Out of the twelve of them, Tenuk noticed that Retvik was the one acting the most out of sorts. He hadn’t been drinking or eating properly ever since he had brought his partner over to have a look around. After a day of Retvik acting strange, Tenuk then noticed that Elkay had begun to act strange. Normally Tenuk wouldn’t mind strange Rethans – he was technically a strange Rethan himself – but he was considered “in charge” of the twelve guards and he didn’t really want this strangeness to spread.
It was possible though that it already had.
It had taken a while, but Tenuk had finally managed to catch Retvik on his own. At the end of Retvik’s shift, guarding the outside of the building. That was Retvik’s normal job, alongside Ct’Era and Timik, to do rounds around the building and make sure everything was secure. Normally they’d have one of the little guys, normally Kayen or Psiksi, up on the balcony, keeping an eye out as well, which meant they’d finish shifts together. Today though, Retvik was on his own while the smaller vok prepared the new security system alongside Talok, the Vahlan Vohra who seemed to be some sort of security genius.
Immediately though, the second Retvik saw Tenuk, he got defensive.
“What do you want, Tenuk?”
Tenuk tried to play things cool, then quickly remembered that it was better just to get to the point when talking to Rethans. “I just wanted to talk. You seem… out of sorts.”
“Gath said the exact same thing to me.”
“Huh…” Tenuk frowned. That was a problem. “Did he?”
“Yes. He believes there is something in the food and water that makes us more compliant.”
“So that’s why you’ve not been eating and drinking…”
Retvik crossed his arms and grunted. “Mhm. This advanced compliance also explains why you have been using your old, unwanted Kronospast form ever since we we started working full time here.”
Retvik’s words were confusing to Tenuk. “Uh, do you… do you have a problem with me being a Kronospast?” Tenuk asked. “Because you seem like you have a problem with me being a Kronospast.”
“Oh no. Not at all.” Retvik continued to grunt. “I just find it suspicious that you are suddenly completely fine in your own skin again, when you repeatedly used to tell me that you hated being a Kronospast and everything Kronospasts stood for. I vaguely recall you being part of a team that fought against the Kronospasts and their hyper-aggressive ways and denouncing all Kronospast society…”
Tenuk stared at Retvik. “Excuse me, what the fuck is wrong with you right now?”
“I do not know, what is wrong with you?” Retvik snapped back. “Tenuk, you say I am acting out of sorts but you have recently flipped on many of your opinions, and that concerns me. I respect you, I care for you, but you are not the same you I have known for the last twenty years.”
With a sigh, Tenuk looked around, to make sure no one else was watching. When he was certain the coast was clear, he changed himself back into his Rethan form. At the very least, this form would make Retvik more cooperative. Hopefully.
“There is a lot of god stuff going on here, Retvik. And that stuff is far easier to deal with if I take my true form. It also means I’m not hiding anything from the gods, because I don’t trust them and they don’t trust us, but they can screw us a lot harder than we can screw them.”
Tenuk pulled Retvik to one side.
“Listen, I know things seem strange and scary right now. We’re dealing with gods. Gods who are very confusing and scary and kinda random. I’m just trying to deal with things as best I can, and that’s why Kohra, Levik and I made the Aura, so everyone else remains calm and happy.”
The anxious look on Retvik’s face swiftly changed to one that Tenuk really didn’t like.
“So it is you who is corrupting our minds?”
“C-corrupting?” Tenuk stuttered. “Not at all. We just want everyone to be happy.”
“By mind-controlling us?”
“By keeping everyone quiet and calm while we make sure the fucking death god doesn’t go on another murder spree!”
Tenuk took a long, drawn out yet sharp breath, trying to calm himself down. Retvik though still looked very, very angry.
“You do realise how mind-control is how we got into this mess in the first place, yes?” Retvik asked.
“That was different.”
“Indeed, the scenarios are not quite the same, but the principle is…” Retvik grunted, then started walking back to his room. “You either tell everyone the truth, what you are doing, why you are doing this. If you do not tell them, then I will tell them, and then I will leave. Understood?”
Tenuk sighed, changing back to his Kronospast form. “Understood…”