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Cause [1.4.4]

It had been several hours. Far ahead, as the light of Void began to filter through the darkness, Mizar and his compatriots saw a rippling wall. It was rippling with shadows, for the most part, but the section the threesome were walking to was more colourful and vibrant.

“What’s that?” asked Lola, staring at it with intent curiosity.

“The edge of Void. If you wander into the edge of Void at other points, you’ll simply cease to exist, since there’s literally nothing beyond those edges. But you see how that rippling section over there is all colourful?” said Fafnir, pointing.

“Yeah.” Lola replied.

“That’s the Reaches. The only safe – well, relatively safe – way of travelling between Zion and Void.” Fafnir said. Lola nodded. “OK then.”

She glanced at Mizar, who was starting to flag. “…Um, are you alright?”

“Yeah.” Mizar said. “Come on.”

He began to walk with renewed vigour, and Lola felt a pang of concern. He seemed distracted by something; the weight of leadership was not sitting lightly upon him.

“I…” Lola started. Mizar and Fafnir both glanced at her, and she squirmed awkwardly under their gaze. “I just wanted to ask… were you and Raziel close?”

It was Mizar’s turn to squirm. “…Yeah. It’s not often a Zionid and a Voidian become friends from a young age, but me and Raz actually met on our messaging system. He discovered a ‘random’ setting that put you into contact with anyone else online at the time.”

“And it was you?” Fafnir asked, curious at the story, having never heard Mizar tell someone about how he met Raziel before.

“Yeah.” Mizar replied. “We got to chatting, realised we were from the other dimension, and got pretty excited. Since then we’ve talked pretty regularly, you know – friendly rivalry, shoulder to cry on, whatever it is we needed from one another.”

“I’m so sorry.” Lola said. She hesitantly placed a hand on Mizar’s shoulder, feeling the cold of his pauldron. He didn’t react, and she removed it shortly afterwards.

It took another forty-five minutes of walking before the Reaches was close enough to see properly. When they got closer, the trio saw a concerning sight: a group of Officials, waiting for them. Thirty in number.

“Shit.” Mizar said. “I was hoping they weren’t going to chase us up – they must’ve seen us leaving. Dammit!”

At the forefront of the group were four Voidians, clad in their Official armour, armed with blades: Alcor, Denneb, Caroli and Situla.

“What do we do?” asked Fafnir.

Lola closed her eyes and telepathically reached out. “…I’ve read their minds. They intend to arrest us all, then go after Zack and Serafina themselves.”

“Of course that’s what they’re planning. Ugh, I really am worthless.” Mizar said. His hand strayed to his sheath, where his sword lay, but he let the hand fall to his side. It would be pointless to fight thirty armed Officials, the best of Void’s fighters.

As they walked into earshot, Alcor opened his big mouth.

“Well done, Mizar, for taking the high road like a hero! No use fighting our most competent Officials! Congratulations on doing the right thing.”

“Oh, shut up.” Mizar replied. “Fine. We’re here, what now?”

“Now, I will allow Denneb and this squad to arrest you! Meanwhile, myself, Caroli and Situla will head into the Reaches ourselves to apprehend the children!” Alcor announced.

“And then, we will become the most heroic heroes that ever heroed!” Caroli added, causing a titter amongst the assembled Officials and embarrassing Alcor.

“Get on with it, then. We don’t have time for this.” Mizar replied.

“I dunno, Caroli’s impressions are pretty funny.” cut in Fafnir. Mizar sighed. “Yes, Faf, but not right this second, I think you’ll agree?”

“Hang on,” Denneb interjected. “Why do I have to arrest them?”

“They’re your friends more than anything else. I thought they’d appreciate being arrested by someone they knew better. Might make them feel better about this whole situation!” Alcor replied.

“I… suppose?” Denneb said. “Right then, I’d better…”

His voice trailed off as he caught Mizar’s eye. The messages from Vasa swirled around his head.

Or I will ensure that you die on the wrong side of it.

“I’d better make the arrest. You guys go on ahead, I think I can handle three people who aren’t resisting.” he said.

“Excellent.” Situla said. “Come on, then, let’s find these other kids already.”

Alcor, Situla and Caroli quickly vanished through the rippling wall that led into the Reaches. The assembled Officials, with some muttering, entered the portal leading back to the Official Outpost.

“…Right.” Denneb said, cuffing Mizar, Lola and Fafnir.

“Why are you doing this? I was hoping we could trust you more than the others.” Mizar said.

Denneb stopped. Vasa’s words echoed in his head, louder and louder.

“OK, look. Vasa’s told me what’s up, and… I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m a confident guy, you know that. But this is throwing me off. I don’t know who’s right, whether the kids need to be locked up or killed or protected. So I’m just going to follow orders.”

Lola closed her eyes and focussed on reading Denneb’s mind. She could see that although he was saying he was going to follow orders, he was wavering.

It wouldn’t take much to push him over the edge.

“You can easily make letting us go look like an accident. Say we overpowered you. Say you were overconfident. It’d be convincing.” she said. Denneb paused and stared in horror at her. Mizar and Fafnir looked at her too, wondering where she was going with this.

“You know the incubator must be opened either way. And you know, deep in your heart, that there’s no way around fighting the Kings to do so.”

Denneb shook, and he faltered as he began to pull Mizar to the portal to the Outpost.

“Following orders was never your style anyway. It’s always been about using your knowledge where it would be best applied, regardless of what the Officials say.”

Denneb stared longingly at the portal. He turned and reached for Mizar’s handcuffs… and with a deft click of a key, unlocked them. Within moments, he unlocked Lola’s and Fafnir’s too. He sat down and spoke to the floor, averting his eyes.

“I’m going to sit here for ten minutes. You’re going to go into the Reaches to find the other kids. When you run into the Officials, I’ll catch up and explain that you overpowered me.”

Mizar gave a nod to Fafnir and Lola, and they leapt through the shimmering veil that led into the Reaches. He waited, however, and turned to Denneb.

“Thank you. I promise, we’re not evil. We just want to protect the universe, and we need all the help we can get.”

“Get out of here!” Denneb replied. “…but yes. You’re welcome. Don’t fuck this up, Mizar.”

With a brief smile, Mizar nodded at Denneb and leapt into the portal. He guided Fafnir and Lola to a nearby island without speaking, but once they were sitting on the island, they all let out a sigh of relief.

“Nice work, Lola! Sweet power you’ve got there.” Fafnir said with a wink. Lola smiled.

“Thanks.”

“Anyway,” Mizar said. “The Officials aren’t too far in front of us, so we’re going to take the journey fairly slowly, whilst still keeping up with them. I can’t see them in the horizon, but then again, these islands do move fast.”

“True.” Fafnir replied.

“So, in the meantime, Lola, I need to explain some things. I’ll tell you how the Reaches works to the best of my knowledge, and I’ll explain anything else you want to know.”

Lola nodded. The journey ahead seemed long and arduous, but the fact that they were on it at all was a blessing. With Officials ahead of them, and Denneb behind them, and the endless coloured mire of the Reaches surrounding them, it was going to be no easy journey.

Cause [1.4.3]
Cause [1.4.5]

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