“I cannot believe you are asking me to do this!” Izzy said, looking out at the blue and white ball of Earth suspended in the main viewport. I can’t. Not to Earth. So many innocent lives.
She felt Infernia in her head. The Sentinel wanted to. Pyromaniac. She wants to see my world burn.
“You can’t save everyone Iz,” Amy said, coming over and placing her hand on her shoulder, “And you are the only one who can.”
Izzy shrugged off the comforting gesture and stepped away, turning to face the room to meet the eyes of everyone there and crossing her arms. “But you’re asking me to kill millions of people. To end their lives and the lives of every living thing on our world.”
The astonishing green eyes of Vayth captured her own, his spiky eyebrows lowered into compassion, “Your Majesty, I am the Head Priest of Morkai. Lady Amy, well, you know she has a direct line to the big guy. We know what this means better than anyone. When an animal is trapped, it will gnaw off a limb to escape. Survival is everything, and you’ve done what you can to ensure that humans will live on in the stars. What is happening down there is an affront to Morkai. It is disturbing the balance. Those that remain . . . would you rather they die in an instant, or suffer? We cannot change what will happen to them.”
“And I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy,” Amy said, looking out at the little blue world with tears in her eyes, “No. Scratch that. I absolutely wish Kasana suffers for what she’s done.”
The very thought of Kasana stoked her anger enough that she felt the heat in her own gaze and turned away from the group feeling a mix of anger and shame. She didn’t kill Kasana when she had the chance more than half a year ago. Even though she tried to kill her son, Amy and Mikhlas. I should have killed her. None of this would have happened. So many people are dead because I couldn’t kill the psychopathic bitch and now I’m faced with this horrible choice.
“What does my King say?” She asked, turning back around and looking up into his deep blue eyes. She wanted to lose herself in that calm blue ocean, feel the comfort in his embrace. She knew he still felt like a monster for all the things he’d done when an officer under the Dark King. If anyone would tell her not to do this it would be him. He wouldn’t want the weight of this on her soul.
He straightened and gave her a serious look, perfect teeth hidden behind tight lips. “You have to.”
She felt the air leave her lungs as if he’d punched her in the stomach.
“You are the only one who can end this. If you don’t, I will cause the oceans to rise and drown the world. We would then need to use the ships to puncture the mantle of your world and let the magma cleanse the surface. That will end the suffering of those that remain. But it will not be quick, and it might not even kill them all. Only you can end their suffering quickly. Do this for them.”
She felt betrayed and turned away, back to the viewport and the little blue world. It looks so peaceful from here. “Prime? What do I do?”
In her ear the voice of Prime responded, “We have no more time or resources. We cannot save anyone else. The longer we delay, the greater the risk this will not be contained. It’s the only solution available to us. If you flare the planet, you’ll burn off the oceans, the nuclear weapons and reactors will all go off, and all life on Earth will cease. With the samples I’ve taken, we can terraform it back to a habitable planet in the future and humanity will one day return. Flare the planet Queen Izzy, end the suffering of those that remain, we are out of options.”
She looked at the little blue world, feeling the anger of Infernia inside her swell, I have to do it. I’m so sorry, she thought as she reached out to the sun…
Seven months earlier…
Amy opened her eyes, and blinked a few times. She looked out at the view over the lake and saw the tall buildings of a city on the other side. What city is this? She didn’t know but she felt calm and happy. She smiled and sat down on a plain wooden park bench, looking at the green grass, smelling the flowers and hearing the wind move the tree leaves. She wondered where the people were. A playground stood fifty yards off to her left, and at the edge of her hearing she sensed the laughter of children. Faint blurs of color, moved like ghosts over the yellow play equipment.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” She turned at the warm crackly voice. An old man sat next to her, his wrinkled hands resting on a cane in front of him as he looked out at the view. A halo of thin white hair surrounded his head, outlining his wrinkled face and crooked nose. When she looked at him she still felt only bliss and joy.
“Where am I?” She asked, looking back at the cityscape in front of her.
“Ahh, one of the difficult questions. You are nowhere. We are in your mind,” The man said and put on a ridiculous hat. It was one of those fur-lined things with flaps on the side to keep your ears warm and she smiled as the old man gave her a wrinkled grin. He stood, levering himself up, using his cane to help him and looked at Amy with a hand outstretched. She stood up and he linked his arm in with hers.
“Am I dead?” She asked.
“Ahh, another difficult one. Cogito Ergo Sum, so yes, for a given value of yes,” The old man said.
“I think therefore I am?” Wait, I don’t speak Latin. Amy saw the lake and city on the horizon begin to vibrate. It stopped quickly, and she felt happy again.
“Descartes final statement in his search for something that could not be doubted. He had to exist to question whether he existed in the first place. For you to ask the question of whether you are alive or dead, means something self aware and sentient is alive enough to do the asking, but we’re getting all metaphysical.”
She looked at the blurs of color around the play equipment again, “Is this heaven?”
“No, child. You may be sort-of-dead, but if you choose, you will not be that way for long,” Morkai said.
“If I choose? Who are you?”
“Ahh an easy one. I am Morkai but here is where things get a little more complicated my dear. If you choose it, from this day forth, I am you. You are me. And we will be one,” He said.
That doesn’t make any sense. Why doesn’t that bother me?
“How?” She asked, looking out at the sunlight sparkling off the lake and feeling the cool breeze move her dark hair.
“It’s very complicated and quite metaphysical. Something to talk about in the future, if you accept what I am offering,”
She looked down at a flash of white in her vision and saw a thin stripe of perfectly white hair. She grabbed it in her fingers, “Why is this here?”
“Black is the absorption of all visible spectrum,” Morkai said looking at the lock of hair in her hand, “When something is perceived as black, it means no light escapes from it. White is the opposite. It reflects all visible spectrums, absorbing nothing. I cannot make the color black because of what I am. I made the hair after it got cut off.”
“How did it get cut off?” she asked.
“What do you remember?”
“I remember Mikhlas and Silian, in the cabin. Izzy and her kids. The ship and the crew. Silian! We made love. I love him,” she said as the feeling in this place surrounded her and intensified. Golden halo’s of sparkling brilliance shimmered over everything and then stopped as she remembered more, “We were on a planet. Something bad happened.”
“Yes. You were killed,” The view of the peaceful lake shook again, the voices of the children on the play equipment took on a mocking tone, and the colors that blurred grew darker and more ominous.
“Cogito Ergo Sum, remember? Calm yourself Amy. I saved you, sort-of,” The old man said and turned towards a plain white door that stood in the middle of the park. Using his cane in one hand, he tugged on her arm and she followed him the half a dozen steps to the door. She looked at it and it too didn’t feel strange at all.
She stepped through and she blinked standing in a large bright white room. Like the park, she heard faint voices and could not understand them. Colors like pastel ghosts drifted across the room distracting her. She followed one and saw a figure lying on a bed covered in a white sheet. The colors whizzing back and forth blurred the face.
She walked up to the bed and looked down. It’s me. I look like Morticia with that pale skin and white stripe in my hair. Her vision shook again.
“What is this?” She asked, turning back to Morkai.
“Weird isn’t it? You’re looking through the veil,” He said and went to stand on the other side of the bed, “This is you, kind of. As you are right now in the living world.”
“So, I’m not dead?”
Morkai raised a hand and rocked it back and forth. “Weeeell. There’s that tricky question again. Let me put it this way,” He pointed down at her, “That body is dead, because you, the bit I’m talking to, is not inside it, and now comes the difficult part. I have a very important question for you. I can return you to that body. If you, the you I am talking to right now, is inside this body, then it will be alive. Every time you go to sleep you will return to this state. Your body on one side of the veil, and your spirit on the other side. But I will not force it. You must choose to accept this, knowing that this is a choice that cannot be undone. You will be caught between two worlds, and see both sides of the veil.”
“Why?” She asked as more coloured blurs whizzed around them in the white room.
“Ahh, perhaps the most important question of all. I am old, Amy. The oldest of all the Sentinels and very tired,” He waved a hand and a white chair appeared behind him and he sighed as he sat down, “By choosing not to repurpose your spirit when Kasana slit your throat and giving you some of my own essence, you can be a bridge from one side of the veil to the other. Yet, if you wish, I can undo that. Take back the essence I gave you, and let you pass into Garia’s embrace. In short, it is time for me to take . . . an apprentice.”
“Me?” She asked with surprise.
“I don’t know what you want me to do,” She said.
“I am Morkai, the Sentinel of death. If you accept, then we become the Sentinel of Death, you become a facet of me, and I become a facet of you. An . . . integration of our conscious minds. You would live in two worlds from now on. I will teach you and train you to become what we need you to be,” He said, and the walls and lights began shaking harder. The colors blurring around grew more intense and voices, distorted as if hearing them down a long tunnel could be heard. “Wwwhat wwwwwould that that that ach ach ach achieve?” Is that Izzy?
“Wait, I don’t understand,” She said as the old man stood up with the help of his cane. She looked at him, really looked at him and noticed that his eyes were completely without color. Pure white with no iris or pupil.
“I’m sorry to rush you dear. But it is time. Choose. Garia’s embrace, or become my apprentice.”
If I choose to become his apprentice I get to return to Izzy and Silian. She thought. The choice almost made itself. “I agree. I will become your apprentice.”
“Thank-you Amy.” Morkai closed his eyes, and from his body, arcs of light appeared. Bright white they swirled like ivy around him before they snapped across to her. She felt an immense and incomprehensible power travel across that connection leaving her stunned and shaking.
“What did you do?”
“You will understand soon my child. For now, try not to get angry. We are bonded, and you can harness my energy but you must train to use it. It’s a powerful force that should not be toyed with,” He said.
“What force?” She called out after him, but the walls shook out of control now.
“It is time for you to return to the other side of the veil, Amy. I will await you to begin your training.”
“Prime prime prime ime ime ime,” That’s Mikhlas. She tried to hold onto the bed in front of her, but her hand went through. The blurs of color intensified, stabilizing, until she could see the outline of shapes that she almost recognized.
“Kasana’s cell is empty.” That’s Prime.
“FUCK!” The word caused tiles to rain down from above and the walls to balloon in and out like a lung. She shut her eyes and . . .
“Hey what’s all the shouting?” She said looking up at the shocked faces of her family and smiling.
She found Silian’s wide-open eyes and he crossed to her side in two long strides, taking her hand in his as tears spilled.
“Hey handsome, gimme some sugar,” she said.
Silian leant forward and pressed his lips to hers. She wrapped her unoccupied hand around his head and gripped his hair as the kiss deepened. It felt amazing, unlike anything she’d ever felt before, full of life and passion and she drew it in like a drowning person taking in oxygen.
She blinked as he broke the kiss as Izzy came rushing over, and at the edge of her vision a green halo of energy surrounded Silian. She blinked again, and caught sight of Izzy, doused in red and almost glowing from within. Finally she saw Mikhlas, his blue eyes more vibrant than she remembered and the weird perception faded.
She smiled at all of them, “What did I miss?”