Make it stop.
It was a simple phrase, one he had heard uttered time and time again. Never before had he realized how desperate a remark it truly was.
“MAKE IT STOP!!”
The agony ceased. Gasping, the Toa relaxed his body and fell forward. The chains connecting him to the wall stopped him before he fell far.
“I’m sorry, what was that?”
He looked up, glaring hatefully at the gold and blue armored Skakdi before him. The creature sneered at him, putting forth not even the slightest effort to hide just how much it was enjoying the Toa’s pain.
With a chuckle, the Ce-Skakdi added, “I can make it stop, you know. Just give me the password. That’s all you have to do.”
His tone was gentle with an undertone of menace, though such details were lost on the battered Toa. All he wanted was relief. Maybe he should give up the password—none of his brothers were coming to save him, so why should he protect them? At least this way he could save himself from—
“No,” he choked, shaking his head. “No, I won’t betray them!”
From across the room, another Skakdi, this one with red armor, groaned in frustration.
“Can’t we just kill him?” she asked. “He’s not gonna crack. If his friends are so important to him, let’s ship him back to them piece by piece.”
The Ce-Skakdi turned to her and growled, “And how will we get in then? You want to charge headfirst into a Toa stronghold?”
“Yes! Don’t you want to go smash something? Besides, even if we get this mysterious password, there’s no way they’ll actually let us through!”
“Listen to me, you—“
Suddenly feeling heavy, the Ce-Skakdi paused and whirled on the Toa, delivering a blow to his maskless face. As the pressure went away, the Ce-Skakdi shook his head and grinned.
“Getting your strength back, I see,” he said. “But it’ll take more than a little extra gravity to save you.”
Both Skakdi extended their arms. Instantly the Toa’s mind was filled with a burning sensation, as if every thought was slowly smoldering away into nothing more than ash. The searing pain drowned out everything else, leaving him with nothing but slow, endless suffering that threatened to drive him mad.
“NO!!” he screamed. “NO, PLEASE! PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!”
The Ce-Skakdi lowered his arms and the Toa went limp again. Angered, the Ta-Skakdi snapped, “If you let up every time he begs for mercy—“
“He will feel grateful,” the Ce-Skakdi finished. “Remember that I’ve been at this much longer than you. Ugh, this would be so much easier if your predecessor was still here. I almost regret killing that oaf…”
The Ta-Skakdi narrowed her eyes. “Would you like to join him?”
“Let’s not forget why we’re here.” He turned back to the Toa and grabbed his head, lifting it so that he could look into the eyes of his prisoner.
“N…no…” the Toa mumbled. “You…I can’t let you enter the stronghold…you won’t get your hands on those weapons!”
“So you won’t help us?” the Ce-Skakdi asked. “That’s all we want, Toa—just a little bit of help. With those weapons, we can free ourselves from Nektann’s tyranny. Won’t you help us fight for our freedom?”
The Toa looked directly into the Skakdi’s eyes, his gaze filling with a resilience that should have been stripped away long ago.
“Skakdi don’t fight for freedom. If you defeat Nektann, you’ll just take over Zakaz yourself…and then, a few months later, some other warlord will overthrow you. I have no love for you wretched creatures, but I refuse to have your blood on my hands.”
The Ce-Skakdi frowned. After staring at his captive a bit longer, he stood up and took a few steps back. Waving to his partner, he said, “Very well then. Your blood will be on her hands.”
With savage glee, the Ta-Skakdi advanced towards the Toa. The hero merely closed his eyes and waited for it all to stop.