Nothing made sense. Retvik had just been standing next to Trismit in a seedy little office, leaning on the desk shifting through maps and working on their plans to escape. Step one had worked perfectly. But now nothing was as it seemed. Everything was pitch black but everything was wet and salty as well. Retvik had woken up inside a saline bath designed to keep his body warm and mobile.
Now that Retvik was out of that bath, both the cold and worrying nerves were beginning to set in.
Getting down on all fours, Retvik crawled along the floor, looking for a wall or a doorway or anything. He had no way to truly orientate himself and was going by gut feeling alone. He could have attempted to summon a flame or caused sparks or something in order to illuminate the room, but that risked revealing Retvik’s prone position. At least he had avoided tripping over as his hands brushed against wires and equipment, all utterly dark and silent.
After goodness knows how long, a door frame was found, with the door open, not locked. In it though was… someone else.
“Remain where you are and no one else has to get hurt.”
The voice belonged to Litvir. He seemed to tower over Retvik, who scrambled to move away and stagger back to his feet.
“What in the name of the Light is going on?” Retvik demanded to know. “Where am I?”
“Did you really ever think I would let you out of your kyraipnatic conditioning? You have no real control of yourself. So I put you all to sleep. You all live somewhat normal but highly controlled lives where you cannot hurt anyone. I learn more about both the Rethan mind and the Rethan body and work towards my goals of immortality. Everyone wins. Mostly. Most will die in that sleep because they are mutants who cannot be trusted…” Litvir paused. “Well, except for you. You will die here, because you will not be mine.”
Retvik took a deep breath, trying to concentrate on his hands. Surely some of what he learned while he was asleep was applicable to real life? “Just when I thought we were getting somewhere, Litvir…”
“If you say so. Please remain where you are so I can-AARRGGH!”
A burst of flames exploded from Retvik’s palms, the intensity pushing both him and Litvir back. The flames illuminated the room, mostly via Litvir’s now burning robes, which had caused him to panic and attempt to roll around on the ground, trying to douse himself.
The light though was enough to show what else was in the room – Retvik had not been alone in his comatose sleep. There were three other baths in the room, each containing a being Retvik only vaguely recognised.
After some brief screaming, Litvir managed to remove his robe, freeing him from the flames. He struggled to his feet, snarling at Retvik.
“How dare you. I try to help you all and this is how you repay me?”
“Oh yes, I should repay you for putting me into a coma and enslaving my mind!” Retvik hissed, stepping back and not really sure what to do. He could set Litvir on fire again, but Retvik didn’t want to set anything else on fire and was feeling oddly drowsy. He also couldn’t risk allowing Litvir to touch him or get too close. After all, he had no idea what Litvir’s actual powers were.
“Last chance. Move away from the pods.”
“Who are the beings inside them?”
“You do not need to know.”
From the flickering flames that lit the room, something seemed to lurch from the darkness. Tattered, broken versions of Litvir pulled themselves out of the shadows, clawing their way towards Retvik. Retvik immediately retaliated by blasting the room with more fire, but the number of Litvir clones continued to grow, climbing out from the darker shadows created by Retvik’s flames.
“Let them come, Retvik. It will be swift. Not painless, but swift.”
Retvik frowned, realising he needed to change tactics. He closed his eyes again, taking a deep breath yet holding it in. He let the flames build up in his hands, then suddenly released them throughout the room – hot enough to sear flesh but hopefully not damaging any of the equipment. The flash of flames tore through Litvir’s shadow clones, but Retvik wasn’t done. Still concentrating, he pulled all the flames back towards his own body, extinguishing them and leaving the room in perpetual darkness once more.
“W-what h-have you d-done?” Litvir could be heard falling to his knees, his armour clanging against the ground. “My… my skin… my flesh…”
Knowing Litvir’s exact location, Retvik felt along the ground for a piece of wire, then strode towards Litvir.
“Be thankful that I have no intention of killing you…” Retvik grunted. He carefully placed the wire around Litvir’s neck, being careful not to touch Litvir’s bare yet still smouldering skin, then slowly tightened it. Litvir’s struggles were brief as the shadowy general swiftly lost consciousness. The limp body collapsed onto the ground and remained unmoving.
With the monster out of the way, Retvik wondered what to do next. But as he was about to light a small spark to illuminate his path, all of the lights suddenly flashed back on.
Standing in the doorway, holding a large wrench and looking rather underweight in ill-fitting armour, was a familiar blue and yellow Rethan.
“Come with me and we can get out of here…” Trismit gasped, struggling for breath. “I’ll explain everything along the way…