четверг, 26 сентября 2019 г.

MNOG Chronicle – Chapter II – The Hidden 7th Tribe

А word from the creators

Let’s first ask the guys from Templar Games (the studio that gave us both installments of MNOG and the 2002-2004 animations) what for info about what tribe this is and where it came from. 

About 8 years ago one of the fans found several interesting things, including a deleted location in the game files. Another followed up and asked Gordon Krimes on Disqus what it was. What did he tell him? 

It should be noted that Gordon was unaware about how this merchant of Koli balls would later become a famous character in the Bionicle story from 2004 onwards. Greg Farshtey and Bob Thompson did their best to cover up any plot holes they found, but that doesn’t mean that Ahkmou didn't originally have a totally different role laid out for him. 

A scrapped location from the MNOG files  the Koli Ball sweatshop, with a kidnapped Tohunga. A busy Matoran is a happy Matoran. Quick work is a good work. 

The Po-Koro Epidemic and Ahkmou the Merchant

In order to better figure out everything concerning the 7thtribe I suggest that we – once more – go through the Po-Koro scenario, with all the previous knowledge kept in mind. Let’s start with our old pal Ahkmou. A sudden plague has struck the village of Po-Koro. The villagers are becoming weak and are slowly going insane. The first victim was Huki, the Koli champion, who fell ill before a match. Everybody is panicking, depressed and apathetic. In the meantime we arrive at the market and meet Ahkmou, the local salesman. 

“Hello, stranger! Are you looking for a good Koli ball? Let me recommend the Comet, our most popular model.”

The most popular – and surprisingly – the only one. As we learn later on, they are the cause of the disease. Ahkmou gives a rather odd answer, however, when asked about where these Koli balls come from:

“Well, now, that's privileged information, my friend. Let's just say I have a secret source...”

And that secret source was supposed to be the workshop with the kidnapped Tohunga. If Gordon is to be believed, they were all being mind-controlled so we can’t call them full members of the cult. Ahkmou does give the impression of somebody who is fully aware of his actions sothere must be others like him out there. Even more so, considering that someone has to abduct these Tohunga. Not the Rahi, of course, obviously (ain’t no Nui-Rama around ‘ere and Nui-Jaga ain’t got not limbs to speak of). One lingering question, though, is whether this 7thtribe was supposed to have a separate element of Shadow or if it was just a conspiracy stretching across villages. Maybe each village was supposed to have one such traitor?

The madness epidemic

An epidemic is an epidemic, but someone has to answer for all this. Let’s go and get some answers from the local government. Mr. Turaga, sir, how will you explain this situation? 

“I am Onewa, Turaga of the village of Po-Koro. The Tohunga here are master carvers, and their work is the envy of all Mata Nui. But today I am not carving works of art. Instead, I am fashioning beds. I am struggling to bring comfort to the sick people of this village, but it is a fleeting solace. We know nothing of this illness, how long it might last, or where it comes from. Left unattended, I fear the Madness…”

Onewa’s words end here. It is interesting to note that Madness is written with a capital letter, suggesting is a widely-recognized ailment on the island. We learn more about this Madness in another dialogue option: 

“A dark plague has corrupted my people and my village. Though many still stay at their work, and visit the bazaar, and play Koli, they have blinded themselves to the truth, and put strength and duty before fear. Huki, our greatest Koli champion, was one of the first to fall ill. He has become weakened, and cannot move from his bed. I fear that soon we will see in him the beginnings of the Madness, the same diabolical force that grips the wild Rahi when their masks become infected.”

Bingo! The seventh tribe was disseminating the same stuff that made the Rahi sick. I wonder what the odds are that the cult members we met in 2001 were in some sense analogous to how the Kraata and Rahkshi were carrying out the will of Makuta in 2003 – especially considering that Swinnerton (the original co-writer of the bible) has said several times that the spirit of destruction didn’t have a physical form but was analogous to the Old Gods of Lovecraftian mythos, a force beyond comprehension? Of course, this is my own speculation but it is quite simple and logically comes out of the information we are provided with. 

Huki gone mad. We won’t be focusing on him right now, but the Lovecraftian parallels basically write themselves. 

The Great Hunger

Let’s now go beyond the realm of MNOG and discuss the concept of poisoned masksand the way it relates to the 2001 Rahi. The fact of the matter is that in the original franchise bible the Rahi hadn’t just gone Mad – there was another power that was later replaced, the power of Hunger. The first time we see this power comes in the form of an obscure promotional poster dedicated to the Rahi. This information is provided to us through the document comprised by Maku and from an old Russian site called Rusbionicle which used an old Toa description from 2001 media.The same text I found in Russian “Samodelki” magazine (Russian Lego Adventures! Magazine analogue).

Yeah, these aren’t the 2016 beasts. 

“Many Great Beasts, known as Rahi, worked in harmony with the Tohunga villagers. Then Makuta came and cast a dark shadow across the land. The Makuta brought a Great Hunger to the Rahi, a hunger for the sacred Kanohi Masks.”

“In these dark times Rahi challenge Toa without respect, and Rahi will challenge even their own kind, such is their hunger.”

So all this time there was a logical explanation for the Rahi play function of trying to knock off your opponent’s mask. The Rahi simply feed on the energy of the masks and want to eat. But, unfortunately, we can’t say for certain whether or not the power of Hunger factored into the MNOG plot or if the Madness was the only remainder left of this concept. However, the presence of the Hunger can explain a lot about how everything works – and it also appeared in the Quest for the Masks card game. 

The concept of Hunger possibly explains why the infected masks were only in the Muaka and Kane-Ra set, while the other ones had common ones. An infected mask is not necessary if the Rahi is always hungry and on the lookout for new masks. 

In any case – this doesn’t directly go against the cultists’ role in the whole happening because someone still had to infect these masks. And considering that the Rahi from the poster weren’t against feeding of Toa Masks one can assume that the Hunger was a constant while Madness worked as a temporary extension of their powers, but who knows.
Fun fact: in early 2001 lore you can tame your Rahi with Noble Masks. It can make sense if the Rahi needs to eat the energy of masks and you feed it by this energy. So noble energy…

“…ancient tales tell of a time when many in Le-Koro tamed these beasts [Nui-Rama] with Noble Masks and flew them for sport.”

The Nui-Jaga nest

But let's get back to MNOG. We still have a whole battle scene against the Nui-Jaga. Many people saw this scene and got the wrong assumption that the poison on the Comets is the Nui-Jaga poison and the balls were scorp
ion-infected. But that’s incorrect. And besides – why would the scorpions get infected by their own poison and fall under the control of Makuta? That would be pretty stupid. So, it is logical that the Koli balls were poisoned by the cultists, while the Nui-Jaga just stood guard. 

Then, the seventh tribe arrived with another hint – this time delivered by Pohatu himself: 

“Excellent my friend! We make a good team! My sight has returned to me. This was an evil plan, indeed. Onewa was right to call upon me. That was an infected mask set beside the Koli balls … But who left it there, and placed the balls beside it? Though Po-Koro will be safe now, we have uncovered an even greater mystery. I fear the Makuta’s influence may extend beyond the Rahi, now…”

Not bad, not bad, Sherlock, Toa of deduction. The Nui-Jaga did have an infected mask hanging up in its lair and it was always difficult to imagine that the scorpion could’ve brought it to the nest on its own, to hang it up like a 
portrait of a beloved grandmother. 

It is also interesting how he suggests that the power of Makuta can now reach beyond the Rahi. Who did he mean? The zombified prisoners? Or did he meant that the cultists were infected as well? I tend more towards the first option, since Ahkmou did not look like a zombie. 

The lost story arc

It is sad to say that despite all the hints that the Templar guys planted for a whole storyline surrounding the cultists they had to abandon it equally quickly. But I think that the damage here could be much bigger than any of us might suspect. What comes now are all my theories but I think that they might hold more water than we think. 

The topic of infected masks also gets touched upon in the Le-Wahi plot line. Lewa gets infected by one of these masks and goes insane (and might I remind you that this is clearly not the Hunger mentioned previously) and the Tohunga get kidnapped for some unexplained heavy lifting. No, I am not even kidding – it is never explained what they were doing there, what they were digging up and for what reason they were kidnapped. But the barebones structure resembles the Po-Koro kidnappings to a T. I believe that this chapter was supposed to further the storyline of the seventh tribe. It is, of course, known that in the final product Lewa gets the infected mask from the Nui-Kopen but the problem is that this goes directly against its madness – these actions are way too calculated and precise. It 
is much easier to imagine a group of small fanatics in this role – dogpiling on the Toa and forcing the mask onto him. 

Talking about the Tohunga. Again, the parallels with the deleted workshop seem very clear. I have encountered fan-theories about how the prisoners were helping the Nui-Rama to build their hive, but I have always found that weird. So, you are saying that by digging into solid rock with their pickaxes they are building a hive (and Nui-Rama cannot build their hive independently)? They look more like a group of miners than builders. But then – what were they mining for? We can create thousands of theories, but sadly enough, we don’t have enough data to support any of them. But this something could be connected to the process of mask poisoning, i.e. maybe they were looking for the poison to begin with? (It had to come from underground?) 

In conclusion

Today we learned everything that is known about the mysterious seventh tribe. To be honest – I love this concept. First off – it is a cult in a setting with islands and tribes, it opens a whole new side of the world while being perfect within it. Secondly it is a great instrument for showing off the true nature of Makuta’s actions because the cultists aren’t just his eyes and ears – they are also his hands. Thirdly, Makuta feels more like a god and an all-powerful being than just some sore loser who wants to capture an island out of envy. I love to see Makuta as this living idea and philosophy rather than as a supervillain. And lastly – having cultists would’ve given Toa sentient enemies way before the Dark Hunters and the Piraka – because that was one of the bigger problems of Bionicle for the longest time. Rahi, Bohrok, Visorak, Rahkshi, Vahki – no matter how cool they all where, they were just faceless mooks for the Toa to kick around. The story always demanded that they should have more charismatic leaders, a role perfectly suited for the little cultists. 


Special thanks to my friend Frozen Death for the translation, and a big thanks to Maku for editing. I also highly recommend Maku's document that includes a lot of useful information about early Bionicle lore.

1 комментарий:

  1. Makes me wonder why Lego scrapped the idea for an evil cult in Bionicle. Sure it's dark, but hardly more so than anything else they've done in the franchise, especially in the later years after Greg was given more creative freedom. And like you've explained, this could have opened up so many ideas and possibilities.