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Cause [1.3.8]

Alcor, Denneb, Situla and Caroli watched Mizar, Lola and Fafnir leave.

“Heading to the Reaches.” Caroli said. As she often did with other people, Caroli began to ape his personality. “Ugh, man, jeez, I can’t believe stuff’s gone wrong. Better go to the Reaches to fix it.”

“That’s a point, though; why is he going to the Reaches? And why does he have a kid with him? Also, why aren’t we going after them?!” Denneb replied. Situla giggled.

“We don’t need to. We have a portal to the Reaches at the Official Outpost, so we can head them off pretty easily in a few hours.”

“Smart.” Denneb said.

“You are correct, Denneb!” Alcor said heroically. “I ache for justice, but something still niggles me… just why are they going there in the first place?”

“I’ll message Harrut, see if he knows anything.” Denneb said, tapping away on his wrist phone.

 

heeeeey Harrut my man, how’s officialing going?

It goes acceptably, like a used car that’s seen a few years but still works fine.

Did you remove the weeds of the human children that were soiling Yasen’s garden of peace?

kind of? they’re heading to the Reaches, and I was wondering why.

Yasen has taken two of the children and sequestered them in the Reaches to find our Universe Seed for us, like a dog that requires some operant conditioning to help properly.

It is likely they wish to break the chains of this quest and reclaim their children.

oh, that explains a lot. thanks, z.

 

“Harrut says Yasen took two kids into the Reaches, so Miz and his gang are planning a rescue mission of sorts.” Denneb replied. Alcor turned to him. “Well, accosting them will be fine then! Come on, gang!”

Situla, Caroli and Denneb traipsed after their intrepid leader as he led them back to Void’s Official Outpost.

“So, what?” Situla asked. “We all seem to be pretty relaxed about these kids being literally here, outside of their universe and all.”

“It’s not an issue right now.” Denneb said. “For starters, now that we’ve seen them, I gotta say… does Raziel really think they’re gonna take on the Kings and somehow win? Unlikely. Secondly, with two of them captured by Yasen, the Officials of Zion and Void have bargaining power. They know that. So for now… the Kings are safe, and that’s all that matters.”

“Fair enough.” Situla replied, shrugging. “In all honesty, though, whatever that dark-haired goth chick was wearing looked cute.”

“I agree, sister. She wears it better than we could, though!” laughed Caroli.

Denneb, meanwhile, was not listening. He had someone else to talk to.

 

vasa

dude

vaaaaaaaasaaaaaaaaa

What? I just got home, sorry for missing your messages.

you’re just sitting at home whilst those kids are missing?

We’re under surveillance. Harrut and Levan have gone to retrieve them, but I can’t tell what Harrut’s plan for them is, besides not giving them back to us. Yasen’s killed Raziel, so she’s going to be punished and… yeah. Everything’s gone to shit.

whoa whoa whoa

hold the fucking wrist phone

Raziel’s dead?

We’re as surprised as you. Honestly, it still hasn’t really sunk in yet. But Yasen killed him, stabbed him in the back with a spear and stole away with Zack and Serafina in tow.

 

Denneb stared at the message.

“Raziel’s dead.” he said. “Yasen murdered him.”

Even the naturally cheery Caroli looked surprised. “Dead?”

“Slain?” asked Alcor.

“Yep.” Denneb said. “Looks like Yasen couldn’t control her temper, even after all these years.”

They walked back in a more thoughtful way, each one considering the tiny, yet significant impact Raziel had made on their lives.

“…He was only trying to do the right thing.” Caroli replied. “Not that I knew him that well.”

“Yeah. He was just a good guy caught up in a bad situation.” Situla said.

The Outpost was only a few minutes’ walk away.

 

…Why am I telling you all of this, anyway? You’re an Official.

never mind that dude, I need your help

Mm? YOU need MY help?

oh fuck off, just grant me this one boon, z

What do you need?

 

The four Officials walked into the Outpost and went straight up the stairs to the lounge.

“Next order of business!” announced Alcor, pointing at the coffee machine. “We drink coffee, and wait for a few hours, then wait in the Reaches for our prey!”

“They’ll have no chance. We can grab ‘em, bring them back here and everything will be sorted out by me, Void’s greatest hero!” Caroli said after him, mimicking his voice and heroic boom. The Voidian Officials in the room tittered, and Alcor sagged a little. “…Just get the coffee, Caroli.”

Denneb sat down to finish his conversation.

 

yasen has alerted me to something I should’ve seen. that we’ll have to open the incubator even if we go with my universe seed plan.

Finally saw it, hm? I’ll admit, even I missed it, but Ephra figured it out.

What do you want me to do?

is there a solution that doesn’t involve fighting the kings? are we sure the incubator needs to be opened?

From what I can tell, the only way the incubator will “fulfil it’s purpose”, that is, open, is if we fight the Kings and ask them to open it.

However. The easiest way to test this possibility is to go to the incubator itself and see whether we can open it anyway.

that sounds like a better idea, I’ll do that.

If it doesn’t open, then we’ll need to fall back on something else. I’m desperately rereading Seeds and Shadows to find something of use. You should read it again as well.

will do.

thanks, z. this is gonna help massively and now Yasen won’t murder me.

 Dude.

oh right sorry

that was in bad taste

but thanks

 

Denneb looked up as Caroli returned with some coffees, and he accepted one gratefully. The Voidians sat down amongst the other Officials sitting around chatting. Like most people did in an awkward social situation, the four Officials went on their wrist phones, drinking coffee and ignoring the others.

 

But don’t think this makes us ‘clear’, Denneb. Raziel died for what he believed in today, and Yasen killed him for what she believed in. What we believe doesn’t matter any more, is what I’m trying to say. What matters is that Antumbra is defeated and that this universe is protected. That is my goal, and that is the goal of every Zionid and Voidian that is supporting Raziel.

Under surveillance, without the children… I’m in a bad position. But since your Officials took Raziel from me, and since you’re part of the force that protects the King, you are my enemy, Denneb.

If it comes down to it, I will hurt anybody that opposes the plan. What’s the value of one life when the life of an entire universe is at stake? Hm?

Raziel knew that. He knew that he had to be pragmatic for the sake of the entire universe. One way or another, the secret of how to successfully defeat Antumbra lies in this book. If you discover that you are wrong, or if I find out I am wrong, then we change our plan. We do not pretend to be right. We do not bluster and defend ourselves. We admit our fault, and change our plan accordingly.

So, Denneb. Ensure you are stood on the right side of this debacle when it comes down to it. Or I will ensure that you die on the wrong side of it.

 

Denneb stared at Vasa’s chilling messages and shivered. He opened the Seeds and Shadows document that he had been sent and began to reread. Was Vasa right? Was there another way? He wasn’t certain.

But Antumbra was coming. The hole in the Reaches was expanding.

They were running out of time.

Cause [1.3.7]
Cause [1.3.9]

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