Updated: 3 days ago
The Brotherhood’s military presence in the universe wasn’t noticeably established until around 20,000 a.A. Up until this point the Brotherhood had no need for large armies, as it could usually rely on its members - assisted by a few mercenaries or Toa - to deal with most dangers. Additionally, it was a far more peaceful time, the few outbreaks of violence we know about only having had regional character.
This changed during the Barraki uprising and the Prosecution of the League of Six Kingdom’s headless armies, where large armies were needed to reestablish peace and order in the universe. All in all, the Brotherhood seemed astoundingly well-prepared for the Barraki revolt, as if they expected it, but as with most in-depth sources regarding that time, they’re extremely scarce. There are theories that someone must have spent a great deal of effort to suppress knowledge of this time, but for what specific reason that would have happened, I can’t fathom.
Despite the Brotherhood’s unexpectedly large army, comprised of Rahkshi, Rahi and Exo-Toa machines, they still invoked the paragraph of the Spirit’s Charter which placed every active Toa in the universe under their command. What numbers exist tell that up to 10,000 Toa might have followed that call.
With the lack of sources and the Prosecution by itself already being a confusing period of time, not to mention all the documents lost in the war, it is difficult to tell what exactly happened during these 800 to 900 years. The texts speak of a crushing victory of the Brotherhood on the Northern Continent before the fortress known today as the Grey Citadel. From there campaigns were led eastward, westward, and southward to liberate the rest of the universe. By around 20,500 a.A. it seems like the Barraki’s forces had been mostly crushed. Some incident in the south – rumored to have been caused by an ex-General of the Brotherhood – resulted in the just conquered regions there erupting again in war, however, extending the Prosecution by almost another 400 years.
It was ill timing that just as no Toa could be spared, civil war erupted in the as to yet unscathed Metru Nui. Sources indicate that the Makuta expected the war to quickly die down by itself, but as it dragged on in a perpetual stalemate, messengers were sent that ordered the war leaders to enter peace negotiations and resolve the conflict. As far as is known, all these orders were ignored. Only when the Prosecution was finally over for good could the Makuta spare their full attention for Metru Nui.
Nearly a millennium of war had taken a toll on the Great Spirit’s health, the effects becoming ever more evident as time progressed. It was suspected that Mata Nui would only be able to recover fully if all conflict within the universe was put to a stop as quickly as possible. While a team of Toa was sent to save Mata Nui, the Brotherhood took it upon itself to stop the Metru Nui Civil War. Under normal circumstances they might have sent Toa who might have been able to resolve the conflict peacefully over time, but it was suspected that time was the one thing the universe didn’t have.
Despite the Matoran’s earlier refusals of entering peace negotiations, it certainly doesn’t speak in favor of the Makuta of Metru Nui that he didn’t give the Matoran another chance before he set to work. The Archives Massacre was a sad example for the Makuta’s ruthlessness and a dark day in the history of Metru Nui, yet one can’t deny that it was extraordinarily effective. Almost overnight the war had ended, a new Turaga had been installed to guide the city, and order had been restored. Yet from this point on the Brotherhood had lost its benevolent reputation in Metru Nui for good and so far, hasn’t been able to restore it.
It is a question many historians have wondered about, and I will do so, too, at this point – was the Archives Massacre a good solution in the sense that it provided the best outcome possible? It is unclear to me if an instant ending to the civil war was indeed this urgent, but if it was, the Archives Massacre might indeed have been the lesser of two evils. The only alternative to quickly ending the Matoran Civil War would have meant marching an army into the city and taking it by force – something which might have cost at least as many lives as the Archives Massacre and damaged the city even more.
The political aftermath of both the Prosecution and the Matoran Civil War culminated in the Edict of Destral. It split the known universe into 50 regions with defined borders to prevent local rulers from growing as powerful as the Barraki, assigned one Makuta to each of these regions to detect and prevent future conflicts in time, and made the legitimacy of the local rulers’ sovereignty dependent on the Brotherhood’s approval. What this meant in reality was that the Brotherhood essentially was in control of the whole universe in all but name.
Naturally, rulers everywhere protested against this restriction of their freedom, but the regions that still had political leaders were usually the ones with the strongest military presence of the Brotherhood, and so protests where easily subdued, especially since no one could seriously doubt the Brotherhood’s good intentions. Regions still ravaged by civil war, like Konora or Stelt, usually ended up with rulers who knew full well that they only had been able to acquire their position with the Brotherhood’s help, making them inclined to accept the edict - at least for the moment.
Any fears that the Makuta would misuse their influence were meanwhile quickly dissolved during the Brotherhood’s failed annexation of North Avohi. Heavy criticism from throughout the universe made the Brotherhood accept that in the future it only would interfere in emergencies. In an effort to save face, North Avohi was declared to have been under “military quarantine” for the few decades it was ruled by the Makuta, but eventually they handed over political power to a local government.
To preserve the reestablished peace and attempt to convince the political heads of the newly-formed regions that there was no need for standing armies of their own, the Brotherhood established military bases throughout the universe after the Prosecution, where troops were stationed that could quickly respond to any disturbances. The most important of these military bases where the island-fortress of Destral, the Grey Citadel on the Northern Continent - commanded by the famous Fist of Destral - and Horo Fehai on the island of Varn.
While the Brotherhood was indeed effective in taking care of dangers, it failed in preventing local potentates to raise armies themselves, though. Some of these evolved from local police forces that were originally formed to deal with matters too insignificant for the Brotherhood, but more were formed out of fear of the Brotherhood’s armies. In particular, the Visorak, which became a common sight among the Brotherhood’s troops around 22,000 a.A., caused many to wonder if the Brotherhood could indeed control these dangerous creatures, and made them take precautions. After some formal protest the Makuta eventually accepted these local armies – they certainly knew how difficult it would have been to forcibly prevent their forming – and besides, it didn’t change the military balance much.
Toa stopped playing a role in the Brotherhood’s military almost completely after the Prosecution, on the other hand, the Makuta favoring more obedient and less-restrained “soldiers” like Exo-Toa, Rahkshi, and the aforementioned Visorak. Several Makuta still employed teams of handpicked elite Toa as bodyguards and special agents, called Toa Hagah, though. Being chosen to serve a Makuta was viewed as a great honor, with most of these Toa already having served the Brotherhood during the Prosecution. In Destral’s library several shelves are dedicated to these Toa, their deeds, backgrounds, and accomplishments. Less in-depth versions can also be found in the Metru Nui Archives, along with statues of the more prominent of these heroes.
In 20,947 a.A. the Brotherhood underwent a change in leadership after the Makuta appointed to this position by Mata Nui died in an accident, although as usual with the Brotherhood there wasn’t more internal information revealed. The Makuta of Inoatra avoided further questions, from which I gather that their first leader’s unexpected death had hit the Brotherhood deeply.
When it became known that their leader’s successor would be the Makuta of Metru Nui, many beings in the universe expected political dealings with the Brotherhood to become harsher, for said Makuta certainly wasn’t known for his compassion and altruism - the Archives Massacre still vivid in most beings’ memories. Such fears proved to be rash, however. While certainly the Brotherhood’s political tone became more commanding and demanding, the Makuta of Metru Nui for the most part followed his predecessor’s political course of keeping the Brotherhood a neutral faction that only interfered in political matters when necessary.
The millennia since this point in history can generally be viewed as ones of relative peace, with the Brotherhood successfully preventing any large-scale conflicts or disasters from arising in the universe. These endeavors, while certainly important, didn’t play as much of a role in defining who the Brotherhood is, however. As such I will in this place point towards the records kept in the Metru Nui Archives and on Versuva that go into detail of what is known about events like the Quarantine of Zakaz, the Necromancer of Monuhi, the Avohi Crisis, the defeat of the pirates known as the Luikena, and the Plague of Cendak.
At the end of this short summary, let me again point out that historians like me are only able to scratch on the surface of the Brotherhood of Makuta’s true motives and intentions. Since the beginning, this organization has been shrouded in many mysteries and secrets, and I expect it to stay this way. No matter how we think of them, however, be it as cruel warlords, brilliant scientists, clever politicians, or irresponsible Rahi creators, there is no denying that without them the universe would be a vastly different place. The future will tell which challenges we’ll have to face in the future, and if we can rely on the Makuta to help us weather them.