The little Thantir ship seemed a little too bright, brighter than Arkay remembered. He blinked erratically as he pulled himself up through the small hatch and closed it behind him, only to be immediately greeted by Retvik.
“Arkay, what is going on? You were gone for a very long time! The Voidborns discovered me and marched me back here and told us to wait for you to return!”
“Yeah…” Arkay stuttered as he headed towards the exit, up the main corridor. “W-we need to talk…”
Retvik grunted with uncertainty and followed Arkay to the cockpit, where Tahnahos and Elksia were waiting for them. Immediately, everyone started asking questions, only for Arkay to hesitantly ask them all to stop.
“Please… I can explain…” Arkay stuttered. “This is… going to sound awful… and I need to unpack it all in bits… But first… can you pass me some paper please, Tahnahos?”
Tahnahos shrugged, then reached over to a small nearby compartment. He handed Arkay a couple of sheets and a pencil.
“So, what is going on?” Tahnahos asked. “You seem… not right.”
Arkay took a deep breath and started writing on the paper. “I think you are all aware that everyone wants me for their own nefarious purposes, right? I’m supposed to be some sort of stupid, high value hybrid.”
“Yeah, why is that?” Elksia interrupted. “I thought you were just a death god?”
“That’s what I thought…” Arkay explained. “I thought I was a standard little deity. But no, nothing can ever be simple, it’s always got to be stupidly complicated. Everyone’s been making me offers in private, asking me to join them or work for them or stuff like that. I… was going to accept the Thantir’s offer, that I stay with them. That was until their bosses, the Decay Lords proper, demanded that I be sent to a secure facility for containment.”
“Where does… this all come in?” Retvik grunted.
“The High Void Lord here, a being called Olohmega, explained what was going on. Turns out the Life Goddesses instigated things, and both the Voidborns and the Thantir are, well, under the wrong impressions. The Void Lord made me an offer, that if I renounce my Decay Lord connections and join the Voidborn, they will actually help me, rather than shove me in a cage…”
“Wait!” Tahnahos exclaimed. “That HAS to be a load of piss! They attacked our universe and pretty much everyone! You really think they… care about you?”
“It was self-defence. They had been attacked and purged by the local Life Goddesses, so they attacked back. The Thantir got involved and defended the Life Goddesses without asking about the other side. But if I join them, they swore that they would leave you alone and leave the Thantir alone, and that you’d be freely allowed to leave this place without harm…”
Retvik frowned, knowing where Arkay was going with all of this. “You accepted their offer?”
“I did. It’s best for everyone, and you guys can safely get out of here…”
Immediately, everyone’s mood dropped. Elksia and Tahnahos both looked confused and sad. But the look of disappointment on Retvik’s face… that look burnt itself into Arkay’s memory.
With a sigh, Arkay finished writing and handed the paper to Elskia.
“I’m not taking anything with me. As soon as I am off this ship, I want you three to leave.”
Not wanting to waste any more time, Arkay got up and walked off, back down the main corridor, back towards that small hatch. He had hoped that maybe someone would chase after him, tell him not to leave. But as he exited the hatch and slammed it shut, he could hear the engines starting up.
They had done exactly as he had asked. Knowing what he needed to do, Arkay created a small flame to illuminate the way, and disappeared into the darkness.
Back on board, the three beings sat in silence. Retvik took over the controls, grunting and tutting, breaking the anchor, manoeuvring the ship away from the large, crystalline mass and away from their former friend. The army of Voidborns floating around the mass had created a path for the small ship to pass through without issue.
The silence continued for a few more minutes, until Elksia suddenly spoke up.
“What do you think Arkay meant by “find him in the ruins”?”
Tahnahos and Retvik both paused and turned to Elksia.
“What Arkay wrote on the paper! A buncha words! But the words “find him in the ruins” are like, underlined!”
Elksia’s question was suddenly punctuated by a massive explosion. An explosion that came from the Voidborn fortress behind them.
“FUCK!” Retvik abruptly and rather unprofessionally shouted, as he immediately turned the shop around, heading back towards the exploding crystal structure. “Arkay bloody played us all! We have to go save him!”
The Voidborn army around them however had other ideas. They began to open fire on the little ship, forcing everyone to take evasive action. Elksia clang on for dear life as Tahnahos and Retvik expertly piloted the ship through not just disintegrating beams, but pieces of gold and crystal rubble as well. Everyone on board knew though that it would only take one hit to ruin them.
Suddenly, everything was shattered by a cacophony of booms and gunfire. A large ship appeared in the distance, causing the Voidborn to pause. In a blast of light, the Thantir One approached, banishing the hovering Voidborns and forcibly teleporting them away with barrages of laser energy. Two smaller Thantir ships flew up by their side, escorting Retvik, Tahnahos and Elksia through the debris, helping them in their search.
Their search however didn’t last long.
Clinging desperately to a small piece of floating debris was Arkay, shivering from the cold void vacuum, but seemingly at peace.
“Well, let’s go pick that bastard up…” Tahnahos muttered as they inched towards the debris, opening the cargo bay doors. “Could have fucking told us his insane plan…”
“I know, I know…” Retvik grunted as he got up from his seat and headed off to grab Arkay. “But none of us understand what is going on inside the poor thing’s mind. I just hope he can recover from this…”