His prisoner, however, was not one of these.
The Toa was thrashing in her bindings on the floor, muffled snarls of anger coming from behind her gag as she tried to break free. Elemental nullifiers were in short supply these days, but fortunately the Brotherhood had retained a Psionic Toa well-versed in scrambling the minds of their prisoners. Asha was sullen, as ever, but was following his orders obediently, keeping her thoughts scattered enough to not use her powers, and in any case he had taken away the captive’s mask to make it harder.
“Master, her team is searching the caves,” Asha said, her voice dull. “They will be here in about ten minutes.”
“More than enough time to finish,” Volterix replied, pulling a sealed pair of vials. One contained a long, serpentine organic creature, while the other was a pale blue and significantly squatter. The former he passed to his companion, along with her mask. “You are wearing your heavy gloves?”
“Good. Let the kraata infect the mask, but make sure it doesn’t touch your own.” Volterix knew that his Psionic Toa wondered why he was taking care to make her wear protective gear, or why he hadn’t infected her mask beforehand. But she had been in their service long enough to know that she could not escape them; time and despair had broken her into a willing servant.
As Asha unscrewed the cap on her container, the Makuta opened his own, and coaxed the creature into his gauntleted hand. The Shadow Leech fell into his hand, trying to attach to him and drain light that had been long exiled from his being. Mutran had warned him that they could only survive a short time out of their virus baths, but this one had only been out for five minutes. It would survive long enough to do its task.
The captive Toa, lying on the cave floor, saw the Shadow Leech in his gauntlet and her eyes widened. Even if she didn’t know what it was, the fact it was held by a Makuta was enough to target it as a threat to her. She redoubled her attempts to squirm out of her bonds, but they were good and tight around her body. Leaning downwards, he stretched his arm longer than it could normally reach, and placed the Leech on her bare face, not releasing it from his grasp until he was sure that the creation had a firm grip on her forehead.
The Toa tried to scream, but her voice faltered as its jaws gripped her tighter, and an application of Volterix’s power of silence kept the sound from escaping the room they were in. Turning away from the prisoner, the Makuta looked to Asha, who had a deathgrip on the black-and-red Kraata as its touch turned the Kanohi Pakari black and pitted. At the end of the process, she let go of the mask and let it float in the air with her telekinesis, using both hands to put the kraata back inside of its jar.
“Master,” she said simply, passing both the mask and the jar to him. The jar went back into the folds of his cape, while he held the mask in his hand.
“What is the status of her team?” he asked. The Toa closed her eyes in momentary concentration, then reopened them. “Far enough away that they cannot interfere with the process. Seven minutes at the earliest.”
“Good. Make sure they take a while.” He was confident that they would be done before they came close enough to find them, but he wanted to make sure the Shadow Leech would finish its job. Mutran had given a time of about three minutes, but there hadn’t been a lot of data for him to be confident.
However, it turned out the mad scientist had been correct, because a couple minutes later the Shadow Leech fell off the Toa’s forehead and flopped into the floor, feebly squealing in satisfaction at the feast of Light it had gorged itself on. As Volterix stooped to collect the creature, he took notice of how – while the Toa’s armor had not changed color – her eyes had changed from light blue to a deep red, with her pupils becoming visible and ink-black.
He carefully put the bloated Shadow Leech back in the jar and sealed it. Tests had shown that it would disintegrate soon after digesting the Light, but he wanted to leave no signs of the creature behind to be found. Better to let the Toa panic and worry about a plague of some kind than for them to get any hint of the Brotherhood’s secret weapon.
Turning back to the Toa, he noticed that she was still thrashing in her bonds, and the demands to be released had resumed. Odd, but not surprising: being drained of her Light would not make her more likely to be his servant, just more violent and amoral.
That was why he’d infected her Pakari.
Smiling a bit, he fit the mask onto her face, pulling the gag away to make sure it fit properly. The curses became audible for a moment, then faded as the kraata’s influence settled in her mind and held steady. The thrashing stilled, and stopped altogether, the Toa’s eyes on him and waiting patiently.
“Do you know who I am?” Volterix asked the new Toa of Shadow.
“You are my Master,” she replied without hesitation. A soft sound came from behind him, and he knew Asha was afraid. Good.
“You will not flee when I release you?”
“Why would I?”
“Good answer.” His hands gripped the rope and undid the knots, and they fell away. The Toa stood up, no longer a prisoner as she dusted herself off. There were still improvements that could be made to her, but they were for later, in his fortress. Now they had to clean up the evidence: the Toa team would be suspicious if they found no trace of their teammate in the caves.
“Asha,” he said, “where are the Toa now?”
“Three minutes away, Master.”
The Shadow Toa cocked her head in curiosity at the Psionics Toa, like she hadn’t noticed her presence until her statement. “What Toa?” she asked.
“Inconvenient Toa. As all non-Shadow Toa are,” the Makuta replied with distain.
“Oh.” A pause as she digested this. “Can I kill them?”
The Makuta hid his smile: this was just what he wanted to hear. “Yes, you can. We’ll let you have your fun and keep ourselves hidden away. They’ll think it’s just you.”
“Anything in specific I should do?” she asked, twirling her fingers and conjuring a spear of darkness between them.
“Wait in here for them to find you, and extinguish the lights when you do.” There hadn’t been much light – Makuta could see in the dark, after all – but Asha had needed light to see what she was doing with the kraata. One lightstone illuminated the room, easily destroyed.
Grinning, the Toa took a position in the center of the room, her feet finding their stance easily. Smirking, he pulled the reluctant Asha to his side as they moved into the furthest corner of the room, drawing an illusion around them to make them look like the wall. He wanted to see what the Brotherhood’s newest weapon was capable of, fresh from her creation and practically frothing at the mouth to get to work. He noticed Asha looking away from the room’s entrance, and used one hand to force her to look.
The sound of footsteps grew louder, along with the sounds of talking amongst the group of Toa. From his observations beforehand, including the new Toa of Shadow, they had numbered five, meaning four were on their way. All males, one was the leader: seemed he’d picked the right target to claim.
The talking abruptly fell away as they beheld their former teammate, now with glowing red eyes, a shadowy spear in one hand and a sphere of darkness in the other, and a vicious Muaka-smile on her face. Their expressions of horror and shocked exclamations were a joy to behold, and Volterix committed them to memory so he might appreciate them forever.
The Toa of Shadow, for her part, merely grinned at her former teammates before the orb of darkness rushed in a wave around her, destroying the lightstone and plunging the room into pitch black.
The screaming that followed didn’t last long.
Just a quick little story I wrote up last month, inspired by the seeming lack of Shadow Toa characters in Bionicle fiction. I've been considering expanding into an epic at a later date, though I've got a lot on my plate right now.
I'm posting it here for now, in case I do get around to expanding it. If someone suggests I put it in the SS forum, I might. =P