“Hey, kiddo, how you feeling?”
Arkadin’s eyes flicked open briefly. Those few milliseconds were just enough for him to inspect his surroundings. Rather than being sealed in a box like he expected, he was sealed inside some sort of… glowing machinery.
“Kinisis… what happened?”
The Allmaker hovered around, watching Arkadin with caution. In her hand was an unfamiliar object. Arkadin tried to move his arms, move his, well, anything, but found that he was fastened in place.
“We were invaded. Pretty badly, to be honest. We have to break it all.”
“Voidborn armies don’t break the same way Corruption does. We have to purge. You have to purge. Quickly and cleanly. I’ve set everything up. I just… wanted to tell you what was going on.”
Arkadin struggled, but nothing happened. He realised that he wasn’t moving at all. He couldn’t. The machinery was holding him upright. Kinisis was talking to him through heavy, tinted glass.
“A Voidborn cult attacked. Because they believed you had killed Kenon and they wanted revenge for his death. The same cult Kenon was once a part of, before he managed to break free. We have no idea how many universes they have destroyed in their unholy crusades. But we have a chance to end it. With a sacrifice.”
“A… sacrifice…” Arkadin hesitated. “You mean… me…”
“Yeah…” Kinisis frowned. “I do mean you. We’re essentially going to nuke the universe. Epani and Yisini have saved as much as they can. Kairos and Kenon are protecting the Keep while I set this up. We have… about two minutes.”
“Until you die. And take the universe out with it.”
A cold shudder travelled through Arkadin’s body. He wasn’t sure whether that was the machinery that was beginning to move around him… or… a hint of fear? Was Arkadin… scared? Faint rumblings could also be felt, but they seemed to be coming from… far above them. The rumbles of battle, perhaps.
“Oh…” The Thantophor tried to think of something to say. “So… it really was all my fault then?”
Kinisis reappeared, standing behind the glass, her hand pressed up against it. “No, no. Don’t be like that. The Voidborns… you couldn’t have known. None of us could. This was not your fault. You understand? It was NOT your fault. If anything, it’s my fault for not properly planning. For having to sacrifice you so others can live…”
Arkadin closed his eyes again. It was getting brighter inside the chamber. As the lights around him began to glow, he noticed that time had slowed down dramatically. Only him and Kinisis seemed unaffected.
“Why did you have to wake me up and tell me though?”
“I wanted you to know what was going on. I wanted you to be able to do this without blaming yourself. You get to go to sleep forever, knowing that you will have saved billions… no… trillions. The Voidborn cult will be destroyed. They won’t hurt another universe ever again. All thanks to your sacrifice.”
Arkadin sighed, taking long, slow, deep breaths. “I wish you hadn’t woken me up. I would have preferred dying without knowing, dying in my sleep.”
“Well…” Kinisis removed her hand from the glass. “I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve this. But you’ll sleep peacefully.”
Time had slowed down. Almost completely. Seconds felt like hours now. Arkadin opened his eyes one last time, watching as Kinisis wiped tears from her eyes.
“Will it hurt?” Arkadin asked.
“That’s… alright. I’ll be alright.”
“You were always alright…” Kinisis whispered as she began to faded away. “Breathe deep. Sleep well.”
Arkadin did as he was told. He closed his eyes and took a long, drawn out breath, letting the mixture of toxic gases flood his body. He could taste the tingling sensation of radiation and electricity. He could feel everything warming up. Everything felt like it was… expanding.
For a brief moment, Arkadin could feel the entirety of the universe coursing through him. He was the universe, every last part of it. Every star, every planet, every unsaved soul, every mindless atom.
And then he was nothing. Gone, just like the rest of the universe.