"Any more surprises down here I should know about?"
"That's what this place is all about, Nuju. Welcome to the Archives."
— Toa Metru Nuju and Whenua, Disks of Danger
The Archives began aboveground, but were continually expanded underground until they reached their current span, which extends beyond the coast of Metru Nui. The Archives housed at least one of every Rahi that the Matoran encountered on Metru Nui, which were kept in Stasis Tubes. Whenever a Rahi died, it would be taken to a Dissection Lab, where the Matoran would explore the workings of the Rahi's body. There were also various artifacts kept in the Archives, including samples of ancient Matoran tools and carvings and exhibits of Matoran art. It housed several inactive Bohrok, Krana, and Rahkshi that had been unearthed by Onu-Matoran miners, but its main purpose was to preserve and study all of the known Rahi species.
Guided tours of the Archives were available and recommended, not only for their informative value on the different species of Rahi, but also because a visitor without an Onu-Matoran guide ran a great risk of getting lost. Visitors were allowed and welcomed in the Archives from one hour after suns' rise until exactly sunset.
Some of the less dangerous exhibits were kept on public display, but the others were kept in the sub-levels that extended deep beneath Metru Nui. These contain the most dangerous exhibits in the archives. Access for any level below level five was permitted for Archives personnel only, due to the number of dangerous creatures housed down below; some levels were so restricted that even Vahki were not permitted to enter. Many of the sub-levels are so deep that they descend below the Silver Sea. Onu-Matoran sometimes played Kanoka Toss in these sub-levels in the deep darkness. The most dangerous of the sub-levels was the area known as the Fikou Web, where many Archivists became lost and never found a way out. This level was also the home of Krahka and many wild Rahkshi.
Each entrance to the different levels of the Archives was guarded by one guard and the entrance doors had locks consisting of three levers that changed their position every day. Only the guard on duty knew the combination and position of the levers.
Whenua, Mavrah, Tehutti, Onepu, and Nuparu all worked in the Archives as Archivists. These Matoran studied Rahi in the sub-levels, which were not always kept in Stasis Tubes. Archivists often used Archives Transport Carts to move exhibits from one area of the Archives to another. An Onu-Matoran known as the Chief Archivist made major decisions concerning the Archives, along with Turaga Dume.
Over 79,100 years ago, after four centuries of the Matoran Civil War in Metru Nui, Makuta Miserix ordered his lieutenant Teridax to put a stop to the conflict. Teridax responded by sealing large portions of the opposing armies in the Archives and unleashing the Rahi exhibits on them, in an event later called the Archives Massacre. The aftermath of the Massacre was described as being "quite a mess to clean up later".
When Teridax overloaded the city's power grid approximately 1,000 years ago, the resulting reaction caused an earthquake that shattered the Archives. This destroyed many of the Stasis Tubes that housed the Rahi, setting them loose into the city. The invading Visorak established heavy patrols in the Archives during their occupation of Metru Nui, capturing and mutating many of the Rahi that had not yet left the Archives. The Visorak occupation damaged the Archives further and greatly threatened the Rahi population.
After 1,000 years of vacancy, the Archives were slowly reconstructed by the Matoran who returned to the city, and they were repaired completely as a result of the Staff of Artakha's usage. However, many of the Rahi that escaped remained loose.
After Teridax was defeated at the hands of Mata Nui and the Matoran Universe was felled, the Archives were severely damaged, releasing many more Rahi from Stasis Tubes. The Matoran evacuated the Archives, and undertook a mass effort to relocate the Archives' remaining exhibits onto Spherus Magna.
In a different reality, the Archives were used to display the trophies of the Toa Empire, led by Toa Tuyet. Included inside it are such things as the Spear of Fusion, the Shadowed One's Staff of Protodermis, the Kanohi Kraahkan, and the mutated Toa Naho. Turaga Dume was also captured and placed inside a Stasis Tube, but was later freed by Takanuva.
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