Space Between Universes 18

“Your fate has been decided.”

Arkay was struggling to comprehend how all of this had happened. As soon as he had arrived in Deathven alongside Vikalos, everything had been a strange rush. Rather than getting a tour of the place, Arkay had been marched from strange location to strange location, accompanied by black-robed beings with no visible external body parts. All Arkay had seen of them was glowing red eyes and clawed or skeletal hands, and he had seen no other beings. In fact, he hadn’t seen much at all. Everywhere Arkay had been forced to had been weirdly grey and sterile, a stark contrast to the rather lush paradise he had glimpsed as they had arrived.

The entire time though, Vikalos had been by Arkay’s side, or at least somewhere nearby. The others had all remained on the ship, but Vikalos was there for him. First they had taken him to some sort of cleaning area, where Arkay had been doused in blasts of cold gases. Then they had taken him somewhere else and asked for his belongings, only to be surprised when Arkay said he didn’t really have anything. Then they marched him into a laboratory, where white-robed beings took various bodily samples. After that, Arkay was taken to what looked like a strange courtroom with a panel of five judges, again, all robed.

That was when things got… invasive.

All they did was ask questions. What he was made of. Where he had come from. Who had made him. These were all questions Arkay could answer, but not in a way that was satisfactory to the panel. They wanted to know anything and everything.

Arkay had no idea how long this had gone on for. Vikalos had tried to help him at first, but as this strange trial continued, Vikalos seemed less and less talkative. When a white-robed being from the labs entered the room, Vikalos stopped helping completely. Arkay would glance in his direction occasionally but it was as if all hope had faded from Vikalos’s eyes.

The largest of the panel members stood up and floated over the desk, approaching Arkay directly.

“Decayling Arkay, through tests and questioning, it has been decided that you are an Antifthoric being. Unfortunately, the contents of said Antifthoric traits contain corruption levels 2.1% too high to allow you to travel the multiverse safely without the potential risk of harming other Decay-Lords. While this level may change once you yourself become a Decay-Lord, we must follow protocol and place you in isolation.”

“For how long?” Arkay couldn’t help but ask.

“Until your levels drop below recommended standards. Which may potentially happen in the far future. To avoid harming other denizens of Deathven, you will be taken to a chamber where you will be given what you need but will be isolated from all other beings. You will be tested periodically and kept healthy, but you will not be able to communicate with any other Decay-Lords.

Five black-robed beings entered the room, wheeling in a large, glass tube with a door in the front. It was obvious this was a device to take Arkay to wherever it was they were going to put him.

“Can I… some questions?” Arkay stuttered. “You’ve all been questioning me but I… I have questions too…”

The beings all nodded

“Am I being punished?”

“No. You will have all your needs satisfied. You will just do so alone. It is for everyone’s safety.”

“Oh… What about, like, mental health, things like that? Won’t I… lose my mind?”

“You will be given stimulation. Anything you need or desire will be given to you while you are kept in an environment that negates your contact with the rest of Deathven. Anything else?”

“Can I speak to Vikalos before you take me away?”

The beings all glanced at each other, then nodded. Arkay turned to Vikalos, who was clearly sobbing internally. Arkay gently put a hand on Vikalos’s shoulder and smiled.

“Hey, thank you for bringing me this far. Especially at your own risk.”

“It is… unfair…” Vikalos whispered.

“Eh, maybe. But if I’m really that dangerous, better safe than sorry, right?”

Vikalos nodded, but didn’t speak.

“Sincerely…” Arkay smiled. “Thank you.”

A guard approached to lead Arkay away. Arkay patted Vikalos, bidding him one final farewell, then followed the guard, wondering what would happen next.