nidhiki is about to embark on his mission to Metru Nui, he thinks back to his first ever confrontation with the Dark Hunters and muses on the shortcomings of his former Toa teammates, who failed to understand him.
Memory is a story told in 1st person, that uses an interesting narrative device: the unreliable narrator. We know Nidhiki as a reckless, opportunistic traitor, unworthy of the title of Toa. That’s not how Nidhiki paints himself. He would rather have you believe that Toa are weak and spineless and unlike them Nidhiki had what it took to be a real Toa saviour. For his troubles, he got exiled and later horrifically mutated. The reader is unsure, whether they should believe or even sympathise with Nidhiki, considering that his testimony clashes so much with the official version. Apart from that, we get a little more insight into his upbringing as a Toa and how, ultimately, his life was defined by the Dark Hunters. Great story, easily my favourite memoir.
“The First Hunter” by Emissary of the Void (Ancient Category)
Ancient reminisces on his first meeting with The Shadowed One and the events that led to the creation of the Dark Hunters.
I found this story underwhelming and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it might be something to do with how the two characters are portrayed in the story. Both come across as careless and inexperienced, which is jarring, considering that they are both supposed to be forces to be reckoned with, even this early in their careers. Ancient doesn’t suspect he is being led into a trap and TSO… well TSO gets defeated by stepping on a rocket boot lying on the ground. The leader of the Dark Hunters, ladies and gentlemen, foiled by footwear. Perhaps, there is also the fact that Ancient makes absolutely no mention of the OOMN, despite being their agent. I don’t know. It’s an okay story, don’t get me wrong, but I expected more.
BTW, why does Ancient call TSO “old man”? He wasn’t yet aged by Voporak’s Time Field at this point.
“Three on Three” on Makuta Matata (Hydraxon Category)
On a seemingly uneventful day in the Pit, Hydraxon decides to tell the imprisoned Barraki a story about that one time he trained the Toa Mata.
This story is comprised of two parts: Hydraxon supervising the prisoners and a flashback of him helping the Toa Mata learn a valuable lesson in sticking together as a team. The first functions as a framing device for the second, but I think the Toa Mata Training Day story would’ve worked well enough on its own. The framing device doesn’t really add anything, in my opinion. It’s only notable for a funny moment with Kalmah, who is actually writing down Hydraxon’s story (Wouldn’t it make more sense for Carapar to be doing that?), and an incredibly underwhelming description of the destruction of the Pit during the Cataclysm and Hydraxon’s final moments, before he is unceremoniously killed by Takadox. Hydraxon doesn’t even fight back! Plus, the Barraki seem to be completely unperturbed by their transformation, which is at odds with how much they complained about it in the novels. If the story was only the one about the Toa Mata, then it would be brilliant. As it is, I’m not really impressed.
Also, what is a “palmetto”?
“The Teacher” by Tikiturbo (Jovan Category)
Turaga Jovan is unhappy with his life as the elder on Voya Nui, as he feels he is of no use to his Matoran. But when one of them gets kidnapped by Fenrakk Spiders and needs to be rescued, Jovan learns he is not as useless or unappreciated as he thinks he is.
Jovan was once a Toa, who managed to retrieve the Ignika from the bowels of Voya Nui and live to tell the tale. Now he is a tired and broken Turaga, longing for the sweet feeling of freedom and indispensableness he had in his glory days. The characterisation of Turaga Jovan as a depressed former hero, riddled with guilt over failing to save a friend from death, is remarkable. There is a very clear character arc, one that finishes with him finding out that the Matoran not only value and respect him, but also need him. The story is wonderfully written and paced, a high point of this contest.
“All That Glitters” by Magnus Greel (Spiriah Category)
Looking over his legion of Zyglak, Spiriah recollects the events that led him to this moment, from the imprisonment of Makuta Miserix to his failed experiment of Zakaz and his subsequent exile.
As I understand it, Spiriah’s biggest character flaw was that rather than recognise his failings, he would cast himself as a victim and blame everyone else for his problems. He is supposed to be a completely pathetic figure. All That Glitters is sadly another story that I found underwhelming. It drags on, It doesn’t really tell us anything new about the character and it also fails to properly show just how pathetic Spiriah is supposed to be. Maybe if he came across a little more whiny and if his failed Rahi experiment and his failed stand against Krika’s treason were more extreme and more vividly described, then perhaps Spiriah’s pathetic qualities would shine through. Overall, the story is kind of boring, the only interesting part is a surprisingly in-depth explanation of the Zakaz Experiment. I’d rather read more about that than about some Makuta’s uninteresting internal monologue.