Long chapter, this one, and a prime example of how I can't be concise about anything; I expected the boat trip to take up maybe two paragraphs, it ended up a nearly page and a half long...
Macku’s boat wasn’t a particularly large one; besides me and her, there were three Agori, a Glatorian, and a party of four Matoran; with all of us on board the seats were quite filled. Macku, as it turned out, did not actually do much of the sailing; that honor fell to another old friend of hers from the days of Mata Nui: Pelagia. Pelagia was another Ga-Matoran, who before we set off explained that the boat we were on had been constructed using “traditional techniques” and she’d been sailing vessels like this one ever since she’d set up Mata Nui’s first ferry line between Ga-Koro and Po-wahi. Our route for the afternoon would take us first to the Fingers, then south to the spot below which the giant robot’s head was located, after which we’d sail west over the body to arrive at the only parts of the robot that were still above sea-level; its legs.
While we sailed east to the Fingers, Macku provided us all with some background information: created by the Great Beings, the giant robot was once controlled by the Great Spirit, Mata Nui, and the universe inside had been home to Toa, Matoran, Vortixx, Skakdi, and a whole host of other races. Unfortunately, among the inhabitants were the Makuta, who eventually moved to try and take over the place under the leadership of one Makuta Teridax. Teridax, through a series of plots, machinations, and a fiendishly complicated plan too long and intricate for me to detail here eventually managed to seize control of the robot and banished Mata Nui, who ended up on Bara Magna.
During his time on Bara Magna, Mata Nui came to realize it was his destiny to reform Spherus Magna in its entirety, and in order to do so, with help from the Agori and Glatorian, he collected parts of and re-assembled what had been a prototype giant robot left on Bara Magna. Teridax got wind of the activity and arrived just as Mata Nui was trying to pull the fragmented planets back together using the power of the prototype robot, and the event known as the “Battle for Bara Magna” ensued. Eventually, Mata Nui killed Teridax by causing a fragment of Aqua Magna to smash into the back of his head, and the giant robot had collapsed here, after which all its inhabitants had abandoned it.
And now it was a tourist destination. Go figure.
The Fingers were a pretty inhospitable looking set of three curved pillars that rose straight out of the sea, looming over our tiny ship and giving us a pretty good idea of just how tiny and insignificant we were in the grand scheme of things… Seriously, the top of each finger, now thoroughly colonized by plantlife and flying rahi, could have held a small city, and this was just part of one of this giant device’s hands. After sailing a circle around the fingers, we set off southwards while Macku explained how everything below us, other than the giant robot, had in fact once been Aqua Magna, while Bota Magna was now located on almost the polar opposite side of the reformed planet.
The giant robot’s head had to be the most spectacular thing we got to see, though. It was resting close enough to the ocean surface that, looking down into the relatively clear water, we could actually see it. At first, we didn’t even realize it, since to the untrained eye the view below just looked like the regular, rough ocean floor, but once Macku started pointing out how various ridges, crests, and other features combined to make a part of the face, we got an appreciation for just how incredibly big this thing was… we spent close to an hour sailing in a crisscrossing pattern over the head just so we could get to see most of it. Really, it was staggering.
Most of the body was too deep down for us to see, but we could see the next major point in our tour from very far off: the giant robot’s legs, which rose from the ocean to reach hundreds of miles inland. The knees were just about on the shoreline, so only the robot’s shins and feet were actually on land, but just to give an idea of the scale: nothing had been built within fifty miles or so of the legs anywhere, due to the fact that the shadow they cast over the landscape made it hard to grow anything there.
With all of us thoroughly impressed by the sheer awe and magnitude of the giant robot even when it was lying mostly underwater, Pelagia set a course back to New Atero, sailing close enough to the shore that we could see the harbor and the rest of the city’s beaches in great detail. Along the way, Macku explained how the remaining parts of the prototype robot had been scrapped and recycled to build the city, but the other one had been left as-is since most of it was underwater, making salvage all but impossible. She closed off with a short talk on how she was planning to someday be part of an expedition to venture back into the lost universe, to bring back footage and artifacts important to Matoran history.
After the boat was once again securely tied to the dock from which we’d set off, the other guests thanked the two Ga-Matoran and departed, though their conversation indicated the tour really had left an impression. Pelagia assured Macku that she’d make sure everything concerning the boat was taken care of, so she and I set off down the dock as well. By now, it was late evening.
“So, what’dya think?” Macku asked.
“Very impressive… and to think that all Toa and Matoran lived in that thing at one point.” I was still trying to get my head around that.
“Oh, it was beautiful,” Macku remembered, “until Teridax took over, that is. He turned the place into a nightmare. By the time the final battle ended, we were jumping up and down to leave.”
“And now you’re trying to get back in,” I smiled. “After the place has been dead and wrecked for thousands of years.”
“Yeah, I’m not expecting to find much intact,” Macku acknowledged, “but imagine if we could actually get video footage in there… to see what’s left.”
“And the whole thing’s flooded now, right?”
“Near as we can tell. Apart from anything above water level, like the legs.”
“Wow… You know, I think I’d like to be a part of that someday.” I really did. I’d never seen the inside of that robot; in fact, until today I’d never actually seen the physical thing from the outside. To call it awe-inspiring didn’t do it justice.
“You should talk to Hahli about it,” the Ga-Matoran suggested. “She’s the one who’s really driving the project, being a reporter and all. That and Jaller and Hewkii wouldn’t mind either, though they’re a bit worried about what all might be living down there in the dark these days.”
“And look at that, home sweet home,” Macku said. We’d reached her house again.
“Looks like someone’s already in,” I pointed out, noting that there were lights on inside. The door was already open; when we entered, Macku announced herself in no uncertain terms:
“Be right down!” a female voice called from upstairs.
“Looks like Hahli’s home,” Macku said, after which she shouted back up the stairs: “We’ve got a guest! Make sure you’re presentable!”
“Presenting is kind of my job, you know!” Hahli called back mockingly. “You ever seen me not being presentable!?”
“Hahli’s fun,” Macku smiled. “Every morning!” she called back. “Anyway, make yourself comfortable.” She gestured towards the living room.
“I-I really don’t know whether I can stay long.” Come to think of it, what was I going to do? Go off looking for Kopaka again? Find some other job in the city? Keep wandering and looking for something to do as a Toa?
“Nonsense! We’ve got the space and any Toa is always welcome here,” Macku assured me as she made her way to the kitchen. “Want something to drink?”
“Sure. Some kind of juice, if you’ve got it.”
The living room had enough chairs and couches for a whole Toa team to make themselves comfortable, and a large telescreen was set up to provide entertainment, though it was currently turned off. What got my attention, though, was a large, framed picture on the wall opposite the telescreen, showing all five Toa Mahri standing with the statue of the sixth, Matoro. So this was what a team of actual heroes looked like… They all stood in front in what I could only assume was full battle gear with the statue towering above and behind them. A small plaque on the frame read:
“The Toa Mahrii: Heroes of the Pit and Saviors of Mata Nui”
Saviors of Mata Nui? Weren’t the Toa Nuva the ones who did that? And what was this ‘pit’ they spoke of?
“Like it?” I turned to find Hahli standing in the doorway, and boy was she not what I’d expected.
“Y-yeah, it’s nice.” Yes, she still wore the Faxon, and she was definitely still affiliated with the element of water by color, but for a moment I thought I was looking at some kind of Toa-Glatorian hybrid. She was still recognizably a Toa in structure, but the shape reminded me a lot more of a female Glatorian than any kind of Toa I’d ever seen; it was honestly a bit freaky. Also, those thin braided extensions coming from the back of her head… was that imitating hair? She held herself with a kind of self-assured confidence, though.
Hahli walked up and looked at the picture. “Ah, what they call the good old days,” she smiled. “When we spent all our time chasing after the Ignika while monsters tried to kill us for it.”
“Uh… good thing you guys caught it.”
“Barely, but yeah, we did. Those days are well behind us now. Anyway, I’m Hahli, but you probably already knew that.” She extended her hand. I shook it.
“Lis? A Toa of… psionics, I’m guessing?”
“Yes, yes. From the south.”
“Oh, I’ve heard about what went down there,” Hahli took a seat on one of the couches. “How were the Skakdi?”
“Oh, not all that much trouble in the end,” I took the seat across from her. “I mean, all we really had to do was show them that we actually were Toa, after which they pretty much caved.”
“Doesn’t sound like the Skakdi I remember,” Hahli pointed out. “But then again… they were also busy enslaving an island while pretending to be Toa themselves. The stakes were high back then.”
“Yeah, ours were just bandits,” I admitted.
“Drinks are here!” Macku entered the room with two glasses of fruit juice, setting one in front of each of us on the table.
“Looks like I’ll be frying up Hahnah for dinner,” Macku continued. “You two okay with that?”
“Sure,” Hahli answered.
“Hahnah sounds nice,” I said. I knew it was some sort of sea creature, but had never tasted one before.
“Hahnah it is, then.” Macku returned to the kitchen.
“When’d you meet her?” Hahli asked.
“This morning. She offered me lunch, we kept talking, and then she showed me her boat tour.”
“That definitely sounds like her,” Hahli took a sip from her juice. “She likes to take care of people, particularly Toa.”
“She taking care of you Toa, then?” I asked.
“Kind of,” the Toa of Water explained. “I mean, we’re all perfectly capable of managing ourselves, but if any of us does the cooking we’d end up living off of combat rations. She lives here anyways ‘cause she’s hitched to Hewkii, and she actually knows how to prepare something, so she does. The rest of us, we’re Toa; we do a lot better in battle than in home life.”
“So it seems… So what do you do now, then? I assume there isn’t some battle you’re preparing for.”
“Goodness no,” Hahli chuckled. “Imagine me going into battle like this.” Looking at her, that was hard to imagine. That physique might have worked for Glatorian, but there was a reason that the vast majority of successful fighting Glatorian were male, and I couldn’t imagine trying to fit a Toa’s anatomy into that shape did any good for their fighting ability. “No, I’m a reporter now. I was chronicler for a while back on Mata Nui, so it seemed like a good job for me, and I really like it.”
“Is that the reason… I mean, I don’t want to be rude…”
“This?” Hahli gestured at her own body.
“Yeah… it’s quite different from your picture.”
“Lotta modifications, yeah…” Hahli admitted. “Demographics.”
“Agori and Glatorian. They apparently have different standards of what looks appealing, and apparently for girls, ‘Toa’ does not fall under that. Of course, Matoran don’t have a problem with it, but that’s only half of potential viewers, you know? Basically, I got told that while I did a great job reporting on the actual news, they didn’t much like to look at me, which hurt our ratings.”
“I don’t get that.”
“Neither did I, but apparently it was enough of an issue for them to consider firing me. And what would I do then? So I told them that if looking like one of their Glatorian girls would help ratings, I’d be fine making a few… modifications, and this is what we ended up at.”
“That’s a lot to go through for a job.”
“It still is,” Hahli admitted, “but I’d rather have this than no job. The Toa Nuva made a pretty good warning of themselves in that department.”
“So I hear…”
“Granted, Jaller still doesn’t like that I went along with this. Says it’ll hurt me in a fight. Like we’ll ever need to fight anything again.”
“I mean, he’s kind of right, though…”
“He is,” Hahli laughed. “Imagine me carrying a cordak blaster like this; you know how heavy those things are? But as far as I’m concerned, the weapons can stay mounted on the wall now. Jaller can keep carrying his sword if he wants to, but these days the tool of my trade is the microphone.”
“What does Jaller do, then?”
“Works with the police force and city guard. He can probably explain it better when he gets home…” Hahli was interrupted by the sound of someone knocking on the front door. “Looks like we’ve got company,” she asserted.
“Can you guys get it? I’m kind of in the middle of something here!” Macku called.
“Yeah, we’ve got it!” Hahli got up and headed down the hallway for the door.
“Were you expecting visitors?” I asked.
“Not that I know of,” Hahli called back. I heard the sound of the door being opened. “Yes?”
“I am here to see Toa Gali.”
author's note: Lots more G1 references in this one, and we finally get to meet Hahli, who's... changed a bit. I spent a long time trying to figure out exactly how I could describe Hahli and looking at other people's art of her, and eventually it once again largely came down to "what exactly is gender to Matoran and Toa?" and for that matter, how do the Agori and Glatorian, who have a lot more biology to back it up, perceive it differently? I'm still debating on whether it was reasonable or not, but I ended up making Hahli an example of the differences.
I'll post more chapters as I finish them. Enjoy!