“Okay.” I say, honestly tired of changing from lab experiment to boy sleeping on a barge to slave of darkness to now servant of light.
The inhabitants of Light carry me onto the barge. Dark Helena flees into the distance.
The barge is done in a sort of plain style, in a material too artificial looking to be marble. At one end is a portrait of a man with white hair looking determined - it’s a sort of drawing in a maybe thirties great depression style. Beneath is a caption reading, ‘When fighting the darkness we depend on the Leader.’
I turn to Light Helena. “That was a close one,” she says. “You must be quite traumatized! Let me help you!”
I get a good look at her. She’s wearing a white military uniform, a white pistol on her hip.
“What’s this place?” I say.
“We are the Army of the Luminescent Republic,” she says, as she washes my eyes with a cloth. “Let’s get some of that dirt out of your eyes. Clean those shadow slugs out. Anyway, we’re dedicated to fighting against Dark Low and his hordes. That man there is our dear Leader, Light Tang.” she says, gesturing at the poster. “Make sure to thank him at his shrine once you’re well.”
With the shadow slugs out of my eyes I can see Light Helena’s facial features better. Looking at her uniform, I’m a bit suspicious of the similarities to Nazi war garb, but I mean, Dark Helena was literally wearing a black hooded cloak of suspicious scheming.
“Okay, but how can I be sure I can trust you?” I ask Light Helena. “I mean, on one hand, we’re leaving an obviously evil cult of darkness that literally tried to teach me the ways of evil, but on the other, I’m entering a government that advertises itself as a republic, paints their leader everywhere, and even says ‘our dear Leader’ (which isn’t that far from ‘our glorious Leader’).”
“I… uh… er…” Light Helena is at a loss for words. “You’re going to have to take a leap of faith.”
Ahuhuhu this is a priceless line
insert clap track here
Thank you, thank you bows
One of the winged beings with the fire swords swooped down to Light Helena. He was a handsome man looking perhaps Thirty, and his uniform had more stripes on the shoulders than Light Helena’s did.
“Does your charge need aid?” he said.
“I think so… are you hurt?” she said to me.
“Let’s get him below decks,” said the man.
“I don’t think I’m hurt that much, but Dark Helena did jab a knife into the back of my neck and I forgot a lot of things,” I replied to Light Helena and the mysterious man. The look on both of their faces turned from calm to panic and concern.
Light Helena looked at the man and said, “Kiran, they’ve infected her. This is much worse than I thought.”
Kiran stared directly at me and grabbed my arm with incredible strength.
I was brought below the deck, and forced to lay down on a hospital bed. Light Helena appeared, and flipped a switch on the wall, which revealed a complex machine. She drew out a couple cables and attached them to various parts of my head and neck. Then she flipped a few buttons on her machine, and I watched as the different screens began to be covered in information. Information about me.
“Hmm let’s see.” Kiran muttered,
“Edward Terrell, age 19, lived in Sector 15 of Washington DC. Member of the Party Caucus, student from the Academy of the Excelled. No training in magical arts ever. Sister named Helena, OOH that explains some things, who was a witch-in-training. Disappeared from DC over 3 years ago. Police left the case after only weeks of investigation, seeing as members of the Caucus often disappear or kill themselves.” Light Helena read out.
Three years? I thought. Has it really been that long?
Light Helena continued reading. “Lab files… Ed Terrell was exposed to something called the Deep Freeze, which contained… Oh shit… which contained dark psionic energy that was supposed to be used as a military superweapon. The dark psionic energy caused her to enter the Shadow World and abandon her physical body on a barge in the middle of the Atlanic. She is currently 40% shadow corrupted… 40 percent after only that long?”
“You’re not beyond saving,” Kiran said, “But I think we’ll have to do a couple of tests on you to make sure that your mind hasn’t been corrupted yet.”
“More tests? Please don’t,” I said to Kiran.
He nods as a small look of sympathy passes through his eyes “We won’t force you to do anything. But you do have to choose. If we leave your condition, the shadow corruption will spread and lead to death…we’d have to return you to the Shadow World.”
“Unlike the Shadow World, we give you the right to choose Edward.” Light Helena adds
The two look expectantly at me.
“The thing is I don’t trust you, but I also don’t trust Dark Helena.” I said, “I really don’t know what to choose. I don’t trust this world. Can I just reset to before any of this happened?”
“I’m sorry,” said Light Helena. “We all wish it was that way, but there’s nothing we can do to change our pasts.” She looked at me with sad eyes.
“Fine. Fix me. I’m everybody’s lab rat now, so I guess what’s the harm in one more change?” I responded.
“Great,” Kiran said.
I placed myself infront of Kiran. “What is it you want to do now? I’m not sure how many more tests I can endure, I’m tired”
“Okay. We’ll let you rest, but I’ll have you hooked up to a machine that will draw the shadow energy out of your body,” Kiran said. “Guards - lead her to the medical room. And make sure she stays for the night. I don’t want her creeping down there to join them,” he says with disgust in his voice.
“Who?” I asked, but he waved my question away.
“Don’t worry! Everything will be fine! More than fine, really! You’ll be either human once more, or, even better, one of us!” Light Helena said loftily.
I feigned excitement but I could feel the suspicion in my voice. And the strange happiness in Light Helena’s as well, almost like Dark Helena when she was talking about making me one of hers.
(is the MC now female? I thought they were originally male. Oh well, they’re female now.)
Light Helena lead me to a room with a chair like a dentist’s chair in the middle. “Lie down here,” she said. “Would you prefer bubblegum flavour shadow removal paste, or strawberry?”
(No, it’s my fault for forgetting their gender. They’re still male. Or maybe they’re, like, bigender or something.)
“Whatever.” I responded. Light Helena shrugged her shoulders and brought out a syringe. “It’s fine, this is just an anesthetic. The procedure hurts, but not that much. However, it’s easier to work with someone who isn’t having a panic attack.” She shoots the syringe into my arm and I pass out.
I dreamed of strawberry flavour. I really should have picked bubblegum, I thought.
I awake to find myself wearing a uniform, sort of like Light Helena’s, but less fancy. I am in a different room, and a bunch of other people in simple white uniforms like my new one are sitting on chairs. The room is blank white, and there is an open door leading to a hallway.
"Please wait here until your new mentor arrives’, says a voice over a loudspeaker.