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Cause [1.5.6]

The brief skirmish with the lost ones was done: Yasen and Kushel had made short work of them. As they observed the area, keeping an eye out for any more lost ones, Kushel noticed the path that their island was taking.

“We’re curving to the left.” he said.

“Yeah, we’ve been doing that the whole time.” Yasen replied. She pointed to the horizon. “The Universe Seed is apparently somewhere over there. We’re making good time.”

She sat back down and sighed.

“Well, that is pleasing.” Kushel replied. “We will have this escapade finished quite soon, then.”

“Yeah.” Yasen replied, turning and glancing at the sleeping forms of Zack and Serafina.

“Everything is falling into place.” Kushel said, calmly observing the island and the broiling sea of colour around him. He gave a placid smile, and for a moment, Yasen felt at peace. But the words had awakened something within her.

In her head, a memory resurfaced.

Three years prior…



“You’re in training, so you can just observe. I’ll handle things from here.” Yasen said to a shellshocked Ephra, who nodded blithely. Yasen tilted her head. “You look… really out of it. We’ll get you another coffee once this is over.”

“Sure.” Ephra said.

They strode towards the tower, and as they did, it opened.

“Look at that! We don’t even need to enter. Everything is falling into place.” Yasen smirked. “Raziel, I presume?”

The one called Raziel had a look of surprise on his face. Yasen smiled and held up a tape. “You were caught breaking into the arena, and my associate here found you on the cameras. I’m afraid you’re under arrest.”

Raziel sat for a moment without moving a muscle, staring at Yasen, then at Ephra, before finally shrugging. “You got me.”

The girl standing in the doorway panicked. “Please, don’t do this!”

“Cassil, it’s fine.” Raziel replied, trying to calm the girl down.

“Rules are rules.” Yasen said, cuffing Raziel roughly. “He broke them – he pays.”

Cassil looked directly at Ephra, but Ephra could not meet her gaze. Without another word spoken, Yasen, Raziel and Ephra walked away, bound for the Official Outpost. Cassil stood in the doorway, the problematic spear in her hand, feeling leaden and worthless as she gripped it.

She turned back to the flat. Vasa would need to know.

“So,” Raziel said, making conversation as he marched between the two girls. “How does this all go down?”

Yasen rolled her eyes. “Simple – we stick you in a holding cell, collate the evidence that proves you did the crime, and you get sent to the King’s dungeons for an allotted amount of time.”

“What evidence have you got? Besides that tape.”

“We got a successful match between you and the figure on this CCTV footage; that’s all we will need. A clean break.”

Ephra remained silent for the entire walk back.

As they walked through the doors of the Official Outpost, the Officials congratulated Yasen.

“This is the guy who broke in? Nice job, you two!”

“Thanks,” Yasen replied with a grin. “Told you I’d find him within 12 hours. Nobody attacks an Official and gets away with it!”

Raziel was swiftly stowed in a holding cell, located in one of the rooms on the lower floor. He sat on the bed, seeming quite chipper, and grinned at Yasen, whilst Ephra looked on in worry. “Boy, aren’t you popular?”

“What’s wrong with you?” Yasen asked, fury in her eyes.

“I beat you yesterday, fair and square. That’s why you’re being so aggressive with me, I think. You can’t handle the fact that a citizen defeated an Official.”

Yasen, who had been just about to turn away and leave him alone, faced the cell and glared right into Raziel’s eyes. “Speak like that again and we’ll see who defeats who. You are truly irritating, do you know that? I enforced King Malak’s rules, and that is all.”

“Wow, you sound like you have a hell of a crush on the King.” Raziel replied. Yasen tried to control her breathing, and issued her next words in a deadly undertone.

“Do not speak about him so lightly. He rules us, and we are merely his people, to do with as he pleases. I refuse to let you spread baseless slander like this.”

Raziel raised his hands in protest. “OK, OK, sheesh. I’ll stop.”

“Raziel.” Yasen said. “I will enjoy putting you away.”

She stalked off without another word, leaving Ephra stood there; for the first time in her life, she was feeling socially awkward.

“Hey, Eph.” Raziel said with a smile. She looked up at him.

“I’m s-”

“No need.” he interrupted. “Don’t apologise for doing your job. I broke a law, and I got caught. That’s fair enough. You did nothing.”

“I suppose.” Ephra replied, wringing her hands in desperation at the bars keeping him locked away. “I couldn’t do anything.”

“Again, it’s fine.” Raziel said. He walked over to the bars and place his hand on hers. “You’re a good friend, and I’m proud that you’re so helpful to the Officials already. So please, don’t worry about me. I forgive you, and things will go back to normal once I’m out. It won’t be that long for a petty crime.”

Ephra took a step back, holding back her tears of shame and nodding. “Yes. Thank you for forgiving me.”

She ran off; Raziel was left to stand alone in the dark room. There was nobody else in the holding cells – quiet morning, crime-wise, it seemed. With no wrist phone and no spear, he sat on the bed and wondered what to do to kill some time.

Yasen would be back later. The whole force liked to watch people admit to their crimes, so it was likely that after the interrogation and reveal of the evidence, every Official would know his name and face.

It wasn’t the first time he’d had a brush with the Officials when trying to pull off some kind of hectic scheme – his attempt to climb the Zionid Citadel with Cassil and Vasa had been a close one – but it was the first time he’d been caught and arrested. It was worrying, and he was hoping Cassil and Vasa would be fine. They’d be furious at Ephra, and Raziel hoped they’d be able to forgive her as he had.




Yasen and Ephra drank a coffee in the break room as other Officials milled around, making conversation and complaining about paperwork. Light was streaming into the room, giving it a warmth and glow that made you feel at home. Ephra still couldn’t allow herself to feel relaxed, however. As she stared at her coffee, no appetite at all, avoiding her wrist phone which kept buzzing with messages (probably from Cassil and Vasa), she tried not to listen to the conversation they were having.

“So, that was a pretty quick turnaround. You say he beat you last night, Yase?”

“Please call me Yasen.” Yasen replied, her eyebrows descending. “But yes, unfortunately, he got lucky and struck me in the dark. I was… most disappointed.”

“It’s alright,” Harrut replied, smiling. “You have captured the shadow hanging over the enjoyment of today’s tournament.”

“Speaking of, that starts in half an hour.” said the Official, turning to Yasen. “No wonder the force is getting antsy. Yasen, they’re waiting for you to try this Raziel so we can all get over to the arena!”

Yasen, taking in her victory for just a few moments longer, smiled. “Yes, of course. Let’s get down there and get him sent off to the King’s palace. He’s getting two years for this.”

“Two years?” Ephra exclaimed. Yasen grinned.

“He gets extra for directly battling an Official. It’s a serious crime.”

With that, she flounced off. “Come on, let’s get this over with! Ephra, bring the evidence.”

Excitedly, wanting to see Yasen make the arrest in full, the Officials in the room and all the Officials doing paperwork in the main room down the stairs began to file into the cell area, following Yasen. Ephra stood up slowly, putting the cold cup of coffee on the table and staring at the tape and the laptop.

With slow, almost numb, movements, she put the tape into the laptop and brought up the relevant part of the feed. She watched it for a few moments. Raziel sneaking into the room, looking around the locker room, walking into the girl’s area and going to-

Going to Cassil’s locker, and getting Cassil’s spear.

“That’s why.” Ephra breathed, unable to wrest her eyes away from the recording.

She picked up the laptop, still staring, and began to walk down the stairs. She heard the chattering of the Officials and hastened. Yasen’s voice rang out over the crowd.

“Alright, Raziel. You were discovered at the scene, breaking into the arena under curfew and attacking an Official, resisting arrest. You will be given two years for this under the King’s palace, in the dungeons, where you will remain in your cell or serve the King as a slave. As is procedure, we will now reveal the evidence of you doing such a thing in front of the assorted Officials, who are my confidants and will corroborate the revelation of such evidence.”

Ephra walked into the room, skirting around the Officials sat in seats all around, watching the cell with a defeated Raziel standing in it, head hung. Yasen stood before him, smiling. Ephra took a seat on the edge of the room, staring at the footage of Raziel getting Cassil’s spear. He was always doing things like this. And he always meant well.

“Now then – Ephra, you have the laptop, yes?”

As all eyes turned to Ephra, she hit the Enter key on the laptop. The footage vanished, and Ephra took heavy, ponderous steps towards Yasen, who reached, almost greedily, for the laptop.

She opened it, held it at her chest, and hit ‘play’ as she turned the laptop to the crowd.


“There’s nothing playing.” one Official ventured.

“What?” Yasen cried. She turned the laptop’s screen towards her and tapped at a few keys. “It’s… it’s been erased! Corrupted! It’s gone!”

Raziel looked up.

“Unbelievable! I was watching the footage not five minutes ago! The only other person who could’ve-”

Every Official in the room stopped, and along with Yasen, turned their eyes back towards Ephra.

“Ephra. Where is the footage?”

Ephra shivered. “I… I don’t know.”

Raziel watched proceedings with a look of horror in his eyes.

“Ephra! Answer your commanding officer!” yelled Yasen, swelling up in fury.

“I don’t know! It’s gone!” Ephra said. “Now what?”

“Now Raziel walks. That’s your only proof, and it’s gone.” said an Official, standing up and walking forwards. He began to unlock Raziel’s cell. Raziel said nothing.

“Ephra. I’m afraid we can’t arrest you, since Officials don’t work like that. But for perverting the course of justice and tampering with evidence… we will have to revoke your Official license and exclude you from our noble profession. You will no longer be an Official.”

Ephra put a hand in her pocket, glaring daggers at the Official before her, and handed over her license. Raziel stood beside her, unable to look into her eyes, or anywhere besides the ground.

“I’ll go back!” Yasen said. “I’ll find more evidence; you will not walk forever!”

“I think,” Harrut interjected. “It would be best for you to become Head of Bookkeeping, and become the mother of the young paperwork children we are responsible for.”

There was an audible silence across the room. Head of Bookkeeping was a heavy demotion – Yasen had fallen through almost all of the Official ranks in one single sentence. And you could see, in her eyes, that she knew this.


“I’m sorry.” Harrut said.

“Harrut, please, putting people away is why I got this job. I solve crimes and close cases. I’m a devoted follower of the King! I’ve been training new recruits well!” Yasen pleaded.

“Oh yeah, training them so well to delete vital evidence.” another Official murmured, causing silent laughter to ripple amongst the watchers. Yasen watched Ephra and Raziel walk out of the room, presumably back home, away from the Outpost, then turned back to Harrut.

“Harrut… please.” she said, pathetically.

“Perhaps again, you can lovingly reunite with the husband that is the streets of Zion that you keep safe. But for now… this is best.”

The Officials began to file out of the room. Already, they had forgotten the failed arrest and were excitedly talking about the competition.

Yasen walked into the empty cell that had once held Raziel, and sat down on the bed, putting her head in her hands. A single tear dropped from her face.

“…Raziel.” came a sibilant hiss. She felt the name slide over her tongue like a razor blade. “Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But I will enjoy putting you away.”



“What the hell were you thinking, Eph?”

The pair were sat in a coffee shop, not wanting to go back home to face the music just yet. Raziel was drinking water, Ephra wasn’t drinking anything.

“I thought you’d be happy!”

“I was happy that you’d done your job! You risked your entire career – which, I’ll remind you, has lasted for about one day currently – for me, and lost it! You’ll never be an Official again!”

“Better than us being without you for two years.” Ephra replied. “I won’t put up with this shit, Raziel. I saved you!”

“I didn’t need to be saved! I deserved it!” Raziel replied forcefully. “…Thank you. But seriously, Ephra, you have to think before you act. Don’t risk important stuff for stupid old me and my dumb ideas.”

Ephra remained quiet and stony-faced.

“…Suppose we’d better get back. Since I can’t be bothered doing the competition, I guess me and Cass can work on my new project.”

He stood up and began to walk out, followed by Ephra.

“Need any help?” she asked.

Raziel didn’t turn around as he answered. “I think we’ve got it covered, thanks. Maybe next time.”

Cause [1.5.5]
Cause [1.5.7]

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