Sylus once more stood before the bobbing puppet of himself that was Qaitax’s facade.
“Then we are at peace?” the Voidlord spoke softly.
“As peaceful as possible, I believe,” Sylus turned to Saari. She had a concerned look on her face. As though something else was on her mind.
“How are you feeling about these arrangements, Saari?”
“I-I still…” she turned to Sylus, “I still do not feel completely comfortable with this,” Sylus deflated, “however, I understand that this is our last option. I understand that for all of us to survive, this must be done. And while I must admit that it will take me a very long time to truly acclimate myself to these changes, I will do my best to not be a hindrance.”
“You will never be a hindrance, Saari,” Qaitax smiled softly, “I hope you understand that you’ll be coming with us to Earth. Should you desire,” he hastily added the last part.
Saari nodded, “It cannot be any more hostile than my own people were towards me. So long as I can continue in service to you, My Lord, I will go wherever you go.”
Sylus raised a hand to reply, but Qaitax spoke up in his place.
“There will no longer be ‘servitude’, Saari. You have served me well and for long enough. When Sylus and I become one, you will no longer have any restraining ties to me.”
Saari gripped her staff tightly. Seeing her concern, Qaitax spoke up once more.
“You will forever be a Void Witch. That power is now and forever shall be yours to wield as you see fit.”
“I see…” she murmured to herself.
“Is this still acceptable to you, Saari?” Qaitax appeared to be concerned.
Saari thought a long moment. Her hands squeezing her staff tighter and tighter. “I’ll be alone in my thoughts,” she whispered thinking no one would hear here.
“That you would be,” Qaitax quickly replied. “After all this time, it will be a great change, but one I think you will be more than capable of adapting to.”
“I’ll have to actually… speak to you?”
Qaitax recoiled. “Is there a problem with that?”
“N-no… I am simply… Not used to my voice… Sylus’ arrival is the first time I’ve spoken in,” she sighed deeply, “a very long time…”
Qaitax’s grin widened across his face, “You’ll be fine, Saari. I know you’ll be.”
After another moment of uncertainty, Saari finally locked gazes with the Voidlord. Determination etched in her gentle features.
“I will not let you down, My Lord,” she nodded firmly, “We will overthrow Haurex and stop the Void and…”
Qaitax raised a hand, “You enthusiasm is contagious, but we must stay in the moment. One step at a time, Saari. One step at a time.”
“Y-yes, My Lord.” She bowed her head in shame. It wasn’t like her to be so excitable.
“Keep that energy going, though. It suits the power of a Void Witch,” Qaitax smiled to her once more before turning to Sylus. “And you, my soon-to-be host, are you still comfortable with this?”
Sylus rubbed the back of his neck, “I think comfortable is the wrong word. I’m not. I don’t think I’ll ever be. Not until it’s happening and over with. Even then… Well… Like Saari said,” he nodded in her direction, “It’ll take time to really get used to it.”
Qaitax nodded, “That is quite fair, but are you considering changing your mind? Do you harbor any doubts?”
“Doubt?” Sylus chuckled, “Isn’t there still a distinct chance I’m gonna die?”
The energy of the cavern died down to a somber silence.
“There is still that chance, yes.”
“What do you think my odds are?” Sylus forced a laugh.
Qaitax’s eyes locked onto his, “This has never been done. There is no precedent. I have formulated this plan by extrapolating knowledge about Voidlords and their history from Q’taxian records. I have no solid evidence to believe we will succeed.”
Sylus’ gut instinct was to be pissed. To feel deceived and used. But he was quick to remind himself that back home there was a raging Voidlord that would end his life the second he stepped back through the Rift. Death, at this point in time, was inevitable. In the end, he resorted to a half-hearted shrug.
“Well if you don’t kill me, Haurex definitely would. So at this point,” a sad laugh shook his meager frame, “I don’t think I have much of a choice.”
“You always have a choice, Sylus,” Qaitax spoke softly.
“Not this time. Not here. Not now. My decisions were made the second I decided to come here. There’s no way around it so let’s get this over with.”
“Very well,” Qaitax bowed deeply, “Then allow me to explain the procedure before introducing you to myself. To start, I’ll be blunt. I must consume you.”
Sylus balked. “Consume as in…”
Qaitax wove his arms together, “Ingest you. First. Then, well… As I understand it, your consciousness will be whisked away into a plane of existence the Q’taxians have come to call ‘The Dream’. There you will live a perfect life as you would envision it. You will live and you will die in the Dream never once realizing that it is not reality. I’m hoping you’ll be able to see through it no matter how tempting it is. You must remember no one in there with you is real. They’re all extrapolated creations of your subconscious. Somehow, you must see through it.”
“C-can’t you just… Not put me in the Dream?” Sylus was already overwhelmed with the fear that he’d be easily tempted by his ideal life.
“I have no control over it. I have tried many times to deny people a Dream, but everyone gets one. The moment they die in the dream, they die in reality. But to them, they were not digested alive. They simply lived and died happily. You, Sylus Synclaire, must remember you are slowly dying inside of me.”
“Two questions,” Sylus replied far more casually than even he thought possible, “Why do you have to eat me and will it actually take you a lifetime to, well… uh…”
“To me, you will be gone in a matter of days. To you, it will be about the average human life span. Whatever that may be.”
“As for why?” Qaitax sighed, “I know no other way to facilitate our union. My body is in shambles. It has lain rotting in this cavern for centuries. As I told you before, I need to piggy-back on another body and consciousness if I hope to escape.”
“Can’t you just,” Sylus flailed his arms around a bit, trying to find the right word, “Inhabit me, or whatever?”
“As in, insert my consciousness into your current body?” Qaitax thought a moment, “With my consciousness comes the power of the Void. I fear it’d tear you apart. That and you wouldn’t get what you came here for.”
Sylus suddenly felt the dimmest hint of hesitation.
“We must both be reborn for this to work. I’m uncertain of what the final form of our union will be, but on the outside, it will be just as I promised you. Barring some… minor genetic restrictions. I hope you understand…”
Hesitation dissipated as he realized that even if he failed here and now, he would never know it. He’d never be aware of his own failings. He’d have lived the life he always dreamed of. Maybe… Maybe that was for the best… Maybe releasing Qaitax was a bad idea… Maybe… he could die here, happily, and be forgotten… Maybe… That was how it should be.
“I urge you to reconsider,” Qaitax spoke up as though he could read Sylus’ thoughts, “Your real son and partner are very much alive…”
“How can we be sure?” Sylus snapped in reply, “You said so yourself. Time is different here and there. They could be dead. Killed by spawns or passed of old age. How can we be sure anything is even left for me there?”
“For you?” Qaitax raised a brow.
“For…” Sylus’ trailed off. Suddenly everything was about him. About what he wanted. But… He didn’t come here because of what he wanted… Sure, it was an added benefit, but he didn’t take that leap solely for selfish reasons. He came here because he wanted to protect the ones he loved. He came here seeking the strength to do just that. He came here, to become whole and to be the best version of himself he could be and from there, be the father and lover his family deserved. “For…” he paused again, reminded that they might yet be gone. Then what? What if he returned home and his family was gone? What was he fighting for then? For… For what? “For… For them.” His teary eyes met Qaitax’s piercing gaze. “For them. Even… If they’re gone… I have to fight… For them… Right?”
Qaitax smiled, “If that’s how you wish to view it.”
“If I’m going to live forever, and they… They won’t… or might already be gone… Then… Then I can’t let any of what they’ve gone through been in vain. I have to… I have to do this. I have to try… For me. For them… For…” he took a deep breath, “For them…”
Qaitax nodded sagely. “Then are we ready?”
Sylus glanced between the Void Witch and the Voidlord. He’d be stuck with these two for the rest of his existence. They’d be there but…
“Is there any way my family could be immortal, too?”
Qaitax raised a brow, “Immortal?”
“Yes, well, I’m going to be immortal and mortals don’t much care for outliving their children. Is there… any way…?”
Qaitax nodded to Saari, “There are ways. Two that I’m aware of. Thralldom and Archonhood. In my current state, Thralldom was my only option for Saari. Perhaps in time, you would be strong enough to offer the alternative? But, might I remind you, that mortals may not be keen on immortality. Some desire it. Some fear it. You’d accept their decisions either way, wouldn’t you?”
“You think they’d… Want to die?”
Qaitax shrugged, “There is a distinct chance that they value their mortality. It really is up to the individual. Just remember that you may yet outlive your offspring. This is something you must accept.”
Sylus was lost in thought. Somehow this had never occurred to him. If the option for immortality was there and they denied it… Would he, no, could he live without them? He laughed. There was still a good chance they wouldn’t even want to be around him when he got back so all of that concern would be moot. There were so many variables he had no control over. He had to focus on the ones he did.
“That’s,” he finally found the focus to speak up, “That’s well down the line. I was just curious.”
Sylus’ mind raced trying to be certain he’d cover anything. He looked around as if something in the cavernous room would remind him of anything he could have forgotten. Finally, his gaze rested on his tendril draped over his shoulder. All this time, he’d practically forgotten it was there. It had become a normal part of his being like any other limb. It was then that he remembered that this tendril had come from Qaitax. It was the reason he made it to Q’taxia safely. The sudden fear of losing it shook his resolve.
“Can I keep my tentacle?”
Qaitax smiled softly, “Grown fond of it, have you?”
Sylus nodded without noticing he was clutching it tightly.
Qaitax shook his head with a smile, “If you would like that appendage to carry over, then I will see to it that it does.”
“Good. Thank you.” Sylus suddenly felt stupid for worrying about it. How much of he he was here and now would even come out the other side? Did it even matter? He had to force the concerns away. If he let them continue swirling around his mind, he’d never commit to what was to come. “Good… Good…” he breathed.
Looking between the two Void beings, Sylus clapped his hands together. “Alright then,” he half sighed, “Let’s get this show on the road.”
“Very well then,” Qaitax nodded once more, “Let us begin.”
Images of broken lightThe Beatles – Across the Universe
Which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
Restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe