“A bargain, is it?” The voice hissed, a horrible croon that hurt Huan’s ears. “Why, I haven’t made a deal with anyone in many a year.”
“What do you want with James?”
“Quite a bit, truth be told.” The voice oozed. “But tell me, what do you want with him?”
Huan was taken aback by the question. “I… I love him!”
“Do you?” The entity asked. “Take a seat, confess your sins to me. We have time, for now.”
“No!” Huan snapped. “Let us go! The professor will notice something is amiss soon enough, and he’ll come to save us!”
“I’ve sealed us off from your reality, for now. Nickels will be of no concern.” The voice chuckled. “Besides, Nickels is an upstart at best, a meager child playing in a sandbox for too grand for him to master.”
“Then why keep him from coming here?”
“Because children annoy me.”
Huan fell silent at that, turning to look back into the room. James had a horrid pallor, his brand bleeding red-hot.
“Come,” the voice said again, “sit with this old goat.”
Huan crawled through the bureau and squatted near the panel. Huan could see a shadowy figure moving beyond it, several glowing orbs acting as eyes (she guessed) rolling to face her.
“Who are you?”
“Does it matter?” The voice replied. “I smell the taint of the slumbering giant in you. Tell me, vessel, what is your master doing now?”
“Master?” Huan echoed. “You mean the Father?”
“If that is what he is going by, then yes.”
“He’s still asleep,” Huan said. “The professor led us into his body and helped seal away his consciousness about a year ago.”
“Hmmm… how interesting.”
“Did you know the Father?” Huan asked.
A deep, rumbling chuckle shook the bureau. “We’ve met, both on the battlefield and in the Ether.”
“So,” Huan asked. “Are you a spirit?”
“In a sense,” the creature crooned. “Tell me, what would you bargain for the young Englishman?”
“I don’t know…” Huan said, casting a longing glance towards her fallen beau. “What is it you want?”
“So many things,” the voice said. “But from you? A promise would suffice.”
“In the not too distant future you will visit the underworld, a place where the dead from an ancient religion dwell. There, you will find a formation of dark crystal.”
“I want you to harvest some, just enough to fill your palm,” the entity instructed. “And then, I want you to feed it to James.”
“Because I deem it necessary. That should be the only reason you need.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m the one that made the portal, the one who listens for the Trill, and the one who gave your boyfriend my Master’s mark.”
Huan fell silent at that. “So, you’re nothing but an errand boy?”
“Nothing?” The voice was quiet now, dimmed in intensity. “Then, like the sound a hurricane. “I am not nothing! I am a god!”
The entire room melted away, colors bleeding like paint running down a canvas. Huan was left floating in the deepest recess of space, stars burning in the distance. Writhing around her were tentacles thicker than skyscrapers, covered in howling mouths. A massive single eye, a crimson pentagram for a pupil, blazed before Huan.
“Before your pathetic species could master fire, I walked this realm as a servant to the true makers of this world!” The voice boomed. “Your people were our slaves, as you will be again!”
Just s suddenly as the world had slipped away, Huan found herself back in the bureau. Panting, she looked around for any sign of what had just happened.
The panel was gone, the gun safe back. Huan jumped when the bureau opened, revealing James standing there.
Bewildered and naked, he raised an eyebrow. “Babe?” He said. “What are you doing in there?”
Huan leapt out, tackling James to the ground. “Oh thank God you’re alright!”
James laughed, wrapping his arms around his girlfriend. “Of course I am! Why wouldn’t I be?”
Huan shivered when she felt a cold wind roll over her ear. “Remember Huan… remember.”