Did Niht wait too long? Had the offer expired?
“Rath?” Niht whispered the prayer. “I am yours, use me. Save us. Please, save us.”
The Suudana wood bowl grew cold.
Niht pulled it out and looked deep into the strange luminous shadows within it.
Without a thought, he pressed it onto his face and felt the eldritch cold wrap around his head.
Pain burned through him like a wild fire on a dry prairie. His muscles twitched with an electric rage of a thunderstorm.
Light scorched his eyes and the presence of each of the soldiers beyond the door came into focus. He heard their hearts beating, their life shown through the walls, orbs a distant firelight threatening to consume the world.
Niht stood up. He grabbed a broom off the hook on the wall and kicked the chair from under the door knob.
The soldiers trained their weapons on the door.
Rath laughed. “May I?”
Pain tore through his muscles.
The door splintered, casting shards of wood toward the soldiers.
Niht rushed forward like a marionette on its strings.
The broom handle caught the soldier on the left under the chin, lifted him up, and tossed him into the one on the right.
Spinning down, Niht pulled a blade from the top soldiers belt and stabbed both of them in the throat.
Blood sprayed into the air.
Rath laughed like a child at play.
He ran out of the class and down the hall toward a trio of soldiers.
Dodging the hot plasma bolts they fired at him, Niht spun through the air.
When he hit the ground he sprang toward the central soldier with a preternatural speed.
Panic filled the trooper’s eyes as the blade liberated his blood from his throat.
Niht lost himself in the violence as Rath guided his every movement. As the two other guards fell to the ground, the spirits hunger took hold of him.
The strength of the fallen rose into the air, and soaked into him.
Rath cackled and sang an old battle song from the lost empire.
Niht’s body moved to music. His heart beat in tune with the song.
The layout of the facility flickered through his mind.
“There is a hatch not far from here.” Rath said. “There may be a shuttle in it if you want to escape.”
“Get us out of here.” Niht said. “Follow me.”
Niht spun toward the path to freedom, and ran faster than he ever had before. The wing beats of two Ceeri and the footfalls of Iarann and Amhran lagged behind.
Stopping, his chest burst with pain.
Selvans possessed a soldier in the next room. The trick he used on the other soldiers would not work against a god.
“I can feel you,” The trooper’s deep voice echoed with the gravel of the ancient god.”
“Because you cheat.” Rath co-oped Niht’s voice. The words burned his throat like he drank a hot beverage too fast.
Selvans laughed and the flooring shook under the weight of it. “You are puppeteering a child, bending them to your will. At least my champion can fight on his own.”
“With your strength and power to guide and aid him.”
“Do you have allies coming, or are you just avoiding the inevitable?”
As hard as Niht struggled to hold his ground, Rath pushed him forward.
The trooper stood proud with armor covering his entire body. No soft spots or openings to strike.
“How many are you going to sacrifice to me before you admit that I am better at this than you are?”
“I have never sacrificed to you.” Niht’s face twisted into an angry grimace. “My chosen call on me, because they know I answer. They don’t fear me or try to bribe me like your pathetic minions.”
Selvans drew a pistol and pointed it at Niht.
“Are you going to shoot me?” Rath said with annoyance in Niht’s voice.
“No,” Selvans cocked his head in a way that made Niht uncomfortable. “I would never do anything so simple.”
A gaggle of soldiers marched Iarann and Amhran into the room.
“It seems, I have captured your puppet’s companions.” Selvans said. “Now, I could have them shot and listen to you whine about how you chose poorly, or I could set you a real challenge. One worthy of your power and skill.”
Niht struggled to move, but Rath held him motionless.
Fear twisted Iarann and Amhran’s faces, terror born from Niht’s bad decision to trust Rath.
They could, no should have hidden, kept themselves concealed. That was the Phersu way. Survival meant life, it was victory.
“Should I wait for your sister to show up, or do you want to know the game now?”
“Aritimi can take care of her self, and Tiur wouldn’t care one way or another.”
“True.” Selvans tossed a handful of marbles onto the floor.
They rolled a couple revolutions before sprouting legs and etching eldritch glyphs and signs onto the deck plate.
Selvans chanted, quietly at first and growing louder with each repetition. One by one, the soldiers joined the chant.
Niht’s breath caught in the back of his throat. His heart pounded slower and slower.
Lightening crackled through his arms. Searing pain joined the unholy chorus.
Niht fell to his knees.
The troops stomped their feet in time with the chant. Thunder cracked in the air.
Selvans reached out, grabbed the air, and motioned at the arcane circle.
Rath flew through the air, and collapsed into a heap on the floor.
Soldiers drug Niht into the air lock.
Niht couldn’t hold his head up.
They tossed Iarann and Amhran atop him.
Their weigh pressed onto his feeble body, and he couldn’t breathe.
The air lock closed.
Hydraulics hissed as the pressure seal engaged.
The air pressed in.
The outer door opened and the air escaped into the void.