In his childhood, Ato had been taught to speak English by his father, who had learned from the American Sky-Warrior Hank Marlow. He lived his young life expecting the return of the People who Came from the Sky. In 1996, a Monarch expedition crash-landed in the wilderness, and Ato came with a group of other tribesmen to rescue them.
While showing Aaron Brooks around the village, Ato got him out of trouble when he touched the wall, which was supported entirely from the inside. The guards were ready to attack, but Ato explained to Aaron the severity of the situation. The next morning, Ato awoke and informed Aaron and Evelyn Matamavi that it was time to be painted for the pilgrimage Walter Riccio had planned for them. Much to their ire, he explained that Riccio wanted them to remove their clothing, but to the Iwi it did not matter. Ato then lead the party into the wilds, and to a shipwreck from an East India Company voyage. There Riccio began to convulse. Ato told the crew that the "devils of the island whisper in his ear," and that some of the village elders agreed that he was a danger to the people, as he believed he was special and chosen by Kong. Riccio then wandered off, against Ato's advice, and they were attacked by a Sirenjaw. The Monarch team found a crate of weapons left from the 1973 expedition, but Ato told them that weapons would not save them. Luckily Kong arrived to do just that.
With the Sirenjaw slain by Kong's hand, Ato encouraged the group to return behind the walls, but the frenzy of creatures that had emerged to feed on the felled Sirenjaw would block their path for at least seven days by Ato's measure. However, the group was contacted by their lost pilot Cejudo, and Ato informed them of a field near the village where their Metal Bird could safely land. However, their journey to it would take them through the Valley of the Fallen Gods. When the Skullcrawlers emerged from below, Ato led them into a cave to wait them out. However, Riccio began to have another vision, and Ato had to urge him to be quiet. When the all-clear was given and they left the cave, Riccio shot the Metal Bird down with a rocket launcher.
With Riccio holding the rest of the party hostage, he revealed that he planned to test Kong by destroying the wall around the village. Ato protested, but Riccio struck his face before they were separated by Death Jackals. Ato managed to lead the party home, but they were not in time to stop Riccio. Mother Longlegs wandered in from the jungles and began to attack. A particularly large one approached, and Ato handed Aaron a spear, as his gun had proved ineffective. Luckily, Kong arrived and slaughtered the giant spiders before smashing Riccio beneath his great fist. He turned his attention to Aaron, and Ato bade him to stay still. Luckily, Kong simply observed Aaron, while Ato and the other Iwi knelt and prayed. When Kong left, Ato watched as Aaron sent his voice logs out to sea, with his intention being to help the Iwi to rebuild.
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