Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence.
Some time later Simon found himself bound to a chair, sitting across a desk from Scien, having a rather one sided conversation.
“How did I get here?”
“I have my ways. Now, after you saw what happened to Edmund, will you yield your Token to me? You know that you can not gain anything from having it, and I could do so much more with it. Why, I could change the galaxy, bring down the—“
“But why should I care?” Spat Simon. Everything I’ve ever heard about you is horrible and disgraceful. Even your own version of your life shows exactly who you are!”
“But don’t you understand? I was wronged. The empire is weak and corrupted. The political power is pathetically weaker than it used to be even a hundred years ago! With the power of your token, I could completely reface the empire, and make it into the golden metropolis it used to be!”
“While at the same time you took my father hostage, and have killed millions of people who followed in your path!”
“Not millions, Simon. And it was necessary.”
“But how can you prove that? What is and isn’t necessary?”
“Simon, you tell me. I’m not the only one with death on my hands.”
Simons face turned purple, and looked away.
“Yes, that’s right. I know all about your little escape scene. How many people died? Fifteen? Sixteen?”
“Oh, you feel that, do you? It hurts, doesn’t it.”
“Look, do you have anything valuable to tell me?”
Scien smiled coldly, and stood up. He grabbed Simon’s chair, and with a smooth motion flung the chair—and Simon—across the room and into the far wall. Simon only had time to throw his hands up before he hit the wall. The chair shattered like glass, and the bindings vanished, but even so Simon hit the wall hard. He fell to the ground, and rolled into a ball, groaning in pain. His right arm, which had been between him and the wall, was definitely broken. Scien slowly walked over, and leaned down into Simons face. He whispered softly,
“Now will you yield?”
“N-no! Never! Ahhhh!”
Scien grabbed him by his hair and lifted his fully off the ground. Simon screamed and screamed as his own weight started ripping out his hair. Scien held him there for thirty long seconds, then dropped him again—on his broken arm. Then he sat back down, smiling softly.
“I, and I alone, will tell you what is valuable to you. Do you wish to continue, or will you yield?”
“Really? You won’t yield, will you? I don’t think that’s an option right now!”
Lifting Simon my his ears, Scien dragged him to the door of the room, ignoring the abuse Simon was throwing back at him. There was a vehicle outside, which he was dragged into and tied down again, this time by the driver. Simon sat in the back, while Scien sat in the front. Simon noticed something just then. No matter whom Scien was around, no matter how important or insignificant they were, they always treated him as an equal, as if he was somehow everyone’s friend. Simon didn’t have much chance to ponder this, because moments later they were speeding forwards down the hallway, and the pain from his injuries finally became apparent.
His right arm was very much broken, and hurt him horribly. His left ear, which he had been pulled by, felt slightly torn, and his scalp felt burned, as Scien had very nearly ripped all his hair out. Most of it would fall out later, leaving him partly bald in areas.
Tears rolled down Simons face, and he curled into a ball, trying not to make any noise and reveal his weakness to Scien. Although he was very good at withstanding pain, he knew everyone had a breaking point. He had no way of knowing what his was, but he mentally braced himself.
He still had The Token, which had re appeared in his pocket, but he wasn’t strong enough to use it. After what had happened with Edmund, he felt lost, unable to understand what had happened. Edmund had been his friend, his only help through the last couple months. He was the only one Simon had had to share his pain with, and now he was gone. Their conversation after Edmunds betrayal had been short, and none of it had made sense.
Some time later Simon was shaken awake, and pulled out of the car and to his feet. They were in a very large, circular room, filled with metal containers spaced ten feet from each other. They appeared to be completely surrounded by metal plating, but as Simon was led forwards his horror grew. The other half of each of the containers was glass, and as he walked past them he could see what lay within.
Each one contained a person or alien of some kind, all humanoid, some short, and some tall. They were bound into a standing position, and all of their eyes were open. As Simon watched, their eyes followed him, as if moved by some machinery.
They were all dressed in the same shade of blue, and appeared to be frozen. There were thousands of them, stretching away out into the distance. People filled the room, walking between them and taking measurements and inspecting them, but no one opened any of the containers. Scien spoke with some of the people briefly, and again Simon noticed how they all talked to Scien as if to an equal. There was evident happiness as well in each interaction, but Simon felt there was something wrong. He couldn’t quiet place it… it was almost as if no one really knew who Scien was.
Scien finally stopped talking to whoever is charge of the human Popsicle room, and led him over to a container near the edge of the room, about five layers in. The container appeared to be empty, but Simon really didn’t care at that point. The man Scien had been talking to walked over, and hit a few buttons on the side of the chamber. It opened, and Simon was roughly shoved in.
The shoved had rather hurt his broken arm, so when there suddenly was no floor underneath him, Simon didn’t noticed until his head had fallen to the level of the ground.
Simon never remembered the period of time he fell for, but he remembered finding himself float in water, or at least he thought he was. The plummet had so gradually slowed that he didn’t noticed the sudden plunge into the water until his breathing became impaired.
He struggled with his brother arm, flailing and thrashing until he finally made it to the surface. It was completely dark, darker than he had ever though possible. The water was icy cold, but not cold enough to make him sick for many, many hours. Although Simon was a remarkably good swimmer, which had not been needed until this moment, his broken arm forced him to use his legs to keep his head above the water. He tried venturing farther in one direction, but he couldn’t tell whether he was going towards a wall or father towards the center. His clothes were weighing him down, so he kicked them off. Surprisingly, they floated. Even his shoes, which were completely soaked and full of water.
Then Simon tasted the water. It was bitterly salty, and his throat and lips burned. With nothing to drink, he simply suffered in silence, and waited for something to happen.
Three hours passed with no new changes. Simon had given up treading water after an exhausting hour of treading water, and had surrendered to his aching limbs. He floated on his back, trying to sty awake. If he were to fall asleep, he would sink and drown.
And in all that time, The Token didn’t return to him. On all other occasions, it would return to him after minutes at the most, but it had abandoned him. He was at Sciens will.
Another hour passed without anything, and Simon started to feel sleepy. His aching arm had kept him awake, but after four hours the throbbing had subsided greatly, which he would later find out was the affect of the water, or rather the salty stuff in the water.
As he was falling asleep, Simon felt something brushing against his leg. This wasn’t surprising, as there was a slight current, and his clothes knocked into him every so often. What was surprising was that it bit him.
All drowsiness left him immediately, and he quickly swam away from it. It followed him, however, and bit him again, harder. He started kicking harder and harder, trying to hit it, whatever it was. Then another thing bit him, this time on the shoulder. He screamed, and went under. A moment later he came up thrashing, with several small fish hanging off his stomach by their teeth.
The next hour was the most exhausting and painful hour of Simons life. He was bitten hundreds of times by the small fish, leaving tiny marks that hurt like burns, and were definitely acidic. Simon blacked out finally from the pain, and awoke some time later surrounded by the fish, about ten feet under water. How he had not drowned he never found out, but the fish didn’t give him much chance to wonder. Flailing crazily, he made it back to the top of the water. It was then that he noticed his arm was no longer broken.
After the Simon gave up hope of ever making it out of that water. The fish bit him and he tried to kill them with his bare hands. He finally caught one and examined it with his hands. It was small, maybe five inches long, and was rather rough and smelly, like old socks. He though about eating it, but he really wasn’t hungry yet. He squeezed it until it stopped wriggling.
A day passed thus, a day of pain and aching limbs and salty water. He only ever fell asleep for half an hour at a time, and his lips were bleeding by the end. That was when the light came back on.
After the day of darkness, the light was brighter than Simon had thought possible. He covered his face and waited. Ten long minutes later he opened them, blinked, and looked around.
He was in a large, square, empty room, the walls painted white. He was swimming in what appeared to be a large orb of water, maybe forty feet in diameter. Deep down, as the center, was a small spinning vortex, responsible for the strange gravity of the water. All around him, the many fish were floating on the surface, clearly dead. Blood oozed out of them, a metallic green. Simon looked down, and saw that the many bights on his body were gone, and his clothes were floating near him. He grabbed them, and considered what he should do.
And again, like so many times in that water, he wasn’t given any time to consider. Suddenly, the vortex was gone. The whole glob of water quivered, then fell out from beneath him. With the regular gravity restored, Simon fell with the water, landing with a splash. The fish, however, hung in midair, a rather disturbing sight. Their blood rained down in hissing globs.
Then, small holes opened up in the floor, and the water poured out, leaving Simon standing naked in the empty room. Finding his clothes dry, he put them on.
A door opened in the wall behind Simon, but not where it should have been. Rather, it opened at the top of the wall, vertically oriented to the wall on Simons left. Scien walked out, and stood, at a right angle to Simon, looking down at him.
“So, I see you have enjoyed this session of ours? Tired? Thirsty? Will you now yield what is mine, or will we continue?”
Simon’s shoulders shook and his eyes widened as he looked up at Scien, and his fists clenched.
“I will never yield to you! First you took my father, then killed my friend, and now you’ve taken Edmund, who was the last person I had left! The Token hasn’t even returned to me yet!”
“Oh, it hasn’t? What’s that in your left pocket?”
Simon glared at him a second longer, then reached into his pocket. He drew out The Token, and looked back up at Scien.
“How did you know this?”
Scien twirled his staff and thumped the ground twice. Simon again felt himself falling, and this time into water. With a groan he looked up, and found Scien standing before him, his staff resting on his neck. Although none of his bones had been broken, he had no landed lightly.
Simon rolled to the side and sprang up, and tried to blast Scien backwards with a vicious display of force. The resulting wave of energy tore at the air and consumed it, traveling from Simon to Scien before a normal human would have seen the flash. However, Sciens reflexes were definitely not human. Lifting his staff, he smote the ground in front of him, sending a shock wave of purple heat outwards, sending Simons attack backwards and driving him into the far wall. All the air in the room was burned by the two attacks, leaving them in a vacuum. Any human would have died in those circumstances, but both were protected by their Tokens. Simon snapped back from the wall and shifted the gravity to behind Scien, then summoned a normal weapon, the first he could think of—a rail gun.
The instant he had it he opened fire, even as they fell downwards towards the new ground forty feet below.
The rail gun was by far one of the most dangerous hand held weapons on earth, a standard weapon in the US Special Forces. It fired one ounce metal projectiles at speeds of Mach fifteen, which a rate of thirty per second, or a one pound projectile every second. The smaller bullets hit with the force of 2-4 rifle shots, and would definitely have been lethal. The heavier shot released as much damage as 450 of the smaller shots, and could have crippled a tank. Scien knew this, so he dropped.
He hit the ground as the first shot passed over his head, punching a small hole in the steel wall thirty feet away. He spun his staff over his head and hit the second and third shot out of the way, flying at weird angles and rick-a-shay-ing around the room. The fourth, fifth, and six shot completely missed him as he leaned to the side, putting a couple more holes in the wall. Scien rose to his feet next to Simon soon after the thirteenth bullet flew by, but by this time Simon had noticed Sciens movements. He flung around, and even with his impossible reflexes, Scien was almost hit by the thirty second and thirty third shot, forcing him to jump straight into the air.
The problem with this was that no matter how fast he was, it still took a couple seconds for him to reach the ground again, as he had jumped rather high, leaving Simon enough time to change settings on the rail gun. He switched it to heavy fire.
So when Scien reached the ground again, a one pound bullet was already heading his way.
Or at least, it was heading slightly above him. Simon had never used the gun before, and he didn’t anticipate the astounding recoil of the shot. So great way it, in fact, that he was flung backwards at a speed so great that all the blood was forced to his fingers, and he would have put a sizable dent in the far wall, if he had not unconsciously used the Token to slow himself down. He crashed into the wall hard enough to hurt but not enough to do damage.
However, things on Sciens side of the room were fairing badly. Landing had put him off balance, so his timing was off when he tried to deflect it. His energy blast missed and instead hit the wall near Simon, and he was forced to improvise.
Swinging his staff, he tried to hit it awake like all the other shots.
The one pound projectile connected with the staff and dropped dead on the floor. It had released all 6 million joules of energy, or around the amount in a sizable sky-scraper-be-gone explosion. The short of it was, the staff broke.
As Simon hit the wall, he watched as it snapped in two, releasing a massive amount of energy and blinding light. The walls glowed bright orange, then the heat hit him and he was out cold (or hot I guess).
Simon woke up to the gently calming noise of five people arguing. He was still in the room, or what was left of it. He and Scien were sitting in the only part of the ground that was stable. They appeared to be at the top of a large building again, yet this time there had been a higher section before. Looking down, Simon saw about a mile below the ruble of the ruined building. He and Scien were suspended twenty feet apart, with an eighty foot drop on either side. The arguing came from a group of people in a ship floating near Scien, which after a few minutes picked him up with some sort of beam and carried him to the ground. They came back up and grabbed Simon as well. The beam made him feel a bit lighter than normal, as if his hair wasn’t there any more.
When they got back to the ground, Scien was already standing, which Simon found amazing. He should barely sit, let alone walk. Scien was holding his Token now, as he was missing the staff.
“Do you see now what happens when multiple people have a Token?” asked Scien. “The damage from such a fight could destroy whole planets, if you were stronger! Give me my Token! Do you not respect me now?”
Simon did have to admit to himself that Scien appeared to be far stronger and more capable then him, but he would never say that to Scien.
“I won’t yield until you release my father, but as you most definitely have already killed him that doesn’t seem likely!”
“Would you yield if he was delivered to you safely?”
“I would, as long as he was given to me first.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, but I can bring you to see him. We will meet Edmund there.”
Hope sparked in Simon’s chest. His father was still alive! Or was it just a trap? There was no way to know.
“Fine. But I won’t give you The Token until my father, Edmund and I are safely heading back to earth. Under no other circumstances will I yield.”
“Would you yield after a couple more days in the water?” asked Scien.
Simon had no answer to that. He wasn’t sure what a couple days would do to him—he had never endured such torment before.
When Simon didn’t respond, he chuckled quietly, and walked back into the aircraft. A few minutes later they picked Simon up with the beam again, and went flying away towards another building some miles away.
The building was not very tall, and about the size of a mall. They landed on the roof, where a few dozen armed guards were waiting. Simon was roughly dropped onto the ground, where is aching body protested loudly. Scien got out and ordered Simon to be transported by stretcher through the building.
So it was that Simon found himself surrounded by armed guards, being pushed on a stretcher, and completely unable to stand or fight, when they reached the pit.
The pit was rather like a prison, except for the size and diversity—not everyone there was strictly human. They looked down on a large, large room, filled with cafeteria tables and home to around ten thousand people. Most of them were human, but as said before some were not. The others were rather hard to describe as a single group, but they looked like descendents of humans. All were bipeds, but not all of them had human dimensions. Most were much taller and thinner than humans, while some were very short and muscular. The shorter ones looked more imposing to Simon.
They were standing in a corridor with large, thick windows facing the pit. They were maybe three stories above the ground floor, suggesting other viewing levels below them—the far walls appeared to be rather smooth and unchanging. One of the guards whispered to Simon that the glass could not be seen from the inside, and looked like the walls. This worried Simon until he felt the other wall, making sure it wasn’t glass.
Scien strode over to a control panel on the wall, and spoke into it. The people in the pit instantly stopped talking and gazed at the ceiling, as if his words were being projected from there. Simon assumed they were.
After a brief time, Scien stopped talking. No one but the ones in the pit heard what he said. They started backing up towards the walls, leaving the room empty—except for one man. It was Simons father.
Simon almost didn’t recognize him. His beard had grown out, and his hair was longer and gnarled. He wore grey clothes, matching the strange grey tint of his skin, which reflected the lights in the room. In the months since he had disappeared, Simon had missed him more than he had understood. Now that he was there, but in reality no closer than before, all the pent of pain and longing was released in Simon. He screamed at Scien, “Give me back my father!”
Scien smiled coldly. “I believe we had a deal—“
“I don’t care about the deal! I want my father back now!”
“Then you will yield?”
“Give. Me. My. Father!”
“Oh, I will, Simon. But only after you have yielded your Token and suffered for your cheek to attack me.”
Simon trembled with rage at Scien, for the long drawn torment his presence and actions had inflicted on him. Springing to his feet, he made to kill Scien then and there.
His plan failed immediately. Scien had seen the attack coming, and as Simon jumped to his feet, he kicked his legs out from under him. Simon fell painfully to the floor. Scien kicked him hard in the face, breaking his nose. He knew that he could have easily driven Simon’s nose back into his brain and killed him with that one kick, but he refrained from it. He wanted Simon alive.
While Simon screamed and cried on the floor, Scien took action. He punched a series of numbers into the panel. Mr. Starr was lifted from the room by a beam and exited through an opening in the ceiling.
Simon was roughly picked up and placed back on the stretcher. His nose was bleeding heavily, and it was bent to the left, making breathing through it impossible. Simon gasped as panic gripped him, and then faded. He could do this. He just didn’t know how.
After a brief walk, they reached a smaller room, this one about ten feet square. Simon yelled to his father, but he couldn’t be heard through the glass. Neither could his father see him, because of the deceptive nature of the glass. There was a brief pause, then someone else entered the room. It was Edmund.
He was holding a strange rod of metal, like a staff, but only two feet long. Other than that it was dimensionally identical to Sciens, even including a medal replica of the Token on the end.
Edmund appeared to be dazed. He walked very stiffly, and his arms didn’t swing. He looked directly at Scien and waited. Scien smiled coldly again, and gestured at Edmund.
“Simon, your friend Edmund has, ah, decided that I am right in this matter. He has joined my side. He would not go back to you even if he could. He is mine now. Will you yield?”
“You will hold to your terms?”
Sciens eyes narrowed. “They we will begin.”
He gestured at Edmund, who walked over to Mr. Starr. Bindings slithered out of the floor and surrounded him, immobilizing him in a standing position. Edmund walked over to him and jabbed him with the end of the rod. The room was suddenly washed with blue light, and the rod glowed yellow. Mr. Starr screamed, so loudly Simon could hear it through the walls. Then his voice broke and blood splattered from his mouth. His arms writhes and his head rolled, and then he went limp. Simon screamed out for him, and Scien laughed loudly, enjoying it. The guards coughed quietly, suddenly interested in the floor design.
“Simon, I can continue this forever. Will you watch your best friend kill your father, and then return to the water, or will you yield me The Token?”
“I will do neither! You are a fowl piece of—“His voice became rather higher with every carefully picked, four letter word.
“That is enough!” roared Scien, his eyes blazing. “Again!” he yelled to Edmund.
And again Edmund brought the staff against Mr. Starr, and again he screamed, awakened by the sudden pain.
“Electricity. A wonderful force of nature, so dangerous, so finicky,” purred Scien. “Isn’t it amazing how cheap human suffering is? Much cheaper than keeping a human happy. This lesson I have learned well over the years. Will you yield?”
“We will see.”
It became something of a game between them, the questioner and the denier, striving against each other as time went on. Each time Simon was forced to watch his father tortured, his will weakened. After the seventh time, it broke.
“Stop it! Stop it! I will yield! You can take The Token if only you let him go!”
“Ah, we have come to a deal. But I can’t agree to it. You must give me The Token now.”
“Fine! Fine! Take it! Here it is!”
He drew it from his pocket, and held it up to Scien, his hand quivering. Scien gestured at Edmund, and the game was stopped. Gingerly, slowly, he reached for it.
At the last second Simon drew it away, shaking. Scien frowned, and grabbed Simon’s hand, dragging it back up. He tried to take The Token from his hand, but appeared unable to.
“So. Even now, after you have watched your little world torn apart, you still value that over them. You are worse than I. We will continue.”
“You are a dead man! You—“
Smack! Simon was knocked off the stretcher and onto the floor.
“Do not talk to be like that.”
Then passed a time of suffering for Simon. He watched as the life drained out of his father at his best friends hands. His screams quieted, and he shook less and less every time.
Simon wished he could yield, longed for it, to escape from all the responsibility and insanity. Just as he was about to try to hand over The Token to Scien again, the world exploded in fire and raining stone. A ship had smashed through the building, a large, metal ship, and the end inches from Simon. Scien and his guard had been knocked away and were unconscious. Even Scien had not avoided being hit.
A man jumped out of the ship, a tall, blond haired man with a shaggy beard and a rail gun holstered at his side.
“Simon! My name is Fynn! Come with me! We don’t have much time!”
“Who are you? How do you know my name?”
“That will come later! We must leave before Scien wakes up!”
“What about my father and friend?”
“Father? Your father had been missing for year.”
“No he hasn’t! he is right through that window!”
“Simon, that isn’t your father…. Do you not know who you are?”
“What do you mean?”
“Simon, the whole galaxy knows who you are! Your father… was our King.”
“I can explain later! We have to move! There isn’t time to get through that wall! The material is stronger than my ship. Now move!”
Simon looked back at Edmund and his father, both standing very still, looking at each other. As he watched, Edmund seemed to come out of a trance. He tried to say something, but Simon couldn’t hear him through the glass. He slowly followed Fynn into the ship, and they were off. Simon had started a new section of his life, when he looked back in years to come. Then they were gone.
Some time later Scien awoke among all the dead bodies of his guards, and turned to see Edmund and Mr. Starr still trapped in the room. He knew that Simon had escaped him. In a fit of rage he opened the room and rushed in, knocking Edmund aside with a heavy blow. He grabbed Mr. Starr by the chin and shook him until his eyes opened. He tried to scream but Scien held his jaw closed. From his cloak he pulled a long purple knife. He drew it from its scabbard and studied Mr. Starrs face. Then he stabbed him through his right eye. The blade came out of the back of his skull covered in blood and smeared brain matter. Scien pulled it out and stabbed him again through the left eye, then flung him to the floor dead. Looking back through the whole in the building, he smiled.
“Who is the dead man now, Simon?” he hissed gently.