Sheer Flames

Where an ironclad, reinforced wall once stood, there was now nothing but smouldering rubble and charred debris. Smoke wafted upwards, lingering at the ceiling before slowly fading away. Ashen black lines smothered their way across the remaining walls, coating everything in horrible dust.

“Uh… I apologise, General…”

General Litvir blinked, staring almost blankly at the destruction ahead of him. There were still flickers of flame within the ruins. Perhaps his captains were correct, maybe they should have used the larger test chamber.

“No, do not apologise, Retvik…” Litvir finally answered, turning to the cause of the fiery explosion. “I miscalculated and completely underestimated just how powerful you are.”

Retvik was currently attached to a transferable backboard, his neck, body and legs all held in place with heavy plastic-leather straps, keeping him securely in place. Retvik’s arms, although armour-less, were free, enabling Retvik to test his powers while not allowing the former General to try and flee. Unfortunately, the most recent test had sent the backboard flying backwards with Retvik still attached to it.

“Clearly I did as well. Could you please upright me, General?”

Litvir glanced over his shoulder to where Retvik was lying. With a nod and a flick of his wrist, a door opened at the back of the room and two soldiers rushed in, righted Retvik then immediately left the room. The door remained open though while four other Rethans, all captains, entered. Retvik only really recognised two of them.

“You called, Genera-” Captain Trismit stopped mid-sentence, astonished by the damage done. “He did this?”

“Indeed. It seems you were right, Isaar, Retvik is far more powerful than even I expected.”

Isaar, a very dark Rethan with nearly pitch black skin but astonishingly white armour, tutted as he approached Retvik, removing a small device from the restrained Rethan’s neck. “You did not listen, General. Retvik is far, far beyond any of the captains’ strength levels.”

“But is it because of his bloodline or because of godly interference?” the other unknown Rethan asked. This Rethan was far, far larger than the others. All muscle and bulk, with dusty brown armour that really didn’t seem to fit him.

“Oh, definitely the former!” Litvir smiled, dusting himself down. “Do me a favour and untie Retvik for me please, Eoman.”

Eoman hesitated. “Un… untie Retvik?” Both he and Isaar stared at the destruction Retvik had caused. “Are you sure, General?”

“Yes. Retvik is a good vok, he will not run away. Will you, Retvik?”

Retvik shook his head. “Of course not. The sooner we finish these tests, the better.”

Eoman sighed, then did as he was told, his heavy claws fumbling on the straps keeping Retvik in place, then helped Retvik to his feet. With a frown, he attached a collar and chain to Retvik’s neck and handed the end of the temporary leash to Isaar.

“So, shall we go to the larger test chamber?” Litvir asked, knowing that the other Rethans present had to comply. They all nodded, then quietly followed Litvir out of the room, Isaar and Trismit in front of Retvik and Nisir and Eoman behind him.

The trip did not take long. Not only was the larger room not too far away, but Litvir was keeping everyone else on their toes. As soon as they entered the test chamber, Eoman and Isaar started setting up the restraining equipment normally used in such min-maxing tests. But as they did so, Litvir stopped them.

“No need for that.”

“Ser?” Eoman questioned the General. “No offense, but Retvik is not like…”

“I said, no need for that.” Litvir did not like having to repeat himself. “Place Retvik in the centre circle, then follow me into the observation area, locking the door behind you.”

Eoman hesitated for a moment. “But ser…”

“Do not make me have to repeat myself.”

Finally, Isaar and Eoman did as they were told. They very quickly left Retvik in the main room then joined Litvir, Trismit and Nisir in the corner of the room, behind an incredibly well reinforced bunker. Once the heavy metal door had slammed shut and locked, Litvir’s voice began to echo through the room. Retvik first thought it was via some sort of intercom system, but quickly realised Litvir was talking directly in his mind again.

“Please demonstrate your true potential. When you are ready.”

Retvik took a deep breath as he glanced around the room. He wasn’t really sure what Litvir meant. Litvir knew this though. After a moment of thought, Retvik turned to the small bunker.

“Are you… sure you want me to do this?” Retvik stuttered. “Not even I know my true potential.”

“Please, use your imagination, Retvik.”

“But I…”

“Retvik, I have tolerated enough insubordination from my captains, please do not anger me further.”

The gold-plated Rethavok sighed, then closed his eyes. He concentrated on the heat inside him. But Retvik felt down, deeper than that. He reached into the depths of his own mind, clawing at the fire that had always raged in his soul. His pride, his honour, his desire to do what was right.

As Retvik concentrated, flames began to grow across his whole body, not just from his arms, but from his legs and tail as well, twisting up his body. Retvik gathered this energy, then focused it upwards. Then everything went… white. Not just in Retvik’s mind, but all around him.

When Retvik finally managed to open his eyes, he realised that the ceiling above him was no more. Neither were three of the four walls of the test chamber. Or the hallway nearby. And everything was eerily silent, aside from embers and… the sound of applause.

“Wow, Retvik, well done!” Litvik clapped his hands together in glee. “That may have only been a fragment of your final potential, but I am vastly impressed!”

Retvik wasn’t sure how to answer. “Uh… why, General?”

“Because you are still in one piece!” Litvir beamed, wandering over and putting an arm around Retvik’s shoulder. With an eerie smile, Litvir led Retvik out of the remains of the test chamber, much to the disapproval of the four captains. “Now let us have a chat about your… promotion…”