A Lock-in

“I’m genuinely getting quite worried now…” Psiksi muttered as he paced up and down the living room. “I mean, it’s one thing to close off the arenas. It’s another to lock vok in their homes and tell vok to barricade their doors and windows.”

Kass wasn’t nearly as bothered. He’d used the last few days as an excuse to make some progress in his electronic video games. In fact, he was playing one right now, waiting for Psiksi to join him.

“Aren’t you worried, Kass?”

“Not really…” Kass paused his game, tugged at his scarf, then readjusted it. “We live in Vriskera, it’s Thanatian territory, you get a lot of big monsters coming through so parts of Palaestra get closed off from time to time.”

The young, green Rethan tutted. “It’s the whole city right now!”

“That’s happened before.”

“You’re not worried at all…” Psiksi tutted again, then threw himself on the sofa next to Kass. “Seriously, this is worrying. If I wasn’t a genetically engineered super soldier capable of all sorts of horrible things, I’d be somewhat scared right now.”

Kass shrugged then resumed his game. “You’re forgetting that I’m also a super soldier too.”

“Yeah but I’m a better super soldier!” Psiksi was tutting even more. “But seriously! It’s fine for us. We could fight off anything. We’re almost unstoppable together. But imagine how the average vok feels right now!”

Psiksi got up off the sofa and leaped into the kitchen, looking for something sweet to eat. He wanted to calm his nerves. His best bet was the large tub of iced sugar sorbet in the freezer. As he opened the door, he realized it was lemon flavour, his favourite.

“Thing is, Thanatians don’t… they don’t really give a piss about anything. They don’t care…” Kass hesitated. “Honestly, they get carried by the smart ones. This place wouldn’t even exist if the Raptor wasn’t really intelligent.”

“That’s… kinda…”

“I know!” Kass interrupted before Psiksi could finish his sentence. “I know. It sounds bad. But it’s true. You leave Vriskera, and half the Thanatian territories are feral lands filled with predators. They’re used to just wandering around avoiding other angry monsters. You only get settlements where smart Thanatians live.”

Psiksi tutted, then decided to drop the subject. “Still. There’s something out there. Big and scary and dangerous enough to make everyone have to close their doors and stay inside. Big enough to affect the whole damn city! And I bet you that the Cassids are behind it.”

“The Cassids are behind everything…”

“True…” Psiksi had forgotten what he was doing. He helped himself to a large bowl of ice cream, then put a much smaller bowl for Kass. He brought them both to the sofa.

“Oh, you… you shouldn’t have…” Kass smiled.

“Well I kinda didn’t want to hear another hour long rant about how Cassids are horrible monsters…” Psiksi smiled back awkwardly. “Plus, you look like you’ve been waiting all day for me to join you.”

“Oh, totally!” Kass grinned. “You’ve been pacing since the sun set. You’re weird like that.”

Psiksi started grinning too, and picked up the second gaming controller. “So what game are we-”

Suddenly, the power went out, plunging the two Rethans into darkness.

“I hope you saved your progress…” Psiksi shifted awkwardly in his seat as Kass reached for his torch. “Because otherwise you’ll have to redo that dungeon…”

Kass didn’t reply at first. He clambered out of his seat and headed to the window, peering outside. None of the other nearby houses had power either.

“You know what?” Kass admitted as he returned to the sofa. “I wasn’t worried earlier. But I’m worried now. This is no longer normal…”