The Folly of the Toa II - Chapter 36

So, yeah… it’s been a while. With the school semester and two D&D campaigns coming to a close and starting a summer job, I wasn’t finding much time to work on this story. On top of that, I was having difficulties resolving some of the plot points, a number of which I still have to find a solution for. Updates will be slow, therefore, but rest assured that this story isn’t done… yet.

Chapter 36

By the time we made it up to the starting point of the tours on the uppermost ring of the city, the tour was only a minute away from starting. We hurriedly bought some tickets, then climbed on board the ‘train,’ which was in reality a bunch of minecarts that had been fitted with seats, just as it was about to leave. The tour guide was an Onu-Matoran who introduced himself as Dosne, who’d apparently served as a mining captain since the days of Mata Nui and was now happy to spend his retirement showing curious visitors around the underground empire he once helped to oversee. The minecarts followed an old track, no longer in use for bringing resources to the surface, which led us through a long, spiraling tunnel to another cavern situated a good half-mile below the city. Looking down from our position on the elevated track, we could see lightstones moving about, and the intermittent sound of pickaxes striking stone and heavier machinery doing its work indicated that this cavern still had some riches left to give. Dosne explained that discovering such caverns had been one of Toa Onua’s specialties; he’d discovered this one more than four millennia ago and to this day, it still hadn’t been fully cleaned out. Another tunnel led us to a connected cavern that featured an underground lake, a popular break stop for miners who spent most of their lives deeper down and rarely even came up to Onu-Koro-Nuva. Here, the line our carts ran on stopped, and we continued our tour on foot.

A large tunnel containing several rail tracks led us down into the vertical shaft that was the great mine. Looking up, in the very far distance, I could see the stone beams and trusses that supported the enormous weight of the statue in the city, which Dosne pointed out was right above us. Down below, meanwhile, a spiraling path cut into the side of the shaft provided access to hundreds of tunnels that radiated out and away from the shaft to the riches in the surrounding rock. A map of various levels of the mine showed us how each level was like a spider web, with lots of connecting tunnels between the main ones, the central shaft in the center, and the main tunnels snaking from one rich ore deposit to another. Natural caverns, Dosne explained, were particularly sought after, since they could serve as staging points, warehouses, and resource hubs, and also often featured minerals ripe for the taking right at the surface. There were five or six particularly large caverns, and countless smaller ones connected to the tunnel network in one way or another. Amazingly, even though I couldn’t have found my way through this place even with a map on hand, it was said that no Onu-Matoran ever got lost here.

To Jahlpu, of course, this was as close as he could come to heaven. He set about the tour with an excitement I’d never seen from him before; he asked all sorts of questions of the tour guide, pointed out things to me and the others along the way, and when we got back to the cavern featuring the lake, explained how various old mining machines that were parked there on display were used. That said, while he was certainly keeping spirits up, both Lerome and Kirall grew increasingly tired and frustrated as the tour went on. They frequently and verbally complained, made sarcastic comments, and generally annoyed me and Jahlpu in particular. In fact, by the time our hour-and-a-half tour of some important locations down the central mineshaft was done and we made it back to the lake, even Jahlpu was getting seriously pissed off at them. Thankfully, there was the opportunity to grab a bite to eat to help shut them up. The lake cavern featured a number of restaurants, intended both for the miners, who could certainly use a good meal after a long day at work, and for tourists like us who were merely stopping by. The tour stopped there for about half an hour, allowing all of us to go grab some quintessential underground cuisine. Unsurprisingly, the flavor of the food was best described as ‘earthy,’ but it was quite satisfying, and it wasn’t long before we set off on the final leg of our tour: the Crystal Palace.

The Crystal Palace wasn’t a palace as such; it wasn’t even a building. It was a medium-sized cavern filled with striking, milky-white crystals growing from every surface. A small path was suspended inside to allow us to walk through without risking damage to the structures. The crystals emitted a faint glow, which Dosne explained meant that they were some kind of lightstone. However, their light was dim and therefore, rather than mining them out and trying to find another use for them, the Onu-Matoran had decided to keep the cave as-is; a spectacular sight to behold. It had everyone speechless for a while, but after a couple of minutes of picture-taking and marveling at the fact that some of these crystals were over twenty feet long, we backtracked to the cave with the lake and boarded the minecart train to return to the surface. After thanking Dosne for the tour, we found ourselves back on the upper ring of Onu-Koro-Nuva.

“That was amazing,” Jahlpu concluded.

“Lots of dirt, dust, and digging,” Kirall shrugged. “I don’t see how anyone can stand it.”

“It’s important,” Jahlpu continued, “and you’re not an Onu-Matoran.”

“Uhm, it’s a quarter past four,” Lerome interrupted, “and that means I can still catch the post-game coverage. So unless you’ve got some other plans, I’m going back to the surface.”

“Actually…” Jahlpu began, but Lerome didn’t wait to listen to his reply; he was already on his way up the tunnel to the surface.

“Well, if he’s going to do that, I’ve got some arrangements to make,” Kirall decided, after which she turned and headed the opposite way, back into the city and no doubt to the smith she’d been dealing with before the tour began.

“Just hold on a minute,” Jahlpu asked, but Kirall ignored him, and I wasn’t going to try and stop her.

“Let her go,” I said. “All she’ll do is grumble about being stuck with us down here anyways.”

“True,” Jahlpu sighed as we watched Kirall start on her way down the steps to the ring below. “I guess we’ll have to see what she shows up with come tonight. Or tomorrow…”

“I’m betting on next week,” I said sarcastically.

“Anyways,” Jahlpu changed the subject, “what did you think?”

“It was interesting,” I replied. “Seeing the way the mine actually operates, and how they go about finding things to bring up to the surface… You really want to work down there, don’t you?”

“You kidding?” Jahlpu chuckled. “Of course I do! I mean, where else am I going to, you know, use my skills? I can literally move the earth at my command; how could I not work down there?”

“Fair point,” I smiled. He was right; his elemental abilities were giving him a pretty clear option as to what he could do as a Toa, a destiny of sorts that I was still trying to find. We stood silently for a bit, watching the city ahead and below into which our sister had already disappeared. “So, you got any other place you want to check out?” I asked.

“I was going to look around the city for a bit,” he replied. “See what living here is like, you know? Who knows, I might just try to get a place now.”

“Look at you, settling down,” I quipped. “What happened to the great journey of the new Toa heroes?”

“We’ve got a few places left to visit,” Jahlpu acknowledged, “but we’ve done most of the major cities… and there’s no trouble back home anymore. Besides, that was Lerome’s idea, remember?”

“Yeah, and you’re pretty done with it by now, I suspect.”


“Well, I’m going to check out the remaining info on Toa Onua,” I decided.

“I’ll probably make my way down there eventually,” Jahlpu speculated, “but… well, given the time, maybe I can’t. We’ll see.”

“Go find your place,” I replied. “I’ll make sure to inform you of the rest tonight.”

“Sounds good,” the Toa of Earth concluded. “I’ll see you tonight, then!”

“See ya!”

With that, Jahlpu set off along the ring, presumably looking for some place to rent, while I set off down the path towards the center of the city. In any surface city, this would be the start of rush hour, with Matoran and Agori returning from work to their homes, but this far underground no one seemed to keep much of a day/night schedule; Onu-Koro-Nuva worked around the clock. Once I reached the square, I made my way from one info screen to another until I reached the one Jahlpu and I had left off at. Having finished with the details of the Reign of Shadows, it the next screen picked up at a spot shortly before the Battle of Bara Magna… it took me minute before I realized that I’d seen what was described here before, but from Kopaka’s point of view… the story on the screen pretty much confirmed what the Toa of Ice had told me about how the battle ended: the Glatorian finished the Skrall, and the Skakdi showed up too late to help the floundering Rahkshi. A large stone tablet, standing upright along the inner edge of the ring, depicted in carving the moment of Makuta Teridax’s death; a piece of Aqua Magna smashing into the back of the Great Spirit Robot’s head, demolishing the control center and as such the mind within. Though over ten feet tall and lacking in color, the carving was done in incredible detail, giving a real sense of the cataclysmic magnitude of the destruction. Also quite large and prominently positioned below the title in a thick lower border on the tablet was the signature of the carver: apparently, this carving was “another Hafu original.”

I spent a couple minutes looking over the carving, correlating the features within it and on the Great Spirit Robot with what I had seen in Kopaka’s memory of the battle. After that, I continued my counter-clockwise trek around the inner ring, to the next information screen, which began the story of what Toa Onua did after the Reformation. Apparently, all of the Toa Nuva had first busied themselves as co-Turaga of sorts; helping the actual Turaga maintain the peace between the peoples from the Matoran Universe and those from Bara Magna. Onua’s job had been particularly tough in that regard; integrating the Rock Tribe Agori and the Skrall into the new world was a challenging task, in light of the war they had waged with Bara Magna’s other inhabitants before Teridax’s arrival on the planet. Still, he managed, in part by locating rich ore veins in the mountains for the Onu-Matoran to get to work on. The largest of these became home to such a large operation that it soon became the location of Onu-Koro-Nuva. Having established the city, Onua spent most of his time here, working front-line in the mines and using his elemental abilities to greatly reduce the time needed to dig new tunnels and locate the mountain’s wealth of minerals. In that regard, the breakup of the Toa Nuva didn’t affect him much on a practical level; he already spent most of his time away from them, and now they had removed his obligation to periodically head back to New Atero. Unfortunately, the screens didn’t give any information on how he felt about the breakup, though they did note that he kept contact with Pohatu and Lewa, especially the latter, long after their team was no more. He had even been present, over 1000 years later, at the Toa of Air’s funeral service, the last time that he left Onu-Koro-Nuva, where he had apparently remarked that Lewa had been one of the last “true Toa,” a statement delivered with a particularly bitter tone as the Toa of Earth glanced in the direction of Tahu, the only other Toa Nuva who was there.

By that point, I’d made it to the last screen, the inevitable conclusion of the Toa Nuva of Earth’s story which I had already known was coming: his death. According to this screen, Onua kept working right until the last days, even though his advanced age and the associated deterioration of his body (plus the fact that mining work had been pretty hard on it to begin with) had made it increasingly difficult for him to work the long shifts. In spite of that, he saw it as his duty to provide for the Matoran and Agori as much as he could for as long as he was able, and a little pain wasn’t going to stop him. What did stop him, however, was a side tunnel he elected to dig into a region already notorious for its geological instability; the soft, porous rock that made up a whole layer below the mountain meant tunnel collapses were common, and unfortunately, towards the end of one of his shifts and having dug a particularly long tunnel, Onua found himself victim of one of them. No one could tell exactly where the collapse started, but by the time the rocks settled the entire section of tunnel that the Toa had worked on was no more. A massive search effort was mounted, but it still took nearly two months before the tunnel was cleared his body was recovered, after which a grand funeral procession was held. Turaga, Toa, and Matoran from all over the planet had turned up to pay their respects, though the other remaining Toa Nuva had been notably absent. The tablet concluded the story of the Toa Nuva of Earth with a couple of words from Nuparu, the Toa Mahri of Earth and apparently one of Onua’s greatest admirers:

“Few are granted the honor to be Toa, and fewer still know what the title means, but only one Toa understood the true power of the code; he lived it from the day he arrived among us to the day he passed below. Along the way, he saved many of us multiple times over, stood against the worst our world had to offer, and gave us the greatest city we have ever known. Never have so many owed so much to one person.”

I looked up again at the giant bronze statue, looming over the center of the city as though the old Toa still stood guard over the Matoran and Agori at work here. I’d never seen a more spectacular memorial, and after reading over everything that Onua had done, I was pretty sure that there wasn’t anyone else deserving of one. No wonder Jahlpu and the Onu-Matoran practically worshipped him, and that even Kopaka had spoken of him in a positive light; Onua was the best example of a Toa who’d managed to find a way to use his abilities to serve the Matoran within the confines of the Toa Code. He’d found a purpose, something which many Toa, myself included, were still looking for.


#####author’s note: Much like the last chapter (a month ago now, sheesh…), I feel this one is mostly filler and characters passing the time until the next major plot point, but such chapters are a nice opportunity to elaborate on the world and throw in a couple of G1 references to boot. Lots of stuff about Onua in this chapter; never the Toa who I cared for in particular, but I must admit I got a bit teary-eyed while trying to write Nuparu’s statement to conclude his story.

I’ll post more chapters as I finish them. As always, post any questions, comments, and/or observations below. Enjoy!