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You take a step towards the whirling portal, the shields man's weapon not once so far steering you wrong. You feel a coldness from the portal, however, but write it off as the strange atmosphere that pervades the entire room. You are careful to pick your way over the sharp glass as you walk over the shield, wishing now you had not thrown the object in the first place.

You stand in the center of the swirling vortex, and a feeling like that of a summer breeze comes over you. It is the most natural thing you have felt so far in this virtual space, and it brings back nostalgia to things you cannot remember. The portal is warm and inviting, and you almost feel like it is not a journey to another place you are taking but another state of mind. You never want the feeling to stop.

But even as you wish this, you feel yourself being pulled from every angle, as if the very atoms that make up your body are being disconnected from each other. You want to scream, to shake off the pain, to do anything to stop the agonizing feeling but you are unable to move from the spot where your feet have planted themselves. You just want it all to end. All you can feel is the unbearable agony of being ripped apart from the inside out.

What do you do?

“What are you talking about?” Myos yelled, wanting to defend himself with the weapon currently pointed at the Empress but the whole situation felt wrong. Alien. “Zeke, get a grip! C’mon man what’re you doing siding with her? Are you brainwashed?” The sanguine man fired off questions, trying to figure out why his closest friend had suddenly turned on him, now of all times. The rest of their rebellion was dead. The only two that remained was a confused, scared of everything falling apart young man, and his traitorous best friend.

“I’m afraid not, sweetie,” Talitha chuckled, her voice already grating on Myos’s ears. No wonder she stayed hidden. “Your little friend has always been on my side. One of my most trusted advisors after all.” She sashayed over to the man and ran her nails lightly over Zeke’s bare chest, the ravenette’s face almost contorting in a sneer under the touches but keeping his face calm. “Too bad you went and ruined him with this ugly little thing, though.” The Empress pouted her already full lips, looking disapprovingly at the star that marked the man’s chest. “Your silly star mark right?” She giggled haughtily, turning to face Myos again. “You think the stars hold your future. Wrong. I hold everyone’s future.” She stamped her foot like a child, a cold look freezing out the fake warmth that normally intensified her cobalt eyes. “Kill him.”

At the simple words Zeke leapt at the other, and Myos had just enough time to activate the plating action of his armor before the other man’s weapon struck him. The broad man hit hard and fast, pausing his onslaught for only a moment to activate his own armor, leaving Myos sick to remember the ring that the two shared that was the other’s activation switch. The red head wasn’t used to the close combat of someone possessing intelligence, the hoards of enemies they were fighting before having no tactical strategy to speak of. Zeke was trained in combat, while Myos had solely been relying on the power of his weapons to overwhelm the enemy before they could get a good hit in, and it was all he could do to avoid Zeke’s deadly strikes of his blade. The lithe man wasn’t used to melee attacks, his own crossbow more effective from fighting at a distance but it didn’t seem that Zeke was going to give him even a small opportunity to get a missile off.

Talitha was bouncing around and laughing maniacally, calling out to the two of them and egging on their attacks. It was clear she couldn’t care less which one of them won, as long as she had a good show to laugh at.

You have always been Alone.

Not now! Myos screamed the thoughts in his head as the sometimes helpful mostly aggravating text flashed across his screen and distracting him just enough that Zeke almost finished him off for good. Myos recovered and took a shaky breath, back to defending with the hard plating of his suit. He was dying to know how the Empress could possibly be sending him the messages, but he had other things to worry about right now.

“Stop!” Talitha called out of nowhere; waving her hands above her head like a child that wanted attention.

Zeke halted without a second thought, but it was obviously painful for him. He was at the ready, eyeing Myos down in case he decided to strike while the crow’s feathered man was incapable of defending.

“I’m bored now,” the Empress sighed and walked over to stand in front of Zeke. Myos now pointed his weapon back at the woman, but was hesitant about shooting for fear that the rocket would harm his friend as well. He didn’t care what the crazy woman said; his friend was still in there somewhere.

You are Alone.

Shut up. Myos gritted his teeth, sweat forming on his brow.

You are Alone.

Shut up! He shook his head, breathing becoming labored.

You are Alone.

Shut. Up. His breath caught in his throat, vision becoming foggy as he tried hard to focus on the actions of the two in front of him. Talitha had coerced the other to release himself from the confines of his suit of armor, and was now stroking her index finger that was coated in a wicked sharp full finger ring over the star emblazoned into his chest.

And I’ll prove it.

Myos reached out too late, horror trapping his voice as he saw the Empress jab the point of the ring deep into the other man’s heart, laughing and Zeke’s tumultuous life came to an end before him.

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